Understanding the Basics of Appraisals

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A home appraisal is a step of the mortgage process when an unbiased state-licensed professional determines a home’s value based on size, condition, function, and the quality of the home. To do this the appraiser must first inspect the property. Then, by researching similar homes within the area and comparing recent residential sales, the appraiser will present their “opinion of value” with all supporting data and research used to come to their conclusion.

The appraisal process is important because mortgage lenders require an appraisal before they’ll provide a home buyer a loan. This is because the value of the property will likely determine how much a lender will lend. Lenders want to make sure that homeowners aren’t over borrowing because the home serves as collateral for the mortgage. So, if the borrower were to default on the mortgage and go into foreclosure, the lender would be able to get back the money they lent by selling the house.

If you’re a buyer, a home appraisal also can function as protection for the client too. If an appraisal comes in higher than the price being paid for the residence, than the borrower will have more home equity than initially expected. Also, an appraisal can help protect a client in keeping them from overpaying for a home, if the appraisal comes in lower than the asking price.

If you’re a seller, you want your home to be appraised for the amount you’ve listed it for.  In order for that to happen there are a few things you can do to impact that number. Clean, updated, well-maintained houses tend to receive higher appraisals. Make sure things like the home’s exterior and curb appeal is one that is eye catching, holes in the drywall are patched, and rug stains are cleaned can help. It’s also a good idea to provide your appraiser with a list of recent list of improvement you’ve made to the home as well as a list of attractive aspects about your neighborhood. Be sure to mention items like grocery stores, parks, and neighboring schools.

If you are unhappy with the appraisal, sometimes there is an option to appeal called “Reconsiderations of Value.” So, if there were enhancements made your home or recent comparable residential sales that happened the neighborhood to which wasn’t considered in the initial appraisal, it’s important to provide this information to your lender. Also, getting a second appraisal is always available to the buyer as well. Lastly, it’s important to add that an appraisal that was conducted beyond six month prior will likely be considered out of date by a lender.

Millennials Are Buying Homes After All

broadview homewwThe National Association of Realtors 2015 report on generational trends showed that millennials make up the largest share of homebuyers, sitting at 32 percent. According to a recent TD Bank Survey of 1,002 adults, millennials who are currently between the ages 25 and 34 will be looking to purchase their first home over the next two years. Alas, putting to rest their reputation as the transient renter generation.

As the older tier of Gen Y rounds into their early 30s, many of whom didn’t experience the housing crisis firsthand, they view home buying with innovative eyes. Millennials see the potential in the “fixer upper” home and aren’t ruling them out as viable housing options. Just as likely to roll up their sleeves as the generations before them, millennials like the idea of tailoring their home to their needs.  Despite being laden with college loans and debt, and maybe because of that, Gen Y-ers are also less romantic about the process – purchasing before marriage, owning for shorter amount of time and flipping with success. There is as much risk as there is reward, and this robust generation isn’t questioning if the rewards exists.

Beyond changing the home owner relationship, this generation is also changing the home buying process. “We’re on our phones all the time, and this generation does not like to pick up the phone,” Player Murray, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices York Simpson Underwood Realty told US News. “They don’t want to bother with a conversation if it can be texted.” And because it’s predicted that millennials will (soon) rise as the generation buying the largest number of homes this year, their preference in how the process works, matter – big time. Nela Richardson, chief economist for the real estate company Redfin, agrees that “because of their size, whatever they decide to do will have an impact on the housing market,” and really, with smart phones and searching apps like Redfin and Zillow, Richardson is on to something.

This tech-savvy generation is spearheading change in many industries and real estate has been no exception. As Gen Y-ers overtake baby boomers in the home buying game, there is a ripple effect. Being that only 3 percent of agents are under 30, and 81 percent of real estate agents are over the age of 45, according to a NAR survey of its members, the tables have turned and the consumer isn’t being served by its own age group.

It’s not that Gen Y-ers aren’t buying homes, they are, just on their terms. They know what they want, which is not a phone call, but rather a text or app that will give them the freedom to research on their time. They do their homework – they aren’t looking for an access point to the information, as that is already at their fingertips, what they are looking for is a person to interpret the information and not leave anything out. Surprises aren’t fun for this generation, but home improvement projects are!

Millennials Opt Out of Seattle’s Real Estate Goat Rodeo

Mt Baker

The fact that the housing market in Seattle is hot, is not new news, and finding a home without over paying is becoming quite a task. When a 1,100 square foot home listed at $559k, sells for $717K, it feels it might take miracle to lock something down that is both desirable and reasonable. Moreover, when, and more so, if¸ you find a great buy, the market heavily favors those willing and able to pay cash to win the bid. Well, there is one demographic of Puget Sound residents who aren’t jumping on the real estate bandwagon – millennials.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, people between the ages of 25 and 35 who are homeowners is at the lowest since the Gold Rush era. And for good reason. Overall, things are just more expensive now than they were during the previous decades. College tuition has tripled since 1980, causing millennials to take out college loans or needing to take a longer time getting their education due to having to work simultaneously. As such, paying off acquired debt, or simply just getting the basics (job, place to live, overhead costs) nailed down is priority number one. With such a competitive job market, it takes a few years (or ten) of hard work to reach reasonable earning potential.

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However, Seattle has some of the biggest businesses headquartered here favoring hiring millennials, one of which is Amazon. The online retailer hires thousands of employees yearly, many of which are coming in out of state. Most of those recruits, still fresh to Seattle and a little leery of all the grey, are perfectly content with renting even if they could afford a nice house to match their nice salary. And this doesn’t just happen for Amazon employees, as Seattle has plenty company employees working the same model.

Not surprisingly, this might be a piece of why Seattle currently ranks second on the list of best cities to own a rental property (a jump from seventh place last year). The region’s job growth, paired with the number of people moving into the area, and with the lack of available homes for sale, these are some key factors in why the rental market is going so well. So, for now the millennials are opting out of Seattle’s real estate goat rodeo, but it doesn’t seem like too many people, no matter how ready, are having much success either.

The 10 Most Expensive Streets in Seattle

 

Recently Seattle-based real estate company, Zillow took a look at which Seattle streets were most expensive to live on. Through their examination, they found homes on descriptive streets, like Laurelhurst Lane or Hunts Point Road, were the highest contenders. Let’s take a look at how Seattle streets stack up.

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Countdown to the #1 Most Expensive Street in Seattle:

#10 Brook Bay Road – The median value of homes on this street, located on Mercer Island, is $2,389,913.

#9 Overlake Drive – The median value of homes on this street, located in Medina, is $2,590,160.

#8  Killarney Way – The median value of homes on this street, located in the Meydenbauer neighborhood near Bellevue, is $2,638,714.

#7 Evergreen Point Road – The median value of a home on this street, located in the Meydenbauer neighborhood near Bellevue, is $2,789,945. You can see the full listing here.

#6 Cherry Loop – The median value of homes on this street, located in The Highlands community in Shoreline, is $2,997,348.

#5 Fairweather Place – The median value of homes on this street, located in Hunts Point in the Eastside, is $3,148,178.

#4 Avalon Place – The median value of a home on this street, located on Mercer Island, is $3,698,755.

#3 Laurelcrest Lane – The median home value is $4,590,474.

#2 Ambleside Road –  The median value of homes on this street, located in the Windermere neighborhood, is $6,022,040.

#1 The most expensive street on the list is Hunts Point Road.  The median value of a home on this road, located in Hunts Point on the Eastside, comes in at $6,181,914. Notable residents reportedly of the neighborhood include, former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer, American saxophonist Kenny G, and former CEO and co-found of Costco Wholesale, Jim Sinegal. More recently, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll sold his Hunts Point home for $6.1 million.

Is Everyone Moving to Interbay?

seattle sunset“Location, location, location,” has been said is the key to success in real estate. So on the heels of Expedia’s announcement to move to Interbay, Lennar Multifamily Communities couldn’t have been more on the mark in building a seven-story, 221-unit apartment project. Located just north of the new Expedia headquarters, which plans to house 4,500 employees, the apartment project plans to wrap construction in late 2017 or early 2018. Perfect timing to welcome Expedia to the neighborhood.

Lennar Multifamily wasn’t aware of Expedia’s plans to relocate when they took on the project late last year.  The complex will go up where the Quest Church currently resides, which is moving into the previously owned Mars Hill flagship church, located in Ballard. Brad Reisinger, of Lennar Multifamily, told the Puget Sound Business Journal that, “even without Expedia, we always thought Interbay had a lot of potential.”

The sentiment rings true for a number of developers and investors, as the Lennar complex is one of three apartment projects going up in surrounding area of QFC at 15 Avenue West and West Dravus Street. Beyond the development deals happening, it seems that the investment already shows promise as new apartment complexes in the area are already full.

Nestled in between Ballard and downtown, two neighborhoods that are growing at an exponential rate, it’s not surprising the Interbay neighborhood has piqued the interest of developers and investors alike. With dependable public transportation along the 15th Ave./Elliott corridor, the area offers a lot in terms of expansion and mobility. This area will be one to watch over the next few year, if it isn’t already.

Five Tricks to Boost Your Home Value

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De-Clutter

Dump the junk, pack up the knick-knacks, and depersonalize the house as much as possible. Make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to envision themselves in the home. Buyers want to know what their seeing is what they are getting – they will do their job (a.k.a. snooping around) to make sure the image is consistent with what’s hiding behind those closet doors.

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Makeover the Kitchen

Viewed by many as the heart of the house, the kitchen is the top rated room to have in pristine condition.  Make any minor repairs that aid with the function of the kitchen such as leaky faucets, loose light fixtures or missing counter top tiles. Also, painting can go a long way in terms of spiffing things up. Lastly, finishing touches such as new cabinet hardware, curtains and lighting fixtures can really pull a room together.

 

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Turn the Bathroom into a Spa

Give the bathrooms a spa treatment with candles, some greenery and fresh towels fastened with bows. Replace any dated mirrors and light fixtures to really brighten the space up. Be mindful of any unpleasant smells and consider placing a diffuser or scented wall plug to keep the room smelling fresh. 

 

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Paint, Paint, Paint

As mentioned above, painting a few the well-used rooms (read kitchen, bathrooms, and kids playroom) in your home can have a major pay off. Just a few rooms lapped in a fresh coat of paint can help cut costs for a potential buyer and help close a sale.  Make sure to paint the rooms in neutral tones, being white, beige, and grey to allow the eye to appreciate the layout of the home and not any assaulting wall colors.

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Exterior Touches

Appearance isn’t everything, but sadly in real estate, this sentiment doesn’t apply. Mow the lawn, yank the weeds, and add some bright flowers. It’s important to work on that curb appeal to gain as many oohs and aahh’s as possible. Any cracked side boarding or paint needs to be repaired.

4-Star SLS Hotel Graces Seattle

seattle nowOriginated in Los Angeles, the SLS Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel owned by Hollywood tycoon, Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of the SBE Entertainment Group. Dubbed as the “King of the Night”, Nazarian is responsible for some of the hottest clubs (Create, Greystone Manor, Emerson, Hyde, MyHouse), restaurants (Katsuya, The Bazaar, XIV) and hotels (the SLS Hotels in Beverly Hills, South Beach, and Las Vegas). Creating his very own hotel empire, he has set his sights on expanding the luxury hotel chain to the Bahamas, Philadelphia, four properties in China, two locations in New York and lastly, but most importantly, the SLS Hotel will be coming to Seattle in Spring 2016.

Behind the SLS masterpiece stands a trifecta of men, comprised of owner Sam Nazarian, French-designer Philippe Starck, and James Beard Award-winning chef, José Andrés. These men operate at such a level excellence that joining forces in creating a hotel brand known for its style, luxury, and service, was clearly a no-brainer. They have already established quite the reputation, which is why it’ll be interesting to see what they feel the SLS Seattle should encompass in order to capture the hearts of the notoriously cold Pacific Northwesterners.

Philippe Starck, excited about the expansion to the Emerald City, feels Seattle is “a city of science and city of nature,” he told Marc Stiles in an interview for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Monday through Friday, people “create the future in science and on the weekends they hug trees.” As much of a generalization that is, he isn’t entirely off. Seattle effortlessly sits pretty between these two worlds. A hub for information and technology companies like Amazon, Google, and F5 Networks, Seattle also attracts outdoors enthusiasts to its gorgeous mountainous terrain and acres of uncharted territory.

Just as Seattle has become the mecca for hikers and tech-geeks alike, the 44-story Fifth + Columbia tower offers a seemingly contradictory exterior design – a 44-story contemporary silhouette is paired alongside a church sanctuary.  The structural collaboration has promise to effortlessly settle into a city that doesn’t overlook its history in exchange for progress. The First United Methodist Church which was sold with the property, will remain the same on the exterior as an ode to its important history, whereas the interior of the church will be re-purposed as a restaurant, ballroom and conference center for the SLS Hotel.

To Starck, “the most interesting thing is not the [high rise]. It is not the church. It is the mix of both,” which is so much of what Seattle is – a mix of contradictions that supports one another as if they are the same. For Starck, there isn’t a standardized formula he applies to every hotel he designs. Rather, he looks at each new location individually and focuses on creating an environment where people “will be at their best, will be uplifted, will be more sexy, more intelligent, more creative, more sparkling, more in love.”  Who isn’t on board for feeling smart, sexy and in love? Can we move in?

Going beyond the design of the four-star hotel, the SLS Seattle will offer 30,000 square feet of a José Andrés dining concept is sure to flood your mouth with flavor. Los Angeles Times’ food critic, S. Irene Virbila, described the food experience at The Bazaar, Andrés’ restaurant in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, as, “Fellini-esque, a gastronomical circus, a flirtation with the flavors and soul of Spain.” She continued, “Los Angeles has never seen anything remotely like this exciting restaurant,” and she was right. Six years after Virbila’s bold words, a simple “Best Restaurants in Los Angeles” google search will come up with pages of lists all with The Bazaar still sitting at the top. So the question is, is Seattle’s foodie culture ready for José Andrés?

With the magnifying glass hovering over the Pacific Northwest, there is no question Seattle is emerging as one of the nation’s hot spots. Running with the cool-kids can come at a cost; for growing cities that generally means tearing down the old in exchange for the shiny and new. Fortunately masterminds, Nazarian, Starck, and Andrés saw the beauty in the conflicting architecture of an old church, a new skyscraper and wanted to incorporate a piece of Seattle’s history into its trendsetting future. A trend hopefully Seattleites can jump on board with.

 

For more information about the SLS Hotel Seattle

 

 

7 Tips To Prepare You to Sell Your Home

Madrona Home KL

Ladies and Gentleman, the House is back on the Market!

Like a freshly single twenty-something with a new hair style, a little black dress, and a recent appreciation for the gym – here is your seller’s to-do list to spiff up your crib and attract some lookers. Now we’re talking!

1. Mentally & Emotionally Remove Yourself

When preparing to sell your home, the first step is mentally and emotionally separating yourself from your home. A home is a place holder for a human – that is all. Just like any other transaction, a home is something you purchased, as you would a car, a phone, or a t-shirt – there comes a time to let those things go. Take a moment to honor your time in the home, say your goodbyes to each room, and allow yourself to sit with the idea of the home no longer being yours. You’re moving on to a new chapter and it’s time to look towards the future, not wallow in the past.

2. Pack up those Pictures

You’ve shed your tears, said your goodbyes, and taken a moment to cherish the time spent within those walls. Now it’s time to pack up those memories and clear the space so new memories can be made. Would you be able to envision yourself with someone if you walked into their place and there were photos of their ex still up? It would kind of derail your daydreams of life with them, wouldn’t it? The same goes for house-hunters. When they walk into your home, they should be able to see themselves building a life there, not wondering about the life of current tenants.

3. Check that Curb Appeal, Homie!

External appearance isn’t everything, but you want to catch their eye. If they like what they see from the curb, chances are they will be knocking at the front door.  So, mow that lawn, trim those bushes, and keep the sidewalk clean. Also, make sure visitors are able to easily identify your home address.

4. Dump the Junk, Cut the Clutter, and Organize Closets and Cabinets

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You’re in the game now. You’ve mentally moved out, the space is ready for new life and memories, and the exterior of the home is attracting interested candidates. It’s time to de-clutter, check that baggage (or trash it?) and rearrange the closets.

Buyers want to know what their seeing is what they are getting – they will do their job (a.k.a. snooping around) to make sure the image is consistent with what’s hiding behind those closet doors. Make sure your home isn’t just for show – it truly is what is seems – a dream home for that potential buyer.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in over a year, chances are you aren’t going to need it. Create three piles to ignite the process:

To sell, to keep, to donate. GO!

5. Don’t be a Tease

If you have items you love and plan to take with you, take them down before showing the home. This is important for the overall happiness of both the buyer and the seller.  If that show-stopping chandelier is making the move with you, don’t let your prospective buyers lay their eyes on it. A buyer could easily fall in love with it and use the fact it isn’t in the deal, for leverage.  Don’t let them know what they are missing out on. If necessary, replace the items with cheaper models.

6. Repair, Renew, Reinvent

This one takes a little elbow grease, but the concept is simple: make your house sparkle.

Fix the leaky faucet, re-caulk showers and tubs, paint any loud walls in a warm neutral color, patch holes in the walls and do any other work that would leave a potential buyer on the fence. The little things matter, so replace linens and dingy rugs, bleach the title grout, and grease those squeaky door jams. Give the bathrooms a spa treatment with candles, some greenery and fresh towels fastened with bows. Oh, you fancy! Also, pay attention to smells – this hugely impacts our memory and no one wants to be remembered as the smelly house.

7. Final Touches

Pretend you are the buyer from start to finish. That’s right, get out on the curb and take a step-by-step walk-through of your home as if you are the buyer. Is the home inviting? How does it make you feel? Are the pictures hung evenly? Does that bed-spread need replacing? Would the front yard fare better with some bright flowers? Try to work from an objective point of view and write down anything you need to change or rearrange.

No Horsing Around – Union Stables Restored

TUNE, architecture firm Weinstein A+U, and joint owner of the building, general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis will take up the ole’ nine to five in arguably one of the coolest workspaces in Seattle. Once housing over 300 horses, employees of TUNE, Weinstein A+U, and Lewis will be the first human tenants to move into the building.

An ode to Seattle’s pioneering days, the landmark building was used as a livery stable, housing horses used for deliveries and to pull streetcars. Once considered the most modern building west of the Mississippi, the building has seen fires, earthquakes and was the scene of a major Prohibition raid back in 1923.

Paying respects to the building’s rich history, Lewis persevered and reused 127,000 board feet of lumber and milled old beams from the original building turning them into flooring and other materials. Additionally he reused every single road brick, as road brick is no longer available. Timber chewed and rubbed on by the horses can be seen throughout the build, as well as a large V-shaped hay cart which will be hung in the lobby of the building as “a nice little reminder of what the building was like..,” Dave Rauma, Lewis senior project manager said, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Offering exposed beams, bike storage, and a green roof on part of the building, the renovation hits a sweet balance in paying homage to the past while setting an energy conscious precedent for the future. Going beyond the boundaries of the building, thinking of our carbon footprint, Lewis anticipates the green roof to be certified LEED gold, and hopes to outfit his office at the highest LEED certification, LEED platinum. It seems this waterfront building has jumped leaps and bounds ahead of its time and is quickly becoming more legendary than its historic past. With the tone set, let’s hope to see some legendary business for the companies settling in.

Union Stables Building

2200 Western Ave.

Seattle, WA 98121

Real Estate Steps into the 21st Century with Cloud Based Apps

Seattle, known as a progressive leader in information and technology, houses established companies and growing start-ups alike. As Amazon expands, Facebook moves in, and numerous start-ups take up stake in Seattle’s burgeoning technology hub, it is evident the commercial real estate industry, a sector some would say is lagging on the technological front,  is a major player in assisting these innovative companies set up shop.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, in 2014, high-tech tenants accounted for 45 percent of leasing activity in Seattle. That’s a good chuck of business coming from a client base who appreciates system innovation – it would be wise if the real estate sector jumped aboard the techie train and geared their marketing strategy towards their forward thinking client base.

That is exactly what co-founder of Hightower, Brandon Weber and Floored CEO, Dave Eisenberg are monopolizing on. Seattle based, Hightower, takes commercial leasing to that magical place everyone seems to love – the cloud. Allowing for full business execution in the palm of your hand, Hightower allows commercial owners and brokers to manage their entire portfolio, leasing documents, and collaborate with their leasing team all in real time. Joining forces with New York City based company, Floored, a fully interactive 3D visual tool for the real estate industry, Weber and Eisenberg have created a full-bodied leasing platform like no other.

“Tenants struggle to visualize how space might look, landlords spend billions of dollars on speculative space construction,” Brandon Weber, explained to Commercial Observer. “Floored greatly reduces this need by delivering a virtual tour experience showing the tenant exactly how their space will look once built out. We believe this can save Landlords billions in spec build out costs.”

Between Hightower’s mobile app technology and Floored’s 3D visual sophistication, brokers and building owners have the ability to virtually walk clients through available properties that provide such robust example of what the space could look like, that the platform is unmatched with anything else out there. What a refreshing game changer – but it is changing the game?

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Weber says Hightower is tracking more than 10,000 vacant office spaces, and that figure is growing 20 percent a month. Hoping to streamline his business for bi-coastal clients, Weber is excited at the prospect of assisting a Los Angeles tenant find property in New York via the Hightower application.

Thanks to new kids on the block, infusing life into the real estate industry, like Hightower and Floored, maybe some of the biggest names in the business will step into the 21st century.