Real Estate September 12, 2022

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.

10.   Closing

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.

ClintonCoupevilleFreelandGreenbankHomeLangleyNeighborhoodsOak HarborReal Estate September 6, 2021

Staging a Home

Should You Stage Your Home?

Every home is changed by those who live in it even under the care of the most vigilant homeowners. Staging a home for sale is one tactic that may take the attention away from less than stellar paint, flooring, or kitchen cabinets and convince the buyer that they can make the property the home of their dreams. 

If you are preparing to put your home on the market, staging provides the advantage of appealing to the buyer audience. It is no longer a nice idea, but one of the most important things you can do when selling your home.

What is a Staged Home?

Staging a home is one possible step in preparing a property for sale in the housing market. It is primarily focused on the appearance of the home and making the space feel a specific way. Depending on the type of pieces brought into the space the staging can make the home feel lighter, larger, or more modern. 

Most staged homes include art, rugs, furniture, plants, and other decors.

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Attract More Home Buyers

Properties headed to the market need to be presented in a way that is going to attract the most possible buyers. Staging a home allows buyers to picture themselves in that space. Inviting furnishings and decor, combined with subtle accessories distributed throughout the home pulls everything together to help produce higher-quality images of each space in the home.

It has also been proven that if the home is attractive in pictures buyers are much more likely to come and see it in person. The quality of online images directly affects a buyer’s interest in a home. 

Buyers confirm that they were more willing to walk through a home they saw online (41 percent), and buyers’ agents identified that staging would positively impact the home value if the home was decorated to the buyer’s taste (39 percent). 

Your first impression is your last impression, so make it count!

Tidbit: 

A 2021 National Association of Realtors study on home staging reported that 82% of buyer’s agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. 

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Increase Home Sale Price

Ultimately the purpose of home staging is to set your listing apart from others on the market and yield higher offers. 

According to the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Staging 2021 when staging a home, 23 percent of sellers’ agents reported an increase of one to five percent of the dollar value offered by buyers, in comparison to similar homes. 

Notably, none of the respondents in the above study reported that staging a home had a negative impact on the home’s dollar value.

It’s advantageous to keep in mind that home staging does put costs on the sellers’ agent or the seller depending on the scenario. The median dollar value spent when using a staging service was $1,500, compared to $300 when the sellers’ agent personally staged the home.

Tidbit:

The most common rooms that were staged included the living room (90 percent), kitchen (80 percent), master bedroom (78 percent), and dining room (69 percent).

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In conclusion…

By creating space that buyers fall in love with, sellers can expect offers of higher quantity and quality. Get in touch with one of our agents today. 

 

 

Real Estate January 28, 2021

Buying Vacant Land on Whidbey Island

If you have always dreamed of building your own home, choosing your own layout, selecting dream finishes, and want all your desires in a home met then you will be looking for vacant land. This is a completely different world than buying a preexisting home where there is complete certainty when it comes to electricity, water, sewage, and condition. Uncertainty is not comfortable for everyone so let’s make sure you feel prepared and empowered.

Buying Vacant Land on Whidbey Island, Dream Home, Whidbey Island

First and foremost, if you ask anyone who has built their own home, they will tell you that even if you build a home from scratch you will not end up with a 100% perfect house. There are always compromises and unforeseen issues with layout, etc. Remember, vacant land is scarce and becoming scarcer, so if you find the perfect property with an imperfect house, perhaps you can consider a major remodel.

When buying vacant land, it is all about the level of certainty a parcel can provide you. A parcel that already has a water source, septic system, access/driveway, building site laid out, and electrical nearby is going to be extremely rare.  Such a parcel will cost more because of the time and expenses already invested by the seller. There is also inherent value in the confidence you as a buyer can have that you will not run into complications that may make the land unsuitable for development.

Below are our TOP 5 recommendations when considering buying vacant land:

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Find a vacant land purchasing specialist.

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Complex is the word that comes to mind when thinking about vacant land purchases. Having a trusted guide who loves the complexity that comes with purchasing land is something you really want. Many brokers groan when they think about helping buyers with vacant land but there are a special few who just dig it! Find them! It will make all the difference. If you need a recommendation just call (360) 675-5953 and ask for a recommendation on a vacant land specialist from the manager.

 

Know your corners.

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In the best-case scenario, there has been a survey done and the corners are clearly marked with modern official survey markers however, this is rare. You may need to negotiate to have this done by the Seller. There are other signs that can give an idea of where property lines fall though. One of the coolest technologies that most agents have nowadays is an app that uses geo-spatial technology to locate your position on a map in relation to property lines. An old-fashioned surveyor’s tape measure can help as well if you have a marker of some sort to start from. Fence lines, survey tape marking trees or branches, driveways, and other identifiers can give clues. Nothing beats a proper survey though and you are going to want that when it comes time to build.

 

Get as certain as possible on the big 5.

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Water, sewage, electricity, access, and building envelope. These are the big 5 mysteries when you first look at a raw and overgrown piece of land. The more that these 5 things have been figured out and addressed by the Seller, the more valuable the property is. You are buying risk when these 5 are unknown. You cannot avoid risk completely but figuring out as much as you can about these 5 will help you move forward more confidently.

 

Work with a local builder.

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Get the local builder to the lot sooner than later. Reputable builders on Whidbey will be able to help you through the feasibility process, have a great instinct for what is possible, contacts to get specialists out to the property, and experience working with Island County’s Building department. Here are 5 builders we recommend in no particular order…

    1. Cascade Custom Homes
    2. Yonkman Construction
    3. Nautilus Construction
    4. Waldron Construction
    5. Turpin Construction

 

Know your critical areas.

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Shorelines, native American artifacts, endangered animals and plants, steep slopes and bluffs, wetlands, and streams will affect the property in big ways. There are large set-back requirements for structures, wells, and septic systems around critical areas. You may get into a situation where you do not have much of a choice about where you can position your building site. These unknowns must be understood before you decide to close on the lot. Your Realtor can help you navigate this maze.

 

Each property is unique, and we could share a lot more with you on the topic of buying vacant land on Whidbey, but the truth is that the best thing you can do is find yourself an excellent guide who will help you assess what it is you are really looking for and how to narrow down the search. Good luck and do not forget your muck boots!

 

PHOTOS BY: Kelsey Kurtis

Places September 4, 2019

Back to School – Interview with Erik Mann

Back to School 

Interview with Erik MannErik Mann, Windermere, Real Estate, Whidbey Island, Whidbey, Homes, Buy, sell, invest, listing agent, agent, trusted realtor, selling agent

 

Here at Windermere Whidbey we are blessed to work with a wonderful agent and friend, Erik Mann. Erik is a vested community member, passionate about Oak Harbor and specifically education. He has served on the Oak Harbor school board for the last 2 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge that we are lucky to have in our brokerage.

The other day we sat down with Erik to ask about a few of the changes happening in the Oak Harbor schools this coming fall. His answers should be as helpful and informative for you as they were for us!

 

Hello Erik! So, we’ve heard there is going to be a big structure shift this year at the high school. Is this true? Can you tell us about it?

Yes! In recent history, Oak Harbor High School has operated on a semester schedule with six classes per day; allowing a total of six credits per year. The total number of credits available during four years of high school was 24. The Washington State Legislature requires a minimum of 24 credits to graduate. With ever-increasing restrictions on required course content, it meant that students had little flexibility to try new disciplines, arts, and advanced course work. A student’s failure of any class meant alternative pathways to credit retrieval were required, as there was no flexibility built into the schedule.

Beginning this year, the high school transitions to a trimester school year. Individual class times have been lengthened, so only five periods per day, but instead of only earning six credits per year, a student will earn seven and one-half credits per year, for a total of 30 credits over four years.

This allows far more flexibility for students to make up credits, explore new disciplines, do advanced coursework, explore vocational and art classes, etc. Because graduation requirements are fixed once you enter ninth grade, the classes of 2020-2022 are still bound to the graduation requirements in place at the time they entered high school. They will all still be required to earn 24 credits, while classes 2023 and beyond will need 28 credits to graduate but have more flexibility than previous classes.

 

That sounds like an amazing change for our high school students! What about the rest of our students? Any improvements that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Well, continued advocacy by the superintendent, school board, administrators and staff to our elected officials in Olympia and Washington DC, has led to an amazing opportunity to replace two of our aging elementary schools. Through the Department of Defense, the Office of Economic Adjustment has been tasked with replacing old, inadequate school facilities located on military installations and other government property.

With 160 schools evaluated nationwide, two of Oak Harbor’s schools currently rank in the top 11 schools in the nation in need of replacement due to age and capacity. This means we will be eligible to receive 80% of the funding to replace Crescent Harbor Elementary School (3) AND Clover Valley Home Connection and Early Learning Campus (11). The community will only have to fund 20% of construction costs!

There is also a possibility to move or update our aging transportation facility. Due to our interlocal agreement to provide service to the Coupeville School District’s busses, the district will qualify for a state funding match of 80% of the cost to replace/relocate the facility.

This will be an amazing opportunity for us to leverage our community’s investment in our schools with state and federal funding to replace our aging infrastructure at a fraction of the typical cost!

Whoa! That is incredible and so great it’s in partnership with the DOD, as they are such a large part of our community. I know student health has been a hot topic recently, what can we expect as far as changes there?

Over the past few years, the approach to our education system has seen a marked change in direction. I am pleased to see so much movement into the entire well-being of a child, not just focusing on academic success. It is my goal to see a continued expansion of social-emotional learning, an expansion of counseling and nursing staff, and a real focus on connections between students, adults, the community and resources available to them.

Through a partnership with NAS Whidbey Island, 5 new mental health counselors are being provided by the DOD through a contractor, who will work within Oak Harbor Public Schools. This will expand our already greater than average presence of counselors within schools but is what I hope to be just the beginning.

Whole-child initiatives also mean we need to be engaged in the health and wellness of our students. Beyond PE classes and activities available to students, education about food and healthy eating can make huge improvements in their overall well-being. Schools are all embracing outdoor student learning in interactive gardens and outdoor spaces. Students are learning lessons in the garden that extend beyond growing flowers and vegetables. They are learning science and math, but more importantly are learning to work together in a hands-on environment. They are exposed to produce they would never imagine trying, but because they took part in growing it, will enthusiastically try it and find out they like it. They are learning compassion and community service as their produce is used to supplement local food bank supplies.

Environmental stewardship goes beyond our gardens, however. As a district, we have taken great steps to be as forward thinking, efficient and conservative as possible. A large-scale effort to replace aging heating system boilers with state-of-the-art high efficiency boilers, replacing nearly all lighting with highly efficient LED lights, and transitioning to propane powered busses has propelled us to be one of the front runners in the nation. We’ve earned several state and national green ribbon awards this year. Oak Harbor Public Schools has become a model of environmental stewardship. We will continue to lead the way teaching our students to be healthy and environmentally conscious and make our systems as efficient as possible to protect our taxpayers’ investment.

This is all so great Erik! Thank you for keeping on top of this and informing our community. We know you take your role as a real estate professional as seriously as you take your role on the Oak Harbor School Board, but can you tell us how you see the two connecting?

One of the reasons I chose to work as a Windermere Broker was the focus and commitment to community through the Windermere Foundation, which collects a percentage of every transaction completed, and returns it to our community. It was rewarding to be instrumental in establishing a scholarship fund that has now awarded seven scholarships totaling $12,000 to local low-income graduates who attend vocational programs, community colleges and universities. The Windermere Foundation also provides funds to the opportunity council annually for programs that support Oak Harbor’s low-income students, providing warm clothes, backpacks and other necessities. Windermere is also a supporter of the Oak Harbor Education Foundation which provides applied learning grants for classroom projects within our district, allowing teachers to pursue hands on projects that fall outside the scope of normal funding and thereby enriching our students’ experience. Learn more about the scholarships here.

Windermere Realtors are often the first local resource a family connects with, and my connection with the district allows me to update other Realtors in my office with the most up to date and useful information to incoming families. As the second largest employer on the island, many of our Windermere clients, are employed as educators, administrators and classified staff within the district, or have children who attend Oak Harbor Public Schools. What a great benefit for them to be able to work with a Realtor who understands how the school district operates, and can provide timely, relevant information.

As I look forward to another school year, I can’t help but be excited for the possibilities.

Thank you for your time Erik! Keep up the good work!

 

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