Category Archives: Recent Articles & Data

Western Washington Waterfront Home Tour

This year again, Windermere Real Estate (as well as other main local real estate companies) will be hosting the traditional waterfront home tour June 11th & June 12th between 1:00pm & 4:00pm. This represents a great opportunity for buyers, considering purchasing a beach home, to sample lake and sound properties.

Belleresidence.com will host five of its exclusive waterfront listings along Puget Sound. Note that some of them are “By Appointment Only” so make sure to call or text us at 206-214-8499 to reserve your time. We are excited to meet you on site!

1Check out this map with the entire list of properties that will be open.

Here is a little preview of our listings and videos for these homes.

709 Woodmont Beach Dr S, Des Moines, WA, 98198   By Appointment   $1,499,000back home     Video tour

625 S 240th Street, Des Moines, WA, 98198   Open Sunday June 12th 1-4pm    $2,250,000     Watch the live video decks  

23115 Marine View Dr. S, Des Moines, WA, 98198     By appointment    $2,350,000     Watch the live videofront home

212 S 219th Street, Normandy Park, WA, 98198    By appointment     $650,000          Video tour   view of the home

1228 SW 296th Street, Redondo, WA, 98023    Open June 12th 1-4pm    $930,000     Watch the live video     Front House View

16741 Maplewild Av. SW, Three Tree Point, WA 98166  Open June 11th 1-4pm      Although not a true beachfront, this property offers great waterfront qualities.             Watch the videoLiving Room 2

 

 

How to write a bullet proof offer when buying a home in the Greater Seattle area

If you live in the Greater Seattle area, whether you are looking for an in-city condo, your first love’s nest, a view property or a stunning piece of waterfront, you will need a bullet-proof-offer to compete against other buyers. Not every offer has the same weight in the scale. As a buyer, it is pretty intimating to hear that the property you want to purchase has already 15 or more offers. You need to remember however that each one of these offers has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The key in a multiple offer situation is to protect yourself while writing a very strong & “smooth” & enticing proposal. Here are the golden rules to help you in this process:

#1. Know your limits & be financially prepared

One essential element in buying any type of hot property is to know one’s comfort zone and financing capabilities. And as such, the very first step is to talk to a trusted and experienced mortgage broker who will preapprove you. The lender will ask for your bank statements, income related information, and will pull your credit scores. If cash is an option, get your bank statements/proof of funds ready. Cash offer are more appealing to owners since closing will happen faster and without a bank appraisal. money

In today’s fast market, being contingent on the sale of another property is not an option unless the micro market where you are buying is slow or the property in question has been on the market for a long period of time. As a general rule, waiting to find the rare gem to put your home on the market will not help you. Instead, find a rental place & put your home on the market. Armed with cash, you will be able to put a financially strong offer when you do find THE perfect place.

Another important fact: buying a home in a competing market is like buying an item at auction, you need to know where to stop the bidding. It is therefore wise to start looking at properties available at a lower price point than your preapproval letter maximum amount. Let’s say you are preapproved for $450,000, it may be wise to look for homes in the $380,000 to $400,000 price range. You will want to talk to a realtor expert in that area and specializing in the property type you are interested in to learn about that specific market. There is not one general market but many micro markets in any given area.

#2. Select the right agent for the task

You should select an agent specializing in one field and area: view home, waterfront, luxury, condo, targeted neighborhood…

five star award 2015You want the expert in the field not someone who is learning about a niche market or who is brand new in the business. Someone who knows (and preferably lives) in that geographical area. You will learn about properties ready to come on the market and all pitfalls or advantages about each one. It is not the time to select a friend who is just starting in the business or willing to drive 100 miles to get a sale (as you will need to see that home as soon as it comes on the market)! Get someone who will be a tough negotiator and will speak well on your behalf!

#3. Learn what the sellers want

Once hired, your broker will have to play the “nice detective”. He/she will call the listing agent (representing the seller) to know about the goals and motivations of the owners. If the broker is willing to share this information, you will be able to solidify your offer by adding terms that will benefit the sellers: closing date preference, rent back option (the owner needs to stay a week in the home after closing the sale)…

#4. Waive the home inspection or do a pre-inspection

It is always a good idea to have an inspection even when competing for a property. Have a pre-inspection with a home inspector before writing and submitting an offer.

#5. Offer a higher amount than the listing price

Once your agent will have determined the degree of “hotness” of the property & the local market, and studied the % of asking price versus sold price for that property, I would suggest you start your offer at a higher level than the asking price. If other buyers write offers at the asking price and add an escalation clause your offer will look better from the get go. Escalation clauses: they are used in competing situations. A buyer will offer to pay an upfront price, and add increments of $… over any equal competing offers up to a maximum amount. For example: the house is for sale for $400,000. You are willing to pay up to $450,000 and so may want to start at $425,000 and add an escalation clause up to $450,000 in increments of $3,278. The listing broker will keep adding the $3,278 amount on any offer higher than the $425k and will stop at the $450,000. While deciding on your price comfort zone, understand at which price point you are willing to lose the home where you won’t have remorse if your offer doesn’t get accepted.

#6. Offer a strong Earnest Money

The earnest money is showing that you are a strong buyer. This money will be put in an escrow account and will be cashed once the sale is agreed upon. This is a guarantee for the seller. If the buyer were to change hisearnest_money/her mind at the last minute, he/she would most likely lose his/her earnest money. EM is used at closing and deducted from final closing costs.

The higher the earnest money, the best.They range from 1% to 3% of the purchase price. Selling price $400,000…. Earnest money $10,000 to $15,000

#7. Select Escrow and Title

money and house

Select the escrow and title companies recommended by the listing broker. Generally title is chosen by the seller (since they pay for the insurance coverage guaranteeing a clear title) while escrow is by the buyer’s agent. In a multiple offer situation, you will want to pick the escrow recommended by the owner’s agent.

#8. Write the right “love letter” to the sellerhappy 2

When touring a property, if the owners still live in the home, gather clues of the seller’s lifestyle. By playing detective, you may find out what you have in common with the owners. I would suggest you or your agent use these in a letter thanking agent and seller to review your offer and laying out the advantages of working with you, your agent. You need to show how smooth the process will go. Be careful however not to disclose some personal information that may not play to your advantage. Be careful with your words.

#9. Waive or shorten timelines

Each contingency (inspection, financing, title,…) are ways for you to get out of the transaction once your offer has been accepted. The sellers will want in his/her offer selection to pick the buyers with the shortest contingency period especially the inspection. Know that any timeline with 5 days or less don’t count weekends.

#10. Learn the seller’s preferred way to receive the offer

Have your agent call the listing broker to understand his clients’ preference while receiving offers and follow their instructions.

#11. Be fast to get that offer signed aroundhandshake-hero-1

Be ready to initial or sign any changes quickly to make sure that another better offer doesn’t reach the seller before you have mutual acceptance.

#12. Be willing to do what it takes (within reason) to win the sellers’ acceptance

If you feel deep down that this is the right house for you, make sure to write the cleanest and best offer possible, you will have no regret later on.

key

Happy offer writing and best of luck or as the French would say “Bonne chance”!

 

 

A quick U.S real estate forecast for 2016

We are all curious about 2016 and what it will bring us especially for all of you thinking about buying your next home or selling your current residence. Here are some pointers gathered along real estate seminars and economist predictions.

seattle fog

Median Sold Prices – Home prices will continue to increase nationally by single digit numbers, between 5-6%. Urban metro areas in high demand by Millennials will see an increase in the double digits. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the third quarter national median price for existing single family homes was $229,000, which represented a 5.5% increase over third quarter 2014. There are still areas of very high demand and low inventory and this will continue until new home starts can catch up to the lack of supply.

Housing Inventory – The inventory shortage was caused by the cumulative impact of home builders not being in the market for well over five years. This severe shortage fueled the demand.  We are still not back to our level needed to sustain regular inventory rates.  This probably won’t happen until well into 2017. It is likely that more buyers will be entering the market for a home. Improved job markets bring more buyers into the market and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationally the unemployment rate stands at 5.0% for November, 2015 – the lowest it has been since April, 2008.  We will continue to see inventory challenges until new construction picks up even further.

Homeownership Rate – The homeownership rate (the percentage of Americans who own their own home) is near the 20-year low of 63.7% in the third quarter of 2015, falling from the all-time high of 69.2% in 2004. The low was 63.4% reached during second quarter of this year. I predict this number will be even lower in 2016 due to the lack of inventory and increasing home prices due to the inventory shortages. The steady decline in the homeownership rate is partially the result of tight lending conditions and a historically low share of first-time buyers.

 

Housing Starts – The current pace of home construction is dangerously low at about 60% of the norm. New construction did not pick up enough in 2015 to address the housing inventory problem. Housing starts are well below the 50 year average of 1.5 million starts per year. Two big reasons for the slow recovery in new construction are the difficulty in obtaining construction loans and construction labor shortage. It is highly probable that housing starts to increase in 2016 as builders and investors are able to participate in the market because of the rise in house prices. New home starts should increase by at least 20% in 2016.

Interest rates – The improving economy is a sure sign that interest rates will increase in 2016. The new rates will balance job growth and higher inflation rates. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates a quarter of a percentage point at its December meeting.  The federal fund rate has a significant effect on mortgage rates. The federal funds rate had remained near zero since December 2008 and the Reserve had not raised rates in almost a decade.  The Federal Reserve will keep an eye on jobs, the economy, and inflation before determining action on additional rate hikes. However, the 30 year fixed rate mortgage rate are expected to reach 5.5% by the end of 2016.

Second Homes Market – Second home sales will continue to see a strong increase in 2016 due to the passing of wealth from the Silent Generation (those born 1925 – 1945) to Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and due to Baby Boomers buying multi-generational homes and vacation homes.

Rental Market for Owners/Investors – Due to dropping homeownership rates, the total rental income for investors has more than tripled over the past seven years, growing by an astonishing 240% from 2007 to today. The Census Bureau reports that median asking rent has increased 30.6% comparing third quarter 2005 to third quarter 2015 (as more rental households bring more rent). As Millennials enter the job market and strike out from their parent’s homes on their own, renting is usually the first step. There is high demand for rentals in urban locations where there is appealing job activity for millennials. High demand areas will continue to see double digit increases in rent. I predict rental demand in urban centers will continue to be in high demand in 2016. Source: http://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/files/currenthvspress.pdf  http://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/histtabs.html

 I am excited for what 2016 has in store! For additional information and predictions on our local market. Please call or text: (206) 214-8499 or send me an email to Veronique@belleresidence.com.

Mt. Rainier

 

 

Apker’s Estate – Rare Automobilia Auction – Barrett Jackson


“Automotive memorabilia has been around as long as cars themselves. With America’s passion for these nostalgic items continuing to grow, Barrett-Jackson Automobilia Director Rory Brinkman believes lightning will strike twice in the same place in Scottsdale come January. The Ron Pratte Automobilia Collection helped make the Scottsdale 2015 automobilia auction the highest-grossing in history, shattering world records. Now, four stellar collections are combining for the Scottsdale 2016 automobilia auction, creating an offering Brinkman says is equal in importance to Pratte’s.

The collections of Gordon Apker, Art Redford, Jim MacKinnon and Richard LeRoy represent over 85 years of collecting and include more than 800 tin and porcelain signs, 40 restored pedal cars, over 100 neon signs, gas pump globes, service station displays, 35 restored gas pumps, soda collectibles, general store items and more. Incredibly, Apker and Redford are selling just a portion of their collections and have never sold any items from their automobilia collections before. “Collectors have been beating on their doors for years,” says Brinkman. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Watch the live video

gas station

Apker, who also has an admirable car collection, says he started seriously collecting automobilia when he was in his mid-20s, although he was attracted to the motoring-related memorabilia even earlier, when he worked at a gas station. While he particularly likes automobile-themed toys, Apker has amassed a little bit of everything. He’ll be bringing some 20 pedal cars to Scottsdale, along with restored gas pumps, neon signs, station displays and more.

Apker is quick to point out that selling a portion of his collection doesn’t mean he’s stopping. “It’s hard to change my stripes,” he chuckles. “My favorite piece is probably the next one I’m going to try and find. I’ve always wanted an Aston Martin sign, but the factory takes them back and destroys them. I’ve never gotten one, and probably never will.” He says that over the years he simply bought what he liked, never thinking it would be “worth a darn dime,” but instead collecting things that reminded him of his past. “When I worked at the gas station, I had nothing,” he recalls. “I guess now I’ve gotten to the point where the American dream has been met. I like to go back and remember how it was. I don’t ever want to forget that.”…”

Excerpts taken from a post by Barrett-Jackson posted November 17th, 2015.

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The many faces of Staging

Are you thinking of selling your home in 2016? If so, this blog is for you.

twilight of living bigger view+

When I started selling real estate 12 years ago, homes were put or rather “slapped” on the market pretty much “as is”. One day, the owners would decide to sell their home, their agent would preview the property, assess its value, take pictures and not long after, the property would be “thrown into the market arena”. At that time, the very concept of staging was perceived, by owners and brokers, as a total waste of time and energy. My very first attempt at it was not perfect yet got my listing sold in record time and for top dollar (in a market where sales were sluggish and unpredictable). Staged properties sell faster and for higher prices because buyers feel at home, they can visualize their belongings in them and know that they will be able to move right in. If you were going to sell your car, would you take the time to vacuum the interior, wash and polish the exterior? Or just sell it dirty and full of stuff? Well, staging works the same way. Although superficial, its effects are paramount!

#1. The 3 Cs of staging    CLEAN    COLOR    CLUTTER

– The very first rule is to invest time in a general “Spring cleaning” both interior and exterior. Your property needs to smell fresh and inviting. Avoid air fresheners as much as possible, some buyers are allergic to them. Use pot pourris instead, burn a scented candle before a showing or bake cookies.

– The best colors are neutral ones such as off whites, cream or soft greys (very “in” right now) for the main living areas. If you are using some light colors for the bedrooms and bathrooms make sure to keep the ceilings & trims white. Working with neutral tones.

– Get rid of the clutter. Since you are going to move anyway, time to pack nick knacks, and extra decorations on shelves and furniture. Less is better. Clear your counters, make your closets not so packed with clothes (they will look larger)… The art of keeping things simple

dining stout

#2. De-Personalize

Your home needs to be as neutral as possible, remove those family portraits (you want buyers to look at your home and not at its personal content) and put away any books on religion, and various controversial elements.

#3. Fix and repair

If you have been putting off a list of broken items or a to-do maintenance list, now is the time to tackle it. It goes from refreshing the paint on baseboards, walls and doors to fixing some broken windows and having your furnace serviced or your roof and gutters cleaned. Tips for home improvements on a tiny budget

#4. Key pieces of furniture and fun accessories with a recurring theme & color

If your furniture is shabby or dated looking you may want to haul them away and rent a few key pieces that will make the living spaces fresh and relevant to a modern buyer. Using a professional stager might be a good way to go if you don’t know where to start. He or she will have the right inventory of furniture and accessories for your house and will direct you towards the right selection. It is better to avoid being too traditional or too modern to appeal to a wider range of age groups and tastes. Go for a more transitional style. Transitional living

living

Do not block a passage way or a view towards the back of a sofa. Think of the best attributes of your home and rearrange your furniture accordingly. Showing your buyers where to put their electronics and TVs is important. If your market attracts a high level of International buyers, think of Feng Shui as an important extra step in your staging process.

#5. Larger & fewer pieces of artwork with a recurring color scheme

When it comes down to wall art, larger and fewer pieces will have a bigger impact. Once you have selected a color palette, you will want to bring a few recurring themes and colors to the throws, pillows and artwork present in the home. It will bring a sense of coherence and flow between the rooms. If you own a waterfront or a view home for example, think of using some blues and greys into your accessories. It will create a flow between the inside and the outside.

#6. Work on that curb appeal

Curb appeal is essential as this is the very first impression buyers will have of your home. If it doesn’t look kept up or inviting they may not even take the time to go inside. Have your home pressure washed, refresh your paint if necessary, add some potted plants and create an entrance that says “welcome”. The importance of Curb appeal

If you are thinking of selling your home in the near future, think “STAGING”, the end result will be worth it! Feel free to call me and I will help you put a punch list together and guide you through the process.

For more ideas about staging before and after pictures, colors schemes and Feng Shui rules, check out my Staging idea box.  The guide to Staging & Feng Shui

2015 Home Buying Trends in the Seattle area

Curious about the newest home buying trends in the Greater Seattle area?
Think smaller, energy efficient, clean lines and outdoor rooms.

#1. Smaller Homes
Mega mansions seem to have gone out of fashion. Buyers favor smaller homes: under 2000 square feet for the younger generations (living in the heart of the city & wanting low maintenance + great walkability) and between 2500 & 3000 square feet for the other age groups such as empty nesters (preferring view properties and quality finishes). According to a survey by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), new home square footage for 2015 is expected to be about 10 percent smaller than in 2010 ranging around 2152 square feet.

#2. Open concept & clean lines
Spacious and flowing floor plans with high ceilings, clean lines and modern crisp kitchens are in. Forget the once-favorite accent wall color and ornated details.

#3. No or few stairs
One-level homes are in great demand with a growing number of buyers wanting few or no stairs. If you are building a multi-story home, think of keeping a space large enough for a future elevator.

#4. Energy efficient & green homes
These are KEY features! The HERS score (Home Energy Rating System) rates home efficiency, the lower the score, the more energy efficient the home. As a matter of fact, new homes are 30 percent more energy efficient than houses built five years ago (according to the Department of Energy).

#5. You said Prefab homes?
Combining these first 4 criteria, Prefab homes are entering a new era and have drastically changed over the past years. More buyers, looking for open concepts, good construction and energy efficiency, resort today to this type of fast yet quality building approach.

https://www.pinterest.com/veroniquehval/prefab-home-style/

#6. Outdoor living space flowing with the interior
Familiar with the concept of exterior rooms? This is it. Outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, covered patios with comfortable furniture, rugs and fun lighting.

https://www.pinterest.com/veroniquehval/outdoor-kitchen/

#7. Neutral colors with a splash of fun
Palettes of whites and greys are best. I noticed that professional stagers have resurrected the great classic such as the soft greys for wall colors and white trims while bringing a splash of bright colors for furniture accessories (coral, turquoise blue and lime green).

#8. Multi-generational living
This is a very recent trend which consists in pulling family resources together while preserving one’s privacy. The main family welcomes parents or grandparents wanting to be closer and more helpful in their children’s daily lives. This means homes with dual living quarters and the renaissance of the old “mother-in-law” concept with second kitchens and separate entrances.

https://www.pinterest.com/veroniquehval/multi-generational-homes/

Think transitional style with clean lines and discreet soft palettes; energy efficient homes with functional layouts & additional separate living quarters all on one level and you will have built, in a nutshell, the portrait of today’s most sought-after home style.

Historic WA Home for Sale

Seldom do we get to cover beautiful, luxurious homes that also have historic significance to our state. The Apker Estate in Des Moines, currently on the market for $4,185,000, is therefore a breath of fresh air.

Let me take you through a brief history of this plot of land.

Gordon Apker says that the first known owner of the home was Captain George Roberts of the Alaska Steamship Company, whose property became a trading site for their passengers and Native Americans. Roberts went on a bit of a building spree on his initial 12 acres of land, where he built his first home, then a barn in 1899, a Chicken Coop in 1903 to house his exotic bird collection (!) and then finally a second home across the street in 1916.

Fast forward several years to Apker buying the property in the early 1970s (side note: you might know Apker as the former assistant at Shakey’s that went on to own and sell the entire franchise in 1989).

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Home of the Week: Luxe Waterfront Living in Normandy Park

If you’ve ever seen a Nancy Meyers film (Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday, e.g.) then you know the director, producer and writer is known for creating enviable movie homes. “I put a lot of work into that. I see a house as a lead character,” she told Elle Decor in a 2012 interview.

So when we spied this 6,850-square-foot stunner in Normandy Park we swooned: It looks like it’s straight out of one of Ms. Meyers’ films. The European-inspired waterfront manse is listed for $2,495,000 and has truly spectacular views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, not to mention plenty of outdoor space from which to take in said views.

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