5 Reasons to Use a Local Lender
When it comes to buying a home, choosing the right lender is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your home buying experience. While it’s possible to work with a lender from anywhere, working with a reputable local lender in the area you are purchasing provides many benefits that make the process smoother and more enjoyable. In this article, we will share five reasons why you should consider using a reputable local lender for your next home purchase.
5 Reasons to Use a Reputable Local Lender:
1. Personal Connection:
A local lender provides the opportunity to have a face to face conversation and build a personal relationship, which can be especially helpful when dealing with complex issues. How much better is it to have the ability to sit down face to face with someone and discuss, ask questions, smile and laugh with or even cry if necessary? It is so much better than trying to solely do things over the phone or email with someone hundreds of miles away. When the going gets tough, you (or your trusted real estate broker) can go directly to the office and discuss the issues in person to figure it out rather than be put on hold.
2. Knowledge of the Market:
A local lender is more likely to have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, including contractors, permit requirements, and more. It is not unheard of to have a local lender provide contact details for a roofer that can get the fix done in time for closing or the local Labor and Industries permit guy who can solve the problem faster than driving an hour to the nearest office. Reputable local lenders understand when there is delay due to septic repairs or how to get the water quality test results ASAP.
Local lenders have a reputation to uphold in their community, which can provide added accountability and ensure a higher level of service. When you run into your clients in the grocery store or watch their kids play on the same soccer team you naturally put a little more into making sure your service is impeccable. Anonymity creates distance and reduces accountability.
4. Strong Relationships with Escrow Teams:
Good relationships with local escrow teams can lead to smoother and more efficient transactions. Often the most stressful point of the transaction is right at the very end as the final underwriter is reviewing the file and potentially finding issues that need more documentation. This can lead to delays in critical milestones that need to be met to close on time. Getting the necessary documents from the lender to escrow on time can be the difference in closing as expected or experiencing costly delays and even the possibility of losing the home. You can use a lender from almost anywhere, but the escrow team is nearly always local to the property being purchased. When lenders are well known and respected by the local escrow offices you can expect excellent communication and problem solving between them. This will make overcoming obstacles to closing on time more likely.
5. Competitive Terms:
Local lenders often offer competitive terms and rates, making them a cost-effective option. When comparing lenders, be sure to compare all the terms and costs of the loan, not simply the advertised interest rate. When you do, you’ll often find the local lender has lower overall costs than national corporate lenders.
In conclusion, using a reputable local lender provides a range of benefits that make the home buying process more enjoyable and efficient. From the personal connection to the knowledge of the local market and their reputation to uphold, there are many reasons to consider using a local lender for your next home purchase. So why not choose a lender who is well-known and highly regarded in your local real estate community? Contact us today to be put in touch with a great lender on Whidbey Island!
Island Transit on Whidbey Island
Island Transit is the public transportation system serving Whidbey Island, located in the Puget Sound region of Washington state. The system consists of fixed-route buses and paratransit vans, as well as additional programs such as vanpools and bike locker rentals.
Island Transit began on December 1, 1987 as a response to the increasing traffic congestion and lack of transportation options on Whidbey Island. Today, the system serves a population of approximately 73,000 people, covering a service area of approximately 400 square miles. The buses pick up passengers from bus stops like the Northgate Terrace bus stop pictured above throughout all of Whidbey Island.
In addition to its fixed-route buses, Island Transit also operates a paratransit service for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use the fixed-route buses. The paratransit vans offer door-to-door service and can be reserved by calling Island Transit in advance.
Island Transit’s vanpool program is a convenient and cost-effective alternative for commuters who travel long distances or have irregular work schedules. Participants in the program share the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance and can save money on the cost of driving alone.
The bike locker rental program allows riders to securely store their bike at a convenient location and use it to complete the first or last leg of their commute. The lockers are located at select bus stops and can be rented on a monthly basis (check out prices and apply here) in addition to public use lockers that are on a first come first served basis.
In recent years, Island Transit has made efforts to increase sustainability and reduce its environmental impact. Learn more about their initiatives here. As a result, hybrid buses have been added to its fleet all while keeping Island Transit buses fare-free.
Overall, Island Transit plays a vital role in the transportation needs of the residents and visitors of Whidbey Island. The convenient and reliable services, as well as its vanpool and bike locker rental programs, make it a valuable asset to the community.
If you have further questions or are interested in learning more about living on Whidbey Island please do not hesitate to connect with us. Contact us here.
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You’ll Lose Money When You Overprice Your Home
You are probably asking yourself, “did I read that right?”
Yes, yes you did.
It is normal for sellers to want to get the most money out of the sale of their homes. It feels safe to list your home at the price you are desiring to get, but the reality is listing high might actually do your pocketbook more harm than good in the long run. Follow along as we explain why.
RISKS OF OVERPRICING YOUR HOME
You are drawing the attention of the wrong buyers.
Most people begin their home purchasing journey by searching which homes are available in their desired location online. Consider this. Your home is worth $500,000, but you list it for $575,000. When buyers are looking online, they filter to find homes within their price range and typically by $25,000 increments. The person looking for a $500,000 home will never see yours and if they do they will believe it is out of their reach, and when the buyers looking in the $575,000 range see your home and compare it to others in that range, they will get the impression it is not worth it, and there are better options.
Fewer people will see your home.
When your home is overpriced, the issue can be detected by buyers just by looking at your online listing and will pass on viewing it in person. The more showings you have, the more legitimate interest there is, and the more likely your home is to sell. Showings give potential buyers an opportunity to see the home first-hand giving them the opportunity to imagine themselves living there.
On the other hand, if you get lots of showings because your photos look better than reality but no offers you’ve wasted your best shot at getting the right buyer through your home and you there are no redo’s for first impressions. This leads us to our next point…
You are sending the “I’m an undesirable home” message to the public.
As people continue to look for a home and new buyers enter the market, they might see your home online, but by that time they will also see the “time on market”. The longer your home sits on the market, the less attractive it becomes psychologically to everyone. Nobody wants the home that nobody else wants. Once it has lost its appeal the damage is done. You’ll find yourself beginning to reduce your price and often end up at a price less than what the home could have sold for if it was priced right the first time.
In conjunction with price reductions, the longer your home sits on the market, the more expenses you incur. Consider mortgage payments, utility costs, lawn care maintenance, seller’s fees, and more while you are trying to move out.
Your buyers won’t be able to finance if it doesn’t appraise.
Perhaps you drop the price just enough to intrigue a buyer but still above market level. Maybe you’re lucky enough to hook a buyer. Then the appraisal comes back low. Now you either have to come down in price or lose the buyer and start over again, with 20-30 days more on market…
If you are considering selling your home and would like a complimentary analysis to determine the correct value of your home in this market connect with us to be paired with an experienced Windermere agent that can help you with your unique situation and avoid all the overpricing pitfalls.
What to Expect When Selling Your Home
Selling your home can be overwhelming and feel like a full-time job… which is why there are realtors! Good realtors make the process so much smoother and less intimidating. To keep your mind at ease and prepare you for what will happen throughout the sale of your home we are sharing 10 top tips to get you from listed to sold in no time!
Discover what to expect when selling your home
1. Select the right agent the 1st time
It is of the utmost importance that you pair with a full-time, knowledgeable agent who can best represent you through the process. This should be your number one priority. Studies show that homes listed with an agent sell for more than those listed without, and this is for good reason. Great agents dedicate their lives to keeping up with economic changes, are masters at negotiating and getting things done, and know all rules and regulations. This will pay off immensely in the long run if you trust their process. If you are unsure where to start, ask your friends who they trust and about their experience with them but don’t stop there. Interview at least two, preferably three brokers, and the differences should be immediately clear. If you still need help, Windermere has a full-time manager that will ask you pertinent questions about your needs, personality style, and specific goals to make the perfect real estate agent match. Windermere’s ultimate goal is not the sale of a home but to give you a real estate experience you want to share with others! When you are ready to pair with an agent connect with us and we will match you with the perfect broker.
2. Set your timeline
A timeline is valuable in that it will keep you organized throughout the entire selling process. Anticipate that your timeline might change depending on circumstances and your local housing market conditions. You may need to adjust a couple of times, but the purpose is to keep you on track toward your end goal. SOLD! Your timeline will help guide you there. Know what the average days on market are for your home and price range (click here to determine Whidbey Islands) then add an average of 30-45 on that to get an estimate of how long it will take to sell once you go live. Work with your agent to build your unique timeline.
3. Determine your home’s value
The SECRET to selling quickly is pricing your home right the first day it hits the market. Overpricing can create serious problems like not being seen by the right buyers, less traffic both in person and virtually, and worst of all becoming less attractive to buyers the longer it sits resulting in lower offers than if you priced it attractively, to begin with. Your agent will provide you with a (CMA) Comparative Market Analysis which compares your home to others in your local area that recently sold and/or are actively pending. This formulated analysis will assist you in properly determining the best price for your home. Discuss this with your agent. They will help walk you through the process even if you aren’t sure you’re ready to sell yet.
4. Identify issues & execute the plan
This is the time to tackle any unfinished projects and address needed repairs. Talk with your agent to see if a pre-sale home inspection would be advantageous for your unique situation. Begin by creating a list of repairs you can do versus those needing to be hired out. Your agent can help you determine which will be the best use of your time, offer the largest return on investment, and help you find vendors and hire out projects. If money is tight it may be in your best interest to apply to our Windermere Ready Program which gets you cash for fixing up your home to list. Ask your Windermere Agent about how to apply.
5. Put your best foot forward
First impressions go a long way! Start with curb appeal. Clean up your gardens, mow your lawns, clean out gutters, and add a pop of color to your flower beds. If you have any cracked or peeling paint, apply a fresh coat. Make sure to declutter the inside of your home. The best rule of thumb is to remove personal effects and present your home like a hotel in which the buyer could envision themselves living in the space. Talk to your agent about the possibility of having your home professionally staged.
6. Get your home seen
Your realtor will help maximize the exposure of your home. They can list with the MLS, will get your listing on all major sites like Zillow and Redfin, and will be listed on their Brokerage site in addition to their own. These are just a few of the many ways in which your listing can be seen. Be sure to discuss the option for virtual tours with your agent. When it’s time for in-person showings, we suggest that you not be present so that the potential buyers can freely walk the home with their agent, ask questions, and ultimately have the space to imagine it as their new home.
7. Reviewing offers & negotiating
If you price right, you might see more than one offer on your home because we are still in a strong Seller’s market. The offers may be at or above the asking price. When reviewing offers, you have three options: 1. Accept the offer, 2. Make a counteroffer, 3. Reject the offer. These should ALWAYS be made in writing, and you should always give the buyer a short time to respond. Whether you are selling or buying, you will likely find yourself in negotiations. It is important for you to discuss negotiation strategies with your agent ahead of time. At Windermere, we pride ourselves on negotiation tactics grounded in psychology and win-win strategies.
8. Budget for closing costs
Closing costs include things like title insurance, recording fees, government taxes, lender fees, broker commissions, and numerous other things. Be sure to discuss this with your agent ahead of time and throughout the transaction so you don’t feel blindsided at closing and are adequately prepared.
9. The inspection
It is common for offers to be contingent on a professional home inspection. Your agent can prepare you for what to expect from a home inspection. Typically a home inspector will look at things like the foundation, structure, roof, plumbing and electrical systems, floors, windows, doors, and signs for things like water or fire damage.
You finally made it, but before you can officially close there are a couple of things to do. Ask the buyer to release any contingencies, sign the title, and close escrow before releasing the keys. Your escrow agent will help you through this process. Talk with your agent about questions you have about legal documents and settlement costs.
If you are considering selling and would like to speak to an experienced Windermere Realtor for more specific information connect with us by clicking here.
Fort Casey State Park: Unique History and Breathtaking Views
Located on Whidbey Island, Fort Casey State Park is a great place to visit for those looking to explore the Pacific Northwest and Whidbey Island. It’s hard to pick just one thing that makes this place so special! So we picked three!
#1 The park’s location is perfect for history buffs who also love the outdoors. There are miles of trails winding through forests filled with towering Douglas Fir trees, open grassy fields, and dotted throughout are all the historical infrastructure. It affords several unique photo opportunities from the expansive water views, military relics like the large cannon guns, the infamous Admiralty Head Lighthouse, and fauna like bald eagles and deer.
#2 There are so many stories associated with this one location. History buffs will learn about the Civil War-era military fort that was built here in order to protect against a potential invasion via water from Japan or Russia during World War II with the “Triangle of Fire. The Admiralty Head Lighthouse adds another slant of historical intrigue. The original lighthouse, which was built in 1894 and first lit on January 21st of 1895 could be seen as far away as 14 miles with a focal plane of 128 feet above the high tide line. You can now visit the lighthouse in its expertly restored state and learn from the volunteer docents that keep the small museum housed inside. Learn more here http://www.washingtonlighthouses.org/data/lighthouse_ah.html
#3 So many ways to stay! If a day trip is not long enough to soak it all in you can book a campsite at the base of the bluff on the Southern end of the park. It’s located on a bit of a sandy plateau right next to the Ferry landing that serves the Washington State Ferries Port Townsend to Coupeville route. In fact, a neat feature of weekend camping here is that you can walk on the Ferry and explore the historical Water Street in Port Townsend! Grab an amazing meal from one of Port Townsend’s excellent restaurants just don’t miss the last ferry back! If that sounds too risky then head over to Callens Restaurant for some of Coupeville’s best food and drink. If camping accommodations is not your thing you can stay at Camp Casey with a variety of accommodation types. Check it out here https://casey.spu.edu/staying-at-camp-casey/lodging/
Whichever you choose, a day trip or an overnight stay at Fort Casey State Park is sure to leave you with some one-of-a-kind memories!
Located on the West side of Whidbey Island just South of the Port Townsend – Coupeville Ferry Landing discover Admirals Cove. It is the largest congruent neighborhood within the Coupeville zip code. Admirals Cove offers some of the most affordable properties in Coupeville, with a wide variety of homes built in various stages from the 1960’s to today, along with a plethora of amenities. It might come as a surprise as you enter the neighborhood from highway 20 to discover waterfront properties as you head down the hill. Want to learn more about the neighborhood? Click here.
Equally surprising, Admirals Cove does NOT have an HOA. Interestingly, the neighborhood operates as a club. In 2011 it was ruled that Admirals Cove could not be an HOA because it allows people to be associate members when they don’t own property in the community. Property owners however do not have an option to opt out of being a member of the club. Their dues directly impact projects like their latest one shoring up the bulkhead between the pool and the beach.
Admirals Cove is the Place to be if You are Looking for Amenities
We spoke about west facing properties before in our article, “What View is Best on Whidbey Island” where we explained why West-facing properties are some of the most sought after on Whidbey. The extra sun exposure in West-facing neighborhoods explains why the neighborhood includes amenities like a pool, beach access, shelter, playground and more to soak up the sun when others do not.
The Community Pool
Admirals Cove is recognized as one of the few community pools on Whidbey Island. Intriguingly, the pool is right on the beach and has been here for over 50 years. It has recently been remodeled and is open for use between May 28 – September 5 in 2022. As an added benefit, they offer swim lessons in the summer for members and non-members.
Park next to the pool and enjoy the beach just a few steps away! Check out the latest tide heights here https://www.tide-forecast.com/locations/Admiralty-Head-Washington/tides/latest.
Shelter and Playground
Next to the pool is a spacious shelter/enclosed gazebo that is available to rent for parties if you are a member. Restrooms, Wi-Fi, grills, picnic area, horseshoe pit, firepits, and a nice playground are all included.
In the Surrounding Area
Admirals Cove central location creates an opportunity for all sorts of adventure. Less than five miles north includes places like Fort Casey State Park, Crockett Lake, Price Sculpture Forest, and the Port Townsend Ferry with Greenbank Farm just over 5 miles south.
Does Jet Noise Bother You?
Keep in mind that OLF or the Navy’s Outlying Field is nearby. The noise from jets practicing their touch and go’s is not for everyone so we encourage people considering Admirals Cove to experience it for yourself. You can see what the upcoming schedule is on this website https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrnw/installations/nas_whidbey_island/news/news_releases/field-carrier-landing-practice-at-nas-whidbey-island-complex-for.html
For more information visit the Admirals Cove neighborhood website here https://www.acbc-whidbey.org/index.html.
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The Ferry House
When overlooking Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve in Coupeville, it is easy to spot the most iconic building in the reserve. The Ferry House. The house was built by Isaac Ebey’s family shortly after he was killed to help support Isaac’s sons. From the early 1860s to around 1900 the inn operated as a tavern, post office, grocery store, and hospitality inn for people traveling through Admiralty Inlet and to families who claimed Whidbey as their home. The National Park Service acquired it in 2000 and is committed to its preservation in partnership with Friends of Ebey.
The Whidbey Island Guide and Neighborhood Deep Dive!
When you are preparing to move to a new location or to buy a home for the first time, you are likely eager to learn literally EVERYTHING from the home buying process to everything about the area and what it has to offer when you arrive.
Whether from pure excitement or overwhelming nerves you are likely to find yourself up well past your typical bedtime researching things like:
What cool things are nearby?
Which neighborhoods you can afford.
What those neighborhoods are like.
If you can imagine yourself living there.
Where the best spots are for a cup of coffee.
and probably… where the most iconic location for a picture that might make you Instagram famous might be.
Luckily for you, some real estate brokers are obsessed with this same level of need-to-know. There are a handful of brokers who have created incredibly in-depth online guides to their area. Many go as far as to include information on individual little neighborhoods that will make your search and transition that much easier.
Where it all started:
We were inspired by Marguerite Martin to go all out on neighborhoods and provide rich local content just as she has with her page Move to Tacoma.
It brings us great pleasure to announce that here at Windermere Whidbey Island, we recently unveiled our very own Neighborhood Guide. We couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! Our first release takes a deep dive into 26 neighborhoods from Oak Harbor to Greenbank. We will continue expanding over time. Each page includes written descriptions, images of the homes and neighborhood features, quotes from neighbors, a map with key attractions nearby, median sales price, links to active, pending, and sold homes, commute times to schools and nearby hospitals, and blog posts on a whole suite of topics related to that neighborhood.
Looking for more?
If you are looking for more lifestyle information, check out our umbrella page The Whidbey Island Guide. The guide offers local events, links to government and public sites/resources, collections of articles on things like hiking, restaurants, and so much more.
Remember, these pages represent just the tip of the iceberg on what our brokers know about living on Whidbey Island. If all this information just leads to more questions give us a call! If you have suggestions on information, you wish we would add please tell us, we are all ears.
Connect with us:
Connect with us and expand your search by following us on Instagram at @Windermere_Whidbey_Island where you can find reels on the various neighborhoods of Whidbey.
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If Facebook is more your thing you can find us here!
Long before European Explorers discovered Whidbey Island, Penn Cove hosted one of the largest native populations in the region. The Coast Salish People used the well-protected cove with easy access to the rest of Puget Sound for ample trading opportunities while the nearby prairie produced bountiful crops. As settlers came, Coupeville remained the central trading location on the island and by 1881 was the Island County government seat. The town prospered due to shipping fish, produce, lumber, and timber to the mainland via the Coupeville Wharf. Unlike many other historical towns, Coupeville’s historic waterfront buildings remain remarkably intact.
Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series here.
We are NOT in a Housing Bubble: Here’s Why!
Home buyers are beginning to believe we are heading into a housing bubble. It is easy to acknowledge this premonition, as year-after-year home price appreciation has continued to remain in the double digits.
However, we are here to put your mind at ease as this market is very different than it was during the housing crash 15 years ago. Follow along as we explain four fundamental reasons why today's market is nothing like the market was back then.
1. Houses Are Affordable Unlike During the Housing Boom
To understand this, one must understand the affordability formula. The affordability formula consists of three parts: the price of the home, wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time of purchase. Conventional lending standards suggest a purchaser should spend no more than 28% of their gross income on their mortgage payment.
Fifteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. While today's home prices are high, wages have increased significantly, and despite the latest spike, mortgage rates are still well below 6%. This means that todays average buyer spends less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than buyers did back then.
In the latest Affordability Report by ATTOM Data, Chief Product Officer Todd Teta speaks to this stating, "The average wage earner can still afford the typical home across the U.S., but the financial comfort zone continues shrinking as home prices keep soaring and mortgage rates tick upward."
Undeniably, affordability is not as strong as it was last year, but it is significantly better than it was during the boom. The graph below demonstrates that difference:
How did so many homes sell during the housing boom with such prohibitive costs?
2. Mortgage Standards Were Much More Relaxed During the Boom
Getting approved for a mortgage loan was significantly more attainable during the housing bubble than it is today. According to credit.org, a credit score between 550-619 is considered poor. They define those with a score below 620, by stating that, "Credit agencies consider consumers with credit delinquencies, account rejections, and little credit history as subprime borrowers due to their high credit risk."
While buyers can still qualify for a mortgage with a credit score within that range they are considered riskier borrowers. If you are in that range, read our How Long Does it Take to Save for a Down Payment article here. Below is a graph illustrating the mortgage volume issued to buyers with a credit score less than 620 during the housing boom, in compression to the following 14 years.
Mortgage standards are significantly different than they were last time. Buyers that obtained mortgages during the past decade are better qualified for the loans. Lets look at what that means moving forward.
3. Foreclosure Are Completely Different Than They Were During The Crash
The most obvious difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. The Federal Reserve issues a report showing the number of consumers with a new foreclosure notice. Here are the numbers during the crash compared to today:
Undoubtedly the 2020 and 2021 numbers are impacted by the forbearance program, which was created to help homeowners facing uncertainty during the pandemic. Keep in mind, there are less than 800,000 homeowners remaining in the program today, and the majority of those will be able to work out a repayment plan with their banks.
Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President of RealtyTrac, explains, "The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the ‘forbearance equals foreclosure' narrative was incorrect."
Why are there significantly less foreclosures seen today? Well, homeowners today are equity rich. They are not tapped out.
During the build-up to the housing bubble, some homeowners were using their homes as personal ATM machines. We saw a plethora of people withdrawing their equity the moment it was built up. When home values began to fall, many homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the amount they owed on their mortgage had surpassed the value of their home. Many were faced with the decision of walking away from their homes. When that happened it led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of comparable homes in the area.
Homeowners, have since learned their lessons. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over 40% of homes in the country having more than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like they had previously, as indicated by the fact that national tappable equity has increased to a record $9.9 trillion. With the average home equity now standing at $300,000. What happened last time will not happen today.
As the latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic explains, "Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they've also enabled many to continue building their wealth."
There will be nowhere near the same number of foreclosures as we seen during the crash. What does that mean for the housing market today?
4. There is Not a Surplus of Homes on the Market – We Have a Shortage
The supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued price appreciation. The following graph demonstrates, the surplus of homes for sale between 2007 to 2010 (many of which were short sales and foreclosures). That caused prices to tumble. Today, there is a shortage of inventory, which is creating the increasing home values we are witnessing today.
Inventory is drastically different in comparison to last time. Prices are rising because there is a healthy demand for homeownership while at the same time there is a shortage of homes for sale.
At the end of the day,
if you are worried that we are making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, the graphs above show data and insights to help alleviate your concerns. If you are considering buying or selling and would like to dive deeper into this subject we would be happy to schedule a consult with you. Call us today at 360.675.5953.