How to Win in a Multiple Offer Situation

I’ve been reflecting on the first few weeks of 2019. It’s been a very busy start of the year working with buyers. Many people are surprised to hear that we’re still seeing a lot of multiple offers in the Bellingham market. Here are my thoughts on the difference between those that are winning the deals, and those that are losing—and most importantly, how to set yourself up for success.

Working for the sale: behind the scenes of 400 17th St.

It was such an honor to be a part of the sale of 400 17th St., a gorgeous 60's home filled to the brim with love, fabulous things, and good times.

When I started working with the Fishers, who were selling their mother's home, we had our work cut out for us. This quality-built home was innately beautiful, and very well maintained—with classic lines that make any mid-century lover swoon—but, it had just undergone a highly trafficked estate sale, and it needed a vision, and what I like to call a good "spit shine."

When I took this project on, I knew we had an opportunity—to maximize a sale for a family.

Goal: to create a vision—to help people see how this vintage time capsule home is insanely cool, near move-in-ready, just waiting for modern day entertaining and general lifestyle amazingness. 

I was on-scene almost every day for over a month, helping this busy family manage the preparation. Here's a behind the scenes look at what we did.

First off, the pool needed some help, as it hadn't had a cover on it for about a year. And the fence was looking tired. Since the pool area was visible from nearly every room in the house, this was an immediate focus of our efforts. 

Pool cleaners arrived on-scene multiple times. The fence and pool area were pressure washed. We repaired a few areas of the fence, and replaced top caps. Then, I had a crew of college kids come and give it a fresh, clean coat of paint. 

Meanwhile, inside the home, we focused on repainting a few key rooms that looked dingy: the master bedroom, a main floor bath, and the kitchen ceiling. 

I also had an electrician replace a light fixture/fan combo that didn't honor the era of the home as well as some of the iconic globe fixtures, of which we had extra in the basement. As someone who has produced and managed photoshoots for national brands, I'm trained to always ask myself, "What will photograph the best?"

Landscaping was also key. We did some trimming and pruning, but the area that I knew would make the most visual impact was the front of the home, where these huge and amazing built-in stone beds sat empty. We needed to get this area to "pop," as it's right by the front door. First impressions are everything.

Do I need my own HGTV show or what?

Do I need my own HGTV show or what?

On the landscaping front, the look I was going for was very Southern California. This gorgeous mid-century had a very Joseph Eichler vibe, so we needed to honor that. Palm Springs was on my mind.

Another big first impression opportunity was the front entry light fixture, which was pure Hollywood Regency goodness, but very rusted. Nothing that little paint can't fix, so I spruced it up.

The interior was where my heart sung. This original Nutone pull out record player was in the basement, so we reinstalled it. An old acquaintance of mine—with the patience of a saint—spent over a full day, delicately cleaning and checking every wire and connection to get the intercomm and speaker system singing throughout the entire 4400+ square foot home. Why would we do this? This place was frozen in time, therefore, we were selling more than a house—we were selling a lifestyle.

Then we were about ready to clean and stage. Luckily, my client had a cleaning company in her past. She very successfully took over this area. I've never seen someone clean this well in my entire life. I think she spent over 3 hours on the 1960's stove. By the end, it looked like it had never even baked a bundt cake before, which we all know isn't the case.

I decided to stage this home myself. I'm a huge believer in staging—the photos are much more captivating than a vacant home. It also helps shoppers visualize the space and how they might use it.

I selectively kept a few items that didn't sell at the estate sale, like this AMAZING art deco mirror above. It just needed a new base, as it was sitting on top of a rather silly computer desk. I paired it with a super chic Nate Berkus for Target chair. I love this chair. (When you can get a chair this perfect for this scene, at a Target price, you know you're winning.)

Most of the furniture that we used came from my own arsenal of vintage and mid-century pieces. I painted some pieces from Goodwill to fill in a few holes. It was important that we had a fresh, modern look that still honored the era.

To be fair, that person painting that chair is actually my mom. She is a PRO at refurbishing furniture!

To be fair, that person painting that chair is actually my mom. She is a PRO at refurbishing furniture!

After cleaning and staging, it was show-time. I spent nine hours with an architectural photographer. Nine hours, you ask? Well, I stood behind every frame, moving pillows and plants around to capture just the right composition. We did drone video, interior video, and multiple rooms with different lighting options. And in the end, I really feel like we captured the essence of this home. 

It was a ton of work but definitely worth it. When she sold for $1,000,000, I knew we represented her well. 

I will always have a special place in my heart for this remarkable home.


Sold in Sudden Valley!

Congratulations to Kara and Jonny who landed a great home in Sudden Valley in late May! Kara and Jonny moved from Portland to Bellingham, and found that they loved Sudden Valley. I was so happy to represent them on their first purchase in the Bellingham area! 

This sunny property had a great feel immediately when we walked in the door. The master bathroom was pretty epic. And it had enough space for them to both have separate offices—a must have when you both work from home. 

Congrats guys!

Now offering: professional organizing, paid by yours truly

I find that one of the most stressful aspects of a busy life is the lack of time, energy and mental headspace to organize. It's something that I've written about before. And I'm sure you'll hear from me again on the subject.

Earlier this spring, I had a professional organizer and friend, Rachel from Spruce with Rachel, help me with our giant closet in the middle of our home.

I love this closet. It's huge. It has many shelves. And over the three and a half years since we've lived in our home, it has become the catch-all for everything that I don't know what to do with. Before Rachel came to help me, it was a war zone of stuff—everything from kids' games to large cooking equipment to gift wrap to extra home supplies. It was stuffed to the brim. If you opened this closet, you never know what might fall out. 

Rachel began her process by taking every single thing out of the closet and letting it sprawl across our floor and kitchen table. Seeing it all out in front of me was amazing. I really had all this stuff?

I went through each and every item and decided whether or not I needed it. (In case you're wondering, I did keep the hand mixer below. It was a gift from my husband's grandmother. And it's actually kind of useful. So it went to live in our kitchen.)

Going through each item one by one with Rachel's presence by my side, I was able to get rid of a lot. (Favorite part: she takes it away for you! And sends you a tax donation receipt in the mail!) 

Our refreshed closet is so much more functional. I know where everything is, and it's easily accessible. My gift wrap is all in a nice little gift wrap storage box! I realized I need to do this with every room in my house. 

now offering: professional organization services for clients

One of the more stressful parts about moving, whether you're buying or selling, is getting your home organized and in shape. If you're a buyer, you are typically moving from somewhere with different spaces and organizational features. Hopefully your new home has bigger and better closets—but maybe you traded those features for something else. The point is, you need to think through your new space and how you want to live in it. If you buy your new home with me at your agent, I will pay for a half-day consult with Rachel, a value of $350.00, after you move some boxes in. Give her a room or a closet and it will look like a Storables ad in no time!

If you're looking to sell your home soon, oh boy—you're likely in the thick of it. The idea of getting your house ready to list might be so overwhelming that you don't even know where to start. (And yes, potential buyers do look through your closets.) If you list your home with me, I will pay for a half-day consult with Rachel, a value of $350.00. And don't get me wrong— a Rachel "consult" is very hands-on. She'll get down-to-business, help you sort and purge. She'll get right to it and you'll be on your way in no time.

I found that a half-day with Rachel gave me the energy, confidence and skills to tackle other areas of my home with much more ease. Hopefully it will do the same for you. 

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Fed rate increase and the Bellingham housing market

For nearly a decade, we've had extremely low interest rates, but the tides may be changing.

The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy committee raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point at its March 15 meeting. If the economy keeps growing as expected, then we should expect additional increases over the next two years.

The Federal Reserve rate impacts other loan rates including mortgages. So what will the impact be on mortgage rates? And what about the housing market?

We've been anticipating these rate hikes so this increase has already been built in to current mortgage rates. That said, we do anticipate a slow rise in mortgage rates this year, somewhere between 4.5 and 5 percent by the end of 2017.

What does that mean for an average buyer/home purchase? If you are buying a house with a $300,000 mortgage, a 1 percent difference from 4 percent to 5 percent means your monthly mortgage payments will go up from $1,432 to $1,610, which means you will be paying $178 more a month on a 30-year mortgage. 

Fed Funds Rate vs 30 Year Mortgage Rate since 1971

Locally, because of the high demand for housing, I don't expect any huge changes to home prices in Bellingham or Whatcom County. Higher mortgage rates may have some downward impact on that demand, but the population growth here is another driving force – and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Plus, housing remains very affordable by historic standards. No one has a crystal ball, but if I had to make an educated guess, I would anticipate another healthy real estate year despite an environment of increasing mortgage rates.

Worth noting, this week I learned about some interesting temporary buydown programs offered locally. This type of program allows people get into the market a little easier with a lower initial monthly mortgage payment in exchange for an upfront fee. Some of the fees are even paid by the lender, or can be negotiated to be paid by the seller. Just another reminder that if you're house shopping, it's important to also mortgage shop (less fun, I know!) and check out what products are available at any given time.