Edy Kizaki

Evaluating a House

November 20, 2012 in Buyer's Handbook, First Time Home Buyers, Real Estate 411, Seattle Real Estate for Sale

An enchanting new home on a small lot can be a winner if you prioritize home features such as finishes and gourmet kitchen over privacy from passing cars or your neighbors.

A question I am often asked by home buyers is whether or not it is best to buy a new home. There are pros and cons to new homes as well as old. Newer homes are usually easier to maintain and more energy efficient. Older homes generally have lower property taxes and are in more established neighborhoods. On the other hand, older homes are likely to require more repairs and upkeep, and sometimes have different aesthetics about such design features as openness or family living space.  (Please see my recent blog Finding Home in Seattle for a discussion of some of the trade offs that take place when deciding what’s most important to you when establishing the parameters of your search.)

It is best to evaluate each house based on what it has to offer. There are many things to look for when walking through a home, including the following:

* Is there enough space for the present and the future?
* Does it have the desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
* Are you happy with the lot size?
* Do you like the floor plan?
* Does it include all of the minimum amenities for your lifestyle?
* How will your furniture fit in the space?
* Is there enough storage space for your needs?
* Is the house structurally sound and well maintained?
* Is the construction quality up to your standards?

As your buyer’s agent I will help point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint. My job is to provide you with the best information on the home and it’s surroundings possible, and point out things that need to be checked on.  Once we sort out the homes that do not interest you, we should

Older home in expensive Ballard neighborhood will have design features of yesteryear, but so will your neighbor’s homes, it becomes a game to meld old and new, all part of the neighborhood ambiance.

consider the details of the ones you like, including the amount of work that needs to be done if you purchase the home (which of course impacts the value). It is best to determine if all of the mechanical systems and appliances work, but in the normal course of the purchase process, this is taken care of by a detailed inspection done after the offer has been made and accepted (called mutual acceptance).  In order to chose which home to offer on, once you are happy with the home details, we should go back to the final contestants for a second look (quickly if the market is moving fast, as it currently is in Seattle, West Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville, not so much in the surrounding cities). This will help us select the perfect home for you. On average, home buyers walk through fifteen houses before selecting one, some more and some less of course.

The more you keep me updated with your needs, the better I can assist you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. I can be reached at 206-249-2914, edy@seattlecentric.com.

P.S.  I have a Buyer’s Checklist in PDF form that I sometimes use with my clients as we go thorough a selection of homes, so if that would be useful let me know and I’ll send it to you.  I’ll try to figure out how to offer it as a download from this site 🙂

 

Edy Kizaki

Finding Home in Seattle

October 31, 2012 in Ballard, Buyer's Handbook

home in a desirable Ballard neighborhoodIf you want a yard in Seattle, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot more than for the same nice house in Edmonds with a yard. On the other hand, with a lot less yard you can probably find as nice a house much nearer to the center of the city.  Or if you’re on a limited budget but you’d really love to live in the highly sought-after neighborhood of Queen Anne with all those lifestyle amenities, you might be able to do so by deciding not to keep a car, and choosing one of the condos which does not come with parking – that could just put it within your price range.  Or if you just love those 1900’s character homes, you may as well make up your mind that they all have at one time or another been liberally covered with lead based paint, and either go with a home that is bound to have some traces of said paint, or choose a home built after 1979 when they stopped using it.

I worked with one couple where the husband really wanted a new home, or at least no more than ten years old.  He just thought that it would save them so very much time and trouble in the long run by simply buying a newer house.  What he failed to realize was that in Lake Forest Park where they’d lived several years already, there are very few newly built homes.  As an expensive community with great schools there are valuable older homes and not really room for new lots or houses.  If a developer does manage to get a lot, he is likely to build a high end home and maximize his profit, whereas my clients wanted to keep their purchase under $400,000.  There are a good selection of nicely remodeled older homes in their area at that price.  They eventually chose to move to Bothell where there are several developments of new homes, and the schools have a great reputation.  What they gave up was a yard (those new construction homes tend to be on small lots) for their three boys to play in, their school, their friends, and the boys’ friends.  What they got was a nice new modern craftsman with a clean two-car garage, granite coutertops and large closets, and a room for each boy and an office for Dad too.

These are not easy choices but they will be necessary as you begin to approach the task of defining what home is for you.  Even my clients who are ready to spend several million dollars on a beautiful and unique waterfront home seem to have every bit as much challenge in finding the right set of elements in the same place under one roof, and hopefully a roof that will not need to be replaced in the near future.  And I myself, while my family was in the process of having a custom home built for us, was told by my wise older friends, “Oh, they say you have to have a home built for yourself three times before you really get it right.  The first one is a learning experience.”  Well said, and so true, as my husband and I found out after living in the home we’d worked so hard to shape to perfection in the planning phase.  Not that it was bad, just that it wasn’t perfect.

So, take a deep breath, decide what your budget is and what elements are going to make your home right for you, talk it over slowly and in depth with your agent and be prepared to listen to a few words about what can be found where and at what cost, and start finding out what elements make your home right for you in the beautiful Northwest, and what you might be willing to give up to make sure those essentials are in place.  If you’re a couple, this is a process you will have to do together, so the more you go over hypothetical homes to start out with, the easier it will be to recognize “the one” when you finally see it.

 

Edy Kizaki

Should You Consider Buying a Home Warranty?

August 13, 2012 in Buyer's Handbook, First Time Home Buyers

Sometimes a home buyer will ask me if they should consider getting a home warranty when they purchase their home.  Or sometimes the seller is offering one with the sale of their home, especially if some of the appliances or systems are not that new.  And sellers often ask their agent if they should provide it, if they want to add an extra sparkle to their house to make it more attractive to buyers.

A home warranty is different than homeowner’s insurance (which your mortgage holder will require if you’re financing the purchase).  It is simply some coverage on appliances or systems (such as heating or plumbing) in case they break down.  It is much less expensive to buy when you are doing so right at closing, and it is renewable every year if you wish.  What is it, what exactly are the benefits, and do you really need it?

Whether you are buying a home in Seattle or the Eastside, unless the appliances and systems are brand new, consider what a home warranty will provide for you.  Buying a home is so complex that this relatively minor issue can get swept under the carpet, yet it can save you money and trouble later.  There is no one answer as different companies offer them.  Each package is slightly different in cost and what is covered, here are some links to check out some of the the different home warranties offered:

Home Warranty of America

Fidelity National Home Warranty

American Home Shield

I also want to add that Joe’s Plumbing Company is rated a pure 5 stars on Yelp with 30 reviews (Seattle).  I have not known anyone who used them personally but please let me know if you try them… I will do so too if I ever have a plumbing need and post back here.