Archive for the ‘Snohomish County Real Estate’ Category

Please don’t call me a “salesman”

You won’t see my fancy new luxury car waiting in the drive-through line-up at your local coffee stand…because I don’t have one. You also won’t see a tacky magnetic door sign with my cell number on the side of the car I do drive, nor will you catch me wearing my name badge at the grocery store. I’m not a salesman, and I don’t expect people to ask me to help buy or sell their home simply because they see I’m in real estate. If I wouldn’t approach a complete stranger and ask them to coordinate the purchase or sale of my biggest asset, why should I expect anyone else to?

I drive a domestic sedan. It’s comfortable, economical, and unpretentious. In the past 6 months, I’ve heard two different clients and one acquaintance, all fellow Gen-X’ers, express discomfort at being chauffeured around in luxury sedans by other agents. When asked why they felt that way, each responded with something similar to, “How many of their car payments would I be making if I bought through them?” I’ve often wondered if one reason many of my colleagues drive higher-end cars is related to the old-school fallacy that professional competence (hence “success”) can be judged by the kind of car one drives.

Whether or not someone agrees with my perspective, one thing is certain – times are changing!

We’re entering an era where modesty, conservation, and access to information have begun to trump decadence and status quo. Prospective buyers and sellers have greater access to real estate information today than ever before. And while not all available information can be considered “good” by professional standards, many consumers are learning that buying or selling a home is not rocket science. As a result, the commissions paid to real estate agents and their brokers have come into question. For this reason especially, it’s important that my clients see me for what I am – a young professional working hard to help them meet their goals – not a slick overpaid salesman looking for the source of his next $800 car payment. (“Hey, it’s a tax write-off!” Congratulations.)

generational study completed in 2005 by Fairleigh Dickinson University‘s Silberman College of Business shows that my values and those of the clients I mentioned above are shared by most in our generation. According to the study, those born between 1965 and 1980 (commonly referred to as “Generation X”) tend to be much more skeptical and financially conservative than their parents.

It’s nice to know I’m in the majority for once in my life. 🙂


Questions to ask before buying a condo

You’ve found a condo that you could call home. You like the layout, can live with the square footage, and have already started placing furniture in your mind.

However before writing up an offer, there are a few important questions you should ask your agent.

  1. What is the level of owner occupancy in the building, and what level does my lender require? An owner occupant lives in the unit they own, rather than renting it to a tenant. Many lenders require a certain percentage of owner-occupants before they’ll agree to finance you. The exact percentage required will vary by lender, but I’ve seen this range from 50% to 80%. Why do lenders care? Pride of ownership. Owners are more likely to maintain their homes and the building as a whole better than renters would. If you default on your loan, the lender wants some assurance they’ll be able to sell your unit – a task made easier if the complex is well-maintained.
  2. Is there any pending litigation? It isn’t uncommon for condo associations (particularly in newer buildings) to have lawsuits pending with contractors. The lawsuits typically involve alleged errors made during construction or renovation. Many lenders will not agree to finance your purchase if litigation is in process. Why do lenders care? If the condo association doesn’t win the lawsuit and doesn’t have sufficient money in reserve, a special assessment may need to be levied. Each unit owner will then be required to contribute a certain amount of money (above and beyond mortgage payment and standard homeowner’s dues) to fix whatever issue the lawsuit attempted to address (defects with the building’s roof, siding, structure, etc.). As this scenario can significantly impact your ability to make the mortgage payment, your lender would prefer to avoid it.
  3. And finally, have any other written offers been received? Before having your agent write and submit an offer, make sure she/he has been in touch with the seller’s agent to find out if any other offers are currently on the table. Inexperienced agents sometimes forget to get this question answered before taking the time to draft an offer.