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Wednesday, March 31, 2010


With the powerful presence of more than 600 REALTORS® on our Hill Day in January, the message we carried to legislators in Olympia was heard-real estate is critical to the overall economic recovery. During a session where it seemed taxes were inevitable, where decisions were difficult and state funds were waning, no increase in the real estate excise tax or B&O tax passed, nor was there a sales tax on services imposed on real estate. The special session is not over but it seems that lawmakers agree that it we must protect the industry that will lead us to recovery.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mark Your Calendar: June 11, 2010

A new cell phone law (SB 6345) goes into effect June 11 where police can pull someone over for texting or talking without a headset and give them a $124 ticket.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rates Rising?

On Friday, the Obama administration announced a plan requiring lenders to temporarily slash or eliminate monthly mortgage payments for unemployed borrowers. The administration said costs would be shared between the private sector and the federal government. The intentions might be good, but if the plan is implemented, costs to lenders are likely to increase. Increased costs are invariably passed on to borrowers through higher rates or more stringent underwriting guidelines.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

3 Reasons To Buy NOW, Not Later

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions an individual can make. So it’s understandable that one considering a home purchase may take their time to avoid rushing into such a large financial commitment. However, several factors might leave prospective home buyers who don’t purchase a property now wishing they had taken action sooner.

Current market conditions have created a perfect storm of sorts that has made it an ideal time to purchase for first-time and trade-up buyers alike. Those who have the means and the desire to buy now but don’t, aren’t likely to see such a great opportunity again anytime soon.

Specifically, here are three reasons why those who aren’t under contract to purchase a new home by April 30, 2010 might regret it.

1. They won’t receive a sizeable amount of money from Uncle Sam.

For the past two years, the federal government has offered a home buyer tax credit to help stimulate the economy. But that financial incentive is set to expire soon. First-time buyers who aren’t under contract to purchase a home by April 30, 2010 will leave the $8,000 that is available to them through the tax credit on the table. Meanwhile, repeat buyers will miss out on the opportunity to collect up to $6,500 from the government.

2. They might not lock-in on the historically-low interest rates.

Thanks to measures taken by the Federal Reserve including the purchasing of mortgage-backed securities, interest rates have remained historically-low for several years. With the economy beginning to show signs of recovery, it is widely believed that the government will soon put an end to these stimulus efforts.

If that happens, many economists believe we will begin to see a sharp increase in interest rates which could result in a much higher monthly payment for those who wait. For example, an interest rate increase of 1% on a 30-year fixed mortgage of $300,000 could cost a buyer $188 more a month or $67,000 more over the span of the entire loan.

3. They might miss out on record home price affordability.

Home price affordability is at its most optimal level in decades. As a result, those who wait to buy will likely pay more for the home they purchase than what that same home would cost right now. In fact, home prices have already begun to rise slightly in some markets. Instead of getting a better bargain, waiting to buy a home might net buyers a higher purchase price, less appreciation and less house for their buck.

If you are prone to saying ‘what if’ and wondering what could have been, you will thank yourself down the road for buying now.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Existing-Home Sales Down in January 2010 but Higher Than Year Ago | RISMedia

Existing-Home Sales Down in January 2010 but Higher Than Year Ago RISMedia: "Existing-home sales in the West declined 5.2% to an annual rate of 1.28 million in January but are 7.6% higher than January 2009. The median price in the West was $203,400, down 5.8% from a year ago."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Curb Appeal: Getting the Best Return

Improvements can be crucial when preparing to list your home for sale but it's the improvements that create the best curb appeal that will get the buyers in the door. One of the best bang's for your buck: Turning your drab yard into a magnificent lawn.

PAYBACK: Varies; a recent study shows that good landscaping adds 5% to 11% to a home's value

COST: Varies widely

WHEN IT MAKES SENSE: Your home isn't as landscaped as others in your neighborhood, or your yard looks unkempt or just uninteresting.

BEST WAY TO DO IT: Hire a landscaper that has an eye for design or landscape architects on staff ($$). For a small fee (less than you probably think), many will walk your property and recommend plantings and placement. (If you want a drawn plan, you'll pay $$.) Prefer to go it alone? At the garden center of your local home improvement store, resist the temptation to buy a little of everything. Be sure to know what your plan is and sketch your layout before entering the store.

CAVEAT: Don't tear all your existing plantings out. Keeping some mature ones will make your yard look more established.

COST-SAVING MOVE: Rather than buying new items, just prune the plants you have now and get rid of the dead stuff. Talk with friends, family, neighbors, and me as you never know who might be throwing out the Hosta or Day Lily's that they hate but would be a great addition to your landscaping.

I speak from experience: We hired a landscaper to drawn a design, recommend plantings and placement and on occasion, stop by to check on our progress. The best money spent!