Call Us: (206) 349-8477

Real Estate Blog and Real Estate News

Houses for sale in Magnolia Seattle

Looking to buy a house in Magnolia Seattle? The Magnolia area has some stunning, unique houses but also plenty of homes of lesser grandeur to suit all tastes. Here's a complete list of all the houses that are currently listed for sale in this part of Seattle.  Happy browsing and let me know if you have any questions or would like to view any of these homes.

Click here if you want to view ALL types of homes for sale in Magnolia including condos and townhomes.


Ballard Breweries. The Ultimate Updated Guide.

Here's the current crop of breweries in Ballard.

But before we jump into the list, note that some establishments are family-friendly and some are not, many allow you to bring your furry four-legged friend (pet-friendly) and some have a food truck, (sometimes, but not always), parked out front to feed those with a surge of the munchies.

Two breweries, Maritime and Hale's have kitchens and cooks like regular pubs. With the exception of those two watering holes, all are fine with your bringing your own food or having some sustenance delivered while you imbibe.

And so you know what each brewery in Ballard is offering (besides beer), each has been tagged with some or none of the following badges:

Pet friendly and family friendly Ballard breweries

Maritime Pacific Brewing Company (aka Maritime)

1111 NW Ballard Way. Established in 1990.

Maritime is the first truly Ballard brewery. Red Hook may have been first in the Frelard area, which is fringe Ballard (don’t tell Hale’s or Bad Jimmys), but they abdicated to Fremont and then to Woodinville.

Maritime set up brewing in 1990 in the space where Peddler now brews Maritime Pacific Brewing in Ballard Seattleand started brewing English inspired ales (despite the Flagship being a German Alt style beer). They planted a flag in the building next door to open a taproom and later added a tiny kitchen. Once they outgrew...

List of all open houses in Ballard Seattle

Want to go see some real estate listings in Ballard Seattle without your Realtor? Well, here's a list of the current open houses for the Ballard neighborhood. The list includes Ballard condos, townhomes, and houses.

Note that "public open houses" are usually held on Saturdays and Sundays but for new listings, there is usually an additional "Brokers Open" on Wednesdays. Brokers opens are also open to the public and will be included in this list so keep an eye out for mid-week Ballard open houses. Have fun out there!


Selling Your House to an iBuyer? Better Examine the Offer Closely.

The pros and cons of using an iBuyer to sell your home.

Pros and cons of selling your home to an iBuyer companyAs a homeowner these days, you have many options when it comes to selling your house. Aside from the traditional route of picking a reputable realtor and putting your home on the open market, you can also go FSBO (For Sale By Owner) or sell it to an investor or company. These have been the standard choices for a while now, with the recent addition of what is known as an “iBuyer.” So what does selling your house to an iBuyer look like?

An iBuyer is loosely defined as “a company that uses technology to make an offer on your home.” Which simply means they rely on the data of an algorithm to come up with a price for your home, versus the traditional way of comparing similar recently sold properties. Zillow isn’t the only company that keeps track of home prices, and other companies have leveraged the data in order to start purchasing homes in certain markets. These companies look for houses that are in good shape or need quick fixes in order to purchase them, take short term ownership of the home, make any needed repairs and sell them quickly.

Who are iBuyers?

The four main iBuyer companies are OpenDoor, Offerpad, Zillow Offers and Redfin Now. OpenDoor has been at it the longest (since 2014) and has the biggest market share. According to Zillow’s ATTOM data Solutions, OpenDoor purchased just over 10,000 homes in 2018. Currently, none of these companies operate in the Seattle...

Are low HOA fees always a good thing?

The pros and cons of low homeowner association fees.

Home Owner Association fees, or HOA fees for short, are part of life when you by a condo and the majority of townhomes. Although nobody loves them or walks around wearing a t-shirt proclaiming I LOVE HOA FEES!, they still cover some of the stuff you would have to pay regardless of the type of home you purchase or own.

Note that, for Seattle real estate at least, 99% of house owners do not have to pay HOA dues since they were built before the advent of big cookie-cutter developments and private communities.

HOA fees

Condo HOA monthly fees will usually be a lot higher than those for townhomes and buyers will need to take this into consideration when calculating how much they can afford to buy and pay each month.  For condos in Ballard Seattle dues for a 1-bedroom condo vary between $224 and $265/month and $200 to $994 for a 2-bedroom.

You need to add the homeowner association fees to the expected monthly principal + interest + property taxes + insurance (PITI) payments.

Buyers will naturally be attracted to homes with low HOA fees and be less keen on those with high monthly dues. However, buyer beware, just because the fees are low does not automatically mean it’s a good thing

Just like property taxes, HOA fees rarely go down and usually go up over time and so knowing the financial health of the homeowners association and overall health of the building itself are important. There are certain critical...

Buying a home in the USA compared to the UK and Ireland

Steps to buying a home in the USA versus Great Britain and Ireland. 

Every country does things a little differently and that's definitely the case when it comes to purchasing a home in Dublin, Ohio versus Dublin, Ireland or Manchester, New Hampshire compared to Manchester in England.

So if you're going to be moving between the two regions and intend to buy a home when you get there, then this article us for you!

Steps to buying a home in the USA versus the UK and Ireland

As an Irish ex-pat, having lived in London for 7 years after college and now that I've been a Seattle Realtor for over 10 years, I thought it might be interesting to compare the home purchase process on each side of the proverbial pond.

Side note: an apartment in the UK and Ireland is the equivalent of a condo (aka condominium) in the US. In the UK & Ireland, you buy/own an apartment but rent a flat, whereas in the US you buy/own a condo and rent an apartment. In America, a flat is a punctured tire, which is spelled tyre in the UK and Ireland.

I'm glad we got that one out of the way early!

Although there is some state to state variations in the steps to buying a home within the US and some differences between Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Nothern Ireland, the overall process is very similar for each geographical area. This article does not cover every little nuanced difference otherwise it would be the length of Moby Dick! 

Since I'm a Seattle real estate agent, let's review the steps to buying a home in Washington State, which obviously is the greatest state in the whole of the USA! Whether you're thinking of ...

Are home buyer incentives a win-win or just a distraction?

With the real estate market starting to show some signs of slowing down, some home sellers are starting to offer incentives to home buyers to encourage them to buy their homes.

Are home buyer incentives a win-win

First time home buyer incentives and home buyer incentives in general, can be tempting. However, buyers should be asking themselves.

  1. Why is the seller offering that incentive in the first place?
  2. What exactly IS the incentive and are there restrictions as to whether I get the incentive or not?
  3. If I accept the incentive, what might I be giving up instead?

Well, the answer is sometimes incentives really are a win-win for the buyer but sometimes it's just a distraction from something else.

Why do sellers offer homebuyer incentives?

The short answer is that sellers don't offer them when they know the home will sell quickly. 

If the seller and their agent think that the home might struggle to sell, then they will consider the option of dangling some incentive in front of the buyers to make the purchase more enticing and grease the wheels of industry towards a closing.

Examples of homebuyer incentives.

The are lots of different home buyer incentives and the type of offer might depend on whether the home is a resale by a homeowner or if the home is brand new construction and the seller is a builder/developer.

Work with the builder's lender for a discount.

Many builders require that homebuyers get pre-approved by the builder's preferred lender, even if the buyer has been pre-approved with their own lender already.  Also, some builder's lenders will offer some incentives like $3,000 paid towards the buyer's closing costs...

My prediction for the 2019 Seattle real estate market

What will the Seattle real estate market do in 2019?

My guess is as good anyone else I suppose, so I might as well have a crack at it.

I'm only predicting what the median sale price will do over the course of 2019. And home prices are what homeowners, sellers, buyers (and Realtors) usually obsess over the most.

I will revisit my prediction every quarter to see if I end up being anywhere near what actually transpires over the year.

Few people foresaw the way the market turned on a dime last spring and I definitely wasn't one of them. So with that in mind...

Here's my 2019 prediction: The Seattle and Eastside median price will increase by 4 to 6% between now and spring / early summer and then drop back down to current levels by the end of the year.

Seattle real estate market prediction for 2019

Why I think Seattle home prices are going to go back up:

  • Prices peaked in May at $802,000 and fell to $713,000 by January, a drop of 9%. 
  • This price drop is likely going to attract more buyers back into the market who gave up last spring when the market was in manic mode and buyers were constantly getting into bidding wars and forced to pay well over list price to get a home. Buyers got fed up being manipulated by the housing market and just stepped back en mass. Now they are seeing homes taking longer to sell, price drops and sales contingent on inspections.
  • Prices have finally hit the Conor Trend Support Line drawn (manually) under the lower prices of the upward trend. I predict that prices will bounce back up off that support price.
  • Prices will finally break BELOW the trend line by the end of 2019.
  • We are coming out of the winter/holiday hibernation season and will soon be entering...

Most Popular Green Home Upgrades That Buyers Want

Not every energy efficient upgrade or renovation is desirable and boostsMost popular green home upgrades for home buyers home value when a sustainable home is listed for sale. Much depends on the local market, as well as how soon after a renovation is made that a homeowner decides to actively sell their home. That being said, there are green home upgrades that have become popular and that potential buyers are willing to pay more. What green home upgrades may be worth the investment when it comes time to sell?

Quality of a Home Renovation Project.

As one looks into various green home upgrades, the quality and energy-efficiency of a finished project is important to potential buyers. They may be interested in looking a homeowner’s bills in order to ascertain how much they may save by paying more for a sustainable home. A buyer may appreciate knowing that a structure has LEED Certification and was built according to specific sustainable practices that support the environment. This certification can involve projects for existing homes, the surrounding neighborhood and schools. Such certification can prove to be a significant attraction for the environmentally-conscious homebuyer and a way for an agent to differentiate a home from comps without such certification.

Get Additional Insight on Local Green Features.

Sellers need to know what features or upgrades are on trend when it comes to selling a sustainable home. Speaking with a reputable agent may provide more insight on recent comps in the area and what buyers may have been looking for when they were shopping for a home. Some popular green upgrades include...

How much is my home worth? EXACTLY what somebody is willing to pay for it.

The real answer to "how much is my home worth" is by actually listing it for sale.

Everything else is just a guesstimate of varying degrees of accuracy and believability.

How much is my home worthSo, how much IS your home worth?

The short answer is that it's worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it.

The longer answer is that your home is worth...

What someone is willing to pay for it.
If listed for sale on the open market.
Will depend on how well your home has been prepared for market, the marketing exposure it gets and whether you selected a competent Realtor or not. 
The prevailing market conditions at the time your list your home.
And potentially on whether it's an all-cash offer or not.

Pretty simple, huh?

Obviously, putting your home on the market just to determine it's current market value is a little extreme. 

So, how can a homeowner find out how much their home is "worth"? And what are their limitations?

(1) Online home evaluations.

The granddaddy of these is the infamous Zestimate from Zillow.

Simply enter your address and within a few milliseconds, voila, up pops the current market value of your home. So easy and convenient, right?

Easy and convenient it might be but it's about as reliable as the Seattle Marines making the playoffs!

Zillow has never set foot in your home, has no idea if your kitchen is original, if your roof and furnace need replacing or if you remodeled the kitchen and bathrooms last year and added a swimming...

How much are HOA dues for Ballard Seattle Condos?

And what's included in Ballard condo HOA dues?

The Ballard neighborhood in Seattle has lots of different condo styles. From modern construction with the latest bells and whistles to funky older buildings that Don Draper would feel right at home in, and from large units with expansive views of the Puget Sound to small condos on busy roads. 

But one thing they all have in common is that they ALL pay monthly Home Owner Association (HOA) dues. 

Compared to buying a house, when buying a Ballard condo, or any condo for that matter, you need to do some additional research. Here's a post I previously wrote on The 9 Critical Questions to Ask When Buying a Condo. It's too late to ask after you've closed on the home!

And one of those questions is: "How much are the HOA dues and what do they cover?"

As you will see below, there's a lot of variation in what you might pay from one condo development to another. When looking at condos for sale in Ballard Seattle and calculating your potential monthly mortgage payments make sure to allow for HOA dues.

Here are some numbers on HOA dues for Ballard Seattle condos.

I looked at HOA dues for condos that were either currently for sale, pending or had sold over the past 2 months in the Ballard neighborhood as of the first week of October 2018. I looked at dues for both 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom condos. 

For each, I calculated the average monthly HOA dues and the range (low and high). All data were obtained from the NWMLS. There were 28 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom units.

HOA dues for Ballard Seattle condos...

Why hiring a licensed, bonded and insured contractor is important.

What does licensed, bonded and insured mean?

Need a new roof, a plumber in a hurry or that peeling exterior paint needs to be repainted?

Many a homeowner will ask friends for a referral or be wooed by a "special discount" mailer and hire a contractor willy-nilly without ever checking them out fully.

What does licensed bonded and insured mean?

'"Joyce next door just loved Bob the Builder. That's good enough for me and my home!"

Or you get 3 quotes for those crawl space repairs. Two of them are $4,000 but the 3rd one is only $2,500. Before you leap on #3, ask yourself why it's a lot lower than the other two.

Besides obviously that big fat dollar number on the quote (you did get a quote didn't you?), the most important things to do are (1) check out the company's reputation, ask for referrals and look for any current and past litigation against the company... and (2) determine whether the contractor or service provider is licensed, bonded and insured.

Sure, Bob the Builder seems like a nice guy and even has his own TV series...but is he licensed, bonded and insured? 


What does licensed bonded and insured mean, and why are they important?

In this case, we will be focusing on contractors and service providers that you might end up hiring during your course of owning your home.

Let's start with the licensing requirements.

For certain services, each state will require someone who plies their trade in a particular field to get a business license before being able to practice their business. Even your hairdresser is required to have a license. Chemical scalp burn anyone. Same as your electrician, plumber, painter, landscaper...

Ballard Seattle Real Estate Market Update September 2018

Ballard library in SeattleThe Ballard neighborhood Seattle is a popular choice for many home buyers and like much of Seattle has seen a strong seller's market since the market started heading upward in 2012.

However, over the past few months Ballard real estate, like the rest of Seattle, has started to show signs of slowing down.

So what's the current state of affairs?

If you are interested in Ballard Seattle homes for sale, this post provides you with an update on the most recent numbers and will give you a good idea of how the real estate market is doing in this Seattle neighborhood.

I looked at the sales of both Ballard single-family homes (houses and townhomes) and Ballard condos. For more reliable real estate statistics, it is always better to look at a larger area and longer-term trends than focusing in on any single month. All data was taken from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) and includes the latest data (August 2018).

Note: for the purposes of this post, I combined data for the neighborhoods shown in the map below. Yes, this is not just Ballard but if you look at just Ballard sales in isolation there would have been too few sales to generate reliable statistics. Plus,  these adjacent neighborhoods would be expected to behave in a similar manner to Ballard home sales.

Ballard neighborhood Seattle

First, let's take a look at Ballard home prices.

The graph below shows how the monthly median sale price of both single family homes (houses and townhomes) and condos has varied over the past 10 years.

Ballard Seattle home prices ...

Advice For new Real Estate Bloggers From The Experts

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons is of two guys chatting at a cocktail party.

One guys says; "I'm writing a book".

The other guys says "Me neither!"

Personally, I love to write. 

I often joke that I'm a writer trapped in a Realtor's body.

Unfortunately, being a full time Realtor in Ballard Seatle  tends to get in the way of, well....writing, or more specifically, blogging about real estate.

But it shouldn't.

Advice for new real estate bloggers from the expertsBlogging is a great way to promote yourself, your business and your own personal brand, no matter what line of business you are in, However, blogging is a beautiful fit for real estate agents. There's an endless number of topics that you can write about to make you stand out from the herd, share your knowledge and educated your buyers and sellers. And yes, get leads too.

Many Realtors are intimidated by the mere thought of starting blogging the first place. Plus many who actually do put finger tips to keyboard quickly give up. They were expecting miracle results and for their phone to start ringing off the hook after that fabulous 200 word post they wrote about their new listing.

I've been blogging consistently inconsistently, or is that inconsistently consistent for the past 2 years. And yes, I have struggled at times to find the time to blog and know I need to improve at certain aspects like promoting my posts. I'm at about a 6.2 out of 10 (10 being a Bill Gassett) of where I really want to be but I'm improving slowly but surely. There's always something new to learn.

And yes, I am making fun of myself with the graphics contained within this post. However, I'm...

Real estate is emotional. 'Boring statistics' will keep you rational

As the current saying goes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts!

No matter how tough you think you are or how good you think you are at hiding your emotions, buying or selling a home is an emotional affair. Even hard-nosed property investors will get at least a little miffed at missing out on a deal. When emotions take over, rational thinking can fly out the window….

The joys of real estate statistics

Here are some examples of real estate irrational thinking:

  • My Zesstimate must be right, it’s a computer and it’s higher than what my Realtor said my home is worth!
  • That $25,000 kitchen remodel increased my home’s value by $50,000!
  • I’m not giving my home away for nothing!
  • I’ll never get to buy a home, everyone knows that EVERY home is selling way over asking with multiple offers!
  • That home is way over-priced. I’ll offer $20,000 less than asking (this despite there being 5 other offers).
  • And yes, even we Realtors are not immune to irrational thinking… “I’d be happy to list your way over-priced home!”

When buying or selling a home, it’s wise to get a grip on reality with real numbers. 

Yes, dry and boring real estate statistics they might well be, but they will help you make rational and educated decisions. If you chose to ignore them, good luck relying on your gut or uncle Bob's insights, (he of the perpetual rental status). The same numbers work equally well for both buyers and sellers

Here’s are the real estate numbers to live by... or at least buy and sell by:


Ballard Seattle real estate 2007 versus 2017

How does the current Ballard Seattle real estate market compare to the 2007 bubble market?

Around 10 years ago in 2007, the US real estate market began to implode and dragged Seattle along with it. The Seattle market was one of the last major cities to be affected and one of the first to emerge from the bottom of the market in 2012.

Today, the Ballard and Seattle real estate markets are booming, with Seattle consistently being at, or near, the top of US cities for home price increases.

Ballard Seattle is a sought after neighborhood by many home buyers. Ballard has it all! Just like all Seattle neighborhoods, Ballard Seattle homes for sale are attracting multiple offers and about 50% of Ballard homes selling for above list price.

So how does Ballard Seattle real estate in 2018 compare to the last price surge in 2007?

I looked at the following real estate statistics for between 2005 and 2017.

  1. Median sale price.
  2. Number of months of inventory.
  3. Ratio of the sale price to the list price.
  4. The number of homes for sale compared to the number of sold homes.

All data was taken from the North West Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). Note that MLS data only goes back to 2005, no data is available for the years prior to that.

Ballard Seattle homes for sale price trend.

The graph below shows how the Ballard real estate market peaked in 2007 with a median sale price of $490,000 and subsequently dropped by 19% to $398,000 by early 2012. 

Ballard Seattle real estate price trend 2007 to 2017...

Virtual staging: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish.

People always overdo the matter when they attempt deception.  Charles Dudley Warner.

Virtual staging and staging a home for saleVirtual staging and (real) home staging are similar but only in that they share the word "staging".

With improvements in virtual staging software, virtual staging has become a cheap “alternative” to hiring a professional company when staging a home.

Staging a home for sale: should you use virtual staging?

There are obvious pros and cons for each of these two options, the biggest one being cost. However, just because virtual home staging costs a lot less does not necessarily make it a good idea. It can be a case of being penny wise, pound foolish.

For the purposes of comparing virtual staging and hiring a professional staging company, I will be comparing the staging of vacant homes where the sellers haveto  move out and the home is completely empty.

What is home staging? 

In general terms, home staging means getting your home ready for market and making it look it’s absolute best….both the interior and exterior. Home staging includes doing all the nitty-gritty stuff like cleaning the home so it’s Q-tip clean, decluttering, doing any needed repairs, landscaping, painting and taking care of curb appeal... and the actual staging with furniture and accessories.

Professional home stagers can put together a home staging checklist for the sellers that includes all the nitty-gritty items that need to be completed. However, for Ballard Seattle real estate at least, the real estate agent usually provides the sellers with home staging tips and an action item list to make sure that the home is properly prepared BEFORE the staging...