Having bought multiple homes in this area before I was a Windermere Broker and now having helped hundreds of other people invest in Whatcom County real estate, I am intimately aware of the ups and downs, the ins and outs of Real Estate in the Bellingham Area. I've put together the following resources to help you understand my role as your broker as well as some frequently asked questions that you may have as you enter this real estate market. Click on the + sign below to expand an area and learn more.
It's About Relationships
In 1972, John Jacobi set out to change the real estate industry by putting relationships before sales quotas, with an emphasis on service to our clients and community. Over 40 years later, this mission has helped grow Windermere into one of the largest independent real estate companies in the nation, with more than 300 offices and 6,000 agents throughout the Western U.S. and Mexico.
What this means for a buyer looking for real estate in Bellingham?
While the real estate industry has changed substantially over the years, our core values of relationships, community, collaboration, and professionalism have remained central to how we do business and will continue to do so for years to come.
Something you may not know us that Windermere takes its standard of service to its clients very seriously. As members of the National Association of REALTORS®, we agree to abide by a strict code of ethics that is based in professionalism and consumer protection. To further reinforce our commitment to our clients, Windermere has built upon the REALTOR® code of ethics by establishing what we call our Windermere Standards of Practice outlining how we believe our clients deserve to be treated.
When you work with a Windermere agent, you can expect that:
In short, our Standards of Practice ensure that Windermere agents hold themselves to an even higher level of competence and accountability. We hope this translates into a more satisfying real estate experience and peace-of-mind for our clients, knowing that doing right by them is our highest priority. If you would like a copy of our Standards of Practice, I would be happy to provide you with one.
Windermere understands the importance of giving back to our community. Enriching the neighborhoods in which we live and work is an integral part of how we do business. That is why we donate a portion of our commission from every transaction to benefit the Windermere Foundation.
We also participate in Windermere's Community Service Day.
I am pleased to be a part of such an important mission. It's just the right thing to do.
Helping you find and purchase a home is only one facet of my job. In addition, I will:
By working with me, you will:
Determining how much you can afford before you begin your home search will save you valuable time.
I can help you locate a lender who will assist you in finding a financing package that will best met your needs. But there are a few steps you should consider beforehand to make the process as smooth as possible:
It's important to check your credit report before you see your lender because:
You are entitled to one free request each year from each of the three credit bureaus. The best way to do this is to go online to AnnualCreditReport.com
You may want to check your credit score at the same time you check your credit report (usually for a fee). This score influences how much lenders are willing to loan to you and at what interest rate.
Most lenders will give better financing terms to borrowers that can put a 20% down payment on the purchase. If you are unable to do so, you will likely be required to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and perhaps pay a higher interest rate.
A letter of preapproval from a lender shows that they have checked all your documentation and are prepared to make you a loan. Getting preapproved prior to starting your home search saves you time by:
What if I need to sell my home before I buy a new one?
To put yourself in the best negotiating position before you find the new home you want, hire a qualified real estate agent, like me, to help you put your home one the market. Once you write an offer on a new home, your offer will be "contingent" upon the sale of your home. A buyer in this position may not have the same negotiating power as one whose home has already sold (or at least has an accepted offer). The seller may be hesitant to accept your offer because there are too many things that must happen before the sale can close.
How does my offer get presented to the seller?
I will call the agent who is the listing agent for the home you have chosen. We will make arrangements with the seller to present your offer. I will be there to explain the details of your offer and negotiate on your behalf.
What happens if I offer less than the asking price?
If you offer less money, the seller has three options. They can accept the offer, counter or reject the offer completely. Remember that there could be another buyer who is interested in the home you've chosen. If they happen to write an offer at the same time you do, the seller will have two offers to compare. There are usually many aspects of each offer to consider, but ultimately the seller will want to accept the best and most complete offer. In active real estate markets, homes often sell for their listed price. In hot markets, like Bellingham, there may be many buyers vying for the same house, which sometimes drives the final sale price above the original listing price.
Does it cost me money to make an offer?
When you write the offer on the home you've chosen, you will be expected to include an earnest money deposit. The deposit is a sign of your good faith that you are seriously interested in buying the home.
Where does my earnest money go?
Once the buyer and seller have a mutually accepted offer, the earnest money is deposited into a trust account. That deposit becomes a credit to the buyer and becomes part of the purchase expense.
Can I lose my earnest money?
Real estate contracts are complicated legal transactions. This is another area where having a knowledgeable and professional agent is a necessity. Rarely does the buyer lose the earnest money. Most often, if the transaction falls apart, there are circumstances beyond the buyer's control that cause it to happen. If the buyer willfully decides, however, that they no longer want to buy the house and has no legal reason for rescinding their offer, then the seller has the right to retain the earnest money.
Is that all the money that's involved?
Some lenders require the cost of the appraisal and credit report at the time of the loan application.
The amount of the mortgage based on the purchase price, minus the down payment.
Cash that the buyer provides the lender as their portion of the purchase price. The down payment is considered the buyer's equity (or cash investment) in their home.
Fees charged by the lender to offset their interest rate, if it's below the prevailing market rate. One point equals one percentage point - so one point on a $100,000 loan would be $1,000.
The amount paid for the lender's appraisal of the property
CREDIT REPORT FEE
The fee charged by the lender to obtain a credit report on the buyer
TITLE INSURANCE FEE
A one-time premium that a buyer pays for protection against loss or damage in the event of an incorrect search of public records or misinterpretation of title. The title insurance policy also shows what the property is subject to in terms of liens, taxes, encumbrances, deed restrictions and easements.
The amount a buyer pays the escrow company or closing agent for preparing papers, accounting for all funds and coordinating the information between all parties involved in the transaction.
A general term for all the estimated charges associated with the transfer of ownership of the property.
The amount of interest due on the loan during the time period between the closing of escrow and the first mortgage payment due at the time of closing.
The estimated house payment including principal, interest, taxes and insurance.
PRINCIPAL AND INTEREST
The loan payment, consisting of the amount to be applied against the balance of the loan, and the interest payment which is charged for the interest of the loan.
TOTAL CASH REQUIRED
The total amount of cash the buyer will need including down payment and closing costs.
PREMIUM MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI)
Insurance for the lender, to cover potential losses if the borrower defaults on the loan.
The prospect of buying your first home can be both exhilarating and scary at the same time. It's likely the largest purchase you'll make in your lifetime - and also one of the best long-term investments. But buying a home is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Finding the right place in the perfect neighborhood, and at a cost that's within your budget, is no small task. That's where I come in. My job is to help you navigate the twists and turns of the buying process so that you end up with a house you're proud to call home.
Here is how I will help you:
We are skilled negotiators in the following areas:
I chose to be a broker at Windermere because of the professionalism that the brand brings to the table. I add to that my incredible organization skills, my keen ability to find a diamond in the rough and a work ethic like no other. If you want the power of a professional broker on your side, give me a call. I'd love to talk with you about real estate in Whatcom County.
Not quite ready to meet?
No problem! Feel free to search my site for your perfect home using the search option on this page. You can also take a look at my Seller's Guide, my Blog or read more about what makes me so excited about the Bellingham Real Estate market!