Friday, November 30, 2007

Thursday preview

Not much to see when previewing new listings yesterday (Thursday), but here's a cool shower stall and breakfast bar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cool features I saw today

If you're new to this blog, these are photos of "cool features" from houses I previewed today. All are currently listed for sale in West Seattle. Give me a call if you'd like more details.

Perhaps it was the chilly weather, but I seemed to be captivated by fireplaces today.
The built-in eating nook and clawfoot tub looked pretty inviting as well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today's preview

These are snapshots from some of the homes I previewed today.
The first photo goes to prove the old adage, "Good fences make good neighbors."
The second photo shows a kitchen that features not only granite counter tops, but a matching granite backsplash that extends halfway up the wall!
The last photo shows a common result when a home is "short-platted" to allow townhomes to be built on the back half of the lot.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Do you need a buyer's agent?

The inside page of today's Seattle Times/P-I Real Estate section has an article about using a buyer's agent to purchase a home. (Sorry, the story isn't published online, so I can't provide a link.) Here are a few thoughts I'd like to add.

Studies show that nearly 80% of new buyers search for homes online before ever contacting a real estate agent, even if they intend to use one. I believe this is a really positive trend. Everyone benefits from being informed about what is available in the current market. But once you find a property you like and/or want to see, who do you call?

Some people think they can negotiate a better price if they contact the listing agent directly, but that is not the case. Remember that the listing agent works for the Seller. You need a Buyer's agent, who works for YOU.

It's not that difficult to find a skilled agent, but to ensure a positive buying experience, look for a skilled agent whose personality and work style align well with your own. This might take a little more time and energy, but it will be worth it. That's why it's a good idea to begin interviewing agents early -- so you are prepared to act quickly when you find that perfect house.

Where can you find a good agent? As the Times article mentions, Open Houses are a good place to meet agents. They provide the opportunity to conduct stealth interviews, since many are hosted by buyer's agents rather than the listing agent.

Additionally, ask friends and relatives about agents they have used. But don't be satisfied with lukewarm recommendations; hold out for glowing reviews! Hint: if they can't remember the agent's name without looking it up, the agent obviously wasn't that impressive. You deserve excellent representation, so be choosy!

Please call me to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. I'd love an opportunity to interview with you. 206-708-9800. alice@alicekuder.com

A glut of townhomes?

Is there an oversupply of townhomes in West Seattle? It depends upon your point of view.

What constitutes an oversupply? Certainly, there are a large number of new construction condos and townhomes coming on the market. In the past several years, developers have been buying land in the less-expensive parts of town to build multi-family housing. These units tend to be more affordable than single-family homes, allowing many first-time buyers to own a home sooner than they might otherwise have been able. In essence, condos and townhomes have become the new "starter homes" for many people.

Unfortunately for the developers, the lag time between buying the land and finishing construction hasn't timed out as well as they would have liked. The result is that there is quite of bit of this inventory on the market, but not so many buyers at the moment.

On the positive side (for buyers), this means that buyers may be able to purchase brand new units for thousands of dollars less than just a few months ago. On the other hand, the rate of appreciation on the investment in a townhome may not be as great as for a single-family residence. Keep in mind, however, that real estate is meant to be a long-term investment, not a source for quick cash (that's why "flipping" is such a risky endeavor). AND the rate of appreciation for real estate in Seattle is still incredibly strong -- over 8% last year. So if you bought a townhome recently, or are considering buying one, you are still likely to realize a significant return on your investment if you plan to own it for several years. Another advantage to buying a townhome is that when you are ready to "move up" to something larger, you may be able to keep the townhome as a rental.

What do you think? Is a townhome a good investment right now?

The following link is to a related article in the Seattle P-I.