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Bainbridge island Homes for Sale

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Selling Your Home Means Keeping Ahead on Maintenance

The graduations are just finishing up and with the end of July soon to be coming our way, many homeowners may focused on BBQs and summer festivities than home maintenance. But for those selling a home in Bainbridge Island this summer, keeping ahead of upkeep issues will become an important part of the project.

Some items that bear watching: 

The best time to clean air conditioners is before you fire them up for the first time…but since the AC has been much needed in the last few weeks, it’s probably too late. Never mind: sooner is better than later or even never — and if you're selling your home in Bainbridge Island this summer, you'll want to keep the home comfortable at all times for potential buyers. Your owner's manual should explain how to change filters and clean coils and fins.

Everyone knows how important clearing clutter is for selling your Bainbridge Island home, but don't forget to stash the winter's heating paraphernalia. While you’re storing any portable heaters, pull the filters from the central furnace and pick up replacements next time you’re at the hardware store. When potential buyers see the new replacements neatly placed where they’ll be handy come winter, they are likely to register that this is one property owner who is well ahead of maintenance issues.

Cleaning the windows and window coverings is a chore none of us looks forward to. But when you're selling your home on Bainbridge Island this summer, few touches pay off like windows that shine, shine, shine! Choose a sunny days and see if you can get someone to work with you — and if you can spare an extra hour or so, hose off the screens and lay them out in the sun to dry.

Selling your home in Bainbrigde Island is less taxing when you put yourself a step ahead on maintenance. Then call a hard-working agent like me to put the rest of a well thought-out marketing plan into action. I’ll be working all summer to help bring you top dollar for your area home.


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6 Common Mistakes After Listing Your Home on Bainbridge Island – Part 1.

Disclosure Signatures

Disclosing material facts that might affect your Bainbridge Island property’s value is a fair obligation that’s understood by everyone. Yet properly disclosing all material facts won’t help you at all if an issue comes up later but you can’t prove the disclosure. A good agent will double- and triple-check all the signatures, but at the end of the day, your peaceful sleep at night is only protected when you also take care to keep complete copies of the paperwork with all signatures accounted for.

Earnest Money 

Ah — the thrill of getting the first offer! After readying the property and listing your home, when an offer comes quickly, you’ll be tempted to say, “Where do I sign?” But slow up: getting a great offer is just the first step. Part of being a prudent seller is scrutinizing the offer and buyer to gauge the likelihood that the deal will close. The amount of earnest money should demonstrate the prospect’s sincere intent to buy…not just their desire to tie up the house while they make up their mind!


Want to watch warm feelings ice up in a hurry? Try surprising your buyer with the last-minute news that you intend to take your coveted washer/dryer (or heirloom chandelier, or custom closet system) with you because you forgot to exclude them. It’s part of my job as your agent to go over the more obvious items when listing your home in Bainbridge Island, but even so, it’s ultimately up to you to make sure your intent is known. Trust me - I’ve seen more than one sale go south in the eleventh hour over some unbelievably minor items.

Coming next week, I’ll flesh out more of these most common pitfalls. Of course, listing your home with me means you won’t need to worry: I make it my job to keep an eye out for all of them. If you’re thinking of listing your home on Bainbridge Island, call me today!



Bainbridge Island Short Sale Process Takes Active Teamwork


A Bainbridge Island short sale is the option usually preferred by anyone who faces foreclosure. It’s the path that, with the approval of the mortgage lender, promises to ultimately minimize damage to the homeowner’s credit score.

According to Realty Trac, distressed sales of all kinds continued to decrease in the last reported quarter, yet the non-foreclosure short sale volume increased by 4%. That amounts to a significant 22% of all sales.

Completing a short sale in Bainbridge Island, or anywhere can be challenging. If you’ve decided that it is your best course, you can do a lot to help your agent accomplish it:

  • From the beginning of the Bainbridge Island short sale process, keep your agent informed of any changes in the financial picture. That means keeping up-to-date on the changing balance remaining on the mortgage, as well as the number of missed payments. When the information is at hand, your agent can impart the sense of urgency that gets your home sold as fast as possible.
  • The speed of sale is important, yet while a Bainbridge Island short sale specialist is an expert in that arena, other important details regarding taxation and the law may influence the best overall strategy. By encouraging your real estate agent to work alongside an experienced attorney or tax specialist, you will form a team that can execute your short sale package more efficiently than if they worked independently.
  • Executing a short sale means meeting multiple demands—each with its own timing requirements. That can mean a lot of pressure: but if your agent asks you to do something or provide additional information, stand ready to do it! That speeds negotiations with buyers and lenders, increasing the chance that you will successfully close your short sale

Short selling a home is a somewhat complicated process. I offer a no-obligation, in-home consultation to help assess your circumstances and the next steps to consider. Call me anytime!




Homes for Sale Price Rises Highest in 7 Years

When real estate occupies most of your day (as it certainly does mine), you find yourself receiving no end of information. Some summarize points of view that are available elsewhere; some provide original information that isn’t particularly relevant to our local market.

One piece that gets more than the usual quick-scan-then-into-the-recycle-bin treatment is the HPI Data Report. It comes in once each month from the demographers at CoreLogic ®. This group knows what they are talking about: among other things, they collect the most comprehensive property database in the U.S. 

Here are some interest statistics from the report.

•    Prices of homes for sale nationwide made the biggest year-over-year increase in seven years!

•    Year-over-year, even including distressed sales, prices of homes for sale jumped by an average 9.7% That’s just a whisker short of double-digits!

•    Those homes for sale price jumps were taking place everywhere — in 49 out of the 51 states (the only exceptions were Illinois and Delaware).

As if the trend direction isn’t already crystal clear, this represents the 11th consecutive monthly increase.
As we prepare for Bainbridge Island’s spring selling season, it’s noteworthy how much this year promises to be a notch up from even last year’s —already a noticeable improvement.

If you have a property that is a good candidate to join this spring’s complement of Bainbridge Island homes for sale, now is a good time to give me a call. Rising prices mean that the buyers are out there!



Don't Overdo Your Bainbridge Island Open House

According to the best estimate, something like 45% of home buyers use an open house viewing before making their purchase decision. I think that sounds about right – it might even be higher here on Bainbridge. With such a high proportion of serious prospects choosing to drop by an open house, it’s important that we – client and agent -- get it right. Under-preparing is seldom an issue: we all want to put our best foot forward when we invite the public into our home.

Yet while it may be tempting to go into overdrive for that preparation, overdoing it can be a problem, too – one that can actually turn off buyers. Some guidelines worth noting:

  • Avoid information overload.   It's common practice to set out a few brochures or pamphlets that let potential buyers know something about the area. But ifyour flier presentation looks like it belongs in the State Tourist Welcome Center, or you've put together a local restaurant guide that comes off like a comprehensive college prospectus, your buyer may not have enought time to focus on the home while there.
  • Don't Kill the Mood. Like many agents, I like to try to set a certain ambiance for potential buyers attending an open house. Yet I also know that when a potential buyer walks though a Bainbridge Island home, he or she needs to be albe to projext a personal image of the future onto it. In Practice, this means that soft music is nice-top 40 is too much. Subtle and neutral details are a plus; too much color or too many photos can be overkill. To cater to all demographics, be sure the house is clean and uncluttered-- as minimalistic as practical.
  • Keep Refreshments to a Minimum. Ensuring that potential buyers feel comfortable in your open house is  the goal, so you and your agent need to draw a line between hosting a mini-buffet and being gracious but business like hosts. You want to provide pleasant and positive refreshments, but an elaborate spread taking over the kitchen and wafting all variety of aromas through the house is distracting. I've always been a fan of the classic cheese and crackers display (though I've sometimes found it appropriate to add a cookbook propped open to emphasize an especially well thought out kitchen design).

            When you plan your own Bainbridge Island open house, you and your agent should make the most of the strong points of your offering – being careful not to upstage them. Call me anytime if you are looking for one of those kinds of agents. I am one who will be your strong partner from the moment you list until the last closing doc is signed!



Retiring Boomers Affect Property Listings

How about this for a stunner: each and every day for the next 17 years, more than 10,000 American "baby boomers" will hit retirement age. That is based on 65 being considered retirement age (although many 65-year-olds I know haven’t the slightest intention of abandoning their careers anytime soon). Nevertheless, the impact that this demographic wave will have on everybody is bound to be substantial.

In the housing industry, even seniors who are anything but retired will be gravitating toward newer, smaller homes that better fit the lifestyle of adults whose children are now out on their own. So some fine-tuning of property listings will be in order. I expect more Bainbridge Island property listings to start emphasizing smaller footprints and some other basics that reflect some of those changing lifestyle priorities. 

Cost of living factors can be expected to replace good employment opportunities as a leading geographical consideration.  Since most retirees will find themselves shifting to a fixed or limited income, property listings may start to include their area’s score on the National Cost of Living Index. The NCLI is based on an average of 100: cities with a cost of living index of 80 to 90 are usually considered favorable for retirees. We can expect more local property listings to highlight it.

Weather and seasonal factors should take new prominence. There is a good reason why previous generations of retirees chose homes located in the western Sunbelt states and the southeastern region. Many retirees prefer warm weather and temperate climates. There are physical and medical advantages – not to mention added months of golf, tennis and beach going!

Proximity to family members is the one perpetual consideration that won’t be changing anytime soon. Grandparents cannot fully dote if the kids are all the way across the country. Yet indicators have been growing that their more mobile mindset has at least some seniors compromising in this regard: property listings that note major airports close by are growing in number. (Call it ‘portable doting.’)

 In the end, the choice of a new home that fits anyone’s later years is largely a matter of what you and your spouse want out of the freedom of your latter years. For clients who are selling, it’s a basic part of my service to know how to create Bainbridge Island property listings that emphasize the features currently rate highest with prospective buyers – baby boomers or not!




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A Hard Look at Bainbridge Island Bank Owned Properties

Nationally, the supply of the bank-owned properties for sale has been trending down -- potentially good news for anyone and everyone with an interest in Bainbridge Island real estate. Competition from the glut of foreclosed properties has had the effect of driving down home sale prices, so any drop in the number of Bainbridge Island bank owned properties will remove that downward pressure.

If the trend continues, it should also affect even the bank owned properties themselves. A drop in supply will increase competition for the bargains they represent. But this is why alert bargain hunters should keep their pencils sharpened. As retail merchants understand, just slapping a ‘SALE!’ sign on an item may help it sell -- even if it isn’t really a particularly good bargain.

The low prices attached to Bainbridge bank owned properties can represent true value…or an invitation to inherit unexpected costs. No matter how tempting a bargain may seem, taking the time and effort to uncover any hidden costs will be worth your while. Then the sharpened pencil  can add the realistic costs of correction, resulting in a truly informed decision. 

If a home goes into foreclosure under protest, an angry previous owner may decide to depart with essential fittings -- like bathtubs and ovens! The LA Times calculates that around $30,000 of additional costs can be added to a typical $110,000 purchase in this manner. To me, this sounds like an exaggeration, but it is a valid heads-up to investigate and factor in possible cash requirements.

An inspection by a trusted professional is highly desirable. Some bank owned properties on Bainbridge Island (as everywhere else) could carry hidden environmental issues that might later flare up into major financial drains. For example, a leaky underground tank may not only be expensive to repair -- in an extreme case a new owner might owe costs to neighbors, too.  Banks do not have to disclose much of anything about the property - known or unknown – so be sure your inspector is thorough.

If the previous owner has been unable to meet the costs of other debts, the home being sold may be saddled with extra financial obligations. One example is past due real estate taxes.  By the time a bank has officially foreclosed on a home, these debts will usually have been paid – but paperwork can get complicated, so title insurance becomes extra important when buying a bank owned home.

An experienced agent will watch out for these and other hidden costs on your behalf -- and that can be a money-saver in the long run.  You can contact me anytime to discuss how buying a bank owned home on Bainbridge Island measures up in this September's market.

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One Foreclosure Result: Bainbridge Island Rental Homes

The housing market’s new signs of recovery are accompanied by continued life in the rental homes investment market. Alert investors picked up on the earlier foreclosure epidemic – especially this year’s income stream-producing variety. ‘Buy low, sell high’ had largely become ‘buy low, rent high’ as rising rental rates met swooning residential prices. Although housing’s bottom appears to have been reached and newly reversed, Bainbridge Island's rental homes rates are still subject to the general uptick. In short, opportunities for investors remain.

We’ve talked about the topic earlier, but for those who missed it, here’s a thumbnail review:

The foreclosure market draws attention.

This spring, newspapers like the L.A. Times widely trumpeted the investment rush that was underway due to the raft of nationwide foreclosures. Data tracker CoreLogic predicted a market that could be “worth $100 billion in terms of rental investments” for 2012. The idea was to “get your hands on a great foreclosure deal” with the long term in mind. Many investors did take them up on it, usually realizing the intended results. For most investors who continue to keep tabs on Bainbridge Island's rental homes market, the most common strategy remains buying low, then making the repairs necessary to rent high.  

Rental home rental rates climb.

Although you’d usually expect an inverse relationship between home prices and rental rates, the signs of an apparent turnaround in the Bainbridge homes market doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on the rate of rental increases. If that holds, it means that buying rental homes on Bainbridge Island as an investment could continue to produce for the foreseeable future – depending, of course, on keeping them occupied by quality tenants. Which finally leads us to….

Increase in renters

As part of the fallout from the financial crisis and maddeningly slow recovery we are still experiencing, a continuing stream of those forced to default on their mortgage payments have joined the ranks of renters – many of them high quality tenants. That’s an added incentive to Bainbridge Island rental homes investors, allowing them to feel more comfortable spending on the repairs often needed to turn foreclosures into a desirable rental homes.  

All of which brings us up to date. If you have thought about investigating the investment property arena, contacting me for a Bainbridge Islandl rental homes market consultation will be a great place to start!  



Home Sales Notch Another Rise, Bainbridge Island Homeowners Get More Good News; Condominiums, Homes Lead Sales Growth

As regular readers know, I keep track of the national media spin on real estate matters because our Bainbridge Island home sales often reflects the tone we all pick up from the feel of the wider market. So let’s not beat around the bush: again in August, the residential real estate picture continued its rise. It has been sensible to remain cautiously optimistic about the direction of things for a good long while, but at this juncture, it’s finally beginning to look like a trend has taken shape.


“For the fifth consecutive month,” the Wall Street Journal reported in its news pages, “sales of previously owned homes notched another rise.” Bainbridge Island homeowners who have gone through literally years of sinking prices and moribund home sales must be worried as they read this –worried that someone will snap them out of this pleasant daydream. But it’s real: despite most of the other national economic news that remains considerably less encouraging, the real estate picture is heartening.   


The National Association of REALTORS®, agrees. They report that single family homes, condominiums and townhomes increased sales. Single family home sales rose 9.9% over last year, with condo sales jumping a full 14%.


A low inventory of homes for sale is believed to be at least partially responsible for strong new homes sales numbers. The nation’s biggest builder of luxury homes, Toll Brothers, reported a sales leap of 57% from last year. Meantime, the price picture showed the kind of growth you would expect: median prices were up over 9% from a year ago.


Supporting trends were also interesting. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) were down markedly, reflecting a tightening supply. This is probably an indication that the glut of such properties has finally worked its way through the market; certainly an encouraging sign for homeowners who have been waiting to list until the home sales market strengthens. The WSJ news story would likely provide some encouragement: they feature one would-be buyer who bid on a home, but lost it to a higher bidder. He and his wife had been viewing homes all summer before finally making their offer. “Maybe I stepped in a month too late,” he’s quoted as saying.


For Bainbridge Island and Kitsap County homeowners who have been biding their time, that kind of quote will surely be music to their ears. If you have been watching and waiting for your own entry into the Bainbridge market, I hope you will give me a call to investigate the latest comparables in your own neighborhood.  


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Bainbridge Island real estate market update

Bainbridge Island real estate has been experiencing a flurry of activity not seen in about 7 years. With inventory down and demand up you can't hardly ask for more! Here is a snap shot of the year to date.

Inventory - End of June

 *   Existing Homes - DOWN 27%
 *   New Construction - DOWN 31%
 *   Existing Condos - DOWN 38%
 *   New Condos - DOWN 84%

Pending - YTD

 *   Existing Homes - UP 62.5%  (June was UP 59% Y / Y)
 *   New Construction - UP 37.5% (June was UP 50%)
 *   Existing Condos - UP 13% (June was UP 29%)
 *   New Condos - UP 20% (June was flat)

Sales - YTD

 *   Existing Homes - UP 42%  (June was UP 75%) - Median price UP 2.7%         WOW!
 *   New Construction - Flat (June flat) - Median price DOWN 13.5%
 *   Existing Condos - UP 10% (June was UP 233%) - Median price DOWN 10.5%
 *   New Condos - DOWN 25% (June was flat)  - Median price UP 44%

If you want to know what is happening in the Bainbridge Island real estate market, please contact me at 206-391-1718 or email Kristi Nelson.

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