Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Q: I’m so frustrated waiting for a place on Vashon.

Everything you’ve shown me over the last year was just not what I was hoping for.  I really hate where I’m living now in Seattle.  It’s so noisy and there’s so much traffic.  When will there be more homes coming on the market?  There just seems to be so few places for sale.

A:  There is no way to predict the timing of new listings. Something I tell every buyer when we start looking, is that they will not find what they’re really looking for because we don’t have it.  With 200 homes a year or less to sell here, and that’s in all the price ranges, it’s lucky if five or six homes a year come up in your price range that might even have one or two of the features that you are hoping for.

In your case, you have severely limited the areas of the island that you will consider.  You’ve asked for as quiet an area as possible and yet those areas are primarily on Maury Island or the less developed south end of Vashon and you won’t consider those locations.  You also say you don’t want to see any neighbors.  That’s not impossible but it’s very rare.  Those few homes on larger acre parcels that offer that kind of privacy are almost always in the south end of the island. Your best bet is to rent here for awhile while you continue your search and get to know our island better.  That would get you out of the noise of the city and even our most developed neighborhoods are far quieter than any area of Seattle.

Everyone who buys here must compromise.  It’s just too small an inventory to get everything you hope for.  I’m always surprised when clients tell me that the home they are buying is just what they wanted, when I know they started out with a completely different picture in their mind.  It speaks to their commitment to make something work in order to be a part of our wonderful community. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Q: My friend just did what’s called “flipping” of a house he bought here about a year ago.

He’s going to make a big profit and we wondered what you thought of this and if you think we should try it?  I have a little money set aside and I see fixers coming on the market from time to time. 

A:  Flipping a house has been around for a very long time.  You buy a fixer and do a quickie remodel to make it look nice and then sell it for a profit.  What’s important to understand is that this is very similar to the children’s game of musical chairs.  It’s all good until you are left with no chair.  It can be a huge gamble. No one can really predict what the market will do in the future.  It’s best not to try it unless you can afford to lose the money.

In a tight market like we have now, with very few homes to sell and lots of buyers, getting a fixer with the thought of fixing it up to sell would seem to be a great idea.  But we have had some recent sales of such property that did not work out that well for the seller.  It’s possible to run into King County requirements that cost more than you’ve budgeted for.  Since most of the Island is on septic systems, having to update or repair the septic can add substantially to the cost. Also keep in mind that you will have to buy for cash since lenders usually don’t loan on fixers. 

Those of us in real estate have seen the glitzy kitchens, bamboo floors, granite counter tops, etc. many times.  They’ve started to look alike.  The most important thing to remember when fixing up a house is that there will probably be an appraiser looking at it for a future buyer and they’ve seen all that stuff before too. You want to be sure the house is structurally in good shape and that you fix the real problems, not just put “lipstick on a pig.”