Saturday, May 31, 2008

Where am I?

Forgot to let you know where I'm holding my Open House this weekend. Today and tomorrow from 1-4P I am at 7334 34th Av SW. This is a completely remodeled 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom split level in the north Westwood area. It is arguably the biggest and best home in the neighborhood. 2360 sq. ft. of living space includes gorgeous hardwood floors, granite countertops in kitchen and bathrooms, Viking appliances, a second kitchen and more. Come take a look and say hello. Listed by my Prudential colleague, Danielle Williams, for $599,950. MLS#28065324

Housing Prices down, interest rates up

One thing some people forget while they are waiting for housing prices to come down is that the savings can be minimal-to-none if the interest rates rise in the mean time. The best time to buy, of course, is when prices are down AND interest rates are low. It's difficult to predict either eventuality, let alone both.

Freddie Mac reports a jump in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 6.08 percent during the week ended May 29 from 5.98 percent the prior week, marking a two-month high triggered by investor concern over inflation.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thinking of renting out your condo?

The following article was recently published in "Real Estate News."

"Condo owners who can’t sell their units often consider leasing the space to tenants until the market improves. Yet, increasingly, such owners are discovering that their condo association has rules preventing them from doing so.

Rental policies vary by condo association, but generally associations limit the percentage of units that can be occupied by tenants. Some communities require owners to submit the lease they plan to use to the condo board for approval.

The rental restrictions are meant to guard against the condo being viewed as a risky investment by lenders who believe that buildings with a high concentration of rentals are harder to market to homebuyers. Fannie Mae will not guarantee a loan for a condo in which renters make up more than 49 percent of the occupants.

The rules generally stem from a feeling that renters don’t take good care of a unit and can reduce the value of the unit."

What do you think? Should condo associations regulate your ability to rent out your unit?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Free workshops for fist time homebuyers

Did you know that the State of Washington sponsors free seminars for first-time homebuyers? The Washington State Housing and Finance Commission (WSHFC) is a self-supporting (i.e. no tax dollars are used to fund it) agency dedicated to helping families and individuals become home owners. The Commission administers a variety of low-cost State loan programs and also provides information and resources about other funding sources, including downpayment assistance programs.

I recently completed training to present these free seminars. I will be offering them in the West Seattle area beginning in late July. Here is a link to information about the seminars we will be offering in late July. http://tlcollect.com/vf/7630q9593U7165Juz Meanwhile, there are many other opportunities to attend homebuyer education workshops. To find a date and location that fits your needs, click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.wshfc.org/ Then scroll down to the heading "Programs" and click on the icon (seen above) for Homebuyer Education. Or give me a call and I will be happy to give you more information myself. 206-708-9800.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Helpful skills for homeowners

Finding your dream house is one thing, maintaining it is another. Following is a list of 8 easy-to-master skills every home owner should learn. Knowing how to do these tasks yourself can save you thousands of dollars over the years. Visit the eHow website (www.eHow.com) for easy-to-follow instructions on how to complete these projects and hundreds more!

Replace a door lock.
Change furnace and air conditioning filters.
Find a stud in wall.
Learn to install wall anchors.
Hang a ceiling fan.
Drive drywall screws (to repair drywall).
Master a caulking gun.
Replace the flapper ball in the toilet.

What skills would you add to the list?

Source: Daily Real Estate News May 20, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Free credit reports

Have you noticed the TV commercials for websites that reportedly provide you with free credit reports? Beware. According to the May 2008 issue of AARP Bulletin, "There's only one legitimate entity that provides free yearly credit reports from the three reporting bureaus: www.annualcreditreport.com." Other sites are likely to have hidden fees or charge automatic fees if you don't cancel a membership after a certain period of time. If you receive unsolicited e-mail offering free credit reports, again, beware. These can be phishing scams or spammers who want to steal your personal information.

The bottom line? www.annualcreditreport.com offers you everything you need -- and it's REALLY free -- so don't even consider other sites. One caveat, even annualcreditreport.com does NOT provide your credit SCORES for free. A credit REPORT consists of information about your credit history, but not necessarily your scores. And the site features adds from for-profit entities inviting you to purchase various services -- usually for very low fees -- including your credit scores. My lender tells me that these scores do not match those that he pulls up when checking your credit for a loan, so they are pretty worthless. Live and learn.

How about you? Have you had any good and/or bad experiences when researching your credit history/scores?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wanted: Master Suites!

Consumer tastes and preferences are constantly changing (evolving?) even in the realm of real estate. Although the average size of the American family continues to decrease, the average size of our homes has increased from 983 sq. ft. in 1950 to 2,434 sq. ft. in 2005! As time goes on we seem to feel a need for more space for any number of activities.

Reportedly, the most recent desire among home buyers is for large Master bedrooms -- make that Master Suites -- which often include not only a walk-in closet and master bath, but also a sitting room, fireplace and sometimes a kitchenette. Many buyers now prefer that the Master Suite be located on the main floor. Alternatively, some buyers prefer twins Masters.

Oversized garages are also in great demand, often with room for 3 cars, and a boat or RV.

How about you? How much square footage do you need and/or desire? If you could design your own new home, how would you distribute the square footage?

Source: much of the content of this entry was taken from an article on page 2 of the Real Estate section of today's Seattle Times/P-I. The article is not available online.