From The Blog

Echo Falls Traditional – Now Sold!

Quality built Murray Franklin home just minutes from downtown Woodinville and across from Echo Falls Golf. This beautiful home provides great value and room to stretch out with 4 large bedrooms, living, dining, family and two additional large living spaces. This is the perfect layout for flexible living options.

Front of Echo Falls Home

Why buy new on a tiny lot in a tight subdivision? Instead get over 3400 square feet on a flat 3/4 acre lot. On top of that, nearly everything has been updated: new roof, new septic system, new furnace, new h/w tank, refinished oak floors, fully paint, kitchen, new expansive deck, and more. Just move in and enjoy all that the South Snohomish, Echo Falls area have to offer: golf, lakes, hiking, biking, and minutes from Woodinville, Monroe, Mill Creek, and Bothell.

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Lender Advice for Future Home Buyers

When most people start thinking about buying a home, they usually start with casual online  searching, not early conversations with potential lenders. It can be months or even years before a home “looker” becomes a home buyer, depending on their reason for buying — waiting for the last bird to leave the nest, doing some needed credit repair, saving for a down payment, or relocating for a new job. I asked some of Puget Sound’s top mortgage lenders what they thought that a person should do now if they are planning to purchase a home within the next six months.

Lenders Advice for Home Buyers

Advice from 3 Top Puget Sound Area Lenders:

Laurie Ausmus, Peoples Bank of Washington, says “Get your taxes done now as it is taking much longer to get the federal tax return tax transcripts (IRS 4506T) that are required during the loan underwriting process. Many times an extended tax return is not acceptable once you pass that magic date. If you close your loan before April 15, then you do not need to have the prior year’s tax return done — unless you had a big increase in income that you want to use to qualify for a higher loan.”

Gregory Phillips, First Tech Federal Credit Union, has this sage advice. “Talk to a lender right away. Even if you don’t think you are ready to buy a house quite yet, an experienced mortgage lender will be able to prepare you for what to expect. They may also be able to give you some strategies for being better prepared when the time comes. Even if you have already met your down payment goal, there are other steps you may be able to take so that you will qualify for a better rate or loan program when you buy a home.”

Conrad Wouters, Evergreen Home Loans, has some good advice about your down payment and later purchases. “Having the down payment assembled into one place as soon as possible is very important. Often buyers intend to use funds from gifts, stocks, overseas investments, and various unrelated accounts. We need to document all the sources and the movement of funds between those accounts. Buyers funds should be combined and “seasoned” in one account for at least 2 full months before applying for a loan. And don’t go out and buy furniture or a new car after the loan is approved but before it is closed.  We run a new credit report just before closing and any new debt needs to be documented and underwriting approval is needed again – which can delay closing or even cause the loan to be denied at the last minute.”

You will also want to start gathering the information that you need to build your loan file. Check out my blog on that topic, 6 Easy Steps to Building a Loan File.

photo credit: House via photopin (license)

6 Easy Steps to Building a Loan File

Whether you’re buying or refinancing, today’s lending regulations mean a lot more up-front work for both borrowers and lenders. After going through the initial qualification process and selecting a lender, the real work begins, building a complete loan file.

Building a Loan File

Your lender will provide you with a list of documents that you must provide in order to get through the full underwriting process. Whether your situation is relatively simple or highly complex, the list will likely appear daunting and intrusive. You are, after all, getting a huge amount of money with which you are buying the most significant asset that most people will ever own, your home or investment property. Rather than recoil from the task, it’s best to just set aside a couple of hours and buckle down and get it done.

With interest rates still at historical lows I’ve been stepping up purchases of new investment properties. I’m also reassessing the loans on every property in my portfolio, making sure that I’ve got a loan that best matches the goals of each one. This this means is spending a LOT of time working with lenders and building loan files.

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Cost Across Time – Average Interest Rate & Mortgage Payment

This infographic shows the actual payments for a $200,000 mortgage over the last 4 decades and today. A few things to take-away from this information about mortgage cost across time are:

  • With interest rates still around 4% now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years.
  • Rates are projected to go up a full percentage point by this time next year according to Freddie Mac.
  • The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!

Lock in a low rate now while you can and take a look at these tips for planning for your loan and building your loan file.


Home Pricing: Art or Science?

Even in the same neighborhood, thousands of dollars can separate the selling price of two seemingly identical homes. They could have the same floor plan, lot size, and finishes, yet the true value will be determined by a number of subjective factors: landscaping, paint colors, furnishings, decorating, wear and tear, even the smell! The other critical factor is the EXACT location of the home in the community. No two locations are ever the same and selling prices vary accordingly. Add to this the realtor value-added services of home preparation, staging, photography, market presentation, brand value, and marketing activities, and you can see where home pricing variables start to multiply.

home pricing

No matter what anyone tries to tell you, pricing a home is truly a blend of art and science. This is why the infamous “Zestimate” is a play on the word estimate and, as most people know, the range varies by 20-30% — or more. That’s a big difference in the amount of money that lands – or doesn’t land – in the seller’s bank account at closing. How often have I heard, “But Zillow says my house is worth X”? Zillow is not a person with eyes, ears, a nose, a brain, and the experience to put it all together. Zillow Zestimates are a conglomeration of computer-generated values, based purely on data, with no human thought or intervention.

For all these reasons, I usually recommend a price range at the beginning of the listing process, with the final price determined just before we go live. New listings, pending or closed sales – even public market fluctuations in the final days up to the list date — can make a big difference in selecting the best asking price. When we see the new paint, staging, carpet, and top-quality photos all come together, we are sometimes able to say, “yes, let’s push it a little!”. Other times new data can indicate it’s best to be a bit more conservative.

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