Thursday, February 23, 2006

Special Event on Tuesday, March 16
Real Estate Investment: Fixers, Rentals, Pre-Sales and More
The Seattle Real Estate Blog III

If you have thought about buying a fixer to flip for a profit, but you're not sure how the numbers add up; or if you want to buy a rental property, but you're not sure if you can; or if you've already invested in real estate, and it may be time to trade up or leverage your equity, then we're hosting a meeting for you.

Learn how to work towards financial freedom by generating passive income. Real Estate Agent Christopher Braxtan, Financial Planner Jessica Hale and Loan Consultant Marshall Carter are hosting an informational forum on real estate investing. Whether you're exploring the idea for the first time or you're an experienced investor, you're invited to join us for an enlightening presentation followed by an open question and answer session. Your first drink and light appetizers are complimentary.

When: Tuesday March 14, 6:30pm
Where: The Bal Mar, which is located in Ballard on the corner of NW Market St and Old Ballard Ave.

For more information on this and other upcoming events, please contact Christopher Braxtan.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

First-Time Home Buyers - Financing - Credit
The Seattle Real Estate Blog II

Buying a home is easier than ever for first-time home buyers in the US. With the availability of zero-down loans, interest-only payment options, low interest rates and simplified loan applications, it makes little sense for most long-term renters to keep paying rent instead of paying for their own mortgage.

Until a few years ago, most people needed to make a 20% down payment and could only borrow 80% of the value of their home. Now almost all home buyers qualify for 10% down, 5% down and zero-down payment programs. The higher your down payment, the lower your interest rate will be. However, there are many factors that affect the interest rate on your loan.

The greatest factor affecting your interest rate is the almighty credit score. The federal government now requires the three big credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once each year, and it does not affect your credit score to take advantage of this. If you're thinking about purchasing a home, you need to know what your credit report looks like. There might be items in collections that you're unaware of, like a parking ticket that blew off your windshield before you found it or a forgotten phone bill your ex-roommate never paid. You need to get these items taken care of before applying for a loan. Unfortunately, the free credit report does not include your credit score, but you can purchase your score when obtaining your free credit report.

The best loans are available to people who have credit scores higher than 715. People with credit scores over 700 also qualify for prime loans, and anyone with a credit score of 680 can take advantage of zero-down and interest-only loan programs. Factors that affect your credit score include the amount of debt you have in relation to your credit limits and the minimum debt payments you're required to make each month in relation to your gross income.

The most important thing you can do to prepare for purchasing a home is improving your credit score. The simplest way to improve you credit score is to pay off debt, but there are many other ways you can improve your score. A good mortgage lender or a qualified financial planner can provide indispensable assistance when you're planning to purchase a home. Help with your credit score from a mortgage lender is usually complimentary, though they will hope that you continue to work with them throughout the home-buying process. Financial advisors usually work for a fee, and they can also refer you to a qualified lender who will help you get the best mortgage available for your individual financial goals.

There are two highly qualified people I can refer with confidence:

Ruby Grynberg is the owner and chief loan officer at Salmon Bay Community Lending. She offers complimentary courses on home purchasing for people with a variety of unique circumstances, like small-business owners and first-time home buyers. She's a broker who has access to hundreds of various loan products and is experienced at working with individuals at all levels of the real estate market. Contact Ruby through her email address or the telephone numbers listed on her website if you would like to discuss credit and home financing in greater detail.

Jessica Hale is a very talented financial planner with years of experience helping people achieve financial security. Like Ruby, Jessica has worked with individuals and families at all levels of the economic spectrum. Jessica can help you develop an overall financial strategy that includes eliminating debt, purchasing a home and ensuring a positive future for you and those who depend on you. Contact Jessica through the telephone number listed on her website if you would like a complimentary one-hour initial consultation.

Later this week we'll post more information regarding various types of financing as well as specifics for first-time home buyers. We want to provide the information you need, so please post a comment if there are any specific topics you would like to see discussed. You can also contact us or get more information at

Ready to Pop?
The Seattle Real Estate Blog I

Today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an article by staff reporter Elizabeth Rhodes entitled
Ready to Pop? This article pertains directly to the bubble issue we wrote about in the last post, and you can find the article in the Real Estate section on page G1 of the PI.

Lawrence Yun, the senior economist for the National Association of Realtors, was quoted throughout the article, as were economist and Publisher of the Puget Sound Economic Forecast Dick Conway and local labor economist Roberta Pauer. Yun stated that, "getting double digit appreciation will be an easy task for Seattle" for the next two years.

Yun cited the significance of our labor market, especially the quality of jobs that are available in Seattle, and the fact that our recent appreciation rates have been moderate compared to other west coast cities as factors encouraging the stable growth of real estate values in our fair city. A tight supply of existing homes and a shortage of available land for new construction were also cited in the article as important factors. While Yun's forecast for growth of real estate prices in Western Washington is more optimistic than the predictions of Conway and Pauer, all three agree that we are likely to significant continued growth in our region's real estate prices.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

One of the first items I'd like to address in our new blog is the sensational reporting on the real estate market that is published and broadcast by retail media outlets. The Seattle real Estate Blog is different from other media outlets. In this blog Braxtan Real Estate will publish the most accurate and current information about real estate in Seattle, regardless of how exciting or dull the news may be.

If you invest in real estate, or if you plan buy or sell your own home within the next year, the information provided by Braxtan Real Estate will be very valuable to you. This blog is your information resource for real property trends in Seattle, and it's your information resource for issues related to individual real estate transactions.

Most media outlets, from our local KOMO4 News and The Seattle Times to CNN and Forbes Magazine, are either exuberant about the real estate market or predict the popping of a "bubble". The reality of the real estate market is that it usually isn't very volatile. Historically, Seattle has seen few rapid corrections in the real estate market, these price fluctuations are rarely catastrophic and, with few exceptions, they don't last very long.

The prime factors that affect housing prices are regional unemployment, prevailing wages, population, housing supply, cost of construction and interest rates. If you own real estate and you want to see its value increase, you certainly want your region to enjoy low unemployment, high wages, a growing population, a moderate or low supply of housing, high construction costs and low interest rates. According to the Workforce Development Council (WDC) of Seattle-King County, we enjoy unemployment rates, prevailing wages and population changes that continue to push housing prices up. (Click here to read the WDC's report.) The cost of residential construction in Seattle is moderate, so it has a relatively neutral effect on housing prices. The one factor that has a slight downward press on housing prices is current interest rates.

The US Federal Reserve slightly increased interest rates throughout 2005. This has helped cool the housing market, and it has also made housing a little less affordable. Retail media outlets have myopically focused on this one factor, interest rates, and proclaimed the sky to be falling on homeowners and real estate investors throughout the US. However, interest rates remain historically low. According to Freddie Mac, "mortgage rates had fallen to their lowest level in more than a generation" by the end of 2002. (Read Freddie Mac's 2002 report) Currently, interest rates are increasing slow enough that Freddie Mac predicts "moderate home price gains" in 2006. (Read the 2005 report here.)

The frightening stories about Seattle's real estate prices are full of fiction and exaggerations, and they omit the facts we need to form an accurate picture of what's really happening. A bursting housing bubble? That's not what credible experts are predicting for Seattle. In fact, it's likely that housing prices will continue to grow in Seattle for the foreseeable future.

Post a comment! We want to provide the information you want, so please let us know what you would like to hear about.

This is the premier edition of your real estate resource blog. Please check back tomorrow to find our first substantive posting.