Archives for January 2009

Meet Me and My Fellow Rain City Guide Contributers

Ardell, Jillayne and yours truly will at Crossroads in Bellevue at 6:30 pm on February 4, 2009.   I'm bummed that Dustin can't make it (maybe he'll suprise us).  And so far, fellow authors, Craig and Robbie, say they'll be there too!


It's a causal meet-up that Ardell is organizing.  We'd love to meet our readers, commenters and fellow contributors.  For more information or to give us a heads up that you're stopping by, please click here

By the way, if you visit Rain City Guide's About RCG page, you'll see what the four of us are twittering–just like the photo above which was taken at Inman Connect in San Francinsco last summer.  Sadly, RCG contributors rarely have the opportunity to pile on a bean bag chair together.

Reviewing an ARM Note for a Neighbor in West Seattle

I've been working with a home owner in West Seattle who has an adjustable rate mortgage that she obtained almost five years ago from a big "local" bank.   She contacted me to obtain rate quotes for refinance because her ARM is set to adjust soon.   Here's what a review of her Note reveals:

The Note rate is 4.125% for five years with the first adjustment coming up on May 1, 2009.   The index is based on the 1 Year Treasury (CMT) and her margin is 2.75%. 

If her ARM were set to adjust today, her new rate would be based on adding the margin of 2.75% to the 1 Year Treasury rate of 0.49% rounded to the nearest 0.125% = 3.25%.  (Indices are changing dramatically in our current climate–it's hard to say where the CMT will be on May 2009).

This rate is amortized based on the remaining term of 25 years and every May her ARM will continue to adjust based on where the current index is (1 year Treasury – CMT) plus the margin of 2.75%.   This is also limited to specific caps that her Note features of 2% annually and a lifetime ceiling of 10.125%. 

Let's assume her rate adjust to 3.25% in May 2009.  The highest her rate could be on May 2010 is 5.25% and the lowest is 2.75% (the lowest the rate may ever be is limited to the margin of 2.75%).  If rates continuing rising, the worse case scenario would look like this:  May 2011 = 7.25%; May 2012 = 9.25%; May 2013 = 10.125% (because of the lifetime cap of 10.125%).

If worse case scenario, the CMT climbs dramatically over the next few months, the highest her rate could be is 6.125% based on her 2% rate caps.

Should this home owner refinance with her adjustment date looming near?  It really depends on what her personal financial plans are and if she can tolerate having her rate change annually.  Her main risk is where rates may be in the future.   The choice is hers.

What would you do?

Are you a Seattle area home owner with an ARM?  I'm happy to review your Note for you–no refinance required.


The Seattle Boat Show

Yesterday, my husband and I went to The Seattle Boat Show which is P1240034 taking place right now at Qwest Field Event Center.  I'm not a boater.  In fact, I don't even swim.  I had fun checking out the sea of boats from yachts to motorized kayaks and the Junk Raft…it's pretty amazing.  

Booth after booth of gadgets and classic tradeshow salespeople offering you an "almost free cookie" if you'll just stop by to hear their pitch (no thanks).  I can't help but wonder how our economy is impacting this market…especially compared to real estate? 

The Seattle Boat Show runs through Sunday, February 1, 2009.  In addition to the indoor event, South Lake Union has a "floating" show. 

Click here to see my photos.

What to do if you missed out on refinancing with last week’s rates

Tuesday, following the holiday, rates popped up about a half point to rate.   Last week, the very same people I was quoting mid-to-high-4’s to who opted not to lock yet, now are receiving updates with rates in the low 5’s…much to their surprise.  Why didn’t they lock?  Because some want just 0.125% better in rate and some want the rate priced with zero points (which is a much taller order than 0.125% improvement in rate these days with rebate pricing almost non-existent).

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Martin Luther King Day

In 1986, King County, where I reside, was renamed after Martin Luther King Jr.  100px-KingCounty Originally our county was named after William Rufus Devane King, a slaveowner and  once Vice President under Franklin Pierce, back in 1852.   The renaming of King County was official in 2005 and the new county logo, featuring Martin Luther King Jr replacing a "crown" followed in 2006.

Personally, I'm pleased to have our county to be named after Martin Luther King Jr. 

In observance of Martin Luther King Day, Mortgage Master will be closed.  We will reopen for business as usuals on Tuesday, January 20, 2009.

2009 County Recorders Schedule

Here is the holiday schedule for King, Pierce and Snohomish counties recorder's office.  If the recorder's office is closed, your transaction will not be recording on that date. 


A tip of the hat to The Talon Group, your title and escrow partners.   You can click on the links above to have a pdf of the specific closures by county.

Condo’s Getting Spanked by Fannie

iStock_000061440694_MediumFannie Mae’s latest hits to rate will be implemented by lenders any day.  Condominiums are really getting spanked with a 0.75% add to fee if there is less than 25% home equity in the property.  This will apply to both purchases and refinances for any mortgage except those amortized 15 years or less.


If you are considering refinancing your condo, contact your local mortgage professional right away (I can help you if you’re located in Washington state)…if you’re in the process of buying a condo and are “floating” your interest rate, I highly recommend considering locking.

PS:  Cash-out refinances are also getting whammo’d by Fannie.  Don’t wait!

Winter Adventures in and around Leavenworth


This Sunday Drive is written by Geordie Romer who shows us there is a lot more to Leavenworth beyond the Bavarian Village. Geordie is a real estate agent with Windermere Real Estate in Leavenworth who blogs regularly on and Leavenworth Real Estate Blog.  You can also follow him on Twitter at

In Leavenworth, we have two types of folks.  Winter people and summer people.

The summer people love the heat and triple digit days.  The are rafters, cyclists, and golfers.  Come March, they are ready for Spring even though it may be months and months away.  Come October, as the leaves begin to fall, a tear comes to their eye as they realize Summer is truly gone and it may be time to start planning a trip to Hawaii, Mexico or Palm Springs.

And there are the Winter people.  When the leaves start to turn color, we start looking at the Stevens Pass web cam, just to see if the snow has started to stick.  Many of the Winter people work at Stevens Pass or did when they first moved to town.  We tolerate the hot dry summers because we know that the reward comes on sunny winter powder days every Winter and Spring.

From one Winter person to another, here are my 5 Winter adventures for the Leavenworth area. 

  • Ice climbing. This is my favorite on the list.  Call me crazy, but I love ice & Leavenworth doesn’t stay as reliably cold like some ice climbing hotGeordie spots like Banff or Bozeman, but you can’t beat the scenery.  Experienced ice climbers can learn about Leavenworth ice climbing from Jason Martin’s “Washington Ice: A Climbing Guide” or online from sites like  Classic climbs included the massive Drury Falls seen from Tumwater Canyon or the more mellow Hubba Hubba near 8 Mile Campground in Icicle Canyon.  Beginners should contact a guide service like the American Alpine Institute or NW Mountain School.
  • Ice fishing on Fish Lake.  Fish Lake is one of the rare ice fishing hot spots in Washington state.  It is loaded with fish and reliably freezes over every year.  The Cove Resort is your source for all things Fish Lake, so give them a call before you go.
  • Snowshoe.  Were my first two adventures a little two extreme for you?  Snowshoeing takes no special talent and is a great way to get out and explore.  You can rent snowshoes from places like Plain Hardware.  One of my favorite easy snowshoe treks is Hidden Lake.  From the end of Cedar Brae road on the south shore of Lake Wenatchee, hike the snow covered road to the trail-head and travel an easy mile or so to the small lake.
  • Horse Drawn Sleigh.  There are two places to ride a sleigh in Leavenworth.   One is at the Fish Hatchery near Sleeping Lady and the other is in Plain at Mountain Springs Resort.  Whether it’s a romantic getaway or an adventure for kids and grandparents, a sleigh ride seems like perfect winter fun.
  • Ski JumpingBakke Hill at Leavenworth Ski Hill was built in 1933 and was one of the top ski jumping venues in the United States for decades.  It was the host of the U.S. championships in 1941, 1959, 1967, 1974 and 1978.  Operated by the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, you can take lessons and learn to jump like a pro off the 20 meter jump.  Just want to watch?  Come to a ski jumping tournament this February!

Geordie, thanks so much for sharing information about the Leavenworth area. This makes me want to dust off my snowshoes or go tubing (you can tell my tolerence level for adventure)!