It’s Hard Being a Home Buyer in Seattle – Here are some tips!

CNN recently published an article about a couple’s experience buying a home in Seattle. In a nutshell, their seventh offer was accepted with multiple offers well over the list price and they were able to close quickly without contingencies with a large earnest money deposit.

Home prices and lack of inventory (which I hope is starting to change) have created a highly competitive situation for those who want to buy a home in Seattle. Buying a home just about anywhere in the tri-county area these days is not for the feint of heart.

Here are a few pointers that you may find helpful if you’re considering buying a home in a “hot” market.

Make sure you’re fully approved with a “Letter of Loan Commitment” (aka Underwriting Preapproval Letter). This is different than a traditional preapproval letter and basically means that there are no conditions remaining from the home buyer with the lender except for the appraisal and the title report. If there are any conditions remaining with the borrower, they will be listed on the letter of loan commitment. The Letter of Loan Commitment/Underwriting Preapproval Letter carries more weight than a preapproval letter as it means the buyer should be able to close quickly without issues.

Have your mortgage professional contact the listing agent. Provide the Loan Officer with permission to discuss your scenario in detail – specifically your credit scores, where your funds are coming from, things that will show the listing agent that you’re a well approved buyer and the Loan Officer has you ready to close quickly. This also allows the Listing Agent to do a “sniff test” of the Loan Officer and their mortgage company.

Work with a local lender. Listing agents tend to dread working with large banks or internet lenders. This is because they typically have processing centers not located in Washington state and, as these lenders are “gravy fed” they don’t have as much to risk with reputation or earning repeat clients. They simply do not have as much to lose or gain as a local lender who is more accountable and easier to reach in the event there’s a hiccup with the transaction.

Use a bridge loan, if you need to sell your home before buying. A bridge loan allows you to buy your next home before your current home is closed. This is a great tool that allows you to tap some of your home’s equity so you can make an offer on your next home without it being contingent on the sale of your existing home. This can also allow you to make a larger down payment or avoid tapping into other assets, such as retirement or stocks.

Pay cash and then refinance after closing using “delayed financing“. This is a great option… IF you have the funds available. Delayed financing allows you to refinance and do a “cash-out” refi.

Look for a fixer-upper. There are several mortgage programs, such as Fannie Mae HomeStyle and FHA 203k Rehab mortgages that will allow you to take a fixer upper and create the home you’ve been hoping for. Both mortgage programs are “all-in-one” financing where the cost of the construction/rehab is added to your sales price to create your loan amount with reduced down payments.

Don’t buy in Seattle. You can get more home for your money looking in other areas outside of Seattle or other hot areas like Bellevue. It’s really worth considering other neighborhoods to see what else is available in your price range.

Of course if you’re considering buying a home located anywhere in Washington state, I am happy to help you! I have been helping people finance homes since 2000 at Mortgage Master Service Corporation. Click here for a no-hassle mortgage quote or here to start the preapproval process.


Are markets shifting in Seattle?

This weekend while driving around my neighborhood in Seattle, I noticed more “for sale” and “open house” signs on homes. It’s a welcome sight after how long we’ve been in this tight market with very little housing inventory. [Read more…]

32 Years Ago Today

My how time goes by when you’re having fun! Thirty-two years ago, I began my career in real estate. My first job was being a “doc-puller” at Safeco Title in Seattle. I really enjoyed being the receptionist for Safeco since I believed that I had more job security…back in those days, employees were quickly hired and laid off depending on what was going on in the real estate industry. This was before title companies used “temps” to fill those types of positions. Eventually I was promoted to work in a title unit. I “retired” from Washington Title Company as a Branch Manager of the Federal Way office in 2000. [Read more…]

Reason to stop paying rent #7: You have a pet

I love my pets, Rocko and Hitch. We have had pets before we had (our now adult) children. I totally understand someone’s anguish when they are trying to deal with where they are going to live when they have pets.
This morning, I was catching up on Facebook and in our local neighborhood group for West Seattle, a neighbor is worried about if their landlord is getting ready to sell the home they are currently renting. [Read more…]

Affordable homes in Seattle?

2015-03-21_0844This month, Seattle Magazine released their annual edition that covers the best neighborhoods in the greater Seattle area. This year, they featured the “most affordable neighborhoods” near Seattle. It’s no secret that home prices and rents in Seattle have been climbing due to lack of inventory. However, there are neighborhoods that are not located too far from Seattle where home buyers can get more for their money.

[Read more…]

Home Buyer Class in Greenwood – Phinney Ridge

Seattle Home Buyer Classes

I will be teaching a home buyer class in Seattle with Jim Repppond of Coldwell Banker Danforth on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the Greenwood Library in Seattle.

[Read more…]

Home Buyers Seminar in Northgate

Seattle Home Buyer Classes

I will be teaching a home buyer class in Seattle with Jim Repppond of Coldwell Banker Danforth on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at the Coldwell Banker Danforth’s Seattle office, which is located just south of the Northgate Mall.

The class is sponsored by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. Students who attend are eligible for programs like Home Advantage or House Key Opportunity (the Washington state bond program) or Freddie Mac Home Possible. Students are also eligible for various down payment assistance programs and MCC (mortgage credit certificates).

If you are considering buying a home with your spouse, partner or friend, they will need to attend the class with you to qualify for the programs.  You do not need to be a first time home buyer to qualify for many of the mortgage programs. And of course, you’re welcome to attend if you’re not interested in down payment assistance programs and you just want to learn more about the home buying process. [Read more…]

What May Impact Mortgage Rates this Week: October 13, 2014 – Mortgage Rates are LOWER

mortgageporter-economyHappy Columbus Day from Seattle – oh snap, I mean Happy Indigenous People’s Day. Regardless of which holiday you chose to celebrate, today is a Federal holiday and many offices are closed, including recording offices (no closings will be taking place today). Our office is open and I’m happy to help you with your mortgage needs. As today is a holiday, markets are closed. Here are some of the economic indicators scheduled to be released the rest of this week:

[Read more…]