Straight from our Closets: How we will Help “Dress for Success”

We are going to take a break from our regularily scheduled programming of All Things Real Estate and focus on something else that we are passionate about…..clothes (ahem, maybe a guilty pleasure) and boosting other women, lifting them and helping achieve their goals for a brighter future.  Whatever we can do help someone become a #girlboss, we are IN.

So many women have big dreams to find a job, make money to support their families, build their future. Unfortunately, many do not have the resources to begin the process with their first impression. The Job Interview is one of the occasions that can make or break someones chances of getting their foot in the door.

Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 150 cities in 28 countries and has helped nearly one million women work towards self-sufficiency. Check out their website here.

Cloud City Homes is excited to announce that we will be hosting a clothing drive to contribute to this fantastic organization. We will be collecting items from friends, family, and clients in the Seattle area to donate to Dress for Success.

On Thursday, February 15th, we will host a small party at the Windermere Real Estate West Seattle Office from 6-9 PM. Here, you will be welcome to try on some of these items and keep what you like in exchange for a small donation. All remaining items as well as funds collected will be donated to Dress for Success.

Please consider collecting and donating the following items, some straight from your closet:

Plus sized (size 18 to 32)
Designer clothing
Accessories
Handbags
New items with tags
New Spanx
Umbrellas
Winter Coats

Please contact us to coordinate pickup, dropoff, or details of this event. We really hope you can make it and promise you will feel great, knowing that your gently used clothing is going to a good cause. Bonus points for having a newly cleaned out closet!

 

 

Photo Credit:

thecurvyfashionista.com

blogs.uww.edu

stylediscussions.com

 

The Holidays are a GREAT Time to Buy or Sell

Yep, we are right in the middle of it, but if you are waiting until after the holidays, it’s not a bad idea to sieze the moment. Here’s why….

Many sellers take their homes off the market for the holidays and buyers who have been out looking all year may take the rest of the year off. So why would it be a great time to buy or sell if there are fewer buyers and sellers in the market? For a lot of reasons:

Less competition for both buyers and sellers – Less competition benefits both buyers and sellers. Fewer homes on the market means homes that are listed will be noticed by buyers (which is great for sellers!). And with fewer buyers in the market, that means less competition for those homes (which is great for buyers!). Especially in markets with very high buyer demand coupled with multiple offers, a holiday lull may be just the break that buyers need to make an offer and get a house under contract.

Motivated buyers and sellers – People who buy or sell during the holidays have a different mindset. They aren’t looky-loos or sellers just trying to test the market. Buyers and sellers have a goal and are serious about the process. Take a look at it from both sides: if you are a seller, wouldn’t you want to work with a buyer who is pre-approved, knows what market price is and ready to buy? If you are a buyer, wouldn’t you prefer to work with a seller who has priced their home at market and is ready to negotiate?

Buyers are pressed for time – Searching for homes can take a lot of time! But competition for that time from other holiday activities means that home searches are usually much more efficient and buyers are ready to make a decision quicker. Both sides may be less willing to drag negotiations out for fear of interfering with holiday plans.

Getting your next move squared away before the end of the year – The looming New Year’s date is often a great motivator on both sides as people want to have their plan in place before the calendar changes to a new year.

Holiday décor – Some homes show best when all decked out for the holidays! Full of light and greenery, homes that exude coziness can really stand out to nostalgic and motivated homebuyers.

Everyone is motivated to close – From lenders, inspectors, closers and more, getting your transaction done by the end of the year (if possible and as per the purchase and sale agreement) is important to all involved! And, with fewer transactions competing for their time, the fewer hang-ups there may be!

However, buying or selling during the holidays does take strategy which needs to begin as soon as possible. Are you thinking about making a move? Let’s talk and make a plan! Contact us here. We will take a closer look at your market opportunities and outline a plan to achieve your goals and timeline.

Staging: It Might Not Be a Radical Departure from Your Own Home Decor

Preparing a property to list isn’t always a complete re-do, staging wise.

There may be several elements that can be used to market the property. If you’ve recently had fresh paint or a few new accessories to brighten up a space, it may be more a case of “de-personalizing” a property into a marketable product.

This helps the prospective buyers of the property to better imagine themselves living in the home, rather than having a vivid image of how you live there.

Staging, after all, gives a bit of psychological distance for both buyers and sellers. For buyers, they can begin to see themselves there. For sellers, what was once “their home” begins to transition into “a property”.

It’s a subtle, but powerful distance.

That being said, it may not take much to stage a property in preparation for listing.

Note in the bedroom image below, most of the furnishings have been used in this room, but adjusted and straightened into a slightly less lived-in space.

Another bedroom image in the same listing. This room needed a bit more professional support in terms of furnishings and decor in order to show this space to its best advantage.

Your broker and their professional stager/s and photographer/s are serious allies who can transform a home into an appealing property, and then also market the hell out of it, no matter what the market is doing.

A few more Before and After photos for your review. See if you can note what’s been kept and used in staging in both the Before and the After, if anything.

We’d love to take your Seattle home to market for you!

What’s the Temperature on the Seattle Real Estate Seller’s Market?

It’s still a hot real estate market in the Seattle area, but it doesn’t seem as “frenzied” as it did just a few short months ago.

What’s really happening
Top dollar will be made, and there are still multiple offers being made on special houses in highly desirable neighborhoods. But not every property will yield multiple offers and there are fewer instances of $50k, or 100k, offers coming in over asking price.

We are coming off a slow Summer and into a more active Fall. We might see a push of more homes in September and October, then things will slow down again over the holidays. People are still moving to Seattle, but the Spring crush is really where lots of action hits in real estate.

When it comes to this time of year, especially in this market, sellers should really consider listening to their trusted brokers about what the market will bear for the property they’d like to sell.

Your broker should really have a solid system for pricing, including research of the current market, comparables in the neighborhood and certainly how the property itself stands apart as a value for a potential buyer.

Here at Cloud City Homes, we definitely have a solid system in place and rely on it.

Cloud City Homes Real Estate Seattle

It changes week to week
It can be impactful for a seller when the market changes temperatures, even a little bit.

It’s easy to get amped up and excited to see and hear about properties going for $20k – $100k+ over asking. To hear about 6-10 offers on one property. But that’s not every property; those are featured properties that you hear about around the office.

Sure, dream a little….then get some real data
Many sellers come up with a number they’d like to get for a property (without data or research) that the market just won’t bear for them.

So, if you’re considering putting your property up on the market, and you have a number in mind that you’d like to get, ask about comparables in the neighborhood.

Talk with us about why your property should be valued at the asking price you have in your head. Where does your property offer that value, specifically? If you just like the number, but don’t have specifics to point to, that is a recipe for disappointment.

We want to make the transaction as easy as possible for you, including pricing. So we constantly monitor the market and we’re touring homes throughout the city so we can put our best efforts forward on your behalf. We want to get you the best price the market will bear at the time you choose to list.

Let’s talk about your property together so you have good, clear information. Give us a call.

 

Turning a Home Into a Property: Marketing Your Listing for Sale

A great return on a property investment in Seattle still requires a bit of work and effort before we create a listing and take a home to market.

This is where timing and staging come in…and this is also a sweet spot for us here at Cloud City Homes. We recommend that all of our listing properties do a bit of sprucing up, work with a staging service and have professional photos taken to capture and keep attention.

Most of the sellers do elect to go with our recommendations and experience smooth and abundant transitions of ownership.

Below are a few “Before & After” snaps for your review.

The Befores are taken prior to staging, and not by a professional photographer.

The After shots feature staged rooms and the work of a pro in lighting, angles. You’ll see the difference right away.

 

cloud city homes real estate, bedroom before & after

 

Improving Your Home’s Curb Appeal in Seattle

Your end-of-summer spruce-up checklist if you’re considering putting your house on the market …or if you just want to retain the value of your home. 

Let’s take advantage of the long summer days we have left! The following are a  few suggestions we often make during the summer selling cycle.

The exterior of your home

Power washing makes a load of difference. A good solid spray session to remove dirt and grime…as well as the dirt that looks like it may be mold…will make your house POP, especially if it’s been awhile since your neighbors power washed their homes.

Please do not power wash the roof. Instead, sweep or gently remove the moss that’s grown on your roof, and definitely clean out the gutters.

If you’ve got chipped paint, go ahead and fill that in or repaint.

Rotted wood or siding? It’s time to start replacing those too.

Give your front door a fresh coat of paint.

Wash your windows, inside and out. This task is actually a bit of a secret weapon, you’ll be amazed in how much better it looks and feels when the windows are sparkly and clear.

Let’s talk landscaping

Tidying up your yard and any landscaping will keep the house looking inviting and fresh. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “I’m selling, so I’ll just let the yard ‘go'”.

A word about fences

If you have fences or fencing and it’s not adding to the beauty of your home, we suggest you fix, replace or remove it.

Just this summer we’ve had two listings that had chain link fence around the yard. We suggested, in both cases, that it be removed in order to open up and showcase the properties to their best advantage.

If you’d like a custom walk-through of your property or some specific suggestions, we’d love to pay you a visit and share our suggestions with you.

What’s your PMI Status? Are you still paying? Is it necessary?

These days, down payments can vary from 50% down all the way down to 5%. When you get to the 20% or less, you would be required to pay PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance. As time goes by and the market continues to sizzle, this might be temporary and you can actually change your monthly payment for the better.

Private Mortgage Insurance (or PMI) is an extra charge that banks require when the amount of a loan someone takes out to purchase or refinance a home causes the loan to value ratio to exceed 80%. This means that the buyer or owner has less than 20% equity in the home. The bank requires PMI in the event the homeowner forecloses or the market shifts and the buyer has to do a short sale.

PMI can range anywhere from .3% to 1.5% of the original loan amount per year according to Bankrate.com. It is usually paid as a separate line item as part of the mortgage payment. The PMI rate can vary according to size of down payment, credit score, and insurer.

Here is an example of how PMI can be assessed (each situation may differ):

Purchase Price: $500,000
Down payment: $40,000
Loan Amount: $460,000 or 92% of the purchase price
Annual PMI Premium: $2,300 (.5% of original loan amount)
Monthly Premium: $191.66

If you have been paying an extra charge for PMI each month, this is likely a charge you would like to be rid of. The great news is that home values in Seattle have been on the rise. Since in a conventional loan, the PMI rate must be cancelled when the loan-to-value ratio (appraised value/loan amount) drops below 78%, the rise in home values should be helping your situation.

In our above example, let’s say the homeowner bought the home three years ago in Seattle. Median sales prices have increased 16.1% in that time and although an appraisal of some sort would be required to determine market value, let’s assume that market value for this property has indeed increased 16% since purchase. That would mean that three years of payments plus appreciation would cause the PMI to no longer be needed:

Loan Balance: $432,000
Appraised Value: $580,000
Loan-to-Value Ratio: 74.5%

In this case, the PMI may have already been cancelled. However, if you have been paying PMI, have been paying down your mortgage principal, and prices have increased to the point where you think you shouldn’t be paying PMI, it may be time to ask your bank to reassess the situation since banks may not be aware of what is happening in our local market.

FHA loans work a little bit differently—an entire refinance may be in order. However, rates are still low (but are expected to rise). You may have a narrow window in front of you where the benefits of refinancing may be worth the refinance!

If you would like to know how prices have appreciated in your area so you are ready to reach out to the bank, we would be happy to help. Please give us a call, text, or email: 206-762-0682 or sarahgc@cloudcityhomes.com and shelley@cloudcityhomes.com.  

Before & After Images: Staging Makes ALL the Difference

What is it about staging and good marketing that takes a listing to the next level? It’s not just one thing. We’d venture to say it’s a few. And we will share as you scroll through these images and see the difference for yourself.

before & after staging 1 cloud city homes

Part of staging is adding freshness to a space. Furnishings and accessories that aren’t quite as “arranged:, shall we say? That freshness also comes in the form of new paint, a bit of landscaping and clean up too.

before & after staging seattle real estate cloud city homes

Part of the beauty of staging is in the neutrality that newer furnishings and paint can bring. A home to the seller becomes a property, or even a product, to put on the real estate market. Staging takes it from someone else’s home to “potentially my home” in a buyer’s mind.

Part one of selling a home is definitely the staging. There’s an element that goes hand-in-hand with staging and that is professional photography, and possibly even video.

Review the photos yourself. A professional photographer can quickly and easily capture the essence of a staged space so that critical components such as lighting and angle selection are portrayed in a way that can show a property at it’s very best.

 

Look at how spacious and airy and fresh the “after” photos portray each room. If you’re going to the trouble of moving your belongings out for a professional staging job, go all the way with marketing photos that will grab your potential buyers during their onlune searches. Photos that will make them want to come in to see your property in person.

We can make the whole process really easy for you at Cloud City Homes.

Get in touch!

On Buying a Home in Seattle: Summer, Fall & Winter

It’s not all-about-Spring when it comes to rushing for real estate in Seattle. There are homes to buy during Summer, Fall and Winter.

We’ll share about why the “alt seasons” are good ones to find your home in Seattle. Especially if you are experiencing “Buyer Fatigue.” Watch the video now.

Top Dollar for Your Seattle House All Year Round

Spring is a common “rush” time for real estate.

But the “alt seasons” of Summer, Fall and Winter can also bring top dollar for your listing. The Seattle market has been a “seller’s market” for awhile now. Watch the video and check out the reasons why Summer, Fall and Winter make for great times to list and sell your property here.