Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team – Fall Newsletter 2013 (mailed 10/18/13) – State of the Market, Winterizing your Home, When to Short Sell, and more

Dear Clients and Friends, 

What an exciting year 2013 has been for real estate so far.  I am sure you have heard the buzz of multiple offers returning to the market place.  Homes selling in a few days.  Home prices soaring.  But is that the whole story?  What does it all mean?

Please read our newsletter below to learn more about:

–  the State of the Market,

            –  Our New Listings,

            –  Keeping an Underwater Home and Short Sales, and

            –  Winterizing

State of the Market and Home Values:

Multiple offers on many homes are commonplace in the city, especially homes that do not fall into the category of short sales or fixers. Buyers prefer turn-key homes because lending is easier to obtain for these homes. Many buyers shy away from short sale homes because short sales can be difficult to negotiate and take a long time to close.

Buyers are having to compete for homes due to low inventory and increased buyer confidence. The low inventory of homes for sale can mostly be attributed  to the large number of “underwater” homeowners who are discouraged to sell because they owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth.  If prices continue to go up, more current home owners who have held off selling due to negative equity might list their home and offer more inventory and choices to home buyers.

The median home value in Seattle has increased about 15% over the last year (source: Zillow) and currently is at about $433,000. If you are interested in learning about the current value of your home, please feel free to contact us to get a free, no obligation comparative market analysis (CMA).

Recently, Bernard Bernanke startled many by announcing that the Fed will not wind down their bond buying program at this time. The program is part of an overall stimulus package geared at bringing back the national economy. The Fed’s purchase of these bonds over the last few years has driven mortgage rates to historic lows. The fear by many that there would be a reduction in bond purchases has caused mortgage rates to go upward briefly for a few months but for now, further rate increases seem less likely at least in the immediate future. This should continue to help keep housing affordable and aid the overall upward trend in the real estate market.

Our New Listings

Updated Mid-Century on large, private lot in Lynnwood.  $335,000. 3 bed/2 bath home on .31 acre lot! Large living room and dining room offer lots of space for play or entertainment.  French doors lead to large, private patio. Large master bedroom with beautifully updated bathroom. Don’t miss the soaking tub perfect for cooler fall and winter days. Plumbing has been updated.  Interior: 1608sqft / Lot 13,000sqft. + outbuilding for additional storage. Close to Interurban Trail, South Lynnwood Neighborhood Park. Easy access to I5, Hwy 99 & Transit Center. 6121 211th St SW.

Spacious Capitol Hill Condo.  $375,000.  1bd/1bth. Don’t miss this. Units are rarely available in Three19, a well-managed, newer building. This bright & spacious SE corner unit has tons of windows, hardwood floors& two decks. It offers custom blinds, closets & light fixtures as well as a gas FP, gas range, common garage parking & full-sized washer/dryer. You will have enough storage space with a walk-in closet, coat closet, pantry (yes!), laundry closet and a large storage unit. It shouts sophistication and style with its tasteful finishes. HO Dues $389/month, 819 SQF. 319 E. Summit Ave.

Shoreline Townhouse-Style Condo. $299, 950. A amazing amount of space and lives like a house. Three bedrooms, each with their own bath (1 full, one 3/4 & one 1/2 bath). Hard surface flooring, deck off master, new concrete patio & good sized private yard area. Close to Interurban Trail, shopping & Shoreline Community College. Low dues. New roof in 2013. Vinyl siding & low maintenance landscaping. Plenty of parking. Dead end street. Terrific unit and convenient to all. HO Dues $50/month. 812 N 145th Ct.

As always, more information and pictures of all our listings are available at

Should you keep an underwater house? Is a short sale right for you? Three questions to ask:

Short sales are still commonplace as many homeowners still struggle with making payments or make the decision to sell an underwater home. When does it make sense to sell an underwater home?

‘Home’ for most of us evokes warm and fuzzy feelings about family, security, belonging and community. To some, suggesting they walk away from their home may produce some anxiety.

However, when housing is the biggest single expense in a family’s budget and is ‘breaking your back’ you,  it’s worth untangling emotions and look at financial facts.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guidelines provide for thirty-one percent of gross monthly income to be allocated to housing. That includes property taxes and insurance. In the great housing boom, the stampede to buy before the price of housing got further out of reach enticed many buyers to greatly exceed those limits.

Overpaying for houses was justified by telling ourselves that the equity in our house was also our retirement nest egg. Then housing values plummeted. So, what to do? What questions should you consider in making a decision on selling your house as a ‘short sale’?

First question:  Could you decrease your housing costs if you rented? If current housing expenditures are close to the cost of renting, then it makes little economic sense to change.

Second question: Is real estate the best use of the investment component? The answer will depend on how far underwater the house is in today’s market. How much needs to be paid down before the investment is worth as much as the debt? When weighing alternative investments it’s important to evaluate other holdings. If there is a defined benefit retirement plan or significant stock holdings, perhaps holding an underwater house for a decade may make sense.

Third question: Can you make the current house payment in retirement? The closer you are to retirement, the harder you need to think about whether a retirement income can fund the wait for housing values to improve.

Conclusion/further actions: If the status quo is unsustainable or inadvisable in keeping an underwater house, you should consult with an attorney and real estate agent on next steps, including analyzing other option such as loan modification, HARP refinance, bankruptcy and strategic foreclosure.

Time to Winterize and Protect your Home:

After an incredible summer here in Seattle, fall was eager to start with gusto. How about all the rain, wind and cool temperatures we’ve had already. Is your house ready for the change in season? In addition to having rain coats, sweaters, hats and mittens in your coat closet as you prepare for the cold months ahead, it is vital to winterize your home.

Clean your gutters. Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters by hand, scraper or spatula then rinse them out to allow freezing rain and melting snow to drain. Make sure that your pipes are not leaking or misaligned. Also, your gutters should drain water 10 feet away from the foundation of your house.

Check the furnace. Turn your furnace on now to make sure that it is working. Have it inspected and cleaned by a professional. Your furnace should be cleaned and tuned annually. Replace filters. Keep your ducts in good condition; your ducts should be vacuumed once every few years.

Caulk and change your windows. Put up storm windows in order to provide an extra layer of warmth. Caulk around the windows to prevent water intrusion and drafts.

Inspect  the chimney. Sweep out your chimney if necessary. Ideally, it should be inspected before it is turned on the first time in the winter. Cover your chimney with a protective cap that comes with a screen. Have a professional chimney sweep conduct an inspection/cleaning. If you own a wood stove, sweep it more than once a year, install a glass door on it and keep it closed when your stove is turned off. Close your chimney damper when the fireplace is not in use.

Reverse the direction your ceiling fan blows.  By reversing the direction your ceiling fan blows during the winter, it will push warm air downward.

Insulate those pipes. Freezing temperatures can lead to a burst pipe. Insulate your pipes by wrapping them with foam rubber sleeves or heating tape. You can also use fiberglass insulation.

Questions? Looking to buy/sell?

Have questions about anything real estate related? Ask us, we are happy to be your resource when it comes to real estate.

We would love to help sell your home if you are ready to make a move. We also appreciate your referrals to friends and family if they are looking to buy or sell.

Happy Fall,

Kerstin & Krisanne

Kerstin G. Brooks & Krisanne Heinze
Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team
Skyline Properties, Inc.
Kerstin:  206.276.5827
Krisanne: 206.920.2541

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