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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.”