How Covid-19 is Impacting Real Estate

How is Covid-19 impacting real estate?

How COVID-19 is Impacting Real Estate

How is COVID-19 impacting real estate

2020 started out as a prosperous and hopeful year in so many ways, particularly in the real estate industry. The spring market arrived early, and real estate was hot! Now, though, we are forced to pivot to the big question of the moment: how is Covid-19 impacting real estate?

It’s presence impacts every single person on the planet. First of all, regardless of how this stinker is affecting you, I am sorry. I am especially sorry if you’ve lost a loved one, or have had to nurse someone through this sometimes aggressive illness. I’m sorry if your business is hanging on by a thread, or you have had to file for unemployment. I'm just sorry. I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix it all. I really do.

However, I also want to offer some hope and encouragement to you, specifically regarding your real estate investments. The future of the market is uncertain, but there are some positive signs. And even when the questions are hard, there are options and I am here to help.

Here are the answers to three questions that have been asked of me a lot in recent days, with some links for further reading if you’d like to learn more. 

1. How has the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order impacted the real estate sales process?

Real Estate services are considered essential in Washington State. What this means is that although open houses and overlapping showings are suspended for the time being, all other real estate services are still permitted in accordance with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service has put out a very informative release with more details on specific actions that can and cannot occur during the shut down, and you can view that here.

The bottom line is that real estate transactions are still moving, with just a few adjustments and accommodations to the ways we show houses and handle in-person contact.

2. How is the market reacting to the pandemic and the Stay Home Orders?

I'm not going to lie: it's a mixed bag.

Nationally, new listings are down 27% compared to the first week of April of last year. However, in the Seattle region listings are up 2.6%. In our area, people are continuing to sell homes!

Yet, the signs are there that the market is slowing down. Averaged over the past couple of years, when the local market has been HOT, only about 1 out of 5 homes sat on the market more than a month. But right now, it's closer to 2 out of 5 homes. So sellers should expect to wait a few weeks longer to sell their houses. So far, though, with over 60% of homes selling within a month of listing, the market is still moving along. That's not too shabby.

I don't have a crystal ball, though. There are still so many unknowns about not just the virus itself, but about how Covid-19 is impacting real estate and the economy at large. So my advice to someone asking me if it's a good time to sell, or a good time to buy, remains the same as it always is: the right time to buy/sell real estate is when it's the right time for YOU to buy/sell real estate.

It is such a personal decision, and I won't give a one-size-fits-all answer. That's not honest or authentic to who I am. So if you have a question specific to your situation, please reach out to me. I don't sell real estate—I help people through real estate transactions. So if it's not going to help you to buy or sell right now, I'll totally say that. But if you're positioned well for it, let's do it!

3. I am having trouble paying my bills right now. What should I do about my mortgage?

Okay, this is a heavy question, but it is reality for a lot of people right now. If this is you, first take a breath. I know this seems scary. You may or may not know that my husband and I lost our first home to foreclosure due to the 2008 crash. So I mean it when I say that I know what you're feeling, and I also know that this too shall pass.

Now that you've taken a breath here's what I would do: I'd Immediately call the bank that holds my mortgage and ask about forbearance option. The silver lining right now is that more than one out of twenty mortgage borrowers have been granted a pause on their monthly mortgage payments.

You should consider talking to your attorney about what's best for you.

Bonus Question: I don't feel well, but still need to view homes because we're on a time crunch to move. What do I do?

Please take care of yourself and stay home. We can figure out a way to get this done without you risking your health or that of others. Virtual tools and walk-throughs are a great option. I’ve taken a few clients on walk-throughs of houses using video calling. While Covid-19 is impacting real estate for sure, nearly every aspect of real estate transactions can be conducted virtually, if need be. And for those that can't, such as the inspection, if you can't be there I will be.

So, if you are not feeling well you should assess your symptoms, then call your doctors office to consult about next steps. The CDC has a helpful page about what to do if you are sick.  Once we all come out on the other side of this virus we will need to hit the ground running to keep our economy strong, but first things first… stay home, stay healthy.

Final Thoughts...

As we all continue to walk through this surreal time, I urge you to look outward and find ways to encourage those around you, whatever that may look like. In recent days, I am drawn to this John Wesley quote now more than ever:

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

If you have any other questions about how Covid-19 is impacting real estate, just general real estate questions, or questions specific to your situation, I am available! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

All the best,

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The 5 W’s of Buying a Home, and How!

Buying a home can be overwhelming

The 5 W's of Buying a Home, and How!

Buying a home can be overwhelmingLast week I shared some information and resources about why now is the time for homeowners to prepare to sell this spring. But today we’re going to talk about the flip-side: the who, what, when, where, why and how of BUYING a home.

Who?

Anyone with a stable income should be making a plan to buy a home. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will buy this year, or even next, but it should be in your plans for the future. While renting definitely serves a purpose for various reasons and stages of life, eventually home ownership is almost always the best choice (see “Why?” below for more).

What?

Before house-hunting, determine your Top 5 Needs & Wants based on your goals and future plans. Also, anyone who has ever talked to me knows that I always recommend my clients consider how purchasing a duplex for a long term investment might meet their needs. It is definitely one of the smartest financial choices I have seen my clients make. 

When?

This one is tricky. The old adage that “the best time to buy a house is when it is the best time for you” is certainly true. However, there are a few points to consider when timing your home buying process.

For instance, spring and summer have the highest inventory. This means that you are more likely to find a place that meets more of your wants and needs. The weather is also more conducive to thorough inspections and related repairs or upgrades. Finally, moving during the summer break is ideal for families with school-aged children. 

On the other hand, prices are higher in the peak season, so you get more bang for your buck in the “off” seasons of fall and winter. Although, moving in the rain, sleet, and snow--or during the holidays--can make the entire ordeal feel like just that, an ordeal. And with lower inventory, it might take a little longer or require some extra compromise to find the right place for you.

Where? 

This one is a no-brainer to me. Fife-Milton-Edgewood is a great area to live. I should know! FME is where my family and I have put down roots, and I love this community. With easy access to all of the main south and central Puget Sound cities and mass transit centers, commuting for work or pleasure (I am told some people like to drive places...weird, I know) is about as easy as it comes in the gridlocked PNW. Highly rated schools, beautiful parks and trails in the vicinity--need I go on? Buying a home in FME is a fantastic decision.

Why?

Why not? Haha. Not really. Look, I am in the real estate industry, so of course I want to tell you all of the amazing, wonderful ways that buying a home will improve your life. However, I also pride myself on authenticity and transparency, so I am going to get the bad news out of the way: home ownership isn’t always the right choice. If your income is unstable, you anticipate a major life change in the near future, or you simply aren’t ready to take on all of the nitty gritty truths of owning a home, then rest easy in knowing that renting is a completely legitimate and appropriate choice for you. For now.

But if you are fairly stable, then why continue to pay someone else’s mortgage and fund someone else’s retirement indefinitely? Because that is what you are doing when you rent.

According to the US Census Bureau, home ownership and retirement savings are the biggest factors in determining household wealth. For many, their home equity is ultimately a large part of their retirement plan as well. When you rent, you don’t build equity in your home. Make no mistake, the value of that house is appreciating--it’s just not in your favor.

Besides the finances, there are other, less measurable “whys” in favor of buying. Want to paint a room without the hassle of getting permission? What if you want to rip out a section of the yard to plant a garden or build a playhouse for your kids?  Fall in love with a shelter pup but your landlord says no pets? There is a big psychological component to having a home not just a house, and buying is often the best way to address that desire for something to call your own.

How?

Oh, boy! Now we’re to my favorite part! This is literally what I do--all day, every day. I’ve got this!

First, you need to fill out the form below to download my Buyer’s Guide, filled with all of the ins and outs of the buying process. Go ahead and send that form now.  I’ll wait.

FREE BUYER'S GUIDE

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6 STEPS TO BECOMING A HOMEOWNER

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Done? Great! Now, before you run over to your email for the guide, bookmark these recent posts from my blog for more reading. They have a lot more tips for you to make the buying process that much easier.

Buying real estate comes with a lot of liability. 

Most people struggle with knowing where to begin and what to prioritize. 

You're not alone.

If you haven’t already, check your email for your Buyer’s Guide. Read through it, make some notes, and then reach out to me to set up a time to talk about your goals and how I can help you!

All the best,

Spring is a Seller’s Paradise

Young children frolic and make faces at the camera in the spring sun

Spring is a Seller's Paradise

Young children frolic and make faces at the camera in the spring sun

After 80 straight days of gloomy weather (yes, seriously…), we finally had a nice stretch of sun hit the west side of Washington State earlier this week. It was glorious! While it appears we have again returned to the classic PNW rain/sun mix for now, that little preview of spring should remind us of one important thing: selling season is nearly upon us!

It’s probably no surprise that real estate listed at the height of spring tends to sell for more than properties listed other times of the year. Buyers are aiming to make a move when it’s most convenient, and the months of May and June are perfect for house hunters—sandwiched between major holiday and travel seasons, with generally mild weather for easy inspections and popping curb appeal, and the school year is wrapping up so disruption on the kiddos is minimized. Spring is a seller's paradise!

In the Fife-Milton-Edgewood area, the average time for a property to be on the market is 46 days. So if a house hunter is looking to be in their new FME home (and your old one!) by the start of summer, your property needs to be on the top of their list for viewings by early May.

But it’s not even March yet, so why am I talking about May and June?

Because…

"When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare." - John Wooden

Listing real estate for sale is not an overnight task. You have to prepare in order to see that proverbial “top dollar.” March and April are the time to get ready.

So where do you start? Preparing to sell, listing and marketing, getting showings, negotiating contracts, moving…it can be overwhelming! But can I tell you something?

I am really good at my job. I can manage all of that craziness, and I can help you do it, too.

Your first step in preparing to list your property is to complete the form below to receive my free Sellers Checklist: 7 Steps to a Stress-free Transaction.

FREE SELLER'S CHECKLIST

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7 STEPS FOR A STRESS FREE TRANSACTION

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My goal is to make real estate as simple as possible for you, and this guide will help you know what to prioritize as you prepare your real estate for the busy spring market.

As always, I’m here to help, so contact me if you want to schedule a time to talk specifics about your home and how to sell it for top dollar!

All the best,

Want more? Check out these related blog posts:

 

Forming Better Habits for a Better Me in 2020

My family poses for a picture when my oldest children were young--they (and my youngest) are my reasons for creating better habits for a better me.

Forming Better Habits for a Better Me in 2020

My family poses for a picture when my oldest children were young--they (and my youngest) are my reasons for creating better habits for a better me.Well, here we are again, nearing the end of yet another year--and another DECADE! Truth be told, I am not a big fan of this time of the year. It’s cold and grey here in the Pacific Northwest. The holidays can be so busy and exhausting. And now our culture tells me I am supposed to slow down and self reflect on my past and set resolutions for forming better habits in the year to come? 

Ugh. Just—ugh.

I don’t know about you, but that's only fun when there is no pressure. I mean I know I have had some good times and successes, but if I really did take the time to reflect, then I’d have to admit my failures, right? And who has time to talk about that stuff? 

Here’s the thing that has become clear to me recently: I can do better. Without going into too much detail (because it’s not all my story to tell), life has come at me in the last couple of years, and now I realize that I have unintentionally become reactive instead of proactive

What does that even mean, Carmen?

It means that instead of taking control of my time and energy--our two most precious individual resources--I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my days playing catch up, reacting to whatever is happening around me instead of being more intentional with what gets my attention.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m a Mama, Wife, and Daughter before I am anything else—and my family matters more to me than anything—so I’ve not hesitated to drop my own thing to help them with theirs. 

But along the way I have learned that I really do have to put on my own proverbial oxygen mask first if I’m going to continue to be of any help to those I truly do want to help, let alone reach my own dreams in life and business.

Like it or not, I need to set some hard-edged goals to create better habits in order to do better and be better for myself, my family, and my clients. 

So here goes nothing! I’m putting out my three New Year’s Resolutions for 2020 here, onto the eternal public internet, and asking each of you to help hold me accountable. Some of these I’ve already started working on over the last several months, but I want to renew my promise to care for myself with this new year. Will you join me?

1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule

Okay, I know this is nothing new to most of us, but there are only 24 hours in a day. On top of that limiting fact, I find that the more years that go by, the more sleep I need. This is really annoying to me, because sleeping cuts into my time to get stuff done! 

Since I can’t add more hours to my days, I‘m diligently working on implementing these two tasks:

5:30 a.m. WAKE UP

9:30 p.m. BEDTIME

Admittedly, rolling out of bed at 5:30 a.m. when I didn't go to sleep until midnight or later is a huge struggle, so I've had to learn to send myself to bed much earlier than I ever have before. But I am beginning to see how much more productive I can be with my limited time when I protect those eight hours and give my mind and body a rest.

2. Move My Body Everyday

There are days when I sit in my car, at a meeting, or at my desk working for hours on end. While my brain is running a million miles a minute, my body is sitting like a lump on a log. Sound familiar? 

All of this sitting leaves me feeling so sluggish. I used to do heavy workouts every single day, and honestly I loved it, but in this current season of life I just do not have the hours in the day to dedicate to that anymore. 

However, there is a lot of middle ground between heavy daily workouts and sitting like a slug. My goal is to move each day. Shifting my perspective on this is helping me see how to squeeze things in where I can.

I try to remember that the goal of moving my body is not to become a supermodel. It is a form of payment for all the amazing things my body does for me without request. And I am giving myself permission to accept that I don’t have to do anything too intense. Something as simple as squeezing in a brisk 15 minute walk while waiting for my kids to get out of practice, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Bonus if I can get in a kickboxing class at the studio up the road. The point is to get my blood flowing, muscles working, and ligaments stretched EVERY SINGLE DAY!

3. Cultivate Healthy Friendships 

If you’d asked 15-year-old me if I thought I’d still have to deal with bullies and mean girls in my 30s, I would have said I certainly hope not! But news flash: they still exist, and for a lot of people high school never really ends. Some people are just mean. Frenemies are a real thing, and man, can they tear us down if we’re not careful. 

People pleasing and modifying our actions to suit someone else's agenda is just not a good option. It can be hard to determine a frenemy from a true friend sometimes, so I’ve come up with two Secret 3 Strikes rules that have been game changers for me. 

  1. I will not call, text, or communicate with someone more than 3 times without reciprocation. I am not a needy person, but I also know that healthy relationships are not one-sided. If I reach out 3 times and someone doesn’t respond, then the ball is in their court. I won’t chase the ball for them. We can still be friends! But I refuse to be the only one working on the relationship.
  2. If someone gossips to me 3 or more times, I become very careful about what I say around that person, and even limit or cease interaction with them if needed or possible. You know that old saying “If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you”? If someone gossips to you, you can guarantee they'll gossip about you, too. And I don’t have time for that drama and negativity in my life. There is a huge difference between venting about a situation and tearing someone else's character apart.

So there you have it, the three habits I want to cultivate even more in my life this year to become a better me.

What are your resolutions and goals for the new year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out my 3 Important questions to ask yourself.

 

All the best,

Spread Some Holiday Cheer in 5 Simple Ways

A little bit of holiday cheer spread by a small wide-eyed dog sitting on grey chair leaning against a festive red pillow

Spread Some Holiday Cheer in 5 Simple Ways

Small wide-eyed dog sitting on grey chair leaning against a festive red pillow
It’s the little things that matter most when spreading holiday cheer!

How is your December going? Are you feeling the joy? I sure hope so! If you are, I encourage you to spread the holiday cheer to others, because not everyone is feeling it right now. Here are some fun ways to pay it forward and brighten someone else’s day.

1. Play Ding-Dong Ditch with a purpose.

Did you ever play this game as a kid? I grew up in a neighborhood with a lot of other kids, and I think we played it every summer. Now that I’m a grown up I can see the downfalls to this obnoxious game, so I figure if the kids are going to do it anyway, let’s do it for a FUN reason! We like to make some chocolate covered pretzels, ring the doorbell of a friend or neighbor, and leave them these yummy treats behind. I’m not sure if this makes me an awesome mom, or a terrible one...

2. Share some hot chocolate.

We have had a nice big snow storm here the last few years, so going to the local hills for sledding is one of our top priorities. Last year there was a family that brought a bunch of thermoses to the snow park and shared hot chocolate with us. It was so thoughtful and generous. I don't normally encourage people to take sweets from strangers, but this would be one of those extenuating circumstances. It made our day even more memorable, and motivates me to find ways to do the same for others that cross my path during this hectic season.

3. Deliver coffee & snacks.

My first born nephew was born six weeks premature. He weighed 4 lbs and the smallest little peanut I had ever seen. Thanks to the amazing NICU nurses and doctors he pulled through, and he is now a strapping young teenager. Even though they had their own lives and holiday stresses, the NICU staff never stopped serving the families around them that needed some extra TLC. Over the years we have made it a point to drop off some extra special treats at the NICU for them on Christmas Eve, as a way to honor the ways they serve others even when it’s hard. Who in your world goes out of their way to help others, and might be deserving of a little TLC themselves? 

4. Hand Out Candy Canes.

This trick came from a young friend that had a very difficult lot in life. She told me that her favorite part of the holiday season was getting a candy cane—such a simple thing, that many of us take for granted. I just about cried my eyes out when she told me, but I could tell that she was genuinely grateful for that little gesture. And it’s so easy to do! Carry some candy canes, and hand them out randomly to people you see who may need just a touch of holiday cheer in their lives. Circumstances are hard for a lot of people, especially this time of year, but a moment of simple joy is contagious.

5. Spend Some Quality Time.

We all show and receive love in different ways. Two very important men in my life feel most loved by me when I carve out quality time with them for talking, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. Time is our most precious commodity. No matter how much money is in your bank account or what our job title is, we all get the same amount of time each day so we need to spend it wisely. Sharing it with those who matter is the best investment you can make with your time, am I right?!

I hope you found these fun little ideas inspiring, and that they spur you on to share some cheer.

Click the button below to download a free printable of this list to keep as a reminder!

All the best,

Want more holiday encouragement and ideas? Check out some recent posts below:

The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

A hand taking holding a cell phone up to take a picture of a christmas tree glowing with white lights, the person savoring the moment instead of adhering to a rigid Christmas checklist.

The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

We are T-minus 19 days until Christmas!

A hand taking holding a cell phone up to take a picture of a christmas tree glowing with white lights, the person savoring the moment instead of adhering to a rigid Christmas checklist.
Remember to take in the beauty of the season.

The holiday season is in full swing. Are you feeling the holiday joy? Or are you feeling bogged down by all of the tasks and to-do’s that come with this season, or with the sorrows and bittersweet memories of missed loved ones and years gone by? 

Well, I am here to help. 

Throw out your never ending lists of things to do, and take a deep breath: here is the only Christmas Checklist you actually need.

Poster Version Dec 6th 2019 Ultimate Christmas Checklist

Want to print this to display as a reminder to focus on what matters? Download it and share it, too!

In case you missed it, be sure to check out my recent post about finding holiday joy.

All the best,

5 Reminders to Find Joy in the Holidays

My son and Mrs. Claus at Disneyland feel the holiday joy!

5 Reminders to Find Joy in the Holiday Craziness

My son and Mrs. Claus at Disneyland feel the holiday joy!

Thanksgiving has just wrapped up, and I am looking at the calendar between now and the end of the year, and--wow.  There is so much going on! It’s hard to admit, but finding joy in the holidays can be hard.

Please note: this post may contain links or referrals.  I receive no compensation for these referrals. I simply enjoy the products/businesses, and I think you will, too.

All of end-of year tasks, celebrations and expectations can add so much pressure to our daily lives. 

On top of the general busyness, there is also all of the emotional juggling that comes with this season.  Complicated family relationships, missing loved ones we’ve lost, or learning to navigate how to be joyful when someone we care for is struggling...it can all seem like a lot, and it can start to suck away at our own joy.

So what do we do to ensure that this season of joy doesn’t become a season of stress, sadness, or tension?

Here are 5 things I try to remind myself about during the holiday season:

1. Every family member matters.

That includes you! What do YOU need this holiday season to stay sane and cheery? Speak up and share with your loved ones. They probably have the same goal of Joy for the holidays, but if you don’t communicate your needs, how will they know?

2. It’s about your presence, not the presents.

Gift giving is definitely one of my love languages, but I would never want someone to go into debt or stress about buying something. Time is our greatest commodity so being present for your loved ones is gift enough!

3. Communicate needs, expectations, and extend grace.

My husband, Josh, and I were raised very differently. When we first got married we saw just how differently we viewed Stuff, Money, and Time management. Over the years we have learned to communicate our needs and wants with each other, and we get more in sync every year. However, it has taken a LOT of grace on both our parts to find our middle ground. Extend grace to those around you this Holiday season. You’ll probably need to be given grace at some point so pay it forward friend.

My family’s holiday journey has evolved so much over the years, and just when we feel confident and grounded in our traditions, the ground shifts again and we need to readjust. Such is life.  Communication and Grace are how we move through these readjustment periods, holidays or not.

4. Leave White Space in your schedule.

Give yourself some space to breathe during this busy season. Learn how to decline events or activities. Schedule time for your priorities, so they actually happen. White Space--or time when nothing is scheduled--should absolutely be one of those priorities. Otherwise every second will be filled; that has proven to be very unhealthy for our family, so I now make it a point to block off times on our family calendar where we are “busy” being not busy. Make no apologies for doing this.

5. Serve a stranger or neighbor. 

This ties into the gift of time idea in #2. This time of year can be really hard for some people, so keep an eye out for a need, and fulfill it with no expectation of reciprocation. You may find more joy than you would expect.

Coming up with a game plan for our holidays has been instrumental in cultivating joy filled holidays for our family. As you work through the remainder of this season, remember that as long as people are involved there will always be punches to dodge, areas to be flexible, and soap boxes worth standing on. I think the key to keeping our joy is having the wisdom to know when to do what.

If you are looking for more resources on achieving a peaceful holiday season, I would highly suggest checking out Learn, Do, Becomes FREE Holiday Workshop. They have some amazing tools.

Please tell me I’m not alone! What are some steps you take during the holidays to cultivate joy?

All the best!

Winter Tips

5 Easy Winter Tips

 

Winter can be a formidable foe, but these 5 tips will help you be ahead of the ball this winter… instead of behind it.

1. Store your outdoor tools

Detaching your hoses and storing them somewhere covered for the winter will extend their lifespan. It would also be wise to cover your spigots with a faucet cover so the winter cold doesn’t get into your pipes and cause unnecessary damage.

Read moreWinter Tips

Holiday Joy

Holiday Joy

 

 

The Holiday’s are such a loaded time of year. Our “To Do” list and priorities for the 4th quarter of every year add so much pressure to perform that it makes the Holidays extra emotionally confusing. While some of us are trying to lay aside our hoarder tendencies, others show love through gift giving. While some are warm and cozy at home, others are struggling just to put a roof over their head. Learning to balance it all can almost feel like learning to walk a tight rope… which would look like a joke for most of us. 

Read moreHoliday Joy

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