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Sunday, February 28, 2010

National Stats Account for Distressed Properties

"Activity should be picking up strongly in late spring as buyers take advantage of the tax credit, which is critical to absorb distressed properties reaching the market and to continually chip away at inventory,” Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist said. “With a downtrend in the number of homes on the market, especially in the lower price ranges, values are beginning to firm but with great variance around the country.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $164,700 in January, unchanged from a year earlier. Distressed homes, which accounted for 38% of sales last month, continue to downwardly distort the median price because they typically are discounted in comparison with traditional homes in the same area.

A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 40% of homes in January, down from 43% in December. Investors accounted for 17% of transactions in January, up from 15% in December; the remaining sales were to repeat buyers. The survey also shows that buyer traffic increased 9.4% in January."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm Dreaming Of A New Lawn Mower

Mowing the lawn is tops on my list. It's the best chore as so much instant gratification can be derived from the event: the look of the newly mowed lawn, the smell of the freshly cut grass, the brief exercise I get while being outside in mediocre to good weather.

As fall arrived last year, our 6 year old lawn mower died. I admit it was probably time and was certain that deep down, my husband was secretly jubilant as he was more than ready to trade in the old push mower for a fancy riding model.

According to the E.P.A, almost 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. I won't have this problem until we purchase a new mower but a few easy ways to reduce spillage: don't top of tanks and use a no-spill gas can.

I'm open to suggestions if you have a fantastic mower that you think I'd enjoy. As the lawn mowing operator in this household so my vote is to continue pushing.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

P.I.T.I. - Real Estate Terminology

As REALTORS, we often use terminology that sometimes difficult for our clients to decipher. A common term during the financing contingency is "PITI": the sum of monthly principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Take the monthly loan amount (principal and interest) plus the monthly property tax payment, homeowners insurance premium, and, when applicable, mortgage insurance premium and homeowners association fee. Commonly included in your mortgage is the property tax payment and homeowners insurance premium, known as "escrow", PITI therefore is the monthly "bottom line" of what the homeowner calls their "mortgage payment".

Monday, February 15, 2010

Richard the Raccoon

The weather today was beautiful! February usually brings snow (as does March in the beautiful Pacific Northwest) but today truly felt like spring with the bulbs making their appearance, the buds cresting on shrubs and the temperature is nearing 60 degrees.

At 1:30 this afternoon, while nearing the end of a home inspection in the city limits of Olympia, my buyer shrieked with excitement 'there's a raccoon walking up the driveway'. What? Is she crazy? It's a beautiful sunny afternoon - no way is a raccoon walking up the driveway. As I launched out the front door in search of this so-called raccoon, I peered past the garbage bin and up the block wall, there it was: the fattest raccoon I've ever seen. It scampered along the wall and into the neighbors huge rhodendron bush, a clean arm's length from the bird feeder.
Now I am an animal lover, a huge animal lover. I love the birds, the deer, all critters. But, when it comes to my home, I prefer to keep the wild sort at bay. So, I sadly report to my fellow animal loving friends, you must be proactive in keeping wild animals and critters away from your structure to prevent any damage.

Those beautiful bird feeders go something like this: The bird eats the feed but some falls on the ground - what do you think happens to those extra pieces? The mice quickly come in, grab the food and head for shelter in your crawlspace. Partner that with any body of water, be it a bird bath, koi pond, water feature or dog dish, just a few sips of water for the mouse, his bits of bird feed and the warm covered shelter of your crawl space, before long the family of mice is movin' in!

So back to the raccoon (who my 5 year old son has named Richard after I reccanted the story), he was just on his way to that bird feeder next door. Why should he be living in the woods when he can get his lunch in the neighbors yard? And seriously, during broad daylight, Richard the raccoon has confidence and something tells me this isn't his first time eating at the neighbor's place.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Home is Where One Starts From" ~ T.S. Elliot

As with any profession, some aspects of my career are better than others. I especially enjoy helping first-time home buyers, the excitement of purchasing that first home is such a surreal experience. Listing a home and netting a seller more money than they ever imagined, also terrific. Working with clients whom have children, and knowing these children will associate their home with a lifetime of memories - that's pretty special.

As the Co-Chair of the Thurston County Realtors Association 3rd Grade Poster Contest, I enjoy reading the essays prepared by the youth of the Olympia area. We provide the materials to the schools, set a lengthy deadline (as we recognize how busy teacher's are) and the 3rd grade students complete a drawing of their home partnered with an essay they must finish "What My Home Means To Me".

The 2010 entries are in and they are absolutely exceptional! The boys and girls have creatively colored or painted beautiful images but it's the essays that are extraordinary. As I read each essay, I am overcome by the meaning of "Home" to each child.

Until Tuesday, February 16, the entries are on display at the Westfield Shopping Mall. Stop in, read a few, a vote for your favorite. Official judging will be in March followed by the awards.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I've Never Seen Smoke That Color

Just a short mile from my home lies the beautiful neighborhood of Countrywood. This afternoon, a home built in 2003 was the site of a raging inferno. My heart is heavy tonight thinking of the family that's been displaced due to this horrific nightmare.

I haven't a clue what the cause of the fire but according to the National Fire Protection Association, a residential fire occurred every 76 seconds in the U.S. during 2007. Prevent a common mishap from turning into a major disaster by following these basic steps:

Detect smoke and carbon monoxide by keeping an alarm in every room.

Maintain alarms by changing the batteries every six months and testing them weekly.

Replace smoke alarms every 10 years and carbon monoxide alarms every five years.

Keep fire extinguishers in trouble areas, such as the kitchen and garage.

Plan escape routes out of the house and practice using them with the whole family.

It's easy to think "oh, that'll never happen to me" but unfortunately, it can happen to anyone.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Can't Time The Market

The age old question - when should I put my house on the market? Unfortunately, as REALTORS, we just can't time the market. While the winter months host the holidays, it might be cold outside and your yard isn't beautiful, you can rest assured that the buyers that are looking are serious, otherwise why would they be looking? Plus, you have less competition as many sellers wait until Spring to list.

With inventory of available homes down, interest rates are historically low, two federal tax credits are available - we see this as a great time to actively market your property for sale with a REALTOR. Foreclosures are increasing which means more competition in the near future so take advantage of today's market.

Don't wait for rates to increase. Don't wait for the tax credits to expire. Don't wait for the unknown. If you wait, you'll miss the boat.