Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SNAILS and your garden

So, look what I found on our sidewalk today! This is the first time I've seen a snail on our property, although my husband said he's seen a few. Slugs yes, snails no. I guess this is a reminder that it is time to get outdoors and clean up the garden, put down some slug and snail bait, plant some new flowers and think about some minor changes to the landscape. You may be one of those people like me who appreciates the look of the yard and yet doesn't have time to learn all about what plants are best in what exposure, so is intimidated about putting things in the ground. After the fact is usually when I find out it is not the best spot for that particular plant. I have a solution. Hire a professional! If you live in the greater King County area and would like to find someone to help, I have a solution for you. Consider hiring Samantha of Toad Hollow Designs. She will do a consultation (usually 2 hours) and will discuss your particular landscape needs and come up with some terrific ideas. I know Samantha and she is someone you can trust and who KNOWS HER PLANTS! Oh, and she doesn't charge an arm and a leg for her services! Here is her information:

What do you want to do?
· Renovate an existing landscape
· Create something from scratch
· Add easy care edibles
· Go Organic
· Attract beneficial wildlife
· Deter deer and slugs
· Identify the plants you have
· Incorporate more color
· Make use of materials on hand
· Learn pruning techniques

Other services:
· Speaking for groups
· Plant shopping
· Preparing home for sale
· Full-scale design

Toad Hollow Designs
Beautiful Landscape with Purpose
for People, Pets, and Wildlife
Samantha Zistatsis
Landscape Designer/Consultant

Now do yourself a favor and give her a call!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unemployment, interest rates and FEAR!!

There is so much fear nationwide about our unemployment rate. Go to http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=44 to look at a statistical chart listing unemployment rates from 1948 to March 2009. I know there are many ways to compile statistics and of course, it is 100% if it is YOU, but look at overall 8.5% nationally in March. And we here in the Seattle (9.2% and going down) area are faring much better than other parts of the country (like Detroit which is at 21% unemployment with the average price of homes at $18,513.) YIKES!!

There is much room for fear to creep in to our thinking. However, there are signs that the housing crisis is leveling off and beginning to improve. Personally, I am seeing more buyers getting off the fence. Interest rates are at a SUPER LOW rate of under 5% on a 30 year fixed loan. That number can change throughout any day and different companies offer different plans. If you would like to talk to a lender to see about refinancing out of your ARM or to get a better rate than you now have on your conventional loan, call me and I would be happy to refer you to some really good lenders, who will do all they can to treat you with integrity and offer the best rate possible.

If you are desiring to buy a new home, NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME!!! If you wait, interest rates will be going back up and so will housing prices. There is still a good selection of homes and you can negotiate a super price. And if you are a 1st time buyer (haven't owned a home in the past 3 years) you may qualify for up to an $8,000 tax refund if you close on your purchase before November 30th. Don't delay. CALL ME at 425-890-0124

Monday, April 6, 2009

What is the Annual Percentage Rate? (APR)

If you are in the market for a home right now you will see some amazing offers out there from the lenders on new construction. Really low rates, of say 3.875%, but then there is that small print where it lists the APR at 3.9883%. Or perhaps they will say that the interest rate does not include tax and insurance. Whoa, Nellie!! That can be a BIG chunk of change! You may be thinking that you are getting a great deal on your interest rate and can afford more house than you thought, when in reality, you can get sucked in and then when you have an emotional investment in that beautiful new house, you find out that you really can't afford that high of a payment!

Bottom line is that you need to be aware of all the somewhat sneaky ways that lenders appeal to your senses and though they are being honest about their rates, the average person doesn't have a clue how they package all the fees associated with the loan and can be shocked when they are in the middle of this process.

So, PAY ATTENTION, PLEASE! The APR on a loan is higher than the stated interest rate on your loan because the "points" (one point equals 1% of the loan amount) that you have to pay to buy down your interest rate to this low, low, low percentage costs money! And that is usually tacked onto your loan. Then there are loan origination fees that may or may not be tacked on. How about the pre-paid interest, which is the interest paid from the date that the loan closes to the end of the month. Most companies assume 15 days of interest when they calculate this, but some companies may use any number between 1 and 30! You will also have a loan-processing fee, underwriting fee, document preparation fee and PMI (private mortgage insurance.) Sometimes the loan-application fee and credit life insurance (pays off the mortgage in the event of the borrowers death) are also added in to the APR.

Be sure you find out just what you have to pay for to get that interest rate. And don't be fooled into thinking that the low percentage is really what you will end up with. Look at that APR number! Also be sure you find out how long your rate is "locked" for. It is possible that a 10 day rate lock may have a lower APR than the lender who offers a 60 day rate lock. This whole business is confusing!

Bottom line is to check with 2 or 3 lenders when you refinance or purchase that new home. Whether you are looking to buy a new home or resale, rates are the best they have been in decades! Back in the early 80's when people were paying up to 17% interest rate to buy a home, it was unreal! When you look back to those days and even the more recent 8-10% rates, it is certainly a perfect time NOW to buy your home. How long can interest rates stay at 5-6%??

Remember to think about how much it will cost in points to buy your rate down further and factor in how long you plan on staying in your home.

Be sure you call me with all your real estate needs. If there is information you need, I can help. And if there is something I'm not certain of, I will go to the experts to get the answer!