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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Caveat Emptor

If you’re on the market looking for a property for private residence or for an investment, now may be an ideal time to bid on foreclosed properties. On average, these properties are offered at 5% below market rate and because of recent economic downturns, it is much easier to find a better quality home that has unfortunately suffered a foreclosure. However, the foreclosure process isn’t always a quick one, so homes may not always be as “quality” as they seem-in other words, Caveat Emptor. Caveat Emptor simply translated means “Let the buyer beware”, a handy Latin phrase that’s been used in the real estate world for years when it comes to the sale of real property. This phrase is essentially used as warning to anyone purchasing that there may in fact be unforeseen problems with the property. And what is best when it comes to actually taking this principle into consideration during your search for foreclosed homes? Ordering an inspection. A walkthrough of a foreclosed property by you and your spouse will not be enough. Buyers need to order a thorough property inspection done by a licensed professional to get full results. Although your personal inspection may reveal minor issues such as poor air quality or other defects resulting from long vacancy, it’s the latent defects which are invisible to the naked eye that an inspector will expose. For example, a blocked pipe is a concealed defect that will most certainly reveal itself down the road. Other problems, like a broken window or worn out carpeting are types of physical deterioration that can easily be cured. The primary cause for inspections, on the other hand, is to discover hidden property defects such as electrical, plumbing or system component problems. In addition, prospective buyers order home inspections to unveil health hazards, such as the presences of asbestos, radon, mold or if the home was built before 1978, lead-based paint. There are certain signs that may indicate the presence of mold, such as swelling walls or musty odors, but it is still best to leave the inspection up to professionals. Home inspection fees fall within a wide range and vary depending on factors like property size, property value, time spent, etc. Many inspectors provide buyers with a free quote once they have received a specified amount of info on the subject property. For buyers looking to purchase foreclosed property, it is money well spent. Inspections have both a reparative and preventative purpose so it’s a win-win for buyers. Don’t let yourself fall victim and order an inspection for your own sake. Three hundred dollars spent now may save you thousands down the road.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Heads up, borrowers!

For those of you who have recently applied for a home mortgage or hope to do so soon, be hesitant in applying for any other credit before closing. Beginning June 1st, as part of Fannie Mae’s “loan quality initiative”, lenders will be required to “order a second full credit screening immediately before closing”, a change to their current underwriting standards. This will be done to determine whether or not borrowers have applied for new debt anywhere else. If so, their mortgage applications could be affected in a negative way. This is in part to due to applicant’s debt-to-income rations (DTIs). Loans are more likely to fall through when your total DTI is adversely affected by newly acquired debt. If your ratio starts to increase, your chances for closing a loan will decrease. When this happens, most lenders view borrowers as “ineligible” because they might not be able to handle their monthly payments on the original loan. This may have an impact on borrowers more than before because it is hard to resist creating new debt after a home loan is approved. After mortgage approval, borrowers are likely to apply for new credit in purchasing furniture and/or goods for their homes. However, lenders will now contact merchants where you obtained the credit to determine how this will affect the applicant’s home-financing transaction. Lenders will be told to investigate to determine every debt incurred up until closing. This process could make or break your loan finalization. If you need that extra sofa or want that new credit card, wait those 40-60 days for the loan to close. If you are confident that application for a new loan will not affect your debt to income ratio, try calculating this ratio yourself. Finding this ratio can be quick, easy and free. Some sources such as allow you to do so by entering your total monthly loan payments (including the newest loan you wish to acquire) and dividing that by your total monthly income (including bonuses, alimony, etc). This will provide you with the ratio and the ideal DTI is .36 (36%) or less. Keep this figure in mind when applying for any future loans to avoid potential problems. So be wise before you decide to potentially put your home loan at risk. After all, what would you do with your new leather couch with no home to put it in?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seattle; Why we love it !

Seattle combines a beautiful natural setting formed by mountains, fresh water lakes, and sparkling salt water bays,complete with an energetic metropolitan city with world class entertainment, arts and cuisine We boast a mild climate, that lends itself to being "outside"
We ski in the winter and hike in the summer, and boat anytime we can ! We are second only to Hong Kong for boats per capita.

We abound with wonderful Art galleries, Our Seattle Art museum has two locations, one in the heart of Downtown with great permanent collections and awe inspiring traveling shows. The second site has a breathtaking Asian Gallery with a fantastic collection. The art community is well represented by hundreds of galleries that show everything from photography
to textiles to fine art.

Seattle is the most literate city in the country, sharing the title back and forth with Minneapolis.
We have lots of independent bookstores and we use them ! We Seattleites do love to read !

According to the US census Seattle is the smartest city in the US. 52.8% of the population has at least a bachelors degree. We have the tenth highest income in the country.

Seattle doesn't just sit and read, we are the seventh fittest city. Hiking running skiing yogi and a lovely long walk along the beach, keep us active.

We do enjoy our many wineries and micro breweries, as we are the 13th highest in alcohol consumption. could be why we have a life expectancy of 78.2 years old , or we just love to party!

Surprisingly we only have a average rainfall of 35 inches per year, less than New York City or Miami. The reason for our rainy city reputation it just takes a long time to fall, just a nice steady rain, no hard furious rains. We just do what ever we want and ignore the rain, it won't hurt you !

The climate is mild , a high of 75 degrees in July, and it only freeezes an average of 15 days a year. It makes for lush green vegetaion with abundant flowers and trees and ferns. a real wonderland .

The mild climate and the verdant abundance could be one reason that Seattle has been a settlement for over 4000 years. It has only been populated by Europeans since the mid-ninteenth century.

Come see us , you will love it and we welcome everyone , our population is diverse, a grand melting pot of people from all over the world. This makes for festivals all year long be it a Greek
Festival or Bon Odori, with beautiful dancers and great food. We are all encouraged to enjoy.
The Chinese New Year , its famous dragon dances are not to be missed. Watch monks make their famous sandpaintings or watch the Highland Games. there is always something to do.

Seattle is beautiful, entertaining , cultured and lots and lots of fun !! Come be in on it ! Ewing and Clark is the oldest real estate firm in the state , and we know Seattle we can help you find a home to suit your dreams.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ewing & Clark Saves the 4th of July!

Well, not by ourselves but with about 100 other companies. The last major fireworks show in Seattle was going to be canceled unless $500,000 was raised. Ewing & Clark was the 12th company to donate. After the grassroots effort started some big companies also donated and together we all saved the event on Lake Union.

We were somewhat surprised that we were recognized by emails and phone calls from people who noticed. One person wrote:

I just wanted to thank you for your company's donation to One Reel to keep our July Fourth celebration going. I often don't get what direction Seattle is headed, but the fact that a couple hundred small business stepped up to support the fireworks is about the coolest thing I've ever seen. Makes me very proud to live in Seattle!

Here is a link to to read a little more about it. Ewing and Clark is the 12th company on the list:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fannie Mae May Need $8.4 Billion in Aid

According to USA Today, Fannie Mae has asked taxpayers for an additional $8.4 billion after reporting a 1st quarter loss. There is debate within the government on whether to reform both Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama's administration says it is too early; Republicans say it should be part of the overhaul currently in front of Congress.

Get Green for Going Green

Inarguably, one of the biggest trends to hit Seattle in the past decade has been the desire to adopt a greener life style. A number of recent fear-inducing environmental issues have spurred Seattlites to become more aggressive, launching us to being ranked among the top 10 “Most Green” US Cities . More and more people are stepping in the right direction toward minimizing their carbon foot prints. Consumers are buying electric cars, purchasing products made only from recycled materials, and now, taking their energy saving habits and applying them to their homes. Home-owners can significantly decrease the amount of energy used in their homes by installing new windows and doors, providing insulation, or merely upgrading to energy-efficient appliances-and now they can get paid for it!! The idea stemmed from the recent stimulus “Cash for Clunkers” which allowed vehicle owners to trade in gas-guzzlers for their new, and greener, substitutes. Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Home Star Bill, which will create a program aptly named “Cash for Caulkers”, providing that home-owners who make energy-efficient improvements to their homes this year will be eligible for cash rebates. The Silver Star portion of the two-part bill allows for up to $3,000 cash in rebates for improvements. Owners will receive between $1000 and $1500 for each improvement, or $250 per appliance. The second portion, Gold Star, provides up to $3,000 in rebates if home-owners conduct whole-house energy analysis and improve their home energy by 20 percent. Every additional 5 percent will guarantee another $1,000 in rebates to the owner, up to a maximum $8,000. This means cash back in your hands.

Renovating your home for the good of the environment is soon to be more affordable than ever. However, steps must be taken to ensure that owners are not making needless improvements. If you need help figuring out how to start your home’s going green process, find out what it is you can fix. Consider conducting an easy, do-it-yourself energy audit (or consult a professional if need be), which will assess how much energy your home actually consumes. This way, you can pinpoint where improvements would be most effective. Once you’ve determined the areas in which you can preserve the most, start the process. There are many online resources which can direct you in finding a green home professional to begin construction-another bill bonus, job creation- who will oversee the project. Online resources can also provide you with ideas and/or materials to make these improvements if you decide to make them yourself. Websites such as, and are easily accessible and extremely helpful for the inexperienced green builder. Take the time to decrease your energy consumption and increase your cash flow. Happy renovating Seattle!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Luxury Queen Anne Condos in Trouble - An Opportunity for Buyers?

The 18 unsold units at 200 West Highland Drive, across from Kerry Park on the south slope of Queen Anne, are due to be sold at auction on August 6th unless Lorig Associates, the developer, pays over $25 million according to the Seattle Times. The building has a total of 25 units. As of today, May 6, 2010, we have 9 listed courtesy of Windermere R.E.N.W. Eastlake on Ewing & Clark website for sale between $2,050,000 and $895,000. Unit 302, which is listed for $2,050,000, is over 2,400 square feet and has unobstructed views from the Space Needle to the Sound. The sales price on unit 302 has been reduced over 40% from it original sales price.

UPDATED May 10th: According to the the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce on May 7th, the filing of foreclosure took the developer by surprise. The developer was working with the bank to sell the remaining units and said he will continue to do so. The Daily Journal quoted Lorig Associates CEO Bruce Lorig, "I am not a developer who walks away. In the 38 years we've been in business this is the first foreclosure we have faced. But we will get through this and do our utmost to protect the investments and the interests of those who have already purchased units at 200 West Highland Drive."

Home Sales Increase in King County during April

While April 30th and the First-Time Home Buyer Credit have come and gone they didn’t go quietly. According to Eric Pryne of the Seattle Times, “April was one of the busiest months for home sales in the King County since the real-estate bubble popped nearly three years ago.” The NWMLS stated on Wednesday that over 1,600 homes changed owners last month, which is a 64% increase compared to April 2009. Now that the tax credit has passed, people are worrying that it may have given the housing market a false sign of a turnaround and sales in the next few months won’t follow suite. However, individuals argue that the extremely low interest rates and housing prices provide enough incentive for people to go out and purchase a home. While it is too early to tell which way the housing market will go, I am personally very optimistic.

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