Remodeling What Is The Biggest Bang For The Buck?

There are so many good reasons for home improvement — even in a tough economy. You may want to boost your home’s future sales value, add livable space, refresh an aging room or feature. Or you may just want to enjoy your home more, especially if you wanted to move but the market didn’t cooperate. Find out which projects could bring you joy — and some cash back!

Is the kitchen the biggest project that will pay you back or the bathroom?

A Room By Room Tour

What is happening this fall in the Real Estate Market?

Rate Update For the Week of 10/3/22
  Last WeekThis WeekChange
Fxd 30 *6.76.79Worse by .09
Jumbo Fxd 30*5.955.85Better by .1
5/1 ARM*6.126.05Better by .07
VA/FHA Fxd 30 *6.256.55Worse by .3
10 Yr US Treasury3.7413.801Worse by ..06 (rates tend to go up when yield goes up)
 5% 30 YR UMBS97.597.781Better by .281 (rates go down when the bond price goes up)
     *From MND’s Rate Index  

Deals will hinge on negotiations this fall. Here’s how buyers’ agents win

‘There was no negotiation over the last couple of years,’ Max Stokes of Compass says. But that’s beginning to change — gradually. With a few tips, buyers can prevail at the negotiating table

BY LILLIAN DICKERSON

It’s been a long couple of years for homebuyers and their agents.

The pandemic-fueled tornado of low inventory, tons of buyers flocking to the market amidst record-low interest rates and would-be sellers holding onto their homes for fear of being left out in the cold with no place to go, made for a brutal homebuying experience in many places.

“Last year, it was pretty much come in every house guns blazing, do whatever you could do to acquire that house,” Max Stokes of Compass in Northern New Jersey told Inman. “There was no negotiation over the last couple of years.”

But the tides are turning.

Volatile — and comparatively high — interest rates coupled with an uncertain economy are starting to shift the market’s balance. Sellers don’t have the hold on the market that they once did. And it’s time for buyers to start taking advantage of the shift.

As a balanced market comes into view on the horizon, here’s how buyers’ agents are changing their negotiation tactics to help their clients achieve some wins that were once impossible in the frenzied market of the last two or so years.

Ask the developer to cover closing costs on new properties

On new development properties in Manhattan, where Leslie Singer of Brown Harris Stevens works, the taxes folded into closing costs can be a lot to swallow. In the past few years, sponsors (another term for developers) have typically put the onus of mansion and transfer taxes on the buyer of the property.

On New York City properties priced below $500,000, transfer taxes are 1 percent and on pricier properties, that tax increases to 1.425 percent. Mansion taxes kick in on properties priced at $1 million or higher and range from 1 percent to 3.9 percent, depending on the exact price.

But in this market, Singer said developers are a lot more willing to negotiate.

“In these types of markets, sponsors may be more flexible on the backend, such as assisting with closing costs,” she told Inman.

Leverage different listings against each other

With inventory staying on the market a bit longer these days, buyers have the time to comfortably compare different active listings — and potentially leverage them against each other if a seller is really being a stickler when it comes to negotiating, Stokes said.

With properties that he has represented recently, Stokes said homebuyers have pointed out to him other similar properties in the same market, and why they might be a better offer than his own listing, lighting a bit of a fire under the seller.

“[They’re] pointing out the differences in the comparables that are on the market and trying to leverage three [listings] against each other,” Stokes said.

Marry the house, date the rate

With elevated mortgage rates, a lot of buyers are hesitant to get out into the market now. But Gretchen Rosenberg of Kentwood Real Estate in Denver said that she and her agents are encouraging homebuyers to get off the fence and commit to a home if they love it. Mortgage rates will be in flux for a while, so buyers should get the house they want now and keep refinancing for a better rate in mind for the future. In other words, “marry the house and date the rate,” Rosenberg said.

“We are out there talking rates and just reminding buyers again, hopefully this is a longtime purchase. It’s not a year, it’s not like you’re a renter, you’re going to be in it for a while, and so someday down the road — we don’t know when, we can’t promise when rates will come back down — you’re likely going to be able to refinance. You also might be able to buy down the rate now, depending on your position.”

Get more recent data to back up the best offer

In the past, Rosenberg said she might gather comps from the last six months of sales to inform her buyer’s offer on a property. But with the market changing rapidly over the last few months, in large part as a result of volatile mortgage rates, Rosenberg said data from six months ago is already out of date. To help buyers craft the best offer that’s most likely to succeed, her agents are digging into data from a neighborhood’s most recent sales.

“They’re diving more into the data,” she explained. “They’re saying, well, what have the last couple of sales been? Not the last six months of sales, which is what we would normally do to comp a house, but the last couple of sales in this neighborhood, and how many price reductions have there been in this neighborhood? What are the days on market now? What’s the percent original list versus final sale price in the last 30 days?”

Don’t waive your rights

Stokes is working with homebuyers now who also transacted a home earlier in the pandemic, and he said he had to make it clear to them that waiving things like a home inspection or appraisal were concessions they wouldn’t even consider this time around — even if he didn’t necessarily encourage it the first time.

“You don’t need to do that anymore,” Stokes said. “The market’s normalizing, if not turning, so keep your rights in the contract … there’s no reason to do it just to do it.”

“People were voluntarily waiving [inspections] and just doing escalation clauses,” Dawn Maddux of Engel & Völkers Western Frontier in Missoula said. “In the 11 years I’ve been in real estate, I’ve not ever seen that before … Now, we’re kind of getting back to writing normal offers, maybe at or a little below asking price based on what the market will bear and based on what comps show, where before, it was just a frenzy.”

Press pause

Along the same lines, Maddux elaborated that homebuyers shouldn’t feel rushed to make decisions before they’ve done all their due diligence on a property, and buyers’ agents should actively encourage this to avoid regret later.

“They have time to do their research there — there’s not a frenzied competition,” Maddux said. “It’s honestly better for the seller because, what we’re seeing happen, is there’s a lot of lawsuits pending where buyers jumped into properties, they end up with buyer’s remorse, they [find] out something [about] the house that the seller didn’t disclose, probably because they didn’t know about it, and they didn’t get an inspection so they wouldn’t have had a way to know.”

In this market, when a deal isn’t as sweet as a homebuyer or the buyer’s agent feels it could be, under the right circumstances, there’s no shame in even stepping away from the negotiations for a week or two altogether.

That opportunity arose recently for Stokes and one of his buyers, who was interested in a fixer-upper that he thought was overpriced given how much money would need to go into renovating the property.

“I said, ‘Well, there’s not going to be many buyers out there that are going to be willing to take this on their shoulders right now,” and [the sellers] disagreed,” Stokes told Inman. “And I just told my buyer, ‘Just trust me — you’re one of the only buyers out here that would do this right now. Take a deep breath, sit back, and let’s just watch this for a minute.’”

The seller reached back out a week later, wondering if they were still interested, and Stokes said they were considering some other options. Another week after that, the seller reached back out again and said they would drop the price to match the buyer’s offer

New Listing In Stanwood 4,050 sq. ft.

 BRING THE WHOLE TRIBE! {ROOM FOR ALL} *LARGE & IN CHARGE* 4,050 sq. ft., 4+bedrooms/3.25 baths, downstairs flex room + ¾ bath. Brazilian Cherry hardwoods throughout downstairs, wood wrapped windows, arched accents & 9’ ceilings on main + A/C. The kitchen is a chefs dream with slab granite counter tops, full tile backsplash, SS app + HUGE kitchen island. Upstairs primary bed boasts a 5-pc GRANDE bath + walk-in closet, 3 large bedrooms, deluxe laundry room & BONUS room that is over the top with space. Out back enjoy your 1.76 acres, covered patio & fenced for all the toys. A shed & greenhouse all backing to complete privacy! Lake Goodwin beach & boat launch so close offering 46 acres of recreation.

Must have a good location when selling your HOME

Add seasonal flowers for curb appeal

One thing is common among all properties that receive multiple offers these days: the home is in a good location. Location is nearly always what drives homebuyers in their search. Before considering price, number of bedrooms or size of home, a buyer looks for location.

If your home is on a busy street, not in the best school district or near a freeway on/off ramp, chances are you won’t receive the kind of activity that a well-located home would. In that case, work closely with your agent to price the home correctly.

Must be priced right

Buyers in any market look for perceived value. Homes priced 10 percent (or more) over their market value won’t get noticed. Pricing isn’t an exact science, and it’s nearly impossible to pin a precise number to a home until buyer and seller sign a contract and close. Then, the price officially becomes the home’s market value. Until that time, agents can provide sellers with a value range. Have a good location? Does your home show well? Are you in a strong sellers’ market? Price your home on the bottom of that price range and you’ll be sure to attract buyers — and possibly multiple offers.

Must show well

A generation ago, sellers simply did some deep cleaning and maybe some de-cluttering before their first open house. Presentation wasn’t as important then as it is today, given online listings. More buyers today develop an emotional connection to a home. They want to imagine themselves in your home and not feel like they’re a guest. What does that mean? Appeal to the masses. If you have a good location and you plan to price your home realistically, then you need to make sure you give buyers what they want. If you can afford it, make cosmetic upgrades; invest in some staging and work to turn your home into a “product.” Emotionally disconnect from your home and try to see it more objectively.

Plan on having the home in perfect condition for the photo shoot. A buyer’s first impression of your home likely will be via the Internet or an email from their agent. Make them want to step inside. The more buyers you attract to your home, the more activity.

Know your market

Don’t assume that national trends apply to your region, city or neighborhood. If you’re not in a strong sellers’ market or you spend a fortune on last-minute upgrades, you could be in for a giant surprise. Just because you hear about bidding wars and multiple offers on the news doesn’t mean that applies to your area. Home selling is like the stock market it is goes up, down and can have a bit of a lull when interest rates go up and what is happening in the news for your area and even around the world.

Work with a good Realtor and, no, not all agents are Realtors learn the difference.  A local Realtor knows the area and what has recently sold as well as ones that have sold over the past six months to a year. Knowing those homes, having walked inside and personally knowing the agents who have sold them matters. This is market data that an outsider just doesn’t have access to. This knowledge empowers good local agents to educate their sellers.

Seller Prepare For The Home Inspection

Be Prepared!

I know the last year has you asking yourself I don’t need to worry buyers are waiving inspections. I guarantee you that is changing and if you do not wish to have a Seller’s pre-inspection than you may wish to check out this list. You can make your home more attractive to buyers and increase your likelihood of obtaining a positive inspection report by performing routine maintenance now before going on the market.

A visual inspection does not pass or fail a house but simply describes those items in need of minor or major repair or replacement. The inspector will visually examine the structure, crawl space, attic, mechanical components and all interior rooms, as well as closets.

On the day of you can help by having keys available to any locked doors, removing obstacles around water heaters and other appliances, removing items from closets that provide access to attics, and so on. Please be ready to indicate the location of hidden components such as the water meter, electrical panel, sump pump and main sewer clean out.

You can eliminate seasonal limitations on the inspection by clearing pathways of snow or debris. Ensure that appliances not tested because of the temperature (such as air conditioners in winter) are operation. Move boxes and storage items away from interior walls and make certain the entire perimeter of the house can be observed. Finally, leave pets with a friend or, take them with you, for the few hours of the inspection.


EXTERIOR COMPONENTS

  • Repair minor defects in the exterior wall coverings.
  • Repair damaged masonry on walkways and steps.
  • Repair missing or loose railings on decks and steps.
  • Recaulk around exterior windows and doors.
  • Replace missing or damaged shingles
  • Recaulk around flashing.
  • Clean debris from gutters.
  • Ensure downspouts are intact and water drains away from the house.
  • Trim trees and shrubs away from the roof.

INTERIOR COMPONENTS

  • Loosen any windows that are painted shut.
  • Replace missing or faulty hardware on doors and windows.
  • Repair any broken or cracked windows.
  • Replace damaged baseboard or molding.
  • Recaulk around bathtub and kitchen/bathroom sinks.
  • Re-grout tub and shower enclosures and the kitchen backsplash.
  • Repair leaky faucets and fixtures.
  • Unclog slow drains using commercial cleaner.
  • Replace oversized fuses with proper fuses.
  • Repair faulty receptacles and switches.
  • Ensure exhaust fans are in working order.
  • Have the fireplace chimney swept.
  • Have the furnace or other major appliances serviced.
  • Ensure central vacuum, garbage disposal, water softener and other ancillary components not part of the standard inspection are in working order.
  • Replace dead batteries in smoke and CO detectors.
  • Have service contracts, manuals and warranties available and in a drawer for the inspector/buyer to access.

Prior planning always pays off and makes for a smooth transaction after securing a buyer. Reach out to me for questions on this or if you are considering selling your home.

Rental payments now to be included as part of purchasing a home.

Hey RENTERS we have good news!  Rental payments now to be included as part of the underwriting process!

Happy Home Buyers.

What does this mean?

Did you know that effective Sept 18 Fannie Mae has allowed rental payment history to be included in the underwriting process. Essentially making it easier for renters to become homeowners!  

Rent is most times the largest expense for families and history of paying it on-time will now be considered for credit worthiness.  With Fannie Mae’s new guideline, any missed rental payment wont’ keep you from getting a mortgage.  With what’s going on around us, this couldn’t have come at a better time.

“For many households, rent is the single largest monthly expense. There is absolutely no reason timely payment of monthly housing expenses shouldn’t be included in underwriting calculations,” said Thompson. “With this update, Fannie Mae is taking another step toward understanding how rental payments can more broadly be included in a credit assessment, providing an additional opportunity for renters to achieve the dream of sustainable homeownership.”?

Those you might have been previously rejected due to lack of credit history may have greater chances getting into their dream home.

If you think this will benefit you, reach out today and let’s hop on a call to discuss next steps!

The Home Connection

Happy Tuesday and Welcome to August! Yep, I am a few days late on the monthly newsletter please forgive me I was having a very fun weekend at the Gorge and Watershed. A bit slow and tired today but it was worth it. 🙂 So as we slide into August enjoy with some great events, ideas, tips, real estate news and its National watermelon day so go enjoy!

Real Estate Market in Snohomish County is seeing double digit escalation offers: Need sellers!

Trying something a bit unconventional! 💡If you do not know how the Real estate market is right now I am going to take a quote🗣 from the MLS “The economics of scarcity are driving prices up at an unsustainable pace,” said Dick Beeson, managing broker 👩‍🏫at RE/MAX Northwest. “What will happen this spring and summer 🌞 will likely be more of the same. 🆘The real estate vortex we’re in of depleted inventory and high prices is real and unrelenting.” “If interest rates weren’t historically low, buyers would be unable to afford the escalating cost of housing,” suggested Beeson. “We’re feeling nervous about where this market is headed,” he said, adding, “Help is not on the way. Sellers are almost as rare as the dodo bird.” Although he noted the number of new listings🏡 coming onto the market has kept pace or even exceeded last year’s totals in some areas, (Not Snoho county) “new listings are immediately devoured by a plethora of waiting buyers.” The situation has buyers asking, “Am I paying too much?” 💸and sellers asking, “Can we ask more?” 💸That answer for both is “Yes,” says Beeson

Do you know Snohomish county does not even have 2 weeks of inventory? I listed a home in Marysville a few weeks ago and within 2 days I had 18 offers! Many waived everything and, I mean everything. The offer my sellers decided to accept? 140k over asking and covering the difference of a low appraisal! 👀 So why am I bothering you with this?👂We have 5 home buyers that we have been working to find homes and one family that currently has 7 family members living in the same townhome as they have special needs and we want to find them homes! We were just beat out of an offer that we put in for them. Our offer was 50k over asking and waiving all we could plus they would cover a 25k low appraisal. The offer that got it was $80k over list❗️❗️In almost 11 years in Real Estate I have never experienced anything like what is happening. I rarely do not get my clients the home they want on the first try but, right now there are to many buyers, low interest rates and not enough homes on the market to sell. So I am trying to think outside the box.🕵️‍♀️ If you happen to know of anyone thinking of selling within these parameters can you PLEASE consider having them contact me? 📞 Believe me I have scoped out everything online, even FSBO, and so I am reaching out.

✅ Local firefighter‍🚒Veteran wanting to use his VA loan for the first time. They are approved for up to 500k. They would love a small rambler w/garage and a bit of a yard. Flexible on area. Currently looking in Lake Stevens, Marysville and Arlington. 3-bed, 1.5 bath. Home does need to be in good condition for VA financing but if something is called out and if a little something is needed to push I will do it!

✅Family of seven. Multigenerational family with one of the parents being confined to bed permanently. We are trying to find a home that has 2, or potentially 2, living arrangements. A split maybe for parents to live downstairs and the younger families up? They have 2 small pet 🐐goats so no HOA neighborhood. Underwritten approved to 675k.

✅First time home buyer with 2 small kids and need a home they can keep their laying hens with them. No HOA against chickens. 🐓3 bed/ 1.5 bath with a garage detached or attached. Like homes with a bit of lot. Looking in Marysville, Granite falls, Arlington area. Underwritten approved to 500k.

✅First time home buyer couple. No kids yet but want to have a couple fur babies 🐕🐕‍🦺soon as they lost there two older ones in the last year. Underwritten approved to 570k, 3 bed, 2 bath. Like newer modern homes but not the zero lot line ones.

✅First time home buyer expecting their first baby in May. Underwritten approved to 425k. Flexible on location but prefer Everett and going east or north is okay. At least a 2 bedroom, 1 bath.

🔑This is not something I would normally do or ask but I want to do the best for my clients and never hurts to try right?

Please reach out if you know of anyone, wanting or thinking, about selling. That could help my buyers or another family that is looking for a home. ☎️

Thank you!!