Real Estate Experience way back then
Seattle Real Estate | Gerhard Ade
It’s about time you meet Walter.
For nearly two decades, Walter Powers has been my good friend and for ten of these years, he has assisted me in marketing. He also is my official unlicensed real estate assistant with access to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Walter had prior Real Estate Experience.
Walter describes himself as a radio guy. Following the Great Recession, he found work with a broadcast production company that aired a weekly radio show owned by the National Association of REALTORS© – NAR. It’s still running as the number-one real estate show on the radio, heard on hundreds of stations. His role was to be mostly a technical one but somewhere in the mix, they needed a writer… someone to write the scripts for the weekly guests featured on the program. In this role, he had access to many of the world-class resources at NAR. That taught him a lot about housing economics, assessments, legalities, staging, showing, moving your home, online presentation, how to make your home more livable, and more agent advice than I ever thought I’d know.
Back when Walter bought his own home
My wife and I bought our first home at about the same time as Walter and his wife bought theirs. For me and for him that was our first real estate experience.
In Walter’s own words, here is how it went down.
My wife and I purchased our first house in 1980. That’ll teach you about real estate if you’re paying attention. Ours was in the New York suburbs of Bergen County, New Jersey… about a half hour’s drive from midtown Manhattan. As you might expect, that’s some pricey real estate for first-time buyers. Also, if you think back to 1980, you’re likely to recall interest rates rose to 17%. At that rate, I didn’t qualify to buy a garage. We caught some luck and the rates dropped as low as 12.5% and we got a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage locked in at that rate. We learned the value of an assumable mortgage during those days.
The house was not expensive by market standards, but it was very historic. The original structure was built in 1803 on land owned by the American patriot, Aaron Burr. He lived in the main house and ours was one of the last standing tenant farmers’ residences. It was also on a large piece of land – by the town’s standards and had a brook that served as one of the property boundaries. There were two easements involved. A property description on an old deed did not match the latest survey. It was a true “fixer-upper” that would never have passed an inspection. As I’m not a wealthy person, “creative financing” was involved.
The most important thing starting out was to find not only the right property but the right agent. My wife’s mother had real estate experience having just passed her exam and had her license which allowed her access to the multiple listings service. Those listings have been online and computerized for ages but in 1980 they were thick, printed books. We were looking for a place that wasn’t expensive and one we could improve with some sweat equity. We also had an understanding of how the real estate commission structure worked. The listing broker received 4% of the sale price and the selling broker 2%. If we could find one agent who was involved in both sides of the transaction, we knew we’d have more flexibility when the final deal was done.
By the time we got the keys to this place, it was nine months after our initial deposit. The deal had completely fallen through twice, we had learned about riparian rights, and flood plains, searched through a huge stack of deeds (back to the 1800s) in the vaults at the county seat in Hackensack, and much more. Our patient agent said, “Walter, you gained more real estate experience in this single transaction than many agents know.”
When did you buy your first home? Walter and I would like to know.
Published originally as the 141st issue of The View from the Street.
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