|Recently, I have gotten a few questions about Opportunity Zone investing in Seattle and I wanted to share some information on the subject.
An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed area where new investment in that area may benefit from preferential tax treatment under the 2017 tax code.
Nearest to Seattle, large parts of the Central District and the International District have been designated as Opportunity Zones. In WA state, there are 139 similar zones (see map below) that will benefit from this program. The IRS has offered some guidelines which I have also included below.
Jeff Romeo (cell) 206.601.9995
Windermere Real Estate
Growth is good, Seattle.
The housing market in Seattle remains competitive, which is good news for sellers but can be challenging for buyers entering the market.
The growth seen over the past year in Seattle in both the residential home and condominium market has been in double digits all over King County. That said, I am very optimistic when assessing the current growth potential of homes both within Seattle and outside of Seattle’s established core.
Homes at all price points have significant growth potential, be it a small bungalow in South Park, or a more expensive property on Capitol Hill.
I continue to work with buyers within established Seattle neighborhoods, but also now work with buyers in up-and-coming parts of Seattle, farther South and West.
Playing to win. The value of a team.
Buying real estate in a competitive market requires a focused search with an excellent team in place. Your real estate agent is the cornerstone of your home search.
Due to increased buyer competition, agents are writing more offers than ever, and thus, more properties must be closely examined. There are over 50 data points that a real estate agent should look at when assessing a property.
An agent should have a team of the best lenders, inspectors, and contractors at the ready to quickly look at any property in close detail.
Your agent’s intellect, communication skills and responsiveness are critical when a seller is trying to differentiate your offer from the other offers on the table.
How many offers will a new buyer write?
Agents are writing more offers than ever, but there are strategies to get to the top of the offer pile, and cash is not always king of the multiple offer game.
Winning is not just a matter of waving all contingencies. There are ways to lessen your risk as a buyer and still get the house you want. It is true a buyer may not get their first home, but often they do.
In hot areas, the buyer pool may focus on just 1 or 2 listings, creating opportunity to bid and win on listings with less ‘buzz’. If a buyer wants to avoid a bidding war, new construction may be less competitive depending on the area.
How far over list will a home go?
When trying to figure out how far over list a home will go, data is your best friend. Recent sales will generally set the list price. Active and pending listings within a half mile will also yield clues. It can be beneficial to research the listing agent and see how they historically price their listings, some are priced low, some are high, and some just right.
One of the best indicators of a price surge is data culled from other realtors who have active or pending listings in the area. A thorough agent will be on the phone with other agents asking “How far over list did that home go?” or “How many offers did you get on that property?”
Escalator clauses are a good way to set your upper limit if you anticipate a bidding war.
At the end of the day what really matters most is: what is the home worth to you?
Data matters. Beyond Redfin and Zillow.
The full MLS data is much more robust than anything available to consumers online.
But don’t forget the data points beyond the MLS: data from your lender, the title company, reports from special inspectors, the city, the condo board, other agents, information from the seller, and experiential data from the trenches.
The time to partner with a buyer’s agent is now.
With housing inventory low and demand high clients are looking for homes longer in Seattle.
It is incredibly important to build a success matrix with your agent now which covers your needs, wants and must-haves in a home.
Also, of critical importance: what is your budget? How solid is your pre-approval? How liquid are the assets that will be used to purchase the home? The market moves quickly, preparedness is key.
Seattle. A wonderful place to live.
Housing demand in Seattle is high for a reason. After being here for 15 years, I can think of no better place to put down roots. Our neighborhoods are unparalleled in their charm, natural beauty and history. Our friends and neighbors are educated and kind. In an hour we can be in the mountains. In 10 minutes we can be on a kayak on Lake Washington or walking the beaches of Puget Sound. The list goes on and on.
We do have our dark and rainy days. As I write this I confess waiting eagerly for spring. But I often think of the words of Walt Whitman on these darker days, “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle”. This city offers us so much.
Windermere Real Estate Co.
firstname.lastname@example.org – 206.601.9995
Show me the money
Chances are as a homeowner you have a pretty good idea of what your home is worth. Finding an approximate valuation of your home with online services such as Redfin or Zillow is not a challenging task. Just open the newspaper and it’s clear to see that Seattle is a sellers’ market, and that home prices have risen by double digits all over King County. Any realtor can provide you with comps within a half mile over the last 6 months and produce a fairly accurate valuation of your home. But put data aside for a moment and let’s think: how do we realize this money? Any agent can list your home, but not any agent can really sell your home.
So, how do we get top dollar for your home?
Home Selling is a Visual Process
It’s seeing the home online, being drawn in to visit, and then actually visualizing yourself, the buyer, living in that home. Agent X hires a photographer at $500.00 a day to shoot the house, do drones shots etc. And Agent X may still not have a huge initial impact. Why? Because the real estate agent must tell the tale and choreograph the entire show. This starts well before the photographer shows up.
Declutter + Depersonalize + Neutralize = Excite
Let me give you an actual example. Client lives in a fairly nice house in a desirable Seattle neighborhood. However, the walls are painted the same color as when they moved in, which is a dated yellow color. Client also has held on to a leather couch which has kind of a post-college, single guy feel. So what am I going to do when I put this house on the market? I will paint the walls a neutral modern color, I will remove the leather sofa, and I will bring in the best home stager in town to furnish the house.
This client also has a few saxophones and a large vinyl collection. Guess what. That’s all going into storage because this is a 3 bedroom level-entry family house. I want single people to think this is the coolest pad on the planet, but I also want the young couple just starting out to visualize two little kids playing in the yard with their new puppy.
This is the stuff of bidding wars.
So we have accomplished our goals with paint, storage and staging. Other cheap things to maximize value are deep cleaning, window cleaning, yard work and spot floor re-finishing. Again we are talking about visual impressions.
People like clean and tidy, inside and out.
A note on staging
Staging can be wonderful, but it’s on a case by case basis. If you can create major impact with staging and have the house sell quickly, then definitely do it. You don’t want a staged listing to linger as costs will add up. A good stager wants to sell quickly too (so they can stage more listings). But often it’s just plain nice to see wide open, empty rooms.
Repairs. What do I need to fix ?
As a general rule, the fewer projects you have to complete as a seller the more buyers you will attract.
It’s not unheard of to re-do a quick kitchen or bathroom before a sale. But whatever you are re-doing should be commensurate with the value of the house. You don’t want a cheap kitchen in an expensive home. The old kitchen will do fine. But if we have an ancient kitchen in a low-priced house, then maybe a trip to IKEA is in order. But keep in mind a seller will see all the flaws in their home, so it’s important to get an agent who is objective in there to look at things. The avocado color tile in the guest bath may be just fine!
Time for the photos. The client’s house is your masterpiece.
Full disclosure: I had a photography business for 7 years doing commercial and corporate photography. I am highly trained and kind of snobby about it.
Let’s not forget no one cares as much about the listing as the agent and the seller. Photographers need to be directed. Do you think shooting houses everyday is fun? It’s not. It’s hard work and mind numbing. I don’t care how great the photographer is. Remember, the agent must have the vision.
I previewed a beautiful mid-century house the other day but online the opening shot made it look like a double wide trailer. I am sure the photographer thought it was an adequate shot.
I’ll share a story with you about re-touching photographs which I used to do for a famous artist. The general rule is that anything the detracts from the subject needs to be fixed. Any bright objects that compete for attention, we need to make those blend in. If the subject has acne or eye bags, that’s got to go. We are selling the subject, whether that’s a model, a sunset, or your home.
If a dirty wall is detracting, paint it. It the view is obscured by dirty windows, clean them. I approach everything like I am working on a masterpiece. And the simple and cheap fixes are often the most effective. You just need to have the eye and be able to tell the story.
As a general rule price the house to sell, but prepare and stage it to entice the most buyers. If it’s overpriced, people will know. If it’s underpriced, people will know. Why not put forth a very attractive listing package (staging photos etc) and price it appropriately! Do you want 20 offers on a house that’s priced 200k too low or do you want 5 solid offers on a correctly priced house? I would choose the latter.
To learn more about home buying and selling please contact Jeff Romeo at www.jeffromeorealty.com
Housing inventory is slowly increasing around King County. Click here to see where we are now and a month by month inventory recap for 2017.
This is a top-level look only, as there are micro-trends in the market; week by week and area by area. But this is good information to know whether buying or selling.
Buyer competition will increase in the spring. Your realtor should have a success strategy for dealing with multiple offer situations that will get your offer to the top of the pile.
Cash is not always king, and waiving all contingencies is just not always the right approach.
(The image you are looking at was taken from a Madrona area residence, a few blocks from Lake Washington).
Have a look at these housing market stats for King County for January 2018, compared to January 2017.
The median residential house price has increased by 100K compared to Jan. 2017. Condo values are up compared to last year by 15.6%. Smart buyers will engage a realtor now and purchase around these median prices in both established and up-and-coming areas. It is always good to buy during the rainy season in Seattle. Spring will bring more competition on the buyer side. If you are a seller, start ticking off items on your punch list NOW and aim for market in the spring through early fall.