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Monday, January 27, 2014

Fit To Sell: Air Quality Video

If you have pets, previous water damage or other unique odors in your house, potential buyers could be turned off when they walk through the door. The power of smell shouldn't be overlooked and in this clip, you'll learn how air quality can impact buyers' overall perception of your home. Make sure your home is Fit To Sell.  #FitToSell

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fit to Sell - Simple Facts to Help Sell Your Home

Are you ready to sell but in need of guidance to make your home stand out to potential buyers? Watch this short clip for answers to the most commonly asked questions sellers have when preparing their home for sale.

Fit to Sell: Deal Makers for Homebuyers

Learn the key areas and features that are most important to buyers so you can ensure your home is fit to sell quickly -- and for top dollar. #FitToSell

Freestone's Finest For Sale: 1348 Farina Lp SE, Olympia $309,999 MLS#570451

Monday, January 20, 2014

The 10 Best Cities in Washington: See How They Stack Up

At Movoto Real Estate, they've hopping from one state to another, bringing you the 10 very best cities in each. They've been East, South, and today, up to the Pacific Northwest to explore Washington.

So what is the best city in The Evergreen State? Sorry, Seattle, but it looks like Issaquah has you beat. According to the study, here are the 10 cities in Washington:


How did Issaquah manage to crest the top of this list? What is Seattle doing at the bottom? Why are there two communities in the No. 4 spot? No, it’s not a typo. Keep reading to find out how we came up with this ranking and where each city excelled.

Finding Washington’s Finest

It is clear that Washington is beautiful—practically the entire state looks like a postcard. We also know that the people in Washington are laid-back and welcoming. For our study, however, we needed some solid, measurable data to determine just which cities were the best. After all, we wanted to take something subjective and settle the score once and for all. So we selected the following 10 criteria:

  • Distance from five-star hiking
  • Number of coffee shops per capita
  • Number of seafood restaurants per capita
  • Total amenities
  • High school diploma attainment rate
  • Commute time to work
  • Average home value
  • Median household income
  • Crime rate
  • Cost of living (100 is the national average)

Just like our other Big Deal Lists, we started our study of Washington with a list of the state’s 50 most populous cities and towns, and then ranked each with a score from one to 50 in each criteria, based on our research—the lower the number, the better.

As far as amenities go, we chose distance to five-star hiking, coffee shops per capita, and seafood restaurants per capita, as these three things are pretty good representations of a happy life in the Evergreen State. Then we used the total number of such amenities as well, just to keep things balanced for those cities with larger populations.

After we rated each city, we averaged the criteria together and gave each city an overall score. The lower the overall score was, the better each city ranked. From a complete list of how each of the 50 cities ranked, hop down to the end of this post. Or, keep reading to take a tour of each of Washington’s finest cities—see where they excelled in our criteria, what else they have going on, and why they really are the 10 best cities in the state.

Full story here: http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/the-10-best-cities-in-washington/

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Interest Rate Update


 
Loan Category
Rate
30 Year Fixed 
4.500% 
15 Year Fixed 
3.500% 
30 Year FHA 
4.125% 
15 Year FHA 
3.625% 
7 Year ARM 
3.875% 
5 Year ARM 
3.125% 
30 Year Jumbo 
4.500% 
15 Year Jumbo 
3.500% 
30 Year VA 
4.125% 
15 Year VA 
3.625% 


Saturday, January 11, 2014

5 Things to Know About Homeowner's Insurance + More

  1. Know about exclusions to coverage.  For example, most insurance policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item.  These types of coverage must be bought separately.
  2. Know about dollar limitations on claims.  Even if you are covered for a risk, there may be a limit on how much the insurer will pay.  For example, many policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.
  3. Know the replacement cost.  If your home is destroyed you'll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage, so be sure your insurance is sufficient.  This means that if your home is insured for $250,000 and it costs $280,000 to replace it, you'll only receive $250,000.
  4. Know the actual cash value.  If you chose not to replace your home when it's destroyed, you'll receive replacement cost, less depreciation.  This is called actual cash value.
  5. Know the liability.  Generally your homeowner's insurance covers you for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court.  However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided.  Be sure that it's sufficient if you have significant assets.
So, what's the best way to document the contents of your home? 

LIGHTS... CAMERA... INSURANCE!
In case you ever need to make a claim, a video diary is a great tool to have.  Walk through your house with your video camera.  One of the big advantages is that you can narrate what you're shooting.  Remember to open drawers and closets, and don't forget everyday stuff such as toys and clothes.  Make sure you get really good shots of your big-ticket items - you might want to lay Grandma's silver out on the dining room table so it won't be blurry.  Once you've completed your recording, make a copy and store in a bank vault, an online vault and/or a fireproof safe.
Here are a few insurance agents in the Thurston County area who may be able to help you:
  1. Liberty Mutual, Abrann Harris or Emily Flemm, http://www.libertymutual.com/insurance-office-tumwater-wa
  2. Farmers Insurance, Greg Mohoric, http://www.farmersagent.com/gmohoric

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Interest Rate Update


Loan Category
Rate
30 Year Fixed 
4.500% 
15 Year Fixed 
3.625% 
30 Year FHA 
4.125% 
15 Year FHA 
3.625% 
7 Year ARM 
4.000% 
5 Year ARM 
3.250% 
30 Year VA 
4.125% 
15 Year VA 
3.625% 

Monday, January 6, 2014

“Stage is set for another good year” in real estate with year-end gains in inventory, sales, prices

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Jan. 6, 2014) – Brokers with Northwest Multiple Listing Service ended 2013 with the best year-over-year improvement in inventory (up 8.4 percent) and a similar gain in closed sales to buoy confidence heading into the new year. December’s pending sales slipped slightly (down about 1.7 percent) compared to the same month a year ago.

“Positive job growth and the continuation of favorable low interest rates are setting the stage for another good year in real estate,” said J. Lennox Scott.

Friday’s narrow approval of Boeing’s contract proposal for Machinists union members bodes well for members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service and the real estate industry.

Reacting to the vote, MLS board member John Deely said, “The robust and diverse economy of the Pacific Northwest is solidified by Boeing’s continued presence in the Seattle area.” Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, said the vote helps secure the region’s position as “the aerospace epicenter of the world with top-notch manufacturing jobs that support the industry.”

Boeing workers and others hoping to buy a home have a bigger selection of homes to consider than house-hunters who were looking twelve months ago – especially in Snohomish County, where the number of active listings is up 43.6 percent.

Northwest MLS members added 4,333 new listings during December, improving on the same period a year ago by 476 listings for a gain of 12.3 percent.   At month end, there were 19,214 active listings in the MLS database, improving on the year-ago supply by 1,496 listings for a gain of 8.4 percent. In Snohomish County, which had the largest jump in supply (43.6 percent), the selection of condos nearly doubled from a year ago, increasing from 172 to 342 listings.

We sold this Lacey Washington home in less than 15 days in the month of December, a normally quiet market for real estate but robust this year.
Pending sales activity during December was mixed around the 21 counties in the MLS service area, with 11 counties showing increases in mutually accepted offers and the other 10 having fewer pending sales than the same month a year ago.  An imbalance between supply and demand could be crimping sales in some areas. As we head into 2014, we will be starting the year with a shortage or low inventory.

Brokers notched 5,710 closed sales last month, improving on the previous year by 443 transactions for a gain of 8.4 percent. During 2013, Northwest MLS members tallied 75,517 closed sales system-wide. That total outgains the previous year’s volume of 64,624 closings for an increase of nearly 16.9 percent.

 “The luxury market will continue to see an increase in sales activity and home values in 2014,” Deely proclaimed. “This market will be driven by pent up demand and by the owners of trophy properties who are confident that values have returned to acceptable levels,” he added.


Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 21,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.

Just Listed: Tumwater Highlands Property $339,900 MLS#578389

Play VisualTour

Friday, January 3, 2014

Real estate: Look for value in 2014 - How to play the housing market

The good news for housing is that price gains next year are expected to be only about half as strong as in 2013, when sellers stayed on the sidelines. Yes, that's good news. "For a sustainable recovery you want to see more balance between buyers and sellers," says David Stiff, chief economist at CoreLogic Case-Shiller, which is forecasting a 6.8% rise in the median home value for 2014.

Inventory is already improving. Nationwide, the number of homes for sale in September rose 1.8% vs. a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. That's the first increase since late 2011. In Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Orlando, inventory was 10% or higher than a year earlier.

"It will still be a sellers' market in 2014, given how far we have before inventory is back to normal," says Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, noting the supply of homes in September was still about 15% below historical norms. "But it will not be as extreme as 2013," he says.


Buyers will also enjoy an advantage next year as real estate investors are expected to be less of a factor. Why? In an improving market, there are fewer distressed homes, which they covet. According to the Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance HousingPulse Tracking survey, the investor share of residential home purchases fell from 23% earlier this year to 17% in September. In a more balanced market like this, here's what you can do to get an edge:



BUYERS


Waiting for more inventory can make sense if you have a dream home in mind. But in 2014 there will be a price for delay -- 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are forecast to climb from today's 4.5% to more than 5%.


Work with a fast closer. Qualifying for loans is easier now, but speed is another issue. Franklin, Tenn., agent Patty Latham says she will not work with buyers using a particular lender that has missed several deadlines. For speed, Virginia agent Rob Wittman suggests sticking with local lenders with ties to nearby appraisers.

What's fast? John Wheaton at Guaranteed Rate says, "Where 45 days was the norm, you can get an express closing in 20 days and even faster."

Lead with a credible offer. At a time of multiple bids, low-balling isn't the way to go. "The reality is, sellers don't have to come back to you with a counter if they've got better bids," Wittman says. Of course, you don't want to overpay either. Even in markets that are starting to experience bidding wars, such as L.A. and Boston, final sales prices are still typically about 1% below asking. Use that and your agent's local knowledge and go in with a respectable bid.



OWNERS


If you like your home and are not in a rush to sell, you have great flexibility. For instance, your rising home equity will make it easier to borrow against the property. That can help pay for deferred maintenance or home renovations you've been eyeing for years -- which will only add value when you eventually put your home on the market.

Remodel within reason. Home-improvement spending is expected to grow by double digits through mid-2014, according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Atop the wish list: bathroom and kitchen jobs.

Keep resale in mind. While the focus was on value at the market lows, today "homes with all the fixings are the ones attracting multiple buyers," says McLean, Va., real estate broker Jon Wolford. So, yes, you can splurge a bit, but don't go crazy. Remodeling Magazine's cost-vs.-value survey found that moderate kitchen remodels ($57,500) recouped 69% of their cost, close to what minor jobs paid back. Over-the-top projects ($111,000), though, recouped less than 60%.

Take advantage of low home-equity rates. While 30-year mortgages rose nearly a point this year, rates on home-equity lines of credit have fallen a bit to 5.1%. That's because HELOCs are tied to short-term rates that the Fed isn't likely to hike until 2015.


If you'll need to repay your loan over many years, though, go with a fixed-rate home-equity loan. Today's 6.25% average is about 0.25 points lower than a year ago, as lenders are now more interested in doing deals, says Keith Gumbinger at HSH.com. Credit unions can be the best place to shop for home-equity loans. The average credit union rate is 5.75%.

Play VisualTour


We put this condo under contract just days after being listed for sale.  Multiple offers, holiday time - still proving to be a busy market!


SELLERS


List too early and you'll leave gains on the table. Wait too long and rising borrowing costs might put an end to bidding wars. You can't time the market perfectly, but you can keep an eye on inventory trends. Ask your agent to give you a monthly report on the number of listings compared with closings. Housing trends play out gradually.

Once you see a big uptick in listings relative to closings, you'll know price gains are getting ready to slow -- and that it's time to act.

Price it right the first time. Don't waste your time by listing too high only to have to wait and lower the price. "Buyers are smart these days -- they know where the market is, and now that rates are higher, they aren't going to bite on a list price above recent comparables," says Sara Fischer, an agent with Redfin based in San Diego. The real estate site Zillow reports that about one-third of listed homes in August had a price drop, up from 26% earlier this year.

Play tour guide for the appraiser. If your buyer's lender gets an appraisal that comes in lower than the agreed-upon price, you're in for plenty of headaches -- even in an improving market. You'll have to lower the price, the buyer will have to cough up a bigger down payment, or worst case, the deal might collapse, sending you back to square one.

Fischer recommends that sellers be present when appraisers come by. "They don't want to listen to the agent," she says. "But if you're the owner and can walk them through all the improvements, that can help the appraiser better understand what has gone into the home." She recommends handing the appraiser a spreadsheet of all upgrades, listing when they were done and the scope of each project.

NEW YORK (Money Magazine)