Thursday, December 23, 2010

Washington State is Growing

Tuesday’s U.S. Census results revealed that the state of Washington has gained nearly 830,000 residents in the past 10 years. The results have both earned us a 10th congressional seat and the title of 13th most populous state in the U.S. We grew faster than 2/3 of the nation’s states, yet our growth rate per decade has decreased over the past 70 years. The 14% population increase makes us a state comprised of 6,724,540 people. This increase in population probably protected our real estate market from a an even worse downturn – yes it could have been worse. Hopefully, if our population continues to increase (which it is projected to do) we will see the real estate market improving. Not only could home prices stabilize, but we could see an increase in rental demand which means good things for landlords and property managers. Hopefully, these statistics will result in some positive changes in our local economy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Property Crime Up in Seattle

The Seattle Times published an article yesterday on the FBI’s crime nation-wide that were released the same day. A national trend was a decrease in crime rates, but not in Seattle. Although violent crime was down in the city, property crime apparently rose in the beginning of this year. Property crime was up 5.5% from 2009’s statistics in the first 6 months of the year. Statistics indicate that there were 17,223 property crimes reported in the first half including burglary, larceny-theft and auto theft. Although the national decrease is a good thing, if you are a property owner in the Seattle area you many want to take extra precautions to help prevent crime in the future.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vendovi Island Sells


The last time we wrote about Vendovi Island, we detailed the Island’s auction and unforunate lack of sale. Saturday, The Seattle Times released an article revealing that the Island has finally sold. After being on the market for over 2 years, the island was sold to The san Juan Preservation trust for $6.4 million. The Island will remain closed to public access while they take an inventory of resources and develop a management plan. San Juan Island residents raised nearly $3 million in donations and provided a $3.4 million bridge loan for the purchase. The Island which is primarily undeveloped, aside from a one, four-bedroom home, is a piece of land that will most likely maintain its environmental beauty.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Puget Sound Native and World Series Champ Buys Local Condo

Former University of Washington star and current San Francisco Giant, pitcher Tim Lincecum recently purchased a condo at Escala for over $1 million, according to the Seattle Times. The Puget Sound native has won two Cy Young awards, which is given to the best pitcher in each league and World Series in the short period of time that he's been a professional baseball player. It's nice to know that this amazing pitcher and possibly future hall of famer hasn't forgotten his roots and has used some of his baseball fortune to give the Seattle real estate market a small boost. As much as this hurts me to say since I am former Washington State University graduate, I am on the Tim Lincecum bandwagon so GO GIANTS!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Luxury Real Estate Expert John Brian Losh Speaks at Rainier Club

Downtown Seattle's historic Rainier Club hosts a monthly Real Estate Roundtable. The guest speaker for November's Roundtable was John Brian Losh, Designated Broker of Ewing & Clark Inc. and Chairman/Publisher of LuxuryRealEstate.com, the most viewed luxury real estate website in the world. Recognized as one of the "25 Most Influential People in Real Estate" by Realtor Magazine, Brian began his real estate career when he joined Ewing & Clark nearly 40 years ago in 1971. John Brian Losh spoke about the luxury real estate market in the Greater Seattle area and the histories of different neighborhoods including those of West Seattle, Downtown, Belltown, Madison Park, Broadmoor, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Laurelhurst, The Highlands, Bellevue and Mercer Island. Brian drew from his experiences as well as his knowledge of the local history to give insight on the luxury market in Seattle. For example, he showed illustrations of how the opening of the canal dropped the level of Lake Washington, significantly adding waterfront real estate to Lake Washington. For those of you that weren't as privileged as I was to have the chance to listen to John Brian Losh speak, then you may want to read about some of the things he discussed in his republished book Seattle Memories. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

Capitol Hill Murder Leads to Mental Evaluation

One of the most recent incidences to be dominating headlines in Seattle is the November 22nd murder of Joseph LaMagno, who fell victim to a fatal attack in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. LaMagno was attacked on 14th and E. Union Street by a stranger, Michael LaRosa, who approached Lamagno and struck him in the head with what was described by witnesses as a pick-ax. SPD later determined the weapon to be a hatchet when it was found nearby. The 26 year-old LaRosa, who had left a grocery store at the same time as Lamagno, attacked him around 10:30 am that morning. LaRosa fled before police tracked him, finding him in an alley near the scene. Although there were numerous witnesses, whether or not there was a verbal exchange nor the length of the attack could not be determined. LaRosa had been previously booked three times this year under charges of assault and domestic violence, the latter in connection with a recent ex girlfriend who now has a restraining order. According to the ex-girlfriend, LoRosa has a history of mental instability which coincidentally is now his biggest defense in this latest case. LoRosa’s defense attorney has requested the arraignment to be postponed until he is mentally evaluated by state health experts. LoRosa’s half-brother told The Seattle Times that Michael was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia over ten years ago and was no longer being medicated when the attack took place. LaRosa was also on probation, but the Seattle Municipal Court declined to comment on probationary supervision. LaRosa’s arraignment date is rescheduled for December 28th.

See one of many articles on LaRosa from The Seattle Times here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Century-Old Businesses


The Seattle Times recently released an article profiling three Seattle-based businesses that have managed to survive for over a century. The three, among only about 100 companies over a century old, are credited for their long-standing according to three traits: 1. It’s all in the family. 2. Stable management and long time employees. 3. Ownership of property on which the company sits. According to this description, it’s no wonder that Ewing and Clark has managed to stay around this long in the competitive real estate brokerage business. Ewing and Clark got its start in 1900 on the foundation of Calhoun, Denny, and Ewing which began in Seattle in the 1880s. Ewing and Clark, Inc. is owned by Chairman John Brian Losh, who started with the company almost 40 years. After gradating from the University of Washington, Losh bought the company from the third generation Ewing known by his nickname: Bud. Losh recently passed on the role of CEO to son, John Casey Losh, in October of this year. Casey joined the company in 2004 after he had a five year tenure as a tax consultant with Deloitte here in Downtown Seattle. The familial ties don’t end there. Both father and son have spouses working within Ewing and Clark, Brian’s wife Betsy who is a managing broker at our Madison Park office, and Casey’s wife Kristine, who is also at the Madison Park office. A number of other employees within Ewing and Clark have known the Losh family since childhood and are loyal to the company’s long-standing traditions as well. We hope Ewing and Clark and other century-old, family-owned companies continue to thrive!

Congratulations to Nelson Trucking, Manson Construction and Mutual Materials.

Sincerely,

Ewing & Clark, Inc.- "Real Estate Service Since 1900"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seattle Home Prices Drop

Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index provides the public with statistics on home prices across the nation. The Seattle Times featured an article on the latest index, released on Tuesday, Nov. 30th. The index showed a nation-wide home price decline by .7%, and Seattle was one of 18 cities that had monthly price declines. The Greater Seattle area, including King, Snohomish and Pierce counties fell .6% in the month of September. In the past year as of September, Seattle area home prices dropped 2.6%. Experts believe this is directly linked to economic factors such as high unemployment rates and lending standards. Foreclosures also play a role in the drop. To see full indices, please visit the website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Arthur Erickson Home


Notable Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, who passed away last May, was known for designing some of the most significant buildings, both residential and commercial, in Canada and on the West Coast of the United States. One of Erickson’s designed residences lies in the Seattle/Shoreline neighborhood of The Highlands. This home, listed by Ewing and Clark agents Jane Powers and Betsy Terry, is featured on his website. Titled the Pacific Northwest House, the masterpiece is a masonry home located on an 8-acre forest and was designed in 1977. The home has stunning interior and exterior features, including a James Cutler guesthouse. The home is currently listed for sale at $6,900,000.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Laurelhurst Encroachments

The city has for a long time been battling with local residents over the issue of land that is considered public property, yet is falling victim to a number of resident created encroachments. The latest story comes from the Seattle neighborhood of Laurelhurst which is facing the problem at a small, waterfront lot called “Waterway 1”. The lot is near Union Bay and is one of the few places providing public access to Lake Washington. Only about a ¼-acre large, the public lot is at 43rd Avenue N.E. and N.E. 35th Street. The lot has an encroaching dock, fence, and landscaping features from nearby homeowners who are now facing fines and consequences from late fee payments, all coming from the Department on Natural Resources, who owns the land. The nature enthusiasts in Seattle who feel passionate about having adequate park areas (like members of Friends of Waterway 1) are set on keeping the areas public, while property owners feel they can use the area as they please, explains a spokeswoman for the parks department. Today, signs outside the park notes “public shore access”, and the DNR is taking the necessary steps to keep it that way. A Seattle Times article notes that the DNR will collect nearly $200,000 from encroachments and leases from the people using the park for private means. Hopefully, these first steps towards removing the encroachments will improve the situation.

Seattle Public Schools Releases District-Wide School Rankings

Public schools are often a consideration for buyers when they are looking to purchase a home in Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue or anywhere across the country. Seattle Public Schools recently released a district wide report on state test scores and yearly improvement rates. Eighty-two schools were involved and rated from 1-5, one being low passage rates and little improvement and a 5, the contrary. Twelve schools in the district got a perfect score, but almost just as many received a 1. District leaders have said that if these rankings don’t improve in the next couple of years, replacing the staff or closing schools may both be possible consequences. Schools will be provided funds to carry out improvement plans, and those with the lowest scores will get the largest dollar amounts. Hopefully, this increases the emphasis put on the importance of education in our communities. To get more details of schools where you own your Seattle home, or are looking to buy a home, please click one of the following Seattle neighborhoods: Madison Park, Madrona, Mt. Baker, Capitol Hill, Lake Union, Belltown, Queen Anne, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Ballard, or West Seattle.

Open Water Squatting

Bainbridge Island has a unique floating community that most don’t know about; at least they didn’t until a number of articles featuring controversy surrounding the community were published. The community, floating in Eagle Harbor, is made up of a collection of boaters, living on their anchored homes. Members of the community, called “liveaboards” live in the Harbor essentially for free and commute by row boat to and from the main island. This particular liveaboard community is the last surviving in the state, but could be just a memory, come December 15th. The Department of Natural Resources gave the houseboat tenants eviction notices last week. The liveaboards are considered “squatters”, as they are living in the harbor for free, unlike similar counterparts living around Puget Sound who pay monthly lease fees. The argument remains that if people want to use public land for private use, they should be subject to the same rules and regulations as other communities. One of the main concerns is the environmental effects the community has.
Arguments against the disbanding of the 17 liveaboards are that they are a unique part of the island’s maritime history and that their carbon footprint is considerably small. Many use solar power and are very careful when disposing of waste, commuting to the city dock to use the pumping station. The city has been in talks of establishing an open-water marina in Eagle Harbor but high costs of maintaining and mooring buoys has remained a very large concern.
Unless things change, liveaboards will be required to move their boats by the December 15th deadline.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now Showing at the Cinerama: A new look!

The historic Seattle theatre, Cinerama, has been revamped. Opened in 1963, Cinerama has providing movie buffs with classics and blockbusters for over 40 years. Last night it opened it’s doors to a newly remodeled venue, after having been closed since late August. Owner Paul Allen has added technical upgrades, from the projection, to the sound system, to the screen itself. The theatre reopened it’s doors just in time to debut a midnight screening of the newest Harry Potter film. The Cinerama’s interior has new carpeting as well as display cases, featuring movie memorabilia. Concessions have received a change too, featuring lower prices and treats from local food vendors. Theatre operator Greg Wood has already begun to book the venue for film festivals in 2011, and hopes to make the theatre available for community events as well. Make sure to check out the newly updated Cinerama in the near future.

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Capitol Hill Beauty


Capitol Hill, Seattle is known for its eclectic style, and this characteristic is easily reminiscent of the architecture of its real estate. This home, newly listed by Jane Powers and Betsy Terry in Capitol Hill has commanding wrap around views of Lake Washington, the University of Washington, and Cascade Mountains. This picturesque William Bain residence is a sizable home with gracious rooms. The interior features fine millwork including walnut floors and lovely moldings with a romantic outlook. Other interior features include a large living room, a pretty library, fantastic dining room and an expansive kitchen with commercial appliances. The home’s exterior includes private terraces and fine plantings with a Tsutakawa fountain in the entry courtyard. This home is truly unique and has an unusual, loft style second floor family room with soaring ceilings. If you are looking for a Capitol Hill home with a distinct personality, this is a special home that should not be missed. Please contact Ewing and Clark for more information.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Burien Town Square Condominium Foreclosure

On Friday we tweeted about the Burien development, Burien Town Square Condominium, suffering foreclosure. The most recent article in the Seattle Times about the foreclosure has provided some details of the issue and what future plans are in store. Although there were high hopes for the project to revitalize the downtown Burien area, when condominium sales weren’t happening (6 of 124 units sold) and space wasn’t leasing, the developers (Urban Partners) were ultimately forced to hand it over to the lenders. The construction lender was Corus Bank of Chicago, but in 2009, their assets were seized and 40% interest in Corus’ real-estate loan portfolio was sold to ST Residential.

Urban Partners owed over than $34 million in principle on the $38.5 million construction loan. However, Urban Partners says the loan agreement specified high asking prices for the condos and retail space, which is partly the cause for its ill fortune. ST Residential did not provide any answers as to how they are planning to keep the project afloat. Burien residents can only hope that the issue is resolved and the community can continue to grow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Washington Park


In the spirit of Election Day, 2010 we’ve decided to share a blog with you on the Seattle neighborhood, Washington Park. Washington Park was named for Washington State, which of course was named after the 1st U.S. President, George Washington himself. Seattle’s Washington Park is surrounded by better known neighborhoods such as Madison Park, Broadmoor, and lesser known Denny Blaine. Washington Park, like many Seattle neighborhoods, has a variety of accepted boundaries. Although some sources don’t even recognize it as an independent neighborhood, like Zillow.com, we at Ewing and Clark (partly because we have an office in the adjacent neighborhood: Madison Park) have a pretty definite answer:

Washington Park is bordered on the west by E. Madison Street which extends up until its north border, at the intersection of E. Madison Street and E. Blaine Street. E. Blaine meets the east border of the neighborhood: Lake Washington. Its eastern boundary extends down along the shores of Lake Washington until the intersection of Lake Washington Blvd E. and 39th Ave. E. In essence it is practically triangular shaped.

Wikipedia sets its boundaries for Washington Park a little tighter too. However, what makes Washington Park a great Seattle neighborhood are the historic homes that grace the area. One of these homes is the current home of the President of the University of Washington. This house, built in 1907, sits on a 5 acre lot overlooking Lake Washington. The grounds are stunning as the view. The house was donated to the University with the clause that it must be occupied by the President of the University of Washington. The other neighborhood homes vary greatly in structure and uniqueness, although the homes tend to be larger than an average Seattle home and many share the amazing views of Lake Washington and surrounding mountains. Ewing and Clark currently has five active listings in this wonderful neighborhood, so don’t miss the opportunity to live in such a historic and beautiful place.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Denny Blaine Home Sold


A beautiful Denny Blaine home listed by Ewing and Clark brokers Betsy Terry and Jane Powers recently sold for $6,250,000. This is the highest priced non-waterfront sale of the year in the city of Seattle. The 8,270 square foot home was built in 2000 and designed by architect Greg Bader, of Bader Architecture and was featured in Architectural Digest. The home has sweeping views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Congratulations to Betsy and Jane.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Happenings

Below is a list of Seattle and Eastside neighborhoods hosting Halloween events. Have fun and make sure to follow the links for full details!

Capitol Hill

If you live in the area, or want to experience Broadway in all its spooktacular glory, the Capitol Hill Seattle blog has posted a “candy forecast map” showcasing the best places to find your treats, and in this case, some tricks!! They’ve highlighted the best door-to-door trick-or-treating that can be found in the neighborhood whose homes offer goodies and ghoulish displays. Hauntedbroadway.com also offers a guide to activites from parades to costume contests. Make sure to take a look at the post on capitolhillseattle.com if you want enjoy Halloween on Haunted (Capitol) Hill!!

Madison Park

Just a bit east, in Madison Park, a ghostly gala will be taking place as well!! The Madisonparkblogger.com gives their vampy version’s details, which will take place on Saturday with most businesses participating in the trick or treating. Click the link above for more information.

Madrona

Madrona is also hosting a spooky spectacle dubbed the “Halloween Extravaganza” which will be at the Madrona Playfield. With candy, storytime, games, drinks and a carnival, you won’t want to miss it!! Click the link above for more information.

Queen Anne

Queen Anne was recently voted one of the best neighborhoods for trick or treating (zillow.com). So if you have kiddies, take a stroll through Queen Anne and look at their map to find the best treats! Courtesy of their blog, Queenanneview.com, they’ve listed a few other frightful festivities for you to enjoy including the Halloween Carnival, a special Farmer’s Market, and a Halloween party at Queen Anne Manor. Follow the link above for more details on how you can participate!!

Ballard

For you Ballard residents, Holman Road will now be hosting a trick-or-treat event. Carkeek Plaza and Holman Road Square businesses will be handing out candy on Halloween day. Many of the stores will have specials and free services, like face painting and massages. Follow the link for more information!

West Seattle

Will you be in West Seattle this Halloween? If so, check out this unique celebration. This year, the 4th Annual Skeleton Theatre, a famous animatronic outdoor production has a rock n’roll theme. With Free entrance and some ‘bone’ chilling performances on Sunday and Monday night, you’re sure to have a good time. See more above by clicking the link!.

Bellevue

It looks like Bellevue businesses will be taking part in the trick-or-treating also! Old Bellevue is hosting the event on Halloween day from 2:00-5:00. Bellevue Square is having it’s own funfest on Sunday complete with tricks, treats, clowns, and fun for kids. For you grownups, the 520 Bar & Grill has it’s Halloween Party on Saturday nights. Enjoy some creepy cocktails and dance the night away! See downtownbelleve.com for more information.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Madrona Fire Suggests Arson


The Seattle neighborhoods of Madrona and Madison Park have been in recent news due to an arson scare that was sparked at a Madrona home. Literally. We wrote in a previous blog that last Monday, a home located on 33rd Avenue caught fire while the owner was away. The cause was determined to be a deliberate one. Deliberate and suspicious. Earlier in the day, a man had knocked on the door of said home claiming he’d lost his ball and hoped he could look for it in the backyard. The kind homeowner allowed the man into his backyard and seemingly left the home, assuming the man was gone as well. Not long after, the home was aflame and the man was nowhere to be found. Police suspect the man to be an arsonist who had used the tactic to cover up a burglary. Coincidentally, another homeowner in the neighborhood reported a man at his doorstep looking for a lost ball in the backyard. Yet, the man left once he had found it. Unfortunately, a similar situation has surfaced in the Madison Park neighborhood. A family reported that upon returning home, they found their garage and back gate open and a propane heater (originally in the garage) inside of their basement. The moved heater suggests that someone may have been looking for a way to ignite a fire. The homeowner found footprints and later discovered a rubber ball in the backyard that did not belong to him. Police have found the incidents to be strikingly similar and are assuming they are related. The suspect in question, whose sketch is made from witness description, is shown above. All things considered, be wary of who approaches your home and be sure to keep doors and windows closed/locked. Homeowners, air on the side of caution to best prevent a crime like this from happening.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Blur of Belltown


You hear of the following situation all the time: Person 1 and Person 2 both live in the city of Seattle. Person 1 lives “Downtown” and person 2 lives in “Belltown”. Person 3 hops in the conversation and says he lives in Queen Anne. Sure, most everyone living in the city knowd that these areas are distinctly separated from one another, but what are the actual boundaries? Where does one end and the other begin? Belltown has some of the most varied opinions. Many say its southern border starts anywhere from Blanchard Street (my coworker), Virginia Street (Belltown.org), or Lenora (Zillow.com) to the mostly undisputed Denny Way bordering the north side. My point is, the lines are blurred. Some organizations or websites like Seattle.gov don’t even list Belltown as a choice for selecting a neighborhood map. It’s logical to assume that most out-of-towners are going to consider everything from Belltown to Denny Regrade to Pioneer Square (and everything in-between) is “downtown Seattle”. However, if you’re local to the city, or in my case (and other co-workers) are a licensed real estate agent, you have to know the difference. Yet, your directional understanding may not always be what your counterpart agency’s XYZ agent is. For example, after searching for the condominium building (without specifying neighborhood) Cristalla, a total of 9 listings showed up. Six of these listings were specified in the Belltown community, and three were under the downtown community. Many agents experience this issue, and it’s not limited to only these communities. The area known as Interbay, between Queen Anne and Magnolia and the area between Fremont and Ballard are both prime examples of similarly blurred boundaries. Although I couldn’t find definitive (nor harmonious) Belltown borders, it’s good to know that people are fairly forgiving if you ever slip up. For the record, the Ewing and Clark office is located on Western between Lenora and Blanchard, and we have always considered ourselves to be located in Belltown.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Downtown Seattle Residence Beware: Man shot - Suspect in Custody

A shooting took place downtown Seattle this early evening around 4:45 PM. It was on the corner of Second and Pike, usually a busy intersection that time of day, and near the main entrance of Pike Place Market and close to several Seattle condo buildings including the Newmark Tower and Fifteen Twenty-One. At least one witness saw the shooting, with one man being shot in the forehead. The victim was rushed to Harborview and there is no report on his status. The suspect was apprehended only a block away on the 100 block of Pike Street and a gun was recovered. The police have no motive at this time.

The Seattle Times, as well as other news outlets, I am sure will have more information as it is available.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Downtown Seattle Ferris Wheel

Pier 57 is home to The Crab Pot, Fisherman’s Restaurant, Pirates Plunder and a Ferris wheel? Yes, that’s right. The Pier could also house a Ferris wheel in the near future. The owner of Pier 57 recently applied for a permit to build a giant Ferris wheel to decorate the historic Miner's Landing. The pier, built in 1872, was a key point in shipping routes and one of the few structures to survive the Great Seattle Fire. Hal Griffith, the pier’s owner, hopes to construct a 175-foot wheel with enclosed gondolas, to compensate for unpredictable Seattle weather. A big incentive for the Ferris wheel is to draw a crowd to the waterfront. Because of the recent viaduct issues, Griffith is worried that customers and business will continue to dwindle. A Ferris wheel is a giant (and costly) attraction, but riders will experience phenomenal views and a new, fun amusement park ride. A Ferris wheel is allowed under the existing zoning, but it will have to go through reviews before it is approved. The first would be an environmental and shoreline review, and the second a landmark review, as it is a designated Seattle landmark. If all goes as planned, Belltown and Downtown Seattle residents may expect to have a local Ferris wheel sometime in the next 18 months.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Broadmoor Tour Thursday

Broadmoor is a gated community located in the Madison Park neighborhood in the heart of Seattle. Known for its beautiful homes, exclusivity and 115-acre fairway, the Broadmoor Golf Course (and private club), this Seattle residential area is anything but ordinary. The stately homes and picturesque setting that grace Broadmoor are highly sought after and truly one-of-a-kind. Tomorrow, October 21st, Ewing and Clark is having broker’s opens for 6 incredible Broadmoor homes, so please take the opportunity to see them for yourself! Below is a list of the homes which will be open from 12:00-2:00 pm. Please click the highlighted address and follow the link to view these properties.

1982 Shenandoah Dr E, Seattle 98112-$2,495,000


1818 Broadmoor Dr E, Seattle 98112-$2,985,000


1129 Parkside Dr E, Seattle 98112-$1,695,000 or $6,000/mo


3414 E Shore Dr, Seattle 98112-$6,450,000
-Image above


2128 Waverly Wy E, Seattle 98112-$2,899,000


1420 Broadmoor Dr E, Seattle 98112-$995,000

-Happy Touring!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Madrona Home Destroy by Fire

A Madrona home on the 1700 block of 33rd was destroyed by fire. No one was home and no one was injured but the fire was declared to be arson by the Seattle Police Department. The damage to the home is estimated to be $300,000 with the adjacent homes suffering minor damages. According to people with knowledge of the fire, the fire started from a couch in the basement and there was either some type of lighter fluid or gas found near by.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bill Gates Sr. and his Misleading I-1098 Ad

Figures lie, and liars figure is an old saying. In Bill Gates Sr.'s “I Love Our State” ad, the first part of the old saying is true. Mr. Gates talks about how the state property tax will be cut by 20% which is true. However if you are expecting your property tax bill to be cut by 20% if this initiative passes, you are sorely mistaken. The state portion of your property taxes is only one portion of the overall property taxes that you pay. Thus, if you live in King County and your home is assessed for $300,000, then your taxes will go down by about $133, or about 4% which is far less than the 20% you might reasonably expect. The ad also never refers to the new tax as an income tax. Why not? Probably because it is considered taboo to say to voters, and because our state constitution makes it unconstitutional to tax property disproportionately. Income has been ruled to be property in the past, so the supporters of this “excise tax” cannot say it is an income tax. Now, Mr. Gates is well intentioned and everything he says in the ad is true, so he is not a liar. He merely spins the figures and chooses his words carefully to put his position in the best possible light, which in politics-well, that just is politics.

Admittedly, I am against a state income tax, mainly because the tax will be expanded to more taxpayers. How do I know? History tells us so. Just look at our current federal income tax that was established in 1913. Below is an excerpt from the United States Department of Treasury Website:

"By 1913, 36 States had ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. In October, Congress passed a new income tax law with rates beginning at 1 percent and rising to 7 percent for taxpayers with income in excess of $500,000. Less than 1 percent of the population paid income tax at the time. Form 1040 was introduced as the standard tax reporting form and, though changed in many ways over the years, remains in use today." [Bold was added.]

Sound familiar?

Vendovi Island Update


In a previous blog, I wrote about an up and coming J.P. King auction for Vendovi Island, located in the San Juans. The outrageous property up for grabs was a 216-acre private island with 6 beaches and incredible views owned by David Fluke. However, the auction which took place at the end of September, proved to be rather disappointing. The Island received only one bid at $3.3 million, over $10 million less than the owner’s reserve price. J.P. King, who is a member of Ewing and Clark’s sister company, Luxuryrealestate.com, was established in 1915 and is based in Alabama. They primarily service North America in marketing and selling multi-million dollar properties. The Seattle Times released an article today about the auction and related Islands on the market noting that they, like most properties for sale, are still feeling the effects of the current market. Although the Vendovi Island is appraised for over $10 million, a J.P. King spokeswoman says they are expecting the selling price to be lower. The article also reveals that there are 500 islands worldwide for sale, and only one internationally marketed island has sold in the past 5 years. Until the market makes a turn for the better, Vendovi will most likely remain on the market for a while.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unique Queen Anne Home


Yesterday morning, agent Jane Powers held a broker’s open at a Queen Anne home and several of our agents attended. The exotic, Mediterranean home is easily one of the most unique homes to grace the West Slope. It is a bright, beautiful home located on a corner lot and features several terraces and a Southwest garden, perfect for entertaining or relaxing. Upon entering, the unique feel of the home does not go unnoticed! Perhaps the finest feature of the home is the large scale, gourmet chef’s kitchen ideal for those who love to cook. Attached to the kitchen is a sizable family room with access to a territorial view balcony. The 3,490 sf home has four bedrooms, two bathrooms. This is a truly colorful home and it's Queen Anne location is an ideal retreat located close to urban destinations. Please follow the link to find more details and information on this Queen Anne Home.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sterling Bank - Cease and Desist Lifted

Great news for the state's second largest banks: federal regulators have released Sterling Bank from the cease and desist order that was placed on them about a year ago. This should be a clear sign that the bank is on better financial footing. The bank had raised money through a recapitalization and the bank has been performing better as of late. It is always good when a local bank is doing well providing jobs to the state and giving more options to local consumers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Beautiful Denny Blaine Waterfront Home

In one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Seattle, Denny Blaine, this idyllic waterfront home is a must see for someone looking for a Seattle home for sale. This 1910 residence features gracious floor plan and elegant scale. The classic detailing, such as covered terrace, french doors and windows, marble fireplaces, columns, cornice moldings, sconces and beamed ceilings keep the original feeling throughout the house. The Denny Blaine home also highlights a gentle sloping lawn to the waters edge of Lake Washington while enjoying the privacy of a large weeping willow in the yard. The dock has a rare covered boat house and beach house with fireplace to make for endless enjoyment of Lake Washington and all it has to offer. Please click the link, to see more details of this beautiful Denny Blaine home.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vendovi Island Auction


Many have thought to vacation in the San Juan Islands, but have you ever thought about owning a San Juan Island? Auction company J.P. King is now making this possible. The San Juan Island to be auctioned, Vendovi Island of Anacortes, is to be sold in the event happening in Seattle on September 30th. J.P. King is a member of Ewing and Clark's sister company, Luxuryrealestate.com, the most viewed luxury real estate website in the world. Last week, Meghan Barry of luxuryrealestate.com posted a blog on the site about the Vendovi auction, including property details and stunning photographs like the one pictured above. Please visit luxuryrealestate.com for more information.

Friday, September 3, 2010

September in Seattle (and some other places)


September in Seattle always seems to be bitter-sweet for many of us (our feelings often influenced heavily by the weather). We say goodbye to the hot (if we’re lucky) days of summer and hello to the cooler temperatures of the autumn air (it’s official on Sept. 21st). We say farewell to our boats and sionara to our flip-flops, but hey and hello to our Northface jackets and better yet, football jerseys. Although September is the end-all to summer fun, there isn’t a better city to spend the month of September in. Here are some things you have to look forward to in September.

What’s a better way to kick off the first weekend of September than with a holiday?! The shouts and jumps of joy will be heard all over Seattle as we welcome the month with a three-day weekend. Labor Day is this coming Monday, Sept.6. We will spend it resting or celebrating, and if you’re lucky, joining in the festivities on the last day at Bumbershoot, Sept.6. Bumbershoot is Seattle’s 40th annual Music & Arts Festival taking place at the Seattle Center. Headliners include Mary J. Blige, Bob Dylan, and alternative rock band, Weezer.

The start of September also marks the drafting of fantasy football leagues everywhere with the official NFL Opening Kickoff 2010 ceremony taking place on Sept.9. We’re done watching the Seahawks practice at training camp and ready to see them play at Qwest! September also initiates the drone of cheering college students across the nation. That’s right, college football starts this first week and the first Husky (gohuskies.com) game is this Saturday, Sept. 4 at BYU.

Calling all luxury real estate professionals, Seattle is hosting the 15th annual Fall Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel. If you have the distinction of being an exclusive member of our sister company Luxuryrealesate.com, you will be enjoying featured speakers, real estate seminars and delicious cuisine on Sept. 20-22.

You can do it at a trot you can do it at a gallop you can do it real slow so your heart don’t palpitate….but you HAVE to do it-the Puyallup Fair! The biggest fair in Washington starts this month on Sept. 10 and lasts until Sept. 26 and has all the rides, stuffed animals and elephant ears one stomach can handle!

Ladies and gentlemen, break out your Dirndls and Lederhosen-the annual Fremont Oktoberfest is happening Sept. 24-26 with entertainment, bratwurst and biersteins galore! Don’t miss the chance to eat, drink, and be merry in the “Center of the Universe”.

September shouldn’t be a tearful goodbye to summer days, but an open-armed welcome to an undoubtedly fun month in the great Northwest. Happy almost-fall Seattle!

-Picture, courtesy of Alaska-in-pictures.com

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The "Wright" Homes


Most of us in Washington have probably never seen one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural creations. That’s probably due to the fact that there only three of them in the state, all located in the Puget Sound Area. The majority remain in the Midwest, on the east coast, and a random selection of other states, including California. The Seattle Times had an article over the weekend about some of Wright’s most unique creations, the textile-block home. Wright created only 4 of this style, all of which are located in Southern California. Two of these, are currently on the market and realtors are finding that these masterpieces are hard to sell, which is surprising to most. Although the homes have a variety of issues, most notoriously the “leaking ceiling”, the historic and literally, one-of-four-of-a-kind homes, should be seeing more activity. The homes were built quickly between 1923 and 1925, and are seen, at least among the architectural community, as “one of Wright’s biggest accomplishments.” Just as incredible, although not quite as rare, are the “Usonian” style homes, which Wright created nearly 60 of. These homes are smaller, single-story homes known for having little storage space, let alone a garage. One of these homes, which includes heated floors and visually comparable interior and exterior features, is located in Sammamish, Washington. Known as the Brandes House, the Sammamish home was originally owned by Ray and Mimi Brandes who personally wrote to Wright asking him to build them a home. The home was finished in 1951. Fast forward 57 years to 2008, the year that Ewing and Clark real estate agents Jane Powers and Betsy Terry had the honor of selling the Sammamish home. Owning a Wright home is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Despite the economy, thoughts are that the Wright homes for sale in California should be selling. Our thoughts are, buy the "Wright" house while you can!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Downtown Seattle Condos Have Access to New Church

Seattle's Christ Our Hope Catholic Church had this first Sunday Mass this past weekend. The newly consecrated church is located in The Josephinum building at the corner of Second and Stewart. With 50,000 people living in Downtown Seattle, the Archbishop determined it was time to open a church in the low-income apartment building that has been owned by the Archdiocese since the 1960's. The church hopes to be able to server the community - whether condo owners, business people who work in the area, the people of the street, or tourist visiting from cruise ships.

To learn more, you ran read the parish's website.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beautiful Broadmoor Home


Broadmoor is one of Seattle’s most exclusive residential communities, neighboring the beautiful Madison Park area and consisting of picturesque homes and a 115 acre golf fairway. The privacy of this gated community makes for unmatched serenity and the perfect place to make your next home. Ewing & Clark real estate agents Betsy Terry and Jane Powers have the honor of listing one of Broadmoor’s finest homes. The Broadmoor home, located at 3414 E. Shore Drive, is perfectly located between the golf fairway and a private street in the northeast corner of Broadmoor. The landmark French inspired estate offers elegant styling, gracious rooms and floor to ceiling windows. The 1926 built home is fully updated and boasts a new and extravagant swimming pool terrace with hot tub and outdoor kitchen. For more information on this home or other homes for sale in or around the Broadmoor community, please contact a Ewing & Clark real estate agent today.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

They're Back!!!!

They’re back…or did they ever leave? We wrote a blog about Jill Lane and James McClung back in June and their squatting in a $3.3 million Kirkland home. After Lane was arrested for criminal trespass, and released soon after, she announced to The Seattle Times from her Disneyland vacation that she was not done. Little news was written about them until another recent Seattle Times article reported that they have once again been attempting to claim possession of several more vacant homes that have fallen victim to bank failure. Although they have not yet moved in, the duo apparently signed letters placed on the doors of the targeted homes ordering a surrender of possession. While Ms. Lane spins themselves to be modern-day Robin Hoods, justifying taking from the evil banks and using their home proceeds to assist "people who are being brutalized by banks every day," most of us are left wondering what these people are thinking, and that includes the Kirkland police. According to above mentioned Seattle Times article, Capt. Mike Ursino stated, "McClung's thinking is that if he keeps trying, one day he's going to win and he'll miraculously have a million-dollar house. Meanwhile, everybody else goes out and works for what they’ve got.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Olive 8 Condominium Auction


The Downtown Seattle condo Olive 8 will soon be joining the auction trend. Come September 19, some of the luxury condos of the high-rise building will be up for auction by the real estate auction company, Kennedy Wilson. Condominiums up for auction include 1-2 bedroom units up to 1,586 sf. The bidding will start at $160,000, which is pretty nice considering condos were originally priced at the lowest of about $400,000. Still deal seekers should also consider buying through a real estate agent / Realtor outside the auction. As noted in a previous blog written by Nate Pearson, there are limits to real estate auctions. The main limitation to a real estate auction is the only variable is price, while when you make an offer through a real estate agent / realtor you can ask for other considerations such as build-outs etc. Read Nate’s blog for more details.

But no matter what you do, Olive 8 is a building to seriously consider if you are looking for a downtown condo for sale. The accolades over the Olive 8 condominiums have not ceased since it’s opening in 2009. The building is LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and is the first Seattle condominium building to receive a silver certification, allowing you to own a green condo in the heart of downtown Seattle. The lowest level home is 18 stories up, as the 17 stories below are occupied by the Hyatt Hotel, providing some of the best views that a Seattle condo offers. Views include those of many Seattle neighborhoods view of the Puget Sound, Lake Union, and Lake Washington waterfronts. In addition, the luxury interiors include hard-wood flooring, Italian cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, unmatched fixtures, and the floor-to-ceiling windows. Moreover, these Seattle condominiums offer residents’ exclusive amenities and along with shared access to hotel amenities. These include, but are not limited to, a 24-hr concierge, a club lounge, entertainment room and dog run. Hotel amenities include room service and housekeeping, a fitness center and spa/Jacuzzi. This is accomplished with relatively low dues for a downtown condominium because the costs are shared with the hotel.

Please contact Ewing and Clark for more information on condo purchases.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Congratulations to Sterling Bank

Congratulations to Sterling Savings Bank, Washington State's second largest bank, who raised $730 million from private equity which looks like will allow them to survive. Going forward the bank will concentrate more on consumer banking and lending to small and medium businesses and less on construction and real estate lending. To read more click here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Homeownership and the American Dream


An article was recently published in Fortune magazine about home ownership and the link to the “American Dream”. Home ownership, which once went hand in hand with the concept of prosperity in America or the “American Dream”(since the mid 1800’s), has in recent years been breaking away from that association. What was once a signifier of success has unfortunately, as of late, lead to more problems than anything else it seems. And so begins the newest trend, referred to as the “rise of the renters”. It’s no secret that renting has (maybe not any longer) a stigma attached to it, but amid everything negative happening in the housing market, it actually seems to be becoming more appealing. Renting that is. Even the Obama administration has decided to shift their focus to rental housing as opposed to homeownership. Long gone are the days of negative references to the “renting class”. There are plenty of beautiful and high-end rentals that don’t quite reflect what that terminology once used to. Most rent property and choose not to own for the simple fact that they don’t have the financial means. In today’s economy, it’s no wonder the percentage of renters is on the rise. Our economy is facing high levels of unemployment and it’s reflecting in our financials. Renting has always been a much lighter burden on the wallet and that’s why the rental market is burgeoning. Renters don’t face any getting-harder-to-pay mortgages and property taxes and aren’t spending money on maintenance. Renting is becoming increasingly popular and people are, for the moment at least, putting their dream homes to the wayside. Should people think they’re not living the “dream” because of it though? According to most, no. It’s no longer about ownership anymore. It’s about living healthy, happy and working to improve your quality of life. So whether you choose to buy or rent, make the choice that is best for you. If you need to modify your dream, then do it. Making a substitution like renting instead of owning can be just as prosperous for some. According to the Seattle PI, the Seattle real estate market reflects that it is better to rent than buy. We are ranked #3 on a list of cities with the same outcome. In short, it’s simply cheaper given our current economical conditions and housing market. However in a previous Ewing and Clark blog by COO Casey Losh, after a number of internet calculators, his general outcome was the monthly costs of renting vs. owning were essentially the same, if appreciation/depreciation is not a contributing factor. Many say that NOW is the best time to buy. Because current mortgage rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades, this is a market where first time buyers will undoubtedly benefit. However, it is better to air on the side of caution. Renting is smart and affordable in today's economy, so don't let the issue of the "American Dream" stand in your way.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ewing and Clark title sponsor for Washington State Open Tennis Tournament.

Today marks the first day of the 120th annual Washington State Open Tennis Tournament, hosted by the Seattle Tennis Club located at 922 McGilvra Blvd East in Madison Park. The week-long event’s title sponsors include Ewing and Clark, Inc., along with two other local businesses. The prestigious Seattle Tennis Club is expecting nearly 10,000 spectators to watch over 500 players compete. This event is free and open to the general public.

Schedule:

Tuesday, August 3
10:00 am–7:30 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Singles First Round Matches
12 Noon–7:30 pm – Senior Singles & Doubles First Round Matches

Wednesday, August 4
10:00 am–3:00 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Singles Second Round Matches
3:00 pm–9:00 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Doubles First Round Matches
12:00 Noon–9:00 pm – Senior Singles & Doubles Second Round Matches

Thursday, August 5
10:00 am–1:30 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Singles Third Round Matches
1:30 pm–7:00 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Doubles Second Round Matches
6:00 pm–9:00 pm – Open Mixed Doubles First Round Matches
12:00 Noon–9:00 pm – Senior Singles & Doubles Second and Third Round Matches

Friday, August 6
10:00 am–1:30 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Singles Quarter Finals
1:30 pm–7:30 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Doubles Quarter Finals
6:00 pm–9:00 pm – Open Mixed Doubles Quarter Finals
12:00 Noon–9:00 pm – Senior Singles & Doubles Quarter Finals

Saturday, August 7
10:00 am–1:30 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Singles Semi-Finals
1:30 pm–4:30 pm – Men’s & Women’s Open Doubles Semi-Finals
4:30 pm–7:30 pm – Open Mixed Doubles Semi-Finals
10:30 am–6:00 pm – Senior Singles & Doubles Semi-Finals

Sunday, August 8
10:00 am–Women’s Open Singles Finals
10:00 am–1:00 pm – Senior Singles Finals
11:30 am–Men’s Open Singles Finals
1:00 pm–Women’s & Men’s Open Doubles Finals
1:00 pm–4:30 pm – Senior Doubles Finals
2:30 pm–Open Mixed Doubles Finals

Madison Park and the surrounding neighborhoods, Washington Park, Denny Blaine, and Broadmoor, feature premier Seattle real estate. To view Ewing & Clark's exclusive homes for sale in these areas, please click here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mercer Island Mansion Auctioned for a Mere $12 Million?

Going once, going twice, sold for $12 million. This winning (and minimum) bid was accepted for the purchase of a 23,000 square foot Mercer Island mansion which sold in late June. The home, originally listed 6 years ago at $40 million, was placed in the hands of a New York auction firm in February to be sold. The home’s winning bid was 30 percent of its original list price. Although there are perks to home auctions, such as a quicker closing and typically serious buyers, there are also some downfalls. Buying a home in an auction usually leaves no room for negotiation, one of the perks of a traditional home sale. Auctions may also be more costly to the seller than the conventional route. Finally, because auctions are usually characterized by the urgency to sell, sellers may not always receive full market value for their property.

Ewing & Clark currently holds the record for the most expensive Mercer Island home sold. Sold by agent Betsy Terry in 2009, the selling price exceeds that of the recently auctioned mansion by over 29 percent.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Is this title misleading? Real Estate Sales Up in King County


If you skimmed the Seattle Times on Wednesday you might think so. Yesterday, I turned to this business section of the Seattle Times and saw the real estate article with the title: "Pending home sales fall as credits vanish." I was surprised with the title because the residential real estate market has been relatively strong at least in transactions that our company has brokered since the second half of last year. In addition, agents had recently reported to me that they had been losing houses for their clients to multiple offers, and this is after the market was suppose to slow down with the sunset of tax credits on April 30th. So the title seemed odd, and then I looked at the graphs and sales in June 2010 compared to June 2009 are up in all the areas listed in King County except Seattle. Sales in Seattle were down 6.2% (560 from 597), but up on the Eastside +25.8% (638 from 507), North King County + 29.6% (70 from 54), Southwest King County 12.8% (194 from 172) and Southeast King County 29.7% (406 from 313). So the title could be anything: "Sales up over last year"; "Real Estate market still strong"; etc. The paper decided to go in a different direction. In the end, the title was correct. The data backs up what the title states, so I cannot fault the Times, especially when I saw another local paper put the same spin on the numbers. Still, it made me think of the saying: "Figures lie, and liars figure."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence Day!


It’s fast approaching. Barbecues, parades, and most importantly-fireworks! That’s right, Independence Day is right around the corner and where and how do you plan on spending your 4th of July weekend?!! There are a bevy of locations around the Seattle area to experience the festivities and take part in the action. If you’re not going to the Family 4th at Lake Union celebration (which you should be because it was almost canceled and yours truly donated to help keep it alive!), there are other places that you can celebrate the good ol’ USA’s birthday! Below is a list of a few alternatives.
8th Annual Capitol Hill Independence Day Community Picnic
This event will take place on Saturday July 3rd at noon and will feature live music and games. This event is great for families with children.

Ballard Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
On Sunday, the Seattle Civic Band will have its annual concert featuring patriotic classics.

Bainbridge Island Grand Old Fourth of July Parade and Community Celebration
The celebration begins in the morning with a pancake breakfast and the parade begins at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

25th Annual Naturalization Ceremony
Located at the Center House in Seattle Center, the newest American citizens will take their vows on Sunday starting at noon.

Bellevue Family 4th
This event takes place at the Bellevue Parks Family Fun Zone from 2:00 p.m-8:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Burien Independence Day Parade
The parade downtown begins at 3:00 pm on Sunday.

Museum of Flight’s The Twenty-Seven Flags of the U.S.
The celebration salutes all 27 versions of the American Flag over its history and takes place between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

The Swedish Cultural Center
Beginning at 7 p.m. on Sunday, there will be music, dancing and a place to view the Lake Union fireworks.

Fireworks Cruise
Taking off in Kirkland at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, passengers will enjoy the buffet and viewing of the fireworks.

If you decide to skip the big activities and enjoy the festivities privately, there are plenty of places in Seattle that offer a view of a fireworks display. Regardless of what you plan on doing, have fun, be safe, and remember: Fireworks are illegal in Seattle (aside from those used in shows requiring a city permit) so just stick to ground spinners and sparklers. Happy 4th of July!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure


An interesting news article recently came out in the Seattle times about an increasingly popular way to bypass home foreclosure, deeds-in lieu. Fully named “deeds-in-lieu-of-foreclosure” (DIL) is an instrument used by borrowers to satisfy loan default, an out-of-court settlement product. How does this work? Essentially, the mortgagor (borrower) deeds the home’s title to the mortgagee (lender), relinquishing all rights in the property and releasing themselves from indebtedness. This option, which was included in Obama’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative program has become more prevalent in today’s market due greatly in part to the fact that it can be done in such a quick amount of time. Other benefits include cost-saving efficiency for lenders, and less credit damage to borrowers. Bank of America is one of the largest service providers and now they are offering cash incentives to customers considering a deed-in-lieu-of-foreclosure. If you choose to take the route, remember this is completely voluntary and may not be the right choice for everyone facing foreclosure. If you have second or third mortgages or tax liens, you probably won’t get agreement. Make sure to explore and understand your options when you’re faced with foreclosure before settling with a DIL.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Leave the palaces to royalty


-or at least assume they are among the few who can actually afford them. Case in point, the 90,000 sf Windermere, FL mansion, inspired by the Chateau de Versailles of France, is now on the market for $75 million because owner David Siegel cannot afford to keep it, let alone finish its construction. Yes, finish. The house is currently for sale “as is”, which means it’s a huge empty shell with only steel beams, insulation and electrical wiring inside. Siegel, a timeshare entrepreneur, put the brakes on the home’s construction due to the recession. He had initially intended the home which boasts over 10 kitchens, 13 bedrooms, a rolling rink, multiple pools, a movie theater and personal baseball field to house his twelve children. Siegel did not want to impose further cutbacks at his company to afford it, so he chose to stop construction. The home can be finished, however, if it is purchased for a hefty $100 million dollars. Someone with a chunk of change that large is a rare find. We’re talking billionaire status. According to Forbes (http://bit.ly/9mCN0d), there are 1,011 billionaires in the entire world or .000000151% of the population, and I’m sure an even smaller percentage is looking to buy a palace. Forbes ranked this home to be the fifth most expensive in the nation, but it is the second largest for sale. What’s more, if the buyer purchased for $100 million, the property taxes alone would be between $1.45 and $1.74 million!! Most of us can’t even afford to buy a house at that price! What it comes down to is, don’t build a house you’re not going to be able to finish or maintain, because most likely we won’t be able to either. Let alone buy. This very special house is going to need a very special buyer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Annual A Plus Breakfast Supporting the Boys and Girls Clubs


Jane Powers sponsored a table at the A PLUS (Academics Preparation Leadership Unity Sports) at the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County today. Money was raised to support the youth program at the Boys & Girls Club. It was a great event with both Brandon Roy, NBA All Star, and Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, speaking at the event. Brandon gave an inspirational talk about how his parents helped to prepare him for life, that kids need guidance from their parents, teachers, and coaches, and that he knows youth programs like A PLUS helps kids get ready for life. Steve touched on the importance of programs like these, even getting a little emotional at one point noting that his son was graduating from high school today. There must have been at least 300 people at the event. The accompanied picture is of Seattle Prep alumni and affiliates that were at the event. Center, wearing the purple sweater, is Spencer Hawes who was traded today from the Sacramento Kings to the Philadelphia 76ers. In front of him is Tavio Hobson, the Program Director of A Plus. To Tavio's left is Brian Losh, Ewing & Clark CEO.

Kirkland Squatter Arrested


Unless you’ve been living under a rock or squatting in a vacant home, then I suppose you are excused from knowing about a recent development in Kirkland about, you guessed it, people squatting in a vacant home! A vacant mansion to be exact-and worth nearly 3.2 million dollars. The squatters who have been identified by Kirkland KOMO News as Jill Lane and friend James, set up shop in the luxury home at 435 8th Avenue W in early June. They exchanged the “For Sale” signs with “No Trespassing” and “Privately-Owned” substitutes, baffling neighbors and more importantly the home’s selling agent who had nearly $80,000 worth of staging furniture inside the house (shown above). Now how did they manage this? They didn’t. After escaping arrest for nearly two weeks, Tuesday marked an end to the situation. Following much public outcry, Jill Lane was arrested for criminal trespass and failure to show proof of ownership of the home. Lane’s friend was not present when her arrest was made. Lane, a co-owner of the Puyallup based Urban Tanning Spa initially submitted a full price offer for the sale of the home, but was rejected when she informed the bank that a “bonded promissory note” would be the form of payment. However, that did not stop the squat. After, Lane regarded a UCC financing statement claiming that title and interest in the property was now held by the “Priority Rose Children’s Outreach”, a charity which was incorporated only 2 weeks ago. (First Citizen Bank is the true owner) Although the charity’s cause was legitimate, promoting spiritual development of mankind, its contact information was not. The phone number listed for the charity routed callers to a company run by Lane called NW Note Elimination, which helps eliminate mortgages. Initially, police were hesitant to intervene in the dispute because it was a civil case. However when the police department faced such a large amount of public protest about the squatting, they reviewed deeds, tax logs, and utility bills, prompting them to take action. A rational outcome, to a very irrational situation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New in Queen Anne!


Attention Queen Anne residents and soon to be (?) residents: Development of the newest apartment complex located in Lower Queen Anne commenced on Monday. The building site resides on the former Mountaineers’ Headquarters at 300 Third Ave. W. The 10,000 member clubhouse which was once called the Norway Center, was built in 1950 by Norwegian fraternal and cultural organizations and sold 14 months ago. The real estate investment trust (REIT) Avalon Bay Communities (which owns or has an interest in 14 other complexes in Washington) behind the whole operation applied to build the 6-story, 204-unit building back in ’08 and construction is finally underway. Avalon Bay plans to erect a 295,738 sf building, dedicating 196,011 sf to residential use and 14,585 sf to commercial space. Aptly named the Avalon Queen Anne, the complex is one of the first in Queen Anne to follow the City of Seattle Green Factor, which applies to the landscaping in multi-family residential zones based on a scoring system. The Score Sheet measures factors like green roofs, vegetated walls and preservation of existing trees. Essentially, it is used to maintain and improve the livability in neighborhoods by making “green” requirements. Avalon Queen Anne, whose design concept is shown above, hopes to start leasing in the fall of 2011.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mortgage Application Decline


It’s no question that as of late, the housing market has been struggling. People are still experiencing the repercussions of a suffering economy when it comes to jobs and financing so it’s no wonder that last week signified the lowest housing mortgage application rate seen in nearly 13 years! Total applications for purchase loans and refinancing dropped 12.2 percent. Maybe people are apprehensive, considering Seattle is facing a higher number of foreclosures this year compared to last. Even with great credit, homeowners are met with the inability to handle payments because of the economy. Hopefully, things will start taking a turn for the better.

What To Know Before You Go Condo


In today’s market, the condominium is becoming more and more popular, especially in the downtown area of Seattle. If you are one of those people who love the sights, sounds and smells of the city, then a condominium might be right for you. In Downtown Seattle, all the way from the North edge at Midtown to the central district and from the waterfront east to the retail district it is safe to say that the primary residence is a condo, unless you are renting. Dependent on dozens of factors, condos can be priced in a range between $100,000 (on the low end) and upwards of $10,000,000(!), like the condo purchased at The Four Seasons Private Residences last year. It is also safe to say, that the majority of purchasers don’t have the budget to afford something like that. No matter what your budget is however, there are a number of things you should be considering before looking for/buying a condo.

First, buyers need to understand the basics of a condo association. Most importantly, you need to understand what you actually own when you purchase. When you purchase a home, you typically own the house itself and the lot it sits on. When you purchase a condo, you own the unit up to the walls and the air space up to the ceiling. The other space (aside from units) like hallways, rooftop decks, and amenities like gyms or lounge spaces are all common areas which means everything is shared and you only hold an interest in them. Every owner obtains their own financing, has their own property tax bill and pays a condominium fee or homeowner’s dues which cover the cost of building maintenance and other expenses like concierges and facilities. These fees are determined by the HOA (Homeowners Association) and are subject to monthly adjustments. Condo owners may also have to pay special assessment fees if there are unexpected repairs or modifications that need to be made. Condominium Associations are also governed by CC&Rs, Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. These are a set of rules imposed on condo owners that set limitations on pet ownership, renovations, renting, etc. These are obviously rules that owners would most likely not face if they bought private property on its own lot. Make sure you understand the subject condo’s CC&Rs before you purchase to avoid any future problems.

The second consideration you should make is location. Location, location, location! The location is something you’re going to want to be convenient, but remember that it is most definitely going to influence the price. There are obvious positive correlations between location and cost, for example proximity to the water and proximity to downtown, etc. Remember, what’s ideal might not always be ideal for your budget. The third factor to consider is the building itself. You want to check out the building’s age, size, amenities and views. Is having an accessible fitness room important to you, or would you rather have a view of Puget Sound? Each of these characteristics will undoubtedly affect the price also. If a view is what you’re looking for, make sure you figure out whether or not you have a secure view, meaning, will other buildings be constructed that could possibly obstruct the view?

Finally, make sure you are aware of your “neighbors”. Are there young families and children in the building, or is it primarily adult residents? How many residents actually live in the building? The population and its density should be things you want to consider before making any decisions in purchasing a condo. Don’t underestimate the effect that your fellow condo owners can have on you.

After you have investigated each of these issues, then you can better make an informed decision. Make sure you compare your results to other condo associations also. This way, you can find your best possible options. Happy hunting!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Seattle Festivals

The rain may make you feel like Summer will never come, cheer up ! There is plenty to do in Seattle, rain or shine.



We are currently enjoying our annual film festival,so let it rain, we will go to the movies ! There will be more than 250 films shown at SIFF this year. A special tribute to Edward Norton will include a viewing of his new movie, Leaves of Grass and then he will speak after the viewing.

There will be an opportunity to see three more of his films as well. This is this evening, so don't miss it.



Silent films will also be show, the 1916 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with music being played by Magnetic Fields. Riders of the Purple Sage with music being provided by the Maldives. Also included is a rare version of the 1931 Chinese film , A Spray of Plum Blossoms.



Three movies honoring Leonard Bernstein's unforgettable scores, West Side Story, On the Town , and On the Waterfront, will also be included in the festival this year



Fifty Documentaries will be screened, including films about people from William S Burroughs to Condoles Rice. There is a documentary with a social message called , count Down to Zero

or a fun look at a David Byrnes concert called Ride, Rise , Roar.



Feeling nostalgic ? Martin Scorsese's Foundation has restored four films that will appear on Saturday afternoons.

Along with scores of new American Indie films and first run international movies there will be a 3D flick about Australian Cane Toads.

You can log onto siff.net to get a full agenda of everything playing and where and when it is being
shown.

And stay dry in the process.

Prefer to get outside? The street fairs ,festivals and parades are just beginning. Edmonds Waterfront Festival is this week end. There is a classic yacht show , a marine art exhibit, booths of Arts and Crafts, music and lots of food.

Free shuttle busses will both deliver and return people to the annual open house at the Willow Creek Fish Hatchery on both Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00-4:00 pm. There will be free fishing for kids under 12 and they will clean them for you as well.

Two tall ships will be moored in the Marina on J and I dock, admission is free and you can see the famous Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain. For more infromation log onto http://www.edmondsrotary.org/.

The street festival to end all street festivals is in Fremont on June 19th and 20th. this is the 37th annual fair and Solstice Parade. It is not to be missed. Fremont is the self described center of the Universe and on these two days I believe it, we all do. It is kicked off with the parade like no other , if you want to be in the parade just join it, if you want to watch it is a sight to behold.
There are floats with dancers , clowns kids and dogs , each year a troop of "naked bicyclers" joins
the merriment. People are dressed in all forms of costumes made from feathers to paper. Little kids on decorated trikes, dragons, dogs and joyful dancers dancing every imaginable dance. Cool off in the many beer gardens , tour the blocks long booths full of Art and Crafts. Food from every corner of the world. fortune tellers, buskers, magicans and jugglers.The festival lives up the Fremonts motto : Delibertus Quirkus.... freedom to be peculiar.

Look for more in July.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Expect Inspection


If you are a renter and find yourself questioning how safe your unit is, or whether or not your landlord even cares, you’ll be happy to hear about the latest vote concerning this issue. Last week, the Seattle City Council voted “yes” to set up a city-conducted inspection system to ensure substandard rental unit safety and it’s adherence to building codes. Building codes, some may be wondering, are specialized codes that set standards for construction methods and the materials used. These can include fire codes, electrical codes and plumbing codes. Many, not to say all, renters aren’t aware of their building’s codes or have the means to find another residence if their building is not up to par. This is part of the reason why the city is implementing the program. There are over 100,000 units in Seattle, 50% of which are actually rented. Currently, unit inspection is allowable only if a tenant or owner gives permission. This new rule, which most likely won’t begin until 2012, orders mandatory inspections under which every unit in the city could be inspected, if decided. Of course, Seattle will work to improve its current system before requiring inspections, specifically for the fact that the new program will require landlords to pay a license fee. Owners will be required to have a license which they receive after passing inspection. Many landlords oppose the new legislation because most buildings do follow code. Violations in rental housing are rare and landlords do not want to be penalized for the mistakes of others. The city also adopted two new resolutions-the first which hashes out the details including how often inspections should occur, which buildings should be inspected, and what warrants an inspection failure. The second resolution requires the City Department of Planning and Development (DPD) to report on the success or failure of using warrants to gain access to units which need inspection. There is hope that the new ordinance will make inspectors more pro-active to ensure the public’s health and safety. The current system to address unfit housing is complaint-based which hasn’t always been 100% effective. Maybe the future ordinance will be. There are both positives and negatives to the bill and both support and opposition. If you have a burning question or comment, or simply want to see what others have to say, you can check out replies or post your own at www.seattle.gov.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Going green is getting easier!


Homeowners-We hope you’ve started (or at least considered) jumping on the “green” bandwagon en route to a more energy-efficient home! If not, you need to get on because things are starting to speed up! In my previous blog “Get Green for Going Green” I mentioned how easy it is to pinpoint where you could make improvements in your home to save energy, well, things are getting easier and much more interesting. Last summer, Microsoft Corporation launched a web site (currently in the works) that is geared towards this specific goal. The site, called Hohm, allows users to update info about their homes for example, utility details, size and year built and a score is given based on calculations from the information you’ve provided. Essentially, the more detail you give about your home, the more accurate your home energy score will be. The provided score is within the range of 1-100, 100 being the most energy-efficient possible. These scores can then be compared to the annual energy usage of other homes in your area, or compared on a national scale. In some areas, like Washington and California, users can even hook Hohm up to their utility accounts which will provide a direct feed to the site. Hohm provides users with worthy feedback like energy breakdowns, ways to save, and cost comparison graphs, to name a few. I decided to check out the site for myself, and after entering my home address, Bing produced a satellite view of my house with an estimated score based on the year it was built, it’s size and local comparables. However, I could easily update my “home profile” details because I have an existing windows live id to log on. The only downfall is users must have a windows email address to sign on, so if you don’t, you will need to create one. Soon, Microsoft will be adding real estate data so buyers can scout potential homes to determine their scores before making a purchase. The future of Hohm, says team leader Troy Batterberry, is the ability to feed data to utility companies to help them understand and predict usage and in turn, control costs. One of the pluses of the site is that it’s free to use, at least for now. In the age of technology, people should start taking advantage of such an easy to use online resource, as long as the word gets out. Even if the site doesn’t start prompting consumers to decrease their energy use, the site offers some neat alternatives to computing energy consumption. It also provides users with easy access to their blog and many links to related news articles about greening your home. Check out the site and see for yourself at www.microsoft-hohm.com.