Thursday, March 29, 2012

Q: We've really enjoyed going out to look at houses with you and you've had good answers for all of our questions.

However, you don't seem to be willing to talk about why the sellers are selling.  Is that some sort of confidential information you can't talk about?  How else can we find out?

A:  There are a couple of answers to your question.  the first is that unless I know the sellers, or the listing agent has shared the reasons for the sale, I wouldn't know the reasons for selling.  That is not information that the listing broker has to share with the other brokers.

  In addition, the reason for selling is really irrelevant, in my opinion.  We have a tiny number of sales here every year and most of them are due to death, divorce or job transfers.  There are no plans for new large developments or other undesirable changes that might make someone want to get away from Vashon Island.  The question of why they are selling might make sense in a situation where they know of a new shopping center going in next door, etc. but that's not happening here.  Our community plans and issues are very much in public view on the Internet and local newspapers.

  I prefer to concentrate on the buyer's needs and not the sellers.  that's my job as an exclusive buyer's broker.  Why the sellers are selling doesn't really matter much to me.  Often, knowing their sad story, if that's what it is, makes it harder for buyers to see themselves living there.  It's easy to feel compassion for the sellers that can translate into a less than enjoyable transaction.  I want buyers to be exited about their new home, not sad that the sellers are getting a divorce or whatever.

  A very few sales here are due to the sellers inability to stay in their home financially and those result in a short sale or foreclosure.  But in those cases, short sales or foreclosures are clearly disclosed in the listing information.  I hope that answers your question.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Q: We have been shown several Vashon houses by our Seattle realestate broker and I'm deeply disappointed to find that many of these houses are using what I think are deceptive photos.

One place we liked online had a photo of a huge yard with a beautiful big pond and it turns out to be about four feet across and filled with debris.  Another photo shows a beautiful swimming pool and it's blocks away from the house!  One more had a huge photo of Mt. Rainier and it clearly was taken with a telephoto lens.  The mountain was nowhere near that close or large once we saw the house.  Several waterfront places were not even that close to the water.  They were hanging off of cliffs!

A:  It is against the rules of the Board of Realtors and the multiple listing service to use "puffing" (which means exaggeration), or phony, photo shopped pictures on line.  However, it's also the listing agent's job to entice buyers to look at their listings.  I always tell my clients to take any real estate photos with a grain of salt.  Many homes actually look much better than the photos online.

  There's no substitute for looking at a house and property in person.  The photos online and the written descriptions are just a way for you to eliminate places that are totally unsuitable for you.  I can't tell you how often I have clients tell me that a house is so much nicer than what they expected from the Internet photos, so it can work both ways.

  One thing that could make your search easier is for your Seattle broker to partner with a local Vashon Realtor.  Only Vashon brokers know the whole story behind most of our local listings.  Your broker may be really experienced but he or she won't know many of the major issues that are important in buying on Vashon Island.  These include things like septic systems and their operation, issues with water and critical areas as well as slide hazard areas, and the history of neighborhoods and houses here.