An Executive Overview as March Begins:
It’s still inventory.
There are more homes on the market, in Trilogy, the Seattle area and anywhere you can plant a “for sale” sign in the front yard. Up until now it’s been the same houses. The most recent inventory moves quickly and an analysis shows that smart agents and smart sellers have corrected the faults of those houses long on the market, that they have carefully studied market conditions and set realistic prices and that the quickly sold homes were kept in meticulous condition.
In other words, the old inventory is largely still there, sometimes because its pricing isn’t right, sometimes because it needs updating and a good spit shine to appeal to a buyer, and sometimes , well, the selling broker figures in a tight market, a “for sale” sign is enough.
Regardless of the market, no matter if there is or isn’t inventory, the basics apply. Pricing. Preparation. Presentation. Doing it well takes an expert, in fact, a team of experts totally committed to serving the seller.
Buying in Trilogy means folks 55 and over want spectacular values, not dollar values but living values. They want clean, updated and perfect conditions for properties they will seriously consider. They want to just move in. Sure, they can see potential, but that’s for later. What’s important now is…pricing, preparation and presentation, especially preparation and presentation if your selling broker has done a thorough job of price analysis. When our sales are approaching 300 in Trilogy alone, pricing is the easy part. Consider experience when you’re looking for top dollar then, consider personal involvement when getting the house prepared not only to sell, but to bring the strongest price possible and pass inspection. We’ve been successful at both.
We help buyers too!
We chat a lot about the importance of proper preparation, promotion, presentation and pricing homes we list for sale but did you know that Devin is an “Accredited Buyer’s Representative”, as well? So, if you are thinking of downsizing or upsizing, we can help you too.
Five homes were sold in Trilogy during February. That compares with 10 a year earlier and two in January. Closed sales included:
|Model||Original Asking Price||Sold Price||Days on Market|
|Orchard – Foreclosure||$414,900||$341,000||166|
|Chelan – Foreclosure||$384,900||$385,100||125|
|Nice –Shea New Build||$699,900||$699,900||2|
*Homes in bold; the Elephant’s work. The Whidbey was the first listing and first sale for all of Trilogy in 2014. It took a couple weeks to prepare and a few hours to get an offer. We had two offers the first day and took a couple days to sign it around. I was both; the listing and selling broker. The Chelan was an REO or Real Estate Owned or Bank owned; all descriptions of a foreclosure. I represented the buyer in a bidding war where we outbid the competitor by $100.00.
Four homes are pending as of months end. That compares with 17 a year ago and seven a month ago. Here they are:
|Model||Asking Price||Days on Market|
|Washington – Shea Spec House||$549,900||25|
|Monticello – Customized Resell||$1,189,000||103|
11 homes are available for sale as of March 1st. Four of them added by yours truly and seven more than the only three available February 1. The 11 includes the one lagging last spec home by Shea. There were 16 resells a year ago and a handful of new construction houses. Here’s what’s for sale.
|Model||Asking Price||Days on Market||Elephant thoughts:|
|Chelan – ARCH Home||$318,691||1||Backs to tall wall|
|Chelan – ARCH Home*||$359,000||18||Mtn. View, Fixed up nicely, Good Value|
|Orchard*||$429,500||1||Nice Upgrades, 2 Bed + Den, A/C. Should go fast.|
|Townsend||$459,900||15||Stand Alone, great lot, modest upgrades|
|Sammamish||$489,000||8||Not many out there|
|Hemlock||$667,500||141||Too long for the most popular floor plan.|
|Hemlock*||$725,000||9||Greenbelt and Posh|
|Hemlock*||$750,000||1||One-of-a-Kind, Hallway w/2 Beds + Den w/closet + additional finished room/2nd office/Hobby/TV Room.|
|Maryhill||$940,000||1||Finally, an Estate Home priced properly and not a usual Trilogy broker.|
|Monticello||$1,050,000||306||Shea’s last new build.|
|Maryhill||$1,095,000||21||Lovely Golf Course Home.|
*Homes in bold; the Elephant’s listings; all of them prepared and presented the same way, regardless of price; It’s a passion and a promise.
Why the Elephant?
When we use the parity of the Elephant, it represents our passion; our way of measuring our success through the stubborn pursuit of making our customers ecstatic with our service. We serve everyone equally regardless of their ethnic background, religious or political stances, among other ethical categories. Devin is, or at least used to be, an unusual name. People may not remember it down the road, regardless of how well we served them. I think everyone pretty much loves and admires the Elephant. I figured, people would remember “The Elephant Guy.”
The symbolic meaning of the elephant deals primarily with strength, honor, stability and patience, among other attributes. To the Hindu way of thought, the Elephant is found in the form of Ganesha who is the God of luck, fortune, protection and is a blessing upon all new projects. Ganesha in all his magnificently vibrant Elephant glory is intent on bulldozing obstacles.
Other symbolic meanings of the Elephant include reliability, dignity, power, royalty and pride. In the Christian symbolism the Elephant is an icon for temperance, patience and chastity. Asian meanings include happiness, longevity and good luck, determination, loyalty, advanced sensitivity and social connections. Elephants travel to a specific place upon their death – fulfilling personal responsibility – even at the end of their days.
We searched for a brand that valued the things we value, my wife and I. We strive to fulfill these duties to our deserving clients every day. The Elephant way is to be easily visible through the hard work we perform and that you’ll know to call us when you need someone to carry the load.
Is the Elephant Political?
NO! The Elephant has nothing to do with political parties. I was enlightened a little bit yesterday while visiting with some neighbors of a house I was fixing a window on in Trilogy. We had a delightful chat and I was glad they asked me, “Why the Elephant?” I shared my usual answer then came the question, “Why not a donkey?” Then, the powerful question, “Why would you repel approximately 50% of your buyer? This did raise my eye brows. Candidly, I’d never thought of it but, like so much minor feedback, if one is thinking it, most likely others are too.
In politics, the Elephant goes way back to the days of Andrew Jackson’s 1828 campaign where some reporter labeled him a “Jack Ass”. Jackson adopted the character on his campaign posters being as stubborn as he was. I’m glad we didn’t choose that branding. The Republicans have adopted the elephant as their official symbol. The Democrats have yet to do the same for the poor donkey.
Getting Discounted Listing Fees in the Mailbox?
More than one of our recent new listings hired us after investigating the difference. Statistics show, when you sell with a discount broker, you get less in your pocket. The one or two percent you think you’re saving, is usually wishful thinking. It’s like the chimp that can’t get his hand back from through the bars because he won’t let go of the apple. Discount brokers just want lots of listings but they don’t do the work it takes to get a house ready for the market. They throw a sign in the front yard, list you on the multiple and that’s it; you’re on your own.
Building value through great home preparation, pressure washing, staging, professional photography, personal home websites, SEO (search engine optimization) key words and so much more is necessary to justify a great asking price for your home. Don’t think you’re saving money by cutting corners and avoiding professional help. Here’s how most discount brokers work: It’s a numbers game; the more listings I get, the more money I make. They don’t care if they’re in Bellingham or Bothell. Are they experts in your neighborhood, let alone Trilogy? Trilogy is a very, very different animal. That’s why perfectly good houses sit on the market for four months without a buyer; the listing agent doesn’t know what to say to justify the pricing against non-Trilogy homes.
Are you prepared to make your own flyers? Are you prepared to sit at the dining room table, across from an aggressive buyer’s agent, with no representation, because that’s what you’ll have to do. Most discount brokers can’t afford to help you get ready, print flyers or pay a professional photographer and the better those things are done, the greater perceived value a potential buyer will offer you for your home. Those brokers say in the agent showing instructions, “present all offers directly to seller and send us a copy.” They are only getting paid to list you on the multiple listing service. That means you are sitting across from a buyer who has professional representation that is, potentially, going to beat the living tar out of you. I don’t wish to discount those of you who have professional sales experience but how many Trilogy houses have you sold?
Here’s why you’re better off hiring a traditional, experienced Trilogy broker.
- We’ll help you prepare the home so you’re not overwhelmed. You may be intimidated, but to us it’s a piece of cake. We do it for a living.
- Your home will appear to be more valuable with proper marketing.
- You’ll be exposed to many, many more potential buyers. Many of our leads do not come from the NWMLS; they are due to a large internet presence
- Do the math. It’s a known fact, a professional presentation and proper pricing will net more money for your home. A common commission is 6%, 3% to the listing broker (marketing and preparation expenses come out of that) and 3% to the selling broker. Let’s say you list your house with a discount broker for 4%, thinking you’re saving 2% and they list the house based upon how well you can get it ready, the quality of brochures you have to create and provide, and the quality of the photos you can create and provide. If you’re lucky, they’ll take a few photos with their camera or cell phone. You ask $500K. Four percent would be $20K, netting you $480K before closing costs. The same properly prepared, presented, promoted and priced home could easily bring another $25K when professionally represented by an “All Out” conventional broker. Now you ask $525K, done the Elephant way, you’ll likely get full-price or darn close when the offer comes and, notwithstanding the 6% ($525K x 6% = $31,200), you still net $493,500.00. Everyone wins and, voila, you have another $13,500 in your pocket and someone else did the work. That’s really how it works, folks.
Our recommendation? Go with someone with an established reputation for personal involvement, caring and experience. Let them do the lion’s share of the work. We have the vendors for carpet cleaning and stretching, window washing, landscaping, inspection repairs, moss removal, high definition photography, video, internet marketing and we make the best flyers in the industry. Relax, give us the keys and go to Arizona for a rest. It’s the day of high-tech; we can handle the house and send you the paperwork over the internet
Don’t forget to pull out your final settlement statement (HUD-1) for any real estate transactions you did in 2013. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, there are many line item expenses that can be written off. Check with your accountant or CPA. If you can’t find yours, and I was your broker, just let me know; I keep a copy. If I did not serve you, your escrow company can provide it for you.
Also, remember to gather any receipts for improvements you’ve made to the house, especially if you had over $250K in equity. Many of these can be used to reduce your capital gains and your Accountant/CPA may have other uses, as well.
Prognostications for March
Things should pick up on the sales and listing side. Just as the DOW or the S & P have a figure they end up with at the end of each trading day, there’s a number I watch every morning too. I call it my “Match Tick”. I haven’t heard of any other broker paying attention to this one but I find it very useful; it tells me something has changed in the Trilogy market and to dig deeper to see just what it is. I have an automatic general search set up for Trilogy and I click that search every morning. It’s a combination of everything that is currently available for sale (Active), anything that is under contract (Pending the close of escrow), whatever has closed escrow (Sold) and any listing that have expired or cancelled. The total of all those things is the Match Tick. That number was very consistent over the bestselling times of 2013, hovering around 57 or 58. It was always a bundle of things coming on the market, going under contract or closing escrow. It reached a peak of 62 which is the highest I’ve seen, when listings were at their peak and sales were good. The lowest I’ve ever seen it was about 17 or so.
In January of this year it was at eight! Zowee! “Something is up” it told me, or should I say down? It was a reflection of only three homes on the market, very few pending due to the lack of contracts being written in November and December (holiday season) and Shea rushing to close as many of their final new build completions to meet their 2013 Sales Quota. This left few closings for early in this year.
That number is at 20 today. It makes sense as I’m reporting 11 active, four pending and five sold. That equals 20. That number will go up but there’s a different reason why. It went up since last month mainly due to new listings coming on the market. I think that will continue. I think the number will rise toward thirty, then even higher until some of the new listings coming on begin to go “pending” by finding buyers for their homes. The buyers are not really out yet. There hasn’t been a really attractive home under $500K before we listed our Orchard yesterday, yet there’s a nice Sammamish that’s been on the market at $489K for over a week. I would have bet money that would have been snapped right up. The agent is doing a decent job and the price is not bad. Don’t be discouraged; the weather is terrible and the snow birders simply have not returned yet. The sellers who are deciding to list their properties right now are very smart but they do need a broker who markets hard during these pre-spring periods. Their reward will be getting a good price for their home before others start pricing against one another. That’s real estate. I just don’t know how many buyers we’ll see this year. Have they had their fill? Time will tell.
I think the biggest reason I expect lots of new sellers to hit the market very soon is that home owners are strongly becoming aware that Trilogy has hit its peak in pricing. I agree. Much more than normal we have experienced many sellers fleeing to warmer weather. Trilogy is a wonderful place to live but if you’ve had inevitable moving plans, now is the time. Trilogy hit the peak early and I don’t think members can expect pricing to continue forever.
The community has always been ahead of the curve in many ways and while pricing caps fell into that category, communities outside will continue to rise and, eventually catch up. So, why not sell high and buy low? That’s what I recommend. Oh, that number (The Match Tick), I doubt we’ll hit 62 again; high forties would not surprise me. I think sellers could outweigh buyers for Trilogy. I hope I’m wrong but we’ll see. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them. They carry big weight. I was off by one home in my January predictions for 2013 total sales. This year, I’m standing by my last month’s prognostication of a 20% drop this year. Is that good or bad? Personally, I don’t think it’s either for a Trilogy member; it’s simply information I hope you use to your advantage.
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That’s a wrap for February. We’ll see you next month!
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(all data current as of 1/30/2023)
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.