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Monday, March 26, 2012

Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Important Deadline & Information

Three years ago, the WA State Legislature passed legislation requiring the Building Code Council to create rules requiring all residential buildings to be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms.

The final carbon monoxide alarm rules go into effect April 1, 2012 and here's the up-to-date information on those rules. The basics are:
  • Carbon monoxide monitors must be installed in all new residential construction.
  • All sellers of residential property must install carbon monoxide alarms prior to closing.
  • There is NO REQUIREMENT for installation of carbon monoxide monitors in tenant-occupied housing, unless and until the property owner pulls a permit for interior remodeling.
Finally, in this legislative session Washington REALTORS® introduced SB 6472, which provides liability protection for real estate brokers should a seller fail to comply with requirements for installing carbon monoxide alarms. REALTORS® care about the safety of consumers, but should not be liable for a seller's omission. The bill has been passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for her signature.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The 3.8% Tax

Beginning January 1, 2013, a new 3.8 percent tax on some investment income will take effect. Since this new tax will affect some real estate transactions, it is important to clearly understand the tax and how it could impact you. It's a complicated tax, so it will have a different affect on all buyers and sellers.

Attached is an informational brochure.  On the following pages, you'll read examples of different scenarios in which this new tax - passed by Congress in 2010 with the intent of generating an estimated $210 billion to help fund President Barack Obama's health care and Medicare overhaul plans - could be relevant to you.

Understand that this tax WILL NOT be imposed on all real estate transactions, a common misconception. Rather, when the legislation becomes effective in 2013, it may impose a 3.8% tax on some (but not all) income from interest, dividends, rents (less expenses) and capital gains (less capital losses). The tax will fall only on individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) above $200,000 and couples filing a joint return with more than $250,000 AGI.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fixed-Rate Mortgages Remain at or Near All-Time Lows

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.88 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending March 8, 2012, down from last week when it averaged 3.90 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.88 percent.

15-year FRM this week averaged 3.13 percent with an average 0.8 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.17 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.15 percent.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.81 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.83 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.73 percent.

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.73 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.72 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 3.21 percent.

Did you know? If your credit score is around 620, your interest rate will be approximately 1.4% more than a credit score of 720. Over the life of a $300,000 mortgage, you'll end up paying an additional $91,000!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Washington homebuyers realizing “market may have reached bottom of cycle”

KIRKLAND, Wash. (March 5, 2012) – With spring on the horizon and consumer confidence on the rise, members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service are reporting positive gains in activity. Pending sales for February increased more than 27 percent from a year ago, more sellers are listing their homes, and brokers are reporting an uptick in multiple offers.

“Buyers are beginning to realize that we may have seen the bottom of this real estate market,” remarked Frank Wilson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “Waiting to buy may only result in paying a higher interest rate, having fewer houses to choose from, or finding that sellers do not need to give up as much as they have in the past,” he added.

Brokers reported 7,623 pending sales during February, the highest volume since August when they notched 7,632 mutually accepted offers. Last month’s tally jumped 27.4 percent from twelve months ago, with 20 of the 21 counties in the MLS service area reporting double-digit gains.

“The only thing tempering this from being a hot, thriving market are the short sales and foreclosed properties which represent about one-third of the transactions,” Wilson commented.

Buyers have fewer homes to consider compared to a year ago, with inventory down 22.5 percent area-wide. At month end, there were 25,510 active listings in the Northwest MLS database; a year ago, there were 32,922 homes and condos listed for sale.

Friday, March 2, 2012

REALTORS + Blood, The Radio Interview

I'm feeling extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to speak this morning on KGY with Smilin J and Tori Fairhurst of the Puget Sound Blood Center about the Thurston County REALTORS Association's upcoming mobile blood drives.  Here's the link to the 15 minute Piece: