5 questions to help you plan for buying a home:

Planning to Buy? Got a Plan for What Comes After?


5 questions help you look ahead to home ownership.


Buying a home comes with a huge financial stake, a lot of responsibility, and even more fine print. While investing in this aspect of the American dream is exciting, it’s important to reflect on your current and future plans before buying. Here are five questions to consider:

1. What Are Your Goals for the Next 5 to 7 Years?

Are you happy with your job and feeling content with how your life is going? Do you anticipate any career, family, or financial changes in the next few years?

If you’re considering growing your family or changing careers, factor into your budget any anticipated changes, such as extra room for a baby or an income cut. That’s better than taking a financial loss by having to turn around and sell your new property.

2. What Will It Cost to Both Purchase and Own Your New Property?

A general rule of thumb is to keep your PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) costs below 28% of your gross monthly income, while your overall debt-to-income ratio should be no more than 36%.

Are you buying a bigger space than what you currently have? Don’t forget to factor in increased heating and cooling costs. Also, plan for homeowner’s association dues if applicable.

In addition to the funds you have for your down payment, don’t overlook the following expenses you’ll incur once you purchase your home:

  • Moving costs
  • Closing costs
  • Home repairs
  • Painting
  • New appliances
  • Fixtures
  • Furniture

I recommend opening a separate savings account in addition to your down payment fund to save for these expenses.

3. What’s Your Credit Score?

Your credit score is your financial report card, except it will follow you long after college. This number can either save or cost you thousands of dollars when it comes to locking in an interest rate on your mortgage. The lower your score, the higher your interest rate and the more you’ll pay to borrow from a lender. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest and the more money you’ll keep in your pocket.

If you have any issues on your credit report, tackle them as soon as possible.

4. How Will You Handle Home Repairs and Maintenance?

Is there a lawn to mow or a pool to clean? Do you enjoy the idea of tinkering with appliances and fixing things around the house? Consider if you’ll DIY or delegate. If you’re a delegator, price services ahead of time to ensure there’s room in your budget.

One of the first things I told my husband upon seeing our new backyard was that I don’t do landscaping. Apparently, neither does he, because 12 months in, we have a monthly line item in our budget for a gardener.

5. How Will Your Ideal Location Affect Your Monthly Nut?

It’s important to consider more than just the home price in your desired community. Will you be farther from or closer to work? How will your home’s location affect your commuting costs? Our family purchased in a community that has a toll road, so we’ve added tolls to the monthly budget.

In addition to transportation costs, consider whether your food and utility costs will increase or decrease, and whether you’ll enroll kids in the local school district or opt for private schooling.


Seattle sphere craze continues with giant dome planned atop skyscraper

A new residential tower planned at 3rd and Virginia in Seattle would include a giant sphere that tops out at 499 feet above the street, according to plans developer Westbank submitted to the city. 

A new residential tower planned at 3rd and Virginia in Seattle would include a giant sphere that tops out at 499 feet above the street, according to plans developer Westbank submitted to the city. (Courtesy of Westbank development)

The project just unveiled at Third Avenue and Virginia Street in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood features a dome that, at its peak, would sit nearly 500 feet above the street.


Seattle millennials think that to buy a starter condominium they would need $41,720 for the standard down payment of 20 percent….

From Marc Stiles and the Puget Sound Business Journal: 

“A new report by a company called Apartment List found that Seattle millennials think that to buy a starter condominium they would need $41,720 for the standard down payment of 20 percent. In reality, they would need nearly $61,400 for the down payment on a condo in the Puget Sound region, where the median price is $306,900.”

Leah Zamir  with Guild Mortgage in Seattle says, “Let me be clear…this is simply not true.  You do not need $61,400 to purchase a condo.  Now, if you’re trying to avoid paying mortgage insurance, sure, you would need $61,400 + another $6,000 or so for closing costs and prepaid taxes/homeowners insurance to hit that magical 20% equity mark where you don’t have to pay mortgage insurance.  However, there are loan programs offered through Washington State that offer down payment assistance to borrowers covering ALL of a borrowers down payment, leaving millennials only needing enough money to cover closing costs (and even then, those can be covered by the seller if the buyer is lucky).  So now we’re left with whether or not it’s prudent to save enough to get out of mortgage insurance, or buy the house/condo sooner, but pay mortgage insurance.  Well, let me just insert a slide from one of my home buyer classes here:

In the end, Marc isn’t incorrect in his calculations; I just wish the amazing loan programs that allow buyers to get into homes sooner than they might think, and therefore allow them to take advantage of our incredible real estate market were more widely known. ”

Please, if you or someone you know would like to own a home but doesn’t think they A) Have enough for down payment, or B) Their credit isn’t good enough, or C) Their income isn’t high enough – Please have them contact me and I will send you to a few lenders to explain this in more detail. There are great programs out there guys!

To read the full article by Marc Stiles:  http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2017/05/26/seattle-millennials-want-to-buy-house.html

Seattle housing market tops nation in bidding wars and price gains

Originally published May 30, 2017 at 6:51 am Updated May 30, 2017 at 11:01 am

Price gains for homes here have led the nation every month since September, and now the local market is also the most competitive in the country.

As Seattle tops the country for home price growth for the seventh straight month, the local real estate market has gotten so competitive that it’s now nearly impossible to avoid a bidding war.

The monthly Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday, showed single-family home prices across the Seattle metro area in March increased 12.3 percent from a year prior — the fastest growth in more than three years.

The local price gains, again easily the largest of any major metro, were more than twice the national average of 5.8 percent.

Fastest-rising home prices compared with a year ago

1. Seattle +12.3%

2. Portland +9.2%

3. Dallas +8.6%

4. Denver +8.4%

5. Boston +7.7%

Source: Case-Shiller home price index

Even compared to a month prior, Seattle-area prices rose 2.6 percent — also by far the fastest growth in the country and more than three times the national average.

There are simply far more interested buyers than homes for sale, and the imbalance is growing. That means when a house does come on the market, it can create a feeding frenzy.

New data from Redfin shows about 90 percent of houses for sale in the city of Seattle over the last two months wound up in a bidding war. That’s the most since records began at the start of this decade.

Seattle had the highest rate of bidding wars of any city Redfin tracks, which includes hot markets like San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, Boston, Austin and Washington, D.C.

As the number of homes for sale keeps dropping to historic lows, bidding wars here have only increased. Three years ago, 71 percent of homes attracted multiple offers. At the beginning of the decade, less than half did.

All those extra offers often means prices go higher. The Redfin data shows nearly two-thirds of homes in Seattle sold for more than the list price in April, which is the highest rate since those records began at the start of the decade. The typical single-family house in the city last month sold for a record $722,000.

All those offers means more stress for home shoppers, too. Qualified buyers have said it can take six months to a year just to buy a house, largely because they keep losing to people who submit higher bids. The competition is at its fiercest this time of year as a majority of home buyers come out for the real estate market’s peak spring season.

It’s not rare for a house to attract several offers — in some cases, a dozen or more offers can escalate the winning bid to more than $100,000 above the asking price. To stand out, some buyers have resorted to waiving contingencies and inspections, and submitting a bigger portion of their offer in nonrefundable cash sums.

And because houses can go so quickly, buyers often need to pull the trigger and submit an offer on a home within days — or even hours — of it hitting the market, which allows for less due diligence. There are even stories of buyers from outside the area submitting escalating bids on houses sight unseen.

By: Mike Rosenberg – Seattle Times business reporter

How much is my HOME worth in Seattle?

Image result for cute seattle mid century modern

How much is your home worth in Seattle, Washington?  If you are planning on selling your home, that is a question you need answered.  As your Local Seattle Real Estate Expert & REALTOR, I can help you to learn the answer to that question.  I will personally do the research on your behalf and provide you with a detailed Free Market Analysis.  Please feel free to take a few moments to complete the basic information below and I will go straight to work for you.  Or, if you prefer, please feel free to give me a call directly at 206-954-1099.

Washington unemployment drops to near-record low

Washington’s robust job numbers continued to move the jobless rate downward in March, as unemployment fell to the lowest rate since August 2007.


According to the latest numbers from the Employment Security Department, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went down from 4.9 to 4.7 percent in March. That’s almost a full percentage point better than the statewide unemployment rate in March last year, which stood at 5.6 percent.

“Washington has one of the better growing economies in the nation,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Strong job growth has pushed the unemployment rate down further as more workers find jobs.”

Washington employers added 10,700 nonfarm jobs in March. Year over year growth remains strong as well, with the state adding an estimated 92,000 new jobs from March 2016 to March 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.1 percent or 80,200 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.1 percent, adding 11,800 jobs.

Twelve of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs year over year, with manufacturing (shedding 5,800) the only sector to report job losses.


Apr 19, 2017 – 03:51 PM

9 things to know about selling a home in spring 2017

Planning on selling a home this spring? It’s time to get ready.

Image result for open house house

While mortgage rates have risen in the last year, experts say 2017 will still see strong home sales as job growth continues and people who’d been waiting to enter the market take the plunge into home-ownership.

To attract buyers in any season — and sell for a good price — sellers need to show their homes in the best possible light. That means cleaning up the interior and exterior, removing personal items that could distract potential buyers, adding a fresh coat of paint, and deciding which upgrades and repairs will deliver the best return on investment.
But for those hoping to close in the next few months, there are some more specific things experts say sellers need to know: Low housing inventory is driving demand, but buyers are still being more selective than sellers might expect. Millennials are finally buying their first homes, and that means starter properties are selling faster than in recent years.
Of course, real estate is a hyper-local industry, so national trends may not hold true in all markets. A real estate agent can help you understand what buyers in your area are looking for and how to appeal to them.

1. It’s a seller’s market

Image result for pending house

This season is expected to be an extremely good time to be a seller, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research for the National Association of Realtors.

“This year in the spring buying season, things have intensified with more buyers and fewer sellers than last year,” he said.

This high-demand, low-supply environment means sellers will see a lot of foot traffic from eager buyers and, if the home is priced correctly for the local market, they could get multiple offers.

This trend looks like it will continue despite rising mortgage rates, Yun said, as job growth and the U.S. economy as a whole remain strong.

2. Starter homes in demand

Image result for starter home

One reason for the increased housing demand this year is that millennials — many of whom have been reluctant to dip their toes in the real estate water due to fears about their job security, high levels of debt and other factors — are now ready to become homeowners, said Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow.

“We’re seeing a lot of demand for entry-level homes and things that are a little less expensive, as many millennials and first-time buyers are very active,” Gudell said.
While starter homes are in high demand and will likely sell more quickly, Yun said pricier homes are selling more slowly.

“Inventory on the upper price ranges — $500,000 and over — these are staying on the market longer than other price categories,” he said.

3. Pick your listing time strategically

Image result for calendar

When you decide to list your home this spring can impact how quickly it will sell. Zillow conducted a study of listings in markets across the country and found that, nationwide, homes listed between May 1 and May 15 sold an average of nine days faster and for an average of 0.8 percent more than homes listed at other times. In most markets, listings posted on a Friday or Saturday performed best.
“These times differ from one market to the next,” Gudell said. “It’s spread over March, April and May, and warmer markets will start earlier. Markets with deep, snowy winters tend to start a bit later.”

4. The coasts are cooling

Image result for seattle skyline

Skyrocketing home prices in coastal metro areas like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, combined with rising mortgage interest rates, are making those areas less appealing to homebuyers, Gudell said.

“It used to be in San Francisco that something came on the market and buyers would just throw money at it, but that’s not happening anymore,” she said. These buyers are now turning to areas Gudell referred to as “secondary markets:” smaller cities such as Nashville, Tennessee, Tampa, Florida, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where lower starting prices mean homebuyers can afford to pay higher mortgage interest rates.

5. Buyers aren’t willing to settle

Image result for home purchase offer

Just because buyers are ready to snap up low-priced starter homes doesn’t mean they’re willing to settle, said Realtor Mary Dykstra, owner/partner at MKB Realtors in Roanoke, Virginia.

“They’re unwilling to buy anything that needs too much work, so you have to put out a good product” when marketing your house, Dykstra said. This means making small improvements to help your house stand out to potential buyers.

6. Skip the big renovation

Image result for home renovation
Homeowners, especially those with more dated decor, often feel that they’ll need to do a big renovation before they put their homes on the market, but these projects may not generate enough of a return to be worthwhile.

“You can do a lot through smaller projects,” Dykstra said. “You don’t always have to do something big like redoing your bathroom.”

According to a recent National Association of Realtors report, sellers only recoup about 58 percent of their investment on a bathroom renovation. However, those who put a new roof on their homes recouped 105 percent of their investment.

Dykstra said that new windows and other smaller, energy-efficient upgrades also make great selling points.

7. Paint can boost your sale price

Image result for house paint

A fresh coat of paint can be a quick, easy and inexpensive way to update your home and push up the sale price, Gudell said.

Zillow found last year that certain paint colors can have a big impact on how much you get for your home. For example, the study found that homes with yellow kitchens sold for about $1,400 more than homes with white kitchens. While a mauve, eggplant or lavender dining room raised sale prices by $1,122 on average, a dark gray dining room lowered it by $1,112.

8. Smart-home tech may not be a good investment (yet)

Image result for smart home
While smart-home tech is trendy, it may not be worth the investment, Dykstra said.

“It hasn’t caught on yet in a way where we can quantify its value to the home with a dollar amount,” she said. “It’s still in the gadget stage where people go, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ but not everyone is ready to have internet-connected everything.”

Save the smart-home upgrade for your new home, where you’ll be able to appreciate your own investment.

9. Keep it clean

Image result for clean home

Dykstra stressed that the most important thing for sellers to do in any season is to present a clean, tidy home where buyers can really envision themselves living.

“Younger buyers are more zen-like in what they’re attracted to,” she said. “They want something out of Pottery Barn or other modern catalogs, so give them a clean palate by putting your personal things away.”

Dykstra recommends removing personal trinkets — which can make a room look cluttered — and tidying up your exterior too.

“Spring shows properties at their best when trees and flowers are blooming, so make sure your lawn is tidy and you don’t have any fall leaves blown up against your door,” she said.

ILYCE GLINK MONEYWATCH March 13, 2017, 6:00 AM