Archives: October 2009

Big News for Pacific NW Homebuyers: Tax Credit Could Be Extended

Senate Has Reached an Agreement on Extending First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit; Would Also Give a Credit to Existing Homeowners Looking to Buy

moneyA new article from the Wall Street Journal caught my eye, and I wanted to pass it along! Though this agreement still has to be voted on and passed, it could be big news for those who want to purchase a home in the Pacific Northwest. Originally, first-time homebuyers had until November 30th to be in their new homes to qualify for the $8,000 tax credit, but efforts are in the works to extend that deadline by another several months. It’s no surprise that the past two years have been especially hard on the housing market — not just in Northwest Washington, but everywhere — but many believe that tax credits such as these will continue to boost home sales by providing potential buyers with good incentives to purchase.

How Would the New Agreement Affect Northwest Homebuyers?

In addition to extending the existing $8,000 credit for first-time homebuyers, a new tax credit of up to $6,500 would be available to existing homeowners looking to buy a different home (as long as they’ve lived in their current residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight). Income limits have also been raised to $125,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for joint taxpayers. Buyers would need sales agreements completed by April 30, but would have until June 30th to finish settlement.

That’s good news for people wanting to buy a home or sell their home in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, or San Juan Counties this year!

Stay tuned — I’ll post more on this soon.  In the meantime, if you’re looking for information about buying a Pacific Northwest home, please take a look around my informative Pacific Northwest Real Estate website which provides a Buying Guide, Pacific Northwest Area Info, and my free Northwest Washington MLS Search.  My team and I are here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact me!

Attention, Bellingham: the Vancouver 2010 Games Are Coming Soon!

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Vancouver 2010 Olympics February 10-28, 2010

I’m sure you’ve heard: the Olympics are coming soon to our corner of the world! The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games are mere months away, and everyone from world-class athletes to sports enthusiasts to those in the tourism business are deep in preparation.

Those of us fortunate enough to live in Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest find ourselves in a great position: the Winter Olympics are happening in our own backyard!

Here’s what’s strange: many folks, wary of the coming busy-ness and the crowds, aren’t sure if they’ll be able to enjoy this world-wide celebration. But with a little careful planning and some research, Whatcom, Skagit, Island, and San Juan County residents can join in all the fun and make some once-in-a-lifetime memories!

We’re Your Resource for Vancouver 2010 Travel Tips & Event Info

It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start when planning your Vancouver 2010 Olympics Vacation — so we’ve given you a head start! Visit our Olympics page for everything from accommodation tips, to great places to eat in Vancouver and Whistler, to ticket purchasing information.

Most of all, keep checking back. Each week we’ll provide more information about the Olympic Winter Games in a new post. Have a question about the Winter Olympic Games you’d like to see answered? Leave us a note in the comments, and we’ll do our best to help you find an answer!

10 Ways to Prep Your Pacific Northwest Home for a Greener Winter (Part 2)

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Remember, “Green” Doesn’t Mean “Expensive”!

In many cases, changing your Pacific Northwest home for the greener isn’t very expensive, and will actually SAVE you money in the long run. Here are a few more ways to make your Pacific Northwest winter a warmer, less expensive one, with minimal investment of time and money:

6. Exchange your regular lightbulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, or CFL’s, which consume 75% less energy and last about 10 times longer than traditional lightbulbs. In some cases, Puget Sound Energy offers an instant rebate when you buy your lightbulbs through certain Northwest Washington retailers (such as Costco), making them even more affordable!

7. Get a programmable thermostat. They’re a small investment that will make a HUGE difference in your heating bill, making sure you’re not heating your home when no one is around.

8. Take a few hours on a Saturday to fill those air leaks around your windows and doorways. We don’t often think about it, but leaks are like a window cracked open all winter long.

9. Use water wisely: insulate your water heater, install efficient shower heads, and put aerators in your faucets to heat water efficiently and use it more conservatively.

10. Weatherize your older single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane energy efficient windows. Though replacing them is a significantly larger investment, they’ll save you money long-term and energy tax-credits can help.

Help for Pacific Northwest Home Sellers

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell your Pacific Northwest home, we can help! Our Free Pacific Northwest Home Evaluation will give you the informative tools you need to make your home greener and more attractive to home buyers. Contact us to receive a Free Pacific Northwest Home Sellers’ Guide – let us help make your home-selling experience an enjoyable one!

10 Ways to Prep Your Pacific Northwest Home for a Greener Winter (Part 1)

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Those of us lucky enough to live in Whatcom County sure enjoyed our lengthened summer courtesy of September’s gorgeous weather, but it’s mid-October now and blustery Autumn is here! All you have to do is look outside your window at the bright red and yellow leaves, and you know Winter isn’t far off (and with it, winter heating bills)!

Pacific Northwest communities are known for their commitment to greener living, and there’s no better time to think about “greening” your own Northwest Washington home than Autumn. You can make small, inexpensive changes now that will yield big benefits all through the colder winter months, and you’ll be doing Mother Nature a big favor, too.

Small Changes Make a Big Difference in Your Whatcom, Skagit, Island, or San Juan County Home!

Here are a few tips from the “Stuff Your Mother Always Told You” category (and they’re free):

1. Make it a habit to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

2. Put on a sweater or slippers when you feel cold, rather than immediately cranking up the thermostat.

3. Unplug phone chargers, etc., when they’re not in use. Even idle chargers consume energy when they’re plugged in.

4. Wash your clothes in cold water. There are some great earth-friendly cold-water detergents in the organic/natural foods section of nearly any grocery store.

5. Eat food that’s in-season. Often you can find these foods locally-grown at your farmers market.

Check back later this week for more great Green Winter tips in Part 2!

Buying Your First Pacific Northwest Home: A Great Opportunity, a Great Responsibility

SAL_KingMountainhouseIf you’re like many Americans, buying a gorgeous Pacific Northwest home of your own is an important value and a longtime goal.

For many of us who love living in Northwest Washington, home ownership is much more than just an investment, it’s a sense of belonging. Recent changes in the housing market mean lots of opportunities for new homebuyers, but changes in the lending industry mean you must educate yourself and have your financial affairs in order if you want to purchase a home.

Visions of coming home each day to your own Pacific Northwest home have “The American Dream” written all over them – but how do you properly prepare for such an important step?

I’ll go into further details on first-time home ownership in future posts, but for now, here are some helpful tips to prepare you for this monumental decision:

1. Educate yourself about the home-buying process by attending a first-time home buyer’s class, doing research online or at the library, and talking with trusted friends or family members about their own home-buying experience. Even better, contact me for a Free Pacific Northwest Home-Buying Guide.

First-time home buyers are frequently surprised at how many steps are involved in buying a home, and how complicated it can be at times. Having a basic knowledge of the process will help you feel more at ease during the entire transaction, and knowing what to look out for will help you make wiser choices along the way. Having an expert Pacific Northwest realtor help you from the very beginning will also make a huge difference in your home-buying experience.

2. Get a clear picture of your finances by putting together an accurate list of income, expenses, debt, and monthly payments.

For some of us, this can be a daunting task. It’s not always easy to honestly assess where we’re at financially, especially if our financial decisions didn’t always reflect our long-term goal of home ownership. Take a deep breath, and dive on in – the first step toward healthier spending and saving habits is taking a good hard look at where you’re at now.

3. Find a local lender you feel comfortable with and get pre-approved for a home loan.

Ask around – whether people have had wonderful or poor experiences with a lender, they will have no problem sharing their impressions with you of Pacific Northwest lenders. In general, look for a loan officer who is willing to explain the fine print to you, who will take time to make sure you understand what you’re signing. A good mortgage lender should look at your financial status, using that information to help you establish a comfortable monthly payment amount, choose financing options that best fit your needs, and address any debt or savings issues that need to be resolved.

4.  If you haven’t already, select a trustworthy Pacific Northwest Realtor to help you find a home that’s right for you. (Hint: visit www.LiveInThePacificNorthwest.com!)

This is where I come in. Dedicated and personally invested in each one of my clients, I am committed to helping homebuyers get the best Northwest Washington homes they can, at a price that helps protect their future livelihood. An expert on Pacific Northwest real estate, I love answering questions about everything from the home-buying process to finding good neighborhoods in Whatcom, Skagit, Island, and San Juan Counties. I even offer a no-hassle free Pacific Northwest MLS home search.

Contact me today to find out how my team and I can help transform your dreams of owning a beautiful Pacific Northwest home into a reality!