Nick Berard Real Estate Group

Nov. 16, 2017

Top 5 Home Selling Mistakes & How To Avoid Them


Top 5 Home Selling Mistakes & How To Avoid Them


1. Pricing your home too high. Buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase today are looking. As a seller if you price too high, you will lose those buyers today. The most valuable day your home is on the market is day 1, it will decline after that. There is a difference between market value, automated value, appraised value, tax value. Understanding the difference between the 4 are important, price your home right the first time by understanding the differences below.

-Market Value: Typically the amount of money a buyer is willing to pay a seller. An experienced realtor should be able to provide a home owner with an estimated home selling value for free. It will be similar to an appraisers method of looking at comparable active / pending / sold listings. 

-Automated value: Is the value a website will give you when you enter your address. The value comes from a mathematical equation the takes tons of public information (size of home, beds, baths...etc) and based on your homes public information will provide an estimated value. 

-Appraised value: Is based on an un-biased third party appraiser comparing local real estate data. Usually it's a combination of active, pending, and sold properties. Then the appraiser adds or deducts for differences in comparable properties to give an appraised value. 

-Tax Value: The value your local municipality established for their tax basis. Typically these values are updated on a regular basis and have less correlation with market value. 


2. Not addressing condition / repair items. Buyers buy with their eyes. It will always costs a seller less to fix a problem or repair before putting their home on the market. Painting, lights, outlet covers, furnace service, etc... just to name a few are all items that will cost less if seller does up front. The more turn-key your home is, the higher price a buyer is willing to pay. Fix & repair those maintenance items you've been putting off. 


3. Staging: This comes down to 2 points of decluttering & showcase a rooms purpose. Less is more, especially when there is purpose into the items you leave out.

-Declutter: Remove all personal photos & items as possbile. Buyer's will have an easier time imagining themselves in a space if they aren't looking at photos of your family. Start packing before you take marketing photos. Box everything up that is non-essential. Rent a storage unit if needed, use your garage to store things if needed. 

-Showcase: Staging is as much removing items as it is showing what the room is used for. Curb appeal and Kitchens sell homes. What are you doing to showcase your curb appeal (potted plants, fresh sod, front porch seating...)? What about making your kitchen a warm & inviting heart of your home (nice place settings, inviting table/chairs...)? When it comes to other rooms in the home, what is the purpose? What about bedrooms, office, bonus rooms? Either declutter or showcase use is a good rule of thumb. It's there is a random bed in a bonus space does that speak to the next buyer? 


4. Ego: Most of the time, a seller's first offer is the best offer. It's natural to have an attachment to the home your family grew up in, or spent a lot of quality time in, or that you improved with your bare hands. Yet when you've decided to sell your home it becomes a business transaction. Take your ego & emotion out of the negotiation to get significantly more money in your pocket at the closing table. 


5. Selling Yourself vs Hiring a Realtor: What if saving thousands was actually costing you tens of thousands? Most seller's largest financial asset is their home. Do you actively manage your retirement portfolio, or have someone help you with that? Study after study have shown that selling your home yourself can actually end up costing you more money & time than if you hired a Realtor. The house prep, staging, photography, virtual tours, marketing, agent showings, negotiations, disclosures, inspections, appraisals, title & escrow...there are over 180 steps in a standard real estate transaction. And missing one piece of the process could cost you money. Get ready to invest time in the process of selling yourself or focus on what's most important to you and hire an experienced agent to negotiate & protect your largest financial asset. 


Posted in News
Sept. 11, 2017

Top 7 Things to Know When Purchasing a Home


Top 7 things to know when purchasing a new home:


  1. Hire a trusted and knowledgable realtor. Typically when people get in to trouble when purchasing a home with a realtor, it is because of ignorance more than malice. Does your realtor know about the local market? Can you build a well? An additional dwelling unit? What are the zoning regulations and how do you find out more? We do! We work closely with Government Affairs as well as Public Works.
  2. Getting approved for financing. Do you know the difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved? What are does is take to get approved at a credit union vs a traditional lender? Do you qualify for state and local programs? Knowing the difference between your options can potentially save you tens of thousands over the course of your loan, seriously. Make sure you hire a trusted lender as well as a realtor who understand the various programs in your area.
  3. Nothing beats seeing a house in person. Look, I love getting online and looking at houses as much as the next person however nothing compares to seeing them in person. A photographer can make or break a house. A good photographer will make an ugly house pretty and a bad one will make a great house look like a dumpster fire. Other things to consider are smell, the neighbors and just getting a feel for things on the ground. We find that our savviest buyers will look at a minimum of 3 houses before making an offer just because of those things we don’t know we like yet because we have never seen them.
  4. ALWAYS HAVE AN INSPECTION. I can’t stress this point enough. Even if you don’t choose to work with us, please have a right to an inspection in your contract. Besides protecting you from things that you might not be able to see, it is an option to safeguard your earnest money placed in escrow. Be sure to work with an agent who will be competent in regards to protecting your interests.
  5. Don’t buy a car or wrack up a ton debt on your credit card. Large purchases or irregular things happening with your credit can impact your ability to purchase a home. Listen to whatever your lender tells you to do.
  6. Understand that you as the buyer, are typically responsible for paying closing costs and these add up to about 1% of the purchase price. What is included in this is title and escrow was well as underwriting the mortgage. Title and escrow is a little complicated however what they do is act as a third party where the exchange of money and title happens between all parties. They also check the title on a property; was there a gas station there? Any recorded encumbrances or lost relatives who might have a claim on your future property.
  7. Use an agent, you don’t pay our commission! The seller is responsible for paying all commissions so you might as well have someone who has a fiduciary obligation to protect your interests.
Posted in News
Sept. 8, 2017

Things to Do in Bellingham

Dock picture in Bellingham


Bellingham Washington is one of those truly special places. If you look at us on a map, you'll notice that we're right on the coast of Western Washington. To the East, we have Mount Baker and to the West is the ocean and the San Juan Islands. What we are is a city built in a forest with a ton to do for the nature lover, people who want the amenities of a large city without the stress and it is even great for hermits!

The ocean provides us with a great deal of both leisure and industry. On the south side of the city is the Alaska Ferry Terminal where commercial fishers and travelers can make the long voyage up to Alaska. It is also great for shipping and receiving of cargo. If you walk around the harbor, you'll notice hundreds of yachts and sailboats for going out in the Puget Sound which is an ocean with usually calm waters. Besides boating, one can take a kayak, canoe or paddle board along the coast all the way to Larabee State Park and beyond.

Larabee is a gorgeous park where one moment, you're in a forest and the next, you're on a beach. It is located on the south side of Bellingham and is great for hiking, picnics and even weddings! Besides Larabee, we also have Whatcom Falls Park which is litereally a forest and river running through the middle of the city. It has miles of trails which are great for hiking, walking the dogs and getting away. There is also the Interurban Trail which runs the length of Bellingham and snakes throughout the city if one wants to go on a long hike or mountain biking.

We also have the arts as well as food and entertainment. The first Friday of the month is an art crawl downtown where artists come out and show their wears. In fact, we almost always have something going on during the weekends for people to check out. There are also many wonderful restaurants in the city and along the waterfront. We are also home to a dozen award winning brew pubs for the beer aficionados.

There is literally hundreds more things to be done here whether it's for someone going for a degree at the University or the colleges to people who are looking to retire. We're also 20 short minutes from the border with Canada. Check us out! It's a great place to make your home!

Aug. 9, 2017

Sit Back And Enjoy The Show Near Bellingham Homes

Residents from Bellingham homes have been appreciating top quality performances for generations. The stage at the Mount Baker Theatre has been graced with wonderful actors and dancers since 1927. And as the largest venue of its kind north of Seattle, this treasured building holds a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Audiences are dazzled by the latest in Broadway shows, concerts, plays and more. From orchestral music and musicals to magicians pulling rabbits out of their hats every form of entertainment holds a place on the calendar. With a focus on community, local theater productions regularly utilize the facility. Educational events help create a love of arts within the Bellingham real estate area. Thousands of school children benefit from the Wade Bennett King Education Series.

Mystery Surrounds Bellingham Real Estate

A vibrant history surrounds the Mount Baker Theatre. Many living in Bellingham homes have heard the rumors and the ghost stories. Past staff has declared that “every old theater must have their ghost”. And regardless of whether or not the sightings are true a chronology of visions and mysterious noises are recorded.

Memberships are a great opportunity for theater buffs. A variety of levels and price points meet all needs. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office. View the current listing of shows here.


Posted in News
Aug. 9, 2017

Ice Cream Is Calling On Bellingham Property

Anytime is a great time for ice cream. For   years Mallard Ice Cream has been answering the call. Located at 1323 Railroad Avenue all the frozen goodness is crafted onsite with only best of ingredients.

Variety is the spice of life, and at the parlor there is plenty to choose from. Classic flavors are both nostalgic and tasty. Friendly arguments break out between siblings living in Bellingham over which is better, Super Vanilla or Super Chocolate. Other signature scoops available every day include Mint Oreo, Root Beer, Cookies and Cream and Coconut Chocolate Chunk with Almonds.

Residents Living in Bellingham Chill Out

Rotating flavors are eagerly anticipated on the Bellingham property. Customers love a generous double scoop of Chocolate Malt. Step into the tropics with Coconut Flake with Rum. Fruity flavors are sought after especially Lemon Cheesecake, Fresh Blackberry and Mulberry. Swanky Nerds combines Strawberry and Blackberry with Nerds candy and is a favorite of youngsters. Dairy free options are definitely delicious. Non-Dairy Sorbet comes in six distinct flavors including Fresh Blackberry Hibiscus Ice.

Mallard Ice Cream cares about the local Washington community. Always willing to lend a hand for a good cause the company supports the arts and other non-profit organizations and programs. A stalwart part of the neighborhood Mallard Ice Cream is often out and about in Elizabeth Park scooping cones during their summer concert series. Stop by for some ice cream.


Posted in News
Aug. 8, 2017

Bellingham Real Estate Overflows With Flowers

Find peace in the Glen Echo Garden on Bellingham real estate. Seven acres grow green with splashes of color delighting one and all entering its gates. Themed gardens are maintained by an expert staff. Designed to create feelings of inspiration, many garden elements are easily recreated in the garden spaces of Bellingham homes.

Whimsical wooded areas are filled with charming trails leading to and from individual gardens. Enjoy the simplicity of a classic English Garden and then compare it to a traditional Japanese garden. Imagination flows in the Stump Garden. Many may look for fairies or other woodland creatures in the Fern and Moss Garden. Vivid colors shine bright in the Blue Garden and Begonia and Fuchsia Gardens. Quiet morning meditations are often experienced in the Serenity Garden. Fountains and bridges add charming touches while benches provide ideal places to relax and soak in the beauty of the landscape.

Embrace Serenity On Woodland Paths Near Bellingham Homes

Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. there is plenty of time to be spent amongst the flora and fauna. Concession stands are strategically placed about the property just in case hunger comes calling. The whole family is welcome to enjoy this piece of Bellingham real estate. Even the dog is welcomed if leashed and kept on the walkways. Take some time to smell the flowers and appreciate the little things in life at the Glen Echo Garden.


Posted in News