Why You Should Consider Getting A Loan PreQualification

If you’re toying with the idea of buying a home, it is generally in your best interest to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. Working with a lender to see if you qualify for a mortgage can be an excellent first step to estimate the amount of money you can borrow, and what price range you can afford in a home. Getting an estimate from a lender is not binding, and does not mean you must use them for representation. If you are not satisfied with the quote you receive, you’re encouraged to move on to another bank and shop around until you have an understanding of the best options for you. Getting an estimate is often free of charge, and will help your real estate agent and lender get a better understanding of a good starting point for your home search. beacon hill home

What is used to determine your mortgage pre-qualification? Your finances, including your assets, income credit report, etc, will all be used to assess your rates. Having your pre-qualification in order before you embark on the home search is great in a hot market like Seattle’s, as this will give you a head start from other applicants, and proves to the seller that you are a serious buyer. If you are interested in search for a Seattle area home, contact your local real estate agent today.

Nine Office Buildings For Sale Around the Sound

This just in: Chicago based private equity real estate firm Walton Street Capital has listed 9 office buildings in the Puget Sound area, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce.Two of the buildings that hit the market are located in downtown Seattle, one at 1111 3rd Ave, and the other (just kitty corner to it), at 2nd & Spring. Six of the other apartmentsbuildings listed are located in Bellevue, and the other is the Island Corporate Center on Mercer Island. The portfolio for sale totals over 2 million sf of office space, a large slice of inventory for the firm to place on the market at one time. Walton Street Capital bought 11 offices in the surrounding Seattle area after a previous owner defaulted on a $900 million dollar loan. Seeing a win-win opportunity, Walton, along with several bankers bought some of that heavily discounted debt, and set themselves up for success to take control of the buildings once the owner defaulted. If you’re in the market to purchase or sell commercial real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

Pacific Place Sold For $271 Million

pac place1998 was a big year for downtown Seattle. Nordstrom completed its move across Pine Street to its shiny new flagship, and just down the street the Pacific Place shopping center opened, finally giving shoppers an alternative to the then-dingy Westlake Center. Can anyone even remember what occupied that block before Pacific Place rose five stories above Pine and Olive?

It appears that the shopping center still has plenty of earning potential, as it was just sold to D.C.-based real estate management company Madison Marquette (along with other unnamed investors) for $271 million, which is believed to be a record for this type of property in Seattle. Additionally, investors are donating $14 million from the sale to the United Way of King County.

According to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Pacific Place sees 6 million visitors annually and it is 90 percent leased. Many tenants have come and gone over the years, and it now houses such upscale retailers as Barney’s New York, Michael Kors, and Tiffany & Co, along with original tenants Williams Sonoma, Helly Hansen, Il Fornaio and what is now the AMC movie theater.

For more information on Seattle Real Estate, contact your local real estate agent today.



SDOT Program To Address Construction ‘Hubs’

constructionThese days in Seattle it seems like there’s a construction project on every other block, and it’s not far from the truth. In June alone, there were 100 projects either under construction, permitted or recently completed in downtown Seattle, and the city has identified seven other hubs in Ballard, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, South Lake Union, the central Waterfront, Denny Triangle, and the north end of the Alaskan Way viaduct where there are large concentrations of construction projects in the works.

With construction come the inevitable road and sidewalk closures, and without adequate coordination among projects these areas can become a nightmare to navigate for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The Seattle Department of Transportation has formed the Construction Hub Coordination Program in order to do just that – act as the coordinator between these projects and everyone who is affected by them. According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, SDOT will be identifying scheduling conflicts between projects, creating a mapping system, responding to complaints and other issues in real time, providing on-site enforcement, and generally opening lines of communication between all parties involved.

The goal of the program is to proactively address problems related to this high rate of growth and to lessen impact on commuters and businesses in these hubs. If you would like more information on real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

Low Inventory In King Co. Continues To Push Home Prices Up

housing marketA short supply of housing inventory in King County is continuing to push the median home price upward, and it now stands at $453,500, six percent higher than the median price for June 2013. In Seattle alone, the median price has risen 8.9 percent from June 2013 to $499,000. Though the number of home sales has risen 2 percent from a year ago, there is still less than two months’ supply of homes on the market, far lower than the six months’ supply that constitutes a healthy market. This shortage is sparking bidding wars, especially in highly desirable neighborhoods in Seattle such as Ballard, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill.

According to an article in The Seattle Times, the homes that are available are selling like hotcakes, often within the first 30 days of being on the market. An impressive 68 percent of homes on the market in Seattle sold in the first 30 days, and 57 percent of homes on the Eastside sold within the first month. Northwest Multiple Listing Service Director John Deely told the Puget Sound Business Journal that even homes in the $1 million+ price range are selling at a higher volume than they have since 2007. So, if you’re looking to sell, it looks like this could be the ideal time. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

How to Get the Best Mortgage

If you have determined that you’re at a good point to start looking to buy a home in Seattle, you’ll likely need to begin researching how to get the best deal on your mortgage. While interest rates continue to remain low, finding the best mortgage option can still be cumbersome, but there are a few steps you can take to save you time and money. One of the biggest factors in determining if you will be approved for a loan, and what your interest rate will look like is your credit score. Reviewing your credit score at least once a year is highly recommended, so that you are aware of any issues or errors that could be improved to give you the extra few points you need to qualify for a better interest rate. Another factor that lenders take into account when you apply for a loan is your debt-to-income ratio. This is your income compared to how much money you owe, so if possible it might be a good time to decrease your debt or increase your income. If you can make larger payments on those credit cards, or pay off a loan, it could save you some money down the road.

Photo Courtesy of Istock Photo

Photo Courtesy of Istock Photo

While many real estate agencies can provide you with an affiliated lending bank, it is always wise to shop around for lenders, and ensure you’re getting the best rates available to you. Shopping for lenders can be as simple as requesting a quote online from several local companies, and comparing your findings. If you’re interested in learning more about your mortgage options, and ready to start the home buying process, contact your local real estate agent today.

Tips For Giving a Dated Room a Fresh Look

If you’re a new home owner looking to make your new home your own, or a longtime homeowner looking to spice up dated decor,  it can be hard to find the time and inspiration to spruce up your living space. You’ve probably created a few pinterest boards chalked full of fun ideas, but check out this list of easy changes you can implement to really update the look and feel of a room. It may seem like an obvious choice, but adding a new shade of paint to your walls can drastically change the appearance of your interiors. If you have outdated furniture, don’t hesitate to add a coat of paint or stain that could liven the otherwise boring end  table. If you don’t like it now, what is the harm in staining it, when the outcome could be something you love? kitchenin

Changing the light fixture in a room can really brighten the space, and create a completely new look and feel. You do not necessarily need to buy one big eccentric fixture, but you do need to make sure that all the fixtures within the same room compliment each other. There is nothing worse than an outdated room, that smells older than the decor within. Keep windows open when weather permits, to keep old odors smelling fresh, and keep your carpets vacuumed and clean. While you’re at it, give the whole room a good cleaning – decluttering can drastically change the look and functionality of a space, and prepare for new decor to enhance the room. Personalizing with small and unique to you touches, like hanging a photograph of a memorable trip, or adding new colorful couch pillows can create just the right amount of change you crave. If you’re interested in learning more about Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

HAWK Program Aims To Expand First-Time Buyers’ Access To Mortgages


As they say, knowledge is power, and in the case of the Federal Housing Authority’s new HAWK pilot program, it could also mean a big savings on your mortgage. HAWK, which stands for “Homeowners Armed With Knowledge”, would grant discounts on mortgage insurance for FHA loans if home buyers sign up for housing counseling.

Under the program, buyers who sign up for counseling both before signing a contract to buy a home and before closing will earn a 50-basis-point reduction in their upfront mortgage insurance premium, and 10 points off of their yearly premium. When every percentage point matters, this could be the difference in someone buying a home or not, especially if their credit is less than stellar. The FHA is hoping that the more buyers know about the mortgage process the less likely they will be to default on their loan, and the potential savings gives home buyers a big incentive to sign up – they estimate owners could save as much as $9,800 on a loan of $180,000.

The four-year HAWK pilot program is projected to begin this fall after the public comment period ends in August, and buyers may be able to sign up for the program by the end of the year. HAWK is just one element in the FHA’s “Blueprint For Access” plan, which aims to find ways to give more people, especially those with credit scores lower than 680, access to mortgages and home ownership. To learn more about real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

Tips For Young First Time Buyers

In many generations past, buying a small home in your 20s-30s was a milestone; people tended to stay put in the city they grew up in, not falling too far from the tree. Today’s generation of 20-30 somethings have certainly evolved, and don’t necessarily want to be tied down to any particular area. They want the freedom to travel for a few months at a time, or take that job across the country at a moment’s notice. They feel the weight of student debt piling up after graduation, and are not thinking about adding to it with a home purchase. Although it may feel like the majority of this group does not want to be tied down, there are many who have an interest in home ownership, and if you or someone you know falls into this category, here are some useful tips if you’re considering buying vs renting. renton home

Don’t assume you cannot afford to buy; many believe that since they likely do not have the funds for a 20% down payment, buying a home is not within reach. In today’s real estate world, there are so many options for financing if you have good credit, such as loan options for qualifying home buyers to put down as little as 5%. In a market like Seattle’s, where renting is likely as expensive (if not more) than buying, so do some research and explore your options before ruling anything out. It’s also important to find a good real estate agent. Times have changed, and while it is very easy to get on your computer and browse for homes online on your own, there are perks to having a professional with their ear to the floor guiding you along your search. Agents know the market better than anyone, and can be an excellent resource should any unforeseen issues arise along the way. Remember that this is not a race, it is a marathon; take your time to find the right home for you, as this is likely going to be one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime. Do your research, and do not feel rushed. Take the time to do your research and determine if and when buying is the right option for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today!

Should You Buy in the City or Suburbs?

It is the question many first time home buyers find themselves asking: Do I want to live in close proximity to the city, or do I want to live in a quiet neighborhood? Many first time buyers are taking into account their needs for the present, weighing their options of buying a residential home or a condo, choosing a location close to the light rail to ride to work, etc, but many of them don’t realize they could very well be living in that 2 bedroom condo 5 years from now with 2 additional children, dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree. Maybe city life is for you right now, but what happens down the road when your family grows and you aren’t satisfied with the school district in your neighborhood? rnton

According to our friends over at Zillow, over 50% of the participants in a recent poll regretted something about their home purchase, particularly the size and layout. First time home buyers don’t necessarily know to consider areas just outside their neighborhoods of choice, which could result in an overall better home purchase for the future. Some new homeowners were concerned with their yards; maybe the maintenance is much greater than expected, or the space isn’t large enough for their Bernese Mountatin dog to jaunt around in. Whatever the case, it is important to consider options that might not be necessary for you at present, but could be beneficial to you down the road. It is also important to choose an agent who will have your best interests at heart. If you’re interested in Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.