Seattle Real Estate and Community News

Jan. 23, 2018

4 Pros, 4 Cons of Open Floor Plans


The open floor plan has been popular in many new home designs. Homeowners are showing a desire to have no walls separating the kitchen, dining, and living areas. In fact, 84 percent of new single-family homes have fully or partially open layouts, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Some owners are knocking down walls during home renovations to have their own open floor plan. But before they do, they may want to reconsider if an open floor plan is what they really want or if they’re just motivated because of its popularity.® recently highlighted some pros and cons of open floor plans to help owners and buyers decide if it’s right for them:


  • Takes advantage of square footage: “An open floor plan home will feel bigger because you don’t have all this unused space,” says Jay Kallos, vice president of architecture for Ashton Woods in Atlanta.
  • Brightens a home: More natural light from windows can spread throughout an open home.
  • Fosters social gathering: Open floor plans can make it easier to socialize, putting family and guests all in one space together.
  • Encourages flexibility: “Open floor plans create a usable space that’s flexible, based on your needs,” says Jimmy Branham, a real estate professional with the Keyes Company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Homeowners can define the space without having to make architectural changes.


  • Smells travel: The cooking heat and kitchen aromas will be impossible to contain, so the smells are more present in an open floor home.
  • Offers less privacy and can be noisier: You may have a tough time hiding from noise—the lack of walls makes the space echo and absorb less sound.
  • Can’?t hide messiness: Without separate rooms, any mess will be on display. You can’t conceal anything behind closed doors.
  • Being a fad that fades: The open floor plan is a hot trend right now, but everything eventually goes out of style. The trend doesn’t appear to be slowing yet, but® cautions that you could be setting yourself up to look outdated in 10 or 20 years.

Source: “Open Floor Plan Homes: You Really Want One? The Pros and Cons,”® (Jan. 22, 2018)

Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 10, 2018

Actual Listing Photo! Built-in Ice Sculpture :)

So...Realtors like us see ALL kinds of things when we take clients out to see prospective homes. Even though this is a BEAUTIFUL ice sculpture, I'm pretty sure this one didn't make it to the top of the buyer's list. :)





Jan. 9, 2018

The 3 Best Reasons to Buy a Home in 2018 (but You'd Better Hurry)

Figuring out when to plunge into the real estate market can be quite intimidating—especially when prices are high, choices are limited, and history urges restraint.

"We’ve seen two or three years of what could be considered unsustainable levels of price appreciation, as well as an inventory shortage that resulted in a record-low number of homes for sale across the country," says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for®. "When you factor those together, you have a market that has to either explode or see some relief."

Comforting, right? Well, take heart: Experts agree that relief is indeed on the horizon.

1. Rates are going up

After years of record-low interest rates (hello, 3%!), the Fed is finally making some noticeable increases: The rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage broke the 4% mark last year. And with economic growth continuing to carry momentum, Vivas predicts we'll see at least two to four more rate increases throughout 2018. Rates are anticipated to hit 5% by the end of the year.

"The big story there is that those increases will further constrict affordability," Vivas says. "The more buyers wait, the more expensive it will get to buy—not just because of home prices, but because of inflationary pressure."

In other words, if you want in on the American dream, now might be the time.

2. Prices are climbing, but not crazily fast

Home prices have soared over the past few years, pricing otherwise well-positioned buyers out of high-cost areas and leading some experts to cry "bubble". But in 2018, price increases are expected to moderate.

Vivas forecasts a home price increase of 3.2% year over year, after finishing 2017 with a 5.5% year-over-year increase. Existing-home sale prices are predicted to increase 2.5% year over year.

Of course, it all depends on where you live. While red-hot markets such as San Francisco are predicted to finally lose some steam, sales numbers and home prices are poised to climb in Southern states such as Texas and Florida, where economic momentum continues chugging along and new construction is happening in the right price points.

So what does that mean? Basically, home prices will still increase, but not at the same pace as they have over the past few years.

3. Inventory levels will begin to increase

An inventory shortage has plagued the U.S. housing market since 2015, forcing some buyers to settle (a tiny house with linoleum floors for $1 million, anyone?) and keeping others out of the buying game entirely. But by fall 2018, the tides will begin to turn, with markets such as Boston; Detroit; and Nashville, TN, recovering first.

The majority of inventory growth will happen in the middle- to upper-tier price point, in the ranges of $350,000 and $750,000 and above $750,000, Vivas predicts.

New home construction is also expected to expand. But that will happen slowly, thanks to a constricted labor market, limitations on the amount of lots and land that's available, tight bank financing for building loans, and a run-up in building material prices, says National Association of Home Builders chief economist Robert Dietz.

"It's been a slow climb back from the recession, and now we're confronting all of these limiting factors and supply-side constraints," Dietz says.

It's particularly tough, he says, for builders to break ground at the entry level for first-time buyers, particularity in high-cost coastal markets such as California. That means it will take longer for those inventory levels to recover.

But there's a bright spot: Builder confidence is at its highest level since 1999, according to the NAHB. And that means hope is on the horizon.

"As we head into 2019 and beyond, we expect to see the inventory increases take hold and provide relief for first-timers and drive sales growth," Vivas says.

The wildcard: Taxes and politics

When the Republican tax plan was introduced, the proposed elimination of the mortgage interest deduction was all anyone could talk about: While the new limitations on the deduction will affect only 2.5% of all existing mortgages in the U.S., it will have a disproportionate effect on Western markets, where 20% to 30% of mortgages are above the new threshold, according to Vivas.

Across the board, experts agree that the new tax plan decreases incentives for homeownership and reduces the tax benefits of owning a home—particularly in highly taxed, expensive markets such as California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. But on the flip side, that means that if fewer folks are motivated to buy, then there’s less competition for those who want in the game. Plus, some taxpayers—including renters—will see a tax cut. That increase in buyers' disposable income could spur demand from folks who are looking to build equity as a homeowner, rather than flushing away their savings in rent.

"Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term—that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option," Vivas says. "As people get more savings in their pocket, buying becomes the better option."

Based in San Diego, Holly Amaya is a writer, lawyer, and communications strategist. 
Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 8, 2018

Mortgage Interest Rates DOWN From 1 Year Ago

INFO THAT HITS US WHERE WE LIVE... CoreLogic reports November home prices were up 7.0% over a year ago, but forecasts a slowing of that pace, seeing only a 4.2% hike in prices by November 2018. Thanks to price gains, a major real estate listing site put the total value of the U.S. housing market at a record $31.8 trillion in 2017, up from $29.6 trillion in 2016. The site also says renters spent a record $485.6 billion in 2017, $4.9 billion more than in 2016. And this was with the rental population decreasing for the first time since 2004, according to an apartment listing service.

Need evidence of how a hike in the short-term Fed Funds Rate doesn't automatically boost long-term mortgage rates? Freddie Mac's Deputy Chief Economist reports, "Despite increases in short-term interest rates, long-term rates remain subdued. The 30-year mortgage rate is down a quarter of a percentage point from where it was a year ago.... With the FOMC minutes showing continued support for gradual increases in policy rates...and inflation rates remaining low, there isn't much upward pressure on long-term rates." But he did caution, that could change.


This market update is from one of our mortgage partners, Paul Scobee at Evergreen Home Loans.

Nov. 18, 2017

"The Throne!"

You would be surprised by the kinds of things we see in real estate.

Today, we give you: The Throne.  

If you or anyone you know is looking for a throne of their own, please get in touch with us today. :)





Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 16, 2017

Actual Listing Photo-"Prepared for Anything!"

Just a thought, but I think someone got tired of finding empty rolls of TP in the bathroom.







Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 14, 2017

How Much Money Should I Put Down On My Home Purchase?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind

saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal.

It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather

than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.


The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers

who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.


The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment,

so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an

investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings

free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.


Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of

a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. 

We work with some FANTASTIC lenders who can help you figure out what is the very best strategy

on the purchase of your next home! Call us today and we'll direct you to the right expert for your

exact needs as you explore your financing options. 



Nov. 10, 2017

Should I Sell My Home in the Winter

pumpkins staging

There are many questions homeowners ask themselves during the selling process. "How much will my home sell for?"  "How much should I list my home for?"  "Who should I select as a real estate agent to sell my home?"  "What if the real estate agent overprices my home?"  Last but not least, "Is this a good time to be selling a home?" is also a very common question that real estate agents are asked.

As with every decision in life, there are pros and cons, and choosing when to sell a home is no different. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before deciding when to sell a home. Many homeowners believe selling a home during the fall or winter months is not a good idea and that the spring is the only time a house should be sold. This is the furthest from the truth. Certainly most real estate markets across the United States experience a "spring market rush" every year. There is no doubt that the "spring market" is a great time to be selling and buying real estate, however, the fall and winter seasons may be the best fit for you for many reasons.

Here are several reasons why choosing to sell your home now may be a better decision than waiting until the spring:

Less Competition
One way that you can tell the spring real estate market has arrived is by driving down a street in your local community. In all likelihood there will be For Sale signs up all over the neighborhood! One great reason to sell your home now and not wait until the spring market is there is sure to be less competition.  The fewer number of comparable homes for sale, the greater the probability that a buyer will look at your home.

Simply put, it’s the supply and demand theory. If there are less homes for sale, there are less homes that a potential buyer can choose from, therefore increasing the demand for your home. Not only will less competition increase the probability for showings, but it will also increase the probability that an offer will be received and you will get the maximum amount of money for your home.

Serious Buyers Are Out There
Homes are sold and bought 365 days a year, period!  Many homeowners believe that buyers aren't out there during the fall and winter months. This simply is not the case. Serious buyers are always out there!  Some buyers may stop their home search because it is the fall or winter, but serious buyers will continue to look at homes, no matter what time of year it is.

The fall and winter months are also a great time for a potential buyer to see what a specific neighborhood is like.  Do your neighbors have pumpkins on their front step?  Are there lots of Trick-or-Treaters wandering the neighborhood on Halloween?  Do any of your neighbors have any light displays for the holidays?  There are buyers out there who will look at these types of things when determining whether your home is in the right neighborhood for them or not.

The Best Agents Are Always Up To The Challenge
Any real estate agent who tells you that the fall or winter months are a bad time to sell is not someone you want selling your home! A great real estate agent will know how to adapt to the current season and market their listings to reflect that.  A great real estate agent can make suggestions and give some of their tips on how to sell a home during the fall or winter seasons. If a real estate agent doesn't have any suggestions on making your home more desirable for the current season, you should be concerned about the creativity they are going to use when marketing your home.

Staging For The Holiday Season
Many sellers believe staging a home is the main reason a home sells.  While staging certainly helps sell homes, some buyers have a difficult time envisioning themselves in a home no matter what you do. However, there are some buyers who can easily be "sold" on a home because it is staged.  Simple “seasonal” staging such as adjusting the color of the decor or having an aroma in the air that is relative to the time of year can go a long way with some potential buyers and possibly be the difference between a home selling or not.

Mortgage Rates Are Low
If you've read about real estate in the past year, it's likely you've read that the mortgage rates are very low.  You also probably read that there is an expectation that the rates will increase very soon. Since mortgage rates are so low right now, buyers are able to afford more expensive homes.  If mortgage rates increase over the fall and winter months while you're waiting for the spring market, it could cost you thousands of dollars as it could eliminate many buyers from the real estate marketplace!  Less demand for your home will mean less money. Bottom line: take advantage of selling your home while the rates are this low.

Quicker Transactions
Right now, there are fewer real estate transactions than there will be in the spring.  The fewer number of transactions means the mortgage lenders have less loans to process, attorneys have less closings to do, and home inspectors have fewer inspections to do.  All of these factors should lead to a quicker transaction and closing for all the parties involved.  One of the most frustrating things for a seller to deal with while selling their home is not getting answers in a reasonable amount of time. A quicker transaction is going to be less stress for you.

By considering all of the reasons above, you will be able to determine whether now is a good time to sell or if you should wait until the spring.

Kyle Hiscock is a top producing Webster, N.Y. real estate agent with Nothnagle Realtors, based out of Rochester, N.Y.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Aug. 12, 2017


Most people will agree that the hunt for a new place is the fun part of the home-buying process. The not-so-fun part? The mortgage.

If you haven't applied for a home loan in quite a while, you may be in for a bit of a shock. Lenders require A LOT of documentation now, and the process can at times feel rather invasive.

If you don't pay attention to the details, your mortgage can end up dragging down the enjoyment of your new home and cause some major regrets. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to ensure that you love your mortgage terms as much as your hew home.

Don't find your home first: Shopping around for the best mortgage rate should be the first step in the home buying process. You may even want to talk to a mortgage broker a full year before you plan to buy. It'll give you time to get your affairs in order to qualify for the best rate, could save you thousands of dollars in the long run, and you won't feel rushed to accept an unattractive loan because you're worried you'll miss out on your dream home. It also helps us get your offer floated to the top, in the case of multiple offers. The person who is FULLY qualified (meaning: all the way through underwriting) has a better chance of getting their offer accepted than the rest of the offers on the table.

Don't forget your real budget: There's often a big difference between what a lender says you can afford and what you can actually afford. Your debt-to-income ratio doesn't include the money you spend on hobbies, or the cost of commuting to work, or maintenance and utility costs. Really sit down and examine your spending before committing to the loan amount the lender is offering. You won't enjoy your home nearly as much if it's eating into your favorite hobbies.

Go local: When at all possible, go with a local lender. We've worked with banks and mortgage companies from out of state--and the loan officers there often don't fully understand our market and may not be as quick to respond to your needs, such as getting you an approval letter on 8pm on a Saturday night. We have spent a lot of time getting to know lenders in our area, and we would be happy to recommend folks we trust. We expect them to give you the same high level of customer service that we deliver to our clients, and they know it.

If you're thinking about buying and want to see how much home you can afford, get in touch with us today!


Aug. 10, 2017


Some the features that increase property values are obvious-like a remodeled bathroom, a modern kitchen, or a sought-after neighborhood. But here are a few features and circumstances you have not have realized can affect property values.

The neighbors: Not every neighborhood or community has an HOA that can keep the neighbors from going overboard with decorations or neglecting to care for their home. Homes adjacent to crazy neighbors can potentially cost you thousands--possibly tens of thousands--of dollars.

Trendy groceries and coffee: Recent statistics suggest that if your home is a short walk from popular grocery stores like Whole Foods or coffee chains like Starbucks, it can actually appreciate faster than the national average. Seems too good to be true--but home sales stats bear it out.

Mature trees: A big beautiful tree in the front yard is enviable, and it's not something that can be easily added to any home. Homes with mature trees tend to get a little boost in value.

Parking: This isn't too much of an issue if you live in the suburbs or in a rural area, but residents in dense cities can have real problems with parking, and homeowners might need to rent a spot just to guarantee a place to park each night. That's why having guaranteed parking in urban areas will raise property values.

The front entrance: First impressions matter to buyers-many will cross a home off their list within 10 seconds of stepping through the front door. An appealing front door, a friendly entryway, and a functioning doorbell are all necessities for getting top dollar. Just putting a fresh coat of paint on your front door can make all the difference in the world!

We can help you evaluate what your home could sell for in today's market. Please contact us to set up a free evaluation!

Posted in Selling Your Home