The Move-Up Homebuyers

With Karen Quinn By Jane Hodges May 18, 2012 Published in the June 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Not long after Jennifer Chiu and Mark Williams were married, they bought a 1,200-square-foot Fremont town house for about $370,000. It was 2003, the beginning of a frothy market, and the young couple had looked around in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and Greenlake, too, before finding their home.

By 2010, the couple was ready to move up—their home’s compact layout made it hard to entertain, they were looking forward to spreading out more, and this time, they had a higher budget. They tire-kicked again in the same set of neighborhoods. They made an offer on a view home at Green Lake but when the seller stood firm on the $650,000 price, they realized that the place’s fixer factor and price negated the perks of its view. Then they turned to sleek and modern homes—places that didn’t need remodeling—and last year lost out on a bigger and more modern Ballard single-family home where an eager builder had already accepted the first offer.

Fast forward to spring 2012. Since they’re both techies—he’s a business consultant, she’s a program manager who also writes the food blog Roll with Jen—they’ve used alerts and apps to stay abreast of new listings. When a newly constructed, 2,400-square-foot modern home came on the market in Fremont on a Thursday, they pounced.

“It’s modern and it’s perched on a hill, so it’s got gorgeous views. Inside it’s kind of timeless—with beautiful wood floors,” Chiu says. “Modern properties don’t go up that often in the neighborhoods we like.”

The seller had listed at $750,000 and expressed plans to review offers from interested buyers on a Monday, so the couple, working with Redfin, ordered a speedy preinspection and made an offer that wasn’t contingent on an inspection—making their bid the most likely to be accepted.

If the quick sale and bid deadline—as well as anticipation of multiple offers—looks like something out of 2002, keep in mind that there’s less inventory on the market now, and those who want what’s for sale may have to compete for it. Close to job centers, nearly half of all homes are selling within a month, according to comments by J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, in Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s most recent release. So, buyer prepare.


2011 Median Home Price

Price Change Since 2010

2011 Median Household Income

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