April 9th, 2009 categories: Ballard, Belltown, Fremont, Georgetown, HGTV, Home Buyers, Transitional Areas, Waterfront
Sunday night HGTV
ran a special based on their "House Hunter
" TV series which now has over 600 episodes, called "House Hunter's Guide to the Top 25 Most Important Things Every Potential Home Buyer Should Know
". So I thought I would watch and pass along my top 10 picks from the 25 for you, and add my thoughts as well.
There were a lot of good, common sense suggestions in HGTV's tips, though I thought there were too many to try and stretch out the tips to 25, and fill an hour long program. Space, and the *yawn* factor to include all 25 of the tips is going to limit me to posting just my Top 10 picks from the 25. If you would like to see all 25, just drop me an email an I will send them along to you since HGTV does not have them listed on their site.
So here you are with my Top 10 picks of Important Things Every Seattle Home Buyer Should Know
(plus a "Bonus Tip") from HGTV's Top 25 Tips, my comments are in italics:
Know what you want and need: Make a list of you would LIKE and what you need. Needs and wants are different! Wants are extras.
Be ready to compromise - you won't be able to afford everything you want. Your next "Move Up" home will very likely be closer to having more of what you would like. The current one will help you leverage into your next home in 5 or more years depending on the market and if you add value to the home with improvements.
Factor in all the costs of your purchase
- Property taxes
- Homeowners' Insurance
- Closing Costs including your down payment
- Updating/remodeling - don't forget this cost. It might be things need to be done immediately, or over time.
Buy in Winter - There is more inventory in Spring, but better deals in the Winter. This is sooo true!
Check out the neighborhood - be sure you do your homework to find out important things about the neighborhood, like the schools (how good they are) possible development, or construction that could block a view etc. There are lots of great online resources to help with this, but don't forget the importance of walking the neighborhood in the evening and weekend, and chatting with the neighbors.
Consider transitional areas - follow the Artists! Artists need cheap space, they move in, then others follow. This is especially true in Seattle, with older artist areas of Belltown, Ballard, Fremont, Georgetown and we all know how those areas had been going up in value and desirability.
Understand Land value - that is the price of the land minus the structure = land value Ex: waterfront property, there is only so much available so that value holds better. While Seattle does have lots, and lots of waterfront because of the Sound, the lakes, and canal, it is very desirable, and will always be very desirable...because there is still LESS of it. Same goes for water views, just less expensive than waterfront.
Buy the house not the furniture - be sure look past both the bad (dirty homes and dated furnishings) and the good (staged homes) to see the true value for you. YES! You will likely get a better deal if you can look past the wear and tear, and dated things because many buyers will pass on those homes putting downward pressure on the home's value. The same works in reverse, that is why staging is a valuable selling tool. Be smart, it's all about the value of what STAYS with the house.
Buy the worst house in the best area - a great way to buy an affordable home in a great area. Remember, that it can be time consuming and more costly than you originally thought to fix up. If you are trying to get more for your money location wise, then this is very important. Remember: Location, location, location! This also works in reverse when you buy the BEST home in an area, the other homes pull down the value.
Know a cosmetic fixer from a "gut job" - BIG difference in the amount of time and money to fix up. Identifying "good bones" in a property that can be improved. Painting, changing flooring, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, window coverings, appliances etc. all qualify as cosmetic. Floor plan changes (to correct bad flow, or open up house) additions, replacing systems such as electrical, plumbing, heating, foundations, roofs etc. start moving into the "gut job" area, and can really add to costs.
Follow your instincts - choosing your home should be equal parts intellectual and emotional. One home buyer told her agent that "buying a home was like buying a wedding dress". A real estate agent should help you with the intellectual part, but only you can decide on the emotional side. Yes, you will know when houses seem like the right one, and your Seattle real estate agent should be there to think about the practical aspects of whether the house has the value that works for You.
HGTV says that home buyers see an average of 9 homes before finding the one they purchase....
There You have it.... Happy House Hunting!
February 26th, 2009 categories: Art, Artists, Georgetown, White Center
White Center For The Arts Studio Tours Feb. 21, 2009
Last week, I was invited by Kim McCarthy
to the launching of White Center For The Arts Building
with their first Open Studio Art Tour
in White Center
(fondly nicknamed Rat City
) on Saturday, Feb. 21. I came with a friend (after showing houses for sale until it was too dark to see) to tour the studios.
The White Center For The Arts Building
is on the main street of White Center
and it actually has a skate rink
in the building where the Rat City Roller Girls
first started skating. The building is now in the process of becoming a focal point for the White Center Art community
as artists' have been priced out of other Seattle
Kim McCarthy in her studio for the White Center Open Studio Tour
The progression for urban neighborhood renewal is for artists to begin to move into an affordable, usually a bit rundown, neighborhood close in to the city. The artists' support the local restaurants, cafes and bars, and a buzz begins to build. This brings hip/edgy younger people who start hanging out, then buying the affordable housing and fixing them up. The builders now come building condos helping to further transform the neighborhood, causing prices to move up and pricing out the younger artists who then seek out another affordable neighborhood and the cycle begins again.
Ken Torres in his studio at the White Center For The Arts Open Studio Tour
Close by Georgetown
has recently undergone this transformation and the housing in Georgetown
has priced out many first time home buyers
. Currently White Center
has 11 homes for sale
on the market median price $299,950, and Georgetown has 13 homes for sale
at a median price of $350,000.
My friend and I were there to say "Hi" to Kim McCarthy
and Ken Torres
(both work at DANIEL SMITH Artists' Materials
- fyi, I write the blog for DANIEL SMITH) and it was fun to see their artwork. Kim is a very active artist, and I am always running into her at various art venues!
July 11th, 2008 categories: Art, Gardens, Georgetown, Seattle Celebrations & Festivals
This Sunday, July 13th, is the 13th annual Georgetown Art & Garden Walk
. Just 5 minuets south of Seattle
is welcoming one and all to see their gardens, art studios and have some fun!
I went to Georgetown earlier in the week to get a photo of the poster, I can usually get really interesting photos of a poster nailed to a telephone pole, but not this year. I finally found one in the window of Fruit Cocktail Collectibles where I took the above photos. Fruit Cocktail Collectibles even has it's own little garden area! Be sure to take a peek inside when you are in the Georgetown neighborhood they have some cool mid-century (and more!) collectibles.
Okay, back to the Georgetown Art & Garden Walk....
The Georgetown Neighborhood website says this about the Georgetown Art & Garden Walk:
"So much to see! Colorful gardens, artist studios, food and drink, plus tours of the Georgetown Powerplant Museum and the Museum of Communication. Free and no registration required. Maps available on the day of the walk at the Bank of America parking lot, 1112 South Bailey Street."
Last year I was working with some clients showing a house, and afterwards, I had an open house scheduled at my Montlake listing so I missed the Georgetown Art & Garden Walk. But I have happy memories of my 2006 visit and here are some photos....
May 2nd, 2008 categories: Urban Village
Seattle, like all cities, has many interesting neighborhoods that each have a unique flavor and character that make living in Seattle a wonderful experience. I call these neighborhoods Urban Villages.
Many of the Seattle neighborhoods have a center or village where shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and businesses gather that provide places for the locals to shop, relax with a cup of coffee, meet up with their friends and neighbors, and catch up with the local happenings.
The Seattle Urban Villages that we are going to explore over time are: Alki, Ballard, Belltown, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Fremont (the self proclaimed "Center of the Universe"!) Georgetown, Green Lake, Madison Park, Madison Valley, Magnolia, Montlake, Queen Anne, Pioneer Square, University District, Wallingford, West Seattle and many more.
We will also explore the cities surrounding Seattle such as: Mercer Island, Bellevue, Kirkland, other places on the Eastside and around Seattle.
So why take the time to explore these Urban Villages and more?
Because buying a house and choosing it's location where you will make a home is such an important step to make...it should not be taken lightly.
Location, Location, Location is not just a Real Estate phrase about one way value is determined, it's also about the lifestyle you will be enjoying and living for years to come. Making a good match with a neighborhood or Urban Village
is important for truly making a home.
So...join me and let the adventure of Seattle's Urban Villages and Seattle Real Estate begin!