I recently have had several credit cards compromised. On one, there were fraudulent charges. On another, someone called in to the credit card company and was able to be approved as an additional authorized user and was sent a credit card. This last one has scared me. The person who called in knew enough about me to convince the person at the bank that they were me. They knew my social security number (or at least last 4 digits) and my birthday.
So much information is online – someone could probably figure out my best friend’s name (from Facebook), where I was born (by searching public records), what high school I went to (again from Facebook), my mother’s maiden name (also in public records), and a host of other words I would use in security questions.
Here’s what I’m doing to protect myself.
Changing my user name and password on all websites
Making up a new BFF
Talking to the credit bureaus about protecting my ID
Making sure my privacy settings on Facebook and other social media sites are at the highest level possible
Purchasing a new wallet with RFID protection
If you have other ideas of things I or others can do, please let me know.
When you go to buy a home, your credit is critically important, don’t let it get messed up by people affecting your accounts. If you’d like further information, please call me a (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.
While we may have seen some lower prices in 2018, the following chart shows that we have had significant appreciation in the housing market in Seattle, King County, and Snohomish County since 2006. In King County prices have appreciated approximately 70%, Seattle 80%, and Snohomish County 51%. If you’d like to know appreciation rates for your community or would like a market analysis of your home, please reach out to me at 206-790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.
Affordability is one of the major factors driving our real estate market. We saw an increase in interest rates in 2018 from around 4.15% in January to a high of nearly 5% in November and with the year ending around 4.55%. We expect that interest rates could reach 5.75% in 2019. What does this mean if you are considering buying a home (or selling and buying a new home)?
As interest rates increase, your buying power decreases. Let’s say your lender has qualified you for a home purchase of $700,000 with 20% down. Today your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. If rates rise as expected in 2019, the payment later this year at 5.5% would be $3,180, or $343/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $625,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 5% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $735,000 by year end. By waiting, you are likely to decrease the amount you can pay for a home.
If you’re considering buying a property this year, the time to move is now. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com so we can talk about your plans and needs. (The chart above shows you various principal and interest payments at different interest rates. However, you should talk with a lender to verify the accuracy of these numbers. I have several wonderful lenders who would be happy to speak with you.)
Gone are the days when anyone could buy a home with just a promise and signature. No documentation loans allowed virtually anyone to buy a house with no money down with just a simple credit check. After the mortgage meltdown, this all changed. Lenders tightened guidelines and down payments were back.
But how much do you actually need? Must you always find 20% down? The answer might surprise you; there are many ways to buy a home with less than 20% down payment.
0% Down – There are still two loan programs which allow one to buy a home for no-down payment; the VA loan and the USDA loan. The VA loan requires the borrower to be a qualified service person or veteran and the USDA loan is for certain areas under the Department of Agriculture.
5% Down – Conventional loans with loan limits can allow one to buy a home with as little as 5% down. These loans do have PMI (Private mortgage insurance) which can be eliminated when the loan amount falls below the 20% threshold.
3 ½ % Down – FHA offers first time home buyers a good home loan for only 3.5% downpayment. Again these loans have loan limits and PMI but offer a faster entry into the housing market. Buying a home doesn’t always mean 20% loan. If you’re considering buying a new home, talk to your lender about your options.
If you’re thinking of buying, give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com. Let’s talk about your needs. I can also refer you to excellent local mortgage lenders.
Many prospective sellers feel they should wait for spring to sell their home. They feel this way because of the seasonal downturn in the market and because homes don’t look as good without exterior flowers and plants and the general grayness of our part of the country. However, there are several good reasons to list your home during the winter. The most serious buyers will still be out there – those that need to buy because of job relocation or need different space. And inventory is at it’s lowest, giving buyers fewer choices, so your home will stand out more. Mortgage rates are increasing, so buyers may have greater buying power earlier in the year.
To sell your home in the winter, there are some key things to do. Keep your home warm and cozy – buyers need to be comfortable when they come in the house and the warmer it is, the more likely they’ll stay longer. Leave lights on and shades open to keep the home bright. Make sure the yard stays neat and the roof is clean. Stage the home and have professional photographs that show off the home at its best.
Thinking about listing your home this winter or spring. Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email to discuss a complimentary market analysis and marketing plan for your home.
What a cutie! Adorable 2-bedroom rambler in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood is now on the market for $575,000.
My colleague Andrea Fjortoft and I invite you to join us at one of three open houses or to check out the listing online.
Imagine the possibilities here – great condo alternative or bring your contractor to discuss options for building up or remodeling. This home offers 2 large bedrooms, one with an office area and large walk-in closet, and a full bath. Large living and dining rooms and the kitchen has a breakfast bar. Tons of natural light. Terraced, fully-fenced backyard including a pear tree and room for outdoor activities. Very quiet street. Easy access to I-5, Northgate transit center, University of Washington, Sand Point, and future Northgate and Roosevelt light rail stations.
2 bedroom, 1 full bathroom
1,110 sq. ft.
5,413 sq. ft. lot
Built in 1941
One car attached garage
Forced air gas heat
2018 property taxes of $4,720
Open House Schedule:
Wednesday, October 10, 10am-Noon (hosted by Jamie and Andrea)
Saturday, October 13, Noon-3:00pm (hosted by Andrea)
The Puget Sound area real estate market has shown a shift over the past few months, and we’re moving toward what is considered a balanced market. A balanced market is one that does not favor the buyer or the seller and is the healthiest possible situation. Typically, a balanced market is considered one with 4 to 6 months of inventory; less than that favors the seller, more than that favors the buyer. Here are some selected inventory levels for September:
Inventory in Months
Single Family Homes
Moving toward a balanced market is a good trend. It puts both buyers and sellers on equal footing. Mike Grady, COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, states “buyers are at long last now seeing properties that stay on the market longer. Listings that are priced appropriately, and not based on the feverish market we saw just a few months ago are still selling quickly, and home prices are still showing 8 percent appreciation year-over-year, more than double the rate of inflation.”
What does this mean to you if you’re considering selling your home? Homes are selling if they are priced properly. More than ever it means you need an experienced REALTOR who will provide you with a detailed pricing analysis based on what is happening in today’s market, not on sales from even 3 or 6 months ago. And automated values are even less reliable than they have been because they may not reflect what is happening today. When I work with a seller, I give you a detailed report and recommendation and update this report frequently to adjust for market change.
If you’re a buyer, this is a fabulous time to get in the market. With prices stabilizing and interest rates increasing, waiting might be not be a good idea. What you can afford today might be less than what you can afford next year. I can provide you with recommendations of lenders who can help you determine what your buying power is. Additionally, with the market becoming more balanced, the need for pre-inspections and waiving of contingencies is passing.
I’d love to talk with you about the market in your neighborhood and why now might be the time for you to buy or sell. Give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com to set up a time to chat.
It’s time for another story of downsizing, this time the story of Judith.
Judith and I met a couple years ago when she came to a class I was teaching at the Phinney Neighborhood Association. The class was on the steps and process of selling a home. She came up to me after the class to talk about her situation. She owned a one-bedroom home in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle which she purchased as a foreclosure in 1975 for around $12,000. She and her partner Kurt were wanting to sell this home and downsize into a condo with no steps involved. She mentioned that they had been looking at condos for around 15 years and hadn’t seen much that they liked. She was also concerned about the amount she would have to pay in capital gains taxes.
For the next year or two, we looked at a lot of condos, but given her budget and specific needs we weren’t finding anything she liked. This past February we did, and she submitted an offer on a Bitter Lake condo, but was outbid. We kept looking.
This summer she was encouraged to look at a lovely unit at the Sequoyah in Edmonds. She hadn’t wanted to leave Seattle but she was willing to look. While it was further away than she wanted, she had worked in Edmonds for many years so she was comfortable with the area. After seeing the condo and realizing it had everything she wanted and more, we submitted an offer and she got this unit.
She purchased the condo contingent on the sale of her house, so we had to immediately list. Many real estate brokers feel late August is not the time to bring a home on the market but we decided to do so anyway. Three days on the market and we had an offer significantly over list price.
The buyers of her home allowed for Judith to stay in the house for a couple months if needed. The condo she was buying would not be available until the end of September so Judith’s plan is to move in October. She was able to have her purchase funds sent directly from the first escrow company to the second escrow company. Judith has put aside enough funds to cover her estimated capital gains taxes.
For me as her real estate broker, I was so happy to help her move out of the house and into the condo. She loved her house and was sad to be leaving it but is very excited to be moving on with her life. These transactions involved of juggling, and that’s what I’m good at – I was able to ensure that both transactions closed without any issues.
Congratulations Judith and Kurt!
The transaction details.
House listed for sale August 24th for $590,000. 3 days on market. Sold for $617,000. Closed September 17th.
Condo purchase closed October 1st for $385,000.Condo purchase closed October 1st for $385,000.
Home shoppers in Western Washington can choose from the largest supply of homes in three years and they are facing fewer bidding wars. August statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service show prices appear to be moderating (up about 6.7 percent overall), but brokers say they are not bracing for a bubble, or even anticipating a quick shift to a buyers’ market. “There have been incremental increases in listing inventory the past few months,” noted Gary O’Leyar, the designated broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, but, he added, “By no means have inventory levels reached a point that is deemed to be a balanced market.” Prices were down in August but are still up from 2017.
If you’re thinking of buying, this is the time to get pre-approved and start your buying process. If you’re a seller, I’d be moving quickly to get your home on the market while prices are still at the peak. Please call me at 206-790-0081 or email me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com to discuss your real estate needs.
Pete and Jody contacted me early this summer about selling their family home on Phinney Ridge. I’ve known Pete and Jody for many years as we were former neighbors and they wanted to work with someone they knew.
When I say family home, I mean it. Pete’s parents had bought the house about 80 years ago, and approximately 40 years ago Pete bought it from his parents. Pete and Jody raised their family in this lovely craftsman. They had made many updates over the years, and had particularly loved designing the beautifully landscaped yard and the 2-car garage where in his free time Pete worked on his cars.
But it was time to downsize. The house had too many stairs and was too much work to maintain. The property tax bill had become too high for retirees on a fixed income and they no longer wanted to live in Seattle.
Pete and Jody went exploring where they wanted to live and found a 55+ community in Mount Vernon that met all their needs. It was quiet. It was new construction. It was all on one floor, no stairs to even get into the house. The yard allowed for Jody to continue her love of gardening but was not too large. The house they wanted was already completed, but they would need to sell their Phinney home before they could purchase in Mount Vernon. I was able to negotiate with the seller of the Mount Vernon home for a longer closing period, to give Jody and Pete time to sell their Seattle house.
I recommended some minor repairs to their Seattle home before listing and we had the house staged. Jody and Pete worked hard at packing up 40 years of life, giving many items away, and having a mega-garage sale. It was hard work, but they had the house ready almost a week before our target list date. Jody and Pete’s Phinney home came on the market on August 5, and by August 11 we had two offers.
Both homes closed last week, Phinney on Thursday and Mount Vernon on Friday. Pete and Jody will be moving into their new home over the next few weeks. It was such a joy to call Jody and Pete on Friday and tell them that they were the owners of the home in Mount Vernon. Congratulations!!! May you have many, many years of love and laughter in your new home.
Phinney home, listed for $895,000, sold for $890,000, 6 days on market
Mount Vernon home, listed and sold for $459,900, 79 days on market