Time to take a look at how the Ballard Seattle real estate market fared during the month of February 2017. February is usually a month where the market is starting to emerge from winter hibernation. Or at least that used to be the case. Because of the chronic low inventory of homes for sale, Ballard and other Seattle neighborhoods are staying competitive all year round now.
The market remains very strong and for the past few months, Seattle has been either occupying the top spot or near the top as the hottest real estate market in the country. The low number of homes for sale remains the main factor driving prices upward.
The major difference between different times of year is the variation in the number of homes for sales that naturally cycles through the lowest number in winter and then builds up to peak activity in the spring and early summer months.
The graphic below shows how homes for sale in Ballard Seattle compared in February 2017 versus 12 months earlier in February 2016.
- In February 2017, there was a total of 76 new listings (single family and condos combined) which was 11% lower than a year earlier.
- There was a big drop of 57% in the number of homes that sold.
- The average number...
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with information and advice from all directions as to the things you need to do when selling your home. You read an article that details the 27 must-do items. They couldn't come up with a nice round list of 30?
Selling your home is not rocket science. Do the fundamentals and do them well and your home should do really well too.
In my personal opinion, these are the 3 critical, non-negotiable action items you need to focus on when selling your home. If you don’t do these 3 properly, then you are just leaving money sitting on the table or your home might not sell (even in a hot market). What you add in blood, sweat and hard cash will come back to you in shovelfuls at closing.
Critical-P #1: Preparation
Stage your home inside AND out. By staging, I don’t mean just rearranging your furniture or hiring a staging company who bring in a few sticks of furniture and “voila, it looks simply daaaaarling darlings!”
By staging I mean, you make every square inch of your home and property (both inside and outside) look its very best. Yes, it’s a lot of work and is something you should start planning at last 6 months, or even better, a whole year before you intend to put your home on the market. Plan ahead and avoid stress overload later. Procrastination is over rated!
Here are some home preparation items to focus on. Preserve your sanity and hire some help rather than trying to do it all yourself.
Declutter and start getting rid of stuff you haven't used on years. One word: Goodwill!
Make sure to focus on ...
Your home is about to hit the market. You did your homework and chose a really good Realtor who knows their stuff. Your home is looking the best it has looked in years. It looks so good now, you joke with your Realtor that you’ve changed your mind about selling.
You’ve decluttered, you’ve scrubbed and cleaned until the inside is Q-tip clean, you serviced the furnace and cleaned the roof and gutters. You've focused on the most important things to fix before listing a home. Fido and his GI issues are safely sequestered at Aunt Ellie’s. Your home is priced perfectly and those photos, in your humble opinion, are worthy of the front cover of Architectural Digest!
Your home is most certainly ready for prime time and the heaving masses of eager buyers.
The question is: are YOU PERSONALLY ready?
Obviously, getting your home ready is critical. However, you, yourself must also be prepared for the market and what is about to happen over the next few days, weeks and months.
Are you sure you really want to sell your home?
Yes, it’s getting a little late in the game but are you 100% committed to selling your home? What’s the real reason you want to sell?
People sell their homes for many reasons. Some have to sell because they are relocating for a new job and some have to sell because they lost a job. Some sell because the home has grown too small for their growing family and some sell because they have become empty-nesters and the home is now too big.
The Ballard neighborhood Seattle is a great place to live and is a sought after area by many Seattle home buyers. Currently, the Seattle real estate market is ranked as the hottest in the country, overtaking Portland, Oregon late 2016. Seattle home prices went up up 12.7% over 2016.
Many buyers looking to buy a Ballard home and who may have lost out on a home already, are probably wondering what percentage of the homes for sale in Ballard are likely to be purchased by an all-cash offer. Also how do Ballard condos and single family homes compare. Finally, how does the Ballard neighborhood compare with other areas.
To answer this question, I looked at statistics for the following:
- The 100 most recent sales for each of Ballard and Capitol Hill (Seattle neighborhoods) and Bellevue (city on the other side of Lake Washington, for those of you who are newer to the area).
- Looked at both condos and single family homes (houses and townhomes) of all sizes and prices.
- Data was taken from the NWMLS on February 2nd 2017.
When you compare the percentage of cash buyers for each of these 3 areas, you see the following:
For Ballard, about one in ten single family homes sell for cash and about 1 in 5 condos (11 and 19% respectively). For the Capital Hill neighborhood in Seattle, twice as many houses sell for cash compared to Ballard but slightly fewer condos (22 and 15% respectively).
When you pop over to Bellevue, it jumps up again with about one third...
Be it through your own natural, inherent tendencies or through parental coercion, the usual human progression is go to school, get a job, get married, have kids..... and buy a home (actual order may vary).
The urge to buy a home can be pretty strong. People get tired of renting, putting up with thin walls and noisy neighbors and feel like they are throwing money down the toilet. Potential buyers can feel like they are getting left behind by the market and if they don't buy NOW, they will be priced out forever. And some people want to buy just because that's what you're supposed to do.
However, for some people, buying a home might not be a good idea for the particular time they are in in their lives. There's more to owning a home and there's nothing wrong with renting. At certain times, buying a home and taking on all the commitments associated with home ownership are best deferred to when you are really ready to make the leap.... both emotionally and financially.
NOW might not be the right time and later just might be perfect. And sometimes, maybe you shouldn't by at all unless you are willing to look at the concept of home ownership differently?
If you fit one of the following categories, then maybe step back and reconsider your situation.
All you see are dollar signs and a quick profit
In a hot real estate market, home prices go up and up. You think that if you buy a home now, it will automatically go up in value and you will make a tidy little profit in a couple of years.
NOBODY but nobody knows with certainty...
We almost take it for granted now, but it’s incredible that someone can now sit in a Starbucks, open an app and search for online real estate listings to their heart's content. They get to see a detailed description and photos of the home, schools ratings, a street and aerial view and lots of more details in the palm of their hand. As the much touted statistic goes, 90% of buyers now look for homes through the internet. The Sunday edition of your local newspaper doesn’t stand a chance anymore.
How buyers find homes for sale has changed a lot over the years. Not so long ago, buyers were completely reliant on their agents to find out what homes were for sale. Now the masses are truly empowered and can be notified of a new listing just as quickly as their agent. The other day I was texting a listing to a buyer who at the same time he was sending me the very same listing. I beat him by a whole 5 seconds.
Having all this unfettered access to information on homes is great for buyers and sellers. However, do you know based on what you see online whether a particular home is worth speed dialing your Realtor about or gulping down your coffee and dashing out to the door to do a drive-by?
Obviously nothing beats going to see a home in person, but you can tell a lot from reading between the lines of online listings as to whether a home is a gem or an over-hyped dud. Conversely, some homes can be a lot better than the online listing portrays because the listing agent skimped on a professional photographer or advised the seller that staging was a waste of time.
Buyer #1: Wow! Look at those expansive, unobstructed ocean views!
Buyer #2: Wow! Looks like that thing is ready to slide into the ocean.
Different buyers will view homes on a steep hill with different perspectives. To some, a home sitting on a steep hillside is a thing of beauty and will love how the land drops below them. To others, it’s a disaster waiting to happen although the home might have been sitting there for the past 100 years and survived the occasional earthquake.
Homes on steep slopes comes in all shapes, sizes and locations. From packed-in tight San Francisco condo buildings, to new houses on man made terraces bulldozed into steep terrain to million dollar Seattle homes overlooking the Puget Sound clinging to a forested hill trying to eke out every last inch of that spectacular view.
As with all styles of homes and the types of land they are located on, there are both pros and cons. But when it comes to homes on steep hillsides, a buyer has to take into consideration some additional elements when weighing up if a particular home is right for them or whether they should keep looking.
So, is buying a home on a steep slope a good idea or should you buy a home on something a bit more terra firma-ish?
Note: If you live in Florida, this article will be of no use to you whatsoever unless you are relocating soon.
The advantages of owing a home on a steep hill
Potentially, but not always, you will have unobstructed and expansive views of sunrises or sunsets, cityscapes or rural isolation as far as the eye can see. Since the land drops below you, there will not be a home right in front of you, blocking your coveted view. You might be looking at someone else's roof top but you can still see the mountains beyond...
"It was a dark and stormy night!"
Call your Realtor now and tell him to grab his gumboots because you want to go see some homes in the morning.
Sure, summer is a great time to go see homes when the sun is shining, everything is in bloom and homes look their best. However, personally I think the best time for a buyer to purchase a home is during the dark and dreary, miserable and wet months of the year. A good continuous dose of rain can help reveal a whole host of issues that might remain hidden, or at least a lot harder to find, during the drier spring and summer months. Plus there's a lot less competition for homes during those times of year.
Rain will help both the buyer and their agent when they are out looking at homes and considering making an offer. Also helps your home inspector look really competent.
For non-Seattleites, it's probably hard to believe that from about mid June through mid September, we usually get next to no rain and have one of the best rated summers in the US (we like to keep that quiet).
We don't get the heavy lightening storms and downpours or hurricane rains some other parts of the US enjoy during the summer months. But come fall and winter...hold onto your Seahawks hats...you'll have the urge to build an ark in the backyard just to be on the safe side. While writing this piece, we had THE wettest October on record. And to think I moved from Ireland for this!
On the upside, all that rain, wind and moisture is a great little helper when looking to buy a home. If you can time it for when a Pineapple Express is barreling in from Hawaii all the better. But regardless of which part of the US you live (including desert monsoons) rain and his buddy Mr. Wind, will...
Estragon: “I can’t go on like this.”
Vladimir: “that’s what you think.”
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Whatever side of the home sale transaction you are on, either as the buyer or the seller, the whole process is undeniably a bit stressful. Even the Dalai Lama probably gets a little stressed out buying a home, and you know how relaxed he looks all the time.
The most excruciating aspect of the whole process can be the WAITING! Waiting for this to happen, waiting for that to happen. HURRY UP already!
It will seem like the laws of quantum physics and the space / time continuum are being violated. Just ask Stephen Hawking about when he bought his first home! There are periods of rush, rush, go, go…rush to go see a new listing, rush to make a decision whether to make an offer, rush to get an offer submitted, followed by....periods of deafening silence which feel like they drag on forever. Whoever said patience is a virtue obviously never bought or sold a home before.
When it comes to buying or selling a home there are several periods of waiting, some longer than others and some potentially more excruciating than others. Allegedly, all good things come to those who wait, but first you have to, um, wait!
Real estate waiting periods: The Classics!
The wait between submitting your offer and waiting to hear back if it has been accepted. This is probably the most stressful wait of all. You finally find THE HOME, it meets all your criteria and you really, really want that home! Unfortunately, so do four other buyers. You put your best foot forward and submit...
Recently I listed a home which received multiple offers on the offer review deadline. Two of the 8 offers were actually below asking price and with the full spectrum of buyer contingencies. After the sellers had picked the winning offer, I then set upon one of the less appealing aspects of real estate... calling the agents whose buyers didn't get the home. Yes, text or email would be easier but since the agent and their buyers went to the trouble of making an offer they deserved a phone call.
When I asked the agents for the low ball offers…”Why did your buyers make below list price offers knowing that there were already a bunch of other offers?"
The agents replied: “I wanted the buyers to discover for themselves how strong a sellers’ market we are in right now, plus we got to practice writing up an offer”.
Some home buyers have an HGTV inspired impression of finding and purchasing a home. “Let’s go see 3 homes and then we can decide which one we want to buy”.
Ah yes, fantasy real estate land where everything is staged and not just the homes.
Buying a home is not like purchasing a TV…get to check out multiple models, then go home for a week and think about it, sleep soundly knowing that the same TV will be there in a week if you decide you want to buy it. In a strong sellers’ market or even a balanced real estate market, luxuries such as time are not always available.
As a Realtor, you have to decide whether to let home buyers discover for themselves what the real estate market is really like or, do you give it to them straight on day zero and risk never seeing them again as they run screaming into the horizon?
Note that this piece is written...
Many areas in the US are firmly in the grips of a strong sellers’ market including homes for sale in Seattle WA. Competition between buyers for the limited inventory is intense and multiple offers is currently the norm. Everything goes in cycles but for moment at least, sellers are comfortable set in the driver’s seat, king of the castle and masters of their domain (that is, until they turn around and try and buy their next home).
If you're selling your home and you and your Realtor have done the basics like preparing your home properly, pricing it correctly (don’t get greedy!) and take great photos, you can usually expect to get more than one offer.
In a slow market, you anxiously wait for an offer, any offer, to come your way. In a hot market, offers pour in the door and now you have to decide which one of the bunch is the best one. We’re only human and 9 out of 10 human sellers will automatically want to grab the offer with the highest price scribbled on it.
But not so fast…..
At first look, that highest price offer might look great, but you need to dive a little deeper to see what lies below the surface. You have to look at the WHOLE OFFER to see what the buyer is really offering you.
First of all, what are the components of a real estate offer?
When a buyer makes an offer on your home, they will sit down with their agent and fill out a series of standardized forms that detail what the buyer wants to offer for your home plus the conditions under which they are willing to buy the home.
The main components of offer to buy a home are as follows:
The Purchase and Sale Agreement which is an overview of the...
A new listing alert pops into my inbox. I click on it hoping it might be a good match for my home buyer and proceed to review the photos….
“What is THAT!” I mutter to myself. “No really, what is that? I can’t tell from the photo”.
I continue muttering to myself…“Sorry, listing agent, I should have realized you were using one of those disposable cameras they leave out at weddings and you grabbed a bunch of them thinking they would come in handy for an upcoming listing”.
Yes, I do get a little self-righteous about these things and yes, let him without sin cast the first stone. But hey, my conscience is clear, just show me where to aim!
The majority of Realtors are conscientious individuals and do a really good job for their clients. However, what surprises me is those home sellers who are unfortunate enough to end with a dud agent, why they don’t complain or do something about it?
Bad Realtor photos are just one issue but can be an indication as to how the agent operates and their overall level of professionalism. Home sellers should be able to pick up on a bad agent BEFORE they sign on the listing contract dotted line. If the agent is comfortable with the seller, other agents and the general public seeing their bad photography handiwork, then maybe they don’t care about a whole list of other items that constitute basic standards of good service.
Other warning signs of a bad Realtor:
- Bad property flyers, using those same bad photos printed on cheap paper (possibly in black and white). Plus, after the initial...