Viewing entries in
Buying a House

How Art Staging Can Impact the Sale of Your Home

1 Comment

How Art Staging Can Impact the Sale of Your Home

There is a perception paradox that sometimes exists within real estate: the idea that an empty minimalist home offers a blank slate for potential buyers to imagine their perfect home. While a small slice of the general population may have the unique vision to picture a space with cascading light features, warm and inviting furniture arrangements, or eye-catching objets d’art, the majority of buyers look to experts in interior design for help. The truth is, the benefits of staging your home are extensive. Properly staged homes spend substantially less time on the market, routinely sell for more money, and frequently end up on must-see lists.

1 Comment

The Numbers are IN! January 2018 Stats

Comment

The Numbers are IN! January 2018 Stats

The numbers are here, folks, and they don't lie. We are officially in a spring market in the middle of winter. I can't think of another time when the numbers looked like this - it's been a long while. The good news is that if you are even remotely considering selling your home and have been waiting for the market to be in your favor (aka Seller's Market) well, wait no longer.

Comment

Comment

You Need an Expert Negotiator Now More Than Ever

In the ‘old days’, real estate negotiations were often a fairly simple process. The parties agreed to a price, identified items included in the sale, and determined when the property would change hands. These days, however, real estate negotiations can be extremely complicated. Not only are the parties negotiating on price, but they are working their way through several pages of contract items – all of which need thoughtful and careful consideration.

In today’s market, buyers and sellers need an extremely skilled negotiator on their side. While many people still believe that an agent’s primary duty is simply to show buyers houses or put a seller’s property on the market, that’s just the beginning of their job.

house in hands.jpg

Your agent needs to know how to read the subtle cues and telltale signs of what is required to close a deal. They need to know how to articulate your position to the other side in a way that fosters mutual acceptance. They need to be experienced in dealing with conflict, and how to calm emotions when they get in the way and threaten to derail a transaction.

The number one skill of being a good negotiator—a skill in which real estate agents should excel—is resolution. Your agent must be able to listen carefully to each side, find ways to resolve any objections that come up, and negotiate “win/win” solutions where both parties ultimately walk away satisfied that the transaction was done in fairness.

handshake.jpg

If you’re a buyer, you absolutely need experience on your side when negotiating with nervous sellers, or with a bank or an asset manager who could live thousands of miles away.

If you are selling a home, hire an agent who is well-versed in your local market and can anticipate how buyers are structuring their offers.

Your agent needs a strong track record of experience in negotiating difficult transactions. The person you want on your side is someone who knows exactly how to negotiate effectively on your behalf and who knows how to successfully guide you in reaching your real estate goals.

Going it alone – or hiring an agent without the professional skills you need – is never in your best interest.

Want to know how I’ve handled some recent tough negotiations? Give me a call at (206) 391-1718 or email me at kristi@livingonbainbridgeisland.com and I’ll share with you the elements of a true “win/win” transaction, based on my own experience.

Comment

Comment

When Eyeing New Construction, Ask Questions!

For most of us, the appeal of new construction—a brand new home which your family is first to own—is undeniable. The idea of being able to select your own floor plan with a layout you like and upgrades built to order is hard to beat.

But home shoppers looking for new construction on Bainbridge Island should be particular. If their future home is to meet expectations, some sophisticated questions should be asked and answered before any agreements are reached.

Home models are usually decked out with the best and most expensive furnishings and finishes, unlike more modest packages, where the unadorned dwelling is delivered without any fancy stuff. When you are viewing a home in a Bainbridge Island new construction development, be sure to ask how much that specific model costs—as-is. You can bet that the figure will be substantially higher than the most widely-advertised low-end price…and when you question what features create the price differences, you’ll readily determine if those are features you consider indispensable. A little arithmetic, and you’ll know how much your home will run.

Some developers have better reputations than others, and you’ll want to work with the very best. Ask for references, of course, and do your own online investigation. Look at the previous new construction projects the developer has worked on and check whether they’ve had numerous complaints filed against them. Don’t necessarily trust every grumpy comment; but you can tell from the general level of satisfaction what you’re likely to experience.

Bainbridge Island new construction proceeds as a complex process—one where it pays to monitor progress to confirm that you’re getting exactly what you want (with no changes or alterations accidentally slipping through). Before signing on the dotted line, be sure you understand exactly what the construction process entails, and when and how often you’ll be able to enter the site to monitor progress.

Asking the right questions and monitoring finishing work is key in preventing unwanted surprises when it comes to new construction. If you’re interested in learning more about new homes and developments on Bainbridge Island, I’m just a phone call away!

Comment

Comment

Area Home Buyer Strategies When Bidding Wars Break Out

Wasn’t it just yesterday that we seemed locked into a classic home buyer’s market on Bainbridge Island? Bad economy, bad job numbers, tanked real estate values were all we heard about…until it eventually shifted. Over the past year or so, it’s become a very different landscape. If you’ve been out looking to become a Bainbridge Island home buyer, it’s possible that you’ve found yourself putting in offers on multiple houses…and also possibly watching from the sidelines as another Bainbridge Island home buyer walked away with a deal. If this isn’t a true seller’s market, to you the difference may not be apparent.

In any case, when a prospective home buyer on Bainbridge Island finds themselves vying for one of the plum homes that are now appearing in this summer’s Bainbridge Island listings, there’s no need to passively watch as others get the nod. If you are sure of the value of the property you are going for, there are straightforward tactics for improving your chances of winning the day:

goldenrod_liv.jpeg

-      Offering at or above list price is the time-tested way to give you the best shot of getting your contract accepted over bidders who offer less than list. Real estate prices are again on the rise, increasing your likelihood of being able to recoup the extra money if you decide to sell several years down the road. Look at the comps with your agent to determine what an aggressive—yet realistic price—will be.

-      Ask your real estate agent what the recommended earnest money amount would be; then double or triple that deposit amount. It’s a sure way to signal that you’re a serious and financially able home buyer. This tactic has the advantage that it doesn’t really cost you anything in the long run, assuming you hold up your end of the contract. It is a way to stand out from other Bainbridge Island home buyers without actually spending more.

-      In a buyer’s market, it’s almost expected to ask for add-ons like fixing a staircase or leaving the swing set. But in a seller’s market, you can beat the competition by not asking for extras beyond what is offered in the listing. Home sellers may be fully occupied with many outside details (like looking for their own next home!) and often assign high value to an offer that looks uncomplicated.

-      Along the same lines, another way to set yourself apart from every other home buyer is to offer to give the seller more than the usual time to move out of their house. Many other bidders won’t think of this—but it can make the deal if the sellers are having to cope with difficult deadlines for their own move.

Above all, don’t let yourself get discouraged. The right house is out there, and you will get an offer accepted! Particularly in a seller’s market, any Bainbridge Island home buyer will be rewarded by just remaining patient and cool-headed. First step if you will be looking to buy this summer: call me today to get started!

Comment

Comment

Success Belongs to a Patient, Cool Bainbridge Island Home Buyer

Wasn’t it just yesterday that we seemed locked into a classic home buyer’s market on Bainbridge Island? Bad economy, bad job numbers, tanked real estate values were all we heard about…until it eventually shifted. Over the past year or so, it’s become a very different landscape. If you’ve been out looking to become a Bainbridge Island home buyer, it’s possible that you’ve found yourself putting in offers on multiple houses…and also possibly watching from the sidelines as another Washington home buyer walked away with a deal. If this isn’t a true seller’s market, to you the difference may not be apparent.

In any case, when a prospective home buyer on Bainbridge Island finds themselves vying for one of the plum homes that are now appearing in this summer’s listings, there’s no need to passively watch as others get the nod. If you are sure of the value of the property you are going for, there are straightforward tactics for improving your chances of winning the day:

  • Offering at or above list price is the time-tested way to give you the best shot of getting your contract accepted over bidders who offer less than list. Real estate prices are again on the rise, increasing your likelihood of being able to recoup the extra money if you decide to sell several years down the road. Look at the comps with your agent to determine what an aggressive—yet realistic price—will be.
  • Ask your real estate agent what the recommended earnest money amount would be; then double or triple that deposit amount. It’s a sure way to signal that you’re a serious and financially able home buyer. This tactic has the advantage that it doesn’t really cost you anything in the long run, assuming you hold up your end of the contract. It is a way to stand out from other Bainbridge Island home buyers without actually spending more.
  • In a buyer’s market, it’s almost expected to ask for add-ons like fixing a staircase or leaving the swing set. But in a seller’s market, you can beat the competition by not asking for extras beyond what is offered in the listing. Home sellers may be fully occupied with many outside details (like looking for their own next home!) and often assign high value to an offer that looks uncomplicated.
  • Along the same lines, another way to set yourself apart from every other home buyer is to offer to give the seller more than the usual time to move out of their house. Many other bidders won’t think of this—but it can make the deal if the sellers are having to cope with difficult deadlines for their own move.

Above all, don’t let yourself get discouraged. The right house is out there, and you will get an offer accepted! Particularly in a seller’s market, any Bainbridge Island home buyer will be rewarded by just remaining patient and cool-headed. First step if you will be looking to buy this summer: call me today to get started!

Comment

Comment

The Larger Case for Smaller Houses on Bainbridge Island

It just might be that a groundswell is spreading throughout the home-buying public. On Bainbridge Island, smaller houses that used to be difficult to sell are rising in popularity, and I can guess why.

First, a little history. Back in 1950, what we would consider smaller houses were the rule: the average square footage came in at just 983 (try to imagine the ‘average’ family with 2 kids, 2 adults and Lassie all shoehorned in there!). By 2006, that figure had blown up to 2,248 square feet—and we all know about the bigger McMansions—just in time for the financial meltdown. Within the next few years, for the first time ever, the upsizing trend had begun to reverse. Only three years later, average square footage was 2,135.

In terms of size, today’s buyers and sellers are meeting in a much more balanced market. Bainbridge Islands smaller houses are no longer automatically spurned. In fact, smaller houses are the first choice for a growing number of buyers. Why?

When you really analyze it, a surprising amount of housing space is seldom used. Lifestyle changes dictate that formal dining and living rooms are much less frequently occupied. And it’s a fact that we only use a small percentage of the things that we own, so in actuality, some of many homes’ area amount to extremely high-end storage space. By getting rid of some of that unused stuff, the space it takes up can become unneeded.

The old rule of thumb nationally is that property taxes average about 1% of the value of a home. Smaller houses mean lower tax bills.

Maintenance bills can be substantially lower in smaller Bainbridge Island houses. It varies greatly by age and style, but one estimate has it that annual maintenance bills usually run between 1%-3% of total value.

Whether your hire help or handle it yourself, a smaller home can be much faster to clean. This may be less true when clutter is allowed to take over, but for those who are vigilant clutter-clearers, it means freeing more time for doing the things that you love. If you are paying someone else clean your home, it can easily equate to significant savings over the course of a year.

According to the American Psychology Association, money is the largest single contributor to stress. Nearly three-quarters of Americans admit that financial problems are their biggest source of stress. Purchasing a smaller house with an accompanying smaller mortgage can directly translate into a mellower quality of life.

A smaller Bainbridge Island house may not be for everyone, but today’s buyers are considering the advantages with a much more open minds. If you are giving some serious thought to buying or selling a home, let’s talk about the wide range of possibilities on the market today.

Comment

Comment

Taking Advantage of Bainbridge Island Commercial Property Opportunities

This year, it looks as if the busy spring 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 on 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 on 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 a 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.

Comment

Comment

Tradeoffs for Remodeling vs. Moving to a New Bainbridge Island Home

Last week’s Rasmussen Reports survey reported that the majority (52%) of Americans consider their home to be a family’s best investment at the same time that the number of people who are choosing to remodel their home is on the rise. According to the Houzz & Home survey, the number of people who planned improvement projects rose a dynamic 12 % last year. Of those, 40% wanted to remodel their home or build an addition. 

While remodeling may be becoming more popular, there are still plenty of advantages to the alternative route: purchasing a new home on Bainbridge Island. Here are some of the pros and cons of each route:

•     Before you start your remodeling project you should take a personal inventory. Do you have the experience and skills to manage the project…and is the prospect appealing? Remodeling your home will require that you deal directly either with tradesmen, contractors, architects— or the whole bunch! It may be the greatest advantage to purchasing a new Bainbridge Island home: getting the additional space and amenities without the work.

•     The loss of privacy during a remodeling project is not something to be underestimated. Depending upon the scope of the project, it may be months before the dust settles and you have the house to yourself again. There is also the inconvenience of not having access to multiple areas of your home while work is proceeding

•     For most of us, there really is no place like home. If you’re like me, even when you’ve been on a terrific vacation, eventually you begin to yearn for the comfort and familiarity of your good old home base. Although one or two irksome features of your current house make moving seem like a no-brainer…before you commit to a move, be sure that you really want to leave. History, a sense of community, and the roots you’ve established in your current neighborhood are all reasons to opt for a remodel rather than a new home.

•     Selling your existing home and buying a new Bainbridge Island home is a sizable financial commitment. Moving costs, transaction fees, commissions and taxes are part of the equation to weigh against remodeling costs. A sharp pencil is definitely in order before the dollars and cents can be realistically reckoned—particularly if your finances have improved, and the remodel is meant to bring your home up to an improved standard of living.

The danger lies in overcapitalizing a property in a location where the resale won’t support the expense. Even a great home will still fetch a price that’s relative to other properties in the neighborhood, obliterating the wished-for ‘investment’ value of extensive remodeling.

While it’s important to be informed about the factual tradeoffs of your decision, it’s likely the end choice will also be influenced by what just feels right—as it should be. Whether you’re considering a remodel or a purchase, if you’d like to run some numbers, call me today for a confidential price evaluation!

Comment

Comment

Relocating to a Bainbridge Island New Home—Sight-Unseen!

One of the unusual situations that sometimes crops up in Bainbridge Island real estate is one where the buyer purchases a house without ever seeing it. This may sound nuts—but there are circumstances (more than you’d think) where it can be the only practical solution.

Wholesalers and house-flippers, for instance, sometimes simply haven’t time to visit every property they suspect is a great buy. Other times, buyers might be relocating to Bainbridge Island from out of state (or even out of the country) under a timetable that doesn’t allow them an extra visit—or even a first visit! According to the latest full-year data from the National Association of Realtors®, home sales to foreign buyers amounted to $68 billion!

As you’d guess, the risks of purchasing a house sight-unseen when relocating to Bainbridge Island remain stark. Nonetheless, there are ways such buyers can protect themselves: 

Adding a contractual walk-though contingency—one which allows a final walk-though before signing at closing—is the surest protection. Sellers aren’t obligated to accept such a contingency (and in a competitive market it’s less likely to be acceptable), but if it’s allowed, it’s also a sign that the property is likely to pass muster. 

The odds of a good “sight-unseen” result when relocating to Bainbridge Island grow significantly better when you present your agent with a clear list of requirements. Some important factors outside of specific house metrics could be the quality of local schools, transportation links and commuting times, crime rates, shopping and entertainment and recreation area access.

It is especially important to hire a first-class home inspector. When you can’t visit the property yourself, your inspector can be the trained eyes that prevent your inheriting unneeded maintenance issues. If the listing doesn’t give you a clear idea of how the home is laid out, requesting a video of both interior and exterior of the property is a good idea. If one isn’t available, don’t be shy about asking your agent to make a walk-through video for you. 

For anyone relocating to Bainbridge Island when a ‘sight-unseen’ home purchase is necessary, choosing the best-qualified Realtor and inspector couldn’t be more important. In that situation, they become your ears and eyes on the ground!

Comment