My Blog

Seattle's Farmer's Market

5/31/2017

Seattle is known for its Farmer's Markets.  Just about every neighborhood has one that is unique to that neighborhood.  I was surprised to find out that the times and days vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.  Here is a list of the times, days and locations of the Farmer's Markets in the Seattle area.  I hope you find this helpful.

Pike Place Market
Year-round
1501 Pike Place
Monday - Saturday 9:00AM - 6:00PM
Sunday 9:00AM - 5:00PM

Downtown Markets
Beginning May 30th

City Hall Plaza
600 4th Avenue
Tuesdays 10:00AM - 2:00PM

Evening Market
Pike Place & Pine
Wednesdays 3:00PM - 7:00PM

South Lake Union
410 Terry Avenue North
Thursdays 10:00AM - 2:00PM

First Hill
9th Avenue & University
Fridays 10:00AM - 2:00PM

Columbia City
May 3rd - October 11th
37th Avenue South & South Edmonds
Wednesdays 3:00PM - 7:00PM

Wallingford
May 17th - September 27th
4649 Sunnyside Avenue North
Wednesdays 3:30PM - 7:00PM

Lake City
June 8th - October 5th
125th Street & 28th Avenue Northeast
Thursdays 3:00PM - 7:00PM

Madrona
May 19th - September 29th
1126 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Fridays 3:00PM - 7:00PM

Phinney
June 2nd - October 5th
6532 Phinney Avenue North
Fridays 3:30PM - 7:30PM

University District
Year-round
University Way & NE 50th Avenue
Saturdays 9:00AM - 2:00PM

Magnolia
June 3rd - October 14th
32nd Avenue West & West McGraw Street
Saturdays 10:00AM - 2:00PM

Capitol Hill
Year-round
Broadway & East Pine Street
Sundays 11:00AM - 3:00PM

Ballard
Year-round
Ballard Avenue Northwest & 22nd Avenue Northwest
Sundays 10:00AM - 3:00PM

West Seattle
Year-round
SW Alaska & California Avenue SW
Sundays 10:00AM - 2:00PM

 
 

 

Understanding Market Value

5/19/2017

If you were going to sell your car, what would you do? Well, you would probably check to find out how similar vehicles to yours are priced. Then you would set your advertised price within that range.

What you would be doing, perhaps without knowing it, is determining the “market value” of your car.

Market value is simply what buyers today are willing to pay for a particular product.

When you decide to put your house up for sale, one of the first things you and your REALTOR® will do is determine the market value of your property. That’s important to know because if you price your home too much above its market value, you probably won’t get any offers. Alternatively, if you price your property too low, it might get snapped up quickly but you’ll have left a lot of money on the table.

How does a REALTOR® help you determine your home’s current market value?

He or she will look at a variety of factors, such as the desirability of the neighborhood, the features of your home, how well it has been maintained, renovations and other improvements you’ve made, and of course, its location.

Your REALTOR® will also review what similar homes in your area have sold for recently, which is called a CMA (Competitive Market Analysis)  – which is, perhaps, the strongest indicator of current market value.

Once you know the market value of your home, you can make an informed decision as to how to price it so that it will attract the right type of buyers and the best possible price.

Should you price your home high above its market value in the hopes that some unwary buyer will purchase it? Unfortunately, that rarely works. 

The good news is, especially in the Seattle market, your property may be worth more than you think. One of the best ways to find out is to invite a good REALTOR® to your home to do an assessment.

Whether you are selling your home or not, knowing the current value of your home just makes good financial sense.  A good REALTOR® will be more than willing to provide you with a complimentary CMA.  All you need to do is ask.

 

Make Sure Buyers Know the Benefits of Your Location

5/14/2017

There’s a famous saying in the real estate business: “Location, location, location”. It simply means that where your home is located — the neighborhood — is just as important to potential buyers as the features of the property itself.

Sellers often make the mistake of creating a long list of home features while ignoring neighborhood features. They tout the spacious kitchen, the newly renovated bathrooms and the gorgeous backyard deck, but say little about the area.

So when you’re ready to sell your home, sit down and create two lists: home features and neighborhood features. Buyers want to know both.

On that neighborhood features list, include:

  • Location of schools and daycare centers.
  • Major retailers and shopping centers.
  • Proximity to major commuting routes.
  • Theaters, night clubs and other entertainment.
  • Rinks, gyms and other sporting facilities.
  • Green space, walking trails, ponds.

When buyers have their eyes on two properties which are comparable in features, the neighborhood is often the deciding factor.

Six Steps to Selling Your Home

5/8/2017

You probably know there’s more to selling a home than putting up a FOR SALE sign. But if you don’t understand the process in detail, you might feel intimidated and stressed when it comes time to put your property on the market.

Fortunately, the home selling process isn’t that difficult to understand. There are basically six steps.

Step one is selecting the right REALTOR®. You need a knowledgeable, trusted expert who can guide you through the process, take care of all the details, and help sell your home quickly and for the best price.

Step two is preparation. You need to ensure your home is clean and uncluttered. It’s also important that you take care of any needed repairs, even minor ones like wall dents. You may also need to consider a home improvement, such as replacing worn carpeting.

Step three is the listing price. You need to select a listing price at or near the fair market value of your property.

Step four is promotion. How will buyers find out about your property? Will they see it on MLS? Will they come across an ad in the newspaper or on the internet? Will they receive an invitation to an open house? An effective promotion plan is critical.

Step five is dealing with offers. Ideally, you’ll get several. But the best offer is not necessarily the highest one. An offer can fall through for many reasons, so dealing effectively with offers is, perhaps, the most important part of the home selling process.

Step six is the transaction. Once the sale is made, you want to know that you have the right professionals in place – your lawyer, mover, etc. – to make sure all the after-sale details are taken care of properly.

 

The Benefits of a Pre-Sale Inspection

5/3/2017

Your home probably has dozens of great features that are going to help it stand out and sell faster. Perhaps it has a cozy sunken living room? Or an equipped and smartly decorated kitchen that Rachel Ray would envy? Or a location in a desirable neighborhood?

All these things will help.

But there’s another selling feature you should consider adding: a pre-sale inspection.

A professional home inspection is usually done on behalf of the buyer before the deal to purchase a property is finalized. In fact, you can expect offers to purchase your home to be “conditional upon satisfactory home inspection.” However, there are two good reasons why you, as the seller, should get the home inspection done:

Reason #1

A professional inspection can identify problems that might otherwise thwart the sale.

Say, for example, you get a great offer but the buyer’s home inspector discovers a minor leak in the foundation. That might be enough to jeopardize the deal. However, if you had a professional inspection done, you would have had the opportunity to get that problem fixed in advance of the offer and possibly increase the bottom line when you sell.

Reason #2

Informing potential buyers that a professional inspection has been done is a great selling feature. It demonstrates to buyers that there are no hidden problems with the property, which gives them more confidence to make a higher offer.

A certificate of home inspection can be as enticing a feature to home buyers as a wrap-around deck!

 

Your Property is your Product

4/26/2017

They say, “Home is where the heart is.” How true! That’s why, when selling your property, it’s important to realize that your home – your heart — is moving to another place. Your current property is now a product that you want to sell quickly, and for the best price possible.

Making that mental transition, however, isn’t easy. After all, you probably have at least one fond memory associated with every room in your house! Here’s a tip: Pack up the personal items, such as pictures and trophies. Rearrange the furniture. Make it look like someone else’s home.

When you let go of your emotional attachment to your property, you’ll be able to be more objective when preparing it for sale.

How to Drop Private Mortgage Insurance

4/20/2017

Reblogged from Christy Bieber

 

Private mortgage insurance protects your lender in case you default on your home loan -- and you have the privilege of paying for that protection. Your lender will typically require you to buy private mortgage insurance if you purchase a home with less than 20% down, or if you refinance a home and the equity in the house is less than 20% of the home's value.

PMI is required because if you can't pay and the lender is forced to foreclose on a home in which you have no equity, the foreclosure sale may not generate enough money to cover the outstanding loan balance plus the lender's costs. The problem is that you pay a big cost to buy this protection for your lender. PMI typically costs between 0.5% and 1% of the entire loan amount per year. That means on a $200,000 loan, you could spend as much as $170 a month. 

Ideally, you'll avoid PMI by waiting until you've saved enough to put down at least 20% on a home you purchase. Unfortunately, this isn't always practical. Paying PMI allows you to get into a home -- and begin building equity -- when you might otherwise need to wait months or years. Buying a house and paying PMI might make sense when real estate values are rising, or if you're concerned that interest rates will climb and you want to get a mortgage at current lower rates. 

In any case, if you have PMI on your home, you'll definitely want to drop it as soon as you're allowed. Here are the rules regarding when you can drop PMI, along with a guide on how to eliminate this expense from your budget. 

When can you stop paying PMI?

You can stop paying PMI as soon as the balance on your mortgage loan falls to 80% or less of your home's value, as long as you are up to date on your monthly mortgage payments. If your home is worth $200,000, your loan balance would need to be no more than $160,000 for you to drop PMI. 

Your loan balance should eventually fall to 80% of the home's value if you make your payments each month -- but this process can take years, because you're mostly paying interest on your loan during the early years of your mortgage. If you bought a $200,000 house with a 10% down payment, your original mortgage balance would be $180,000. You'd need to get that balance down to $160,000 to drop PMI. Assuming a 30-year fixed rate loan at 4.25%, your loan balance would drop below $160,000 after 71 payments. -- so it would take you almost six years to reduce your loan balance enough to stop paying for PMI. 

Making extra payments could help you get your mortgage balance down to 80% of your home's value faster. If real estate values rise in your area, this could also help. If your home appraises for much more than you paid for it, this increases equity in your home. If your $200,000 house is worth $250,000 a year after you bought it, you'd no longer have to pay PMI, because your remaining mortgage balance -- around $177,000 after a year of payments -- would be around 71% of the $250,000 your home is currently worth.

How can you drop PMI?

As soon as you believe your mortgage balance has dropped to 80% of your home's value, you can send a written request to your lender asking to drop PMI. This written request should include your loan information, your property address, information on the equity you believe you have in your home, and a request for your lender to provide you details on the steps to take to stop paying for private mortgage insurance. 

Typically, to convince your lender to stop making you pay for PMI, you must provide proof you have at least 20% equity in your home. This usually means paying for a professional appraisal. Your lender will likely want to use their appraiser, so contact the lender to find out how to take this step. 

An appraisal is obviously necessary if your request to drop PMI is based on a belief that your home has increased in value. Your lender won't simply take your word for it that your house is worth more. However, many lenders also require you to submit an appraisal even if your request is based on the fact you've paid down your mortgage. Lenders demand an appraisal under these circumstances to ensure your home hasn't declined in value since you purchased it. 

If you don't want to pay for an appraisal, you can wait, and PMI will eventually be terminated by your lender. If your loan closed after July 29, 1999, lenders are required to automatically drop PMI once your loan balance falls to 78% of the original value of the home at the time you took your loan. Even if your home is now worth less than it was when you bought it, lenders still can't require PMI and must drop it as long as you're current on your payments. You don't have to pay for an appraisal or do anything else, but you could be paying PMI for a lot longer than necessary. With a $200,000 home, your loan balance would drop to just below 78% of its value -- ($156,000) after 84 payments. That's 13 extra payments -- an additional $1,820 in expenses -- if your PMI costs you $140 a month.

It's usually worth paying for the cost of an appraisal and writing a simple letter to your lender requesting PMI removal as soon as possible. When you are close to getting your loan balance under 80% of your home's worth, or if you have reason to suspect your home is now worth more than you paid, check out comparable home sales in your area to get an idea of what your home might appraise for. If those sales support your belief that your home is now worth more than 80% of what you owe, write to your lender and ask them to stop making you pay for PMI to protect their investment.

Trying to Find a Home At a Bargain Price

4/18/2017

You’ve heard the story. Someone finds a home on the market that seems underpriced, grabs it, and subsequently discovers it’s worth tens of thousands of dollars more than the selling price.

What a bargain!

The truth is, bargains like that rarely happen.

Most properties sell for somewhere close to their market value. That’s why you need to find the perfect home for you, in the right neighborhood, with a list price that is within your affordability range, and then buy that property for the lowest price your REALTOR® can negotiate.

When you shop for the right property at the right price, you have a good chance of finding and buying your dream home.

But if you go into the market, especially the Seattle market, with a plan to find a bargain, you risk overlooking those homes that might otherwise be great opportunities for you. Why? Because your price expectations will probably be a lot lower than the actual market prices.

The good news is that an experienced REALTOR® will work diligently to help you find a home that’s perfect for you in every way: type, features, neighborhood — and price.

A Few Tips On Open Houses

4/10/2017

I know.  Your REALTOR is primarily responsible for your open house.  But there are a few things you can do to make it a success.  Obviously, you want to attract a lot of potential buyers — and have at least a few of them become seriously interested in your property.

So how do you make your open house as successful as possible?

You probably already know the basics: make sure your house is clean, bright and uncluttered.

However, there are some other open house success tips you may not know…

Get minor repairs done. A dripping faucet, a squeaky fence door, or a scuff on the wall may seem minor to you, but these problems can stand out like a sore thumb to a potential buyer.

Brighten things up. Make sure all areas of your home are well lit. Natural light has the most appealing effect. Open all the curtains.

Put away personal items. Trophies, pictures, mementos — all remind potential home buyers that they’re strangers in someone else’s home. Make each room look as impersonal yet inviting as possible. Stage your rooms as though they were in an attractive furniture store display.

Sniff around. There are probably smells around your home that you’ve become used to, or even like, such as lingering perfume scents in the bathroom or remnant odors from cooking an exotic meal. Try to make your home as scent-free as possible.

Take your pet for a long walk. Don’t leave them in the house during the event, no matter how friendly and well-behaved they may be. Some people just don’t like pets. Others may be allergic to them.

Make sure everything works. Check for burnt out light bulbs, run-on toilets, and derailed closet doors.

A final tip: Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t be at the open house yourself. Your presence can be intimidating to potential home buyers, no matter how cordial and helpful you try to be.

Home Renovations That Pay Off

3/22/2017

There are two main reasons why you invest in a home renovations or major redecorating projects.  You want to enjoy the results of the kitchen, bathroom, flooring or other improvements or you hope that the money you spent will come back - at least in part - when you sell your home.

So which projects are most likely to increase the resale value of your home?  A story by Joanne Cleaver, featured on MoneyWatch.com last year, identified five renovation projects that give you the most bang for your renovation buck.

Floors.  Old, scuffed or dated flooring tends to get noticed by home buyers, regardless of how well the rest of the room is decorated.  New flooring - especially stone, ceramic tile and hardwood - can make any room look larger and more inviting.

Kitchen.  When it comes to selling your home, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms.  The more modern, new and spacious it looks, the faster your home will tend to sell.  That is why you can expect a pay back of up to 80% of the cost of a kitchen renovation.

Bathrooms.  Who isn't impressed by a new and gleaming bathroom with a big shower, modern faucets and other attractive décor?  That' why hotels spend so much time and money making their bathrooms look great.  According to the Cleaver article, homeowners tend to get a pay back of up to 75% of the cost of a bathroom upgrade.

Closets.  Any improvement that makes a closet look roomy and organized tends to result in a pay back of most of the cost.  Even something as simple as installing a good closet organizer can have a dramatic effect.

Energy-Saving Upgrades.  In this age of increasing energy costs and environmental concerns, home buyers are drawn to such features as energy-saving windows, lighting, thermostats and more.

Keep in mind that home improvements don't just have an impact on the selling price of you home, they also help sell your home faster.

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