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How to Cover Unexpected Costs with a Personal Loan

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Owning a home comes with its rewards — it’s an investment, a cozy haven to kick-up your feet after a long day of work, and a welcoming place to bring family and friends together. Although all of this makes homeownership fulfilling, owning a home also opens the door for unexpected (but necessary) expenses. If you’ve suddenly been hit with a home improvement project that’s pinching your budget, like a roofing issue or heater malfunction, a personal loan might be an option to help cover the cost. What is a personal loan? A personal loan is an installment loan that’s typically issued by a bank, credit union or online lender. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on a two-year personal loan is 10.22% but varies depending on your credit score and other criteria. Some lenders offer repayment terms anywhere from 12 months to five years. A benefit of using a personal loan for emergency home improvement projects is that the approval process is generally quick so you can address urgent home repairs sooner. Some online lenders can run a credit check, approve your application and send funds your way with a couple of days. The approval process for banks and credit unions, on the other hand, can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, if the lender needs additional information. How to find a personal loan If you’ve decided that a personal loan makes sense to fund your next home project, make sure you’re aware of these next steps. 1. Assess your budget   The last thing you need is taking out a personal loan only to realize after the fact that you can’t afford to repay it. Calculate how much you realistically need for your home improvement project, giving yourself a reasonable buffer for unforeseen repair expenses (e.g. permit fees, price changes for a specific material, etc.) Then, tally your monthly income and financial obligations to ensure you still have enough cash on hand to keep the lights on and make monthly installments toward your loan. Using a spreadsheet or budgeting app can help you track these numbers easily. 2. Know your credit score   Generally, you need a good credit score to get approved for a personal loan. Your credit score is one of the key factors that lenders use to determine whether your application is approved, and a higher credit score results […]

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Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

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The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.   ECONOMIC OVERVIEW Washington State employment has softened slightly to an annual growth rate of 2%, which is still a respectable number compared to other West Coast states and the country as a whole. In all, I expect that Washington will continue to add jobs at a reasonable rate though it is clear that businesses are starting to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. The state unemployment rate was 4.6%, marginally higher than the 4.4% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.2%, with a total of 88,400 new jobs created.   HOME SALES There were 22,685 home sales during the third quarter of 2019, representing a slight increase of 0.8% from the same period in 2018 and essentially at the same level as in the second quarter. Listing activity — which rose substantially from the middle of last year — appears to have settled down. This is likely to slow sales as there is less choice in the market. Compared to the third quarter of 2018, sales rose in five counties, remained static in one, and dropped in nine. The greatest growth was in Skagit and Clallam counties. Jefferson, Kitsap, and Cowlitz counties experienced significant declines. The average number of homes for sale rose 11% between the second and third quarters. However, inventory is 14% lower than in the same quarter of 2018. In fact, no county contained in this report had more homes for sale in the third quarter than a year ago.       HOME PRICES Home price growth in Western Washington notched a little higher in the third quarter, with average prices 4.2% higher than a year ago. The average sales price in Western Washington was $523,016. It is worth noting, though, that prices were down 3.3% compared to the second quarter of this year. Home prices were higher in every county except Island, though the decline there was very small. When compared to the same period a year ago, price […]

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Your Beginner’s Guide to Home Appraisals

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  Appraisals are used as a reliable, independent valuation of a tract of land and the structure on it, whether it’s a house or a skyscraper. Designed to protect buyers, sellers, and lending institutions, appraisals are an important part of the buying/selling process. Below, you will find information about the appraisal process, what goes into them, their benefits and some tips on how to help make an appraisal go smoothly and efficiently.   Appraisal value vs. market value The appraiser’s value is determined by using a combination of factors such as comparative market analyses and their inspection of the property to determine if the listing price is typical for the area. Market value, on the other hand, is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home or what homes of comparable value are selling for. If you are in the process of setting the price of your home, you can gain some peace-of-mind by consulting an independent appraiser. Show them comparative values for your neighborhood, relevant documents, and give them a tour of your home, just as you would show it to a prospective buyer.   What information goes into an appraisal? Professional appraisers consult a range of information sources, including multiple listing services, county tax assessor records, county courthouse records, and appraisal data records, in addition to talking to local real estate professionals. They also conduct an inspection. Typically, an appraiser’s inspection focuses on: The condition of the property and home, inside and out. The home’s layout and features. Home updates. Overall quality of construction. Estimate of the home’s square footage (the gross living area “GLA”; garages and unfinished basements are estimated separately). Permanent fixtures (for example, in-ground pools, as opposed to above-ground pools). After the inspection, the appraiser of a typical single-family home will create their report including their professional opinion on what the price of the home should be. You might hear the lender ask for two reports, the “Sales Comparison Approach” and the “Cost Approach.” These two approaches use different methodologies to find the appropriate value of the home, and help the lender confirm the home’s price.   Who pays and how long does it take? The buyer usually pays for the appraisal unless they have negotiated otherwise. Depending on the lender, the appraisal may be paid in advance or incorporated into the application fee; some are due on delivery and some are billed […]

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Keeping Families Warm from Head to Toe

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  Windermere is in its fourth season of helping #TackleHomelessness with the Seattle Seahawks! Each year, as part of that campaign, Windermere hosts a “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive for a local non-profit. This year, we are collecting warm winter gear for our new non-profit partner, Mary’s Place, an organization that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services to women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness. We are asking for donations of NEW hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for all genders and sizes. From October 14 through November 8, you can drop off donations at our participating Windermere Real Estate and Property Management offices in King and Snohomish Counties**. Once the drive is over, our friends at Gentle Giant Moving Company — our winter drive partner for the past three years — will once again generously donate their time and trucks to pick up the donations collected by our offices, to deliver to Mary’s Place. Since 1999, Mary’s Place has helped hundreds of women and families move out of homelessness into more stable situations. Across eight emergency family shelters in King County, they keep struggling families together, inside, and safe when they have no place else to go. But shelter capacity is limited and there are still hundreds of families sleeping outside in cars and tents each night. Please help them stay warm during the cold winter months by dropping off your donations to our participating offices. Feel free to contact your Windermere agent or local office for more information, or email justask@windermere.com.          **Windermere Winter Drive Drop-Off Locations Bellevue Bellevue Commons Bellevue West Kirkland Kirkland Yarrow Bay Lynnwood Maple Valley 4 Corners Redmond Snohomish

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LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – OCTOBER 2019

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OCTOBER 11, 2019 LOCAL ECONOMY While fall usually brings a decrease in sales activity, the opposite was true in September. The number of listings on the market dropped by double digits and home sales rose. It is still a seller’s market, however prices have stabilized. With interest rates near historic lows and employment levels at historic highs, the housing market is expected to stay strong throughout the fall and winter. EASTSIDE KING COUNTY SEATTLE SNOHOMISH COUNTY Long the most affluent area of King County, the Eastside continues to record the highest home prices in the region. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $928,500 in September, an increase of 4% from a year ago and a decrease of less than 1% from August. The Eastside construction boom continues, indicating that developers remain confident in the strength of the local economy.  

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Benefits, Risks and Things to Consider Before Adding an ADU to Your Home

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  Have you ever rented the unit in someone’s basement? Maybe your spouse’s mother moved into your “Mother-In-Law Unit” above your garage? Or have you ever travelled and stayed in a pool house for your stay? Commonly referred to as “Mother-In-Law” units, homeowners use these as a way to fill the space in their home and gain residual income, either from vacationers or long-term tenants. The official terms for these units are Additional Dwelling Units (ADU) or Detached Additional Dwelling Units (DADU’s), and are defined as extra spaces in homes and on properties where someone can live completely independent of the main house. These units can be almost anywhere on the property, but they are usually located in the basement, in the backyard, or above the garage. They have their own bathroom and kitchen facilities, and sometimes they share laundry with the main house. Thinking of adding a unit to your home? Here are some benefits and risks, as well as important aspects to consider before you build:   Benefits Homeowners can maximize their investment by renting out the extra space to long-term tenants for short-term vacationers. These tenants can help pay off debt or create an extra stream of income to pay for other needs or wants. Depending on several factors, including the size of the unit, the market in the area, and other factors, each homeowner should decide which option they are more comfortable with. These decisions should be made before they list the unit for rent to best market to the right audience.   Risks An obvious risk is that when you open your space to a stranger, there’s a possibility that things might end poorly. Either the tenants could turn out to be untrustworthy, or unreliable, leading to a financial burden. To minimize the risks, it’s a good idea to use an application process to check backgrounds and employment history as a tool to get to know the potential tenant. Make sure to adhere to the National Fair Housing Laws and your local regulations.   Things to Consider: What are the shared spaces? Would you be comfortable sharing those spaces, and potentially appliances, with a new person each weekend, or would you rather get to know the long-term tenant who would use those on a consistent basis? Rooms like the kitchen can be great for those who want to get more interaction from their vacation renters. However, sharing one bathroom […]

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Mistakes to Avoid When Buyer or Selling A Home

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    There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction; there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers. How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:   BUYERS:   #1 Review your credit reports ahead of time Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.   #2 Get pre-approved Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.   #3 Know what you want You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants.   #4 Account for hidden costs In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to: Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need. Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.). Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually. Learn whether there are any homeowner’s or development dues associated with the property.   #5 Get an inspection Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly […]

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You’ve Moved Into Your New Home. Now What?

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Congratulations on your new home! You made it through the arduous process that is buying a new home. Now it’s time to take on the task of moving in. You did your research about the neighborhood and you feel like you know the home like the back of your hand. However, there are some things to do as you move in to protect your newest investment, and yourself, from the unknown variables in and around your home.   Change the locks garage door codes Previous owners might have changed the locks, but they may not know who all has a key or a code to open your garage, especially neighbors who they trusted to watch their place while they were away. Changing the codes and locks on all the doors ensures that you have complete control over entry to your home   Check or Install Fire and Carbon Monoxide Detectors If the home already has fire and carbon monoxide devices, make sure they are in working order by testing each one with the tester button. Keep a note of when to replace them as well. If they don’t have them, install a device in each sleeping room, as well as common areas like the living room or kitchen. Hallways are a great place to cover multiple rooms with one detector as well.   Install a security system Enjoy total peace of mind with a new security system. Meet with a consultant on the best ways to protect your home for a system that works best for you and your lifestyle. There are also app-connected systems that you can set up yourself that notify you of movement on the cameras or doors and windows opening.   Meet the neighbors Build a sense of community and get to know the lay of the land by knocking on neighbors’ doors to get to know them. Bring a small gift as a “thank you” for dealing with the moving trucks. This is a great initial step for figuring out who you can trust to watch things while you’re away should you need a helping hand in the near future.   These are just a few ideas on what you should do as soon as you move in. What are some things you do, or suggest to friends and clients on move-in day?

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LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2019

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LOCAL ECONOMY A decrease in inventory coupled with an increase in sales activity led to fewer options for home shoppers in August. There is some good news for would-be buyers as mortgage rates have dropped to their lowest level in three years. Demand remains high but there simply aren’t enough homes on the market. Brokers are hoping to see the traditional seasonal influx of new inventory as we move forward. EASTSIDE KING COUNTY SEATTLE SNOHOMISH COUNTY Home prices in King County were flat in August. The median price of a single-family home was $670,000, virtually unchanged from a year ago, and down just one percent from July. Southeast King County, which has some of the most reasonable housing values in the area, saw prices increase 9% over last year. Inventory remains very low. Year-over-year statistics show the volume of new listings dropped 18.5% in King County. VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

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LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – AUGUST 2019

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  The real estate market continued to moderate in July. Inventory rose and home values softened, providing buyers with increased selection and more favorable pricing. With strong job growth and interest rates holding at below 4 percent, brokers expect the market to remain solid through fall.   KING COUNTY VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT Home prices in King County continued to ease. Buyers took advantage of lower prices and new inventory to boost home sales in July. The median price of a single-family home was $680,000, a 3 percent decline from the same time last year. More moderately-priced areas in the south end of the county saw continued price growth.     SNOHOMISH COUNTY VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT Inventory remains very tight in Snohomish County. The number of listings on the market were up 6 percent over last year, and the county has only six weeks of available supply – far short of the four to six months that is considered balanced. The median price of a single-family home in July was $502,000 – up slightly from the median of $495,000 a year ago.  

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