Back in the Seattle Market: Updated Trends

3 March 2014

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on my Real Estate Blog. Of course, I have been extremely busy even if I haven’t been posting here…our beautiful daughter, Genevieve Catherine, was born in July of 2013! I took some maternity leave, and now I’ve been back working part-time. I’m so happy to be back helping buyers and sellers.

So let’s get back to looking at the Seattle market!

No one is surprised that the market has certainly changed in the past 6 months. In July, we were looking at a steadily strengthening Seattle market, stable interest rates but with home prices increasing. This made for a terribly aggressive sellers’ market (some would say, “on fire!”) and a tough time for buyers in terms of multiple offers. However, there were some beautiful homes out there and buyers were still benefitting from affordable prices (even if the homes were selling for above list price).

We’ve now come out of the holiday season, and are looking at a very different kind of market. The general agreement is that the market is tough, lean and a little sluggish right now. The Mortgage Bankers Association is stating that the mortgage applications are the lowest they’ve seen since 1995! Our total listings are low and buyers aren’t looking as much either.


Home prices up again in Seattle area, report shows

2 October 2012

Source: The Seattle Times By Eric Pryne

Prices in the Seattle metro area were up 3.1 percent in July compared with a year ago, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. It was the third straight monthly year-over-year gain, and the biggest increase since the housing market collapsed five years ago.

Home prices in the Seattle metropolitan area continued to rebound in July, according to one closely watched measure.

Prices were up 3.1 percent from July 2011, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index.

It was the third straight monthly year-over-year gain, and the biggest increase since the housing market collapsed five years ago.

Indexes for Seattle and 19 other cities were released Tuesday. The Seattle metropolitan area includes King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Most other cities also saw prices bounce back in July, the most recent month for which information is available. The 20-city composite index was up 1.2 percent, and prices rose in 16 of the 20 cities compared with the same month last year. (more…)

End of Summer 2012 Market Update

18 September 2012

How’s the Seattle market doing? Is inventory still just as low? Are prices increasing? What does this mean for buyers or sellers?

A couple months ago, I wrote a post about Seattle’s low, low inventory levels.  This has been a frustrating season for buyers, especially in the more affordable price ranges. While I’ve still had clients successfully closing on the purchases, inventory has remained crazy low all summer. We had a tiny bump in June (historically, our peak month of inventory) but we’re talking tiny. Here is a graph  illustrating the total listings, new listings, sold and pending homes in ALL of King County, in ALL price ranges over the past year:

Now, compare this to the usual ebb and flow of inventory over the past five years: (more…)

The Coming Housing Crisis (Yes, Another Crisis)

23 August 2012

Source: The Huffington Post

Just when we are beginning to see the signs of a housing recovery and the housing market, critical to our economy, seems ready to return to normal, major markets across the U.S. are about to be impacted by a new housing crisis.

The National Housing Shortage

While this may seem counterintuitive at first glance, our organization has a long history of seemingly counterintuitive projections in housing which have later proven true. We were one of the first organizations to assert that short sales would not only become the preferred foreclosure alternative for homeowners, but that banks would prefer them as well. We were among the first to predict that investors would flock to the housing market beginning in 2010. We feel confident the same will hold true with the housing shortage that we believe will begin affecting some markets in the next 12 months and the majority of major markets within the next three years. (more…)

Housing recovery could lift jobs, spending

21 August 2012


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Could the real estate freeze finally be thawing?

After years of depressed activity, home prices and new construction have started to pick up in recent months as foreclosures have slowed, suggesting the housing market may have finally bounced off the bottom.

“It feels very much like we’ve hit a bottom and we’re starting to come off of that bottom,” Stuart Miller, CEO of homebuilder Lennar told analysts in June. (more…)

Buying a Distressed Home: What You Need to Know

7 August 2012


Everyone loves a bargain, the bigger the better. And arguably the biggest bargains of all can be found with distressed real estate.

“There’s evidence that home values have begun to solidify in many local markets,” says Wendy Forsythe, executive vice president and head of global operations at Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate, a full-service real estate brokerage with offices in 22 states. “However, the marketplace remains saturated with distressed properties and such homes are routinely available at significant discounts.”

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that in May distressed properties represented a quarter of all existing homes sold. Fifteen percent were foreclosures and the typical discount was 19 percent. Short sales represented 10 percent of May existing sales and the usual discount was 14 percent.

Forsythe also points out that discounts are not the only factor to consider when looking at real estate. (more…)

5 Biggest Negotiation Blunders

2 August 2012

According to the 2011 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the second most popular reason buyers use a real estate agent is to help with the negotiation process. However, buyers can negatively impact the process making mistakes which lead to them losing their dream house. Don’t make these negotiation blunders:

1)  Not entering with a negotiating strategy: Before submitting an offer, try to remember that the seller has already decided how much money they want from the sale of their property. Knowing how to negotiate effectively is the key to getting the best deal. Without a plan, you might risk losing the house you want.

2)  Giving up too soon: Buyers might get discouraged when they are competing against multiple offers on a house. However, the biggest mistake a buyer can do is panic and withdraw their offer. You should stay involved for at least one round of negotiations, but also establish your maximum price. (more…)

Is This What a Housing Bottom Looks Like?

31 July 2012

Source: The Wall Street Journal, by Nick Timiraos

Another housing report shows that market activity is up considerably from one year ago but easing off of the levels set by a surge of transactions earlier this year.

A report Thursday by the National Association of Realtors showed the index of pending home sales, reflecting deals that have gone into contract but haven’t yet closed, fell in June by 1.4% from May, though activity was still above the level of one year ago by 9.5%.

The report is the latest indication of an uneven housing bottom — things aren’t getting better rapidly, but we’re also not in the “hold-your-hat” declines of 2010 or the “spring that never materialized” of 2011. The report is also a reminder that a recovery will have trouble taking hold without meaningful job and wage growth, which has slowed in recent months. (more…)

What Do You Do This Year: Rent or Buy?

24 July 2012

Source: Rismedia

Today is a tempting time to buy a home with interest rates and prices at their lowest levels in years. Deciding whether to buy or rent can be complicated, and potential homebuyers have a lot to consider this summer. As part of National Homeownership Month, the American Bankers Association came up with these key questions to help shoppers make wise financial choices when considering buying a home.

1. How much can you afford to put down? Can you afford the monthly payment?
A mortgage down payment of 5 to 20 percent of the selling price is typical, but can vary depending on the situation. The size of the down payment will impact the monthly cost. Assess your financial health, determine how large of a down payment you (more…)

The benefits of an energy audit for buyers, sellers

22 May 2012
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Source: The Seattle Times

It might be a tipoff to a sobering reality: This house is an energy guzzler. Either the asking price comes down, the seller fixes the problems, or you walk.

WASHINGTON — It may be the best-kept secret in residential real estate: For a couple of hundred dollars, a potential buyer thinking about writing a contract on an existing house can ask for a formal energy audit along with the standard inspection clause.

That audit, in turn, can save the buyer thousands of dollars in future operating costs, and pinpoint the specific features of the house that need correction to improve efficiency.

It might also be a tipoff to a sobering reality: This house is an energy guzzler. Either the asking price comes down, the seller fixes the problems, or I walk.

Though energy audits have been available to consumers for years — the best known is the so-called “HERS” (Home Energy Rating System) — virtually nobody in the real-estate field promotes them to buyers.

Of the 120,000 HERS audits completed last year in the country, according to experts, just 12,000 were done on existing houses — a trivial number in a market with 4.5 million resales. The rest were performed on newly built homes

Since energy costs rank high on the list of ongoing expenses for many homeowners, and studies have demonstrated that energy-efficiency renovations more than pay for themselves in utilities savings, why aren’t more audits performed? (more…)

5 Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Trends That Will Last

15 May 2012

By: Dona DeZube

When you’re spending thousands to remodel a kitchen or bath, you want those updates to last a while.


To help you get ahead of and sort out the kitchen and bathroom trends — pity the last fool to install an avocado appliance in the 1970s — went to this month’s trend central, the International Builder’s Show. Our takeaway: For gosh sake, enjoy your home; remodel so that you love where you live.
Still, with a couple of exceptions, these five kitchen and bath trends offer lasting value:
1. Kitchen cleanliness.
By clean, we’re talking design, not germs. Kitchens are going clean, contemporary, and horizontal (open shelves, long and horizontal pulls, thick countertops). Even in a classic kitchen, go with simple, flat cabinets rather than highly carved cabinet details, says designer MaryJo Camp of Design Camp, Denver, N.C.
Tip: This is a trend to get on board with. A simple, tidy, fresh appearance will have broad appeal if you decide to sell.
2. Color is out.
This year, colors are cycling out, Camp says, except for black and white used together.
Tip: Practically speaking, black and white are hard to keep looking good. Black kitchens show every scratch and white cabinets show every speck of dirt.
Regardless, color is fickle; choose what’s best for your space.
3. Dark wood is where it’s at.
If you’ve had white cabinets, you know they show every speck of dirt, which can drive you crazy unless you have a cleaning fetish. Combine those white cabinets with another up-and-coming trend: dark wood. Or if your budget can handle the hit, go with specialty woods like mahogany or zebra wood that can make an island look like a piece of furniture.
Tip: Alternatively, you could invest your money in more kitchen storage and functionality than trendy decorative elements that might not stand the test of time.
4. Appliances that blend in.
The more open our kitchens get, the more we want them to look like the rest of the house. That’s fueling a trend away from the big pro range and ginormous stainless-steel refrigerator and toward concealed, high-performance refrigerators and dishwashers. Induction cooktops, which use less electricity than electric cooktops, are growing in popularity, Camp said.
Tip: When you buy appliances, look for the Energy Star label or go even deeper on energy performance ratings with Consortium of Energy Efficiency.
5. Ageless design gets easy.
What the Baby Boom wants, the Baby Boom gets. And Baby Boomers want to live in their homes forever. That’s led manufacturers to create DIY remodeling products with built-in universal design features — like toilet paper roll holders strong enough to hold your weight as you arise from the throne.
If you wanted a no-threshold shower five years ago, you had to have it fabricated as a custom piece, said Mary Jo Peterson, a Brookfield, Conn., designer. Today, companies sell no-threshold shower kits with trench-style drains covered with grills so you can roll yourself right in.
Source: House Logic – Published: February 21, 2012

3 Housing Trends Emerging This Spring 2012

3 May 2012


What can home buyers expect to face this selling season? An improving housing market has made it a different picture in many areas compared to recent years, housing experts say. A recent article at notes some of the following trends taking shape in the housing market this spring:

1. Fierce competition.

Housing affordability is at record highs, due to falling home values and mortgage rates hovering near record lows. More buyers are taking notice and jumping off the sidelines. And mixed with sinking inventories of homes listed for sale, the competition is getting more fierce.

Investors are snapping up bargain prices, often in all-cash deals, which means greater competition for traditional home buyers too.

“Rents are going up, and as long as there are properties at the level where investors can get the positive cash flow, they will continue to invest,” says Jed Smith, managing director of quantitative research for the National Association of REALTORS®. Smith adds that first-time home buyers, in particular, may find increased competition from investors in trying to snag some of the best deals on the market.

2. More renters show desire to become home owners.

Recent surveys have shown that buying a home nowadays is more affordable than renting. As such, more renters are finding home ownership more enticing.

The signs are already starting to show: About 59.5 percent of tenants recently surveyed say they intend to renew their leases this year, which is the lowest rate since early 2009, according to a study by Kingsley Associates.

3. Mortgages may be a little pricier.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration recently have raised their loan fees, which means home buyers can expect to pay a little more for their mortgage this spring.

“Those who don’t have credit scores in the high 600s to low 700s may be forced to go the FHA route,” says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage planner at Cherry Creek Mortgage in Gurnee, Ill. “And they will be stuck with the higher fees.”

Buyers with smaller down payments can expect to pay more for FHA mortgage insurance premiums, which have risen to 1.75 percent of the loan total. cites an example illustrating the higher fees: A borrower who takes out a $200,000 FHA loan will likely have to pay about $3,500 for mortgage insurance upfront. Prior to the increase taking effect, borrowers would pay about $2,000 for that same loan amount.

Borrowers with higher mortgages can expect higher fees too. The FHA announced that in June it’ll increase its annual insurance for mortgages more than $625,500. “A borrower who lives in a high-cost area and takes out the maximum $729,750 (which is the FHA limit for high-cost areas) will pay $912 each month in mortgage insurance alone,” reports.

Spring 2012 Market Update: A Story of Graphs

26 April 2012

“Is this spring a good time to buy?”

What does the market look like? What do we mean when we say “inventory is low?” Have we hit that magical price “bottom?”

I’ve been working with many buyers this past month, and before beginning their search I always like to talk about the market. In my post today, I’d like to show you what I’ve been showing them.


Green Your Home: Indoor Air Quality

17 April 2012
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Did you know, that EPA has found that the air inside your house can be two to five times more polluted -and maybe up to 100 times!- than the air outside your home?!

Did you also know that poor indoor air quality is associated with a host of health problems, including eye irritation, allergies, headaches, and respiratory problems such as asthma? (source:

I heard it once said that health is one of those things you just don’t think about – until you no longer have it. With Americans spending nearly 90% of their time indoors, don’t wait until you or your family gets sick before making sure your indoor air quality is safe. (more…)

Basics: The Homebuying Process

28 March 2012
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A national quarterly poll of 3,000 Americans conducted by Fannie Mae found has found that two-thirds of renters – across all educational and demographic levels – say they would like to purchase a home in future. However, the poll also found that the renters expressed caution and concern over the homebuying process as well as the process of qualifying for a mortgage. (Survey source:

While purchasing a new home is a complex process, it is certainly not as scary as some renters may think. With a dedicated Realtor at your side as well as a trusted lender (I can refer several!) you can easily make the journey from renting to home ownership.

Here is a brief summary of the homebuying process: (more…)

Home Improvement Projects That Pay

13 March 2012
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Which remodel projects will give you the most “bang” for your buck?

Many U.S. home-owners will take on home remodeling projects this year. From spicing up the kitchen to creating a bathroom that feels more like a spa, upgrades to your most valuable asset can pay off handsomely. With remodels, there is more at stake than improved livability; you could be adding thousands of dollars of value to your home. When done right, much of the money you put into a remodel may return to you when you sell your home.

Some remodels will reap greater benefit than others. According to Remodel Magazine’s 2011-2012 report, adding a bathroom will net you 51% of your original investment at the time of sale while adding a wood deck will recoup 70%.

Other popular remodels include: (more…)

Appealing Your Property Tax Assessment

21 February 2012
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Each spring, Washington homeowners receive tax statements based on the assessed value of their homes. A large portion of revenues from property taxes go toward educating our community’s young people. In addition, our police, fire, libraries, and parks and recreation are funded with this money. During difficult economic times, these revenues are especially important.

As many in Washington have seen their property values decrease, it’s not unreasonable to expect that property assessments would go down as well. However, that’s not always the
case. In the state of Washington, approximately half of your property tax is determined by levies for schools and community services. (more…)

Considering an Investment Property?

7 February 2012
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What you should keep in mind

With interest rates at an all-time low, home prices down about 30% from the 2006/2007 peak and rental rates holding steady or rising, many are thinking about purchasing investment properties for the first time.

So, let’s say you have found a home that might be a good rental property. But are you ready? How much down payment do you need? Twenty percent is the minimum for conventional loans, which is the most standard investment property loan, says Justin Arnold of Sterling Savings Bank. However, he also adds that the Fannie Mae HomePath program allows investors to get in at 10% down with no PMI. To qualify, the property must be a Fannie Mae HomePath property, which can be identified by a real estate agent or at (more…)

Understanding Home Inspections

31 January 2012
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The home inspection is an important part of the home buying process. When making an offer on a home, you will want to include a provision in your Purchase & Sale Agreement that gives you the right to inspect the propery. This will help you determine the physical conditions of the home and whether you want to continue with your purchase.
While inspections do not provide guarantees of the condition of the property, they do provide valuable information to you, the buyer. It is important to remember that the purchase contract may provide for a withdrawal from the contract if you are unsatisfied by the inspection report, but inspections should not be considered an open door to negotiation of the purchase price.
Your Realtor can provide you with a list of qualified, licensed inspectors, and either you or she can schedule the appointment. Both you and your Realtor should accompany the inspector during the inspections and you will receive a written report itemizing any areas of concern. A thorough inspection should take between 2 and 3 hours, and can cost approximately $300-600. This may seem costly, especially if you find yourself no longer interested in the home – however, it is extremely important that you understand the condition of the home before purchasing. (more…)

Renting v.s. Buying: The Dilemna

20 January 2012

Seattle, like much of the nation, has recently seen a dramatic increase of rents. Economic conditions have led to more people needing to rent, and we have seen relatively little new development over the last several years. This has  increased demand – and rents.

According to, an on-line rental service and stats website, Seattle has a hot market for rental properties, ranking 5th of the 20 major metro areas in the nation.  Rental properties average only 36 days on their website (in 1st place, San Francisco rentals average 28 days).  HotPads reports that over the last year, rents in the Seattle area have increased 8.14%. Keep in mind, this number includes the greater Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue areas – this number would probably be even higher if we were to strictly look at Seattle. (more…)

Why Green Homes?

13 September 2011
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This weekend, my husband and I attended the 9th annual Northwest EcoBuilding Guild’s Green Building Slam – the 10x10x10.  Ten architects, builders, developers, and/or owners had ten minutes to present ten powerpoint slides on their latest and greatest Green home developments. Projects ranged from creative home remodels to large community center developments – green projects that reduced carbon emissions, were self-sustaining, contributed to local communities and helped improved overall quality of life.

Mark & I have been attending for three years, and this was our favorite event yet. Not only because we had the opportunity to be part of the Planning Committee (I helped with marketing & brochure design, he helped with sponsorship), or because the Bastyr University venue was so beautiful – but because of the fantastic range of projects presented. Some projects aggressively pushed the envelope on sustainable, energy-efficient and eco-friendly innovation. While other architects and home-owners demonstrated that you don’t have to be a crazy millionnaire eco-freak to improve your quality of life and the health of your community and planet. (more…)

Historically High Affordability: What does it mean for Buyers and Sellers?

30 August 2011

This week I’m attaching a helpful article from our John L. Scott resources:

According to the National Association of REALTORS® Housing Affordability Index, homes are now more affordable than they have been since the NAR began reporting these numbers in 1971.

The Housing Affordability Index (HAI) measures whether a family making the median income can afford a median priced house at current mortgage interest rates. An index of 100 means that the typical American family has 100% of the income it needs to purchase a median-priced home with a 20% down payment. With median home prices down 6.8% in King County in June and mortgage interest rates at historically low levels, more people are within reach of the American dream of homeownership than have been in the past 40 years.

As the graph shows, homes were least affordable in the early 1980s, when mortgage interest rates averaged 16% and other factors made buying more difficult. Since real estate markets started seeing corrections in 2005, home affordability has been on a significant upswing. But what does this mean for those in the market to buy or sell a home?

High affordability means it’s a great time to be a buyer!

•As home prices have come down, buyers are realizing they can get more home for their money than they could in the previous four decades.
•Interest rates are low, which increases buyers’ purchasing power.
•Buyers can now qualify to purchase homes in neighborhoods they may have been priced-out of in the past.

High affordability means sellers will see increased activity and, possibly, slight price appreciation.

•Since homes are now more affordable, the pool of potential buyers has increased. In other words, more people can afford homes.
•Many buyers who have been sitting on the fence now see the importance of locking in low interest rates and are more committed to purchasing a home.
•A recent NAR survey showed that almost two-thirds of Americans believe that now is a good time to purchase a home. More activity can prompt bidding wars, which in turn sparks appreciation.

It’s important to note that NAR®’s index reflects national numbers. Of course, every market is local and every family’s situation is different. The best way to find out if it’s the right time for you to buy or sell is to talk to a trusted real estate professional.

Understanding Home Inspections

23 August 2011

Yesterday, a buyer client of mine made an offer on her dream condominium – and her offer was accepted!  Our very next step was to schedule her home inspection. The home inspection is vital component of any home buying process, whether a single family home or condominium. When making an offer on a home, you will want to include a provision in your Purchase & Sale Agreement that gives you the right to inspect the property – this will help you determine the condition of the home. Here is a brief discussion of inspection process, what it covers, and how you might proceed once you have the inspection report:


How is the Seattle Market?

16 August 2011
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A recent SeattlePI article entitled, “Home Buyers Finding Competition for Nice Homes in Seattle”  has done an excellent job of discussing a current market trend in Seattle home sales. The author and interviewed brokers argue that homes that are “turn-key” ( meaning that no repairs or upgrades are needed) are selling extremely quickly. In fact, many of these desirable homes are receiving multiple offers. The managing broker of my John L. Scott branch,Judi Hinson, has also remarked on this fact.  Out of 17 transactions that our branch handled in one week, 14 of those transactions were in multiple offer situations. Inventory is low and buyers looking for turn-key homes are faced with increasing competition!

So why are home values still dropping? Why are the average days on market still so high? And why does the general media keep reporting on a suffering housing market?


Classic Greenlake Virtual Tour!

8 August 2011

Five ways the downgrade in U.S. credit rating affects you

8 August 2011

By Ylan Q. Mui, Published: August 6
The Washington Post

The impact on your wallet of the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the nation’s credit rating is similar to what would happen if your own credit score declined: The cost of borrowing money is likely to go up. Here are five things to keep in mind as financial markets respond to this historic event.

1) Uncle Sam’s interest rate may rise.
S&P is one of three major rating agencies that assess the riskiness of large institutions such as corporations and governments. The downgrade reflects a lack of confidence in the U.S. government to pay its debts over time. Riskier countries have to pay higher interest rates, just as riskier consumers do. S&P’s decision rocked the United States — and the world — because the nation has generally been considered one of the safest investments around.

2) If the government pays more, you pay more.
The interest rate the United States pays on its short-term loans is determined by the market for Treasury bills. The downgrade could increase the yields on those bonds, forcing the government to spend more to borrow the same amount of money. Many consumer loans, such as credit cards and mortgages, are linked to the yield on Treasuries and therefore would also rise.


House of Shelves

26 July 2011
By Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, Inman News
June 30, 2011

Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall shelving defines a compact, 557-square-foot home in Osaka prefecture, Japan, designed by Japanese Architect Kazuya Morita.

Designed for a young historian with an extensive book collection in Islamic history, Morita designed the house with interlocking laminated pine boards that slot together to form a lattice of towering shelving units.

Every element — from the stairs to the windows — were scaled to the individual shelf unit, “with the aim of achieving geometrical harmony which is comparable to Islamic architecture,” Morita’s website notes.

The shelving had to be strong enough to support the entire house. “This is an unusual structure. I never experienced this kind of architecture,” said Morita, who declined to disclose the cost to build the house. Numerous tests and experiments were run on models to ensure the structural integrity and convince city planning officials to issue a building permit. The home’s exterior features a painted clay and bamboo wall, with cedar exterior wall plate. The interior is finished with plaster.

“It can support 10 tons of books,” said Morita, who opened his architecture studio in 2000. And, he added, “it can survive earthquakes.”

The shelving even extends into the home’s bathroom, covering a wall above the toilet and bathtub…

Read the entire article at Yahoo Real Estate>

Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

17 February 2011

Your credit score is intended to predict how creditworthy you are and how likely you are to repay a loan and make the payments on time. Lenders, landlords and employers all use this score to access your “credit risk.” A good credit score can save you thousands over your financial lifetime. Here are some general tips for getting a great credit score: (more…)

Where is it Safe to Buy?

17 February 2011

Wondering about the direction of Seattle home prices in the next year? the next five years? Here’s a prediction from They present a fairly popular opinion, that Seattle home prices may decline in the next year, but (happily!) recover in the next five years. Check out the rest of the country while you’re there – some states are in for a bumpy ride!

Read Article at

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