NEW DATE – Free Home Buying & Selling Seminar in Seattle – Perfect for People Trying to Figure Out This Crazy Real Estate Market

February 19th, 2014 by Claire

Once again, WaLaw Realty is offering a free workshop on Thursday, March 27th (previously March 20th) to anyone interested in learning more about the process of buying or selling a home here in Washington.  The class will run from 6pm to 8pm here at our office in Lower Queen Anne.  We’ll provide pizza and beverages (beer and soda) plus a lot of great insight – all at no cost to you!

Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or an old pro, you’ll surely learn something new at this class.  Real estate attorney and managing broker of WaLaw Realty, Marc Holmes, will discuss the current state of the market including the impacts of low inventory of houses for sale, how to best handle multiple offer situations, as well as common and no-so-common pitfalls of buying and selling a home.  Audience feedback and participation is encouraged so we can tailor the talk to address the interests of the folks who attend.

Marc will also answer any questions about WaLaw’s flat fee business model that combines the services of a real estate agent with the skills of an attorney, all at a cost that is a whole lot less than what you would pay a typical agent.

Click Here to Register Today for our next Free Home Buying & Selling Class

Registration is appreciated but not required.  We’ll be setting up the other classes as time rolls on, and we’ll make sure to blog about each one when they’re open for registration.  We look forward to seeing you!

Buyer Liability for Seller’s Tax under FIRPTA: Another Great Reason to Use WaLaw

October 7th, 2011 by Marc

This is not legal advice.  For legal advice, consult an attorney about your specific situation.  Never rely on a blog – even one authored by an attorney.

I just authored a post on Rain City Guide regarding a buyer’s potential liability under a federal law, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA).  If you don’t have time to check it out, here’s the quick-n-dirty:

FIRPTA requires a buyer to determine whether the seller of real property is a “foreign person” as defined by the act (essentially any non-resident alien).  If the seller is a foreign person, then the buyer is responsible for withholding 10% of the sale price and forwarding it to the IRS.  This insures that the seller pays the tax due on the gain from the sale.

Here’s where it gets really interesting: if the seller is in fact a “foreign person,” yet the buyer fails to so determine and fails to withhold and forward the 10% to the IRS, then the buyer is liable for the 10%.  Ouch!  That’s quite a bite!  The current NWMLS form contracts specifically inform the Closing Agent to make this determination and to withhold these funds on the buyer’s behalf if appropriate.  However, most escrow instructions (which supplement the contract) relieve escrow of this responsibility.  As a result, most Closing Agents don’t determine whether seller is a foreign person and won’t withhold the funds.  So if you’re the buyer, and if the seller is indeed a foreign person, you run a risk of serious liability to the IRS absent this determination and withholding.

At WaLaw, we’re lawyers.  It is part of our job to insure you comply with the law.  Unlike your average real estate agents (I suspect “almost all” is more appropriate) we appreciate this law and the obligations it imposes, plus the penalty if you don’t comply.  When you hire us, you know that you won’t fall into this trap.  Oh, and you’ll save alot of money, too!

Free Homebuyer Seminar Tonight! Bellevue 6:30p

July 6th, 2011 by Marc

Market conditions, saving money, finance options – lots of good information!   Come join us at the North Belleve Community Center, 4063 148th Ave NE at 6:30 pm.  RSVPs appreciated but certainly not required!  We’d love to see you.

Buying a Condo in Seattle? Here Are the Questions You Should Ask and What You Should Know Before You Buy

June 22nd, 2011 by Marc

Owning a condo (which can be an apartment, a townhome, or even a house) may seem like the easier and more affordable route for many reasons.  However, if you don’t do your research you could end up in the middle of a disaster!  Here is a condo buying checklist: important questions you should ask and things to research before you decide whether to buy a condominium in the Seattle area.


The Short Sale Hardship Letter: What Is It? Why Is It Important? How Do I Write It?

April 27th, 2011 by Marc

“Short sales” continue to grow in number and now — with REOs — represent a substantial portion of the real estate market. When seeking a short sale, the owner will invariably be asked by the lender to submit a “hardship letter.” Owners should make the hardship letter as compelling as possible, while — needless to say — remaining honest and accurate. (more…)

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: Which is Best?

April 20th, 2011 by Marc

This post is neither legal nor tax advice. Moreover, this post is focused on Washington State, and the laws of each state differ.  For actual legal or tax advice, you need to consult an attorney or tax professional about your specific situation. Rely on a blog for legal or tax advice at your peril.

Short Sale vs. Foreclosure: What’s the difference and is one better than the other? Many, many people now own property that is worth less than the amount owed on it.  Moreover, many people purchased the proverbial “starter home” within the last five years, and they’re ready to move on to their next home (commonly kids are on the way).  Under these circumstances, an owner can either sell the home and then write a check at closing for the balance owed — OUCH! — or get rid of the home with, hopefully, cancellation of the balance of the debt. (more…)

The Future of the Seattle Housing Market: As Gray and Dreary as a Late March Day

March 30th, 2011 by Marc

I’d love to think otherwise — indeed my business benefits from market activity, just like the business of every other real estate broker.  But my wishes are irrelevant — its the data that tells the story.  And right now, that story is looking like a real tear-jerker.  (more…)

REO or Bank Owned Homes Explained: Buying an REO Property Presents an Opportunity and a Challenge

March 22nd, 2011 by Marc

There are many “REO” properties on the market these days. For those who understand the process, an “REO” home may present an excellent buying opportunity. But understanding the process is essential because these properties also present unique challenges.

First, an explanation of the term “REO”: it stands for “Real Estate Owned.” This term is used in a bank’s balance sheet to identify properties owned by the bank other than properties it actually uses (like a branch office). Typically, the bank becomes the owner of such a property when the bank forecloses after an owner/borrower stopped paying the mortgage. At the foreclosure auction, the bank usually bids the amount owed. If somebody bids higher, then that bidder buys the property and the bank is repaid in full. If nobody bids higher, then the bank is the winning bidder and becomes the owner. (more…)

What is a Short Sale? The Short Sale Process In WA Explained

March 18th, 2011 by Marc

The term “short sale” is getting a lot of use these days, in Washington State and around the nation. Many people know that short sales offer the opportunity to get a good price on real estate. But what, exactly, is a “short sale”?

A short sale is the sale of a home for a price less than what the owner owes on the mortgage, AND the lender agrees to a “short” payoff in exchange for release of the bank’s lien on the property — hence the term. But that definition requires a little more explanation, because some readers might be thinking, “Release the lien? What does THAT mean?” (more…)

Buying or Selling a Home with a Real Estate Agent: How They “Earn” Their Commission

February 22nd, 2011 by Marc

I came across an interesting tidbit in the Realty Times, a web site devoted to providing “consumers and industry professionals with helpful, informative news and advice.” The article educates agents on how they can “push back” against downward pressure on their commission, whether buying or selling. Apparently, “prospects” (the industry term for somebody thinking of hiring an agent) try to negotiate a lower commission because of “fear.” If the agent can address that fear — which may have one or more causes — then the agent will more likely get the “full” commission. (more…)