Investing In a Green Home Will Pay Dividends In 2019

As we step forward into 2019, eco-friendly “green homes” are more popular than ever. Upgrading your home’s sustainability improves quality of life for those residing in it, but it is also a savvy long-term investment. As green homes become more popular, properties boasting sustainable features have become increasingly desirable targets for homebuyers. Whether designing a new home from scratch or preparing your current home for sale, accentuating a house with environmentally-friendly features can pay big dividends for everyone.

While the added value depends on the location of the home, its age, and whether it’s certified or not, three separate studies all found that newly constructed, Energy Star, or LEED-certified homes typically sell for about nine percent more than comparable, non-certified new homes. Plus, one of those studies discovered that existing homes retrofitted with green technologies, and certified as such, can command a whopping 30-percent sales-price boost.

There are dozens of eco-friendly features that can provide extra value for you as a seller. To name a few:

 

Cool roof

Cool roofs keep the houses they’re covering as much as 50 to 60 degrees cooler by reflecting the heat of the sun away from the interior, allowing the occupants to stay cooler and save on air-conditioning costs. The most common form is metal roofing. Other options include roof membranes and reflective asphalt shingles.

 

Fuel cells

Fuel cells may soon offer an all-new source of electricity that would allow you to completely disconnect your home from all other sources of electricity. About the size of a dishwasher, a fuel cell connects to your home’s natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity. One unit would pack more than enough energy to power your whole home.

For many years, fuel cells have been far too expensive or unreliable. But as technology has improved, so too has reliability. Companies like Home Power Solutions and Redbox Power Systems have increased the reliability of these fuel sources while reducing their size. Much like we’ve seen computers and cell phones shrink in size while improving reliability and power, fuel cells continue to be refined.

 

Wind turbine

A wind turbine (essentially a propeller spinning atop an 80- to 100-foot pole) collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity for your home. And according to the Department of Energy, a small version can slash your electrical bill by 50 to 90 percent.

But before you get too excited, you need to know that the zoning laws in most urban areas don’t allow wind turbines. They’re too tall. The best prospects for this technology are homes located on at least an acre of land, well outside the city limits.

 

Green roof

Another way to keep the interior of your house cooler—and save on air-conditioning costs—is to replace your traditional roof with a layer of vegetation (typically hardy groundcovers). This is more expensive than a cool roof and requires regular maintenance, but young, environmentally conscious homeowners are very attracted to the concept.

 

Hybrid heating

Combining a heat pump with a standard furnace to create what’s known as a “hybrid heating system” can save you somewhere between 15 and 35 percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Unlike a gas or oil furnace, a heat pump doesn’t use any fuel. Instead, the coils inside the unit absorb whatever heat exists naturally in the outside air, and distributes it via the same ductwork used by your furnace. When the outside air temperature gets too cold for the heat pump to work, the system switches over to your traditional furnace.

 

Geothermal heating

Geothermal heating units are like heat pumps, except instead of absorbing heat from the outside air, they absorb the heat in the soil next to your house via coils buried in the ground. The coils can be buried horizontally or, if you don’t have a wide enough yard, they can be buried vertically. While the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of a hybrid, air-sourced system, the cost savings on your energy bills can cover the installation costs in five to 10 years.

 

Solar power

Solar panels capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity. Similarly to wind turbines, your geographical location may determine the feasibility of these installments. Even on cloudy days, however, solar panels typically produce 10-25% of their maximum energy output. For decades, you may have seen these panels sitting on sunny rooftops all across America. But it’s only recently that this energy-saving option has become truly affordable.

In 2010, installing a solar system on a typical mid-sized house would have set the homeowner back $30,000. But as of December 2018, the average cost after tax credits for solar panel installation was just $13,188! Plus, some companies are now offering to rent solar panels to homeowners (the company retains ownership of the panels and sells the homeowner access to the power at roughly 10 to 15 percent less than they would pay their local utility).

 

Solar water heaters

Rooftop solar panels can also be used to heat your home’s water. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average homeowner who makes this switch should see their water bills shrink by 50 to 80 percent.

 

Tax credits/rebates

Many of the innovative solutions summarized above come with big price tags attached. However, federal, state and local rebates/tax credits can often slash those expenses by as much as 50 percent. So before ruling any of these ideas out, take some time to see which incentives you may qualify for at dsireusa.org and the “tax incentives” pages at Energy.Gov

Regardless of which option you choose, these technologies will help to conserve valuable resources and reduce your monthly utility expenses. Just as importantly, they will also add resale value that you can leverage whenever you decide it’s time to sell and move on to a new home.

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 3:07 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling

2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

 

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing. Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

 

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market. In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices

We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017. In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales

In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates

In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling. We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

 

Conclusions

There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating. In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to hear more about the market forecast join us and Matthew Gardner Jan. 25 at 6 PM at the Camano Center on Camano Island. Space is limited, reserve your seat here!

Posted on December 30, 2018 at 12:08 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Community, Housing Trends, News, Selling

Newfound Ability to Negotiate for Buyers?

Windermere Stanwood-Camano Real Estate Brokers are deeply connected to the issues that face local home-buyers and sellers. In this series of blogs, The Broker’s Perspective, Windermere Stanwood-Camano Brokers provide insight into current Real Estate market trends and topics.

This week we take a look at a recent press release from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.  Michael Ofstad, a broker from our Terry’s Corner office, gives us his thoughts on this topic.


Slower Market Means Homebuyers Have “Newfound Ability to Negotiate”

 

Washington (November 6, 2018) – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers added the fewest new listings since February, according to a new report. MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,” said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.

“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of 8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7 percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Continue Reading the entire Press Release from NWMLS


Windermere Broker, Michael Ofstad, give his perspective

Do you see buyers having more options and negotiating power in our local Stanwood-Camano market?

Yes.  In the Stanwood-Camano market, there are certainly more options, from two different forces at work.  There are fewer buyers during this time of year.  People suspend their search in consideration of the holidays, and also the thought of moving in the wet, cold winter and halfway through the school year.  And secondly, there is an uptick in inventory, and therefore more choices available.  This leaves room for traditional negotiations, instead of a lack of inventory holding all the power.  In our local market, it’s a great time to buy.

What can buyers and sellers really expect when entering the local real estate market today?

In this local real estate market, buyers and sellers can expect an active, robust and competitive market that is leaning towards being more balanced – although it is still a healthy seller’s market.  We have seen some price reductions in our area, although not as drastic as other areas, which is simply a market correction happening before our very eyes.  There is a bigger market correction going on across the country, and we are fortunate to be in an area where these trends are on the mild side, for both buyers who don’t want to lose equity and people who desire a long-term stable investment market.   The best result of this mild correction, in my opinions, is a large reduction in stress among buyers, sellers, and the industry as a whole.

NWMLS gives us some great statistics in this article, but we still see home prices up in varying degrees in each area when compared to 2017 home prices.  Can buyers look forward to affordable inventory anytime soon?

The beauty of this area’s market is that over the long term, as more people discover opportunity and a beautiful place to live, here in the Northwest, this whole area is a good investment now.  The term affordable is usually associated with the concept of a reduction in value, where I think the focus might be the appreciation factor, gaining wealth in the long term.

 

 

Posted on November 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends

Broker’s Perspective: Buyers Beware of Haunted Houses

Windermere Stanwood-Camano brokers are deeply connected to the issues that face local home-buyers and sellers. In this series of blogs, The Broker’s Perspective, Windermere Stanwood-Camano brokers provide insight into current market trends and topics.

This week we take a look at excerpts from the Windermere Corporate Blog about Haunted Houses. Tina Stoner, a broker from our Terry’s Corner office, gives us her thoughts on this topic.

 

Don’t Get Spooked! These Are a Buyer’s Warning Signs of a Haunted House

 

By: John Trupin, Windermere Blog

 

Here are some ways to identify – and avoid – ending up with a haunted house.

Something doesn’t feel right. When it comes to finding a home, we talk a lot about how a home feels. People generally feel it in their gut when they have found “the one”. If you feel like something is off, but you just can’t put your finger on it, you probably want to investigate a little further.

Follow the history of the home. Hit the interwebs and do a little online investigation to find out if the home has any skeletons in its closets (literally). Did anyone die in the house? Was it built on an ancient burial gravesite? Both of these could be DEAD giveaways for paranormal activity. Public records can be helpful for basic information, or you can check out this handy website: www.diedinhouse.com. If you don’t mind the house’s sordid past, use it as leverage to knock some zeros off the asking price.

Meet the neighbors. It’s always a good idea to get to know the neighborhood before moving in. Learn about the schools, check out the local shops and amenities, and take a good look at who your neighbors will be.  If you walk next door and the equivalent of the Adams family is staring you in the face, it might be a good time to look at other options.

Follow the paperwork. When selling a home, homeowners are required to fill out a “Self Disclosure Form” to reveal any known issues. In some states, this includes revealing if the home has any paranormal activity. In fact, if a home is known to be haunted, it can be deemed a “stigmatized home” which can impact the sale. But keep in mind, self-disclosure of paranormal activity is hard to qualify and prove, so buyers beware.

 


Tina Stoner, Broker & Realtor at Terry’s Corner Windermere

Tina’s Perspective

Is it common for buyers to ask about haunted homes?

If there is something that prompts a client to ask – a feeling of being uneasy, unusual noises, rumors of hauntings – they may ask about a home being haunted. Under regular circumstances, it is not very often that a buyer asks about a home being haunted.

 

Have you had any personal experience with a home that might have been haunted?

I have had one experience; my client and I were viewing a home and the home gave us an uneasy feeling. We both noticed what we thought to be a shadow that had no explanation and there was a feeling that something wasn’t right with the home. Who knows what we saw and felt in the home but we left promptly.

 

In this fast-paced seller’s market with lower numbers of homes on the market, do you find buyers un-swayed when considering a home that has reports of paranormal activity?

Not necessarily, but I think it really depends on the home. The home mentioned in the last question, I believe, was a foreclosure at the time.  It was on the market for over a year and sold several times after that as well. It was purchased then sold again immediately repeatedly and nobody actually moved into the home for quite some time. In 2017, the home sold for over twice the sales price that it sold for in 2016 – seemingly in this seller’s market whoever bought this home was not swayed by any stigmas or rumors, but every home is different.

 

Every State has it’s own Real Estate Law; what do buyers in Washington State need to be aware of? Do sellers need to disclose a possible haunted home?

There is no law requiring disclosure of possible paranormal activity in a home in Washington State. Seller’s Form 17 gives the seller the legally required information that must be disclosed. Form 17 is the statutory state minimum disclosure a seller must make and any other disclosures are not required by law. A few other States require “emotional” and “psychologically impacted” disclosures, Washington does not.

Did you know that our very own Stanwood Hotel claims to be haunted, the Stanwood Hotel website gives you a little insight and some descriptions on their thought to be friendly spirits right here.

 

 Original Windermere Blog Post can be found here.

 

Posted on October 27, 2018 at 9:39 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling

Broker’s Perspective: Seattle Market Slows, Stanwood-Camano Area Market Holds Its Own

Windermere Stanwood-Camano brokers are deeply connected to the issues that face local home-buyers and sellers. In this series of blogs, The Broker’s Perspective, Windermere Stanwood-Camano brokers provide insight into current market trends and topics. Below is an excerpt from an article by Seattle Times columnist, Jon Talton, followed by a Q&A with Managing Broker of Camano Country Club, Beth Newton.

 

Slowing real estate might let us catch our breath — or knock the wind out of us

 

By: Jon Talton, Seattle Times Columnist

 

If you read my colleague Mike Rosenberg, you already know that segments of the Seattle real-estate market are slowing.

We have an apartment glut thanks to heavy investment in multifamily housing coming out of the Great Recession. Sales and inventory numbers for homes in King County are back to 2012 levels. Prices are dropping many places after record leaps in recent years.

Last week came further evidence: For the first time in about a decade, Seattle wasn’t among the top 10 markets for the coming year in the “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report by the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Last year, we were No. 1.

The report focuses on the Seattle-Bellevue area, setting Tacoma (No. 53) out separately. And it doesn’t directly correlate with livability. Rather, it assesses investment and development trends, and for several years has chronicled the rise of high-quality urban centers.

Many people will see this as all good news, a pause from explosive growth that has also been blamed for lower affordability, rising inequality and social ills. I would add that markets go down as well as up, and every swing creates winners and losers.

Still, while Seattle’s growth isn’t stopping, going from the equivalent of 90 miles per hour to 50 would be felt, and in some unpleasant ways, too.

“Emerging Trends” is the gold standard in real-estate forecasts, based on interviews and surveys of hundreds of leading developers, investors and lenders.

It provides a deep analysis of the outlook for residential, retail, office, hotel and industrial properties, as well as the wider economic environment.

For next year, the top overall markets according to the ULI study are Dallas-Fort Worth, Brooklyn, Raleigh-Durham, Orlando, Nashville, Austin, Boston, Denver, Charlotte and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

At No. 16, Seattle still shows a decent outlook among the 79 markets surveyed. We rank No. 20 in homebuilding prospects. And second, behind Boston, in local market attractiveness for investors. Office demand is expected to continue doing well in the central business district.

Being No. 1 isn’t everything. I’d take Seattle over almost any city among the top 10. But Seattle dropping off might mark an inflection point — emphasis on “might.”

The report also offers this caution about Seattle’s drop: “Seattle is still viewed as an attractive place in which to invest, but did media coverage of potential new supply being delivered and increased regulatory discussions sway the opinion of survey respondents?”

Hard as it is to process, Seattle also gets relatively good marks for housing affordability within the context of the Pacific Coast (Tacoma does even better). Demand remains strong for distribution space, too.

The report points to a local economy operating near capacity (e.g. employment) as a constraint on real-estate investment next year.

“This is evidenced by the comments from focus group participants in Seattle and Portland that attracting qualified labor is getting more difficult and could be hurting employment growth,” it reads.

The unemployment rate for Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue was 3.6 percent in August.

Assuming the larger economic climate is stable, we can expect Seattle to go from “hot” to “warm.”

(article continues…)


Beth Newton, Managing Broker Camano Country Club

Beth’s Perspective

Our local market is not quite the same as the Seattle Market, how much of a change have you felt in the local Stanwood–Camano market, if any?   

The local Stanwood-Camano market is definitely not the same as the Seattle market, so we have not necessarily felt any change other than the normal back to school slow-down in the September and early October market.

 

Some are saying that right now is the best the market has been for buyers since 2015 – do you see any indications of that holding true in the Stanwood – Camano market?

Not necessarily, though it is a dual market where the upper end high priced Real Estate prices may be coming down a little, the majority of the median priced market activity is still showing as a strong seller’s market.

 

The Stock market dropped, interest rates went up and Real Estate statewide seems to be slowing a little bit – do you see this as a simple market correction or a sign of something more?

This looks like a simple market correction for this time of year, or a normal flattening of the market for back to school, which is quite normal and expected.  I look forward to seeing this year finishing strong. And 2019 will be the best market to come!

 

Read full article from The Seattle Times

Posted on October 21, 2018 at 10:29 am
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling

Local Market Stats For August

 

Marla Heagle, Windermere Stanwood Camano Island Owner

 

Every month, Windermere Stanwood-Camano publishes a snapshot of the local real estate market. Our Brokers use this data to help determine listing prices, realistic offers, and tailored advice for their clients. We also like to make this information public, to help you with your real estate journey. Here are our key takeaways from August 2018.


 Stanwood & Camano Island 

If you look at the pie charts below, Windermere has the largest market share with 26% of Stanwood and 46% of Camano Island. This means if you want to sell or buy a house in the area, we’ve got you covered with our talented, knowledgeable agents.

For Camano Island, the average number of days a home stays on the market is just 42, compared to 57 days last year. Last month, the average for Stanwood homes on the market dropped from 47 to 45 days, which is basically unchanged from the average in 2017 during the same months. Sellers can rest assured that in these particular areas, the fall season doesn’t have a negative effect on how fast a home sells.

Stanwood

Camano Island

The average sale price of each home has increased dramatically over the past year–around $40,000 more per home for Stanwood and $50,000 more per home for Camano Island. This, of course, depends on a variety of factors and doesn’t necessarily mean your home’s value jumped that much, but the good news is that the list price compared to the sale price is just about 100% for Stanwood and Camano Island. This means there’s a good chance that if you price your home right to begin with (which we are experts at!) the price you ask for is likely what you’ll get offered.

Stanwood

Camano Island

Stanwood

Camano Island

Camano Island’s largest chunk of active and pending listings falls within the 350-399K price range. The highest number of homes sold within the last year falls within the same price range, too. If you think your home is valued 350-399K, it may be a good time to sell, as there is lots of activity in this price range.

Stanwood has a slight increase in this department, with the largest number of active listings in the 400-449K price range and pending transactions in the 650-699K price range. However, most homes sold in Stanwood this year fall within the 350-399K range, which is the same as Camano Island.

Stanwood

Camano Island

The bottom line is that if you’re interested in selling your home, don’t let the changing of the season deter you. Buyers will appreciate having more options and you’ll likely get the price you ask for. The good news for buyers is the market hasn’t gotten worse in terms of the number of listings and prices as summer has transitioned into fall.

View Full Stats – Stanwood
View Full Stats – Camano Island

 

 

Posted on October 14, 2018 at 2:02 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling, Uncategorized

Balancing a Home’s Personality and Amenities

 

 

It’s sometimes said that the limitations of a house are what help make it a home. For many, however, it is a point of pride to accept only the finest in their new residence. How can you find the balance between cultivating a lived-in home with personality and quirks versus a house with cutting-edge amenities that improve quality of life? To get to the bottom of that, we gathered a list six keys to consider when selecting and developing the home of your dreams:

The Neighborhood

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.

Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.

New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.

Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).

Design and Layout

If you like Victorian, Craftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.

Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.

If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.

Materials and Craftsmanship

Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).

However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).

Current Condition

The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost. But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.

On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.

Outdoor Space

One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature trees and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.

Car Considerations

Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-car garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.

Finalizing Your Decision

While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.

Posted on October 13, 2018 at 9:12 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying

The Risks and Rewards of Purchasing a Bank-Owned Home

 

The process of purchasing a home directly from a lender can be long and arduous, but could very well be worth it in the end. If you have your sights on a particular home or are looking to find a deal on your first, working directly with the lender may be your only option. Purchasing a bank-owned home is not for the faint of heart, here are some tips for negotiating the REO process:

1. Be prepared: The condition of bank-owned properties are often poor and hard to show. Past owners may have departed on bad terms, leaving the home in poor condition with foul smells, missing appliances, wires taken from breakers, gas fireplaces gone, even bathrooms without toilets and sinks.

2. Understand the costs: Maintenance or repairs may be necessary, since these homes have been vacant for an unknown period of time–sometimes months or years. Keep in mind, when they were occupied the owners could have been under a financial hardship, preventing them from doing regular seasonal care or repairs when needed. Remember as well that the bank is trying to sell the house immediately, so you will receive a financial break in the price rather than a willingness to negotiate on the maintenance and repair issues.

3. Accept the unknown: In traditional real estate transactions, homeowners fill out Form 17 regarding important information about the history of the house. A bank owned home is either exempt or marked with “I don’t know” throughout the document. Not having the accuracy of this 5-page disclosure form could leave you with a lot of unanswered questions on the history of the home.

4. Know what is non-negotiable: The pricing on the house may not get much lower. Some of these properties can be “a dream come true” if you get them at an amazing price, or they could be your worst nightmare. Do your due diligence researching any property, and conduct all necessary inspections to safeguard yourself. Some major repairs may be negotiable, but will likely not reduce the home price.

5. Make a clean offer: The higher the price you can offer, the better. Include your earnest money, keep contingencies to a minimum, and suggest a reasonable closing date. The simpler your offer is, the higher chance you have of the bank accepting your offer or countering in a reasonable time period.

6. Be patient: Consult with a professional who handles bank owned home purchases to help you negotiate the pathway to home ownership. The process of purchasing a bank-owned, foreclosed or short-sale home is typically longer than a typical real estate sale.

Posted on September 23, 2018 at 4:05 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying

Local Market Stats for July

Every month, Windermere Stanwood-Camano publishes a snapshot of the local real estate market. Our Brokers use this data to help determine listing prices, realistic offers, and tailored advice for their clients. We also like to make this information public, to help you with your real estate journey. Here are our key takeaways from July 2018.

Insights From Marla

Even though it’s back-to-school time, it’s still a great time for Stanwood-Camano sellers to list their homes as inventory is low in certain areas and prices are going up. In our community, sales aren’t drastically affected by the school year starting, as seen in other areas where young families represent a large percentage of the buyers. Even more, the average amount of days houses are on the market is down, so you’ll spend less time waiting on offers.

Camano Island

Fifty new listings were added on Camano in July, which is down from 70 last year. This means inventory is lower, which boosts your listing’s chances of being considered. Overall, the number of listings is down to 100 from 124 in 2017. That’s a decrease of 19%. Lower inventory means less competition.

The average home’s sale price has increased by 11% over the last year, translating into an average of $47,000 more per sale.

The most significant change is the average time spent on the market for sold listings, which has decreased by 28%. An average of 60 days on the market in 2017 has now dropped to 43 days.

Stanwood

While inventory is relatively stable in Stanwood, the average sale price per home has increased by 13%, which averages to over $54,000 more compared to 2017.

The average amount of time spent on the market for sold listings has also decreased by 3 days.

Full Stats – Camano Island

Full Stats – Stanwood

 

Posted on August 27, 2018 at 9:42 am
Marla Heagle | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling

How Zoning and Regulatory Costs Impact Housing Affordability

Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner explains the ways zoning rules and regulatory costs can limit housing affordability.​

 

 

Posted on August 24, 2018 at 9:53 am
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling