Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Q: I know you only represent buyers and don’t list homes, so we can’t use your services to list our place for sale, but we would like a referral to someone you trust.

How do you choose which real estate broker to recommend?

A:  Generally, when I’ve been asked to help a seller select a listing broker, I like to visit the home first.  I can often help the seller by recommending things that they might want to do before putting the home on the market. Then I give some thought to the personality of listing brokers I know and trust that would be most compatible with the sellers.  Some brokers are laid back in their approach and have a calm demeanor.  Some are high energy and assertive, and there are lots of personality types in between. Some brokers specialize in certain kinds of property.  Perhaps they are more knowledgeable about undeveloped land, or possibly condos, or have more background in farms on acreage.  I try to take all that into consideration.

When selecting a listing broker, I think there are several things that you should look for.  Almost all brokers have access to the same basic marketing methods.  They all use the internet and most of them use staging specialists to help make your home more appealing.  They also should be easy to contact and ready to assist you in any way necessary. But most important is how they handle a transaction. That means how they advise you on price and negotiation techniques.  I judge listing brokers, to some extent, by the way they perform once we are in a contract.  I go out of my way to do more than my share of the work and take pride in that.  The best listing brokers are those who do the same.  The brokers who sit down with me when I represent a buyer and try to solve problems are exceptional.  Those that leave their ego at the door and concentrate on doing what works best for both the buyer and the seller in a transaction are my first choice.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Q: I’d like to convert the garage next to our house into a place for our business.

There would be three or four employees at most.  Generally, we just package software and prepare it for shipping, as well as take orders and answer customers who call with questions.  It’s a small company and it would really save us money if we didn’t have to rent office space.  Is it legal to do that and will we get into trouble with the County?

A:  You shouldn’t get into any trouble for having a home business.  The County has regulations concerning “cottage industry” and home businesses, which are allowed here.  These are found in the zoning code.  In going over the requirements it basically boils down to “thou shalt not anger thy neighbors.”  It sounds like your business shouldn’t be a problem.

What isn’t allowed makes perfect sense.  You are in a residential area so no big, noisy trucks at all hours.  You won’t be manufacturing anything so there won’t be noisy machines running to drive others crazy.  You may have several deliveries or parcel pick-ups during the day, and if that gets excessive you might need to take the parcels to a drop off site rather than have too many trips down your road from large vans and trucks.

You might consider getting a permit to remodel the garage into office space.  Many folks on Vashon don’t bother with that but it is, of course, a County requirement.  Another issue is parking for your employees.  The regulations require off street parking so that you’re not taking up all of the parking on the street.  Since you are down a dirt road not maintained by the County it may not matter as much, but providing parking places on your property would be best.

There also should be no signs advertising as if you were a retail business.  A small sign with your business name on it might be alright so that delivery people can find you.  Just remember that you can’t have a retail business, or do any substantial manufacturing.  Good luck!