I hope everyone had a wonderful 2010 full of happy memories to reflect on!
As most of you know, this past year has definitely proved to be another challenging one on the economy and our local real estate market has continued to see a downward trend. Overall, we continued to see prices drop and foreclosures increase. The least hit areas of Puget Sound have lost 20% of their value from the 2006/2007 peak, and many outlying areas are off by as much as 40%. Sad to say, the slide is not finished. Although prices are lower than they have been for at least 7 years, we are poised to lose another 10-15%, conservatively, in the next 18 months. If you need to know how this could affect any plans you have as a buyer or seller, please contact me for a consultation.
However, as we all struggle with a one of the largest recessions most of us have seen in our lifetime, we are reminded of what is truly important. Money and wealth, although important for living to a certain degree, do not mean as much as we sometimes emphasize. As we learn to live on less, budget our money more and live a simpler life, we often grow in other areas… such as our relationships. Hard times can remind us of the truly important things in life; family, good friends, our health and supporting one another and our communities. We are reminded that these things are what have true meaning in our lives.
In my own career, many changes have occurred over the last year. One of the largest changes I have made is expanding the services and knowledge I have regarding distressed properties. Unfortunately, the majority of the homeowners I meet are under water and owe more on their homes than what the home itself is worth. For those who have a real need to sell, this usually means they must either let the bank foreclose or take on a “short sale”. A short sale is a sale of a home where the home has more liabilities on it than what it can sell for in today’s market. In these scenarios, we can often sell the home and request the mortgage holder (the bank who holds the mortgage) to take the loss. For the bank, it makes sense as they would incur a similar loss if they foreclosed. For the seller, this can help them to avoid foreclosure so they can rebuild their credit more quickly. It also allows them to live in their home as we sell it and give them a sense of dignity. If the owner has stayed on top of their mortgage payment, they will walk away with their credit minimally damaged; sometimes as little as 30 points on their credit score.
These sales require an agent with expertise in much more than just selling homes and negotiating contracts. We now find ourselves coordinating the seller’s financial documents with the bank and directly communicating with the bank to present offers and determine the banks exact loss. This process adds 30-90 days onto a regular transaction and requires hours of work each week as we directly deal with a bank representative in helping them understand our market, the homes value and why they should accept the loss. There are many agents out there today that will tell you they specialize in short sales however, there are more intricacies to it than just getting it approved. One of the major issues with a short sale is what the bank could require the seller to do as part of their approval terms. These terms are sometimes written in the fine print and can hold the seller responsible down the future for repayment of the loss. It is vital sellers in a short sale position have an agent that is well versed in short sales and able to walk them through all the steps including making sure they pay attention to what the final acceptance terms will really mean for them. This final step should include legal counsel from an appropriate source.
To help our clients to the fullest extent, I have called in the cavalry and teamed up with some of the people I trust the most…my family! My older and younger sisters have joined my team and the 3 of us work hand-in-hand to make every aspect of selling or buying real estate as transparent as possible. My older sister Kailee (pronounced Ky-Lee), who we like to call Kai (Ky), has been a licensed real estate broker for over 9 years. At one time she owned and managed an office of over 20 agents. She now oversees my entire team and specializes in helping our client’s short sale properties. She is a CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) and is extremely passionate about helping our clients through this delicate process. My younger sister Bethanie has been in the business for over 8 years. She lives in North King County and manages our north end clientele in North King and Snohomish Counties while I work Eastside, South King County and Pierce County. We are also happy to announce the addition of a long time family friend, Matt Ness. With 3 years in real estate and over 25 years in the construction industry, he adds extensive value with his knowledge of building, remodeling and the construction of homes. This proves helpful in many areas of our business and especially during the inspection phase of a transaction. Lastly, we are excited about the addition of a new helping hand and integral part of our team, Hugh, Kailee’s husband. Hugh manages all our transactions once we put them together to make sure every detail is cared for. Hugh helped Kai run their past real estate business and also brings extensive knowledge in the real estate industry. It’s great fun to work with my family everyday and we all share the same passion… it’s our family helping yours.
I am also proud to announce that this past year, our team placed #1 in overall sales for the entire RE/MAX Company in the State of Washington and #2 in the Region (WA, OR, ID, MT). We are even more honored to announce that we have won Best in Client Satisfaction by SEATTLE Magazine for the 6th year in a row! These honors can all be attributed to you! We are very grateful for your business and the referrals you send. Referrals are the very foundation of our business and without them, we simply would not succeed. Please continue to send your friends, family and co-workers our way and we promise to continue giving them 110%! With the recent expansion of our team, we now serve King, Pierce and Snohomish counties!
In the upcoming months we will be sending other helpful information and market updates. Our popular Cost VS. Value report will be headed your way in just a few weeks. This valuable information helps you to determine what the return on various remodeling projects will yield you. The report is specific to our current Seattle region and today’s market. We will also be sending you information on our new website features which are about to be launched that include ways for you to view sales in your neighborhood and what your homes value currently is with just a couple clicks of your mouse. We have many exciting things in store for this upcoming year and we can’t wait to share them with you.
We wish you all a fabulous 2011! Make it a great year and don’t forget to keep the truly important things in your life in first place…your family, friends and relationships.
All the best,
Alise Roberts, ABR, ASP, CDPE, CRS, REALTOR