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Monday, December 29, 2008

Assessing your credit report

The following is reprinted from REALTORmag, an online publication from the National Association of Realtors.

"Unfortunately for borrowers, most credit reports contain inaccurate information. A June 2004 study performed by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy group, showed that 23 percent of consumers had mistakes on their credit reports serious enough to result in the denial of credit. All told, an amazing 79 percent of consumers had some mistake.

Fortunately, consumers' rights are protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA gives consumers the ability to correct, update, amend, and take action regarding the contents of a credit report. It also guarantees consumers accuracy, fairness, and privacy in their credit reports.

The Act protects consumers only if they take action, however. Credit bureaus report the information they are given by creditors; they don't verify it. If an error occurs, the burden of discovering and correcting it rests on the consumer. Here's what you should do before applying for a mortgage to make sure your credit reports are accurate.

FIND OUT WHAT'S IN YOUR FILE. Every U.S. consumer is now entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The easiest (and free) way to get a copy of your report is to go to the government-mandated Web site www.annualcreditreport.com. Also note that if consumers are denied a mortgage or other credit, the lender must tell them whether information in their credit report played a role in the denial.

DISPUTE INACCURATE INFORMATION. If you determine that something is incorrect on a credit report, the next step is to correct the inaccuracy. If consumers obtained their credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com, they can dispute errors online. Another option is to write a letter to all three credit bureaus detailing the dispute. (Some states require one agency to notify the other two, but why risk it?) The letter should include documentation such as a cancelled check showing payment, a discharge from bankruptcy, or the like. Remember, banks typically use the middle of the three credit scores when assessing a loan application. If one report showing a high score is correct but the other two are not, the buyers may still be denied credit or forced into less-favorable terms.

DISPUTE INACCURATE ITEMS AT THE SOURCE. Consumers will also want to contact the credit card company or other source of the inaccurate information. For example, if a payment is credited incorrectly, it may be easier to resolve the error by contacting the credit company than a collection agency.

EXCISE OUTDATED INFORMATION. By law, credit bureaus are supposed to remove information pertaining to the credit score—such as a late payment or collection—that is more than seven years old. Neutral information such as employment history does not have to be removed since it does not affect credit scores. Consumers should ensure that the credit bureau removes older information since it can still negatively affect a credit score.

PROTECT CREDIT IDENTITY. The Fair Credit Reporting Act makes it a federal crime to knowingly and willfully obtain a person's credit report without consent or under false pretenses. If consumers feel that their credit has been compromised, they can request that a credit agency put a “fraud alert” on their account. Consumers can take an even more aggressive step to protect their credit from identity thieves by paying credit bureaus to put a security freeze on their credit. Consumers can temporarily lift the freeze when they apply for a mortgage."

3 Additional Tips for those with truly bad credit:

1. Get your spending under control.

2. For one or two late payments, ask the lender to re-age the loan.

3. Give it time. Even after a foreclosure, a credit score can be repaired within three years. A foreclosure should be removed from the record after seven years and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy after 10 years.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Open House today--Free gift bags!


Are you suffering the effects of cabin fever? Here's an opportunity to get out and about. This afternoon from 1-4, I will be holding open new construction townhomes on Beacon Hill. There are 8 units (2 are already sold), each with a totally unique floor plan. The address of the model unit is 3038 Beacon Av S. Each unit has 2 bedrooms, 2.25 baths and approximately 1200 square feet. Four units have attached garages, while the other four have rooftop decks. List price for each townhome is $439,000.


All visitors to my Open will receive a free gift bag filled with over $1000 in home-related service coupons for everything from carpet cleaning to ice cream cones!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open House today--Free gift bags!


Are you suffering the effects of cabin fever? Here's an opportunity to get out and about. This afternoon from 2-4 and tomorrow from 1-4, I will be holding open new construction townhomes on Beacon Hill. There are 8 units (2 are already sold), each with a totally unique floor plan. The address of the model unit is 3038 Beacon Av S. Each unit has 2 bedrooms, 2.25 baths and approximately 1200 square feet. Four units have attached garages, while the other four have rooftop decks. List price for each townhome is $439,000.


All visitors to my Open will receive a free gift bag filled with over $1000 in home-related service coupons for everything from carpet cleaning to ice cream cones!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Current loan rates


Loan rates just keep getting better and better! Here is your weekly recap from Troy Chambers of Arboretum Mortgage:


Rate Update...
Rates are slightly better than last week. We are now below 5%. As the temperature falls …so have these rates.

Please let me know if you need anything, as I will be available at all times, on my cell phone at 425-418-5103.
Also, please note that I will not be posting rates next week, due to the Holiday...unless, of
course, there are drastic movements.
Happy Holidays!!!!



Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com


Click here to see a table of current loan rates.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Current loan rates

Here is this week's recap of interest rate activity, courtesy of Troy Chambers, loan officer for Arboretum Mortgage.


Rates have dropped even more this week! We are actually selling 5.00%, and on Wednesday I
locked in 4 loans at 4.875%. I am incredibly busy with refinances, and I would assume that
purchases are sure to follow!

Please let me know if there is anything you need from me … My cell is 425-418-5103, and I am
always available.

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of loan rates.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Waste Free Holidays Info

The following is reprinted from the newest edition of Northwest REporter, the official real estate publication of the Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS® and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service:

There are green gifts galore for this year's gift-giving. The eco-friendly options also include creative solutions for gift-wrapping, entertaining and decorating.

Waste Free Holidays, sponsored by several cities and counties in the State of Washington, promotes "giving experiences instead of stuff." Participating businesses offer experiences (e.g., tickets to concerts) and services at discounted prices.

Waste Free Holidays, King County
http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/wastefreeholidays/
To find other local options, enter "waste free holidays" plus your county as key words in a search browser.

As noted on one of the "Waste Free" sites, reducing waste is especially important during the holiday season. Americans toss one million extra tons of waste each week between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. If every family in the U.S. used two feet less of gift wrap ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved would be enough to tie a bow around the whole planet!
Here are links and brief descriptions for other ways to observe "green holidays."

Green Gift Guide
www.greengiftguide.com/be_green/
Site features business gifts, clothing & jewelry, "for pet's sake," garden & outdoor, house & home, toys, games & sports, and more. The site also has links for waste-reducing ways to trim the tree, wrap presents. And entertain.

Tree Hugger
www.treehugger.com/giftguide/
Site strives to be an international one-top shop for green news, solutions, and product information through blogs, newsletters, video segments and a weekly radio show. The site currently features more than 100 green gift ideas in 11 categories: foodie, fashion buff, pop culture fan, philanthropist, do-it-yourselfer, jet-setter, green geek, wee-hugger, animal lover, health nut, and outdoor enthusiast.

Yahoo's Green Gift Guide
http://green.yahoo.com/gift-guide/
Offers gifts in a variety of categories (.e., green gadgets, gifts under $20, gifts of experiences, do-it-yourself gifts, save money & planet, luxury gifts, sports gifts)

Green Home Huddler
http://greenhome.huddler.com/wiki/give-green-gifts
Here you'll find a list of 16 ideas for giving eco-friendly gifts. Examples include homemade coupons for low-impact activities, making a donation in someone's name, buying a carbon offset, buying earth-friendly personal care products, and even links to organic and fair-trade chocolate and other treats.

Environmental Defense Fund
http://www.edf.org/article.cfm?contentID=5616
With more than 500,000 members, this nonprofit organization partners with businesses, governments and communities to find practical environmental solutions. Its roundup of holiday suggestions includes intangible presents that deliver green good long after the holidays, stocking stuffers, a "kid's corner," books & board games, a grab bag for gardeners, and wearable recyclables. Also offered are tips for setting an earth-friendly holiday table.

Grist magazine's Stuff Free Gift Ideas
http://www.grist.org/feature/2007/11/20/stuff-free/
Ten ideas for stuff-free gifts, ranging from adopting an acre of rainforest to buying a share in a Community Supported Agriculture farm (check localharvest.org).

Co-op America's Holiday Green Gift Guide
http://www.coopamerica.org/pubs/greengifts/
This guide features special offers from businesses listed in the National Green Pages™. Among categories "all around green;" beauty and body care; food and drink; and gifts, art and accessories.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Helping Heat Homes of Needy Families

I hope you will take a minute to read the following story about a local businessman who is helping local families in need. I am truly humbled by his generosity and caring.

The following is reprinted from the newest edition of Northwest REporter, the official real estate publication of the Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS® and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service:

Real estate professionals with clients who are converting from oil to natural gas or electricity can connect those homeowners with a new nonprofit organization so their unused oil can help others who can't afford to heat their homes. More than 200 families have been identified as needing such assistance, a number that is expected to grow.

The win-win arrangement is the creation of Dallas Gigrich, owner of Tanks by Dallas in Lake Forest Park, north of Seattle. His charitable endeavor, called Home Energy Assistance Team (HEAT), recently attained federal nonprofit status, so donations of oil and money may be tax deductible.

Gigrich started his home-based oil tank decommissioning company in 1996 when new regulations mandated unused oil tanks be removed or cleaned according to strict requirements to prevent environmental damage from leaks. He said a typical decommissioned or abandoned tank still has 200 to 400 gallons of oil left in it.

Instead of transferring unused oil from the out-of-service tanks to a recycler to resell, the businessman with a benevolent heart started offering to drain the tanks at no charge. Then he provided free delivery service to single parents, the elderly and others who lacked funds to fill their own oil tanks. (A typical 3-bedroom house requires 500 to 600 gallons annually, at a cost of around $3 per gallon.)

In recent years, the "Oil Angel," as he's been dubbed, has delivered around 100,000 gallons or oil per year. The recipients are referrals from friends, churches, social-services agencies and other sources.

The donations come at a cost to Tanks by Dallas, including expenses for transporting and staffing.

With winter upon us and a business slowdown that's affected Tanks by Dallas, HEAT welcomes donations of oil and money to help defray the costs of delivering and filling tanks to cash-strapped families. Gigrich also hopes to find a volunteer who can help him apply for environmental grants, since he is reusing oil. He can be reached at 206-365-0291.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy 97th Birthday, Dad!



Can you believe this man turned 97 on Friday? And he's still living on his own! I've inherited great genes!

I'll be foregoing my usual Open House today in order to celebrate with my family.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Open House--Free Gift Bags!







Today from noon-3, I will be holding Open a Fauntlee Hills view home at 8806 39th Ave SW. The house sits high above street level, so you might be surprised that it has a level entrance at the top of the driveway and the living space is all on one level. A large, yet fairly private entertainment deck runs across the front of the house. The kitchen has been beautifully remodeled, complementing the open floor plan. Both bedrooms have their own bath and walk-in closet.

Want to know more about this home? Go to my Prudential website (http://www.alicekuder.pnwrealty.com/) and enter the following MLS # in the search box: 28143401

Again today I will be giving out FREE GIFT BAGS filled with coupons for various home services such as carpet cleaning, interior and exterior painting, house cleaning, and more. There is sure to be at least one discount that will benefit you.



Friday, December 5, 2008

Open House today--Free Gift Bags!




This afternoon (Friday, 2-4ish) and tomorrow (Sat. noon-3) I will be holding Open a Fauntlee Hills view home at 8806 39th Ave SW. The house sits high above street level, so you might be surprised that it has a level entrance at the top of the driveway and the living space is all on one level. A large, yet fairly private entertainment deck runs across the front of the house. The kitchen has been beautifully remodeled, complementing the open floor plan. Both bedrooms have their own bath and walk-in closet.
Want to know more about this home? Go to my Prudential website (http://www.alicekuder.pnwrealty.com/) and enter the following MLS # in the search box: 28143401

Again today I will be giving out FREE GIFT BAGS filled with coupons for various home services such as carpet cleaning, interior and exterior painting, house cleaning, and more. There is sure to be at least one discount that will benefit you.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Holidays Schmolidays!

You may notice -- or perhaps I should say, you may NOT notice -- as many Open House signs around town during the next few weeks. That's because many agents choose to take it easy this time of year. "Conventional wisdom" says that this is a bad time of year to buy or sell a home, but I can tell you that the agents who continue to work during the holidays, continue to sell property, and those who don't, don't. Guess which group I belong to? (The working group.)

Admittedly, I will not be holding an Open House this coming Sunday, Dec. 7th, as I will be with my family helping my dad celebrate his 97th (yes, his 97th, that's not a typo) birthday. But I will have Opens on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, so watch this space for details and look for my signs on the street corners.

By the way, interest rates are still great, so give me a call today and we may be able to get you into your new home before the New Year! 206-708-9800

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Free gift bags at my Open House today!



Today, from 1-4 I will be holding open a terrific new-construction view townhome in the trendy Beacon Hill area. Actually, this new complex has 8 units (2 are already SOLD), each with a different floor plan, and you are welcome to tour the remaining 6, even though only one is officially on the market. This first unit to come on the market has 2 bedrooms and 2.25 baths, 1204 sq. ft. of living space, and shares a roof-top deck with neighboring units. MLS# 28173603. Listed by my Prudential colleague, Ken Arkills, for $439,000. To see more details, scroll down to my list of helpful links and click on the link to view available homes listed in the MLS. The address is 3038 Beacon Ave. S.

Everyone who visits me at my Open House will receive a free "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are available only to my clients. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Free Gift Packs at Open House








Today, from 1-4 and Sun. 1-4, I will be holding open a terrific new-construction view townhome in the trendy Beacon Hill area. Actually, this new complex has 8 units (2 are already SOLD), each with a different floor plan, and you are welcome to tour the remaining 6, even though only one is officially on the market. This first unit to come on the market has 2 bedrooms and 2.25 baths, 1204 sq. ft. of living space, and shares a roof-top deck with neighboring units. MLS# 28173603. Listed by my Prudential colleague, Ken Arkills, for $439,000. To see more details, scroll down to my list of helpful links and click on the link to view available homes listed in the MLS. The address is 3038 Beacon Ave. S.

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Current loan rates are great!

Here is a quick overview of loan rate activity for this past week, according to Troy Chambers, loan officer for Arboretum Mortgage:

What a Week!
The one time I decide to take a few days off from the computer, the rates drop like a lead balloon! Don’t get me wrong, I was able to lock in over 2.2 million in new loans in one day, and I was ecstatic! It was a little difficult to do from my in-laws place in Arizona, but when the market turns, we gotta do what we gotta do!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and the tryptophan has wore off, because rates are still very good. After seeing them go as low as 5.250 on Tuesday, they have risen back up, but as you can see, are still very low, in the mid to high 5’s. The only programs that were affected drastically this week where the conforming fixed rate products.

Please feel free to contact me on my cell phone at 425-418-5103 at any time, as it is always on!

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of loan rates.

Looking for an alternative to holiday shopping?







Come join me at my Open House! Fri. 2-dusk, Sat. 1-4 and Sun. 1-4, I will be holding open a terrific new-construction view townhome in the trendy Beacon Hill area. Actually, this new complex has 8 units (2 are already SOLD), each with a different floor plan, and you are welcome to tour the remaining 6, even though only one is officially on the market. This first unit to come on the market has 2 bedrooms and 2.25 baths, 1204 sq. ft. of living space, and shares a roof-top deck with neighboring units. MLS# 28173603. Listed by my Prudential colleague, Ken Arkills, for $439,000. To see more details, scroll down to my list of helpful links and click on the link to view available homes listed in the MLS. The address is 3038 Beacon Ave. S.

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all my clients and readers for your continued support. I love my job, and much of the reason is because of the people I work with -- both clients and colleagues.

I hope you have a peaceful day of gratitude among people you love.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enter the Junction's $5K Giveaway

Since I moved to West Seattle nine years ago, the Junction has gone through a truly impressive transformation. Before you trek to downtown Seattle or a Mall to shop, consider all the Junction in West Seattle has to offer.


For added incentive, the Junction Association is sponsoring a $5,000 Holiday Giveaway. Entry tickets are FREE and available at all participating stores (including Prudential Northwest Realty). Just fill out the ticket with your contact info and drop it in the collection box (again, located in each participating business). There will be prize drawings on three different nights, beginning with the tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 6th. You do NOT need to be present to win.



The title to this post links to the Junction website. (I will also post a copy of the poster here, but it may be too small to read easily.)

Give me a call if you have any questions or if you would like me to mail you an entry ticket.

Fed Aid Sets Off a Rush to Refinance

Here is another article about the recent dip in mortgage loan rates:

"The Federal Reserve's attempt to stabilize the housing market set off a chain reaction across the U.S. on Tuesday, dropping interest rates and quickly spurring a burst of refinancing activity by borrowers eager to lower their mortgage costs."

"Some brokers said it was the most activity they've seen in at least one year, although there was no way to determine the volume of refinancing."

"At Bank of America Corp., call volume was roughly twice what was expected at call centers and via the Internet, said Matt Vernon, national sales executive. "It's the folks who have been sitting on the sideline. They're jumping in with this news.""

"Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped by roughly half a percentage point to about 5.5%, for borrowers with good credit scores and substantial equity in their homes, say mortgage brokers and lenders."

"While the initial flurry of calls came from people seeking to refinance, economists predicted lower rates also will spur some home buying among bargain-seekers. The surge in refinancing will help the overall economy by putting more cash in consumers' pockets and reducing the pressure on some borrowers struggling to make payments."

""This is a win-win," said Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "It will directly increase demand for housing and help with the downward spiral in home prices.""

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The rates are falling! The rates are falling!

If you've been waiting to buy a home until prices fall some more, today is your lucky day, because the dramatic dip in home loan rates will save you even more than price reductions!

Here is a quick blurb about it from Troy Chambers, loan officer with Arboretum Mortgage.

"Today was an amazing day in the mortgage industry. The federal reserve announced that they will be pumping billions of dollars into the mortgage industry, and lenders are showing their confidence!

Rates have fallen drastically. Please shoot me an email if you are interested in refinancing, and you will move to the top of my list!

This is a historic rate drop, and in many cases we are at 5.625% or lower!

Let me know if there is anything I can do for you, and please pass this email on, as we all need someone on top of the ball working for us!

I am here ALL DAY and into the night…"

Troy Chambers
Licensed Loan Originator
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Cell: 425-418-5103
Fax: 206-860-9340

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yakima & Spokane in the Top 10!

The following is reprinted from The Weekly Real Estate News, published by the National Association of Realtors, Nov. 21, 2008:

Top 10 Most Promising Housing Markets Housing Predictor, which provides housing forecasts in 250 markets, has identified 10 markets where the regional economies are healthy and have strong potential for increasing prosperity.These housing markets have bucked the national trend in 2008 and avoided the subprime crisis, the consultancy says. Whatever the future holds for the housing market as a whole, Housing Predictor forecasts that these cities will continue to see steady, dependable growth.

Top cities and the percentage sales prices have increased so far in 2008.

Biloxi, Miss., 4.9 percent
Salem, Ore., 4.7 percent
Bismarck, N.D., 4.6 percent
Spokane, Wash., 4.4 percent
Yakima, Wash., 4.1 percent
Austin, Texas, 4.0 percent
Grand Junction, Colo., 4.0 percent
Fargo, N.D., 4.0 percent
Mobile, Ala., 3.9 percent
Albuquerque, N.M., 3.5 percent

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Free Gift Packs at Open House




Again today (1-4PM), I will be holding open a grand, 1948 home situated on a 7800 sq. ft. lot on top of Genesee Hill. Of course, it has a marvelous Sound and Mountain view. This one-owner home has 3 bedrooms, 2.75 baths and approximately 2300 sq. ft. of living space, plus an attached garage. The address is 5504 SW Dakota Street. The listing agent is my Prudential colleague, Travis Duty, and the list price is $659,999. MLS# 28135069

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Open House Today and Tomorrow








Both today (2-4PM) and tomorrow (1-4PM), I will be holding open a grand, 1948 home situated on a 7800 sq. ft. lot on top of Genesee Hill. Of course, it has a marvelous Sound and Mountain view. This one-owner home has 3 bedrooms, 2.75 baths and approximately 2300 sq. ft. of living space, plus an attached garage. The address is 5504 SW Dakota Street. The listing agent is my Prudential colleague, Travis Duty, and the list price is $659,999. MLS# 28135069

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Current loan rates


Here is the weekly recap on loan rate activity, as interpreted by Troy Chambers of Arboretum Mortgage:

Rates are slightly better than they were last week. Things are looking up, and the mortgage
business is booming. I hope more and more buyers are looking wonderful time to be purchasing! Please let me know if you need anything, as I am 425-418-5103.

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of loan rates.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This weekend's Open House







This Friday (2-4), Saturday (1-4) and Sunday (1-4), I will be holding open a grand, 1948 home situated on a 7800 sq. ft. lot on top of Genesee Hill. Of course, it has a marvelous Sound and Mountain view. This one-owner home has 3 bedrooms, 2.75 baths and approximately 2300 sq. ft. of living space, plus an attached garage. The address is 5504 SW Dakota Street. The listing agent is my Prudential colleague, Travis Duty, and the list price is $659,999. MLS# 28135069

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waiting for home prices to bottom out?

Are you thinking of buying a new home, but waiting until prices hit rock bottom? Here's what Brad Blackwell, of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, guest speaker at the recent housing forecast event, has to say about that: "Never try to time the bottom. You're going to miss it."

You can try, of course. And you may even get lucky, but the fact is that no one can tell you when we've hit the bottom until we are on our way back up. There are simply too many factors at play for anyone to make an accurate prediction. That's why you can find experts with years and years of experience in the fields of banking and real estate who will give you wildly different estimates of when the current trend will reverse itself. In the end, the best time to buy is when it's the best time FOR YOU.

If you (that is a plural or singular "you") have a reasonably secure job with a steady income, good credit and money for a downpayment, this is likely to be an excellent time for you to buy. Why? Prices have gone down, interest rates are still low, sellers are more willing to negotiate, and there is lots of inventory to choose from. And much of that inventory is of a higher quality than in the past because so many homeowners withdrew equity from their homes to remodel them in recent years!

There is a lot of fear in the marketplace right now. Many buyers have adopted a "wait and see" attitude. If you are ready to buy now, that can work to your advantage because there is less competition for the home you want. Those who wait until everyone else starts moving back into the market will face increased competition and therefore, increased prices!

Many buyers also back off during November and December because of bad weather and holiday bustle. Again, if you are ready to buy now, and choose not to wait, you are likely to come out ahead of the pack and save a significant amount of money.

If you are thinking that this information is all somewhat self-serving on my part, you are right! NEVERTHELESS, IT'S TRUE! In this case, what is good for me is also good for you. We all win! And that's just the way I like it.

Please give me a call today, and let's talk about how I can help you achieve your dream of buying your first -- or next -- home. 206-708-9800 Alice@AliceKuder.com

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Sunday's Open House




This Sunday from 1-4, I will be holding open a beautifully maintained, mid-century view home on the quiet end of California Avenue, down near Fauntleroy. This is a one-story home with a finished basement, 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths, listed by my colleagues Steve Henke and Jeralee Knittel for $645,000. For more details, scroll down to my "list of helpful link" and click on either the link for open houses or the link for finding homes listing in the MLS. The MLS # for this listing is 28169493.

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Current loan rates

Here is the weekly recap on loan and interest rate activity, from Troy Chambers of Arboretum Mortgage:

Looking Good!
Rates are down and buyers confidence is up! After a tough week in the market the rates leveled out for us, and there are many wonderful loan programs available. It is a good time to be looking for a home as prices are settling, rates are looking good, and more and more people are feeling that now is the time to sell.

As always, if you know of anyone who is in need of anything mortgage related, please let me know, as I am working all weekend. My mobile number is 425-418-5103.

Click here to see a table of current interest rates.

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Open House Gift Packs











Yes, today, Friday from 2PM until dusk, I will be holding open a terrific new-construction view townhome in the trendy Beacon Hill area. Actually, this new complex has 8 units, each with a different floor plan, and you are welcome to tour all 8, even though only one is officially on the market. This first unit to come on the market has 2 bedrooms and 2.25 baths, 1204 sq. ft. of living space, and shares a roof-top deck with neighboring units. MLS# 28173603. Listed by my Prudential colleague, Ken Arkills, for $439,000. To see more details, scroll down to my list of helpful links and click on the link to view available homes listed in the MLS.

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Earth 911


The following is reprinted from the December online edition of Northwest Reporter, published by Seattle-King County Association of Realtors:

Earth911, a public-private sector partnership founded in 1991, brings together hundreds of government, industry and nonprofit partners with businesses to promote resource reduction, reuse and recycling. Besides information on paper recycling (see paragraphs below), Earth911 provides tips for better stewardship of other everyday products, including metal, hazardous waste, plastic, glass, electronics, automotive, household, gardening, and construction.

Together with 1-800-CLEANUP, Earth911 has listings for more than 400,000 services and provides access to data for more than 74,000 locations for recycling, household hazardous waster disposal, reuse and more.

Earth911 is a division of the cause media company Global Alerts, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. (http://www.earth911.com/)

Earth 911 provides the following facts you may not know about recycling paper:

In 2007, more than half (56 percent) of paper used in the U.S. was recovered for recycling. By 2012, the paper industry hopes to raise that figure to 60 percent.

Viewed another way, the percentage of recycled paper averaged 360 pounds for every person in the country. If the 2012 goal is achieved, Earth911 – the nation’s official environmental information network -- estimates 60 million tons of paper will be recovered. (One million tons is enough to fill more than 14,000 railroad cars.)

Every ton of recycled paper can save:
17 trees
380 gallons of oil
more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space
4,000 kilowatts of energy
7,000 gallons of water

These savings represent a 64 percent energy saving, a 58 percent water saving, and 60 fewer pounds of air pollution.

Research indicates paper makes up the largest portion of the municipal waste stream and is also one of the most recovered materials.

Earth911 cites numerous direct and indirect benefits of recycling. These include conserving resources, preventing emissions of many greenhouse gases and water pollutants, saving energy, supplying valuable raw materials to industry, creating jobs, stimulating the growth of greener technologies and reducing the need for new landfills and incinerators.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday Open House!











Yes, TOMORROW, Friday from 2PM until dusk, I will be holding open a terrific new-construction view townhome in the trendy Beacon Hill area. Actually, this new complex has 8 units, each with a different floor plan, and you are welcome to tour all 8, even though only one is officially on the market. This first unit to come on the market has 2 bedrooms and 2.25 baths, 1204 sq. ft. of living space, and shares a roof-top deck with neighboring units. MLS# 28173603. Listed by my Prudential colleague, Ken Arkills, for $439,000. To see more details, scroll down to my list of helpful links and click on the link to view available homes listed in the MLS.

EVERYONE WHO VISITS ME AT MY OPEN HOUSE WILL RECEIVE A "THANK YOU" GIFT consisting of a variety of valuable coupons and special offers related to home ownership. For example, $50 off carpet cleaning services by Preferred Carpet Care; a free color consultation (valued at $250) and 10% off interior and exterior painting services by Aurea Painters; $50 off a home inspection by Home Inspections of Puget Sound; and many more! The total value of all the coupons combined is over $1000! These are coupons and offers that I have negotiated with local vendors and are AVAILABLE ONLY TO MY CLIENTS. I will be offering these gift packs at all my Open Houses for the foreseeable future, but I reserve the right to discontinue without notice, so don't delay!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Workshop for Landlords

The following is reprinted from the online edition of NWREporter December 2008, published by Seattle-King County Association of Realtors. I have never attended an event sponsored by TRENDS; my intention is not to endorse this event, merely to provide information which may be of value to my readers.


TRENDS is the premier annual education conference and trade show for Northwest rental housing ownership, management and maintenance. TRENDS provides the largest one-day rental housing management/ownership conference and trade show on the West Coast and is recognized as a national award-winning event.

For twenty-four years TRENDS has offered quality education programs and an excellent trade show and typically attracts 1,800 attendees.

This year, on December 11th from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, TRENDS attendees can benefit from an offering of over 40 education workshops and a trade show featuring 211 exhibitors.

For registration or more information, please visit www.trendsnw.com. Admission includes lunch, a chance to win $1,500, morning coffee, and, attendees may receive 3 Washington State Real Estate clock hours for an additional $20 over the early registration fee of $60.

A sampling of the 40 workshops offered at TRENDS ‘08 include:
Due Diligence' in evaluating a building for purchase
Risk Management for Property Managers and Owners
Strategies Using Landlord/Tenant Laws to enforce Lease obligations
Rental Marketing and Promotion on a Shoestring
Proper Use of Green Solutions- Energy Conservation and Apartments
Fair Housing and Maintenance
Beyond credit scores- establishing criteria for tenancy
Legislative Update
Legally navigating through: Domestic Violence; Drugs, Gang activity
Responding to Fair Housing complaints
Landlord-Tenant Act/Part I clock hours available
Evictions/Part II clock hours available
Evictions/Part III clock hours available
Avoidable mistakes Rental Property Owners Make
Successful marketing techniques for leasing
There is more to Maintenance than Nuts and Bolts
Balancing the Management in Mixed Use Buildings
Renovating your units and meeting economic balance

TRENDS is brought to you by: The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM); Washington Apartment Association (WAA) and Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound (RHA). Produced by Diamond Productions (425) 869-1444.

Tech gadgets & your carbon footprint

The following is reprinted from the December online edition of "Northwest Reporter" published by Seattle-King County Association of Realtors:

The amount of energy consumed by gadgets is rising rapidly at a time when consumption by refrigerators, air-conditioning units and other household appliances is dropping.

In 2001, the U.S. Department of Energy reported the average U.S. household used about 778 kilowatt-hours per year, with about 7 percent of total electricity use attributed to powering tech gadgets. That rose from 663 kilowatt hours per year in 1997, up from about 6 percent of total home electricity use. Some analysts predict in-home tech gadgets will consume 18 percent of a household’s energy use by 2015.

Many consumers are willing to pay higher utility bills as a tradeoff for the benefits the newer gadgets offer, but environmental advocates emphasize it isn't just a matter of higher energy bills. Rising demand means increased generation of greenhouse gases.

Part of the increase reflects the proliferation of devices, notably from cell phones, multiple PCs at home, DVRs, MP3 players and wireless routers. Bigger and faster gadgets are replacing older counterparts, and these often consume more power. Much of the energy is consumed when the devices aren’t even being used. For example, a cell phone's power plug that remains plugged in even when disconnected from the device still suck down electricity.

Horowitz says consumers can take steps to curb their energy use. Shutting off devices when they are not in use, adjusting settings so they consumer less power and choosing gadgets with the government’s "Energy Star" rating are among tips he offers. He estimates consumers can lower their power bills by 5 percent just by doing things like turning off their gadgets when they’re not using them.

Electricity usage meters can reveal how much energy is consumed by particular devices when they are in use, on standby or simply plugged in. One such device, the P3 International Kill A Watt, retails for under $20.

SmartMoney.com, in a report published earlier this year, offered four tips for reducing gadgets’ energy consumption:

1. Invest in newer model power strips. Power strips can save time and money, allowing you to shut off multiple devices with the flick of a switch. "Smart" strips can know to power off peripherals when one component is shut down, such as a TV as part of an entertainment center or computer as part of a home office.

2. Consider smart-home upgrades. Special outlets, switches and sensors can communicate wireless with home computers or smart phones. Using home management software, consumers can access and control any connected device. A do-it-yourself starter kit starts at around $50.

3. Reconfigure gadget settings. Chose products with standby modes or other energy-saving settings. Free software from Edison PC Power Management enables you to select different energy-efficiency settings for work time and non-work time.

4. Buy energy-efficient models. Compare a model’s energy consumption. Look for Energy Star labels. (An Energy Star-certified external power adaptor for MP3 players, digital cameras or laptops tend to use 30 percent less energy than conventional models.)

More tips are available from the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry trade group that advocates voluntary, rather than government-imposed efficiency standards. Consumers can search for energy-efficient tech products and use an energy calculator to determine what it costs to power various electronics by visiting http://www.mygreenelectronics.org./

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Latest Market Tracker Report available

The October Market Tracker report -- the most recent available, as statistics are always from the previous month -- are now available here and on my Prudential website. This report is in the form of 4 separate graphs which track sales statistics for homes in a particular zip code. I have posted reports for zip codes 98106, 98116, 98126, 98135 and 98146; others are available for the asking.

Contact me to have the Market Tracker e-mailed to you on (or about) the 9th of each month, or just pull it up on the Home page of my main website, www.AliceKuder.pnwRealty.com

Click on the zip code to download a PDF file copy of the report.
98106, 98116, 98126, 98136, 98146

Friday, November 7, 2008

This weekend's Open House

For the next three days I will be holding an Open House at a like-new, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhome near Morgan Junction. Built in 2006, this unit sparkles. Seriously, it has been so well cared for that it's hard to believe anyone has ever lived in it. AND it's got a fabulous view! The address is 6330-A 42nd Av SW, just off Fauntleroy. MLS #28178010, listed by Ken Knoke for $366,000. I will be there this afternoon (Friday, 11/7) from approx. 2:30-5 and both Saturday and Sunday from 1-4. Just look for my signs on the nearby streets.

As always, you can find more information about this property -- and any listed property -- on my website www.AliceKuder.pnwRealty.com

Current loan rates

Here is a recap on mortgage rate activity for the past week, courtesy of Troy Chambers, loan officer for Arboretum Mortgage.

Rates Are Coming Back!
After a very poor week last week, we have seen a change in the rates! They were very good on Thursday, went up a bit on Friday, but are still much lower than they were just 7 days ago. Business is going well and now is the time to be shaking things up! Please let me know if you have any questions related to mortgages, and I will be happy to help out! Please contact me on my cell phone any time, 425-418-5103.

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of current loan rates.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

West Seattle Home Sales Stats

Here are some relevant home sales statistics for the West Seattle area. These numbers are culled from reports compiled and published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, and are the most current available.

#of Homes & Condos available for sale:
Sept. 2007 = 712
Sept. 2008 = 727

Average Days on Market (DOM) for Properties Sold:
Sept. 2007 = 51
Sept. 2008 = 65
Note: DOM for King County as a whole is currently 75

Average Sales Price of Properties Sold:
Sept. 2007 = $445,556
Sept. 2008 = $442,642
Note: for King County, the figure is $487,200

# of Sales Year-to-Date:
Sept. 2007 = 1,641
Sept. 2008 = 1,043

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Buying Up, in a Down Market

Are you under the impression that this is a bad time to sell your home because home prices have gone down? That may be true IF you are going to sell your home WITHOUT buying another home. The fact is that most homeowners sell their current home to buy another home. And most sellers "buy up," meaning that their new home is nicer and more expensive than their previous home. Statistically, the new home is usually about 1.5 times the value of the home they sell. So "buying up in a down market" refers to the opportunity for homeowners to take advantage of current market conditions to buy a more expensive home than they might otherwise be able to afford.

Consider this example:
The Smiths own a home that appraised in 2006 for $300,000. To keep the math simple, let's say that homes in their area lost 10% of their value in the past two years. This means that their home is now worth $270,000.
($300,000 - $30,000 = $270,000)

The home they want to buy appraised for $450,000 two years ago. It too, declined in value by 10%, so that home is now selling for $405,000.
($450,000 - $45,000 = $405,000)

Accordingly, although they received $30,000 less for their home than they might have at the peak of the market, they are paying $45,000 less for their new home, for a difference of $15,000 in their favor.

Think it's a bad time to sell? Think again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Another tool for fighting credit card fraud

This information is only loosely related to real estate -- you need good credit to buy property, after all -- but important enough that I want to spread the word.

Effective September 1, 2008, all Washington residents are able to freeze their credit reports, which makes it nearly impossible for an unauthorized person to open a credit account in your name. Previously, only those who were already victims of identity theft were eligible to instigate such a freeze.

A security freeze bars credit bureaus from sending your financial history and credit scores to potential creditors without your authorization by requiring a PIN (personal identification number) code to temporarily lift the freeze.

To implement a security freeze, send a letter and documentation of your identity to the three major credit-reporting agencies, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

If you are 65 or older, the service is free. If you are under 65 years of age, the cost is $10/agency. The charge to lift a freeze varies by agency.

For details, go to www.atg.wa.gov.

I hope you will take advantage of this valuable option and communicate your appreciation to our legislators.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Do you know The Secret?

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed the recent addition of a clickable icon in the right hand column concerning "The Secret." I've included this because the principles of the Law of Attraction paly an important part in my work style and philosophy. If you'd like to know more, clicking on the icon will take you to a website that will provide lots of information. Also, feel free to ask me about my own experience of incorporating The Secret into my own life.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Should you list during the holidays?

Conventional wisdom holds that November/December is a bad time to sell a home. Is this fact or fiction? Although home sales are traditionally lower this time of year, being on the market during the holidays can get you a head start on those who wait until January to list their home.

While fewer buyers are looking during the November and December, the showings that you do get will probably have better prospects at this time of year than any other. Why?
Ø Fewer homes are on the market during the holidays, so you will have less competition
Ø Many of the buyers are in a “MUST BUY” situation due to job transfers and the like.
Ø Most homes have a very comfortable and warm feeling when shown fully decorated. This appeals to buyers’ emotions, which encourages them to buy.
Ø Many buyers during the holiday season are “Out-of-Towners” who are taking vacation time to search for a home. They are more likely to buy a home they have seen in person than one they have seen only online. These are buyers who will not see your home if you wait until after the first of the year to list.

Keep in mind that the average showing takes just 10-20 minutes and can be scheduled at your convenience. You are in control. You can always say “no” to a showing or reschedule it for a different time. What a great excuse to take a leisurely stroll and admire the lights!

And remember, you could get an offer and be SOLD and CLOSED before the New Year! Now that is a real reason to celebrate! Call me today to discuss your options. 206-708-9800.

Friday, October 31, 2008

If real estate was a stock...

A colleague of mine made a very interesting comment today. He said, 'If real estate was a stock, no one would hesitate to buy right now.'

And he's right. Prices are low and interest rates are still good. Two years from now, anyone who had money to invest in real estate, but didn't, is going to be kicking himself (or herself).

If you have good credit and money to invest, why hold off?

If you'd like to discuss your options or just explore the market, give me a call ... today. 206-708-9800.

Current interest rates

Here's the weekly recap of loan rate activity from our friend at Arboretum Mortgage, Troy Chambers:

Honestly …

Mortgage rates are not that great right now. They aren’t bad, and they still are under 7% across
the board, but they are definitely not great! On the bright side, home sale are on the rise … and
this whole thing may be turning around. If we can get the rates to drop just a bit, we will see a
flood of sales, and the perfect place may pop up! Hang tight and we will get through thistogether.

Have a great week and call me with any mortgage needs. Please contact me on my cell phone
at 425-418-5103.


Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of current loans rates.

Party time!

I won't be holding an Open House this weekend (a rare non-event for me). Instead I will be hosting a communal 50th Birthday Bash for my high school class down in my hometown of Centralia. Happy Halloween. See you next weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Home design trends

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News October 20, 2008

"Katherine Salant, nationally syndicated columnist and author of The Brand-New House Book,says houses designed with both a master and second bedroom on the first floor have become the most popular because they appeal to all age groups. Young couples use the second bedroom as a nursery. Middle-age couples use it to keep aging parents close by, and older couples like the design because their differing sleep patterns make sharing a bedroom difficult, Salant says.

Here are other trends Salant points to:

The newest variation on the home office is a completely separate office space, connected to the house by a hallway or a breezeway.

Kitchens are getting smaller, but they are connected to much larger dining areas, often with a center island where family members can sit while they have an informal meal.

Oversized family rooms with high ceilings are giving way to smaller, cozier rooms with lower ceilings.

Home theaters have lost much appeal because people don't want to watch television in a separate area of the home. TV viewing is a more informal activity that people engage in while they're doing other things like cooking or getting ready for work."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mortgage Market Still Open for Business

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News October 20, 2008

"Lenders emphasize that loans continue to be available for a range of potential home buyers, not just those who are putting down 20 percent and have a credit score higher than 720.

Although credit underwriting is tougher and loan terms stricter, borrowers can still put down 3 percent (3.5 percent after Jan. 1) on an FHA-insured mortgage and 5 percent on some Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan programs with private mortgage insurance. FHA standards are designed to help people with problem credit and those with scores in the upper 600s can still qualify for loans with reasonable rates offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Maximum loans in high-cost markets are capped at $729,750 through December. In June, they are expected to fall to approximately $625,000. "I don't think consumers really know how free-flowing capital is right now in the residential mortgage market. There are no shortages, no breakdowns. People ought to be aware of that," says Jeff Lipes, president of Family Choice Mortgage."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mortgage Rates Drop to 5-Week Low

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News October 24, 2008

"Mortgage rates moved south this week, reaching their lowest point in five weeks, according to Freddie Mac's nationwide survey. The company reported a drop in the average interest on a 30-year fixed loan to 6.04 percent from 6.46 percent last week and a slide in the 15-year fixed rate to 5.72 percent from 6.14 percent. Meanwhile, interest on adjustable-rate mortgages slipped to 6.06 percent from 6.14 percent for five-year ARMs but bumped up to 5.23 percent from 5.16 percent for one-year ARMs. "

Fauntlee Hills Rambler




This Sunday, 10/26, from 1-4 I will be holding open a one-level, mid-Century home in Fauntlee Hills. It has a fabulous view of Puget Sound from the large entertainment deck on the front of the house. The home sits high above street level but also has a level entrance from the carport off the back of the house. Listed by Prudential Agent, Ken Arkills, at $599,950. The address is 8806 39th Ave SW, cross street is Henderson. MLS# 28143401.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rave review

I'm a big fan of live theater, so I want to pass along my rave review for ACT Theater's current production, "Becky's New Car." It's difficult to describe what it's about -- sort of a situation comedy -- exceptionally funny! Very well written, well acted and well directed! The whole audience howled during the preview performance I saw last night. Do yourself a favor and go!

Monday, October 20, 2008

5 Ways to Give Your Home Character

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News October 17, 2008

"Far too many of today's homes and communities lack character, says urban designer and author Marianne Cusato, a featured speaker at this week's Sustainable Development & Restoration Summit in Newport, R.I.

Urban sprawl is largely responsible for poorly constructed communities popping up across the country, Cusato says. It's resulting in homes that lack energy efficiency, cities with poor layouts, and long, congested commutes.

So how do you avoid the cookie-cutter look and create a sense of identity for your house? Start by using older homes as a model, Cusato suggested.

Use four-sided architecture. Many home designs focus exclusively on the front, but the side of the home can be just as important and prominent. For example, windows on the side of a home are not only aesthetically pleasing but they also are functional – they offer cross-ventilation for cooling the home during the summer months to curb air conditioning costs and they allow more light to enter the home.

Use color. Think beyond beige. Color can add more identity to a house. For example, if all the homes on the block have the same architecture, the color of the exterior can be one way to differentiate and add more character to the home.

Less is more. Don’t overdo it on design elements to the exterior of a home; Too many details can make a home lose character. Focus on creating a hierarchy of most important elements. For example, the entryway and the side windows are prominent areas.

Be functional, not just stylish. Shutters along a window of a home that aren’t functional and don’t close, don’t make much sense. The towering, grandiose entryways on many McMansions won’t provide much covering when it’s raining outside. One aspect of good design is that it’s functional, Cusato said.

Connect with the outdoors. The home doesn’t have to be as big inside if it offers livable outdoor space. For example, a side private garden, front porch, and a public area near the house can connect home owners more to the outdoors."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Buying real estate with friends?

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News October 14, 2008

Co-Ownership Gets Popular as Lending Tightens

"Real estate co-ownership arrangements are becoming increasingly popular, especially in cities where prices—even after the real estate meltdown—remain out of reach for many buyers.

"Lending guidelines have become twice as hard to meet because of the housing market," says Joe Schiller, an associate with Rubloff Real Estate in Chicago. "People just don't qualify like they used to. But if they get some friends and put money together, they can afford that 20 percent down that you now need to purchase."

Schiller says that while financing is easier, these arrangements have the capacity to fail. He recommends that people who are considering a joint purchase hire a lawyer to draw up a co-ownership agreement, including a plan to get out of the arrangement.Here are some other tips for co-buyers:

Before you begin looking for property, decide the geographic and financial ranges for the search.

Understand potential co-buyers’ finances; lenders will look hard at the finances of all partners in the deal.

If the property is a condo, understand the rules regarding rentals, just in case one partner needs to move out.

Put everything in writing, particularly the escape plan."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Interest Rates vs. Prices

If you have been considering buying a home, and waiting for prices to go down some more, keep in mind that the fluctuation in mortgage loan rates is AT LEAST as significant as price in determining your monthly payments. Consider the information below:

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News October 17, 2008

"30-Year Rates Rise to 8-Week High

Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose this week to an 8-week high, according to Freddie Mac, while ARM rates showed smaller gains.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 6.46 percent during the week ended Oct. 16, up from 5.94 percent the prior week.

Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 6.40 percent. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate climbed to 6.14 percent from 5.63 percent over the same period."

This weekend's Open House


Did you know there are view homes in the Puget Ridge area of West Seattle? Did you even know there IS an area called Puget Ridge? Yep, it's an area just West of the Duwamish, overlooking the city of Seattle, and much of it is also cushioned by protected green belt.

The home I will be holding Open today and tomorrow from 1-4PM is located at 5250 16th Ave SW, just blocks from South Seattle Community College. This 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath home was custom built in 1992 and has a terrific view of downtown Seattle from both the living room and the Master Bedroom. Arguably the nicest home in the neighborhood, it sits on an 11,000 sq. ft. lot and boasts 3900 sq. ft. of living space, including a finished basement. Offered at $775,000 by my Prudential colleagues George Butterfield and Chris Koelling. Come by and take a look!


Current loan rates

Here is the weekly update on mortgage loan rates, courtesy of Troy Chambers, Loan Officer for Arboretum Mortgage.

"Rates are pretty stable in the mid 6’s right now. We are all waiting to see what will happen with
the economy as well as the rates. If you have any questions regarding mortgages please contact
me on my cell at 425-418-5103. I am always available!"

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of current loans and rates.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tax Break for "Green" Cars!

Okay, so this has little or nothing to do with real estate, but I was so excited to read this that I wanted to share it with as many people as possible!

Reprinted from: NWREporter November 2008

Purchases of new clean alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids that get at least 40 miles per gallon highway will be exempt from sales tax beginning Jan. 1, 2009.

The exemption was enacted by the Legislature in 2005 with a delayed effective date. The exemption is effective through Dec. 31, 2010. It includes the 0.3 percent motor vehicle sales tax.

Qualifying vehicles include new passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles that:
Are powered by clean alternative fuels such as natural gas, propane, hydrogen or electricity; or
Use hybrid technology and have an estimated EPA highway mileage rating of at least 40 miles per gallon.

Any payment or deposit made toward the purchase of a qualifying vehicle before January 1, 2009 still qualifies for the tax exemption as long as the vehicle is registered, titled, and delivered to the purchaser from January l, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2010.

The exemptions also generally apply to leases and out-of-state purchases of new qualifying vehicles. Purchases of new vehicles that the sellers convert into qualifying vehicles prior to or as part of the sale also qualify for the exemptions.

More information is available through a special notice sent to automobile dealers. The notice is available at http://dor.wa.gov/docs/pubs/specialnotices/2008/sn_08_greenvehicleexmpt.pdf

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Free Homebuyer Education Seminar

On Saturdays, Oct. 25 & Nov. 8th, David Todd, Loan Officer for Northwest Mortgage Alliance, and I will be offering FREE Homebuyer Education Seminars. These seminars originate from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission and are NOT designed to sell you a home. Rather the purpose is to give you an opportunity to explore and learn about the process of buying a home, including financing options and downpayment assistance.

For more information or to register, click here or give me a call at 206-708-9800.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

First-Time Buyer Tax Credit: A Reason to Buy Now

Reprinted, in part, from Daily Real Estate News October 8, 2008

If you've been contemplating a home purchase, the homeownership tax credit that the federal government created earlier this year is a reason to jump off the fence and get into the market. When you combine the tax credit with today’s continuing low interest rates, large selection of for-sale inventory, and low home prices, many of the pieces are in place to buy now.

How the Tax Credit Works:
The First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit was passed this year as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (H.R. 3221) on July 30 and targets any individual or household that hasn’t owned a home for at least three years. Taxpayers can take the credit on their 2008 tax return if they bought their house this year after April 9. It’s worth up to $7,500 and can be taken in a single tax year. Authorization for the credit ends July 1, 2009, so if you wait to buy in the first half of 2009 you can take the credit on your 2009 tax return. The actual credit amount is set as a percentage of the home purchase amount. That percentage amount is 10 percent, so you can get 10 percent of the home price credited against your tax liability, up to a maximum $7,500.

Income limits are $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for households. Individuals whose income exceeds the $75,000 limit but isn’t more than $95,000 can still take the credit but on a reduced basis. The same thing applies to households earning up to $170,000.

Any house is eligible as long as it’s a primary residence and is in the United States.

Buyers Have 15 Years to Pay Back:
To help keep the program cost effective for taxpayers, the federal government requires the tax credit to be paid back in small, 6.67-percent increments over 15 years. For that reason, some analysts have likened the credit to a 15-year, interest-free loan to help make home buying affordable. There’s one restriction on the type of financing that you can use if you plan to take the credit. That restriction is on tax-exempt mortgage financing. That only applies if you are using below-market interest-rate financing from a public agency or nonprofit that’s funding the loan using proceeds from a tax-exempt mortgage-revenue bond issue. For most buyers, this won’t be an issue. It’s mainly an issue for low-income buyers using special mortgage financing.

The IRS Web site offers tax-credit guidance in an article that provides answers to many frequently asked questions.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This weekend's Open House




This Saturday and Sunday from 1-4PM I will be holding open a remodeled 1909 Alki-area Craftsman home. This is a two-story home with a finished basement totaling 2350 sq. feet of living space. The 5750 sq. ft lot has a terrific view of the Sound from both the living room and the Master bedroom. To add an element of fun and mystery to the home, there is a secret staircase leading from the living room to the lower level. You really need to stop by just to see it. The address is 5615 SW Winthrop St., just off Admiral Way at 56th Av SW. The home is listed by George Butterfield and Chris Koelling for $650,000. It is also available for rent at $2500/mo. MLS# 28134316

Current loan rates

Troy Chambers, loan officer for Arboretum Mortgage, offers this synopsis of loan rate activity for the week just ending:


Not a Good Week…
This has not been a good week for interest rates. Rates that I quoted on Monday and Tuesday are now undeliverable. Not only are stocks selling off … bonds are down as well. This is not making for a solid mortgage rate market. I truly believe this is a little burp in the interest rates, and before too long they will come back down. Please let me know if you have any questions, or any concerns. I am available at all times on my cell phone at 425-418-5103.

Thanks!


Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com



Click here to see a table of loan programs and rates.

Open House this evening (Friday!)

This evening from 3-5P (and maybe later) I will be holding open my listing at 4147 37th Ave SW (cross street Genesee) in the Belvidere neighborhood. This estate property is definitely a "fixer" -- a great opportunity for someone who wants to invest "sweat equity." Listed at $362,00, the sellers will consider all written offers.

Click here to see a flyer with more details.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rewarding the good

For the 14th consecutive year, Prudential is sponsoring its annual Spirit of Community Awards. This unique program provides an opportunity to recognize and reward middle school and high school students who have distinguished themselves through volunteer work in their community or school. State level prizes include a $1,000 award and a trip to Washington, D.C. next spring, accompanied by a parent. The top national award is for up to $5,000.

If you know a student who might qualify and like to apply, please give me a call at 206-708-9800 and I will give you all the necessary details.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Great Depression? A bit of perspective

Reprinted from: Daily Real Estate News September 23, 2008

This Is Not the Great Depression.

Comparing the current crisis to the Great Depression is just plain wrong, say historians and veteran financial experts.

"The nomenclature of the word 'crisis' has cheapened," says Roy Smith, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business and former partner at Goldman Sachs .

“The Great Depression had thousands of banks failing and people losing their life savings, 25 percent unemployment and social unrest and tent cities of the poor," says Allan Sloan, Washington Post and Fortune magazine columnist.

"With just 6 percent unemployment, we are having a debate as to whether we are even in a recession," says Richard Sylla, professor of the history of financial institutions and markets at New York University.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Food bank donation opportunity


I will not be holding an Open House this Saturday, as Prudential is sponsoring its annual event to gather donations for the local food banks. "Global Volunteer Day" is an opportunity for Prudential agents to show our appreciation for the community which supports us. We, in turn, invite you to help us help our neighbors in need. We are all aware that many families are experiencing difficult financial times right now. Supporting our local food banks is one easy way we can all pitch in to relieve some of the pressure.


Volunteers from Prudential will be on hand from 10A-2P this Saturday, Oct. 4 at both the Morgan Street Thriftway and the PCC on California Ave. Please stop by to shop and drop off a donation of canned food or cash. If you'd like to donate, but cannot make it to one of the locations, give me a call at 206-708-9800 and I will be happy to come by and pick up your donation and deliver it to the food bank.

Bitter Lake condo $229,700

My latest listing is a 3 bedroom/1.5 bath condo at 14012 Greenwood Ave N #3, in the Bitter Lake area of North Seattle. This is a spacious end-unit in a small (just 3 units), older complex (built 1965). The unit has not been updated, but is in pristine condition. All three bedrooms are on the upper level. Unlike many condos, it has a landscaped backyard and covered patio area, as well. MLS #28162795 Co-listing agent is my Prudential colleague, Laura Timlick.

Click here to see a flier about the property.

Current loan rates

Here's is the weekly recap of loan rate activity, courtesy of Loan Officer Troy Chambers, Arboretum Mortgage.

"Rates are steady …
Rates have settled down quite a bit. There is virtually no change since last week. However; the bond market is rallying, and we may see better rates towards the beginning of next week.

Please let me know if you need anything, as I am always available to help in any way I can. Feel free to call my mobile at 425-418-5103."

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of current loan rates.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fauntlee Hills View Home

This Sunday, from 1-4, I will be holding open a beautifully remodeled mid-century home in Fauntlee Hills. This is a one-story, 2 bedroom, 1.75 bath home with a spectacular view of the Sound and Mountains. The address is 8806 39th Ave SW (cross street is Henderson). Listed at $599,950 by Ken Arkills of Prudential.

Current loan rates

Here is Troy's synopsis of this past week's loan rate activity:

"Rates are holding steady at the same point they were last week at this time. The financial market is in somewhat of an upheaval, but rates remain steady. People are definitely purchasing, so now is a good time to be making your move in real estate. I am here to help in any way possible. Please feel free to call my cell at 425-418-5103.

And don’t worry, I don’t broker deals to WaMu.

Have a great weekend!"

Troy Chambers
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340
troy@arboretummortgage.com

Click here to see a table of rates.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Listing: Belvidere Fixer w/ a View!

I just listed a new property in the Belvidere neighborhood of West Seattle, 4147 37th Ave SW. This is sweet little 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home built in 1918. It sits regally above the street among numerous trees. The house has great bones, but has been seriously neglected in recent years and needs A LOT of work to bring it back to its former glory. Definitely a "sweat equity opportunity." Click here to see an e-flyer with more details, or go to my Prudential website at www.AliceKuder.pnwRealty.com and click on the "Featured Properties" section. MLS# 28158549 List price is $362,000