Monday, December 22, 2008

Recipe for Nordy Bars

Here is the first of my recipes that I want to post for you to try. These cookies are similar to the old "7 Layer Cookie" recipe that many of us are familiar with. They freeze well! Yummy for a Christmas/New Year treat!

Nordy Bars

1/2 cup butter (1 cube)
1 (12 oz) pkg. butterscotch chips
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. miniature marshmallows
1 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans (these may be omitted)

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add butterscotch chips and brown sugar, stirring until they are melted. Remove pan from heat (let it cool a bit), stir in eggs. Add flour, baking powder and salt, mixing thoroughly. Stir in vanilla then set aside and cool (this part is important so your chocolate chips don't melt, but stay somewhat firm.) When cool, stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows and pecans (if desired.) Spread into greased 9x13 inch pan (or a couple 8x8s.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes (keep an eye on them & the longer time should make them less "uncooked".)Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly. Cut into squares.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thirty Year Mortgage Rate is now at 5.47%

We have been spoiled over the past few years with low interest rates and now we find that interest rates on the most common U.S. mortgages fell to their lowest level in over four years. In 2004 rates hit a low of 5.40%. Now is a great time to buy!

If you qualify for an FHA loan, the minimum down has been 3%, but effective January 1st, the required down payment will be 3.5%. There are several homes for sale that will accept FHA financing. Usually the home reqires an appraisal by an FHA appraiser and any repairs must be made before closing. Sellers can contribute up to 6% of the sales price for closing costs and pre-paid items, however the seller cannot assist with the down payment. Gift funds (from parents, grandparents, etc.) can be used for the down payment, closing costs and prepaid items. If you are a first time buyer, it is time to jump in to home ownership! Give me a call today and I will help you through the entire process.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting in the Christmas spirit


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Interest Rates are low again!

This housing market is an interesting one! Interest rates have been up and down and if rates go up to 7% people are thinking it is just awful! But some of us remember the interest rates of old that were at 10 and 11%, so where we have been recently with rates is a good thing, as Martha would say.

So, where are we today on a 30 year conventional fixed loan? How about 5 1/4 to 5 1/2%? That is pretty darn good! So whether you are looking to buy or refinance, don't miss out on these low rates. They could change tomorrow, so remember that you want to lock in your rate when it gets to a low spot. If you want to buy a home, call me! There are some fabulous deals out there. Especially for those of you who invest in properties. Lots of distressed/foreclosed homes to choose from. And if you want to refinance, let me know. I have a few great lenders to recommend who will take excellent care of you. Just give me a call at 425-890-0124

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Property Tax Exemptions

Now you know why your property tax assessment is so high, but did you know what it takes to qualify for a senior tax exemption? Here it is right off the King County website:

RCW 84.36.381 "grants property tax exemptions if your total annual income is $30,000 or less and if you are 61 years of age or older, or you are retired because of physical disability, or if you are a widow or widower at least 57 years of age whose spouse had an exemption at the time of his or her death."

That pretty well narrows it down! Not many of us are going to qualify for senior exemption, but if you do, it is well worth the effort to apply. Just go to:

If you want to dispute your assessment, you may be running out of time, as you have a limited time to appeal. Check out the above website and go to "disputes."

I hope this helps.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The tax assessor must have goofed!

I have had several calls lately from unhappy homeowners who can't understand why their property taxes are so high on their latest assessment notice. I'm sure everyone is unhappy! I am. I have been asked if I can come up with data that will prove their point to the assessor that prices are down, not up. I'm waiting to see if any of these people get any relief from the assessor's office! Unfortunately, the taxing process is a couple of years behind and that is why your assessed value is usually under what it's true value is. That has been a pretty true reflection of values with the houses that I market, or that are listed for sale. At least it WAS true. Now the assessed value is actually at or even above what some houses can sell for. That is thanks to our drop in housing values over the past year.

If you really consider this dilemma, you will see the difficulty that the assessor's office has in establishing value. They can't go out and inspect every house and have appraisals and market analyses. So, we must put up with a flawed system, but that doesn't mean that you can't appeal your case to the assessor and I wish you luck. If you do find that they listen and adjust your value downward, shoot me an email and let me know.

And I have to say that inspite of the discouragement of falling home prices for those trying to sell, it is about time that prices stop jumping up so high that many people are priced right out of home ownership. It looks like things are leveling out a bit, so maybe prices will begin to creep up but let's hope it's not at breakneck speed!

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

If you are, or know anyone who is, a first time home buyer, then this information is for you!

Back in April of 2008 the Housing and Economic Recovery Act decided to offer up to a $7,500 tax credit for first time homebuyers. This may not sound like much, but it does reduce your tax liability for the year you purchased your home by $7,500 and if, for instance, you paid $4,500 in taxes, you would receive a check from the government for the difference...$3,000! Not too bad. This offer expires at the end of June 2009, so there is a small window of opportunity for those of you who qualify. With all the bad news about our banking industry, some people are under the impression that there is no money to borrow. That just isn't true!! And now that zero down loans are gone forever, you are probably thinking you need 20% for a down payment. That is not necessarily so for first time buyers. FHA is still making plenty of loans and you only need 3% down.

And parents, if you want to help your kids be able to own their first home, then maybe you would like to gift some money to your son or daughter to make this possible. Talk to your tax adviser, but gifting money is easy and up to a certain amount there is no gift tax to pay.

I am placing a link here so you will have all the information you need about this $7,500 tax credit. I am calling it a flat $7,500 credit because though it is really 10% of purchase price up to $7,500, I haven't seen a home or condo here for $75,000 or less....unless we're talking mobile home! And finally, yes, that tax credit does need to be paid back, but only $500 per year for 15 years. Check it out, then give me a call so I can help you get into your first home! Maybe even by Christmas!!! (Sandy 425-890-0124)$FILE/hbtaxcreditqa2008.pdf

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Suncadia Lots for Sale

Fall is here and I want to encourage you to drive over Snoqualmie Pass and go to the new Suncadia Resort. Take the Roslyn/Bullfrog Road exit and drive until you get to the big roundabout. Follow the signs to get to the brand new Lodge. Stay for lunch! You can have a meal at either the Lodge or the Prospector Inn, which looks out over the 9th and 18th holes of the Palmer designed Prospector Course. Now is a great time to take in the fresh air and adopt the vacation mode. Check out all the new construction. There are condominiums for sale in the Lodge, as well as a variety of homes and home sites for sale.

If you are the type who would rather start from scratch and design your dream house, then talk to me! I have 2 lots that would be perfect for you. One is on the 2nd fairway of the Prospector Golf Course, which is a very short walk to the Lodge and all the amenities. The other lot is located on the Rope Rider Golf Course, right on a man-made lake! This one has architectural drawings completed for a 3600 to 4400 square foot house, depending on how you choose to configure it. Whether you are thinking of buying a vacation or main residence home, condo or lot in Suncadia, give me a call. I can help you!! There are some really good deals right now so don't delay. Can't you picture you and your family spending time in the winter months over there? Do you like to ski? Snowmobile? Cross Country Ski? Relax, read a book and watch the snow fall? Perfect. And remember when the snow is gone there is biking, hiking, fishing, golfing and just plain chilling out!

If you are getting sick and tired of all the traffic here on the Eastside, it may be time to get out of Dodge! Call me, I'd love to talk. (425)890-0124

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So You Want to be a Real Estate Agent!

Just in case you are interested in knowing the costs and difficulties involved....

I am a Realtor®, so first off, I should explain that not all real estate agents are Realtors®. The Realtor Association is an entity that came into being to distinguish reputable real estate agents from the unethical and unscrupulous agents who were doing business, by developing a "code of ethics" in 1913. This organization not only requires that their members adhere to the Code of Ethics, but they provide lots of ongoing education for agents and act as our voice in government policy making. The reason I want to explain that is to show you what we receive for our $450 membership fee per year. I am a Realtor® and although I don't like paying that fee, I feel that being a Realtor® automatically adds to my credibility.

I hear complaints all the time about how much money real estate agents make and yet, when I look at the industry as a whole, we aren't doing so well!! Most agents (including me) have to share a portion of their commission with the brokerage that they work for, in addition to paying a desk fee. We have to be licensed and every two years we give a big check to Olympia to keep our license active. Oh, and then there are the 30 hours of ongoing education required to renew our license. That education is paid for by the agent. Of course, we need to be members of our local Multiple Listing Service, which requires a yearly fee. If we have listings, well, we need lockboxes ($95 per lockbox) and our Super Display Key (separate fee for having this key,) which allows us to retrieve the key to enter homes that we show.

We need a computer and if we intend to use a laptop at our office, it needs to have be a Windows XP (at least it does within Coldwell Banker Bain) so we can hook into our wireless office router. Then there are all the programs and websites that we need to be familiar with. I have a document that is single spaced on both sides of an 8x10" page full of login names and passwords. Way too many to try to remember. It has both business & personal sites, but mostly business. Newer agents can become overwhelmed with all the information that they need to sort through and become familiar with!!

I need my cell phone. I can't get by without it! And it provides internet access, has a GPS, is text message capable and keeps track of all my contact information including all my appointments. It syncs to my computer so I'm totally connected and current. Gotta have a Blue Tooth too, for when I'm in the car. Speaking of've got to have a car that is reliable and big enough to transport clients in. Kept in good running condition!

Most competent agents have a website. I have a webpage within Coldwell Banker Bain, but I also pay about $40 a month for my website ( Lucky for me this blog is free, but I wouldn't be surprised if one day I wake up to find that I will need to pay!

There are other programs that I have purchased and/or signed up for, including Top Producer, E-Neighborhoods, Tarasoft Titan and Proquest. Some I still use and some I have cancelled. Most require a monthly fee. With housing the way it is, I've had to cut some expenses.

I haven't even talked about the cost of advertising our listings. Some agents use their listings to promote themselves and then consider that to be advertising for their clients, when in reality it is advertising their name so they can get more business. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but it does all cost BIG money!! Printed ads for houses don't work so well in selling homes these days since most folks are computer savy and can search easily online for their next home whether near or far! We do print flyers for our properties (I use Microsoft Publisher to create mine) and I like my flyers in color and on both sides of the page. That costs the agent money too. For me it is $.50 per side in color. There goes $.50 to $1.00 everytime someone drives up to pull a flyer.

When I have listings I need to provide shoe covers, a basket to put them in and a sign telling people to remove their shoes or wear covers. I need a flyer stand inside the house and oh, I need to put some of my business cards on display. (I had some double-sided full-color ones printed up to distinguish myself from the myriad of boring white cards.) The yard arm sign with the extra flyer box outside? Yup, I pay a fee for that to be installed and removed and it cost me about $800 for my "for sale" signs. I forgot, I also have 6 Open House A-Boards. They were several hundred dollars as well. I also had SOLD signs printed with my name on them. More money. You want "professional" pictures taken of your house? OK, there's another couple hundred (the photos I take are really pretty good, esp. compared to some of the stuff other agents use for their listings.....dark, wide-angle wowiness, drab for sure.) You want a slide show, or virtual tour? I like to provide that and as you might guess....more expense!

I mail out newsletters to over 200 addresses each month. Not a cheap endeavour! Postage costs money too. Any postcards that I send to advertise my listings. Yup, you are right, that comes out of my pocket.

Add the cost of my home office desk, file cabinet, old file storage boxes, file folders, binders, printer, fax, etc. etc. etc.

So, why AM I in this business??? I do love it! I really like people. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and reward when I can help people find the house of their dreams or get their current home sold. I have to admit that it is way more difficult in this current housing market! Lots of agents who have to support their families have had to find other jobs. It is tough to support a family with a commission job when the outgoing expenses are so high and there are few clients out there. I'm fortunate in that I am not the sole support of my husband and myself! I'm not doing so bad, but it would be nice to have my listings sell so I can actually get a paycheck!

Getting back to the huge income that we real estate agents make...HA! Sure, the ones who have been in business for many years and have listings coming out of their ears and more buyers than they can find time to help are doing pretty well. However, even they are struggling right now. If an agent is that busy, they certainly need a staff to help with all the work and you guessed it, the agent is responsible for paying for their staff! Lots of their "profit" gets eaten up just paying for help. And if they have lots of listings, they probably aren't selling and there is ongoing expense in trying to get those listings sold.

So, really, we are all in the same boat, whether we have a ton of clients or serve a few at a time. Money flies out the door! I plan on sticking around for a good long time, so I need to be wise with my money so I can fund the slower times in anticipation of the return of a strong housing market! And if you want to buy a me! There are some GREAT deals out there.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Coldwell Banker Bain Community Involvement

I am proud to be associated with Coldwell Banker Bain! I want to let you know, in case you were not aware, that my real estate company, Coldwell Banker Bain, is involved in making our community a great place to live. First off I want to compliment all the agents and brokers within our company who have devoted many hours helping to build homes for the needy with Habitat For Humanity. Our offices are collection dropoff for Toys for Tots at Christmas, so if you see toys on sale, BUY SOME and bring them to any Coldwell Banker Bain office during December. October brings Issaquah's Salmon Days, and Coldwell Banker Bain is a "spawnsor" of that event, along with several other local businesses. Our Issaquah office will have a booth during Salmon Days where we will be giving things away (OK, so no houses will be given away!) during that celebration. Stop by and see us. I will be there part of the time. Salmon Days will be October 4th and 5th.

Another thing that you may not be aware of is that a portion of our income as agents, goes to support these causes. That's right! We don't get to keep all of that commission that we make on our sales! More on this in my next post.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


It's time for updated photos. Saben is 3 years old and Annika is 1.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where is Allentown?

Most of you would probably say "Pennsylvania!" That is correct, but did you know that there is an Allentown right here in the Seattle area? It is located in Tukwila, just about 2 miles north of Foster Golf Course off Interurban Avenue, right by the Duwamish River. The reason I bring this up is that I have a house listed for sale in Allentown, and most people (even life-long residents of this area) don't know where that is!

If you are looking for a starter home or rental property, you might be interested in looking at this house. It is PERFECT! It has two-bedrooms, one bath and is under 900 sq. ft. It had extensive remodeling in 2000 including a new roof. The yard is fenced and includes a nice shed and a children's play fort. It is ready for you to move right in! The price is $260,000 and you might consider an FHA loan. Give me a call and I would be happy to show it to you. And if you need a lender, I have several that I can refer you to that would be more than happy to let you know if you qualify for this home. You can look on my website ( and find the listing with more photos. The listing number is 28120940. It is close to everything! There is easy access to I-5, short drive to Boeing Field, the new and improved Westfield (Southcenter) Mall and the Tukwila Community Center is just a couple blocks from this home. If you haven't been to Allentown, check it out!

Here is another interesting fact, Billy Joel wrote a song titled Allentown back in 1982. Of course he was singing about the coal mines and difficult living conditions in Allentown, PA.

Click the following link or copy and paste it in your browser to see a map of Allentown in Tukwila, WA:,-122.273583&spn=0.019514,0.031843&z=15&msid=114998829506905789528.000453374e12af64060db

Monday, July 21, 2008

What is a Short Sale and how can you avoid it

The easy explanation is that a short sale happens when a seller owes more on the loan on a home than he can sell it for. The way that happens is when a person hasn't owned the home long enough for it to appreciate (maybe 3 to 5 years) and with closing costs, he is going backwards on his investment. The other scenerio is when money has been so readily available to borrow on a home and homeowners get themselves in trouble by taking out a HELOC (home equity line of credit) or a 2nd mortgage to free up cash to use however they wish. Instead of increasing equity in holding on to a home for several years, they lose their equity with increased debt.

If you are looking to purchase a home, make sure that you are planning on living there for several years so you can avoid selling for less than you owe. Or have enough funds in the bank so that you have the money to close thereby avoiding a short sale. With our current market, we agents are definitely seeing housing prices coming down from what they were a year or two ago. The best strategy is to plan on staying in the house you want to buy for several years before selling and ride out this current storm. Prices will begin going up at some point!

Those of you who have remained in your home for several years should seriously evaluate whether you can "afford" to take out a 2nd mortgage on that boat, kitchen remodel, special vacation or just to pad your bank account for those extra luxury items that you want. Better to keep your home equity in place and SAVE some of your paycheck for those extra things.

Of course, the article that was published in Sunday's Seattle Times on the front page of the real estate section stated that 20% of all home sales in March nationwide were short sales. While that is true, it is important to read further down when it says that ony 4% of home sales in March in King, Kitsap and Snohomish county are short sales. I guess we should be thankful we live in an area that is better than the norm!

If you want to read the entire article in the Times just go to:

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Agent Part 1

Wake up sleepy head!! I'm NOT a morning person, but I'm out the door at 7:45 (I know that is late for most of you!) with my list of tasks that need to be done today. Here is the clock in the laundry room as I make my way out to the garage, get in the car and get going for the day. In the old days when the kids were still home, Monday was laundry day. Bye laundry room....Bye Dave....Bye Frodo!

I needed to stop at my listing that is now pending and put up a sold sign, so decided to do this before my sales meeting. I also removed my lockbox and flyers from inside. This sale will close next week. See...there really ARE buyers out there!!!!

Here is my cube! Boy, I didn't realize how messy it looks until I saw this picture! It looks like a jungle, but I'm pretty organized even though it doesn't look like it! There is my grandkids Valentine card! Their pictures are pinned on the wall along with all sorts of information that I need to keep at arms length. I don't leave my laptop at the office....I have a computer rolling tote that I can put my files in and all those cords necessary for uploading photos from the camera and syncing my phone to the computer. My coffee mug is out of site on the right, and usually I have a cup of coffee keeping me company.

I bet your are thinking just what our office manager, Sharon, was thinking when she saw me taking a picture of our fax machine. "WHY are you taking a photo of the fax machine?" I tried to explain that I was chronicling (that sure looks like incorrect spelling to me, so let's try the word "recording") my day so I could post it on my blog. She wasn't impressed and I'm sure she thinks I'm crazy! But I'm at the office and I have to send a fax, so here's the photo.

Monday Morning 9 am Sales Meeting. Tim McCanta is our broker and we have an hour meeting to review the latest news about the market, learn about the law and the latest real estate forms, have reports from our mortgage rep, Tim Cassill, escrow rep, Barbara Fox, and title rep, Janene Jaramillio. Janene missed the meeting this morning but she showed up later to keep in touch with the agents. Don F. (an agent) used to bring Krispy Kreme donuts in each week for our meetings but I think he got tired of paying! Did anyone ever offer to reimburse him? I didn't! I just figured the broker was paying for them and didn't discover the truth until the donuts stopped showing up!

A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Agent Part 2

There is Kristi Hansen. Several agents toured one of her listings today after our business meeting. We always tour homes after our business meeting. I rode with her and another agent since, as you will see later on, I'm just about completely out of gas in my car. Kristi's car is a Ford hybrid with a 12 gallon gas tank. What was Ford thinking??? 12 gallons? More trips to fill up.
Another source of frustration for me...our color copier! There is the flyer I created for my newest listing. Printing the flyer was easy. Printing postcards? Ugggg. For some reason my computer doesn't communicate well with the printer. It takes FOREVER to get the information from the computer to the printer and then sometimes when several other agents are printing their documents (how dare they!) it really gets interesting! Luckily we all seem to get have similar frustrations in using office equipment so it can get comical.

I don't usually go out to lunch, but Lorraine asked if we wanted to join her, so she, Nancy and I walked over to O'Char's for some Thai food. My favorite? Cashew Chicken. And what do you suppose we talked about? Business. We are all real estate agents after all. Should I have my business in an LLC? Just what can we take as tax deductions? Oh, and of course we talked about the difficulty in finding buyers for our listings!

You get the idea! I bet you have all wanted to toss your computer into the garbage can. I have spent so much wasted time trying to print color postcards, cut them apart and make the blankety-blank labels print within the proper space. I guess I will have to give in and send my file to the print shop. I love the creativity that this business affords me but I get so exasperated!!

I'm driving on fumes and Costco is just around the corner from my office...glug, glug, glug....$84.78???? And I use regular not premium!

In the car. I would be sunk without my bluetooth so I can talk on the phone and drive at the same time. I spend quite a bit of time in the car on SR 900 between Issaquah and home.

Quick stop at home to let Frodo outside to run a bit. I gulped down a big glass of ice water too. It sure is hot outside!

A Day in the Life of a Real Estate Agent Part 3

4:30 Appointment to talk about the comparative market analysis I put together on this home. Lovely, elegant and backs up to a tranquil stream. Plenty of room inside and out to enjoy! Let me know if you want more details or might be interested in purchasing it!

And where has my "official" assistant been all afternoon? He looks weary from a day of awsome golf in the heat! I should have had HIM print my postcards!!

The table is set for a simple dinner for two. Thank you COSTCO! Lasagna, broccoli, garlic bread and cherries. And to think that I always cooked a homemade dinner when the kids were home.

I still have one more phone call to make this evening and then I will be working on adding all my photos to this blog. I thought I would be showing a home to some buyers this evening, but they need to postpone it until later this week. Now it is after 8 pm. All in a days work! OK, now it is 9 pm and I'm having difficulty in loading all these photos. I have to do it in reverse order and I'm stuck. VERY FRUSTRATING!! This happens all too often with computer use. Well, here it is now 10:50 and I'm just finishing up. I began uploading photos using my laptop and when I encountered problems decided to try my desktop computer. I can't explain why I was then able to download the pictures. I'm tired and I guess the laundry will have to wait until tomorrow! Thanks for reading. Not all agents sit around all day eating bon bons and waiting for the phone to ring!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Renting versus Buying

Do you realize how good our local economy is? We have the lowest rental vacancy rate in 3 years and rent rates have risen 7.8% in one year. In the greater Puget Sound area during the first four months of 2008, there were 7400 new jobs. You are probably aware that builders are having a difficult time selling their inventory and as a result there has been a substantial decrease in building permits issued. New construction sales are down 49% compared to last year.The inventory of homes for sale has increased by 10%. So where are you buyers?? First time buyers are paying more in rent, while the cost of a home to purchase has decreased. Seems like a smart time to search for your own home!

And those of you who want to sell your house and buy another, why are you waiting!? You might be thinking that you won't get as much for your house than you might get in the future. Of course! BUT you will also be paying less for your new home! Good deals are out there. Don't be scared off by our media! They like to quote NATIONAL statistics. Places like Sacramento and Las Vegas don't represent our housing market.

NOW IS STILL A GOOD TIME TO BUY OR SELL!! Need more convincing?? Give me a call at (425)890-0124 and let's talk.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Generation Y First Time Buyers

What is Generation Y? Well, that would be the under 30 year old. The Seattle Times has a good article in today's paper about just what this generation is looking for in a home. Plus, this age group is quite knowledgable about the house buying process. After all, they have grown up with computers and know how to use them! The average age for purchasing their first home is 26, which is 3 years younger than the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. And just what are they looking for? Surprisingly, they want simple, built green and a low maintenance small lot. They want to be free from all the upkeep that a mini-mansion requires. I wonder in 15 or 20 years, if they will opt up for the same type houses that they were raised in as kids. Check out the link below if you'd like to read the article for yourself!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rental properties

Do you have rental houses or condos? Are you tired of trying to manage it yourself? Coldwell Banker Bain have a property management division and rates are competitive. Most property management groups charge 10% and Coldwell Banker Bain has been charging 8%. Coldwell Banker Bain's rates will be going up to 10% as of June 1st, so if you want to get your properties managed, just call Dorothy Ennes at 425-452-0200 or email her at

Put some distance between you and your renters! Give Dorothy a call and find out for yourself what Coldwell Banker Bain can do for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Closed Sales Statistics for King County, March 2008

How bad are things in the real estate market these days? Have you been inundated with all sorts of news reports full of gloom and doom? Here is the reality of the housing situation for King County. We are not faring as well as last year at this time, but it is not the end of the world for all of us in this area! Of course parts of California, Florida and Las Vegas are definitely in a world of hurt, but here King County, we should be thankful. There were 2286 homes sold during March 2007 and March 2008 saw 1503 sales. That is a decrease of 34% in volume. People are definately wary of buying or selling with all that has been in the news! The average price for a home in King County (averaging all areas of our county) was $566,834 for March 2007, compared to $539,733 for March 2008, represening approximately a 5% decrease in price. Will prices go down more? Wouldn't we all like to know the answer to that one! I still see people buying and selling and of course, prices need to reflect the current trends, so overpricing is a problem for sure. Even so, during March of '07 the length of time a home was listed before selling was 60 days on average. In March of '08 the time increased to 78 days, which is a 24% increase.

The bottom line is this.....if you have been sitting on the fence regarding making a move, now isn't as bad a time as you may have been led to believe! Sure, the market isn't what it was a year ago, but getting home prices to slow down a bit isn't a bad thing. Do we really want prices to keep going up and up and up??? Plenty of people can't afford to live in our area as it is and I sure would like for our grandkids to be able to afford a house of their own when they reach that point in life! I bet you feel the same.

If you are thinking about making a move, give me a call. I will help you with pricing your home correctly for a timely sale and would also love to hunt down that new piece of real estate that you can call "home."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The next pool shark!

I guess it's time for another photo or two of my grandkids. Saben turned three in March and we gave him his very own pool table since he enjoys playing with ours. As you can see, he knows what to do with a pool cue!
And then there is 8 month old Annika, enjoying helping her mom in the garden. What a treat it is to watch your grandkids grow and change!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sales Tax Increase

Did you know that effective yesterday (April 1st, no joke) the sales and use tax in King County has increased by one-tenth of one percent? Last April 1st (2007) we had a one-tenth of one percent increase as a result of voter approval to expand metro bus service, and this year the increase will be used for chemical dependency or mental health treatment services. It seems insignificant until you realize that now some areas , including Issaquah, are at 9%!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Thank you, Craig M, for leaving a comment regarding my previous post about Washington's new law! I have removed that previous post because I don't want to continue to give out misinformation. However, as of July 1, 2008 Washington state's new law will go into effect which will mean that if you order something from another part of the state, you will be required to pay the appropriate tax based on where you live (the destination of the item ordered, not the point of origination.) This will indeed make more work for all online "stores" in our state. WATCH OUT because I bet in time we will see a push to get retailers in every state to comply to this type of tax process, which would affect any order that is sent from one state to another. Ugg.

Here is a link for more information:

You can also go to a page where you are able to enter your address to make sure that those shippers are charging you the correct amount for tax. I really feel sorry for retailers in our state who now have added work in finding the tax rate every time they make a shipment. Life sure gets complicated!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Interactive Home Search

Would you like to see what houses are for sale in your neighborhood and what the asking price is? Are you looking for a new home and want to see what is available in the area and price range you are interested in? Then you need to go to my webpage on Coldwell Banker Bain!

Then simply go to the area of the map you would like to see using the blue box and click. This will bring up a new page where you can enter the information on the left hand side of the page to zero in on the criteria you want and VOILA! There you are! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Are you thinking about purchasing a new home? Why not go to my webpage with Coldwell Banker Bain and sign up for My Home Planner. That feature is in the top right hand corner and you simply enter your email address and create a password. This will take you to a page where you can do a search either by the map provided or by entering the city and neighborhoods you are interested in. The great thing about this is that when you sign up, you can select to receive notices via email when new houses hit the market and you can choose to be alerted daily or weekly. Try it out! Maybe you will find the house of your dreams. And please give me a call. I would love to have the opportunity to show you any properties you find interesting. Here is the link:

If you want to simply search without signing in, you can click on an area of interest on the interactive map and see what is listed. It's quick and easy!! Coldwell Banker Bain and Sandy Young....two names to remember!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Have you gone to Roslyn to check out the Suncadia Resort? You need to go! The brand new resort is now open and it is fabulous. It is located only 80 miles from Seattle (take the Roslyn/Bullfrog Road exit off I90) and just under an hour's drive from downtown Issaquah. I can arrange a tour for you, with lodging for your convenience! Do you golf? There are 2 public golf courses, the Prospector Course which was designed by Arnold Palmer, and the Rope Rider Course. Homesites are available on both courses. If you like the idea of having a private course available and living in a gated non-public community, then the Tumble Creek development was made for you! Prepare to pamper yourselves, as there is something for everyone. Miles and miles of bicycle trails are going in and will be groomed in the winter for not only crosscountry skiing, but also skating! Of course Snoqualmie Pass is close enough for downhill skiing if that is your passion. My husband and I own a lot on the 2nd fairway of the Prospector Course and it is a short walk to the Resort and driving range. If you call or email me I will personally arrange a time for you to look it over for yourselves, spend the night for a LOW price of $99, enjoy a free round of golf and talk to one of Suncadia's expert team members to fill you in on what is available and pricing that will suit your needs and desires. Call me NOW at 425-890-0124 or email me at

Saturday, March 1, 2008

NEW Conner Construction home in Talus

Today and tomorrow I am holding open the last NEW Conner home in the Aliante neighborhood of Talus. The Talus development is just off SR900 on Cougar Mountain a short distance from Issaquah. Pretty much across from Squak Mountain Nursery. Come and visit! I'm here today, Saturday, until 5 pm, and tomorrow, Sunday, from 1:00 until 4:00. This home has a daylight basement and is 4815 square feet. Plenty of room to spread out! There is a 3-car tandem garage with a shop area, beautiful hardwoods and carpeting, slab granite in the luxurious kitchen, built-in bookcase, and a guest suite on the lower level with a walk-in closet and full fath. Of course, if this is just too big, I can help you find something else to suit your needs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Crozier Photography - AMAZING

OK! So, the big day was Saturday and you can check out some of our photographer's work in the previous post. John Crozier is amazing and his work reflects his creativity and inate sense of style and composition. I have seen lots of professional photographs and would absolutely recommend John over anyone!! He spent the entire day covering every detail of our daughter's wedding, from Shauna having her make up done at Nordstrom's, to the bridesmaid's and groomsmen's preparations and dressing, all through the day until the newly married couple were driven off from the reception. If you are looking for a photographer to cover a wedding, graduation photos, family pictures, or whatever, please do yourself a favor and call John! He will take care of you and you will be so glad you hired him. His work is itself a testimony to his dedication and ability. He is a professional and yet personable and so easy to work with! Here is a link to his website:

Shauna's Wedding

The slide show for Shauna and Pete's wedding is on the photographer's blog:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Northwest Flower and Garden Show is coming

February 20th thru the 24th at the Convention Center in Seattle. Good news for those of you who have small yards or live in a condo or townhouse. Approximately 1/3 of the 110 free seminars at the show this year will focus on small-space gardening. Also, on display will be 13 container gardens and several patio displays. Of course, this is in addition to the typical landscaping ideas for larger yards. Plan on paying big bucks for admission...$19 at the door, but you will be dazzled with all the color, texture, fragrance and ideas! Sally Fields will be co-speaker at one of the free seminars entitled "Gardening For Good Health" on Saturday at 1:30 in room 6E, and if our daughter's wedding were not schedule for that day, I would surely be there to see the Flying Nun. Of course, you should register ahead for this seminar to be assured of a seat. Just click on this link to register:

Be sure to bring your camera and capture all the delights of the flower show. You will find great tips to help you with your garden and there are a great many goodies to purchase, from bulbs to orchids and from ceramics to trellis'. ENJOY!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Getting a mortgage loan...conforming, jumbo and what about subprime?

If you are interested in getting a loan to buy a house, don't believe all that you hear in the media. Now IS a good time to buy in the Seattle/King County market. But, what kind of loan can you get and what rate should you pay? That is where it can get confusing. Basically there are two types of loans....conforming and jumbo. A conforming loan is one for a house selling for $417,000 or less. A jumbo loan is for a house over $417,000 and has a higher interest rate than a conforming loan. It used to be about 1/8 to 1/4 percentage point higher but now it can be 1 to 1.5 points higher. (A point is simply 1% of the sales price of the house.) That can represent a pretty hefty increase in your house payment. Just try to find a house for less than $417,000 in our area! It is tough, and right now there is legislation being discussed that will raise increase that figure to somewhere in the ballpark of $700,000. That will be a big help!

Some of you may not qualify for a loan since the subprime lenders have gone away. A subprime loan is one which means the buyer has poor credit scores, little or no down payment and is unable to prove their income. Although there are still zero down loans out there, it is imperative that purchasers 1) verify their income through pay stubs and the latest tax return, 2) have SOME money saved, and 3) work to increase their FICO credit scores.

FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850, and lenders usually get a borrowers' scores from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and their rate and terms are based on the middle of the three scores. Anything 620 and below used to be considered subprime, which meant that getting a loan would be more difficult and expensive. At the height of the boom, some lenders lowered that bar to 580, which I'm sure helped to cause the bottom to fall out of the subprime loans! Today, 660 is often considered subprime, and any score below 680 is likely to result in higher rates and more difficult terms.

If your score is mediocre, say between 640 and 680, you need to have 10% down. If you have a good credit score, you can buy with a 5% down payment and if you have great credit and verified income, you still may be able to find a zero down loan that won't have interest rates that will kill you!

If you want more information on getting a loan, I have several lenders that I work with and trust. I would love to put you in touch with one of them. Give me a call, or send me an email.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bakery For Sale! Wedding Cakes!

Do you like to bake? Do you make fabulous wedding cakes? Have you ever thought about owning your own bakery? Well, this may be your opportunity! I know of a bakery owner in Seattle that would love to talk to you. Madeleine's European Bakery is selling their business. The owners have a great reputation, make the best wedding cakes and other desserts. Check out their website:

If you are interested, give me a call and I will give you more information and put you in touch with the owner. The price is reasonable and you have the opportunity to rent the space and yet own all your own equipment.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Have you heard of Cohousing?

If not, you might want to read the article that was in Saturday's Seattle Times:

Although it sounds something like the communes of the 60's, it is a more rational solution to the need for people to live in a friendly and helpful community. These are usually folks who believe that living in a smaller space is better than having excess and they own their own home, whether attached or detatched depends on the community. Amazingly, according to the artilce, the Seattle area has about 15 (out of 90 nationwide) already established or forming communities and is one of the top cohousing centers in the nation. Who knew!? The article features a couple in their 80's who were instrumental in planning Jackson Place and eagerly moved in in 2001 after it was completed. This type of living isn't just for the older folks, but younger familes and singles all are part of these communities. Doesn't this sound like a great thing for people who move away from their parents? It gives their children surrogate grandparents, right next door!

If you are interested in learning more, whether for right now or sometime in your future, you may want to attend an informational meeting on February 20th from 1 to 3 pm at Jackson Place Cohousing, 800 Haiwatha Pl. S, Seattle. Questions? Go to:

Perhaps you and your friends will discover a new way of living, as you develop your very own community!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

KING COUNTY December 2007 Statistics

Residential sales volume for December 2007 decreased 6% from November 2007
All Sales (vs. Year- to date 2006)
- Residential sales volume: off 10% to $18.8 billion
- Residential transactions: off 17% to 37,672
- Mobile home sales on land: off 5% to $71 million
- Plexes (2-5 units) sales: off 25% to $411 million
- Land sales: off 13% to $1 billion
- Commercial volume: up 35% to $8.2 billion
- Average residence: $496,347, up 9%

Existing home transactions sold decreased 13% in December 2007 from November 2007 Existing Home Sales (vs. Year- to date 2006)
- Units sold: off 24%; volume: off 16% to $11.2 billion
- 20,157 units sold this year vs. 26,427, lowest since 1995
- Average price up 11% to $556,490
- Half homes (median) sold for less than $449,000, up 10%
- Average $/SF for homes sold at $299.17 (all sales), up 7%
- Best range: $300,001 - $350,000, with 224.9 monthly
- Second best absorption rate: $500,001 - $600,000, with 220.9 per month

New single family homes units sold in December 2007 up 24% from November 2007 New Single Family Homes (vs. Year- to date 2006)
- Average sale price: $670,460, up 13%
- Median sale price: $553,925, up 13%
- New homes represent 18% of volume and 15% of units recorded
- 3,680 sold vs. 4,993 last year, off 26% volume: off 17% to $2.5 billion
- Average $/SF: $260.74, up 1% (48% of sales with data)
- Best ranges: $500,001 - $600,000 - $750,000, each with 49.3 per month
- Next best range: $750,000 - $1,000,000, with absorption of 49.1 monthly

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Brides Against Breast Cancer

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of volunteering to help with the Brides Against Breast Cancer Tour of Gowns at the Doubletree Hotel at SeaTac. What is this all about? You can click on the following link to learn more: The overall purpose of this foundation is to take donated used and new wedding gowns and tour the country to offer them for sale at a HUGE discount to prospective brides. Money taken in is then used to grant wishes to those who are dealing with metastatic breast cancer. Sort of like the Make a Wish Foundation, but this is directed to people with breast cancer.

I am a survivor (18 years!!) so when a friend asked me if I could volunteer to help with fitting gowns, I jumped at the chance. The big trucks will roll up to the Hilton Hotel in Bellevue Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th) and I plan on helping again on Friday. It is great fun, for a good cause. AND a bonus is to see all those beautiful gowns and accessories! Check out the website and see how you might help.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Are you aware that I specialize in working with first time home buyers? I enjoy helping anyone who is in need of buying or selling their home, rentals or land, but I am especially sensitive and trained to assist those who are thinking about making their first home purchase.

I thought I should just share this with you so that you can keep me in mind if you know of anyone who needs the services of an expert! Please do send them my way. You may want to begin by pointing them to my website: and telling them to click on my link for First Time Buyers on the left side of the home page. I have prepared some important information that they will need to know as they begin their adventure into home ownership. Thanks for your referrals....please keep them coming!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Shauna is ENGAGED!

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Our daughter, Shauna, became engaged early in December and she and Pete (Myron) are planning a February 23rd wedding. We are all busy, busy, with all the details and looking forward to a great wedding celebration! Who says you need 6 months to a year to plan a wedding? Don't believe them. Shauna and Pete are making decisions, moving on to the next decision and don't have all that extra time to second guess themselves. We are looking forward to having Pete officially in the family!

Six Reasons to Buy NOW!

Washington has a strong vibrant real estate market. Purchasing a home in Washington is an excellent long term investment. Here are 6 reasons why:

1) The Emerald City has experienced strong price appreciation over the last six quarters, and that's expected to continue in the new year. Third quarter median home sale prices increased by 6% compared to the third quarter of 2006. Forbes Magazine, November 2007

2) Washington State's population will increase by nearly one million over the present decade and reach 6.8 million by 2010. About two thirds of the growth is due to immigration, the rest is a result of the growth of families. Washington State Office of Financial Management

3) The number of building permits issued in the tri-county area has declined by 6% for the first three quarters of 2007, compared to the same time period for 2006. John Murphy, Director of Operations, New Home Trends

4) Unemployment in Washington has been below 5% for nine straight months and is in the running for the lowest annual average since modern records began in 1976. Washington added over 57,000 new jobs in the last year. The majority of these jobs are in the Puget Sound area.
National Association of Realtors

5) Mortgage Interest Rates are near historic lows. Based on market indicators, rates are not likely to stay this low for long. James Wirth, Landover Mortgage

6) Current conditions mean this market is in the "Buy Zone" and is the perfect buyers market. Looking at the housing market graphically over the past 25 years, it's evident there are periods when conditions make it the perfect time to buy a home, and this is one of them. NWMLS