City Living or Suburb Living? Yes to both!

As I write this I am preparing a townhome listing in the city. I rarely work in this area, but when I do, I love it! I am born and raised a suburb girl and still live in the suburbs, and that is where I am supposed to be, but when I come downtown, there is an energy that makes me smile.

I can walk down the streets among the throng of hustling people going to work or in for a day of shopping, and everything is so close.  No need for cars.  Public transportation is available, rent-a-bikes are haphazardly parked on every block, and walking, walking, walking. Oh how I love myself a good hill in Seattle.  My previous life as a fitness professional kicks in and I may compete with the guy in front of me to see who gets to the top of the hill first.

The funkiest personalities are downtown in every coffee shop, along the sidewalks as they display their artistries, their clothes, their piercings.  It feels exciting and fun and modern.  It is not surprising the open house for the listing was very busy with people in their 20’s and 30’s, some with young families.  Their excitement about this urban space is contagious and I consider moving to the city someday too.

Then I drive 30 minutes away to my neighborhood that is filled with large yards and SUVs.  There is a slower pace and a cozier feeling here.  I know most of the neighbors within 5 houses on either side and across the street.  I know I can count on them for paper plates or some sugar when I run out.  They are aware of strange cars in my driveway and text me when they know I am gone to let me know. The kids run amok in the middle of the street and through people’s yards on sunny days.  I can go on walks with my dogs and not see one person in the middle of the day and it can be so quiet and relaxing.

In my hood, we have to drive everywhere- we are walking distance only to the local school; but in the city there little quiet.  Depending on what is important to you, both housing styles are great places to live your life.


Posted on November 11, 2017 at 10:04 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Is Sweat Equity a Consideration for Buyers?

When my hot hubby and I were looking for our first house, we didn’t have a lot of money so we were willing to take on a house that had some work to be done on it.  That first house in Kenmore, WA (at the time known as Bothell) needed new windows, a foundation straightening, paint (to cover Barney purple) and it didn’t have a garage.  There was also an empty space connected to the master that we turned into a master bathroom and I, personally, tiled the shower myself!

At the end of our three-year stint there, our home was beautiful and we felt proud of the sweat equity we put into it.  The next home also was remodeled similarly by our own two hands, although, the Pergo we put into it to save money from hardwoods was probably a mistake.

Currently, I have listed the coolest house that I truly would love to buy myself, and I am so surprised it hasn’t sold right away.  It has been remodeled beautifully but there are some areas that probably could be addressed if you really wanted it to be perfect; it could be lived in for years as-is.  The fact that it has a pool can be daunting for some, but the Sellers have put $25k into upgrades for it, so much of the maintenance on that is easy.  The feedback we are getting is not that it is over-priced, in fact, other brokers can’t understand why it hasn’t sold at this price.  People are gushing over the uniqueness and all the extra living areas for out-of-town guests.  They love the privacy and the large yard.

What is the main reason people are passing on it?  Too much work.  Huh.  I didn’t see that coming.  Is it the yard? Does it need upgrades? No idea.  People are not specifying so my mind wonders if buyers these days just want a house that is perfect. Are people too busy to put sweat equity into a home?  Working long hours, raising kids and their activities, walking the dogs all fill up a schedule with no time to work on a house on the weekends.

I find that unfortunate because when you put your time into your home, you not only learn to do a handy skill, I find you enjoy the home more than if someone did it for you.  And the bragging rights (as long as it ended up nicely) are fun to dole out.

Did you know that jobs like tile setters, sheet rock installers, plumbers, electricians, etc. are in short demand?  If you do well with your remodel, maybe you will have found a new career!

If you are a buyer, please consider a home that you may feel needs a lot of work.  In that situation, you can put your own style in the home, save some money, and be proud of your home!

 


Posted on September 30, 2017 at 7:55 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Dogs Required

Ever since I was in college I have owned a dog.  First came Fogarty from a pet store (can you believe it?) and he is the reason why I have never lived in an apartment since then.  I chose my housing based on if there was a yard. Two years later I married my hot hubby and we moved from Sacramento to Seattle for fun.  I had secured my first after-college job as a 6th grade teacher, but guess what?, I got paid very little.  I think I started at $21,000 a year in 1994.

Due to Fogarty, we only were able to look at houses with yards since he was a large German Shepard/Husky mix.  We found a super cute cottage in a sketchy neighborhood that was smaller than my classroom, but the yard was huge.  The rent was $525/month for this 620 sf home and we lived there for 2 1/2 years (because we was poor!).  During that time we acquired, Happy, an American Staffordshire mix and now we had sealed our fate to forever renting, and eventually, owning houses with yards.

I now have two kids who have grown up for the most part with two dogs as part of our family.  We have had Sidnie, Rusty, Logan, and Molly since Fogarty’s and Happy’s tenure with us.  Recently, both Logan and Molly passed away within 2 months of each other and we literally lasted five days without another pooch.  The house was so empty without a furry friend to snuggle and love.  We now have Nina, the most gorgeous pure bred American Staffordshire, and she had us wrapped around her paw within minutes.

These furry family members have shaped where and how we live.  My hubby is happy with a smaller yard, but we have rented or bought houses with big yards so the dogs can run and play.  Logan, the smartest, yet craziest, of all our pups, forced us to put up a fence in our predominantly fence-less neighborhood to keep him from taking off and surprising walkers down the road.  That cost some change.  Molly had kidney disease and needed access outside to pee often, so we installed a dog door that isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but definitely functional.

Our family has been blessed with all of our dogs who filled our homes with love and fun, and I certainly don’t feel like we missed out on living in an apartment or some other home with a small yard. Yes, we have paid much money and put in much time into our yards because of them, but it was definitely worth it. Now we have a yard Nina can go out to anytime she wants due to the dog door and the fence and she is able to sprint around with her other canine friends.


Posted on May 20, 2017 at 7:38 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Slaying Myths About Buying a Home


Posted on May 1, 2017 at 3:57 am
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Uncategorized |

Building Your Wealth with Real Estate

Are you ready to increase your wealth?  I know I am. Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate 3.24% per year on average and to grow by 21.4% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey.

So, what does this mean for homeowners and their equity position?

As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchases and closes on a $250,000 home in January. If we look at only the projected increase in the price of that home, how much equity will they earn over the next 5 years?

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Since the experts predict that home prices will increase by 4.0% this year alone, the young homeowners will have gained over $10,000 in equity in just one year. Holy COW!

Over a five-year period, their equity will increase by over $43,000! Holy FREAKING COW! This figure does not even take into account their monthly principal mortgage payments. In many cases, home equity is one of the largest portions of a family’s overall net worth.

If you already own a home, you have started on a great path to future wealth, so think about an investment property to help increase stability in your financial future.  This is what my husband and I are going to do this year, finally, how can we not?  I know it means we may not get to remodel the house this year, but it is the financially smart thing to do.  Being financially smart may not fulfill my instant gratification needs, but in five years I will be very happy!

Bottom Line

Not only is homeownership something to be proud of, but it also offers you and your family the ability to build equity you can borrow against in the future.


Posted on December 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Buying a house, Buying Houses | Tagged ,

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying & Selling!

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey; you need an experienced Real Estate Professional to lead you to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional in your corner haven’t changed, but rather have been strengthened, due to the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam. 

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true Real Estate Professional is an expert in their market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you acquire your dream? 

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. However, after looking at the list of parties that you need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll realize the value in selecting a Real Estate Professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to, during the process. 

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $245,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional?


Posted on November 28, 2016 at 9:33 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Buyers in Seattle, Buying a house, Selling in Seattle | Tagged , ,

Why Are Mortgage Rates Increasing?

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing?

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing? | MyKCM

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rate jumped up to 3.94% last week. Interest rates had been hovering around 3.5% since June, and many are wondering why there has been such a significant increase so quickly.

Why did rates go up?

Whenever there is a presidential election, there is uncertainty in the markets as to who will win. One way that this is noticeable is through the actions of investors. As we get closer to the first Tuesday of November, many investors pull their funds from the more volatile and less predictive stock market and instead, choose to invest in Treasury Bonds.

When this happens, the interest rate on Treasury Bonds does not have to be as high to entice investors to buy them, so interest rates go down.  Once the elections are over and a President has been elected, investors return to the stock market and other investments, leaving the Treasury to raise rates to make bonds more attractive again.

Simply put, the better the economy, the higher interest rates will go. For a more detailed explanation of the many factors that contribute to whether interest rates go up or down, you can follow this link to Investopedia.

The Good News

Even though rates are closer to 4% than they have been in nearly 6 months, they are still slightly below where we started 2016, at 3.97%.

The great news is that even at 4%, rates are still significantly lower than they have been over the last 4 decades, as you can see in the chart below.

Why Are Mortgage Interest Rates Increasing? | MyKCM

Any increase in interest rate will impact your monthly housing costs when you secure a mortgage to buy your home. A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that, “While still only roughly half the average over the past 45 years, according to Freddie Mac, the quick rise has lenders worried that home loans could become more expensive far sooner than anticipated.”

Tom Simons, a Senior Economist at Jefferies LLC, touched on another possible outcome for higher rates:

“First-time buyers look at the monthly total, at what they can afford, so if the mortgage is eaten up by a higher interest expense then there’s less left over for price, for the principal. Buyers will be shopping in a lower price bracket; thus demand could shift a bit.”

Bottom Line

Interest rates are impacted by many factors, and even though they have increased recently, rates would have to reach 9.1% for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.


Posted on November 22, 2016 at 7:12 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in mortgage lending, mortgage loans | Tagged , ,

Are We Paying Too Much for Houses?

Depending on where you live, you may be feeling frustration over the housing market.  In Seattle, where I live, our home prices have just become the #2 fastest rising in the country, #1 is Portland, OR (http://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/portland-and-seattle-home-prices-rise-at-twice-the-national-rate/).

This information can make buyers want to stop looking until the prices come down.  But guess what?  Economists are saying that the market could continue in this fashion until 2019.  “No problem, we’ll rent,” say many, but with so many buyers, not enough inventory, and more hiring for the big companies nearby, rents are sky high.

Why, Annie, are you sharing this frustrating information?  Because I have something that will ease your minds about buying at these high prices right now.  Look at the chart below:Trend line

You can see how the prices have increased since 1989 with the blue bars. The light-blue line shows average monthly payments.  Even when prices were much lower in 1989, interest rates were 10.3 freaking %, so the monthly payment was quite high.  Now look at the rust-colored line which is the appreciation trend line. This shows if the market never fluctuated over the last 17 years and kept a steady increase of approximately 2% in monthly payments (which would have been less stressful than the recession we had!), you would be paying pretty darn close to what today’s monthly payment average is even though the house prices are high.  Why?  Because the interest rates are so low!

Economists keep saying it’s only a matter of time for interest rates to rise again, so will you risk not buying now because the list price scares you?  Apparently the prices are going to continue this trajectory for a couple of years, but will the interest rates keep going lower?  I wish I knew.

I suggest if you are ready to buy now, you do what you can to make that happen.  First off, find a Realtor who has all of the tools and information to help you make informed decisions when making an offer in this competitive market.

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

Nacho Cheese!

Now that you are in a good mood, go find a great Realtor and your perfect house!


Posted on November 4, 2016 at 8:14 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Buyers, please use a Real Estate Broker!

“Why aren’t you using a real estate broker to help you make your offer?” I asked the man on the phone.  I often hear of Sellers wanting to do a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), but rarely hear of a Buyer doing it on their own.

“Because I want to use the Buyer Broker’s commission to make my offer stronger.”  Ah, I see.

“Did you know that the Listing Broker (in this case me) decides how the commission is disbursed to the Buyer’s Broker?” That gave him pause.  I could be greedy and take all of the commission the Seller is willing to pay me if there isn’t a Buyer’s Broker, but I wouldn’t.

 

I am worried about this Buyer.  The market is full of multiple offer situations.  How is he going to know how to make his offer the strongest?

 

1.       Does he know that the Sellers want to close earlier and rent back until the 18th?

2.       Does he know what an escalation clause is?

3.       Does he know that offering too high can keep the home from appraising at the value the bank is willing to give a loan?

4.       Does he know that there are ways the Buyer can address a low appraisal and still keep his offer strong?

5.       Does he know that he should probably waive certain contingencies to be competitive?

6.       Does he know what a pre-inspection is and if the Seller has done one or how to get one done himself?

7.       Does he know how to negotiate inspection items if he does an inspection?

8.       Does he know what a review date is?

9.       Does he know that the lender he chooses makes a difference?

10.   Does he know what Earnest Money is?

11.   Does he know how much Earnest Money to offer?

12.   Does he know the number of days stated on the contract are counted in different ways depending if it is more than 5?

13.   Does he know what would cause a default of the contract?

14.   Does he know when to present the offer?

15.   Does he know real estate agency law?

 

These are just some of the things that would be good to know when making an offer.  In the market we are in (a strong Seller’s market), people who have amazing brokers don’t all win the house they want because there are too many Buyers and not enough homes at the same time.  Wouldn’t you want to know everything possible to give the best offer possible and live in the house of your dreams?

 

Go find a real estate broker who will work their pants off to get you that home!  Well, maybe they should probably keep the pants on…that would be awkward.


Posted on May 1, 2016 at 10:47 pm
Annie Hyatt | Posted in Buying a house, Buying Houses | Tagged ,

You Get What You Pay for in a Lender

Does the lender you choose make a difference in this market?  Oh yes, my friends, it certainly does. Multiple offers happen often here in the Seattle area and the lender you choose can help you get your dream house, but it can also make your offer less desirable if your lender does not have certain qualities.  Even when you are not competing for a home, a lender can make the home-buying experience feel like a piece of pie (I like pie more than cake), or like driving a bus with 40 cranky kids when it’s a full moon.

I have had both experiences with lenders and 98% of how well the deal goes is based on the following:

1. Is the lender local?  In my neck of the woods (Seattle eastside), it is important to choose a local lender for a few reasons.  We are having an inventory crisis which leads to multiple offers.  When you are competing for a house the highest price is not always the winner.  I coach my clients that having a local lender allows for everyone to be in the same time-zone which is important for time-sensitive documents to get to where they need to be in order to close on time. 

Local lenders also use appraisers from a group that specifically works in the area your house is in.  I have had appraisers assigned by an out-of-state lender come from an hour away.  They don't know the area at all and can possibly appraise the home incorrectly. 

Lastly, if you find a good one in town, communication is much easier.  I have called out-of-area lenders and they don't know who I am and they barely know my clients.  Getting emails or calls returned has been a pain in the donkey. As the real estate broker, I always call the lender and if I have troubles getting in contact with them or receiving a response to an inquiry, more often than not they are out of town lenders.

Which leads to the next point:

2. Does the lender communicate efficiently? Oh my word, I cannot emphasize this enough.  When you call or email, how long does it take for the lender to respond?  It shouldn’t take days; it shouldn’t even take hours.  The lender I refer to my people will respond to you within 30 minutes (see Rodney Coulombe’s contact info below). A lender should not make you be a stalker to get your questions answered.  It’s their job to give great customer service (and Rodney is the best at this.)

In addition, a great lender will clearly lay out all of the products for which you qualify.  That awesome rate you saw in the paper or online?  Often, those get you to call in and then mysteriously you can't get that rate.  These are the lenders that are always the hardest to talk to once you have agreed to work with them.  Great lenders don't have sneaky tactics or "special rates".  

Find a lender that makes you feel like you are their only client.  When I started working with Rodney, that's how I felt and I wondered if he was just starting out or didn't have much business.  I was so very wrong… Rodney is just that good. Find yourself a Rodney or call him yourself (see below).

Rodney Coulombe

O: (425) 462-6561 | M: (206) 915-7042 | F: (877) 822-5710

RODNEY.COULOMBE@CALIBERHOMELOANS.COM

CALIBERHOMELOANSINC.COM/RODNEYCOULOMBE

3. Does the lender have a good reputation with your real estate broker? We work with many lenders on both sides of the real estate transaction.  As the Listing agent, I advise my clients to look at the lender as part of the decision process.  If a Buyer makes an offer with a “big box” bank (think Wells Fargo, Bank of America), their offer will be less desirable than the offer with a local, smaller lender who can give us their focus and attention.  Larger lenders have much more on their plate and, I have found, don’t give the clients the focus that is needed to get probably their largest investment closed on time and without penalties. 

My colleagues and I know the ones with the great reputations and we know that those are the ones that will help you win in a multiple-offer situation as well as make the process roll smoothly.  That’s worth the dough (and pie!) in my opinion.

I have clients who kick themselves for focusing on the “cheap rates” at the beginning, because in the end they always get what they paid for: a lender who was impossible to get ahold of and/or who couldn’t close the deal on time (or cut it so freaking close) due to the fact they were too busy or the time difference bungled the deal.


Posted on February 25, 2016 at 3:53 am
Annie Hyatt | Posted in mortgage lending, mortgage loans, Seattle, Seattle Eastside | Tagged , , ,