Tag Archives: Fremont Real Estate

New On Market: 2-Bedroom Condo with Patio near Gas Works Park

Just one block north of Gas Works Park, this two-bedroom condo hits the market in The Biscayne for only $304,950.  The home has hardwood floors throughout, and a great open kitchen with eating bar that features stainless steel appliances and tile countertop and backsplash.

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The second bedroom has french doors, and leads out onto a large, ground-level patio that’s perfect for a potted garden or outdoor entertaining space.

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The home includes parking in the controlled-access garage, as well as two interior storage units in the building.  The Biscayne is perfectly located in walking distance to downtown Fremont and cycle commuters will love being close to the Burke-Gilman.  The building is pet-friendly!

Fremont, Seattle Real Estate Stats – August 2011

I have a tendency to post a lot about Green Lake real estate, since that’s where I live and I pay very VERY close attention to it.  But I thought I should give another north Seattle neighborhood some much deserved love – Fremont. 

So, how did Fremont do last month?  Not too shabby, actually.  In August, 9 homes closed in Fremont (using the commonly accepted borders of N 50th St, Stone Way, 8th, and the Ship Canal).  Of the closed homes, the lowest price was $350,000 and the highest was $702,500.  The average price was $440,494 and the average price per square foot was $264.74.

Additionally, another 5 homes went pending last month.

Currently, there are 21 active residential listings in Fremont.  Not surprisingly, a lot of these listings are townhomes.  Like this one, here:

This is one of the homes at Fremont6, a newer community of six townhomes located on Phinney Ave N.  This one in particular is a 4-bedroom, 3 bath home priced at $559,000.  It’s 1700 square feet.

With 9 closings and 21 active listings, this shows that Fremont has a residential supply of around two to three months of inventory.  That’s actually considered in the real estate world to be a short supply (we consider 3-4 months pretty standard).

HOWEVER, I’m sure you all know that Fremont has just about as many condos as it does single family houses.  In fact, right now there are more condos on the market in Fremont than houses – 22 condos are currently listed, priced between $117,500 and $530,000.   Last month, only 5 condos closed and one went pending.  This means that Fremont’s condo supply gives buyers a lot more flexibility and choice – about 4.5 months worth of choice. 

Of the 22 active condo listings, 5 are short sales and 2 are bank-owned – meaning that almost a third of our active condos are in distress. 

 

*Data from NWMLS

Short Sales 101: What to expect when buying a Short Sale Home

In the north Seattle area, there are currently 486 active condominium and single family listings (this includes Ballard, Wallingford, Fremont, Phinney, Greenwood, Green Lake, and further north to 145th).  Of the 486 listings, 64 of them – 13% – are short sales.  I get a lot of questions on how a short sale works, and it doesn’t surprise me that although they’ve been a common occurence since the recession hit, many people still don’t know what one is or how to go about purchasing one.  This is my highly condensed version of How to Buy a Short Sale.

So you want to buy a short sale:

You’ve found the perfect home for you.  It’s everything  you ever dreamed of, and you’re ready to make an offer.  There’s just one problem – it’s a short sale.  So what does this mean exactly?  It means that the homeowner owes more money on their mortgage than their home is now worth.  Generally the owner is experiencing some kind of financial hardship, so they’ve had to stop making their mortgage payments.  To sell their home as a short sale, they have to show the bank that they owe the payments too that they can no longer afford to stay in the home and would like to sell it.  The bank then reviews their case, and if they agree, the house can go on the market at a reasonable market price.  Often, the bank will “forgive” the debt owed (the difference between the sale price and the amount owing) – but seller beware, some banks don’t do this, and there could be hidden taxes and fees involved.

Ok, I get it, now how do I buy one?

With a lot of patience.  The seller puts the home on the market at a certain price.  That is NOT necessarily the price that the bank is willing to sell it for (sometimes it’s high, sometimes its low).  So first, you make your offer.  Then you wait.  And wait some more.

The seller will review your offer first and either accept or reject it.  Most sellers will accept your offer.  However, this does not mean you now have a contract on the house.  Because after the seller accepts the offer, it then goes to the bank.  The bank review time could be anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on how busy they are.  So after submitting your offer, you could be waiting 30, 60, or 90 days to hear if the bank will accept it. 

The good news is that if the bank DOES accept your offer, the rest of the deal moves forward just like in any other transaction.  Once the bank accepts the offer, it could only be a matter of weeks before you’re moving in. 

The one other exception to a regular deal at this point is that the bank generally won’t agree to any repair work that might be needed.  You can still perform an inspection, but the home is usually sold “as is.”

That doesn’t sound so scary.

It’s really not.  It takes patience and can be frustrating, but if you have the time to wait you could end up with a really good deal.  Of course, this was Short Sales 101 – there’s more details to go into when you get a little more serious.  Here are a few questions you should know about the short sale home/owner that you’re going to be buying from:

1.  How many mortgages are owed on the house?  Generally, if a home has more than 2 mortgages (such as a first mortgage, second mortgage, and HELOC), the short sale can get messier because there are more people to pay off.

2. Has the home received an offer before?  If it has, that could be good news.  Often, a short sale listing will have already gone through the offer process with another buyer, who just got sick of waiting and walked away.  If it has, that can usually cut your wait time in half to get a response from the bank.

3. Is there a professional short sale negotiator involved?  Some real estate brokers are experienced in short sales by now, and handle the bank negotiations themselves.  Others, however, hire a short sale negotiator to do it.  If that’s the case, there may be an extra charge involved for you where they’re asking to split the cost of the negotiator.  You’ll want to find that out right away, as the cost can easily climb over $1000. 

Side note: Short sales are completely different from bank-owned properties.  For some reason, people mix these up a lot.  A bank-owned sale is just that – bank owned.  The homeowner is already out of the picture, the bank has repossessed the home, and it’s more like buying a house in a regular transaction (bank owned homes will also be sold as-is).

What to do when you go “condo”

I have worked with countless buyers moving into their first condo, either as a first time purchase or as a downsizing move.  And with Matrix Real Estate now selling Hjarta in north Seattle, and Celine Place up on the Shoreline border, it made me realize – there are a hell of a lot of condos around here.  I also realize that people don’t know what they’re getting into – either good or bad – when purchasing their first condo.

First, the bad.  For those of you moving from a house, condos are a hard adjustment.  Even if the salesperson tells you how sound proof the condo is (a bold-faced lie, as no condos are “sound proof”), you will hear noises from your neighbors!  Granted, it will likely be quieter than an apartment – but generally if the person above you flushes the toilet in the middle of the night you stand a good chance of hearing it.

And, just like an apartment, you might get frustrated with your close neighbors from time to time.

You have to abide by the rules of an association, which you’ll pay monthly dues to.  The dues generally cover the maintenance of the building and grounds, and sometimes your water, sewer and garbage – but each condo building is different so make sure you clearly understand what you’re paying for.   The rules can be very lenient, or very strict, and cover a number of topics – even what pets you’re allowed to keep and what kind of signs you can place in your window. 

The board members of your association are voted in – so if you want to have a say on what goes on, you can run for the board. 

But it’s not all bad – for those that are downsizing, you’ll love not having to maintain a yard anymore, and you’ll never be outside with a paintbrush fixing up the house.  However, condo living is NOT maintenance free.  You still have the responsibility to maintain most of the interior of your home – and you’ll want to check when you purchase new, what kind of warranty you get with the home and what’s covered. 

You may get some great community features in the right condo.  For someone who uses a gym regularly, an onsite gym might save you money if you cancel the membership you’re currently paying for.  Some places also have swimming pools, rooftop decks, sport courts, business centers, guest suites and more.  So think about what’s important you to.

We’re still in a buyer’s market and I can tell you from personal experience that condos are still selling really well.  If you like living in a mini-community and knowing your neighbors, if you hate yard work, and if you don’t mind a slightly smaller space, condo living might be for you.  If you need the yard and don’t like to check the rulebook for what kind of Christmas decorations you’re allowed to have, you might want to skip the condo shopping this holiday season.

Local Real Estate – How many new listings have we seen?

Generally speaking, the real estate market picks up a little in September/October, and then slows down for the remainder of the year.  Here’s a quick look at how houses are selling in YOUR zip code:

98103:

In the 98103 ZIP code, which includes Green Lake and parts of Fremont & Wallingford, there are currently 180 houses and 67 condominiums listed for sale.  Only 11 of these are bank or REO-owned properties (that’s good news!).  In the past 6 months, 13 condominiums and 56 single family houses have gone either pending or contingent (contingent means that the buyer has to sell a home before they can purchase).  272 Single family homes and 58 condominiums have closed escrow in the past six months.  That means we’re closing 55 homes each month!  It also means that if we continue on that way, we currently have a 4.5 month supply of homes for sale. 

98105:

This ZIP includes the UW.  As expected, there’s a little less available here.  There are 96 single family homes, 40 condominiums, and only one bank or REO owned listing.  There are 34 pending or contingent houses and 3 condominiums. As for the closeds, we have 119 houses and 41 condominiums (average of about 27 per month).   That shows about a 5 month housing supply on the market in 98105. 

98117:

This includes much of Ballard and a good chunk of Phinney Ridge.  In 98117, there are currently 136 active single family, and 9 active condominium homes.  3 are bank or REO-owned.  47 single family homes are pending or contingent, as are 3 condos.  193 houses and 10 condos have closed in the past six months.  That’s about 34 per month, which puts us at just over a 4-month supply in this area. 

98107:

98107 is the remainder of Ballard and Phinney Ridge.  Its a smaller area than the other ZIPs.  In this ZIP code, there are 54 active single family and 52 condos, with 6 being bank or REO-owned.  27 single family homes and 17 condos have gone pending or contingent in the past six months.  114 houses and 44 condos have closed (about 26 per month, giving us a current supply of 4 months). 

98115:

This ZIP code includes the Maple Leaf area and is just north of the U-District and just south of northgate. In this area, we have 177 houses and 44 condos for sale, with 3 being bank or REO-owned.  63 single family houses and 11 condos are pending or contingent, and 253 houses/45 condos have closed in the past six months.  This is a big 50 closing per month, giving us (again) a 4.5 month supply of homes on the market!

All of this data is from the NWMLS.  It seems most of these neighborhoods are staying pretty much in line with each other.  And although a 4.5 month supply of homes seems high, its actually pretty average even in a normal market. Again, good news!