How far is the reach of the “micro-housing crisis” in Seattle?

I’ve had a number of contacts recently asking me about the “micro-housing issues” of Seattle, but so far it hasn’t really affected many of us on the real estate side of things. Right now, it’s more of an affect on communities and developers. From what we can tell there is continued heavy demand for housing and micro-housing fills a niche. Most people when they buy want to have a bigger place, generally, so it’s more likely these places will be rental units or a version of a “starter home” for single people. But, with people moving here from all over the world, there may just be demand to make sense in individual unit sales.

Here is a great article from Smart Growth Seattle that discusses some of the issues.

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WSHFC sponsored home buying class March 29, 2014 in Fremont area of Seattle

Home Buyer Steps Workshop
Saturday, March 29th – 03/29/2014
12:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Fremont Library – 731 N 35th St, Seattle WA (basement)

Home Buyer Steps is a Workshop approved by Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC). The Home Buyer Steps Workshop is 5 hours and designed to provide participants with a Step by Step guide to the Homebuying process. Once completed you will reecieive a certificate of eligibilty to apply for down payment assistance or a Mortgage Credit Certificate if your income qualifies you. This class is perfect for ALL first time home buyers and those who haven’t purchased in many years.

Together, we will help you understand and have working knowledge of:

1) Your Credit Score and its impact on your financial life.
2) Creating and working on a Budget
3) The Home Inspection Process
4) How to Find Realtor’s and Loan Officer’s with your best interests at heart.
5) How to protect yourself from Predatory lending and Poor Realtors
6) Reading a Good Faith Estimate, Truth In Lending, and other essential documents.
7) Understanding what Escrow and Title are with industry speakers on the topic, along with available home warranty programs.
8) Going over all your different loan options.
9) In Depth on the Mortgage Credit Certificate, Home Advantage, and House Key Programs.

Our Workshops are done free of charge by local industry experts who volunteer to help you take the next step. We are happy to help you along the way and will answer all your questions. Upon completing the workshop you will feel more confident as a consumer and empowered in your path to home ownership.

Find Out More at http://wshfc.org/

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Ability To Repay (ATR) and what it means to home buying consumers

In mid-January of 2014, (01/10/2014) a lot of new regulations came into effect that will impact home buyers and the lenders with whom they are trying to get loans. If you want to get the most up-to-speed details about these changes, I suggest you check out this link at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau site which outlines specific parts of the legislated requirements that are amended to the Dodd-Frank Act.

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1st time home buyer class sponsored by WSHFC on Saturday, March 22, 2014!

Team Reba has expanded our 1st time buyer class to include sponsorship from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to allow qualifying buyers the opportunity to receive a certificate for certain special home buying and down payment assistance programs. This 5-hour class meets the requirements for these programs with WSHFC.

Home Buyer Steps Workshop
03/22/2014
12:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Douglass Truth Library – 2300 E. Yesler Way, Seattle WA 98122

Home Buyer Steps is a Workshop approved by Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC). The Home Buyer Steps Workshop is 5 hours and designed to provide participants with a Step by Step guide to the Homebuying process. Once completed you will reecieive a certificate of eligibilty to apply for down payment assistance or a Mortgage Credit Certificate if your income qualifies you. This class is perfect for ALL first time home buyers and those who haven’t purchased in many years.

Together, we will help you understand and have working knowledge of:

1) Your Credit Score and its impact on your financial life.
2) Creating and working on a Budget
3) The Home Inspection Process
4) How to Find Realtor’s and Loan Officer’s with your best interests at heart.
5) How to protect yourself from Predatory lending and Poor Realtors
6) Reading a Good Faith Estimate, Truth In Lending, and other essential documents.
7) Understanding what Escrow and Title are with industry speakers on the topic, along with available home warranty programs.
8) Going over all your different loan options.
9) In Depth on the Mortgage Credit Certificate, Home Advantage, and House Key Programs.

Our Workshops are done free of charge by local industry experts who volunteer to help you take the next step. We are happy to help you along the way and will answer all your questions. Upon completing the workshop you will feel more confident as a consumer and empowered in your path to home ownership.

Find Out More at http://wshfc.org/

03/22/2014 Saturday
12:30pm to 5:30pm
Douglas Truth Library, 2300 E. Yesler Way, Seattle
Speakers: Herb Alden, Cornerstone Home Lending & Reba Haas, Re/Max Metro Realty (guest speakers from First American Title)
RSVP required: call 206.251.0437 or email herb@herbalden.com.

Please bring a sack lunch or personal snacks

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It is not too late to get out there and enjoy ski discounts at Stevens Pass

Are you one of our clients with a Passport card and like to ski? Even though our recent From Your Friends discount BOGO lift ticket card expired at end of February, there are opportunities tonight and on the 14th for night skiing. If you’ve got a Passport or PRIME card, you’ll want to check this out.

There are also discount programs with other ski areas in Washington, like Summit at Snoqualmie.

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Furnace Cleaning and Inspection mid-winter 2014 special from Seattle Furnace

Our friends over at Seattle Furnace are offering a mid-winter break furnace cleaning deal. We tell people who are selling their homes this time of year to make sure and have their furnace serviced since this often comes up on inspections to be done if there is no marker showing that it’s been done recently. This is definitely a savings since this usually costs (at most companies) anywhere between $120 to $150 for the service. They’re also able to do service work on heat pumps and radiant heating systems.

Contact: John Bonk, 425-398-8389, john@seattlefurnace.com or use the link.

Direct from Seattle Furnace here is the info you’ll see at the link.

$99 HVAC Inspection
We’ve reached the midway point of our wonderfully peaceful winter here in the Northwest!

If you haven’t had your furnace looked at yet, it’s probably a good idea to do so now.  We are offering our Real Estate friends and their clients a special Mid-Winter Break on our General Maintenance’s, Tune-Ups, and/or HVAC Inspections.  Through March 31st, we will give you and your friends our 31 point inspection, cleaning, and filter change for just $99.
http://www.seattle-furnace.com/
If the inspector wanted an HVAC Inspection done for a house that’s closing soon, give us a ring and we’ll get on it ASAP!
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How can a 22-yr old increase his/her chances of getting a mortgage?

I’ve been following a lot of topics on Quora recently and providing replies for questions that fall under my field of work. Here is a recent posting:

Rebecca added an answer.

How can a 22-year old increase his chances of getting a mortgage?

By making sure you have all the pieces in place that lenders require of a borrower today. First of all, credit scores are one important element of the equation. If you have not begun building your FICO score, then you’ll need to spend time doing so. FHA loans are still allowing some low scores down to 620 (but preferably 640 and above). For what are called “conventional” loans, you’ll need credit scores above 720. The lenders will also be looking at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratios especially as new laws put into place on January 10, 2014 require what is called Ability-to-Repay (ATR) confirmation and Qualified Mortgage (QM) standards.

For building credit, if you have student loans (installment loan) and are paying on time, that is one good source of building credit. If you have a car loan, especially if paid off, this is also good. Credit cards (revolving credit) also help provide scoring into the FICO system, however, high balances may be counted as negative to your scoring if held for long periods. The FICO model gives best scoring to those you only use about 10% or less of their available credit limits for credit cards and showing actual usage and good management of credit. So, for all those folks out there that have had cards but who don’t use them – guess what, that now counts against you. Be sure to use your card a couple of times per year and let the balance carry over a month so that some show of credit use has occurred. Such as, buy a tank of gas, pay half of it off the first month of billing and the balance of it the next. The amount of time you have had good credit payment history also builds your score over time so don’t cancel out cards if you have them, just make sure to manage balances on the low end.

Starting saving is also important as you’ll need a down payment (DP) and money for closing costs (CC). How much you’ll need will depend on your market place and what type of property you’re interested in owning. You’ll not only need the funds for D/P and CC, but also for what are called “reserves”, the amount of money reserved in your bank account to cover if your income were to stop being available. Most banks now with the ATR and QM requirements range on this amount, but expect to have 1-6 months worth of additional savings to cover your current bills and your expected mortgage payment amount.

I’m obviously not a lender, but I work with buyers all the time and teach classes on the subject with many knowledgeable loan officers via the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. A great tool to watch interest rates, which are the biggest factor affecting your purchasing ability besides your own cash resources, can be found by following the Freddie Mac Mortgage Market Survey – a weekly listing of the average rates offered for a variety of loan types offered around the nation. You can Bing/Google it to get the link or you can go here: http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/

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Team Reba is now on Yelp for reviewers

After wondering if this would be an appropriate way to provide reviews to prospective clients about our services, we decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and claim a business page on Yelp. We’ve already been given a couple of 5 star reviews which match most of the testimonials we’ve received over the years. You can find reviews on Yelp, LinkedIn, Judy’s Book, Zillow and on our very own Team Reba website.

If you’ve been considering working with us, or perhaps you want to send along other reviewers comments with your own referral to our team, please feel free to use these links.  If you’ve worked with us before and haven’t yet posted a review about us, please feel free to leave your comments on any of these sites.

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In lending, is 2 steps forward and 1 step back in 2014? Wells Fargo to loosen credit standards.

According to a recent article reporting that Wells Fargo is looking to loosen their credit standards and accept down to a 600 FICO score, we have to wonder, “is this a good idea?”  I’m personally torn on the subject because I know a lot of people who got caught up on the bad side of the recession and who saw their FICO scores plummet because of debts, short sales, foreclosures, bankruptcy and more.

However, Wells Fargo has almost always been known during my 11-year real estate career to be the most stringent of all the lenders when considering lending credit.  Since the loans they’re considering are required to meet FHA insuring standards, it may be a good bet because as we come out of the recession and there are people who, after a 2-3 years, have gotten back on their feet as the employment market strengthens, it would be good to give them a chance to rebuild their lives to the standards they’ve had in the past.

I’m curious what other people’s stances are on the topic, and I’m definitely going to be keeping my eyes and ears open to see if this, indeed, does happen.

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Home crushes online, is it still like online dating? Or is it more like stalking?

REALTOR.com did a survey of 1000 people to get an idea on how Men vs. Women have crushes on real estate. Not surprisingly, men tend to flirt around with their crushes and women tend to also have a dream crush – perhaps that one that is unattainable. Check out the full article here and below I’m posting the graphic they devised from the study results.

Home crushes - comparing men to women

Home crushes – comparing men to women

 

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