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Bainbridge Island Real Estate Agent

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Upward Momentum Frames Commercial Property Picture

This year, it looks as if the busy summer real estate season extends beyond the residential arena. Latest reports show commercial property sales on the rise throughout the nation—and in volumes that make it one of the main contributors to the overall economic upturn.

The most reliable data comes from the National Association of Realtors®, whose latest quarterly survey shows year-over-year sales increasing a full 11% (with prices rising 4%). It’s an encouraging backdrop for businesspeople and individual investors who are gauging the opportunities in today’s Bainbridge Island commercial property market. Despite the vagaries of the tax and political climate (it is an election year, after all), with rental rates increasing and leasing activity up across the nation, the market does invite a closer look by anyone considering a fresh entry into Bainbridge Island’s commercial property arena.

While working with a buyer’s agent to find and purchase a Bainbridge Island commercial property isn’t an absolute essential, it certainly can be more efficient to have professional assistance and guidance throughout the process. When you choose a Realtor who has specifically commercial experience in Bainbridge Island, you make the same kind of choice as when you seek expert help in any other area of your business or personal endeavors—an expert’s insight can be priceless!

 Whether you are buying or selling a commercial property, it’s also important to avoid fixating on short-term impacts. Today’s cash flow may be your leading financial factor, but balancing with the long-term impacts is a juggling act worth mastering. Buying or selling a commercial property has long term impacts that spread out well beyond this year’s bottom line. Don’t hesitate to discuss your current business model with your accountant or tax professional. They are sure to have concrete ideas about potential impacts that will be quite real five and ten years from now. The right commercial property in Bainbridge Island will be one that is able to accommodate your needs both now and into the future.

With the right agent and clear-cut financial goals, your search for an Bainbridge Island commercial property can result in the best financial move you make this year—or for many years to come.  If you’re weighing the value of purchasing a commercial property or placing your own for sale, call me to open the discussion about the opportunities in today’s market.

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2014 Trends in Home Design Bring Fresh Notes to the Kitchen

Keeping your Bainbridge Island kitchen looking up-to-date doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Contemporary home design on Bainbridge Island is all about knowing what the latest trends are and which to choose when regular maintenance calls for a change in appliances or décor.

This year, eco-friendly appliances are definitely ‘in’—as are the pops of bright color meant to create a vivid and welcoming kitchen. And as convenience features continue to evolve, those are increasingly prominent factors influencing design choices. Especially if you are planning to sell your Bainbridge Island home in the near future, there are a few home design directions that are most likely to impress prospective buyers who’ve been exploring the latest kitchen trends:

Going green is a pronounced trend, not just in home design. Using renewable, Earth-friendly materials can be a way to update a kitchen while minimizing environmental impact. A sample idea would be a sustainable bamboo parquet butcher block to grace the kitchen counter or table. They come in beautiful, rich wood tones, and when large enough to cover a substantial counter area, can warm the feel of the entire room.

Another (almost diametrically opposed) current direction is to deck the kitchen out with a few of the latest high-tech gadgets. Even if you resist an ultra-modern look, a few chic techie touches can add a dash of luxury to your home. One example: Siemens makes a multimedia ventilation hood that has a 17-inch LCD screen with options for listening to music or watching TV.  It’s a creative way to make cooking more entertaining—and one that would certainly help make your Bainbridge Island listing stand out!

Bright colors have not always been popular in kitchens, but lately, appliance manufacturers have been less shy about offering exuberant finishes. You can find dishwashers, blenders, toasters, microwaves and refrigerators in bright blues, pinks, yellows, greens and oranges. It can be an inexpensive way to add a splash of color to your kitchen…although if you are planning on selling soon, in many instances I’d recommend caution: perhaps confining the color pops to bright accent pillows or colorful floral arrangements.

Copper is also an increasingly popular trend in kitchen design this year. Its natural antibacterial properties make it a practical home design element, and that cool, rustic hue looks great in warm, gold-toned kitchens. Copper sinks and faucets are both practical and stylish (although keeping them bright and shiny can be another story!).

If you are thinking of selling soon, consider incorporating one or two current Bainbridge Island home design ideas if your kitchen could use a decor infusion.  Looking for more ideas?  Contact me today to discuss what is making today’s homes S-E-L-L!

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Staging Approaches to Boost any Bainbridge Island Home Sale

With summer already upon us, we stand at the threshold of a major selling season of 2014. If you are preparing to add your own property to the Bainbridge Island home listings, the International Association of Home Staging Professionals would like to draw your attention to some statistics that bolster their members’ proposition. None is more compelling than this one: non-staged homes remain 79 days longer on market than their professionally-staged neighbors.

Still, since not everyone hires a professional staging company to work their magic, you’d think there would be a few DIY alternatives that would well worth doing. Of course, there are: and some go beyond the most well-known staging rules that are basic to any home sale:

 
1. De-clutter (then de-clutter again). The stagers’ single most important line item remains this: de-clutter. There is little cost to de-cluttering a home (usually no more than a storage unit’s rental). The professional insight is that once you have done it, go back through the house and do it again! That second round might only involve boxing up a few remaining personal knick-knacks, but it can also suddenly reveal items that clash with a room’s overall color palette.

  
2. Light(en) it up: Neutral colors are the rule for staging a home, but good light can be equally important. Make sure every room is well-lit, with clean windows, bright light bulbs (some do dim over time), and plenty of lamps or fixtures. If possible, disperse the height of lighting sources by mixing floor and table lamps, windows and overhead fixtures.

  
3. Find the focal points: The largest item in the room does not always have to be the focal item. If you have an antique chest or a captivating painting, see if you can arrange the room so that it’s the first thing your eye picks up as you enter the room. A strong focal point gives a sense of character to a room. It works to your advantage, since the focal point naturally emphasizes the strongest feature of the room. 


These are approaches that do take some time and effort—but imaginative staging really does make an impact on perceived value, and, as a result, time-on-market. For more Bainbridge Island home selling insights, give me a call anytime to discuss your own real estate plans!

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A Real Estate Agent on Bainbridge Island —Willing to Share a Thing or 3!

Real estate agents on Bainbridge Island are true veterans when it comes to every aspect of what needs to take place for a home to be sold. We know in advance what all the pieces of the puzzle are, and what needs to be done for them to fit together properly. We’ve also seen why some homes stay on the market for too long, while others get snatched up right away. And the best part is—we want our clients to know all those same things!

Every rule may be made to be broken, but here are three generalities that just about every Baibridge Island  real estate agent will probably agree are worth knowing:

1. Where speed is important, price your house just under the market. As real estate values strengthen, sellers are growing more confident about the value of their offerings—even as prospective buyers continue to believe it’s a bargain-hunter’s market. That’s a terrific opportunity for sellers who realize that by simply setting their asking price just below what an optimistic, “let’s just see what happens” price, they can peg their offering to attract the serious buyers ASAP. It’s axiomatic: the longer a house is on the market, the less likely it is to close at its asking price. The best strategy, always: sell as quickly as possible.

2. A buyer needs to walk into your house and find that it looks great. It may seem like a trivial detail to you, but real estate agents on Bainbrudge Island know that even incidental atmospherics—little things that you’d think a buyer would know they can easily rectify—can instantaneously repel buyers. So make your home smell great! Establish a clean, fresh scent and be diligent in renewing it for every showing (after making sure any clutter is tucked away!)

3. Your Bainbridge Island  real estate agent will help speed the process of selling your home, but there are some parts of the timeline that can’t be rushed. Know in advance: the process takes time. It takes time to get your home in shape, make the necessary repairs, list it on the market, negotiate an offer, then proceed through all the paperwork, observing successive deadlines set to allow proper execution. Here’s another area where your real estate agent will be a great resource for dependably establishing exactly what to expect—and when to expect it.

If you will be seeking the right local real estate agent to make this summer your own hot selling season, I’m standing by to make it happen. Call me!

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Bainbridge Island Mortgage Rates Rise—But What’s It Mean?

Right now, mortgage rates in Bainbridge Island (as in the rest of the nation) are higher than they’ve been for 15 months—a trend that’s likely to continue. We have to wonder about the impact higher Bainbridge Island mortgage rates will have on home sales in the coming year.

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First, some perspective. If mortgage rates do increase in 2014, it’s no ‘done deal’ that home buyers will be put off—nor that a wave of foreclosures will follow. The reason? By past standards, interest rates will still be low, even at the 5½% predicted by the N.A.R. Any hike in mortgage interest rates are coming off the historical 3.52% set in the spring of last year. Consider: most of us were paying mortgage rates between 7 - 8% throughout the 1990’s! 5½% looks like a fire sale compared with those.

Factor Two: surprisingly, a projected rise in interest rates is not predicted to dampen the enthusiasm for acquiring property. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that home sales will increase nationally by 10% in 2014. I have no doubt that some Bainbridge Island first time homebuyers could be waylaid by rising interest rates—after all, a 1% increase in mortgage rates equates to approximately a 10% rise in monthly payments. But overall, buyers who can meet the current lending standards should still be able to afford to own. Given the cost of the renting alternative, they may decide they can’t afford to pass up the right house at the right price.

Additionally, there is a strong argument that the principal effect of rising interest rates is less likely to be on Bainbridge Island home sales than on refis. The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts that refinancing demand will drop by half in 2014 (when you chart that kind of number, it looks like a cliff!). Many homeowners will already have locked in last year’s interest, so they certainly won’t be interested.

Any drying up of the refinancing business may have yet another effect. There could be a follow-on effect as lenders start loosening their lending criteria to attract new business. First time buyers that have been locked out of the market until then may (we are now two after-effects later, so this has to be a ‘may’) find themselves suddenly eligible for a home loan.

Given the healthier economy and falling unemployment, the outlook for the Bainbridge Island housing market in 2014 has reason to look positive. Thinking of selling your home this spring?  Now’s the time to call me to discuss timing!

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Creative Tactics for Competing With Cash Offers

Conventional wisdom dictates that home sellers prefer cash offers. So what is a typical would-be buyer in Bainbridge Island to do when the competition comes forward with an all-cash offer? Cash offers may come from any of a variety of deep-pocketed parties: institutional investors, foreign investors, wealthy families or individual investors.

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Beyond doing basic due diligence — gathering as much intel as you can about the property and the seller’s needs — if you’ve found the perfect home and are convinced it is the best property for your family, consider one or more of these tactics:

Bidding over asking — even by as little as 2% or 3% — can sometimes win the day, according to Noah Rosenblatt, founder of Urban Digs, a real estate analytics company. Cash buyers typically factor in opportunity costs, making it less likely that they will go beyond a certain price threshold. No one wants to pay more for a property than necessary, but going “over asking” may be the only way to secure an ideal property when cash offers are competing.

Removing any contingencies from your offer will help strengthen your position and may well convince a Bainbridge Island seller that you are the party most likely to close successfully. The downside is that you will be assuming whatever risk had been the subject of the contingency in the first place. For example, if you were to submit an offer less any inspection contingencies, you might have to pay more than budgeted down the road if undiscovered repairs crop up.

The seller’s goal is maximize net return, so any term you add that puts more money in the seller’s pocket can sway the decision in your favor. Creative thinking pays. You might offer to pay the seller’s closing costs, cover your own Home Warranty policy, or any other add-on that has the desired effect.

While cash may be king in most cases, there are ways to compete with cash offers in Bainbridge Island. If you are looking for an agent with constructive solutions to help you find and secure the right property, why not call me today to take advantage of this fall’s inventory?

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Real Estate Roundup, 2013 Edition, Sizzle and All!

It’s time for this Bainbridge Island real estate observer to tackle the New Year’s roundup of the Year in Real Estate (along with the traditional disclaimer that, since the actual statistics won’t be tallied until 2014, this has to be a lot more sizzle than steak!) But this is one time in the year when we Bainbridge Island residents get to take pause to relax, perhaps put a bottle of bubbly in the fridge for later on, and take a sweeping view of the general direction of things across the land.

If you’ve been reading here throughout the year, you already know that 2013 Bainbridge Island real estate activity might easily justify chilling a superior vintage champagne: it’s been a pretty darn good year! A smattering of last week’s press reports confirms it:

  • From the East Coast to Oahu (where there was a “1 in 3 chance” that if you sold a house, it was for more than the asking price), reports were of steadily rising prices.
  • The Business Insider reported that the Big Apple “managed to shatter several real estate records in 2013.” One of the records was a tidy listing for a modest little 62,000 sq. ft. private coop residence. Sure, $130 million may sound a little steep to us here on Bainbridge Island, but that might be because so few of our digs have 82-foot swimming pools or tennis courts…at least not indoors, inside our five-story apartment atop a skyscraper.
  • More down to earth might be NAR’s assessment that “Housing prices rose faster than expected” — with a lot of credit given to the fact that “affordability remained high.”
  • Another factor: “More first-time buyers” were entering the market due to “rising rents and pent-up demand.”
  • Following suit, the Dallas News was touting a local home market that “came roaring back in 2013;” one that had “builders rushing to keep up with demand for new houses.”
  • The Realtor® web awarded credit for the strong real estate year to “Low mortgage rates, all-cash buyers, and tight inventories” that sustained the housing market recovery. Our Bainbridge Island real estate saw much of the same.
  • There was one notably bleak spot: “ACT real estate hit hard by election” the Times reported. “Uncertainty” about election politics had created “subdued performance during the year” and some “negative house price growth.” The best news: this was the Canberra Times – and the country was Australia!

So let’s wish those Down Under a quick turnaround; then, after a relaxing day watching the Rose Parade and a bowl game or two, let’s get ready to charge into an equally dynamic 2014.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Bainbridge Island Mortgage Rates and the Summer Holiday Connection

After such a long time remaining at the lowest levels anyone can remember, Bainbridge Island mortgage rates have been climbing out of the cellar. No one who was paying attention expected them to stay at the almost unbelievably low levels they’d held for more than a year, so that was anything but a surprise.

But for Bainbridge Island home shoppers and sellers, it is the future of mortgage rates that is most important. Because mortgage rates are the basis by which monthly payments are calculated, knowing what to expect in their movement would enable anyone to make the best decision about whether now is the time to buy or sell — or whether even a short delay might mean the same monthly outlay could buy more house.

Experience teaches that literally no one can accurately predict those rate movements, but I thought I’d look for some of the most current advice on the matter to see if they could supply any enlightenment. The answer (certainly more predictable than the rates) was…not really.

Recently, Mortgage News Daily had what you’d have to call the typical take. After headlining “Mortgage Rates Slightly Lower For Third Straight Day,” they admitted that the national rates, while under July 23rd lows, were reflecting “a detachment from the financial market data.”

In other words, the lower mortgage rates didn’t follow any rational reasoning that their correspondents could discover. Further explanation followed, but wasn’t much more helpful for making any predictions. “Quiet days and quiet weeks have a sort of inertia in that the higher and lower boundaries of rate movements are fairly well entrenched unless [blah blah blah]… which happens because of low volume and low participation.”

In other words: it’s Summer. Nothing (or anything) might happen when the financial traders are off on vacation. Another interpretation: if you’re intending to buy or sell a home in Bainbridge Island, the hope that waiting will yield improved mortgage rates is unlikely to give you much more than a 50-50 chance. 

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Price and Value — a Difference That’s Important

The fall selling season is just around the corner, causing some homeowners to give serious thought to the prospect of listing their home. Particularly when it’s likely that you will be entering the Bainbridge Island market soon, when it comes to the important decision regarding setting the price of the property, it’s helpful to keep in mind that there is a meaningful difference between “price” and “value.” 

Price is the amount that a seller asks for their Bainbridge Island property — it’s that all-important number at the top of the listing that seeks to describe where it belongs in the hierarchy of homes for sale. But the fact is, it is different from the value — which is the amount the property is worth. The value is based on many factors, among them location (neighborhood and placement within the neighborhood), current market supply and demand, condition, distinguishing features of the property, and more.  

You can’t change the location of a home, nor the current market conditions — but by improving the property, a savvy seller can increase the value of his or her property. Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist who has often written on the subject. She cites one example of location as a value determinant: “An incurable defect, like being located next to a freeway or on a busy street, is something that can’t be corrected.” On the other hand, she points out how other factors, like details whose maintenance has been deferred, are eminently correctable. 

That is why the oft-heard advice about the importance of improving a property before it comes to market are so on-target: deep clean the home, correct deferred maintenance items, clear out clutter, de-personalize, re-paint, re-fresh, re-organize! Some elements of property value can’t be changed, but a savvy seller can still materially raise that value – which is the real secret to fetching a higher price.

If you are looking to sell your Bainbridge Island property this fall, I have a marketing plan that can start right now – 30 days before listing – to help bring you top dollar. Call me today to set the wheels in motion!

 

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Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Boost Area Property Search Results

By now, social media are an integral part of many peoples’ daily routine. If you are selling your home in Bainbridge Island this summer, you can decide to add your own social media clout to add further momentum to the professional campaign. Your agent already has a great website to attract anyone conducting a Bainbridge Island property search. Now many sellers are using their own social media network to link to it. 

No one wants to be spammed by a friend’s marketing on Facebook, but a few posts about your home-selling adventures can be interesting. When your home is first listed, announce it and post a link to your agent’s website. Be sure not to sound too sales-y (that’s your agent’s job). Instead, share items that relate to your life: “It’s really happening! Listing our home for sale in Bainbridge Island this weekend. Now I finally get to show off my new kitchen with its 6-burner Viking range!” Share photos, too.

The rules for Twitter marketing are similar. It’s social, so avoid outright sales tactics. Try asking engaging questions, like, “Do you think buyers in Bainbridge Island will want to check out our #solarpanels?” Don’t forget to #hashtag key words, and always link to the listing’s website so interested buyers click directly to it for their property search.

Photos sell — so if you have a Pinterest account, use it! Ask your agent for copies of your listing’s top-quality photographs, then post, post, post! Choose the top three features Bainbridge Island buyers might be looking for in their property search and create a Pinterest board for each. If you have a chef’s dream kitchen, create a board featuring gorgeous kitchens. If you have a waterfront property, make a board filled with beautiful waterfront properties (especially yours!) The boards will draw prospects whose property search keys on those features.

I welcome help from any homeowner who thinks their own social network will add to my full-time campaign. If you’re looking to sell your home in Bainbridge Island this summer, contact me today to discuss how my marketing plan can go to work for you!

 

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