Monday, June 28, 2010


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 (, 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 to get a full agenda of everything playing and where and when it is being

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

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