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Archive for June, 2010

Home Equity – Building Value in Your Home
June 21, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under Helpful Tips, Real Estate

Home EquityOne very important aspect of real estate is the understanding of equity and how it works. Equity is the money value that is built in a property or home over time. It is the difference between the appraisal price of a home and the amount of any unpaid mortgage left on the home. This means for example, if an individual purchases a home for $200,000 with a down payment of $20,000 and a loan of $180,000, the amount of equity in the home is $20,000. Purchase price – loan amount = equity.

How It Works

There are a couple ways in which home equity can be built. One way equity is built over time is via appreciation of the property. Purchasing a home is an investment, and that investment needs time to grow. Despite the current recession, statistically a homes value will double every 10 years. For example, a home bought today for $100,000 will statistically be valued at $200,000 in 2020. A home is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime and will continue to grow as long as you own it.

Another way in which equity can be built is through the continual payments of principal on a mortgage loan. A principal payment is the money that is paid that doesn’t go towards the interest of the loan, but instead goes to reducing the amount owed on the loan. The more principal that is paid to the loan the more the equity builds.

Unless the down payment is a significant percentage of the home’s value, the monthly mortgage payment won’t change a great deal. However, any extra that is paid to the principle will increase the amount of equity. In order to get the maximum benefits out of your monthly payments, be sure to talk with your lender.

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Electronic Tolling is Coming to the SR 520 Bridge – Are You Ready?
June 14, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Helpful Tips, News

In the spring of 2011, all-electronic tolling will begin on the SR 520 Bridge to help pay for the construction of a new, safer bridge. 

Good To Go! electronic tolling uses technology to keep traffic moving with no toll booths, no stopping, and no slowing down.  

Customers can set up prepaid accounts linked to a Good To Go! pass that is installed in your vehicle or linked to your license plate. Automatic replenishment allows you to never have to worry about running low in your account. Simply link a bank account or credit card to the account and your Good To Go! account is automatically replenished when you run low. 

As you drive under electronic sensors on the east high rise of the 520 bridge, the toll will be automatically deducted from your prepaid account.  If the driver does not have a prepaid account, a photo will be taken of the vehicle’s license plate, and a bill will be sent in the mail to the vehicle’s registered owner.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has launched an extensive outreach campaign to educate drivers about electronic tolling on the SR 520 Bridge.  To reach as many bridge users as possible, WSDOT  is on the radio, in newspapers, online and out in the community.  WSDOT is currently meeting with community and business groups throughout the region to answer questions about the SR 520 Bridge electronic tolling program. 

The message is simple: Get ready for all-electronic tolling on the SR 520 Bridge by signing  up for the interest list at, and stay up-to-date on tolling developments.  Subscribers will receive regular updates about rates, account options, special offers and customer service resources.  Interest list users will be among the first to be able to sign  up for a Good To Go! account beginning January 2011.

Thanks to the WSDOT team for helping with this article. For up to date traffic information and projects, please see the WSDOT website.

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5 Things to Know About Homeowner’s Insurance
June 8, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Helpful Tips, Real Estate

  1. Know about exclusion to coverage. For example, most insurance policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage as a standard item. These types of coverage must be bought separately.
  2. Know about dollar limitations on claims. Even if you are covered for risk, there may be a limit on how much the insurer will pay. For example, most policies limit the amount paid for stolen jewelry unless items are insured separately.
  3. Know the replacement cost. If your home is destroyed you’ll receive money to replace it only to the maximum of your coverage; so be sure you insurance is sufficient. For example, if your home is insured for $150,000 and it costs $180,000 to replace it, you’ll only receive $150,000.
  4. Know the actual cash value. If you chose not to replace your home when it was destroyed, you’ll receive replacement cost, less depreciation. This is called actual cash value.
  5. Know the liability. Generally your homeowner’s insurance covers you for accidents that happen to other people on your property, including medical care, court costs, and awards by the court. However, there is usually an upper limit to the amount of coverage provided. Be sure that it’s sufficient if you have significant assets.

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Ask for a Home Warranty Plan
June 3, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under General, Helpful Tips, Real Estate

What is a Home Warranty Plan? It’s assurance that when things go wrong in your home can be repaired or replaced at a minimal cost to you. Replacement costs can start at $500.00 and go as high as $5,000.00 for some repairs. This is a lot of money out of pocket when you have just purchased a new home. You can normally use your contract unlimited times during the contract term. Although your plan may not cover everything you can sometimes purchase additional coverage for specific items you do want covered. You can sometimes also purchase coverage for preexisting conditions, situations that were either not detected by inspections or prior knowledge.

Normal items covered are heating systems, A/C systems, duct work, plumbing, whirlpool motor and pump, water heaters, electrical, attic fans, built-in microwaves, dishwashers, garbage disposals, ranges, ovens, cooktops and trash compactors. Additional you might want to add and might need to pay extra for are refrigerator disposal, removal of defective equipment, code violations, improper installations or repairs, garage door openers, telephone wiring or central vacuums.

Make sure you understand your Home Warranty Plan and ask questions. The average cost is between $250 and $400 and adding on special feature coverage if you choose. You will pay a Trade Service Fee at the time of the service call. You will have an opportunity to voice your experience about the Home Service Call, follow up and your service experience. Really can’t go wrong with one of these plans. Talk it over with your Real Estate Professional.

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Sellers – Know How To Optimize Your Listing
June 2, 2010 · Written by Rachel Pinter · Filed under General, Helpful Tips, Real Estate

MLS ListingThe Multiple Listing Service is an important part of the home-sale process. This database contains all of the homes for sale. Real estate agents use this tool to find homes for prospective buyers as well as list the homes of sellers. Once the house is part of the database, selling agents will show a copy to their sellers for review, explaining that this is what the public will see. The seller will proof for accuracy at that time as well.

However, sellers may find it wise to know how to optimize their listing. There are thousands of entries in the database and they all compete for the attention of active agents. Listings with certain elements–photography, complete information, and strong details–will attract more attention. More information provides the agent with a better understanding of the property and if it meets the clients’ needs. Photography and strong details will interest the buyers when they receive a copy of the MLS listing.

Since humans rely greatly on visual observation, photographs are an important part of the sale. A listing without pictures or with only a few will not attract as much consideration. This makes sense. The buyer wants to see the property, examine its tiled kitchen, explore its spacious bedrooms, and enjoy its lakefront view. This is to be someone’s home and they want to see as much as they can which usually comes in the form of the MLS listing. Those first impressions are crucial.

Thus, a seller should look at the kind of pictures in his or her listing. What story do these images tell? A picture cannot capture the lazy contentment experienced while resting on a deck and gazing into a span of green forest. Nor can it fully explain the warmth of watching a movie with family by the stone fireplace. Nevertheless, through this option the seller and agent should demonstrate the kinds of memories to be gained. A simple shot of the front of the house is unlikely to reveal the personality of the property and its capacity to be lived in.

Another area that can encourage a sale is the data provided in the General, Listing, Interior Features and Room Information sections. These sections are the nuts and bolts of the house; they are the details that let a buying agent know whether or not the property meets clients’ requirements. For instance, a wrap around deck might be a wonderful bonus, but the agent needs to know if there are three bedrooms or just two. In addition, these sections reveal what is beneath the carpets and if the home features extra storage space, views, garden space, or other unique features.

Again, the MLS entry is handled by the selling agent. But the seller will want to peruse the listing for accuracy. Trust is an important part of selling a home; all parties and their agents need to know that the information provided is correct. Purchasing a home is a big decision and it would be unfortunate for a prospective buyer to be disappointed by a minor typographical error in a listing. The entry should also be complete. Missing information could potentially make an agent wary of a property, as it may falsely contribute to questions at to whether it was the right property or not.

Adequate pictures and accurate, complete information improve a listing’s chances of success. One other way to do this is in the Remarks section. If the details and pictures have caught the eye of a searching agent, the Remarks section is another lure. The real estate agent can give words to the potential memories hinted at in the images. A balance must be struck in the Remarks section; there must be charming description and pertinent information. It is also a good area to include considerations that are not necessarily easily depicted in the rest of the listing. The overall possibility of the property can be remarked upon, such as the potential for a mother-in-law residence or possible financial gains after sweat equity.

All of the aforementioned items are suggestions that improve the attractiveness of a listing. With the right agent, a seller can know that these considerations are being handled. Please do not hesitate to contact Seattle Real Estate Association if you feel your listing is under-performing. We will ensure that your MLS entry has all of the important elements it needs to allow your property to be seen and sold.

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Common Real Estate Terms Defined
June 2, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Helpful Tips

Want to get familiar with the plethora of Real Estate terminology? Here are some commonly used terms to hopefully help define and clarify some meanings for you and to alleviate some confusion.

  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – The MLS is an enormous database that organizes home that have been listed by real estate agents. The MLS acts as a portal for all licensed real estate agents to find and list homes for home buyers and home sellers.
  • Real Estate Agent – A real estate agent is a real estate professional who’s job it is to make sure a person looking to buy a home, or a person looking to sell a home is represented.
  • Seller’s Agent – A seller’s agent will make sure that information posted on the MLS is accurate and complete. He/she will ensure that images of the property or home are taken in a way that showcases the best aspects of a home in order to entice a potential buyer’s agent to view the home.
  • Buyer’s Agent – A buyer’s agent represents a potential home buyer. The buyer’s agent will take into account the parameters set by the buyer and endeavor to find homes that meet the qualifications of the buyer. A buyer’s agent will work with and negotiate with the selling agent on the buyers behalf.
  • Escrow – Escrow is money that is held by a third party, (usually an escrow agent) who works for both the lender and the borrower. The escrow agents role is to carry out instructions agreed upon by both parties. The money is released when all terms of the agreement are met.
  • Lender – Any company or bank that provides money on loan to a borrower.
  • Borrower – Any individual or group entity that contracts money from a lender.
  • Equity – The market value of a real estate property less the amount of existing liens.
  • Lien – A lien is a legal claim against an asset which is used to secure a loan and must be paid when the property is sold.
  • Mortgage – A mortgage is a loan that is secured against a real property. Usually placed on a schedule of repayment.

If there are any more real estate related terms that you may want defined, please let us know.

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