Where is Seattle today in the COVID-19 Pandemic

King County could be in Phase 2 for a while…

COVID-19 deaths are slowing in the state’s largest county, but rising cases and contact tracing issues remain concerns.
by Hannah Weinberger June 23, 2020
Man wearing mask walks past a storefront
A man walks past Easy Street Records in West Seattle, May 8, 2020. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

Dr. John Lynch wasn’t surprised when he learned that King County had been approved to move to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” reopening plan.

“The fact that we moved into this modified Phase 1 a couple of weeks ago made me think that we’re going to move to Phase 2 in a reasonable time frame,” says Lynch, who has been guiding much of King County’s coronavirus response since January as the director of the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center’s infection control team.
But it remains unclear whether King County residents and the medical system are truly prepared for broadened freedoms and the risks they bring — especially as cases rise and contact tracing efforts lag behind.
“For the foreseeable future, there will always be risk and uncertainty when moving forward with additional social, recreational, work and business-related activities in the community,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, King County’s public health officer, said via email Thursday. “For this reason it is critical that the public, business owners and other organizations that sponsor activities understand the seriousness of the ongoing risk and take all possible precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission in workplaces and other settings as we move forward. As we apply to carefully increase the activities that we all want to do, this is a time to double down on, not relax, COVID-19 prevention measures.”
A man wearing a face mask
A man wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 joins a crowd of demonstrators during protests across downtown Seattle, May 30, 2020. A wave of protests have swept across the U.S. following the death of Floyd. Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with his murder. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

A man wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 joins a crowd of demonstrators during protests across downtown Seattle, May 30, 2020. A wave of protests have swept across the U.S. following the death of Floyd. Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with his murder. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

With King County making progress toward minimizing coronavirus infections, and county residents increasingly concerned about financial and economic disaster, the Washington State Department of Health approved the 2.2 million-person county’s application to move to Phase 2 on Friday, June 19. The approval, effective immediately, came exactly two weeks after the county entered Phase 1.5, an intermediary step in the four-stage program meant to guide counties toward safe economic and social activity while mitigating infection and death under the coronavirus pandemic.
In the week leading up to Phase 2, the number of coronavirus cases increased by 47% in King County, Duchin said, with 113 more new cases in the week of June 12 to 18, compared with the previous weeklong period. Hospitalizations and deaths remained flat.
“We’re not talking about thousands of cases,” he said on a media call Friday, but he did call the increase “concerning.” “There’s a balance we need to strike between how much we can do and how safely we can do it,” he said, “so I don’t want to be at a point where I regret that we’ve opened up the community too much.”
As of June 21, at least 9,234 King County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since January, with 1,541 hospitalizations and 584 deaths, the most of any Washington county.
The county logged two COVID-19 deaths and four hospitalizations between June 18 and 21. It may take a week or two for death and hospitalization data to reflect the impact of reopening under Phase 2, as the death rate lags weeks behind the infection rate, and case count increases are an imperfect indicator of infectiousness.
In going from Phase 1.5 to 2, restaurants moved from 25% to 50% indoor capacity; retail stores from 15% to 30%; and personal service businesses like hair and nail salons moved from 25% to 50%. Gyms and small-group fitness programs are allowed to reopen with safety precautions. Significantly, people are allowed to recreate outside (for permitted activities) with up to five people outside their households. They’re also allowed to gather with up to five people outside their household per week. People are allowed to gather indoors for religious purposes, either in houses of worship (limited to 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is fewer) or for in-home services of five or fewer people.
“It’s not a huge jump, but we think it’s important to move forward for many reasons,” Duchin said.
In making the decision to apply to the next phase, Duchin said, the county considered three main factors: disease activity (numbers of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths), the impact on the health care system and on vulnerable populations, and the long-term sustainability of current restrictions on activity. The parameters of the governor’s Safe Start that govern whether counties can move forward in the phased system highlight disease activity and high-risk population protection, as well as the need for case and contact tracing investigations, expanded and faster testing, and health care system preparedness to treat additional cases.
“King County is currently meeting all of the metric goals outlined on the risk assessment dashboard, which suggests they have the necessary public health systems in place to respond to the situation in their community,” state Secretary of Health John Wiesman said via email Sunday. “We are not able to speculate if or how this will impact their ability to advance to a different phase in the near future.”
A chart from King County's application for Phase 2 of reopening, showing the county's progress toward reopening benchmarks. The chart uses a stoplight color-coding system to show which benchmarks are being met (in green), which are in progress (yellow) and which are far from being met (red).
A chart from King County’s application for Phase 2 of reopening, showing the county’s progress toward reopening benchmarks. The chart uses a stoplight color-coding system to show which benchmarks are being met (in green), which are in progress (yellow) and which are far from being met (red). (King County.)

A chart from King County’s application for Phase 2 of reopening, showing the county’s progress toward reopening benchmarks. The chart uses a stoplight color-coding system to show which benchmarks are being met (in green), which are in progress (yellow) and which are far from being met (red). (King County.)

Under the county’s application to enter Phase 2, it is fully meeting two of its three disease activity targets, and all health care system readiness and testing targets have been met. However, there are still slightly more outbreaks reported per week than would ideally protect high-risk populations, though outbreaks are trending downward. Of 12 total target areas, it gets strong marks for seven of them; middling marks for four; and is doing poorly with one aspect of contact tracing.
That weak contact tracing metric is critical for King County. The county has so far failed to meet its goal of contacting at least 80% of people who test positive daily. A pilot test was launched June 9 to test three different methods.
“The contact tracing program is not working,” says Harborview’s Lynch. “We need to find ways for the health department to be able to do contact tracing effectively… and if that’s not working, I am quite concerned about our ability to progress.”
Contact tracing, Lynch says, is still based on a system that requires people to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers.
“I don’t answer phones unless I know who’s calling,” he says. “I don’t know what the technical issues are around the delay, but we’ve got to get the community on board with this.”
Even counties that don’t meet the benchmarks of the Safe Start program can still move forward to future phases.
“These are not hardline measures, but we have an ideal target for each metric to help counties and the public understand how they’re doing,” said Wiesman.
According to the governor’s coronavirus website, the Department of Health considers these disease-reducing metrics collectively: “Where one target is not fully achieved, actions taken with a different target may offset the overall risk,” the website states.
Vehicles pull into a drive-up COVID-19 testing facility
Vehicles pull into a drive-up COVID-19 testing facility housed at what is normally the Washington State Vehicle Emission Check Program Station 4 in Shoreline, King County, June 12, 2020. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

Vehicles pull into a drive-up COVID-19 testing facility housed at what is normally the Washington State Vehicle Emission Check Program Station 4 in Shoreline, King County, June 12, 2020. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

That decision-making process was important after recent news showed Department of Health testing data had been erroneous for the past eight weeks.

“These negative test numbers, while inflated, have not impacted decision-making as it pertains to counties advancing through phases,” Wiesman said. “We consider many factors in our holistic reviews of county applications for new phases, so a change to one factor doesn’t necessarily affect the final decision.”

After assessing the daily data and being in constant contact with other infectious disease doctors, Lynch remains “cautiously optimistic” about the county doing OK during Phase 2 . He thinks more and better hand hygiene, mask wearing, cleaning, social and work interactions and other protocols will aid that progression.

Lynch says everyday citizens seem to have handled phase guidance well so far.

“In general my feeling is it’s pretty good here in King County,” he says. “When I go to the hardware store or grocery store or walk in my neighborhood, people are pretty decent about wearing masks and doing physical distancing.”

Like many in the medical and health community, he views current protest activity as essential.

“Systemic racism is probably one of the most dangerous and unhealthy things impacting communities, and that needs to change as much as our actions need to change around COVID-19,” says Lynch, who attended the recent Doctors for Justice rally in Seattle. “As of right now, from the hospital perspective, we have not seen the impact of the protests on the need to hospitalize patients,” he says.

However, Lynch doesn’t think we’ll leave Phase 2 anytime soon.

“I suspect we’re going to be in Phase 2, or some sort of modified Phase 2, for a while because there’s limits on what we can do with physical distancing and masking,” Lynch says. “I think one really important thing to recognize is that our status right now in King County in terms of the number of infections is far more [numerous] than it was in February, before we had our surge. So we will have another surge unless we behave differently.”

“I think COVID-19 is going to be with us for a very long time, for years, but I think that its impact will be lessened with time, certainly if the vaccine becomes available,” Duchin said on the media call. “We will be needing to grapple with it, and I think it will fundamentally require us to reconfigure our lives in many ways.”

About the Authors & Contributors
Hannah Weinberger
Hannah Weinberger
Hannah Weinberger is a reporter at Crosscut focused on science and the environment. Reach her on Twitter @weinbergrrrrr and email at hannah.weinberger@crosscut.com.

January Housing Market Update



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I’m Obsessed with these outdoor decor ideas!

Which do you like best? I think the first one looks so fun! I love swings even as an adult!

#1 – Put it anywhere!


#2 – Amazing if you have a tall tree that hangs over your yard.


#3 – For those of you with an empty wall that needs a functional, artistic touch!


Like this and want to see more? See ideas here!

Housing Update…. Great News!



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The Best Washington State Park Cabins

Cama beach cabins oxfbwy

Cabins at Cama Beach.

There are more than 100 state parks across Washington; some that sit on the ocean or lakes, and others tucked into wild corners of the mountains. There are desert parks, island parks, and historic parks—and many have cabin rentals. We chose from the 20 cabin-equipped state parks (another 10 offer vacation houses, and seven have yurts) to pick the best.

Cama Beach

Hello, waterfront. The 24 standard cabins that line Cama Beach have at least two beds each, and some can sleep up to six. Most have access to a bathhouse, but eight more deluxe cabins have bathrooms. They’re next to the Center for Wooden Boats, which offers free classes and family programming throughout the summer. Note: Cama Beach Historical State Park has the most cabins and facilities, but Camano Island State Park just down the road has five more rentals and more privacy. parks.state.wa.us/483/cama-beach

Presented by

Peak rate: $76-$110 at Cama Beach, $74 at Camano Island

Cape Disappointment

Is a lighthouse keeper’s house really a “cabin”? The residences near the mouth of the Columbia River are charming Victorian relics, though they’re not as cheap as the rustic woodland cabins located nearby. The park also has rentable yurts, beaches, art installations, and an interpretive center to tell the story of how Lewis and Clark stumbled here more than two hundred years ago. parks.state.wa.us/486/cape-disappointment

Peak rate: $69 for cabins, $308-$407 for lighthouse keeper houses

Deception Pass

At the site of one of the state’s most dramatic vistas, Deception Park State Park, like its famous bridge, also spans from Whidbey Island to the mainland. One abode, the Ben Ure Cabin, is on an island accessible only by kayak or rowboat, and has an outdoor shower. The other five cabins are more traditional, with parking nearby and fire pits outside. A CCC museum nearby tells the history of the 20th-century work crews that constructed much of the nation’s green space infrastructure.  parks.state.wa.us/411/deception-pass-state-park

Peak rate: $79 for cabins, $91 for Ben Ure Cabin

Deception pass bridge lhnaou

The Deception Pass bridge.

Potholes State Park

It’s not named for holes in the road; Potholes Reservoir is a marshy freshwater lake surrounded by desert. It’s well prepared for fisherman, boasting four boat ramps and 60 geet of dock space. Though the five cabins are rustic in many ways—no cooking inside, no plumbing—they do have the most important amenity of all: air conditioning. parks.state.wa.us/568/potholes

Peak rate: $69-$79 for cabins

Mount Spokane State Park

The eastern Washington state park has the coolest rental on the state park system, a 14-by-14 foot fire lookout perched on top of Quartz Mountain, with a deck (and windows, obviously) that go all the way around. You can see into Idaho from the high spot, and the space can sleep four. There’s no electricity, but there’s really no need with the propane stove and campfire ring outside. parks.state.wa.us/423/mount-spokane-state-park

Peak rate: $93 per night

Avoid being ‘shut out’ by bridge and tunnel work in Seattle this weekend

SEATTLE – People traveling to and from the Seattle area this weekend should plan for added congestion and travel delays due to maintenance and construction on state highways, as well as a championship soccer match. Additionally, tolling in the State Route 99 tunnel begins Saturday morning, Nov. 9.

Eastbound SR 520 floating bridge
Eastbound SR 520 between Montlake Boulevard in Seattle and 84th Avenue Northeast in Clyde Hill will close from 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, to 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11. On Monday morning, Nov. 11, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will reduce the highway from three lanes to two in each direction between Montlake Boulevard and the floating bridge, creating a new work zone as part of the SR 520 Montlake Project.

Northbound SR 99 tunnel maintenance
The northbound SR 99 tunnel will fully close for routine maintenance from 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, to 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. WSDOT crews will check the jet fans, fire extinguishers, emergency phones and cameras and finish uncovering tolling signs.

SR 99 tunnel tolling
Tolling in the SR 99 tunnel starts at 5 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, in the southbound direction. Northbound tolling will begin once maintenance work is complete. The tunnel will toll drivers in both directions. Weekend toll rates are $1 with a Good To Go! pass and $3 without a Good To Go! account.

Prepare a championship-level game plan
The Sounders compete for the MLS Cup at noon Sunday, Nov. 10 at CenturyLink Field. The championship match will bring plenty of additional traffic to downtown Seattle. There are different ways for fans to make it to the stadium, including several transit routes. People who use SR 99 may want to open a Good To Go! account before traveling to get the best rate.

Before heading out the door, travelers can find updated traffic information with the Travel Alerts pageWSDOT mobile app and WSDOT Traffic Twitter feed.

WSDOT keeps people, businesses and the economy moving by operating and improving the state’s transportation systems. To learn more about what we’re doing, go to www.wsdot.wa.gov/news for pictures, videos, news and blogs. Real time traffic information is available at wsdot.com/traffic or by dialing 511.

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

If you’ve ever had problems with your pipes you’ll want to read these plumbing tips. Plumbers give us the scoop on clogged pipes, do-it-yourself plumbing repair, and more!

If you need a recommendation, call a plumbing-supply or fixture store

They don’t tolerate bad plumbers, so you know they’ll send you to the best of the best. If these plumbing tips are helpful, you’ll also want to know these secrets home inspectors won’t tell you.

Don’t trust the “flushable” label

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Don’t flush floss, tampons, or even so-called “flushable” wipes. They don’t break down like toilet paper does and can come back to haunt you later. “Toilets are more water-efficient now than they were 20 years ago, so there sometimes isn’t enough volume in the flush to force debris down,” says Marcin Wroblewski, president of ExpressRooter Plumbing in Toronto. “An object will get lodged in the trap and cause blockage when waste builds up days later.”

A burst washing machine hose is a top homeowner-insurance claim

I’d replace those flimsy rubber hoses with stainless steel ones. That way, you only need to worry about these other laundry mistakes that could ruin your next load of wash.

Don’t flush cooking grease

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

“Don’t pour fat down the drain. Wipe your pan with paper towels and compost them,” Wroblewski advises. Grease can become rock-hard and may require professional removal.

No bricks in the toilet tank

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Some allege that putting a brick in the toilet tank can save water, but doing that can keep your toilet from flushing correctly. Another plumbing tip, avoid liquid drain cleaners. Liquid drain cleaners are also bad news—they eat away at the pipes. Try a plunger or, better yet, a $30 auger. Don’t have either? Here’s how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.

Have a plumber over before you buy

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Buying a home? Have a plumber scope your underground drain system with a camera to check for roots, collapses and other problems that typically aren’t visible to home inspectors. “Spending $300 on an investigation could save you tens of thousands later in insurance claims for flood cleanup, excavation, and pipe replacements,” Wroblewski says.

Know where the main turnoff source is

I can’t tell you how many calls I get from people screaming and crying that their house is flooding and they don’t know what to do. The location of the main turnoff source is one of the 35 things every homeowner should know to save money and prevent big screw-ups.

Watch out for long or shedding hair

If you’ve got a Rapunzel at home (or even a rapidly balding man), buy a drain strainer or a hair snare or tell them to use a paper towel to clear the drain. Soap can gum up the pipes, too, so use as little of that as you can.

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Using corrosive chemicals to dissolve a clog is like throwing a grenade down a gopher hole. Instead, Wroblewski recommends flushing your drains weekly with a half cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar. Let it fizz in the drain for ten minutes, then pour in four cups of boiling water. Avoid this nightmare and others by checking out the plumbing nightmares that will make you cringe.

When it comes to pay…

Pay me by the job, not by the hour. This is one of the most important plumbing tips you can remember.

We might, if you ask

Yes, it’s against the rules to remove flow inhibitors from your showerheads, but some of us will do it if you ask.

I’m a plumber

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

I’m not a babysitter, a mover, or an auto mechanic. Don’t ask for advice on things that aren’t in my job description. However, we’ll help you out this one time.

The toilet handle is an easy fix

Always jiggling the toilet handle? You need to replace the flap valve. The part costs $4, and it’s an easy fix. I charge $100 just to walk in the door.

Sometimes you don’t even need me

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

There’s often an Allen wrench that comes with the garbage disposal. I keep it under the sink. When the thing jams, follow the directions in the manual, and I won’t need to come out. Another plumbing tip, don’t believe the myth about putting lemon peels in the disposal to make it smell better. That will just make it jam faster. Along with lemon peels, these are the things you should never pour down the drain.

One time…

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

I was working in one bathroom while my client was using the whirlpool in another one. And blow-drying her hair at the same time. Her husband had told her it was fine. I told her he was trying to get rid of her.

Read your meter

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Looking for an easy way to figure out why your water bill is mysteriously high? Shut off all fixtures, including the valve on your hot water tank. If the numbers on your meter keep moving, call a plumber—you might have sprung a hidden leak inside a wall or under flooring.

Don’t hang things from your pipes

Don’t hang clothes on those exposed pipes in your basement. I’ve seen them break and flood a basement. If they burst, I might find these shocking discoveries plumbers have found in pipes. 

Old toilet seats are harder to remove than you think

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

I see this all the time: Women want a new toilet seat and ask their husbands to make the switch. If the seat is old and has metal bolts, you probably need to cut it off with a hacksaw, not unscrew it. A wrench may slip, damaging the bowl and bloodying your knuckles. Make sure you don’t fall for these common toilet mistakes, either.

Don’t get wrapped up in how much I’m charging for the materials

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

“Sure, my material cost is different than the guy who runs his business out of his garage,” says Bill Stevens, owner of Berkey’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Texas. “But it’s not the copper you’re paying for, it’s the experience. At the end of the day, my material cost is between 25-30 percent of the cost of the job.”

Don’t underestimate expertise

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Mondays and Tuesdays are when plumbers get the most phone calls from DIYers who realize they’re out of their depth, Wroblewski says. Whatever you do, don’t let anyone attempt these home improvement projects you should never DIY.

Turn off your outside faucets in the winter

Another way to avoid a service call from your plumber is to make sure the outside faucets are turned off in the winter and make sure you disconnect the outside hoses. You need to shut the water off from the inside. Then, open the valve on the outside to let the water that’s in there drain out—you switch both of them to the opposite direction so one is always closed and one is always open. We have to fix tons of these in the spring mostly because people leave their outside hoses connected and they freeze up. The repair could cost $100-$200 or more. Another tip would be if you’re going away for any length of time, like on vacation, turn off your water. If on any of those days the temperature drops below freezing, have someone check in on your house. I’ve been called to homes where the family returned from vacation, and there was water flooding out from the front door.

A company that has a good reputation for quality service might charge a little more up-front

But you’ll save in the long run by avoiding call-backs and extra charges. Look for a company that warranties its service for up to a year for major installations or repairs.

Don’t ignore drips and running toilets

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Small drips can waste over eight gallons of water a day, and a continuously running toilet can waste more than 200 gallons of water, daily. If you ignore them, you’ll pay for it when your water bill arrives. Flammable lint, puddles, and drips are a part of these hidden home dangers you should never ignore.

We’ll check things for free

Sure, we’ll be happy to check those supply valves under your sink free of charge after we finish the work you’re paying us for. Just ask. Same goes for checking your water pressure.

Don’t leave your kids with us

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

I had another lady who said she wanted to run to the grocery store to get some coffee to make for me and my guys while we were installing her new kitchen. She said she was just gonna run to the store and asked if we wouldn’t mind keeping an eye out for her one-year-old daughter who was sleeping at the time. We said fine, but she ended up not returning until four hours later. The kid was screaming her head off and we didn’t know what to do. We tried holding her. We didn’t know if she was hungry or what to feed her. She just kept crying.

Find a licensed plumber

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

“Don’t assume that every Mr. Fix-it advertising his services in the local Pennysaver or on Craigslist is a licensed plumber,” says one New York plumber. There is no national standard for issuing licenses. Some plumbers are licensed by the state, others by the counties they work in. Check with your local city hall or chamber of commerce. They should be able to direct you to the appropriate source for a list of licensed plumbers in your area.

Don’t go to the Yellow Pages

“Don’t go to the Yellow Pages to find a plumber,” says Berkey’s Bill Stevens. “It’s like guessing lottery numbers. Anyone can make an appealing ad, but that doesn’t mean they are legitimate. In this industry, it’s easy for a plumber who develops a poor reputation to advertise under a different name. They come and go.” Even searching for someone online may end up being a scam using fake reviews. Instead, look for a plumber who is well-established in your community. Check the Better Business Bureau and read customer reviews at sites such as HomeAdvisorAngie’s List, or Citysearch. Local contractors or plumbing fixture stores can also refer you to a quality plumber, according to Grady Daniel, who owns a plumbing company in Austin, Texas. “Most of these firms won’t work with bad plumbers.” Or simply ask your neighbors for a referral. A trusted plumber that consistently delivers quality service does not remain a secret for very long.

Be wary of price quotes that are strikingly lower or higher than competitors

Get a minimum of three bids. Estimates for an average-sized job should be within a few hundred dollars. Be suspicious of anything that is substantially lower or double the price of the rest, and watch out for hidden fees, like charges for travel expenses. They could be signs of a home improvement scam. A good plumber will not nickel and dime you like this, and many of us will offer free estimates.

Service calls aren’t cheap

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

There’s a reason why service calls aren’t cheap. Not only is being a plumber hard on backs and knees, but workers also risk exposure to biohazards from sewage (where nasty diseases lurk, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, and leptospirosis) and toxic methane gas.

Water damage is expensive

31 Secrets Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims, accounting for around 40 percent. Basement flooding and sewage backups, often caused by increasingly intense precipitation, are responsible for the most problems. Don’t let those problems lead to the home inspector nightmares you have to see to believe.

Why an Investment Property Should Be Your First Real Estate Purchase

Not ready to buy a home for yourself but want to take advantage of great market conditions? Consider buying an investment property! It’s a trend that’s taking over real estate, as savvy investors look to put their money in an appreciating asset. Here are five reasons to consider it.
For Rent
1. Rates are crazy low. Lower rates mean more affordable lending, or more for your money if you choose to reach higher.

2. Because it will appreciate. According to CoreLogic, “The overall home price index (HPI) has increased on a year-over-year basis every month for seven years.” The long-term price appreciation of real estate can provide one of the safest investments out there.

3. Because passive income is good. Yes, it’s nice to know there will likely be appreciation over time, but the real key to success with investment properties is passive income.

“The best part about rental properties is that they provide a stable income,” said Mashvisor. “What would be better than having a check sent to you every month? In order to have positive cash flow, you have to make sure you invest in a profitable rental property.

4. To turn it into a short-term rental. The short-term rental market has opened up a new world of opportunity for investors. By buying in the right location—by the beach, near a ski resort, or in close proximity to a popular annual event like Coachella, you have the potential of making a significant return in a short period of time. Just be sure to check the local laws, as lots of cities have been cracking down on Airbnb and other services.

5. Because it can help you buy the home of your dreams down the line. “Buying an investment property before your first home does not imply that you won’t have the funds to purchase your actual home at some point,” said Mashvisor. “In fact, investment properties that have been purchased wisely and have grown in value can offer you a sizeable amount of wealth and equity.”

Floor Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Regardless of how tidy you are, your floors, rugs, and carpets get dirty. Between the dirt you track in on your shoes, the accidental spills, and the inevitable accumulation of dust, your floors can get quite grimy. Here are a few cleaning tips and tricks for all types of flooring.

Cleaning Supplies

Natural Stone Floors
One of the most important rules when it comes to cleaning natural stone, is to steer clear of acidic products like vinegar, ammonia, or bleach, as they can ruin the stone. Your best bet is to use a pH-neutral cleaner that won’t react with the minerals in your stone floor.

Tile Floors
Tile is easy to clean. Simply combine ¼ cup of vinegar and one drop of dish soap in a spray bottle. Fill the rest with water and mix well. Spritz the mixture onto your tile surface and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth or mop. Steaming the tiles and grout will provide a deep cleaning.

Unlike other flooring surfaces, carpets have their own set of rules. For a deep clean, it’s best to steam clean your carpets. For regular cleaning, using a vacuum should suffice.

Hardwood Floors
Wood floors need a lot of attention. Start by determining whether your floor is sealed or not. If it’s unsealed, avoid using water and instead try mineral oil and periodic coats of wax. If the floor is sealed, a simple mix of hot water and soap is a safe bet.

Start by sweeping or vacuuming the floor to get rid of dust, hair, and dirt. Then add about six drops of mild detergent or dish soap to a gallon of warm or hot water. Dampen a mop with the mixture and use it to clean the floor in sections. Avoid getting the mop too wet, and make sure to dry the floors with a towel when you’re done. Standing water can damage linoleum.

The Markets in a Minute

For the Week Ending August 2, 2019

  • The Fed meeting ended on Wednesday with a 0.25% cut to its policy rate for the first time since 2008. Mortgage rates were stable on the news.
  • Stocks declined after the Fed announcement as many traders were expecting a drop of 0.50%. Falling stock prices can be good for mortgage rates.
  • Comments from the Fed Chairman make future rate cuts less certain. Prior expectations were for continued cuts through the end of the year.

  • A Realtor.com survey found 42% of spring home shoppers were first-time buyers. Those who hadn’t yet purchased most commonly cited affordability as an issue.
  • Pending home sales rose in June, compared both to the previous month and last year. Economists credit favorable economic conditions and low rates.
  • According to Case-Shiller, May’s national home prices realized a 3.4% monthly increase. Rising prices and low rates should continue to motivate buyers.

“Another day, a whole ‘nother set of possibilities.” – MacGyver

How to Ramp up your Credit Score

Credit scores are a BIG DEAL when purchasing a home. I work with many clients, all over Seattle, analyzing their scores, and helping them bump things up a bit. The more you can improve your score, the better interest rate a lender can offer you. The good news is, if you are already at 760 or above, you are in the best rate bracket already!

Here’s an example of how your interest rate is affected by credit scores in each tier.

This example is for a borrower needing a home loan of $600,000 on a 30-year fixed program.  As you can see, someone who has a score of 640 vs. someone with a score of 760+ is paying an extra 1%! This credit score difference would add $360 more in interest per month vs. the person with the 760+ score. (Rates on July, 30th 2019)


Here are some quick, helpful tips to BOOST your SCORE

1. On-time payments are KEY – This is your track record for paying bills on time. It has the most impact on your score.

2. Credit Usage – This is how much of your credit card limits you’re using. It has a big impact on your score. Make sure to use 30% OR LESS of your credit limit per card. If you need more money, use another credit card, but don’t charge more than 30% of your limit on any one card. Example – If your credit limit is $25,000 on your Alaska credit card – don’t charge over $7,500.

3. Average Age of Credit – This is the average age of all your open credit cards and loans. If you don’t have existing lines of credit – car payments, online bill pay, credit card payments, your credit score is determined to be light, weak, or non-existent.  Stop paying in cash and get 2-3 credit cards. Be sure to make your payments on time.

4. Total Accounts – The more credit cards and loans you’ve had, the more lenders trust you.

5. Credit Inquiries – Stay away from multiple “hard” inquiries. A hard inquiry is when a lender checks your credit report. Checking your score with sites like CreditKarma.com or Mint.com doesn’t count.

6. Don’t close unused Credit Cards – Credit cards that are open that are not in use can stay open. Closing a line of credit docks your score.

7. Stay out of collections – You’ll get a ding on your report if one of your accounts goes into collections or bankruptcy.

8. Check online – Check to see if you have any inaccuracies in your report – sites like mint.com and creditkarma.com are great and don’t count as a dock against your credit! If you do have inaccuracies, contact any of the bureaus that report this inaccuracy and get it cleared. Example – I owned a Hyundai before I purchased my Mazda. Transunion had an outstanding balance in their system for a missed car payment on my Hyundai but the others did not. I called Transunion, proved I had no outstanding debt, and my score jumped up immediately.

  • Transunion Phone number – 800-916-8800
  • Equifax Phone number – 866-349-5191
  • Experian – 888-397-3742

With these simple tips – you should see a vast improvement!