Tips from the pros to get top dollar for your house

An eight-week timeline for putting your house on the market

Published: February 25, 2015 05:30 PM

The spring home selling season is nearly here, so if you’re thinking about entering the market, now’s the time to get your house in order. A home can be ready to list in as little as a month, especially if it’s in good shape and you’re working with a competent real estate agent. But it’s often better to give yourself a little more cushion. Here’s a rough timeline, including advice gleaned from a recent survey of 303 real estate professionals conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Two months out (or more)

Find a real estate agent. This is arguably the most important decision you’ll make in the whole home-selling process. You want to find an agent who is credible and trustworthy and with whom you have good rapport. It pays to speak with a few professionals, ideally using word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family. For good measure, check the references from at least three recent clients. Before signing the contract, be clear on the agent’s commission. In our survey, 63 percent of pros said they negotiate their fees at least half the time, and the average commission was 4 percent—not the 6 percent that’s often considered the industry standard. Check out these other real estate agent secrets.

Six weeks out

Handle any large repairs or upgrades. Pay close attention to the kitchen and bathrooms, which are the two rooms that most sell a house. Our report found that spending about $2,200 on new suite of appliances—the dishwasher, range, and refrigerator—could fetch you an extra $6,000. In the bathroom, consider replacing corroded fixtures as well as the vanity countertop, which can be fairly inexpensive given its small size. Applying a fresh coat of paint in high-traffic parts of the home, including the front door, is also a good use of time and money

One month out

Get rid of the clutter. Nothing turns away buyers faster than a messy house. You want them to be able to imagine themselves in your home, which will be impossible if your stuff is piled everywhere. Storage is a big selling point, so free up the closets and kitchen cabinets. This is also the time to pack up family photos, which can be another distraction for would-be buyers. These measures can add about 5 percent to a home’s asking price, which works out to $10,000 on the average property.

Two weeks out

Photograph your home. In the era of online real estate, this step is crucial. If you’re working with a top-quality real estate agent, they’ll hopefully pony up for professional photographer—and maybe even a stager too. If they try to tell you their smart phone camera can do the job, don’t believe them. An advanced digital camera is essential, because its large sensor will take clear pictures even in low-light interiors. Be sure to photograph every room in the home, as well as the exterior and yard. Here are some tips from the pros at Consumer Reports.

One week out

Do a deep clean. Ahead of the first open house, you need to thoroughly wipe down every surface in the home, as well as vacuum and dust every corner. Do your best to air out the property by opening windows. And avoid cooking any smelly dishes in the final days leading up to the open house.

One to two days out

List your home online. Traffic to real estate websites tends to spike just before the weekend. For example, on the real estate broker Redfin, traffic is 29 percent higher on Fridays than Sundays. So aim to post your listing on Thursday or Friday. And make sure you have the pieces in place before posting, especially the visuals. Some sellers debut their listing without the photos, thinking they can upload them later. But by that time, much of the traffic will have moved on.

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on Twitter)   

Housing Market Update – February 2015 Findings

The real estate market in February acted more like spring. Open houses were crowded with buyers competing for a shrinking number of homes. Lack of inventory continues to cause concern, while rising prices raise hopes that more homeowners will take the leap and put their homes on the market.

Read the full Local Market Update, including statistics for the Eastside, Seattle and King County.



If you’d like information on your specific neighborhood, give me a call and I’ll be happy to send you a report.
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Details on carpet stain removal

Carpet stain removal can be a daunting task. It should also be done with much care and precaution to prevent damage on the carpet. While using the vacuum cleaner will do fine, it will only remove the dirt. Stains are different, thus, they should be treated differently.

Regardless of the approach employed in removing the stains, it is best to act immediately and quickly. If you wait in doing the cleaning, you risk ruining your carpet for good. Whether oil, wax, solid or liquid substances are spilled on the carpet, you need to grab a clean cloth to remove the solid substances or what can be removed from the stain.

Then you have to blot out as much of the stain as possible. If a liquid substance spilled the carpet, there might occur wicking. Wicking means that the liquid substances have pooled at the bottom of your carpet. Hence, it will weaken the fiber of your carpet, causing the stain to spread and resurface; and eventually, serious damage is done on your carpet.

To prevent wicking, you need to cover the area with a thick dry cloth, and weigh it down with thick books or something that is heavy. Leave it overnight and remove the stain as normal in the following day.

In the morning, when you are certain that no more liquid or staining material will come out, blot out the stain using a dampen cloth or sponge. Avoid scrubbing the carpet as it would weaken the fiber and cause the stain to spread to other areas.

Blotting the stain gently will remove the stain without causing further damage to the carpet. If the stain remains after blotting it with water, you may want to squirt mild dish washing liquid onto it to clean. Blot the stain gently and let it sit for an hour before you blot again with a cool damp sponge or cloth until the stain is totally removed.

There are many carpet stain removal products available in the market in case you do not like to use dishwashing liquid detergent. Commercial products designed for removing stains vary based on what types of stains on your carpet.

For them to be effective, you need to figure out what type of stains your carpet has. If it is greasy like oils for cooking, body, automotive or moisturizing, use grease-based stain removal products.

If the stains are acid-based like coffee or urine, your choices are oil-based or acid-based products. In oil-based, the stains are dissolved, while in acid-based, the chemical quality of the spots are changed in order to make them easy to remove.

If you are not certain on the type of stain your carpet has, choose the all-purpose type of carpet stain removal product.

In all your undertakings, it is best to test the carpet stain removal product in a corner of the carpet or in any out-of-the-way area of the carpet, lest, you may risk creating a faded spot that may look more hideous than the stain itself.

by Rudy Silva


56 new residential buildings in downtown Seattle

There are 56 new residential buildings in downtown Seattle, and that’s just the beginning

Feb 25, 2015, 1:57pm PST UPDATED: Feb 25, 2015, 2:44pm PST
Downtown Seattle Skyline

Enlarge Photo
Business Journal | Steve Wilhelm

Overall job growth in downtown Seattle is twice that of the region as a whole: 243,995 Seattleites work downtown.

Nearly 65,000 people live in downtown Seattle. Almost a quarter-of-a-million people work downtown every day. Fifteen million square feet of office space is under development.

Simply put, downtown Seattle is booming.

The Downtown Seattle Association presented its 2015 State of Downtown report Wednesday at an event heavily attended by public officials and business executives.

DSA President and CEO Jon Scholeshighlighted the association’s focus on public safety and residential development.

Scholes has a lot to live up to as the new head of the DSA after business favorite Kate Joncas departed to become deputy mayor last summer. Scholes’ plans to make downtown a safer, more accessible place to live and work received several rounds of applause Wednesday.

“Downtown has added approximately 25 new jobs each day,” he said.

The DSA considers “downtown” to be all neighborhoods from the waterfront to Capitol Hill and from Sodo to lower Queen Anne.

The report shows – no surprise – that commercial real estate construction is booming. Amazon alone has plans to occupy 10 million square feet.

One of the most telling numbers from Wednesday’s presentation was downtown’s residential population increase.

Downtown’s permanent population has increased 8 percent since 2010 to 65,000 people. That number is expected to increase 10 percent more in five years. About 2,700 of those residents are children, a good sign that the population will continue increasing in the neighborhood.

The number of occupied apartments and condos has shot up even faster — there are now 12,000 condos and 33,000 apartment units in the neighborhood.

But not for long. More than 3,000 units are under construction this year, and about 2,650 more are planned for 2016.

Fifty-six new residential buildings are either planned, under construction or recently completed, Scholes said.

The organization is partnering with the city to increase public safety and tackle the homelessness issue that pervades downtown.

Here are five other key things to know from the 2015 State of Downtown Economic Report.

1. Downtown retail sales have increased 22 percent since 2009. “We know how fragile downtown retail is,” Scholes said. “You can lose your retail in a few years and it can take a few decades to get it back. We are determined that this will not happen here.”

2. Restaurant sales are up 31 percent over the last five years and the number of restaurants and bars have increased 20 percent. “All this gluttony is just fine as the number of gyms have doubled in the last five years,” Scholes joked.

3. Sixty-nine percent of downtown employees commute using public transit and other methods besides driving, up from 50 percent in 2000.

4. “Seattle is a city full of great designers and architects,” Scholes said. “You wouldn’t know that by peering outside at our sidewalks and parks at times.” The DSA is pushing initiatives to improve and update public spaces.

5. The overall job growth in downtown is twice that of the region as a whole: 243,995 Seattleites work downtown.

Why Are We Still Making Buildings Without a 13th Floor?

Because we’re chicken—check these numbers

8:09 AM PST February 13, 2015

Manhattan Skyline

The midtown Manhattan skyline

Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

If you got on a plane this morning, or traded a stock, or drove your car through an intersection, congratulations. You’re too logical for medieval superstitions.

And if you’re reading this from under the covers after e-mailing the office “WFH/Friday the 13th”?

Congratulations again—you’re in the good company of New York’s boldest real estate developers. Twelve centuries after the Omens of Charlemagne’s Death, they are still labeling the floor that comes after 12 as 14.

Less than 10 percent of Manhattan condominiums with 13 or more stories actually label a floor with the dreaded number, said Gabby Warshawer, director of research at data and listings company CityRealty. That’s an estimate based on 650 mid- and high-rise buildings that have filed condo declarations with New York City since 2003, including luxury towers going up right now, such as 53W53 and 225 W. 57th Street.

A spokesman for Otis International, the elevator maker, once estimated that 85 percent of U.S. buildings with more than 13 floors skipped the unlucky number. Otis’s current press office couldn’t confirm that stat.

And builders seem to be getting more superstitious, not less. Newer buildings seem even likelier to skip 13 than older ones, Warshawer said.

Moreover, bad luck seems like a bigger deal at the higher end of the Manhattan market, confounding expectations that a person who spends $10 million for a couple of thousand square feet of midair real estate should be a data-driven rationalist.

Warshawer cautioned that her data set of 650 condos may be too varied for firm conclusions. “You can’t make too much sense out of an irrational superstition,” she said rationally.

Well, let’s try. Just why are the titans who borrow scary sums to erect towers that defy gravity and wind currents afraid to number the 13th floor?

“Marketing people want to appeal to the largest audience,” said Jacqueline Urgo, president of the Marketing Directors, a New York real estate consultancy that helps developers make these kinds of decisions. Most people don’t mind living on the 13th floor, just like most people don’t mind sitting in the 13th row of an airplane. But there’s nothing gained by shrinking the potential market, Urgo said.

For the record, some airlines jump from row 12 to row 14.

Here’s another theory for the mystical leanings of the master builders. Pulling a number out of the floor plan serves to make a building seem taller. Prices for 13th-floor apartments, the handful of them that exist, don’t sell at a discount, according to Jonathan Miller, chief executive of appraisal firm Miller Samuel. (He’s also a contributor to Bloomberg View.) But apartments on higher floor numbers command higher prices.

“From a marketing standpoint, it’s pretty powerful,” he said. “The taller you get, the thinner the competition is. If you’re on the 90th floor, there are only a handful units.”

Patrick Kwan, a 33-year-old Chinese American who lives in a new apartment complex in Midtown, thought it was funny that his modern digs, where tenants can request concierge services by iPhone app, doesn’t have a 13th floor. Then again, he wasn’t willing to live on the fourth or 14th floor, because those numbers are bad luck in Chinese culture.

“Even if I were OK with being on the fourth or 14th floor, I’m sure I would have a lot to deal with from my mom,” he said.

Why do Realtors charge 3%?

I understand this number may seem high to you but when you actually take a look at the huge list of things we do to ensure a smooth closing, I think you will better understand.

Also, we are not paid until closing so if you are the type that wants to shop homes with me for a year and then decides not to buy at all, I get paid zero.


The Critical Role of the REALTOR®

Article by Rainier Title Company

Listed here are nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by full service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. Depending on the transaction, some may take minutes, hours, or even days to complete, while some may not be needed.

More importantly, they reflect the level of skill, knowledge and attention to detail required in today’s real estate transaction, underscoring the importance of having help and guidance from someone who fully understands the process – a REALTOR®.

And never forget that REALTORS® are pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics in their professional dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. Make sure yours does!

Pre-Listing Activities

1 Make appointment with seller for listing presentation

2 Send seller a written or e-mail confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm

3 Review pre-appointment questions

4 Research all comparable currently listed properties

5 Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public records databases

6 Research “Average Days on Market” for this property of this type, price range and location

7 Download and review property tax roll information

8 Prepare “Comparable Market Analysis” (CMA) to establish fair market value

9 Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex lay-out

10 Research property’s ownership & deed type

11 Research property’s public record information for lot size & dimensions

12 Research and verify legal description

13 Research property’s land use coding and deed restrictions

14 Research property’s current use and zoning

15 Verify legal names of owner(s) in county’s public property records

16 Prepare listing presentation package with above materials

17 Perform exterior “Curb Appeal Assessment” of subject property

18 Compile and assemble formal file on property

19 Confirm current public schools and explain impact of schools on market value

20 Review listing appointment checklist to ensure all steps and actions have been completed

Listing Appointment Presentation

21 Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections

22 Review agent’s and company’s credentials and accomplishments in the market

23 Present company’s profile and position or “niche” in the marketplace

24 Present CMA Results To Seller, including Comparables, Solds, Current Listings & Expireds

25 Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions

26 Discuss Goals With Seller To Market Effectively

27 Explain market power and benefits of Multiple Listing Service

28 Explain market power of web marketing, IDX and

29 Explain the work the brokerage and agent do “behind the scenes” and agent’s availability on weekends

30 Explain agent’s role in taking calls to screen for qualified buyers and protect seller from curiosity seekers

31 Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan

32 Explain different agency relationships and determine seller’s preference

33 Review and explain all clauses in Listing Contract & Addendum and obtain seller’s signature

Once Property is Under Listing Agreement

34 Review current title information

35 Measure overall and heated square footage

36 Measure interior room sizes

37 Confirm lot size via owner’s copy of certified survey, if available

38 Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements

39 Obtain house plans, if applicable and available

40 Review house plans and make copy

41 Order plat map for retention in property’s listing file

42 Prepare showing instructions for buyers’ agents and agree on showing time window with seller

43 Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and & loan account numbers

44 Verify current loan information with lender(s)

45 Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements

46 Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller

47 Review current appraisal if available

48 Identify Home Owner Association manager if applicable

49 Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager – mandatory or optional and current annual fee

50 Order copy of Homeowner Association bylaws, if applicable

51 Research electricity availability and supplier’s name and phone number

52 Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills

53 Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system

54 Water System: Calculate average water fees or rates from last 12 months of bills )

55 Well Water: Confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report

56 Natural Gas: Research/verify availability and supplier’s name and phone number

57 Verify security system, current term of service and whether owned or leased

58 Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond

59 Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure

60 Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact

61 Prepare detailed list of property’s “Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale”

62 Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items

63 Send “Vacancy Checklist” to seller if property is vacant

64 Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller

65 Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty Application

66 When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale

67 Have extra key made for lockbox

68 Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:

69 􀂃 Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file

70 􀂃 Verify all rents & deposits

71 􀂃 Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled

72 Arrange for installation of yard sign

73 Assist seller with completion of Seller’s Disclosure form

74 “New Listing Checklist” Completed

75 Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and provide suggestions to improve salability

76 Review results of Interior Décor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market

77 Load listing into transaction management software program

Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Database

78 Prepare MLS Profile Sheet — Agents is responsible for “quality control” and accuracy of listing data

79 Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS Listing Database

80 Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy – including proper placement in mapping function

81 Add property to company’s Active Listings list

82 Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Form within 48 hours

83 Take additional photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography

Marketing The Listing

84 Create print and Internet ads with seller’s input

85 Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®. Return all calls – weekends included

86 Install electronic lock box if authorized by owner. Program with agreed-upon showing time windows

87 Prepare mailing and contact list

88 Generate mail-merge letters to contact list

89 Order “Just Listed” labels & reports

90 Prepare flyers & feedback faxes

91 Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions and availability

92 Prepare property marketing brochure for seller’s review

93 Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers

94 Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes

95 Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable

96 Mail Out “Just Listed” notice to all neighborhood residents

97 Advise Network Referral Program of listing

98 Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks

99 Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network

100 Provide “Special Feature” cards for marketing, if applicable

101 Submit ads to company’s participating Internet real estate sites

102 Price changes conveyed promptly to all Internet groups

103 Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed

104 Loan information reviewed and updated in MLS as required

105 Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyers’ agents after showings

106 Review weekly Market Study

107 Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale

108 Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing & pricing

109 Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database

The Offer and Contract

109 Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyers’ agents.

110 Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a “net sheet” on each for the owner for comparison purposes

111 Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer

112 Contact buyers’ agents to review buyer’s qualifications and discuss offer

113 Fax/deliver Seller’s Disclosure to buyer’s agent or buyer upon request and prior to offer if possible

114 Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer

115 Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from Loan Officer

116 Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date

117 Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer’s agent

118 Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company

119 When Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver to buyer’s agent

120 Record and promptly deposit buyer’s earnest money in escrow account.

121 Disseminate “Under-Contract Showing Restrictions” as seller requests

122 Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller

123 Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent

133 Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender

124 Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file

125 Advise seller in handling additional offers to purchase submitted between contract and closing

126 Change status in MLS to “Sale Pending”

127 Update transaction management program to show “Sale Pending”

128 Review buyer’s credit report results — Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios

129 Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed

130 Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary

131 Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates

132 Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer

133 Order septic system inspection, if applicable

134 Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale

135 Deliver copy of septic system inspection report lender & buyer

136 Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file

137 Verify termite inspection ordered

138 Verify mold inspection ordered, if required

Tracking the Loan Process

139 Confirm Verifications Of Deposit & Buyer’s Employment Have Been Returned

140 Follow Loan Processing Through To The Underwriter

141 Add lender and other vendors to transaction management program so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale

142 Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track

143 Relay final approval of buyer’s loan application to seller

Home Inspection

144 Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with seller

145 Review home inspector’s report

146 Enter completion into transaction management tracking software program

147 Explain seller’s responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract

148 Ensure seller’s compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements

149 Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs

150 Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller’s behalf, if needed

The Appraisal

151 Schedule Appraisal

154 Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser

152 Follow-Up On Appraisal

151 Enter completion into transaction management program

153 Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low

Closing Preparations and Duties

154 Contract Is Signed By All Parties

155 Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender

156 Update closing forms & files

157 Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale

158 Select location where closing will be held

159 Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties

160 Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death


161 Work with buyer’s agent in scheduling and conducting buyer’s Final Walk-Thru prior to closing

172 Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations

162 Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company)

163 Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation

164 Forward verified closing figures to buyer’s agent

165 Request copy of closing documents from closing agent

166 Confirm buyer and buyer’s agent have received title insurance commitment

167 Provide “Home Owners Warranty” for availability at closing

168 Review all closing documents carefully for errors

169 Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested

170 Review documents with closing agent (attorney)

171 Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent

173 Coordinate this closing with seller’s next purchase and resolve any timing problems

174 Have a “no surprises” closing so that seller receives a net proceeds check at closing

175 Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable

176 Change MLS status to Sold. Enter sale date, price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.

177 Close out listing in transaction management program

Follow Up After Closing

178 Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company if requested

179 Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied

180 Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from office files.

Where are the Seattle-area homes for sale? Inventory shrinks

Feb 6, 2015, 5:51am PST
House For Sale

There are a lot fewer Seattle-area homes for sale right now than there were a year ago.

Private Airplane Hanger, Heated Barn, & Indoor/Outdoor Arenas – Crown Creek Ranch15 photos

Home of the Day

Sponsor Listing

Contributing Editor-Puget Sound Business Journal

There are a lot fewer Seattle-area homes for sale right now than there were a year ago.

According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), the number of active listings of Western Washington single family homes and condominiums fell from 19,195 a year ago to 17,082 at the end of January, a decline of 11 percent. For the four-county Puget Sound region, inventory is down 12 percent.

In King County, there are only about two months of home supply for sale; real-estate brokers say a healthy balance between supply and demand is a four- to six-month supply.

“We are entering February with a severe shortage of homes for sale in the neighborhoods close to the job centers, and we expect that shortage to continue throughout the spring market,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, in a statement.

A hot sales market exacerbated the situation: In Western Washington last month, there were 7,658 pending sales but only 6,989 new listings.

Brokers lamented the tight inventory situation.

“The current inventory of homes available for sale has never been lower in my 22 years as a real estate broker,” said MLS director George Moorhead of Bentley Properties, in the statement. 206 409 5878