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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Renew Tabs Online & Save!

If customers who regularly use the Internet to renew their tabs sign up for email renewal, DOL would avoid printing 1 million notices over the next year. This would save 2,000 reams of paper and 2 million envelopes, as well as approximately $500,000 in printing and mailing costs.

To sign up for email renewal notices through the Department of Licensing (DOL) website at www.dol.wa.gov, when renewing tabs online, or at a neighborhood vehicle licensing office. Email renewal notices provide all of the information on a traditional paper renewal notice. They also have a direct link to DOL’s online vehicle tab renewal system.

Using the link to the online renewal system, you can have new tabs ordered and on their way within minutes of receiving the notice. As more and more people become accustomed to receiving bills and bank statements over the Internet, the agency is hoping people embrace email renewal notices.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tax Credits Expire in 4 Days!

If you are looking to purchase a home and take advantage of the Federal Home Buyer Tax Credit you only have a few days left. You must have a binding sales contract on or before April 30, 2010 to qualify.

Here are the rules for a First Time Buyer or Move Up Buyer.

$8,000 First-time Home Buyer Tax Credit at a Glance
~The $8,000 tax credit is for first-time home buyers only. For the tax credit program, the IRS defines a first-time home buyer as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.
~The tax credit does not have to be repaid unless the home is sold or ceases to be used as the buyer's principal residence within three years after the initial purchase.
~The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home's purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.
~The tax credit applies only to homes priced at $800,000 or less.
~The tax credit now applies to sales occurring on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
~For homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before November 6, 2009, the income limits are $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.
~For homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010, single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit.

The $6,500 Move-Up / Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit at a Glance
~To be eligible to claim the tax credit, buyers must have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years.
~The tax credit does not have to be repaid unless the home is sold or ceases to be used as the buyer's principal residence within three years after the initial purchase.
~The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home's purchase price up to a maximum of $6,500.
~The tax credit applies only to homes priced at $800,000 or less.
~The credit is available for homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, the home purchase qualifies provided it is completed by June 30, 2010.
~Single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010: 10 Things You Can Do To Celebrate Mother Earth


Today, the Earth celebrates its big day. And on this, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we are reminded of how far we've come - and how far we have to go.

What can you do for Earth Day? Anything that is meaningful to you and planet Earth.

You can start with simple changes in the home, in the garden and on the road. Take a look at these money savers for greening your home.

1. Fix faucet leaks — A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons a year.

2. Seal drafty windows and doors — A home can lose about 50 percent of its heat or cool air through drafty windows and doors.

3. Avoid running water — Turn water off while you brush your teeth.

4. Say no to plastic — According to data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2001, about 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide annually, and it can take months to hundreds of years for these bags to break down. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.

5. Use energy-efficient appliances — The average household can save up to $400 annually by using energy-efficient appliances.

6. Replace light bulbs — One fluorescent bulb can save approximately $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in six months.

7. Start a compost pile — According to the EPA, 23 percent of U.S. waste materials sent to landfills, such as yard trimmings and leftover food, could be used as compost.

8. Slow it down — Sticking to the speed limit and keeping tires property inflated can help increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

9. Raise the thermostat — Households will save up to 3 percent per month in energy costs by raising the air conditioner thermostat for every degree above 72 degrees.

10. Think before wrapping — Be creative and use newspaper, take-out menus, old calendars and wallpaper to wrap gifts.

11. Make energy-efficient home improvements — The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extends, expands and simplifies the federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements. The law extends the consumer tax benefits through this year.

Happy Birthday Mother Earth!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kick-Off Blood Drive A Huge Success


This year more than 200,000 people in western Washington will donate blood at Puget Sound Blood Centers. Because of their generosity, PSBC is able to serve 70 hospitals and 21 clinics in western Washington. Every day, PSBC delivers more than 1000 units of lifesaving blood.

Earlier this year, I proposed to my local Realtor office, Thurston County REALTORS Association (TCRA), that we re-establish our affiliation with the Puget Sound Blood Center. My proposal explained that each month, a Broker Member Office would hold a mobile blood drive at their location.

With 100% support by the Board of Directors, I scheduled the first mobile blood drive to be held at my office, RE/MAX Parkside Affiliates and over a month's time, I secured the 20+ donors needed.

Today was our first mobile blood drive and it was a bloody success! We had 25 blood donors and 15 of them were first time donors! I am extremely grateful to those who took the 45 minutes out of their day to participate in this event.

Every day something remarkable happens. And every day Puget Sound Blood Center makes it possible.

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Procession of the Species

People celebrating community through nature... Olympia's 16th Procession of the Species will be on April 24th 2010 at 4:30pm!

Their mission: To empower communities to engage in cultural relationships with the natural world as a means of sustaining efforts of environmental protection and restoration.

We enjoy this event with our entire family each year. Don't miss it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

South Sound Green Tour

We are excited to announce a groundbreaking event for the whole community, a 1st for our local NW EcoBuildng Guild!

South Sound Green Tour
1st Annual Event
April 17 & 18, 2010
Olympia & Tumwater, WA
Inspiration – Education – Solutions

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Saturday: A Busy One for Olympians


Are you looking for something to do this weekend? I have 3 great ideas:

1. TREES: The City of Lacey will hold its annual tree seedling giveaway from noon to 3 p.m., or until supplies run out, Saturday at Huntamer Park.

Species available this year include red leaf Japanese maple, golden raintree, Yoshino cherry, ginkgo biloba, and Colorado blue spruce. There is a limit of one seedling per person.

The city had recently been designated a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the 19th consecutive year. Lacey was one of the first cities in Washington receive this designation. The city has given out 22,000 free tree seedlings since the giveaway began in the early 1990s.

For more information, call Kathy Owens, recreation supervisor, at 360-491-0857.

2. FISH: Youth ages of 5-14 will have an opportunity to fish for free at Long's Pond on Saturday in Lacey.

The annual event is put on by the Lacey Parks and Recreation Department, The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and community volunteers. Jenny Wilson, a recreation supervisor for Lacey, said they expect around 600 participants.

The event starts at 8 a.m. at Long’s Pond in Woodland Creek Community Park, and participants need to pre-register with the Parks and Rec Department. For information call 360-491-0857.

Fishing poles are available for $5.

3. DOWNTOWN: The popular spring ArtsWalk celebration and accompanying Procession of the Species are rapidly approaching. That can mean only one thing: It's time to clean up downtown Olympia and get ready for the festivities.

Every spring and fall, volunteer crews assemble in the heart of the city to pick up trash, sweep the sidewalks, weed, trim, rake, paint over graffiti and, in general, give the downtown business district a good cleaning. Last year more than 300 volunteers, including a sizeable contingent from Joint Base Lewis McChord, helped with the project. This year fewer than 100 people are signed up, so it’s time to add to the volunteer list.

Operation Downtown Clean Up is set for 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers are needed for all or part of the day, and each volunteer will receive a free barbecue lunch. The deployment center is the alley entrance to the old Olympia Press Building on Capitol Way between Fourth Avenue and State Avenue.

To volunteer, call Vida Farler at the Olympia Downtown Association office at 360-357-8948 or e-mail odaevents@tss.net

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Real Estate: The Investment of Choice


As the federal tax credits for home buying near the April 30 expiration, consumers are taking notice. The National Association of Realtors reported that its pending home sales index climbed 8.2% to 97.6 in February. The surge is similar to the one seen in October prior to the November 30 end date for the original homebuyer’s tax credit.

Will there be a third surge somewhere down the line? That's difficult to say, but the lobbying is on. NAR lead economist Lawrence Yun commented last week that another surge is needed to stabilize prices and reduce inventory, suggesting that extending the credits again wouldn't be the worst thing the federal government could do for housing.

Some remain unconvinced. Some think the credits have run their course, so any extension would have a marginal benefit at best. That's okay, though, because the market is close to taking over. According to a recent Fannie Mae survey, two out of three Americans think it's a good time to buy a home – a percentage that matches responses in a similar survey in 2003 – while 31% believe it's a very good time to buy. Seventy percent of the respondents said that buying a home continues to be one of the safest investments. To put that in context, 74% ranked a bank account as a safe investment while only 17% viewed the stock market as safe. Real estate remains the investment of choice.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sign the petition | Jamie's Food Revolution USA


STOP Increase on Real Estate Taxes

Please take a moment to contact Governor Gregoire as soon as possible today and stress the importance of not increasing taxes on Real Estate.


There are 3 ways to get a message to the Governor's office.

1: Go to http://governor.wa.gov/contact/default.asp and send a message.

2: Call the Communications Hotline at (360) 902-4136

3: Send a fax at (360) 753-4110


Please include the following points in your message:


- The new proposal to increase the Business and Occupation Tax (B&O) rate on real estate is unfair to our industry, which is suffering through 30% job losses and 50% income reductions in many parts of the state.


- It is critical to realize that the proposed expansion of the B&O small business tax credit provides no relief for individual real estate agents. Many real estate agents are below the tax credit cap, but do not qualify based on how B&O tax is calculated and paid by the real estate industry.


- The real estate industry is critical to economic recovery and job growth in our state. We are doing everything we can to stay in business and need your support.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Which comes first? The Realtor or the house?


Many times when talking to people about buying a home this question inevitably comes up. Why do I need a real estate agent if I don't have a house picked out? Or why can't I just use the one with the sign in the yard?

Most people tend to rank real estate agents right up there with lawyers and dentists. OK, maybe not that bad. Perhaps buyers feel they will be pushed into something by the realtor. Maybe they think there is a special incentive that the realtor gets by steering a buyer to certain properties. Most of the fears that buyers have about Realtors are just plan false. It could also be due to a lack of basic knowledge on how the process works.

When a property is listed for sale, most of the time the commission that the seller is willing to pay is set. The commission to sell the home is usually around 6% of the sales price. So if you are a buyer and walk into a house for sale without your own realtor, the realtor that put the sign in the yard is going to make the entire 6% commission of the sales price if you chose to buy it through them. Does he have an incentive to get you to pay the highest price possible? Sure, he works for the seller. The more you pay, the happier his client is.

If however, you hire your own real estate agent to help negotiate the transaction, then the 6% commission is generally split between the two real estate agents so each realtor makes 3%. The seller is still paying the same amount regardless of how many Realtors are involved. The big difference here is that your real estate agent's job is to represent your interest only. They want to get the deal done for you! If you are a happy client, you are likely to refer business to them for doing a good job.

Some people might feel that the real estate agent is pushing them to pay a higher price because then they get a higher commission. Rarely would this ever be the case. Let's say the difference in what you want to pay and what you agent is recommending is as much as $10,000. The commission on that increase is only $300. Many agents split that with their real estate broker so they get about $150. Would it be worth $150 in extra income to possibly lose a sale? Remember that the difference was $10,000. Most price differences are usually just a couple of thousand dollars apart.

If you want a real estate agent to work hard for you in finding the perfect home at the right price - you need to be loyal to them. No real estate agent wants to spend hours researching information for a buyer, only to have them go use another real estate agent. One way to show that you are serious about working with an agent is to sign a "Buyers Brokerage Agreement." This document basically states that you will work only with them in finding a house, and if you go off and use another agent without first getting out of the contract, then you owe the agent a commission. You will find that by using this contract you get more time and effort on your agent's part.

However, before you ever sign one of these contracts you want to make sure that this is the real estate agent and brokerage company that you want to work with. You should interview the agent. Ask questions about their typical deals, typical clients, experience, communication style, and anything else you feel is relevant. Remember you are hiring them to work for you.

Some questions that may be helpful to you are:

1. How long have you been an agent?
2. How many transactions did you close last year?
3. What was the average price of the homes that you were in involved in the sales process?
4. How many clients are you currently working with?
5. Can you provide me with references?
6. How will you update me on new properties?
7. Can I review documents that I will need to sign ahead of time?
8. Why should I hire you to help me find a home?
9. If I agree to sign a Buyers Brokerage Agreement and we find that we cannot work together, how is this handled?
10. What advanced designations do you currently hold?
11. What is the length of the agreement?
12. Do you have an objective policy for handling conflicts of interest?

Once you think that this is the right real estate agent to represent you, then you should definitely consider signing the Buyers Brokerage Agreement.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Awesome Mom


My friend emailed me this today and having read it many times before, I can't help but share. It couldn't be more true!

Before I was a Mom,
I never tripped over toys
or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not
my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind
and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child
so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night
watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put her down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the
hurt.
I never knew that something so small
could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.


Before I was a Mom,
I didn't know the feeling of
having my heart outside my body..
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond
between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small
could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make
sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth,
the joy,
the love,
the heartache,
the wonderment
or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom