Sunday, January 25, 2009

Using the Publicity of Twilight to Promote my Listing

When I discovered that the wave of publicity surrounding the theatrical release of Twilight was increasing the traffic past my listing, I had to find a way to capitalize. As a real estate professional, I always strive to think outside the box. I don't want my advertising to look like everyone else and I don't want my website to look like a cookie cutter template.
Aside from the fact that my listing is only 35 miles West of Port Angeles and 20 miles East of Forks, Washington (where the movie is set), there is absolutely no connection. We all know that when it comes to marketing, it is all about perception. But how do I create a perception? The location of my listing was not featured or mentioned in the book or movie. I had to look at the facts to come up with an idea.
The publication of the book Twilight and the subsequent sequels has brought a wave of recognition to Forks and Port Angeles Washington where the story is set. It is reasoned that Forks, Washington with over 100-150 inches of rain a year is conducive to vampires due to the lack of sunshine.
With the release of the hit movie, the interest of the Olympic Peninsula has skyrocketed to frenetic proportions. There are stories of tourists driving cross country just to say they have been to Forks. One lady is rumored to have moved there temporally from Kansas to open a Twilight store during the wave. It is said that she plans on moving back after the craze is over.
Normally, there is increased traffic on HWY 101 West during the summer months as people head for the ocean or visit the Sol Duc Hot Springs resort. With the increased popularity, the seasonal treks have been abandoned in favor of year round pilgrimages. It is estimated that tourism to the area has increased by the thousands.
I did know that my listing sits in the heart of the old pioneer township of Heckelsville. Little is known about the lost township of Heckelsville where my listing lies except that in 1948 there was a grocery store, a schoolhouse and living quarters for the headmaster. The foundation for the school, the living quarters and the old orchard is all that remains on the seller's property. It was only through the Forks museum that anything at all is known about this pioneer township which has been gone for half a century.
There was my story from nothing at all. Why did a township with great fishing in the Sol Duc River, rich soil, fruit trees and plenty of firewood suddenly disappear? Did it have something to do with vampires?
See what I came up with here: Twilight Movie Connection

What is the Secret of the Weather in Sequim WA?

Talk to an outsider and you are led to believe that the Pacific Northwest in Washington State and Annual Rainfall are synonymous. Despite the reputation, a review of the facts reveals a whole different perspective.
Although, the mountains, water and lowlands all contribute to the most diverse weather in North America, you might be surprised to learn that Seattle ranks 54th in metro cities (100,000+ Population) with an average rainfall of about 38" a year. (Winner is Mobile, AL. with 65 inches). So let us put that rumor to bed.
However, holding the record for the lower 48 states is the small town of Forks, Washington (pop 7000) with an average annual rainfall of a whopping 120 inches. That is 10 feet a year! The locals joke that if you see someone with an umbrella; they are a tourist. Amazingly, the annual rainfall decreases one-half inch for every mile you travel east.
Keep heading east and you will find yourself in the "Blue Hole or Rain Shadow" known as Sequim, WA. One of Sequim's claims to fame is the average annual rainfall of only 16" a year. That is equal to Hollywood, California. If that isn't dry enough for you, head another 7 miles north to the Dungeness Spit and you lose 5 to 7 inches more per year.
How is it possible to go from the wettest area in the nation to an area that matches Southern California by driving only 70 miles?
The secret is Sequim's proximity to the Olympic Mountain range. As most of our rainy weather blows in from the southwest, the wet air starts rising up the southwest corner of the Olympics becoming heavy as it rises dumping a good portion of it's goods on the lucky folks living in Forks. By the time it reaches the summit, most of the moisture is gone. The air sinks down the Northeast side of the Olympics right over Sunny Sequim.
What does this mean to the residents and why is everyone interested in Sequim Real Estate?
The weather allows for year round produce growing seasons you won't find anywhere else. Imagine fresh produce in the dead of winter. The home prices are lower than southern California and make it an excellent place to retire. Most transplants find that a luxury water view property can be purchased for half the price of a similar property in California.
Don't worry; we have property in every price range with most either with Water or Mountain View or both. If that isn't enough, Sequim is accommodating to retirees with state of the art medical facilities and the whole gambit of outdoor activities.
Sequim is often listed on 100 best places to retire and I invite you to visit and find out what all the fuss is about.
Don Fourtner
Coldwell Banker Town & Country

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Current List of Sequim, Port Angeles or Clallam County Distressed, Short Sales or Foreclosure Properties available:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Straight Talk about the Law of Supply & Demand as it Applies to Real Estate

One consistent demand of a real estate agent’s marketing strategy is convincing a would be seller that in order to sell their home in a reasonable time period, the home must be listed at market value. Homes or land listed at market value or below sell; and those priced above market value do not. To understand this concept, it is important to understand what market value is and what it is not.

Market value is what a buyer is willing to pay in today’s market.

Market value is NOT

How much you owe.
How much your Cousin twice-removed who once sold a home says it is worth.
How much you need to net to buy your next home.
What you paid for the home.
The higher estimate received from the agent who is bidding on your listing.

This last Christmas my 14 year old Son requested a Nintendo Wii. This is one of the hottest game systems this year and is very much in demand. Last Summer, the basic unit could have been purchased at the list price of $249.00. As Christmas 2007 approached, it became increasing clear that the demand was considerably higher than supply. A search on e-bay (no retailer seemed to have them) soon revealed that you could get a system from anywhere from $400.00 to $700.00. Those with an inside track on the supply were making a bundle as most postings sold with multiple bids. Not one to buy at demand based pricing, I hedged and appealed to my Son’s economic reasoning. Sure enough, one could see that prices were already starting to drop the day after Christmas. I imagine that in a couple of months, the unit will be available everywhere at list price.

What does this have to do with real estate? Everything! Remembering the definition of what market value is, we find that parents were willing to pay the inflated prices to make sure Johnny was delighted on Christmas morning.
Does anyone recall the movie Jingle all the Way with Arnold Schwarzenegger who searched the whole movie for a Turbo Man?

Picture a street corner that has a gas station on each corner in your town. Rarely, do you find that the name brand stations are advertising the exact same price on gasoline. Without getting into an argument about which franchise has the best gas, gas is gas to most people. They serve the same purpose and fulfill the same need. They are equal.

Which of the four gas stations do you stop at assuming the all have equally attractive clerks? (As compared to each home having granite countertops or bathroom upgrades)

I believe that gas was approaching $4.00 a gallon in our area in 2007 as compared to the $3.12 I saw this morning. Can the gas station that was selling gas at $4.00 keep that price while others are now charging a little over $3.00 a gallon? Using this strategy, who will sell gas and who will not?

If you are not ready to list your home at market value, you are not ready to sell. There is a real estate saying that goes like this. Those that list at market value, move and those that list above market value, stay. Perhaps it is not the right time to sell your home.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keeping Your Real Estate Career on Track

Are you a flounder or a trout?
The flounder lies on the bottom of the sea, waiting for food to come to it. It allows the tides to control its movements and it doesn't resist natural forces. Consequently, it can be easily caught.
The trout swims against the currents, chooses carefully what it will eat, decides when to resist, when to rest and consequently, is very difficult to catch.
Correspondingly, the flounder person reacts only to what comes his or her way. The trout person acts with forethought and self-discipline. The flounder person waits for something to happen while the trout person makes things happen. The flounder person concentrates on activities, and the trout person concentrates on goals and objectives. If you're not a trout person, you can be. Take charge of your life by controlling your habits, don't let them control you. Hard work alone won't get you ahead you need to also work smart. When you do, there will be plenty of time to take care of all your needs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Where is Sequim, Washington and why is everybody moving there?

The small city of Sequim, Washington sits on Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest almost directly across the water from Vancouver Island, Canada. The ambience of this Dungeness Valley paradise could never be described in words. However, I will attempt to do so in hopes that you might find out what thousands of visitors a year already know.

Coming into Sequim from the East, you are instantly stricken by the majestic mountain range to the south and the sweeping water views from the north. You might even notice the subtle change in the cloud cover as you drive into the valley. That is because Sequim is the driest spot in Western Washington, getting just an average of 18” of rain per year. However, there is just enough of a mix of rain and sun to keep the town and surrounding neighborhoods lush and green practically year round.

The natural layout and location of Sequim allows for an eclectic variety of outdoor activities. The surrounding area offers a paradise of fishing, hunting, hiking, bicycling, nature walks, river rafting, skiing (both snow & water), scuba diving, beach combing, swimming, boating, gardening, farming, vineyards and a variety of other activities.

The organization of the City of Sequim appears to be setup with the foresight of accommodating the people who would settle here.For such a small town, Sequim boasts of state of the art medical facilities, world class golf communities and some of the best restaurants on the Olympic Peninsula.

Sequim is a very social place and the residents assure that it stays that way. Visitors need only visit one of the many festivals hosted during the year to feel the sense of pride & community.

If you have never visited Sequim, Washington, I invite you to do so and find out what all the fuss is about. When you are here, drive around and see for yourself. Perhaps, you could visit the nearby historical city of Port Townsend, take the ferry across the water to Victoria, Canada or sit in the natural hot springs of Sol Duc.

Send me you address via e-mail and I will send you a free Visitor’s Guide to Sequim & the Olympic Peninsula.

Don Fourtner is a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Sequim, Washington

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Home sellers earn 16% more by using a Real Estate Agent

Technology is transforming how Americans buy and sell homes in unexpected ways, including how they work with real estate agents and brokers, according to one of the largest surveys of real estate consumers ever conducted. The study was released by the National Association of Realtors®.Nine out of 10 home buyers use a real estate agent in the search process, but use of the Internet to search for a home has risen dramatically over time, increasing from only 2 percent of buyers in 1995 to 77 percent in 2005; it was 74 percent in 2004. The next largest source of information for buyers is a yard sign, mentioned by 71 percent of buyers.When asked where they first learned about the home purchased, 24 percent of buyers identified the Internet, up strongly from 15 percent in 2004 and only 2 percent in 1997. Although most buyers use an agent to complete the transaction, 36 first learn about the home they buy from a real estate agent and 15 percent from yard signs; five other categories were 7 percent or less.The 2005 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, based on more than 7,800 responses to a questionnaire mailed to a large national sample of consumers located through county deed records, is the latest in a series of surveys evaluating demographics, marketing and other characteristics of home buyers and sellers. NAR President Thomas M. Stevens from Vienna, Va., said the findings underscore the complexity of the home-buying process. “Buyers who use the Internet in searching for a home are more likely to use a real estate agent than non-Internet users, and consumers rely on professionals to provide context, negotiate the transaction and help with the paperwork,” said Stevens, senior vice president of NRT Inc. “The real estate industry today bears little resemblance to the way we did business 10 years ago. It is hard to find another industry that has adopted technology so readily to its customers,” Stevens said. “Realtors® have invested a lot of time and money in building information technology, and because of these efforts, more consumers than ever are using the Internet in their home search.”The survey shows 81 percent of buyers who use the Internet to search for a home purchase through a real estate agent, while 63 percent of non-Internet users buy through an agent; non-Internet users are more likely to purchase directly from a builder or an owner they knew in advance of the transaction.“We find that the level of for-sale-by-owners is on a sustained decline and is now at a record low. In addition, a growing share of FSBO properties are not placed on the open market – they’re private transactions,” Stevens said. A clear downtrend in FSBOs has been seen since that market share experienced a cyclical peak of 18 percent in 1997. Only 13 percent of sellers conducted transactions without the assistance of a real estate professional in 2005, and 39 percent of those FSBO transactions were “closely held” between parties who knew each other in advance, up from 32 percent in 2004. The FSBO market share was at 14 percent in both 2003 and 2004. NAR began tracking the FSBO market in 1981; the record was 20 percent in 1987.“In reality, the term ‘FSBO’ is a misnomer when used to broadly describe homes sold directly by owners. Since two out of five of these transactions are between related parties, and those properties are not placed on the open market, we believe that ‘unrepresented sellers’ would be a much more accurate term to describe this segment,” Stevens said. The median home price for sellers who use an agent is 16.0 percent higher than a home sold directly by an owner; $230,000 vs. $198,200; there were no significant differences between the types of homes sold. “While many unrepresented sellers are motivated to save on paying a commission, we think the price difference speaks for itself,” Stevens said. “Owners without professional assistance also have problems in understanding and completing paperwork, prepping the home for sale, getting the right price and selling within the time planned.”Survey data don’t explain the price difference, but Stevens offered some context. “Agents know best how to prepare a home and maximize value, agents provide broader exposure to the market and are more likely to generate multiple bids, and the portion of sales that are between private parties are likely to be at a lower price than those on the open market.”“The housing market today contrasts sharply with predictions a decade ago that the Internet would ‘disintermediate’ real estate agents, including speculation that NAR membership would fall in half. In reality, it’s grown dramatically – selling real estate is not like selling a book or buying an airline ticket,” he said. was the most popular Internet resource, used by 54 percent of buyers, followed by multiple listing service (MLS) Web sites, 50 percent, real estate company sites, 38 percent, real estate agent Web sites, 31 percent, and local newspaper sites, 15 percent; other categories were smaller. Married couples make up the largest share of the housing market, accounting for 61 percent of transactions. Single women purchase 21 percent of homes while single men account for 9 percent. Unmarried couples were 7 percent of the market, and 2 percent were listed as other. In 2004, single women were 18 percent of buyers and single men were 8 percent.The typical buyer walked through nine properties, searched eight weeks to buy a home and moved 12 miles from their previous residence. The typical seller placed their home on the market for four weeks, had lived in it for six years, moved 15 miles to their new residence and previously owned three homes, including the one just sold.NAR’s senior economist Paul Bishop said both buyers and sellers use traditional methods to choose a real estate agent. “Word-of-mouth recommendation is the most common way to learn about real estate professionals,” Bishop said. “The most important criteria, whether you’re buying or selling, are the individual agent’s reputation and their knowledge of the local market.”In finding a real estate professional, 44 percent of buyers were referred by a friend, neighbor or relative, 11 percent used an agent from a previous transaction, 7 percent found an agent on the Internet, 7 percent met at an open house and 6 percent saw contact information on a “for sale” sign. Six other categories accounted for smaller shares each.The most important factor in choosing an agent was reputation, according to 41 percent of home buyers, followed by an agent’s knowledge of the neighborhood, 24 percent. In terms of desired qualities in an agent, three categories were rated as very important by more than nine out of 10 buyers: knowledge of the purchase process, responsiveness and knowledge of the market. Of buyers who use an agent, 63 percent choose a buyer representative. Satisfaction with real estate agents is very high, with 85 percent of buyers saying they were likely to use the agent again.Seller responses are comparable: 43 percent chose agents based on a referral by a friend, neighbor or relative, and 28 percent used their agent previously; 10 other categories were 5 percent or less. Fifty-seven percent of sellers said reputation was the most important factor in selecting an agent, followed by their knowledge of the neighborhood, 17 percent. Eighty-two percent said they were likely to use the same agent again or recommend to others.Four out of ten respondents are first-time buyers, a finding that is consistent for more than a decade. The median age of entry-level buyers is 32 years, also typical over time, and the household income was $57,200. They made a downpayment of 2 percent on a home costing $150,000, but 43 percent purchased with no money down. Of first-time buyers who made a downpayment, 23 percent received a gift from a friend or relative. The typical repeat buyer is 46 years old and had a household income of $83,200. They placed a downpayment of 21 percent on a home costing $235,000, but 11 percent of repeat buyers paid cash for their home. In all, 94 percent of buyers and sellers believe their home purchase is a good financial investment.“To underscore the value of housing as an investment, all you have to do is look at the difference in how repeat buyers purchase their next home – the wealth effect of homeownership provides the greatest source for their downpayment, which is significantly larger,” Bishop said. Aside from sellers who pay cash for their new home, 66 use the equity from their previous home for a downpayment.The most important factors in choosing a location to purchase a home are neighborhood quality, cited by 68 percent, close to a job or school, 43 percent, close to family or friends, 36 percent, and the school district itself, 23 percent; seven other categories were under 20 percent.NAR mailed an eight-page questionnaire to a national sample of 145,000 home buyers and sellers, based on county records, who purchased their homes between August 2004 and July 2005. It generated 7,813 usable responses; the response rate was 5.4 percent.
Source: National Realty News, a BEXT Inc. publication

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sequim Real Estate Proves to be a Sound Investment

In the 12 month period between March 2005 and March 2006, the value of Site Built Homes in Sequim jumped an amazing 25.6%. The average price of Sequim homes in the same time frame in 2005 was $283,286 compared to $355,904 in 2006. That is a dollar jump of $72,618! Try to match that rate of return in the stock market. With the increased influx of retirees moving to this area to take advantage of the low 18" of rain per year, that rate of return is likely to continue.