The Windermere Foundation is now accepting donations for the Oso, Washington Relief Fund.

We are deeply saddened by the events that have unfolded over the last week due to the landslide in Oso, Washington. We have heard from many of you who wish to support and provide emergency relief for those that have lost their homes and loved ones. 100% of the funds designated to the Windermere Foundation's Oso, Washington Relief Fund will go directly to the families affected by the slide, through the Darrington Emergency Task Force for immediate assistance.

You can donate online at https://store.windermere.com/content/foundation-donation. The Windermere Foundation will match the first $5,000 donated.

A special thanks to the Windermere office in nearby Arlington, owned by Gene Bryson, for raising awareness and starting the fundraising effort.

Our hearts go out to all the families affected by this disaster.

Thank you for your support.

Christine Wood | Executive Director

WINDERMERE FOUNDATION
5424 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

OFFICE (206) 527-3801
FAX (206) 393-3444

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Economics, Everett, Home Finances, Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate, Uncategorized

How to Get the Best Home Loan for Your Needs

DATE:MARCH 12, 2014 | CATEGORY:TIPS & ADVICE Zillow blog | AUTHOR: 

Location, school ratings, number of bedrooms, outdoor spaces. These are the things potential homeowners focus on when they start house hunting. They’re all important factors, for sure. Even more crucial: How will you pay for your home?

Home loans are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. They differ based on their type, such as fixed or adjustable rate, and their loan term. Loans also vary in interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR).

To ensure you’re getting the best home loan for your situation, you’ll want to do your homework, talk to reputable credit counselors and lenders and follow these tips:

Fixed or adjustable?

There are two main types of mortgages: fixed rate and adjustable rate.

Most homeowners today opt for fixed-rate mortgages. With a fixed-rate mortgage, you are locked in to a set interest rate, resulting in monthly mortgage payments that remain the same for the entire term of the loan. The No. 1 benefit of this type of mortgage is inflation protection. If mortgage rates go up, your rate will not follow suit. Conversely, if rates drop, your interest rate will not drop. (Of course, you could refinance your mortgage if rates dropped significantly.)

Most lenders offer 15- and 30-year fixed mortgages, and some also offer 20-year terms. The longer the term of your fixed mortgage, the lower your monthly payment because you’re paying over many years. With a 30-year term, however, you will end up paying more interest over time.

A 15-year fixed mortgage will have a higher monthly payment because you’re paying for fewer years. On the other hand, you’re building equity at a faster rate and will pay less interest over the life of your loan. The shorter the term of your loan, the lower your interest rate will likely be.

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a loan with an interest rate that will change over the life of the loan. ARMs have adjustment periods that determine how often their interest rates can change and they have initial “fixed” periods during which their interest rates won’t change at all — most often 3, 5 or 7 years. After this period, rates can readjust. These loans are often considered riskier because the interest rate and payments can increase when the loan adjusts. However, if you’re planning to live in your home for a shorter period of time, these loans may make sense for you, especially because you’re likely to obtain a lower interest rate than with a fixed mortgage.

Clear up your finances and credit rating

Even before you start shopping for a mortgage, you need to take a good, honest look at your finances. Most financial experts agree that your mortgage payment — including taxes and insurance — should not exceed 30 percent of your take-home pay. Yes, you may get a raise down the road — or you may not. Your mortgage payment should correspond with your current financial reality.

You’ll also want to check your credit rating. Why? Because your credit rating may be the most important piece of financial information you have to obtain a mortgage at the best possible interest rate. Checking your credit rating before you find your ideal home will give you time to correct reporting errors and to clean up less-than-spectacular ratings. It can take up to 90 days to get erroneous information off your report, so don’t delay.

Shop for several quotes

Home loans are available from commercial banks, mortgage companies, thrift institutions and credit unions. You’ll want to get quotes from several different lenders to make sure you’re getting the best price. If you don’t want to shop for loans yourself, you may decide to work through a mortgage broker. Rather than lending money directly, brokers find lenders for clients. Working through a broker may give you access to an even broader selection of loan products and terms. Brokers are not obligated to find the best deal for you unless they have a contract with you and are working as your agent. Consequently, if you go the broker route, you’ll want to talk with several, just as you should with banks or credit unions.

Get ratings and reviews

After you’ve narrowed down the list of lenders or brokers you’re interested in working with, you should check into their backgrounds. How long have they been in business? If found online, are they accessible? Can they provide third-party reviews and ratings? This unbiased feedback from people who have worked directly with the lenders can prove invaluable when separating the great from the not-so-good.

Once you settle on a lender, you’ll want to get pre-approved. Through this process, the lender will determine how much you can afford to spend on your new home. You can get a pre-approval letter in minutes through Zillow. Fill out this form, pick your pre-approval lender, and if you meet the lender’s guidelines, you’ll get your pre-approval letter that you can print and email. In a competitive market, pre-approval letters are almost essential. If you make an offer on a house without a pre-approval, your offer will not be taken as seriously as an offer from another person with a pre-approval and you could lose your dream home. Most bank-owned properties require a pre-approval letter from a lender before an offer can be accepted.

 

Posted on March 14, 2014 at 9:32 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Economics, Home Finances, Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate

Not Your Typical Tahoe Ski House

Architects, interior designers, and more ∨

From Shabby Chic home decor to contemporary furniture and mirrors, browse thousands of decorating ideas to inspire your next home project.
Search for a fun counter stool, clock, sectional and storage dresser to spice up your basement.

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 11:27 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate

Practical New Uses for 23 Old Things

Kitchen designs, bathroom designs, and more ∨

Browse living room ideas, from a sectional couch to chandelier lighting and floor reading lamps, for your next interior design project.
Hire a residential builder in your area to renovate or install a new fireplace.

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 5:40 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Economics, Everett, Home Finances, Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate

Who Are Homeowners?

 

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 5:35 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Economics, Home Finances, Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Agent

 

  

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Economics, Home Finances, Homeowner News, Real Estate

5 Reasons to Buy a Home Now Instead of Spring

  

Happy Family SoldBased on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five reasons purchasers should consider buying before the spring market arrives:

Supply Is Shrinking

With inventory declining in many regions, finding a home of your dreams may become more difficult going forward. There are buyers in more and more markets surprised that there is no longer a large assortment of houses to choose from. The best homes in the best locations sell first. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy.

Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Prices are projected to appreciate by over 25% from now to 2018. First home buyers will probably pay more both in price and interest rate if they wait until the spring. Even if you are a move-up buyer, it will wind-up costing you more in net dollars as the home you will buy will appreciate at approximately the same rate as the house you are in now.

Owning a Home Helps Create Family Wealth

Whether you are rent or you own the home you are living in, you are paying a mortgage. Either you are paying your mortgage or your landlord’s. The Fed, in a recent study, revealed that the net worth of the average homeowner is 30 times greater than that of a renter.

Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of RealtorsFreddie Macand Fannie Mae have all projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be over 5% by the this time next year. That is an increase of almost one full point over current rates.

Buy Low, Sell High

We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’ compared to where it will be next year. It’s time to buy.

 

 

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 9:21 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Economics, Home Finances, Home Improvement, Real Estate

Mukilteo trail, park each get upgrades

 

MUKILTEO — People who like to hike and kids who like to play now have fresh opportunities to do so.

Mukilteo has improved the south fork of the Big Gulch trail and installed new playground equipment at 92nd Street Park, both in the central part of the city.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 10 at the park, located just west of the Mukilteo Speedway.

Hikers had complained that a quarter-mile section of the trail gets muddy and tough to hike in the winter, said Patricia Love, acting planning director for the city of Mukilteo.

During the autumn, crews applied gravel to a section between a footbridge and the trail’s confluence with the north fork. From that location the trail continues more than a mile toward Puget Sound, ending near the Mukilteo wastewater treatment plant.

The old playground equipment at 92nd Street Park was deemed unsafe and was removed during the fall. It was more than 20 years old and its wooden anchor beams had deteriorated, according to the city.

“The supports were all rotted through,” Love said.

The city was able to complete both projects without spending any of its own money, she said.

The city recently received a $55,000 parks grant from Snohomish County. This covered most of the playground equipment and all of the trail improvements, Love said. A contribution of $8,801 from Buell Recreation Park and Playground Productsin Bothell, through which the city bought the playground structure, covered the remainder of that project. 

Another cost- cutter came when 30 volunteers helped assemble the modular playground equipment, with help from an installer.

Volunteers included members of the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and staff members from Bank of America, Buell Recreation and the installer, the White River Fence Company of Auburn. Neighbors and current and former city officials also pitched in.

The work took place on a rainy, windy Saturday. The date was Jan. 11, the day of the Seahawks’ first playoff game.

“We were scrambling,” said City Councilman Ted Wheeler, one of the volunteers. Wheeler was elected in November and took office just last month.

“It was cold and wet and miserable, but it was fun,” he said.

The playground equipment opened for use on Jan. 20, Love said.

The Big Gulch trail is located just south of 92nd Street Park. The two areas together encompass more than 180 acres.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; bsheets@heraldnet.com.

 

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 6:16 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Everett, Real Estate

5 wild winter art projects for kids

 
 
Too cold to play outside? Grab your favorite craft supplies and whip up one of these fun winter projects.
 
Winter crafts for kids

Stuck indoors on a cold winter day?  Or maybe you're just looking for a something to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Either way, we've got you covered with these beautiful winter crafts that are fun for everyone in the family.
 
 
1. Stained glass snowman. This whimsical little craft from Twelve Months of Fun will make a big impression on your little crafters.  If you have young kids, you may want to do some prep work ahead of time to cut up the paper, make your raffia circles, and assembles some supplies before those little hands get to work.  But older kids will enjoy doing to whole project on their own.
 
 
2. Button and yarn snowman. It doesn't get any easier than this button and yarn snowman craft from funEZcrafts. And what a great way to use up all of those mismatched buttons in your junk drawer.  This one might be frustrating for toddlers and kids who have a hard time with fine motor skills.  But for kids who love sewing and weaving, this craft may be the perfect fit.
 
 
3. Snowflakes 2.0.  Sure, you've made snowflakes before.  But not like these.  These amazing creations from Bon Temps Beignet are worthy of a closer look.  And they make the perfect way to spend a chilly afternoon – with or without the kids!  Go ahead, scroll the site to pick out your favorite design.  Then grab a sheet from the recycling bin, some scissors, and a cup of tea and have at it!
 
 
4. Clay polar bear.  At first glance, this amazing art project from That Artist Woman may seem above and beyond the capabilities of the average crafter.  But keep in mind that the blogger behind this project, Gail Bartel, completed it with a class of third-graders!  And her post gives all the instructions you need to take this project from start to finish.  If you don't have easy access to a kiln, simply allow kids to paint after the drying time is completed.  It won't be as shiny, but it will be just as beautiful.
 
 
5. Recycled CD Snowflake. This craft from Thomas Elementary Art is brilliant for so many reasons.  For starters, it utilizes all of those all CDs you're not using now that your entire music collection is stored on your computer.  It's also quick, easy, and fun.  And if you want to incorporate a little education into your craft time, the lesson plan gives step-by-step instructions for teaching kids about mosaics, snowflakes, and recycling.
 

 

Posted on January 29, 2014 at 12:12 am
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Homeowner News, Real Estate

Don’t Wait! Move Up to the Home You Always Wanted

  

Now that the housing market has stabilized, more and more homeowners are considering moving up to the home they have always dreamed of. Prices are still below those of a few years ago and interest rates are still below 5%.

However, sellers should realize that waiting to make the move while mortgage rates are increasing probably doesn’t make sense. As rates increase, the price of the house you can buy will decrease. Here is a chart detailing this point:

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 11:52 pm
Debi Bloomquist | Category: Home Finances, Home Improvement, Homeowner News, Real Estate