What you need to know about the Washington State Seller Property Disclosure – Form 17

 

Washington State requires sellers of residential real property to thoroughly disclose material facts on a form called the Residential Real Property Disclosure Statement (often referred to as Form 17). Unless the buyer has expressly waived their rights, the seller must deliver this completed disclosure with 5 days after mutual acceptance.  The buyer then has a window of time to walk away with their earnest money at their discretion.

While sellers have always been required to disclose material facts, the Form 17has been required by law (RCW 64.06.020) since January 1, 1995. It has undergone ten revisions since its inception, the last of which will go into effect in January. In addition to the residential disclosure, the state added an unimproved property (land) disclosure in 2007 (RCW 64.06.015) and a commercial property disclosure in 2012 (RCW 64.06.013). The current form is 6 pages long and includes most of the typical property issues requiring disclosure with a catchall question for anything left out.

 

Is every seller required to complete this form? Are there exemptions?

The statute allows very limited exceptions RCW (64.06.010) to completing the disclosure statement. They include transfers…

  • by foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
  • that are gifts to a parent, spouse, domestic partner, or child
  • related to marital dissolution or dissolution of a state registered domestic partnership
  • to buyers who had a prior ownership interest in the property in the last two years
  • of an interest that is less than fee simple
  • made by the personal representative of the estate or by a trustee in bankruptcy
  • in which the buyer has expressly waived the receipt of the seller disclosure statement

However, if the answer to any of the questions in the section entitled “Environmental” would be “yes,” the buyer may not waive the receipt of the “Environmental” section of the seller disclosure statement.

 

What happens after delivery of the disclosure statement?

The buyer has three business days from receipt of the disclosure statement to cancel the agreement for the purchase of the property (unless they waived their rights to do so in writing).

This right to rescind is statutory, and the decision to revoke the offer may be made by the buyer at the buyer’s sole discretion. If the buyer elects to rescind the agreement, the buyer must deliver written notice of rescission to the seller within the three-business-day period.

Upon delivery of the written rescission notice the buyer is entitled to immediate return of all earnest money deposits and the agreement for purchase becomes void.

If the buyer does not deliver notice the disclosure statement is deemed approved and accepted by the buyer. The full provisions of this right are found in RCW (64.06.030).

 

What happens if the seller doesn’t deliver a completed disclosure?

If the seller fails or refuses to provide a disclosure statement to buyer within 5 days, the prospective buyer’s right of rescission extends until the earlier of three business days after receipt of the disclosure statement or the date the transfer has closed (unless the buyer has otherwise waived the right of rescission in writing). After closing, per RCW 64.06.040 (3) the seller’s obligation to deliver the disclosure statement and the buyer’s rights and remedies related to it terminate.

 

Some sellers are more forthcoming than others…

When sellers claim there are no issues to explain, you should be wary…very wary. In 34 years of practice, I have yet to see a perfect house. Whether a 10-million-dollar estate, a newly constructed home, or a $300,000 starter home, every house has a story and every buyer has a right to know about it so they can knowledgeably complete their due diligence.

Making full disclosure actually benefits the seller, too. By disclosing a condition, the seller shifts the burden of investigation to the buyer under Washington law. By remaining silent, a seller risks the appearance of concealment and a lawsuit.  Think of it this way: disclose an issue and if the buyer accepts it you move forward with no worries since they are barred from seeking compensation later; fail to disclose it and you could be looking over your shoulder for years.

I like to see issues disclosed on a disclosure statement. It makes me feel like the seller has been honest and transparent. When I see a “perfect” disclosure, I know the seller is either in total denial or has decided not to disclosure the little (or big) issues they know about. Most buyers expect far more disclosure from the seller than the law requires. While sellers don’t have a duty to inspect their home or look for defects, they do have a duty to disclose defects that affect the value, physical condition, or title to the property. Sellers should consider disclosure to be a form of insurance.

Instead of minimizing disclosures, a prudent seller will try to consider the property from the perspective of a buyer and then disclose what a buyer would want to know. Many of the conditions that lead to lawsuits would have been acceptable to the buyer if they had been disclosed in advance. Other conditions simply are not important enough to the buyer to fully investigate before purchasing a property. To maximize the benefit of disclosure law, sellers may want to make full disclosure of the property and neighborhood even if they have no legal duty to do so. It is usually better to be over-insured than not insured at all.

 

Buyers have duties, too…

In addition to a thorough inspection, investigating issues raised in the seller disclosure statement is one of the most important parts of due diligence in a real estate transaction. Buyers have a duty of thoroughness and inspection that should not be taken lightly.

The buyer should evaluate each disclosed item, and (especially) those items not disclosed, but easily discovered during a walk-through and inspection. If there are many items identified and not disclosed, a buyer should be concerned about other unseen issues that might also not be disclosed. A savvy buyer will investigate a home with limited disclosure more thoroughly and/or make the decision not to purchase form a seller who is seemingly not transparent with the truth.

It is also important to note that sellers typically have no duty to disclose neighborhood conditions or past events at the property, even though these may be issues of concern to the buyer. For instance, sellers usually have no legal duty to disclose the following conditions either at the property or in the neighborhood:

  • Death, murders, suicides, rapes or other crimes
  • Ongoing criminal or gang activity in the neighborhood
  • Registered sex offenders in the neighborhood (RCW 64.06.021)
  • Future development in the area
  • Political or religious activities in the area

If these or similar matters are of concern, buyer should conduct their due diligence prior to submitting an offer or include an inspection and “Neighborhood Review” contingency in the offer to allow them time to complete it as part of their purchase agreement.

 

What is the seller’s responsibility after delivery of disclosure statement?

The disclosure statute (64.06.040) states that if after delivering a completed disclosure statement, the seller learns from a source other than the buyer or others acting on the buyer’s behalf such as an inspector of additional information or an adverse change which makes any of the disclosures made inaccurate, the seller shall amend the real property transfer disclosure statement, and deliver the amendment to the buyer. The buyer then has the right to rescind the purchase agreement within three business days after receiving the amended disclosure statement.

No amendment is required if the seller takes whatever corrective action is necessary so that the accuracy of the disclosure is restored, or the adverse change is corrected, at least three business days prior to the closing date.

 

The seller disclosure statement is not a warranty

RCW 64.06.050 says the seller shall not be liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission in the disclosure statement if the seller had no actual knowledge of the error, inaccuracy, or omission. This includes disclosures based on information provided by public agencies, or by other persons providing information within the scope of their professional license or expertise, including, but not limited to, a report or opinion delivered by a land surveyor, title company, title insurance company, structural inspector, pest inspector, licensed engineer, or contractor. This applies to the seller’s real estate broker as well.

This should give a conscientious seller the assurance that the statute provides for property disclosure only and is not a warranty of current or ongoing condition. Provided a seller discloses everything they know, or that a reasonable seller should have known, about their property, a seller should feel good in knowing they are not held liable for its condition.

 

Here are a few great online resources to add to your knowledge base:

Current local Form 17 Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement: https://windermeremicom/files/2019/08/17_SellerDisclosureForm.pdf

The complete text of the Washington State Real Property Transfer Act: https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=64.06&full=true

NOLO Article: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/residential-home-sellers-washington-what-the-law-requires-you-disclose.html

 

Of course, nothing tops having an experienced pro to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds with gorgeous looking veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is an advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.

 


 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446 mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2019. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


Posted on May 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm
Windermere MI | Posted in Buyer Tips, Homeowner Tips and Happenings, Seller Tips | Tagged , , , , ,

May 2020 Seattle Area Real Estate Report

Western Washington housing market adjusting to new ways of operating.

Residential real estate activity around Western Washington reflected expected declines during April with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic taking its toll. A new report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows year-over-year (YOY) drops system-wide in new listings, pending sales and closed sales, but prices increased nearly 6.4%.

“With the first full month of post-COVID-19 data in hand, it’s clear the Puget Sound housing market has been hit but not knocked out,” stated Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardener. “The normally active spring market is significantly slower than normal due to COVID-19, but it has not come to a halt,” he observed, adding, “In my opinion, it is responding to the current circumstances exactly as expected.”

In comparing April to March in the tri-county area (King, Pierce and Snohomish counties), economist Gardner noted the total number of active listings rose (up 14,8%), but new listings dropped (down 25.5%), which he said suggests sellers may be waiting until the shelter-in-place order is over. In the same area, home prices were essentially flat, which Gardner said, “This tells me that sellers are having realistic expectations about value and buyers, hoping for deep discounts, are not finding them.”

In King County, prices rose 4% from a year ago, from $625,000 to $650,000. Snohomish County prices were up nearly 6% and Pierce County joined Kitsap with a double-digit gain; prices there increased from $355,000 to $397,750 for a 12% gain.
System-wide, prices were up about 6.4%, rising from the year-ago figure of $424,950 to last month’s figure of $452,030. Year-to-date prices are up nearly 9.3% compared to twelve months ago.

“With peripheral areas still showing price increases higher than the Seattle area core, April’s figures highlight the trend of migration to outer suburban areas, along freeway corridors,” suggested James Young, director at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER). He also believes the figures illustrate “a continued preference for lower density areas given the likely persistence of distancing measures in the future. The virus has refocused many potential buyers, especially for those owning high-density properties in Seattle and elsewhere, on more space and less density. It makes social distancing easier!”

Young expects the trend of households moving to outer counties will likely accelerate in the coming weeks. “Older households in Seattle and other urban centers will be attracted to lower density areas because it is easier to maintain social distance while possibly gaining more space at a lower price point. As long as older householders in urban areas are able to sell, other counties will continue to see increased prices,” he stated.
Changes in lending practices could influence activity according to some market watchers, including Young. “The biggest factors in mortgage markets are first-time buyers, who may not qualify under new criteria, and jumbo markets,” he remarked.

“Buyers are relying more and more on technology and tools to allow for virtual open houses and viewings. Social distancing, face masks, showings by appointment only and only two people in a home at a time with one of them being the broker are the new norm,” stated Wilson. Like WCRER’s Young, he
said he could imagine homeowners wanting to change their living conditions to accommodate for more room or more outdoor space. “This could well cause a shift in what buyers are looking for in the future.”

Read the entire NWMLS Press Release here.

View the full market report

The report covers:

Seattle residential neighborhoods of West Seattle, South Seattle, Central Seattle, Queen Anne-Magnolia, Ballard-Green Lake, North Seattle, Shoreline-Richmond Beach, and Kenmore-Lake Forest Park.

Eastside residential neighborhoods of South Eastside, Mercer Island, West Bellevue, East Bellevue, East Lake Sammamish, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, and Renton Highlands.

Downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle condominiums.

 

 


 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446 mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


Posted on May 11, 2020 at 1:33 pm
Windermere MI | Posted in Monthly Reports | Tagged , , , , ,

May 4th Seattle Area Market Report

NWMLS data indicates that KeyBox Activity is now up to 68% of normal (compared to this time last year). The report tracks how often keyboxes are opened each day and compares the numbers to gain general trends in showing activity each week.

Real estate has been deemed an essential business activity with specific limitations and using appropriate protocols for social distancing. Realtors and their clients are still conducting most of their interactions remotely.

Indications are that some version of a stay home order could exist for many more months. Our ability to conduct business in this new environment is becoming more comfortable, and as time goes on, we expect more people (clients and professionals) will want to conduct real estate business.

See what is happening in Seattle real estate this week. Check out our neighborhood by neighborhood weekly report by price segment for the entire Seattle-Eastside market.

View the full May 4th Seattle-Eastside residential market report



Mercer island blog, windermere mercer island, windermere real estate, seattle blog, live on mercer, live on guides, community information, neighborhood information, real estate, mercer island community, mercer island community blog, mercer island blogger, mi reporter, mercer island real estate info,
Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446 mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


Posted on May 5, 2020 at 9:08 am
Julie Barrows | Posted in Weekly Insight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Buy and Sell Safely in the New Normal

 

While buying and selling real estate was recently deemed essential in Washington State, the landscape looks very different than it did before the COVID-19 outbreak. Real estate offices remain closed to the public with agents working remotely and hosting virtual client meetings.  Important safety regulations prohibit in-person open houses and limit the number of people who can tour a home or attend an inspection. Social distancing will remain at the forefront as we wait for a vaccine or treatment to become widely available.

So how do you buy or sell a home safely in this new environment? Thanks to modern technology, there is a lot we can do to help you through the process while minimizing the risk to you and the community. Here are some tips for buyers and sellers on how to do it right…

 



 

TIPS FOR BUYERS

  • Do your homework before you tour a home in person.  Take a virtual online tour, research the neighborhood and ask your agent to delve into the property and title history.  If a virtual tour isn’t available, your agent can give you a preview via FaceTime or Skype while walking through the home.
  • Get pre-qualified.  Knowing your exact budget in advance will help you save time and avoid any non-essential showings.
  • Schedule a 1-hour showing window.  When you think you’ve found “the one” and are ready to tour it in-person, have your agent book a full hour so that you are less likely to run into other buyers.  This will also allow time for each person to see the home since there is currently a limit of just 2 people in the home at once, including the agent.
  • Meet your agent at the home.  Instead of carpooling, drive separately and then wait in your car until your agent confirms that the home is empty and ready to tour.  Condos may have special rules for showings and you’ll also want to take separate elevator trips if you’re touring a high-rise.
  • Play it safe during the tour.  Wear a mask, wash/sanitize your hands when you enter and leave, limit touching of surfaces, and maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from your agent at all times.  Assume you might be recorded by the homeowner and observed by neighbors.
  • Meet virtually with your agent.  When it’s time to write an offer, your agent can use any number of video conferencing apps to share documents with you and discuss them in real time.  You can then sign and authenticate all contracts electronically via a secure service such as Authentisign.
  • Don’t skip a professional home inspection.  Due to the difficulties around seeing the home in person, it is more important than ever to make sure you know of any underlying issues it may have.  The 2-person rule still applies at inspections so your agent will likely request the seller’s permission for you to be in the home alone with the inspector while the agent waits in the car.  You’ll also need to make sure you and your inspector comply with all social distancing and safety rules.



 

TIPS FOR SELLERS

  • Give your listing agent a virtual tour.  Rather than meeting in person, utilize an app like FaceTime or Skype to virtually walk your agent through your home using your smart phone.  Hold meetings virtually whenever possible and sign documents electronically through a secure service such as Authentisign.
  • Move out first if at all possible.  This makes it practical for buyers to comfortably view your home while following the current 2-person limit for home occupancy during showings.  It also protects you from any potential exposure—especially important if you are in at at-risk age group and/or have health problems.
  • Time the market with expert advice.  Talk to an agent you can trust who follows the ins and outs of regulations from the Governor’s office and also has access to showing data and activity reports that can help you determine the best time to sell.
  • Look your best online.  Make sure your agent will coordinate truly stellar home preparation, staging and photography. Consider having a professional video tour and interactive floor plans as well.
  • Have your agent hold a virtual open house. Live-streaming a virtual tour from inside the home is a great way for your agent to reach buyers and answer their questions in real time.  Virtual open houses are also now promoted on virtually all home search websites and apps.
  • Prepare diligently for in-person showings.  Be sure that you or your agent provides hand sanitizer, single-use booties and masks along with a sign detailing the safety guidelines you would like visitors to follow while in your home.  Open interior doors and turn on lights ahead of time to minimize touching.  Disinfect high-use surfaces after each showing.

 


 

Find a Home with Windermere Real Estate

 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446

mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020, Windermere Real Estate / Mercer Island


Posted on May 1, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Buyer Tips, COVID-19, Seller Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Q1 2020 Waterfront Report

Q1 Market Snapshot: Seattle & The Eastside

 

The pace of waterfront transactions has been slowing over the past few quarters, driven in large part by fewer international buyers in the market. Even so, Q1 was markedly off for waterfront sales. The Eastside had 3 private waterfront home sales. Seattle had 8, Mercer Island had 2, and Lake Sammamish had no sales in the first three months on 2020.

 

The highest private waterfront sale in Q1 was on Lake Washington in Medina at $11.5 million. The most affordable waterfront sale was a $1.5 million Beach Drive West Seattle home with 22 feet of waterfront on Puget Sound. Note this report includes privately-owned, rather than shared, waterfront transactions only.

 

This top-level overview of the entire Seattle-Eastside private waterfront market, including Mercer Island and Lake Sammamish, provides a glance into the trends occurring in our region over time. Interesting, and certainly insightful, it in no way replaces an in-depth analysis on waterfront value provided by a savvy broker with years of local waterfront experience.

 

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Find a Home  |  Sell Your Home  |  Property Research

Neighborhoods  |  Market Reports  |  Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446   mercerisland@windermere.com

 

© Copyright 2020, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service and deemed accurate but not guaranteed.


Posted on April 14, 2020 at 4:15 pm
Windermere MI | Posted in Waterfront Reports | Tagged , , , , , ,

April 2020 Seattle Area Real Estate Report

Northwest MLS report for March shows initial disruptions from coronavirus pandemic.

Like many sectors of the economy, residential real estate is experiencing disruption and uncertainty just when the vigorous spring market was ramping up. Not surprisingly, the March activity report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which covers 23 counties across Washington state, was mixed as guidelines affecting how brokers conduct business evolved.

Housing activity around Western Washington in March showed the volume of new listings added during the month surpassed February’s total, as did both pending and closed sales. Year-over-year prices increased. However, commenting on the latest report, Northwest MLS brokers emphasized the numbers do not yet reflect the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on local real estate.

Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner described the numbers for March as “essentially irrelevant given the fact that the economy went into freefall during the month.” He also noted that for a period, real estate was not considered to be an essential service, which he said “suggests that April’s numbers will also not be an accurate representation of the market.”

“As our real estate industry has adapted to the evolving waves rippling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the response from the agents in my office has been to go slow,” stated NWMLS board chairman Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere Real Estate/East in Bellevue. “While we have been given the latitude necessary to help clients in pending transactions get to the finish line, the recent revision from the Governor’s Office allowing agents to show homes has been met with significant caution and care within my office,” he added. Read the entire NWMLS Press Release here.

Read the entire NWMLS Press Release here.

View the full market report

The report covers:

Seattle residential neighborhoods of West Seattle, South Seattle, Central Seattle, Queen Anne-Magnolia, Ballard-Green Lake, North Seattle, Shoreline-Richmond Beach, and Kenmore-Lake Forest Park.

Eastside residential neighborhoods of South Eastside, Mercer Island, West Bellevue, East Bellevue, East Lake Sammamish, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, and Renton Highlands.

Downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle condominiums.

 

 


 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446 mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


Posted on April 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Windermere MI | Posted in Monthly Reports | Tagged , , , , ,

Q1 2020 Reports: Market Update

Q1 Market Snapshot: Seattle & The Eastside

 

As we are fully entrenched in a new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to note that the Q1 stats you see are based on pre-coronavirus closed sales activity and therefore largely untouched by our current market reality.

 

While Q1 serves as a pre-coronavirus benchmark, Q2 and Q3 will more accurately show the impacts of the (necessary) stay home order and resulting economic fallout. Our region stands to rebound more quickly than many US markets due to its pre-coronavirus strength.

 

Q1 saw a continued inventory shortage, although many homes were just queuing up to come on the market prior to the outbreak. Mortgage interest rates hit new lows in March (down about 1% from a year ago) bringing the typical monthly payment down significantly. For reference, a 1% change in interest rate equates to about a 10% change in buying power (i.e. an $800,000 home at 3.4% costs about the same per month as a $720,000 home at 4.4% interest).

 

Click or scroll down to find your area report:

Seattle  |  Eastside  |  Mercer Island  |  Condos  |  Waterfront

 


SEATTLE

There were 11.2% more Seattle home sales in Q1 2020 (1,632) compared to Q1 2019 (1,468). Seattle’s median sale price increased by an average of 3.4% in 2019 to $750,000. Lake Forest Park (+8.0%) and Queen Anne-Magnolia (+7.0%) were the area’s top performers. The Central Seattle was down 6.9% over Q1 2019, much of which can be attributed to fewer luxury market sales and a higher percentage of smaller homes transacting during that period.

 

In Q1, 68.0% of Seattle homes (all price points) sold at or above their listed price, while only 13.7% of homes priced above $1 million did so. The average number of days to sell decreased to 41 from 50 in Q1 of the year prior.

 

The highest Seattle home sale was a 1930-built Lake Forest Park waterfront home for $5,000,000 and the lowest was a 1955-built 2-bedroom Skyway home for $215,000.

 

Seattle Q1 2020 Recap

Click here to view the complete report for a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of Average Sale Price, size, and number of homes sold.

 

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EASTSIDE

In Q1, 64.6% of Eastside homes, and 28.6% of homes priced above one million dollars, sold for at or above their listed price.

 

The Eastside median sale price was $989,500 in Q1, up 6.8% over Q1 2019. South Eastside (+18.1%) and Kirkland (+14.1%) performed best, while Woodinville saw a 2.5% decrease in its median sale price. The highest sale was an $11.5 million Medina waterfront home and the lowest sale was a 1960’s Lake Margaret area cottage.

 

Eastside Q1 2020 Recap

Click here for the full report and neighborhood-by-neighborhood statistics!

 

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MERCER ISLAND

Mercer Island has seen a record shortage of homes on the market in Q1 with the lack of homes for sale dominating conversations between buyers and their brokers. There were 56 home sales in the first quarter, with only 6 homes sold below $1 million and 19 with sale prices above $2 million.

 

In Q1, 48.2% of all homes, and 12.5% of homes priced above two million dollars, sold for at or above their listed price. The highest Mercer Island sale was a $4.8 million waterfront home on the north-eastern tip of the Island. The lowest was a $815,000 renovation/rebuild ready rambler on West Mercer Way.

Mercer Island Q1 2020 Recap

Click here to view the complete report for a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of Average Sale Price, size, and number of homes sold.

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CONDOS – SEATTLE & EASTSIDE

Seattle’s condo median sale price was the same in Q1 2020 as in Q 1 2019 ($460,000) with 605 units transacting. The North Seattle (+28.3%) and Richmond Beach-Shoreline (+18.4%) outperformed the region while West Seattle condos were down 5.0% over Q1 of the prior year. In Q1, 53.7% of Seattle condos (all prices), and 3.1% of condos priced above one million dollars, sold for at or above their listed price.

 

On the Eastside, the median sale price was up 6.5% to $490,000. Woodinville (+21.4%) and Redmond (+17.2%) condos outpaced those in surrounding cities while East Bellevue condos sold for 23.2% less than in Q1 2019. There were 528 units sold on the Eastside this quarter.

 

In Q1, 67.4% of all Eastside condos, and 4.2% of those priced above one million dollars, sold for at or above their listed price.

 

Check out all of these factoids and more in the full condo report.

 

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WATERFRONT

The pace of waterfront transactions has been slowing over the past few quarters, driven in large part by fewer international buyers in the market. Even so, Q1 was markedly off for waterfront sales. The Eastside had 3 private waterfront home sales. Seattle had 8, Mercer Island had 2, and Lake Sammamish had no sales in the first three months on 2020.

 

The highest private waterfront sale in Q1 was on Lake Washington in Medina at $11.5 million. The most affordable waterfront sale was a $1.5 million Beach Drive West Seattle home with 22 feet of waterfront on Puget Sound. Note this report includes privately-owned, rather than shared, waterfront transactions only.

 

This top-level overview of the entire Seattle-Eastside private waterfront market, including Mercer Island and Lake Sammamish, provides a glance into the trends occurring in our region over time. Interesting, and certainly insightful, it in no way replaces an in-depth analysis on waterfront value provided by a savvy broker with years of local waterfront experience.

 

↑ Back to top


 

 

Find a Home  |  Sell Your Home  |  Property Research

Neighborhoods  |  Market Reports  |  Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446   mercerisland@windermere.com

 

© Copyright 2020, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service and deemed accurate but not guaranteed.


Posted on April 13, 2020 at 7:08 pm
Windermere MI | Posted in Market Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Economic Insights from Matthew Gardner

How will the coronavirus impact the housing market?

 

Concerned about how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect your home value or ability to move in the future?  As we all hunker down through these challenging times, a voice of insight and reason has been our Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner.  He is expecting a sharp economic slowdown accompanied by a 15-20% reduction in the number of homes sold in 2020—BUT he also believes the housing market will bounce back once we find our new normal.

Click here to watch his latest videos, or scroll down for some key takeaways…

 

 


 

The US economy will contract sharply but should perk up by Q4. 

We’re in for a rough few quarters as the economy enters a recession.  Just how rough—and how long—is still under debate.  What economists do agree on is that the 4th quarter is looking remarkably positive…assuming we get through the COVID-19 crisis and the economy can resume somewhat normal activity before the fall.

 

 


Housing prices will likely remain stable. 

Seattle home prices should remain steady—or even rise slowly as we come out of the recession—for a few reasons:

  1. DIVERSE INDUSTRIES IN OUR AREA which allow us to better weather the economic storm.
  2. SOLID FINANCIAL FOOTING as one third of local home owners have 50% or greater equity in their homes.
  3. STRONG DEMAND with more buyers than homes available, as well as rock-bottom interest rates.

 

 


This will be different than 2008…

We’re experiencing a health crisis—not a housing crisis caused by systemic lending problems like we saw in the Great Recession.

  1. WE’LL SEE A PAUSE, NOT A COLLAPSE. Unlike last time, the housing market was strong going into this crisis and should rebound quickly. Why? Because this recession will be due to specific external factors rather than any fundamental problem with the housing market.
  2. FORECLOSURES WILL BE FEWER with most lenders offering relief to homeowners in distress due to temporary employment issues. Unlike 2008’s mortgage crisis caused by lax lending standards and low down payments, today’s home owners are better qualified and have more equity in their homes.

 

 


 

Find a Home with Windermere Real Estate

 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446

mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020, Windermere Real Estate / Mercer Island


Posted on April 6, 2020 at 11:33 am
Jennifer Craven | Posted in COVID-19, Market Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

COVID-19 Resources

A Healthy Distance: Resources to Stay Sane While You Stay Home

 

Make Working From Home Work for You…


 

Kids at Home?


 

Bring Your Favorite Restaurants Home


 

Feeling Vulnerable? 

Here Are Stores Offering Special Hours for Seniors and the Immunocompromised…

  • Albertsons: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 a.m.
  • Costco: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-9 a.m. (must have a membership)
  • Fred Meyer: Monday through Thursday from 7-8 a.m.
  • Metropolitan Market: Daily from 7-8 a.m.
  • PCC: Daily from 7-8 a.m.
  • QFC: Monday through Thursday from 7-9 a.m.
  • Red Apple: Tuesday and Thursday from 7-9 a.m.
  • Rite Aid: Mondays from 8-10 a.m.
  • Safeway: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 a.m.
  • Target: The first hour of Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Check Target’s website for specific opening hours at locations throughout the Greater Seattle area.
  • Thiftway: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 a.m.
  • Town & Country Markets: Monday and Wednesday, 7-9 a.m.
  • Trader Joe’s: Daily from 9-10 a.m.
  • Uwajimaya: Daily, 8-9 a.m. in Seattle; all other locations on Tuesdays from 8-9 a.m.
  • Walgreens: Tuesdays from 8-9 a.m.
  • Walmart: Tuesdays from 6-7 a.m.
  • Whole Foods: Daily, one hour before the store opens to the public. Check Whole Foods’ website for specific opening hours at locations throughout the Greater Seattle area.


 

More Resources…

 


 

Find a Home with Windermere Real Estate

 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446

mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020, Windermere Real Estate / Mercer Island


Posted on March 27, 2020 at 4:31 pm
Jennifer Craven | Posted in All in for Community and Events, COVID-19 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Due Diligence Pays Off Big Time When Buying a Condo

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Condo

When you buy a condo, you are also buying into its community. You get the benefit of its many amenities, along with the restrictions of its rules, and financial responsibility for its upkeep. Most condominiums offer community features such as pools, exercise rooms, media centers, and entertaining spaces that many people could not comfortably afford to install or maintain individually.

While many single-family residential neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations and rules, few are as far reaching as those in a condominium. For example, some condos don’t allow pets of any kind, rental of units beyond a cap, or home businesses. Because each condominium sets its own covenants, rules, and regulations, it’s critical to know what they are, and if they fit your lifestyle, before you decide to purchase.

Here are a few guidelines to determine if a condominium is the right home for you.

 

What You Own

A condominium owner generally owns their individual unit (from the walls in), the right to use of limited common elements (often things like patios, balconies and storage units) and a joint (undivided) common interest in the building shell, amenities and grounds shared with the other owners in the condominium. Be careful though. Every condominium makes their own determination of what is individually, limited and commonly owned in a document called a condominium declaration. You won’t know what’s what without reading it.

In addition to condominiums, there is such a thing as a co-op or cooperative ownership. These buildings look and feel like condominiums but operate more like joint ownership. Instead of individual, limited and commonly owned amenities, a co-op owner owns a share of interest in the entire building with a long term right to use of a specific unit. There exists only a small fraction of co-ops in Washington State compared to condominiums, so we’ll focus our attention here on condos.

The condominium declaration is recorded with the county and documents the details of ownership, rights and responsibilities throughout its (often hundreds) of pages. Because it is recorded as part of the historical ownership documentation on title and defines the ownership of rights of each unit, it is extremely difficult to alter (requiring the consent of every unit owner). Declarations address the most significant and unchanging ownership aspects while leaving those items subject to change to be addressed in the condominium’s Rules and Regulations (which are much more easily changed).

The declaration is one of the many components of a Public Offering Statement (the initial new construction/conversion disclosure) or the Resale Certificate (disclosure made in every sale of the unit thereafter). This handy reference from NOLO offers a great summary on how to determine what’s what in a condominium declaration. Also see Public Offering Statements and Resale Certificates below.

 

Rules and Regulations

While the declaration sets the unchanging covenants, conditions and restrictions, the rules and regulations address a condominium’s policies and oversight that do change from time to time. Rules and regulations are set and maintained by the elected officers of the condominium’s homeowner’s association. This group of fellow owners make decisions based upon what they feel is best to maintain the spirit of the declaration, the wishes of the condo community, and the financial aspects of the budget.

Typical rules and regulations address things like pet policies, leases and short-term (Airbnb type) rentals, late fees, parking, noise, move-in/move-out expectations, business uses, guests, use of common areas (pools, clubhouses, etc.), and safety guidelines (storage of flammable materials, maintenance of smoke detectors, replacement of water heaters, etc.).

Rules and regulations are amendable by board vote and are often updated annually or every other year. Often the board can grant an exception or acknowledge an approval on a case-by-case basis. For example, a condo’s rules may state that no units beyond a specified percentage may be leased. Or they may say birds or exotic animals are allowed only if approved by the board. A savvy landlord or bird owner would seek approval prior to committing to the purchase of a condo in those scenarios.

While rules and regulations can at times be frustrating, they are also critical in maintaining the value of a condominium. Take rental caps as an example. Most lenders will not lend mortgage funds in a condominium with a low owner occupancy ratio, caused by excessive rentals or vacancies, due to the increased risk in their investment. If a condo does not have a rental cap and a high percentage of unit owners decide to lease their units, all condo owners in that condominium may lose the ability for their future prospective buyers to obtain financing until the owner occupancy ratio increases. Historically, condominiums that must sell for all cash or be seller-financed have a much more limited pool of available buyers and therefor can lose a significant amount of their value. See more on Mortgage Financing below.

Rules also ensure the quiet enjoyment (or entrepreneurial opportunities) of and for its residents. Perhaps you want the comfort and privacy of a condo that does not allow home businesses or short term (Airbnb type) rentals. Or maybe instead you want a work-live studio with a street-facing entry that encourages them. Either way, you’ll have many choices out there if you know what to look for.

 

Dues and Assessments

A condominium has two options for securing funds for maintenance and association expenses. The primary source of funding is through the monthly assessment (often called HOA dues). Monthly assessments should cover all annual operating expenses (utilities, janitorial, groundskeeping, management, etc..) and fund the reserve account (a savings account future repairs and improvements). More on that below.

Because each condominium is different, it’s important to clearly understand what the monthly dues pay to get the full picture of its amenities and expenses. Do they include water, sewer, and garbage or are those billed separately? Some include use of amenities and others require a separate fee for access to the exercise room and pool. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when looking at one building vs. another. Not having to separately pay certain included utilities can make one condominium with higher dues comparable to another with lower dues that do not include utilities.

How monthly assessments are calculated for each unit is spelled out in the declaration as a percentage of the whole. It is often based on the square footage of the unit but can be based on other weighted elements instead. The percentage assigned to each unit is unchanging, although the overall budget changes at least annually, thereby changing the cost of each unit’s monthly assessment accordingly.

The reserve account requirements are often dictated by something called a reserve study. A reserve study incorporates an inspection of current elements and structures coupled with an evaluation of the anticipated cost to maintain them. For example, it might show the roof is ten years old and is estimated to require replacement in 15 years at a cost of $280,000. This, along with the cost of each other element, is added to a timeline to show the expected financial outlay in each upcoming year. This allows the condo’s board to plan future monthly assessments to meet the upcoming needs outlined in the reserve study. Just like in a home, failure to plan ahead can lead to a future shortfall.

Not every condominium can afford to pay for a reserve study, but most have at some point. In the absence of a current reserve study, a smart buyer should ensure their inspection includes an evaluation of a representative sample of the common elements and structures (this costs more but is well worth the expense) to ascertain whether they feel the reserve account will fund the needed upcoming repairs and improvements. See Don’t skimp on the inspection below.

When a condominium fails to meet its reserve requirement for needed repairs, it often utilizes its second funding option called a special assessment. A special assessment is applied using the same percentages of ownership as the monthly assessment. It can be a single or recurring lump sum, a surcharge in addition to the monthly assessment, or a combination of both. Lenders tend to favor surcharges over lump sum special assessments because they are more easily financially managed by the average condominium owner.

While a special assessment can occur at any time due to an unanticipated need for repairs (just like in a home), most often the need for one can be predicted based upon a noticeable funding shortfall between upcoming capital expenses and the reserve funds available to cover them.

 

Mortgage Financing

Because of the nature of their ownership, condominiums require special approval to secure mortgage financing. This approval involves underwriter evaluation of the Public Offering Statement or Resale Certificate, owner occupancy and commercial use ratios, monthly and special assessments, building insurance, and HOA governance (among many other things).

You can search HUD (FHA) approved condominiums online. Generally, conventional lenders follow similar requirements, so this is a good place to start. In addition to approval of an entire condominium project, it is possible to obtain approval for a single unit. This is especially helpful with smaller condominium projects that do not want to incur the time and cost of obtaining approval for the entire building(s). Your individual lender can verify the ability to obtain mortgage financing for a particular condominium.

The National Association of Realtors offers many condominium resources online. Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released new rules on project approval for single-family condominiums insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). These changes ease restrictions on FHA financing for condominiums, thus enabling more first-time buyers, older adults, and low to moderate-income families to achieve the dream of homeownership.

 

Washington State Condominium Law

Washington State has three separate condominium laws that govern condos based upon the year the condominium declaration was recorded.

Condominiums built after July 1, 2018 are subject to the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act.

Condos built January 1, 1990 through July 1, 2018 are subject to the Washington Condominium Act.

Condos built prior to 1990 are subject to the Horizontal Property Regimes Act.

While each has its own nuances, all include provisions to protect buyers by requiring full disclosure of all information related to the individual ownership of each condominium.

One of the biggest changes brought about with the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act is condo liability reform, which reduces some of the unreasonable liability builders once faced and allows for more new condo construction while still protecting condominium buyers.

 

Public Offering Statements and Resale Certificates

Based on what we’ve shared about condominium ownership so far, it’s easy to see that there’s much more to owning a condo than appears at first glance. To ensure each new condominium owner knows as much as possible about their future purchase, the Washington State Condominium Law sets forth disclosure guidelines for new construction and resale of condominiums.

The Public Offering Statement is delivered to prospective purchasers in all new construction or condominium conversion sales. Condominiums developed after July 1, 2018 are subject to the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act regulations (RCW 64.90.610). Condominiums developed before that time were subject to the Washington Condominium Act (RCW 64.34.410). The statement includes important information for buyers such as the survey map and plans, the articles of incorporation of the association, bylaws of the association, rules and regulations (if any), current or proposed budget for the association, the balance sheet of the association (current within ninety days if assessments have been collected for ninety days or more), the association’s current reserve study (if any), and the inspection and repair report or reports prepared in accordance with the requirements of RCW 64.55.090.

Under this law, the buyer has a right to cancel their purchase contract for seven days after the completed Public Offering Statement document is delivered.

Resale Certificates are required each time a condominium unit is sold thereafter.

Condominiums declarations recorded after July 1, 2018 are subject to the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (RCW 64.90.640) while those recorded prior to that date are subject to the Washington Condominium Act (RCW 64.34.425).

Though worded slightly differently, both forms of Resale Certificate address similar items the law deems important for prospective buyers to know. The Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act Resale Certificate adds three specific disclosures related to the presence of a reserve study; age restrictions; and use, occupancy or lease restrictions. Those items would also be documented in the condominium declaration of condos subject to the Washington Condominium Act but would require a specific search.

The Resale Certificate is prepared by the condominium’s authorized officer or agent. This is typically the management company or a member of the board if the association is self-managed. They are permitted to charge a preparation fee to the seller under the law. The Resale Certificate is signed by the authorized association member as true and accurate, under penalty of perjury, at the time it was prepared. For condos subject to the Washington Condominium Act the Resale Certificate must also be signed by the unit owner to be considered delivered to the buyer.

Under both condominium acts, the buyer has a right to cancel their purchase contract for five days after the completed Resale Certificate is delivered.

Copies of the NWMLS Common Interest Community (RCW 64.90) Resale Certificate and the Condominium Resale Certificate are linked here for reference, although each condominium management company typically uses their own format to deliver the required documentation.

 

Don’t Skimp on the Inspection

Not every inspector is an expert on condos. It’s a good idea to ask any prospective inspector about their experience and training specific to condominiums. Ideally, you’ll want an inspector who will evaluate the common elements of the building and grounds in addition to the unit. This is important since you will be jointly responsible for their cost and upkeep.

Think of it this way: you probably wouldn’t pay for a house inspection of only the interior of a home and ignore the exterior, roof and basement. It does cost more to have a full condo and building inspection, and the pool of inspectors who conduct them is more limited, but it’s your best insurance policy when buying into a condominium.

Consider asking the management company about the age of the sewer line and how it is maintained. Scoping the sewer line may or may not be an option, depending on the HOA’s policies, but asking the questions will give you a better understanding of the situation. Older buildings or those with significant mature tree roots around them pose the greatest risk of a compromised sewer line.

Lastly, don’t forget to take the time to personally walk the grounds and common areas for yourself. Are things maintained or do they look tired and run down? Do ask the management company about anything that concerns you.

 

Final Thoughts

By thoroughly completing your due diligence, including actually reading the Public Offering Statement or Resale Certificate in its entirety, you can mitigate much of the uncertainty associated with buying a condo. This includes scanning meeting minutes for current issues, carefully reviewing the operating budget and reserve account financials to see if they appear to account for inflation and future repairs, and verifying the declaration, rules and regulations are a good fit for you.

While you can hire an accountant to review the financials or a condo attorney to review the Public Offering Statement or Resale Certificate, you shouldn’t rely solely on their interpretation. It is worth the hours it might take to review the documents yourself. Every condominium is unique and only you know what details are important to you.

Condominiums offer tremendous opportunities for many homeowners looking for anything from low-maintenance lifestyles and affordable housing options, to interim or second homes. Investing a little more time up front will go a long way toward ensuring you find the right condominium for you.

As you begin this process, know that choosing the right broker will help you navigate your condo purchase and save you headaches down the road. Their local market knowledge and pricing analysis will allow you to make a smarter offer. They’ll provide recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes. And, they’ll negotiate any issues that arise to your satisfaction. Having a Windermere broker on your side is one advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.

 

Resources

Washington State Community Associations Institute (CAI): This group of condominium, cooperative and homeowners’ associations and other organizations provides educational forums about association-related issues.

 

About the author: Julie Barrows has advised clients and brokers on condominiums over her three-decade real estate career. She has owned three condominiums personally in which she served as President. She has also served as Treasurer and attended many CAI training courses on condominium association management.

 


 

Find a Home with Windermere Real Estate

 

Find a Home | Sell Your Home | Property Research

Neighborhoods | Market Reports | Our Team

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040 | (206) 232-0446

mercerisland@windermere.com

© Copyright 2020, Windermere Real Estate / Mercer Island


Posted on March 20, 2020 at 11:02 am
Julie Barrows | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,