Tag Archives: home ownership

Help with Property Tax Bills

Homeowners in many Washington Counties, including King and Snohomish, will be receiving their property tax bills around Valentine’s Day. Your reaction may be, “Whoa, this is high, how am I ever going to pay this bill!”

If you are 60 years or older or are unable to work due to a disability and have a household income of less than $45,000/year, there are programs to help you reduce your property tax burden. For more information or to find out if you qualify, call the Property Tax Exemption Program for your county: King County: (206) 263-2324 Snohomish County: (425) 388-3540

Or perhaps you’ve been thinking that it might be time to move, whether to a new community, a smaller home or condo, or even assisted living. I am available to help you figure out what the next steps might be. I can help you understand what your home is worth, and if it would make sense for you financially to sell. I can also help you with the “where do I move to if I sell” concern.

For further information or to discuss your real estate needs, please give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

King County Homeowners

If you own a property in King County, check out this website: http://localscape.property/#kingcountyassessor/.

It’s new from King County and you can find out so much information. Choose My Property, put in your address and then click on the blue button that says “View Proposed Taxes.” This will tell you how much any current tax levy on the ballot will affect you. Right now it’s showing info for August’s primary for Prop 1 – AFIS Property Tax Levy. For the several addresses I checked, the taxes will actually decrease from this one passing.

Let me know what you think of the site.

The American Dream

As we begin this week where we celebrate America’s birthday, I thought I’d write about Home Ownership being part of the American Dream. For as long as I can remember, I have heard that phrase. But what does it mean.

From a CNN piece from last year: “While it has no official definition, the American Dream has always been the notion that citizens of the United States can better their lot in life through hard work.
That encompasses the idea that hard-working kids of hard-working parents would have a better life than the previous generation, and homeownership has generally been considered part of that.”

From 2006 to 2017 the national home ownership rate dropped from 69 to 64 percent. CNN states, “In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 72% of renters said they would like to buy a house at some point. About two-thirds of renters in the same survey (65%) said they currently rent as a result of circumstances, compared with 32% who said they rent as a matter of choice. When asked about the specific reasons why they rent, a majority of renters, especially nonwhites, cited financial reasons.”

Here are historical home ownership rates from the US Census Bureau. As you can see, it appears the number is increasing in 2018, but the rate is still below that of the 1990’s.

If you’re currently a renter and would like to become a homeowner, let’s talk. There are loan programs available for people with limited cash down as well as downpayment assistance programs for those with lower incomes.

2017 in Review

The story of the Seattle real estate market in 2017 continued similar to the past few years. Low inventory drove our market, with the number of new listings down from 2016 and prices up significantly. While the median sales price for a single family home citywide increased 13.7% to $705,000, in many neighborhoods that increase was even higher. For the 23 counties in the MLS area overall, inventory shrunk 19% from the end of 2016 to the end of 2017. That’s the smallest selection for any month in the past decade.

December is traditionally a slower month, but that wasn’t the case this year. While the inventory was low, the number of buyers seemed to be high, with multiple offers the norm (I heard a story of 28 offers on a Queen Anne listing as well as multiple offers even during the week between Christmas and New Year’s) and packed open houses (100+ visitors at times). At year end, there were only 256 single family homes and 95 condos for sale in Seattle, a decrease of approximately 30% from 2016.

Until we see an increase in inventory, we can expect the market to be strong. We need property owners to list their homes at higher rates as well as an increase in new construction. See my predictions on the next page for more details.

Please give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com if you have any questions or would like further information on the market or your specific area.


Is Summer Over Already?









This is so true in Seattle. Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer and the official end is only two weeks ago. This summer raced by – both personally and in the real estate market. The market sizzled till mid-August when it slowed down, most likely due the fact that the weather was nice and Seattle-ites hit the road for vacation.

The end of summer triggers change.

Kids go back to (or start) school. I happen to know a lot of families with kids starting college this year. This morning I took a look at what it costs for a student to live in a dorm at the University of Washington. Excluding a meal plan, a dorm room can run you from $6,000 to nearly $12,000 for the academic year. For four years of college, that could run you up to $48,000. And if your student is going to live off-campus, rents are sky-high with many one bedroom apartments running at $1,500+/month and two bedrooms $2,000+/month.

Instead of paying the dorm fee or the rent for an off-campus apartment, have you thought about buying a condo, townhome, or single family home for your student? You’ll be investing in your child’s future as well as your own. The home will likely appreciate over time, meaning you may make money when you go to sell. If your child has roommates who pay some rent, you’ll have income to offset some of your ownership costs.

For more information on purchasing a home for your college-age student, see a post I wrote in 2014 or give me a call/text/email so we can talk.

Stay tuned – my next post will be about the August market and expectations for the fall market.

Have You Taken All Your Tax Benefits?

With tax day quickly approaching (April 15), here are some reminder on tax benefits you might be eligible for as a homeowner. (Please verify with your tax adviser if you are eligible for these benefits.) Thanks to www.houselogic.com for providing this information.

  • One of the most beneficial deductions homeowners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. You must itemize your deductions (instead of taking the standard deduction) and for most homeowners itemizing outweighs the ease of the standard deduction. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home — and your home can be a house, trailer, or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.
  • You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI) as mortgage interest on Schedule A if you itemize your return. This only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later and your 2014 taxes may be the last year you can claim the deduction unless Congress renews it for 2015.tatat
  • Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest. If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year. But if you refinance to get a better rate or shorten the length of your mortgage, or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage.
  • You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement. If you bought a house last year, check your HUD-1 settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.
  • If you made your home more energy efficient in 2014, you might qualify for the residential energy tax credit. Tax credits are especially valuable because they let you offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/home-tax-deductions/#ixzz3VWBO8zis

Increasing Your Net Worth Through Real Estate

The majority of American households own a primary residence, but did you know that homeowners have, in general, more net worth than their renter counterparts?

The National Association of REALTORS® tracks the relationship between renting, homeownership, and net worth. Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances to collect the data which is then analyzed.  In the most recent survey completed in 2013, the data showed that the median homeowners ‘net worth ($200,000) was more than 36 times that of the median renter ($5,000).

Equity in a home (the difference between what is owed on the mortgage and what the home may sell for in today’s market) is one of the biggest drivers of net worth.  When a renter pays rent, no equity is created for the renter – that goes straight to the landlord’s pocket! But when someone has purchased a home that monthly payment usually goes to paying down the loan, creating equity. The homeowner also receives the benefit of property appreciation – and if they don’t refinance, the principle and interest payment stays the same* whereas a renter may be faced with annual rent increases.

Of course, there are pros and cons to either renting or purchasing a home and should be considered before jumping into a home purchase. Appreciation rates and rent rates change from area to area and even neighborhood to neighborhood! I would be happy to show you the possibilities. Please give me a call: (206) 790-0081 or send an email.

*Assuming a fixed rate loan. This does not constitute an offer for a loan nor is a guarantee that reader will qualify for such.