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For Buyers Category

What You Need To Know About Septic Systems

septicA Primer On Septic Systems

Several months ago, I wrote about a problem I encountered with a septic system that serves a rental home I own.  You can read about that post HERE.

In that post, I briefly mentioned how my septic system was designed (built using concrete pipes abutted together where the septic effluent just seeps out between the pipes back into the ground), and some things to be aware of when getting your system pumped.  Just recently, my tenant in this home contacted me because the drains were backing up and he thought that we were experiencing the same problem as last time (drainfield clogged).  I knew this couldn’t be the case, and queried him as to his disposal habits.  Of course, he denied any wrongdoing and stated the problem couldn’t be a clogged pipe.  It just couldn’t! Read the rest of this entry »

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Left Hand, Meet Right Hand

HandsFrustration Is The Mother Of All Ideas

At least that’s where I get many of my topics…  Today’s blog post  is about a bank which we’ll call AofB for short (the names have been changed), an entity that I’m currently battling on behalf of a buyer client who unfortunately, chose them as his loan source.  Let me start at the beginning of this ordeal and walk you through the scenario.

It all began one summer day when a prior client (I say prior in that I helped him purchase and subsequently sell a condo in Seattle many years ago before he relocated out of state) called and asked for my assistance in another home purchase, as he’s relocating back to WA.  The search lasted all of one afternoon by which time he had selected his future home (after viewing 6 other properties). He felt bad that it took him so long to make a decision (this same client looked at 2 homes last time before making his decision).  I love clients like him! Read the rest of this entry »


Water Quality – Should You Drink Before You Buy?

Filling up a glass of water

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” – W.H. Auden

Back in college, I took a class on government. I don’t recall much from it, but for one thing that still bounces around in my head. The topic was civic amenities. The word AMENITY is defined as “A desirable or useful feature or facility of a building or place.”  Little did I know back then that the word would become such an important part of my everyday real estate vocabulary. Read the rest of this entry »

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Headline: Real Estate Agent Causes Bank To Foreclose


Good Things Come To Those Who…

I have been working with a client family since June in an attempt to find them a home.  It has been a team effort with both sides scouring the NWMLS database in search of new properties to view.  It’s been a learning experience for them, and I admire their tenacity. The phrase “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” describes their woes perfectly.  We’ve written offers, and lost out on several homes in multiple offer situations; the last one by just $500 difference.  We saw a home one evening last week and were about to submit an offer the next day when we discovered that the bank had just accepted an offer that same morning. To say that they have been frustrated would be an understatement.  But they refuse to give up! Read the rest of this entry »

Anatomy of a Short Sale Transaction


This past week, I had the pleasure of gaining mutual acceptance on a condominium for a client.  It was a bank owned property.  The following day, I received a nice flowchart from the listing agent, explaining what my clients and I should expect and the time frames involved.  I thought to myself that this was a very professional agent and I appreciated getting a “heads up” on what to expect.  Here is what I received. Read the rest of this entry »

Homepath Loans Make Home Purchases Possible


If you’ve been searching for a home to purchase, you’ve undoubtedly come across a few bank owned (foreclosed) properties. Inside these homes, you’ve also probably found a flyer that mentioned Homepath loans, and wondered what the heck it was.  Polyana da Costa of Bankrate.com wrote a very nice article that describes what a Homepath loan is, and how it may (or may not) be the right choice for you when purchasing an REO property.  You can read the article HERE.


What Happens If You Google “Google Bothell”?

REALiTY BiTESDid you try it?

Google Plans 840 Worker Office In Bothell

Good news for Bothell, WA and the surrounding areas. Read the news article HERE.

If any new Google employees are reading this and would like assistance in finding a home, give me a call!

I Should Be An Architect!

The Big “L”

FloorplanAfter 15 years in the real estate business, I was beginning to feel that all new construction looked alike.  I mean, there was no freshness in the floorplans.  I kept seeing the same typical layouts over and over again.  Back in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s when homes were built a bit larger than they are now, builders didn’t even try to get creative.  Here was a typical “L” shape layout that was (and still is) very popular:

You walk in the front door, the living, dining, kitchen, and family room are always in the same places with little variation. Sometimes the layout is flipped so the garage is on the right and everything else is on the left.  If the square footage is a bit larger, then you get a den on the main floor.  If the home is a bit smaller, you lose a room or the rooms get smaller.  It’s really kind of boring after you’ve seen so many of them.  Split level homes are the same way. I understand that it’s tough for architects to change things up dramatically, but I appreciate it when I see something original every now and again.

Design For The Site

Upstairs, the builders are starting to listen to buyers’ feedback by putting the laundry room where the dirty clothes are, although I wish that they would take the site plan into consideration when designing the bedroom layouts.  In a typical home, the master bedroom is still located at the rear of the home in either the left or right corner.  When you’re on a quiet street it’s not a problem, but when you back to a major road with lots of road noise, that is a huge downside. I say let the kids have the noisy side of the house!

A Fresh Design?

I was invited to a Brokers Open House recently to preview some new homes in Bothell, WA. The only reason I stopped by was because I was in the area looking at another home nearby, and I remembered that the site agent had called me earlier in the week with the invite and a promise of a free lunch! I was pleasantly surprised when I entered the three model homes.  Two of them had the typical layouts on the main floor, but the upstairs room configurations were much different than what I had expected.  In one of the homes, the 2nd story landing area was actually a large open loft which felt oddly appropriate for that home.  I especially liked that the laundry room was centrally located upstairs, yet away from the bedrooms. I also appreciated that the master bedroom in this home faced the front of the house, away from the noisy backyard and busy road that runs behind the lot.

My One Complaint

floorplanIn Lot 1 of the plat, I saw a most unique layout on the main level. The design was still an “L” shape, but the rooms were flopped around, such that the dining room was placed at the back of the home in the corner, and the kitchen was situated in-between it and the family room. I think the layout works very well for the home, except for two glaring problems.  The builder installed a large granite island in the center of the kitchen which is really nice but the island is nothing more than a large granite table.  There are no cabinets installed underneath! Such a waste of space in a smaller home where storage is a premium.  The second issue is that the island (or should I say table?) abuts the great room (seen in the diagram to the left). This is fine if you have hardwood flooring throughout the two rooms, but if you have carpeting in the great room (as is the case in the model home) and you wanted to sit around the large gathering space, you have several chairs on the carpet, and several on the hardwood flooring.  Not too practical if you plan to entertain in that space and end up spilling food on the floor.  I think the builder will probably get some negative feedback from potential buyers on this design element.

A Plug For The Builders

If you’re in the market for a new home, or would just like to see what the latest and greatest designers are putting into the homes, you should definitely check out these homes in Bothell. The neighborhood is called Brookfield, and it is located east of Bothell-Everett Highway, on 180th St. SE.  If you don’t have a Realtor, and you’d like to take a look at these homes, give me a call!

When REALiTY BiTES, bite back!


How Much Should I Offer?


Today’s question is a one that I’ve heard from every buyer I’ve had the pleasure of helping in real estate.

Q: How do I know how much to offer on a property? A.S. – Woodinville, WA

A: Well A.S., that’s a very common (and good) question. No buyer wants to feel like he/she is overpaying for a home in this market (or in any market), but especially in a volatile market where no stability is in sight.  Back in the early 2000’s when it was a “sellers” market, buyers were less concerned about price and more concerned about NOT losing the home to other buyers in bidding wars.  That’s because they believed that homes would continue to appreciate at an unprecedented rate. Times sure have changed!

That’s why it is especially important that the first thing you do, is make sure it is the RIGHT home for you. If it’s not the RIGHT home for you, does it really matter that you got it for a great price? Since you’ll likely have to stay in your home for 5+ years in order to recoup your costs, you better like coming home to it every day!

The next step is to have your Realtor complete a CMA/BPO on the property.  I could (and probably will in the near future) write a separate post on the many factors that go into a thorough CMA/BPO, but suffice it to say, not all homes are created equal.  I’ve seen some agents try and compare a two-story home with a split-level in the same neighborhood with the justification that they both have two levels, and similar square footages.  Yes, there are similarities, but they are NOT equal!

In addition to the CMA/BPO (which should focus on SOLD properties, not homes still on the market), consideration should also be given to how long ago the home sold.  In an area where homes are depreciating at a rate of 5% every six months, a home that sold last year would be worth roughly 10% less in today’s market (all other things being equal).

As important as the price you pay for the home, you really shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is first and foremost, a place to live.  If faced with a counter-offer from a seller, ask yourself if you’d be disappointed if you lost the home to another buyer.  If the answer is YES, then does it really matter that you’ve paid a little bit more for the home of your dreams?

Keep those questions coming!

When REALiTY BiTES, bite back!


Dear Mr & Mrs. Seller: We Love Your Home But…


Why Buyers (and Realtors) Love REOs

Let’s face it, there are a lot of homes for sale right now.  It seems you can’t drive down the street in most neighborhoods without seeing a For Sale sign.  In Woodinville, WA the city that I live, there are 229 homes for sale (208 homes, 21 condos).  Of those homes available, 12 are bank owned properties (5% of the market).  Contrast that with the number of homes currently under contract (99 homes PENDing), of which 18 are bank owned.

Why do REOs sell quicker than other homes? If you ask the general public, they would answer “Because they sell for less than market value!” My answer would be “Because they are priced appropriately for the market, based on the current conditions”.  If you read my answer carefully, you’ll notice that there are distinct differences between the two statements, but those differences can dictate whether you stay or go. Read the rest of this entry »

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