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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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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 West Seattle Helpline – Neighbors Helping Neighbors since 1989
January 20, 2011 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

West Seattle Helpline LogoThe West Seattle Helpline is a non-profit social service agency dedicated to helping members of the West Seattle Community. The organization helps families that may be struggling, by providing information and limited financial assistance. The mission of the West Seattle Helpline is to strive toward and build a community of “neighbors helping neighbors.”

Since 1989 the Helpline has been offering financial aid and referral advice to West Seattle residents. It was formed by a group of concerned West Seattle residents including former Senator Phil Talmadge and Dick Rhodes, co-owner of the Queen Anne Thriftway. Both Senator Phil Talmadge and Dick Rhodes were instrumental in replicating the success of the Queen Anne Helpline in West Seattle.

The assistance provided by the Helpline can save residents from homelessness, hopelessness, and hunger.

The following are some of the ways in which they strive to assist the community:

  • Providing financial support that can be used to pay portions of rent and utilities.

  • Providing clothing at the Clothesline.

  • Metro bus tickets.

  • Assisting with back to school supplies for children and families in need.

  • Providing information and referrals to other assisting agencies.

If you would like to be a part of this extraordinary organization, please visit their get involved web page. You can also contact them on their contact web page as well.

For a better idea of the ways that the Helpline has assisted people, as well as individuals and family testimonial of how the Helpline has impacted them, watch the video on the Helpline’s homepage.

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The Night Before Christmas
December 20, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the office,

All of the attendants, were somewhere amiss,

Papers were stacked on the desks with care,

In hopes that when they got back they’d still be there,

The agents had gone home, and nestled in their beds,

While visions of closed deals, danced in their heads;

And my cat in his pajamas, and I in my sweater,

Were both poking fun at who ‘looked better’.

When out in the den there arose such a sound,

I lept from my chair, and flung the cat to the ground.

Away to my computer, I flew like the dawn,

I wiggled my mouse and turned the screen on.

The login screen appeared, and I typed like the wind,

As it processed my password, I happily grinned.

I searched for what, the sound had been,

Ho! Instant Messenger! A new email came in.

I opened my inbox, and to my eyes did appear,

A tiny digital sleigh, and animated reindeer,

With a little old driver, pixelated and thick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

With animated vibrance, his coursers they came,

He whistled and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!

I would have brought Cupid but didn’t know how to fix ‘im!

To the top of Matrix! To the top of the NWMLS!

Don’t let the down market keep you depressed!”

So navigating my browser to Matrix they flew,

With a sleigh full of .pdf files and St. Nicholas too.

And in a twinkling, like a candle against gold,

They showed me the house that I’d listed just sold!

And the digital Santa with his mouth drawn like a bow,

And the beard of his pixel chin as white as the snow;

He gave me a wink, and sprang back to his sleigh,

And with a whoosh he was off and away.

And as I waved farewell, my lip did quiver,

I knew for a fact he had more emails to deliver.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he disappeared from my sight,

“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night.”

 

Happy holidays everybody!

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The Warm Home Fund
November 23, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General

Icicles on a homeThe first snow of the season has come and gone. It’s cold and will be getting colder. There are many families who will need help this winter staying warm. That is why Puget Sound Energy has a partnership with The Salvation Army to help provide qualified low-income families with heat and natural gas this winter. Puget Sound Energy’s customers, employees, and the corporate giving program contributed over $700,000 to the Warm Home Fund last year, providing assistance to nearly 4,000 families. Contact your local Salvation Army unit for more information.

In addition to the Warm Home Fund, Puget Sound Energy’s HELP Program provides additional bill-payment assistance to qualified PSE customers. Eligible customers can receive up to $1,000 per year in credits to lower their electricity or natural gas bills. Depending on the county in which you live, the maximum household income for eligibility ranges between 125 percent and 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. HELP assistance is offered year-round to eligible customers.

For more information, please visit Puget Sound Energy’s website.

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The West Seattle Farmers Market
November 1, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Local Events

Farmers MarketThe West Seattle Farmers Market is one of the most wonderful aspects of West Seattle. Besides incredible views of the city and the water, West Seattle offers the renowned farmers market. 

What Is The West Seattle Farmers Market?

Operating since 1999, the West Seattle Farmers Market features farmers and small food processors from all over Washington. The popular market is now a home for countless enthusiastic shoppers who revel in the freshness, variety, and value available from local farms. Fresh fruit from all over the state is available including berries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apples, and melons. Along with the fruit, local organic produce is also available. Ranging from all kinds of seasonal vegetables, fresh farm cheeses, herbs, mushrooms, and fresh free-range chicken eggs. The West Seattle Farmers market has everything a shopper could want. There’s also pastured organic beef and delectable honey, preserves, and fresh baked bread and pastries.

The market includes not only food, but also live music, children’s activities, and other events throughout the season. Gardening and composting information booths are also available at the market each week during the summer.

When: Every Sunday, 10am to 2pm year-round.

Where: At the junction of 44th Avenue SW & SW Alaska St., Seattle, WA 98116

Parking: There is free street parking in the area surrounding the market.

For more information please see the official West Seattle Farmers Market web page as well as a list of vendors and products.

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Lake Union Park Grand Opening Celebration – September 25th
September 22, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, Local Events, News

Join the Seattle Parks Foundation on September 25th in a celebration and dedication of Lake Union Park! The free public celebration is certain to draw families and neighbors from all around Seattle to come take part in the festivities. There will be a Family Fun Run, Sunrise Yoga on the Fitness Field, and many more activities throughout the day both on land and in the water.

Lake Union Park Logo

Along with the general merriment, there will be other activities including:

  • Musical performances

  • Model boat races on the model boat pond

  • Native American Canoe displays

  • Amazing Seattle Food vendors including the Farmer’s Market

  • Environmental education and history trail tours

  • A parade of Seattle mascots along with children’s activities

  • And much much more!

For more information, please visit the Seattle Parks Foundation website for all the details. See you there on the new 12 acres of awesome park space!

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Job Openings in Washington Increase For The First Time In 3 Years
August 12, 2010 · Written by Brock Dunda · Filed under General, News

The 2010 spring Washington Job Vacancy Survey Report recorded the first increase in the number of job vacancies offered since fall 2006. The survey indicated that companies were attempting to fill an estimated 38,732 open positions during the April 2010 survey period. While theses job opening indicate that the economy is improving, it is still unclear whether Washington state and the nation are indeed entering a recovery period.

This is good news for job seekers in Washington. According to the survey for this spring, it shows a 21 percent increase in openings since last fall. Most of the jobs are made up by the private sector, however, some public health care and education jobs are included.

Health Care was the leading industry in job growth. Registered nurses were the job that was most in demand with over 2,300 openings.

Software engineers were the next in terms of most needed, with almost 2,000 job openings.

For more information, please see the full survey.

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Getting Green With School Supplies
July 22, 2010 · Written by Becki French · Filed under General, Helpful Tips

Back To School!Fall is a great time to shop for earth friendly supplies and teach our children some healthy alternatives at the same time.  An average family can spend up to $250.00 on school supplies ie paper, notebooks, lunch boxes, pencils, pens, crayons etc. Not to mention electronics.  Many of these supplies contain toxins that can affect our children’s learning and come with a cost to our environment. 

 Shop for nontoxic art supplies.  Double check those paints, markers and glues for toxic ingredients.  Look for the AP label for safe supplies.  (The Art and Creative Materials Institute or ACMI)  This label will indicate that the products are less toxic though not necessarily free of toxins. 

Paper is a huge culprit for toxins as bleach is used to brighten the paper so be careful when purchasing paper for your kids. Much of the paper used for school supplies come from endangered forest in the southern US and Indonesia.  The paper industry is the 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases and the 3rd largest of industrial waste.  Choose your paper carefully, use it sparingly and recycle appropriately.

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