Zillow Vs. Reality

Zillow is a very popular Real Estate estimation service…but does popularity mean accuracy? 

As a real estate agent, I love helping people find, improve, sell or invest in real estate. I think I have the best job in the world. Every day, I get to walk alongside people who see a preferred future and have asked me to help them get to that preferred future. 

Along the way, I get to answer many, many questions. And questions about Zillow are usually the first ones I get to answer. 

 

Let’s clarify a few misconceptions about Zillow…

Since I am a positive person, I’ll start with Zillow’s positive attributes. Zillow brings together a ton of information in one place. If a buyer wants to make a first glance at the homes for sale in a given area, Zillow is thoroughly adequate. If someone wants statistics on how prices have changed in a zipcode over time… than Zillow works. 

If a buyer wants a quick look at square footage, room numbers and age of a home than again, Zillow gives some great information. 

Zillow’s proprietary calculations look at the LAST SALE price of a particular home and compare that price with CURRENT sale prices of similar homes in the area. From here, Zillow calculates their Zestimate. 

Oh, one other good point about Zillow is they clearly state that this is an estimate and not an actual value. 

Now, let’s talk about the reality. Zillow can not know if you have spent $60,000 on home improvements. Likewise, Zillow can’t tell if you have significant water damage, a crack in the foundation or an old roof. 

This is where real estate agents like myself come into the picture. We spend our days looking at and evaluating the values of a home. We are able to take into consideration the up-keep of a home. We are able to actually look at see that the shag carpet hasn’t been replaced since 1960. We look at comparable sales of homes in the neighborhood to give a true context to the prices that are requested. 

Also remember that Zillow is funded by ad revenue. Over inflating someone’s home value is a sure way to get people to bring their eyeballs back to a site. The more eyeballs Zillow delivers, the more money they can charge advertisers. 

Pricing your home for sale or knowing what price to pay for a home is what real estate professionals spend all our time discussing.  When the right time comes, give me a call and we will sit down and make sure your next real estate transaction is your best real estate transaction.  


Posted on May 1, 2020 at 4:02 pm
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Eatonville Real Estate, Fox Island Real Estate, Gig Harbor Real Estate, Olalla Real Estate, Port Orchard Real Estate, Puyallup Real Estate, Tacoma Real Estate, Union Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

COVID-19 Real Estate FAQ

COVID-19 has been a scary time for all of us. If you’re thinking about buying or selling, you may have some questions. I’m going to answer the ones I’m hearing most frequently.

 

Can I still buy a house during the COVID – 19 Crisis?

Yes, you absolutely can still buy a home during this crisis. There are just a few extra precautions that are implemented for sellers and buyers when showing a home-like: ​wear a mask, wear gloves, use hand sanitizer, and 2 people in a home at one time.

What do I do if I am in the middle of a move and house hunt?

House moves are still happening, movers are essential types of business.  ​You can search for homes online, then when you find a home you want to see your agent makes a showing appointment for you both to see the home, use Marco Polo video to view the home, or face time.

Are you keeping regular business hours?

Yes, I am. 8am-6pm and answer phone up until 8pm. 7 days a week.

Are there special assistance programs available for purchasing homes?

You need to get a pre-approval from your lender or I can refer you to a few great people I work with that will go over all the loan programs, payments, rates, etc.

Are you still showing houses?

Yes I am.

Can you help me find a place to rent while I wait this out?

The Rental Market is very tight but you can check on Zillow rentals, Spinaker Property Management, & HCS Property Management.

How are you making sure the houses you show are clean and safe for my family?

When making showing appointments for buyers I ask the agent if the home has been cleaned and if there are masks, booties, hand sanitizer and I carry it all in my car in a showing basket that we can use before and after a showing.

Any community resources you know of?

I’m following the Governor’s recommendations, the NWMLS & CDC for the COVID-19 disease.

I am always here to help in any way that I can, don’t hesitate to give me a call if you need help selling or buying a home during the pandemic.


Posted on May 1, 2020 at 3:53 pm
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Eatonville Real Estate, Fox Island Real Estate, Gig Harbor Real Estate, Olalla Real Estate, Port Orchard Real Estate, Puyallup Real Estate, Tacoma Real Estate, Union Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Curb Appeal is Sale Appeal

Curb AppealWhy is ‘Curb Appeal” such a big deal in getting your home sold? I’m glad you asked. This blog is a short primer on why the outside of your home matters almost as much as the inside! 

 

While HGTV gets great ratings on shows that talk about staging the INTERIOR of your home… I want to raise a quick flag about making sure the EXTERIOR of your home is equally considered when selling your home. 

 

Sadly, people do judge books by their covers. And buyers will PRE-judge your interior before ever seeing inside if they are taken back by the exterior. So let’s talk about some essentials.  

 

First, let’s agree on what exactly is curb appeal. In its most straightforward form, curb appeal is a subjective appreciation for a physical asset. Specifically, this refers to the level of attractiveness one may feel for a property when viewing it from the street. The house presents itself well, and all of the typical components are in place: the yard is well-kept, the paint is vibrant, the siding looks good, the roof is intact, and things are in order. Curb appeal sets expectations. Prospective buyers are more inclined to look inside if they like what they see on the outside. 

 

Everyone wants their home to have a “wow” factor… but let’s be honest; not every home will have that “wow” factor. But, at a minimum, your property shouldn’t turn off a vast majority of buyers. So, in many regards, our job here is to minimize any negative elements. 

 

 

Don’t be overwhelmed…most of these improvements aren’t too difficult. 

 

 

Driveway

 

Driveways full of weeds or cracks won’t present your property in the best light. Fixing this can be as easy as a bottle of weed spray and twenty minutes of labor. 

 

 

Roof

 

 

Few features will either turn away or attract prospective buyers more than a home’s roof. If the roof is old and has only a few years left, you will receive a positive return on your money by replacing it and trying to sell the home for a higher price. If the buyer doesn’t get a HUGE discount, they won’t want to spend to replace the roof. It is an option for the seller, but I like to keep my clients getting top dollar even if it requires them investing some money before the sale. 

 

 

Landscaping

 

 

Landscaping improvements can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them. Start with the grass and go from there. Then you should focus on the area immediately nearest to the house. A fresh layer of mulch can completely transform a property’s exterior. My advice to get a full picture of the home’s curb appeal, drive down your street, and take note of the first thing that stands out upon pulling up. These items are what others will notice, as well.

 

 

Exterior

 

 

In addition to the roof, you also should look at the siding and exterior of the property itself. A dirty exterior is something that should not be ignored. Power washing a deck or the siding of your property won’t take very long but will have a significant impact. 

 

 

Front Door

 

 

Instead of replacing the door entirely, start by seeing if a fresh coat of paint will be enough to give it an updated look. If you are looking for a more permanent fix, a new door is certainly money well spent and will come with an impressive ROI.

 

So, this was a quick primer on Curb Appeal. I’m not a fan of working with buyers who are always trying to low-ball my sellers. A small amount of effort on your home’s curb appeal will pay off where it matters most: your profit! 

 

Maria Kalafatich


Posted on February 1, 2020 at 11:01 am
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Eatonville Real Estate, Fox Island Real Estate, Gig Harbor Real Estate, Olalla Real Estate, Port Orchard Real Estate, Puyallup Real Estate, Tacoma Real Estate, Uncategorized, Union Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Turn Remodeling Projects Into a Money Pit!

Remodeling your Home

A great article came across my desk the other week about the home featured in the mid-eighties movie “Money Pit.” This was the hysterical movie with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long who were two yuppie home buyers who decided to buy a fixer and …well, fix it! Every home-fixer on the planet laughed until they cried at their never-ending parade of disasters. Of course, the reason the laughter turned to tears is we all remember the tears we’ve shed working on a ‘fixer-upper.’ This article focused on the fact that the same house used in the movie was recently sold for a huge LOSS. The couple who purchased the house set out to remodel, and spent close to $6 MILLION fixing up the home they purchased for just over $2 million.

Eventually, our owners decided to put the home on the market and asked a cool $12 million.
(Crickets)
And so they dropped the price.
(Crickets)
And…dropped it again. And again… until they finally sold the property for $3.5 million dollars.
So what is the moral of this story? I’m glad you asked.

Remodeling is a two-edged sword. The upside is you invest money to get the home that meets your needs and hopefully satisfies a few desires. The downside is, something you may love might not be something a potential home buyer may even like. The experts looking at this story all agree the couple spent too much money on their very personal, very ornate tastes. They added en suite bedrooms, an elegant pool (complete with a pool house), stunning fireplaces, and a modern, open kitchen. Plus, their desires were to create an over-the-top entertaining
palace that would reek excess and elegance. Sadly, the experts agreed that they over-developed for the time and for the area.

How then does a couple know what they should remodel and how much should they spend? They should make sure to have a friend like me in their corner.

As a rule, bathrooms and kitchens are safest, but be sure that your remodels don’t push your price above what your neighborhood can sustain when your home goes for sale. And, when it comes to return on investment, pools sink your return on investment to the bottom. I’d love to talk to you before you remodel if you are thinking of making a few changes before you list! I
spend all my days looking at homes like yours and seeing how buyers respond. Before you make any changes- give me a call!

Thank you for reading…and keep me in mind if you are looking or thinking of listing. I’d love to make the
whole process easier and make sure you get the best financial result!


Posted on January 1, 2020 at 2:17 pm
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Eatonville Real Estate, Fox Island Real Estate, Gig Harbor Real Estate, Olalla Real Estate, Port Orchard Real Estate, Puyallup Real Estate, Tacoma Real Estate, Union Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New and Unique Reason for Higher Home Prices

Home Prices

A couple of articles came across my desk this week that I found… interesting. 

Redfin, a Seattle based Real Estate brokerage did some research and the Wall Street Journal expanded it into an article. 

Their research showed them that home ownership has increased from an average of eight years to around thirteen years! This average increase has increased in just the last nine years. 

If this five-year increase happened over a few decades, no one would notice much. Or, they would have attributed the change to an aging demographic. But this increase was five years occurring over a period of around nine years. A homeownership change like this has created a marked decrease in the available homes for sale! 

Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather told The Wall Street Journal: “If people aren’t moving on, there just are fewer and fewer homes available for new-home buyers,” 

As I suspected, Baby Boomers ages 67 to 85 are not moving. Freddie Mac blamed this reality for creating a shortage of 1.6 million homes 

While I haven’t personally done similar research in the Pacific Northwest, I would concur that this is also happening here. More and more first-time buyers are finding it harder to find a home that is affordable.  If you are a ‘statistic junkie’ like I am, you’ll love the info at the bottom of this post.

Now…don’t take this new reality as all bad news. 

First, this information shows that the long-term investment in homeownership is stronger than ever. People who consistently pay off their homes will make their strongest investment! 

If you are looking…don’t despair. You are on the right path and I would love to help you start making equity that will benefit you for decades. 

But…if you’ve been in your home for a while… this would be a great time to at least test the waters. If you can downsize, or if you are thinking about moving somewhere new, now is a great time to call me and we can look at some comps and evaluate your possibilities. 

In the real estate world, bad news to some people can be GREAT news to you…as long as you have a real estate agent who knows how to navigate the process. 

I’d love to talk and weigh out some options. A tough time for buyers can be the perfect situation for someone wanting to maximize their selling price!


Posted on December 1, 2019 at 3:59 pm
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Eatonville Real Estate, Fox Island Real Estate, Gig Harbor Real Estate, Olalla Real Estate, Port Orchard Real Estate, Puyallup Real Estate, Tacoma Real Estate, Uncategorized, Union Real Estate | Tagged , , ,

Fall Home Buying Could Mean Falling Prices!

Fall Home BuyingContrary to popular belief- buying homes in the Fall and Winter can be the best times if you know what to look for…and what to avoid. 

Fewer Buyers Mean More Motivated Sellers!

This time of year, usually means the families with kids are already situated. Those owners of homes that didn’t sell will be extra motivated. Find a few homes you like and start the discussion. As your realtor, I can make sure you are negotiating from a place of strength to maximize your budget! 

The year-end clock is ticking!

Many sellers will want to have their home sold by year-end! Tax considerations for the seller are a very real financial issue. 

For a buyer, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ should be your theme song. Certainly, jump on the house you love at the price you can afford…but if you have a little flexibility in your timeline, waiting till the clock strikes twelve is to your advantage!

Winter Exposes Many Flaws

It’s easy to make a home look perfect when the grass is nice and green. But no leaves and drab gardens will give a buyer some more information and negotiating room. If the seller has been watching their home go from glorious Summer to drab-and-dreary Winter, they may start to panic a bit. 

‘Days on Market’ Mean Dollars Off Price

Memorial Day…Mother’s Day…Father’s Day…Fourth of July… as those Holidays go buy and Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, a seller may get nervous. Especially as the Calendar says December and January. 

If you have time on your side, you can score an amazing value if a seller has to get out from under their property. As your realtor, I’ve been watching homes age on the market and can inform you of when a great time might be to offer an extra-low price. This means you’ll either get more home or pay less for the home you want.  

While most people are thinking of Football, Turkey and Mistletoe…we can be thinking about snagging the Real Estate bargain of the year! 

Send me an email and we can start talking! 

mariakalafatich@windermere.com


Posted on October 31, 2019 at 4:37 pm
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Eatonville Real Estate, Fox Island Real Estate, Gig Harbor Real Estate, Olalla Real Estate, Port Orchard Real Estate, Puyallup Real Estate, Tacoma Real Estate, Union Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Custom 2-Bedroom, 2.25-Bath Timber-Framed Home in Secluded Setting at Alderbrook Golf Course in Union

Poised to become the ultimate getaway, this Pacific Northwest masterpiece boasts resort-worthy living at Alderbrook Golf Course in Union. Showcasing views of the canal and the Olympic Mountains and surrounded by beautiful trees and natural greenery, this lodge-like residence offers peace, privacy, and plenty of opportunity for play! Not only are you nestled on 0.37 scenic acres, but you’re wonderfully close to Alderbrook Resort & Spa, the marina for boating, and more. Plus, golfing and club amenities are included in HOA dues! Located at 31 E Bowspirit Lane Union, WA 98592, this one-of-a-kind 2,051-square-foot home is listed for $495,000.

Surrounded by a picturesque forest that lets you feel miles away from it all, this timber-framed home offers you that cozy cabin feel while still having access to premium amenities. Features like a metal roof and a heat pump are just a preview of the thoughtful features you can expect. The large covered front entrance makes for a truly memorable first impression, and arriving home is an absolute delight. As you step inside, this home’s open, light-filled layout unfolds—hand-scraped birch hardwood floors and vaulted wood ceilings with open beams infuse each space with Northwest charm!

Walls replete with large windows make up the open-concept main living space, inviting the cheerful sunlight in while offering tranquil views into nature. The main floor even offers lovely views of the canal and the Olympic mountains! In the living area, a gorgeous stone-accented wood burning fireplace promises warm, relaxing evenings snuggled up on the sofa. The layout conveniently leads right into the adjacent kitchen, an expertly designed space that boasts ample storage in knotty pine cabinets, as well as stainless steel appliances and large counters. Take advantage of the casual bar-style seating, or enjoy the dining area in the versatile floor plan. 

This home’s generous square footage includes 2 bedrooms, and the master suite offers an especially sumptuous experience. The large bedroom layout provides ample space for a sitting area or a desk, and huge windows make it feel as though the storybook scene outside is right at your fingertips! Find versatility with the second bedroom, and there’s also another flexible space that could easily be used as a fitness center or office. Downstairs you even have another living area, perfect for an entertainment center!

One of this home’s many highlights is its low-maintenance outdoor setting. Enjoy being absolutely surrounded by natural beauty without having to spend time maintaining elaborate landscaping! That being said, if you’re someone who loves to garden, you’ll still find ample potential on this 0.37-acre property, and a huge covered deck to take in the view from. Whether you’re relaxing on a lounge chair with a book for a quiet afternoon or hosting a crowd for a barbecue or special occasion, you’ll find ample room for it all! 

Living at Alderbrook Golf Course in Union

At 31 E Bowspirit Lane Union, WA 98592, vacation-inspired living surrounds you. Living at Alderbrook Golf Course is a dream for golf enthusiasts, and the gorgeous Alderbrook Resort & Spa and marina are only half a mile from home. When you need to run errands, head south down to Shelton for just 17 minutes, and here you’ll find places like Walmart Supercenter, Fred Meyer, Safeway, Mason General Hospital, and tons of eateries.

Interested in learning more? Click here to view the full listing! You can also contact  REALTOR® Maria Kalafatich online here or give her a call/text at (253) 376-5559!


Posted on September 10, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Maria Kalafatich | Posted in Union Real Estate |