Monday, January 31, 2011

Q: Our house has been on the market for over a year now with no offers.

The listing has expired and we are thinking of switching to another broker and want your recommendations.

A: Switching brokers or agencies will probably not solve the problem for you. There are times when a broker may not be doing a good job of marketing a home but in your case, you have an excellent listing broker and the house has been well advertised. It is also well staged and there have been many open houses. She has followed up aggressively on any showings and has, I believe, shared feedback with you from the brokers who showed your home.

The problem, as is often the case, is the price. I can't interfere with another broker's listing, that's against our code of ethics, but since you are currently not actively listed I can advise you. I recommend that you stick to your current broker but take her recommendation as to the best price to get the house sold.

No seller wants to hear that they are going to have to lower their price. But in our current market the houses that are well priced are going relatively quickly for at or close to their asking price, but the over priced listings are sitting on the market for a very long time.

We have had many homes over the last year that went through several price drops. The sellers kept taking a small amount off the price hoping for a buyer who would offer that price. When those homes finally sold, they sold for well under what they probably would have sold for if the price had been right in the first place.

Many sellers are losing money when they sell, especially if they purchased in the three years just before the recession. However, in you case, you've owned the home for a long time and are blessed with a low mortgage balance. Bite the bullet and drop the price significantly and then you can move on with your life and still show a good profit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Q: With all the snow we’re been having this winter I’m getting worried about my roof.

When we bought the place a year ago the inspector said it needed a new roof. We negotiated for a drop in price instead of getting the sellers to replace the roof but didn't ever actually get a new roof. I know this is a bad time of the year to replace the roof but it could be leaking in the attic by now. What do you think?

A: You've hit on one of my pet peeves. In many transactions the sellers prefer to lower the price by approximately the cost of repairs and work orders to avoid the delay of waiting for the work to be completed. That's fine but then sometimes the work never gets done and the conditions just get worse over time.

Winter is not the ideal time to replace the roof but I would strongly recommend you do it anyway. Line up bids from local roofers and have them order your roofing material. They can wait until there is a break in the weather. It should take no more than a day or two days to do your roof. Then you can rest easy that your house is protected.

I would also recommend that you call your inspector back and pay him to check the attic for leaks as soon as the new roof is on. If there have been leaks you could have a problem that should get fixed right away.

Be sure that the roofer installs a proper drip edging on the roof to prevent moisture from wicking up into the plywood sheathing. That's a major cause of mold and leaks. If the gutters and downspouts are not the best or have been damaged have those replaced too. They are a vital part of keeping your house safe and dry.

For anyone buying a home who decides to take an allowance from the seller or price drop instead of having the work done, please get to those work orders quickly. These conditions only get worse with time.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Q: We want to start the New Year off right and really start looking seriously for a home to buy.

The prices are attractive and the interest rates are staying low. We've decided on Vashon Island but we're not sure where the best neighborhoods are or the areas we should avoid. We intend to stay put for a long time but we want to be sure to buy in an area of the Island that will appreciate. What do you suggest?

A: Unlike most cities, Vashon doesn't have necessarily have "better neighborhoods" or areas to avoid. Most of the preferences that are reflected in pricing have to do with location issues, like distances from the Seattle ferry or closeness to town. However, there are a few areas that tend to sell more quickly because they are perceived to have special characteristics. Examples might include Burton which most people find charming, or the south end of Vashon, which is more rural. or Dockton, that has more sun.

The size of the property also plays a part in values here, as in most suburban and rural areas. Folks moving here often want acreage. They may want to have horses, or a large garden, or orchards, or they may simply love the idea of owning a large property.

Another plus, of course, is having a view. View properties tend to be more expensive, as you would expect, but many buyers want to be able to see the mountains or the Sound from their island home.

Historically all homes have appreciated here. There have been no areas to my knowledge, that have dropped in value while other areas have increased. Obviously, as with the entire country , all our values have dropped during this recession. That's why this is such a good time to buy.

The main thing to remember is that we have a very small real estate market. That means you won't have a lot of choices. But most people who live here gave up some of their choices in order to be a part of this wonderful community.