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10 Secrets To Buying A House In Seattle

Want the best deal on buying a house in Seattle? It may be easier to find a home that works for you than you think. Check out these secrets to discover a great property that fits your needs and budget…

1. Don’t Try To Perfectly Time The Market

Even Warren Buffett admits he isn’t good at timing markets. If it is a good time for you to buy a home, and you plan on keeping it for a while, then go for it. Most end up losing out by trying to time things perfectly.

There are many factors that play into this from interest rates, to access to mortgages, cash on hand, property prices and the direction of the market.

Over the long run you can probably count on most properties just going up in price. Buying a house in Seattle sooner means you get to benefit from that. Instead of paying more for the same home to the person who just took action and bought it before you.

2. Explore Different Neighborhoods & Suburbs

Don’t box yourself in or think you can’t afford a great home without checking out the different options available.

Seattle, WA has many great neighborhoods and suburbs to choose from. There are many different lifestyles to choose from. Explore different views, amenities, activities and styles of architecture.

Looking a little further out you may find a whole lot more home for the money. Check out our lists of the best Seattle neighborhoods and top Seattle suburbs to pick from.

3. Property Condition

Property condition can have a significant effect on financing your property and how much it costs.

A brand new construction home is likely to be more expensive. It may enable you to finance in the improvements and even appliances you want. Yet, you may find you are paying above market value in some cases. This can be especially true with builder model homes and those that include furniture packages.

At the other end of the market you can have run down old homes. They may be much cheaper, but then you may have to come out of pocket with cash to do all of the repairs and improvements you are dreaming of. If there are structural repairs like roofs, plumbing and electrical or it is not really livable right now, many lenders won’t want to loan on it. You will at least need a special rehab loan.

Most Seattle home buyers will find their sweet spot in the middle. Not brand new, or too outdated and in need of repair. This will give you the best value, financing and the ability to add your ideal cosmetic touches as you go.

4. Think Twice Before Buying A Condo

Buying a condo in Seattle may be the right move for you. It could offer everything you want in lifestyle and price. Yet, there can be some gotchas you need to be alert to.

Condos come with rules and extra fees. You’ll have condo association dues. There may be multiple levels of dues to immediate and master associations. They may be monthly, quarterly or annually. They can also levy special assessments to cover upgrades or repairs to the building and any shared spaces. Be sure to account for this in your budget. These costs will also be factored into your debt-to-income ratio when applying for a mortgage loan.

Condo associations may have few or many rules. They may have rules against animals, renting out your place, overnight guests, and who qualifies to buy your condo if you ever want to sell it.

Non-warrantable condos are those which don’t meet conventional lenders’ guidelines. They may be more expensive to finance and require a larger down payment too.

5. Think Ahead

Don’t just think about your wants in a house today. Chances are you’ll own this property for at least a few years. Your housing needs may change a lot, and sooner than you think. To avoid having to go through the whole process again too soon, give some thought to this.

Could you end up having kids? What about having adult kids move back home? Parents moving in with you? Needing a bedroom and bathroom which someone can quarantine in if they get sick?

Chances are you won’t stay at the same job forever either. Even Microsoft has announced its staff can now permanently work from home. So, it may make no sense to make your house choice dependent on one job or having to commute or be near the city center.

Also consider that the neighborhood or building that is trendiest this week and year probably won’t be the trendiest one next year or in five years. How much of a premium do you really want to pay for that, versus finding a better deal in what may be the next hot place to be in the future?

6. Everything Is Negotiable

Almost everything is negotiable in real estate. How much negotiating power you have as a buyer can change a bit over time depending on how competitive the market is. Still, it rarely hurts to ask for a small discount. The worst that can happen is they say no. This applies to the seller, attorneys and title companies, contractors, and insurance agents too.

7. Know What Is Motivating Them

If you can find out what is really most important to the seller and their Realtor, you can make an offer that meets their needs, while also enabling you to get the terms that are most important for you.

8. Ask The Seller To Pay Your Closing Costs

Did you know that in most cases you can get the seller to pay most of your closing costs?

9. Know Your Down Payment Options

Down payments are one of the most common reasons many think they need to wait to buy a home in Seattle. Yet, you may not need nearly as much as you think. Check out down payment grants and assistance programs, low and no down payment mortgage loans, and the benefits of choosing PMI.

10. Get Pre-Approved for A Home Loan Before You Start Shopping

Get preapproved for a mortgage loan before you try to start shopping and even looking at homes online. It will save you a lot of time and frustration, and make sure you can move fast and secure the perfect home when you find it.

About the Author Joe Tafolla

Seattle's Mortgage Broker specializes in closing Washington home loans extremely quickly. We are out of the box thinkers and are often referred to as the 'golden ticket' when it comes to winning in multiple offer situations. We found our 15+ years of on time closings has built a solid reputation with listing agents and mortgage lenders, which helps us get our clients the best options every time.

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