Trulia has an article today on why the holiday season, and November in particular, is the time of the year that your home has the highest probability of selling.  According to Trulia, “homes listed during this time are more likely to sell, sell more quickly, and sell closer to the asking price.

A home market in November has less competition on the market, more motivated buyers and could lure buyers looking for end of year tax breaks.

The old thinking is families wait until school is out to move and buy a new home.  But, more than half of home buyers aren’t married and their decisions are not based on kid’s schedules.  In the Lake Chelan area, the percentage of home sales that are driven by school schedules is even lower.  Vacation home buyers can buy anytime of year.

A great way to have a happy Thanksgiving is to get your home sold!

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Just because Washington State has legalized pot use doesn’t mean that the feds can’t seize your property because of pot use by your tenants.

Federal law trumps state law, and under federal law marijuana use is still illegal.  Federal drug forfeiture laws could allow for seizure of your property even though what you or your tenants were doing was completely legal under state law.

Since state marijuana laws have not been challenged at the supreme court level, there is no legal precedent preventing the feds from seizing property in legal marijuana states.

Federal law gives the government the right to seize finances and property that are connected to illegal activity, including marijuana possession or use. Therefore landlords who let tenants grow weed in their apartments or smoke it on site for any purpose run the risk of having their real estate property taken away from them by the federal government.

Changing state marijuana laws could mean that multifamily properties and condos need to add language to their leases specifically covering marijuana policies on the properties.  New disclosures may be required in the future to sell condos in pot-friendly buildings or homes near properties that allow marijuana since there have been reports of explosions in properties where tenants are growing or processing pot.

Smoke and odor impact from neighbors could become an issue in multifamily properties.  Growing marijuana requires a high level of humidity that could cause mold which could be a problem in many types of buildings.  At a minimum it seems likely that disclosure to buyers and renters might become wise if a home, apartment, or condo is near properties where marijuana is allowed or near where marijuana use is allowed.

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In the last housing crisis, Bank of America helped out and bought the troubled Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch with the encouragement of federal regulators.  BOA then had to work though all the troubled assets of both companies, but helped avert a deeper financial crisis.

Then, shortly after doing that, the same feds sued BOA for billions for the misdeeds of Countrywide and Merrill.  President Obama went on for years about how the evil bankers should be punished, and has sicked his corrupt justice department on BOA and other banks with ridiculous arguments about “disparate impact” and continues to go after banks.

Now the same feds are screaming for banks to open the lending environment to more buyers, particularly low income and minority buyers, by easing credit standards.

Bank of America has finally seen the writing on the wall, with CEO Brian T. Moynihan saying at a New York investor conference: “I don’t think there’s a big incentive for us to start to try to create more mortgage availability where the consumers are susceptible to default. … I know that doesn’t sound good for an instant housing recovery and faster housing markets, but it’s actually good because, in the long-term, it keeps housing more fundamentally based.”

He probably realizes that when he does what the feds ask, and it backfires as it surely will, that the banks will be blamed anyway.  Hopefully that means he and BOA will do the right thing and only make loans based on sound underwriting principals, not federal social justice policies.

I imagine BOA still feels the sting of the over $70 billion in legal settlements they have been forced to pay in the aftermath of the financial crisis.  That amount is more than any other company.   No good deed, like helping sort out the Countrywide mess, goes unpunished.

 

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Fifty-nine homes were pulled off the market in the last week either due to expired listings or cancelled listings.  That’s only leaves 123 residential listings in the Lake Chelan area!

On the other hand, 12 properties went pending in the last week and 8 sold.  By the first of December, another 50 or more properties are likely to come off the market.  Do the math, your chances of selling in the winter are better than the “peak” season because there is so much less competition.

There are fewer “lookers” too.  The folks that are wanting to look at a home for sale this time of year are much more likely to write up an offer than the summer vacation crowd.

Yet, buyers are still buying homes.  Both in Chelan, as the above statistics show, and nationally.  Applications for purchase loans increased 2.6% last week.   Purchase applications for loans are a leading indicator of home purchases in the United States.

Waiting only means you will be paying more for mortgage, maintenance, insurance and taxes.  I can get your home sold anytime of the year.

 

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Water heaters fail in time.  I’ve had water heaters that have lasted less than one year, and some have lasted for decades.  Usually, when the water heater does fail, or begin to leak, you can just buy another one like it and replace it.  The difficulty of that job varies by how easy the water heater is to get to and how much damage a little leakage does.

Next year, in April of 2015, our U.S. Department of Energy has new standards that will apply to the manufacturing of water heaters that will mean you will likely not be able to buy a water heater just like the one you are replacing.

The new EnergyStar standards require more insulation.  So, a water heater with the same capacity as the one you are replacing will be about 4 inches larger in diameter.  In other words, in many cases, it might not fit anymore.

If your water heater is in a tight area, like a closet or other enclosed area, you might want to consider replacing it before the new standards take effect if your current water heater is getting along in years.

If it is in a wide open space, on slab in a garage for instance, the new standards won’t be much of a problem other than the price of a new water heater will go up with the changes.

Another thing to consider, if your water heater is in your attic, the attic access might not accept the larger diameter.

My friend, Teri Lussier from Dayton Ohio, brought this issue to my attention.  She looked into the impact as well as the costs:

Let’s talk about costs. Understand that these costs do not include any labor or installation charges, just the price of a water heater alone. Currently a new plain Jane water heater will run you about $300.00. The newer standard water heater will run about $500.00-$600.00. A tankless water heater will be about twice that, and installation will likely increase the cost to about $2000-$3000.00. – TheBrickRanch.com

Looking into the situation with the water heater in a home is going to impact home sale transactions for the next decade for both buyers and sellers.  Don’t be caught by surprise in your transaction.  Actions you could take in the next few months could save you as a homeowner hundreds or up to thousands of dollars.  Call me if you want to discuss how these mandates might impact your next home purchase or sale.

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Talk about money is something that most of us don’t want to share with the world.  So, when it comes to buying property, many don’t know what is the appropriate way to handle talking about money with their real estate agent.

First, there is a legal requirement for privacy in the client/agent relationship that assures your information is kept confidential.  That said, I don’t really want to know details of a client’s financial status, I only want to know that we have a realistic budget to guide us in the process of buying a property.

If you are planning on financing a purchase of a home or property, the best way to understand the details of what you can afford is to talk to your lender about your financial status.  That way a loan officer at a bank or mortgage company calculates your maximum purchasing power and your monthly payments based on your loan application, financial documentation and debt-to-income ratio.

You will need to supply your lender with your last two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank statements and investment account details.  The lender will provide you with a lender-generated pre-approval letter that will indicate you can are able to borrow the amount required to purchase the property.  If you don’t have a lender, your real estate agent should be able to give you a list of active lenders in the area.

So, you really don’t have to talk about money very much with your real estate agent.  Your agent can help you with buying or selling a property and understands market values and property and neighborhood features.  Using that knowledge, great real estate agents can guide you, with discretion, towards your next Lake Chelan home.

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The pace of home value increases are cooling.  For most of the last two years, home value appreciation was accelerating.  Year over year value appreciation peaked in April at 8.1% according to a study from Zillow.

Nationally, home values were up 6.5% at the end of the third quarter compared to one year earlier.  The Zillow Value Forecast shows home values to increase only 3% at the end of the third quarter of 2015.

Likewise, inventories are becoming more stable with 18.6% more homes on the market than at the end of the third quarter in 2013.

In Seattle, the year over year increase in home values was 6.9% at the end of the third quarter in 2014 as compared to 12.9% at the end of the third quarter in 2013.  The forecast shows Seattle is projected to see only a 5% increase in the year over year value by the end of the third quarter in 2015.  There were nearly 25% more homes on the market at the end of September than there were at the end of September in 2013.

That should mean a less frenzied, more rational market for everyone.

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What matters when you price your home for sale is What It Is Worth To Someone Else.

A great illustration of this concept comes from an episode of Million Dollar Listing New York where Realtor guru Frederik tells a client something close to “I paid $2,000 for this suit.  Are you going to buy it from me for $2000?”  And that is the bottom line of the issue.  A used suit, even a very nice one, might only be worth a couple hundred dollars tops.

Homeowners get off track because their own opinion of their home’s value, what they believe someone else will pay for it, is distorted by history that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual market price of their home.  Those “things that don’t matter” include how much they paid for their home, how much they need to get from the sale of their home, and how much money they have spent upgrading and maintaining their home.  None of that matters.

Buyers are looking at a seller’s home, and lots of other homes, and comparing them.  They look at price, condition, location and scores of other things from style and layout to schools, views, etc.

To see what your home is worth, see what buyers are paying for homes that they could substitute for yours.  Buyers will always buy the home that offers the best combination of factors, primarily price, condition and location. 

Where your home “fits” in the market is the only fact that impacts its price.  You can forget about the other stuff.

 

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