The Windermere Foundation is now accepting donations for the Oso, Washington Relief Fund.

We are deeply saddened by the events that have unfolded over the last week due to the landslide in Oso, Washington. We have heard from many of you who wish to support and provide emergency relief for those that have lost their homes and loved ones. 100% of the funds designated to the Windermere Foundation's Oso, Washington Relief Fund will go directly to the families affected by the slide, through the Darrington Emergency Task Force for immediate assistance.

You can donate online at https://store.windermere.com/content/foundation-donation. The Windermere Foundation will match the first $5,000 donated.

A special thanks to the Windermere office in nearby Arlington, owned by Gene Bryson, for raising awareness and starting the fundraising effort.

Our hearts go out to all the families affected by this disaster.

Thank you for your support.

Christine Wood | Executive Director

WINDERMERE FOUNDATION
5424 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

OFFICE (206) 527-3801
FAX (206) 393-3444


Posted on March 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Economic News, FHA, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

Home Renovations


Posted on March 21, 2014 at 11:40 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

5 REASONS TO SELL NOW

 

  

Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage?  These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.

1. The Most Serious Buyers Are Out Now

Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. These buyers are readywilling and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen.  Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Rates are projected to be well over 5% by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.


Posted on March 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

5 REASONS TO BUY A HOME NOW

  

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five major reasons purchasers should consider buying.

1. Competition is about to Increase

Every spring a surge of prospective purchasers enter the housing market. Like you, they will want the best homeavailable in the best location at the best price. They will be competing with you for the ‘steals’ in the market. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy available today that no longer be available as the market heats up..

2. Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Nationally, home prices are projected to appreciate by 4.5% in 2014 and by over 19% from now until 2018. First home buyers will probably pay more both in price and interest rate if they wait until the spring. Even if you are a move-up buyer, it will wind-up costing you more in net dollars as the home you will buy will appreciate at approximately the same rate as the house you are in now.

3. Owning a Home Helps Create Family Wealth

Whether you rent or you own the home you are living in, you are paying a mortgage. Either you are paying your mortgage or your landlord’s. The Federal Reserve, in a recent study, revealed that the net worth of the average homeowner is 30 times greater than that of a renter.

4. Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have all projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be over 5% by the spring of 2015. That is an increase of almost 3/4 of a point over current rates.

5. Buy Low, Sell High

Most would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’ compared to where it will be next year. It’s time to buy.


Posted on March 18, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

Moving-Up? Do it NOW not Later

A recent study revealed that the number of existing home ownersplanning to buy a home this year is about to increase dramatically. Some are moving up, some are downsizing and others are making a lateral move. Another study shows that over 75% of these buyers will, in fact, be in that first category: a move-up buyer. We want to address this group of buyers in today’s blog post.

There is no way for us to predict the future but we can look at what happened over the last year. Let’s look at buyers that considered moving up last year but decided to wait instead.

Assume they had a home worth $300,000 and were looking at a home for $400,000 (putting 10% down they would get a mortgage of $360,000). By waiting, their house appreciated by 13.8% over the last year (national average based on the Case Shiller Pricing Index). Their home would now be worth $341,400. But, the $400,000 home would now be worth $455,200 (requiring a mortgage of $409,680).

Here is a table showing what additional monthly cost would be incurred by waiting:

Move Up Cost of Waiting (2)

Prices are projected to appreciate by over 4% and interest rates are also expected to rise by as much as another full percentage point. If your family plans to move-up to a nicer or bigger home this year, it may make sense to move now rather than later.

  


Posted on February 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

Baby It’s Cold Outside…


Posted on February 17, 2014 at 5:11 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Real Estate News |

Old-fashioned cleaning a healthy choice

 

Originally published January 29, 2014 at 11:25 PM | Page modified January 29, 2014 at 11:55

 

Many are turning back the clock when it comes to cleaning and rediscovering old-time cleaning recipes — many of them used before the advent of the synthetic formulas widely available after World War II.

 

Q: What home-cleaning products are safe for the environment?

A: There is a greater awareness among homeowners that chemicals in commercial home-cleaning products can have negative effects on personal health — not to mention the environment.

Many are turning back the clock when it comes to cleaning and rediscovering old-time cleaning recipes — many of them used before the advent of the synthetic formulas widely available after World War II.

Believe it or not, you can handle nearly all of your day-to-day cleaning with just seven easily available, inexpensive, environmentally benign ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, soap flakes, oil soap, vinegar, borax and ammonia. And of those, only ammonia is potentially hazardous in its concentrated form. Just use it carefully, and store it out of the reach of children and pets.

Kitchens and baths

Instead of using commercial products to clear your kitchen sinks, faucets and drains, give baking soda a try. Just dampen with water and apply it the same way you would with scouring products. Unlike bleach and phosphates, which are common ingredients in commercial cleaning products, baking soda isn’t toxic to the environment and won’t kill the bacteria that sewage and septic systems need to work properly.

When baking soda is combined with vinegar, it produces an impressive foaming reaction. Pour a cup or more of vinegar into the toilet bowl, and then toss in a handful of baking soda. The combination will strip off hard-water lime deposits if you leave it for a while.

Vinegar and baking soda are also effective for cleaning drains. Dump a handful of baking soda into the drain, then pour in a big shot of vinegar and put the plug in to drive the carbon dioxide down the pipe. Keep the plug in until the fizzing stops, and then run hot water down the drain. Not only does it clean and clear pipes, it also eliminates the need for corrosive cleaners.

Vinegar by itself is terrific for cleaning faucets. And mixed with warm water, it’s your secret weapon if you have to deal with the occasional pet stain on carpeting. Combine equal parts vinegar and water and wipe pet stains away. It also works on linoleum that isn’t heavily soiled.

Laundry rooms

A mixture of one part borax, one part washing soda and one part soap flakes (about three-fourths of a cup of the mix per normal load) will work as well as any detergent. It is especially effective and kind to natural fabrics. Be sure to start by running all of your clothes through a cycle with washing soda only, which removes detergent residue. Otherwise, your whites could look yellowed.

White clothes that contain synthetic materials can yellow slightly over time with this formula, but you can counteract that by line-drying your whites in the sun now and then. Sunshine is the oldest and best bleach and disinfectant of them all.

Mother, grandmother and great-granny really did know best.

 

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to homework@mbaks.com.


Posted on February 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

5 Things to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/01/31/5-things-to-ask-your-real-estate-agent/

Selling a home can be difficult — you probably want to sell in a certain time frame and for the maximum price. For most of us, it represents one of the biggest financial transactions of our lifetimes, and it can help to have expert guide us through the process. A knowledgeable and trustworthy real estate agent can be a huge asset — and you want to do a thorough screening to get the best match for you.

You’ll want to ask about commission, of course, but it doesn’t stop there. Here are five questions that you should ask your potential real estate agent.

1. What’s Your Experience Like?

This is an important question because it will tell you how long the agent has been selling homes and what kinds of of properties they usually deal with (condos or single-family homes, or in-town or suburban). It’s important to find someone who not only has years of experience, but someone who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’re interested in and often sells homes in your price range.

2. May I See Your References?

Just as when you’re hiring a new employee, it’s important to check up on your real estate agent’s references. You should call every one of them. Ask what it was like to work with this person on a day-to-day basis. Was the agent easy to reach? Would you hire him again? Did she follow up with you regularly? Most real estate agents will give out their best references so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions in order to get the most honest responses.

3. How Many Clients Do You Have?

Asking this question should give you a good idea of how much time your agent will have for you. You don’t want a real estate agent with too many clients nor do you want one with too few. The latter could be a bad sign since no one else seems willing to hire her. (On the other hand, seasonal fluctuations are normal.)

If you’re worried that your real estate agent might have too many clients or not enough time for you, ask if he works independently or with a team. A good agent will generally have a solid support staff to handle the routine tasks.

4. What Can You Tell Me About Growth Trends?

One of the biggest strengths real estate agents can bring to the table is their ability to analyze trends in the housing market. Anyone can go on Redfin or Zillow and look up homes for sale, but how do you know what is or isn’t a competitive price? Some ZIP codes might turn from a bustling metropolis to a forgotten foreclosure town in just a few years so it’s important to hire an agent who pays close attention to growth and price trends and can help you set an appropriate asking price.
5. What’s Your Success Rate?

The Internet has made it easy to look up your real estate agent’s sales records but don’t be afraid to ask. One thing you could ask for is the agent’s list-to-selling-price ratio. This ratio is found by comparing the list price to the selling price. But don’t get too caught up in this number, make sure to vet his or her other success metrics too.


Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News |

Best places to visit in the Marysville-Tulalip area

 

 

Ayeisha Haynes skates around a roller rink at Marysville Skate Inn.

Marysville was known first as a trading post doing business with the people of the Tulalip Tribes. Its logging industry and its famous strawberry fields are mostly gone now.

While the city is home to some manufacturing, Marysville is a bedroom community, with a population that has more than quintupled in the past quarter century or so.

However, it's not all retail stores, fast food and neighborhood parks. Marysville and the adjacent Tulalip reservation attract a lot of visitors.

If you live in Snohomish County and haven't taken a look, here are some suggestions for a day trip or even an overnight visit.

Marysville celebrates its Strawberry Festival in June and its Handmade and Homegrown street festival in August.

City parks include the Cedarcrest Golf Course, established in 1927; the newer Ebey Waterfront Park along the Snohomish River on the south edge of downtown; Strawberry Fields and Jennings parks, each with a variety of uses; and Deering Wildflower Acres, with its nature trails.

Just east of State Avenue, the historic downtown area is home to Oosterwyk's Dutch Bakery. The bakery, established by a Swede, has been around for close to a century.

When the Oosterwyk family bought the Third Street business 55 years ago, it came with the bread slicer, still in use, and a recipe, still in use, for the shop's popular Swedish rye bread.

In addition, the Oosterwyks make Dutch almond pastries, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and a variety of other breads.

In the same block are several shops featuring antiques, collectibles and vintage second-hand clothing.

Marysville is developing a reputation as a second-hand mecca, and one of the best shops is the Finders Keepers Furnishings antiques mall, two doors down from the bakery.

While you walk around this district, duck into the Marysville Historical Society, Hilton's drug store, Carr's Hardware and Third Street Books.

History buffs should drive by the Marysville Opera House at the west end of Third Street. Built in 1911 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, it's now used primarily for weddings.

During its heyday, the opera house hosted all sorts of theater and music. It's been on the National Register of Historic places since 1982 for its architectural and historic significance.

On Grove Street, east of State, the Red Curtain Foundation for the Artsplans soon to open its doors for entertainment in a former lumber yard. Stay tuned. The foundation is in the midst of a major fundraising project.

West of State Avenue, check out the Marysville Skate Inn. The family roller-skating rink has been in business for 55 years and still has its original 84- by 164-foot maple floor.

Not far away on Cedar Avenue is Boondockers restaurant, owned by Shabbir and Ruqayya Bala, who made a name for themselves in Lake Stevens with their sandwiches.

Since moving to Marysville, Boondockers still offers its famous burgers and breakfasts. Now, though, it serves dinner, including savory curries and other Pakistani fare.

Perhaps the best, and, yes, the priciest, restaurant in the Marysville area is Tulalip Bay at the Tulalip Resort and Casino. Steaks and seafood are the focus. Make it a special occasion. Check out the wine room.

And don't miss the summer concert season, with national acts, at the Tulalip Amphitheatre.

Even if you aren't a gambler or hotel guest, a visit to the Tulalip complex is still a great idea. The hotel lobby and convention center are truly luxurious.

The place is replete with Coast Salish art and information about the Tulalip Tribes. Stay a night to enjoy the pool and the spa.

Finish your off your tourist stint in the Marysville-Tulalip area at theHibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve, a world-class museum that offers tribal history, art and culture.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

 


Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:24 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Real Estate News |

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About VA Loans

 

  

We are pleased to welcome Phil Georgiades as our guest blogger today.  Phil is the Chief Loan Steward for VA Home Loan Centers, a veteran and active duty military services organization. – The KCM Crew

Veteran Buying a HouseVA loans are the most misunderstood mortgage program in America. Industry professionals and consumers often receive incorrect data when they inquire about them. In fact, misconceptions about the government guaranteed home loan program are so prevalent that a recent VA survey found that approximately half of all military veterans do not understand it.

With this in mind, we would like to debunk the most common myths about VA Loans.

Myth 1: The VA loan benefit has a “one time” use.

Fact: Veterans and active duty military can use the VA loan many times. There is a limit to the borrower’s entitlement. The entitlement is the amount of loan the VA will guarantee. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may have to make a down payment. Never the less, there are no limitations on how many times a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member can get a VA loan.

Myth 2: VA home loan benefits expire if they are not used.

Fact: For eligible participants, VA mortgage benefits never expire. This myth stems from confusion over the veteran benefit for education. Typically, the Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after discharge.

Myth 3: A borrower can only have one VA loan at a time.

Fact: You can have two (or more) VA loans out at the same time as long as you have not exceeded your maximum entitlement and eligibility. In order to have more than one VA loan, the borrower must be able to afford both payments and sufficient entitlement is required. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may be required to make a down payment.

Myth 4: If you have a VA loan, you cannot lease the home.

Fact: By law, homeowners with VA loans may rent out their home. If the home is located in a non-rental subdivision, the VA will not guarantee the loan. If the home is located in a subdivision (such as a co-op) where the other owners can deny or approve a tenant, the VA will not approve the financing. When an individual applies for a VA loan, they certify that they intend on making the home their primary residence. Borrowers cannot use their VA benefits to buy property for rental purposes except if they are using their benefits to buy a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Under these circumstances, the borrower must certify that they will occupy one of the units.

Myth 5: If a borrower has a short sale or foreclosure on a VA loan, they cannot have another VA loan.

Fact: If a borrower has a claim on their entitlement, they will still be able to get another VA loan, but the maximum amount they would otherwise qualify for may be less. For example, Mr. Smith had a home with a $100,000 VA loan that foreclosed in 2012. If Mr. Smith buys a home in a low cost area, he will have enough remaining eligibility for a $317,000 purchase with $0 money down.  If he did not have the foreclosure, he would have been able to obtain another VA loan up to $417,000 with no money down payment.

Veterans and Active duty military deserve affordable home ownership. In recent years, the VA loan made up roughly 13% of all home purchase financing. This program remains underused largely because of misinformation. By separating facts from myth, more of America’s military would be able to realize their own American Dream.


Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm
Shelia Simmons | Posted in Home ownership, Real Estate News |