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Preparing Your Home For Spring
February 8, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips

Dust Slipperz!During the winter, your home may have been closed up to stay warm. Over those winter months, with the windows and doors shut, your home may want to breathe in the cool outside air. Lack of air circulation may have left your home stuffy and may have trapped common allergens that normally get circulated out of the home. Below are some tips for opening up your home and preparing it for spring.

Open windows and doors. This lets in the fresh spring air and sunshine. By opening the doors and windows, stale air and stuffiness will be reduced and will give your home new life.

Clean window screens and windows. Over winter, dust and other particulates can collect on the windows and screens, reducing visibility and light that enter the house. Cleaning the windows and screens will give you a more open and airy feel to it.

Vacuum and clean your upholstery, furniture, and draperies. Dust that hadn’t had a chance to escape will collect on surfaces that don’t get cleaned as often as others. Furniture and draperies are a prime place for dust and allergens to collect. Vacuuming and cleaning them will help to remove latent and hidden dust.

Thoroughly clean your ceiling fans, floor vents, and ceiling vents. If your home has a ceiling fans, or other vents, that is a prime area for dust to collect. It can then circulate through the room when you turn them on.

Clean your carpeting with an organic rug cleaner. Cleaning your carpets thoroughly will help to remove any pet odors that may be there as well as dust mites that can cause allergic reactions and leave lingering stale air.

Dust thoroughly. Dusting will further reduce airborne allergens that may have accumulated over the winter.

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How to Sell A Home In a Market That Includes Foreclosures and Short Sales
February 4, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Home Sales AgreementSo you’re trying to sell your home in the current market. In most situations, one foreclosed home in the neighborhood shouldn’t affect your home price. However, in neighborhoods or areas where bank owned or short sales are more prevalent, it can more difficult as you’ll have to compete with those distressed properties. Your home’s market value is related to distressed sales if those short sales and foreclosures dominate the neighborhood.

Prior to the real estate bubble of the mid 2000’s realtors would often ignore the distressed sales surrounding a home when appraising the home. Since then, appraisers are paying closer attention to distressed sales that have closed and distressed properties that are for sale. How can a regular seller with equity compete?

Pricing a Home With Equity Against Foreclosures and Short Sales

Pricing a home can be difficult at time because it requires you and your agent to look objectively at your home in comparison to those around it. It’s a combination of wearing a seller’s hat and stepping into the buyer’s shoes. It does not matter how much you think your home is worth if all of the potential buyers disagree.

When pricing your home, you and your agent need to try to answer these three questions: 

  • What would make a buyer buy your home over a foreclosure or a short sale?
  • Why would a buyer’s lender appraise your home for more than a foreclosure or short sale?
  • How much more is your home worth than a distressed sale?

The answers to these questions may surprise you. The truth is that your home will not be worth a whole lot more than a foreclosure or short sale, even if you put in upgrades.

Buyers want a good deal. They might buy a home that needs carpeting, for example if adding the cost of the new carpeting still makes that bank-owned home’s price attractive. On the other hand, if your home is in tip top shape, clean, move in ready, as well as priced competitively with foreclosures and short sales in the area, your home’s price then becomes more attractive.

Examine the Foreclosed and Short Sale Comparable Sales

  • Look at similar homes in the area to determine comparable sales. The list should contain homes within a ¼ mile to ½ mile.
  • Pay attention to neighborhood dividing lines such as major streets, train tracks and freeways. Do not compare homes from “the other side of the tracks.” Perceptions and desirability have value.
  • Compare homes with similar square footage if possible.
  • Compare homes that are similar ages. One neighborhood may consist of homes built in the 1960’s, which co-mingle with homes built in the 1980’s. The values between the two will differ. Compare apples to apples.

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Zillow.com Predicts Another Tough Year
February 2, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Housing MarketIn the current economy, we constantly come across more information and news regarding the volatile housing industry. According to Amy Bohutinsky, VP of Marketing and Communications for Zillow.com, it could take some time for Puget Sound to recover.

Bohutinsky says that as far as the recovery goes, the Northwest is about a year behind the rest of the nation. According to Bohutinsky, home prices in the Northwest peaked in the middle of 2007, in California, home prices peaked in 2005, and across the country in 2006. What this means is that since we were late to reach our peak, we’ll be late to stabilize as well.

Despite sales being up, home values are still dropping. The problem is the excess inventory of homes.

As more foreclosures hit the market more houses will be added to the housing inventory. Until the months of housing inventory starts to deplete, home prices will continue to decrease.

One thing to keep in mind is that certain areas or counties are hit harder than others. For example, year-over-year declines show Seattle down 11.5 percent, King County down 9.6 percent, Pierce County down 7.9 percent, and Snohomish County down 13.3 percent.

In this market, there are a few simple things to keep in mind.

If you’re a homeowner, it only matters to you if you’re going to move right now or you want to refinance.

If you’re a buyer, it means that homes are more affordable than they’ve been in many years, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, it can be a great time to buy.

If you’re trying to sell your home, be realistic about pricing. An overpriced home will sit on the market indefinitely unless the price is comparable to others homes on the market.

To see the full article and interview with Amy Bohutinsky, please see the King 5 website.

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Why Should You Use a Professional Real Estate Agent?
February 1, 2011 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

Agent HandshakeThere’s a good reason about 80 percent of homes are sold with the help of a Real Estate Agent. Below are some of the ways that Real Estate Agents help the buying or selling of a home be a straightforward and manageable process.

Setting the right price. One of the very first things a Real Estate Agent presents to a home seller is a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA. The CMA is a report that analyzes the current market trends and recent sales prices within a given area. This report is an important tool that helps the agent determine a fair and reasonable price. Setting the right price is absolutely crucial in home sales, especially in this market. Sellers who utilize a Real Estate Agent, on average, receive 20 percent more for homes compared to those who sell on their own.

Neighborhood knowledge. A Realtor has a better understanding of what buyers can get for their money in the neighborhood they want to buy in. The agent will have information available about the neighborhood and be able to offer guidance and advice to their clients. Agents have information about the neighborhood including noise levels, schools, shopping, property taxes, local amenities, and demographics. For sellers, these details are equally important as they affect the value and marketability of the home.

Marketing expertise. Along with the CMA, a Real Estate Agent will typically present sellers with a marketing plan that details what they will do to sell the home. This may include open houses, internet exposure via large home search sites, fliers, brochures, placing ads in various media including social media, and showing your house to potential buyers. Agents also have access to two extraordinary resources that are critical to selling a home: other agents, and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The MLS and the other agents. The multiple listing service (MLS), is a database of all the homes for sale by Real Estate Agents in a particular region. Once a home is listed, information about it can be accessed by those Real Estate Agents and matched to buyers. You are engaging the efforts of not just one person, but hundreds to sell your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 82 percent of homes are sold through an agent’s contacts.

Objectivity. When selling, a Real Estate Agent can provide an unemotional analysis of the home and what needs to be enhanced to make it more appealing to buyers. Buyers who choose to utilize a Real Estate Agent will benefit from the agent’s objectivity. Real Estate Agents can provide an unemotional analysis of a home. They will determine any enhancements, modifications or remedies that might be needed to efficiently buy or sell a home.

Efficiency. With the expertise of Real Estate Agents a transaction will be more efficient. Buyers will be shown homes in relation to their needs and qualified loan amounts. Sellers will be best served by Agents objectivity in preparing their home for the market.

Contracts. Realtors can complete the purchase and sale agreement and are knowledgeable about the correct forms needed to accommodate the transaction.

Negotiation and closing assistance. A Real Estate Agent can provide advice for both buyers and sellers about whether to accept an offer, or counter-offer. Real Estate Agents know what a home is worth and what a fair price to offer or to accept is.

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Why Great Images Are Important When Selling Your Home
January 21, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

Good vs Bad PictureGood photographs of homes are essential in the process of selling a home. Imagine when a buyer goes to their favorite home search engine and starts looking for homes. They will more often then not be taking one look at the first picture of a listing and deciding whether it is worth investigating further. Below are some do’s and don’ts to check that ensure your agent is representing your home the way it should be. 

  1. Do Not List Without a Photo. – Listing without a photograph is almost suicidal to the listing if at the very least extremely counter productive. If people can’t see what it looks like, it can be swiftly ignored. In a market where there are so many homes available, don’t sell your listing short even before you get started. Remember, people are visual creatures and images invoke the strongest emotion and leave a lasting impression.
  2. Have Multiple Photo’s. – Now you have one picture. Great! Now interested buyers will have one image to look at and then they get to imagine what the rest of the home looks like! The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true especially in this case. Some buyers may think that you’re trying to hide something by not having enough photographs, or that your agent is inexperienced. Multiple photographs allow the potential buyer to have a good idea about what your home has to offer, and you end up generating interest from the buyer to read more, and people’s time isn’t wasted.
  3. Ensure Quality. – You have a number of images for buyers to look at. You have to be sure that the photographs taken are good quality. This means the content of the photograph is relevant to what a buyer needs to see or know about a certain room. A picture of a wall is not helpful. Put yourself in the buyers’ shoes. What would you want to see? Aside from the quality of the content ensure that the actual digital quality is good as well. If you’ve re-sized the picture so many times that it resembles a Jackson Pollack painting, go back to the original and take the time to size the image properly.

Always keep in mind that when a buyer is looking for a home, especially in our current market situation, they will be confronted with hundreds of homes to choose from. They will usually only pick a select few of those hundreds. The easiest way to narrow their search is to exclude homes with no pictures, not enough pictures, or with poor quality pictures. Keep your property in the running and take the extra time to have great, quality images that showcase the features of the home.

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The West Seattle Helpline – Neighbors Helping Neighbors since 1989
January 20, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

West Seattle Helpline LogoThe West Seattle Helpline is a non-profit social service agency dedicated to helping members of the West Seattle Community. The organization helps families that may be struggling, by providing information and limited financial assistance. The mission of the West Seattle Helpline is to strive toward and build a community of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

Since 1989 the Helpline has been offering financial aid and referral advice to West Seattle residents. It was formed by a group of concerned West Seattle residents including former Senator Phil Talmadge and Dick Rhodes, co-owner of the Queen Anne Thriftway. Both Senator Phil Talmadge and Dick Rhodes were instrumental in replicating the success of the Queen Anne Helpline in West Seattle.

The assistance provided by the Helpline can save residents from homelessness, hopelessness, and hunger.

The following are some of the ways in which they strive to assist the community:

  • Providing financial support that can be used to pay portions of rent and utilities.

  • Providing clothing at the Clothesline.

  • Metro bus tickets.

  • Assisting with back to school supplies for children and families in need.

  • Providing information and referrals to other assisting agencies.

If you would like to be a part of this extraordinary organization, please visit their get involved web page. You can also contact them on their contact web page as well.

For a better idea of the ways that the Helpline has assisted people, as well as individuals and family testimonial of how the Helpline has impacted them, watch the video on the Helpline’s homepage.

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Cumulative Days On Market – Is There Something Wrong?
January 18, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

Home For SaleWhen buyers look at a home, one of the first questions they ask is how long its been on the market. The thought process is that, if a home has been on the market for long time, there must be something wrong with it, right? Not necessarily. Below are some common reasons a house has been on the market for an extended period of time.

  1. Overpriced: When the home was originally listed, it may have been way above what the market would bear, and hence, no interest in it. Overpricing of homes is one of the most common and often one of the main reasons some homes are on the market for so long. The tenet of real estate that we’re so used to hearing is, “location, location, location.” Now it’s more along the lines of “pricing, pricing, pricing.”
  2. Difficulty Showing: If a home has occupants living there it may be difficult to coordinate times when people can come and look through the home. In some situations tenants may be unwilling and even Sellers may make it difficult to show a property.
  3. Inflexible Sellers: Even if a price may be relatively reasonable, some sellers will not budge from the price they’ve set. This inflexibility can turn a lot of buyers away especially if a reduction in price is to accommodate something that may require repair with the home.
  4. Down Real Estate Market: In a buyer’s market, which is our current situation, it can take longer to sell a home just due to the fact that there are so many properties available. It’s supply and demand.
  5. Little Exposure: If the home received little to no exposure on the internet or the MLS then that will translate into larger cumulative days on market. This is hard to verify but is still quite common. For example, a listing with one or no pictures is unlikely to generate any interest. No pictures or description equals bad marketing.

What Does This Mean To You?

If you’re a home buyer or an agent representing a buyer, cumulative days on market is important. If you take quick look at how long it’s been on the market and making a decision based on that, you may miss some opportunities. Especially in the current housing market situation, homes being listed for much longer than usual is becoming the norm. As a buyer, consider the above and make sure you are evaluating the home on more than just how long it’s been listed. Sometimes, the longer the home is listed, the more motivated a seller is to sell.

If a home has been sitting vacant for a long period of time, that can also mean that it has gone without maintenance, heat, and general care.

As a seller, if you’re home has been on the market for an extended period of time, it may be time to reevaluate your listing. If it falls under any of the common reasons above, take action to resolve it.

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Agent Resolutions for 2011
January 5, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

New Years ResolutionsHappy new year! As the new year begins, so do the resolutions for the upcoming year. As an agent, there are some things you can resolve to do that will not only increase your business, but will increase the success rate of your buyers and sellers.

Social Media

Utilizing social media to help advertise and expose your listings will not only help your sellers but it will also attract buyers looking for a home. If you haven’t already started using social media, ie. Facebook, Twitter, and others, you’re missing out on one of the fastest growing, and most useful tools you have available to you.

Newsletters

These may seem old-fashioned and out of date, but the fact is they’re great for staying in the minds of your constituency. People that you’ve done business with before will have you in mind when they recommend an agent to their family and friends or when they themselves are in the market for a new home or need to sell theirs.

Taking Pictures

This seems obvious, but if you’re searching for a home on the MLS or other home search tool, and you come across a listing with absolutely no pictures, or just one, what do you do? You ignore it. Don’t let this be you. It is doing a disservice to your client if you don’t take the time to take photographs. If you’re serious about selling the client’s home, you need to demonstrate the features of the home. And the best way to do that is through photographs.

Tidying The Property

As a agent listing a property, your responsibility is to get the home sold. There are a plethora of things you can do to ensure your listing gets seen. One of the best ways is to communicate with the seller about what the expectations are for the home. This also relates back to taking pictures. Make sure your photos are appealing and demonstrate the special attributes of the home inside as well as outside. Laying bark down in flowerbeds is a great way to add a landscaped and clean look to a property. Make sure that during the picture-taking process that the home is clean and uncluttered and that before potential buyers come to investigate the property, that it gets picked up and tidied.

If you’re already doing the above, these are just a few less resolutions you’ll need to make. For those that aren’t, working on the above will improve your exposure, and will help advertise yourself, and your listings.

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The Night Before Christmas
December 20, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the office,

All of the attendants, were somewhere amiss,

Papers were stacked on the desks with care,

In hopes that when they got back they’d still be there,

The agents had gone home, and nestled in their beds,

While visions of closed deals, danced in their heads;

And my cat in his pajamas, and I in my sweater,

Were both poking fun at who ‘looked better’.

When out in the den there arose such a sound,

I lept from my chair, and flung the cat to the ground.

Away to my computer, I flew like the dawn,

I wiggled my mouse and turned the screen on.

The login screen appeared, and I typed like the wind,

As it processed my password, I happily grinned.

I searched for what, the sound had been,

Ho! Instant Messenger! A new email came in.

I opened my inbox, and to my eyes did appear,

A tiny digital sleigh, and animated reindeer,

With a little old driver, pixelated and thick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

With animated vibrance, his coursers they came,

He whistled and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!

I would have brought Cupid but didn’t know how to fix ‘im!

To the top of Matrix! To the top of the NWMLS!

Don’t let the down market keep you depressed!”

So navigating my browser to Matrix they flew,

With a sleigh full of .pdf files and St. Nicholas too.

And in a twinkling, like a candle against gold,

They showed me the house that I’d listed just sold!

And the digital Santa with his mouth drawn like a bow,

And the beard of his pixel chin as white as the snow;

He gave me a wink, and sprang back to his sleigh,

And with a whoosh he was off and away.

And as I waved farewell, my lip did quiver,

I knew for a fact he had more emails to deliver.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he disappeared from my sight,

“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night.”

 

Happy holidays everybody!

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The Warm Home Fund
November 23, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

Icicles on a homeThe first snow of the season has come and gone. It’s cold and will be getting colder. There are many families who will need help this winter staying warm. That is why Puget Sound Energy has a partnership with The Salvation Army to help provide qualified low-income families with heat and natural gas this winter. Puget Sound Energy’s customers, employees, and the corporate giving program contributed over $700,000 to the Warm Home Fund last year, providing assistance to nearly 4,000 families. Contact your local Salvation Army unit for more information.

In addition to the Warm Home Fund, Puget Sound Energy’s HELP Program provides additional bill-payment assistance to qualified PSE customers. Eligible customers can receive up to $1,000 per year in credits to lower their electricity or natural gas bills. Depending on the county in which you live, the maximum household income for eligibility ranges between 125 percent and 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. HELP assistance is offered year-round to eligible customers.

For more information, please visit Puget Sound Energy’s website.

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