My Listings

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The death of Santa


Friday, December 17, 2010

Better than NEW & NOT A SHORT SALE at Snoqualmie Ridge!






Priced at $525,000
34803 SE Leitz Street
Snoqulamie, WA 98065
Desirable Deer Park in Snoqualmie Ridge

Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 2.75
Home Size: 3,190 sq.ft. Garage: 3
Lot Size: 5,308 sq.ft.
Community: Snoqualmie Ridge
Year Built: 2006
MLS Number: 162939


Better than NEW & NOT A SHORT SALE. With too many upgrades to mention, this tastefully decorated Meadow floor plan comes with 4 beds, large bonus room, den and backs to a green belt. Highly desirable location in Deer Park. The gourmet kitchen is appointed with slab granite counters and SS appliances, adjacent is a cozy family room with gas fireplace. Upstairs you have a large master suite, with attached bath and large walk in closet. Outside you'll find a custom built gazebo with lights, water and gas for grilling. For added peace of mind, home comes with 1 year Fidelity Home Warranty.

Features List

• FREE Home Warranty • $25,000 Gazebo • Numerous Upgrades
• Extended Hardwoods • Granite Counters • Custom Built Ins

Website with additional pictures and information HERE

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Top Home Remodeling Investments

Click Here to see the Top Options for Seattle Area Remodels or click the map below to search by national region. Unfortunately, unlike in some area of the country, remodeling cost compared to return are still taking a downward turn in western Washington.

Owners Recoup More with Exterior Home Projects

As part of the 2010-11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORSÒ recently rated exterior replacement projects among the most cost-effective home improvement projects, demonstrating that curb appeal remains one of the most important aspects of a home at resale time.

“This year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report highlights the importance of exterior projects, which not only provide the most value, but also are among the least expensive improvements for a home,” said NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSÒ President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Since resale value can vary by region, it’s smart for home owners to work with a REALTORÒ through the remodeling and improvement process; they can provide insight into projects in their neighborhoods that will recoup the most when the owners are ready to sell.”

Nine of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement remained the project that returned the most money, with an estimated 102.1 percent of cost recouped upon resale; it is also the only project in this year’s report that is expected to return more than the cost. The midrange garage door replacement, a new addition to the report this year, is expected to recoup 83.9 percent of costs. Both projects are small investments that cost little more than $1,200 each, on average. REALTORSÒ identified these two replacements as projects that can significantly improve a home’s curb appeal.

“Curb appeal remains king – it’s the first thing potential buyers notice when looking for a home, and it also demonstrates pride of ownership,” said Phipps.

The 2010-11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 13th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood, LLC, was completed in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.

Realtors® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall, Realtors® estimated that home owners would recoup an average of 60 percent of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, down from an average of 63.8 percent last year. Remodeling projects, particularly higher cost upscale projects, have been losing resale value in recent years because of weak economic conditions.

According to the report, replacement projects usually outperform remodel and addition projects in resale value because they are among the least expensive and contribute to curb appeal. Various types of siding and window replacement projects were expected to return more than 70 percent of costs. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged by Realtors® the most cost effective among siding projects, recouping 80 percent of costs. Among the window replacement projects covered, upscale vinyl window replacements were expected to recoup the most, 72.6 percent upon resale. Another exterior project, a wood deck addition, tied with a minor kitchen remodel for the fourth most profitable project recouping an estimated 72.8 percent of costs.

The top interior projects for resale value included an attic bedroom and a basement remodel. Both add living space without extending the footprint of the house. An attic bedroom addition costs more than $51,000 and recoups an estimated 72.2 percent nationally upon resale; a basement remodel costs more than $64,000 and recoups an estimated 70 percent. Improvement projects that are expected to return the least are a midrange home office remodel, recouping an estimated 45.8 percent; a backup power generator, recouping 48.5 percent; and a sunroom addition, recouping 48.6 percent of costs.

Although most regions followed the national trends, the regions that consistently were estimated to return a higher percentage of remodeling costs upon resale were the Pacific region of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; the West South Central region of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; the East South Central region of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee; and the South Atlantic region of the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The regions where Realtors® generally reported the lowest percentage of costs recouped were New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin), West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota), and Middle Atlantic (New York and Pennsylvania).

“It’s important to remember that the resale value of a particular improvement project depends on several factors,” said Phipps. “Things such as the home’s overall condition, availability and condition of surrounding properties, location and the regional economic climate contribute to an estimated resale value. That’s why it is imperative to work with a REALTORÒ who can provide insight and guidance into local market conditions whether you’re buying, selling or improving a home.”

Results of the report are summarized in the January issue of REALTOR® Magazine. To read the full project descriptions, access national and regional project data, and download a free PDF containing data for any of the 80 cities covered by the report, visit www.costvsvalue.com.

Source: NAR

Congratulations Krista Mehr for passing the Managing Broker's Exam!


We are very happy to announce that Krista Mehr has passed the Managing Broker Exam for Washington State.


Krista has over seven years real estate experence and will become the new Managing Broker for The Cascade Team's Seattle office. I will keep most things to myself for now, but we have big plans for the Seattle market in 2011 and Krista is going to be leading that charge.


If you had a chance to meet her at the Holiday party on Tuesday that is great. If not, we will be planning a Grand Opening for the new main office in Gillman Village in Issaquah on Friday January 7th (Time to be announced) and you should get a chance to get to know her better there.


Congratulations Krista! We are very happy to have you on the Team!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2010 SOS Award Winners



Simply Outrageous Service


Our 2010 S.O.S. Award winners are:


1) Bridget Franklin
2) Diego Vitelli
3) Melissa Hughes Wilson
4) Erica Kahler
5) Tonya Eliason
6) Danielle Koval
7) Matt Jensen
8) Stan Hartman


The S.O.S. designation is the highest honor a member of The Cascade Team Real Estate can earn. S.O.S. encompasses not only the strive and achievement of being among the top producing agents in sales, but also the commitment to the communities we serve and work in.


The S.O.S designation is awarded to agents and brokers who ranked in the top 10% for sales company wide, “And” who also demonstrated exceptional commitment to community. Holders of the s.o.s. designation are the corner stone’s of The Cascade Team Real Estate. They continually give back through community programs like project crayon drive to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Seattle, during the free holiday sleigh rides events, and within their local schools, charities, and coaching local youth team sports.


By giving more than just the time it takes to be a top sales person and performer these fine agents and brokers have also reached deep to find the time to give more of themselves to the community as a whole…. We proudly call it!


Simply outrageous service!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bridget Franklin 5 Star Real Estate Agent Award - Snoquamlie






Congratulations to Bridget Franklin of The Cascade Team Real Estate. Bridget is a 2010 winner of the Prestigious 5 Star Award for Real Estate Professionals for the greater Seattle area representing the Snoqualmie Valley. Below are the qualifications Bridget had to meet for this award.

FIVE STAR Real Estate Agents scored highest in overall satisfaction

The FIVE STAR Real Estate Agent Program is designed to identify and showcase real estate agents in a local market that score highest in overall satisfaction.

As part of an in-depth research process real estate agents are evaluated by their customers and real estate industry professionals based on customer service, integrity, market knowledge, communication and negotiation skills, closing preparation, helping you find the right home, marketing the home being sold, and overall satisfaction.

10,000 to 50,000 recent homebuyers (all area residents who purchased a home over $100,000 - $200,000 within a 12-36 month period depending on the market size), readers of the area magazine, and 250 mortgage and title companies are asked to name and evaluate real estate agents with whom they have had direct/personal experience with. Recent homebuyers and subscribers can evaluate up to two agents, while mortgage and title companies can evaluate up to three agents. Both positive and negative responses regarding each agent are accepted. In addition to the survey results, other criteria such as acceptable disciplinary action and review by a panel of local industry experts are incorporated into the overall evaluation process.

The final list of FIVE STAR Real Estate Agents includes the real estate agents, of those evaluated, in the local market that scored highest in overall satisfaction; representing less than 7% of the real estate agents in the local market. See the Research Methodology Summary for more information on the research process.

Bridget is also a winner of The Cascade Team Real Estate's Highest Designation. The SOS (Simply Outrageous Service) award.

Snoqualmie Ridge Home for Sale



Offered at $515,000 7251fairwayavese.TheCascadeTeam.info


Beautiful five bedroom home in the heart of Snoqualmie Ridge! Gorgeous slate entryway leads to the office, formal living and dining rooms. The kitchen is remodeled with an extended slab granite island, stainless steel appliances, tile backsplash, eat-in nook, and opens up to the family room with new hardwood floors. Upstairs you will find a large bonus room and the bedrooms, all with new carpet. The Master Suite is large with a remodeled bathroom that is top notch! This home is meticulously maintained and has a professionally landscaped, fully fenced in corner-lot yard. The garage has three full bays, with room for storage and additional attic storage that will please any home owner. Buyers will love the easy location, just miinutes away from the retail center and parks!

Danielle Koval
Melissa Hughs Wilson

Office: 425.396.4569
Mobile: 206.999.0890
cary@thecascadeteam.com
www.danielleandmelissa.com


Broker

Friday, December 10, 2010

5 Predictions for 2011




Freddie Mac analysts point to five features that they believe will likely characterize the 2011 housing and mortgage markets:

1. Low mortgage rates. With Fed observers expecting the central bank to keep the federal funds rate at its current target range of 0 percent to 0.25 percent for most (or all) of 2011, relatively low mortgage rates will be a feature of the 2011 mortgage market. Thirty-year fixed-rate loans are likely to remain below 5 percent throughout the year, and initial rates of 5/1 hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages will likely remain below 4 percent in 2011.

2. Prices have hit bottom. House prices are likely to begin a gradual, but sustained recovery in the second half of 2011.

3. Housing will remain affordable. With affordability high, many first-time buyers will be attracted to the housing market in the New Year, likely translating into more home sales in 2011 than in 2010.

4. Refinances will dwindle. Many eligible borrowers have already refinanced and the federal Making Home Affordable refinance program is expiring on June 30. While fixed-rate loans are likely to remain low, they will move up gradually, making it even less likely that refinances will be attractive to most home owners.

5. Delinquency rates will decline. Based on the last several business cycles, the share of loans that are 90 or more days delinquent or in foreclosure proceedings — known as the "seriously delinquent rate" — generally crests within a year of the start of the recovery in payroll employment, and this economic recovery appears to fit within that pattern. Payrolls began to rise last January, and by the spring the seriously delinquent rate had begun to fall.

Source: Freddie Mac (12/09/2010)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mortgage rates hit 4.61 pct








The time to buy is now! Home prices have dropped by nearly 30% to at or near 2003 levels and rates are still historically low..... BUT CLIMBING!

By JANNA HERRON, AP Real Estate Writer Janna Herron, Ap Real Estate Writer –

NEW YORK – Rates on fixed mortgages rose for the fourth straight week this week. The surge could slow refinancings and further hamper the housing market.

Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rates on 15- and 30-year fixed loans increased sharply from last week. Mortgage rates tend to track the yields on 10-year Treasury bonds. Those yields have been rising as investors anticipate Congress will extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two years and long-term unemployment benefits for 13 months.

The 30-year rate rose to 4.61 percent from 4.46 percent last week. That is well above the 4.17 percent rate hit a month ago — the lowest level on records dating back to 1971.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinance option, rose to 3.96 percent. Rates hit 3.57 percent last month — the lowest level since 1991.

Rates are rising after plummeting for seven months. Investors are selling Treasury bonds in anticipation of the tax deal President Barack Obama and Republicans forged that could boost the economy next year if passed. A stronger economy would make the stock market a more attractive place to invest money. That's a big reason why many investors are selling their safer Treasurys bonds.

The sell-off is adding more Treasury bonds to market, which depresses prices and raises yields. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Rising mortgage rates are chilling the market for refinancing, especially among those who were seeing rates fall a few weeks ago and thought they might get a better deal. Refinance activity fell for the fourth straight week last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

"Our business has been cut by 30 percent in four weeks," said Michael Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, a direct mortgage lender in New York.

Low mortgage rates did little to boost the struggling housing market. However, the increase in rates may have convinced some homebuyers who were waffling to go ahead and make a move. Applications for home purchases rose for the third consecutive week and are at their highest point since the beginning of May. Mortgage brokers and real estate agents agree that a sustained rise in mortgage rates eventually will sideline potential buyers who started to think of historically low rates as a given.

"It's all about negative psychology," said Julie Longtin, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Cityside in Providence, R.I. "Already my buyers are thinking about withdrawing until rates dip again."

That would weigh on home prices, which have started to fall again. The ranks of homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth would grow and more won't be able to refinance to shore up their finances. Americans, feeling less wealthy, could hunker down again and curb their spending. That would slow economic growth.

"If rates stay south of 5 percent, I don't think we go back into a tailspin," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "Above 5 percent, it gets dicey for housing and the economy."

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.

Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.60 percent, up from 3.49 percent. The five-year hit 3.25 percent last month, the lowest rate on records dating back to January 2005.

Rates on one-year adjustable-rate home loans slipped to 3.27 percent from 3.25 percent.

The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year and 15-year mortgages in Freddie Mac's survey was 0.7 point. It was 0.6 point for five-year and one-year mortgages.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Richmond Beach Rambler



Offered at $475,000 1825nw198thst.TheCascadeTeam.info

Richmond Beach daylight rambler. Kitchen with stainless Jenn-aire cooktop and double oven, granite and butcher block countertops. Dining room, living room with fireplace. Master, 2 bedrooms and full bath on main floor, 4th bedroom and full bath on lower level. Den/office, access to backyard and entrance from garage on lower level.

A Positive Surprise for Wa Home Sales!




KIRKLAND, Wash. (Dec. 6, 2010) – Northwest Multiple Listing Service members recorded a few pleasant surprises last month. Pending sales during November outgained the same month a year ago, marking the first year-over-year increase since April, when the tax credits expired.

Also noted as encouraging were an upswing in relocation sales, shrinkage in the number of new listings added to inventory, and a year-to-date volume of closed sales that is outpacing 2009.

Northwest MLS director OB Jacobi described last month’s gain in the number of transactions written as “surprising.” “That’s surprising, since November is typically one of the slowest sales months of the year, and this year we essentially lost a week to poor weather conditions.” Jacobi, the general manager at Windermere Real Estate Company, also reported increased activity at open houses last month.
Jacobi suggested the increase in sales was due in part to an uptick in interest rates that motivated some buyers to move forward, combined with a desire for people to be in their new homes before the holidays.

Members of NWMLS, which covers 21 counties in Washington, reported 4,987 pending sales of single family homes and condominiums during November. That volume of mutually accepted offers was up about 2 percent from twelve months ago, when brokers logged 4,888 pending sales.

In the four-county Puget Sound region, pending sales rose more than 2.8 percent, from 3,829 a year ago to last month’s total of 3,938. That’s the highest November volume since 2006.

“We're seeing an upswing in relocation sales after a long lull, which indicates a positive sign in terms of local hiring,” Jacobi remarked, adding, “Employers traditionally want new hires in place by the first of the year, so sales are happening now.”

House-hunters have ample choices in most price ranges, with inventory currently priced from $15,000 for a manufactured home in Shelton (Mason County) to a $28.8 million home on Mercer Island.

Inventory is up slightly (1.6 percent) from twelve months ago, but fewer new listings were added during November compared to a year ago. At month end, NWMLS tallied 36,835 active listings of single family homes and condominiums in its database, which compares to the year-ago total of 36,266 listings.

Members reported 6,340 new listings during November, about 6.8 percent fewer than a year ago when they added 6,801 residential properties. Last month’s additions included 5,401 single family homes and 939 condominiums.

The shrinkage in new listings coming onto the market is lowering the month’s supply of inventory in those areas, noted J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. Area-wide, there is about a 7.3 month supply at the current sales pace. King County has about a 5.7 month supply. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a 10.5 month supply at the end of October. (A market with a supply of approximately six months is considered balanced, favoring neither buyers nor sellers.)

With inventory plentiful, brokers say buyers are taking their time before making any decisions.

“Move-up buyers are moving into the market,” Jacobi said, but noted, “They know value and have the luxury of time. Buyers are willing to wait for the right home at the right price, and then they jump on it. A few years ago, the hares were driving the market. Now it's the tortoises. Today's buyer's motto seems to be: Slow and steady wins the race.”

Commenting on move-up buyers, Lennox Scott noted an increase in home sales last month in the mid-price ranges in both Seattle and the Eastside.

Prices on sales that closed last month dipped below year-ago totals. The median price area-wide for November’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums was $250,000, down about 5.7 percent from the year-ago figure of $265,000.

In King County, prices edged up slightly, from $337,000 to $340,000. Clallam, Grant, Jefferson, Okanogan, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties also reported year-over-year price gains.

Condominium prices continue to slump. The median price for last month’s closed sales was $204,500, down more than 11 percent from twelve months ago when the median price was $229,950.

Through eleven months, the volume of closed sales for 2010 is slightly ahead of 2009 (up 1.2 percent).

Tight credit continues to worry brokers, despite favorable affordability conditions.
“Everyone is wondering how long interest rates are going to remain low, but that's impossible to predict with certainty,” observed Lennox Scott. “At the moment at least, they're at near-historic lows, but every one percent increase in interest rates reduces buying power by 10 percent. And this can have a significant impact on a person's ability to buy a home,” he stated.

NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, expects the recent sales pattern to continue. In remarks accompanying NAR’s latest report on the housing market, he described it as experiencing an uneven recovery. The temporary foreclosure stoppage in some states is likely to have held back a number of completed sales, he noted. “Still,” he said, “Sales activity is clearly off the bottom and is attempting to settle into normal sustainable levels.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member brokers, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 24,000 brokers and agents. The organization, based in Kirkland, currently serves 21 counties in Western and Central Washington.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Houses


House #1
A 20 room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400 per month. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern 'snow belt' area. It's in the South.


House #2
Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every 'green' feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground.

The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville , Tennessee ; it is the home of the 'Environmentalist' Al Gore.

HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford , Texas ; it is the residence of the ex-President of the United States , George W. Bush.

Now THAT is the definition of an "inconvenient truth"!!


Verify at: http://www.snopes.com/politics/bush/house.asp

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Federal Fair Housing "Bad" word list






The Federal Fair Housing Act describes these words as discriminatory. In addition there are often State, County, and City ordinances that further expand on this list. As a rule when marketing homes however......

DO NOT USE THESE WORDS!

Able Bodied
Adult
African
Age
Agile
AIDS
Alcoholic
American
Ancestry
Arab
Asian
Bachelor
Black
Blind
Board Approval
Boy
Buddhist
Catholic
Caucasian
Chicana
Chicano
Child
Chinese
Christian
Church
Citizen
Colored
Congregation
Couple
Cripple
Deaf
Disability
Disabled
Drinkers
Elderly
Employed
Empty Nesters
English
Ethnic
Exclusive
Executive (such as "large executive house"
Families
Family
Female
Filipino
Filippino
Foreign
Gay
Gender
GentlemanGirl
Golden Age
Grandmas House
Guy
Handicap ("not suitable for")
Healthy
Heterosexual
Hindu
Hispanic
HIV
Homosexual
Hungarian
Immigrant
Impaired
Independent Living
Indian
Integrated
Interracial
Irish
Italian
Jew
Job References
Kid
Lady
Latina
Latino
Lesbian
Male
Man
Marital Status
Married
Mature
Membership Approval
Men
Mentally
Mexican
Migrant
Minority
Mormon
Mosque
Muslim
Nationality
Negro
Newlyweds
No Children
No Play Area
Older Person
One Person
Oriental
Parish
Perfect for Two
Philipino
Philippino
Physically Fit (ideal for)
Polish
Prestigious
Private Community ("private community"-No; "private drive"-OK)
Professional
Protestant
Public Assistance
Puerto Rican
Race
Religion
Religious Landmarks(like near St. Mark's)
Restricted
Restriction
Retarded
Retired
Retirees
Saint
Seasonal Worker
Section 8
Senior
Sexual
Shrine
Single
Smoker
Social Security
Spanish
Straight
Student
Synagogue
Temple
Traditional
Two People
Unemployed
Walking (As in "Walking distance to school" This is discriminatory to handucapped individuals)
Wheelchair
White
Woman
Women
Working
Young
Youth

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fed Releases Updated Appraisal Guidelines



The Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of Thrift Supervision and the National Credit Union Administration jointly on Thursday released the latest and what is expected to be final version of property appraisal guidelines.

The new guidelines set a standard for appraisal independence. Lenders can exchange information with appraisers, but they cannot "directly or indirectly coerce, influence, or otherwise encourage an appraiser or a person who performs an evaluation to misstate or misrepresent the value of the property."

Among other rules:

· Banks cannot tell the appraiser of any expected or qualifying estimate of value.
· Banks cannot specify a minimum value requirement for the property that is needed to approve the loan or as a condition of ordering the valuation.
· Banks cannot tie an appraiser's compensation to loan approval.
· Banks can’t blacklist an appraiser if his valuations fail to meet expected thresholds.

The agencies also clarified that broker price opinions (BPOs) don’t comply with the minimum appraisal standards.

Source: Housing Wire, Jon Prior (12/02/2010)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Green homes: Truth and Fiction




Mary Ellen Podmolik
Local Scene


The idea of putting green features into a home sounds well and good, but, like other investments, homeowners want to know they're getting at least some of their investment back at resale, and buyers want to know exactly what they're getting.

Both continue to be a tricky issues when it comes to marketing a green home and placing a value on it, particularly at a time when the nearest comparable sale may be a foreclosure down the street.

"Greenwashing" has landed in the housing market, and it's proving to be a pesky nuisance that requires housing market professionals to become sleuths, as evidenced by complaints from real estate agents and builders from throughout the country who attended Greenbuild, a national conference on sustainable building practices held last month in Chicago.

Here's just one inkling of the fact versus fiction: Real estate agents have seen evidence of firms offering fake Energy Star plaques that people can affix to their homes' exterior, said Al Medina, a Chicago real estate agent and director of the National Association of Realtors' green designation.

The National Association of Realtors likes the idea of highlighting a home's environmentally friendly features in its listing but wants to ensure everything's on the up and up.

In a national survey, 240 of 629 multiple listing services said they have implemented or are in the process of inserting some green fields into their listing forms. But making sure those fields are filled out accurately is largely a matter of self-policing.

More than 70 percent of the listings in Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service Inc., for instance, have at least one green field checked, but what does green mean? "A ceiling fan qualifies as a green feature, and in Arizona there isn't a home that doesn't have a fan," said Chief Executive Bob Bemis.

More than a year ago, the multiple listing service for the Chicago area, Midwest Real Estate Data LLC, added a green disclosure by the seller as one of the options in its listing.

Why are some in the field pushing for green listings? Because they pay off. In Portland, Ore., the price premium for a certified green home was 18 percent in 2009-2010. In Atlanta, certified green homes this year are selling 14 days faster than conventional homes.

Valuing those homes at appraisal continues to be an issue as well.

While the number of appraisers trained in placing a monetary value on green improvements continues to grow, experts say it falls on homeowners and real estate agents to ensure they've got the right appraiser for the job. The key is to be an active participant in the appraisal process from the get-go, rather than fight the results after the fact.

Homeowners are recommended to keep a running file at their home, defining every project undertaken to make the home more green. When it comes time to have a property appraised, homeowners should ask the appraiser if he or she has green training. If not, request a different appraiser.

Then show the appraiser all the documentation on the home and its environmental attributes, including its home energy rating and inspection documentation. For new construction, include the building plans, specifications and the cost breakdown between a house built to standard code and a house built to certified green specifications, said Sandra Adomatis, a Punta Gorda, Fla.-based appraiser.

"We can't (just) say it's a better-built home," Adomatis said. "The lender says 'Why?' You can argue with the appraiser all day long, but you can't argue with the facts."

Sarah Coulter, head of @Properties' green division, said she finds herself talking up green features of a home to appraisers, with the documentation to prove her words, and most of the time they welcome her assistance. But it doesn't always translate into immediate dollars and cents.

"I think it is increasing value but not by a specific calculation," Coulter said. "It's adding to the marketability. More and more consumers are interested in hearing more about what features are in the home to get them on that (green) path."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Home for Sale Preston, WA



Offered at $325,000 8612308thavese.TheCascadeTeam.info

Location, Location, Location! Rare rambler by Preston Park Fields. Well maintained, move in ready 1800sf home on 1/3 acre in exceptional, convenient location. Kitchen w/WIP, conv oven, d/w, range & fridge. Bath off master, hardwoods under carpet, fireplace, bonus rms & metal roof. Large, level dbl lot. Huge detached garage/shop + shed. Hm warranty. Priced based on recent appraisal. Walk to Preston Trail or Preston Park. 1 mile to I-90, less than 20 miles to Seattle! Use Issaquah, 98027 for GPS

Tonya Eliason

Office: 425.396.4569
Mobile: 425.831.5721
info@thecascadeteam.com
www.tonyaeliason.com


Broker

Protect Home Ownership. Defend MID


The Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) is vital to both home ownership and our economy.


I'm disappointed that anyone in Congress — or on a Presidential Commission — would even suggest limits to the Mortgage Interest Deduction. Mortgage interest has been deductible for nearly 100 years, and the proposed changes will affect all 75 million home owners in the United States. We must act now to make sure the MID is not changed.


Ever since the Deficit Commission announced its conclusions, the news media have been buzzing about the report. And what do they emphasize? Proposals to limit or even eliminate the Mortgage Interest Deduction. I'm concerned because all this does is scare the public — and potential buyers — away from the housing market. The last thing the housing industry needs right now (and for the foreseeable future) is another bucket of ice water to be thrown on the market. People who hear these news reports don't differentiate between a proposal and a done deal. They just know that a tax provision they actually understand and rely on is under siege.


This is just unacceptable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Home for Sale - Issaquah Highlands



Offered at $440,000 2542longmirecourtne.TheCascadeTeam.info

Beautiful Burnstead home ideally located on a quiet cul-de-sac backing to lush greenbelt! Chef's kitchen with tiled counters, breakfast bar, gas cooktop and high quality stainless appliances. Spacious family room with gas fireplace. Master retreat with sitting area and sumptuous 5 piece bath with tile floor and walk-in closet. Gleaming hardwoods, white millwork and coffered ceilings. Upstairs laundry. Private yard with patio.

Matt Jensen

Office: 206.909.8200
Mobile: 206.909.8200
info@thecascadeteam.com
www.mattjensenre.com

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PREPARING FOR WINTER STORMS




Before winter storms and extreme cold...



Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:
* Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
* Sand to improve traction
* Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
Prepare your home and family
* Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
* Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
* Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
* Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
* Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
* Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
* Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
* Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow - or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Lifestyle Search About to Launch

Lifestyle searches are expected to soon become one of the hottest trends in real estate.

At least four search companies are about to debut lifestyle search capabilities, according to a report from consulting firm WAV Group. The leading innovator is Onboard Informatics, which is working with EXIT Realty Corp., as well as Sunnyvale, Calif.-based MLSListings Inc. and the New York Daily News. Onboard users will be able to tap into a database that provides information about 75,000 neighborhoods and includes school ratings, population demographics, ratings, and reviews.

Competitors in the space include Home Junction Inc., which is launching what it calls Spatial Match, allowing home shoppers to overlay their own interests with area information. eNeighborhoods allows real estate practitioners and multiple listing services to display demographic information via map overlays. NabeWise invites real estate practitioners to provide content that helps consumers find neighborhoods that reflect their special interests.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A "Tiny" House Boom!



See The Video HERE:


By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Terence Chea, Associated Press – Mon Nov 29, GRATON, Calif. –

As Americans downsize in the aftermath of a colossal real estate bust, at least one tiny corner of the housing market appears to be thriving.

To save money or simplify their lives, a small but growing number of Americans are buying or building homes that could fit inside many people's living rooms, according to entrepreneurs in the small house industry.

Some put these wheeled homes in their backyards to use as offices, studios or extra bedrooms. Others use them as mobile vacation homes they can park in the woods. But the most intrepid of the tiny house owners live in them full-time, paring down their possessions and often living off the grid.

"It's very un-American in the sense that living small means consuming less," said Jay Shafer, 46, co-founder of the Small House Society, sitting on the porch of his wooden cabin in California wine country. "Living in a small house like this really entails knowing what you need to be happy and getting rid of everything else."

Shafer, author of "The Small House Book," built the 89-square-foot house himself a decade ago and lived in it full-time until his son was born last year. Inside a space the size of an ice cream truck, he has a kitchen with gas stove and sink, bathroom with shower, two-seater porch, bedroom loft and a "great room" where he can work and entertain — as long as he doesn't invite more than a couple guests.

He and his family now live in relatively sprawling 500-square foot home next to the tiny one.

Shafer, co-owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, designs and builds miniature homes with a minimalist style that prizes quality over quantity and makes sure no cubic inch goes to waste. Most can be hooked up to public utilities. The houses, which pack a range of amenities in spaces smaller than some people's closets, are sold for $40,000 to $50,000 ready-made, but cost half as much if you build it yourself.

Tumbleweed's business has grown significantly since the housing crisis began, Shafer said. He now sells about 50 blueprints, which cost $400 to $1,000 each, a year, up from 10 five years ago. The eight workshops he teaches around the country each year attract 40 participants on average, he said.

"People's reasons for living small vary a lot, but there seems to be a common thread of sustainability," Shafer said. "A lot people don't want to use many more resources or put out more emissions than they have to."

Compared to trailers, these little houses are built with higher-quality materials, better insulation and eye-catching design. But they still have wheels that make them portable — and allow owners to get around housing regulations for stationary homes.

Since the housing crisis and recession began, interest in tiny homes has grown dramatically among young people and retiring Baby Boomers, said Kent Griswold, who runs the Tiny House Blog, which attracts 5,000 to 7,000 visitors a day.

"In the last couple years, the idea's really taken off," Griswold said. "There's been a huge interest in people downsizing and there are a lot of young people who don't want to be tied down with a huge mortgage and want to build their own space."

Gregory Johnson, who co-founded the Small House Society with Schafer, said the online community now has about 1,800 subscribers, up from about 300 five years ago. Most of them live in their small houses full-time and swap tips on living simple and small.

Johnson, 46, who works as a computer consultant at the University of Iowa, said dozens of companies specializing small houses have popped up around the country over the past few years.

Before he got married, Johnson lived for six years in a small cabin he built himself and he wrote a book called "Put Your Life on a Diet: Lessons Learned from Living in 140 Square Feet."

"You start to peel away the things that are unnecessary," said Johnson, who now lives in a studio apartment with his wife. "It helps you define your priorities with regard to your material things."

Northern California's Sonoma County has become a mini-mecca for the tiny house industry, with an assortment of new businesses launching over the last few years.

Stephen Marshall, 63, worked as a building contractor for three decades before the real estate market tanked three years ago. That's when he jumped into the tiny house business, starting Petaluma-based Little House On The Trailer.

His company builds and sells small houses that can serve as stand-alone homes equipped with bathrooms and kitchens, and others he calls "A Room of One's Own" that can be used as a home office or extra bedroom. Many of his customers are looking for extra space to accommodate an aging parent or adult children who are returning home, he said.

He said his small houses, which sell for $20,000 to $50,000, are much cheaper than building a home addition and can be resold when the extra space is no longer needed. His company has sold 16 houses this year and aims to sell 20 next year.

"The business is growing as the public becomes aware of this possibility," Marshall said. "A lot of families are moving in with one another. A lot of young people can't afford to move out. There's just a lot of economic pressure to find an alternative way to provide for people's housing needs."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snoqualmie Holiday Tree Lighting






Friends,

The Cascade Team annual Holiday Tree Lighting will be on Thursday, December 2nd this year located at the Railroad Park Pavilion in downtown Snoqualmie.


This is a great Holiday event for all ages and benefits Encompass NW who helps families throughout the Snoqualmie Valley (Snoqualmie, North Bend, Carnation, Fall City, Duvall, and Preston)

We hope that you can join us for this Family event. It’s a lot of fun for kids of all ages. Everyone will get to ride the Horse Drawn carriage & sing songs (The carriage hold between 16 and 20 adults at a time), there are free cookies and cider/ hot coco. Santa will also be there and even live carolers singing Holiday favorites.

Free Santa Photos with the kids provided by The Cascade Team for Holiday cards!

Please feel free to forward this out to everyone you know, post it on Facebook and whatever.


There is a link on the website provided below detailing needed donations.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Click HERE for more info:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Lending Guidelines From Fannie Mae






By LYNNLEY BROWNING
NEW lending guidelines being rolled out by Fannie Mae will make securing a mortgage a lot easier for some borrowers but harder for others.
The rules, effective on Dec. 13, will allow buyers to use gifts and grants from nonprofit groups for their minimum 5 percent down payment, which is the threshold set by Fannie Mae, the government-owned company that sets lending standards and buys mortgages from lenders. (Freddie Mac is considering similar new guidelines, said Brad German, a spokesman.)

Previously, borrowers had to contribute a minimum 5 percent down payment from their own funds, but additional down payment money could be from a gift (though never from a home seller). The exception was for borrowers who put 20 percent down: all that money could come as a gift.

Because many lenders now require a down payment of 10 percent or more, the new rules mean that borrowers will still have to come up with extra funds — either their own or gifts.
Still, “this is definitely going to help upgrade buyers and young couples who for whatever reason don’t have enough money and are getting some from their families,” said Edward Ades, the owner of Universal Mortgage, a broker in Brooklyn.

The gift rules apply only to single-family principal residences, including town houses, co-ops and condominiums, and covers mortgage amounts in excess of 80 percent of the property’s value. Also, there is a limit on the loan balance — $729,000 in high-cost areas like New York City, and $417,000 in other areas.

Now, the not-so-good news.

Fannie Mae is getting tougher on debt-to-income ratios, or the amount of a borrower’s gross monthly income that goes toward paying off all debts. The maximum ratio for those seeking a conventional mortgage will drop to 45 percent from 55 percent under the new guidelines.

The agency is also taking a harder look at payment histories on revolving debt. In the past, if a borrower missed a monthly payment, Fannie Mae ignored it, or required that lenders add a few percentage points to the total balance when calculating the debt-to-income ratio. Now, buyers who have missed a payment will have 5 percent of the total balance added to their ratios.
Mr. Ades said that new hurdle could sink many potential borrowers with student-loan debt that has been deferred.

Susan A. Kreyer, the president of the New York Association of Mortgage Brokers, added that buyers who had bought big-ticket items through financing with delayed payments would also be affected.

In addition, Fannie Mae is scrutinizing people who are at the end of their mortgages, with 10 or fewer payments left. It will now count those remaining balances in the debt-to-income ratios — another departure. Mortgage experts say that older buyers near the end of their loans may now have a tougher time securing a loan for a second home.

But perhaps the toughest news from Fannie Mae concerns borrowers who have gone through foreclosure. They will be excluded from obtaining a Fannie-backed loan for seven years, up from four. “That’s a long time in this economy,” Ms. Kreyer said. That change was announced separately from the gift and debt rules, but will also take effect in Fannie Mae’s automated underwriting systems next month.

Fannie Mae buys or guarantees around $3.2 trillion in residential loans, about 28 percent of the entire residential mortgage market in the United States. Lenders typically issue loans based on the agency’s guidelines.

Buyers who do not meet the new Fannie Mae requirements may have to consider a nonconforming loan from the Federal Housing Administration. These loans, which do not follow Fannie Mae underwriting guidelines, require mortgage insurance premiums and, for those with low credit scores, higher interest rates and steeper down-payment requirements.

A version of this article appeared in print on November 21, 2010, on page RE6 of the New York edition

Monday, November 22, 2010

Should credit-score firm revise policy?


By KENNETH R. HARNEY
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP

WASHINGTON — Here’s a home­owner credit torture scenario that has a major real estate lobby on Capitol Hill demanding immediate reforms.

Say a homeowner has a solid payment record on just about all his accounts. The last time he checked, his credit scores were comfortably in the 750s.

Suddenly he receives a notice from the bank that because of “market conditions,” the equity line limit has been cut to $35,000 — slightly above the $30,000 balance outstanding — from $60,000. Then one of his credit-card issuers delivers more bad news: The $20,000 limit has been reduced to $10,000. The balance on the card is about $9,000.

The cuts could send the home­owner’s credit scores plunging into the upper 600s. This in turn could put him out of reach for a refinancing at a favorable interest rate or hamper his ability to buy a house and sell his current one.

The reason for the score plunge: With the reductions in credit limits, the homeowner is is using a higher percentage of credit — $30,000 of the $35,000 revised limit (86 percent) on his home equity line, and $9,000 of the $10,000 limit (90 percent) on the card. Scoring models typically penalize high use rates because they correlate with delinquency problems.

The largest lobby group on Capitol Hill, the 1.1 million-member National Association of Realtors, is demanding that the creator of the FICO score that dominates the mortgage market — Fair Isaac Corp. — act immediately to lessen the negative impacts when banks abruptly cancel or slash nondelinquent customers’ credit lines.

The group wants FICO either to ignore the use rate for consumers with solid histories of on-time payments or to compute the score as if the credit maximum had not been reduced.

Asked for a response, Joanne Gaskin, Fair Isaac’s director of mortgage scoring solutions, said research conducted by the company last year found that consumers who use 70 percent of their available credit “have a future bad rate 20 to 50 times greater than consumers with lower utilizations.” Ignoring this key indicator, the study said, would “decrease [the score’s] predictive power.”

The National Association of Realtors has also asked Fair Isaac to help out with the nationwide foreclosure crisis by revising its model to recognize lender codings on credit file accounts indicating that homeowners had received loan modifications approved under federally backed programs.

Rather than treating borrowers’ reduced post-modification payments as ongoing evidence that the mortgage was “not paid as originally agreed” — which depresses scores sharply — the association said FICO scores should reflect that the lender agreed to lower payments and borrowers are making payments “as agreed.”

Mortgage Rates Back on the Rise


Rates for 30-year fixed mortgages rose to 4.39 percent this week from 4.17 percent a week ago, and average interest on 15-year loans moved to 3.76 percent from 3.57 percent, said Freddie Mac.

Interest for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages jumped to 3.4 percent from 3.25 percent, meanwhile, and one-year ARMs held at 3.26 percent. Rates have climbed along with long-term Treasury yields as traders unloaded Treasurys purchased before the Federal Reserve announced a $600 billion bond purchase program.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times (11/19/10)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Real Estate Funny


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Credit Score Requirements Stifling Borrowers



Despite record-low interest rates, an increasing number of Americans can’t afford to buy a house.

The nation’s two largest mortgage lenders, Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp., have raised the minimum required credit score on FHA-insured loans to 640 from 620.

Requiring a 640 credit score excludes about 15 percent of FHA borrowers, FHA commissioner David Stevens said.

Such a high limit will further delay a recovery in the real estate market, says Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Source: Bloomberg, Jody Shenn and John Gittelsohn (11/17/2010)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Listing - Issaquah Highlands



Offered at $162,500 188025thavenuenen212.TheCascadeTeam.info


SHORT SALE APPROVED Courtyard side Starpoint condo in the heart of Issaquah Highlands. Beautiful laminate hardwood entry to generous sized kitchen with gas range, classy dining room and wonderful living room with gas fireplace. Enormous master bedroom and bathroom. Remarkable back patio area adjacent to lush Starpoint courtyard. Washer and Dryer included plus assigned storage space in garage. Issaquah Highland is an award winning community w/ 17 parks, lots of planned retail fast I-90 access.

Matt Jensen

Office: 206.909.8200
Mobile: 206.909.8200
info@thecascadeteam.com
www.mattjensenre.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

7 Trends That Will Drive the Future of Housing




Hanley-Wood's ProSalesOnline.com identifies seven trends that the magazine’s editors believe will have the biggest impact on housing in 2011.

1. Big builders are wringing the extras out of construction costs and dropping the national average cost-to-build 36 percent to $52 per square foot.


2. Starting in 2011, Energy Star will ramp up its efficient design and quality installation standards. To get Energy Star certification, builders will have to install the right insulation, HVAC systems, and other features related to energy efficiency correctly every time.


3. Sheds are the next evolution. As homes get smaller, a separate shed will become a popular home addition.


4. There are 81 million "Echo Boomers" who were born from 1981 to 1999, compared to just 78 million Baby Boomers born from 1946 to 1964. These children and grandchildren of Boomers will drive home-building for years.


5. By 2015, demographers say, more than two out of every five households occupied by Generation Y people born between 1981 and 1999 will be WINKs (women with incomes and no kids).


6. Make room for the "Sandwich Generation" – Baby Boomers living with both their kids and their parents. These families like having two master suites, a second cooking area, and lots of storage.


7. Baby Boomers want to keep working and continue to live where they have always lived. They want a first-floor master bedroom near the washer and dryer and lots of convenient storage.

Source: ProSalesOnline.com (October 2010)

Five More Foreclosure Myths - BUSTED!


Four years into the housing crisis, myths about foreclosure still litter the minds of even the smartest of real estate consumers. When it comes to matters as high stakes as your home, confusion can cost you thousands - or even your home. Whether you’re a buyer looking at foreclosures, a homeowner struggling to keep your home or a seller concerned making sure your home can compete with the foreclosed homes on your block, these foreclosure myths are prime for the busting, with no further ado.

Myth #1: Foreclosure happens fast. With unemployment and underemployment still affecting nearly 1 in every 4 Americans, no one is immune from fears that a pink slip might quickly turn into a foreclosure notice. According to NeighborWorks America, nearly 60 percent of families seeking foreclosure counseling cited a lost job or cut wages as the reason they were facing foreclosure.

While the Obama Administration's Home Affordable Programs haven't been nearly as effective as predicted in actually preventing foreclosures, they have had the effect of extending the foreclosure process for many families. Even though the legal process of foreclosure can happen in as few as 6 months in most states, it is currently taking much longer for the average foreclosure to get to completion. Recently, JP Morgan Chase revealed that their average borrower who loses a home to foreclosure has not made any payments in 14 months nationwide; 22 months in FLorida and 26 months in New York.

To be sure, some see this as a good, others view it as unnecessarily dragging out the overall market's recovery. Many insiders will point out that these delays in foreclosure may be calculated to save the banks the costs of owning and maintaining foreclosed homes, not to help homeowners. In any event, the fact that foreclosure does not happen nearly as fast, in many cases, as expected does give families who are temporarily down on their luck some extra time to try to get back on their feet and save their homes.

Myth #2: Buyers can’t get clear title or title insurance on foreclosed homes. When the foreclosure robo-signing scandal first hit, there was widespread concern that buyers would not be able to get clear title on foreclosed homes, because the former foreclosed owners might be able to come get their homes back when the improprieties in the bank's foreclosure documentation processes came fully to light. At the same time, several of the country's largest title insurance companies publicly balked at issuing policies on bank-owned homes until the issue was resolved. At this point, the banks claim they have revamped their processes, and all banks have stated that they have found not a single borrower whose home was repossessed without them having missed the requisite number of mortgage payments. Nevertheless, a number of governmental investigations are still in progress.

The fact is, buyers of bank-owned properties in nearly every jurisdiction are protected from later title attacks by foreclosed homeowners by the bona fide purchaser rule, under which courts would prefer to simply award cash damages to be paid by the culpable bank to a wrongfully foreclosed-on homeowner, rather than reversing the sale or ownership to the new, innocent buyer. Additionally, the title insurers have now changed their tune and restarted issuing insurance policies on bank-owned homes which protect buyers' interests, after working with the banks for them to take responsibility in the event a former homeowner prevails in a wrongful foreclosure suit.

While there are still many intricacies of title to be resolved for foreclosure buyers who purchase homes at trustee sales and auctions, or for cash buyers who often went without title insurance in the past, on the average, Trulia-listed, bank-owned property purchased with an average mortgage and title insurance, the chances a buyer's title will later be successfully challenged by the foreclosed homeowner on the basis of robo-signing? Exceedingly slim.

Myth #3: Buyers should wait for the shadow inventory to be released. Many a buyer, discouraged with the homes they see on the the form in their price range, has decided to sit still and wait for the banks to release for sale what is called their "shadow inventory" - rumored to be anywhere from 4 to nearly 6 million homes that have already been foreclosed, but not listed for sale, or will be foreclosed in the near future. The fact is, to the extent that the banks have acknowledged the existence of a pool of homes they own but are not selling, they have expressed that their reasoning for holding the homes off the market is to avoid flooding the market and driving home values down any further. For that reason, buyers should not expect to see a massive influx of these shadow homes onto the market anytime soon - if ever.

The banks' current modus operandi is that as they sell a home, the replace it with another home in that market - if they sell 50 homes in a town that month, they'll put another 50 on the next. So, don't hold your breath waiting for a fabulous new flood of homes. Instead, set up a Trulia alert to notify you when homes that fit your search criteria come on the market, and be ready to call your agent and go visit any and every one that looks like it might be a good fit.

Myth #4: If you’re looking for a deal, you’re looking for a foreclosure. Despite what they may say, no buyer’s heart's fondest desire is to buy a foreclosure. But almost every buyer dreams of buying a great home - and getting a great deal on it. Many people think that to get a great value on their home on today's market, it means they must buy a foreclosure. As a result, the value and other advantages of buying an individually-owned home on today's market are frequently overlooked. Individual sellers with homes on the market right now are generally quite motivated, and understand that their homes are competing with discounted short sales and foreclosed homes. Many of these sellers are slashing prices in an effort to get them sold - the most recent Trulia Price Reduction Report revealed that 27 percent of homes on the market across the country have had at least one price reduction. Now that's what I call a sale!

Further, individual owners are often much more negotiable on a wide range of contract terms than a bank which owns a foreclosed home. You can work with non-bank owners on things like repairs, closing dates, choice of escrow provider, closing costs and even included personal property much more flexibly than you can when the bank is on the other side of the bargaining table. On top of that, many individually-owned homes are in pristine, move-in condition; that is much rarer with foreclosures. So, don't underestimate the value of the deal you might be able to get on a non-foreclosed home. Just get clear on what you can afford and look at all the homes that are available in that price range, without discriminating against non-foreclosures.

Myth #5: Having a foreclosure on your credit history means it'll take years and years before you can buy again. One of the most Frequently Asked Questions in the Trulia Voices Community by homeowners who are facing or have just lost a home through foreclosure is how long it will take before they'll be able to buy again. Until recently, the standard wisdom was that 5 years, minimum, would have to have elapsed between the foreclosure and the new home purchase. Now, though, borrowers can obtain an FHA loan with the low, 3.5 minimum down payment requirement as soon as 3 years following a foreclosure. To do so, though, all your other ducks must be in a row.

Post-foreclosure buyers need a credit score of 620-640 to qualify for an FHA loan; higher for a non-FHA loan - given that the foreclosure itself usually dings anywhere from 100-150 points off the credit score (not necessarily counting a full year or more of pre-foreclosure missed payments), former homeowners who want to buy again need to ensure they have no other late payments or credit dings after they lose thier home. You must have clean credit with no derogatory marks like late credit card payments following the foreclosure, and you may also be required to document 12 to 24 months straight of on-time rent payments after the foreclosure.

Further, the bank may impose a lower debt-to-income ratio on post-foreclosure borrowers than on borrowers who have not had a foreclosure, in an effort to keep your mortgage payments low, keep you from overextending yourself and boost the chances you'll be a successful homeowner over the long-term this time around. The bank will also need to see 2 years of continuous employment history in the same field, and documentation that you meet other loan qualification requirements.

By Tara-Nicholle Nelson Broker in San Francisco, CA

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lenders face lawmaker wrath over foreclosures




WASHINGTON/CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – Banks under fire over their foreclosure practices face twin hearings in Congress this week, at which they will come under renewed pressure to find ways to keep borrowers in their homes.

The hearings on Tuesday and Thursday will include the first appearances by executives from major lenders like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase since the furor over sloppy foreclosure paperwork erupted in September.

Banks are accused of having used "robo-signers" to sign hundreds of foreclosure documents a day, a fiasco that has reignited public anger with banks that received billions of dollars in taxpayer aid during the financial crisis.

Lenders will be pressed on whether the paperwork problems are further evidence that modifying loans is a better alternative to eviction.

"Foreclosure should be the last option and we need to examine barriers to mortgage modifications," Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, expected to lead the Banking Committee next year, said in an emailed response to Reuters.

Other witnesses at Tuesday's Senate Banking Committee hearing include Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading a 50-state probe of foreclosure practices.

Miller's testimony will be closely watched. A settlement with lenders could include fines or commitments to loan modifications.

Bank of America and JPMorgan were among banks that temporarily suspended foreclosures pending internal reviews of their practices, but have since begun to resume sales of foreclosed properties.

Some lawmakers and consumer activists called in October for all lenders to institute a national moratorium on foreclosures, but they failed to gain traction due to fears it would further depress home sales and crimp economic growth.

Real estate data company RealtyTrac said the temporary suspensions by banks led to a 9 percent drop in U.S. foreclosures in October from the month prior.

Republican Representative Spencer Bachus, the front-runner to be chairman of the House Financial Services Committee next year, said the paperwork problems are "disturbing," but singled out federal regulators for criticism.

"It is disappointing that the regulators didn't catch this before the media since most of the problems in the contested foreclosure proceedings occurred at the nation's largest banks," Bachus told Reuters in an email.

The House panel's foreclosure hearing is set for Thursday.

COST TO BANKS

The mortgage paperwork mess threatens to eat into bank profits by delaying sales of bank-owned properties, drawing fines from regulators, and spawning lawsuits from both homeowners and investors in mortgage-backed securities.

Some industry analysts have said a bigger cost for banks stems from investor demands that they buy back billions of dollars of mortgage bonds because they misrepresented the quality of the underlying loans.

Georgetown University law professor Adam Levitin, a witness on Tuesday, sees a fundamental danger highlighted by the sloppy paperwork. He believes the mortgage industry has failed to properly track the ownership of loans, undermining the legal standing of mortgage-backed securities.

The U.S. government's Home Affordable Modification Program has had limited success and banks have been reluctant to reduce the principal owed, a step that can require approval by multiple investors, and causes banks and investors to take losses.

Nevertheless, some economists and housing experts believe the time has come for lenders and mortgage investors to accept reductions in the amounts they are owed.

"It just cannot be the case that foreclosure is preferable to modification -- including reductions of principal -- for a significant proportion of mortgages where the dead-weight costs of foreclosure, including a distressed sale discount, are so high," Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo said in a speech at George Washington University law school on Friday.

The Fed and other federal banking regulators are reviewing the processes large banks have in place for foreclosures.

Congress is currently led by the Democrats, but big losses at the November 2 elections mean Republicans will control the House next year while Democrats retain the Senate with a reduced majority.

That split in control could ensure legislative gridlock and minimize lawmakers' influence on the foreclosure issue.

"I have no hopes for this Congress whatsoever," said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Taylor said he is placing his hopes for a mortgage modification push in the state attorneys general.

(Reporting by Dave Clarke and Joe Rauch; Additional reporting by Kevin Gray in Miami and Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)




Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Real Estate Funny


Now These are some funny real estate signs and homes! : )











Saturday, November 13, 2010

Snoqualmie Pass Home for Sale!



Offered at $399,000 Fantastic

Room to sleep 6 to 8 people. Comfortable, all season home. Comes with additional tax parcel that allows lots of turn around room and place to build your garage or outbuilding. 4 decks-at entrance, off dining/living area, master suite, and office/loft. Beautiful interior design with knotty pine finishing. Fully equipped kitchen with custom cabinetry. Spacious dining/ living area with mountain views. One bedroom and full bath on the main level, a bedroom suite with sitting area,luxurious bathroom, plus office/loft on the third level, and bedroom with 3/4 bath and sitting area on the lower level. Like new.

Ann Meisner

Office: 425.502.6404
Mobile: 206.953.9745
info@thecascadeteam.com
www.annmeisnerhomes.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Welcome to The Cascade Team Krista Mehr



We are very happy to welcome Krista Mehr to The Cascade Team Real Estate. Krista has been a licensed agent in Washington State for over seven years working for John L Scott. Krista also worked as a transaction coordinator for her fathers real estate business in Arizona for four years prior to that.

Krista's focus is going to be on Urban Condo Sales.

Contact information is:

krista@thecascadeteam.com
206-890-6347

Welcome to the Team!

Mortgage rates fall to fresh lows this week



By JANNA HERRON, AP Real Estate Writer Janna Herron, Ap Real Estate Writer – Thu Nov 11, 3:28 pm ET
NEW YORK – The mortgage rate bar is even lower, but few homebuyers are making the jump.

Rates on fixed mortgages again fell to their lowest levels in decades this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday, after the Federal Reserve unveiled a massive bond-buying program to help spur economic growth.

That marked more than a half-year of record lows. But housing activity has still faltered.

"I have zero purchase deals," said Wisconsin mortgage broker John Stearns. "That's how it's been for months."

Stiff headwinds — unemployment, foreclosures and tight credit — are undermining attractive rates and forcing buyers to the sidelines.

Home sales logged their worst summer in decades, with third-quarter sales falling by 21 percent from a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Median home prices fell in half of U.S. cities in the July-to-September period, up from a third in the previous quarter.

And banks are on pace to take back more than 1 million homes this year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. Recent investigations into faulty paperwork have postponed some foreclosure sales, resulting in a 9-percent drop in home repossessions in October from the previous month.

Major lenders temporarily halted some foreclosures while they reviewed their practices and attorney generals in all 50 states launched a joint investigation into the issue. But many have resumed or plan to resume foreclosures soon.

"While that put a pause in the foreclosure process, that doesn't do anything to help delinquencies," said LendingTree chief economist Cameron Findlay.

Economic woes, such as unemployment or reduced income, continue to be the main catalysts for foreclosures. Borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth are also at high risk and their numbers are rising.

Zillow Inc. said Wednesday that the number of mortgage holders who are "upside down" on their home loans rose in the third quarter to 23 percent. Homeowners with negative equity have a harder time refinancing even though rates are enticingly low.

The average rate on 15-year fixed loans, a popular choice for refinancing, fell to 3.57 percent from 3.63 percent, Freddie Mac said. That's the lowest since the survey began in 1991. The average rate for 30-year fixed loans fell to 4.17 percent from 4.24 percent last week. That's the lowest on records dating back to 1971.

The Federal Reserve detailed plans last week to buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds. The central bank gave more details on Wednesday, saying it plans to purchase $105 billion in Treasurys over the next month. The extra demand means Treasurys will produce lower yields for investors. Mortgage rates tend to track those yields.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.

Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to their lowest level in at least five years. They averaged 3.25 percent, down from 3.39 percent a week earlier. It is the lowest rate on records dating back to January 2005.

Rates on one-year adjustable-rate home loans were unchanged at 3.26.

The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year and 15-year fixed loans in Freddie Mac's survey was 0.8 point. It was 0.7 point for 1-year and five-year mortgages.