DISCOVER October 20, 2020


Guide to Buy & Sell Simultaneously


The thought of buying or selling a home can be intimidating . . . the idea of doing both simultaneously can be downright overwhelming.  Should you buy first?  Should you sell first?  Should you rent in between?  With the recent impact of COVID, now more than ever, our clients are seeking the opportunity to upsize to larger spaces.  Here are 4 steps we recommend to help guide you through the process:



Before you make any major decisions on your home transition, the first and most important step to take is to speak with a lender about your options.  There are various programs available to consider including a bridge loan or a HELOC.  It will be important for you to understand all of your options prior to making an offer on a new home.



A bridge loan allows you to make a non-contingent offer on a new home by borrowing on the equity of your current home.  Sellers with the right amount of equity (the difference between what your home could sell for and your mortgage balance) could qualify for a low-cost loan with no monthly payments that becomes due when the current home sells.  Through Windermere’s exclusive partnership with Vintage Home Loans, our sellers are able to buy first, vacate their current home and then sell, making for a seamless and stress free experience.  A bridge loan typically takes 30 days to process and close.



A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a revolving source of funds, much like a credit card, that you can access as you choose.  Like the bridge loan, a HELOC also allows you to make a non-contingent offer on a new property.  The loan is secured against the value of your home based on the amount of equity you hold.  The interest rate is typically higher than your standard mortgage, and you will be required to make monthly payments on the loan.  A HELOC typically takes 45-60 days to process and close. 



As you explore loan options the final step will be to gain full approval on a new loan to purchase a home.  Your real estate broker will provide you with a list price for your current home which will be important for your lender to have.  Based on this information, they can review your credit history and income to determine what the budget for you new home will look like.  Make sure to get a loan approval letter prior to shopping for the new house. 



If you are in a tight real estate market such as Seattle, trying to make a contingent offer (making an offer on a home with the contingency that it will close once you sell your existing home) is nearly impossible when you want to compete in this market.  So, you need to consider your options:



If you have down payment funds saved up, or obtain a loan, you may be able to begin your home search now. Having the ability to buy first, then move into the new home in order to vacate the current home before selling, is the most ideal situation.



It is possible you may not be able to qualify for an advance loan. When this happens, you most likely will need to sell before you buy. That said, living in a home while it is on the market, especially during COVID, greatly reduces your chances of multiple offers.  If you are in a high demand market such as Seattle, you may be able to vacate the home for 1-2 weeks, sell, and then return home until closing.  Consider staying with family, or a short-term Airbnb, or better yet take the mental health vacation you’ve been pining for.  We love these unique and local recommendations from SeattleMet 



Moving is stressful, and living in temporary housing may not be an option, especially if you have kids and pets. This is when you should consider moving into a short-term rental.  Not only will you have better selling results by vacating the property, but it will also allow for more flexibility and less pressure when it comes to timing the closing on a new home.

(You may notice that the biggest tip here is to vacate before you try to sell.)



Once you have determined the best option, you’re ready to put your plan into action.  Here are a few tips to consider while preparing the property:



Have your real estate broker tour the home and help determine what updates or repairs are needed to give you the highest ROI (Return on Investment). Most professional brokers will have a list of vendors that can assist you with these projects. 



Once your broker has done a walk through, they will provide you with a market analysis of the neighborhood, comparable properties, and a potential list price for the home. When considering a list price, it is crucial to listen to the market, not your heart.  We all have a price we want, but that might not be achievable.  Be realistic about what your home is worth so that it will sell quickly and efficiently. 



Trust us, stage. It’s an expense but the return on investment is tenfold!  In facet, reports that staged homes statistically sell 87% faster and for 17% more! Homes that are empty feel cold, not welcoming, and buyers are challenged with envisioning how to layout the rooms.  Staged homes feel cozy, inviting, encouraging the potential buyer to stay a while and explore more. 



In a fast market where you may only need a week to sell, it might be a good idea to hire a home inspector who can provide an inspection report to potential buyers. This not only reduces impact on the home with just one inspection instead of multiple, it allows for potential last-minute buyers to jump in with an offer. If you are on a public sewer line, it might be a good idea to have the line scoped (where they stick a camera down the entire line) and inspected. By providing a full home inspection report, buyers will be more likely to waive the inspection contingency and therefore you have one less loophole in your contract.



Now that you have researched your finance options and have a plan for preparing your home to sell, you are ready to get out and tour.  Knowing what you are looking for in a new house and expressing the details to your broker will contribute to your success.  We recommend a brainstorm session such as our Buyer Worksheet to help get you started.  Download and print a copy for everyone in the household, then compare your results. 


Buying and selling a home at the same time can be hectic and stressful, but hiring a professional full-time, full-service real estate broker will help ease much of this pressure.  Make sure you choose to work with an experienced agent who has managed the upsizing process before.  They will be the key ingredient to your success!



DISCOVER August 27, 2020


Home School Parent Survival Guide


Let’s be honest, six months ago, none of us imagined we’d be where we are today.  While last spring was filled with coping strategies and beliefs that this was all just “temporary,” the new reality is we are in this for the long haul.  Here in Seattle, most schools have moved to an online platform for Fall.  Which means parents, and especially working parents, continue to carry the load.  If you’re like us, last spring was filled with moments of popcorn for dinner and philosophical ideas on how early was “too” early for happy hour.

With the first day of school just a few days away, it’s time to shift and accept. Accept that we need to gain a sense of control over our family lives and shift to a new normal.  We have compiled a list of suggestions on how you might get through this, but only you can decide what will help you survive best.



Just as the airlines instruct us to don our oxygen masks first before helping others, home school parents must prioritize their needs first.  Let’s be honest, once the kids are up and the coffee is brewing, your opportunity for “me” time is thrown out the door with Monday’s recycle bin. So, consider waking an hour earlier for the special “me” time that allows you to be your best self. Quietly meditate, practice your living room yoga, or head outside for a mind clearing walk/run. While it means one less hour of sleep, putting yourself first will help center your focus on others for the rest of your day. 



Ever since our daughter was little, we have always insisted that she brush her teeth, comb her hair, and change her underwear before she leaves the house. Even in the chaos of COVID, this basic requirement was the one thing that we held to in efforts to keep some sort of normalcy with our mornings. By establishing a morning routine, even in COVID, we are setting the precedent that now is the time to start their day. Pro parent tip: Just as we did when school was in person, consider continuing the morning prep routine while they eat breakfast such as filling their water bottle, putting together a snack and making their lunch. Send the water bottle and snack to their home school desk and leave the pre-made lunch in the fridge for easy access. Prepping in the morning allows for a lot less last-minute disruption with the never ending “I’m hungry!”



We love this printable meal planning calendar that our friends at Satsuma Designs put together. By encouraging the kids to take the lead on lunch, your success rate might reach 90% (percentages suggested, not guaranteed). Also, consider spending an hour on Sunday prepping grabbable snacks. We recently discovered Eazy Peazy Mealz for kid friendly, easy to access lunch items as well as Sunday Family’s for snack station ideas.



Remember how our teachers send their students outside, rain or shine, two to three times a day? Why aren’t we? Yes they’ll be cold and wet, but this is school! Store a plastic crate on your porch filled with balls, frisbees, mitts and more and send the kids outside. Set a recess schedule with alarms on your phone or iPad that remind the kids it’s time to go outside. If you have a neighbor pod, coordinate timing for all the kids to recess together and take turns for recess duty (Kahlua spiked coffee in tumbler optional).



Do you remember the sheer joy in your younger years when the AV volunteers rolled in the TV/VCR cart? Teachers used movies to get a break, so why can’t we? Do you have an important conference call coming up? Need a shower? Or just want to lock yourself in the bathroom for 30 minutes? You deserve a “guilt free” break today, so make the best of it! Check out the website Teach With Movies which is chock-full of educational movies for every age.



Engage your children to remember what was their most favorite day at school. Crazy hair day, field day, pajama day, breakfast for lunch day? Review the calendar and plan out a few themed Fridays to get the kids excited about the week and something to look forward to. Participate with them and just let your Zoom colleagues know that yes, you did shower, but it’s Crazy Hair Day! 



This pandemic has truly sucked for EVERYONE!  Now more than ever, we are all seeing the value of social interactions for our children. If you haven’t done so already, consider creating a pod with another family or classmate with similar values around virus protection. Setup a schedule for virtual learning together and take turns hosting at each other’s house throughout the week.  If you have multiple aged children, break up the sibling rivalry by having one family host the older children while another manages the young ones. Home school virtual learning is lonely for all of us. By creating a pod, your children will thrive from the social interaction and you just might get a much needed break. 



Teachers have an emergency backpack in their room, you need one too. But consider this less of an earthquake survival kit and more like a daily existence tool chest. Even with remote learning, early release days still exist. So, when the important Zoom meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 2pm, you’ll need backup forces to help entertain the kids.  Here are a few Netflix-free ideas to implement:

  • Outschool – affordable online classes to learn anything from the latest TikTok dance to tween yoga.
  • Duolingo – fun games and daily rewards for students wanting to learn from more than 30 different languages including Klingon, Swahili or High Valyrian.
  • StoryLine Online – professional actors the likes of Kristen Bell, Kevin Costner and Angela Bassett read aloud popular story books.
  • National Geographic Kids – provides a collection of videos and activities centered around animals.
  • Crazy Little Projects – crafts, cooking and more to entertain all ages.
  • Math Support – if there is one thing we learned in COVID, long division is no longer a thing. We’re still not quite clear what it is they are doing, but this list of math tools will provide frustration free help.


While last spring’s performance was well justified with survive and cope techniques, Fall’s virtual learning platform is an opportunity for us to create a consistent plan where our children have potential to thrive. The key to success is  accepting that not every day will be perfect, that we must learn how to give ourselves grace, and as our friend Elisa recommends, “set boundaries, especially space.” If all else fails, our friend Carrie suggests keeping a supply of dark chocolate on hand while our friend Cassandra recommends day drinking. You decide what works best for you. 





DISCOVER August 25, 2020



Even with COVID restrictions, the Seattle real estate market continues to be very strong.  We find that our sellers who follow these 5 steps are more successful in this market, often selling over list price with multiple offers.  While your market may be faster, or slower, than Seattle, in the time of COVID, it is best to be prepared. 



Selling a home that is occupied is challenging enough, let alone in a global pandemic. For the safety of you and your family, it’s best to not reside in the home while it is on the market. If you are in a faster market such as Seattle, you should be able to sell your home within a week which means it’s the perfect time to book an AirBnb vacation.  Or consider purchasing/renting your next home first, move in, and then list your property for sale.



An experienced broker will walk through your home and provide you with a list of updates and repairs that should be done before you go to market.  In our COVID market, buyers are looking for a home to move in to right away.  They are not excited about projects, and will often skip over the home that needs repairs to pay more for the home that is move-in ready. The difference between selling quick with a multiple offer situation starts with first impressions.  Make sure yours is the best possible first impression you can make.


  1. PPE:

If you are going to be living in the home while it is on the market, make sure that you or your broker are supplying PPE supplies for buyers when touring. This includes face masks and hand sanitizer.  Be prepared to sanitize bathrooms, door handles and any other surfaces that may be touched after you return home each day.



Make sure to ask your broker about their marketing plans to feature your home to the most buyers.  In addition to professional photos, find out if they offer measured floor plans and 3D virtual tours Most importantly, since open houses are still not allowed in most cities including Seattle, ask if your broker will conduct a live-feed open house to prospective buyers.  We recently invested in a Insta 360 Nano S camera and love how it can feature the home while we tour (see an example of our most recent tour here).



Having to work with new COVID restrictions and a finicky market, now is not the time to hire your dog walker’s cousin who just got their license, or a discount broker.  Now, more than ever, you need the assurance that your property is represented in its best light with maximum exposure.  When interviewing a potential broker, you may want to ask them:

  • How many homes have you sold in COVID?
  • Have you successfully listed AND sold houses in COVID? How many had multiple offers?
  • What are buyers looking for right now?
  • How do you market and promote your listings given open houses are not permitted?
  • Do you provide 3D tours?
  • Do you require a seller provided pre-inspection of the home and sewer line?
  • What is your plan for offer reviews?


Taking these tips into consideration will help support a successful sale. Thinking of selling? Let’s connect and help you get started. 


Get in touch


DISCOVER May 18, 2020




On March 23rd, our world in the State of Washington changed as we know it.  As we all hunkered down into our homes, many of us realized that perhaps it was no longer the “right” home.  With more free time available, and little to do but shop online, we have noticed an uptick of interest among Seattle home buyers.

Prior to the impacts of COVID-19, Seattle’s real estate market was in full force.  We saw a slow down after Gov. Inslee’s Stay at Home Order went into effect, but once real estate was deemed an essential service, we were back in action.  While there are strict guidelines in place on how and when we can show homes, we continue to see multiple offers on homes that are in tip-top shape and priced accordingly.

In other words, there are no great “deals” to be had right now in Seattle.  And now, more than ever, buyers need to be prepared.  Here’s a few tips and tricks for success in Seattle’s real estate market during the time of COVID:



It’s time to take a deep dive into your home ownership desires and truly understand your wants and needs.  With the current restrictions, gone are the days of open houses and full day tours. In fact, your broker may only be able to show you 2-3 properties in person.  So it’s crucial to be laser focused on what you really want.  Try using a helpful tool like our Buyer Brainstorm to explore all of the characteristics in a home that you might want to consider.  If you have a spouse or partner purchasing with you, have them fill out the Buyer Brainstorm separately, then compare and contrast.



At this point, no real estate broker is going to take on the risk of public exposure if you are not fully pre-approved for a loan.  The loan application can almost entirely be processed online and you will receive the knowledge and assurance that you can afford the right home.  Ask your friends, colleagues, family or your real estate broker for lender referrals.  Most importantly, you should be working with seasoned mortgage broker who has experience with lending in challenging times and is willing to answer your call on a Saturday.



Now is not the time to work with your cousin’s dog walker who just got into real estate.  More importantly, working with a discount brokerage will more often than not, cause you to lose money in the long run.  Let’s be honest, the market is still active, but it’s challenging . . . very challenging.  You need a full-time professional broker on your side advocating for you every step of the way.  Ask your friends, family and colleagues for a referral.  Then check their online reputation.  How are their reviews on Google or Zillow?  Have they given attention to their website?  If they can’t be bothered with presenting themselves professionally online, how well will they represent you?



Because public open houses are not currently permitted, your opportunity to explore options is limited.  While some listings have virtual open houses or 3D tours, you can be proactive by first driving by properties of interest before scheduling showings.  Explore the surrounding neighborhood amenities to ensure it has your list of requirements.  While there, use Google’s Commute tracker to ensure the commute will be livable once we are all back to “normal.”



As of today, only two people are permitted to view a home at once, one of which is your real estate broker.  You must wear a mask, and will be asked to sanitize hands as you enter. You may also be asked to fill out a survey of your health history and exposure to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.   Each showing is by appointment only, and limited typically between 15-30 minutes.  It is important to remember that we are all under the same restrictions and need to practice extra patience, understanding and flexibility.


The good news is that inventory is up and there are several opportunities for Buyers.  With knowledge and patience, you can be successful in this market.  Ready to explore home buying in Seattle?  Download our Buyers Guide outlining our simple 8-Step plan to home ownership and contact us to setup a Zoom intake call.


Buy a Home in Seattle