Seattle Real Estate News

After nearly 2 years (2020 and 2021) of bidding wars, skipping property inspections, waiving contingencies, and all cash offers – the housing market is starting to correct itself to find something closer to “normal” in 2022.  Home prices skyrocketed after the start of the pandemic in February 2020 when demand for homes picked up as while-collar workers went looking for home offices, more millennials reached homebuying age, and rock-bottom interest rates made more people want to buy while housing markets across the state and across the country faced shortage of houses for sale.  However, a combination of high inflation (approaching 9% at time of this writing) and rising rates appears to be causing many would-be-homebuyers to think again on entering the housing market. 

 Here are 3 takeaway signs of real estate market cooling off: 

  1. More homes are available.  

In King County, 73% more homes were listed at the end of May 2022 than at the same time last year. In Pierce County 74% more in Kitsap 43%. In Snohomish, more than twice as many listings were still active at the end of May. Please click here to view current available homes for sales https://nwmls.stats.showingtime.com/infoserv/s-v1/L79G-Dcf

 

  1. Fewer buyers are under contract.  

The number of pending sales dipped across much of the region in May 2022 compared with a year ago.  In King County it’s 18%, Pierce it’s 7% and Kitsap it’s up 9%.  Some buyers struggle to afford rising interest rates and others are holding off because of uncertainty.  Mortgage payments are taking up a larger share of homebuyers’ s incomes and higher inflation is making it more difficult for some would-be buyers to save for down payment and higher monthly mortgage payment.  Washington borrowers saw the third-highest median payment in April 2022 behind California, and Hawaii. The higher the number, the worse the affordability.  Please click here to view current pending sales -  https://nwmls.stats.showingtime.com/infoserv/s-v1/L7kc-0Hp

 

  1. Prices are leveling off.  

Median home prices were basically flat across the Puget Sound region from April to May. In King County, the median home sold for $998,888, in Snohomish for $815,000, in Pierce for $582,000 and in Kitsap for $554,550.  Median prices are still up by double-digit percentages from a year ago, but those increases are getting less dramatic.  Home shoppers are relived to say goodbye to the cutthroat competition for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Sam Kader on June 15th, 2022 12:23 PM

For many homeowners, the decision to go solar is a two-part process. The first is the financial side: Will the Return on Investment (ROI)  pay for itself and reduce or eliminate electric bills?  Assuming the answer is “Yes” , then here’s the next part of the process.   

How does solar work?   Multiple panels are wired together into a solar array. When sunlight hits the panels, the energy is converted into usable electricity. Your home consumes the electricity produced by the system. The solar array connects to the local grid, so you receive electricity when panels aren’t producing enough or any electricity. The grid also stores any excess solar energy you produce and through “Net Metering”, ensures you get credit for all of the electricity your systems creates whether you consume it immediately or send it to the grid and use it later. 

Is my roof good for solar?  Adequate sunlight is key. Solar panels won’t work for rooftops heavily shaded by trees or adjacent structures. Other roadblocks include insufficient roof space, a complex roof design, or the age and slope of your roof.  Typically, solar panels perform best on south-facing roofs with a slope between 15 and 40 degrees. However, east and west-facing roods also work. The Sun Number score ranks the suitability of a structure’s rooftop on a scale of one to 100. The higher the number, the better suited a home is for solar.  

My roof is kind of old. Does that matter?   Yes. Your roof should be less than 10 years old or if it’s a roof with a longer lasting material such as tile or slate, have at least 10 years of life left. It should also be in good to excellent condition because if your have to replace your roof for any reason other than insured storm damage, it’s expensive to uninstall and then reinstall the panels and frames.   

Are all solar panels alike?  Although panels operate similarly, the key difference is efficiency: how much sunlight they convert into energy. Typically, high efficiently panels come with a higher price tag but produce more electricity over the life of the system. If you have a smaller roof, you may opt for more efficient panels. Those with a larger roof may also choose high efficiency panels to use fewer of them.  Consumers should look for panels that are at least 20% efficient or more.  

What is degradation?  Degradation is a measurement of how much efficiency is lost over time. Panels should retain 80% to 90% of their efficiency over 25 years.

 Do panels work in all climates?  Panels produce more energy on clear, sunny days in the spring, summer and fall but even on winter’ shortest days or during rainstorms the panels will generate some electricity. Although a snow-covered panel can’t generate electricity, snow doesn’t stick too long to the steep, slick panels.  

Are solar panels easily damaged?  They are built to withstand wind, hill, snow, and torrential rain.  In fact, the biggest problem is not hail or storms but squirrels that chew the wires. 

How do I find an installer?  Ask friends, neighbors and family who have gone solar about their experiences. Check review websites such as EnergySage, SolarReviews, ConsumerAffairs, and Verified Reviews. When looking for at reviews, make sure you are comparing your roof with ones of a similar material (slate, tile and shingle).

What am I seeking?  You want a company that has been in the business for a long time and is going to see the process through from beginning to end. Avoid those selling solar energy systems installed aby a third party.  These are intermediaries that hire contractors and bear nor responsibility for installation quality or performance. You want one that seats the details. For example, the installer should discreetly hide the conduit from the panels on the roof to the battery storage unit in the garage to maintain your home’s aesthetic qualities.   

What questions should I ask

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Do you carry insurance, contractor liability and workers compensation?
  3. If there’s damage during installation, who does the repairs?
  4. Are there other fees such as permitting or connecting to the electrical grid or is this turnkey pricing?
  5. When is the price final? 

Will I hear false claims?   Walk away when you hear these types of statements:

  1. Your system will offset 100% of your electric bill.
  2. The government will pay for all of it.
  3. You will get paid to do go solar.
  4. We don’t represent one particular company or product.
  5. We work to get the best product for you. 

How do I make sure companies are legitimate?   Verify certifications and state and local licensing and if companies belong to Solar Energy Industries Association.  Are they certified? Certified installers must have a background in energy efficient technologies, have installation training and have been part of the decision-making process for a variety of installation projects before applying for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners PV Installer Specialist exam. Make sure it is someone who you like and feels trustworthy, then verify the information they gave you.  

How long is the installation process?   Typically, from the time you agree on terms to the installation it takes two to three months. Installation takes one to three days depending on the size of your home and either you opt to add battery storage and/or electric vehicle charger.  After your panels are installed, there may be a post-installation inspection, then the utility company will connect you to the grid.  

What kind of warranties are included?  Your installation should come with three warranties: product, performance and labor. Product warranties cover potential defects in your equipment. Performance warranties guarantee that your panels won’t degrade by more than a certain percentage per year and will still produce a minimum percentage of their initial rated capacity for a set number of years. Both of these warranties would be for 25 to 30 years. A labor warranty covers the installer’s work including electrical wiring and roof damage. These typically run 3 to 10 years.  In general, a well-known manufacturer that has been in business a long time will be able to honor a warranty.  

Any add-ons I should consider?  With the instability of our power grid, more consumers are asking for battery storage as a way to generate and safe their own power. The right-size solar system will recharge your batteries every day. At sundown, the batteries then power your home, drawing less electricity from your power company.  And should the utility grid go down, solar continues to work so you can use your battery to power your basic home electrical needs such as lights, refrigerator, or designated outlets.

 Do solar panels require maintenance?  Not really. They don’t need to be washed; rain and snow will do the job. If you live in a dry and dusty area, an occasional professional cleaning may improve performance.  

Where can I find more unbiased information?  Both Solar United Neighbors and the U.S. Energy Department offer helpful guides and fact sheets. SUN’s Go Solar Guide and the Energy Department’s Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar offer an intro to what people should know as they start researching. The Solar Owner’s Manual offers in-depth information for prospective and current solar owners. For a deeper dive, read about solar panel basics and how solar works. SUN’s Batter Storage Guide is comprehensive review of batter technology and economics.

Posted by Sam Kader on November 26th, 2021 4:22 PM

Freelancers, the self-employed and those who depend on tips or commissions can have a great-paying month or a bad one which leaves us vulnerable. The best advise is to plan ahead as much as possible. Here are some tips for managing money when paycheck fluctuates:

Step 1 - Build an emergency fund.  First, fortify your finances to make sure you are prepared for a disaster. Even before paying down high-interest credit card debt or chipping away at student loans.  If you have been able to save a little cash over the past year, your emergency fund should be your top priority.  The rule of thumb is we should save nine months's worth of living and health care expenses in an emergency fund. If Covid-19 in 2020 has taught us anything, it's the importance of saving an emergency fund.  It's more than the standard recommendation of three to six months' worth to cover expenses in a month we don't get paid as much.  One program to help jump-start a savings habit is saverlife.org.

Step 2 - Tackle high-interest debt. This is not the most glamorous path but it is the one that will offer by far the highest returns.  Consider paying down or off any extra money toward debt with interest of around 6% or higher.  Carrying high-interest debt makes the magic of compound interest work against you. The more money you owe, the more interest you owe.  

Step 3 -  Budget what you spend. Irregular income means that we must live below our means. Because we don't know our income for a given month, we must construct our budget around baseline/necessity spending such as housing, utilities, food, insurance and transportation and a monthly amount for annual bills such as property taxes. As app that tracts spending such as Mint or Personal Capital can help us estimate.

Step 4 - Create a steady paycheck by setting up separate accounts for deposits and spending. Deposit paychecks into one account and pay yourself a "salary" that covers expenses. 

Posted in:Budget and tagged: Budget
Posted by Sam Kader on March 11th, 2021 9:02 PM
Tips for choosing front door colors: 

Yellow to boost the homeowner's goal to boost the mood of anyone who sees the home. Yellow adds a feeling of life to the house's exterior. A yellow door works well with facade colors like gray, light green, beige or white. 
Soft Purple can add whimsy and polish to the exterior of a home when paired with white or cream. 
Orange for cozy feeling when paired with cream and beige. It feels familiar and warm and welcoming. 
Blue to make a subtle statement perfect for bungalows, Craftsman-type homes and cottages paired with green or cobalt blue. 
Green to make modern approach.
Grey for neutral approach and sophisticated appeal. 
Black for that classical approach paired with traditional brick home. It gives a classical vibe and a refined tone for that instant curb appeal. 
Blush for that feminine flair such as blush pink paired with white, yellow or green for an expected playful statement without overdoing it. This color is perfect for summer homes, farm houses and cottages. 







Posted in:Remodeling and tagged: Remodeling
Posted by Sam Kader on December 29th, 2019 11:24 AM
The Spring home buying is typically when real estate season starts. However, according to research, there are certain months and even specific dates that offer the biggest premiums above market value for sellers. 

The top five dates to sell are still between May and June. Best dates for home sellers are: 

  • May 24: Commanding 10.5% seller premium.
  • May 31: Commanding 10.7% seller premium.
  • June 20: Commanding 10.6% seller premium.
  • June 28: Commanding 10.8% seller premium. 
Weather has a lot to do with the home buying season with summer being the most popular because the kids are out of school and there's more time to shop for a house It's no surprise that the worst dates for sellers happen in the colder months closer to the holidays - October and December.  However, ski towns sell more in winter. 

Advise for thrifty home buyers is to keep a close eye on the market and watch for houses that aren't selling. During the busy holiday season while people are shopping for the holidays, serious house hunters should be looking for houses. Look for houses that linger on the market. If the house has gone on and off the market, you can potentially get it when it's not listed.  The downside is that waiting could also mean someone else gets your dream house and must choose from less desirable properties in terms of condition and location. 

How to prepare your house during peak selling times: 

  • Experts agree that a fresh coat of paint is essential. Choose a color that is neutral so that it appeals to a wide variety of buyers. A property must look as neutral as possible. 
  • Deep cleaning and de-cluttering. Most home sellers leave too many personal belongings out. Some personal photos are O.K. but no more than 10. 
  • Changing light bulb to bright, white bulbs and make sure blinds are clean or replace. Strategically place fresh flowers and house plants. 
Posted by Sam Kader on August 22nd, 2019 4:29 PM
Here are some staging secrets for a successful sale: 

1. Research. One of the biggest mistakes home sellers make is underestimating their competition. Ask yourself. "Who will buy this house?" From here, it is important to present your home in its best possible light. Once a property is placed on the market, it is no longer your home but a product that will be compared with others on the market. 

2. Paint. If you do nothing else to your home to prepare it for sale, be sure to paint. From painting walls a neutral color to covering up marks and scuffs, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. 

3. Repair. From re-caulking a bathroom to repairing a broken railing or step even small repairs are important. Not fixing your home's flaws can trigger a potential buyer to believe that it is in poor condition. 

4. Purge. The first step in preparing a property for sale should be to to the removal of all excess, from furniture to clothing. Now is the time to make your home feel as spacious as possible. De-cluttering is another simple way to get buyers  to focus on the bones of the house. Clearing kitchen and bathroom counter-top. Pack them in boxes and neatly stack them in corner of the garage. Anything extra should go in a small storage unit.

5. A seller may need their real estate agent's help creating a basic marketing plan. The foal is to decide who your target buyer is as in some cases this may influence the staging process. 

6. De-personalize. When a potential buyer walks into a property, it is important for them to feel that it could be their home. Packing away your personal stuff such as pictures, sports memorabilia and even religious items if one the easiest things you can to stage your house. You want to depersonalize your home because you want buyers to view it as their potential home.

7. Neutralize. Even something as simple as repainting or replacing carpeting can be a deterrent for potential buyers if it's the wrong color. Taupes and grays are ideal colors to create a neutral soothing color palette. 

8. Back to its roots. Return all rooms to their intended uses. For example, a bedroom that's being used as a hoe office must be staged and styled as a bedroom. 

9. Create timeline. When you place your property on the market can be critical in capturing the most amount of potential buyers. Earlier in the selling season is the best. 

10. Hire a pro. You may prefer to pass the staying of your home along to a professional. The Real Estate Stagers Association is a great place. 

11. Don't forget to beautify the exterior too. Replacing the front door and your garage doors and adding stone veneer to the exterior have the highest return on investment. A fresh coat of paint, freshening up the landscaping including adding greenery and flowers.

12. Rearrange rooms and give them purpose. Rearrange the rooms in your home and make sure each room has a distinct purpose. Tour model homes to see how the rooms are furnished.

13. Scrub and deodorize. No one wants to visit a dirty house especially prospective buyers so make sure your house is squeaky clean. Have the house professionally cleaned so that everything is spotless, windows, sliding glass door tracks, garage, basement, ceiling fans etc. You can base cookies in the over, bringing cinnamon sticks to a slow boil in a port of water or using air freshener before each showing.

14. Enhance curb appeal. Curb appeal is just as important as cleaning the inside of your house. Mow the lawn, make sure the sidewalk and driveway are free of clutter and debris and make sure the house number is easy to see. Pressure-clean your driveway and sidewalk.


Posted by Sam Kader on August 11th, 2019 9:12 AM

1. Starting without a plan of attack. Start cleaning upstairs and make your way down or start on one side of the house if your home is a single story then move room to room tackling one room at a time. 

2. Cleaning a room from floor to ceiling.. Start at the top and work your way down. In other words begin by removing cobwebs and dust on the ceiling then clean off clutter, dust furniture, wipe down walls, switches and doors before cleaning the floor. 

3. Using weak cleaning products for touch grime. Using a spray bottle with a simple mixture of 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup grease cutting dish soap will clean most surfaces well. Some chores may require sanitizing cleaners like a bleach-based product. 

4. Using only one rag to clean. Keep a stack of 100% cotton cloths or microfiber cloths to change out when they are dirty. They can be washed and reused the next time you clean. 

5. Drying surfaces with paper towels. Cotton or microfiber cloths are more efficient for drying surfaces than paper towels and they won't leave lint behind. Another reason to stop using paper towels: Many have a rough surface that can scratch or damage delicate furniture and TV screen. 

6. Not opening windows to let your house air out. Ventilation is crucial whenever you are using cleaning products. The simple act of opening windows can counteract the indoor air pollution from cleaning products and make it easier for you to breathe. Cranking up you air conditioning won't solve the problem because more home heating and cooling systems don't mechanically bring fresh air into the house from outdoors. 

7. Mixing chemicals from different products. Combining chemicals from different cleaning products can create harmful fumes. Bleach and vinegar for example are a deadly combo. Together they produce chlorine gas and exposure to chlorine even at low levels can cause coughing and breathing problems as well as burning and watery eyes. Very high levels can cause death. 

8. Washing the windows on a sunny day. Though sunlight can help illuminate how dirty your windows are you are better off washing them on a dry cloudy day because strong heat from the sun will dry cleaning fluid more quickly which could leave hard-to-remove streaks or stains. 

Spring time is also an excellent time to declutter your house. The trick of decluttering is having fewer possessions and regularly keeping stock of what you actually need in your home. Just set aside a fixed amount of time say two hours to declutter a room in your home. 

First take everything out of drawers then clean and put back half of what was there before, keeping only the things you truly value. 

a) Display objects that hold meanings or make you happy. 
b) Aggregate the rest in i) Discard ii) Organize iii) Store. 

You can donate to Goodwill, Salvation Army or consignment shops around Seattle. Organize with similar items elsewhere and store it out of sight for later use. Organize first then store together. 

Decluttering at least once a year is ideal and springtime is the perfect time for it. 







Posted in:Spring Cleaning and tagged: SpringCleaning
Posted by Sam Kader on April 27th, 2019 7:57 PM
Ring video doorbells, Nest Hello and other connected security cameras are the fastest-growing home improvement gadgets since garage door openers. These cameras alert your phone when someone is at your door and save footage online.  Here are some tips from lawyers and city officials to make an ethical field guide for people who want technology to help us stay safe.  

  1. Don't point your camera at neighbors. If your doorbell is located in an awkward place, you can try to use wedges to angle the camera toward your door. Some cameras let you mark zones to limit recording only to action that's important for your home. Also let people know that they're on camera and put up a sign to flag that you're filming might also deter a burglar. 
  2. Share footage sparingly. Some people love posting clips of "suspicious/looking characters" on social network app. But are you actually an expert in what counts as "suspicious"? Sharing on these sites can help fight crime but also perpetuate racial profiling of actual crimes. 
  3. When police get involved, it should be voluntary. Police should only access to your footage on a voluntary basis. Law enforcement doesn't have  aright to the footage without a court order. 
  4. Delete old footage. The more you have the more vulnerable you are. You should only keep your footage for two months. You can always download and save the ones you want to keep. 
  5. Keeping hackers out is a serious responsibility. Make sure that you update software, using unique passwords and taking other security protections. 
  6. Facial recognition is not a product feature, it's a super power. The ability to keep tabs on a person's whereabouts by reading their face is a super power that we don't have yet the legal or ethical framework to handle. Initially, our cameras will offer to flag family members faces. Next, they'll link to a few public databases such as a terrorist watch list, missing kinds and sexual offenders The real question is who gets to make those lists and how accurate are the systems flagging people? 
Posted by Sam Kader on April 2nd, 2019 5:24 PM
Perform a midwinter checkup to ensure your home stays in good shape for the remaining cold weeks and the spring to follow. This checkup can help determine your home-improvement priorities for the year to come. 

Inside

Walk through your house and study it as if you are seeing if for the first time. Perform a room-by-room sweep and write down the condition of major elements such as windows, doors, trim and molding. Take note of potential problem areas, especially things that have fallen victim to wear and tear that you might overlook every day. 

Check your HVAC filter and change it if necessary. Examine your windows and doors and feel for air drafts. See if your windows open and close smoothly and keep a tight seal afterwards. Winter weather and excess moisture can give wood windows a serious beating. 

Check all the weather stripping and caulk you set up earlier in the season. Wear and tear can catch up to them very quickly. 

Outside

Walk around your home and inspect to see if pieces have become loose, damaged or pulled away. Loose siding can allow water to enter the space behind it, causing water damage and mold growth. Check your foundation for mold, cracks and water damage.  Check your gutters and verify that they are clear of winter gunk and debris. If necessary, hire a gutter cleaner to clear them out.  

Check bushes and trees or dead limbs or branches. Trim away damaged portions as quickly as you can. Dead branches pose a hazard and you'll get the best results if you trim them before they begin spring growth. 



Posted in:Home Maintenance and tagged: Home Maintenance
Posted by Sam Kader on February 18th, 2019 9:20 AM
While most people are happy with the results of their first home-purchase experience, there are some homeowners that have a few regrets and lessons learned. 

Here are some of them: 
  • The No.1 regret across all generations was buying a property that was too small. 
  • The second most common mistake was not saving enough money before buying their first home. Most buyers anticipate the money the'll need for their mortgage, homeowner's insurance and taxes but they don't always budget for home maintenance and repairs. As a general rule of thumb, most financial experts suggest saving at least 1 percent of the home value annually for repairs. 
  • Homeowners spent the most money on new appliances (16%) during their first year followed by replacing the roof (13%), replacing a furnace or air conditioner (11%), landscaping (10%) and replacing flooring (9%). 
  • Nearly half said they spent more than their budget during the first year of home-ownership. 
Posted by Sam Kader on January 23rd, 2019 7:46 PM

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