Friday, July 11, 2008

Home Sale Stats for June

Here is a summary of home sales statistics for King County and West Seattle for June, as provided by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service:

Number of Homes & Condominiums Available for Sale

KC: 15,831

West Sea: 750

Average Days on Market - Sold Properties

KC: 75

West Sea: 69

Average Sales Price

KC: $502,727

West Sea: $473,517

Number of Sales (Year to Date)

KC: 11,204

West Sea: 706

Current loan rates

Here's a loan officer's perspective on last week's mortgage rate movement:

"Finally some relief! Rates have gotten better this week, and may continue to drop. I think this may be the start of the “pre-election rate slide” we typically see. Take a deep breath, as it feels very good to see rates inching back towards 6.00%. I am available all weekend, as always, so feel free to send anyone you know my way. I will do all I can to help out with purchases OR refinances. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the weather!"

Troy Chambers
Loan Officer
Arboretum Mortgage
Phone: 206-720-6628
Fax: 206-860-9340

Click here to see a table of current loan rates.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Loan fees: are you paying too much?

If you've ever taken out a home loan, you know how confusing it can be to compare loan costs because not all lenders charge the same fees. A recent article in the Seattle Times/P-I explains that lenders derive their profit from two sources. First is the interest from the loan itself. Second is revenue from a variety of fees that are wrapped into the cost of the loan and paid at closing. Some fees are considered (by those of us not in the lending industry, at least) to be"legitimate" fees and others are considered to be "junk fees." The term "junk fee" refers to a fee for a service that doesn't really cost the lender much, if anything, on his/her end and could reasonably be expected to be part of normal service. For example, application fees, processing fees, document preparation fees, notary fees, etc.

You are probably aware that there is a difference between the loan rate you are quoted (the average rate for a 30-yr. fixed-rate conventional loan was 6.35% this week) and the APR (annual percentage rate) you actually pay. This is because the "actual APR" includes the costs of all the additional fees, whether they be legit or junk.

Here is a handy rule-of-thumb quoted in the aforementioned article: "If the APR is .75 to 1 percentage point higher than the interest rate you were quoted, chances are the loan is stuffed with fees."

How about it, lenders? If you are reading this, please comment on how you see things from your point of view.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

West Seattle Summer Fest

West Seattle’s annual Summer Fest is coming up July 11-13 in Alaska Junction. If you’ve never gone before, I recommend that you give it a whirl. There’s lots to see & do for all ages, & most of it’s free.

Prudential will be hosting a booth in front of Talarico’s Pizzeria again this year, & I will be helping to staff it several hours each day. (See below for specifics.) Activities & give-aways will vary with the agents tending the booth. We will be giving away lots of free stuff as enticements to converse with us about local real estate. During my stints we will have free tattoos & a ball-toss with prizes for the kids, & free T-shirts for adults who register to receive one of Prudential’s monthly market reports ~ either Market Tracker, Property Investment Profile or our e-newsletter.

I hope you will stop by and say “hello.”

I will be on hand at the Prudential booth at the following times:
Friday, July 11th 2-4PM & 6-8PM
Saturday, July 12th 10-Noon, 2-4 & 6-8PM
Sunday, July 13th 10-Noon & 2-4PM

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New consumer protection law

Here's more info about the new consumer protection law recently enacted by our State legislature.

The following text is reprinted from a press release issued by the office of Attorney General Rob McKenna. The full text can be found at www.atg.wa.gov.

A new state law to help protect financially strapped homeowners from equity skimming and foreclosure rescue scams in Washington went into effect June 12, 2008. The new law provides safeguards for people trying to stop the loss of their home and requires new disclosures and responsibilities for individuals claiming to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The new law addresses two common types of foreclosure rescue scheme perpetrators:
1) Distressed home purchasers, who lead homeowners to sign over the deed to their property by promising to sell the home back once the homeowners get back on their feet financially and allowing them to remain in the home as tenants in the meantime.
2) Distress home consultants, who offer phantom help to homeowners in financial distress, typically with false promises toe “stop the foreclosure” or “save the home.”

Distressed Homeowner Protections: The following distressed homeowner protections apply only when a purchase agreement includes an offer for the original homeowner to lease the home and buy it back or receive a portion of proceeds of any resale:

Distressed home purchasers must provide homeowners with a written contract completely describing the terms of the sale and giving the homeowner a right to cancel the sale for within five days.
• Prior to the sale, the purchaser must verify that the homeowner has the ability to make rental payments and to buy the home back.
• If the homeowner is unable to buy the home back, he or she must receive at least 82 percent of the fair market value of the home at the time the homeowner loses possession of the home.
• A homeowner injured by a violation of the statute may collect up to three times the amount of actual damages, not to exceed $100,000.

If you believe you are a victim of an equity skimming or foreclosure rescue scam, here’s what to do:

1. File a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office either online at: http://atg.wa.gov/FileAComplaint.aspx or by mail. You may call our Consumer Resource Center at 1-800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays to request a form.
2. Speak with a homeownership counselor. Contact the Washington State Homeownership Information Hotline at 1-877-894-HOME (1-877-894-4663) or visit www.homeownership.wa.gov for a list of counselors in your area.
3. Consult with an attorney. Low-income residents can contact the Northwest Justice Project’s legal aid advice and referral hotline (1-888-201-1014) – called CLEAR – weekdays from 9:15 a.m. until 12:15 p.m., and Tuesdays from 3:30 p.m. until 6:15 p.m. If you are 60 or over you may call CLEAR*Sr at 1-888-387-7111 regardless of income.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Give your kitchen a mini-makeover

Want to freshen up the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank? Here are some suggestions to help you accomplish just that. (Adapted from Consumer Reports, Aug. 2008)

1. Replace the backsplash: the wall space between the top of the counter and the bottom of the cupboards is a great place to add color or contrast without requiring big bucks. Consider new paint, ceramic tile, glass tile or stone.

2. Spruce up the cabinets: New cabinets often involve major expense, but if your existing cupboards are structurally sound, you can breath new life into them with a chemical refinisher, stain or paint. Add inexpensive organizers to increase accessibility and capacity. Consider adding crown molding to the top for a touch of class.

3. Re-use, Recycle, Refresh: Scout out salvage shops in your community &/or online for reusable (and steeply discounted) items such as stone countertops, hardwood flooring, kitchen cupboards, and more. Try www.FreeCycle.org, www.SharingIsGiving.org, and www.FreeSharing.org, for starters.

4. Upgrade Appliances: If your appliances are near the end of their useful lives, this might be the right time to replace them with new energy efficient models. Check with your utility company to see if it offers incentives and/or assistance in hauling away the old units.

5. Update Lighting Fixtures: Nothing dates a kitchen more than fluorescent lighting. Replace it with undercabinet task lights, pendant lamps and/or modern track lighting.

6. Add an Island: If space allows, consider adding an island (either stationary or on casters), or refinishing an existing island. Islands add work/ storage space, freeing up other counter areas.

If you need more ideas/resources, give me a call. 206-708-9800

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Westwood market update

Alice’s Westwood Market Update: Selected Home Sales in the Westwood Area from May 29 - June 27, 2008

9634 26th Av SW 4 BD, 2 BA
List $279,950 Sold $270,000

1904 SW 104th St 5 BD, 2 BA
List $399,950 Sold $385,000

1723 SW Cloverdale 3 BD, 1.75 BA
List $374,950 Sold $374,950

10858 31st Av SW 4 BD, 2 BA
List $385,000 Sold $385,000

10830 25th Av SW 5 BD, 3 BA
List $409,950 Sold $403,500

7327 29th Av SW 4 BD, 2.5 BA
List $409,950 Sold $409,950

May June
Ave. Listing Price: $314,600 $376,625
Ave. Selling Price: $302,688 $371,400

Today's Open House

Today I will be holding open a 4 bedroom, 1.5 bath, brick home in Fauntlee Hills. Originally built in 1952, this comfortable home has a great Sound and Mountain view, hardwood floors, mahogany woodwork, sandstone fireplace, and much more. The home is listed by my Prudential colleagues, Roy Willanger and Aaron Rysemus. The address is 9020 39th Ave SW, just off Barton. I'll be there from 1-4 today; please drop by and say hello!