Over the past week I’ve suddenly received several phone and email “phishing” solicitations. I’d like to blame it on a full moon, but that was nearly three weeks ago.
I’ve been contacted twice and advised my Amazon account had been locked due to suspicious activity. Two different people have called to tell me a credit card was being used in another state, that the police had been contacted, and they would need additional personal information to verify they were really talking to the cardholder so that they could assist me. I reached out to both credit card companies – no suspicious activity or security breach reported on my accounts. I also had a call trying to sell me new windows for my home. Told that caller my home has no windows. (You have to have some fun with these calls.) The best calls have been the three from people representing “investors” who are ready to purchase my house immediately – for cash. I had to play along with these calls too. Turns out the caller didn’t know anything about my home including where it was located, when it was built, the number of bedrooms, baths or square footage. After no doubt frustrating the caller for a few minutes, I let them know I was a Realtor® and that when it came to sell my home I had that covered.
Maybe with everything going on in the world scammers think this is an easy time to take advantage of people who might be feeling stressed or vulnerable. In my business escrow and title companies, banks and lenders continually deal with wire fraud. Bad people have figured out how to hack into emails, secure bank and corporate websites and anywhere else they think there might be a quick and dirty way to make money and defraud innocent people.
Be very careful. Be suspicious of phone calls and emails you don’t recognize or can’t verify. Caution and educate your children, parents and friends. If you question something, whether it’s from a friend, relative, business associate, bank real estate broker, escrow or title, and especially if you’re involved in a real estate transaction . . . verify the sender. It only takes a few minutes to protect yourself. It also only takes a few minutes for a wire transfer sent to a criminal recipient to empty a bank account, and those funds can be impossible to retrieve.
We have enough to worry about these days. Be safe. Verify. Verify. Verify. And while you’re at it, wear a mask. Take care of yourself, your family and friends.
Recent real estate and design articles have speculated on the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on future residential design. Features in the last decade have focused on spacious luxury owner amenities with indoor and outdoor common areas, lush gardens, fitness centers, media rooms, private dining rooms, pet spas and co-working spaces. Will residential developers adjust future design plans to create safer and more comfortable common areas?
The new normal may mean fewer pieces of equipment in cardio and weight rooms and more space between mats in yoga studios. Expect more hand sanitizing stations and stricter cleaning protocols. Capacity limits or equipment reservations may be required to provide equitable use and a safe environment. Lobbies, owner lounges and other common gathering areas may adjust decor to provide more chairs and fewer sofas to create a comfortable yet safe area for residents and guests.
Home office space has become one of the “must have” features. Whether full or part time, more people are working from home increasing the need for dedicated office or study space. We’ve quickly learned dining room tables and kitchen islands aren’t the best backdrop for video meetings.
Spending more time indoors has made the need for a properly functioning HVAC system more evident. Buyers may be just as interested in knowing whether a new community design includes systems that introduce more fresh outdoor air, recycle air more frequently and perhaps sanitize.
Spending more time in our homes over the past several months has made us more aware of our space, how we use that space, how well it functions and what we may need/want for the future.
Earlier this month, as concern regarding the coronavirus grew, my company, Windermere Real Estate, followed by the NWMLS a few days later, made the decision to suspend all open houses in an effort to protect the health of buyers, sellers and brokers.
There will be little real estate business transacted during the State of Washington’s mandated “shelter-at-home” period. Escrow and title companies and lenders will continue to work, as much as legally permitted, to be sure sellers and buyers involved in transactions already under contract will close on time.
Even before the mandated “shelter-at-home”, many sellers requested no open houses and buyer traffic dropped significantly at homes (mostly vacant) where open houses were scheduled. What about open houses in the future? While I always include open houses in my marketing plan, at the seller’s option, it is one of the marketing activities that delivers the least return to, and honestly, most inconvenience to sellers. The majority of my real estate business focuses on condominiums, and its not unusual to find open houses restricted or prohibited by the HOA. Homeowners who purchase in a secure building do so because they want to live in a community offering safety and where public access is limited to owner controlled, owner invited guests. A public open house that allows dozens of strangers to access a building is an intrusion on the privacy and security of everyone who lives in the community.
With the advancement of technology, professional and drone photography, 3-D and 360 degree virtual tours, buyers can virtually walk through a property before scheduling a private appointment with their broker to see the home. Going forward we may see fewer open houses, especially in secure residential buildings. Open houses create a logistical challenge for the hosting broker, sellers, buyers and the concierge staff, and are an intrusion to the privacy of all homeowners in the building.
This is the time of year when more homes are listed for sale. It’s rare to see a home on the market that doesn’t have professional photos. Quality photography is critical for on line marketing and could be the most important piece of the marketing plan your broker will (or should) commit to when listing your home for sale.
Not even professional photographs can hide flaws, clutter, dirt, etc. and sometimes those are more evident through the camera lens. There are easy steps to take to be sure your home is camera ready which will help the photo shoot go more quickly so you can return home sooner.
- Replace burned out bulbs (table lamps and ceiling fixtures)
- Clean and de-clutter all surfaces throughout the home. Remove personal items and photos from view (recommended for security reasons as well)
- Open all drapes and blinds
- Remove pets, bedding, bowls, toys, etc.
- Same goes for children – head to the park during the photo shoot
- Remove refrigerator magnets and artwork, paper towel holders, towels hanging on cabinet handles, sponge or soap holders/dispensers
- Make the beds and take a quick look from all sides to be sure covers are even all the way around. Fluff pillows and remove personal items from bedside tables.
- Clear bathroom counters, tub and shower ledges and remove toothbrushes, hair styling items, soap and shampoo bottles, etc.
- Decks, patios and courtyards – sweep all surfaces (power wash if needed), cover the bar-b-q, plant fresh flowers in the pots, remove broken pots or furniture
- Turn all lights before leaving
The photographer and your broker will appreciate your effort, the photo shoot will go more quickly and you will be able to return home sooner. It is, no doubt, inconvenient and stressful to have your home listed for sale. Your efforts to have it photo ready and prepared for open houses and showing appointments will go a long way toward having buyers take away a favorable impression and sell more quickly.
If you’ve been inspired to do some spring cleaning, this weekend’s recycling event is the perfect place to drop off those items that don’t have any usable life left in them.
Saturday, May 26th 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Bellevue Presbyterian Church 1717 Bellevue Way NE
The event is free – accepted items include:
— auto parts (non-greasy)
— appliances (blenders, dishwashers, washers & dryers, microwaves, stoves,
— clean scrap wood (untreated and unpainted)
— electronic equipment (DVD/VCR, cell phones, computer keyboards and mice, copiers, printers, stereos)
— exercise equipment
— lawnmowers (drain oil and gasolines)
— lead acid batteries
— metal lawn furniture
— rigid plastics (buckets, toys, coolers, lawn furniture, PVC pipe)
— styrofoam blocks & packing materials (white blocks and packing peanuts of any color)
There are fees for some items . . .
— appliances and scrap metal (air conditioners $33, refrigerators/freezers $28, water heaters $5)
–mattresses and box springs $15 per item
–porcelain toilets & sinks $15 each – propane tanks ($5 each) – small empty camping tanks ($1 each)
–tires – 6 max ($1/each tire, $3.50/each tire on a rim, $5/each large truck tire, $15/each large truck tire on a rim)
Secure shredding is also available – limit of 5 file size boxes
ITEMS NOT ACCEPTED – containers that previously or currently contain gas, oil, chemicals or paint
For more information call 425-452-6932
This time of year buying or selling a home goes on the back burner while people focus on the holidays, family and friends. Locally real estate tends to take a break until our “spring” market ramps up in late January.
When preparing a home for sale there’s a typical “to do” list that includes organizing closets, power cleaning, paint touch-up, repairs, de-cluttering inside the home and sprucing up the landscaping outside the home. There are two important items, required by the State of Washington that can’t be ignored.
The State of Washington (along with many other states) requires carbon monoxide detectors be properly installed throughout the home (https://www.doh.wa.gov) and water heaters be strapped to prevent damage or injury in the event of an earthquake. It is important for many reasons to pay close attention to these items: Continue reading