Annual Real Estate Update for Kitsap County WA

At the end of each year I send out a letter to all of my clients with a 1 page update on what is happening in Kitsap County. Below is this years letter:

I hope this annual letter and calendar find you and yours doing well. Please note that your calendar starts on December 1st so go ahead and start planning next year today.

2006 has been a good year in real estate despite the doom and gloom you might have heard earlier in the year. The markets throughout the US that had the highest run up in value are the ones that had the biggest decline. Our area has done quite well. Though inventory and market time are up so is the value of your home. In general the value of your home has increased about 9% this year, a much more sustainable increase over the 20% increase of 2005.

Some Stats comparing 2006 to 2004 & 05 for Kitsap County (through Nov. 1 2006)

2004 2005 2006

# of New Listings: 5038 5237 5634

# of transactions: 3823 3871 3406

Avg. Days on Market: 65 58 63

Avg. Sale Price $254,809 $307,235 $336,299 (+9%)

If you were a seller in 2006 you had to be a bit more patient than you’ve had to have been over the past few years. You were not able to choose a list price as aggressive as in the past. Bottom line though is houses are still selling and sellers continue to see appreciation.

If you were a buyer in 2006 you’ve actually had the best of both worlds. Interest rates continue to stay low and you have more houses to choose from. The icing on the cake is that sellers have had to be a little more flexible in their sale price and have been more open to paying some of your closing costs.

I’ve developed two web resources to help you keep up with our market:


Blogsite: (see what is in store for 2007)

Politics/Taxes – This last election cycle has brought in a new County Commissioner. Since there are only 3 Commissioners involved in making decisions for us at the County level the change out of 1 can have a large impact. This last change brings with it an increased risk to your property rights and increases the likely hood of increased taxes. Now, more than ever you need to be prepared to speak out if you see something going on that you disagree with. Letters to your local and state representatives as well as letters to the editor are great tools to get your point across.

Around Town – Bremerton continues to flourish, its skyline almost unrecognizable from a few years ago. We have real, on purpose condominiums being built where in the past Kitsap has seen apartment looking condos or converted condos. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge continues its construction. Stay tuned to to sign up for your “good to go” sticker that will allow easy passage on the bridge without having to stop and pay a toll

Please have a wonderful holiday season and a safe, healthy and prosperous new year. Should you know of anyone thinking about buying or selling real estate in 2007 please let me know or if you just want a market update please feel free to call or check out one of my web resources mentioned above.

PS Sorry for the formatting, apparantly Blogger does not like info from MS Word.

Conventional Conforming Loan Limits for 2007

Though I'm not a lender this information will affect buyers in todays market.

2007 Loan Limits
for Conventional Conforming Loans

Oregon and
single-family to $417,000
two-family to $533,850
three-family to $645,300
four-family to $801,950

Thank you to Cherie Kesti of Windermere Mortgage Services for the above information;

What is in store for Kitsap County real estate in 2007.

What is in store for Kitsap County real estate in 2007.

2006 is wrapping up nicely. Homes have continued to appreciate on the average of 9% this year. Though homes are on the market a little longer and sellers are having to be a bit more flexible it is still a very good time to own a home and an even better time to be buying one. Buyers have the best of all worlds right now, interest rates are low and home choices are up.

2007 will see much of the same. It appears interest rates will continue to be low or lower than the historical average. Home values should continue to appreciate between 4 and 7%. There will be an increase in new construction over the next few years. From a consumers stand point it will be important to be able to compare homes on their attributes and not just compare cost per square foot. We are seeing builders build smaller garages, use vinyl siding, employ manmade products for molding, countertops and flooring and use various grades of lighting, linoleum and carpets. Granted, these are all attempts to build an affordable home but just be sure you can compare one home to another from an informed prospective. It is also worth a moment of time to consider having your own real estate agent represent you as your “buyers agent” instead of settling with the agent who is on site and represents the builder.

Second Home and Vacation Home Ownership

Over the past few years we have seen a large increase in second & vacation home ownership. My company, Windermere Real Estate, conducted a survey to learn more about this trend. Here are the results of that survey.

2006 Windermere Vacation Home Ownership Survey Results

Distance of vacation home
from primary residence

20% under 50 miles
23% 50 to 100 miles
16% 100 to 200 miles
41% over 200 miles

Type of home
54% Detached single-family home
23% Condominium/apartment
17% Cabin
2% Mobile home/manufactured home
4% Other

Time spent at vacation home
in the past year
8% No days
12% 1 to 7 days
40% 2 to 4 weeks
31% 1 to 3 months
7% 3 to 6 months
2% 6 months or more

Is the home rented when not in use
27% Rent out
73% Do not rent out

Likelihood the property will become their primary home when they retire
16% Very likely
20% Somewhat likely
15% Somewhat unlikely
45% Very unlikely
4% Don’t know

Real Estate Statistics for Kitsap County, WA 9/18/2006

Watching stats like these will help you determine what kind of a market you are in.
For Kitsap County Washington as of 9/18/2006

1595 Active Listings
49 Homes went Pending last week
60 Average Days on Market

$298,829 Average List Price
$295,421 Average Sale Price

99% List price to sale price ratio

32.55 weeks of inventory

Learn more about Defining Your Market.

Vacation Home Ownership Profile

Vacation Home
Ownership Profile

• About 16 percent of homeowners surveyed also own a second home.
• While boomers continue to drive the vacation-home boom, a third of vacation-home owners are under the age of 35.
• 67 percent of vacation-home owners claim sole ownership of their property. A little over a quarter of those surveyed owned their getaway jointly with family or friends.

My company, Windermere Real Estae, has been doing research and surveys about vacation home ownership. The next few entries will share that information.

Information for becoming a licensed real estate agent.

There is a lot of information available about becoming a real estate agent. One of the best places to start the information hunt is at the web page of the department of licesning of the state you hope to practice in. Washington state has just developed a new web site, here is the link:

For links to other western states DOLs please visit this web page:

Real Estate Statistics for 8/21/2006 for Kitsap County, Washington

Watching stats like these will help you determine what kind of a market you are in.
For Kitsap County Washington as of 8/21/2006

1482 Active Listings
70 Homes went Pending last week
61 Average Days on Market

$295,121 Average List Price
$291,857 Average Sale Price

99% List price to sale price ratio

21.17 weeks of inventory

Learn more about Defining Your Market.

Trick of the trade. Its not always about real estate....

All cell phone companies typically charge $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don’t have to. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial 1-800/FREE 411, or 1-800/373-3411 without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone. This works on your home telephone as well.

Real Estate Agents Take Note, Different Market, Different Customer, Same Product Which is Service!!

The real estate customer of today is very different than the real estate customer before the age of technology. Gen Xers (currently those in their 20s to 30s), currently make up about 34 percent of the real estate customers in the United States. Because of their technological “know-how,” they demand information faster then the average agent can provide it. They prefer informative advertising over persuasive advertising. They have limited loyalty and are becoming the advisors to their baby boomer parents.

With the onset of the Internet and very successful Web search portals such as Google, the real estate process can take 13 to 24 days instead of what used to be 45 to 60 days. Customers no longer need to rely on the real estate agent for information such as listing data and sold data because it’s readily available on the Internet. Studies show that a typical Gen X buyer takes an average of 13 months from the time he or she starts looking for a home until the home is purchased. Sellers take an average of nine months from the time they start thinking about selling their home until their home is sold. Studies also show that the average Gen X customer only takes a day to pick a real estate agent and 82 percent will go with the first agent that responded in a timely manner with quality information and services. We also know that 74 percent of the real estate customers start the entire process online.

What is it going to take to keep up and be a top notch real estate agent? You have to be first, fast, frequent, very professional and consistent.

Here are some ideas to think about if you haven’t already:

Are you first to get back to a customer when they e-mail you? The average Gen X customer expects a reply in two hours or less. If you cannot reply by then, it is important that you are using an autoresponder. Using an autoresponder will also allow you to attract the customer by using helpful links imbedded in your reply message, like your personal Web site or links to useful school or community information.

How fast do you respond? The successful agent will have a combo cell/PDA phone. Today your choices are numerous. Between the Trio, the Blackberry, and the Pocket PC, you can now have e-mail and listing data at your fingertips and be able to respond instantly to your customers.

How frequently do you communicate and market to new and existing customers? Studies show that average agents in the United States only market 0-6 months to a possible new customer and 0-2 times a year for an existing customer. If you fall into that once-a year-calendar, you are probably losing would-be customers. Remember, to be effective with a marketing program, it needs to deliver a message of value and a Web presence, or this new breed of customer probably won’t take the time to view it. I often receive “Just Sold” postcards in the mail, and the agent will ask for my business with the message, “For more info, please call...” The chance of me calling is slim to none. However, I do look for a Web site on that postcard where I can get online and see information on my own terms. This is typically the mind set of many of your initial customers. Having a place on the Web for information in the early stages is key to building relationships that will build your book of business.

In todays market some thoughts:
1) Don't mistake speed for accuracy...even though information gets back to you quickly...check it out.
2) Keep in mind that technology is just a tool, it does not substatute for service or relationships.
3) Don't get stuck in High Tech...No Touch, don't hide behind the tech.
4) As electronic communications increases so will the value of a handshake or hand written note.

Thank you to Mike Fanning, VP of Affiliate Developement for Windermere and a frequent contributing author to this blog.

Investing in homes for college-age kids

Investing in homes for college-age kids
There’s a new trend afoot for parents of kids bound for college. The cost of dormitories, fraternity or sorority houses or off-campus housing can be $10,000 or more a year. Rather than throw money away on four years of student housing, an increasing number of parents are opting to buy a condominium or house near the college for their kids to live in. Roommates are recruited to help defray the cost, and parents can write off mortgage interest costs, which provides a nice tax benefit. By the time graduation rolls around, parents can sell the home or keep it as part of their real estate portfolio.

Real Estate Investing 1-2-3

The 1-2-3 of Real Estate Investing

eal estate investments have soared over the past several years. According to the National Association of Realtors, about one in three homes purchased last year was for investment purposes. If you’re looking to feather your retirement nest, rental real estate not only should appreciate in value, it also provides an additional source of monthly income. If your 401(k) or other retirement plans are held in stocks and bonds, rental real estate is also a good way to diversify your investment portfolio.

If you’re thinking about taking the jump and investing in rental real estate, here are a few things to consider.

Figuring out the dollars and sense
The first step in determining whether rental property is right for you is to calculate the potential cash flow—the amount of money a property brings in and the amount you need to pay out to cover expenses. It’s not uncommon for rental properties to start out having negative cash flow—the amount you collect for rent does not cover the mortgage payment. If that is the case, you need to determine whether you feel comfortable making this additional cash outlay each month. Here’s how to estimate what your monthly cash flow will be.

1) Estimate your income
The first step is to determine the amount of rent you can charge for the property. Look at what comparable homes—same size, location, amenities— are renting for in your area. You can get a good idea by browsing the classified ads in your local paper or online. When estimating your income, allow for the amount of time that your property may be vacant. Most landlords factor in about 5 percent per year; however, figures vary depending on the current rental market in your area.

2) Tally up your expenses
Your monthly mortgage payment and property taxes are your largest expenses. You may also end up picking up the tab for utilities, such as garbage, water or gas. Again, check what comparable rental properties are offering in your market. If you do plan on paying utilities, use your own usage as a ballpark estimate.
Property insurance is another cost. Your insurance company can tell you what the premium will be if you utilize the property as a rental.

Rental properties need repairs and maintenance just like any other home. Appliances break, plumbing leaks, fixtures wear out. Figure on spending about 1 percent of the property’s value per year on maintenance, repairs and cleaning.

Finding a good tenant always pays in the long run, but it does take time and money to conduct an effective search. If you use a property management company or rental broker, include those fees. If you are conducting the tenant search yourself, add in any advertising expenses and a nominal cost, usually under $25, for running credit checks on prospective tenants.

The good news about all these operating and maintenance expenses is that they may be deducted from your rental income on your taxes. If you’re thinking about upgrading the property, keep in mind that expenses related to improvements to the property must be depreciated over time, rather than deducted in the year paid. Improvements are defined as actions that add to the value of the property or substantially prolong its life. Examples include adding a new bathroom, remodeling a kitchen, installing insulation or building a deck.

3) Calculate the cash flow
Now total all the monthly expenses and subtract that number from your estimated monthly income to determine your cash flow. To fully evaluate the investment, you also want to factor in the tax write-off benefits of depreciation. Depreciation is an accounting deduction that the IRS allows you to take for the overall wear and tear that occurs on the home over time. Only the building can be depreciated, not the land. The value of a residential structure is depreciated over 27 1/2 years at a rate of 3.64 percent of the building value per year. For example, if you buy a residential rental property for $300,000, and the building is worth $200,000, you can take $7,280 each year as a depreciation deduction ($200,000 x .0364).

In addition, if your rental property shows a loss for the year, you may be able to deduct the loss on your tax return.

Consult with your tax advisor to help determine which deductions you qualify for and other tax implications for your situation.

Lesson learned about maintaining my blog.

As you know, one of the great things about using Blogger is that is pretty easy to use....however it sometimes allows us to wonder into areas we may not be equiped to deal HTML code.

I recently added a button that messed up my blog. I fortunately had a back up to my template but somehow when I copied and pasted it back it changed everything. My posts would not show up even after republishing.

I'm now in the process of rebuilding my page so if you were used to seeing something that is now not there please let me know. I'm in the process of copying the buttons and chiclets back into place. The good news is 1) I had a back up and 2) the main content is still there.

It may take me a little time so please be patient. These things never happen when you have a lot of time on your hands to fix them.

PS I got some good help in the Blogger help group to help me realize what the problem was and to get on track to fixing it. Be patient, it can take time to get a response that is helpful but it does work.

Working with your own real estate team....always pays off!

Whether you are going to be buying or selling a home your first step should always be to assemble your real estate team.

Your agent is the first step. Choose one you can trust, who is knowledgeable and who can introduce your to other team members.

Your lender, if you are buying, is the next critical player. Your real estate agent should be able to give you a couple of choices from which you can interview and make a choice. This person should be of your choosing and they should be local. Someone you can look in the eye and shake hands with. Don’t jump at the bait laid out for you by internet offers or builder lenders. See the attached article about things to watch out for with builders lenders.

Your agent should also be able to tell you about title and escrow companies. Making choices you are comfortable with makes it easier for you to trust and rely on what you learn from them when you have questions or concerns.

Growth, Land Use, Development, issues affecting you and your community regardless of where you live.

Mike Eliason is the Government Affairs Director for the Kitsap County Association of Realtors and a great asset to our organization. States, Cities and Counties are struggling with the issue of land use, growth and development across the United States. Though this article pertains to Washington State and Kitsap County you may find that it resonates with you and your area.

Be prepared and plan for our
state’s continuing growth
By Mike Eliason, Association Executive
Kitsap County
Association of REALTORS®

Washington’s population is on target to grow by a million people during this decade. In 2004 the growth in families — our friends’, neighbors’, and our own — accounted for more than half of the 88,000 new Washingtonians. The rest came here to take advantage of the Northwest’s legendary quality of life: a beautiful natural setting and the jobs and opportunity offered by an awakening economy. Protecting that quality of life should be among our highest priorities. There’s only one way to ensure growing population doesn’t erode Washington’s legacy: prepare now for the growth we know is coming.

The most important aspect of planning is making sure people will have a place to live, preferably near their workplace. Determining where people live also dictates how they — and the rest of us — will live. Families who cannot find homes close to work must commute. Adding commuters to the freeway doesn’t help air quality or freeway congestion. Commuters are less likely than residents to shop in local stores or eat in community restaurants. Because they spend so much time commuting, they are less likely to have time to volunteer in schools, churches, and local government.

Making sure people can find a home means ensuring a supply of homes that is diverse in location, price, and style. Some people want a garden and a lawn where the kids can play, while others prefer the freedom from chores that a condo offers. Some people prefer the peace and quiet of rural life to the hustle and bustle of living in the city. Still others need a flexible floor plan that can accommodate elderly relatives.

Big or little, urban or rural, expensive or modest, all homes require a fundamental ingredient: land. Creating homes means we must plan to make land available for use in the way that residents need it. We must allow consumers the maximum amount of flexibility possible in home styles and uses. That’s the best way to make the most efficient use of what little land is available for homes, and to create choices people want and need.

One of the aspects of new neighborhoods people say they want most is green space. Parks, lawns, and green borders to roads and walks help to create healthy and prosperous neighborhoods. Medical studies show that green space has a calming effect that can reduce stress, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Parks encourage people to go outside and exercise, which helps reduce obesity. Trees, bushes, and other plants cool us in hot weather, soak up rain water in the winter, and clean water by filtering run-off year ‘round.

Carefully planned growth also is good for our economic health. Growth and development are signs of a healthy community. A growing population helps support community services. That adds up to fewer costs to existing residents for services, such as parks, recreation, schools, and transportation. New residents in a community enhance the vitality of neighborhoods and commercial areas. New and expanding businesses mean more jobs and more choices for goods and services for everyone.

Some hope to stop growth by refusing somehow to admit it or recognize it. But tightening the lid on a boiling pot just guarantees we’ll all get burned when it boils over. Washington families are not expected to stop having children. And as long as our economy thrives, jobs and opportunity will lure new residents to our neighborhoods, our workplace, and our parks. Population will continue to grow and we must plan now to accommodate it in the most constructive way.

Closing our eyes to inevitable growth leaves us unprepared, and that hurts new and current residents alike. Traffic congestion, environmental degradation, economic stagnation and poor housing choices are just a few of the consequences. In fact, most of the negative things people associate with growth are really tied to poor growth planning. Hoping for no growth doesn’t mean the growth won’t come. It just means we won’t be ready when it does.

If elected officials, community planners, businesses, and residents work together we can ensure we have the open space, sidewalks, roads, and utilities our community needs. Jobs and homes should be prominent in plans for improving quality of life. We must encourage a variety of housing choices and provide opportunities for businesses to start up or expand. Then, as families grow and business thrives, we will be able to support and improve our quality of life.

Factors That Affect Home Pricing

Factors that affect home pricing
• Location • What the owners paid for the home
• Style, size & condition of the home • Amount of money spent on improvements
• Unique aspects of the property • Redecorating costs
• Time of year & market conditions • What a neighbor’s home sold for last year
• How quickly the owner needs to sell • Amount of cash the seller needs


Deer, originally uploaded by Frankly Real Estate.

Spring time in the Northwest

Interesting Real Estate Facts

The average buyer buys a home within 12 miles of their previous home.

Where did the average buyer first learn about the house they purchased:
36% From their real estate agent
24% From the internet
15% From a yard sign

81% of Buyers used a Real Estate Agent

Buyers typicaly took 8 weeks to find their home and looked at 11 homes before buying one.

Stay tuned for more real estate facts..........Source is The 2005 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Younger Generations Spend More on Housing

Interesting Article from our Realtor Magazine;

Survey: Younger Generations Spend More on Housing

(May 10, 2006) -- A recent survey of home buyers in three generations — Gen Y (those born between 1979 and 1994), Gen X (born between 1978 and 1965), and baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) — show that the two younger generations are outspending boomers in their first home purchase.

Both of the younger generations also devote a larger portion of their salaries to housing costs, according to the survey, conducted by Century 21 Real Estate. The goal of the survey was to understand and compare the experiences of the first-home purchase among members of three different generations.

Unlike boomers who purchased their first homes in response to life events such as a marriage or birth, financial incentives motivate both Gen X and Gen Y buyers with investment value cited as the “key driver” by the Century 21 survey with 42 percent of Gen X respondents and 39 percent of Gen Y respondents citing a “safe investment” as the reason for purchase.

A similar business-like approach is applied to the home search and purchase. “These guys don’t get caught up in the process. They’re very bottom-line oriented and results oriented,” says John Tuccillo, former NAR chief economist and principal of John Tuccillo Associates, an economics and business consulting firm in Virginia.

“Don’t expect them to fall in love with the property,” he cautions. “What matters is whether the house works for them and whether it’s a good deal.”

“Real estate professionals shouldn’t only get to know this group, they should also begin to look at their own materials, particularly Web sites, from the perspective of this demographic,” Tuccillo says.

A higher proportion of younger buyers use the Internet. For Gen Y it ranked as the primary source of home shopping information according to the survey. Experts such as Tuccillo and Melody Bohrer, vice president for education for ERA Real Estate say that being able to remain anonymous while they gather information is a top criterion for younger buyers.

Less relationship oriented than boomers, younger buyers are also more likely than boomers to say “next” if a salesperson doesn’t meet their expectations. However, Bohrer says, “They will be loyal if you work the way they want.”

By Camilla McLaughlin for REALTOR® Magazine Online

Real Estate Statistics for Kitsap County Washington 5/7/2006

Watching stats like these will help you determine what kind of a market you are in.
For Kitsap County Washington as of 5/7/2006

983 Active Listings
59 Homes went Pending last week
61 Average Days on Market

$275,900 Average List Price
$273,560 Average Sale Price

99% List price to sale price ratio

16.7 weeks of inventory

Learn more about Defining Your Market.

When Buying a Home in a Sellers Market......

When buying a home in a sellers market you need to think like the seller and like the listing agent (the agent representing the seller). Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when writing your offer:

1) Make sure you are working with an agent who represents you in your real estate transaction. You may want to sign a buyers agency agreement, this will ensure the agent you are working with will look out for your best interests and will bring their knowledge and tools to bear to help increase your chances of success. Bonus.....Typically the agent is being compensated by the seller so you have nothing to loose.

2) Use a local lender, not an out of state lender or internet mortgage company. When the going gets rough it is easier to walk into their office to ask for help and there will be more leverage from your agent to ensure the transaction closes on time.

3) Maintain the separation of church and state.....what I mean here is there seems to be a trend of real estate agents also wanting to play the role of mortgage broker. This is not in your best interest. The checks and balances that come into play will work in your best interest. Plus if your loan can not go through you want to be able to direct your mortgage to another company without loosing the relationship you've built with your real estate agent.

These are just a few ideas to increase your chances of success when purchasing a home in a sellers market.....check back often for more. Click here for more ideas and how to define the market you are in now.

Homes in Kitsap: Meeting With Kitsap County Tax Assessor, Jim Avery

Homes in Kitsap: Meeting With Kitsap County Tax Assessor, Jim Avery
Dave Jones in his blog, at writes about a visit to our office by the County Assessor, Jim Avery. Despite what many might think increasing property values do not equate to increased taxes. Also great information on senior exemptions, check out his blog!

Buying or selling.....make your decisions based on your core beliefs.

Buying or selling.....make your decisions based on your core beliefs.

Before buying or selling anything you should first consult with your core beliefs. For instance if you were in the need of a new car and you felt that over the long run gas prices were going to trend downward and eventually stay low than gas consumption would not be an issue in your decision making process.

If you are in your 30's or 40's considering health insurance and the plan you are reviewing does not provide for prescription drug coverage, you have to ask yourself....." I more likely or less likely to need prescription drugs in my future?"

This kind of base thinking helps you to make long term decisions.

What brings this topic up in today's blog is that I just traded e-mails with a person who lives in the Northwest, lets call him Tom. His concern is that the real estate bubble is about to burst and prices and values of properties are about to drop. Needless to say, if you've been reading this blog, we do not agree on this point.

Even though we do not agree we are both right, for the moment, based on our core beliefs.

Tom believes that the real estate run up has run its course and that the type of appreciation we have seen can not be sustained for the simple reason that if it went on who could afford a house? The price would soon out strip the general publics ability to buy. So his decision, for now is to wait. Perhaps for interest rates to come down, perhaps for inventory to go up, or maybe for home values to fall. In any case based on his core beliefs of today's market he has made a decision and is on a plan.

I understand that some may think I'm jaded, that my sole goal is to go list and sell more houses. That my job is to sell the idea of home ownership. To a degree this is correct. I think homeownership is one of the greatest things we have going for us in this country. I know that people in other countries would love to have the same opportunities that we have in the United States. We have choices of where we work, where we live, if and when we want to buy a home, if and when we want to start a family and when we do go to buy a home we have choices in style, price and almost an endless array of mortgage programs that allow even the youngest of us to be able to afford our first home.

Yes, over the past 18 months or so many markets have seen a double digit run up in values. Some of these areas may even see a roll back in the coming year. I think what sets the Northwest apart, for now, is the short supply of houses to meet the current demand by buyers. Even if our home values only go up by 8 to 10% this year, you are still way ahead of the game than if you were to choose to pay rent.

So, my answer to buyers who are considering whether or not they should buy would be....................YES! If you are going to be staying in the area for at least 3 now.

Interview and choose a good real estate agent, have them recommend a good lender, meet with that lender, get a good faith estimate. Choose a home that meets your needs and buy it. Because my core belief says that home prices in our area will hold due to increased government intervention it is becoming harder and harder to build, we are having more and more people who need homes and this is a pretty great place to live and bring up a family.

Five Reasons to Remodel

Five reasons to remodel

1. You love your neighborhood.
You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood—whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations—that you just can’t
re-create somewhere else. If you
love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.

2. You like your current home’s floor plan.
The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream house. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.

3. You’ve got a great yard.
Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you can’t find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.

4. You can get exactly the home you want.
Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.

5. It may make better financial sense.
In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. I can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell. The chart on the back page shows some examples of remodeling return on investment.

Link to Five Reasons to Move

Move or Remodel, Five Reasons to Move.

Move or Remodel

ow to make the best choice

There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing and wiring, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.

Five reasons to move

1. Your current location just isn’t working.
Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you can’t change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change that’s a good reason, too. Some people simply are tired of their old homes and want to move on.

2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.
Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.

3. There’s a good chance you’ll move soon anyway.
If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.

4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.
This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add two small children. Increasing the space needed to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, I can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for that same investment.

5. You don’t like remodeling.
Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of losing use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there’s choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it’s easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.

Go to this link to see a chart how your remodel cost will affect your value.

Real Estate Statistics for 4/10/2006, Kitsap County Washington

Watching stats like these will help you determine what kind of a market you are in.
For Kitsap County Washington as of 4/10/2006

919 Active Listings
51 Homes went Pending last week
59 Average Days on Market

$275,917 Average List Price
$273,496 Average Sale Price

99% List price to sale price ratio

18 weeks of inventory

Learn more about Defining Your Market.

Looking a bit stormy?

Though this has little to do with the business of real estate, for those of us who like to look out the window from time to time you may find this interesting.

Beaufort Scales (Wind Speed)

Force Speed Name Conditions
at Sea
on Land
Calm Sea like a mirror. Smoke rises vertically.
Light air Ripples only. Smoke drifts and leaves rustle.
Light breeze Small wavelets (0.2 m). Crests have a glassy appearance. Wind felt on face.
8-11 Gentle breeze Large wavelets (0.6 m), crests begin to break. Flags extended, leaves move.
Moderate breeze Small waves (1 m), some whitecaps. Dust and small branches move.
Fresh breeze Moderate waves (1.8 m), many whitecaps. Small trees begin to sway.
Strong breeze Large waves (3 m), probably some spray. Large branches move, wires whistle, umbrellas are difficult to control.
Near gale Mounting sea (4 m) with foam blown in streaks downwind. Whole trees in motion, inconvenience in walking.
Gale Moderately high waves (5.5 m), crests break into spindrift. Difficult to walk against wind. Twigs and small branches blown off trees.
Strong gale High waves (7 m), dense foam, visibility affected. Minor structural damage may occur (shingles blown off roofs).
Storm Very high waves (9 m), heavy sea roll, visibility impaired. Surface generally white. Trees uprooted, structural damage likely.
Violent storm Exceptionally high waves (11 m), visibility poor. Widespread damage to structures.
Hurricane 14 m waves, air filled with foam and spray, visibility bad. Severe structural damage to buildings, wide spread devastation.

Note: wave heights apply to the open sea; waves in sheltered waters will be lower and steeper. As sailors know, other factors such as swell and depth can also modify wave heights.

Are Washington State Home Prices Headed Up?

Legislative inaction pushes home prices up.

OLYMPIA, Wash.The Legislature’s failure to act on key housing legislation virtually guarantees that home prices in Washington state will continue their dizzying spiral upward, Washington Realtors said today.

“The state’s growing population is increasing the demand for homes beyond the supply — and that spells price increases,” said Terry Sullivan, the 2006 president of The Washington Realtors. “We proposed four measures to release some of the pressure on the housing market, but these bills — and Washington homeowners — weren’t a priority for enough legislators this year.”

According to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at WSU, many counties experienced dramatic increases in home prices last year: Clark County, 26.8 percent; King County, 17.8 percent; Pierce County, 21.4 percent; Spokane County, 21.5 percent; and Thurston County, 29.2 percent. Across the state, home prices increased by an average of 19 percent last year.

Sullivan said those increases were not likely to slow, since the Legislature did nothing to relieve pressure on the housing market.

“The law of supply and demand is the reason for these huge price jumps: the supply of housing simply can’t meet the demand. But it’s not just home buyers who suffer,” explained Sullivan. “When home prices shoot up, so do property values and property taxes. And, people have to buy homes further and further from where they work, which clogs freeways and pressures already-strapped government to build more roads.”

Although the state’s Growth Management Act requires state and local governments to plan for growth, many have not. The result is a loss of affordable housing, which affects the entire community.

Washington Realtors encouraged the Legislature to take four simple steps to ease the state’s housing crunch:

§ No Net Housing Loss: HB 2217, which died in the House Appropriations committee, would have required that local Growth Management plans result in no net loss of housing; balance job-creation with homes employees would need locally; and include performance measures to ensure progress toward managing growth.

§ Accessory Dwelling Units: HB 2323, which died in the House Rules committee, would have required local government to increase affordable rental housing by allowing “accessory dwelling units,” such as apartments over garages and “mother-in-law” apartments.

§ Lot size averaging: HB 2325, which died in Senate Governmental Operations committee, would have made fuller use of existing land by allowing a single building lot to be divided into two or more lots, as long as the averaged area of all resulting lots were not less than the legally required minimum lot size.

§ Housing Tax Incentives: HB 1742 died in the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Consumer Protection committee. The bill would have allowed all cities and towns, not just those with populations over 30,000, to establish a property tax exemption program for multi-unit housing.

“Ignoring growth doesn’t prevent it, anymore than ignoring traffic will make it go away,” said Sullivan. “By not addressing the challenges that population growth brings, legislators are consigning Washington residents to sprawl, leap-frog development, more traffic congestion, and higher property taxes.”

Between 1980 and 2000, the total state population grew to 5.9 million, a 30-percent increase over 20 years. State demographers predict Washington’s population will continue to grow by 1 percent per year, increasing to 8.3 million by 2030.

The Washington Realtors represent about 170,000 homebuyers each year, and the interests of more than 2 million homeowners throughout the state. The Washington Realtors’ membership numbers about 24,000 statewide, making it the largest professional organization in the state. The organization’s top public policy priority is building communities that have a strong economy, attractive housing choices, excellent schools and parks, safe neighborhoods, and good transportation choices.

Does it pay to Remodel your home?

Top 10 remodeling projects
(based on return on investment)

Improvement Job cost Value at
Return on
1. Siding Replacement
$10,393 $10,771 103.6%
2. Bathroom Remodel
$10,499 $10,727 102.2%
3. Minor Kitchen Remodel
$14,913 $14,691 98.5%
4. Siding Replacement
$7,239 $6,914 95.5%
5. Second-Story Addition
$80,133 $75,831 94.6%
6. Attic Bedroom
$39,188 $36,649 93.5%
7. Bathroom Remodel
$26,052 $24,286 93.2%
8. Major Kitchen Remodel
$43,862 $39,920 91.0%
9. Deck
$11,294 $10,196 90.3%
10. Basement Remodel
$51,051 $46,010 90.1%

Factors That Affect Home Pricing

Factors That Affect Home Pricing



Style, size & condition of the home

Unique aspects of the property

Time of year & market conditions

How quickly the owner needs to sell


What the owners paid for the home

Amount of money spent on improvements

Redecorating costs

What a neighbor’s home sold for last year

Amount of cash the seller needs

Real Estate Statistics for Kitsap County Washington 3/6/2006

Watching stats like these will help you determine what kind of a market you are in.
For Kitsap County Washington as of 3/6/2006

888 Active Listings
85 Homes went Pending last week
55 Average Days on Market

$276,801 Average List Price
$274,800 Average Sale Price

99% List price to sale price ratio

10.45 weeks of inventory

Learn more about Defining Your Market.

Avoiding Costly Mold Problems In Your Home

How homeowners can avoid costly mold problems

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, mold has become a hot issue. Health concerns and potential damage make mold a red flag for buyers. And even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, taking care of mold problems now can help prevent bigger problems in the future. Contrary to what some people think, mold is not a geographic problem—it can occur anywhere, no matter where you live. Here is some basic information about mold and how to deal with it.

What is mold?

Molds are microscopic organisms that are found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. There are thousands of different kinds of mold. Their natural function is to help break down dead materials such as stumps and leaves so the nutrients can be used by the environment. For molds to grow, they need two things: an organic food source—such as leaves, wood, paper or dirt—and moisture.

Problems associated with mold

Mother Nature uses mold to decompose plant material. Unfortunately, when present indoors, it can be equally destructive. Mold growth can damage furnishings, such as carpets, sofas and cabinets. Left unchecked, it can also cause serious damage to walls and structural elements in your home.

Mold is present everywhere, and most people tolerate exposure with no adverse effects. If allowed to spread, however, it may cause problems. As molds grow, they release thousands of tiny spores that travel through the air. When inhaled in large enough amounts, these spores may increase the risk of adverse health effects in some people, particularly respiratory problems. A less-common strain of mold called “black mold” can be particularly troublesome to those who are especially sensitive.

Common causes of mold problems

Don’t think that just because you live in a hot, dry climate, your home is not vulnerable to mold. There are many sources of mold problems, from faulty air conditioners to poorly positioned sprinkler systems. Federal standards for energy-efficient home-building have even contributed to the problems. By making homes more airtight, construction techniques in newer homes also trap moisture inside.

Here are the most common sources of mold inside the home:

· Flooding
· Leaky roofs or damaged gutters
· Heating or cooling system problems
· Poor drainage next to foundation
· Plumbing leaks from toilets, refrigerators and dishwashers
· Damp basement or crawl space
· Leaking windows or doors
· Steam from shower or cooking
· Indoor exhaust from clothes dryers

What to look for

If you can see or smell mold inside your home, it’s time to take measures. Any area that has sustained past or ongoing water damage should be thoroughly inspected—you may find hidden mold growth in water-damaged walls, floors or ceilings. Walls and floors that are warping or discolored can also indicate moisture problems, as can condensation on windows or walls.

Preventing mold in your home

Since mold is always present, there’s no way to eliminate it completely. You can control indoor mold growth, however, by controlling moisture.

1 Remove the source of moisture by fixing any leaks or other water problems.

2 Make sure bathroom fans and dryers are properly vented to the outside. Always use the exhaust fan when cooking or showering.

3 Use a dehumidifier or air-conditioning system. Make sure your AC system is well maintained and is the correct size for your home. A faulty AC system can cool the air without removing the water vapor, creating high humidity.

4 Insulate your home well to prevent indoor condensation.

5 Have your heating, ventilation and cooling systems professionally cleaned annually. Air-duct systems can easily become contaminated with mold.

6 Regularly clean moist areas such as the bathroom with products that treat mildew.

7 Dry-clean, rather than wet-clean, your carpets.

8 Avoid carpeting bathrooms and basements.

9 Clean any moldy surfaces as soon as you notice them.

Mold clean-up

Mold is a manageable problem. Unless it is dealt with correctly, however, it will continue to come back. If your mold problem is severe or if you have extensive water damage, it’s best to call an experienced, professional contractor who specializes in mold removal. If you have a mold problem that is isolated to a small area, less than a square yard or so, you can try to resolve it yourself.

Porous items that are hard to clean, such as carpet and drapes, should be discarded. Moldy Sheetrock and ceiling tiles can be removed and replaced.

Hard, nonabsorbent surfaces such as glass, plastic and metal can be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. Allow to dry completely.

For solid items that are semi-porous, such as floors, cabinets and wood furniture, scrub with an ammonia-free cleaner and hot water to remove all mold. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly. After cleaning, apply a mildewcide to kill mold and spores.

When cleaning mold, remember to wear gloves, a mask and eye protection, and work in a well-ventilated area. Throw away any sponges or rags that you use for cleaning.

Attention Real Estate Agents.....2005 is over, 2006 will be different!

As we launch off on a new year I'm amazed at how many agents I work with that think they dialed in their business last year. They are busy congratulating themselves of their brilliance when in fact all they have done is confused market for genius.

Last year was a great year, for many real estate professionals it was their best year. The challenge is that they can not expect to conduct their business this year as they did last year and get the same results. Why......because the market has changed. New market conditions will require a new or different approach. And, not only is the market changing, but so are our buyers and sellers.

One of the exciting aspects of being a real estate agent is that we have to be adaptable. I liken our agents to the down hill skiers we've been watching on the Olympics. Each day they race down the same hill yet each day it is different. The temperature, wind direction, texture of the snow.....all conditions they have to deal with yet over which they have no control. Much like the real estate agent who has no control over market, interest rates, inventory or clients timing, they too must adapt to the conditions.

The importance of face to face real estate offer presentations.

In the age of fax and e-mail, we tend to know one another by the color of our print and not by the content of our character. Hats off to modern technology, but there is no substitute for doing business face-to-face. This holds true….most especially…in making an offer on a house.

It is unfortunate that in today’s high tech, low touch environment we find real estate agents doing the old “drop and run” or “fax and forget” approach to delivering an offer to the other party. With low commissions comes low service and face to face communications upfront can off set problems down the road.

Meeting the seller and listing agent face to face improves communication and leads to more successful negotiations. Most communication is non-verbal. Body language, tone of voice and nuances of the negotiating process cannot be faxed. Presenting an offer personally to the seller improves the opportunity to provide important supporting details such as flexibility in timelines for inspections and closing. And if the buyer’s agent has his or her client on stand by or nearby, the seller’s counter-offer can be addressed on the spot and the transaction inked that hour. No waiting; no chance that a higher offer might come the next morning to trump your bid.

The risk of miscommunication is lowered when all the parties are present to ask and answer questions and clarify intent. “We weren’t sure what you meant by that” doesn’t end as a fly in the ointment of the agreement.

The additional benefits of a personal presentation to the seller are that his or her agent can provide data supporting the offering price and provide advocacy in the event of multiple offers. Conversely, the listing agent can provide additional background on the seller and the offer that don’t’ find their way into the ink.

Lastly, a tremendous value flows from the agents meeting face-to-face. Nothing serves the interests of the clients more than a smooth working relationship between their respective agents. In many real estate sales these days, the agents (let alone their clients) never are in the same room together. When rough spots appear, and with no feel and empathy for the other agent, it’s difficult to smooth the way for solutions.

Best advice……always have your agent present all offers personally. If they can’t present to both the listing agent and the seller then the agents should at least meet face to face to review the terms of the contract. Though this takes a little extra effort on your agents part the advantages to both the buyer and seller far outweigh the impersonal convenience of the fax. An enthusiastic and warm human being looking you in the eye sells a home or a buyers perspective better than sterile print staring at you from a cold page.

This should be a discussion you have up front with your real estate agent even before you hire them.

Kitsap County Real Estate Statistics for 1/28/2006

Watching stats like these will help you determine what kind of a market you are in.
For Kitsap County Washington as of 1/28/2006

875 Active Listings
52 Homes went Pending last week
53 Average Days on Market

$280,040 Average List Price
$278,093 Average Sale Price

99% List price to sale price ratio

16.8 weeks of inventory

Learn more about Defining Your Market.

Kitsap County Washington Real Estate Market Trend

We've been talking about the real estate market, not only in Kitsap County but through out the U.S. Here is a good graphic represetnation showing the trend in our neck of the woods since January of 2000. This may well apply to your area as well.

The top, magenta line shows number of active listings on the market.

The middle, darker line shows the number of new listing which came on the market that month.

The bottom yellow line shows the number of transactions that went pending in the month.

As you can see the overall trend is downward for number of listings available for buyers to see even though the number of buyers, represented by the transactions that went pending, the dark line, has stayed constant.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 30 to 45 days as our annual spring market developes.

Kitsap County Housing Snap Shot

Kitsap County home owners saw on average a 20% increase in their investment last year. Will it continue in 2006???

Here is what we are seeing today.
Absorption rate has gone from 10 weeks of inventory to 20 weeks over the last 6 months. This represents a slowing of the market, longer market time, not as many mulitiple offer situations and if this trend contiunues perhaps a shift from a sellers market to more of a buyers market.

Will it shift....too soon to tell. The slowing could be a result of the holidays, this effect is not uncommon. We will know more by the end of February which is when the spring market typically starts.

Stay tuned and I'll let you know.

FHA Eases Requirements on Mandatory Repairs

Buyers often find themselves in a catch 22. They find a house that they can afford but it needs repair, which is why it is priced low enough for them to even look at in the first place. The repairs are identified, the buyers are ready and willing to make the repairs but FHA or VA will not allow the buyer to participate in the repair work and seller is unwilling to make them. What is a buyer to do?????

This article in Realtor Magazine is good news for FHA buyers, we can only hope the VA follows suit.

FHA Eases Requirements on Mandatory Repairs

(January 13, 2006) -- The Federal Housing Administration hopes that easing rules on property conditions and mandatory repairs will allow the agency to reclaim a larger share of the overall housing market.

Lenders, real estate professionals, home buyers, and sellers should welcome the move because it will now allow a mortgage to close on a previously owned home even if minor defects—such as leaky faucets, cracked sidewalks, soiled carpeting, and missing handrails on stairways—have not been fixed beforehand. The mandatory repair rule for FHA loans—which turned many away from the agency—now will apply only to more serious defects such as structural problems, foundation damage, poor roofing, and electrical hazards.

The FHA currently has a 3 percent share of the mortgage financing market, compared with 11 percent less than a decade ago; but the change might allow the agency to loosen the grip that subprime lenders have taken on first-time, moderate-income buyers.

Source: New London Day (CT) (01/13/06); Harney, Kenneth