Water heaters fail in time.  I’ve had water heaters that have lasted less than one year, and some have lasted for decades.  Usually, when the water heater does fail, or begin to leak, you can just buy another one like it and replace it.  The difficulty of that job varies by how easy the water heater is to get to and how much damage a little leakage does.

Next year, in April of 2015, our U.S. Department of Energy has new standards that will apply to the manufacturing of water heaters that will mean you will likely not be able to buy a water heater just like the one you are replacing.

The new EnergyStar standards require more insulation.  So, a water heater with the same capacity as the one you are replacing will be about 4 inches larger in diameter.  In other words, in many cases, it might not fit anymore.

If your water heater is a tight area, like a closet or other enclosed area, you might want to consider replacing it before the new standards take effect if your current water heater is getting along in years.

If it is in a wide open space, on slab in a garage for instance, the new standards won’t be much of a problem other than the price of a new water heater will go up with the changes.

Another thing to consider, if your water heater is in your attic, the attic access might not accept the larger diameter.

My friend, Teri Lussier from Dayton Ohio, brought this issue to my attention.  She looked into the impact as well as the costs:

Let’s talk about costs. Understand that these costs do not include any labor or installation charges, just the price of a water heater alone. Currently a new plain Jane water heater will run you about $300.00. The newer standard water heater will run about $500.00-$600.00. A tankless water heater will be about twice that, and installation will likely increase the cost to about $2000-$3000.00. – TheBrickRanch.com

Looking into the situation with the water heater in a home is going to impact home sale transactions for the next decade for both buyers and sellers.  Don’t be caught by surprise in your transaction.  Actions you could take in the next few months could save you as a homeowner hundreds or up to thousands of dollars.  Call me if you want to discuss how these mandates might impact your next home purchase or sale.

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Talk about money is something that most of us don’t want to share with the world.  So, when it comes to buying property, many don’t know what is the appropriate way to handle talking about money with their real estate agent.

First, there is a legal requirement for privacy in the client/agent relationship that assures your information is kept confidential.  That said, I don’t really want to know details of a client’s financial status, I only want to know that we have a realistic budget to guide us in the process of buying a property.

If you are planning on financing a purchase of a home or property, the best way to understand the details of what you can afford is to talk to your lender about your financial status.  That way a loan officer at a bank or mortgage company calculates your maximum purchasing power and your monthly payments based on your loan application, financial documentation and debt-to-income ratio.

You will need to supply your lender with your last two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank statements and investment account details.  The lender will provide you with a lender-generated pre-approval letter that will indicate you can are able to borrow the amount required to purchase the property.  If you don’t have a lender, your real estate agent should be able to give you a list of active lenders in the area.

So, you really don’t have to talk about money very much with your real estate agent.  Your agent can help you with buying or selling a property and understands market values and property and neighborhood features.  Using that knowledge, great real estate agents can guide you, with discretion, towards your next Lake Chelan home.

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The pace of home value increases are cooling.  For most of the last two years, home value appreciation was accelerating.  Year over year value appreciation peaked in April at 8.1% according to a study from Zillow.

Nationally, home values were up 6.5% at the end of the third quarter compared to one year earlier.  The Zillow Value Forecast shows home values to increase only 3% at the end of the third quarter of 2015.

Likewise, inventories are becoming more stable with 18.6% more homes on the market than at the end of the third quarter in 2013.

In Seattle, the year over year increase in home values was 6.9% at the end of the third quarter in 2014 as compared to 12.9% at the end of the third quarter in 2013.  The forecast shows Seattle is projected to see only a 5% increase in the year over year value by the end of the third quarter in 2015.  There were nearly 25% more homes on the market at the end of September than there were at the end of September in 2013.

That should mean a less frenzied, more rational market for everyone.

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What matters when you price your home for sale is What It Is Worth To Someone Else.

A great illustration of this concept comes from an episode of Million Dollar Listing New York where Realtor guru Frederik tells a client something close to “I paid $2,000 for this suit.  Are you going to buy it from me for $2000?”  And that is the bottom line of the issue.  A used suit, even a very nice one, might only be worth a couple hundred dollars tops.

Homeowners get off track because their own opinion of their home’s value, what they believe someone else will pay for it, is distorted by history that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual market price of their home.  Those “things that don’t matter” include how much they paid for their home, how much they need to get from the sale of their home, and how much money they have spent upgrading and maintaining their home.  None of that matters.

Buyers are looking at a seller’s home, and lots of other homes, and comparing them.  They look at price, condition, location and scores of other things from style and layout to schools, views, etc.

To see what your home is worth, see what buyers are paying for homes that they could substitute for yours.  Buyers will always buy the home that offers the best combination of factors, primarily price, condition and location. 

Where your home “fits” in the market is the only fact that impacts its price.  You can forget about the other stuff.

 

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The Snapshot Report from Pacific Appraisals is showing the trends for the year through September.

Both the average and median home prices are up this year.  For the third quarter of 2014, the average sales price is $259,113 and compares to $243,047 at the same time last year.  The median price is also up to $230,000 from $212,500 last year.  Some of that reflects that sales of homes in higher price ranges have ticked up a bit again.

Inventory wise, there are 608 homes available compared to 635 at the end of September last year.  That is enough of a drop to bring the months of supply down to 3 months currently from 4 months last year.  A balanced market is usually considered 6 months, so the current market favors sellers, and price increases.

Time on market is down too.  For September sales, the average time on market was 105 days, and the year-to-date average days on market is 110 days.  That compares to 126 day on market average for the first three quarters of 2013.

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There are lots of people in Lake Chelan during the peak of the summer season, but that doesn’t make it the best time to sell your Lake Chelan home!  The classic approach is to put your home on the market it February, when everybody else does too, and hope it sells by the end of September or October, when it is stylish to take homes off the market.

But the question is, do you really want to sell your home?  Because if you do, you might not realize that just as many homes sell in January as sell in May or June!  Here, courtesy of Chris Millsap, are the percentages of 2011 annual sales that occurred each month:

January                 7.5%                                      July                        10.5%

February              5.5%                                      August                  14.0%

March                   11.0%                                    September         9.0%

April                       11.0%                                    October               6.5%

May                       7.5%                                      November          4.0%

June                      7.5%                                      December           6.0%

Home sales occur every month of the year.  During the winter months, the number of homes competing with yours will be 1/3 to 1/2 as many as it might have during the “busier” season.  The number of sales during the winter don’t drop by that much!  Plus, the buyers that are looking in the winter are usually much more serious than vacationers out kicking tires.

So, if you actually want to sell your home, it has to be on the market.  That buyer who really wants your home is about as likely to show up in the “off” season as during the rest of the year.  Additionally, you need a real estate agent to list your home who is here, and selling the whole year.  Lake Chelan has lots of agents who go south during the winter months or are otherwise out of the market for extended periods in the winter.  Their advise to take your home off the market could be to serve their interests, not about getting your home sold.

I am pretty much always here, selling homes at Lake Chelan.  I would be honored to apply for the job of selling your home.

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The Puget Sound Business Journal looked at various rankings and noticed that the top performing high schools in Washington State are mostly not in the wealthiest neighborhoods.

They noticed that a Washington Post list of top performing schools in the state shows that the majority of the best high schools are not in the wealthiest neighborhoods.  Top schools were determined based on the number of students who take college level tests divided by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June.

You can see that quite a few eastern Washington schools, of all sizes, also are ranked near the top in the state.  To save you from looking it up, Manson is ranked 236th out of 333 and Chelan is not ranked.  Chelan is not ranked because “Only schools that have current EOC Math Year 1 and HSPE Reading scores are included.

It isn’t about the money.  Looking at the state rankings above, neither is it about the number of low income students nor the ethnic mix.

Something to think about.

 

 

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While Fannie Mae is seeing a slight improvement in consumer optimism, Clear Capital is raising the possibility of a “triple-dip” in home prices in 2015.

Fannie Mae sees more people saying it is a good time to buy or sell a home in their September 2014 National Housing Survey.  At the same time, Alex Villacorta, Vice President of Research and Analytics at Clear Capital is saying the home values could actually go negative on a national level in the near future.

The quarterly home price gain from the second to the third quarter this year was only 1%, compared to 3% last year according to Clear Capital.  The concern is that housing markets may have actually gotten over-valued with such mild home appreciation after what should have been the most active buying season in any recent housing market.  If that trend continues, a small dip in housing price might occur.

Conversely, Fannie Mae’s survey found that 68% of consumers said now is a good time to buy a home in September, up 4% from August.  The share of consumers who would want to buy a home on their next move also increased, to 66% after it fell 3% the previous month.  The percentage who think it is a good time to sell rose to 39%.  The survey respondents were also upbeat that home prices would increase in the next 12 months, with the expectation of a 2.2% price gain on average.

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RE/MAX topped all real estate companies on Franchise Times’ 2014 Top 200 list.  RE/MAX was the number 12 spot overall of all franchise businesses with 15.6% growth in sales for 2013.

RE/MAX also gained 4,220 agents and added 11 countries to its service area.  Revenue for RE/MAX was also up 11% over 2012.

Once again, RE/MAX is the best!nd added 11 countries to its business. The franchise also posted revenue increases of 11 percent over 2012, according to the rankings.

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