Tips for Home Selling : Real Estate Rules You Should Know

Everything can and should go smoothly with your real estate purchase or sale but sometimes it doesn’t.  If you are planning to buy or sell your home and you don’t think it matters who, if anyone, helps you – think again.

The trends, rules and laws having to do with real estate change frequently which is why the best Brokers stay on top of their continuing education and regularly attend their brokerage office meetings to stay current.  Here are just a couple of examples where the right information can make or break your real estate experience.

  1. Home Security Cameras & Sound Recordings.
    While video recording without sound is generally permitted under WA law, audio recordings of private conversations without consent of the persons engaged in the conversations is prohibited. While providing a conspicuous notice to potential Buyers might protect a Seller, it is safer to just turn off the recording function.  Buyers – you should always be aware that your actions and potentially comments might be overheard by the sellers.
  2.  

  3. Wire Fraud.
    According to the FBI, cyber criminals stole or attempted to steal almost $1 billion from real estate transactions.  Buyers make sure you know how to protect yourself from wire fraud by always verifying the wire instructions with a trusted source or using a cashier’s check.  Sellers make sure your Buyer has a reputable Broker advising them so this doesn’t happen on your sale.
  4.  

  5. Pollution Liability Insurance Agency.
    Does the home you are selling/buying have a heating oil tank on it and has the Seller registered for PLIA insurance? PLIA Insurance is free of charge to the property owner and if there is contamination as a result of a leak that starts after the tank is registered then PLIA will pay up to $60,000 to clean up the contamination. Buyers should know that if they register within 180 days from the date of closing, then there will be no coverage lapse from when the seller registered.
  6.  

  7. Fair Housing.
    Make sure you know all of the applicable rules in each stage of the transaction. The specific words that are not allowed in Advertising; the rules with respect to service animals during showings & open house touring; and the offer review process that can help ensure Sellers make decisions about offers appropriately. Careful attention to the Fair Housing rules throughout the sales process will protect both Sellers and Buyers.
  8.  

  9. Advertising Bedrooms based upon the Septic System.
    Both Sellers and their Brokers can be held liable for damages by Buyers in the future if they advertise the home as having more bedrooms then the septic system rating. There are ways to communicate room flexibility without putting Buyers or Sellers at risk for unexpected costs in the future.
  10.  

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on January 9, 2020 at 10:57 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Maintenance, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged ,

Home Tips for Seniors | Holiday Gift Ideas

Do you know a senior or have an aging parent who is planning on staying in their home? Here are some great gift ideas to help make their home safer, simpler and that will give you peace of mind too!

  1. Front Door Solutions.
    Products like the Nest and Ring video doorbells are a great way for a senior to talk to and see who is at the door without having to go to the door. It provides a safe way to screen who to open the door to and combined with an automated lock system, they can let someone in without ever going to the door. For added safety it can be combined with a security alarm system where others are notified if and as needed.
  2.  

  3. New Hardware.
    You probably don’t think much about turning a doorknob, but it can actually be painful for someone with arthritis – simply replacing doorknobs with lever-style hardware can make life just a little bit easier. Faucets with knobs can be changed to levers or single-handed faucets and light switches can be swapped with illuminated rocker switches. Cabinets with pulls are also better then knobs that are harder to use and might catch on clothing.
  4.  

  5. Automated Lights.
    When areas are well lit falls are less likely. Outdoor lights that automatically come on when it’s dark and indoor lights that are motion sensitive can make sure that the light is on when and where it is needed.
  6.  

  7. New Windows.
    If they need any windows replaced consider getting easy-to-open slider windows (versus the push-&-pull windows), windows that have various patterns or tinting that offer privacy (so they don’t have to open/shut blinds or drapes) and low-maintenance window frames like vinyl that are simple to clean, more energy efficient and don’t require sanding & repainting.
  8.  

  9. Bars & Railings.
    Provide support when you aren’t there by adding grab bars to the shower area, by the toilet, sturdy handrails on both sides of all staircases, and rails or grab bars in other places in the home where a helping hand might be needed.
  10.  

  11. Organize things within easy reach.
    Cabinets with pull-outs or drawers provide easier storage in Kitchens. Microwaves that are counter height or the drawer style units make accessibility easier and reduce the chance of burns. Or simply spending time helping your senior reorganize to ensure that everything that is used on a regular basis is easy to reach eliminating the need for step stools or the potential for becoming unsteady as they reach for something overhead.
  12.  

 

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on December 9, 2019 at 10:44 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors | Tagged

Tips for Home Selling | Its All in the Details!

A Successful Sale – It’s All in the Details

A prompt sale and a successful closing requires close attention to the details at each stage of the home sale. This is especially important now as the local real estate market has cooled off some and, while it is still a seller’s market, buyers have more homes to choose from and multiple offers aren’t as common as they were last Spring.  Pay attention to the details and you will have success.

  1. Pre-Listing Inspection.
    By having a reputable inspector inspect your home prior to listing you will avoid negative surprises and can deal with any issues proactively. The benefits include: (1) the ability to control who does the repair, how & when it is done; 2) ability to get an estimate on a repair you don’t want to do so you can simplify the negotiation by disclosing it a provider who can fix it and the cost; and 3) no inspection surprises means no price reductions after you are in contract and happy buyers.
  2.  

  3. Home Upgrade List.
    It is always helpful to have a list of upgrades that you have made to the home and the cost of those upgrades. This information will help the Buyer know why your home might be worth more then the competitor home and it also helps ensure that your home will appraise at the contracted value by providing the appraiser the same information to support the sale price.
  4.  

  5. Home Features List.
    Most buyers walk through a home in 15-30 minutes and are trying to decide whether they want to buy and live in your home for years, it can be a daunting task. You and your Broker can really help them out by creating a feature list handout – by room or by area – so even if they miss something they have it after they leave your home.  This is sometimes combined with the upgrade list.
  6.  

  7. Contract Tasks & Deadlines.
    Once you get into contract on a home there are very specific tasks that the seller and the buyer are required to do and key deadlines. A 1-page summary can be very helpful for everyone to manage the list and hit the deadlines – ensuring an on time closing.
  8.  

  9. Moving Tasks.
    Doing what you can before you list your home such as getting rid of things you don’t want and starting the packing process can really help. Make sure you have a clear list of everything that needs to get done and by when, being sure to prioritize time sensitive services like selecting an estate sale representative or mover early in the process since they get booked up. This will really help decrease the stress of moving.
  10.  

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on November 9, 2019 at 10:13 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Tips for Home Selling | Halloween is Scary, Selling your Home Shouldn’t Be!

An important consideration when selling your home is making sure that you pay attention to safety and security – your real estate broker should guide you on the specifics for your home.  However here are some steps that every seller can take to protect their home & family.

  1. Personal Information.
    You have been told to de-personalize your home, so prospective buyers don’t get distracted and their focus stays on your home, however you also want to do this to protect your personal information. Family calendars can let people know where you, your children, and/or pets will be at specific times. Mail and especially bills sitting out can share your financial information. Old school answering machines can also share details about when you will & won’t be home – make sure to turn the volume down or off.
  2.  

  3. Keys, remotes, meds and valuables.
    While having a basket by the door or set of hooks for your keys & remotes is a great way to organize easily misplaced items for your everyday routine, it is dangerous to leave them out so someone can easily pick them up for use after the home tour or open house. You should make sure that prescription meds are removed from bathroom cabinets and dressers. Pack away any items that are monetarily or personally valuable – so they don’t get stolen or inadvertently broken (especially small items like phones & jewelry and fragile items like musical instruments and collectibles).
  4.  

  5. Windows & Doors.
    You should always have your windows and doors locked when your home is on the market – even if you don’t do that on a regular basis. In addition, make a habit of checking your windows & doors after open houses or agent tours so you know that someone didn’t inadvertently or purposely unlock one for later use.
  6.  

  7. Landscaping & Lighting.
    Trim landscaping and well lighted walk ways are important for good curb appeal – but they also deter thieves and eliminate safety hazards. Make sure handrails are in good repair, all lightbulbs are working, and anything that might be a trip hazard is corrected or clearly identified.
  8.  

  9. Dangerous Items.
    It should be obvious – but we have been in homes where sellers have left dangerous items out. All guns and other weapons should be safely locked away, kitchen knives should be put away (especially during open houses), and chemicals put out of reach of small hands. This will protect the real estate brokers & prospective buyers and you from the liability if something inadvertently happens.
  10.  

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on October 9, 2019 at 10:32 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Selling | Tagged ,

Tips for Home Selling | Will You Pay More or Less Excise Tax in 2020?

If you are trying to decide whether to sell your home year or next, one of the variables you might want to consider and prepare for is the new 2020 Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). Currently the Washington state excise tax is 1.28% and then local municipalities add their excise tax on top of that, with most cities in our area adding .5% so the average total REET is 1.78%. Effective 1/1/2020 this will change to a new sliding scale based upon the home’s sales price. Depending on your price point you might want to sell before or after the end of the year.

New Progressive REET Rates

Home Sales Price REET (including standard .5% municipality tax)
0-$500,000 1.60%                    You will pay less in 2020
$501,000-$1,500,000 1.78%                    You will pay less in 2020
$1,501,000 – $3,000,000 3.25%                    You will more in 2020
$3,000,000 + 3.50%                    You will more in 2020

 

Here are some sample calculations compared to 2019

Home Sales Price 2019 REET 2020 REET
$500,000 $500,000*1.78%=$8,900 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$750,000 $750,000*1.78%=$13,350 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$250,000*1.78%=$4,450                 Total =$12,450
$1,500,000 $1,500,000*1.78%=$26,700 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$1,000,000*1.78%=$17,800                  Total =$25,800
$2,500,000 $2,500,000*1.78%=$44,500 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$1,000,000*1.78%=$17,800
$1,000,000*3.25%=$32,500                 Total =$58,300
$3,500,000 $3,500,000*1.78%=$62,300 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$1,000,000*1.78%=$17,800
$1,500,000*3.25%=$48,750
$500,000*3.50%=$17,500
Total =$92,050

Posted on September 28, 2019 at 11:36 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Home Tips for Seniors : Should you Consider Lifestyle Rightsizing?

Congratulations, you have made it to a key life milestone!  Unfortunately, you no longer need the spaces that your home is designed to support, so how do you find your next home?  Instead of just thinking you need to “downsize” consider the lifestyle you want now and then find a home that will help you achieve that lifestyle.

You may end up with a smaller or larger home, in the same neighborhood or in a different place all together or maybe you just remodel the home you have.  We call this Lifestyle Rightsizing.

  1. Pursuits at Home.
    What activity do you want to take up or spend more time on at that might need a specialized space – such as restoring old cars, painting, wood working, organic gardening, cooking/entertaining, hosting football parties, practicing your putting, etc.
  2.  

  3. Activities outside of the Home.
    What do you want to do away from home – that should be facilitated by your home? Maybe you want to travel the country on your RV (RV Parking), ride your bike daily (close proximity to trails, roads with bike lanes, and/or storage for bike equipment), domestic or international traveling (secure home & neighborhood, proximity to the airport), be able to walk to restaurants & businesses (home in the city), or you want have your own chickens & goats (the right property & no HOA).
  4.  

  5. Flexible Spaces.
    Maybe you are tired of cleaning & maintaining your large home – and you would rather have a higher quality & cozy home, but one that designed to handle visits from extended family several times during the year. Consider the design principles of the Not So Big® Home by architect Sarah Susanka (www.SarahSusanka.com) where you have rooms that have multiple purposes depending on your need at the time. Efficient & multi-use spaces can really be a win-win – let us know if you need ideas.
  6.  

  7. Simplify Your Life.
    This is also a good time to think about how to simplify your life, so you can spend your time and money doing what you really want to do. This can be anything from buying a home or condo without a yard, buying a tiny home that forces you to be efficient, or just changing how you use your current space by getting advice from a space planner & organizer to help you get rid of all of the clutter you have collected over the years so you can live a more efficient life and have more time for doing what really matters.
  8.  

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on September 9, 2019 at 10:07 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged

Tips For Home Selling | Selling Homes With Pets

We love our pets so make sure you minimize the stress of the home sale process on them and, at the same time, maximize your home sale price by managing their impact on your sale.

  1. Prior to listing
    Repair any damage done by your pet & remove pet odors. This could be replacing or painting trim that has been scratched or chewed, replacing carpet that has been scratched or stained, or removing or replacing damaged window screens. Pay special attention to pet smells that permeate your home – you may need to clean carpets, upholstered furniture, area rugs or ducts.
  2.  

  3. Temporary relocation.
    If it is an option, ask a friend or relative to take care of your pet(s) while your home is on the market. At a minimum, this will be beneficial during the initial week marketing blitz, but it might be best if they can be hosted away from your home until they can move with you to their new home.
  4.  

  5. Remove during showings.
    If relocation isn’t an option, depending on the pet – it might be easiest to just pack up your pet and take them with you during showings & open houses. Have a “to go bag” with all of your pet’s essentials – food, water dish, toys, etc. so that when you get the call for a showing you can pack up with everything you might need quickly. Make sure pet bedding, litterboxes & cages are regularly cleaned and don’t smell.
  6.  

  7. Erase visual signs of your pets.
    Tuck the water & food dish into a cabinet, put away beds, litterboxes & toys (or at least put them in the garage during showings). Be vigilant about scooping & disposing of pet waste outside.
  8.  

  9. Pets who need to stay during showings.
    If you can’t relocate while on the market or remove for showings, then make sure you have a sign that explains the best way to interact with your pet. Warm them about barking in a kennel, doors to keep close, let people know if it is friendly or if you shouldn’t pet or touch it, let them know if it is ok to let your pet outside or if it might be hiding under a bed or in a closet. This really should be a last result as it is stressful on your pets, there is potential liability if a visitor gets hurt by a scared pet, and it distracts buyers & their agents from looking at your home.

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on August 9, 2019 at 9:56 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Tips for Home Selling | Outdoor Features That Attract Buyers

A well designed outdoor area can make your home feel larger by creating an outdoor living space to compliment your indoor space.  Take note of the homes listed on the MLS that are high-end or just feel high-end and many of them have twilight photos and/or photos of outdoor areas that help you imagine summers with family & friends.

  1. Outdoor Lighting.  There is something magical about outdoor lighting that makes spending evenings outside a little more special.  This can be as simple as quality outdoor string lights installed over your deck or patio or above a fire pit, directed landscape lighting, walkway lighting, or outdoor wall lanterns and overhead lighting.
  2.  

  3. Gathering Space. People like an area that is designed for gatherings – a gas fire table, a wood fire pit, a BBQ area, a pool or hot tub, an outdoor tiki bar, a patio table for meals, or even just a bistro table for an evening glass of wine or morning coffee for 2.  These spaces can be created with a mixture of permanent features and furniture & accessories.
  4.  

  5. Landscaping. Well maintained landscaping is important for curb appeal but it can also be designed to encourage people to want to be outside of your home.  Add color with plants & outdoor art, tranquility with fountains, privacy with well-placed screens or fences, and lifestyle with gardens (as simple as a container gardening with herbs to fruit trees and raised beds for veggies & cut flowers).
  6.  

  7. Outdoor Structures. Structures can help maximize the use and value of a home providing a place for active use, storage, or additional living space.  Structures for active use include a patio, deck, gazebo, shop, playhouse, sports court, swimming pool, and animal related buildings and structures.  Structures for storage include a shed, carport, detached garage, or RV covered area. Additional living space structures can include a studio, accessory living quarters (ALQ) with a place to sleep and a bathroom or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) which includes sleeping area, bathroom and a kitchen area.
  8.  

  9. Covered Area.  In the Pacific Northwest a covered area can extend your ability to enjoy being outside to from Spring – Fall.  There are many ways to create this area – everything from a large patio umbrella, sun sail shades, fixed or retractable awnings, or a detached or attached roof.

 
Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes,  Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.

 


Posted on July 9, 2019 at 9:37 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Luxury Homes, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Home Buying Tips : 6 Ways to Buy Before You Sell Your Home

Many homeowners struggle with the timing of buying & selling homes in the current real estate market.  They don’t think they can or want to own 2 homes at the same time because they bought a home before selling their existing home or go though the stress & hassle associated with moving into temporary housing because they sold before buying to avoid 2 mortgages. Depending on your personal financial situation, there are ways to make this transition much smoother then you think – here are a few of the options that might be available to you.

  1. Cross Collateralization.  This program is designed for a buyer who has a strong equity position in their current home. As a buyer you are able to access this equity with a loan that collateralizes both your current home and new home. When you sell your current home you can pay down the loan to reach your desired payment. It allows for a higher debt to income ratio to assist with qualification.
  2.  

  3. Departing Residence Program. This program helps the seller that has the funds for the down payment on the next home, but not the income to qualify. It allows you to utilize the potential rental income you would have from your current house in your income calculation, without having to actually rent out your home.
  4.  

  5. Asset Depletion. This program helps the seller who doesn’t have a traditional income, but has assets such as stocks & mutual funds, to derive an asset depletion income to qualify for the loan. This is especially helpful for sellers who are retired.
  6.  

  7. Restricted Stock Units. This program helps executives and many in the high-tech industry that can show a 2-year history of receiving RSUs as part of their compensation to be included as reserves or income for qualifying purposes.
  8.  

  9. 40-year loan. This program allows you to qualify for a larger loan amount – it is available on all occupancy types, cash-out refinances are allowed, and it can be used in conjunction with one of the other loan programs listed above to provide you with more options.
  10.  

  11. Buy/Sell with a long close and/or rent back option. This is a non-financial solution to the problem. Negotiating to purchase or sell with a long close timeline and/or potentially a rent-back option – you may need to look at an off-market purchase or sale for this option.
  12.  

There are other options such as bridge loans and utilizing your home equity line of credit – the key message is don’t assume you can’t make the move of your dreams happen – talk to your Broker and Lender to explore your options!

Need a recommendation for a lender, want to know how much equity you have in your home, or want to find out what your selling and buying options are?

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes,  Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on June 9, 2019 at 7:43 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying | Tagged , ,

Tips For Home Selling: 5 Marketing Tips for Selling Equestrian Properties

When you go to sell your home that has a unique selling feature – such as an equestrian property – make sure that your home is staged to sell this lifestyle feature and the marketing information is designed to sell to the buyers that want this feature.

  1. Lifestyle Marketing Literature & Feature Sheet
    You are selling a lifestyle so make sure the verbiage online & your marketing brochure paints a picture of what a buyer’s life could be like if they buy your property. Share the convenience of having your horses onsite instead of boarding, easy access to trails, the joy of drinking your morning coffee while watching your beloved animals out in the pasture, etc.  In addition, make sure you have a detailed marketing sheet that lists out all of the equestrian features and if possible the cost and/or value of those features. Help buyers compare the full value of what you have with another property they may be considering – especially those that say “equestrian potential”.  This will also help ensure that when you sell your home for maximum value it also appraises at that value.
  2.  

  3. Equestrian Curb Appeal & Feature Staging
    Make sure all of the equestrian features you have are staged so prospective buyers appreciate their value in addition to your home & property. For example, white vinyl fencing should be pressure washed so it sparkles, your barn should be organized & free of cobwebs as well as your tack room and other outbuildings, and your pastures should be cleaned and in good condition. Have laminated feature cards throughout your entire property providing the information when people are most curious.
  4.  

  5. Professional Photography with Aerials
    Aerial photography that shows your entire property is a must. You aren’t just selling your house – show your home as it relates to your pastures, barns, riding arenas, and driveways for hauling and trailer parking.  It is also a nice touch to take pictures of the barn with your horses in them – or goats, chickens, alpacas, donkeys or whatever you have!
  6.  

  7. Customized In-Home Marketing Materials
    Home books are created by your Broker to answer questions for agents & buyers so they don’t leave your home unsure as to the details.  Generally, they include things like the public schools relevant to your home, information about restaurants & parks, preliminary title, seller disclosure form, septic as built, well information, etc.  An Equestrian Home should have an additional section with local trails, riding clubs, local veterinarians & farriers, area feed stores, etc. so that they know the service providers they will care about are convenient.
  8.  

  9.  Work With An Equestrian Specialist
    Many brokers can sell your home but make sure you work with an equestrian property specialist to sell your “whole” property.  They can speak the language and know what buyers care about, they can answer questions, and can provide you with service provider recommendations to help you prepare your whole property.
  10.  

 

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes,  Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.


Posted on May 9, 2019 at 7:25 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Equestrian Home Sales Tips, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , , ,