The times they are a’changing

An article in the Seattle Times highlights the efforts by British Columbia to throw a little water on the raging fire that is their housing market.  The 15% tax on purchases by non-Canadian homebuyers has led a large number of cash-rich buyers to turn their eyes south of the border.

Seattle already has an impressive Pacific Rim population, so coupled with the tech employment buffet served out on both sides of Lake Washington, it was a natural landing point for many of the displaced buyers.

Seattle’s real estate had already experienced cash investors for several years, but it appears we are once again poised for an uptick in foreign investment.

This is good news for sellers who bought years ago on the rock solid belief their purchase would fund their retirement.  Their patience was rewarded.

It is absolutely horrible news, as it was in Vancouver, for the middle class buyer or more specifically the young millenial with no existing real estate to parlay into something nicer.  As the inventory continues to sludge into record lows, home ownership becomes an elusive mist for some.

But we are making America great again.  Like him or hate him, the President is plowing forward on his campaign promises, so what does it mean for the housing market?

[takes out her crystal ball] I imagine that at some point, the immigration policies will either

  1. Preclude more tech imports, as the attempt to put Americans first gets pushed
  2. Provide homes where existing tech workers who may not yet be naturalized may sell
  3. Persuade large scale foreign investment to follow Hollywood to New Zealand.

All of these possibilities would move the needle closer to mid-point on the buyer/seller market scale.

To offset this potential efflux of foreign money and keep the market on the seller’s side, reinvestment by native born and naturalized citizens becomes more likely.

If Boeing Everett and Renton tool up for jobs currently off shored, Microsoft continues its Surface related massive resurgence and Amazon climbs even higher in its quest for global domination (wait, I think I have something in my shopping cart right now, which I need to buy immediately), I see little changing in supply and demand.  The only relief would be the cash customer aspect of the bidding wars, which honestly for buyers, will be a huge relief.

So should you sell or buy?  That’s the $740,000 question.  If you need to sell, it is still a great time, and will probably continue that way for at least a year, although perhaps not as agressively as the last 2.

If you need to buy?  You’re still fighting which will be a shortage for some time to come.  If you have to buy, you can do so, but hunker in for a fight.  Perhaps pack some power bars for extra protein.


A wrinkle in the time/space continuum

Photo from Gizmodo

This week marked the validation of a facet of Einstein’s theories, the existence of gravitational waves.  In looking at artist conceptions of how the average non-astrophysical Joe could understand what the scientists were celebrating, I couldn’t help but think of the Red Dwarf episode where a rift is created in time/space, and members of the crew from two different dimensions are able to interact.  The paradigm of Dave Lister’s birth is only created by an interaction outside of normal time lines.  For those who have not watched Red Dwarf 1) I’m sorry that this introductory paragraph means little and 2) do yourself a huge favor and rent the discs on Netflix.

Realities are shifting now as well in the real estate market.

For a year or so, we have been dealing with a shortage of available houses.  This has been driving up prices and causing no end of headaches for buyer’s agents who are putting in multiple, multiple offers/client, only to find out they are 5th in line and the top of the heap are either cash investors or flippers who can still make money, even at a higher purchase price. Continue reading “A wrinkle in the time/space continuum”

A Tale of Two Houses

Subtitled:  Why you should use the MLS for your rental property

two housesThis is a tale of shame, with a “let me learn the lesson for you” message.  It involves 3 students from Michigan who were looking for housing.  Disclaimer – I was not a licensed real estate broker at the time of this narrative.

The back story

We had tenants leaving house #1.  They had not been the best of tenants, and we expected to have to do a bit of clean up, but nonetheless advertised the house on Craigslist for a month after the anticipated vacating.  We got a hit from 3 Michigan State students, one of whom was going to be interning at Microsoft.  Yay.  Now on to get the house all ready for them. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Houses”

Caring for your assets

Not that kind of asset; this is not a post about the Kardashians.  This is about the home that you purchased (or the one you want to sell for maximum profit), and the bits and pieces that go in to it.

We all know what grabs people’s eye when they walk through the door.  Kitchen, master bedroom, and en suite bathrooms.  If those are in top shape, you feel great about the property, and it maintains top value.

And you have stainless appliances.  You and virtually everyone else love the look and the fact stainless is the choice in professional kitchens because of its anti-microbial properties, its resistance to rust and discoloration and its ability to attract and display fingerprints.  Wait, what?  Yes, you heard me.  Crime scene teams could just wrap yellow tape around your stainless appliances and figure out everyone who has come in contact with it in the past … well, since you last cleaned it. Continue reading “Caring for your assets”

Serious Fall

Fall, when the dynamics of real estate change slightlyNo, I’ve not had an accident, but thanks for asking.

The days are cooler, the school buses running, the Seahawks winning (yay) and the number of houses available has dipped slightly, only because everyone who needed to be in a house before school began has taken the inventory down a bit.  Tis the season of the serious fall buyer.

The serious fall buyer is, more often than not, one who needs to change residence, rather than simply looking to change.  Job transitions are probably the biggest factor in off-season real estate and whether you’re moving into or out of an area, both sides of the transaction are a bit more focused than at the height of summer. Continue reading “Serious Fall”

On being a landlord

Colin Firth
In no way am I suggesting Colin Firth is a sluggard of a tenant. I merely use his picture to illustrate 1) an actor and 2) the truth that the world can never have too much Colin Firth.

An actor, behind in his rent and  trying to stave off the insistent landlord said, “In a few years, people will point to this apartment and say ‘Jones the famous actor, once lived there.'”

“If I don’t get my rent tonight,” said the landlord, “they’ll be able to say it tomorrow.”

For the investor, having and holding rental property can be a great source of passive income if done correctly, or a huge headache if not. Ideally, according to property management gurus, a rental should generate at least $50 per unit above and beyond all expenses. Expenses include obviously the mortgage (principal and interest), PMI, insurance, property taxes as well as scheduled maintenance (hopefully to avoid unscheduled maintenance). Continue reading “On being a landlord”

Everett Condo

One of the principles of investment real estate is to find the ugliest house in the best neighborhood. It is the one which will most benefit from the value of its neighbors. The same is true of home ownership, if you want a rise in value over time.

I am not sure when I felt so great about recommending a property with that quality. Continue reading “Everett Condo”

The silly season

Purple crocuses with closed bloomAh Spring, when a young man’s thoughts turn to love. Actually that was last year when the thoughts poked out like brilliant crocus blooms, the baby was born in January and now you’re looking for a house for the growing family. Who wants to trek out in winter’s cold, but it’s different when the temperatures warm ever so slightly.  The same insane desire to run out and pull weeds in the garden (I know, what sort of madness is that?) means even the most recalcitrant begin peeking at BlueGill (hat tip to Kris Berg) on their phone during lunch. Continue reading “The silly season”

Yes, you should care about Bitcoin, and here’s why

I wonder how large currency transactions would be handled under Bitcoin? Do you ever foresee mortgages being handled through this type of currency? Can you loan money already? Is anyone familiar enough with Bitcoin to chime in?


Everybody’s talking about Bitcoin these days, which is quite remarkable given the highly technical nature of the crypto-currency. So why is it such a big deal?

To explain why, I’m going to start with the implications of Bitcoin, then get into the technical nitty-gritty. Why that way round? Because there’s more to Bitcoin than the technical wow-factor, or indeed the crazy speculation that’s going on now. Even if Bitcoin itself fails, it’s a sign of things to come.

All about decentralization

Bitcoin is to state-issued currencies – often referred to as fiat money – as P2P file-sharing is to traditional broadcast media. There is no centralized source for it that can be controlled or moderated or regulated. It is difficult if not impossible to track from the outside. It is more complex to use than its better-known counterpart, but there are at least theoretical advantages to doing so.


In the…

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Unlisted property!

I have the inside skinny on a house due to be listed on March 1st.  Broker and owner say presales will be honored.  Tired of looking at houses with 15 offers on it within half an hour of being listed?  Take a look at this one

Mountlake Terrace Rambler

Asking price – $279K
3 bedroom/1 bath
approx. 1000 sq ft.*
Original beautiful refinished hardwoods
Large eat-in kitchen with lots of light, new Energy Star refrigerator and Dishwasher
Updated bathroom with pedestal sink
2 car garage
Fully fenced and private backyard
Mature maples and fruit trees line the property
Double paned windows
Brand new 35 year roof
Top of the line high-efficiency furnace
New sewer line
Quiet, friendly neighborhood within walking distance to local schools (Edmonds School District) and shopping
Great location–easy to commute to Seattle or to Everett
Home Warranty!

Contact me if you want more information!

* all information from owner.  Buyer to verify details.