Life In Real Estate

Crowd Staging

Yesterday I was delighted to receive a call from a stager friend of mine, Rebecca Henderson of Alabaster Staging..

Rebecca:  Brian, I have a problem.  I am teaching a staging class this afternoon and the house we were going to stage just canceled.

Brian:  Tell me more.

Rebecca:  I have twenty students and we need a home to stage.  We will go through the home room by room, stage the entire home.  No cost to you or your client.

Brian:  It's your lucky day.  I am listing a home this afternoon at 2:00 PM and I have the most delightful seller in the world.  Let me give them a call. 

Brian, Calling back:  See you at the home 2:30 PM.

So at 2:30 the coolest thing ever.  Rebecca and Brandi Cernohlavek with 20+ of their students show up and start going through the home room by room.  What a blast.


A group of students is assigned to each room..


They go through each room and apply what they learned..


The seller was thrilled, the outcome fantastic.

Kitchen before..


and after..

KI Now

Living room before...


and after..

LR Now

We could go on and on but bottom line is Rebecca and Brandi and the class of February 2014 did an absolutely FANTASTIC job so a big thank you to all from me and a very pleased seller.


By the way.. great new listing in Issaquah Highlands.  Three bedroom in the Outlook.  $245,000 call me for details.

Home Sweet Bunker

The other day while watching TV I stumbled upon a show featuring bunkers that I thought was quite amusing. Nothing new here really. Bunkers have been popular ever since the cold war. They call themselves preppers now. The old name was survivalist. Is there a difference? In my real estate career I have sold several homes with bunkers. Most notably was a home with two basements, one beneath the other. The first or upper basement was pretty ordinary as basements go. The seller told me he had a bunker "just in case" and challenged me to find it. I never did. The entrance was hidden behind a row of shelves filled with jars of home canned peaches and the like. As the shelf slid out of the way a sheet of ordinary looking plywood came into view which was the cover of a three foot wide four foot tall steel door. The door was set on hinges that looked like they had been salvaged from the Titanic. He was delighted to tell me the door weighed over a ton and was made of solid steel. Inside the door was a stairway leading down to the bunker itself. The room was maybe 10 feet wide at best and 25 feet long with walls of shelving filled with food, bunk beds and supplies including case after case of old yellow civil defense canisters. The concrete walls were 3 feet thick and reinforced with steel re-bar. It turns out the seller was a former Boeing worker who worked on the old B52 program and was still living in the cold war. Pretty interesting feature but I can't say it added a lot of value to the home.

More recently I had a little incident with an appraiser who was introduced to a homeowners bunker or what he called his "quiet room." The appraiser was a young woman who was led down to the basement by the somewhat elderly homeowner who, after entering the room turned, closed the door and turned off the lights immediately plunging the room into absolute darkness and silence. Of course the appraiser not knowing this guy or his intentions totally lost it giving an entirely new meaning to the term "panic room."

Curious, how many of you know of homes with bunkers? Maybe we could all map them and when and if the big day comes we will know where to go to get food and shelter. Kind of like the bears raiding the honey tree except the bees have guns instead of stingers. Better yet why don't we all store a little extra food and if need be share with our neighbors and help each other out. What a concept.

Dear Zillow please blog this

From Zillow April 27, 2010


“Dear Brian,


In reviewing your recent quote ZQ-XXXXXX, we see that this rate is too low. If you feel this is not the case please provide information with the details such as who is the investor, what is your base rate, and lastly what are the ad-ons.

Community Relations


Response April 27, 2010


“Dear Zillow,

I reviewed the quote, and in fact reviewed all of my recent quotes, and have verified that indeed the quote is correct.  I suspect that once again my competitors are complaining about our rates.  You might find this surprising but our clients NEVER see this as a problem.  As far as telling you who my investor is that information is confidential.  My base rate and all fees are disclosed in the quote.  Perhaps the best way for you to verify these rates is to allow me to refinance your home or assist you in a purchase.  Upon completion of a loan application I will be delighted to lock your loan as disclosed in the quote and guarantee this rate.  What is your rate now?


If you have an opportunity I would appreciate it if you would blog about this on the Zillow website.  I find it interesting that just because my competitors can’t compete this is viewed as a problem.


A mutual friend of ours works for Zillow and I forwarded him a confidential copy of our wholesale pricing matrix so that you may verify the authenticity of these rates although he will not provide you with the investor details.


P.S.  If you think this is low wait until you see our new JUMBO program rolling out this afternoon.


Brian Leavitt

Designated Broker

Northstone Mortgage


Freddie Mac you broke my heart

Freddie Mac you broke my heart.  You teased me with your beautiful little condo nestled on the wooded hillside by the lake.  Two ample bedrooms and two sparkling baths complete with tile floors and sleek tile tub surrounds.  Your spacious south facing living room took full advantage of the fleeting Seattle sun.  But you, unresponsive, communication challenged and unable to commit.  My intentions were clear from the very start, I wanted your condo to be my own to have and to hold in sickness and health to sale do we part, but it seems it was just not to be.  Perhaps you have been wounded by other less serious suitors but 30 days is way too long to expect me to wait.  Terms agreed to orally but no written response.  As beautiful and seductive as your condo is I have left you for another. 

Three days from offer to inspection and now ready to close.  My new condo is beautiful and fully committed, closer to the city center and in way better shape. You my old flame, I wish all the best.  Perhaps we can still be friends but more likely I think not.  Freddie Mac, until you clean up your act and deal with your skeletons you are destined to keep your own condo company.


Thoughts from a buyer after waiting 30 days for a signed agreement from Freddie Mac that never materialized.

Ken Griffey Jr, Have I got a House For You!

Ken,  If you are out there, we just want to let you know that we have the skills and experience necessary to make buying your home a pleasant and stress free experience.  Having helped many high profile people like you, we have learned that the process is an art as well as a science.  Learning to protect your privacy was probably the easiest task since confidentiality is important on every transaction not just our high profile clients.  Avoiding the paparazzi is another matter, not that the Eastside is particularly overrun with them.  We are quite comfortable working with your assistant although working with you personally is something we would enjoy.  Most of our high profile clients have excellent agents and assistants and working with them is a pleasure in itself.  We understand your desire for privacy and expect you will stay out of sight.  We also recognize that your high profile can make negotiating a bit more difficult since everyone knows what you make, so we are quite comfortable using contract assignments if that is a concern of yours. 

It should not be much of a problem finding a home you will like.  Right know we have 438 homes available in the area that could be contenders.  Oh, and since you just have a one year contract, we have some really nice rentals as well.  As the Eastside's boutique Realtor, we are at your service.

P.S. We have a nice place available in Mukelteo if you are interested.

by Brian Leavitt Northstone Real Estate, Inc.

$1,336,689.00 per month?

What does $1,336,989 per month get you? How about a 16 bedroom 35 Bath 55,000 ft.² home on a 784,000 ft.² lot?

We've all heard it said, location, location, location, how about 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? According to Zillow today's market value of the White House would be $284,576,000 or $1,336,989 per month. Zillow goes on to describe the White House as follows: Be sure and click this link to see the article, it's GREAT!

Home Description:

"Built in 1792, this magnificent 132-room mansion is the rarest of homes in the U.S. since it is not only the residence of the U.S. president and his family, but it also has two wings with offices for the president, the First Lady, top staff and aides. Designed by Irish architect James Hoban, it was built during the Federalist period (late 1780-1830), but is considered Georgian in the Palladian style with neoclassical influences. After the cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1792, it was built by slaves, free African-American laborers, immigrants, and salaried Europeans. Second President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, took occupancy on November 1, 1800. Made from sandstone, brick and wood, the White House was composed only of the "Residence" and was completed for a cost of $232,371.83. There are three parts to the White House: The Residence (where the First Family resides), the West Wing (Oval Office and top executive offices) and the East Wing (First Lady and offices for her staff). The Residence contains 6 levels: the sub-basement (storage, laundry); basement (Diplomatic Reception room, Map Room, kitchen, curator's office, dentist's office, one-lane bowling alley); first floor (the "State Floor" contains the Red Room, Blue Room, Green Room, East Room, State Dining Room, and Family Dining Room); second floor (the "Family Residence" contains the master bedroom, Lincoln Bedroom, Queens' Bedroom, Yellow Oval Room, Truman Balcony), and the third floor (rec, music, and sun rooms). The West Wing contains the president's office, the Oval Office and the Situation Room. There are three levels: the basement (Situation Room, Secret Service Offices, Press Corps Offices); the first floor (Oval Office, Vice President's Office, Chief of Staff Office, Roosevelt Room, Press Briefing Room), and the second floor (offices of the president's staff). The East Wing houses the First Lady's office and those of her staff. It is also where the underground bunker is located"

Curious what your home is worth? Compare your homes Zestimate r with my detailed market analysis.