Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Winter is coming!  You’ll be ready for Winter’s worst and prevent expensive repairs by taking care of some basic yearly maintenance tasks….

To-Do #1: Seal Up Cracks and Gaps

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

Check the following key areas for leaks:

  • Around door and window frames.
  • Gaps around electrical outlets, phone lines, and outdoor faucets.
  • Around heating and/or cooling units.
  • The seal around room air conditioners.
  • At corners formed by siding.
  • Openings around drain pipes in bathrooms and kitchens.

So…How Do I Caulk?

Good question, now that you have identified the problem areas around your home, it’s time to seal them up.  Below are some simple steps to make it happen

  • Start by cleaning the surface to remove dirt, loose paint, and old caulk
  •  Determine which caulk to use based on the size of crack or gap and the surrounding material.
  •  Cut the tip off the tube of caulking at a 45° angle and load it into the caulking gun. Since the tip is tapered, the more you cut off, the wider the bead of caulk.
  • Use a long nail or the puncture tool found on caulking guns to break the inner seal.
  • Apply a uniform bead of caulk to the gap, making sure it covers both sides and completely fills the crack.
  • Remove any excess then smooth the bead of caulk with your finger before it begins to set.
  • Insert a tight fitting nail in the end of the tube of caulking to prevent it from drying out.

To-Do #2: Give Your Fireplace A Once-Over

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service

To-Do #3: Inspect Your Roof

If you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, you know that November 1st basically brings the rainy season for the next 6 months, which makes this step one of the most important things you can do to prevent moisture penetration in your home.

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval. Tom and Lori with Twin Peaks Roofing are wonderful to work with, affordable AND professional.  

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

To-Do #4: Clean and Repair Gutters

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

To-Do #5: Trim Back Trees and Bushes

Trimming your trees and hedges in the fall not only leaves you with less mess, it also improves the appearance of your shrubbery and can prevent or correct a safety hazard. While power tools are terrific (and a must for a large number of trees and bushes) most seasonal pruning and trimming can be taken care of with a few affordable hand tools.

Hand pruners, hedge trimmers, loping shears, and a pruning saw will take care of most small branches and limbs. First look for and remove dead or diseased limbs, then cut back excessive growth and trim the bush into the desired shape.

For taller trees and thicker limbs, consider calling in a professional especially if branches are dangerously close to power lines, Arbor Magic Tree Services have been a client favorite. You may also consider contacting your town or utility company, as major tree trimming may be their responsibility.

To-Do #6: Get Your  Furnace In Tune

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

Below is a helpful visual checklist:

Fall maintenance checklist

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Market Mondays: Kirkland- Juanita Neighborhood

As a resident and home owner of both a rental property and primary residence in Juanita, I may be a little bias to this community.  However, there is good reason for that….with still semi affordable home prices relative to the rest of Kirkland, proximity to Lake Washington and a growing community… this area is on fire!

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In the 1920’s, Juanita was home to the Juanita Beach Resort complete with a 2-story bath house and an amusement park!  The Juanita neighborhood is defined as NE 145th to the North, I-405 to the East, NE 132nd to the South and 100th Ave NE to the West.  In analyzing this specific market’s housing data, the biggest growth in property values are happening South of 124th and East of 98th with close proximity to Lake Washington and new construction developments on the horizon.

Displaying Juanita Beach 1950s.jpg

We are in a market where there is extremely low inventory!  As of October 19th, 2015 there are 12 active residential listings (excluding town homes and condos) in the Juanita neighborhood.  The price range is $359,950-$2.375M with a median list price of $715k.  An interesting observation is that $359,950 on the lowest end is located North of 124th, whereas the second most affordable listing is $499,950 located South of 124th (if you’re really interested in location specifics).

In the last 180 days, 17 homes are pending ranging from $350k-1.2M, with a median pending price of 625k.  To elaborate on pending, there have been 41 homes sold in the last 180 days ranging from 290k-1.15M, the median sale price was 500k and the average days on market is 8 days!!!  Another interesting note that I touched on in a previous blog post regarding pricing…homes that were priced strategically day 1 were the ones that sold in 8 days or less, AND sold for an average of 25k more than asking price!  The graphs below show months supply of inventory as well as list/sale price ratio graphics. (Note: the graphs only show data through September)

As you can see, the sale price/list price ratio is at or above asking price, this takes into consideration all of the data, including the homes that have sold for significantly over (all 8 days or less) as well as the homes that started out higher and dropped the price.

As of October 19th, 2015 Juanita has 1.5 months supply of inventory.  You can see that in August and September the months supply increased.  In my opinion, there were not many quality listings that came on during that time frame, and the ones that did come on the market were probably priced too high.  Those have since been absorbed but I will do another post updating the sale prices of these homes as we will see this impact in the market in October/November.

According to NWMLS September press release:

“Scarce inventory, new rules for mortgage closings and affordability concerns will likely slow home sales around Western Washington during the remaining months of 2015 and into early 2016, according to spokespersons from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.”

The “slow” months are a great time to both buy and sell a home.  Buyers will have less competition in a less frenzied sellers market and sellers will have little competition and attract serious buyers.  If you want “unbiased” real estate data, check out Seattle Bubble…it’s a great, data driven blog that illustrates some of the realities of the market.   It’s a nice balance to the sometimes “ra-rah” information coming from real estate professionals or skewed information from the media, but I always advocate clients to gather information from credible sources and think in a world where LOADS of information is available, it’s hard to sift through what is fact and what is BS.

I always welcome feedback, comments and questions so shoot me an email or text if you have any of the aforementioned!

Fall Decor Inspiration: Modern Halloween

I love everything about fall. Pumpkin anything, scarves, boots, sweaters, fires in the fireplaces, cuddling under a blanket, drinking coffee and reading a darn good book!!:

Fall is here in full swing which means that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner!  This time of year is perfect for warming up the home with earthy tones and textures or bringing pieces of whimsy, color and fun into your home.  I love this time of year and I LOVE a clean aesthetic with a modern spin on traditional decor.  Below you will find some of the textures, patterns and arrangements I found inspiring and will share pictures of our home in the coming weeks…

Modern + rustic fall decor:

Chic metallic + natural textures

Swap the traditional Halloween orange + black combo for a more modern twist: gold + black.:

Gold + Black

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Geometric Pattern + Modern Polka Dot

Use a gray, white, and beige color palette for a chic modern look.

White + Neutral

Rustic Chic Family Room Retreat

Rustic Modern Beauty + Subtle Decor

Take a stroll through this beautiful Eclectic cottage fall home tour with touches of vintage, rustic, and farmhouse decor:

Soft Textures + Neutral Layering

Modern Fall Decor Ideas:

Birch Bark + Warm Lighting

cute:

Whimsical Fun + Simplicity

Market Monday’s: Pricing in a Seller’s Market

What is my home worth?  It’s the question most home owners have and arguably the most important factor when deciding to sell a home.

In today’s hot seller’s market, where in King County there is a 1.4 months supply of inventory and a typical balanced market would be considered somewhere between 4 and 6 months supply.  According to a the most recent press release by NWMLS,  “Single family home prices across the 23 counties in the MLS report rose nearly 7.6 percent from a year ago, from $297,500 to $320,000. Single family homes in King County commanded the highest median price at $490,250, up 6.6 percent from the year-ago figure of $460,000, but down from June’s high of $500,000”.  Interestingly, 2,600 listings have expired this year in King County alone…the most common influencing factor? Overpricing.  Yes, it’s a sellers market but properties that sold for the most were strategic in pricing, ultimately attracting the most buyers when the property was most relevant and visible.  With all the valuation tools available to consumers (read 10 appraisals vs. Zestimates), below are some ways to take matters into your own hands and have a realistic look at your market area, ultimately helping you get the most for your home.

  • Study past sales. This is the starting point for any thoughtful and successful pricing strategy; think of it as the “science” part. Take the time to study past sale statistics for homes in your area and areas similar to yours. None will be identical, of course, but having a clear understanding of true market value is the first step in establishing your list price.
  • Do not confuse active listings with past sales. Active listings have not sold. They are just your competition. It is important to be aware of your competition’s pricing, but this is often just an indication of what your home won’t sell for.
  • Do not overprice because you have “time.” If the market is appreciating, this strategy may work, but if prices in your area are declining, you may quickly find yourself chasing a market and costing yourself money. And if the market is stable? Your home will just sit. Buyers pay in today’s dollars, and time is rarely on your side.
  • Leave some room for negotiation, but don’t overreach. No seller wants to feel he left money on the table, and no buyer wants to overpay. Your price should give both parties room to maneuver, but if it is too high, you risk being perceived as unrealistic, and buyers will pass over your home.
  • Think like a buyer. What are the things that you value in a home? Is it a large yard, an updated kitchen or a view? These are likely the same things that your buyer values as well. Talk to your agent about current buyer trends. Yesterday’s avocado green shag carpeting is today’s granite counter top. The property facing the interstate is going to be a tougher sell than the one with a mountain view. Your price should reflect how your home compares to the others offered for sale. Buyers will find objections to any home, as none is perfect, but it is curious how quickly objections disappear when the price is compelling.
  • React swiftly and decisively. If your home is on the market and is not being shown or if you receive feedback that you are priced too aggressively, don’t hesitate to adjust your price immediately!

First impressions are everything when selling your home. Studies have shown that the first two weeks on the market are the most crucial to your success. During these initial days, your home will be exposed to all active buyers making pricing and timing that much more critical.  If your price is perceived as too high, you will quickly lose this initial audience and find yourself relying only on the trickle of new buyers entering the market each day. Markets are dynamic, and your price has an expiration date. You have one chance to grab attention. Make sure your pricing helps you stand out on the shelf — in a positive way.

Oh, and here is a little infographic courtesy of Pinterest to help spruce up your curb appeal….

Tips for Selling Your Home; Curb Appeal. Curb appeal can mean the difference between a home that sells quickly for the asking price, and a home that sits for months on the market, below asking price.  #lakegeneva #fontana #curbappeal. http://agents.keeferealestate.com/michalene_melges/:

Buying New Construction

A lot of people ask what’s different about buying new construction.  We are seeing a lot of new construction coming up in the area with such a high demand for properties that it’s important to know what makes it unique for buyers!

First of all, you’re buying from the person who built it, not the person who called it home. The property is often one of many the builder is trying to sell. This can lead to a different dynamic both in negotiating and throughout the transaction.

What can you expect? Here are some of the most important things to consider when buying new construction.

1. Find a great agent.

Be sure it’s someone who has experience in new construction and isn’t affiliated with the builder. Model homes are typically staffed by a real estate agent who has a relationship with the builder. It’s important for you to have an agent to represent your best interests, from advising you on how to structure your offer to be most appealing to the builder to making choices that can affect your home’s resale value. Some developments have site registration policies that require your agent to accompany you on one of your first few visits.

Tip: Ask your agent to check the site’s registration policy before you go. Your agent may be able to register you online or via phone so you can visit the model at your convenience. Or you may arrange a time to look at the community with your agent.

2. Be creative during negotiations.

Builders don’t like to drop their prices. Instead, consider asking for the builder to pay closing costs or perform upgrades at no additional charge. Builders are often reluctant to set a precedent for negotiating prices since future buyers in the development may expect similar discounts. Consequently, builders are often more likely to negotiate “on the back end” since closing costs and upgrades are a less obvious way for them to sweeten a deal.

Tip: If you’re considering an offer, ask your agent to research the builder’s negotiating style on prior sales in the community and other developments they have built to determine if there is a particularly effective way to approach the offer.

3. Get everything in writing.

Don’t sign anything until everything has been negotiated, agreed upon and written into the contract. If you’re considering purchasing a home that is not yet complete, it’s very important to spell out how the home will be finished, what will happen if construction is not completed on time and the deadlines for decisions that will occur through the process. Verbal conversations are not binding, so everything important must be put in writing and signed by all parties.

Tip: Builders often use customized purchase agreement documents in place of standard forms commonly used in your area. Ask your agent to get a copy of the builder’s documents to review in advance.

4. What you see isn’t always what you get.

The fit and finish of the model home doesn’t necessarily represent what comes standard.Often the model home reflects a mix of standard materials and fixtures, as well as a handful of upgrades. When touring the model home, make sure to find out which is which. The important thing is to know exactly what you’ll be getting, what’s available and, of course, what it will cost. Keep in mind that costs can change. The price quoted at the start may not be the same when you decide to move forward.

 Tip: Ask your agent to help you get a list of standard features and, if available, a list of common upgrades and their associated costs.

5. Do your research on the builder.

Visit other developments and talk to homeowners. Search online for reviews, testimonials and news. Keep in mind that many builders will have both happy and unhappy customers in their past. Look for trends in reviews and make sure any concerns are covered in the purchase agreement documents.

Tip: Ask your agent if they’ve worked with the builder in the past or are aware of their reputation.

6. Get a guarantee.

You’re often buying a home that is not completed. What guarantees do you have the home will be ready on time? Your purchase agreement documents should specify a completion date. However, many builders add provisions that make the completion date dependent on permit approvals from the municipality or availability of building materials from suppliers. There can also be additional charges if you’re unable to close on time if your lender isn’t ready.

Tip: Ask your agent to point out in the agreement what happens in the event of a delay on either side.

7. Get the home inspected.

New homes have problems too. Hire an inspector to make sure everything is safe and up to code. Even though most municipalities require new homes to pass permit inspections, an independent verification with a qualified inspector is money well spent. In many cases, the builder will allow buyers to conduct an independent inspection and agree to repair code compliance issues but do not include a provision that would allow the buyer to walk away and retain their deposit if they are not satisfied with the result of the inspection.

Tip: Ask your agent to investigate and explain the inspection process and your rights in the agreement to request repairs or terminate the agreement.

8. Find out what’s covered.

Many new homes come with a warranty from the builder, but not all warranties are created equal. Know what is and isn’t covered and for how long. Many builders use a third-party warranty company. In some cases, the manufacturer of certain products, like windows, may have a separate warranty or guarantee and the builder might refer all issues with those components to the manufacturer instead of handling any issues directly. The builder should be able to provide details on which part of the home is covered by which policy.

Tip: Ask your agent to obtain warranty information early in the process so your offer documents can be prepared to address any concerns upfront.

9. Look to the future.

Check with the city to see what is planned for the surrounding area. If you have a view, will it still be there in five years? Most builders put the responsibility on the buyer to be aware of neighborhood or community dynamics related to other development in the area like traffic planning, the development of neighboring parcels, etc. Many new communities also have homeowners associations that can impact your potential new home as well.

Tip: Ask your agent about writing in a review period for you to investigate the area or plan to do some research before submitting your offer.

10. Do your homework on lenders.

Don’t automatically use the builder’s lender. Shop around for the loan that is best for you, not them. Some builders require that you get pre-approved with the builder’s preferred lender. By the time you are ready to make an offer, you probably have already spoken to a lender of your own. It can come as a surprise when the builder requires you to also get pre-approved with their lender.

Why would they do that? First off, it’s reassuring for the builder to hear about your qualifications from their lender, even if you don’t wind up using them. Secondly, it can sometimes be the most cost efficient option. Much like using the financial arm of a car company, they are often willing to offer more competitive rates and fees.

Additionally, in some instances, the preferred lender is the only option. This is especially true for projects that are in the early phases of development. If no other lender has entered that development yet, it can be hard to obtain a loan from any lender but the preferred lender.

Tip: Ask your agent to help you find out if there are any special offers, promotions or contractual differences if you agree to use the builder’s preferred lender.

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying new construction, contact me at 425.324.0302 or email me at rachelwagner@johnlscott.com for a complimentary kick-off consultation and strategy in buying your new construction home!

Spring Checklist For Homeowners

You’re a homeowner, now what? Whether you’re a new buyer or have been in your home for a year or two, you’ll want to make your home clean and comfortable for the many years ahead of you.  As a homeowner, it’s important to stay on top of the maintenance your home now requires.  Not only will this save you from a potentially larger problem down the line but it will also add value to your home when you decide to sell in the future.  Buyers (and their agents) love seeing a well maintained home (keeping your maintenance records is a bonus!) and could save you thousands of dollars in future negotiations, just by keeping your “house in order”.

This spring maintenance checklist has eight tips to help you avoid headaches down the road:

1. New Homeowner? Change the locks.

You may not have considered putting new locks on the doors, however, almost 70% of burglaries happen in residential neighborhoods. It’s unknown who or how many people the previous owner gave keys to, so you may want to install new locks. This is also a good opportunity to replace locks that are worn out or rusted.

2. Deep Clean Dusting

If you’re new to your home, you have probably had movers come through your home, and they bring quite a bit of dirt and dust with them. And even if you’ve been there  for a few years, spring is a great time to do a deep cleaning. If cleaning isn’t your thing, you can hire a maid service for less than $100.  If you do it yourself, begin with a thorough cleaning of any hardwood, tile or carpet. Wash the baseboards, which are often overlooked. If you’re going to install a new dryer, be sure to clean out the vent and exhaust space of any leftover dryer lint to avoid fire hazards.

3. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Check every smoke and carbon monoxide alarm in your home at least once a year. If they aren’t working properly, you’ll need to change the batteries or have the alarms replaced. If your home is older, it may not have a carbon monoxide alarm, so be sure to get one installed.

4. Check air filters and ducts.

A proper heating and air conditioning unit means clean ducts and filters to circulate the cold or warm air throughout the home. If they’re filled with dust, dirt or grime from years of use, it could prevent rooms from getting warm or cool when turned on. Check the ducts and filters for any dirt and clean and replace as needed. This should be a top priority for anyone who has allergies.

5. Keep the insulation updated.

During your professional home inspection, your inspector checked for proper insulation. But it’s always good to understand how old that insulation is and whether additional layer could improve energy efficiency. Revisit the insulation question occasionally to make sure what you have is adequate. You should also insulate your water heater and its pipes due to the climate fluctuations, or if the water heater is outside. This way it doesn’t have to turn on often to keep the water hot for baths, dishes and washing machines, ultimately save you money down the line.

6. Clean out the gutters.

To avoid roof damage during the winter or major storms, you must keep the gutters free of leaves and sticks that will prevent proper drainage. If you’re nervous to do this yourself, the professional cost to clean gutters and downspouts average between $160 and $210.

7. Prune and trim the landscaping.

If you’ve just moved in or if your yard got out of hand during the winter, you may need to trim trees, prune shrubs and mow the lawn. To save money, you can prune trees yourself, but hiring an arborist will ensure proper techniques are used as well as free up your precious time.

8. Personalize rooms with paint.

When you bought your home, the seller may have depersonalized rooms by painting them neutral colors such as white or taupe. Now that you own the home, you can paint over those colors to make it yours.

The aforementioned are just some of the many project possibilities that will keep your home in top condition as a new homeowner.  If you have any questions, or would like referrals to services such as the ones mentioned feel free to shoot me an email!  Happy Spring Everyone!

5 Tips For Competing in a Multiple Offer Market

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Holy Smokes! It’s been a minute since I have updated my blog, I’ve been busy in this absolutely insane real estate market and thought it was appropriate to share with you how to compete (and win) in a multiple offer real estate market.  Our current market has seen 32 consecutive months of multiple offers and shows no signs of slowing down.  With historically low inventory (below 1 month supply in many areas), continued job and population growth in the Puget Sound region as well as a backlog of buyers for each home, it’s important to be well equipped going into the real estate market.

In  the Seattle area market, you can expect a multiple offer situation on any property in a prime location that’s priced well. The following are some tips that I’ve been sharing with my clients to set them apart from the masses.

1. Price is the bottom line


The price you offer is generally the most important factor in a bidding war (Duh!). To determine what price you should offer, have your real estate agent run a search for comparable sales in the areas (a.k.a., comps). If you’re like most buyers and have been looking online or in person for a while, you’ll have a good feel for the market already.

A fear that everyone has when making an offer is overpaying. No one ever wants to pay too much for anything, let alone real estate. One way to make your offer attractive, while protecting how much you’re spending, is to add in something called an “Escalation Clause.” The escalation clause increases your offer price by a set dollar amount ($1,000, for example), up to a specific dollar cap that you set. The offer only increases by $1,000 if there is another offer that bumps it up.

For example, let’s say you offer $439,000 on a house, and add an escalation clause with a cap of $455,250. You’ll beat any competing offer up to your cap of $455,250 by $1,000. If there is another offer with an escalation clause with a cap of $450,000, your new offer price is only $1,000 higher than this, so your offer is now just $451,000 ($450,000 + $1,000). 

Keep in mind that asking the seller to give you a credit to pay for your closing costs is basically decreasing the amount of your offer. The seller only cares about their net (your offer minus any closing cost credits = their net). So if your cap is $455,250, but you’re asking for $10,000 in closing costs, your real cap is just $445,250, and in the above situation, you would have lost out of this house.

One last tip about escalation clauses – don’t make your cap a round number. An example of this is, let’s say I have a client with an escalation clause with a cap of $466,750, and the next highest offer had a cap of $466,000. By setting his cap higher than a round number (i.e, $25,000, $50,000, etc), we just barely beat of the competition.

2. Remove as many contingencies as possible

An offer to buy a house is generally dependent on a number of factors, including a number of contingencies (like an inspection, appraisal, financing, etc). The more contingencies you remove from your offer, the more attractive your offer will look to the seller. Unfortunately, this also means that it’s harder for you to get out of your offer if you needed to.
 
The most common contingency that people remove prior to making an offer is the inspection. A pre-inspection is where you pay the inspector $300-$500 out of pocket prior to making an offer. The home inspector will go through the property and tell you of any major and minor issues with the home. If he or she finds minor items, then generally I wouldn’t recommend asking the seller to make any repairs. If there are major issues found, then you need to decide whether this is the right property for your or not. The big problem with pre-inspections is when you pay for one, and then lose out on your offer and have to do it all over again on another property. If you don’t want to pay $300-$500 for a preinspection over and over, another option is to have a short inspection contingency window (1-3 days).  Although this is not ideal in a sellers market, it’s an alternative to paying out of pocket for an inspection at the risk of not getting the home.

Having cash, and not having to get a loan to purchase the property, really makes your offer attractive since there are very minimal contingencies needed. One reason why is because cash is quick (you can close in 7-10 days, as opposed to 30 days when getting financing), and there is no appraisal. An appraisal is where the bank sends out an appraiser to ensure that the price you’re paying for the property is fair based on comparable homes in the neighborhood. An appraisal is required when getting a loan.



Since not everyone has a half-million dollars sitting in their bank account, how do you compete with an all cash offer? The first way is to close as quickly as possible. I have a mortgage broker on hand that can close in as quick as 14 days. That means that we are almost as fast as an all-cash offer, and about twenty days faster than any offer with financing. This is a HUGE plus in this market, making sure you have a lender working with you to get things closed quickly is imperative in this market.

Another way to compete against cash offers is to waive your financing or appraisal contingency. I must warn you that doing this can be a risky move since the appraisal might come in lower than the price you’re paying, and if that happens you will have to pay the difference between the price you’re paying and the appraisal amount out of pocket at closing. This is also risky if you don’t end up getting approved for your loan. If that happens, you could lose your earnest money.

3. Come In Strong!

Sellers wants to know that you are serious and have the ability to close when you say you can. There are things you can structure within your offer to communicate your position to the seller, such as: pay for and have a pre-inspection done prior to making your offer, the larger the down payment the better, the higher your earnest money deposit the better, use a local lender (lenders that process loans in-house are preferable because they’re generally quicker and closing your loan, and you can usually get in touch with them easier), have a quick closing, use the preferred title and escrow company of seller, and consider waiving the appraisal or financing contingencies (but be sure to talk to your agent about the pitfalls of doing this because it can be a risky option at times). Doing these things don’t necessarily cost you more money (other than the pre-inspection), but they definitely make your offer stronger and more appealing to the seller.

4. Discover The Sellers Motivation

Quick closings, free or inexpensive seller rent-backs are appealing to most sellers depending on their goals.  It’s worth taking it one step further to find out what else they are looking for…do they need to get rid of their furniture? Offer to buy it, even a few hundred dollars.  If you can spend a few hundred bucks purchasing a few of the sellers unwanted furniture items, you save them the hassle of having to sell it on Craigslist or somewhere else. Doing this can set your offer apart from the crowd, even if you’re not the highest-priced offer because you’re saving the seller time and energy (which is something money can’t buy, and something that is extremely valuable to the seller when moving). This is one way to make a more creative offer, even if you don’t want or need the furniture you’re offering to buy since you’re only spending a few hundred bucks (and possibly saving thousands of dollars by not increasing your offer even higher). 
 You want to stand out, find out how you can set yourself apart.

5. Make it Personal


Adding a pre-approval letter is always a necessity, but adding in a love letter is a little extra touch that adds the emotional aspect to the mix. The point of the love letter is to appeal to the seller’s emotions, and make then realize that they want to sell to someone like you who will tale care of the house the same way that they have over the many years that they’ve owned it. Believe it or not, these letters have gotten my clients offers accepted, even when there are offers higher in price. There are a few key points to add to these letters, and I have some samples that I’m happy to share with you. Shoot me an email at rachelwagner@johnlscott.com if you would like some examples.  My favorite letter recently, included a couple photos of my clients from their wedding and a more personal photo of them hiking in the mountains.  The feedback from the seller was that she really enjoyed reading their letters, and felt connected personally to their photos. It was a really neat touch!