Sunday Drive to Washington Arboretum Park

One of the best things about having a new puppy in our family has been taking him out on walks to various parks around the area. Yesterday, my husband and I took Scupper, a Flat Coated Retriever,to Washington Arboretum Park. 

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Scupper in search of ducks

This was my first time visiting this park I’ve probably driven over thousands of times. It’s located under parts of the off-ramps to 520 bridge by University of Washington and the Seattle neighborhood of Washington Park along the shores of Lake Washington.

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520 Bridge

On this visit, we walked around Foster Island and Marsh Island. We are saving the Arboretum gardens for next time.

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Hubby and Scupper

The park is over 230 acres and has botanical gardens that are managed by the University of Washington.

You can check out more of photos from our walk to Washington Arboretum Park by clicking here.

Fall in West Seattle’s Lincoln Park

Yesterday we took our six month old puppy to Lincoln Park in West Seattle for a walk. I thought I’d share some of the spectacular fall colors from my one of my favorite parks

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Scupper and Rob at Lincoln Park

Fall leaves mix with kelp on the wet Puget Sound shore.

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Ferry at Fauntleroy

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Lincoln Park

I’m going to have a painting on exhibit at Bumbershoot!

You may or may not know that I started painting earlier this year for a new hobby. Most of my paintings have been on black velvet. I was thrilled when I was asked by Marlow Harris if I would contribute an Elvis painting to the Elvistravaganza! exhibit at Seattle Center. 

My painting of Elvis getting ready to enjoy a peanut butter, bacon, banana sandwich is not quite finished yet. I just thought I’d share where I’m at with him right now. I’ll post an update when I’m finished with him.

This event takes place during Bumbershoot, Labor Day weekend, at the Seattle Center. Elvistravaganza celebrates the 50th anniversary of when Elvis filmed “It Happened at the Worlds Fair”.

Come check out the exhibit during Bumbershoot. You’ll find a whole lot of Elvis at the Seattle Center Pavilion. 

King County Home Prices are up 7% from last year

The Seattle Times reports that home prices for King County have jumped up 7.2% from July last year. This pencils out to $25,250 with the median sales price of $375,250. The article also notes that closings are up 26% YOY which is great news for the housing industry. It doesn’t matter how low mortgage rates or home prices are unless transactions can actually close.With less inventory, many buyers are finding themselves in bidding wars or having a property in contract before they can get their offer together. From the article:

“Another recurring theme is the dramatic drop in the number of homes for sale. Home listings have been sliding for a full year; in July the number of home listed for sale was down 38 percent year-over-year…

…distressed home listings — bank-owned properties and short sales — are down 60 percent from last year. This also contributes to the small number of listings and brings up home prices.”

Part of the reason for the low inventory, per Seattle real estate economist Matthew Gardner, is that many people are not able to sell because they are underwater with their mortgages and don’t want to go through a short sale.

If you’re considering selling and your property is non-distressed (you have enough equity to sell), this could be a great time with more buyers than sellers.

If you’re underwater with your home and would like to sell once you have equity, you might consider a HARP 2.0 refinance (if your last conforming mortgage closed prior to June 2009) or an FHA streamlined refi (if your existing mortgage is FHA). While you wait for home values to continue to trend higher, why not save on your monthly mortgage payments?

If you’re a home buyer, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be fully preapproved BEFORE you start shopping for a home. If you’re considering buying or refinancing a home in Seattle, King County or anywhere in Washington state, I’m happy to help you!

Thank You, JP

 I learned tonight of the passing of my childhood hero, JP Patches. If you didn’t grow up in the greater Seattle area in the late 70’s, you my not have had the privilege of knowing how wonderful JP Patches is. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of starting our morning off in our Renton home first (having to) watch Zoom until JP Patches came on. I was so excited just to hear the theme song start of the early morning coo-coo clock sounds. JP Patches made my day. I loved his funny skits and that he was always kind and seemed to know what was going on. He provided normalcy while my parents were going through a divorce and trying to work things out with their relationship  He played my favorite cartoons and I would wait on the edge of my seat with ever other kid within KIRO’s viewing area, hoping he would mention my name when he peered at us through the ICU2TV. I remember being absolutely honored in kindergarten when the photographer for our class photo called me Getrude because of my dress that my Mom made me. (I love that dress, by the way).

He is my childhood hero.

When my husband and I were making plans for our wedding. We actually had hired Chris Wedes (JP) to perform our ceremony. He said he had never officiated a wedding before, which we were fine with. We had planned on doing the ceremony with JP at our home.

The home wedding plans wound up being not what wanted to do. When we decided not to have him perform our ceremony, he was gracious and I promised him a bottle a wine. He was so gracious.

Much to my surprise, my husband surprised me on my birthday with…my most favorite clown…the best present ever! I’m wearing a t-shirt that I had bought years ago and proudly wore all the time. Of course, JP autographed it for me.

Not only was I thrilled to have JP as a guest in our home, and my birthday guest were all equally thrilled. He has the ability to make everyone feel like a child again.

I love JP. This year, when I decided to try painting on black velvet, I wanted to have my first painting to be of JP.

J.P. is so loved and will be very missed. I can’t help but feel grateful that he has been a part of my life. Than you, Chris Wedes for J.P. Patches.

Here are some of my photos of JP.

Mortgage Scenarios for a West Seattle Townhome – OPEN TODAY!

It's National Openhouse Weekend and I'm promoting a new listing for of one of my West Seattle clients. This townhome is conveniently located in Highland Park at 7705 11th Avenue SW, Seattle and will be open today, Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm by Wendy Hughes-Jelen of Mountain to Sound Realty. For photos and more information about this property, click here: MLS#349459.

Here are a few financing options based on the list price of $219,950.  Rates quoted are as of April 27, 2012 and are based on credit scores of 720 – 739 with closing towards the end of May, just in time to move in for Memorial Day.  Home owners insurance is estimated at $50 per month.  This is not a condo, so there are no Homeowner Association Dues.

FHA 30 Year with a minimum down payment of 3.5%.

3.750% has a total estimated payment of $1437.04 with funds due at closing in the amount of $8963 including net closing cost, prepaids and reserves (apr 4.728).

Here is a detailed video review of the above quote:

Conventional financing with 10% down payment using private mortgage insurance with debt to income ratios under 45%.

3.875% (apr 4.397) using monthly private mortgage insurance with a total estimated monthly payment (including estimated insurance and taxes) of $1,259.02 and estimated funds due at closing in the amount of $28,478.26.

or…

4.125% (apr 4.465) using split premium mortgage insurance. Similar to FHA, a portion is paid upfront which reduces the monthly premium. I'm pricing this rate slightly higher to create rebate credit to help reduce net closing cost for the buyer of this West Seattle townhome. Total estimated monthly payment is $1,223.22 with funds due at closing estimated in the amount of $27,671.44.

Here is a video where I review both of the 10% down scenarios with private mortgage insurance quoted above:

This is just a small sample of possible mortgage programs for this home.  In addition to conventional and FHA financing, the sellers will accept VA and cash.

If you would like me to prepare a personal rate quote based on your scenario on this or any home located anywhere in Washington, please click here.

UPDATE:  There will be a Brokers Open (public welcome) this Wednesday, May 9, 2012 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at this home.

Seattle Sunday Drive to Olympic Sculpture Park

Last week, on our anniversary, we decided to check out the Olympic Sculpture Park which is located in the heart of Seattle on Western Avenue.  2012-04-01 11.20.31

I’ve driven by this giant eraser numerous times but this was my first time to get a “close up” at the actual park.

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Probably my favorite part of the park was the metal tree. Even on a grey Seattle day, the shiny silver branches were striking.

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This photo reminds me of giant cargo ships.

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I’m probably more “traditional” when it comes to art. However, I enjoyed strolling through the park on partly sunny day to check out the creations in a natural urban setting.

View more of my photos of Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park here.

Best Places for Beer in Seattle

Ever since I learned that Jay Thompson has joined Zillow and is making a move to my home town of Seattle, I've been thinking about this post. You see, I was able to spend a little time with Jay when he was a fellow speaker at the Mortgage Tech Summit in Arizona last month and one thing I learned about Jay is that he appreciates good beer.

Here is a quick list of some of my favorite beer places around Seattle…yes, most are in West Seattle, since that's my stomping grounds. Please keep in mind that I tend to be a "wine" drinker – however I can be swayed to refreshing brew, like a Dog Fish Head Imortal Ale.

Jay, this bud's for you!

Super Deli Mini Market on SW 35th. This is an amazing place. You step in, and it's a mini mart. They have Twinkies, motor oil and diapers and they have beer on tap. You'll see folks walking around enjoying a nice glass of beer and not just any beer – this place has an amazing selection of beers. I've seriously have never seen anything like it before. You can even get a "taste cup" to sample what ever they're serving up on tap.  It can be a little "sketchy" – my first time there, I found myself almost ducking behind a row of diapers (with my beer) when a drunk came in yelling at the cashier. Thankfully that's only happened once. They also have an incredible selection of cigars.

The Beer Junction. This is similar to the mini mart where it has an incredible selection. Both of these spots must have hundreds and hundreds of bottles to select from.  Beer Junction is located in, as the name implies, "the Junction" neighborhood of West Seattle and is nowhere near as edgy as the Mini Mart. The last time I was in the shop, I learned they're getting ready to move to a larger location just off California.

The Beverage Place Pub. Also off California in Seattle, the Beverage Place Pub is an actual pub located in a historic building with a great selection of beers. My first time there was for a barly wine event. Great atmosphere but no food!  However, you can order food to be delivered from several of the great West Seattle restaurants.

My last recommendation for Jay to check out is a place that a former Zillow-ite used to love when he lived in Seattle… yep, David Gibbons (aka David G)'s favorite hamburger spot:  Latona Pub.  Latona Pub is also a spot where a few Seattle reBarCamp planning sessions would take place over probably one of the best hamburgers in Seattle and a nice brew. Unlike my other suggestions, Latona Pub is not in West Seattle – it's in Greenlake (north Seattle).

Jay, you'll find we have no shortage of great micro-breweries, winerys or coffee in Seattle!  I know I am missing many other great places for Jay to check out – remember, I tend to be more of a "wine person".  Feel free to share your favorite finest beer spots with me (my hubby would probably really appreciate this info too).

Welcome Jay and Francy to Seattle!