Seahawks are Gaining Momentum!

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Seahawks to the Superbowl!

Go Hawks, I’m in!

While teaching my group of nine-year olds skiing at Stevens Pass yesterday I was swept up in Seahawks excitement! Stevens Pass sold one thousand twelve-dollar tickets and is hosting a special buffet today for people who love to ski and watch football!

It is apparent everywhere; one of my student’s parents flew to the Superbowl, I was given a Seahawks hat to wear and saw a parade on Lake City Way in honor of the game.

Feeling the need to get more educated, I found this excellent article on the New York Times this morning which filled me in on the teams and past statistics.

Now to watch the game (and the commercials!)!

National News and the Seattle Real Estate Market

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The national news has a trending topic that real estate is down. Is this an economic fact affecting everyone in the nation or is housing being affected in certain local markets due to weather or other local events?

Seattle has picked up after the holiday season and while more listings are hitting the market it is still a sellers market. I have met many buyers who are specifically looking for three bedroom, two bath homes – often hoping for three bedrooms and one bath on the same floor.

As they are hard to find some buyers are being less particular about the neighborhood and just trying to satisfy their criteria.

Other buyers are looking to be close to a school or medical center and so their search might take a bit longer.

I have run a few reports today that show the active, pending and sold listings in the Seattle area. I included Queen Anne/Magnolia and went as far north as Shoreline, east to Lake Forest Park and as far south as Capitol Hill/Madrona.

Comparative Market Analysis of homes between 400-600k, three bedrooms and two baths in the Seattle area.

Statistical Market Analysis of Seattle between 400-500k, two plus bedrooms and bathrooms.

Area Market Survey of listings between 400-500k.

Also affecting today’s market is a rise in interest rates and new stricter rules on lending that have been created to make sure that a buyer can pay back a mortgage. These rules protect both the buyer and the lender but being more restrictive are creating a situation where some buyers might have qualified in December but aren’t qualifying today.

Additionally, the Fed spoke yesterday and they are cutting back on the purchase of mortgage backed securities by another 10 billion per month for a total of 20 billion per month. Interestingly this hasn’t affected interest rates in a negative way. The rate for a 30 year fixed today is 4.50% paying zero points up to a loan amount of $417K.

Jobless claims came in a bit higher than expected this week so this may be the reason why rates have stayed on the lower side.

Our economy is still showing signs of weakness here and there which overall is keeping rates under 5% for the time being.

It is a very competitive market out there as you all know! Julia, our in-house lender at Landover, will underwrite with a “To Be Determined” address to help buyers be more competitive. An official approval letter vs. a pre-approval letter can make a huge difference.

While it is a seller’s market, sellers still need to be careful of overpricing. I often hear people talk about a strategy of starting high. Sometimes this is because a seller wants or needs to get a certain amount from a home to pay off a mortgage or to have the buying power to purchase a new home. Some think buyers can then make a lower offer perhaps when asking for a repair.

We talk about seller optimism versus market realism. The market sets the price and our job as Realtors is to prepare a market analysis to show you where your property sits as compared to other properties.

If the property is overpriced the public perception that something is wrong, however when it is priced correctly to the market then the listing will get multiple offers.

One compromise is to list five percent above the price pulled from the market analysis and if the property doesn’t sell after one month, drop the price by five percent.

2014 is off to a great start in real estate – all we need now are a few more listings on the market to satisfy the buyer demand!

Cabin Listing and Photography

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I headed up towards Mount Baker over Martin Luther King weekend to hold my vacation cabin listing open. Between customers I did day and nighttime photography of the mountain and the stars from the upper deck.

Paying attention in this way brought back to me the peace and stillness of life outside the city and a greater appreciation of a get-away such as this!

Mount Baker with Orion

This image is an overlay of the sunrise and evening stars, specifically the constellation Orion. I set-up my Nikon D7000 in interval mode to create star trails and thought the image of Orion the best. Orion shows in the early evening a couple of hours after sunset.

When Issues of Title Become Interesting

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Everyone has their war stories and often a Realtor’s is about title! In this video we hear how a couple was relocating to another state and so put their home on the market. Much to their surprise when title was drawn they found two erroneous liens on their property.

I purchased a home for a buyer on top of the hill in Magnolia. When I pulled preliminary title it claimed that there was a railroad easement through the property – we had that fixed right away.

Here is a video from about our in-house company, Rainier Title:

King 5 and Get Jesse

Quick comparison of Seattle and Shoreline

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As I have heard that some buyers who haven’t been able to purchase in Seattle are going to Shoreline, increasing the demand. It is said that prices drop once one crosses 145th Street however according to the Trendgraphix report prices rose 25.8% compared to the last year.


Seattle For Sale, Sold, Pended

Home For Sale in December 2013: 759 units.
• Down 19.4% compared to the last month
• Up 1.1% compared to the last year

Home Listed in December 2013: 315 units.
• Down 34.5% compared to the last month
• Up 20.2% compared to the last year

Home Closed in December 2013: 504 units.
• Down 9.8% compared to the last month
• Down 2.1% compared to the last year

Home Placed under Contract in December 2013: 404 units.
• Down 23.8% compared to the last month
• Up 16.1Content % compared to the last year

Seattle For Sale, Sold, Pended, New

*Buyer’s market: more than 6 months of inventory based on closed sales
Seller’s market: less than 3 months of inventory based on closed sales
Neutral market: 3 – 6 months of inventory based on closed sales


For sale, sold and pending in Shoreline
December 2013 Average For Sale Price is Neutral*

Average For Sale Price (in thousand) in December 2013: $505
• Down 3.3% compared to the last month
• Down 17.9% compared to the last year

December 2013 Average Sold Price is Neutral*

Average Sold Price in Shoreline

Average Sold Price (in thousand) in December 2013: $405
• 0% compared to the last month
• Up 25.8% compared to the last year

*Based on 6 month trend – Appreciating/Depreciating/Neutral

Links for Trends and Statistics in Real Estate

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It is nearing the end of the year and time to take a look at recent past trends and predictions for next year! The shortest summary is that we have seen appreciation in home prices and an increase in interest rates – and both are expected to continue into 2014. The increase in interest rates reduces buying power. For example, a buyer looking at a home listed for 600k in December will probably be able to afford a home at 550k in January when the rate they were locked-in at moves up.

The news is better for sellers – due to the low inventory in Seattle and the appreciation rate a seller can expect to receive more for their home in 2014.

With the economy improving many people will have more buying power. There are predictions that some households who incorporate their children and/or parents will have the buying power to move out buy their own homes, or buy second and vacation homes.

We are also currently experiencing the largest passing of wealth from the silent generation. Baby boomers are not excited about stock and so are investing in real estate and vacation homes.

Interest rates – the federal reserve will keep near zero until the economy is stronger. Short term rates will stay low; long term rates will rise – treasury rates will rise with the 30 year rise closer to 5%.

Credit availability – FICO scores from 2007-2012 were almost impossible. FICO on closed loans will reduce…easing up of lending, makes surge of buying. Banks and lenders need to make money and so need to be creative.

Please peruse the following links:

Greg McBride

Top 5 Reasons Americans Buy a Home

Owning is still…

Return on Investment

Breakdown of the American Family’s Net Worth

The 2 Best Ways to Invest, Home Prices Over the Next 12 Months

Recent Rate Movement

Mortgage Rate Projections

Mortgage Bankers

Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae

Daren Blomquist Quote

Yanling Mayer Quote

Stan Humphries Quote

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage History

Pending Home Sales, Months Inventory, Distressed Properties

S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Jennifer Listens Blog

Open House Map for December 15, 2014

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Open House on Lorentz PlaceI’ll be holding an open house today!

Some have described this listing as walking into a time capsule – it is a well maintained home which retains a period feel. Set on a quiet dead-end street it boarders a beautiful ravine. I have enjoyed the privacy and, being a bird watcher, have enjoyed seeing Stellar jays, ravens and chickadees. The lower level is in use a master bedroom and has floor to ceiling windows with a deck overlooking the trees.

If you are touring open houses see the map below or click here for the full document. These are homes priced between 400-600k, three-plus bedrooms and two-plus baths. Many buyers are looking for this specific criteria in many different neighborhoods.

November’s Market Stats

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Our November 2013 Market Statistics came out today and it shows us that West Bellevue/Medina had the highest appreciation followed by Federal Way, Woodinville, Richmond Beach, Mt. Baker, Kirkland and Auburn. The University District/Ravenna had the shortest average days on the market at twenty-four days.

Read it below or click here for the full document.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s Monthly Report

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Here is the monthly report on real estate trends in the northwest! (Read it below or click here for the PDF.)

It seems most prices have gone up and may continue to go up while hopefully leveling off so as to not create a bubble.

Interest rates are continuing to go up reducing buying power in the future.

I am excited to see my principal managing broker, John Deely, quoted in the press release!

Christmas Ship Schedule

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The sound of Christmas carols outside my office window reminded me to post the Christmas ship schedule. One ship is boarding in front of MOHAI! See the schedule below for Argosy Cruises or Click here for the full sized version!

Christmas Ship at South Lake Union and MOHAI

Christmas ship at the Museum of History and Industry at South Lake Union

Christmas Ship Schedule in Seattle

Christmas Ship Schedule in Seattle on Lake Union and in Elliot Bay

Open House! Broker’s and Public Open Tuesday, November 26th

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This home is well located on Queen Anne and also on a sweet little street. It does need a bit of updating!

This can be a good time to list a home as buyers are motivated, there can be less competition, buyers have more time to shop and the festivities over the holidays can influence a buyer’s decision to make an offer.

Click here for more details.

See the Trend Graphix fact and trends report on the Queen Anne area.

The Zillow Select Summit

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Zillow really knows how to put on a great conference to woo realtors. Aside from getting a free head shot and nice USB gadget I loved listening to Skylar Olsen,  their featured economist.  She showed graphs depicting the national trends in appreciation and then drilled down to local. Bellevue and Renton have appreciated the most at about eighteen percent, and according to their forecast Everett will appreciate the most in the future at ten percent.

She then explained the different models used to create a Zestimate, something I get asked about quite frequently at open houses. Just like the comparatives that I use, they use physical attributes, tax assessments and prior sales to reach a figure. They use different modeling approaches (hedonic, appraiser emulation, sale price trending, tax assessment, geospatial) and different algorithms (Decision Trees, Random Forest, SVM, KNN, Linear Regression).

They apply cleaning (identifying valid transactions), training (models with recently sold data) and scoring (models applied to all homes every day).

Eventually they come up with a range and pointed out that this is where we, as REALTORS®, go to work. We drill down on local trends, absorption rate, and recent comparables that are active, pending and sold to educate our clients who can then make an educated decision.

Here is a link where we can all follow Zillow’s trending reports:

October 2012 Market Flash

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Only six thousand dollars per square foot

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New York has several buildings in which $6000.00 per square foot seems a bargain compared to similar properties in Monoco, Hong Kong and London according to this article about the One57.

Here in Seattle we have the new Insignia project – which will sell from $677 to $865 a square foot. The article from the Puget Sound Business Journal offers interesting insights into the west coast condominium market.

Is it better for you to buy or rent?

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The decision to buy or rent a home can be a tough decision especially if you relocate often. If you have decided to stay in once place, start a family, retire or are just tired of the lack of control a renter has here is a simple “buy vs. rent” calculator from the New York Times to see if it makes sense financially!

Buy vs Rent Calculator

Previous News

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Sunday, October 20, 2013: As I am holding this listing in Magnolia open I created handout of trends for the 98199 zip code. See the image below or download the PDF.OpenHouseStatisticsFlyerMagnolia.png

Saturday and Sunday, September 7th and 8th, 2013 I will be holding an open house in Inverness off of the eighth fairway! Inverness is a development on the golf course and is located near Sand Point Park and the Mountaineers. It is also close to the University of Washington and University Village.

Here are some housing trends from that zip code (98115): Facts and Trends.

A cottage in the city of Seattle - great investment property!
A cottage in the city of Seattle – great investment property!

This week sees the closing of an investment property for a client – and she already has it up for rent! It is a cute cottage in the city close to Lakeside School and Ingram High School.

Based on my recent activity it would seem I am not very busy – however I’ve recently closed one transaction and had two in escrow last week!

In the spring I was in a multiple offer situation on a home in Magnolia and we won – it wasn’t easy as the listing broker asked us to return with our highest and best while removing all of our contingencies. As my client had already lost an offer, he wanted to be aggressive and so we won!

It is a great location for him as he works on the Amazon campus at South Lake Union and he can bike or bus to work. In his off time he likes to hike around Discovery Park with his dog or work out at the local climbing gym.

Last week my latest listing closed – it too had its moments of excitement when we received two offers on July 3rd. We passed the pre-inspections and sewer scopes (with one recommendation for a big flush as they found roots and rocks near the house where a bathroom had been added in the basement). Deliberations when on until 1:30pm on Fourth of July when we received the signed-around purchase and sale agreement – great way to celebrate!

Simultaneously I had an offer accepted for another client – while we had lost six offers due to extreme escalations we finally won and came in under list price! The property will be used as a rental until my client downsizes from her six-bedroom home in Magnolia.

One thing to keep in mind when making offers in these competitive climates such as we have in Seattle – you want your offer to be as strong as possible. If multiples offers are asked for we want it to be as strong as possible – a pre-inspection, a closing time agreeable to the seller, cash or strong financing with proof such as a letter from the lender and a consistent earning history. A pre-inspection, while spendy, gives you and the seller peace of mind that you know what you are getting into.

The climate has switched in the last month or so to less multiple offers, less pre purchase inspections and more “regular” offers – offers are sent in with inspection contingencies. It is still good to know if the home one is buying has any issues with knob-and-tube wiring, oil tank decommissioning or leakage, outstanding permits, etc.

I recommend one inspection firm and they have a three-tiered pricing schedule – just over one hundred dollars for a basic walk-through, a bit more for a checklist and close to $400.00 or $500.00 for a full report. The more in-depth reports can be purchased at a later date by request.

There is also another trend I am seeing – with so much hiring from Amazon, Gates Foundation, Microsoft and all of the high tech firms in South Lake Union, Redmond and Bellevue parents from various states are buying condos to use in various times of the year to visit their children who are grown and working in Seattle. I held a condominium open at Ballard Place last weekend and me three sets of parents in this demographic. I might add that Ballard Place is a very clean and well-run condominium that has the feeling of a nice hotel – it has a concierge, fitness room, conference room, computer room, entertainment area (which can be rented for events) and a lovely roof garden with views of the Olympic Mountains.


Last weekend I held a houseboat open house and it was very fun! As I lived on a houseboat while attending the University of Washington I have an affinity for them and love the community. Someday I might like to live on one again (so long as I have plenty of room for a container garden!).

This houseboat (–3-98102/468005 ) is probably just under 700 square feet but has several use areas. The “master bedroom” has a door to the living room and the bathroom (as does the bathroom). Just off the bathroom is a laundry room with a door to the outside.

On the other side of the living room there is an office/second bedroom, and above the living room is a loft with a little door to the upstairs deck!

The kitchen is open to the living room and has a gas range.

Buyers came through and everyone wanted to take the ladder off of the wall and climb to the loft – people were trying various permutations of how the ladder worked the best. To make sure it was safe we would steady the ladder although there is a place for the ladder to be secured against the west wall.

Many questions came up and I thought I am going to address them here.

Houseboats are often either co-ops or condominium. With this co-op the $350.00 per month dues go to the association and they pay the tax, water, sewer and garbage. A co-op can pre-screen and run background checks and also vote someone in or out. It is important to read the bilaws before you commit.

Another houseboat is a condominium fee-simple arrangement. That dock only has three condominiums and the dues are $200.00 per month which include water, sewer and garbage. The personal property tax on that houseboat is $1370.00 and the real estate tax is $2561.00




Another listing successfully closed for a first-time home buyer from Amazon! We put an offer on a nice home in Magnolia with an escalation clause and won! We had a pre-inspection done within a day and had our offer in the following day. The process did become adversarial as the listing agent asked us to remove our appraisal contingency, but my buyers were confident that if the appraisal did not come in they would be able to make up the difference in cash. Gratefully, the financing appraisal come in perfectly.

When we pulled title we found a four foot sewer easement in the backyard but this was also acceptable and my buyers are now in their new home.

With the seller’s market in Seattle, pre-inspections are becoming the norm. Ask your realtor to provide you with Andree Hurleyreferences and then schedule the inspection with the listing agent and the inspector at a time when you can have some “alone-time”! A courteous listing agent will try to do their best to make sure no one will be in the house with you.

While you don’t want to bother the inspector too much, you and your realtor should follow him/her about so that you an be a part of the discovery. You don’t want other buyers in the home as they can be distracting.

One common finding is the presence of knob-and-tube electrical – some people are fine with it and others won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. One of my clients is replacing his a little at a time, where I met a woman at an open house who retracted her offer based on knob-and-tube.

The pre-inspection usually includes a look at the electrical panel – is it altered or original, if altered was it permitted?

Many homes have had oil heat – is there evidence of this inside or outside the home? A unused tank may be in the ground and cause environmental issues.

A good pre-inspection can cost a few hundred dollars but if you want the listing it is worth as it gives you the confidence to put in a good, clean offer.

A recent trend is to have your inspector attend the tour – this recently happened in Ballard the opening day of a listing. There were three tours on the first day and two of the groups put in offers that evening.

It is competitive out there so the more you can do up front the better – inspections, pre-approval, large down payments and some wiggling room to escalate all count towards winning an offer.

Many clients ask me about schools and I hesitate to give an opinion as it is such a personal matter. Some parents pick a school which is close to where they already live, some try to bus to a different school or get an ORCA Pass so their children can get to an out-of-district school on their own.

Other parents want to move closer to the school of their choice. I recently spoke with someone who wants to move from Ballard to Capitol Hill as they want their child to attend a private school in the area.

Some parents would rather spend the money on locating moving to an area near a great public school and then spend their budget paying the mortgage on a nice home. Some parents say they want their child to have a lot of social interactions while others want to make sure they have the scores to attend an Ivy League university. Religion might play a choice in finding a school.

This is an area where we as realtors can be helpful but it is importance for parents to engage in thorough research.

Here are a few links to get you started in the Seattle area (Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard, Green Lake, Ravenna, Capital Hill, Leschi, Arboretum).

Seattle Public Schools

City Data Gives a lot of information! If you search the page on schools you will find information towards the bottom.

OSPI Map of Schools in Washington State – with this map one can click-through to the area of interest to find schools and information on test scores and disciplinary actions.

Tip of the day – take wetlands seriously! I toured a property with clients in Bellingham and the listing agent hadn’t subtracted the wetlands area for useable square footage.
We had noticed it had been on the market for at least twenty-one days but found out it had been on longer and had been turned down by two developers due to the wetlands. My clients are looking for a second property as an investment but want to put a workable structure on the property for projects. Considering that the one-hundred year-old farmhouse has cigarette smoke damage on the inside and deferred maintenance on the outside, the property is probably closer in priced to the county assessed value of $275,000 than the asking price of $400,000.


Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard and Greenlake homes have been listed and taken off the market within days. I toured one that came on the market this morning and it seems it will be sold tomorrow! This map shows active and pending listings between $450k to $800k, 2+ bedrooms and 1.75+ baths.

Inventory is very low and demand is high. Pre-inspections are being done prior to offers to give them strength and lately buyers are even sharing some inspections.

I recently closed on a home for a client that was listed at about $520k for $550k. It was priced low to invite multiple offers and was definitely comparable or better than some fifteen others we had seen at $550k. It was clean, well maintained, updated and was given a great rating during the pre-inspection.

I saw it on the MLS at about three o’clock in the afternoon, we toured it at nine o’clock pm and had our offer in by five o’clock pm the next day.

The appraisal came in at the price, and the Realist has upped the value to about $600k.

Prior to this we had put in an offer on a home with an escalation clause to $550k, but were beaten by a full cash offer for $525k.

Several homes in the area are being priced too high and are coming down in increments of ten or twenty thousand. Some of these are underwater (the owners payed more for them than they are worth) dating back to 2006.