Stories of customers served
11-29-16: The Forest Street Townhomes are one of the cutest, neatest small projects around. They’re above the Light Rail Tunnel and McClellan Station, on the east slope of North Beacon Hill. But the builder brought them on the market back in 08, amid the crash, so they didn’t sell then and he held them as rentals. Yami and I listed his last one for $529k and had it in contract in a week.
11-28-16: This listing was one of the neatest you can imagine. 69-year-old Karin and her little dog Scooby Doo lived were ready to move from this solid home on the sound with its enchanting close-up views of the Fauntleroy Ferry coming and going. To where? To rural Kansas (were family live). The home is 4 doors south of the Ferry Dock in West Seattle. We got folk to pull up carpets and refinish the classic hardwoods, to repaint the main floor, and to nicely freshen up the landscaping. Sewer line was already new. We only got estimates to replace the old cedar roof. We also got folk in to help Karin jettison the accumulations from 30 years of living there. We listed at $879k with 1 week for offers to come in. 4 came in and Karin selected an all-cash, no-contingencies offer at a cool $1.2M. Judy and Toto, I mean Karin and Scooby, you may head home to Kansas.
11-8-16: We helped J&D buy this lovely new-construction modern on the slope above the Arboretum just 1.5 years earlier. All-cash, quick offer before the review date, high enough to sway the seller to take it early. Yet this rising market is so strong that it allowed J&D to consider selling so soon (1.5 years later) to switch to a “country home” on Bainbridge without taking a loss – heck, with making a bit of money. Their furniture was better than most staging. They (and the small dogs) moved to a 6-month rental, even, to make the selling go well. 1 week on the market and poof, we had it in contract for $1.07M.
11-1-16: It’s never fun when divorce hits the folks you had helped buy their home. But at least with this extreme sellers market when Joe K called to say “can I sell this” 2 years after they had bought, I could say “Yes, at a profit.” “This” is a nice, spacious 9-year-old, 3-bedroom townhome in the Rainier Vista community near the Columbia City Light Rail Station. Poof, 1 week on the market with heavy buyer traffic and multiple offers generated Joe K a sweet $451,000, up nicely from when he bought.
10-21-16: Annie wanted to reduce to part time to care for infant #1 and be ready for baby #2. She and Eric, both teachers, had already moved to Tacoma to achieve more affordability, and now they wanted to sell the 1-bedroom West Capitol Hill condo, which they had been renting, to free up some equity to allow any to cut back. New carpets, new paint, some light fixture repairs. We expected the 1-week-on-the-market routine, but one buyer visited 2 hours after the listing went live and their broker called 2 hours later to ask if an early offer might be acceptable. “The buyer would need to blow the seller away” with an attractive offer, attractive enough to merit not waiting for multiple bids. They did. It was in contract on Day 2 at 10% over the asking price.
10-20-16 – H & J and their 2 kids had lived hard on their only-15-year-old townhome at the southeast edge of Capitol Hill. They headed to upstate New York so we kept the contractors going on re-carpeting, re-painting, re-finishing floors and cabinets, remaking the patio, and many little repairs and tweaks. My, it was like that make-over TV show. And it worked. With the gas fireplaces going the rooms glowed. And the Sound, the Olympics over it, the ferries … Again we set it up for 1 week on the market before sellers would review offers. But this early offer pumped the price from $679k to $730k, short close all-cash.
10-18-16 – In the middle of all those listings you just read about, J&M’s “just the one” home came on the market on the view spine of North Beacon Hill (19th Ave S). That’s “just the one” as in major fixer, which they liked so they could make it their own. Then they will sell the big North Capitol Hill home to downsize. They had prepped so they were all cash. They also “got it” that anything attractive in this extreme sellers market would bid up, possibly wildly. The operative phrase was: You may have to bid up to where you want to vomit – but do it. We threw every maneuver and info-gathering effort at it in the week before bids were due. 19 other bids came in too. The price went from $418,888 to $583,888, which is what J&M got it at. They’re happily in there remodeling as we type.
8-9-16 – Here’s another exceedingly gratifying one: Frank called because he was rounding up some Realtors to interview to find one to sell his recently-passed mother’s “total fixer” view condo with Space Needle views on the west slope of Capitol Hill. That location means “a walk from Amazon.” We were selected in part because when he called we said “Hey, we can be there now if you’d like.” We ran numerous contractors through but in the end mainly deep-cleaned and repainted some walls to leave the full remake of 2 baths, the kitchen and more to the new owner. Because it was such a fixer, we didn’t expect multiple offers in a week, but we posted a review date just in case. And poof, 2 good offers was enough to fill up the mother’s estate with a nice amount to help her two sons.
6-23-16 – We helped Julia buy this magnificent 1,700-sf Pioneer Square condo in 2008 as the market was tanking. She didn’t “pay peak” but the market dropped for several more years. She rented it out the whole time. Fortunately the various tenants didn’t live hard on it. Julia’s scene evolved to where she knew she wasn’t going to ever move into it, so the same question came: Can I sell now (and get at least all my money out)? Yes, it looks like it. We listed at $979k and after an intense week the winning bidder took it at $1.03M. We then scored a nifty new-construction townhome near the Gates Foundation and Amazon for Julia to buy for $899k to make it a 1031 exchange for a new rental.
Sept. 3, 2015 – M&A knew they wanted to own in the center of Capitol Hill. The center of activity. Able to hang with friends without anybody having to drive a ton. We explored out the light rail line – North Beacon Hill, west side of Mt. Baker, Roosevelt-Ravenna. But when “the one” came available in the center of Capitol Hill, they jumped into the multiple-offers-pre-inspection game … with all 4 feet! After pre-inspecting, they offered 25% above the asking price. This put the game over $1M. Their offer included covering up to $50k of any appraisal shortfall. Somebody else bid over $1M too, but M&A won. A key is they expect to live there for 15 to 20 years, have a child there. Hence “giving up some future appreciation to get in now” works in the long run for them. Here M explores their new attic.
Sept. 2015 — Brian started his search 2 years ago. In better parts of West Seattle. Keep it below $400k. Lost one multiple-offers scenario so far. Still searching.
Aug. 20, 2015 – Al & Mel love Alki Beach in West Seattle. And they have the means. So we landed them a gorgeous view home about four blocks up the hill. For LESS than the asking price! The Seller had listed at too high, so they didn’t get any offer on their 1-week review date. We still waited. The Sellers lowered the price once, after which we submitted Al & Mel’s yet-lower offer. They closed at $1M, $200k below the initial asking price. And are getting ready to buy the hot tub for the deck’s sunset view spot.
Aug. 7, 2015 – Ga wanted another small rental in the Central District close to the Pike-Pine pedestrian action (and thus still walking distance from Amazon and downtown). The Silicon Valley executive believes Seattle is well-positioned for an extended rise. Others get that too, though, so choices became slimmer and more expensive in the CD. We pointed him to North Beacon Hill as “popping now too” (with light rail going). “Score now before the train leaves entirely.” “Line ‘em up,” he responded. “We’ll drive to all of them and make (low) offers on as many as we can.” He wasn’t kidding. He closed on a 3- (potentially 4-) bedroom on the slope above the arboretum for $475k and on a thoroughly beat-up 2-br on North Beacon for $273k. Both were past their offer review dates. He posted a rental listing on the arboretum one the first weekend, from his cell phone, and signed a tenant at a bit more than $3k/mo by that Sun eve. Has to revamp the Beacon one before renting that up.
June 18, 2015 – Z&R needed to move from Manhattan to Capitol Hill for R to launch into his doctor fellowship at 3 nearby hospitals. We put it all together long-distance, with a lot of good communication and trust. We started in January on phone and email with education about the process, the need for loan pre-approval, narrowing their criteria. The move needed to happen in June, hence close right before that. They would come here on one weekend to see the selection and make an offer on the best one. In this market? Crazy! Except it worked. We picked early May. On the Wednesday before they arrived, we located and analyzed all that was on the market in their criteria. Should they even come out if nothing worked, nothing was available? Lo, the selection was good enough. They had enough funds so their selection wasn’t too limited. They loved Pike-Pine. Sure enough, the last one we visited, at dusk on Saturday, was “it.” A condo in Press. The pre-arranged inspector pre-inspected on Sunday morning. We wrote the offer on Sunday aft before they hopped on the plane. Offers reviewed on Tues. Somebody out-bid them. Heartbreaking. But during that we learned of a nearly-identical Press unit soon to come on the market. We got into that unit (without Z&R), sent them copious videos and documents, and they submitted an aggressive offer for that one. They got it.
April 28, 2015 – Ryan also wanted center of Capitol Hill. Another tech millennial who seeks Pike-Pine restaurants for evenings, Cal Anderson Park for weekend afternoons, friends nearby for board game parties, light rail, and short commute to Fremont office. Ryan also wanted special design. Modern, minimalist. No cookie-cutter condo or townhome. We visited something like 4 million units over 16 months. Broadened to Fremont, even Ballard. Lost wild competitive bidding in the CD. We called townhome builders before they finished construction. And we called a fellow who owned a unit Ryan wanted. We found him on a for-rent ad. “Wouldn’t you rather sell?” “Yes, once we get through some contentious special assessment problems.” We stayed in touch with that fellow for 8 months, while wisiting the 2nd 2 million units. Then the for-rent-one deal came together. Ryan is home.
April 2015 – Dave was the tenant in the 2-bedroom Capitol Hill condo he wanted to buy from his landlord. Friends referred him to Joe. Since the first part of the job was done (searching out the property to buy), we worked out a reduced commission. Then we approached the landlord, reached agreement on the price and plunged into the inspection and appraisal phases. A month later Dave was a first-time owner with some “instant equity” a block north of Cal Anderson Park and a block east of the new Broadway light rail station.
April 17, 2015 – D&L wanted a traditional 100-year-old home with a view of water in North Capitol or Leschi. Up to $1.4M. The whole crazy submit-bids-in-a-week-no-contingencies mania bothered them to no end. Avoid that. In short, we shopped. And shopped. The right one arrived as a for-sale-by-owner spotted in a remote haunt on the Web. True to form, that meant a difficult seller. But they’re happily in.
April 17, 2015 – Yes, 2nd $1M one to close on this day! J&D, well, they don’t come along that often. They know well how to buy homes. This would be their
29th. He was transferring from San Francisco to head a small tech company. Close all-cash in a month. They flew in on Friday to look at the top 3 choices, all new-construction modern. We wrote their offer on the most appealing of those that evening, but held it while they flew back to SF on Saturday. Before they left, she said: “What I really want is the Queen Anne home in the Capitol Hill location.” On Sat afternoon, we couldn’t believe the images on the new listing: Is this the QA home in a Cap Hill location? It was! Hold that first offer. Sent them videos galore. 1 year old – means better than freshly-built, because it’s test-driven for them. A nifty bid with a premium over the asking price scored it. They flew up a week later to see what they had in contract. Loved it. They’re in.
March 7, 2015 – Christian first thought about buying a small condo in Seattle when he moved here for his medical residency. But he got busy and we waited. Three years later young Dr. Christian was fully launched in his medical practice at a hospital and ready for an ecologically sound townhome. He was stepping into a roaring sellers market, which means really hard on buyers who have to jump fast, out-bid others, often lose a few times, feel like overpaying… Christian brought a friend to one early showing who gave Christian “the talk,” saying “dude, you have more money than this, don’t confine yourself to smaller than you will want not long from now … and pay for ‘green’ because that’s what turns you on.” He put one lovely 4-star Built-Green townhome under contract but before he paid for an inspection we visited the “Passive House” 5+star townhomes near 25th & Madison above Madison Valley. It was one of those enjoyable: “THIS is the fit” moments. He put the Passive House under contract for $610k and eased out of the other one. Here he is during the inspection helping figure out how the conduction stove works. The 1,300-sf home is 90% energy efficient across the board. The project, built by Sloan Ritchey, is the first passive townhomes for sale in the Northwest, well worth knowing about.
July 2014 – Liz had sold her nice big home, ready to downsize into a 2-bedroom condo. She was staying with friends for as long as needed. The location mattered: She wanted something central. Close to bus lines, but not right on them. She wanted “leafy” out the windows, a feeling of connection to nature and tranquility. Plenty of light coming in. Two bedrooms, yet keep it under $280k. So we evaluated many listings online over several months, judicious about when to have me or me and her spend the time to go in. And sure enough, when the “right one” presented itself, meeting enough of her criteria, including that it felt right, she stepped right up. It had windows on three sides, after all. With a balcony amid tree branches. She’s all moved in.
June 24, 2014 – M&B are two young doctors. That means working some serious schedules. Add in their 1-year-old son. So they were ready for their first home. We met at one of my Montlake open houses and connected well. They received a special lender program that allowed them to be less than 20% down with no PMI, set up for young doctors. They did all the right steps in bidding for a fantastic Montlake home, but that one bid up wayyyy high and it went to someone else. Soon we found an even-more-appealing 3-bedroom atop Queen Anne, two blocks off Queen Anne Ave. They got it under contract without competitive bidding but then endured a lender gone amok (underwriting in particular). Two weeks after the scheduled closing, they did close, all the more happy to have gotten there.
June 24, 2014 – M&J want to keep owning, and renting out, their Central District townhome (which Joe helped them buy a few years ago), and buy something for just themselves close to Cal Anderson Park. That means close to, or in, the hip-happenin’ youthful urban-action scene of Capitol Hill’s Pike-Pine corridor. Dig it! They loved the hip condos at Monique Lofts, 1310 E. Union, 1111 E. Pike….But they got outbid on one, another had a significant defect….and along came a full-sized 2,500-square-foot home with vintage details intact at 12th & Denny. They were not to be outbid this time. It had been a tax foreclosure, so some title and lender issues had to be worked thru. They closed at $801k.
June 14, 2014: P&A wanted a home with special detailing AND a 2-car garage. They had more than $1M to spend. They both work at Boeing in Everett, but they wanted to be in the Seattle action, so we worked the commute lines for the location: Montlake, North Capitol Hill, Ravenna, Greenlake, maybe Fremont. They looked and test-drove various vintage brick tudors, in particular, for more than a year. During that time, this north Green Lake new-construction modern was being born. That’s a two-car garage back there. And as a 5-star Built Green gem, it’s an engineers’ dream. That butterfly roof is solar-ready. Light just floods in (and views!). The radiant heat system, the on-demand hot water, the air movement systems … They put it under contract at the $1.15M ask price within days of it coming on the market.
July 31, 2013: Zach wanted a home close to the Broadway/Pike-Pine action. With three bedrooms (for him and two good friends as roommates). For, oh, $400k, if possible. He was a first-time buyer with great parents willing to help with the downpayment. We methodically examined each prospect close in, then out a ring, then out another ring. Not too far out. One evening we looked inside four in the Central District but had driven by only the outside of one that was phone-to-show. It was 9 p.m. Can’t hurt to call. The owner picked up, agreed we could come over. Three big bedrooms, each with a bath. Townhome. For $475k. Great condition. We closed a smooth three weeks later.
4-26-13: Nick & Lana looked hard a year ago in West Seattle in the $300-$350k range. But then she took a job in Olympia. He works in east Pierce County. So we found an amazing historically registered 123-year-old home in Tacoma’s Old Town District. A bank was selling it, making it an “as-is” sale, so N&L had to accept a few small “issues” like some wood rot, higher home insurance and no fridge, but they’re moving in (with a new fridge).
April 25, 2013: D&T bought their 2-br Central Disrict townhome at the peak. Then knee and back issues made them want fewer stairs. They waited until the market brought values back, which began last year and is fully aflame this year. We got the townhome sold to an incoming Amazon.com employee (after prevailing on a wrenching challenge of a poorly-done appraisal) and closed the next day on a beautifully refurbished 3-bedroom 2-story home in North Beacon Hill. D&T had to risk $600 pre-inspecting then bid $25,000 over the asking price to wind bidding on the N. Beacon one, but they got one that felt right from the moment we stepped into it.
May 10, 2013: Kipp & Terri bought their brand-new, very-well-made 3-bedroom townhome near 23rd & Madison in East Capitol Hill at the peak too. Argh! Now they were ready to move to Colorado for his first post-schooling job as a dental surgeon. They accepted that they’d loose up to $60,000 on selling, but they knew better than to try renting. In fact, they started feeling lucky that finally-rising prices reduced that loss from $100,000 or more. They have a 6-month-old daughter, one stay-at-home parent, a large dog and two curious cats, so facilitating a flow of buyers through the home would hamper selling. But we brought in buyers Jane and Dean for an off-market look. It fit like a glove.
April 23, 2013: P&S wanted to keep it to no more than $375k. They had each bought before, but this would be their first home together. It stood out as we visited homes in Maple Leaf, Columbia City, Greenwood, West Seattle that they didn’t mind dirty. They knew that can mean buy low, sell high. And they liked artsy-funky. So the Georgetown 1-bedroom bungalow with artist gizmos and tchochkes throughout the back yard, the front yard, the kitchen instantly charmed them. We gave them his-and-hers work gloves and zebra duct tape. On their first eve at their new home, they sent back this shot:
April 12, 2013: Ken D. could no longer carry the monthly loss on his Capitol Hill duplex. He had bought it at the very peak of the market in early 2007 with a high, interest-only loan that was eating him up. His tenants had turned bad. We listed it as a short sale in May 2012 and had a buyer in contract a month later. Then the grind started. On April 12, the new owners received the keys and Ken D. is free to move on.
April 3, 2013: Bishop and his partner wanted a home. But more than that, they wanted an investment. They would live there for three years, during which they would do some improvements. Call it an amateur flip. Bishop figures it’s likely he and his business partners will sell their company before three years and he’ll be ready to move elsewhere. We looked at a whole lot of homes. Bishop bid on several and lost, paying significant amounts for pre-inspections. He got bolder with each loss, so when the west Beacon Hill one came back on the market, he got it for $425k.
March 1, 2013 – Margaret & David had their first baby now, so they saw themselves migrating from the urban texture of just-west-of-Broadway to the leafy sophistication of North Capitol Hill. She’s a lawyer, he’s an investor, so they could afford the $950,000 for the superbly-landscaped Tudor nestled gracefully amid similar homes between Holy Names and Volunteer Park.
March 3, 2013: J&J had moved to Seattle from Arizona and rented for a year. Now they were ready to buy. They wanted new or relatively-new modern, be it free-standing or townhome. We met at an open house at the three “Monkeys” – beautiful new moderns with views on a Central District alley by Playhouse Design. Each Monkey (see no evil, hear no evil …) is three stories above a 2-car concrete garage. We toured every other similar home that was available from there to West Seattle, then J&J scored the best of the three monkeys. As first in, they got it at the lowest price, just under $600,000.
October 24, 2012 — Mark teamed with a contractor in 2006 to remake 321 NW 81st in Greenwood from a dilapidated little home into a magnificent family home on a good lot. They’d sell, build another, then another. Construction stretched into 2007 – eek! – then the economy tanked. Mark reluctantly rented out 321 to wait to at least sell for what he had in it. Scary call, and the Recession seemed to take forever. This year the low supply and super-low interest rates tightened prices, so when the tenants said they were moving, we did some repairs, staged it up and went on the market. One price drop and we had two offers. A happy couple who plan to have a child close next week.
October 18, 2012 — P&L want a pied-a-terre condo in Capitol Hill to complement their splendid full-sized home north of the city. Their son now attends the Seattle Academy, and this allows more school activities and hanging out with classmates. They prefer clean mid-century design, preferably concrete. It had to allow their beloved 60-lb dog too. L needed to feel safe jogging any time of day. 732 11th Ave E fits the bill. A 2nd-floor unit was on the market and a top-floor unit was about to come back on. Negotiations were tough, but we’ll happily close this week on that top-floor, southwest unit.
September 16, 2012 — A.L. would have preferred to never leave her beloved old-Belltown condo. But the Recession forced that hand. We were ready to list it at break-even when an owner in the building said they’d buy it. Only then did we learn a bad debt resulted in a lien against the condo. We negotiated thru that (partial release of lien — whew!) and A.L. knows her home is in very good hands.
Spetember 3, 2012 — Anthony was simply ready for change: Done with roommates, didn’t need something this big, despite all of its wonderful old-home warmth and charms in North Capitol Hill (and 2-car garage, peaceful back yard with hot tub …). We guided the right fix-ups (remove 2nd-floor carpeting to expose and resurface original fir, repaint all the baseboards). Then came pricing. The market was improved, but 12th is a bit busy, some walls would need painting, buyer likely would move laundry up from small basement… We got it, though, and we’re sold at $775k. Joe’s office is a few blocks away, a benefit throughout the listing.
August 15, 2012 — Henry, Mikaela and their two kids had a year before they’d move back from India, where Mikaela helped Amazon.com set up. Their Seward Park home was now too small, so they’d keep it rented. That “tight inventory” you’ve heard about came into play: There were no 4-bedroom homes for sale in Seward Park on up to Mt. Baker. Eventually we called cancelled listings. It worked. The Lisas were ready to move East with their 2 kids. Coordinating a deal for buyers half-way around the globe took skill. It worked.
August 15, 2012 — W&B owned 1733 24th Ave and its big east view onto the Cascades for 12 years. Their family now includes 2 daughters, 4 and 6. They wanted to move to Shoreline, where W worked and where one daughter went to school. The market finally perked up last spring, so they wanted to take a shot. As the area’s oldest house (the William Grose House), it naturally has some character. W&B had done some good work on it, though, too. One buyer bailed on inspection, but another stepped up. They negotiated a credit for removing the popcorn ceiling to pull the deal together. Joe lives on the same block, a benefit throughout the transaction.
August 6, 2012 — While we found those buyers for 1733 (East Capitol Hill), we went ahead and also spotted the home W&B they wanted in Shoreline. They had to walk away from the negotiating table once to get the Shoreline seller’s attention, but it worked. It was gutsy to close on this purchase first, before finishing the sale of 1733 (above), but it flowed quite well. The kids are in their Shoreline schools.
August 5, 2012 — L&A were ready to make their first apartment purchase, to diversify their investments, when the 5-unit in North Capitol Hill became available. Capitol Hill Housing was ready to sell it. L&A learned quickly, negotiated well, held the line, closed, and are now providing 5 homes for their tenants.
July 18, 2012 — Jeff was ready to sell his Capitol Hill shop and “move to some land in the country.” Provided we could pull up something low-priced, likely from a bank sale. We found just that several miles east of Arlington on State Route 530: 4 sylvan acres with a 2,000-sf house and a 3-sided barn to die for. For a song. Jeff paid all cash, closed in 15 days and is loading up the truck to move to Ahlington dahling.
June 3, 2012 — Thomas wanted to move from Kirkland “into the action,” as in a more-urban Capitol Hill-type, walkable/dine-able scene. He also wanted cool modern design. He read Joe’s Yelp reviews, beamed in and shortly Thomas felt sure his home ought to be in The Sanctuary, the handsome, elegant remake of the former Church of Christ Scientist at 16th & John (south of Group Health) into 12 gorgeous dwelling units over underground parking. It took some smart help from lenders Bill Haines and Lani Webster at Guild Mortgage to wok it all the way to the goal line, and they did.
May 15, 2012 – Sharon was helping her son move into an apartment near the north end of Broadway. She walked by one of the statuesque, brick “Anhalt” buildings – “I want to live there.” She was ready to stop tossing away $ on rent, and her market timing was perfect. She contacted Joe, referred to him by a friend. We wisely looked at other available Anhalt condos nearby, to compare. This 2-br 2nd-floor unit was it. We submitted the offer that evening and had mutual acceptance the next evening, with a nice price drop to cover re-painting. How often does it work like that? The inspection panned out, the HOA docs looked good, closing went smoothly. She shook with excitement as she showed her son her new condo.
May 17, 2012 – Lauren and Christian set their sites on moving their family of four to San Diego for Lauren to start the job she wanted for so long. We just needed to sell their very-nice West Seattle home, located on a doctor’s row of sorts adjoining Fauntleroy Park. They had bought right at the peak in August 2007, so the hardest part was accepting that they would sell for substantially less – and to identify precisely what that asking price should be. They brought the home up to great condition. And we had two offers at the end of the 2nd day on the market! Guess we found that right price. They’re off to San Diego.
April 30, 2012 – Steve and Sandy had to take the long way, since they would have to “short sell” their Central District home in order to get out of a nasty mortgage that was eating up their retirement. They had bought just before the peak with a plan of refinancing a bit later to bring the mortgage under control, but when the market collapsed, it took the refi plan with it. They held on for a long time (enjoying the home), but last summer it was time to throw in the towel, including start defaulting on the mortgage. We listed the short sale in late August and got buyer #1 shortly thereafter. Thus began the Jumanji, as they called the emotional ups-and-downs game of waiting for lender approval. We even got approval in November, but then a rogue appraiser blew up that deal. Back to the well. By March Buyer #2 surfaced, and we got lender approval at the end of March. Closing wasn’t easy, but the consolation is a charming 1st-time buyer is enjoying the home, and S&S will relocate to live with their children in Hawaii! (Sounds like a silver lining to me!)
12-30-11 – Stephen and Heather wanted their first home in Seattle. They knew their market timing was right – values very low, interest rates at record lows. They had funds for a down payment and to do some fixing up, so a foreclosed property was possible. They wanted “close-in” – Capitol Hill, the Central District, Madison Valley. Not too much yard. Basement for playing drums. On bus line. With that much clarity, the search was quick. We zeroed in on a three-bedroom home near 24th & Union with a few rough edges, for sale by a bank. The deal started with Internet bidding. They’ve got the keys and are finalizing plans for their new kitchen.
10-28-11 – Candice was a first-time buyer who nonetheless wanted a significant house in a strong neighborhood. She has a very good job and had come into an inheritance that she wanted to wisely invest in buying a home during this low market ebb. Her father, her good friend and I formed Team Candice, which spent numerous enjoyable Saturdays browsing one interesting home after another. That included condos until it grew clear that Candice preferred a solid old-world home. The home she now owns is blocks from where she grew up in Madison Park.
9-2-11 – We listed Mark’s elite townhome (3,775-sf of classical elegance in North Capitol Hill) last spring at $1.8M — on par with what the last one to have sold in this spot went for the summer before. But the market had changed. And with an unprecedented scene of 3 other homes there also for sale, it was very changed. We exposed and exposed that home, and Mark lowered the price and lowered the price. He was ready to sell! We closed with a happy buyer at the start of Sept. And a happy seller.
8-5-11 – Dave & Clara wanted a modest Seattle condo for their mid-20’s daughter to live in for a time before she “moved up” and Dave & Clara “moved in(to the city).” We quickly spotted a 2-br, 2-ba on the west side of Lake Union that had just gone on the market for only $180k. HOA dues were low (self-managed), small building, neat group of residents. And the sight of seaplanes coming and going regularly from the lake seemingly just off the balcony provided the crowning touch.
6-30-11 – Nate & Sara were close to being folks you’ve been reading about. They owned a small-but-nice condo in West Seattle that they bought near the peak but no longer planned to live there. They tried renting it out, but the rent didn’t cover their mortgage costs. Do they try to hold with the prayer that the market comes back enough, or sell at what they can get now? We worked the listing hard for them. We’re happy to report that the sale has closed with them receiving some cash back at closing.
4-21-11 – Catherine’s mother had passed away more than 2 years earlier, but cleaning out and selling her mother’s cherished Eastside home wasn’t a favorite activity. A neighbor’s unsolicited offer to buy the home put a light at the end of the tunnel. Catherine turned to Joe to get a market valuation and negotiate and close the sale for a fixed fee. The offer price was low, but not so low when factoring in that the neighbor would take it as-is, freeing Catherine from the costs, work, time and risk of fixing it and other prep for, and costs of, a market sale. The transaction went smoothly and before we gave the keys to the neighbor we held a nice event to honor all of the memories and love that had happened there.
3-21-11 – David & Candace had done a fixer before, long enough ago that they were ready to do another. They were renting and didn’t want a long purchase time, though, so we ruled out short sales. And a light fixer fit their bill. They wanted the area from north Beacon Hill north thru Judkins Park and the Central District to Capitol Hill, to bike-commute to work. The location needed to be walkable to the grocery, restaurants, bank, transit, gym, pub, some culture – a Creative Class couple! And a basement suitable for a work room. We kept circling back to the first one, which had been sitting on the market a long time because it had foundation and chimney problems, small bedrooms and a light drone of freeway noise. Every new home we looked at helped show that this first one had the right mix. Negotiating about the problems was complicated. So was completing a loan in this tough banking market. But they’re happily in their new home.
1-21-11 – Curt & Carrie wanted to buy a fixer during this time when prices and interest rates are at about their lowest ebb, squeezing an opportunity from this nasty recession. They wanted a large, character-filled older home in Capitol Hill, Madrona, Leschi, Mount Baker or similar in-close neighborhood. They have experience at “doing the work themselves,” so messes didn’t scare them. One difficulty: The best deals were short sales (horribly uncertain to go through), or equally-traumatic bank-owned foreclosures. We pursued several prospects that were great properties but so complicated to buy. One in Mt. Baker had most issues, but it sang to C+C, so we strapped in for the wild buying ride. We got it under contract as a short sale, but then the bank took it in foreclosure anyway. The bank then ignored our offer to take it off their hands. New REO agents tossed it onto a novel internet auction service; C+C stepped up to win that strange auction. They closed, then worked through removing the squatter and are now happily bringing this once-gorgeous home in a wonderful neighborhood back to its glory.
10-15-10 – Amy was ready to move to California. She had tried renting out her very nice Queen Anne condo herself for $3,600/mo, $3,200/mo, $2,800/mo. Now she was 2 weeks from her drop-dead deadline to lose her right to rent it out if no signed lease, so she turned to us. We exposed it everywhere at $2,195/mo and came close. With 5 days to go we had prospects but no deal. We went to each prospect with, in effect, “make your best offer.” We turned in a signed lease on deadline day and toasted with champagne and the new tenants that evening. The lower rent vastly beat the alternative of no rent for a year.
10-5-10 – Emily wanted a “cottage”-feeling home on enough land to make an organic orchard in the back yard, close to the PCC in the Bryant-Wedgewood area. It had to work just right for her and her young son as they moved from a much larger, luxurious home. It needed a basement apartment for rent income. And it had to cost no more than $525k. We found one that was so right. But also so wrong in a couple of ways. The solution was to argue the price down far enough to leave a budget for righting those few wrongs. Discovering that the sewer line needed a $4k repair didn’t make that any easier. But we made it. The orchard will soon start taking shape.
8-15-10 – “99” is nearly 70. She has one son, in Seattle, so she sold her home in suburban New York to move here. That was very draining. But when she got here, she felt the most life would come from owning a condo where she could nest, garden and rest well. She could buy all-cash if we kept the price down. “Gardening” and sitting privately in outdoor air were paramount, but aren’t condo features. Yet we felt condo was best for security and company with others. She also wanted to be close to culture, groceries and other urban amenities. She wanted new-ish, but not brand new, too. How do you find a condo in or around Capitol Hill like that … for under $350k? Well, we did. We knew we were close with the 4th floor of a 10-year-old building in Pike-Pine. The building has a fenced-in ground-floor pea patch for residents. And the unit opens onto an amazing rooftop, part of which would be 99’s private space with massive planters for gardening. Perfecto. Except it was a short sale. That made the price nice and low. But that’s because few can, or want to, endure the patience, frustration, bewilderment, anger, fatigue, etc. of 6 months to a year of uncertainties. Despite the New York sale drain, 99 went for it. It proceeded as badly as just described, yet she not only hung in there but drove some key decisions, such as covering $5k to the 2nd-position lender when the 1st-position refused. 99 now has her garden condo in the city — and that $6,500 tax credit that since expired.
7-28-10: Pearl and James own a nice, small, Lower Queen Anne condo. They wanted to rent the condo and buy a single-family home with Lake Washington views, improvement potential and high-end neighbors, at bottom-of-market prices. We visited a lot of properties. Some of the best were nasty short sales. We went into contract on one short sale in Leschi, but after a few months of aggravation, we walked. One in Lakewood (north of Seward Park) that had been priced just a bit too high had come down some, so we called to say we could offer this much. They said send it in writing. Pearl and James have happily moved in.
6-22-10: Ron and Gail and their 2 grown children wanted to buy a Seattle duplex, preferably in Wallingford, for the two young adults to live in and manage as a good investment. At first, finding the right one was hard. But when we found it, they knew it, so they outbid two other eager buyers. We closed today. And it’s in a great spot … in Wallingford!
6-21-10: Tim wanted to buy a place in or around Capitol Hill to house the offices of his landscape architecture firm. The right deal couldn’t come together, but he still wanted to move. He had always dreamed on that one corner in Madrona, so when it came available for lease, we snatched it up. Both sides signed the lease today.
5-19-10: Myyk was a college grad starting his new computer programer job, which happens to pay well enough that he thought he ought to go ahead and buy a home, catching the “bottom of the market.” He wanted a close-in townhome with some architectural style yet enough room to have friends move in too. The first one that he really, really wanted couldn’t be had. We closed today on a 4-br one in the north end of the Central District.
1-19-10: Laura wanted a fixer in the Central District that would be big enough for her and her brother to call home as both created and raised families. We chased some difficult short sales and then they zoomed in on a 4-br townhome for sale by a bank that had foreclosed on it. That transaction closed today.
1-14-10: Todd needed a new retail tenant to replace the one who succumbed to the recession in his South Downtown Seattle historic building. Tenants are few and far between in this climate. But a non-profit Grameen bank was in the market, so we contacted them. They wanted to create an eclectic shop at which their microborrowers could sell the goods they produced. We came to agreement and the last part of signing up the lease was finished today.
11-4-09: Mark wanted a floating home on Lake Union. He had rented one years before and was now in position to own one. He knew we were near the bottom of the market, and “they won’t be making more of these (floating homes),” establishing them as strong investments (if you can get one). He got a beauty; we closed today.
10-4-09: Julia wanted an urban condo in Seattle to buy as an investment to build her American credit rating and then move into when her kids have started college. We built a rapport so that with her an ocean away, we found just the right unit with fresh walnut floors, warm brick walls and tons of light in a fully re-done historic building in Pioneer Square.
7-15-09: Mark (#2) wanted just the right small Neighborhood Commercial site in Capitol Hill on which to build a small mixed-use building (residential over retail) with NO PARKING. This was one of those “find something off-the-market” opportunities. We used maps to locate a short list of prospects, knocked on doors and we closed today on the one he would most want out of them all — the triangular plot at 12th & Madison that up to now has housed the Acacia flower shop.
6-09: Deb & J wanted to move up from renting the space for their Capitol Hill physical therapy clinic to owning their space. They had sent hundreds of letters to property owners, but no luck. We found them a big house on 12th near Cal Anderson Park that they love. We closed in June ’09 and just today (6-22-10) they concluded a full renovation and moved in.
3-09: Art also felt ready to move up from renting to owning the space for his popular Seattle retail store. The search was slow and methodical, but he closed this month on a prime corner and opened the new store within weeks.