Know Your Market

Listing at different times of year can mean tens of thousands of dollars difference in selling price. Knowing who else is listing in your area means knowing exactly what your home is competing against. This affects how quickly your home sells, and what it sells for. Knowing your market could be the key factor in getting exactly what you ask for.

If you decide to list your home for $750,000 and your neighbor with a better view one floor up has listed theirs for $735,000, there’s a good chance that will make your home look overpriced, even if it is not. Having a broker who knows your local market means when it comes time to list, you will know exactly what sells, and what is viewed as overpriced, or underpriced.

The difference is between having your home overlooked in the critical first few weeks of it being listed, and closing in a reasonable amount of time. When you have the confidence of knowing your market, your home sells faster, and you have a higher chance of getting what you ask for it.

Plan Ahead

If you’re thinking of selling, work your way backwards from the day you get an offer. Ask questions like: How do you set your home apart? When is the best time to sell? What should I list my home for? Questions like these are also easy for a competent broker to answer, and that will help you choose who to list with.

Choosing who to list with is a very important decision. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with brokers, and brokerages claiming they offer the “best” or “most personalized” services. As a result, most people looking for a broker pick the first one they meet with or have a conversation with. This certainly makes the decision process easy, but it can lead to problems down the road.

If you don’t know the right questions to ask a potential broker during a meeting, or a listing presentation, you could end up in contract with someone offering inferior service. That’s an easy way to lose valuable time and money.

Taking the time initially to learn how to select a competent broker and brokerage is a skill that pays dividends to those who learn it. Kappes Miller Real Estate Services is a brokerage with a team of brokers dedicated to answering your questions and solving your problems.

Take Your Time

When searching for a home, remember to take your time. There is natural pressure involved in the home searching process and making a decision too quickly can result in missing out on the home that’s right for you. Approaching the buying process with the intention to ‘just get it over with’ can lead to missing an opportunity to find a home that is made for you. In a perfect world, the first home you look at will be, well, perfect. You’ll be pre-approved, you’ll be moved in and the walls will already be your favorite color in less than a month!

Nothing is perfect, though, obviously. What it will probably look like is after you’ve looked at 7 homes in a weekend, you think to yourself ‘these all look the same.’ The excitement wears off, and it begins to turn into a drag, so you start wanting to just pick one already. It’s hard to support the original fantasy of being quickly moved in picture perfect when its already been a week and you feel like you haven’t found anything close to what you want.

Don’t rush. Remember that this is a process, and finding the one you really want may take time.

Buying a home may not be so impossible.

For the millennial generation, buying a home just isn’t as easy as it used to be. Many young adults are having a hard time paying their college loans, and thinking about saving money for a down payment on a house is simply not in the cards. Saving enough money to put 20% down on even a starter home in the Seattle area often looks like over $60,000 before you get qualified for the kind of loan your parents told you about. Luckily for millennials looking to purchase a home before they’re forty, it doesn’t take 20% down to get a loan anymore.

There are many options that exist in the 10% down and below range including the USDA Rural Development Loan requiring 0% down. It’s not a certain thing that everyone who applies will be able to get financed, but it’s worth looking into. With a lower down payment, you could live somewhere with a mortgage payment comparable to your current rent. If you could be building equity instead of renting for another decade, you might as well see what it takes.

Click the link to learn more!

Here's why every savvy home buyer gets pre-approved.

We’ve all heard the term pre-approved, and the name pretty much explains what it means. Pre-approval is the term for getting a credit check from a qualified lender, passing that credit check, then having your lender write a letter certifying your approval for a line of credit for a certain amount. A pre-approval letter will be attached to the offer you make on the home you find.

A pre-approval letter is something that sets buyers apart because it’s riskier as a seller to choose a buyer without a pre-approval letter. From the seller’s point of view, if there are two identical offers, but one of the buyers is not pre-approved, that could mean a longer contingency period and a chance that their home could be off-market for a period of time if the deal falls through. This could mean the difference between selling quickly and not.

From the buyer’s point of view, it is very helpful to have a pre-approval letter because it shows you where you stand financially. It helps save the time or frustration incurred after a weekend of looking at homes you love only to find out they’re out of your budget. Many real estate brokers won’t even look at homes with clients until they get pre-approved. Another bonus of pre-approval as the buyer is that when it comes time to make an offer on a given home, your offer will stand out against other buyers who are less prepared.

Having a pre-approval letter can not only lead to faster transactions, but having confidence in your budget and knowing who you are going to get your loan from offers peace of mind throughout the already hectic purchase process.

Why HOA Dues are Essential.

Every month, the time comes to pay bills. Hard earned money going towards the things that help you make more hard earned money. You’ve paid your mortgage/rent, internet, garbage, utilities, car payments and whatever else is in your bill pile, and the last thing you want to think about is paying another bill. This is the common (and understandable) way to think of HOA dues. As if you aren’t paying enough to live already, dues seem like another way to take more money from your ‘fun fund’ or 401k.. HOA dues get a bad reputation for a good reason. It’s hard to see where the money is going. This is why many would-be condominium owners opt for a house instead.

The truth about HOA’s is that they are a necessary bill to pay if you live in a condominium or a townhome. HOA dues go to what is called a reserve fund. Think of the reserve fund as the community’s piggy bank. Every condominium or townhome community consists of property, and a building or buildings that make up the community. The principal focus of the reserve fund is to fund the upkeep and upgrades to the property and building(s) as well as pay for any employees the community may require. For many condo shoppers, low HOA dues are a plus because they see it as it is less money out of their pockets. But low HOA dues are only a plus if it is a result of a healthy HOA. If it is a result of a poorly run HOA, the results can be disastrous.

A healthy HOA means the repairs and maintenance are accounted for and up to date, the residents are held accountable for missing HOA payments, and the reserve fund is kept neat and tidy. Understanding if an HOA is run well is more complicated than looking for low dues, or a well kept property. Low dues doesn’t always mean it is run well, (it can even mean the opposite) and while a well kept property is a good sign, it is nothing certain either.

A poorly run HOA may not go to the trouble to collect on delinquent HOA dues, or lower the amount of the dues because residents don’t want to pay so much per month. The association makes short-term decisions out of laziness, or a poor understanding of what the future may bring, and the result is an insufficient reserve fund when the time comes to make necessary repairs to the property and building(s). When this happens, community members will be forced to make a decision. Raise the dues (often exponentially) to compensate for the lack of funds, or cut their losses and sell their unit. All too often, the original owners sell quickly at a ‘great’ price, and the unsuspecting new owner enters a failing condominium community, assuming all of the financial responsibility of the irresponsible HOA without knowing until it is too late.

The only way you can truly find out if the condominium community you are looking to purchase a home in is run well with a healthy reserve fund is by conducting a reserve study. A reserve study is an in-depth look at how the condominium community is being run, including minutes from community meetings, how much cash the community has for future projects, and what the plans are for the community. Kappes Miller Real Estate Services is capable of providing expert reserve studies, and taking the time to explain every word to our clients. This means that when you choose Kappes Miller Real Estate Services, you will have an in-depth understanding of exactly what you are buying, down to the minutes.