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This is the archive for July 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Being a Real Estate agent, I'm required to be "on" all the time. That is, clothes clean and neatly pressed, hair tidy and groomed, and car clean. All this because you never know when someone might call you and say "I'd like to see a home in 15 minutes if you're available". So that being said, I've discovered a delightful new car wash place on South Hill. OK, I think technically it's in Graham, but it's still a GREAT place.

Head south on Meridian past 176th. When you come down and back up through the dip in the road, you'll find yourself at 187th St. On the South West corner, you'll see a coffee stand (WHAT?! A coffee stand on the corner in the northwest!? Unheard of!) and just behind that, you'll find "Just Wash It". I've been watching them build this complex for a bit over a year now and when I realized there would be a car wash included, I was very excited. A couple weeks ago, shortly after they opened, I stopped by for just a quick wash. I think the wash was about $9.00 and was a drive through and included a towel dry. The "brushes" in the drive through are all soft cloth, so no scratching and the wash itself was very throrough. The hand drying was done very well. Great bargain!

This morning, I noticed that the inside of the car could use a bit of lovin' as well, so I decided to get their "Gold" wash. It's $35.00 and is basically a mini-detail of your car. You get the same services mentioned above, but they do a little extra spraying in the wash of protectants and such. After the towel drying, you're ushered to a high bay garage where the rest of the services are performed. They vacuum the interior, clean the inside of the windows, dress the dash, and they even pressure wsahed my floor mats for me. They cleaned the wheels and dressed the tires too. And they took the hand drying a step further and wiped down all the door jambs and the trunk as well.

Overall I was very pleased with the service! I'm working out a deal with the owner now to get a special coupon for all of my clients. So if you receive my monthly newsletter, look for that soon.

Just Wash It will also be adding full detail services in the near furture, so look for that. Give them a try. Friendly, prompt service at a fair price. You can't beat it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

One of the primary concerns of home buyers today is what kind of education their children will receive. Working in the Puyallup Real Estate market, I'm proud to say that the Puyallup school district is consistently ranked as one of the top districts in the state. Usually coming in second only to the Bellevue school district.

When I was in High School, my school (Curtis Sr. High School in University Place) received the honor as being one of the nations best schools. It was a sense of pride among us Vikings in attendance at the time. Recently, Newsweek has named another local high school, Emerald Ridge High School in Puyallup as one of the nations best. Congratulations to all the Jaguars for a job well done!

In addition to receiving honors as one of the nation's best, Emerald ridge athletics took a major step forward during the past school year with the soccer and softball teams qualifying for state for the first time and representatives from the track and tennis teams also attending their state events.

The Puyallup school district is expanding rapidly and has recently been awarded additional funding from the state to further their capital improvement projects. It's a great time to be growing up in Puyallup! Shouldn't your kids be here too?

TNT Article on Emerald Ridge High School receiving honors as one of the nation's best:

TNT Article on Puyallup School district Funding:

Link to the Puyallup School District:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Normal and Healthy
Are you ready for some counter-intuitive thinking? If not, you should probably click off now. If so, read on . . .

We're in a healthy market right now. Yep, I said it. Healthy. Healthy and normal. Two things you hope for when you have a baby. Healthy and normal. That's how I would describe today's real estate market. I'm talking about the Northwest Real Estate market. Las Vegas, you'll get there, but with 26 months of inventory right now, it may take some time.

As many of you know, I hold a new construction model home open Thursday - Saturday just about every week. I run into all kinds of buyers. I run into the "Where do I sign?" buyers. I get the "I'm just lookin' get away from me you sales person!" buyers. I get the "I'm waiting to see what the market does" buyers. I get them all. I'm particularly fascinated by the latter of the three. They're always the ones that are waiting for the interest rates to drop just below 4.5% and THEN they'll buy. They are the ones that are waiting for prices to "fall" just a bit more and THEN they'll buy. They are the ones that will buy when the builder offers a $10,000 buyer bonus instead of the $5,000 buyer bonus.

I just had one of these buyers come through. Nice enough guy, seemed to be very interested in purchasing a home. But his comment of "I've been watching the market to see what it's going to do." piqued my interest. So I drilled down a bit.

JOHN: "So, what have you seen in the market?"
BUYER: "Well prices are falling"
JOHN: "Oh? Are they? Did you know that in Pierce County alone, prices are up over 10% from the same time last year? In fact, when we started this project two or three months ago, this unit that we're in right now was $184,950. Now it's $204,950 and likely with the next release, it will go up from there. What you're seeing when prices fall are the sellers that over-priced their homes in the first place. Now they're having to correct that and realize this is not the market to 'test the waters'."
BUYER: "Right, that's what I meant."
JOHN: "It sounds to me like you want to make the best deal possible, is that a correct assumption?"
BUYER: "Yes, that would be fair to say"
JOHN: "OK, great. If you were planning to buy one of these with the intention of putting it back on the market in 6 months and make a profit, as your agent, I would advise you to buy something else. But if your intent is to live in the home for at least two years, you're going to make money."
BUYER: "Well, I would"
JOHN: "Great, then we're on the same page."

Look, the media will paint as bleak a picture as they can. It sells newspapers, or makes you tune into the 6 O'Clock news. Will we continue to see sellers reduce the price of their homes? Absolutely. But what we DO know is that homes that are priced correctly are still selling. Last month there were over 9,000 homes on the market and over 1,000 of those sold. Which ones sold? The ones that were correctly priced. Now is not the time to "test the market". If you list a home above what your neighbor's home sold for 3 - 6 months ago, you're testing the market. It doesn't matter what you think of your home compared to your neighbor's. What matters is that you have significantly more competition for fewer buyers than your neighbor had.

We're going to be in this normal, healthy market for another 18 - 36 months by most accounts. The buyers that want to buy will buy. The buyers that want to sell will sell. Which side of the fence are you on? Way back in the early 80's when interest rates climbed above 12% and upwards of 18% in some cases, buyers still bought and sellers still sold. Home prices will continue to rise, so if you wait another year to save a half point on your mortgage, the home you wanted to buy will have increased in value 5 - 7%. So you actually lost money on the deal. If you wait to sell your home until you have a multitude of buyers for it, you'll wait quite awhile to sell AND the home you wanted to purchase will have increased 5 - 7% in value each year. So you lose again.

Jump in. The waters fine. Normal and Healthy. That's where we're at. Where are you?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Dr. Phil McGraw
When you make a decision to buy or sell a home, there is no question at all that this is a BIG decision. Just as important is the decision you make when hiring your real estate professional. What many people don't understand when going into a real estate transaction is the emotional impact it will have on them. They typically only focus on the financial impact. Did I mention that buying or selling a home is a BIG deal?

When you're buying a home and you've made the decision to actually make an offer on a home, you're hooked. You HAVE to HAVE THAT home! That home is MINE, no one else can HAVE it! You're emotionally invested in THAT home now. You've worked out the contract and your real estate professional has gotten you a GREAT deal on the home. The inspection is going fine until your inspector gets to the crawl space and notes that there aren't any pier blocks under the support structure and the posts are stuck right into the ground . . . and rotten. There is a good possibility that this home won't be standing in another 5 years unless this is corrected.

But I LOVE this home, that rotten wood can't be that bad can it? I mean this is a 1903 victorian with new hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances! It's lasted over a century, it certainly won't fall down NOW will it? Did I mention I LOVE the home?

OK, you see where I'm going with this. When you make a decision to hire your real estate professional, we're not just there to help you get a fair deal on a home and collect a check at the end. We're there to be your guide and mentor through the process, and in the case of the above example, we're there to be YOUR own personal Dr. Phil. (Dr. John in this case). The only thing you should have to worry about during the transacation is "Will our couch fit on the window wall or the opposite wall", leave everything else to us. That's why you hired us right? You want us to get you from point A to point B, no stops no waiting. And guess what? That's exactly what we want for you too!

We love the messy in the middle part! It's what gets us going in the morning! It's where we can REALLY show you our value. Except, we really don't want you to see the messy in the middle part. We don't want you to know that the seller had a pre-payment penalty that he didn't know about and now we've got to figure out where he's going to get the extra $5,000 he needs to close. We don't want you to know that the 3rd owner back forgot to pay a drywall company and title is just now catching the lien. We don't want you to worry about a thing except where that couch goes and when do you get your keys.

There has been a lot of negative media attention on our profession lately. Most reports say our jobs are too easy. We designed it that way. We want you to think it's easy. We are here to serve you, not bother you with every little problem that arises in a transaction. Did you know that on average, 26 different trades are involved in the typical real estate transaction? How many of them did you see in your last purchase or sale? 3 or 4 maybe? After helping nearly 100 families find their new home, or sell their old one, or both, I've seen a lot of things that can go wrong (and often do) in a transaction. I'd wager that most of those 100 families never had a clue. They were just thrilled when they got their keys or their check.

I'm here to serve you. So when you're ready, give me a call. My couch is ready for you anytime day or night.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Sorry if that grossed anyone out, but I thought it a funny play on words. So what am I talking about really? You've heard lately about homeowners being shocked when they see their new mortgage payment. You might be thinking "How does that happen?" How is it that someone can't know what their mortgage payment will be? Well, it happens for a couple of reasons and in fact, last night it happened to me. OK, I wasn't overly shocked, since Teri and I moved into our lovely new home last year, I've been anticipating our mortgage going up. And I've been prepared for it. But there are quite a few homes for sale in our neighborhood, and my guess is that many people were not.

Here are a couple of ways your mortgage payment can adjust suddenly and seemingly without warning.

  • Property taxes increase
  • Your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) adjusts

Lets talk about what each of these thing means:

Property tax increase:
Anyone who has owned a home for a number of years is used to the normal annual property tax increase. Generally your property tax goes up by a couple of hundred dollars every year, depending on what levies and bonds have been passed in your region. However, what you may NOT realize is that when you buy a new home, often the property taxes your first year or so are ONLY assessed on the value of the land. It's not until AFTER the tax man has assessed all the buildings in the plat that your final tax assessment is set. For example, when we bought our home last year, our property taxes were $800.00 for the year. SWEET! You think to yourself, what a bargain. However, when the assesor reassesed our home this year, the taxes went up from $800 to $3,955. OUCH!

Now our mortgage company had been taking $100/month of our payment and putting it in our escrow account to pay for property taxes and homeowners insurance. In fact, they sent us a check in February because they believed they had been collecting too much. So yesterday, we get our revised escrow statement that shows the new property tax amount, and based upon our current escrow balance, we will have a shortfall of approximately $2,300 this year. The mortgage company will allow you to either pay that amount in one payment or tack it onto your currnent mortgage payment with 12 equal monthly installments. So roughly $200.00 per month. So you think, well $200.00 per month isn't so bad, I can do that. OH, but wait, it gets better. That's only to make up for the shortfall you'll have this year. That's not to adjust the amount they collect for your "normal" escrow payment each month.

So they WERE collecting 1,200/year to cover taxes and insurance. Now they need to collect $4,855 ($3,955 for property taxes and $900 for insurance). Or about $405.00 per month. So now that's $305.00/month more than they were collecting PLUS the additional $200/month to make up the shortfall. $505.00/month additional. That's quite a bit. Now, that will only be for the next 12 months until the shortfall is made up and then the additional $200 will come off.

So there's scenario #1

Your Adjustable Rate Mortgage Adjusts

Monday, July 02, 2007

Well folks, the numbers are in! Average home prices continue to rise in the quad county area (Pierce, King, Thurston and Snohomish) while average market times lengthen and inventory continues to rise.

Again, because of the pull back of subprime lenders, there are currently fewer buyers in the market causing inventory and average days on market to rise. Home prices are continuing to increase however, showing that the buyers that ARE in the market still believe in the value of housing as an investment. Here are the statistcs culled from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) this morning.

If you'd like to see additional county information, or would like some more specific information on an area, please, don't hesitate to ask.

Total Active Residential Listings
Average Time On Market
Average Sales Price
Total Closed
Total Closed YTD
% Change YTD
Data Courtesy of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS)

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