Monday, December 15, 2008

Cleaning up your Credit

Your credit score can either save you money or cost you money. It can stop you from getting a job and keep you from getting insurance. It pays to understand what you can do to make it the best it can be.

Get Your Credit Report and Scores
By understanding your credit report, it will tell what actions you need to take to ensure your credit score is as high as possible. Equifax Gold Credit Monitoring allows you to run your credit report free every month.

Step 1
30% of your credit report score is attributed to credit balances. Keep your existing balance at or below 45% of your available limit. It is therefore important that all creditors report the available credit - or high limit on your credit report - or it harms your score. So get the credit company to add the limit to your report, or don’t do business with them.

Step 2
35% of your score is made up from your actual payment history. Whatever you do, make your payment within 30 days of the due date. Only 30+ days late will appear on your credit report. One way to build up your credit is to use your credit cards for everyday purchases; then pay your credit cards in full monthly.

Step 3
15% of your score is based on credit history. So it is important not to close your credit accounts that have been opened for a long time with a good rating. Longer credit history equals a higher score.

Step 4
Keep a good mix of your accounts. A good mix would consist of 3-5 credit cards, an installment loan (auto), a mortgage rating. Also inquiries impact your score by 10%. Each inquiry can impact your score by 5 points.

Step 5
Do you have high debt levels (over 5K in debt)? will negotiate your debt with your creditors and help you lower your payments. The short form is free; you have nothing to lose if they can’t save you money.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stacey becomes an Educator for WA State Housing Financing Commission

A while back, Matt Berg, with Colbalt Mortgage shared with me information about an amazing program through the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSFHC). The non-profit organization was established through the WA State legislature over 25 years ago and provides money to first-time home buyers. This money often time is loaned to buyers who must meet certain qualifications (best for low-to-moderate incomes) and is loaned more often than not at a rate less than the going rates. Additionally, the WSFHC offers AMAZING down-payment assistant programs that loan down-payment money for which payments are sometimes deferred for the life of the loan or until the home is sold and is at exceptionally low interest rates (1% - 3%).

These programs are offered to first-time buyers who would have never imagined they could own a home and one aspect of qualification requires that they become well educated with regard to the home buying process and the programs that are available through the WSFHC.

That is where I step in, individuals interested in qualifying for monies available through the WSFHC must attend a 5-hour class taught by a Real Estate Professional and Mortgage Lender both of whom have been educated by the WSFHC to teach these classes and offer the first-time home buyers their certificates that lay their first step towards their dream of home ownership.

To learn more about how you can realize your dream of owning a home by taking advantage of this fantastic program available through Washington State -- Contact Us!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The KEY Team - Marketing Portfolio

To better allow potential clients an opportunity to view samples of marketing pieces that can be created to assist with the sale of their home when we work with them. I have created a marketing portfolio that will continue to be improved, but this is certainly a great start -- Check it out!

Click Here to View Our Marketing Portfolio

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Evening of Holiday Cheer & Photos with Santa with Windermere Woodinville Office

An Evening of Holiday Cheer & Photos with Santa with
our office, Windermere Woodinville

Friday, December 5th, 5:30 to 9:30 PM
13901 NE 175th St, Ste 100, Woodinville

Bring the whole family! Take a FREE photo with Santa,

and join your neighbors for cookies and cider.

This holiday season, Windermere asks...


Come to our event and share your thoughts by filling out an
event card, or send us an e-mail:

We are also accepting donations for the

Please help out if you can.

Donations accepted anytime at our office,

or simply call me and I can stop by to pick it up.

A friend asked "Is Inventory in Snohomish/Everett (Cathcart Area) down compared to this summer?"

For those of you who haven't discovered the time-consuming, all-addictive social network called Facebook ( I can tell you that I have. But through it I have gained connections to old friends and made great connections with new ones. And although I do enjoy the social aspect to this forum, I also enjoy my ability to share my successes in Real Estate with those to whom am connected - I believe my positive attitude and consistent contact with my clients and friends has helped me thrive through what has been a slower than past market.

Recently, an friend posed a question to me on facebook, outside of the typical "Hey there - How are you?"

Tanya G. asked me -
"Hey Stacey, I was curious to know why on Windermere there is suddenly so much less inventory of houses in our area? It seemed like this summer there was so much. Are people just not putting stuff on the market or is it selling quickly in our neck of the woods? Hope you are well and getting a ton of business :-)"

The first point I can make is when she refers to "Windermere", she is commenting on the Windermere's website (, where an individual can search through all homes listed on the NWMLS whether they be listed with a Windermere Agent or another real estate agency. Additionally, the area she references by "Our Area" is the Everett/Snohomish Area located just off Cathcart Way near Hwy 9 and Seattle Hill Road -- and what a Real Estate Agent would classify as area 740.

So with all of that said I prepared a graph to show the trends of inventory of homes, pending sales and sold homes for that specific area, narrowed down by the price range and square footage size found in that area $300,000 - $699,999.

So as you can see Tanya, inventory is down from the summer, but pending sales comparatively are much higher. Typically, you do see homeowners who have been trying to sell their homes take them off the market during what they believe is a "bad time" to sell (from November through December) -- however, I disagree with this thought process since homes do sell during these times and the buyers that are looking to buy are SERIOUS buyers, not just "lookey-loos" -- they usually need a home and have less inventory to view during these months, so why not let yours be one that they look at? Additionally, when those buyers who have taken their homes off the market put them back on in January, you suddenly see a HUGE rise in inventory.

Buying vs. Renting - The Benefits of Home Ownership

Trends in home prices, personal income and mortgage rates,combined with the tax advantages of home ownership, make this an excellent time to turn the home of your dreams into a reality. If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’ve probably already asked yourself, “Can I afford to buy?” Another good question to ask is, “Can I afford to continue renting?” No matter what you’re currently paying for rent, your total cash outlay over a period of several years will probably add up to a much bigger total than you may have realized. The chart below shows how quickly the rent payments you’re making add up figuring in what this money would earn invested at 5
percent interest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

RENTED - Carriage Estates Home in Woodinville, WA

Congratulations Geoff & Marcia!!

Loan Limits to Remain the Same for 2009, Kind Of…

Conforming loan limit to stay unchanged for the
third year in a row at $417,000.
“Conforming Jumbo” loan limits to drop in King, Pierce, and
Snohomish counties, from $567,500 to $506,000.

For a detailed description of the changes,
call Toby Wonder anytime at his numbers below.

For Immediate Release
November 2008

TO REMAIN $417,000 IN 2009;

WASHINGTON, DC – The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced the conforming loan limit will remain $417,000 for 2009 for most areas in the U.S. but specified higher limits in certain cities and counties. The conforming loan limit is the maximum size of loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can purchase in 2009.

According to provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), the national loan limit is set based on changes in average home prices over the previous year, but cannot decline from year to year. Loan limits for two-, three-, and four-unit properties in 2009 will remain at 2008 levels as well: $533,850, $645,300, and $801,950 respectively, for homes in the continental U.S.

The national limit was left unchanged at $417,000 based on declines in FHFA’s monthly and quarterly house price indexes over the past year. The monthly purchase-only index declined 5.9 percent over the 12 months ending August 2008, and the quarterly all-transactions index dropped 1.7 percent from second quarter 2007 to second quarter 2008. Virtually every other measure of house prices has also fallen, with many showing even larger declines. FHFA has not yet determined whether it will continue to use a currently existing FHFA price index to gauge price movements in future years. For this year, however, all reliable metrics point to lower prices, and a price decline of any size is sufficient to determine that the national limit will not change.

Following the provisions of HERA, FHFA has set loan limits for “high-cost” areas in 2009. These limits are set equal to 115 percent of local median house prices and cannot exceed 150 percent of the standard limit, which is $625,500 for one-unit homes in the continental U.S. The new limits affect loans purchased by an Enterprise in 2009, unless the loans were made permanently eligible for purchase under the Economic Stimulus Act enacted earlier in 2008 and has generally higher limits.

Under rules set forth in the Stimulus Act, loans originated in 2008 and the second half of 2007 are subject to limits of 125 percent of local price medians up to a maximum of $729,750. As a result of the difference in the formula for determining high-cost area limits, many of the high-cost area loan limits are different for 2009 than they were for 2008. They are generally lower because of the lower median price multiplier in HERA (i.e., loan limits are 115 percent rather than 125 percent of median prices) and the lower ceiling ($625,500 rather than $729,570). For loans originated during the period covered by the Stimulus Act, the higher of those limits and the 2009 limits will apply.

In calculating loan limits, FHFA used median house price estimates calculated by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Those values have been estimated in a manner consistent with requirements of the National Housing Act, which requires that median prices for all counties in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) be set equal to the median price for the highest-cost county. FHA has estimated median house prices for the purpose of setting its own loan limits and has used data from a number of sources, including aggregated county recorder data (supplied by Radar Logic), the American Community Survey, and the National Association of Realtors.

HUD will allow a 30-day appeals period for those wishing to contest its median price estimates. Appeals are to be based upon data suggesting a potentially higher price median for a given area. Details concerning the appeals process will be released today in an FHA mortgagee letter. To the extent that appeals are deemed valid and HUD’s median price estimates change in response to the one-time appeals process, the FHFA loan limits will be changed to reflect the updated data.

While FHFA has used median house prices estimated by FHA for 2009 loan limits, it may choose alternative methods in future years. FHFA will be seeking public comment on a forthcoming proposal concerning the best approach to measuring price medians for this application.

As in previous years, the 2009 maximum conforming limits are higher in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands than in the contiguous U.S. In those areas, as delineated in the attached list, loan limits vary from $625,500 to $721,050 for one-unit properties. - Has a whole NEW look!

Taking a page from the its search portal cousins the new Windermere web site launched today, with a simple search box up front and center. Simple, slick and straight to the point.
Broker web pages are often cluttered with all kinds of extraneous information; programs on this and that. Windermere cuts right to the chase and puts the power of its IDX driven search tool up front and center. Just what most people are looking for!

Better still, the search experience gets even better once you dive in. Results return speedily are mapped quickly onto a Microsoft Virtual Earth map. Clicking on a individual listing and you get a nice big picture as well as the ability to read the entire property details, view all existing photos and print out a ready-to-roam flyer.

I hope you'll take the time to check it out and let me know your thoughts.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NEW Listing - Spacious Redmond Ridge 5 Bed/3 Bath Beauty for $579,000

20 Reasons for Title Insurance

1) Title Insurance will protect you against a loss on your home and land due to title defect.
2) A deed or mortgage in the chain of title may be a forgery.
3) Claims constantly arise due to marital status and validity of divorces.
4) A deed or mortgage may have been made by an incompetent or underaged person.
5) A deed or mortgage made under an expired power of attorney may be void.
6) A deed or mortgage may have been made by a person with the same name as the owner.
7) A child born after the execution of a will may have an interest in the property.
8) Title transferred by an heir may be subject to a federal tax lien.
9) An heir of other person presumed dead may appear and recover the property or an interest.
10) A jusgement regarding the title may be voidable because of some defect in the proceeding.
11) By insuring a title, you can eliminate delays when passing your title on to someone else.
12) Title insurance helps speed negotiations when you're ready to sell or obtain a loan.
13) Title insurance reimburses you for the amount of your covered loss.
14) A deed or mortgage may be voidable if signed while the grantor was in bakruptcy.
15) Claims have risen dramatically over the last 30 years.
16) There may be a defect in the recording of a document upon which your titile is dependant.
17) Title Insurance covers attorney's fees and court costs.
18) Many lawyers protect their clients as well as themselves by procuring title insurance.
19) A deed or mortgage may have been produced by fraud or duress.
20) A title policy is paid in full by the first premium for as long as you own the property.

Provided by The KEY Team - Preferred Professional:

Kelcey Myers
Fidelity Title, Sales Manager
Direct: (425) 239-7765

OPEN HOUSE - Friday, Nov 14 from 12p-5p

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Know the Score: Three Steps to Better Credit

If you are looking to buy, invest in, or refinance real estate now or in the coming months, your credit is going to play a more significant role in today's tight-fisted credit environment than it has in the past. It's that simple. Would-be borrowers need to address any and all credit issues now to avoid having to pay for it later.

But, here's the kicker. Nearly 80% of all credit reports contain errors of some kind. Recent studies also indicate that about one-fourth of these reports contain mistakes so egregious that applicants could actually be denied credit! Don't let this happen to you.

Step One: Get Your ReportThe three main credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, are required by law to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. To request your free copy (one from each company) visit or call 1-877-322-8228. Please note that free credit reports do not include credit scores. Scores can either be purchased online or pulled by your mortgage professional.

While you're online, be sure to visit as well. This will help you avoid the hassle of becoming a "trigger lead" and being bombarded with unsolicited mortgage offers, and make life a lot easier throughout the mortgage process.

Step Two: Report InaccuraciesStudy your credit reports and make sure everything is accurate. If you do find any discrepancies, you can legally dispute mistakes or outdated items for free. Once notified of a mistake on your report, a credit bureau has thirty days to investigate and respond. If the information can't be confirmed, then the item should be removed. If you'd like more information on this process, give me a call. I can help you compose a dispute letter to help get you started.

Step Three: Meet With Your Mortgage Professional

Now that the information on your report is accurate, what if there are still some items in your credit history you would rather forget about? All is not lost. For some, small changes to your credit profile could yield big results that could save you thousands of dollars. For others, enlisting the services of a professional credit improvement company may be required. This important process can take up to six months or more, so don't wait. Give me a call. An experienced mortgage professional can share other insights into the ins and outs of credit scoring and credit repair.

Provided by The KEY Team - Preferred Lender:
Toby Wonder, Mortgage Consultant
Homestead Mortgage, Bellevue, WA
Office: 425-274-9524
Cell: 206-910-4766

Honoring Our Veteran's Today!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

OPEN HOUSE - Sunday, Nov 9 from 12p -5p

Today’s Loan Options

0 % down payment “Owner Occupied”
Seller can pay closing costs. TRUE zero down loans!!

1. FHA – Max sales price 335k. Must be 1st time buyer or have NOT owned a home in past 3 years. Keep in MIND…this is for Zero down, FHA finances up to $567,500.
2. USDA –Snohomish County: Anything East of Hwy 9, if home appraises for more than sales price you can borrow equity to make repairs to home. King County: Anything East of Issaquah
3. VA – Must have eligibility


3 % down payment “Owner Occupied”
Seller can pay closing costs.

1. FHA – up to loan amount of $567,500 - Loan amount is being reduced back down to 417k Jan 1st
Down Payment source
• Family member “gift”
• Friend “gift”
• Grant program up to $10,000 > I have details if needed


5% down payment “Owner Occupied”
1.Conventional with private mortgage insurance; No longer can I do a 1st mortgage up to 80% with a 15% piggy back 2nd mortgage to avoid Mtg. insurance. Interest only is available!!!


If you have questions on the above or about other programs available please don’t hesitate to ask Rob!!! Times have changed and continue to change daily, he doesn't expect you to know what financing is available these days.

Provided by The KEY Team - Preferred Lender:

Robert Wolverton, Mortgage Advisor
Mortgage Advisory Group, Mill Creek, WA
Direct: 425-418-3233

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Do you need a Real Estate Agent who speaks Turkish?

With the wonderful addition to The KEY Team your Real Estate needs here in the Seattle/Redmond area can be met!

Sami Akyel, Licensed Real Estate Agent
Fluent in Turkish
Direct: 206.953.7777

Back on the Market - Terrific Microsoft Condo $349,500

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

It’s hard to believe that anything that takes nearly 800 pages to describe could be time sensitive, however, President Bush recently signed H.R. 3221, the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008” and for many, it may provide the incentive needed to act now. A few of the major provisions in the legislation that impact homeowners and homebuyers are listed here:

Tax Credits
First-time homebuyers who purchase their primary residence between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009, are eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credit, provided they haven't owned a home in the last three years and fit certain income parameters. The credit is generous, but it is actually an interest free loan, paid back over 15 years at $500 per year when taxes are filed.

Larger Loans at Lower Rates
There have recently been provisions in place that have allowed loans larger than $417,000 to qualify for better financing rates than normally would be available for "jumbo" loan amounts of that size, thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Although these provisions were set to expire, they are being extended. However, the top end of the loan size that will be allowed under these programs will be dropping down from $729,750 to $625,500, effective January 1, 2009.

FHA Hope for Homeowners
This provision is designed to help homeowners who are "upside down" on their mortgages—that is, they owe more on their house than they can sell it for in today's market. Essentially, this plan allows homeowners who meet the requirements and are upside down to refinance their mortgage to a new 30-year Fixed FHA mortgage. There are a number of qualifying details that must be met and requirements to be agreed to, but if you're upside down on your mortgage and struggling in today's economy, this is an option worth exploring in more detail.

These are just a few of the provisions that may benefit you, and there are a number of other items that impact the housing and mortgage industry as whole. But the bottom line is this, home prices are extremely reasonable right now, home loan rates are low, and new incentives are in place that may help make the decision to purchase or refinance even more appealing than before. If you're in the market for a new home or need to make some changes with your current mortgage, there's never been a better time to act.

Provided by The KEY Team - Preferred Lender:

Toby Wonder, Mortgage Consultant
Homestead Mortgage, Bellevue, WA
Office: 425-274-9524

Cell: 206-910-4766

Great Deals to be had!

My broker, Will Bruce's son works for Amazon and recently shared this link to

Amazon's Warehouse Deals

Perfect to save some money for your holiday shopping -- Check it out! And Happy Shopping!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sam Akyel Joins Windermere & The KEY Team

With over 15 years of experience as a licensed Real Estate Agent I am so very pleased to announce that Sam Akyel has moved over to Windermere . Please join me and The KEY Team, please join me in welcoming him and taking a moment to view his profile.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Housing Real Estate Markets Most Likely To Rebound - Seattle Ranked #1

Dorothy Pomerantz 10.29.08, 4:00 PM ET Forbes Magazine

If you're a homeowner seeing property values plummet, look to the commercial real estate market for solace. It might tell you which areas will recover fastest--and which will likely remain weak. The Urban Land Institute recently asked 700 real estate professionals to name the best (and worst) places to invest in commercial real estate in the coming year. Those surveyed included private developers, Realtors and Real Estate Investment Trust executives. Their answers also apply to the residential market, since the single-family-home sector typically follows the economy. As wages go up and there are more jobs, more people can buy homes, pushing prices up.
The best cities in which to invest are those that are considered gateways to international investment, have vital downtowns where people can forgo cars, and don't have a glut of condos or office space.
These traits landed Seattle the No. 1 spot on the list. No city scored above a 6.15 on a scale of one to nine (one being an abysmal place to invest and nine being excellent).
Seattle is "a diversified market, has a good base of business and is becoming a 24-hour city," says Stephen Blank, senior resident fellow, finance, of the Urban Land Institute. "It's going to be in a good position to come back."
Although the city is suffering from the loss of Washington Mutual and the downsizing of Starbucks, Boeing and Microsoft are still relatively strong. Apartment vacancies are low and there aren't too many new buildings going up, meaning the market won't be oversupplied. The same is true in the retail space.

San Francisco comes in second with a 6.12. The City by the Bay learned from the tech crash of 2001 not to overbuild. There is a reasonable supply of office and apartment space, which should limit vacancies. San Francisco's port is also expected to help the city during the downturn as Americans continue to rely on Asian imports.
Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles round out the top five.Of course, there's no guarantee that an improved commercial market will lead to an improved home market. However, investors have a better chance of seeing home prices rise in fundamentally strong markets like Seattle than in struggling cities like Detroit.It landed at the bottom of the list, scoring a 2.24.
Detroit has been reliant on the car industry, which is rapidly shrinking. Other businesses are unlikely to fill the void in the next few years, which means the city will be hit hard by further economic struggles.
New Orleans also lands near the bottom with a score of 3.33. The city has been losing businesses to Houston, Dallas and Atlanta since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
The other cities at the bottom of the list--Columbus, Ohio, Milwaukee, Wis., and Cleveland--suffer from dying industries and lack of tourist appeal.
Recent attempts to turn downtown Milwaukee into a thriving 24-hour city haven't been enough to protect it from the coming downturn. Increasingly picky investors are expected to favor higher-quality port cities over Midwest towns. And while Columbus has the potential to become a major shipping hub for goods traveling cross-country, that revitalization may have to wait for a stronger economy and a government focused on improving the nation's roads. For now, prospects are dim.

Kelcey Myers
Fidelity Title, Sales Manager
Direct: (425) 239-7765

Monday, November 3, 2008

FREE 411 Calls on Your Cell Phone!

Tired of getting charged outrageous amounts from your cellular provider for dialing 411? I have a great tip for FREE 411 Calls. With no catch and NO COST Google now offers the public and opportunity to receive those numbers you need by simply calling:
800.466.4411 - Google Free 411

Saturday, November 1, 2008

FSBO in Snohomish - Owner Financing Available $899,990

"In Case of Emergency" - Important Information

ICE Campaign

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but
nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our
closest family or friends.

If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people
attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call.
Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact
person in case of an emergency? Hence this "ICE" (In Case of Emergency)
Campaign. The concept of "ICE" is catching on quickly. It is a method of
contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the
majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a
contact person or persons who shou ld be contacted during emergency under the
name "ICE" ( In Case Of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the
scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they
didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a
good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose.
In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff
would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the
number you have stored as "ICE."

For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great
idea that will make a difference! Let's spread the concept of ICE by storing
an ICE number in our Mobile phones today!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

South Lake Tahoe Condo Available - November 30-December 7

$120 per night
2 Bed + 2 Ba Condo at Kingsbury of Tahoe
November 30 - December 7, 2008
Take the shuttle just 1/2 mile to Heavenly!
Sleeps 6: King Bed in Master, Queen Bed in Second Bedrm, Queen Murphy Bed in Living Room
Full Kitchen / Cable TV / Deck / Washer & Dryer / Non-Smoking

More details and pictures at:
Contact Marcia / 206-714-0342

New Listing - Investor Alert! Terrific 3 Unit Rental Property in Everett - $335,000

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pending Sales Up 4.1 Percent From Year Ago, Total Inventory Unchanged

News from NW Multiple Listing Service

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Oct. 6, 2008) – Home sales around Western Washington during September rose 4.1 percent from a year ago, reversing a 19-month pattern of declines. Members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported 5,982 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed), a gain of 234 transactions from a year ago. The totals cover 19 counties in the MLS service area.

NWMLS data show the last system-wide uptick in pending sales was February 2007 when members reported a 4.8 percent gain from the previous year.

In other key indicators of housing activity, Northwest MLS reported tightening inventory with a double-digit drop in the number of new listings added during September compared to 12 months ago, and total inventory at month end that matched year-ago numbers. Figures also show area-wide softening of prices compared to a year ago.

The median price for last month's closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $295,000, a drop of 8.3 percent from a year-ago when the median price was $321,600. King County prices fell about 3.7 percent from a year ago, from $395,000 to $380,315. For the four-county Puget Sound region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap), the median price for last month's closed sales dropped from $349,950 to $324,000, a decline of 7.4 percent.

Brokers and lenders say the recent economic turmoil is taking a toll on activity, but also suggest negative news reports are keeping buyers on the fence and creating misunderstandings about the availability of home loans.

"Forget the news. Mortgage loans are readily available, at excellent rates and you can still get 97 percent loan to value," said Mike Welty of Liberty Financial Group in Bellevue. "There is a lot of flexibility in programs, qualification and opportunity," he emphasized, while acknowledging (with a chuckle), "Underwriting is tougher – you need a down payment and you need a job!"

REALTOR Dennis Brown, a residential and investment specialist at Windermere's Fauntleroy office, echoed Welty. "I'm loving FHA," he exclaimed, calling the largest mortgage insurer in the world "the answer to a lot of people's credit problems." Brown has used the program for first-home and move-up buyers, as well as with investors. "Investors use the program to buy everything from fixer-uppers to 4-unit buildings," he said. Among features Brown said his clients find to be most appealing about FHA loans are easy credit qualifications (typically one year of "clean credit"), low closing costs and low down payment requirements (as low as 3 percent of the purchase price).

In today's market the vast majority of buyers are first time buyers, move-up buyers, and investors, according to J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. "These three groups of buyers are moving forward with the opportunities that exist thanks to low interest rates, increased affordability, and a strong selection of homes to choose from."
Buyers still have plenty of choices, according to NWMLS data. Members added 10,889 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to inventory during September – about 1,500 fewer than a year ago for a 12 percent drop. When added to existing inventory, the number of active listings at month end totaled 48,665, slightly fewer than the year-ago number of 48,969 listings.

"We are definitely starting to see more buyers that have been waiting months to get off the fence," said NWMLS director Mike Skahen, owner/broker of Lake & Company Real Estate, Inc. in Seattle. As for the dip in prices, he attributes that in part to limited availability of jumbo loans for high-end homes, "Not surprisingly, with fewer high priced homes selling, the median price would be lower," he noted. "I'm convinced that as the national financial crisis subsides and with Seattle's good economy, buyers who have been waiting for the bottom will return and wish they had bought now." Commenting on the relatively low sales numbers over the past year, he remarked, "There must be substantial pent-up demand."

"The latest NWMLS numbers validate what our agents report from the field -- sellers that are truly motivated to move are dropping their prices, and many buyers are recognizing the opportunity this creates," said Ron Sparks, managing vice president at Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue. Increases in pending sales are a "good indication that our market is adjusting to current buyer attitude and demand."

Sparks acknowledged price declines aren't particularly good news for sellers, but said most sellers can be thankful the drops are really quite modest compared to other markets, where prices have recently dropped 30 percent or more. "It's apparent that home prices, both locally and nationally, are becoming irresistible in some instances," he remarked. As a result, he noted markets such as San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are seeing the same increased buyer activity as our local market.

Erik Hand, president of Response Mortgage Services (John L. Scott's in-house lender) expects some improvement in financing options, but cautioned consumers about the potential cost of procrastinating.

"With the passage of the bailout bill, I expect we will gradually see an improvement to the conditions in the Non-Conforming market in the form of a narrowing of the spreads between Conforming and Non-Conforming loan products, and in some cases, an easing of guidelines that will open up financing options to a larger pool of buyers," Hand stated.

"As for interest rates, they are expected to remain low, but like every other aspect of the economy they're subject to the volatility of the market," Hand commented, adding, "It's important for homebuyers to understand that interest rates are currently at historic lows and there's no guarantee they'll fall further with the passage of the bailout bill."

"While things in the real estate world may not be perfect right now, things are, and will continue to get better and better. The medicine tastes terrible but the cure will be worth it," NWMLS director Dick Beeson believes. Beeson, the broker/owner of Windermere/Commencement Associates in Tacoma saw a 21.8 percent surge of pending sales in Pierce County last month compared to a year ago and a notable shrinkage in inventory (down 11.2 percent from twelve months ago).

"We're moving toward a market place with fewer properties for sale -- and fewer and fewer choices for buyers. What a time to buy, low rates, low prices, low costs, and decreasing inventory -- all ready for those smart buyers who act now," he noted.

NWMLS director Kathy Estey, managing broker at the Bellevue Downtown office of John L. Scott said "September felt like we were gathering steam and back on track," but as economic news worsened during the month buyer confidence tumbled. "The news made it sound as if buyers need 20 percent down to get a loan -- and fear become our worst enemy again," she remarked.

On a more optimistic note she added, "The Puget Sound remains a great place to own property and there are opportunities to buy low and ride the rising prices that are around the corner in a year or two."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SOLD - Woodinville Custom Built Home

Best of Luck Desiree!

New Listing - Redmond Condo $349,500

Grapes and Grits in Woodinville

By Paul Gregutt - Special to The Seattle Times

Since the prime slice of Washington wine country is rather inconveniently located east of the Cascade Mountains, day-trippers in the Seattle metro region have made Woodinville the favored destination for tasting and touring.Here, there are big wineries: Ste. Michelle and Columbia.

There are flashy new wineries: Januik/Novelty Hill. Veteran winemakers: Brian Carter, Lou Facelli and Mark Newton. And high-profile superstars: Chris Upchurch (DeLille Cellars) and Bob Betz (Betz Family). This is the Woodinville that most folks know — the glamour destination where wine auctions are set, concerts are held, and the glittery, gadget-filled tasting rooms reside.

But for the "been there, done that" crowd, there is another Woodinville wine scene emerging just north of town.

Here, more than two dozen tiny startups are clustered in a couple of plain-Jane industrial parks, places so nondescript that Wall• E the animated robot would feel right at home. "We're on the wrong side of the tracks," one new winemaker told me with a grin, referring to the rail line that cuts behind the tourist-magnet wineries to the south.

Most of these new micro-wineries are scattered among the rows of squat warehouses lining 144th Avenue Northeast.

On a recent Saturday, sandwich-board signs located at the 144th Avenue Northeast locale guided would-be visitors through a bland, industrial no man's land to the hidden cellars and tasting rooms. At virtually every stop along the way, a winemaker, owner or assistant winemaker was there to welcome, pour wine and answer questions.

To View the entire Article Visit:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stacey Lange becomes Buyer's Agent for Murray Franklyn at Fernwood Grove in Bothell

Fernwood Grove has much sought after large homes sites along with our largest floor plans, open space and Northshore School district. Features include:

* Homes from 3,200 to 4,030 Square Feet
* 3 Car Garages
* Stainless Steel Kitchen Appliances
* Guest Suites
* OnQ Wiring System
* Slab Granite Kitchen Counters
* Convenient to I-5 / I-405
* Top Bellevue Based Builder for over 40 years!

To Learn View Homes Available at Fernwood Grove -- Click Here or Visit

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Furnace/Heat System Tip

Fall is a good time to check your funace for proper operation. Turn your system to the heat function, just as you would when the weather becomes cold, to ensure it is heating properly. If you discover there is a problem you can schedule a service call with a professional before the cold weather arrives. If winter is upon you and your system goes out you run the risk of waiting several cold days during what is their busiest season.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

7 Ways for Stretching your Gas Tank

Go Easy on the Pedals: Jackrabbit driving is a killer when it comes to bruning fuel. Remember that slow and steady wins the race in more ways than one.

Avoid Long Idles: The bottom line is idiling burns more gas than restarting your engine.

Drive the Speed Limit: The higher the speed, the more gas your car will use.

No Junk in the Trunk: Clean out your trunk and the rest of your car for the matter. Excess weight bogs down your vehicle causing it to burn more fuel.

Use Overdrive and Cruise Control: Most automatic transmission have these features. If you drive a stick, consult your owner's manual about the recommended RPM's when shifting.

Keep Tires Inflated and Aligned: Believe it or not, frequent alignments and keeping your tires inflated to the proper amount will save you gas.

Honor Your Scheduled Maintainence: Scheduled maintainance is designed to help your car run as efficiently as possible.

Provided by The KEY Team - Preferred Title Professional:
Teresa Hollenbeck
Commonwealth Title, Bellevue, WA
Direct: 425.221.0066

Monday, September 8, 2008

Stacey Joins Facebook

The word is spreading like wildfire with most everyone on know quickly join Facebook and reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. As an additional network resource I quickly jumped on board and was so pleasantly surprised to find old classmates and co-workers with very little effort and much reward.

I am sure there are many of you out there shaking your head as I did simply thinking "maybe I am too old" for facebook, but I strongly suggest you give it a shot as I think you will be shocked as you find countless acquiantances.

If you do take the time to join, or maybe you are ahead of the game and already have your profile established -- Add me! I'd love to see you on MY FRIENDS list.

Nehemiah and all Down Payment Assistance Programs are gone!!!

We have finally received confirmation that FHA has "terminated" the use of seller down payment assistance programs. All files must have final credit approval and appraisal on or before Sept. 30th. In essence we should be ready to pull docs and go to escrow by month end. There will be no exceptions.

The loan May Fund After "Sept. 30th" but there can be no changes of any kind.

This is a great time to spur on your first time buyers, "fence sitters". If you can get them to commit and buy right now, we'll get the loan set up and ready by Sept. 30th!

The FHA 30 yr fixed is looking good at 5.875%. At a rate of 6.5% we have enough rebate to cover the origination fee and most of the closing costs.

For More Information Contact:
Hank Stecker, Branch Manager/Mortgage Consultant
Windermere Mortgage Services Series LLC/SBA
Phone: 425.488.3979
Cell: 206.947.3528
Confidential Fax: 425.488.3942
Online application & rates

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Real Estate Outlook: Prices Stabilizing

by Kenneth R. Harney

The economy continues to send mixed messages -- some encouraging for real estate, some not -- but this week the positive are edging out the negatives.

Take housing prices for example. The research company with the largest database of ongoing real estate transactions - First American CoreLogic, which tracks property values in thousands of Zip codes and neighborhoods - reports that nominal price drops have "stabilized" in 883 core-based statistical areas, showing no declines in the past two months.

Why's that important? Because flattening out is what we need before we can see a cyclical turnaround -- in other words, where even in the hardest hit local markets in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, prices have hit bottom.

They're not likely to drop much further, and in some parts of California are now at such bargain levels that large investors are prospecting for entire packages of houses -- ten or more in some cases -- to buy in bulk and rent out.

Gary Crabtree, an appraiser in Bakersfield, California, told Realty Times that he knows of one investor who has a standing order for 20 houses that fit specific price and locational characteristics that he wants to purchase.

The National Association of Realtors sees similar bottoming out -- even the first signs of turnaround -- in a number of key markets in the U.S. In its latest quarterly report, home sales were up year-to-year in 26 percent of all states and 35 percent of metropolitan statistical areas.
Biggest price jumps were in Yakima, Washington, where the median was up 8.9 percent, Binghampton, New York, up 8.7 percent, and Amarillo, Texas, up by 7.2 percent.

On the other hand, the Realtors also reported the national median sales price was down by 7.6 percent from the second quarter of 2007, and now stands at $206,500.
In other key economic developments: New housing starts fell by three percent last month - which is only logical given builders' still bulging unsold inventories.

And mortgage rates took a dip this week to an average 6.47 percent for 30 year fixed. Fifteen year rates slipped below 6 percent to 5.99 percent. New loan applications for FHA mortgages to purchase homes rose slightly, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America -- even while applications for conventional home purchase mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped for the week.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Summary of the “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008”

A. Summary of the “Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008" This legislation strengthens and modernizes the regulation of the housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs or Banks) – and expands the housing mission of these GSEs. In addition, it creates a new program at FHA that will help at least 400,000 families save their homes from foreclosure by providing for new FHA loans after lenders take deep discounts. I. Safety and Soundness Regulation of the Housing GSEs The “Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008" establishes a new, independent, “world class” regulator for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks, the housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). The legislation endows this regulator with broad new authority, equivalent to the authority of other federal financial regulators, to ensure the safe and sound operations of the GSEs, including the power to:
• establish capital standards;
• establish prudential management standards, including internal controls, audits, risk management, and management of the portfolio;
• enforce its orders through cease and desist authority, civil money penalties and the authority to remove officers and directors;
• restrict asset growth and capital distributions for undercapitalized institutions;
• put a regulated entity into receivership; and
• review and approve (subject to notice and comment) new product offerings.

II. Mission Improvement The new legislation also significantly enhances the affordable housing component of the GSEs’ mission, and expands the number of families Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the enterprises) can serve by raising the loan limits in high cost areas (areas with median house prices that are higher than the regular conforming limit) to 150% of the conforming loan limit. Currently, this would be $625,000.

For the enterprises, the legislation tightens targeting requirements of the affordable housing goals, and rewrites those goals to ensure that the enterprises provide liquidity to both ownership and rental housing markets for low and very-low income families. The legislation requires the enterprises to serve a variety of underserved markets, such as rural areas, manufactured housing and the preservation market. The legislation improves reporting requirements for affordable housing activities, including the expansion of the public use data base, and strengthens the new regulator’s ability to enforce compliance with the housing goals. Finally, the legislation creates a new Housing Trust Fund and a Capital Magnet Fund, financed by annual contributions from the enterprises, which will used for the construction of affordable rental housing.
For the Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs), the legislation requires new affordable housing goals similar to those that apply to the enterprises for FHLB mortgage purchase programs. The legislation also requires the FHLBs to create a public use data base for such programs. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) would become eligible to join FHLBs. Finally, community financial institution members of the FHLBs may use FHLB advances for community development purposes. B. Summary of the “HOPE for Homeowners Act of 2008" The “HOPE for Homeowners Act of 2008" creates a new, temporary, voluntary program within FHA to back FHA-insured mortgages to distressed borrowers. The new mortgages offered by FHA-approved lenders will refinance distressed loans at a significant discount for owner-occupants at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. In exchange, homeowners will share future appreciation with FHA.
The program is built on five principles:
Long-term affordability. The program is built on the idea, expressed by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, that creating new equity for troubled homeowners is likely to be a more effective way to avoid foreclosures. New loans will be based on a family’s ability to repay the loan, ensuring affordability and sustainable homeownership.
No investor or lender bailout. Investors and/or lenders will have to take significant losses in order to benefit from the proceeds of the loans refinanced with government insurance. However, these losses would be less than the losses associated with foreclosure.
No windfall for borrowers. Borrowers will share their new equity and future appreciation equally with FHA. Borrowers will pay for the FHA insurance.
Voluntary participation. This will be a voluntary program. No lenders, servicers, or investors will be compelled to participate.
Restore confidence, liquidity, and transparency. Credit markets are fearful and frozen in part because banks and other financial institutions do not know what their subprime mortgages and related securities are worth. The uncertainty is forcing lenders to hoard capital and stop the lending necessary for economic growth. This program will help restore confidence and get markets flowing again.
Program Oversight. The new program will be overseen by a Board made up of the Secretary of HUD, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, and the Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The Board will have the authority to develop standards within the framework of the legislation. Eligible Borrowers. Only owner-occupants who are unable to afford their mortgage payments are eligible for the program. No investors or investor properties will qualify. Homeowners must certify, under penalty of law, that they have not intentionally defaulted on their loan to qualify for the program and must have a mortgage debt to income ratio greater than 31 percent as of March 1, 2008 Lenders must document and verify borrowers’ income with the IRS.
New Loan Amount. The size of the new FHA-insured loan will be lesser of the amount the borrower can afford to repay, as determined by the current affordability requirements of FHA; or, 90% of the current value of the home. Loans must be 30-year, fixed rate loans.
Equity & Appreciation Sharing. In order to avoid a windfall to the borrower created by the new 90% loan-to-value FHA-insured mortgage, the borrower must share the newly created equity and future appreciation equally with FHA. This obligation will continue until the borrower sells the home or refinances the FHA-insured mortgage. Moreover, the homeowner’s access to the newly created equity will be phased in over 5 years. Eligible Mortgages. In order to protect against adverse selection, the program prohibits the Secretary from paying an insurance claim whenever the representations and warranties required to be made by lenders are violated, or in cases in which a borrower has an early payment default and misses the first payment. The Act provides the Board the authority to establish other protections against adverse selection, such as requiring “seasoning” for certain higher risk loans before they can be insured under the program. Appraisers of property insured by FHA must be certified by the state where the property is located, or by a nationally recognized professional appraisal organization, and have “demonstrated verifiable education” in FHA appraisal requirements. Existing Subordinate Liens. Before participating in this program, all subordinate liens must be extinguished. This will have to be done through negotiation with the first lien holder. Qualified Safe Harbor. The legislation provides servicers with an incentive to participate in the program by offering a safe harbor against legal liability. Program Size. The program is authorized to insure up to $300 billion in mortgages and is expected to serve approximately 400,000 homeowners. Program Sunset. The program will begin October 1, 2008 and sunset on September 30, 2011. CBO say the program will net nearly $250 million for taxpayers. The program is paid for by using part of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; the GSE bill provides a further $2 billion cushion for the government by establishing a reserve fund at Treasury over ten years. If the program costs less than projected, the unused funds are returned to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. If the program more than pays for itself (as was the case during the Roosevelt Administration), any excess savings are dedicated to reducing the national debt.
C. Summary of the “Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008”
The Foreclosure bill passed by the Senate on April 10 contains the following provisions designed to address the problems faced by families and their communities in light of the foreclosure crisis:

· FHA Modernization. To ensure that additional families can access the FHA program, which provides safe, fixed-rate mortgages, significant FHA reform is included to modernize, streamline and expand the reach of the FHA program. Under this bill, the FHA loan limit is increased from 95% to 110% of area median home price with a cap at 150% of GSE limit (currently, $625,000), allowing families in all areas of the country to access homeownership through FHA. Downpayments of 3.5% will be required for any FHA loan and counseling requirements are enhanced to help provide for stable homeownership.
· Assisting Communities Devastated by Foreclosures. Homes that have been foreclosed upon and are sitting unoccupied lead to declines in neighboring house values, increased crime and significant disinvestment. To ensure that communities can mitigate these harmful effects of foreclosures, $3.92 billion is provided to communities hardest hit by foreclosures and delinquencies. These supplemental Community Development Block Grant Funds will be used to purchase foreclosed homes, at a discount, and rehabilitate or redevelop the homes to stabilize neighborhoods and stem the significant losses in house values of neighboring homes.

· Providing Pre-Foreclosure Counseling for Families in Need. To help families avoid foreclosure, this bill provides $150 million in additional funding for housing counseling. These funds will be distributed by the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation by the end of 2008 to ensure families can quickly get the help they need. As many as 250,000 additional families connect with their mortgage servicer or lender to explore options that will keep them in their homes as a result of these counseling funds. In addition, $30 million is provided to help provide legal services to distressed borrowers.

· Enhancing Mortgage Disclosure. To ensure that consumers are provided with timely and meaningful disclosures in connection with mortgages, the bill expands the types of home loans subject to early disclosures (within three days of application) under the Truth-In Lending Act (TILA) including re-financings. The bill requires that disclosures be provided no later than 7 days prior to closing so borrowers can shop for another loan if not satisfied with the terms. The bill requires a new disclosure that informs borrowers of the maximum monthly payments possible under their loan, and also increases the range of statutory damages for TILA violations from the current $200 to $2000 to $400 to $4000.

· Preserving the American Dream for Our Nation’s Veterans. To assist returning soldiers avoid foreclosure, this bill lengthens the time a lender must wait before starting foreclosure from three months to nine months after a soldier returns from service and also provides returning soldiers with one year relief from increases in mortgage interest rates. In addition, the Department of Defense is required to establish a counseling program to ensure veterans and active service members can access assistance if facing financial difficulties. Also included is a provision that increases the VA loan guarantee amount, so that veterans have additional homeownership opportunities. The bill contains provisions to do the following:
· Increase benefits paid to veterans with disabilities such as blindness for the purpose of adapting their housing; provide a moving benefit to servicemen and woman who are forced to move out of rental housing because the owner of the housing was foreclosed on; provide that veterans benefits received in a lump sum are treated the same for the purposes of eligibility for housing assistance as monthly benefits; and to allow the Veterans Administration to provide for improvements and structural alterations to homes of veterans with service connected disabilities.

Lori Koblinsky, Account Manager
Old Republic Title & Escrow, Lynnwood, WA
Direct: 425.308.0191

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rolling Interest Rates over the Last Year

The information below was provided by Hank Stecker with Windermere Mortgage Services.

Friday, August 1, 2008

For Rent - $1650 Per Month in Lake Stevens

3 Bedroom / 2.5 Bath
Large Private Fenced Yard / Hardwoods / Stainless Steel Appliances /
Washer & Dryer / 2 Car Garage / No Pets
Contact Me for More Information


Similar to fashion, cuisine and interior decorating, the art of gardening is multi-dimensional. It is not composed simply of foliage and flowers, but rather definitive color schemes, textures, well thought out design and the use of quality products. From urban rooftop gardens to chic water atriums, a garden is yet another way to emphasize the beauty and ambiance of any luxury residence. With eco-friendly options becoming more luxurious and accessible, trends in the gardening world are changing for novice hobbyists and garden design experts alike.

Gardens can be created in virtually any environment. From the deserts of Dubai to mountainous regions of Colorado, these are a few of the latest trends moving up on the list of luxury garden design.

Container Gardens - Popping up everywhere in Manhattan brownstones and Los Angeles lofts, these gardens continue to gain popularity. Space can present a challenge, but creating a classic garden in a metropolitan area is possible. Tips: Grow plants up versus out. Honeysuckle, jasmine, ivy and herbs work perfectly. Terracotta pots are a great option for container gardens, as the clay absorbs water and keeps the soil damp longer, which means less watering. Even if you have plenty of space, you can use container gardens to highlight entertaining areas or line stairways or walkways.

The Foliage Craze - Colorful, variegated, bold and lacy are just a few words to describe this garden forward trend: foliage. With no concerns of a blooming season, foliage is growing in popularity. Gorgeous shades of bronze, plum, claret and brightly tinged yellows and greens allow you to create the perfect look. Formerly used as a garden accent, foliage can now be used as the sole "ingredient" in your garden.


Water Gardens - Does the idea of converting your swimming pool into a natural swimmable pond - complete with aqua foliage - sound odd? It is currently one of the country's hottest garden trends. Incorporating plant life and d├ęcor to mimic those of natural water areas in our ecosystem, these ponds are self-cleaning and offer a lake-like swimming experience, involving no harsh chemicals.
Designers like Larry Santoyo - for Earth Flow Design Works - combine artistry and ecology, and can help you create functional garden design.

Edible Landscapes: New Rage in Haute Cuisine
Edible gardens and landscapes are creating quite a stir as luxury home owners around the country are creating interactive, edible gardens. Besides enjoying the visual beauty, these gardens entice all five senses and allow you to prepare elegant meals with freshly harvested ingredients. The mixed greens salad with truffle oil dressing allows you to combine elements from your own garden and an undeniably lavish ingredient that continues to gain popularity: truffle oil.

MosquitoNix is an environmentally sound solution for protecting your garden. A misting system is installed around the perimeter of your garden - a variety of custom and unique techniques are available. Mist is released 3-4 times a day, 45 seconds each time. Rosemary, cinnamon and lemon grass oils repel pesticides that can cause harm to your garden. Eco-friendly and 100% safe around children, pets, furniture and food - this solution is a great alternative to hazardous pesticides.
Baume Du Jardinier (Gardener's Hand Healer) - If your hands have endured elements of water, wind, sun and dirt while gardening, this shea butter cream is the answer. Its light lemon scent and combination of chamomile, rosemary, mimosa and lemon balm aid in its healing power and protects hands.

Garden Art - Incorporate your decorating style into your garden with these en vogue pieces: A stunning, copper column fountain designed by Hugo McCloud - who was featured at the Sundance Film Festival and San Francisco Garden Show Design Competition. His garden pieces are comprised of elegant details and eco-friendly materials. As evidenced by a growing celebrity interest garden gongs and bells are another en vogue option. Designed by Tom Torrens, these bronze and steel pieces add distinct flair to avant-gardens and are made with all natural components. Available at Water + Stone Gallery.

Simple Tips to Keep Your Garden "Green"
• Water in early morning and late afternoon. This allows water to soak in and not
evaporate as quickly.
• Work with flowers that are indigenous to your region. They require less water
and maintenance. Smith & Hawken offer insightful tips on selection process.
• Use drip systems, soaker hoses or sprinklers that have multiple settings, so the water isn't wasted on non-garden areas.
• Select flowers that attract bumblebees, hummingbirds or butterflies. These "friendly" creatures naturally help pollinate and propagate gardens.
• Select perennials to serve as your garden's "framework." Throughout the seasons, implement annuals for new color and fresh variety. This technique will help provide easy maintenance and the ability to incorporate new hues and styles.

This article supplied by LUXETRENDS by Windermere:
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bush signs housing bill to provide mortgage relief

By JENNIFER LOVEN - Associated Press Writer

President Bush on Wednesday signed a massive housing bill intended to provide mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling homeowners and stabilize financial markets.

Bush signed the bill without any fanfare or signing ceremony, affixing his signature to the measure he once threatened to veto, in the Oval Office in the early morning hours. He was surrounded by top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Housing Secretary Steve Preston.

"We look forward to put in place new authorities to improve confidence and stability in markets," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. He said that the Federal Housing Administration would begin right away to implement new policies "intended to keep more deserving American families in their homes."

The measure, regarded as the most significant housing legislation in decades, lets homeowners who cannot afford their payments refinance into more affordable government-backed loans rather than losing their homes.

It offers a temporary financial lifeline to troubled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and tightens controls over the two government-sponsored businesses.

The House passed the bill a week ago; the Senate voted Saturday to send it to the president.
Bush didn't like the version emerging from Congress, and initially said he would veto it, particularly over a provision containing $3.9 billion in neighborhood grants. He contended the money would benefit lenders who helped cause the mortgage meltdown, encouraging them to foreclose rather than work with borrowers.

But he withdrew that threat early last week, saying hurting homeowners could not wait - and even blaming the Democratic Congress' delays in action for forcing an imperfect solution.
Meanwhile, many Republicans, particularly those from areas hit hardest by housing woes, were eager to get behind a housing rescue as they looked ahead to tough re-election contests.

Paulson's request for the emergency power to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped push through the measure. So did the creation of a regulator with stronger reins on the government-sponsored companies, as Republicans long have sought.

Democrats won cherished priorities in the bargain: the aid for homeowners, a permanent affordable housing fund financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the neighborhood grants.
The bill takes several approaches to curing the ailing housing market.

It aims to spare an estimated 400,000 debt-strapped homeowners, many of whom owe more their houses are worth, from foreclosure by allowing them to get more affordable mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration.

The FHA could insure $300 billion in such mortgages, which would be available to homeowners who showed they could afford a new loan. Banks would first have to agree to take a large loss on the existing loans in exchange for avoiding an often-costly foreclosure.

The plan also is designed to relieve a broader credit crunch that has taken hold because of rising defaults and falling home values. To free up safer and more affordable mortgage credit, the bill permanently would increase to $625,000 the size of home loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy and the FHA can insure. They also could buy and back mortgages 15 percent higher than the median home price in certain areas.

It goes far beyond addressing the current crisis, however.

The legislation overhauls the Depression-era FHA. It requires lenders to show how high a borrower's payment could get under the terms of his mortgage. It provides $180 million in pre-foreclosure counseling for struggling homeowners.

The Treasury Department gains unlimited power, until the end of 2009, to lend money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or buy their stock should they need it. The Federal Reserve takes on a new "consultative" role overseeing the companies.

The measure includes $15 billion in tax cuts, including a significant expansion of the low-income housing tax credit and a credit of up to $7,500 for first-time home buyers for houses purchased between April 9, 2008, and July 1, 2009.

Democratic leaders, recognizing that the measure could be one of the last items to become law during what's left of their abbreviated election-year schedule, tacked on an $800 billion increase, to $10.6 trillion, in the statutory limit on the national debt.

Conservative Republicans were vehemently opposed to the bill, particularly the help for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Critics charge the companies enjoy lavish profits in good times and wield their outsized political clout to resist regulation while depending on the government to bail them out should they falter.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How the New Housing Law Affects You

The landmark measure has something for struggling homeowners, first-time buyers, and even seniors

By Luke Mullins

That wasn't so hard, was it? It only took the worst real estate slump in a generation, an economy grinding to a department-of-motor-vehicles pace, and a crisis of confidence in the heart of the mortgage finance system to get the gigantic housing bill to the finish line. The legislation, which has been signed into law by President Bush, is hugely ambitious, seeking at once to stem the tide of home foreclosures and restore confidence in mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To critics, it's a bailout. To supporters, it's a rescue. But no matter what you call it, it is the most sweeping housing measure in decades. Here's how it will affect you:

Struggling homeowners: A key provision of the law would allow homeowners who can't make their mortgage payments to refinance into more affordable, fixed-rate loans insured by the federal government. Under the plan, the Federal Housing Administration can guarantee up to $300 billion of such loans, enough to modify an estimated 400,000 mortgages. To participate, lenders would have to write down the original loan balance, taking a financial hit in the process.

"It's a help, but it's modest in comparison to the number of homeowners who are facing default and foreclosure," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Zandi says the nation could face nearly 3 million first-mortgage defaults this year. Of those, as many as 1.5 million mortgage holders could lose their homes. "That 400,000 [of loans that will be modified under the law] is over the life of the program," Zandi says. "So I don't know if that provides much relief in 2008."

First-time home buyers: The housing law would also benefit first-time home buyers through a tax credit worth as much as $7,500. The credit, however, isn't a grant, but essentially an interest-free loan that must be paid back over 15 years. The outstanding balance must be paid back to the government if the property is sold for more than the original purchase price and the tax credit hasn't been fully repaid. James Glassman, a senior economist at JPMorgan Chase, says the tax credit is unlikely to increase demand from first-time home buyers all by itself. But when coupled with other factors—such as falling home prices—"it's just one more thing that helps," Glassman says.

Seniors: Although it has received little fanfare, a provision in the law that increases the limit on certain reverse mortgages stands to benefit senior citizens. A reverse mortgage is a type of loan—collateralized by a house—available to homeowners ages 62 and up. The loan allows homeowners to obtain monthly payments or a lump sum of cash based on the value of the property. The legislation boosts the cap on the Federal Housing Administration reverse mortgage program to as high as $625,000. "That's a benefit because it gives seniors the ability to access more equity out of their homes," says Darryl Hicks, spokesman for the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

Low-income Americans. The legislation also creates a permanent housing trust fund to benefit low-income housing. "The funds from the trust fund would be allocated to the states, which would use the money to produce and preserve affordable housing focused on the lowest-income households," says Linda Couch of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "Low-income advocates see that section as a real victory." Couch says the fund could have as much as $600 million by 2011 from its original funding sources, Fannie and Freddie.

Prospective home buyers: The law could affect house hunters in a couple of ways:

Home prices: Although helpful, the legislation is unlikely to reverse the nationwide decline in home prices in the near term. "The impact will be more of stopping or slowing the hemorrhaging in the housing market rather than sparking some type of strong recovery," says Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners. Still, in a real estate market with a glut of unsold homes, every little bit helps.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New Listing - Beautiful Custom Woodinville Home - Priced to Sell! $675,000

23520 NE 185th Place, Woodinville
Priced $100,000 Below Tax Assessed Value
4 Bed / 2.5 Bath Custom Built Home on .99 Acres

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brooklyn's Smallest House

Near the intersection of Ave T and Van Sicklen is Brooklyn 's smallest house.

Occupying what used to be a driveway, it's a one bedroom, one bathroom home that sits on a parcel of land 7.25 feet wide and 113.67 feet long. It's interior area is just under 300 square feet.
The living room, looking towards the front of the house... and in the kitchen despite the small space, they've managed to fit a washer and dryer into the place.
The bedroom comes with a Murphy bed, which is a necessity in such a space.
There is also patio space in the back.
Here are the home's 'Listed Features':
* Completely redone top-to-bottom, front-to-back!
* Tumbled stone entrance walk
* Renovated Bath
* Renovated Kitchen with new stove, new cabinets and new stacked washer/dryer
* Bedroom with Murph y Bed + 'Built-ins' ... (doubles as a den)!
* Walkout to fenced patio
* 100 Amp service
* 2 Satellite Dishes and Receiver
* Window Air Conditioner Available
PRICE: $479,900