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Archive for May, 2010

Keep Your Water Meter Accessible
May 25, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Helpful Tips

Now that summer is nearing, the plants are starting to grow quickly. Seattle Public Utilities has asked that customers keep their meter accessible for their staff. This ensures that the meter reader can quickly and accurately record your usage. By doing this, it will help keep utility costs down, and maintain stable rates.

Here are some things you can do to help Seattle Public Utilities.

Trees, bushes and plantings

  • Trim bushes, trees, and grass that block the way or cover the meter. During the growing season, plants can quickly overtake and block meters.

  • Minimize plantings that are in the way of meters.

Pets

  • Keep pets away from the area that leads to the meter.

  • If you have a protective or guard dog, let Seattle Public Utilities know so that the meter staff is aware.

  • It may be required to confine pets during the day that your meter will be read.

Objects in the way

  • The meter staff needs to have access to the meter. If there are objects in the way such as garbage cans, construction equipment, or landscape tools and materials the meter reader won’t be able to access the meter.

Locked gates

  • If you have a gate that you prefer to keep locked Seattle Public Utilities will often obtain keys from customers so that they’ll have access to the meter. As long as the lock is accessible from the exterior of the gate, this doesn’t present a problem.

Address

  • Make sure your address is clearly visible and displayed on your residence.

  • This also assists emergency personnel in finding your home quickly.

By making sure the above points are attended to should ensure accurate reading of meters. If you have further questions don’t hesitate to contact Seattle Public Utilities.

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Featured Listings of the Week – 5/16/2010
May 20, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Featured Listings, General

Starting this week, Seattle Real Estate Associates will be presenting a weekly showcase of some of the great properties around the Northwest area. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with suggestions and comments.

1.) 2222 152nd Ave NE #213, Seattle, Washington2222 152nd Ave NE #213, Seattle, Washington

  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Baths: 1
  • Price: $229,990
  • Property Description: This is a beautiful, brand-new condo unit for sale. It is one bedroom and one bathroom with high ceilings, slab granite countertops, and tile floor in the bathrooms. The home also features hardwood entries/kitchens, stainless appliances, balcony, and fireplace. A great, modern find! Residents will also have access to a fitness center. Each unit comes with extra soundproofing and insulation. The building is very secure and sports DIRECTTV computer/TV surveillance access by each unit.

Listing courtesy of Jayne DeHaan, RE/MAX Metro Realty, Inc.

2.) 714 13th Ave E, Seattle, Washington714 13th Ave E, Seattle Washington

  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Baths: 3
  • Style: Contemporary
  • Garage: 2 car
  • Price: $1,125,000
  • Property Description: This distinctive contemporary-style home, located in a prime Volunteer Park neighborhood calls for creative cosmetic touches to enhance her unique personality and sophisticated image. Personal style can be added for instant equity. Bathed in light from huge west-facing windows, 20′ ceilings, and skylights, this home has a one-of-a-kind feel. The layout is ideal for entertaining, whether lavish events or an intimate tête-à-tête around the fireplace. The location allows walks to the park, Broadway or 15th Ave E shops and bistros. The romantic master bedroom has its own fireplace, master bathroom, and huge walk-in-closet. Top floor has a recreation room (or a fourth bedroom) that opens onto an expansive rooftop deck. With a little tree-trimming, the city skyline and Elliott Bay views could open up!

Listing courtesy of Jayne DeHaan, RE/MAX Metro Realty Inc.

3.)  22904 46th Ave West, Mountlake Terrace, Washington22904 46th Ave West, Mountlake Terrace, Washington

  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Baths: 1.5
  • Sq ft: 1424
  • Style: Rambler
  • Garage: 1 Car
  • Heat Source: Gas
  • Taxes: $2,504.00
  • Price: $317,700
  • Property Description: This home sports a beautiful interior design and mature landscaping that’s just waiting for its new resident! Walk to the neighborhood park and schools from this cool, 1960s rambler. It is an impeccable home and has beautifully landscaped yard. There are hardwood floors, double-paned windows, new electrical wires, and a new gas furnace and water heater. A large covered patio/parking, a large walk-in pantry and lots of storage are just a few of the features of this lovely home.

Listing courtesy of Maria Rippee, Windermere Real Estate Co. Northgate

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Seattle Symphony to perform free concert at City Hall, May 21
May 17, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Local Events, News

On May 21st, Seattle Symphony Music Director Gerard Schwarz will lead the Orchestra and local teen soloists in a free community concert 12:00 – 1:00 p.m., Friday, May 21, in the Seattle City Hall lobby, 600 Fourth Ave. This special performance is part of Seattle Symphony’s ACCESS Project (Artistic and Cultural Community Engagement with Seattle Symphony). ACCESS is dedicated to bringing classical music to communities throughout the region, especially those areas that don’t often have the opportunity to participate.

After the the concert, audience members can mingle with Symphony members at a post-performance reception in City Hall’s Bertha Knight Landes Room.

The Symphony will perform works by our own Seattle Symphony Composer in Residence Samuel Jones, Ernest Bloch, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart. Featured soloists include University of Washington freshman and violinist Jocelyn Chang, Roosevelt High School senior and flutist Lauren Glass, and Issaquah Pacific Cascade freshman and cellist Karissa Zadinsky.

This will be the fourth year in a tradition started in 2006 where the symphony will play to standing-room-only crowds of more than 300. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen to some of the greatest works of classical music and support the young soloists and the rest of the symphony.

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Beware of Seasonal Scams
May 17, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

The after-tax season and the U.S. Census may bring out scam artists. Beware.

Tax refund Scams–Watch out for phony e-mail saying you’re eligible for a refund. According the IRS, the scam asks consumers to open an attachment or click on a link to a claim form. The form requires personal and financial information. Taxpayers do not need to complete a special form to obtain their federal tax refund, according to the IRS. Refunds are triggered by the tax return you submitted to the IRS.

U.S. Census: Scam artists may get in touch via phone, e-mail or in person in an effort to steal confidential information. A legitimate representative from the Census Bureau will never:

  • Ask for your full social security number
  • Ask for money or a donation
  • Send requests on behalf of a political party
  • Request PIN codes, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

The Census Bureau also doesn’t conduct the Census via the Internet or send e-mails.

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Geothermal Heat, the Earth, and You
May 12, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

Geothermal HomeIf you’ve ever gone spelunking (no, not throwing rocks into ponds spelunking) or cave exploring then you understand basically how geothermal heating works.  It essentially taking the relatively cool constant temperature of the earth’s crust (about 55 degrees Fahrenheit) and bringing it up to help cool a home in the summer, or heating it in the winter.

In a building that uses geothermal heating, a pump brings 55-degree groundwater up into a heat pump.  The pump extracts the heat from the water and sends cooler water back into the earth.  In the summer, the process is reversed by pulling hot air from the house and sending it down to the earth.

Since geothermal heat pumps are more efficient than air-to-air heat pumps, and because the ground water is closer to the desired indoor temperature than the air outside, geothermal pumps use less electricity and work better in colder climates than the original heat pumps did.

Currently, there is a generous tax credit that pays for 30 percent of a geothermal system’s cost.  Despite the government incentive, some find it difficult to fund the $40,000 – $60,000 upgrade to their current heating system.

However, once the new geothermal heating system is in place, heating and energy savings are substantial.  Keeping heat and energy bills roughly the same throughout the year.  Geothermal heat pumps offer high efficiency and a low operational cost.  According to the EPA, geothermal heating/cooling systems can save homeowners 30 to 70 percent on heating and 20 to 50 percent on cooling costs over conventional systems.

As an added consideration, some homes are being outfitted with solar panels in addition to the geothermal heat pump.  By using the energy provided by the solar panels, the heat pump can be nearly self sufficient energy wise by using the suns energy to power the pump.

It’s an amazing way to save on electricity without sacrificing comfort.

Despite the initial cost, the savings are immense and the return on investment is nearly equal. 

Perhaps as technology improves and the cost of installation is reduced consumers will find time to go spelunking into the wonders of geothermal heating.

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Transportation Commission to Hold Meeting Concerning SR 520 Tolls
May 12, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, News

520 Bridge Courtesy of Seattle TimesDuring the regularly monthly meeting in Olympia, the Washington State Transportation Commission will continue to discuss the SR 520 toll setting.

Tolls for the SR 520 Bridge have not been set but will be discussed during the meeting. There won’t be any toll booths on the bridge; tolling will be done electronically. Motorists will prepay into a “Good to Go” account. When cars approach the bridge, an overhead device reads a transponder sticker on the windshield and automatically deducts the toll from the account. For those who don’t have an account, cameras will record license plates and send out a corresponding bill.

During the meeting, the Commission will work with the Washington State Department of Transportation to develop the toll rate structure. The discussions will cover the setting of the timeline, potential rate levels, and the rate structure.

The meeting is open to the public if you’re interested in attending.

The two-day meeting will be held at the Transportation Building in Olympia at 310 Maple Park Ave. SE. Meeting times are 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18 and 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 19.

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Housing Needs Are Changing
May 7, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under Real Estate

It’s time. Feel the shift?  It’s happening; the shift of families and housing needs. With continued economic eruptions, longer life expectancies, boomers retiring and retirement funds vanishing we are reckoning without housing adjustment.  In spite of these issues we are acclimating to new housing choices.

Grandparents and the kids are moving “home”.  Grandparents who live beyond 65 now have a life expectancy of 20+ more years. College graduates and twenty-somethings are staying home longer. What used to be a home you scaled down from is now becoming the house you may need to add onto or renovate. A revival of multigenerational living will revolutionize housing.

Where to put everyone?

Separate entrances, different levels, separate kitchen and handicap accessibility are all considerations.  Proximity and privacy, designing and remodeling will be needed to accommodate adult children or elderly parents. Homes can be purchased that are close together, on the same property or have “guest quarters.” These are all equitable remedies for multi-generational situations.  Considerations that can arise or be useful include co-habitation contracts and/or agreements on child care, parent care, pet care, finances and chores.

We are back to needing large spaces that can accommodate many ages and lifestyles.  We are back to our core values and responsibilities for family.  We are back to what is financially within our reach.

We will need to constantly shift and realign our values, our homes and our families to accommodate and anticipate what is ahead not only in the housing market but in our lives.

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Why You Should Own Your Home
May 3, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

Why Own?

There are a number of benefits to owning your home. Primarily, the home is an investment and asset. Over time, the house’s value will appreciate. Appreciation can accommodate future investing such as a vacation home, education or retirement.

Paying a Mortgage Builds Equity

Equity is the difference between the current market value of your home compared to your mortgage loan balance. According to the amortization schedule, the longer you own your home, the more of your mortgage payment goes to pay the principle versus interest.

Great Tax Benefits

Owning your own home is a great tax shelter. You can deduct all interest paid on your Mortgage Loan on your tax return. Any first home buyer can fully deduct all loan related costs on their taxes.

Equity Loans

The interest rate for home equity loans can also be deductible versus over-priced credit card debt. Again, you can borrow against your home for home improvements, medical bills, starting a business or debt consolidation.

Capital Gains Exclusion

If you end up selling your home, as long as you’ve lived there for two of the past five years you can exclude up to $250,000 if you’re single or $500,000 if you’re married. This exclusion can be used every two years allowing you to be free from taxation on those monies.

 Synopsis

You’re making an investment. Working to own your home seems to make the most sense for people looking for a place to live long term. Focusing on paying a loan off early means you won’t have to make such large interest payments. Investing in a home can afford you security, and peace of mind that your investment will appreciate, and you’ll have something you can call your own.

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