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”


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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Odd things I learned today

I was reading an article “7 Odd Things You Can Buy at Costco” and came across this interesting tidbit:

Mortgage Services

Okay, you can’t actually buy a house at Costco — but the wholesaler can help you secure a mortgage.

Members can chose from a group of national lenders that commit to low fees. According to the company’s Web site, members save 64% on lender fees.

Costco has teamed up with First Choice to provide this mortgage service. Lender fee caps are priced at $600 for executive members and $750 for business and goldstar members.

The list of lenders includes CapWest Mortgage, RMC Vanguard, West Star, Wyndham, Sterling Savings Bank, Bank of Internet and Real Estate Mortgage network.

As a full disclaimer, although I have a Costco membership, I am not being paid to advertise this service, nor have I yet referred anyone to them.  However in these interesting times, when loans are challenging, this might be an alternative to keep under your hat, especially with capped fees so low!

Don’t forget while you’re there, Costco also sells wedding dresses and caskets, in case you’re having other major life events along with buying that house.

The new checking account

This morning I took my daughter to BECU to open a checking account before she left for her summer adventure.  While there, I took advantage of their new University of Washington card, replacing my boring red one with the Purple and Gold (Go Dawgs).  Conversing with Tim, the nice account manager, I also stumbled across a piece of fantastic information, which I’d be thrilled to share with you.

BECU does [I think exclusively] portfolio loans, which means they are not farmed out to the secondary market.  When a loan goes bad and the house is foreclosed on, BECU lists them on the MLS, but also on their website (keep reading and I’ll give you the link!). Continue reading “The new checking account”


Back in “the bubble,” if you could fog a mirror, you could get a loan.

Back in “the bubble,” if you could fog a mirror, you could write a loan.

Back in “the bubble,” if you could fog a mirror, you could be the escrow agent on a loan.

Back in “the bubble,” there were a lot of loans and a lot of mistakes.

One of the best pieces of ammunition you can have if you would like a loan modification, is a list of which mistakes may have been made on your loan.  Find a friendly escrow officer, not at the office where you closed the loan, and have them look over your closing documents.

Here are some things we found on a recent trip down bubble memory lane:  Continue reading “Tidbits”


Quasi autonomous non-governmental organizationI learned a new word today.  I found it reading an article in the British press about entities which the coalition government is targeting for closure, to help with the budget issues facing their government.  What struck me was the extensive list they had to choose from.  I kept scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling …

Then I started to do the math.  If each one of these entities employed 15 people (and you know it takes that many just to push the elevator buttons in some organizations), and if they paid each of those people a mere £35,000 a year (that’s Alt+0163 for those of you wondering, “How can I put a pound sign on my numbers?”), what sort of bunker busting number would we come up with?  As I didn’t actually count all the title listings, we’ll just say, way more money than we would need to buy a small house in the country and fill up all the sinks with precious stones.

Continue reading “Quango”

For the visual learners

ProPublica, an independent investigative journalism force, has done a series on CDO’s – Collateralized Debt Obligations, and how those packaged pieces of the mortgage world brought not only big money to the banks, but also meterorically increased their risk.

This piece is a simple illustration, and I’m thankful for that because sometimes the world of high finance is like wading into a big old pond of black water at midnight for my brain.

I post this because the next posts will be on “where’s the note?” It will be useful to keep these CDO managers and their dollies full of stink in mind.

I recommend reading the entire CDO series.  You’ll find links to the main article both above and below the cartoon.

Financial Upheaval

The cure is sometimes worse than the problemA man goes to the doctor and says “Doctor, I’ve become a compulsive thief.”

The doctor prescribes him a course of tablets and says, “If you’re not cured in a couple of weeks would you get me a widescreen television?”

I’m in the process of renewing my license, which requires continuing education.  The state mandates a standard practices course and another 30 hours of electives.  Looking over my choices, I decided financing was probably my weakest area, so although some of the other topics were more interesting to me, I opted for Fannie, Freddie, secondary marketing and FICO scores. 

I’ll not bore you with how banal the course is or how I already knew most of what was being taught [yawn].  What my notes do reflect is a veritable time line of governmental intervention of trying to fix problems which precipitated more problems and while the fixes helped there were still new and varied problems which required more governmental fixes to stave off further repurcussions.  The history of real estate financing in specific and financial policy in general is one long run-on sentence. Continue reading “Financial Upheaval”