Archives for July 2009

National Night Out is Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Neighborhoods across the county will be holding events to get to know each better on the evening of Tuesday, August 4, 2009.  If you live in Seattle, you can register your "block party" with the NightOut09 Seattle Police Department.   Our neighborhood in West Seattle has enjoyed this chance to get together for the past couple of  years with a fun pot luck with someone from the SPD stopping by to answer our questions, informing us of recent crime trends or things to be aware of.

If you live in the Bellevue area, Crossroads Mall will be holding a National Night Out event from 4:00 – 7:00  p.m. with games and goodies for the kids.

The City of Renton will be hosting a Night Out event at the Highlands Community Center from 4:00 – 7:30 pm with free food and games.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

It's not too late to plan an event for your neighborhood.  Being aware and knowing your neighbors is a great first step in preventing crime.  You can start by contacting you local police department.

If you know of a local Neighborhood Night Out event, please share it with us and post it in the comment section.

Update:  I'll add neighborhood events as I receive them via comments to the body of this post.

High Point in West Seattle, will be holding a large Night Out event at Commons Park.

Kenmore City Hall from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.   Join the Kenmore Police Department at the annual National Night Out Against Crime event. The police chief will barbeque hamburgers and hotdogs for Kenmore citizens. Information will be available on block watches, house checks, personal safety, fingerprinting and ID cards for kids, bicycle registration cards and home fire prevention. FREE!

Recording fees increasing Monday, July 27

Effective today, recording fees are going up statewide due an increase with the homeless housing fee from $10 per recorded document to $30 per HB 2331.

Recording your Deed of Trust or Deed in the State of Washington now cost $20 more each.

Hat tip to The Talon Group.

Sunday Drive: Skillet’s Gourmet Streetfood

Hopefully you won't have to drive too far to find Skillet Streetfood…in fact this mobile delight travels throughout the week to several Seattle neighborhoods, including West Seattle, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Fremont, SODO, Bothell and Redmond.   

Last weekend, I decided I could wait no longer…I had to check out the infamous Skilletfeaturing gourmet bites created in an airstream trailer. 


My nose found Skillet before my eyes did at the West Seattle location just a block or so away from the Farmers Market.


I had the Steak Sandwich with a Melon Mint Fresca.  It's not cheap eats–it is "gourmet" and very delicious.  The fries are perfection.


You can read more of my review and others on Yelp by clicking here.  

A Quick Question: Should I Refi?

This comment was left on a post I did a while back about how you don't really skip two payments when you're refinancing since mortgage interest is accruing.  I thought this comment was worthy of a post of it's own.

Hi Rhonda!
I found your website on a Google search and I have a quick question for you. I need some advice. Here are the specifics.

Current MTG Loan balance is $161,927.28 with 28.5 years left at 5.5%
My TOTAL payment a month including taxes, etc. is $1278.

Proposed FHA Streamline Refi is for $167,779 for 25 years @ 5.0%
My TOTAL payment a month including taxes, etc. would be around $1290.

Out of pocket Expense $0.


We plan on being there another 7-10 years.

If we do this, there is talkof the double Mtg skip, and a refund of MIP.

I know they aren't really skipping, nor the refund an actual refund, because the total loan amount is more than my current balance, kind of a wash. But there is still about a $1700 difference.

I could really use the $ to payoff a few things, even though I'm really rolling it into the new loan.

Is this really that bad of a deal?
Any advice or counsel is much appreciated!



First of all, it's great RC is weighing out the long term value before proceeding with the refinance.  Often, home owners may refinance blinded by what seems to be an attractive rate or payment without considering if they'll break even.  Other factors besides the cost or savings is the effort it takes to accommodate a refinance.  Even an "easy" transaction is going to require some work on the home owners part with providing documentation, completing forms and signing final loan documents (an FHA streamline does have reduced documentation).

I'm always a bit concerned when a loan originator sells "skip two payments"…this shouldn't be a sales point by anyone who considers themselves a "mortgage professional".   You can check out my original post to see why.

There is no monthly out of pocket savings with this scenario.  In fact the payment would increase by $12 per month.  I'm assuming the savings of $1700 has to do with the illusion of skipping mortgage payments.

RC states there is no out of pocket expense but I'm unsure if this means it's a "zero cost loan" or if the closing costs are rolled into the new loan.

There is no refund of the upfront MIP.  A portion is credited towards the new loan with an FHA Streamline refinance.

The principal mortgage balance will be increasing by about $5,852 however the term is being reduced by 3.5 years.  With regards to the 25 year term, I'm not finding any lenders that we work with (and we are an approved FHA/HUD lender) who offers a rate improvement with a 25 year amortized amortization over the 30 year.

It sounds like you're focusing on the potential $1700 savings and if this is what's important to you, I probably would not increase my mortgage payment by $12 a month even though it would be reducing the term. 

So there are my pros and cons to consider with this proposed transaction based on the information that you've provided, RC.   Without having all of your actual details, you need to take my advice with a grain of salt.

PS: I rarely ever really get a "quick question" that has a "quick answer". LOL 😉



Breaking Up is Hard to Do…Especially When You Own a Home Together

I’ve written articles before about issues to consider if you’re going through a divorce and have a mortgage…what if you were never married?  Couples (or single people) often buy homes together…what if worse case scenario, it doesn’t work out and one party wants to keep the home?

A divorce decree allows you to refinance to cash out the other spouse and still have the mortgage treated as a “rate term” refinance.  There are significant differences between a cash-out and rate-term refinance.  A cash out refinance is limited to an 85% loan-to-value and the rate is higher (approx. 0.5% in fee at an 80% loan to value with credit scores of 740 and higher).  If there is a court order, it’s possible that FHA might allow a cash-out refi with a non-married co-owner.

There’s also the issue of excise tax.  An excise tax affidavit is filed whenever a deed is recorded (in the State of Washington).  Excise tax may not be due when the person being removed from vesting is pursuant to a divorce decree.  However, when there is no decree or court order involved and the person is being removed, excise tax may be due as they consider the transfer of that person’s interest to the other person “a sale“.  I’m told the county may charge excise tax on half of the underlying mortgage.  As of the date this post was published, King County charges 1.78% for excise tax.   Possible exceptions to this would be if the co-owners were registered as domestic partners, or the transfer of the property to one co-owner is by court order. 

Just like a divorce, simply deeding the property over to the party who’s remaining in the home does not remove the other person from responsibility or liability of the mortgage.  And it probably makes good sense to contact an attorney who specializes in divorce to assist with the separation of the real estate property.

EDITORS NOTE: This post was written in 2009 and may not be as accurate with regards to excise tax with laws regarding recognizing partners since the writing of this post.

West Seattle Hi-Yu Parade…featuring JP Patches!

I love a parade…especially if it’s in my home-town AND it features my favorite Seattle clown, JP Patches.


The Seafair Clowns are a Seattle treasure, too.


Not to mention great marching bands, drill teams and princesses.  The West Seattle Hi-Yu Parade is something not to be missed.   For more pictures, click here.

A Call to Action to Stop HVCC from NAMB

HVCC has proven to be a disaster and may wind up impacting you at the very least when you do your next real estate transaction (if it doesn't create lower home values from bad appraisals done on purchase transactions in your neighborhood).

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers has a call to action to try to stop or atleast put a moritorium on HVCC so that it can be further researched.

Please call your Representatives today and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 3044.  The bill was introduced by Representatives Childers (D-MS) and Miller (R-CA) and it calls for an 18 month moritorium on the Home Value Code of Conduct (HVCC).  Click here for a copy of NAMB's press release on H.R. 3044.

When you speak with your Representative, simply ask when they plan to sign on as a cosponsor of H.R. 3044.   Click here for contact information for your Representative.

New Home Appraisal Rules Stir Industry Backlash – Associated Press (July 14, 2009)  

Low Ball Appraisals Spark Uproar Washington Post (July 3, 2009)

August Recorder’s Office Closure for Snohomish and Kitsap Counties

If you have transactions scheduled for closings in these counties on the dates below, please contact your real estate professional. 

August 13, 2009 ~ Snohomish County closes early at 3:30

August 14, 2009 ~ Snohomish County Recorder's office will be closed.

This means you need to be extra sweet to your funders and escrow officers before and after a furlough day…missing that extra day to record a transaction is enough to cause a few furrowed brows!

Don't forget, Snohomish and Kitsap County's Recorder's office is closed every Friday for the remainder of the year!