Gather insight on the Seattle Real Estate Market and insights on local area neighborhoods.
As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.
A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.
On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.
On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.
You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
THE HAPPY MEDIUM
Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.
Real Estate Real Talk: Why are home prices going up so quickly in King County?
Answer: The Puget Sound region with its booming economy, surrounded by nature, and plenty of activities makes us attractive to lots of newcomers. We all compete for a limited number of homes, which contributes to higher prices. In fact, the National Association of Realtors estimates that our region is 70,000 units short of meeting the need. Widening your search to wider areas, or scaling down your square footage requirements, can expand your options until city and county county policy makers adjust zoning regulations so more housing can become available at all income levels.
Coffee, rain and hills — those are probably the first things that come to mind when you think of Seattle. But if you’re considering a move to the west coast’s Emerald City, you can be assured that Seattle offers much more. From a booming tech industry, to the gorgeous Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, to great sports teams (and diehard fans), there’s no doubt that Seattle is one-of-a-kind. By the end of your stay, you might just decide to pull up a chair at your favorite coffee shop and stay forever.
While there’s plenty of things to do in Seattle, moving to SeaTown comes with its challenges, too. Before you take off kayaking the Puget Sound or finding the best brews around the city, here are a few things to keep in mind for your new adventure.
Know thy neighbor(hoods)
It might be a misnomer to call Seattle one city, when the reality is several small cities are packed into one. Seattle’s neighborhoods each have their own flavor and culture. You’d be hard pressed to find trendier bars and clubs in the city than in Capitol Hill--check out the latest band at Neumos and grab a drink at famed gay bar Neighbors, or, for a colorful experience, get a few rounds at the carnival-themed bar Unicorn. You can grab great food and experience a diverse international community in Columbia City, or you might try some upscale dining and doing in Queen Anne, and while you’re at it, walk around to look for Queen Anne’s famous hidden staircases and take in the classic view of the Space Needle. If you’re more the outdoorsman, enjoy a stroll on the boardwalk in Green Lake, and maybe get in a little line dancing at the Little Red Hen. And lastly, if you’re most interested in Seattle’s vistas, you’d do well to hike out to West Seattle, the city’s largest neighborhood, for a day at Alki Beach.
You’re bound to find a great local coffee shop in most neighborhoods, but if your Starbucks love is strong, check out the original location in Pike Place Market. Though if quirky and independent is more your style, you’ll find coffee houses aplenty in Ballard, like Ballard Coffee Works and the Parisian-style Bastille Cafe, as well as bakeries like Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery.
Be sure to do your research, and decide exactly which of Seattle’s mini-cities you’d like to live in most.
Seattle summers vs. Seattle winters
Sure, it might rain most of the time, but the city’s biggest payoff is undoubtedly its dry, sunny and temperate summers. For those who bake in the heat, Seattle’s low-humidity and cool summer nights might be your dream. The only trade-off? Seattle’s comparatively dreary winters. Near-constant drizzling rain, 226 overcast days out of the year and, because of its northerly position, much shorter days than other cities. But for a perfect Seattle summer complete with trips to the local swimming spot, artisanal ice cream and countless trails hikes, you might find that the city’s winter gloom is a worthy trade-off. Plus, though the winter days are short, Seattle’s summer days are some of the longest in the states. So while you’re cursing the city being too far north in the winter, just remember how many more hours you’ll get after work to relax come summertime.
Pick a team
Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners — there’s a lot to spectate in Seattle, and there’s even more love for the city’s hometown teams. You’ll find more than a few diehard Seahawk and Sounders fans, but with stadiums like the CenturyLink Stadium and the SafeCo field, it’s easy to see why so many cheer on teams (the SafeCo field even has a retractable roof for those famous rainy days). You can even catch Seahawks preseason and training camp games later in the summer, before Seattle’s fall gloom.
Explore the great outdoors in your backyard
Alright, so you might not actually live on a houseboat like in the movies. But you don’t have to be on the water to enjoy all the outdoor activities and natural beauty of Seattle. The city’s largest park, Discovery Park, boasts 534 acres of forest along Puget Sound, where you can hike 11 miles of trails up to the beach for some seal or orca spotting. Southeast of downtown, you’ll find Seward Park, a small peninsula surrounded by Lake Washington. And of course, with all of Seattle’s waterways, there’s ample opportunity for watersports, beach days, seaplane rides, ferry trips and even hot air ballooning. For even more outdoor adventures, you don’t have to venture too far outside the city to experience incredible scenery.
You’re not alone in Seattle love
Plenty of companies like Amazon and Microsoft have a large presence in city, but they’re far from the tech game in town. Seattle has been booming thanks to its tech industry, weather, high minimum wage and zero income tax. It’s no wonder that the city has frequently been voted among the best places to live, and continues to be the nation’s fastest growing city, with Silicon Valley and other Californian transplant making their way to Seattle to take in views of Mount Rainier and drink excellent coffee and beer.
Leave your umbrella at home
You’re not a Seattle native until you brave the rain without an umbrella. When in Rome...