Home Buying FAQ: How Long Will I Live Here?!

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How long do I plan to live in my future home?

This may be the single most important question for you to answer.  Why? Because the answer directly affects the size and type of home that you buy, where it’s located, as well as the type of mortgage you use to finance your purchase.

Times have changed since our parents bought their homes.  Chances are, unless they’ve retired or are in professions where thy are required to relocate to different parts of the country from time to time, you parents are still living in the home in which you grew up.

Statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR, which your Realtor should be a member of), reveal that today, on average, people live in their homes only about 5 to 7 years. That’s it.  Then, they move.  

How are you supposed to know how long you’re going to live in your home?  I suppose there is no way to know for sure, but here are some general guidelines, which can be referred to as the Cycle of Life.

Cycle of Life:

Young and single:  If you buy a home here and you’re interested in having a long term relationship or getting married, it’s likely that what you can afford as a single person won’t be quite enough space for two.  Within five to seven years you’ll probably trade your one bedroom or two bedroom home for something larger.  Tip: look for a property that is an investment and in a neighborhood that is seeing appreciation. Ask your Realtor to help you locate a property that you may be able to turn into cash flow 5-7 years down the road

Newly Married:  You may want to start a family within a few years of your marriage.  Within 5-7 years, you’ll need additional space as your family starts to grow (and their stuff multiplies exponentially).

Divorced or Separated:  This can be another move.  At this point, in your second or third home, with young children in school, you’ll probably settle down for a while.  You may even find a house in a good school district and decide to stay for 10-15 years, until your children are through with school.

Empty Nesters: Once your children are grown and out of the house for good, you might decide to sell your big house, take your profits (up to $250,000 for qualified single homeowners and up to $500,000 for married homeowners, tax-free) and move to a smaller condo somewhere warm or perhaps cold, if you like skiing.

Vacation Home: And finally, it’s possible that you’ll purchase a second (or third) home, to which you may actually end up retiring.  The most popular age to buy a second home is 55-65, followed by 45-55, followed by 65-75, which mean the baby boomers are just beginning to enter their prime second home buying years.

Look Before You Leap

Before you start to look for a home, think about where you are in the Cycle of Life, and where you’ll be in five to seven years.

  • Is marriage, a life partnership, or living with someone else a possibility within five to seven years?
  • How many children do you plan to have during the next five to seven years:
  • Are your children near or at school age? Have you chosen the school district you want for them?
  • Is it likely you’ll be transferred for your job within the next five to seven years?
  • Do you have an aging parent in another part of the country who may require your close supervision or attention?
  • Do you have an aging parent or post-college-age children who might be moving back home with you? Will you need flexible living space that your current home can’t provide?

If you are thinking of buying a home, download my app (click on link OR download via QR code below) and pull all active, pending and sold listings in your neighborhood or desired neighborhood.  If you find a house you like, I am right at your fingertips and am happy to assist you!

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Live Washington: Valentines Day Getaway

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This week in the “Live Washington” series, we are getting into the spirit of love in honor of the beloved consumer holiday, Valentines Day.  Whether or not you are single or coupled up, these mini getaways are a great alternative to the traditional activities, as well as another perfect excuse to see what Washington has to offer it’s residents.

I hope your week is full of love and am so grateful for all of the amazing people that make up this incredible community I get the privilege of living in.  

The Heron Inn & Day Spa
117 Maple Ave.
La Conner, WA 98257
(360) 399-1074
www.theheroninn.com
Located in the artist town of La Conner, The Heron Inn & Day Spa is near both the small town art galleries and Fir Island. La Conner is a small town, filled with wonderful restaurants and art galleries. It sits on the Swinomish Channel, across from Hope Island. The channel is home to otters, great blue heron and other wildlife. The galleries feature local Pacific Northwest artists of all disciplines. The Next Chapter Bookstore & Coffee House has some of the best coffee in town, and great selections of books. The La Conner Pub & Eatery has wonderful fish and chips, burgers and other food. In the other direction, Fir Island is the wintering grounds for 40,000 to 60,000 snow geese. The birds feed in the wintering farm fields along Fir Island Road and other areas throughout the island. A stay at this inn will fulfill your wildlife fix with your loved one.

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd.
Crystal Mountain, WA 98022
(360) 663-2265
www.crystalmountainresort.com
If I had to choose, this would be my perfect getaway….Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is located about two hours from Seattle. It is situated off Highway 410 and near Mount Rainier. The resort offers runs for beginners through advanced skiers. Equipment is available for rental or purchase at the Mountain Shop (base area) and the RDL Test Center (top of the gondola). They both offer opportunities to test out the latest equipment and will take the rental fee off of the purchase price. The resort also offers guided snowshoe tours. Lodging is available in the area and is listed on the website.

A Tree House Retreat

A Tree House Retreat is a romantic getaway in the trees. The Tree House has views of the forest and Puget Sound (looking west). A continental breakfast is included, and guests can make an appointment with Whidbey Wellness in the Woods for a rejuvenating massage. The beach is a 1/8-mile walk, with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sounds. Other areas to visit in the area are Fort Casey State Park, South Whidbey Island State Park and Fort Ebby State Park. The area is home to deer, raccoons, eagles and more. Reservations are required.

Salish Lodge & Spa
6501 Railroad Ave. S.E.
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
(425) 888-2556
www.salishlodge.com
The Salish Lodge & Spa is located at the scenic 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls near North Bend on I-90. The lodge is the perfect place for a pampered getaway for any couple. The spa facilities are first class, offering a variety of services for both men and women. The four-star restaurant is one of the best in Western Washington, and looks out over the falls. In North Bend, the avid shopper can explore the North Bend Premium Outlet Mall, which includes stores like Reebok, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Wilsons Leather, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and more. For those who love the outdoors, the lodge is next to Snoqualmie Falls Park, which has two observation decks overlooking the falls.

Argosy Cruise
1101 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 622-8687
www.argosycruises.com
The Locks Cruise is 2.5 hours of seeing Seattle and Ballard from the water. It starts at Pier 56 on the Seattle waterfront and ends at Lake Union. Visitors are brought back to the pier via motor coach, which takes about 15 minutes. The tour starts in Elliott Bay, goes around Magnolia, through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, and finishes in Lake Union. Local history and current sites are shared throughout the trip. Tours are discounted if booked more than one month in advance. The company offers several other tour options that cover the Seattle waterfront, Tillicum Village, Lake Union and Lake Washington areas.

Home is where the heart is; Creëer jouw lievelingshuis - Blog - ShowHome.nl

And remember, YOUR referrals are the HEARTBEAT of my business. Thank you all, love and blessings to you and your families.

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Market Mondays: Kirkland

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Happy Monday everyone! The Holidays are over, football season has ended and the post Super Bowl depression has started to lift…that means people are getting back into thinking about real estate!

This week, we are taking a quick look at the current market in Kirkland, Washington.  If you want to see what is happening in your immediate neighborhood, download my app at http://jlsapp.com/rachelwagner , this will show you all the active listings in your area as well as pending and sold! It’s a great resource to have at your fingertips and I use it personally daily and clients also love it! If you want more information on a property, you can request it on the spot and I will get back to you immediately.

Currently, there are 105 active listings in Kirkland, ranging from $234,000-3.4 million with a median list price of $900,000.  In the last 90 days, there have been 116 residential/condominium sales ranging from $220,000-3.12 million, with the median sale price of $860,000.  The graph below shows months of inventory based on closed sales.  Currently, we are in what is considered a “sellers market” with 1.8 months supply of inventory, up slightly from the end of December and similar to the numbers seen in January.  As we move into the Spring months, this may fluctuate slightly with the increase of inventory.  With historically low interest rates, however, it’s a great time to purchase a home in any area…Kirkland being one of the hottest markets in the greater Seattle area.

The home below is listed for $489,500 on 112th st in Kirkland, Washington and is a perfect home for first time home buyers on a large lot, beautifully updated and located near the Kirkland Corridor trail, elementary school, gym and within walking distance from Juanita beach park and shopping.  Call/text 425.324.0302 if you are interested in more information.

Live Washington: Leavenworth

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Leavenworth is where Bavarian charm and the Northwest meet, located on the Eastern cusp of the Cascades 2 1/2 hours from Seattle.  Not only is it a mecca for recreation, with endless opportunities for climbing, camping, mountain biking and golfing in the spring and summer months and skiing, sledding, cross country skiing and ice climbing in the winter, the town is also jam packed with festivals and events in almost every month.  

The Live Washington series will explore some of the best places to visit and invest in vacation homes or rentals that are accessible, family friendly and embody the Pacific Northwest lifestyle that draw us to call this place home.  I am excited to share these places with you, and am inspired by the beauty that is so close to home!

Leavenworth is an affordable and beautiful place if you are looking to purchase a second home.  The median sale price in Leavenworth for the last 90 days is $325,000 with prices ranging from $150,000- $1 million there is something for everyone here.

Beautiful waterfront home with lake and mountain views + close to downtown Leavenworth

cozy open floor plan + perfect setting for family gatherings

Magical Holiday lights in downtown Leavenworth

Hiking + Mountain Biking destinations in Spring/Summer months 

Market Monday’s: Holiday Edition

Happy Monday Everyone! Alright, so I’m veering off the path a little bit this week in the spirit of the HOLIDAY SEASON! I was inspired to do a Christmas edition post this week after driving through some neighborhoods on our way home from the movies last night and seeing some beautiful light displays! One of my favorite parts of the holiday season are all the lights…on trees, houses, boats, people…the more the better, especially during the time of year with the least daylight.  What better way to find out the personality of your future neighborhood than seeing what people are doing during the Holiday season?! Below are some of the best neighborhoods in the greater Seattle area for Christmas light displays.  Enjoy!

1. Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna (December 15 to New Year’s)
This is by far the best one to drive through in Seattle for charming Christmas light displays. It’s a free light display that you can walk or drive through in a loop put on by the neighbors of Park Road and Ravenna Boulevard. The neighborhood has been putting on this community light show since 1941. (December 15 through New Year’s Day from 4 p.m to 11 p.m.; on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve the lights are on until midnight). Address: Northeast Park Road, off Ravenna Boulevard, Seattle, WA 98105

2. Olympic Manor near Greenwood (Mid-December)
The Olympic Manor neighborhood in Seattle has it in their homeowners association rules that they are encouraged to decorate for Christmas each year. Dozens of homes are decorated and it’s a longtime holiday favorite in Seattle. Don’t be surprised to see limos driving through. Address: Start at Northwest 85th Street and 23rd Avenue Northwest.

3. Kerry Park Viewpoint on Queen Anne Hill (Month of December)
After driving through to see the Christmas displays of the picturesque homes on Queen Anne Hill head to the Kerry Park Viewpoint for the best view in town of the lighted tree a top the Space Needle. It’s free too. Address: 211 W. Highland Dr. Seattle, WA.

4.  Keener’s Christmas light display in Bothell located at 16504 112 Place, Bothell,,WA 98011 boasts an impressive description of:

” Over 100,000 lights,Over 30 retro blow molds,15 ft high arch way with 4000 green and red lights over the drive way, 3 nativity scenes, 20 ft snowman, 75 percent Of the display is LEDs, Christmas Yoda floating in a tree, Santa and his reindeer taking flight, 9 blow ups, Over an acre and half lit up”.  Also, the Keener’s offer this festive experience free of charge, however, they accept donations on behalf of the Ben Towne Foundation, which fights childhood cancer.  More information is available on their website and they are willing to match all donations of up to $3000!

Do you have a favorite neighborhood light display? There’s still plenty of time to feature your own neighborhood so email me at rachelwagner@johnlscott.com with a photo and what you love about your neighborhood this Holiday season.

Credit 101: True or False

I receive a lot of questions on a daily basis from prospective buyers (especially first time home-buyers) relating to finances and primarily, CREDIT! Today, we are playing a little game of True or False as they relate to all things credit! What I love about Real Estate is the opportunity to learn and grow on a daily basis.  Many times, I grow right along with the people I’m working with and seek out answers to things I’m unsure of.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with David Bryce, Senior Loan Officer with Priority Home Lending and he broke down some of your most common credit questions.  If you are considering purchasing a home, I highly suggest giving him a call at 425.466.4533 and know he will be able to answer any questions you may have as they relate to financing. Also, feel free to email rachelwagner@johnlscott with any other questions you may have, I’m always happy to help!  Happy Wednesday and I hope you learned as much as I did in the following Q&A.

1.  Paying off an account that has been turned over to the creditor’s collections department or a collection agency will increase your credit score.

Sorry to start out with what amounts to a trick question but, the correct response is false- most of the time.  Only if the account has gone into collections recently is it wise to pay it off.  Older accounts should be left alone.

Scoring systems place the most emphasis on the most recent activity in your credit record.  Paying off collection accounts, no matter their age, registers as recent activity.  Consequently, the closer such a step takes place to pulling a credit report, the lower your score will be.  If the date of the last activity exceeds 12 months, leave it alone.

If the mortgage lender requires that you pay off an account in collections as a condition of obtaining funding, do so as part of the closing process so it will not impact the score the lender will pull shortly before closing to make sure nothing detrimental has happened to your credit since the loan was first approved.

2.  Closing a credit card account will increase your score.

False.  Closing a credit card could actually lower your score because the amount of revolving credit available to you will decrease.  Rather than close an account, keep your balance below 30% of its limit.  Credit scoring models rate debt utilization or the amounts owed on your accounts, almost as important as payment history.

3.  Having cash on hand in a saving account will improve your score.

False.  While lenders prefer that borrowers have some cash reserves to tide them over in case of emergency, scoring systems look only at credit.

4.  Borrowing money from a finance company is no different than borrowing from a bank.

False.  All credit accounts are not ranked equally.  Credit from finance companies will score lower than a bank card, travel and entertainment card, oil card or auto loan.  Ditto for payday loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post dated check loans or deferred deposit check loans.

5.  Seeking the help of a qualified consumer credit counselor will automatically improve your score.

False.  More often than not, a credit counselor negotiates on behalf of the consumer to make a lower monthly payment on an overdue account.  Even thought the creditor agrees, it is not the same arrangement for which the consumer signed up originally.  As a result, the payment more than likely will appear as late on the person’s credit report.

6.  You only need to worry about your credit score when you are buying a big ticket item such as a house or automobile.

False.  With the amount of fraud and identity theft taking place, all of us should check our credit reports at least once a year, and Credit Plus recommends twice.  By law, you are entitled to one free copy annually. Go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com to get your free annual report.

7.  Your credit score differs, depending on the item you are purchasing.

True.  Different industries use different scoring models, so scores will change, depending on whether you are buying a house, purchasing a car or applying for insurance.  Make sure your lender uses a score developed solely for the mortgage business.  Others are almost always 50 to 60 points higher than the score developed solely for the mortgage business.

8.  A finance company credit card scores the same as any other credit card.

False.  Finance company cards, which typically allow borrowers to open a store account with zero interest for a year, weigh more heavily on credit scores.  Worse, when you open the account, the creditor sets your limit at the cost of your purchase, meaning the card is maxed out and well above the 30% balance you should strive not to exceed.

9.  Negative credit information can stay on your record forever.

False.  Generally, negative information remains on your report for seven years from the last activity.  But if it involves a bankruptcy, it can stay for as long as 10 years.  The exception is a federal tax lien, the removal of which is determined by a prescriptive period.

10.  There’s nothing wrong with using your maiden name when pulling your credit report.

False.  Always use the same, full legal name.  Being consistent will help avoid confusion with other borrowers with the same name as yours.  Not all credit bureaus use Social Security numbers as the primary means of identification.

11.  If you have poor credit and cannot obtain credit on your own, the best ways to start rebuilding your credit record is by obtaining a secured credit card or asking someone to co sign with you for a major credit card.

True.  One reason for a low score is because there is not enough “positive’ revolving credit in your report.  Indeed, in many cases, when “positive” credit is added, a score will increase.

Simply Home: Wednesday Inspiration

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I think it’s safe to say that Pinterest is a great source of home inspiration, providing a wonderful resource for DIY home improvement projects and crafts.  The photo above depicts a mantle project that took me under 2 hours to complete, which included painting (white chalk paint, amazing), creating the banner and the sign.  Although my version may pale in comparison to some of the following mantle photos, it brought a huge amount of light and joy into our home, welcoming the Holiday season. We have quite a few home improvement projects planned in the future, so expect to see more of these as we continue the process of updating our home!  ENJOY!

Be Thankful Thanksgiving Mantel & Gratitude Frame - Landee See Landee Do

Simply Country Life: Rustic Burlap and White Pumpkin Fall Wreath

I drew inspiration from the “give thanks” concept, a nice modern twist to Thanksgiving decor

11 Inspiring Fall Mantles - cute mantle, can't find the 11 though...looks like a good blog though - cute tutorials!

Beautiful Fall display

Mod Vintage Life: Elegant Thanksgiving

Elegant Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Table Center Piece via Amy Huntley (The Idea Room)

Lovely Table Centerpiece

Pretty Painted Pumpkins

Orchard Girls: Top 12 Fall Decorating Ideas definitely will have a fireplace in the house we buy. :)

And remember…..

7 Inspirational Quotes That Remind Us To Find Comfort In Our Homes (PHOTOS)