Tips for Home Selling & Buying | Covid19 & Real Estate

There is information overload as we all hunker down and observe the Washington State Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order (SHSHO) and the Federal Social Distancing Guidelines.  We thought it might be helpful to highlight some of the information related to the CARES Act and Staying in your Home and the latest rules related to Buying/Selling Real Estate during the SHSHO.

As in, you want to stay in the home you have but are worried about the financial consequences of this Pandemic.  Here are some of the relevant components of the CARES Act signed by the President on 3/27/2020.

  • Mortgage Forbearance – an agreement with your lender to hold back from foreclosure activities when you can’t meet your repayment obligations. If you can pay your mortgage, you should continue to do so. If you can’t make your payment due to a decline in income resulting from the impact of Covid-19, you should call your lender/mortgage servicer.
    • Borrowers of government-backed mortgages can request up to 360-day payment forbearance.
    • Applies to single family homes and condominiums, independent of whether they are owner occupied, a second home, or an investment property.
    • Proof of hardship isn’t necessary
    • No additional fees, interest, or penalties can be assessed for the forbearance.
    • Except for abandoned or vacant property, no foreclosure actions can be initiated for 60 days from 3/18/2020.

  • Government-Backed Mortgages – this includes loan products from the Veteran’s Administration, USDA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Conventional Loans that are backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. Don’t know if your loan qualifies?
  • Non-Government Backed Mortgages – call your lender/mortgage servicer if this is a temporary problem related to Covid19. Many companies are providing assistance and putting plans in place.  Many are willing to provide zero interest & late fee deferral options and have paused in process foreclosure sales, evictions and repossessions. No one wants a repeat of the subprime 2008 mortgage crisis!

  • Assistance for Renters – There is a 120-day suspension on evictions for renters unable to pay in Federally-assisted properties (single family & multifamily properties) with loans owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Real Estate is not considered an essential services, but given the impact on the economy of real estate, real estate brokers have been given very specific guidelines as to what we can and can’t do to balance the need for housing sales and purchases to continue and to keep people safe.

  • As of April 2nd, we CAN do the following: We are getting daily updates as to what we can and can’t do. Currently we can list homes on the market, stage homes, have professional photography, show homes, facilitate essential services like (lending, title, escrow and county recording) and other limited essential services like moving assistance, home inspections, emergency or structural integrity home repairs, and all of this activity must be by appointment only and observing Covid19 guidelines. We CANNOT hold open houses or brokers opens. However, things might have changed by the time you read this article – so check with your Real Estate Broker for the latest details.

  • Homes are Selling & Closing: Interest rates are low, there continues to be a demand for housing, and as we navigate the what we can and can’t do, the housing supply is there also. Last week as the SHSHO was in place – we weren’t allowed to do a lot of what we can do today, so the numbers took a slight dip. We expect that to improve in the next few weeks as we carefully and respectfully keep guiding our clients who are selling & buying and closing on their sales. The market is becoming more balanced generally if you have a 3-6 month supply of homes, you have a balanced market and as of April 1st we had 2.3 months of supply on the Eastside.

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications. Sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.

Posted on April 3, 2020 at 11:53 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Tips for Home Selling | Will You Pay More or Less Excise Tax in 2020?

If you are trying to decide whether to sell your home year or next, one of the variables you might want to consider and prepare for is the new 2020 Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). Currently the Washington state excise tax is 1.28% and then local municipalities add their excise tax on top of that, with most cities in our area adding .5% so the average total REET is 1.78%. Effective 1/1/2020 this will change to a new sliding scale based upon the home’s sales price. Depending on your price point you might want to sell before or after the end of the year.

New Progressive REET Rates

Home Sales Price REET (including standard .5% municipality tax)
0-$500,000 1.60%                    You will pay less in 2020
$501,000-$1,500,000 1.78%                    You will pay less in 2020
$1,501,000 – $3,000,000 3.25%                    You will more in 2020
$3,000,000 + 3.50%                    You will more in 2020


Here are some sample calculations compared to 2019

Home Sales Price 2019 REET 2020 REET
$500,000 $500,000*1.78%=$8,900 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$750,000 $750,000*1.78%=$13,350 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$250,000*1.78%=$4,450                 Total =$12,450
$1,500,000 $1,500,000*1.78%=$26,700 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$1,000,000*1.78%=$17,800                  Total =$25,800
$2,500,000 $2,500,000*1.78%=$44,500 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
$1,000,000*3.25%=$32,500                 Total =$58,300
$3,500,000 $3,500,000*1.78%=$62,300 $500,000*1.60%=$8,000
Total =$92,050

Posted on September 28, 2019 at 11:36 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

Home Tips for Seniors : Should you Consider Lifestyle Rightsizing?

Congratulations, you have made it to a key life milestone!  Unfortunately, you no longer need the spaces that your home is designed to support, so how do you find your next home?  Instead of just thinking you need to “downsize” consider the lifestyle you want now and then find a home that will help you achieve that lifestyle.

You may end up with a smaller or larger home, in the same neighborhood or in a different place all together or maybe you just remodel the home you have.  We call this Lifestyle Rightsizing.

  1. Pursuits at Home.
    What activity do you want to take up or spend more time on at that might need a specialized space – such as restoring old cars, painting, wood working, organic gardening, cooking/entertaining, hosting football parties, practicing your putting, etc.

  3. Activities outside of the Home.
    What do you want to do away from home – that should be facilitated by your home? Maybe you want to travel the country on your RV (RV Parking), ride your bike daily (close proximity to trails, roads with bike lanes, and/or storage for bike equipment), domestic or international traveling (secure home & neighborhood, proximity to the airport), be able to walk to restaurants & businesses (home in the city), or you want have your own chickens & goats (the right property & no HOA).

  5. Flexible Spaces.
    Maybe you are tired of cleaning & maintaining your large home – and you would rather have a higher quality & cozy home, but one that designed to handle visits from extended family several times during the year. Consider the design principles of the Not So Big® Home by architect Sarah Susanka ( where you have rooms that have multiple purposes depending on your need at the time. Efficient & multi-use spaces can really be a win-win – let us know if you need ideas.

  7. Simplify Your Life.
    This is also a good time to think about how to simplify your life, so you can spend your time and money doing what you really want to do. This can be anything from buying a home or condo without a yard, buying a tiny home that forces you to be efficient, or just changing how you use your current space by getting advice from a space planner & organizer to help you get rid of all of the clutter you have collected over the years so you can live a more efficient life and have more time for doing what really matters.

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes, Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.

Posted on September 9, 2019 at 10:07 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged

Home Buying Tips : 6 Ways to Buy Before You Sell Your Home

Many homeowners struggle with the timing of buying & selling homes in the current real estate market.  They don’t think they can or want to own 2 homes at the same time because they bought a home before selling their existing home or go though the stress & hassle associated with moving into temporary housing because they sold before buying to avoid 2 mortgages. Depending on your personal financial situation, there are ways to make this transition much smoother then you think – here are a few of the options that might be available to you.

  1. Cross Collateralization.  This program is designed for a buyer who has a strong equity position in their current home. As a buyer you are able to access this equity with a loan that collateralizes both your current home and new home. When you sell your current home you can pay down the loan to reach your desired payment. It allows for a higher debt to income ratio to assist with qualification.

  3. Departing Residence Program. This program helps the seller that has the funds for the down payment on the next home, but not the income to qualify. It allows you to utilize the potential rental income you would have from your current house in your income calculation, without having to actually rent out your home.

  5. Asset Depletion. This program helps the seller who doesn’t have a traditional income, but has assets such as stocks & mutual funds, to derive an asset depletion income to qualify for the loan. This is especially helpful for sellers who are retired.

  7. Restricted Stock Units. This program helps executives and many in the high-tech industry that can show a 2-year history of receiving RSUs as part of their compensation to be included as reserves or income for qualifying purposes.

  9. 40-year loan. This program allows you to qualify for a larger loan amount – it is available on all occupancy types, cash-out refinances are allowed, and it can be used in conjunction with one of the other loan programs listed above to provide you with more options.

  11. Buy/Sell with a long close and/or rent back option. This is a non-financial solution to the problem. Negotiating to purchase or sell with a long close timeline and/or potentially a rent-back option – you may need to look at an off-market purchase or sale for this option.

There are other options such as bridge loans and utilizing your home equity line of credit – the key message is don’t assume you can’t make the move of your dreams happen – talk to your Broker and Lender to explore your options!

Need a recommendation for a lender, want to know how much equity you have in your home, or want to find out what your selling and buying options are?

Article Published in the Woodinville Weekly Real Estate Section. Since 2017 The Blue Team has written the bi-monthly Real Estate Column sharing their expertise in this community publications, sharing their Tips for Home Buying, Tips for Home Selling, Tips for Investors, Buying & Selling Luxury Homes,  Real Estate Transitions (Including Relocation & Senior Real Estate Tips), and Equestrian Real Estate.

Posted on June 9, 2019 at 7:43 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Buying | Tagged , ,

Tips for Home Selling: 4 Things to Consider When Right-Sizing

Is Right-sizing your New Year’s resolution? Perhaps you have recently experienced a significant event and now it feels like a good time to make a housing change that will help you simplify your surroundings and your life.  Right-sizing is a process but it is often triggered by a specific event or series of events and making a carefully planned, intentional change, can help you focus on what matters most!  Here are 4 things you should consider before making a change.

  • What is your motivation?
    Perhaps you need more space for children, extended family, or pets; or a different kind of space for horses, gardening, or your classic car collection; or you have too much space because your children have left the nest, you are divorced, or you want to split your time between 2 smaller homes traveling or living in a sunny place ½ of the year; or you just want or need to retire in a different location.
  • What Information do you Need?
    Change can often be overwhelming so it really helps to break a big decision into smaller ones and focus on just obtaining the data you need for the small decisions. How much will you make selling your home? How much do you need to buy your next home? Maybe you can remodel your space instead of having to move – learn your options so you can make informed decisions.
  •  What is stopping you?
    Change can be stressful or it can be exhilarating – usually it depends on your attitude and the planning that goes into the change. Worried about the finances – learn the numbers that can help you make the decision and determine timing.  Perhaps you don’t know what to do with all of your things…  there are moving & estate sales professionals who can help you!  Is it the memories & emotions – photograph the spaces where memories were made, talk to your family, keep items that are special, and be open to making new memories – again there are people who can help you with this.
  • Who can help you make it happen?
    There are many resources that can help you whether you need a little bit of help or a lot. There are high quality Real Estate Brokers, Financial Planners, Organizers, Estates Sales Professionals, Movers, Cleaners and other professionals that are ready to help you.  They can help you determine your wants & needs, provide the data to make good decisions, and help you make the Right next move.

Real Estate Corner (Article published in the Woodinville Weekly 12/25/17 edition)

Posted on December 28, 2017 at 8:06 pm
Michelle Blue | Posted in Home Tips for Seniors, Real Estate Transitions, Tips for Home Selling | Tagged , ,

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.


  • 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?


  • 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 , ,

Real Estate Transition : 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

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.


  • 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 ( Northwest Center (, 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; (2) Beds, Mattresses, Couches– Salvation Army will pick up!; and (3) Cell Phones can be donated to, 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.


  • 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).


  • 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 for Home Buying | Purchasing A New Construction Home

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 , , ,