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29 New Homeowners in 2 Months

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 7, 2013

A Market Heating Up

People looking for homes all over the Seattle metropolitan area are realizing that now is a fantastic time to buy. With low interest rates amid an economic recovery, and housing prices on the rise, homes in the Puget Sound area are being sold at an incredible pace. According to the March 1, 2013 Forbes Article on the Hottest Real Estate Markets,  the median home price in the Seattle metro area has jumped by 16.35 percent in the last year, while inventory has gone down by 44.44 percent.

What does this all mean? Essentially, fewer and fewer homes are being put up for sale, while sellers are taking advantage of the limited inventory and raising prices. Multiple offers, bidding wars, and escalation clauses (terms in a purchase and sale agreement saying you will pay up to a certain amount if another buyer submits an offer higher than yours)  are now becoming the norm.

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Tips on Moving With Your Pet

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: February 13, 2013

Moving can be a very stressful situation for your whole family, but what about for your pet? Pets are also very sensitive to change, and care should be taken to comfort your family’s companion. Here are some tips to make the move easier for you and your pet.

Before You Leave:

1. Research Local Restrictions. Some cities have quantity and breed restrictions for certain animals, verify that these won’t get in your way. Your best bet is to call or visit your local city’s website for such information. In addition, most cities require special permits for exotic animals or livestock. It’s also helpful to research things such as leash laws beforehand. If you’re in the King County Washington area, check out this handy PDF on animal regulations: http://www.kingcounty.gov/property/permits/publications/~/media/property/permits/documents/bulletins/41a.ashx. Keep in mind that you may want to consider doing this step before even finding a home, as leaving a pet is one of the hardest things you can do.

2. Research Transportation Methods. One of the best methods to transport your pets is by car. Not only will your pets enjoy your company, but this is oftentimes the cheapest relocating method and least stressful method for your pet. Don’t forget to research and book a pet-friendly hotel if your journey is far. A great website to find pet-friendly hotels is http://www.petswelcome.com/. Other options include moving your pet by airplane in a crate on board (if they are small), or in the cargo area below. However, try to avoid the cargo area if possible. Not only is the cargo area dangerous for your pet, it can also cause a lot of additional problems and stress.
Because transporting pets in the cargo area is dangerous, airlines will limit at what temperatures pets can fly. This means that right before your flight, your pet may not even be allowed to board if the temperature is unacceptable, separating you and your pet. If you really do have to transport your pet in the cargo area, use an airline that has special cargo compartments just for pets. These compartments are not only pressurized but are heated for your pet’s comfort. If you do go with this option, book your pet’s ticket well in advance, as airlines have a limited capacity of such space.
Remember, the majority of other public transportation methods, such as greyhounds and other charters –in addition to trains such as Amtrak, prohibit animals other than service animals on-board.

3. Visit Your Pet’s Vet. Visit your pet’s veterinarian and ask them for all vaccine records and a health certificate. Tags, such as the one for rabies, are not proof of vaccination. Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. You should also ask for a refill of your pet’s medications. This way your pet will have medication while you look for a new vet and pharmacy near your new home. Lastly, ask your vet if they have any recommended veterinarians in the area you are moving to.

4. Revisit Your New Home. Make sure your new home is ready for your pet. If your pet will be out in the yard, check that there’s nowhere for it to escape from, and that there are no sharp objects or other threats to your pet.

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Best Rail Trails Near Renton, WA

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 22, 2012

By: Robert Gladstein.
Source: “Best Rail Trails Pacific Northwest: More Than 60 Rail Trails in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho” by Natalie Bartley)

 

The Pacific Northwest has some of the most stunning mountain biking anywhere in the world. You will find great rail trails for bikers of all skill levels in surprising proximity to Renton and Newcastle. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite rail trails so you can hit the trails and see some of the best this area has to offer.

Coal Creek Park Trail
This trek takes you through the woods to the spectacular Cougar Mountain peak. Look for evidence of the early coal industry along this historic trail as you wander through second growth forests. Coal Creek provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat, the dense forest protects water quality and erosion, and the extensive trail system provides opportunities for passive recreation and environmental education.
Location: Cougar Mountain (driving map and trail map)
Length: 3 miles
Difficulty: The southern part of the trail is moderate (bridge crossings, hills, downed logs), but the northern end is easy. Primitive dirt and ballast trail surfaces.

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8 Tips for First-Time Buyers

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 13, 2012

By: Robert Gladstien

Buying your first home is exciting but can also be terrifying. If you are a first-time buyer ready to jump into home ownership, considering the following 8 steps can make your life easier and avoid common pitfalls.

1. Make sure you know what you want before you start your search.
What style of home or neighborhood do you like most? How big of a home do you need? What features are most important to you? Make sure you are on the same page as your spouse before you begin – it will save time and prevent conflict down the road.

2. Do your research.
Use web sites like Zillow to check prices of homes in neighborhoods you like. This will give you a realistic idea of what it costs to buy the home you want. Take note of property taxes paid too, you will need it for your calculations later.

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5 Tips for a Smooth and Organized Move

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 15, 2012

By; Robert Gladstein

American Classic Homes builds high quality homes in the Seattle and Puget Sound area. As one of only a few local builders to qualify as an Energy Star partner, we build homes that are both beautiful and energy efficient. If you are looking for a beautiful new home in a family-friendly neighborhood, consider one of our elegant homes in Renton, Newcastle, Maple Valley, and the greater Seattle area. We are confident you will find exactly what you are looking for – environmentally friendly features and a great floor plan in a beautiful neighborhood. You can view all of our available homes in the Seattle area here.

But you thought choosing your home would be the hard part! Now you need to get all of your stuff into your new home without breaking your back or going crazy. Don’t worry. We’ve gathered 5 tips for a smooth and organized family move that will make this stressful time easier for you.

1. Make room plans. Space planning ahead of time is a great way to channel the excitement of moving to your new home and will help you to stay organized. Measure your space and draw each new room to scale to determine which furniture you would like to keep in your new home. This is a fun process to involve the kids in. It allows them to dream about their new space and to participate in the process of moving. It also helps them to start to adjust to the idea of living in a new home and feel like they have some control over what items will come with them in their new space. Keep room plans together in a folder that you can take shopping with you. Store fabric swatches, paint samples, and inspirational pictures with the measurements will help as you gather the things you need – you will know if it will fit or match the style you are going for. Pinterest.com is a great place to gather inspirational pictures for each room.

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5 Tips for Relocating to Seattle

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: April 30, 2012

A Short Guide with Tips for Relocating to Seattle

By: Robert Gladstein 

The Seattle area is a beautiful place to live and work. Seattle is a small city with amenities of a larger one: local theater, opera, and music flourish and you can find exceptional shopping and dining. People are generally friendly and smart (47% of adults hold Bachelor degrees, more than any other city in the US). And you may not know that Seattle was recently ranked the best town for hipsters! If you are looking for a city that is retro, quirky, and artsy you are in the right place. Seattle offers great live music, coffee bars, independent boutiques, the best microbrews, and the most offbeat and tech-savvy locals! If you are relocating to Seattle, you may find the following helpful:

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Warren Buffett Is Betting Big On Housing

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: March 11, 2012

By Nathaniel Popper Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK — The U.S. housing market disappointed Warren Buffett last year, but he hasn’t given up hope.

Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter, posted last weekend, that he was “dead wrong” when he predicted last year that the rebound in U.S. home prices would begin within a year.

This year, though, he’s betting again that the housing market will recover, and for an interesting reason: hormones.

As Buffett explains it, the housing market is depressed because young Americans have stayed at home rather than leaving their parents to set setting up their own households.

“People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over,” Buffett wrote in the letter to the shareholders in his investment company Berkshire Hathaway.

“And while ‘doubling-up’ may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure.”

That is not the entirety of his argument.

He also says homebuilders are not creating enough new supply. As a result, the excess housing inventory that built up after the financial crisis is slowly disappearing, paving the way for new demand.

During a recent appearance on CNBC, Buffett said he would buy up millions of U.S. homes if it were possible.

New data seemed to support Buffett’s contention. The National Association of Realtors reported that the number of people buying used homes in January rose to a 21-month high.

6 Tax Breaks Every Homeowner Should Know

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 25, 2012

6 Tax Breaks For Homeowners

By: David Bakke, Money Crashers

Regardless of the current state of our economy and the housing market, buying a home is still a great investment. However, the resulting taxes that accompany owning a home can lead to confusion and uncertainty.

In most cases, you need to itemize your taxes in order to take advantage of all the tax breaks that accompany home ownership. This might seem overwhelming, but the benefits of completing this process make up for the inconvenience.

Tax Breaks for Homeowners:

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) is a top tax break for homeowners, which can save you a significant amount of money. In the beginning, the majority of your monthly mortgage payments go toward loan interest, and you can deduct all the interest from your mortgage on your taxes. Keep Form 1098, issued by your lender, with your important records. This form explains exactly how much you can deduct and serves as proof if you are audited by the IRS.

2. Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Homeowners with new mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio higher than 80% must carry some form of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This insurance protects the lender against loan default. Typically, once you reach 20% equity in your home, you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

Until you reach that level of equity, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $100,000 (or $50,000, if married filing separately), you may be able to deduct the amount that you paid. If you surpass that income level, the deduction is either reduced or eliminated. If your AGI is $109,000 ($54,500, if married filing separately) then the deduction goes away altogether.

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New Trail Connects Renton City Parks

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: January 24, 2012

By: Robert Gladstein

 The south end of Lake Washington boasts an exciting new regional trail connection.

A newly completed section of the Logan Avenue Trail nearly completes the connection between Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park and the Cedar River Trail. This multi-purpose trail follows the west side of Logan Avenue North from N. 6th St., a block from The Landing, to the Logan Avenue Bridge.

A connecting, existing 4-mile bike lane provides access to housing, retail, commercial, and to the Boeing 737 plant. In this section, Boeing provided an easement to the City of Renton to enable this 5’ wide bike lane construction.

The newest link, connecting to and extending further south includes an art installation called “Wings and Wheels,” with inlaid bronze sculptures that encourage trail users to learn about the history of airplanes built and flown nearby. The trail in this segment is a 12’ wide, multi-use trail, separated from Logan Avenue North by a landscaped border.

The goal is to create a continuous bicycle route from Maple Valley to Renton, and north along Lake Washington to Newcastle and Bellevue, or around the southwest end of Lake Washington to the City of Seattle, as part of the Lake Washington Loop System – and connecting to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Also in the design and planning stages is the Lake to Sound Trail system, which will connect the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac, Burien, Tukwila and Renton – hence the name Lake to Sound

Easy Ways To Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: December 4, 2011

By: Marc Takeuchi

Paying off the mortgage early is in. Refinancing to take money out of our homes is out. Living through the foreclosure crisis, more people want the security and the psychological benefit of owning their home free and clear.

If you want to pay off your mortgage early, you’ll find plenty of experts recommending ways to do it. All strategies work, but you’ll find some methods of paying off your mortgage are safer, faster, and more painless than others.

Compare these ways you can pay off your mortgage early, starting with the simplest and moving toward the most complex.

If you want to see magic, start playing with mortgage calculators and see how adding a little payment to your principal here and there can shorten the length of your loan. You can use Bankrate.com’s mortgage loan payoff calculator to see how $100 or any other amount added to your payment reduces your interest and shortens the length of your loan.

If you pay a little more principal, you get a bonus. The lower your principal gets, the more every payment from then on is applied to principal, as less goes to cover interest expense.

If nothing else, round your payments up, recommends Tracy Piercy, CFP and CEO of MoneyMinding.com. She says that when people have a payment for $644, they think of it as $650. Why not just pay $650, then? An extra $6 a month on a $200,000, 30-year loan can save you four payments at the end of the mortgage loan.

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