Severe Lack of Home Appraisers is Complicating Real Estate Transactions

Home inspectorDiana Olick of CNBC recently wrote an article that sums up the reason for frustration for many home buyers and sellers in the South Sound region.  Olick notes, 

“Housing demand is rising rapidly, but a key cog in the wheel to homeownership is in deep trouble. The people most needed to close the deal are disappearing. Appraisers, the men and women who value homes and whom mortgage lenders depend upon, are shrinking in numbers.

That is causing growing delays in closings, costing buyers and sellers money and in some cases even scuttling deals.

The share of on-time closings has dropped from 77 percent last April to 64 percent today for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance. Appraisal-related issues in these delays jumped by 50 percent in that time.”   (Read the full article here)

Our advice to our buyers and sellers is to factor in a minimum of 2-3 additional weeks time from what we would consider a normal 30 day closing.  It’s important to note that it’s become an even bigger problem for specialty properties such as waterfront, luxury and historic homes and for properties located in outlying areas such as southern Pierce and Thurston counties.  With lenders being forced to pay premiums for appraisals, we’re hopeful it will lead to more qualified appraisers being attracted to enter the field.  However, that transformation will not happen quickly enough to satisfy those of us that counsel home buyers and sellers every day.

 

Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.   Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.

 

Posted on September 29, 2016 at 9:20 am
South Sound Property Group | Category: Buying A Home, Selling Your Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

North End Home Prices in the 2nd Quarter Continue to Rise

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Posted on July 20, 2016 at 4:28 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Market Statistics, North Tacoma, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Craft Beer Makers Revitalize Tacoma’s Historic Brewery District

Tacoma was recently featured in a report by KIRO-7 news’ Kevin McCarty.  McCarty notes,

“Tacoma has always been a beer town… and these days business is booming”.  “Several independent craft beer makers are reviving the city’s historic brewery district.  Craft breweries large and small are popping up in and around the city’s historic brewery district along Pacific avenue in roughly the same area that once housed three large brewers a century ago. Heidelberg, Columbia and the original Pacific breweries once operated very close to an area now seeing an explosion of beer makers.  From 19th street to south 55, large independent breweries are up and running or in the works with several small micro-brewers also dotting the area. Recently Gig Harbor based Seven Seas has announced they’ll open a large scale operation after converting an old warehouse near S. 21st and Jefferson streets.”

For those of us that love beer and Tacoma… this is certainly a “win-win.”

Click here to read the full article!

 

 

Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.   Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 20, 2016 at 8:19 am
South Sound Property Group | Category: Community, Historic Homes, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Real Estate Market In the North End is Great… If You’re a Seller.

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Posted on April 13, 2016 at 9:16 am
South Sound Property Group | Category: Market Statistics, North Tacoma, Selling Your Home, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

North End Home Prices Continue to Strengthen

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Posted on January 21, 2016 at 11:45 am
South Sound Property Group | Category: Market Statistics, North Tacoma, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why is Tacoma a Top 10 Housing Market to Watch in 2016

Tacoma recently ranked as number 10 on Trulia’s top 10 housing markets to watch in 2016, a list that also included cities like Grand Rapids, MI, Charleston, SC and Austin, TX (see the full report here).  Trulia’s rankings were based on a number of different criteria including strong job growth, low vacancy rates and high affordability.  I think high affordability was probably key to Tacoma’s inclusion on the list.  Though some of our buyer clients that are new to the Tacoma housing market have commented that prices here are high compared to where they’re coming from, the Tacoma housing market clearly remains a great value proposition when compared to Seattle where the median home price is more than twice as high.  As the tech industry continues to grow in Seattle, Tacoma will continue to represent a very attractive alternative to call home.  Not surprisingly, we’re seeing more and more folks from Seattle making the move to T-Town.  I think it’s that demand in particular that led to our inclusion on Trulia’s list of hot market’s to watch in the coming year.  To be clear though, Tacoma’s appeal isn’t just about being within commuting distance of Seattle.  For those of us lucky enough to live and work in Tacoma, it actually represents a preferable alternative.  A vibrant, livable small city with a big metropolitan hub nearby to visit when the mood strikes.

 

Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.

 

 

 

 

Posted on December 5, 2015 at 10:17 am
South Sound Property Group | Category: Market Statistics, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

North End Homes Prices Continue to Strengthen

Sales data for third quarter 2015 are in, and unlike previous years where we've seen a weaking in third quarter in north end home values, this year we've seen the market remain strong.  Inventory levels are a incredibly low levels.  We expect a slow down due to seasonality in the fourth quarter but all indications are full steam ahead for home values in north Tacoma for the new year.  For sales comparisons by zip code please see the information attached below.

 

Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.   Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.

 

Posted on October 27, 2015 at 12:59 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Market Statistics, North Tacoma, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Five Major Considerations When Buying an Old House

As a commissioner for the City of Tacoma's Landmarks Preservation Commission and a former board member of Historic Tacoma, I've had a lot of experience with historic properties.  I've also been buying, renovating and selling historic homes myself for more than twenty years (45 houses and counting).  Not surprisingly, clients often seek my advice when they're thinking about buying an older house.  With the busy spring home buying season upon us, I thought it might be a good time to share some thoughts about what to consider when buying a historic home.  Below, I describe some of the “big ticket” replacement and repair costs that you may incur during the restoration of an older home.  It's important to note that there are loan programs and tax credits available to help defray some of these costs if you are buying a historic home in Tacoma.

 

1.  Not all old houses are created equal.  In my experience, houses built before 1900 were generally more poorly constructed than those built from 1900-1950.  The exception to this rule would be what I call the "robber baron" homes.  These turn of the century mansions were built with higher quality materials and engineering practices than more modest cottages built at the same time.  The grander homes are standing the test of time well.  The worker cottages, less so.  Smaller Victorian (pre-1900) homes were often built on posts and piers or loose rock/brick and mortar foundations.  In some instances, these foundations were later replaced or supplemented with concrete or block foundations, and settling issues are common.  This isn't necessarily a deal breaker.  Newer technologies allow for the levelling and repair of these foundations without breaking the bank.
 

 

 2.        Old houses aren’t usually insulated.  Builders didn't really begin insulating homes until the late teens and early twenties, and even then they generally just added cellulose (paper pulp) to the exterior walls and attics at very low insulating levels.  If you’ve ever demolished the ceiling in an older home, you'll know what I’m talking about.  You’re probably still discovering bits of the pulverized paper in your hair, ears and clothes.  If you’re doing a major remodel to a home, it makes sense to strip off the old interior plaster down to the studs so that the wiring and plumbing can be updated and insulation can be added.  If you’re not doing a major renovation, my advice would be to simply add insulation to the attic and underneath the first floor to increase the insulation value as much as possible.    Learn more about insulation at energy.gov.

 

3.      Are the mechanical systems up to date?  When buying an old house, people often encounter things like knob and tube wiring, galvanized and lead pipes, oil burning furnaces the size of a Winnebago and broken sewer lines.  Older systems aren't necessarily a problem, but a thorough pre-purchase home inspection can identify failing systems in need of immediate attention.  Be sure to factor the cost of plumbing, electrical and heating system upgrades into the purchase price of a home before you make an offer, and make sure you can afford to repair or replace these systems as it becomes necessary during your ownership.

 

 

4.       Original windows and doors are great.  Leave them alone!  Nothing frustrates me more than buyers who immediately think they have to replace all of the original doors and windows in a house.  It is significantly more cost effective to repair original windows and doors and install storm windows.  They’ll be just as energy efficient and will last exponentially longer than their cheap vinyl counterparts.  For more details regarding wood windows versus vinyl, check out my blog post regarding that subject here. 

 

 

 

5.       How many layers are on the roof?  Many older homes in Tacoma originally had wood shingle roofs with no underlayment to support a modern roof.  Over time, home owners have simply shingled over the original roof.  If a roof has three layers or more, it's no longer a candidate for re-shingling.  The roof will have to be completely torn off, and an underlayment of plywood or particle board will need to be installed before the new roofing material can be added.  Tear offs are three times as expensive as simple re-shingling so it's helpful to know how many layers a roof has before writing an offer to purchase an older home. 

 

 

 

Jeff Williams is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to email Jeff or give him a call at 253-303-1135.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 3:18 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Buying A Home, Historic Homes, Home Remodel, Investing In Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Investing in Houses in Tacoma’s North End

The demand for rental homes in Tacoma’s North End is high, with landlords charging as much as $1800-$2000 per month for a nice three bedroom house in a desirable location like Proctor or the Stadium District. 

Many homeowners were able to secure extremely low interest rates by refinancing when the market was low, which prompts some to consider holding on to their primary residence as a rental property when purchasing their next home.  Residential real estate in Tacoma’s North End is certainly a great investment.  With the economy stabilizing and job growth expanding in our area, some are predicting as much as a 20% gain in market values over the next 3 years.  

 

So whether it’s a property that you purchase specifically as a rental or a primary residence that you’ve decided to convert into a rental, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions before deciding to become a landlord.

 

                5 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Renting Your Home

1.    Do you know how to screen potential tenants?  Credit-worthiness?  Employment and rental history? You can find out more about tenant screening at Bigger Pockets.

2.    Will you allow pets?  Cats?  Dogs?  Large?  Small?  Allowing pets will obviously increase your potential applicant pool, but pets can take a toll on a house which might cost you more than it’s worth in the long run.

3.    If your house is located near the University of Puget Sound, will you rent to students?  You may be able to earn more income if you rent by the room, but you can also expect more wear and tear on the property.

4.    Have you talked to your insurance company to find out if there will be an increase in your premium if you convert to a landlord’s policy?  You can find out options from our preferred insurance agent Jerry Hallman at Farmers.

5.    Have you spoken with your accountant about the potential tax implications associated with owning and/or selling an investment property?  Capital gains taxes are easier to avoid when selling a primary residence than they are when selling a rental property.

Another route to consider would be purchasing a property for use as a short term rental.  The startup and maintenance costs (furnishings, utilities, supplies etc.) may be greater and the property will require more hands on attention, but the earning potential of a daily, weekly or monthly rental will be higher.  There are a number of sites available for marketing a short term rental, including www.airbnb.com, www.homeaway.com and www.vrbo.com.  Lastly, if you’re reluctant to deal with the active management of a rental property, you can always enlist the assistance of a property management company.  Locally we recommend Parkwood Property Management and McNally Property Management .  If you’re interested in purchasing an investment property, let us know.  We’d be happy to help you navigate the waters.

 

Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.

 

 

 

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Investing In Real Estate, North Tacoma, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top 5 Reasons to Live In Proctor

The Proctor District is one of  North Tacoma’s most popular neighborhoods.  Historic homes, great public schools, tree lined streets, views of the water and a charming central business district are just a few of the things that make this neighborhood so special.  For those who aren’t familiar with Proctor (and for those who are already fans), I thought I’d share some of my favorite things about the place we call home.

 

Metropolitan Market – Met Market is the undeniable anchor of the Proctor District.  This upscale grocery store caters to a sophisticated palate, with many locally sourced products, an outstanding cheese department and a wine steward.  Met Market could feel some heat if Whole Foods delivers on their promise to open a store in University Place, but the neighborhood feel at the Met will always be hard to beat.

 

 

 

Chalet Bowl – This family owned and operated 12-lane bowling alley “strikes” a wonderful balance between old school Americana and new school hip.  The lanes are well maintained, the staff is extremely friendly and the weekly bargain specials are hard to resist.  Two words.  Glow Bowling.

 

 

 

 

 

Wheelock Public Library – This local library has been serving the community since 1927 and is much used and much loved by children and adults alike.  An iconic bronze statue of Tacoma pioneer and early businessman Allen Mason located adjacent to the library is often whimsically decorated to befit the season.

 

 

 

Puget Park – Located at the corner of Proctor and N. 31st Street, Puget Park was one of the first green spaces to be donated to the city of Tacoma for public use in 1888.  The park features an updated play area and a picnic-perfect grassy knoll.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you can follow a trail down through Puget Gulch to the waterfront for a wilderness experience right in the heart of the city.

 

 

 

Blue Mouse Theater – Originally opened in 1923 and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Blue Mouse is Washington State’s oldest continuously operating movie theater.  A group of local activists and preservationists purchased and restored the theater in 1993.  Dale Chihuly reportedly designed the blue neon mice that grace the marquis.

 

 

 

Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes.  Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.

 

 

 

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 12:04 pm
South Sound Property Group | Category: Lifestyle, North Tacoma, Tacoma Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,