6 Tips and Trends in Edmonds Real Estate
Spending any amount of time in Edmonds, you immediately know why so many people desire to live in this area. Just last month, Seattle Magazine named Edmonds one of Puget Sound’s most walkable downtowns, touting the seaside ambience and plentiful local amenities.
It’s also no secret that Seattle is in the midst of a hot real estate market with homes in Edmonds appreciating quickly, leaving both buyers and sellers with a lot of questions.
We asked five local Edmonds real estate experts to give us the low down on the top trends in the Edmonds housing market. Michelle Van Tassell of Coldwell Banker Bain, Kirk Blevins of Legendary Properties, Kristine Hovde and Amanda Hovde of Windermere, and Leonard Schiffman of Re/Max Direct Realty shared these tips with us.
Ed!: In this competitive market, what is your best tip to give to buyers?
Michelle: Work with a professional who knows how to help preserve your rights as a buyer, while still presenting a highly competitive offer. If you are obtaining a mortgage, ask about your lender’s options for being fully underwritten as a buyer.
Kirk: Be very flexible with their schedules, make themselves available as soon as a new listing comes on the market. They can’t hesitate, and must be ready with a pre-approval unless they plan to pay cash and can verify that the funds are non-contingent upon the sale of stocks, 401K’s, or otherwise. Their agent must be just as readily available as they are, and abreast on the latest strategies and techniques of preparing the offer.
Kristine and Amanda: Buyers need to have everything ready (pre-approval letter, earnest money, and inspectors) up to date and ready to go to make an offer. They need to be flexible to see properties and get in right away. If they wait for the open house it might be sold by then, as some sellers are taking early offers. They need to be willing to give up some things on their wish list and have a plan B.
Leonard: Identify your “needs” and “wants”. Never waiver on your “needs”, and rank your “wants”. If your potential home purchase “speaks to your heart” and has all your “needs”, be prepared to compromise heavily on your “wants” and write an offer for what the home is worth, based on credible comparable sales and appreciation rate, not based on the seller’s price entry point.
Ed!: Should a buyer ever forego an inspection or other part of the process in order to have a winning offer?
Michelle: I am a proponent of inspections and, more importantly, a buyer’s right to due diligence and full investigation of all pertinent facts related to a real estate sale. Go in with eyes wide open, and knowing all your options. It is tempting in this strong seller’s market to waive key contingencies, but know what the potential pitfalls are before you do so.
Kirk: I wouldn’t ever recommend foregoing an inspection but rather they should do a pre-inspection prior to writing an offer, with the seller’s permission.
Kristine and Amanda: That is a personal decision based on knowledge. You can have a pre-inspection to not forego an inspection. Right now the market is so fast-paced and limited inventory that we are seeing the winning contracts waiving certain addendums to win. The buyer’s broker should explain all of this to them to protect them in the offer process.
Leonard: Even if the buyer is a state certified home inspector and the home is new construction, the answer is no. At minimum, have an objective certified home inspector due a pre-inspection with an on-site oral report, before waiving the inspection contingency. Buyers are often driven by emotion and frustration from losing several offers in this historic seller’s market. One of the key roles a real estate professional plays, is to present objective FACTS in front of the buyer AND reveal when the buyer is making a subjective assumption.
Ed!: On the opposite side, what is your best advice to potential sellers?
Michelle: Keep in mind that a buyer who waives all their rights to due diligence is not necessarily your strongest buyer. It is in your best interest to seek a clean and clear break from the transaction once it’s closed, so actually providing space and time for the buyer to do a complete investigation is worthwhile. This should not be construed as the perfect time to sell a home with inherent problems or unresolved defects. Prior to listing, fix any systemic issues, and be sure to disclose all defects.
Kirk: Don’t ever sell your home outside of exposing it through the MLS, even though it seems like a great offer. In this market I’ve seen homes go for tens of thousands over what broker’s market analysis reports show, because the buyer demands are driving the price higher than even us neighborhood experts ever expected. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of preparing your home professionally for the market.
Kristine and Amanda: Have your house 100% ready to hit the market, you only get one first impression to make them want to view your home. Make the property accessible anytime so buyers can see it, which sometimes means going on a mini vacation when your property hits the market.
Leonard: Even in this amazing seller’s market, there are several “gotchas” lurking in those multiple offers. Is the highest offer usually the best? Rarely, unless its cash, with proof of funds, appraisal waived, $200,000 non-refundable earnest money due to the seller at mutual acceptance. Best “bang for the buck” is curb appeal. INVEST (expect ROI) in exterior facelifts or landscaping…don’t spend $$ on new carpet that may reduce the buyer pool by 25% simply because of your color choice!
Ed!: Do you think there are still good investment buys and house flipping opportunities in Edmonds?
Michelle: Absolutely, there are excellent investment opportunities in Edmonds! I don’t know that I would call them good “buys” right now, but investors should continue to keep their eye on Edmonds, given our proximity to a variety of job opportunities to the north, south & east, as well as mass transit planning. Flipping opportunities are harder to predict, especially when many of our sales are closing at over list price while appraising at lower than list price. If we continue to see double-digit appreciation, then there is some room for flipping, but this is not the typical market for this type of investor.
Kirk: That’s a crystal ball question. I guess it depends on the investor’s willingness to roll the dice after paying top dollar and anticipating the market to continue to see double digit increases. One must be more creative and in tune with values in specific areas, and even what a specific neighborhood demands. I see it definitely getting more difficult to find these opportunities but they are still out there, especially as the inventory continues to remain extremely low.
Kristine and Amanda: We are seeing the flipping market become a little more limited right now. As far as investment buys in Edmonds, we only see the City growing and offering so much to the community making it a fantastic investment purchase area. Thus explaining one reason for our limited housing.
Ed!: What do you think will continue to be the leading trends in the Edmonds housing market through 2018?
Michelle: Because of a variety of factors—strong job market, low inventory, and buyers who feel pushed out of the King County housing market– we will continue to see high demand in Edmonds through 2018. This means multiple offer scenarios on nearly every listing, and an overall heated market.
Kristine and Amanda: The market is telling us that it will continue to be a seller’s market. We look to have continued limited inventory. Sellers need to have a plan and know where they are going if they put their home on the market because it will sell. Buyers need to be 100% in the market if they want to compete and be flexible. Unfortunately, sometimes this takes the buyer losing a few properties to really understand this market.
Leonard: Low inventory and an abundance of qualified AND motivated buyers. The greater Seattle infrastructure continues to grow with the advent of new employment opportunities at a historic level. New construction within 10 miles of the CBD of Seattle is rare; this has resulted in a vain attempt to create more housing opportunities through redefining zoning districts and creating new ones with extremely high density allowances.
This creates a positive market reaction for the Edmonds community due to the steadfast policies of our city in terms of zoning, historic landmark preservation, height restrictions and other measures to preserve the integrity of our community.
Ed!: What do you recommend people look for or ask when hiring an agent (for buying or selling)?
Michelle: For both buyers & sellers, I would recommend asking why that agent chose to affiliate with the company they chose; what the law of agency means, especially dual agency; and their organization and communication style. I would also recommend asking them to explain the different contingencies involved in a purchase & sale agreement and the benefits of each, and how they recommend handling a multiple offer scenario. Sellers should also ask to see the agent’s marketing plan specific for their home, including broad (such as international) marketing in the case of a luxury listing, and targeted marketing. Ask to see justification and analysis for the agent’s recommended price range, and resist the temptation to simply choose the one recommending the highest price. Rather, strive to get a good sense of how your agent will represent you through the entire transaction, how knowledgeable about the process they are, and how they anticipate and work through challenges.
Kirk: What makes them, not the brokerage, different from the next agent? How available and committed are they to helping the client achieve their ultimate goals? Do they seem trustworthy and not over anxious? How are they with customer service? How do they recommend preparing a home for the market and how involved are they in the process? Is the broker more concerned about boasting of themselves and their business, or is it all about the client and being able to meet and exceed their expectations, in other words are they listening to the clients twice as much as they are talking about themselves?
Kristine and Amanda: Ask if they are a realtor, not every broker is a realtor. Ask to see their stats, their marketing plan or buyer’s book, which should contain testimonials. Ask if they are they a full time agent. Call their clients, and make sure the Broker is a good fit for you. And take the time to decide if the broker will meet your needs and has the same standards as you. In the end the buyer and seller are in charge.
Leonard: Interview 3-4 agents with similar conversation starters with the sole intent of establishing if the agent is “unit” or “relationship based”. Listen to the agent and make sure she/he has conversation starters as well. The agent MUST be interviewing you as well; are you “cost based” or “value based”? Gain agreement on mutual expectations, across the board.
Ed! would like to thank these five Edmonds real estate professionals for providing their insight. You can connect with each of them via the links provided in the article above, or check out the Ed! directory for all of the fantastic real estate experts in our area.
Written by Kelsey Foster, lead photography by Matt Hulbert