Contractor experience adds unmatched value in home-buying process

Realtors come from many different backgrounds—sales, IT, and consulting—to name a few. My experience as a former general contractor/builder is a huge advantage for my clients. Of all of the possible background for real estate sales, which experience brings the most to the client’s search, assessment, and negotiation process? I realize that I can’t be objective about this topic, but a former contractor’s knowledge of housing structure, materials, wear and tear, and renovation costs, are invaluable.  My background in construction has been a priceless bonus for all of my clients. Allow me to illustrate…

 

Imagine yourself as a homebuyer walking into a home that is for sale. As your agent, I look around and identify some things in the house that concern me; the exterior siding has moss growing on it, the railing is a little loose and penetrating the wall. I move the railing screw around and feel that the area is rotted. Then I start to wonder….what else is wrong? — is there anything else that is not taken care of by the owners? I see other items that prompt me to suggest to you that we move on and look at other houses.  If you loved the house, and all of its characteristics and layout, then I would let you know the problems that I saw.  During an intense inspection, we would see in total, all that was uncovered.

 

Scenario #2, the buyers that I represent are looking at a condo, and they love the view. I look around and make notes on my iPad. After a walk-through, I ask my clients what they think of the condo.  They like it. We look at the storage area—it smells moldy and musty. As we tour the mechanical room, we uncover a room that houses a sauna and a hot tub—both are decommissioned by the HOA (Homeowners Association.)  This is a HUGE red flag;  #1, the association has a moldy, smelling, storage area, and # 2 the hot tub and sauna are decommissioned by the HOA. This tells me that although significant dues are collected from each unit, the community facilities are not being maintained properly. What else is not being maintained? When we go outside, I see more items that concern me—the wooden soffits appear to have some deterioration issues. The exterior also needs attention, and my estimate is that this is a $250K improvement project.

 

Scenario #3, my buyers and I go to the next condo. It’s great! I mean…the view is fantastic! It has a great view of the water, but as I walk through the unit and into the hallway, I feel like a drunken sailor.  The floor in the condo is not level. After a complete tour, my opinion is that the unit is OK, but nothing to write home about…..but THE VIEW–did I mention the view?!  The place also has a pool and sauna, and is within walking distance of many local restaurants and shops. Later, I step into the hall to look for the mechanical room and meet a couple who live in the building. We talk briefly about the building, the maintenance, and some general comments they have about the place. They are very nice, and forthcoming, and I learn something about the condo board. It consists of residents that have been there for many years and they don’t like to spend money on maintenance or capital improvements, so the north side of the building is about eight years overdue for siding replacement. The decking around the pool also needs maintenance. The kind couple also inform me that one condo owner recently requested to make some changes to their unit — requiring board approval — and were turned down. What about that great view?!  A difficult HOA board is a potential deal-breaker — even if you inherit the property.

 

Scenario #4, my clients who are first-time buyers and newlyweds want to buy a rambler that just came on the market.  It is in a great part of town, and the yard is gorgeous.  I walk in and notice that the owners renovated it poorly. The floor plan was modified and it does not flow right.  In the basement, the drain/sewer was exposed and a temporary fix-it job was botched—someone tied into the wrong plumbing fittings.  What else did they do wrong? (I say to myself) I look in the attic and find evidence of a fire years ago and also find more signs of poor renovations and framing issues.  I analyze these items and feel there are too many issues to consider this house as a viable property.  My buyers really want the property, but I feel an obligation to explain all the issues that I see. Regardless, they feel that all the problems were things that they could fix. I appreciated their enthusiasm, and of course I would like to make the offer and sale, but I want to be honest with them about how much it would cost—it would take a deep pocketbook. They are so serious about the place and as much as I dislike being pessimist, I ask them to give me a few minutes to put together a rough estimate as to what it would take to do the repairs and make the place right. The total renovation and correction costs are enormous, and when I review the rough estimate with them, they realize that buying that home would be a mistake. That property sold for 10% over the listing price and I know the new buyers did not have someone with my experience in their corner.  I am sorry for them and others like them.

 

I could have sold these properties to my clients, but not with a clear conscience. I choose to create a long-term relationship with them and be the kind of agent that I would want for my own family. I can feel good about my service to clients when I work hard for their trust and confidence and provide them the information that they need. After all, it is probably the biggest ticket item they will ever purchase. Beyond making a sale, and a commission, I want to feel good about helping clients make good choices and build a solid future. Sound construction and renovation counsel is a customer-service bonus for my clients. How many real estate agents can offer this invaluable home-buyer service at no extra cost?

 

Tom Fine | Broker | Windermere Real Estate Capitol Hill

SRES and CNE Certified

Senior Real Estate Specialist and Certified Negotiation Expert

 

tomfine@windermere.comwww.finehomesnw.com

Posted on April 29, 2014 at 4:19 pm
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Are you thinking of a new neighborhood to live in? Let’s talk about Wedgwood.

 

Seattle is so fortunate to have many great neighborhoods. It's all about what you are looking for?  Location close to Amazon, Broadway, Downtown, need to be North of town? Well there are others that are located in great areas, Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill and on.  I am not here to talk about these but what about Wedgwood, that's how you spell it, with no "e" in it.  Wedgwood is located just North of Downtown Seattle and North of the University of Washington and East of I-5. Wedgwood has sidewalks and tree lined streets. 

Wedgwood was created right after WWII by a developer who built Cape Cod style homes in this area. The name Wedgwood came from the landowner’s wife who had china that was named "Wedgwood". This neighborhood consists mainly of the middle class America. There is dental clinics, hair salons, restaurants, you don't have to leave this area unless you wanted to. If you have a  craving for donuts, then you can go to Top Pot Donuts, or you can grab pizza at Fiddler’s Inn or Wedgewood Ale House & Cafe

If you would like to check out the Wedgwood Blog

It's a great place to take a drive to and check out this area. Go for a stroll and enjoy your afternoon and enjoy a great meal. You can't go wrong in or around Wedgwood, it's only a 15 minute drive to downtown.

Keep an eye out for more information about other neighborhoods.

 

Tom Fine, Broker

Windermere RE, Capitol Hill

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 12:42 am
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Properties For Sale, what I look for, are you looking at them the same way?

 

Every day I am looking at properties, for my clients (Buyers & Investors) all over town from Capitol Hill heading South thru Mt. Baker, Seward Park and then West to West Seattle and then NW, to Magnolia and Ballard.  Don't get me wrong; I hit a lot more neighborhoods besides these.  

What I saw and continue to see from some other Brokers is disappointing; these are listings that come on to the market and they are not prepared for the buyers. The sellers have one opportunity to make a first impression and when I walk up the house and grab onto a post to open a gate and the post is wobbly, I loose trust, then I say, well let’s see maybe that was overlooked.  Then I see other items that make me nervous and concerned. These are minor items such as cover plates missing off electrical devices and poorly executed finishes. These are items that should have been addressed prior to putting this home on the market.  Why?  If these are not an issue then these items don’t turn off people. 

As a professional I am coaching my clients on getting the best return for their investment and this means installing cover-plates on switches and receptacles, fixing a wiggly post for a fence and dealing with a heap fix to meet a code issue. Oh I forgot to mention, the house smelled! I work hard for my clients and my clients know that when I ask them to do something, they know it is in their best interest, not mine and for them to maximize their return, they do what makes sense. 

I can see that several items feel thru the cracks for this listing, and I don't know where it was but I am glad to say I am thoroughly disappointed in what I saw. I saw another property that was on the market for a while and I can say the pictures online look great!  The in person comments are, peeling paint and cracks in the walls. For a fixer upper, not a problem, but overpriced is what we see and this will attract the low ballers. 

 

Look at the listing as what the buyer will see, the “Buyers Eyes”. Remember if a buyer sees items that don't look good, they start thinking what else is wrong with the house?

 

Don’t let the buyer drive the price down, get the price up.

 

Let me know if I can help you.

 

Tom Fine

Windermere RE, Capitol Hill, Inc.

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 8:08 am
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17 Steps to Purchasing a Home

 

Here 17 Steps to purchasing a home. 

This list will prove guidance to understanding the steps to obtaining a home.

As any investment person would say, create a realistic budget and stick with it. This will give you a good perspective of what you can afford a month for a mortgage payment.

The realtor you have selected should be utilizing a process as shown below, will make finding your home a smooth process.

In each of the steps below there are details to understanding each of these steps

The 17 steps to home ownership

  1. Save money for down payment
  2. Select a Realtor
  3. Understanding financing methods
  4. Finding a lender
  5. Get Pre-Approved
  6. Determine your home search criteria
  7. Research and view homes
  8. Select a home
  9. Make an offer/negotiate, leave emotions out of it
  10. Sign a purchase and sale agreement
  11. Get inspections, Home inspection and any other inspections
  12. Apply for mortgage application
  13. Realtor/Broker will confirm a clean title
  14. Get home insurance
  15. Final walkthrough
  16. Closing, signing documents
  17. Documents recorded, keys are turned over to you

 

As with any part of the real estate process, if at any time you have any questions or concerns ask your realtor.  That is what they are there for, to provide you guidance that you can trust and believe in.

 

Do you have questions in the Seattle area, contact Tom Fine, tomfine@windermere.com or 206-434-6561

 

Tom's next blogs break down the 17 steps of purchasing a home.

 

Happy Home Hunting!

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 10:08 pm
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How to Sell your Home, Several Simple Steps to Increase the Value of you Home

This is scary, challenging and exciting all at the same time. The thought of selling your biggest investment.  Well being wise and realistic you'll do fine. I knw you're thinking you can do the FSBO, of course as a realtor I don't believe in FSBO (For Sale By Owner), here you have your biggest asset and you have a fulltime job and know you are thinking of taking on this huge endeavor, is this smart?  Do you know how much time it will take? Do you have experience in selling a home? Marketing a home, Interacting with potential buyers?  Do you know what to say and how to close the deal or negotiate?  What are these values worth?

The right realtor will make the cost of their services pay off, they will make you as much money as possible and will engage with potential buyers and buyers agents.  Well let's get down to why you are here.

Here are some steps to get your home prepared for selling for the maximum amount.

1. Curb Appeal, this is the first impressions a potential buyer will see your home, beside the pictures online.  Clean the yard, make the yard attractive, simple plants and bark in the beds can make your yard stand out from other homes for sale.

2. The first thing to do is to declutter your home, this means getting rid if all the excess items, possibly too many chairs in the living room, too much furniture is a turn off. The rooms should feel larger and by minimizing them, making the rooms look clean, larger this will give the rooms more volume. Clean your home, this means dusting, washing windows, this means deep cleaning and keep it clean, you never know when a potential buyer will want to see your home.

3.  Make necessary repairs, do a walk thru and look at everything and make a list, that is what a good inspector will do and you'll loose money on the house if there any issues. Once you have the list, prioritize the list and go over the list with your realtor, they can help make key judgments on what should be repaired or replaced.

4.  Prepare a list of what you like about the house and what repairs and improvements you've made on the property.

5.  How about another list of what shops, restaurants and other great places are around your home that buyers can associate with and can see the proximity of these places. Anything special like this: "Look thru Living room window to see the Space Needle", "Walk to the Waterfront", "Pike Place Market are within walking distance from the house".

6.  Once you hire a realtor to represent your home, they will provide a CMA, (Comparative Market Analysis) which will have comparative properties to provide you with a good idea of what your home is worth and what price range the home can sell for.  A realtor is here to provide you with details and information and it is your job top make the decision on price from t he information they have provided. It's important to try to leave the emotion out of this process and try to look at it as a business transaction. i know that's tough, but emotions get in the way of a realistic price. Emotions increase the price.  Keep your emotions out, be realistic what your home is worth, otherwise it's a waste of time to try to sell an overpriced home

7.  Tell your friends and neighbors that you are selling your home, word of mouth is an incredible power full source, utilize it. Spread the word.

With the right presentation and price and terms, it should sell fast in the right market.

Good luck on your home sale and I hope you do well.

Contact me to help you sell your home.

 

Tom Fine

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 9:30 am
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