Case Study January 20, 2015

Case Study: 3903 Eastern Ave N

Key Elements:

  • Timing
  • Pre-Inspection
  • Staging
  • Listing "vacant" 
  • Encouraging agents/buyers to "Play their own game."
  • Good photos
  • Good presence at open house
  • Keeping good rapport with second position agent/buyer


This was another great example of perfect timing. The owners used the winter months to get the home pre-inspected and work through the resulting punch list. They hired a good inspector with a good reputation, so the inspector’s report was considered credible by buyers agents and buyers. We were able to take photos (day and dusk) when the light was good, and had them on-hand for a nice stretch of weather. The home was technically still occupied by the sellers, but they had the ability to stay elsewhere during that period of good weather, so we listed the home as vacant.

Buyers were able to come and go with their agents (and possibility their inspectors). The long periods of time alone in the home without having to worry about the sellers return helped a few sets of hopeful buyers to form emotional bonds with the home and to imagine what their lives there would be like. When agents asked me how many pre-inspections we had, I was able to tell them that I honestly did not know. This is important, because sometimes Buyers lose interest when they hear that too many other parties are interested.

View listing details here

The market was in a state of transition (from buyer’s market to seller’s market) at the time we listed, and I was interested to re-discover that one of the reasons to have a good agent host at open houses is to make sure that some conversations stop. At one open house, a couple agents got together and started a conversation in front of buyers about how they thought the market was over-priced. While they have a right to their opinions, I had a right to encourage them to move it along, so I did (the market has appreciate at least 10%, probably 15% or 20% for this house since that time).

This was another “appraisal challenge.” I met the appraiser with my best comparables, and tried everything I could to get him to  see the value at our $1,001,000 list price, but…I finally “lost” one and the appraisal came back at $950,000. But I don’t like losing, so I told the buyers agent that another buyer had been sad that they didn’t control the purchase, and would likely pay her clients contract price, but without the protections of an appraisal contingency (or financing addendum at all, for that matter). She and her clients countered that the seller and buyer should “meet halfway” at $975,000. The sellers were ready to agree to that number, but I believed that the buyers could both afford the home and wanted it badly enough to pay their price. And, I believed that the second position buyers would do the same, so I encouraged the second position buyer’s agent to get me an offer for $1,000,000 without financing or appraisal contingencies. He did. I then told the first buyer’s agent that we had what we thought we had, and that we respected her client’s position should they prefer to get out of the contract based on appraisal, but that the home would sell to someone else for $1,000,000. The first position buyers came up with the additional down payment to satisfy their lenders and their low appraisal, and they closed on the house at $1,001,000.

Uncategorized October 25, 2013

Millennials in the News

I’m seeing a lot of focus recently on Millennials. 

First, I was interviewed for this article. After about thirty minutes on the phone during which I felt I said all kinds of interesting things, the reporter decided that brevity was the soul of wit and distilled my comments:

The longer version of what I said is that we used to have four general markets for downtown condo dwellers: committed urbanites, downsizers, 2nd home buyers, 1st time buyers hoping to use that purchase as a stepping stone into townhomes/single family homes. In the downturn, that fourth category saw their dreams dashed; there was a year or two in which we heard very little from them. Even the youths (“the two _yutes_”: ) who didn’t purchase saw their friends/older siblings get hurt and so have come back in somewhat reluctantly and with an aversion to: total monthly housing expense higher than current rent, rental caps, potential future assessments, potential loss of view.

Then, I read an interesting article in The New Yorker, penned by a Millennial, about my hometown, San Francisco. What most took me was the full-on embrace of self-direction; of owning one’s own time, perhaps of living genuinely. A dear friend pointed out how exhausting it must be to hold three different jobs and then to have to find an unique, artisanal hobby to add to the mix. Agreed.

And finally, today’s insight from Inman News, possibly writing off the entire generation when it comes to homeownership: For some reason, the fear seems a bit overblown to me, but…the assertion that “adolescence actually extends to about age 25” is fun to consider. 

Uncategorized March 16, 2012

Did you hear the KUOW piece yesterday?

This piece aired yesterday, featuring my colleague, friend, and great agent Jed Kliman. Some of my client have asked for my thoughts on it:

Jed says he noticed a switch 2.5 months ago, which is roughly January 1st. I agree. And, it seems to have happened across most single-family price ranges. We were seeing signs of market pick-up just after the Holidays. I wasn’t quite ready to call it a pattern and was a bit concerned when Seattle experienced “Snowmaggedon 2012;” activity dropped off during that time.

On January 15th, I heard crickets as I hosted the same open house I had for the previous several weeks. This home had 3 other “competitors” in the $1.1M-$1.3M range; one listed in April 2011, two in July 2011, and the other in October 2011. The snow melted, and the homes started to sell: January 18, January 23, January 26, and finally February 23rd (on the last one, the Buyer was not able to negotiate much at all off the price).

It was interesting to hear Tim Ellis (Seattle Bubble) say that “Inventory always picks up after the Holidays.” Well, yes…but sometimes not by much. And, a few years ago, it took deep into Spring before the market felt different. This year was different.

Buyers in the story cite “frustration” and Tim Ellis thinks we will reach an eventual balance of supply and demand. I agree with the Buyers; it is frustrating. I think most Brokers would prefer to see a balance. Unfortunately, we had a long Sellers’ market, probably followed by a short period of balance, and then what felt like a long Buyers’ market. Now, we appear to be in a Sellers’ market again

I agree that markets seek balance. I’m interested in why we haven’t found long periods of balance. We do live in an amazing place. But, we are not immune to the outside world. Perhaps it is as simple as this: When broader market factors allow, Seattle – as a place to live and grow – is a “buy.”