Moving to Seattle from the East Coast

Everyone who is buying a home comes to the marketplace with some preconceptions as to how things will proceed. If someone is selling a house in the area and buying a different house in the same area, there are not as many surprises that cause a lot of confusion. If someone is moving here from California, the process of buying a home is not different and the home styles are often so completely different that the expectation of what they will find is not carved in stone.

When someone is moving here from the East Coast, especially the Northeast, there are a few differences best known before you head out to buy a house.

1) THE HOUSES ARE DIFFERENT

facade

The main difference in the home style is what is called “Craftsman” style. If you are building a house, they often will ask “Traditional or Craftsman?” when asking for the main styling of all of the millwork in the house. While “Traditional” will resemble an East Coast Colonial style a little bit…”traditional” does not mean “colonial”. The floor plan may or may not be different, but the facade will definitely be different.

The four homes in the photo are basically new homes by the same builder with the two on the left being on the East Coast and the two on the right being in The Seattle Area.

Some of the main differences:

1) Wood or wood facsimile products vs Brick A lot of people moving here from other States and other Countries like the more solid look of brick. But know that one of the reasons this area avoided brick for the most part is due to earthquake activity. Wood has some flexibility. Brick and mortar joints do not. There are plenty of old brick tudors still standing that have been through earthquakes. But I have seen many where there are patches over time from the brick cracking in a step pattern. I had some pictures in my phone of a house over in Montlake with this issue recently. If you do buy a brick house, examine it carefully, not just for cracks but for sections where the mortar is wider and often in a step pattern. Do use a structural engineer in addition to or as the home inspector as well. The new homes the brick is just a “facade” and not part of the construction. Still, brick doesn’t move well, even to a small degree.

That said, many of the homes today are built with a wood-like cement product as the siding. More expensive and custom homes still use wood. But most tract homes use the wood-facsimile product that may not have more movement than brick. You just don’t have to deal with the mortar issues.

2) Shutters Most of the time you will feel like the shutters are missing. Often, especially when buying older homes of the exact same style you can find on the East Coast, people will remark that they need to add shutters. Colonial homes had shutters going back centuries of the type shown on the homes in the photos on the left. Once in awhile you will find a form of shutters here that are more of a tudor style shutter. Same with the uneven pitched roof on the bottom photo on the right. There is a tudor influence. But no shutters has been more common for a very long time and because the homes were built that way it may not be easy to add them.

3) Closing and Closing Day

ALMOST NEVER DO YOU MOVE ON THE DAY OF CLOSING ON THE WEST COAST. NOR DO YOU TAKE OFF ANY TIME FROM WORK ON CLOSING DAY.

This has always been the most significant difference in the process, and one that often confuses people who are buying homes.

DO NOT MAKE ANY ARRANGEMENTS FOR MOVERS OR ANY OTHER SERVICES FOR CLOSING DAY!

This is vastly different from the East Coast where closings happen all day and several times in a day, usually every hour or so.

Whether or not you are moving here from the East Coast, it does seem a bit odd for the seller to be signing over his house to a buyer before it is paid for. It also seems a bit odd to sign all of your closing paperwork as the buyer and even bring your funds to closing, and not get the keys to the house. Even more odd that the day of closing is not the day you can tell your movers to bring your belongings to your new house.

The difference is that on the West Coast (and several other States) “closing” means the County has actually recorded the Deed to the property in the buyers name. On the East Coast that is not the case and the Deed is often recorded “in due course” and sometimes a month or so after closing. HUGE difference. On the East Coast they do a table funding and the buyer and seller are often in the same room with the agents and the closing agent. They buyer brings their money, the lender sent the money early in the day, the seller gets a check and hands over the keys to the buyer. All that within one hour. So if the signing is at 10 you can usually have the movers start moving things in around noon. If your closing is at 1 you can usually have the movers ready to move things in by 3 ish.

NOT so on the West Coast. On the West Coast the seller sometimes signs the new Deed over to the buyer a couple of weeks before closing. The buyer most often signs a few days before closing. Closing Day is too late to do much of anything. If it all wasn’t done before Closing Day, or at least most of it, less likely it will close by end of day. Closing is a phone call saying “we have recording numbers”. That means the new Deed has been recorded in the buyer’s name and that usually happens between 4 and 5 p.m. (not always; but often)

BUT! KEYS ARE NOT DUE UNTIL BY 9 P.M.

Once in awhile the seller is not completely moved out by the time that phone call comes in. Technically they have until 9 p.m. to be vacated and hand over the keys. I have only seen it go all the way to 9 p.m. a couple of times in a dozen years. But neither is it practical to want the keys to the house as soon as you get the phone call that it is closed.

The Seller gives the keys to their agent. Their agent gives the keys to the buyer’s agent. The buyer gets the keys from their agent. Most always the Agent for the Buyer can’t get the keys until after it closes. There are a dozen different ways we arrange this depending on the agents and parties, but do know that having cleaners or movers standing outside the door at 5:30 p.m. can end very badly.

Things are changing a bit because of the new rules that lenders must follow as of October 3rd. We are seeing more table funded loans and more buyers signing the morning of closing. We can’t move to a system where all buyers sign the morning of closing. It just wouldn’t work for the Title Companies.

As a buyer you don’t get much notice as to when you will be signing. More and more people are paying an extra cost for a mobile signer so they can sign after business hours or very early in the morning before work.

Just know that Closing Day on the West Coast is very, very different and once your loan documents get to escrow, there will be a signing appointment scheduled with very little advance notice. It’s a bit chaotic, but, it’s just how it is done here.

If you have moved here from the East Coast and have some other observations as to the differences, do note them in the comments along with where you moved here from.

Lessons from the Foxhole: A Nevadan Takes a Stab at Seattle’s Real Estate Future

joe salcedo[Editor’s Note: I get asked all the time if people from outside of Seattle can write for Rain City Guide and I always say no… I really like keeping RCG as a “Seattle” thing. However, recently Joe Salcedo of the Reno Real Estate Blog reached out to ask if he could publish a one-time post on RCG about his experiences with the Reno, Nevada market and the insights it might provide to the Seattle community… and I bit. I’ve published the article below. Enjoy! ~Dustin]

In August of 2005, our real estate market crashed.   It’s been five years and we’re slowly trying to get back on our feet.  I’m here to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way; the prodigal brother, if you will.

I started with a blank page.  One weekend after, baffled and fascinated and my curiosity violently piqued, here’s what I found out about your market:

  • If you waited until Seattle home prices went down in July 2007 (before you realized the market was having problems), you’re going to be at least one year behind.  Check for other signals. Home prices take too long to reveal itself profitably.

In Feb 2006, less than a year after the Reno real estate market crashed, I called an emergency meeting (coupled with other factors like plunging housing starts and declining home builder stocks) after being greeted by this chart:
Reno Home Resales
Yes, all markets are local but we all came from our mother’s womb.  Like a bearish stock market pulling down three out of four stocks with it – (both weak and strong companies) – majority of real estate markets fall with the general market.   Follow the home builder sector group in the stock market (Investor’s Business Daily tracks it every Monday). Check housing starts and building permitsto see a glimpse of the future:
Housing Starts Chart

  • For potential sellers: Consider cutting your losses short.  If you’re barely making it with house payments (perhaps using borrowed money just to make it) and hoping that the market would change soon, perhaps it’s time to think about making some tough decisions.  Distressed properties tend to pull home prices down further (see: notice of trustee sale graph below.)

If you’re comfortable with your mortgage payment (you bought a house on or before June 2005) and moving is too painful, it’s ok to stay; just know that based on present real estate conditions, it may take a few years before your house will appreciate from the price you bought it.

Percentage Home Price Change

Notice of Trustee Sale by Month Chart

(From SeattleBubble.com)

  • Short sales and foreclosures are like a mysterious disease that defies normal market cause and effect.  Inventory could be down, demand up, but price still down.  This has been happening in our market since 2007.

And like your resident queen, the author has made premature bottom calls by not taking into account the “black swan

Well, at least our market isn’t on the verge of collapsing…

On this gray, dreary January Monday — where the weather isn’t even cold enough for snow in the mountains, at least not those elevations reachable by chair lift — I thought I’d pass along this “glass is half full” insight. First the bad news — which is no surprise at all: home values here in King County are now at 2005 levels, plus sales volume remains significantly depressed (by historical standards, putting aside the risk of a “new normal”). Not good. Sorta like the weather.

On the plus side, though, it could be worse. Much worse. Apparently, the hardest hit markets in the nation (Michigan, Nevada, perhaps others) appear to be heading towards total collapse. Yep, that’s right, values continue to depreciate until they reach… zero (or something in that neighborhood). OUCH! That’s neither a buyer’s nor a seller’s market. Rather, its a market from which everyone should extricate themselves as soon as possible. Run for the exits!

Obviously, this is just an opinion, and undoubtedly there are some rosier viewpoints. But I think this article makes a pretty compelling argument that some parts of the national housing market really will never, ever recover — at least not in the lifetime of a potential buyer or seller.

March Madness for Real Estate Events

I’m a volunteer on the planning committee for the next Seattle Real Estate BarCamp and I’m amazed at how many events being planned for real estate professionals in March…it’s borderline madness!

Here are a couple that I’m aware of:

March 2, 2011Northwest Video Marketing Summit brought to you by Frank Garay and Brian Stevens of TBWS fame.   Cost is $100 and you’ll leave the day long event at the Seattle Center with your own video blog.  Follow on Twitter:  #vmssea

March 3, 2011Seattle RE BarCamp takes place at the Seattle Center Northwest Rooms (same location as last year).   RE BarCamp is a FREE event where the real estate industry can come together to learn from each other (social media, tech, trends, etc.).  It is NOT intended to be a “class room” with instructors.   It’s an “un-conference” where participation from attendees is required.  The agenda is determined the morning of the event based on what is suggested by the participants.  If you’re wanting to be taught and not comfortable with the BarCamp format, you might want to consider other events.  Twitter: #rebcsea

March 9, 2001Agent Reboot  at the Washington State Convention Center.  This is more of a sit down and learn type program with a set schedule of what will be taught.   Cost is $49 if  you pre-register.

March 15 -17, 2001Real Estate Coach Tom Ferry will be at the Meydenbauer Center.  Cost $197.

Am I missing anything?

Are you ready for BuzzRE???

Next week, I’m helping to organize an internet marketing educational event and I encourage everyone interested to set aside next Thursday to join us!  For the BuzzRE event, we’ve lined up some of my favorite educators in real estate marketing including:

edgefieldIn addition to the great lineup of speakers, there’s going to be ample opportunities to learn from and network with hundreds of agents from the Pacific Northwest, many of whom are leaders in internet marketing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re want to learn about SEO, SEM, blogging, conversations, tools, or any other online marketing topic, the experts will be there and you just need to join us to take part!

Details for location and much more are on the BuzzRE website, but here’s a few key stats:

Cost: $25

When: June 2nd: 6pm – kickoff party
June 3rd: 9am – 5pm (with after party till 11pm)

Where: McMenamin’s Edgefield
2126 S.W. Halsey St.  Troutdale, OR 97060
(Just 10 minutes east of PDX)

More info: http://buzzre.com/

Registration: http://ticketsoregon.com/event.php?event_id=537/

We ran another BuzzRE event in Orange County a few weeks ago and it was so much fun. So many great people and so much great feedback, which has really helped guide this event in Portland!

Are you going to be there???  Let us know!

Let us know if you’re going to be there!  Either here or on Twitter!  (The hashtag to connect on twitter is: #BuzzRE).  And just a few of the Seattle folks I’ve noticed mention they’re going to be there include: Linda Aaron, Galen Ward, Darin Persinger and Scott Thomas

So much fun and let me know if I can add your twitter handle to the list!

[For those interested in a trip down memory lane… I had conversations with another real estate old-timer not too long ago, and we look back at the Las Vegas NAR event in ’07 as the kick-off point for real estate conversations on Twitter…  Back then, we were all trying to figure out if there was anything behind the hype of Twitter, and it seemed to me that the best place to figure out if it made sense was at a conference where we could use the tool to better connect.  With that in mind, I posted a list of real estate folks with Twitter accounts who would be attending NAR so others could follow along and connect with us. While the list started off small (I published the list with only 5 twitter profiles: JeffJoelJessicaKeith and Myself), I remember that by the end of the week, I was connected to over 50 people on Twitter who I’d met at the conference…  and I like to think that the background real estate conversation on Twitter that was sparked at NAR ’07 has never really died down!

Anyway, I was reminded of this story as I posted this list of a few folks from Seattle joining us at BuzzRE and realizing how these small lists of people sometimes blossom into unpredictable and amazing conversations!]

I hope to see you in Portland next week!

So many great things to do in Seattle!

[Editor’s note: I’m super excited to announce Sarah Payson as RCG’s newest contributor. She runs The Payson Group with her husband John Payson, who together are the first “M Agents” in Seattle. I recently had the chance to spend a day with them and was blown away by how two people could be both super-motivated and super-wonderful!   One of the things that they will undoubtably bring to RCG is an active involvement in the local community… and an excellent example of that is their active Facebook Page: 365 Things To Do In Seattle that’s grown to over 7,700 fans in about a month.  Seeing the success they’re having with this page, I asked Sarah if she’d start her RCG contributions with a post about that project.   -Dustin]

365 things to doAre you new to Seattle WA?  Have you been here a while but are tired of the same old routine?

We want to get you connected with your neighborhoods around Seattle and the Eastside, that’s why we started “365 Things to do in Seattle WA

It’s September 17, 2009 and I still originate mortgage loans…

For those of us to whom this statement applies there are a few obvious questions that immediately come to mind:  Why am I still working in this God-forsaken wasteland of an industry?

  • A) Nobody else is hiring in this booming economy,
  • B) I wanted to move to Nome Alaska but I couldn’t trade my upside down mortgage for a thatched roof yurt and a dog sled, or
  • C) The positive image of my career as portrayed by CNN makes me feel like a rock star.

Seriously, for the love of God Why!?

2009wampconnectIn all seriousness those of us that remain are not that different than survivors of a natural disaster. The clouds dissipate; the water level recedes and her we are – the survivors of the storm.  Not unlike the analogy the first thing that a ‘survivor’ must do is identify the resources that one needs to rebuild and restore one’s life. It is with this in mind that I invite you to WAMP’s Connect event coming up in Bellevue on October 5th and 6th

The Connect event offers each of us the opportunity to come together and meet all of the other survivors face to face. We’ll be able to reflect on what ‘once was’ and still more importantly the ‘what is’. As is the case in any disaster, the landscape we live in professionally is dramatically different than where we’ve been. The resources are certainly more limited – remember the days of quoting ‘hundreds of lenders and programs’? Now it’s more like ‘five lenders and programs’ – and we’re all using the same five!

Fewer programs and tougher guidelines are the realities of the aftershock and yet another reason to learn what others are doing to be more efficient and succeed in this new landscape. The Connect Event also offers the knowledge of how to seed your landscape for tomorrow. New technologies and lead sources like the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace, social network marketing (can you tweet for dough?), and the brace of brave new lenders that have sprung up alongside the resilient and steady familiar faces; they’ll all be represented at the Connect Event. The Connect Event will be nothing short of a meeting of survivors learning how to forge their professional landscapes for tomorrow – so don’t miss out!

There are very few lifeboats in this economy. There have been far more casualties than survivors. Come and be counted among the living. Come to Connect and learn how to forge a better tomorrow for yourself and for the industry you work in. Face it – If we don’t see you at Connect we’re going to suspect that you traded the house for the dog sled and the yurt – Don’t be ‘gone missing’

Are you going? REBarCampSeattle and more…

logoThere are a ton of great Seattle real estate events in the near future with RCG contributors playing a huge part, so last week I asked RCG contributors to let me know which events they were going to be participating in and I thought I’d give a quick summary…

REBarCamp Seattle, 9/8 (tomorrow!):

  • A gathering of passionate real estate professionals. A casual, open, and fun way to learn about cutting edge real estate marketing ideas.
  • RCG Contributors attending include: Rhonda Porter, Ardell DellaLoggia, Galen Ward, and Cortney Cooper

SCKAR Event, 9/22:

  • How how to use Social Media panel discussion with Rhona Porter, David Gibbons and Matt Heinz.  Moderated by Claudia Wicks.

Lenders Connect (WAMP), 10/5:

  • 18th Annual wholesale lenders conference
  • Rhona Porter, Jillayne Schlicke (speaker)

REbarcamp Bellevue, 10/6:

  • Rhonda Porter (organizer!), Ardell DellaLoggia

Washington State Association of Realtors Convention, 10/12 & 10/13:

  • Jillayne Schlicke (speaker)

Also, if you check out the event conversation on FB, you’ll see that there’s also a variety of courses being taught by RCG contributors in the near future!

And If you’re gonna be at any of these events, let us know to look out for you!

Live Video Streams on RCG? With Facebook Chat?

I’ve been told my interest in using Facebook for marketing is a bit unhealthy, but I’ve been having so much fun, and this week I pushed the limits in some ways that I thought I’d share in the hope we could spark some interesting conversations…

275x229First off, I’ve been really fortunate to work with the team behind a really interesting movie called The Stoning of Soraya M. that’s being released in selected theaters today (and Seattle on July 17th). It’s a controversial movie based on the true story of a woman who was stoned to death in the Iran after being accused of adultly adultery by her husband. To help with outreach for the movie, I built (with some ridiculously well-timed help from Loren Nason of the Future of Real Estate Technology) a Facebook app that let me combine both a live video stream with a streaming facebook chat-style app. The result was an interview with the director where we took questions from the Facebook community. You can see a recording of the video on the Spinnio app page where we hosted the conversation.

However, before I was ready to go live with the app for the movie, I decided to use the Spinnio app to record a weekly radio show that I run with Rob Hahn called the RE:RnD (Real Estate Radio with Rob and Dustin)… Normally, Rob and I record our radio show form opposite sides of the country, but this week, we were both in Orange County for REBCOC. We took advantage of some of the great real estate people in attendance to interview:

You can watch the video here:

But wait, there’s more!!!

seattle-channelI happen to think the technology of streaming video with Facebook Chat is simply too interesting to resist… so I created a page on RCG that combines the live stream from the Seattle Channel with a chat box that lets you comment on the video with anyone else on RCG watching the video. While I doubt this page will get the critical mass to be extremely interesting, hopefully you can see how cool it could be and just where the Facebook chat/status update technology is heading.

Also, I’m somewhat hesitant to throw a generic chat on RCG in a prominent place, but what do you think?

FB.init(“639647c0b027e22dfc546244ab17a875”, “files/xd_receiver.htm”);

(By the way, this works! Feel free to try it out, although be prepared that each comment leaves a “status” update on your profile.)

I’ve never liked the idea of adding a message board because I simply don’t have the time to moderate it, but I have a feeling that this would be pretty self-moderating considering it’s tied to people’s Facebook account… But what do you think? Should I create a place on RCG where you can leave comments and engage in conversations that aren’t tied to any blog post?

Are sales really “failing” to sell?

(From near the end of this post: “Looks like of the 1,081 combined pendings since 6/1/09, at least 21% are short sales. But of the 1,379 closed in 30 days, less than 2% were closed short sales.”) Read full post for more info. That indicates a HUGE failure rate on Short Sales, though some of the variance could be attributed to other factors.

It seems that since the mls removed STI (subject to inspection) as a status, more pendings are failing.  Is this partly because we are now counting the same property twice, and so only 1 closing for 2 pendings in many cases?

1) IF it is first “Pending Inspection” or “Pending Feasibility” study – Every house that is put into “pending subject to inspection” will “fall out” into “pending”, before it goes to “Closed”.

2) Likewise a large number of bank-owned sales are previous listings that may have been pending as short sales.  They DO sell, but by the bank seller vs the owner occupant seller. The house IS sold at the end of the day. We are just showing two pendings for that one sale, with one closing and the other one “failing”, due to the change of seller name from owner to bank.

The only way for us to know this is to track them differently going forward. There is no way to get prior stats of the switch out from Pending Inspection to Pending or failed short sale = closed bank-owned sale, without looking inside each transaction by hand.  Too cumbersome.  But in recent history I believe these are clearly marked and can be identified for individual study, so if we begin now, we should have some really good data as time moves forward.

Today is the first day of the rest of our…research. Let’s begin on the “right foot”.

I’m going to go to the beginning of June, assuming anything that “went Pending” on June 1 hasn’t closed yet.  We can turn it into graphs after several weeks of raw data are obtained. Sticking to “Residential Only” (which in Seattle includes townhomes and on the Eastside does not, by and large). Most stats available are for SFH, such as on Seattle Bubble, so I will exclude “condo” and other types of property. I will also exclude manufactured/mobile homes and houseboats, which may have different #fail as to finance issues.  There is also a status called “Pending BU Requested” which indicates the agent is thinking the buyer in escrow may not close and is looking for BU offers.  I am going to show them separately as they don’t “fall out” into another Pending status before going to Closed…but should indicate a higher expectancy that the sale will fail.

In future posts containing these Pending stats, I will link to this post and not repeat the parameters each time. If anyone disagrees with the parameters, speak up so we can make the changes at the beginning together.

King County: Went Pending since June 1:

Pending = 456  (PI – 499, PF – 6, PBU – 120)

Note: a property can’t have two statuses at the same time.  So the 456 “true” pendings, are not also contained in the other categories.  PI used to be STI-subject to inspection. PBU is generally reserved for properties expected not to close with the current buyer who is in escrow. PF always had a high fail rate as the buyer is saying I only want to buy it IF…”. PI and PF should eventually move to “Pending” and only counted there. PBU we will try to break down further:

89 of the 120 PBU (Pending BackUps) are noted as “Short Sales”

7 more appear to be short sales, but some with prior lienholder approval

Many of the remaining properties in PBU are also short sales, but the field is new and some are not yet using it properly, especially if the property went pending since 6/1/09 BUT was listed long before the SS field was implemented. This data should improve over time. For now note that MOST of the 120 PBUs are Short Sales.

In addition, at least 135 of the 499 Pending Inspections are Short Sales.

Closed in the last 30 days – 1,379

Best I can tell, given pendings are closing in longer and undertermined timeframes, we can’t study a relationship between recent pendings and closed sales. Unless someone has some ideas here.

But at least we can track and see if the “true and full” Pendings are increasing or decreasing, if the short sales are increasing or decreasing.

Let me check for one more thing.  How many of those closed sales were noted as Short Sales. WOW! only about 24.  There you go…as I’ve said before, A Short Sale is not necessarily for sale!

Looks like of the 1,081 of combined pendings since 6/1/09, at least 21% are short sales. But of the 1,379 closed in 30 days, less than 2% were closed short sales. I’m going to leave this here, but also bring it up to the first paragraph.

Now that you can see how we will be able to break down the stats into the future, your thoughts on meaningful arrangement of data much appreciated.

Seems to me we need to note closed since 6/1 here (451) as Pendings will drop as they are Closed.

The primary purpose of this post is to show you what data is available, so that you can request a customized format in the comments below this post. (I am going to tag this “Sunday Night Stats”, just so that tag will pull up the full year and a half of my data related posts. You can get more data in this link of Tracking the Market.)

Required disclosure Stats are not compiled, verified or posted by NWMLS

UPDATE: I am compiling median prices and price per square foot of “normal” sales vs. short sales and bank owned.  I just found a drop down vs. check box for identifying bank owned properties.  … link HERE to the additional data . Breaking it down to North King vs. South King. There is a huge variance in pricing and the distressed sales are not dragging down other property sales “to their level”. Though I do think as time goes forward, identification of distressed sales will be more and more accurate as the new required field is used often and properly from here forward.