Giving Thanks in 2020

Ok, lets admit, 2020 has been a weird year. It started out like any other year; year end planning was done, trips were planned, goals were set. Then BOOM!

First came political wrestling, then COVID & shut downs, then George Floyd and the subsequent unrest, then more COVID, then fires just a little too close, then the election, then a Supreme Court judge dying, then more election upheaval and now more COVID & lock downs. Definitely a year of change and depending on how you are wired, either chaos or full of blessings.

As we enter the end of this tumultuous year, I encourage you to count your blessings and share them with those close to you at Thanksgiving. Here are some of mine:

  1. My God & my country -I hope you love your God & our country as much as I do
  2. My family – Starting with my wife Katherine & my 91 year old parents to our 4 kids & two grand kids, to brothers / sisters / nieces and nephews, I feel blessed to be part of their lives and grateful
  3. Our friends – Both near and far; close or barely know each other; client, business associate or competitor, Katherine and I cherish each and every one of you. You are the reason we move forward in spite of the year, worry a bit and smile alot ! 🙂

So as we all celebrate Thanksgiving, from a safe distance of course, lets all reflect for a moment and let those who are important to us know it!

STAY HOME -STAY SAFE!

The Power of an agent referral

Quite regularly I get a call from someone I know that goes something like this…”I am looking at buying a house in _______ (name your state) and I meet this agent at an open house. We looked a few houses and we wrote an offer. Now they are asking me to do this and I don’t understand”. or … “they are not doing a good job, what do I do?’ or ??? You get the point. Something is not going right in a real estate transaction. Since I am not a party to the transaction and bound by the Realtor Code of Ethics to not interfere in other agents business, I usually can only console them and tell them it will all work out. I can ask a few questions, give a recommendation or two for them to take back to the agent.

But what I really want to ask them is why did they not call me and have me make a referral? Using both Coldwell Bankers internal Agent Referral platform and my numerous contacts, I could have found an agent with a good track record that fit the level of service they were looking for. I always call the agent and ‘interview’ them, see if it’s a good fit because hey, my reputation is on the line. But more importantly, when something comes up, I now have a right (actually an obligation) to pick up the phone and get some answers. I am a party to the transaction, I can ask to see a contract on their behalf. I can make a suggestion.

So, for those still reading, the main take-away here is even when you are buying somewhere else, call me and I can point you in the correct direction and / or make a direct referral. It will cost you nothing and give me the power to help you if needed.

Kurt is proud to support St Jude’s. Reach out to find out how you can help.

Katherine and I are usually quiet when it comes to the causes we support. But Coldwell Banker’s recent corporate partnership with St Jude’s is one we want to shout about. St Jude’s is on our list of organizations we support yearly and now, with each home purchase or sale, we have committed to an additional donation. You can help by buying or selling with Kurt and rest easy with the knowledge that your trust in Kurt will also help a great cause.

Want to donate to St Jude’s yourself?? Click here: St Jude’s donation

Real estate market goes over the top in September.

After taking a COVID induced break this spring, the local real estate market has heated up and in September it seems to have gone over the top. As reported in earlier market updates, buyers have come out in droves and sellers have hunkered down. This created the ‘perfect storm’ for both price appreciation and market time. Buyers came out looking for deals and were armed with more buying power due to low interest rates. Looking for more space, they are paying more and reducing contingencies. Those few sellers who dare to sell, are getting more for their home.

As shown below, all local areas have seen double digit 12 month price increases and continue to show low time on market. As I look at these stats weekly, I will report that a good share of the gain has come since the lows reached in April and May 2020 due to COVID uncertainty.

Don’t see your city or want a more specific area? Reach out!

What the future holds is anyone’s guess, but if you are a buyer, statistically, it will only get worse. Demographics show a wave of house hungry younger folks reaching the average first home purchase age and new home builders were just beginning to meet the annual demand before COVID. The shortfall that started in 2008 – 2009 will continue to move prices up. Sellers, on the other hand, have a bright future. Those fortunate enough to not need to buy a replacement home, or moving to more affordable digs, will benefit from sustained price increases for the near future.

Thinking of Buying or Selling?? Reach out and we can schedule a chat about your specific needs.

The Power of Negotiation

As a Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE), I often get asked exactly what that means and how much do agents really negotiate in a typical deal. It simply means that I have had extensive training in negotiation techniques and earned the CNE designation. It also includes many years of transactions, both for my own real estate and on behalf of others, where each time I put different strategies into play. And each time I learned something. I learned that negotiations start before I even list a house, in how I write my agent remarks and public description. I learned when representing a buyer, the negotiation starts before I write the offer and start when I call the agent asking questions. And, I learned (the hard way!) how to check each line, blank and box on an offer.

As an agent representing both buyers and sellers, I negotiate every step of the way, but truthfully, many agents do not. I get very upset and feel bad for clients on the other side when their agent drops the ball or fails to even try to negotiate.

For those of you still reading, a few examples: #1 – earlier this year I represented the buyer in a newer home purchase and knew that homes of that age in that county usually have an extra sewer assessment, paid over many years. So I checked the box that has seller pay it at closing, expecting it to be a negotiation point. My buyer would have accepted paying it, its only about $25 a month extra, but the agent did not know it existed till closing and they signed the offer as is. $5,000 + on my buyers side of the table. He also did not even try to counter my buyers offer of $565,000 on a house originally listed at $615,000, even though we’d have gone to $580,000 – another $15,000 still in buyers pocket ( and not in sellers pocket!)

Example #2 – My most recent closing (See previous Just Sold by Kurt post on this page) is another great example. As I mentioned in that post, we had multiple buyers. One needed to sell a house, my seller did not want to wait, so we used the two offers to move them both from the $650’s to $671,000. we accepted the offer that was closing sooner and agreed to pay some closing costs. Then Buyer 1’s earnest money bounced and the agent did not take it seriously (she said ‘it happens all the time!’). Not on my watch! She knew we had another offer, did not return my calls, so I negotiated a full price ($676,247) from Buyer 2, with no closing costs, & a few inspection items. A $13,000 swing into my buyers pocket, because I recognized the opportunity her fumble created. I later found out from Buyer #1’s new agent, that they actually were more qualified than I thought and would have paid full price once they realized the were in jeopardy. But the first agents lack of representation, inability to present her clients as strong and refusal to negotiate cost her clients a very nice, almost irreplaceable home. Sad!

If you’d like someone who negotiates every step of they way to negotiate your buying or selling, shoot me an email ( kurt@kurtkreager.com ) and we’ll schedule a Virtual meeting.

Just Sold by Kurt

Sold in Kent, WA. 1321 117th Pl SE $676,247

This unique 7 bedroom, 4 bath home in Kent received multiple offers and sold at full price! Because of its unique features including 2 kitchens, 3 car garage and the ability to separate it into two living spaces for multi-generational living, we thought it would take extra time to find the right buyer. But we were under contract in 20 days thanks to two eager buyers, with a few more in the waiting! If you are looking to sell and would like similar results, do not hesitate to call or email for a no obligation home value analysis and a marketing plan. kurt@kurtkreager.com

Looking to buy?? I work both sides of the deal and know how to prepare you and present your offer to compete in this time of limited inventory. Call for details!

Sellers add inventory – prices notch up

Sellers added the most inventory since May 2019 to the 23 county NWMLS system in July, but buyers continued to show up & buy. This pent up buyer demand has lead to continued tight inventory in most markets. Major population centers in King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties have little more than 3 weeks supply. Prices on the other hand, are rising, with residential prices (single family & condo) prices up 12.8%. Median prices in King county continue to lead the way, up 7.2% YOY (Year over Year) to $670,000.

As one would expect, COVID-19 induced remote work practices are beginning to show, with median price increases in outlying counties such Lewis, Grays Harbor, Okanogan & Cowlitz being around 20% or more. Workers are no longer constrained to being close to work & coupled with more buying power due to record low interest rates, rural areas are expected to continue to be in demand.

Sellers are cautioned to not overprice, todays buyers are armed with too much information & are too savy to over pay. I still see numerous price reductions, sometimes from over pricing, sometimes from poor presentation, that ultimately hurt the seller. Buyers on the other hand, are urged to act quickly if they see something they like. Todays buyer, now accustomed to virtual tours & remote signings, are actin quicker than ever.

Adapted from North West Multiple Listing Service August 2020 press release. See the full press release and 23 county report here: http://members.nwmls.com/library/content/PressReleases/2020/NWMLS%20NR_August%202020.pdf

The Power of Numbers

The Power of Numbers

I read a white paper several years back that described the fact that there was a measurable difference in the sale prices of homes that had fewer zeros in the list price: as in $699,999 as opposed to $700,000. The basis was that the mind plays subtle tricks and the mind would think that the $699,999 was a more accurate number and not receive as large a counter offer as $700,000 would. That statistically, the final selling price of the $699,999 list price would be larger than the final selling price of the $700,00 list price. It was a small %, but still measurable and money in the bank.

Since then I have employed it in both buying and selling, setting list and offer prices with no zero’s. My faith based clients have used bible verses for ending numbers such as $XXX,316. One buyer, faced with multiple offers, used the date of the offer. In all cases, it seems to have worked, rarely have we lost a bid or not sold near asking when clients accepted my theory. My current listing (1321 117th Pl SE Kent) is listed at $676, 247 because it has 2 kitchens, 4 bathrooms & 7 bedrooms. We’ll see how that goes, but over a dozen shows in 2 days is a good sign!. Update -It is now Pending at Full Price.!!

What are your lucky number’s??

June ends with 2nd lowest inventory in last 10 years.

Historically low interest rates and changing lifestyles are contributing to the lowest number of homes for sale in the 23 counties that the NWMLS covers. With only 1.16 months supply of homes to buy at the end of June, buyers are once again faced with bidding wars and other market conditions that are generally in the sellers favor. As always, properly priced and properly presented homes are selling quick.

As one would expect, this imbalance in supply & demand is leading to rising prices. Pierce County lead the way in the Central Puget Sound region with a 8.2% year over year increase, with Snohomish County registering 6.7% & King County coming in at 5.9%. This is as expected as buyers are being pushed out to more affordable areas. Also trends which were emerging Pre COVID, like buyers seeking more space & / or less urban areas, seem to be accelerating in pace as workers & employers are finding that ‘work from home’ solutions, put in place for COVID, work long term as well.

The silver lining for buyers is record low interest rates, at an all time low of 3.07% (FreddieMac 30year fixed), has increased their purchasing power. For sellers, this translates into buyers paying more for their home, making this ‘a particularily good time to think about selling’.