Saturday, January 22, 2011

Current mortgage loan rates

Check out this table of current mortgage loan rates, provided courtesy of Troy Chambers, Arboretum Mortgage.

Arbor Heights Open House 1-4PM

Today's Open House (1-4P) is a 3 bd/1.75 ba daylight Rambler in the desirable Arbor Heights neighborhood of West Seattle. This home is truly move-in-ready, with gleaming oak hardwoods, fresh paint inside and out, a new 20-yr. roof, 5700 sq. ft. lot, fully finished basement, 1-car attached garage PLUS a 2-car detached garage, accessed by the paved alley, and wired for 220 power. Just half a block from Arbor Heights Elementary School, complete with playground. 

New to the market as of January 6, the list price is just $344,000. The address is 10253 37th Place SW. 

Your host today is my Prudential colleague, Maggie Heffernan.

Want to know where to find other Open Houses? Here's a link to a complete list.

Preventing Identity Theft

Identity theft is an increasingly prevalent problem. It can happen to anyone, it can destroy your credit, and it causes a huge disruption to the lives of its victims. Learning how to prevent and detect ID theft -- BEFORE you become a victim -- can save you time, money and aggravation down the line.

On Wed., Feb. 16th, Sgt. Darryl Williams, of the Seattle Police Department, will give a free presentation about how to protect yourself and avoid stolen identity.

Sponsored by Savvy Seattle Women: A Homeowners' Network, the workshop will take place at "The White House", aka Law Offices of Best and de Vrieze, 3909 California Av SW. It is open to the general public for no charge.

The event starts at 6PM with a wine and cheese social, followed by Sgt. Williams presentation from 6:30-7:30.

This gathering is also a business promotion opportunity. Bring your business cards and network with other local business owners before and after the feature presentation.

Top Ten Green Building Trends for 2011 | Earth Advantage Institute

Top Ten Green Building Trends for 2011

January is a time we all look forward to because the new year holds such promise. We believe it's going to be a promising year for the green building industry -- despite flat market conditions for conventional homes, we've seen market share for high performance homes increase from 18.5 to 23 percent in the Portland Metro area alone. In both Seattle and Portland 1 of every 4 new homes is certified. Clearly the the time has come for energy efficiency, and with it, healthier green homes.
In keeping with the spirit of renewal, we are releasing our annual green building trends for 2011. The trends, which range from “affordable green” to lifecycle analysis of materials, were identified by Earth Advantage Institute based on discussions with a range of audiences over the latter part of 2010. These sectors include policymakers, builders, developers, architects, real estate brokers, appraisers, lenders, and homeowners. We encourage you take a look, cogitate and comment...
1. Affordable green. Many consumers typically associate green and energy-efficient homes and features with higher costs. However, the development of new business models, technologies, and the mainstreaming of high performance materials is bringing high-performance, healthy homes within reach of all homeowners. Leading the charge are affordable housing groups, including Habitat for Humanity and local land trusts, now building and selling LEED® for Homes- and ENERGY STAR®-certified homes across the country at price points as low as $100,000*. In the existing homes market, energy upgrades are now available through new programs that include low-cost audits and utility bill-based financing. Through such programs as Clean Energy Works Oregon, and Solar City’s solar lease-to-own business model, no up-front payment is required to take advantage of energy upgrades.
2. Sharing and comparing home energy use. As social and purchasing sites like Facebook and Groupon add millions more members, the sharing of home energy consumption data – for rewards – is not far behind. The website Earth Aid (www.earthaid.net) lets you track home energy usage and earn rewards for energy savings from local vendors. You can also elect to share the information with others on Earth Aid to see who can conserve the most energy. When coupled with other developments including home energy displays, a voluntary home energy scoring system announced by the Department of Energy, and programs including Oregon and Washington’s Energy Performance Score, a lot more people will be sharing -- and comparing -- their home energy consumption.
3. Outcome-based energy codes. Existing buildings are responsible for most energy use and associated carbon emissions, but the prescriptive energy codes used in commercial remodels don’t encourage effective retrofitting. Compliance with energy codes is determined at permit time, using prescriptive or predictive models, and actual post-construction may never even be reviewed. Heating and cooling equipment could be faulty or improperly controlled, with significant energy and financial implications. Under outcome-based energy codes, owners could pursue the retrofit strategy that they decide is most effective for their building and its tenants, but they would be required to achieve a pre-negotiated performance target through mandatory annual reporting. The City of Seattle and the New Building Institute have teamed up with the National Trusts’ Preservation Green Lab to pioneer a framework for just such a code, for both new and existing buildings.
4. Community purchasing power. Neighborhoods interested in renewable energy will increasingly band together to obtain better pricing on materials such as solar panels and on installation costs. The Solarize Portland program was initiated by local neighborhood leaders in Southeast Portland who wanted to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in their area by working together as a community. The program is structured so that the price of solar panel installation decreases for everybody as more neighbors join the effort. Group purchasing creates a 15-25 percent savings below current prices. This group discount, in addition to current available tax credits and cash incentives, gives participants a significant cost savings. In Philadelphia, the Retrofit Philly program leverages contests between residential blocks to get neighborhoods involved in energy upgrades.
5. Intersection of smart homes, “grid-aware” appliances, and smart grid. While many residential smart meters have been installed, the customer interface that will allow homeowners to track energy use more accurately are not yet in place. In the meantime, manufacturers are increasingly introducing appliances that are “grid-aware.” These appliances are endowed with more sophisticated energy management capabilities and timers, offering homeowners machines that monitor and report their own electricity usage and that increase or decrease that usage by remote command. Many machines have timers and can already be manually programmed to run during off-peak hours. These developments will begin forging the convergence of a smart grid infrastructure and the control applications needed to manage energy savings in our buildings and homes.
6. Accessory dwelling units. Last year we discussed home “right-sizing” as a trend. However, with fewer people moving or building due to financial concerns, many have chosen to stay put in their favorite area and build accessory dwelling units (ADUs). These small independent units, which can be used for offices, studios, or in-law space, are the ideal size for energy savings and sustainable construction. As detached or attached rental units, they help cities increase urban density and restrict sprawl, while allowing homeowners to add value to their property. The cities of Portland, Oregon, and Santa Cruz, California, have waived administrative fees to encourage more ADU construction.

Trend 7: Passive House-certified homes like this one built by Bilyeu Homes in Salem, Oregon, are so well insulated that they require no furnaces or ducts, and are heated by the everyday activity of the occupants.

7. Rethinking of residential heating and cooling. Advances in applied building science in the US and abroad have resulted in homes that are so tightly sealed and insulated that furnace-less, ductless homes are now a reality. The increasingly popular “Passive House” standard, for example, calls for insulation in walls and ceiling that is so thick that the home is actually heated by everyday activity of the occupants, from cooking to computer use. Even in ENERGY STAR-certified homes builders are now encouraged to bring all ductwork inside the insulated envelope of the house to eliminate excess heat or cooling loss, and to use only small but efficient furnaces and air conditioners to avoid wasting power. Geothermal heating and cooling, where piping loops are run through the ground to absorb warmth in the winter and cool air in the summer, are another option gaining broader acceptance.
8. Residential Grey Water use. With water shortages looming in many areas including the Southwest and Southern California, recycling of grey water – any household wastewater with the exception of toilet water – is gaining traction. Benefits include reduced water use, reduced strain on septic and stormwater systems, and groundwater replenishment. Although many cities have been slow to legislate on grey water use, some communities have increased the amount of allowable grey water use for irrigation. Systems can be as simple as a pipe system draining directly into a mulch field or they can incorporate collection tanks and pumps.
9. Small Commercial Certification. 95 percent of commercial building starts in the U.S. are under 50,000 square feet, but the bulk of current certified commercial buildings tend to be much larger. This is in part because of numerous “soft” costs including commissioning, energy modeling, project registration, and administrative time, all of which can be prohibitively expensive for small building owners and developers. To encourage more small commercial projects to go green, alternative certification programs have sprung up, including Earthcraft Light Commercial and Earth Advantage Commercial which have found significant appeal.
10. Lifecycle Analysis (LCA). We know quite a bit about the performance of certain materials used in high performance home and commercial building construction, but the industry has just begun to study the effects of these materials over the course of their entire lives, from raw material extraction through disposal and decomposition. Lifecycle analysis examines the impact of materials over their lifetime through the lens of environmental indicators including embodied energy, solid waste, air and water pollution, and global warming potential. LCA for building materials will allow architects to determine what products are more sustainable and what combination of products can produce the most environmentally friendly results.
*In the case of land trusts, homeowners do not own the land the home is built on.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does 'Community Property' Really Mean 50/50?

That's the question that will be answered when Savvy Seattle Women present another community-service workshop this Wednesday, Jan. 19th. Local attorney, Sharon E. Best, will offer valuable information about Community Property and how it may affect married couple and domestic partners.

For instance, do you assume that when your spouse dies, you will automatically get all the property you two share? Maybe, maybe not. Or that when your dad passes away, his half of the house will go to your mom? Not necessarily so.

Join us from 6-6:30 for some social time with complimentary wine and snacks, then from 6:30-7:30 for the presentation, with lots of opportunity for question and answer. Location: "The White House," 3909 California Avenue SW (aka Law Offices of Best and de Vrieze). Much appreciation to Charlestown Cafe for allowing our guests to park free in their lot, which is kitty-corner from The White House.

This is a small group event (usually 5-10 people); you can choose to keep to yourself or join the conversation without pressure. No pre-registration required. Bring a friend!

For more information about Savvy Seattle Women, visit our website: www.SavvySeattleWomen.com or call me (Alice) at 206-708-9800.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Arbor Heights Open House 1-4PM

Whether the Seahawks win or lose, I will be hosting my Open House at 10253 37th Place SW to see a turn-key daylight Rambler with 3 bedrooms on the main level, 1.75 baths, living room, family room, dining area, large remodeled kitchen, remodeled main bath, 1-car attached garage PLUS 2-car detached garage with 220 power. 5700 sq. ft. lot is nicely landscaped. Fully fenced back yard with large entertainment deck, alley access and a cherry tree! Priced at just $344,000, this house will knock your socks off! AND I am giving away coupons for a free ice cream cone from West Seattle's own Husky Deli. I will be here from 1-4 today.