Know Before You Owe – New Disclosure

Great handout from the Mortgage Bankers Association for Buyers.  Buyers & Sellers should  plan on 45 day closings starting 10/3/15.

Great 


Posted on September 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Tips for Home Buying |

Cleaning out the garage so you can park your car in there again this Fall?

Don't despair, our friends at Moving Link have a great list of recommendations for organizations that can help you get rid of unwanted items! 

GET RID OF UNWANTED ITEMS – PUGET SOUND AREA

1 GREEN PLANET – FREE Recycling – Drop-off service for the public and free pick-up and removal for businesses. Electronics, appliances, scrap metal, machinery, computers, batteries, medical equipment, ink & toner, cell phones, vehicles, paper & cardboard, & plastics

(866) 422-3755
www.1greenplanet.org


TRURECYLE
(877) 672-0982
Non Profit recycling center with Free pick – covers all of Washington state
www.trurecycle.com


DONATE SEATTLE – Source to find an organization that needs your clothes, books, bikes, computors, appliances, furniture…
www.DonateSeattle.org — info@donateseattle.org


WHAT DO I DO WITH… A database of where you can get rid of unwanted items.
www.KingCounty.gov/WhatDoIDoWith


INTERCONNECTION.ORG – FREE recycling, FREE Data Wiping, FREE Pick-up
A non-profit that teaches computer maintenance & repair skills to low income individuals & provides computers to underserved communities both locally & abroad
www.InterConnection.org


THE SHAREHOUSE – Seattle’s furniture bank for homeless families in transition
(206) 767-5280
www.thesharehouse.org


CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL THRIFT STORE
(206) 448-1233
small furniture, no large appliances
http://www.seattlechildrens.org/ways-to-help/shopping/locations/


APPLIANCE RECYCLING – In conjunction with your local Utilities Provider
www.jacoinc.net
(877) 577-0510
FREE pick up for refrigerators and freezers – Some rebates may be available


SENIOR SERVICES (SEATTLE)
www.seniorservices.org
Administration – 206.448.5757 Services – 206.448.3110
FREE pick up for estate-level furniture


Some charities require two weeks advance notice. Furniture and appliances, if accepted, must not be in need of repair. Mattresses must not be stained or ripped. Additional charities, such as transitional house programs @ the YWCA can be located under “Social Services” in the Blue Pages of the local telephone books


Posted on September 4, 2015 at 10:01 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Maintenance, Tips for Home Selling |

Senior Transitions: Questions to ask when touring Facilities

This is not an all-inclusive list of questions; but rather a great place to start when touring a new continuing or assisted living facility.  Keep in mind that different municipalities have different laws and requirements for senior facilities, so some questions may not be applicable.

For more in-depth information, visit the Washington State human services website to learn about requirements and laws regulating senior facilities and about the differences between retirement communities, assisted living facilities, adult family homes, nursing homes, and continuing care retirement communities.

Note: It is highly recommended to call the facility beforehand to schedule a tour of the facility.

General:

  • Is the residence licensed?  What credentials do staff members hold?
  • Is there an ombudsman or an organization of residence that can help raise issues with the staff and management?
  • Are there ample conveniences in and around the residence? (ex. grocery store, cleaners, shops, restaurants, library, theaters).
  • Is there a hospital nearby?
  • Is there a waiting list? If so, how long may it take to be accepted and admitted?
  • Is the staff professional and happy to help? Do residents seem happy and well cared for?
  • Are there special programs for residents with disabilities? For residents that have dementia or memory impairments?
  • What makes this residence unique from other communities?
  • Is there an on-site clinic or 24 hour nurse?
  • Can residents hire outside caregivers or assistance?

Services & Activities:

  • Is transportation provided for medical appointments and recreational purposes? Is there a fee?
  • Are there any types of housekeeping, laundry, or linen service offered? Are these services included in the entry or monthly fees or at an additional cost?
  • What healthcare services are available for each level of care?
  • Is there a gym on campus? Are there organized exercise classes?
  • What kinds of social events are planned? Is there a monthly schedule of events?
  • Does the residence accommodate special diets?
  • What meal options does the residence offer? Does the residence offer group meals or in-room programs?

Housing:

  • What sizes and types of living options are offered? Are residences furnished?
  • Is a resident required to move into independent living before moving to assisted living apartments?
  • What amenities does the residence have?
  • Are layouts in all types of housing wheelchair and walker friendly?
  • Is parking available to residents? Is there guest parking?
  • Are their guest accommodations?
  • Are the residence’s grounds well maintained, manicured, and easy to navigate?
  • Is this a smoke-free facility? Are there designated spots for smokers?
  • How is security addressed in each type of residence?
  • Are pets allowed?

Cost & Fees:

  • What are the contract options?
  • Are residences owned or rented?
  • What is the breakdown of fees for basic housing and additional services? Monthly fees? Are fees raised on a yearly basis?
  • Does Medicaid, Medicare, or other long-term care insurance cover any on the costs?
  • What are the income requirements for a particular unit?


Posted on August 25, 2015 at 12:23 am
Blue Team | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions | Tagged ,

Stunning Saybrook Home – Just Listed


Posted on August 20, 2015 at 7:56 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Just Listed | Tagged , ,

Preparing your home for Sale?

How much preparation should you do?
Local home prices are continuing to appreciate, demand is high, and the supply of homes continues to be low – the perfect market for selling your home.
So why not just put your home on the market “as is” at a high price and see what happens? Because the statistics clearly show that is not a good strategy for selling your home for the best possible price. Well priced, well marketed, and well prepared homes are selling quickly and for top dollar. Homes that are not selling quickly, even in today’s market, are sitting because they weren’t well priced, well marketed and/or were not well prepared.

Here are some tips on how you can prepare your home for a top sales price:

  • Enhance Your Curb Appeal. Clean the roof, pressure wash walkway/entrance, mow & edge lawn, put down fresh bark, and add a spot of color (flower beds or flower pots). Buyers want to come in to see a house when the outside looks crisp & nicely maintained.
     
  • Prepare the Entry. Make sure your front door/entry is crisp and clean… this sets expectations for buyers as they wait to enter your home and keeps them excited about the potential. Repainting your door has the highest return on value of any remodeling for resale project.
     
  • Depersonalize. You want your home to appeal to as many buyers as possible – by depersonalizing it you help them visualize themselves in the house and not feel like they are trespassing on your home and memories.
     
  • Maximize Space. Declutter, declutter, declutter – throughout the house – walls, floors, counters, shelves. Remember you will need to pack up when you move, doing some of it before you put your home on the market will make a big difference. Help people see where they could put all of their possessions.
     
  • Interior Condition. The interior condition will dictate the price – have it in the best condition possible that is consistent with your pricing strategy. Generally – fresh neutral paint on the walls, clean carpets, clean/refinished floors, sparkling windows, organized cabinets & closets, fresh grout & caulk in the bathrooms – everything should be as crisp and clean as possible. Consider doing a pre-inspection and taking care of all major problems in advance. Make it move-in ready.
     
  • Differentiate. Determine and emphasize what is special about your home – the style, the layout, the view, the privacy, the low maintenance, the local schools etc. Professional staging, feature cards, and in-home marketing materials can all help make sure the buyer knows why they should stop looking after they see your home!

If you would like a complimentary market analysis to understand how to prepare, price and best market your home give us a call. The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing you with the right expertise to guide you in all your Real Estate Transitions!

 


Posted on August 3, 2015 at 6:52 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Tips for Home Buying | Tagged ,

Downsize & Simplify

Whether you want to move to a smaller home, smaller property, or you just want to simplify your life and reduce clutter, here are some tips and great local resources to help you achieve your goal.

Where to start? Don’t try to do all of the rooms at once, it can be overwhelming and you might stop before you start. Select a single room, one that you don’t use often, or maybe even start with a junk drawer to begin.  Remember two rules to keep the process moving and successful: (1) never handle an item more than once and (2) categorize and sort each item based upon 4 categories: 

Trash – you don’t need it and it no longer has value, throw it away into a garbage bag. 

Donate/Sell – you don’t need it but it has value, designate a spot for these items.  

Relocate – you rarely use or just don’t need any more but these items may be important to someone else in your family or a friend, designate a spot for these items and put a name on them.  

Essential – these items are essential to you on a daily/weekly basis, pack them in a box if you are moving, or put them back if you aren’t.

Local Resources/Tips

Trash:
If you have more trash than what fits in your regular garbage service (and it isn’t toxic, flammable, reactive or corrosive),  you or a friend with a truck can haul it to the Houghton Transfer Station in Kirkland (11724 NE 60th St.) or get some help from Ray’s Hauling (425-844-2509) or 1-800GotJunk.  

  • Household Hazardous waste (toxic items such as paint thinner, fluorescent lights, pesticides & car batteries) can be dropped off at the Factoria Transfer Station (13800 SE 32nd St., Bellevue) or check the King County Waste Mobile website schedule to see when they will be in a community near you.  
  • Unused or Expired Prescription Drugs, Household batteries, and CFL light bulbs can be taken to the Woodinville City Hall and placed in the drop boxes for each of those items.

Donate:

  • General item donations can be taken to Goodwill (Woodinville Park & Ride Lot), Northwest Center (Safeway parking lot on weekends) or you can schedule to have items picked up by Salvation Army (www.Seattle.SATruck.org). Northwest Center (www.donate.bigbluetruck.org), Google “Buy Nothing Woodinville” (or your city) – a great way to share your treasures with others in the community that would like to have them and Value Village (Woodinville/Redmond).
     
  • Specific items such as: (1) Books can be donated to Friends of the Library for fundraising sales (most King County libraries) or www.booksForAmerical.org; (2) Beds, Mattresses, Couches– Salvation Army will pick up!; and (3) Cell Phones can be donated to www.CellPhonesForSoldiers.com, or Eastside Domestic Violence Program send by mail or drop off with the Woodinville Police Department.  Tip: Every September Windermere Woodinville hosts a free electronics recycling event (pcs, tvs, appliances and more) – call or email us if you want to know the next date.

Sell: 

  • Garage/yard sales at your home, sell limited items locally via ads on Craigslist, or for shippable items try eBay, or get professional help by using an Estate & Moving sale company such as Flotsam & Jetsam (206-818-2428), Caring Transitions Seattle (206-330-0878), Girlfriend Estate Sales (425-829-3848).

Relocate:

  • Family & Friends. Contact everyone who has an item with their name on it and schedule them to come pick it up.  Often our clients have “moving parties” where they invite friends and family to come see what they are looking to relocate to them and when they leave the party they take those items. Anything leftover can be donated.

 

Make sure you evaluate everything – don’t skip something merely because it doesn’t take up much room because you will just have to deal with it/move it later.  Celebrate your successes as you clear out each drawer, room, and your home, and enjoy all of your new space!

 


Posted on July 3, 2015 at 7:22 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , , , ,

Why Local Expertise is Important

Real estate is local and while it is good to know what is going on nationally and even regionally, what really matters if you are thinking about selling your home and/or buying one, is what is going on in your city and your neighborhood and even for your home style. Local expertise is invaluable in helping you explore your options and knowing what to expect with respect to the numbers, timing and process.  

Here is the data your local Real Estate expert should be able to provide you:

  • What type of market is it? You should know how many homes are Active, Pending (under contract), and Sold in the last 3 months.  This data will indicate the market supply and demand and whether it is a Seller, Buyer, or Balanced market and therefore who has the negotiation advantage and the correct pricing and offer strategy.  This information is available for your city, neighborhood and home style (1-story, 2-story, tri-level, split-level, etc.)
  • How quickly are homes selling? This is especially important if you are planning to sell your current home and buy a new home – there are different timing and financing strategies depending on the availability of home inventory and the average time that homes are on the market.  It is also very helpful knowledge if you have a target move date because then you can determine the optimal time for market preparation & listing, home touring and submittal of offers.
  • How close to list price are homes selling and what is their price per value? If all of the comparable homes are selling at or above list price – then you know that buyers will be searching for homes priced at or below their maximum purchase price.  This is very different from a market where homes are selling at a 5-10% discount so both sellers and buyers should adjust their strategy appropriately. Market time is also critical in both situations – knowing how to deal with multiple offers, single offers, or no offers can make a big impact on the final sales price of a home.

Call us if you want to explore your options and understand the market data specific to your home and goals. We work with buyers & sellers all over the Eastside and we live in and are local experts in Woodinville and its surrounding communities.The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing a team of experts to guide you in all your real estate transitions!

 


Posted on June 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , , ,

Using a Reverse Mortgage to Stay or Move

Many people have heard about reverse mortgages but don’t really know what they are. To put it simply, a reverse mortgage is where the payment stream is “reversed” and instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to you.  If you, or a loved one, is 62 or older, a reverse mortgage can help convert 50-66% of the appraised value into cash without having to sell the home, give up title, or take on a new monthly mortgage payment.  It can also be a way to purchase a new home without having to make monthly mortgage payments.

What does that really mean?

  • Stay in your home and be able to access part of the equity you have built in order to consolidate debt, eliminate mortgage payments, cover unplanned medical expenses, pay for in-home care, remodel home for current needs, avoid foreclosure, supplement retirement income, or any other need you may have for cash.
     
  • Purchase a new home that provides more affordable living, is smaller and easier to care for, is on a single level or more accessible, is closer to friends or family, or even is the dream home have always wanted.
     
  • Features of Loan Program: FHA Insured, No monthly mortgage payments (must continue to pay home insurance, property taxes, and home maintenance as needed), Retain title to home, Non-recourse loan (no recourse to borrower/estate/heirs if loan balance exceeds the home’s value at maturity as long as the home is sold to pay off the debt or balance is paid in full if borrower/estate wants to retain property), Right to Remaining Equity (any equity that remains in the property after the reverse mortgage is retired, belongs to borrower/estate/heirs), No time limit on length of time staying in home, Mandatory Mortgage Insurance Premium (insures that the mortgage balance will be paid in full, if the home sells for less than owed), a Single set of Closing Costs when purchasing a home, and funds are available as a line of credit or monthly payment.
     
  • Qualifications: Homeowner must be 62+, home in name of homeowner and is primary residence, must have at least 50% equity in home or ability to make a monetary investment at closing from an allowable funding source, must occupy property within 60 days, mandatory counseling session required, and must be able to and continue to pay taxes & home insurance.
     
  • Eligible Properties: Single Family, 1-4 unit, FHA approved Condos & Town homes, meets minimum FHA property standards, within maximum FHA loan limit ($625K currently), no other 1st or 2nd liens against property and any existing mortgages must be paid off with the loan proceeds.

 

We are not lenders, but can recommend a fabulous Reverse Mortgage Loan Officer if you’d like to explore this further. The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing a team of experts to guide you in all your real estate transitions! 


Posted on May 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying | Tagged , ,

Tips on Buying New Construction

Thinking about buying a new home? It is a slightly different purchase then residential resale where you need to consider the seller’s emotions and plans, so make sure you plan accordingly and take the right steps to optimize your new home buying experience.  Here are just a few tips for you to consider.

Timing: To get the best deal on a new home, pay attention to timing. Builders are businesses and so they are more likely to offer a price reduction, or more likely a “hidden discount” by paying for closing costs or home appliances & upgrades at no charge in the following situations: (1) End of quarter/end of year closings; (2) Homes that are already built or within weeks of completion; (3) First couple homes in a development to get sales started; and (4) Last couple homes in a development – when they want to close out the site.

Contracts: Builders require their own contracts so make sure you understand what is and what isn’t included in the price (appliances, landscaping, “decorator options, etc.) as it is much easier to negotiate for items to be included before you enter into the agreement. Warranties – these can really vary, know what is and isn’t included and during what timeframes and whether it is transferrable to the next owner should you decide to sell during the warranty period.

Inspections: Yes, you should get an inspection on a new home since it is always easier to get repairs done before you close then after – no matter what warranty is offered by the builder. Remember, things can get done incorrectly or even missed with new construction, here are some potential big ticket red flags:

  • Sticky doors: If the home is new, it shouldn’t have sticky doors and windows – this can be an indicator of more serious structural problems.
  • Diagonal cracks: Anything more than a hairline crack should be checked out and straight vertical cracks are more likely to be insignificant than a diagonal one.
  • Puddles near the foundation: When it rains, do puddles form against the home’s foundation?  This could be a sign of problematic landscape grading that could lead to flooding in your basement or crawl space.

It is also good to do an internet search for reviews of the builder to see what if any recurring problems they have had in other neighborhoods they have built and make sure your inspector looks for those potential defects on your home.

Want to explore your options?  Contact The Blue Team – working twice as hard for you and providing a team of experts to guide you in all your real estate transitions! 


Posted on April 18, 2015 at 4:21 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying | Tagged , ,

Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Selling your home during the holidays means a 
few extra things to keep in mind. Below are some tips on how to keep your holiday‚Äźthemed house buyer friendly and ready to sell!

  • Holiday Decorations. Don’t go overboard they can make your home look cluttered and take attention away from it.
  • Christmas Trees. Keep it small to medium size, large Christmas trees can make a room look smaller. As can a ton of presents under the tree and too much garland everywhere.
  • Vacuum: Make sure you vacuum regularly if you have a fresh tree with fallen needles.
  • Refrigerator. Keep refrigerators neat and tidy (we all get lots of food gifts during the holidays)… buyers will look inside.
  • Outside Decorations: Be careful with outside decorations. Large santas and reindeer can take away from the beauty of the yard or the front of your home. Same with excessive amounts of holiday lights.
  • Curb Appeal: Rake the lawn regularly to clean up the large amounts of fallen leaves. Pick up any fallen branches and debris from yard and walkways. Keep up a lawn care as much as possible.
  • Ice & Snow. Knock down any large icicles forming over doorways and walkways. Make sure your walkway is snow and ice free. If it’s still slippery, pour salt on your walkway to help buyers safely to your door.
  • Limited Light: Remember it gets dark sooner, so be sure to keep lots of lights on inside and out. Make sure all outdoor lights are working properly. Make sure your back yard is easily lit at night. Buyers want to be able to see the entire property.
  • Towel/Dormats: Keep a towel or extra doormat inside your front door for guests to fully dry their shoes before exploring your home. Or have a sign that requests that they take them off.
  • Heat: If you have a programmable thermostat, remember to change it if you will have showings during the day while it would normally be set very low. You don’t want buyers thinking the house is an ice box.  You want people to enjoy spending time in your home.
  • Hand Sanitiser: With flu seasons around, place a bottle of hand sanitizer by the front door for guests to use on the way in and as they leave.  Or place it by the flyer box.
  • Scents: Add holiday scents with mulled cider on the stovetop or by using fresh cinnamon sticks and evergreen as decorations. (Make sure you shake out the evergreen ahead of time to get out any bugs that have made it their home).  There are also holiday scented diffusers.
  • Keep it Cozy" Create a warm and cozy environment by lighting a fire, using candles and having fresh baked cookies and hot cocoa ready for buyers during open houses.
  • Reduce your stress: Keep in mind that hosting during the holidays can take a lot of prep and clean up time. It might be a good idea to pass it to someone else this year or request extra help to get your place back to showing condition. Also remember, buyers look in all rooms so if you have people staying with you over the holidays, make sure they are keeping their room tidy and keep the suitcases in the closet if possible.

Posted on December 3, 2014 at 7:39 pm
Blue Team | Posted in Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,