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West Seattle Artwalk – Featured Artist: Enrique Patino
September 10, 2012 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Events

Dear Friends,

Enrique Patino - Lake BirdSeattle Real Estate Associates is very pleased to invite you to join us for the West Seattle Art Walk on Thursday, December 7th between 6 and 9pm. At this time, we will have the distinct privilege of hosting the incredible exhibits of Larine Chung and Doug Tsang.

Enrique Patino

Enrique Patiño is Salvadoran by birth and has lived in Seattle since 1984. Enrique is a fishery biologist and a nature photographer.His current interest is photographing birds and is assembling collection of birds that live in or migrate through the state of Washington.

ART WALK MISSION
The mission of the Art Walk is to acquaint the audience with Igor’s latest art as well as introduce our business to West Seattle community. The exhibit will take place at our new office located on 4535 44th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98116. Be ready for food, beverages, art and of course a lot of fun! We look forward to seeing you soon!

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West Seattle Artwalk – Featured Artists: Josh Pemberton and Christopher Ramsey
November 9, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Local Events

Dear Friends,

Man on BearSeattle Real Estate Associates is very pleased to invite you to join us for the West Seattle Art Walk on Thursday, November 10th between 6 and 9pm. At this time, we will be hosting the incredible exhibits of Josh Pemberton and Christopher Ramsey.

Josh Pemberton

Josh Pemberton’s unique work utilizes the phenomenon of how, through even a few marks of charcoal, an artist can evoke an idea in whoever sees it. Josh’s astonishing attention to detail, and creative imagery introduces new thoughts and emotions to the viewer. It allows the viewer to introduce their own narrative to the work, and to decide for themselves it’s meaning.

Artist Statement

The phenomenon of how, through even a few marks of charcoal, an artist can evoke an idea in whoever sees it interests me to no end. In my work I strive to engage the observer in this activity through content, composition, and technique. I have heard it said that the single image is not a very effective way to convey a narrative because it relies on the viewer to bring meaning to it. This suits me just fine. I strive to balance meaning and ambiguity to challenge the viewer to bring their own narrative to my work and hopefully confront and re-evaluate it along the way.

Exhibitions

  • Jun 2011 “Best of Gage”, Rosen Gallery, Seattle, Wa
  • Jun 2011 “Collective Work”, Street Bean Espresso, Seattle, Wa
  • Apr 2011 “From Pencil to Paint”, Rosen Gallery, Seattle, Wa
  • Apr 2011 “Atelier Exhibition”, Phinney Neighborhood Association, Seattle, Wa
  • Feb 2011 “Spitting Image” Self-Portrait Show, Rosen Gallery, Seattle, Wa

Awards

  • 2011 “2nd Place Figure Category”, Gage Academy of Art’s Best of Gage Competition

Education

  • Graduated in 2010 with a BA in Studio Art from Reed College, Portland, Or.
  • Currently enrolled in the KoH Drawing & Painting Atelier at Gage Academy, Seattle, Wa


Christopher Ramsey
Man on Bear

A Washington native from Spokane, Chris knew he loved painting even as a child. His favorite subjects are landscapes, with a focus on Northwest light, colors, dramatic geography and textures that often are juxtaposed with the human constructed world.

Christopher’s landscapes transport the viewer to places both real and imagined. They invoke the freedom of imagination, fantasy, and reality all in a unique, and beautiful style.

Artist Statement

I am a Washington State native from Spokane. I knew I loved to paint when I was a young child and first dipped a brush into a jar of tempera paint. I have not stopped painting since. I graduated from the University of Washington School of Art with a BFA, majoring in painting.

I paint landscapes. My subjects are Northwest light, colors, dramatic geography and textures often juxtaposed with the human built environment.

Watercolor has been my media for most of my painting life. I love the immediacy, the wet paint interaction and the colors and values achieved. The paint always does what it wants to do. I push it where I want it to go . . . but of course it does what it wants to do anyway.


ART WALK MISSION
The mission of the Art Walk is to acquaint the audience with Jack’s latest art as well as introduce our business to West Seattle community. The exhibit will take place at our new office located on 4535 44th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98116. Be ready for food, beverages, art and of course a lot of fun! We look forward to seeing you soon!

For more information please see our West Seattle Artwalk Website

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Competition Alive and Well in Seattle Market
August 31, 2011 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Real Estate

As previously reported, the real estate market has received a lot of negative press in recent years. However, the negativity is focused on the market as whole, when the reality is much of the trouble is regional rather than all over. While many other cities are seeing homes that are undervalued, Seattle homes are still overvalued by 14 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This information is interesting in light of a recent Seattle Pi article. The article suggests that there is a lot of competition for reasonably priced homes in Seattle neighborhoods. Homes that reflect the overvalued number are seeing a low number of offers, but houses that are in good condition, move-in ready, and priced to sell are, in fact, selling in within reasonable time frames.

The trend started as spring came to a head and has only continued. More and more buyers have the aforementioned parameters. But because of the doom and gloom reports, this has left many buyers confused by the competition: they have been hearing about the down-and-out market, and are expecting a great deal. But for houses with those parameters, this isn’t the case anymore. It is still a buyer’s market, but those in a position to buy are looking for the same deals and quality.

This means those who are looking to buy need to be prepared, especially if they are interested in areas like Northeast Seattle, Capitol Hill, Ballard, and Greenlake. They could very well end up in a multiple-offer situation.

As David Billings, Redfin’s Seattle market manager, said to the Seattle Pi, “When the ideal, cute, turn-key starter home comes on market at a price that a buyer feels is a decent value, they’re shocked to find that there are lots (three, four, maybe six) of other buyers that feel just like they do … After having patiently waited out the market and read every article about how terrible Seattle real estate is, they can’t believe they’ll need to pay full list price, let alone the possibility of paying more in order to beat out others. It takes some time for them to come to grips with this reality and get competitive with their offers, or adjust their search to a home that needs some work, or is in a slightly less prime location.”

What is the take home point, then? Be prepared to up your offer if the house is The One, as there is likely to be other interested parties. If the house isn’t the be-all, end-all, keep looking at other properties. You may find one that is a little farther out but gives you room to negotiate an offer, opposed to stretching your budget for one in a more prime location, which may have a several offers. Relax your parameters and see if you can find something that still works for you.

This article was co-authored by Rachel Pinter and Becki French.

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Get a Low Mortgage Rate Now: A Promise to Stay Low
August 30, 2011 · Written by Becki French · Filed under General, Helpful Tips, Real Estate

On August 9th, 2011, the Federal Reserve promised to maintain short-term interest rates through at least June of 2013 and possibly beyond. While some forecasters are nervous about this decision’s effect on consumer confidence, this is great news for the potential home-buyer and for those still sitting on the fence about purchasing a home.

Right now, for those who are interested in purchasing a home, the market boasts two great features. The first is the low rates that the Federal Reserve has now promised to maintain until the middle of 2013. A low interest rate means savings for the home buyer. It also means a lower monthly payment, which can be an important consideration in a difficult job market. Ultimately, the Federal Reserve’s promise is hoped to spur investment. If consumers can count on low interest rates, it may encourage those who have not made up their mind about purchasing a property. This is important, as each purchase is an increase in economic growth, since large purchases tend to foster greater growth.

The second great feature is the availability of homes on the market. There are countless homes for sale and they are often at a great deal. For the potential homebuyer, it may be easier than ever to find a home that he or she can afford and that has the features he or she desired.

Therefore, those who are not certain yet, it is time to hop off the fence. Between a record-low interest rate and an abundance of choices, your dream home could be yours… soon!

This article co-authored by Rachel Pinter and Becki French.

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Home Sales Tips From Chicago Title
July 14, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

Sold HomeA buyer will usually decide within two minutes whether they like your house. The first impression is often the lasting impression. And they start forming their opinion before they even set foot in your home!

It is a smart question to ask yourself if your house is as presentable as it can be for a faster sale at a the best price. The best way to find out is to imagine you’re a prospective buyer. You’ve probably been looking at other homes, so approach your present home the way you look at other houses.

Your real estate agent will do all of the things necessary to bring in the prospects – but when it comes down to the nub of it, your house is going to have to help sell itself.

Below are some tips to follow for making small, inexpensive cosmetic changes that will increase your chances of selling.

Clean Up, Fix Up, Paint Up Outside

1.)       Invest in landscaping where it can be seen at first sight. A well-manicured lawn, neatly clipped shrubbery, cleanly swept walks create a good first impression.

2.)       An extra shot of fertilizer, in season, will make your grass look lush and green.

3.)       Cut back overgrown shrubbery that looks scraggly or keeps light out of the house.

4.)       Paint your house if necessary. This can probably do more for sales appeal than any other factor. If you decide against painting, at least consider touching up front shutters and window frames.

5.)       In winter, walks should be free of snow and ice.

6.)       Inspect the roof and gutters. Any missing shingles to replace? Gutters and down spouts in place? Need paint or repair?

7.)       Consider putting flowers outside the front door.

8.)       Repaint the front door.

9.)       Put a bright coat of paint on your mailbox.

10.)   Repair broken outdoor steps.

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Should I Buy A Home or Rent?
June 16, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Real Estate

Rent or Buy?The most frequently asked housing question is whether to buy or to rent. Currently mortgage rates are at a historical low and could be sending a signal that it’s a good time to buy.

More importantly is deciding what is best for you and your family. Stop to think about your immediate housing needs and your 5 year housing needs. Ask yourself questions like:

Am I pre-qualified?

Have I discussed my needs with an accountant or mortgage banker?

Where is my job going to take me?

How much traveling will I be doing?

Will I be having additional family ie. parents or children?

How important is it to me to be close to work?

Once I get into a home can I afford the maintenance and taxes that come with home ownership?

Do I want and enjoy the ownership so I can appreciate my own home?

Do I have time for yard work?

Sit down and take the time to analyze these important issues before you decide to buy a home. Be realistic about your wants, needs, requirements and financial parameters. Home ownership is a very personal decision and will most likely be one of the largest financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime.

Renting is like paying for monthly parking. You’re paying only to be able to park in your spot, once the money is spent it’s gone. As a renter, you pay your damage deposit, possibly first and last month’s rent and continued rent payments. You never walk away with any equity and yet it may be the temporary solution for you right now. Maybe you don’t know where your job is taking you for the next year so it might be best to wait. Renting vs. buying depends solely on you and your financial situation.

If you have talked with the appropriate resources and have been pre-qualified and are ready to stay in one spot for at least 5 years than you are a good candidate for home ownership. You would then have the tax advantage of writing off your interest you have paid against your home loan. You also have the advantage of owning something that you can remodel or decorate as you want. While renting is more cost effective in the short term, purchasing a home builds equity and becomes and investment over a longer period of time.

Be sure you completely understand your financial picture and housing needs before making a decision. Long term it makes sense to buy and invest in a home. However, that may not fit your personal or financial situation at the time. Review the above questions and make a plan.

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Is Now The Time To Buy A House?
April 4, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Real Estate

Purchasing a home? Is now the time to buy a house? This is probably one of the most asked questions concerning the current housing market. With spring in the air and summer on the horizon, many people are considering whether now is the right time for them to purchase a home. After the collapse of the housing market, home ownership, for many, may seem too risky. Despite this, one cannot dispute that there are great opportunity in a down market. Before you make a decision on whether to keep renting or start your home search, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.

1.) Why do you want to buy? Buying a house is an enormous investment so why do you think you want to? Are you looking to buy a house because a friend told you it would be a great investment? Or have you found a home that you want to start a family in? If you’re looking to buy a home with the sole purpose to resell it five years later for a profit, you may find yourself dissatisfied with the result. The market will take time to recover. At this point, it would be more ideal to find a home you truly love. You’ll never regret your purchase, even if the market takes another dip.

2.) What is your financial situation? It is difficult to purchase a home without a sizable down payment in the current market. By dropping a 20% down payment into a house, many people can find themselves “house poor” if they didn’t take an honest look at their finances before meeting with the bank. The other thing to consider is that with 20% down, you avoid paying PMI. The larger the down payment, the smaller your monthly payment and the more equity you start with in your home. While it may be tempting to purchase a home when interest rates are at a historic low, it’s only a good idea if you can truly afford to do so. Be honest with yourself and take into account your bank balance before you start looking at open houses.

3.) Where will you be five years down the road? One factor that many people disregard when purchasing a home is how it will affect them in the long term. It may seem to make sense now, with prices and interest rates being so low, but if you’re a student or your work occasionally relocates you, does that house become an asset or a liability? Similarly, if you’re a new couple starting out, how much house will you need? You may fall in love with a small two bedroom one bath home. But in the long term is your plan to have a family and children? Always keep in mind what direction you’re heading and it will help you decide if a house will make sense for you.

Buying a home should be a personal decision, not a market decision. Obviously the market will have an influence and either help or hinder the process. However, in the end, buying a house is an emotional and personal decision that will require time and investment. Only you can determine if now is the right time for you to buy a house.

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The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation
March 10, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt ReliefThe Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reducing through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

What is Cancellation of Debt?

If you borrow money from a commercial lender and the lender later cancels or forgives the debt, you may have to include the canceled amount in income for tax purposes, depending on the circumstances. When the borrowed money you were not required to include the loan proceeds is normally reportable as income because you no longer have an obligation to repay the lender. The lender is usually required to report the amount of the canceled debt to you and the IRS on a form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.

Is Cancellation of Debt income always taxable?

Not always. There are some exceptions. The most common situations when cancellation of debt income is not taxable involve:

  • Qualified principal residence indebtedness: This is the exception created by the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 and applies to most homeowners.
  • Bankruptcy: Debts discharged through bankruptcy are not considered taxable income.
  • Insolvency: If you are insolvent when the debt is canceled, some or all of the canceled debt may not be taxable to you. You are insolvent when your total debts are more than the fair market value of your total assets.
  • Certain farm debts: If you incurred the debt directly in operation of a farm, more than half your income from the prior three years was from farming, and the loan was owed to a person or agency regularly engaged in lending, your canceled debt is generally not considered taxable income.
  • Non-recourse loans: A non-recourse loan is a loan for which the lender’s only remedy in case of default is to repossess the property being financed or used as collateral. That is, the lender cannot pursue you personally in case of default. Forgiveness of a non-recourse loan resulting from a foreclosure does not result in cancellation of debt income. However, it may result in other tax consequences.

What is the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007?

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 was enacted on December 20, 2007 (see News Release IR-2008-17). Generally, the Act allows exclusion of income realized as a result of modification of the terms of the mortgage, or foreclosure on your principal residence.

What does exclusion of income mean?

Normally, debt that is forgiven or cancelled by a lender must be included as income on your tax return and is taxable. But the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act allows you to exclude certain cancelled debt on your principal residence from income. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

Does the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act apply to all forgiven or cancelled debts?

No. The Act applies only to forgiven or cancelled debt used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence, or to refinance debt incurred for those purposes. In addition, the debt must be secured by the home. This is known as qualified principal residence indebtedness. The maximum amount you can treat as qualified principal residence indebtedness is $2 million or $1 million if married filing separately.

Does the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act apply to debt incurred to refinance a home?

Debt used to refinance your home qualifies for this exclusion, but only to the extent that the principal balance of the old mortgage, immediately before the refinancing, would have qualified. For more information, including an example, see Publication 4681.

How long is this special relief in effect?

It applies to qualified principal residence indebtedness forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012.

Is there a limit on the amount of forgiven qualified principal residence indebtedness that can be excluded from income?

The maximum amount you can treat as qualified principal residence indebtedness is $2 million ($1 million if married filing separately for the tax year), at the time the loan was forgiven. If the balance was greater, see the instructions to Form 982 and the detailed example in Publication 4681.

If the forgiven debt is excluded from income, do I have to report it on my tax return?

Yes. The amount of debt forgiven must be reported on Form 982 and this form must be attached to your tax return.

Do I have to complete the entire Form 982?

No. Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Adjustment), is used for other purposes in addition to reporting the exclusion of forgiveness of qualified principal residence indebtedness.

If part of the forgiven debt doesn’t qualify for exclusion from income under this provision, is it possible that it may qualify for exclusion under a different provision?

Yes. The forgiven debt may qualify under the insolvency exclusion. Normally, you are not required to include forgiven debts in income to the extent that you are insolvent. You are insolvent when your total liabilities exceed your total assets. The forgiven debt may also qualify for exclusion if the debt was discharged in a Title 11 bankruptcy proceeding or if the debt is qualified farm indebtedness or qualified real property business indebtedness. If you believe you qualify for any of these exceptions, see the instructions for Form 982. Publication 4681 discusses each of these exceptions and includes examples.

I lost money on the foreclosure of my home. Can I claim a loss on my tax return?

No. Losses from the sale or foreclosure of personal property are not deductible.

If the remaining balance owed on my mortgage loan that I was personally liable for was canceled after my foreclosure, may I still exclude the canceled debt from income under the qualified principal residence exclusion, even though I no longer own my residence?

Yes, as long as the canceled debt was qualified principal residence indebtedness. See Example 2 on page 13 of Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments.

Will I receive notification of cancellation of debt from my lender?

Yes. Lenders are required to send Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, when they cancel any debt of $600 or more. The amount cancelled will be in box 2 of the form.

How do I report the forgiveness of debt that is excluded from gross income?

Check the appropriate box under line 1 on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment) to indicate the type of discharge of indebtedness and enter the amount of the discharged debt excluded from gross income on line 2. Any remaining canceled debt must be included as income on your tax return.

How do I know if I was insolvent?

You are insolvent when your total debts exceed the total fair market value of all of your assets. Assets include everything you own, e.g., your car, house, condominium, furniture, life insurance policies, stocks, other investments, or your pension and other retirement accounts.

How should I report the information and items needed to prove insolvency?

Use Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment) to exclude canceled debt from income to the extent you were insolvent immediately before the cancellation. You were insolvent to the extent that your liabilities exceeded the fair market value of your assets immediately before the cancellation.

For more information and full documentation please see the The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation IRS web page. For questions pertaining to your personal situation please see your tax accountant or real estate attorney.

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Is My Loan Servicer Following The Making Home Affordable Program Guidelines?
March 1, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Making Home Affordable Program LogoMany people have been asking questions regarding how to handle the situation when they believe that loan servicers are not following the guidelines of the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program. The Making Home Affordable Program is a program for modifying eligible mortgages and refinancing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages.

Below are the recommended steps to take if you believe your servicer is not complying with the program.

1.) Go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov, the official Treasury website for the Making Home Affordable Program. Once at the site, determine whether the loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by clicking on the “Loan Look Up” ribbon on the top of the home page. This must be initiated by the holder of the loan.

If the loan is a Fannie Mae, call (1) 1-800-7Fannie or for a Freddie Mac loan (1) 1-800-Freddie. Do this whether the issue relates to the refinancing or the loan modification program.

2.) If the loan is not owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac you can determine if the servicer is participating in the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) by going to the website and clicking “Contact Your Mortgage Servicer” on the top ribbon of the page. As of now, there are 16 servicers that participate which covers more than 80% of all mortgages.

If the servicer is participating, the next step is to contact the servicer using the phone number or email address listed on the site so you can appeal the issue to a supervisor. Be sure to identify the specific provision of the guidance that you believe is not being followed. If the supervisor cannot or will not correct the problem, call 1-800-7Fannie to report the disagreement. Fannie is administering the Treasury Department and will work to resolve the issue.

Request a Home Affordable Modification

Making Home Affordable Program Website

www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov

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A Third of Seattle Homes Are Underwater
February 24, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Real Estate

Underwater MortgageAccording to the news article by the Seattle Times, houses with mortgages in the Seattle metro area now owe more than their homes are worth, from an estimate by Zillow.com.

At the end of 2010, over 34 percent of all single-family homeowners in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties were underwater on their homes. This is higher than the national figure of 27 percent.

Also shocking is that the region’s rate of increase over the past year is greater than the national increase. Part of the reason this is happening is because homes in the Seattle metro areas were still increasing while homes in other parts of the country were falling. The Pacific Northwest was about a year late in terms of the housing bubble. So what we’re seeing now is homes in the area at levels that Los Angeles was at a year ago.

Negative equity can have a large impact on the housing market, and also the rest of the economy. This is especially poignant where the gap between the home’s value and loan balance is large. There’s a likelihood that owners will default – even if they can still manage the payments.

This is referred to as a “strategic default” where a owner chooses to default on a mortgage. One of the negative effects of strategic defaulting are that it also damages the owners’ ability to obtain credit for other purchases, further reducing economic activity. This also means that they probably wouldn’t be able to buy another house anytime soon which also hinders a housing market recovery.

Using public records, Zillow estimated that over 28 percent of all houses and condos sold in the Seattle metropolitan area in December sold for a loss. That’s up from 20 percent in December of 2009. Snohomish County was hit the hardest where sellers of almost 42 percent of homes in that county in December received less than what they had paid.

The number of sales at a loss will continue to increase as home prices continue to drop. By Zillow’s calculation, homes in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties are now worth what they were in 2004.

For the original article, please see the Seattle Times website.

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