Fences & Flowers

The CB Bain Blog

Late boomers, like myself, are busy people. We’re still raising kids or about to send them off to college. Many of us are at the apex of our careers or juggling fast-paced schedules at home for everyone in the family. Adding to the fever pitch, we’re often already caring for aging parents.

From the outside peering in, it looks like a lot of fun to be a millennial. After all, as a group they grew up surrounded by electronics and have no fear finding digital solutions to just about everything, like buying groceries or eye glasses or streaming entertainment choices on demand. But when it comes to buying a house, well things are tougher for them.

I just heard from my longtime pal, Steve, who shared the news that he and his wife had just sold their beautiful houseand would be moving in three weeks. I was surprisedto hear this because theirsweet little bungalow was their empty-nester home, the smaller place they’d down-sized into after their kids had grown and gone and begun families of their own. Plus, Steve’s green thumb had turned the yard into a real standout. But things change and now, to be nearer the grandkids, a move was in order.

If you watch HGTV, you’ve seen them popping up everywhere: tiny houses, often mobile, perfectly sized for a simple and more affordable lifestyle. They’re easier to maintain and give owners the option of taking home on the road. Many current homeowners are interested in the tiny house movement. So why aren’t we seeing more of them?

If you’re thinking of selling your home (and it’s a great time to do it), you might think a sign on your lawn is all it will take for a quick and easy sale. True, you may receive offers within days. But proper staging and attention to detail can make a big difference on the bottom line.

When I decided to sell my beloved first house in late 2009 it wasn’t a particularly good time. We were a year into the Great Recession and home prices were down. Way down. Having owned the house for 14 years and substantially improved it, I still made a handsome profit on its sale. But had I waited a few years my proceeds would have been greater. On the other hand, lower home prices meant I got a smoking deal on the house I bought, which wouldn’t have happened even a year later and would be unimaginable in today’s red-hot market.

Last spring, for the first time in almost 3 decades, my folks moved. They left the 1960s split-level I grew up in, and moved into a brand new home surrounded by open spaces and friendly neighbors. I'm glad they're in a safer and happier neighborhood! But buying a new construction home was a bit different than your typical existing home real estate transaction.

I’ve been using the same tax accountant for about 15 years now and I always try to meet with her early enough to avoid the last-minute rush to April 15. This year, after we exchanged the usual pleasantries and I handed over the usual suspects – my W2s, charity receipts, car tab bill, etc. – she began the annual inquisition: “Did you buy a new car? Did you refinance? Did you do any remodeling?”

In a hot real estate market, one house may get more than a dozen offers in a matter of days. So how do you stand out as a buyer? Is it worth writing a love letter to the seller?

In the Pacific Northwest, the real estate market is on fire. It’s been a seller’s market for a while, and 2017 is showing the same trends. Folks want to live here, and we can’t blame them. But finding the perfect home with such low inventory is tough. And winning the bidding war? That’s an even bigger challenge. So what’s a buyer to do?



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