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Monday, December 29, 2014

The Appraiser Is Coming...

When is the appraisal ordered and why do I need one?
An appraisal is ordered once the home inspection has been completed and accepted by all parties.  An appraisal is required, by the lender and secondary market, to determine the property's market value and is used to verify a property's worth for future financing.

Who ordered it?
  • Appraisals are order by the buyer's lender through a 3rd party management company in order to prohibit undue influence and/or pressure to "come up with the number".

What should I do?
  • Assist the appraiser's accuracy by being prepared before they arrive:
    • Make a list of recent updating and/or remodeling as well as the cost. (furnace, roof, siding, appliances, floor covering, etc.)
    • Add to the list special features such as sprinklers, heated countertops/floors, security systems, sound systems, etc. that may not be obvious.
  • If you are present, make yourself available to answer questions, but give the appraiser a bit of space to do their job. Don't hover!
  • Appraisers must state whether kitchen and bathrooms have had significant updating and/or remodeling within 15 years and state the timeframe the work was completed.  Be prepared so the appraiser doesn't have to guess.
What will the appraiser do?
  • Inspect your property during daylight hours.
  • Measure the interior and exterior of your home.
  • Photography your home inside and out.
  • Photograph your carbon monoxide detector (make sure to install it prior to their inspection).
  • Inspect the crawl spaces and electrical panel.
  • Inspect and photograph all outbuildings (even if they are considered personal property and not included in the value).
  • After inspecting your property the appraiser will verify comparable sale and listing data, prepare a written report and send it to the appraisal management company.
The appraisal is paid for by the buyer as part of their mortgage loan fees and as the seller you will not receive a copy of the completed appraisal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foreign Money Purchasing Strong in the Pacific Northwest

Wealthy Chinese are sinking billions of dollars into Puget Sound area real estate, and by doing so they're making a clear-cut business case for protecting the environment and spending money on education. The influx of foreign buyers, mostly Chinese, was one of the top real estate stories of the 2014. It's not just that many foreign nationals are buying here. Rather, it's how they're executing transactions, with some paying all cash for pricey assets.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The most incredible real estate stats of 2014

Employment in the U.S. is projected to grow over the next decade. New-home construction is exploding. Shadow inventory is dropping. We pulled it all together in one place with “The Most Incredible Real Estate Stats of 2014.”

Market data comes from all over, with seemingly countless entities and organizations compiling the latest on mortgage rates, housing starts, home sales and jobs figures. This is both a positive and negative for industry professionals. On the one hand, agents and brokers have a bevy of resources at their disposal to educate them on local, regional and national market conditions. From NAR to Standard & Poor’s to Freddie Mac to CoreLogic, there’s certainly no shortage of in-depth industry information that comes to light each month. On the other hand, finding all of this data and discerning the important takeaways can be difficult.

Flip through the slides and you’ll find plenty of news to give you optimism about our industry:

Seth Price is director of sales and real estate marketing at Placester, a Cambridge, Mass.-based technology company specializing in building online marketing tools for the real estate industry.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brokers say home buyers are back, but they’re choosy

Home buyers are back, and they’re savvy and selective, according to officials who commented on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. For sellers, that means pricing a home correctly at the start is vital.

The new report summarizing October activity shows year-over-year gains in new listings, pending sales, closed sales and prices. Northwest MLS members reported 8,643 pending sales last month, which is up nearly 6.9 percent from twelve months ago when members reported 8,086 mutually accepted offers. Most of the increases are from sales of single family homes, which rose more than 7.8 percent while condo activity was flat with less than a 1 percent rise in sales.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Home sales stay strong, but prices approaching “affordability ceiling” for some buyers

Pending sales of homes around Western Washington surged more than 13 percent in September compared to a year ago, and listing activity picked up slightly, fueling both broker optimism and words of advice for sellers.

Along with increases in the number of mutually accepted offers, the latest report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows year-over-year gains in the number of closed sales (up 4.6 percent) and prices (up 2.5 percent). Inventory for its service area, which encompasses 21 counties in Western and Central Washington, declined slightly (just under 1.2 percent).

We expect the Greater Puget Sound real estate market will maintain a “healthy glow” in 2015 so long as there is no radical increase in interest rates.

Northwest MLS members reported 8,875 pending sales during September to outpace the year-ago total of 7,839 pendings. The volume tapered off about 5 percent from the August figure of 9,342 mutually accepted offers. All but one of the 21 counties served by the MLS reported year-over-year increases.

The number of closed sales for September also rose, climbing from 6,711 a year ago to 7,020 for a 4.6 percent increase. Prices on those sales were up 2.5 percent.

The median price on last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums was $285,000, which compares to the year-ago figure of $278,000.

Friday, June 6, 2014

10 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector

Congratulations - you're purchasing a home.  An important piece, whether the home is brand new or 50 years old or anywhere in between, is the home inspection.  Here are 10 questions to ask a home inspector before selecting the best inspector to work on your behalf:
  1. What are your qualifications?  Are you a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors or National Association of Home Inspectors?
  2. Do you have a current Washington State Home Inspector License?
  3. How many inspections of properties such as this do you do each year?
  4. Do you have a list of past clients I can contact?
  5. Do you carry professional errors and omission insurance?  May I have a copy of the policy?
  6. Do you provide any guarantees of your work?
  7. What specifically will the inspection cover?
  8. What type of report will I receive after the inspection?
  9. How long will the inspection take and how long will it take to receive the report?
  10. How much will the inspection cost?
As your trusted professional, here are a few names of home inspectors I work with in Thurston County:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Housing market righting itself as buyers, brokers get creative to compete

Housing around Western Washington is on an upward trajectory, but inadequate inventory “in the right prices and locations” makes for a “very difficult market for purchasers and brokers,” according to an executive with one multi-office real estate company.

New figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show inventory increased in May compared to a year ago, but brokers say competition is keen. “Multiple offers and escalation clauses occur on a regular basis for properties that are extremely well priced and in great condition,” reports Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.
4736 Remington Lane SE, Lacey 98503
I listed and sold this home in 10 days
Mike Gain, a former chairman of the Northwest MLS board of directors, also commented on the bidding wars. “We are experiencing more multiple offers than I have experienced in my 35 years of practicing real estate in this marketplace,” stated Gain, the president and CEO of Berkshire. “This is a very difficult market for purchasers, our agents and brokers. If we had inventory to handle the demand our pending and sold numbers would be greatly increased,” he believes, adding, “We desperately need good quality inventory.”

Last month’s pending sales topped the 10,000 mark for the first time in twelve months. The number of mutually accepted offers totaled 10,373, outgaining a year ago by 328 transactions for an increase of almost 3.3 percent. Last month’s total was the highest volume of pending sales since June 2006 when brokers tallied 10,448 transactions.

With demand outpacing supply in many parts of the region, brokers are noticing more creativity among competing parties. “Offer review deadlines have become pretty commonplace in this market, as have pre-inspections and some agents and buyers are getting even more aggressive by submitting their offer prior to the deadline.”

There’s also an increase in the number of cash buyers, and buyers willing to waive their financing contingency, “making it even more difficult for the vast majority who don’t have this option.” With ongoing competition likely to continue, we expect agents and buyers to be “increasingly creative until the market becomes more balanced, which probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.”

MLS figures show months of inventory slipped to 3.33 from April’s figure of 3.46. In King County, supply stayed about even with April (1.78 months of inventory in May versus l.74 months in April). Snohomish slipped from 2.47 months to 2.37. Four to six months is considered to be a balanced market.
Fewer sales closed last month compared to a year ago (down 2.2 percent), but prices increased. Compared to April, the number of completed sales in May jumped by 997 transactions for a gain of 16.1 percent. Brokers reported 7,187 closed sales of single family homes and condominiums last month with a median selling price of $285,000. That sales price reflects a 3.6 percent increase from the year-ago figure of $275,000.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

This Week In Your Wallet: Mortgages, Marriage and Moolah, Oh My by Jean Chatzky

Jean Chazky

If you’ve been reading the same papers I have this week, then you’ve likely noticed the headlines swirling about falling mortgage rates. The average rate on the 30-year fell to 4.12% according to Fannie Mae, the average on the 15-year to 3.25%. This is one-third of a point lower than the highs that hit late last summer, but also about a point higher than the lows of recent years.

What’s driving rates down? Not dismal economic news. Rates tend to fall when data is released showing that the economy is slowing – and rise when we get reports that it’s improving.  We got the latter this week. Consumer confidence is up according to The Conference Board. Durable goods orders are rising.  And, according to a recent Gallup Survey, the amount consumers are spending on a daily basis – at $98 -- is at a six-year high and $10 over the April average.

The take from The markets don’t seem to believe the economy is headed for a roar -- more like a “slow growth, low inflation” period of the sort that supports bond prices (yields on 10-year Treasuries are akin to 30-year-mortgage rates). There’s also some sense that the housing market, while improving, has a decent amount of ground to make up before it’s fully recovered.

So what does this mean for you going forward? I was asked that question this week on Twitter: @natehyde wrote: Do you foresee the rates for the 30 yr getting into the 3’s?

I don’t, and neither do the forecasters at According to their most recent weekly post: “Will mortgage rates continue their slow downward drift next week? Probably. Are they confounding expectations, including ours? Yes….For our part, we think the [upcoming] news will be pretty solid, and both stocks and interest rates may firm a little bit.”

If you’re shopping for a loan, take a look at hybrid products that can lower your rate, while not dramatically increasing the amount of risk you’re taking. Last week, The Wall Street Journal wrote about a 15/15 adjustable rate loan from PenFed Credit Union. Like other ARMs (5/1s, 7/1s, etc.), it’s fixed for the first part of the term, then adjusts a single time. Right now, the starting interest rate is 3.65%. If you think (or even know) that you’ll be out of your house by then, that can be a smart move. Likewise, Bankrate Senior Financial Analyst Greg McBride has seen 5/5/20 adjustables, which are fixed for the first five years, then adjust and hold for another five, then adjust once again. “These are products that warrant consideration for people who are not using them as a crutch of affordability,” he says, noting that using an adjustable to buy more home than you could really afford was a big problem when the housing market collapsed. “They’re for people who have plenty of cash flow to make the payments, but are disciplined enough to put the savings into other investments.” 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Listed in Hawks Prairie!

Just Listed For Sale: 

Attractive 2-story in The Greens at Edgewater featuring 4 spacious bedrooms, large bonus room, 2.5 bathrooms, master suite with spacious tiled 5 piece bath. Open gourmet kitchen with stainless appliances, island, nook, pantry and exquisite hardwood floors. Formal dining rooms, family room with gas fireplace, den with French doors. Tandem 3 car garage and fenced yard with patio, heat pump. Neighborhood features 3 large parks, 3 mile walking trail to the beach, nearby golf and easy access to I-5. Call Anya today to schedule a tour.

4442 Logan Drive NE
Lacey WA 98516
Offered at $343,000

Monday, May 26, 2014

10 Tips to Green-Up Your Home

Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, chances are you care about protecting the environment – and saving money. Here are some tips from Seattle Mortgage, a subsidiary of Seattle Bank to help you do both.

Location, location, location efficiency. Carefully consider the location of your home. If you’re close to work, shopping and entertainment, you may not need a car. Without a car you would save money on gas, car insurance and maintenance, not to mention reduce pollution. If you’re thinking about moving further out, try to find something near public transportation and shopping.

Light up the house, not the electric bill. Replacing incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs will save you about $6 a year in electricity costs per bulb and more than $40 over its lifetime. According to ENERGY STAR, if every American home replaced just one light bulb, we would save enough energy to prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Remember to recycle used CFL bulbs. Go to for recycling locations.

Some like it hot, hot, hot…or cold, cold, cold. Closely monitor your thermostat. Adjusting it just a few degrees while you’re out can save energy and money. You can make it easier by installing a programmable thermostat. Use fans and close the blinds during the warm months and let the sun in for natural warmth in the winter. Also, change your filter every three months.

How low can you go? One way to save water is by using low-flow toilets. The most cost-effective way to do this is to simply take a 1 liter plastic bottle, fill it with water and place it inside the tank. This will reduce your water use per flush. Another way to save water is placing an aerator on all of your faucets.

Make it mean-green-clean. Cleaning supplies can be expensive and are made with toxic chemicals. You can save money and the environment by making your own cleaning supplies. All you need are some basic household ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and borax to clean everything from windows to tile. Look online for recipes and suggestions.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Sticking to this mantra can help you save money around the house. Use a rag instead of paper towels. Buy products in bulk, concentrate or refillable containers to reduce packaging waste. Look for products made from recycled content. And don’t forget to recycle!

Win-dos for your windows. There are a number of ways you can make your windows more energy efficient without replacing them. For better insulation from the weather you can caulk exterior joints, put shrink wrap on them or hang blackout curtains.

Fan the green flames. To keep your refrigerator running efficiently, keep the fan clean. The motor won’t have to work as hard if the fan is clear of debris.

Decorate green. Houseplants are like living air-filters. English Ivy, rubber trees, peace lilies and red-edged dracaena can help clean the air and look pretty too.

Vampire energy is sucking you dry. On or off, anything plugged into the wall sucks energy. Vampire power costs U.S. consumers more than $3 billion a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Unplug your electronics and appliances when they’re not in use.

For more green home solutions, visit:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hot New Listing in Tumwater!

Better than new quality home in Tumwater's Highlands. All the perfect touches are in this 3 bedroom plus den plus bonus floorplan. Main floor features include living and dining rooms, den, open family room to kitchen offering granite counters, stainless appliances, nook, hardwood floors. Large utility room with sink, exterior access. Top floor offers master suite with 5 piece bath, balcony with views. Fully landscaped yards with sprinklers plus low maintenance deck perfect for entertaining. Call Anya today to schedule a showing.

1833 Vista Loop SW
Tumwater, WA 98512
Offered at $324,900

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Housing activity in Western Washington ranges from “red hot” to “slowly healing”

Brokers report some skittishness among both buyers and sellers, but the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service indicate the housing market is continuing to rebound. Both the number of pending sales and the number of new listings added to inventory during April reached their highest levels in 11 months.

Closed sales of single family homes and condominiums were slightly below the year-ago volume, while the median sales price rose slightly (up about 1.9 percent).

“The residential market is red hot,” where multiple offers are the “norm” for new listings, with about two-thirds of homes near job centers selling in the first 30 days. That’s about twice the normal rate.

4761 Brech Street $365,000
I listed and sold this home in less than 2 weeks

Many areas outside the Greater Seattle job centers also show signs of positive activity, but at a more moderate pace. “The real estate market continues to show positive signs both locally and nationally,” stated John Deely, one of the directors of Northwest MLS.

MLS members reported 9,590 pending sales of single family homes and condominiums during April, about even with the same period a year ago when brokers tallied 9,600 mutually accepted offers. Last month’s total marks the highest level since May 2013 when the MLS reported 10,045 pending sales across its 21-county area.

Improving inventory is helping to boost sales, but MLS officials say the number of distressed sales in some areas, and shortages of the “right kinds” of inventory persist, are causing some drag on activity. Some brokers also expressed concern about the sluggish pace of new construction.

Members added 11,043 new listings to inventory during April, about 700 more than a year ago for a 6.7 percent gain. At month end, there were 21,390 listings system-wide, up nearly 7.9 percent from twelve months ago when active listings totaled 19,826.

“A lot of potential sellers who would like to move up are reluctant to list due to uncertainty that there will be something on the market they would want or be able to purchase,” said Northwest MLS director Diedre Haines. Changes in the new construction segment are also affecting activity, she suggested.

Other brokers had similar comments about current inventory.

“We are still desperate for inventory in spite of statistics indicating we have more listings,” commented MLS director Kathy Estey. Inventory is being held back because potential sellers fear they will sell their home and not find one to move into, said Estey, the managing broker at John L. Scott in Bellevue.

South Puget Sound seeing impact of distressed properties

Distressed properties are still influencing activity and prices in the South Sound, reported Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma. According to his analysis of Northwest MLS data, about 30 percent of April’s sales in both Pierce and Thurston counties were distressed properties, either bank owned or short sales. He noted this appears to be more than twice the ratio in King County.

Buyers are indecisive, Beeson noted, explaining, “They can’t decide if they like a bigger selection or not, especially if much of the inventory is not in the greatest physical condition, which describes many distressed properties.”

Despite the relatively high proportion of distressed properties in Pierce and Thurston counties, multiple offers are occurring on “right priced, right conditioned” listings, remarked Beeson.

Commenting on the minor price drop (down 0.15 percent) compared to a year ago, Beeson believes it is due to the high number of bank owned properties and short sales that were in the mix. He indicated his analysis revealed a median price of $240,000 for non-distressed single family homes, or about 30 percent higher than the distressed component. The gaps in King County, with a smaller proportion of distressed sales, were not as pronounced.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Interest rates and buying power

 To help you understand how interest rates affect buying power, below is a table for explanation.

For example, say you qualify for a $300,000 loan with an interest rate of 4.5%. If interest rates rise to 5.5% you'd now only be qualified for a loan of $267,705. That one percent change in interest rates equals a $32,295 reduction in buying power. In other words, if prices drop by $10,000 and interest rates rise 1%, you've lost $20,000 by waiting.

While home prices are a very important consideration, interests rates have a large say in how much you can afford. If you're waiting to buy while interest rates are rising, you may end up paying more.

Use the table below to see how interest changes affect loan amounts

At a 4.5% fixed rate loan, you could qualify for a loan amount of:
The loan amount would you qualify for based upon a higher fixed rate of:
(4.665% APR)
(5.679% APR)
(6.694% APR)

This document is not intended as an offer to extend credit nor a commitment to lend. The loan interest rates, fees and terms presented here are for illustrating purposes only and may not be currently available. The document was prepared to assist real estate professionals in illustrating some of the financial options available.

*courtesy of

Monday, April 21, 2014


Advance Notice – Limited Time Offer
Please be advised the Housing Finance Commission expects to announce funding for a below-market House Key Opportunity Program on or about May 1, 2014.  A formal announcement will go out upon program launch.
The total amount of funds for this proposed program is dependent on housing revenue bond market conditions and the program may be withdrawn at any time after funding availability is announced.
We anticipate a potential pool of funds up to $25 million, but this too can increase or decrease based on market conditions.
Proposed Interest Rates:

3.50% - 1% origination for FHA, VA

3.75% - 1% origination for Conventional loans


90 days – existing construction (through loan purchase)

120 days – new construction (through loan purchase)

·    No Waiting List will be taken once the program is terminated. 


·   Funds are expected to go quickly.

Loan Term:

30 years fixed

If you are interested, please contact me immediately so I can put you in contact with the best lender to  pre-qualify you and have you complete the required home buyer education (can complete class online).  These funds will go VERY quickly so we would need to move fast once the funds are available on or about May 1st.  Income and purchase price limits apply.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Buying vs. Renting

Buying a home vs. renting is a big decision that takes careful consideration, as consumers, real estate agents and mortgage consultants will agree. But the rewards of home ownership are great. For many years, purchasing real estate has been considered an extremely profitable investment. It is an achievement that offers a sense of pride, financial stability and potential tax advantages.

Yes, there are certain responsibilities associated with owning a home. Landlords will often argue the benefits of renting, and for obvious reason. If you are renting, you’re helping them make their mortgage payment.

The numbers are staggering if you look at it this way. If you are paying $1,000 per month for an apartment, and you know your rent will increase 5% every year, then over the next five years you will pay your landlord $66,309. If you are currently renting a house, you may be paying much more than that each month. Either way, you gain no equity by shelling out this monthly housing expense and you certainly won’t benefit when the property value goes up!

However, if you were to purchase your own home or condominium, you would be on your way toward building equity. By choosing a fixed-rate loan program, you can have the comfort of knowing that your monthly principal and interest mortgage payment will never go up. In fact, you would have the option of refinancing to a lower interest rate at some point in the future should interest rates drop lower than the rate you’d currently be locked in at, and this would cause your monthly mortgage commitment to go down.

And not only would your own home give you added space, your own back yard and overall privacy—home ownership would also give you some tax advantages. Depending on your tax bracket, owning a home is often less expensive than renting after taxes. Interest payments on a mortgage below $1 million are tax-deductible, and your mortgage consultant should help you evaluate the tax advantages of various loan scenarios, and share this information with your tax consultant to glean feedback on your behalf.

There are many different types of loan programs available, including "low" down payment mortgage programs. Gift funds are also allowed on most low down payment programs.  Sellers are still willing to pay for closing costs if the offer price is acceptable in most areas. 

Don't miss this opportunity to become a homeowner today.  Message me and I'll align you with the best lender for your needs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Three Little Fixes You Can Make When Prepping a Home for Sale

3 Little Fixes

For Sale (Almost)
Homeowners make a lot of memories in their houses, and there's no doubt it's emotional for them to say goodbye to their well-loved kitchens and family rooms when they put their homes on the market. Unfortunately, potential buyers will not be charmed by that "lived-in look." As a realtor, you know that they will only see details that need TLC...ASAP.

Here are a few simple DIY projects that you can pass on to your clients. These little fixes will rejuvenate some common trouble areas and make homes more appealing to fussy buyers...something your clients definitely can get behind!

1) Busted tiles are not classy.
Oops. Did an anvil drop on that tile countertop? Tile holds up almost indefinitely to all kinds of wear-but sadly, as you may have seen in your years on the job, tile cracks if something heavy is dropped on it.

What your clients can do
It's relatively simple to replace broken tile: remove the grout, mask the surrounding tiles with tape, loosen the tile, chisel out the pieces, set the new tile, fill the perimeter with new grout and allow the grout to dry. Goodbye, shabby tile.

2) Scratches and dings and gouges, oh my!
We know your client's brother-in-law didn't mean to run into the built-in bookshelves drawer with the recliner. While a droll family memory, there's no value-add for the prospective home buyer, so it's probably best the seller get rid of any and all visible scratches, dings and gouges.

What your clients can do
Minor scratches can be wiped clean with mineral oil, lightly sanded with fine grade sandpaper and sealed with polyurethane. Scratches that penetrate the finish can be filled with a like-colored furniture repair stick. The product consists of wax and putty, and is easy to apply. Follow with a coat of polyurethane.

Not quite a gouge, but deeper than a scratch? Use wood putty in a matching color. Gouges also can be treated with wood putty. Make the repair, let it dry and apply the polyurethane.

3) Counter intelligence?
Bags of groceries, stubborn food stains and the occasional misfire with a kitchen knife are all to blame for clients' laminate or Corian counter surfaces looking scuffed and sad. Fortunately, there are simple solutions that won't leave home sellers with an empty wallet.

What your clients can do
Laminate is a repair-friendly surface: a color-matched repair pen or paste will camouflage most scratches. Be careful not to overfill, and gently sand the excess when dry. The remnants of past meals can be removed using a paste made from baking soda and water. Leave the paste for a few hours and wipe away. No need to rub or scrub.

Minor scratches on Corian can be treated by using a mild abrasive liquid cleaner on a damp sponge, rubbing over the scratch in small, overlapping circular motions, and rinsing with clean water. Encourage clients to wipe the surface completely dry, and repeat if the blemish is still visible. Deeper scratches should be treated following the manufacturer's instructions.

That was easy, wasn't it? With a little elbow grease and a modest investment of time and money, your clients can bring the sexy back to worn surfaces

Brendan Marchant


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kim’s Delicious Carrot Cake

2 cups unbleached white flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
3 cups grated carrots (about 7 medium sized carrots)
8-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil and flour a 9-1/2 inch tube pan.

In a medium-size bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a large-size bowl beat together the sugar, oil and eggs until well blended.  Add the carrot, pineapple and pecans.

Beat in the dry into the wet ingredients until well blended.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 70 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes, and then remove the cake from the pan by inverting it onto a plate. 

I normally use a tube pan (bundt cake pan) as the recipe indicates, but if you use a sheet cake pan it takes less time to bake, so make sure to start checking it at around 30 minutes.

When making cupcakes it will easily make 24, and I prefer to bake only 12 at a time.  I start checking for them at about 17 minutes and take them out if the tester comes out clean.  Make sure to put them on a cooling rack to cool so the bottoms don’t get soggy.  19 minutes seems to work well in my oven!

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cardamom
1 box of sifted confectioners' sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk, or even better is Vanilla Coffee Creamer

To make the icing:  With an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and cardamom until well blended.  Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and beat until smooth and then add the milk to reach the desired level of fluffy.

Cardamom has a flavor and fragrance all its own, but if you don't have any on hand, this cardamom substitute is a decent stand in:
·        Cinnamon
·        Nutmeg


Mix together equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg, and use in place of the cardamom called for in your recipe.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

RE/MAX - Fit To Sell - Turning Family Home into Model Home

Turn your home into a model home by depersonalizing, decluttering, making necessary repairs and showcasing your property's best features to attract the right buyer. Potential buyers will form an opinion of your home within seconds of seeing it, so making a lasting first impression is important.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sophisticated Newer Home Near Briggs Village Just Listed For Sale $365,000

Play VisualTour

The Plight of First-Time Buyers

It’s not a $64,000 question, but rather a $41,000 one. “Where are the first-time buyers?” It’s important because $41,000 is the amount renters have missed out on by not buying three years ago when prices were at a low point. The annual median home price was $166,100 in 2011 and $197,100 in 2013. The median national home price this year is expected to hit $207,000. Money left on the table.
Unfortunately, our most recent data show first-time buyers are a shrinking share of the market, only about 27 percent of buyers, compared to 40 percent in a more normal market. It’s not that young households don’t want to buy. It’s that desire is not matching up with their ability. Many young households are saddled with student loan debt while job creation and wages have been heading up only slowly. And the qualified mortgage rule that took effect this year to ensure lenders don’t make bad loans won’t help, since it tightens how much student loan and other debt loan applicants can carry.
This situation is worrisome, because all of the recent growth in household formation has been among renters. Unless a healthy portion of today’s 40 million renter households become home owners, the housing market cannot grow much.
There are two fronts to be tackled if first-time buyers are to get back to more normal levels. First, we must monitor the impact of the QM rule on otherwise qualified buyers to see if lenders are being too risk averse. There’s reason to think they are, because mortgage default rates have been at historic lows in the last few years. That suggests lenders have restricted underwriting too much in anticipation of QM. Second, builders need to step up home building, bringing construction  levels closer to historical norms. More inventory helps tame price growth, and it gives buyers something they don’t have much of now: selection.
The bottom line: Housing is under performing. In 2000, when the market was boring, with no bubble and no crash, there were 5.2 million existing-home sales and 1.6 million housing starts. Today, home sales are struggling to reach 5 million annually and new starts total only about 1 million, yet the country has 34 million more people and mortgage rates remain historically low. Those on the sidelines are missing out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Whether Your Listing For Sale or Not

Spring is in the air in the Pacific Northwest.  Our plants are blooming, the air is fresh and while we also have a bit of rain this time of year, this season is just one step away from one of the most beautiful times of year.  This is the time of year when thoughts turn to spring cleaning; whether or not you’re selling your home. Of course, if you are listing anytime soon, you’ll want to be even more meticulous.

The busy spring market is here, so below are some tips for getting the exterior of your home shipshape:
1. Remove glass from light fixtures and take out any little critters that may have found a home over the winter.  Be sure to use glass cleaner on the panes before replacing them in your fixtures.
2. Clean your mailbox.  If it hasn’t weathered well over the winter, it’s probably time to replace it.
3. Clean and polish, if necessary, your front door’s hardware. Replace it as well if necessary.
4. Check your house numbers.  Are they still in good shape and visible from the street?  If not, replace them.
5. Wash down your front door and garage door.  If you find that the previous summer’s sun has faded the paint, consider repainting.  (Your garage door should be painted a color that blends in with the brick or siding on your home.) Before painting, check with the paint manufacturer to see what the optimal outdoor temperature should be. You don’t want to paint when it’s still too cold outside.
6. Wash the windows.  If this isn’t your strong suit, hire a professional.
7. Hose down the porch and driveway to remove any excess salt left over from de-icing or better yet, break out the pressure-washer.
8. Sweep the porch, driveway and patio to get rid of any rogue leaves etc. left over from the fall.
9. Check your porch, driveway, and patio for any cracking or lifting of patio stones that may have taken place during a deep freeze.
10. Check your roof to make sure no shingles are missing or were damaged during the winter.
11. Remove debris from your gutters and drain spouts.  De-moss the roof while you're up there.
12. Rake the lawn.  However, before doing that it’s very important to check with your local garden center first to be sure it’s not too early.  If raked too soon before the ground thoroughly dries, you could potentially damage your lawn.
13. Remove winter displays from your urns.  For a burst of color, plant spring flowers as soon as weather permits.
14. Tidy up your gardens in preparation for planting season.
15. Organize the garage. Put away shovels, snow blowers, toboggans, and any other items that made their way into your garage over the winter.
16. If you don’t use your barbeque year round, it’s time to bring it out.  If it’s a built-in unit that will be staying with the house, be sure to clean the grills and wash down the lid.  If you have a cover for it, replace it if it’s worn.
17. Bring out your patio furniture and set it up.  Although it may be too cold to sit outside just yet, you want potential buyers to see your outdoor living space’s potential.
These are some suggestions to get your started.  What else am I missing?  I'm happy to add any items if you see some, just let me know.  And if you'd like to get your home on the market, call me today!