Posts Tagged ‘search real estate’

The Mariners, Trolling and a Party

The Troll’s busy week has hampered his postings but with M’s tickets in hand for today’s game he is ready to post about a new topic. The Mariners. They are rolling right now which is a welcome sight after a horrible season last year. Yes, the Troll is pumped to get out from under the bridge and into the sunshine at Safeco Field. His white legs may be glaring, translucent even but he is determined to flip flop his way downtown. He will be joined by his son and future Mariner Trevor Troll who was last seen tearing up the coaches pitch Little League under the Ballard Bridge. It’s a family business you see and we have divided up the Seattle bridges. I have the Fremont Bridge, my lovely wife Trina has the University Bridge and my daughter Trisha has just set up shop under the Montlake Bridge. Some people say she is too cute to troll but I say it’s in the blood.

So with the smell of beer and suntan lotion in the air it can only mean one thing, baseball season. Or I guess it could mean other things like the Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade. Which coincidently will be the setting for Wallingford Realty’s Grand Opening. If you are planning to go to the parade this year please stop by and have an adult beverage at our new digs. I will post more info about the Grand Opening as we get closer to it so stay tuned.  Until then, Go M’s!

The Troll

Foreclosure Numbers

LPS Applied Analytics recently released their mortgage performance data. Delinquencies increased slightly in April but are down almost 10% on the year and over 25% from the delinquency peak in January 2010. Improvement continues in the pipeline for early stage or newly delinquent loans. The inventory for those loans has dropped to 3 year lows. Even as the overall foreclosure pipeline remains bloated, these are positive signs for the housing recovery. According to LPS, 12.11% of owner occupied mortgages are delinquent or in foreclosure. The numbers break down like this:

2.24 million loans less than 90 days delinquent

1.96 million loans 90+ days delinquent

2.18 million loans in the foreclosure process

6.39 million total loans are delinquent or currently in foreclosure as of April

When will these properties come available you might ask? The answer isn’t clear at the moment. Lenders have, through a variety of ways, slowed the supply of available foreclosures. There have been moratoriums on foreclosures due to lender ineptitude with many overwhelmed by the sheer volume of properties now on their books. Lenders are also trying to avoid dumping too much supply on the market as it would devalue their inventory and create even steeper losses. It looks to this Troll that the supply will be brought to the market evenly over a long period of time.

The good news locally is the overall foreclosure inventory is not nearly as severe in the Pacific Northwest. Great deals are out there with short sales and the chances of them seriously tanking our market are increasingly slim.

The Troll

Why do Short Sales take Longer to Close?

After closing a few short sales the Troll wanted to pass along his 2 cents on why the process takes so long. Obviously the lender holding the note is the primary obstacle. They are either inundated with inventory and cannot keep up or they are inexperienced in this arena and have trouble with the decision making process. In either case it can prolong a closing. Something else to consider is the potential unwillingness of the occupant to help facilitate the process. Underwater home owners typically do not have much incentive to contribute their effort to the cause. They have in many cases stopped making their payments and are living “rent free”. The damage has already been done to their credit rating and in some cases they can save up money while the process draws out. The appraisal process can also be an area for delays especially in FHA loan transactions. FHA appraisals are more extensive and if there are repairs called out or required prior to closing, the process can bog down with contractors and scheduling them.

The Troll is not discouraging anyone from attempting to purchase a short sale. He is merely trying to provide some tips to avoid the dreaded nightmare closing. There are some fantastic buying opportunities out there with short sales but you have to choose wisely and finance them appropriately. Sweat equity is and always has been a great ingredient for a successful real estate opportunity. If that is your goal and a large down payment is not an option there are lenders out there that will allow you to finance less than 20% down that contain no mortgage insurance. The rate is typically a little higher (maybe .25%) but you are not throwing away money on mortgage insurance. Depending on your credit, you can put down as little as 5% which is not far from the 3.5% FHA offers. If you are fixing the property to potentially sell in the near term you will not be affected by a slightly higher rate. Additionally, if you choose to stay in the house refinancing may be the best path forward while rates are low and the equity position has improved via sweating.

The Troll

Unemployment and the Puget Sound

The Seattle Times reported our state unemployment numbers today. The report shows the unemployment rate for the State of Washington is 9.1% with the private sector adding 8,300 jobs for the month while the public sector shed 2,500 jobs. What the Troll found promising was the pickup in construction related jobs. According to the report, construction led the way by adding 2,400 jobs followed by professional and business services (1,700) and manufacturing (1,200). Of the jobs lost 1,100 were federal and 1,400 were at the state and local level. There were 307,000 unemployed in Washington with 217,000 receiving unemployment benefits.

In other news courtesy of the Seattle Times, the state’s ecology department overestimated oil related pollution levels in the Puget Sound by a huge margin. The ecology department reported to PBS Frontline in 2008 that Exxon Valdez spill levels were occurring in the Puget Sound on a cumulative basis every 2 years. That was wrong and is in fact dozens of times lower than what was reported. The news is great for the Troll who may actually take a dip at Shilshole this summer.…..if there is a summer.

The Troll

New Gizmos

As some of you know, the Troll is also a mortgage broker. He is excited to report that he has launched his new mortgage website at The new site has a similar feel as our well received real estate site. You will soon be able to get information and apply for a mortgage securely online. I appreciate your patience during this process but please understand that we can’t get to where we want to be without some growing pains. If the preliminary feedback is on the mark you should really enjoy the new site.

On another note, the Troll has also been busy creating his new blog. If you are reading this you are already on it! This lovely creation is where you can get information on current local and national trends in the mortgage and real estate markets. I would like to again thank the wonderful Cherie Smittle for her creativity, hard work and patience. If anyone needs some website work I would highly recommend you speak with Cherie. I can provide you her contact information when you “Ask the Troll….Anything.” Now let’s get into some news.

It appears that the light rail project that will link the University of Washington to Westlake center began its big dig today. While this project has a long way to go it will ultimately provide its riders access to downtown and the airport. This development is definitely a plus for homeowners near U Dub. The estimate on its completion is 2016 with a cost of $2 billion dollars. The ridership estimates are 70,000 daily by the year 2030.

The other big news over the weekend was the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn who is the managing director of the IMF. Strauss-Kahn who reports say recently set his sights on the French Presidency will apparently no longer be viable. He was arrested while sitting on a plane bound for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the European sovereign debt crisis. His arrest will undoubtedly complicate the negotiations underway today in Europe.

The Techy Troll

Rates are Great

It appears the steady climb to higher interest rates is waning. We have recently moved through the 200 day moving average for Mortgage Backed Securities. The FNMA 4.00% Coupon stands at 99.72 improving 22 basis points today. The 10 year bond market has continued its rally and stands at 3.25 today as well. Remember that an increase in demand for bonds (lower economic forecasts) translates to lower long term interest rates.  This recent movement has occurred in the past 30-45 days and appears to coincide with the lowering of growth estimates. Let’s face it, much of the growth in the past year or so has to do directly with government stimulus spending. With the technical explanations out of the way let’s look at what it all means.

With interest rates still at all time lows and our local region faring better economically than the nation as a whole has created opportunity. As I have recently posted, there continues to be better employment opportunities in Seattle (see Spring Break Fun and Local News).  Keeping in mind that we have seen a substantial decrease in values since the credit crisis took hold it looks to this Troll that we have the makings of a recovery. If rates are down and rents are up (see Rents on the Rise?) people will start to choose home ownership and its tax benefits rather than staying put and paying someone else’s mortgage.  We are seeing now that houses that are appropriately priced in solid neighborhoods are garnering multiple offers. These conditions should collectively foster additional demand for entry level housing, which of course is our Specialty! For more information feel free to give me a call.

The Troll

Easter Surprise

The Troll felt obligated to pass along an Easter story. The Troll and his lovely wife had a gathering to prepare for on Easter Sunday (25 of their best friends and family). The Saturdays preparation proved to be exhausting (yard work, cooking, cleaning, little league, swimming lessons).  As the day came to its end we went up to bed and crashed. In a deep sleep the Troll was awakened by the backhand of Mrs. Troll who seemed in a panic. WE DIDN’T HIDE THE EGGS, she bellowed. And for once she was right; we completely forgot to hide the eggs that our kids had diligently and artistically decorated, furthermore we had forgotten to prepare their Baskets.

So there we were at 2:00 AM in a sleep deprived daze playing Easter Bunny. It took us about 20 minutes but the Trolls rallied and kept alive the delicate rouse of the candy wielding Lagomorphs. Was it all worth it? Of course it was, the Trolls children would believe in the Easter bunny for one more year. Speaking of the Troll children, the boy (7) is starting to raise doubts. He is asking questions like “Is the Easter Bunny the same size as a regular bunny or is he bigger like you?” I think he is going along because he likes the idea of free candy.  The girl (4) and wise beyond her years still gleefully believes. Tragedy averted, for now!

Did you know the Easter Bunny came from what is now Germany? The Easter Bunny was introduced to the U.S. by German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 18th century.

The Tired Troll

Spring Break Fun and Local News

The Troll has been able to keep up his torrid work schedule by enlisting the help of an old ally, Grandpa Troll. With the kids out of school for the week the Troll had the foresight to fly in a ringer. Yes, Grandpa Troll to the rescue. Items on the schedule this week include the Star Wars exhibit at the Pacific Science Center (really cool), the newly released Hop, a Mariners day game and some well timed outdoor activities (is that the sun?). And since the Troll has a quiet office he can relay some news.

I drove by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation yesterday and saw that it was nearly completed. It appears that it will be ready for operations this summer. The Gates Foundation is currently hiring for numerous positions in global health and will employ in the neighborhood of 2,000 in its new Seattle Headquarters.

Vulcan Inc. (Paul Allen) is also in the final stages of completing the new Amazon Headquarters. The estimates on that project (11 buildings and 1.6 million SqFt) reveal that approximately 6,000 Amazon employees will be working in South Lake Union.  The new jobs are a welcome sight and should provide a boost in demand for our local housing market.

In other news, Mercer St was closed this past weekend and will be closed an additional 20 weekends.

The Troll

Rents on the Rise?

I have read some recent publications regarding the rental market and have some information to pass along. According to REIS Inc, an impartial source of commercial real estate data, renters could be facing some substantial rent increases in the next year. The firm’s quarterly report shows that the vacancy rates for apartments dropped dramatically during the first quarter and rents have begun to rise in some parts of the country. Reuters also has a story out that shows apartment vacancy has declined in the past quarter from 6.4% to 6.2% nationally. This is the largest percentage drop in any quarter since REIS Inc has tracked this data (1999). In addition, the Census Bureau confirms this trend and includes other types of rentals (SFR’s). According to their data, the rental vacancy rate dropped 1.3% from 4th quarter 2009 through 4th quarter 2010. We shouldn’t ignore an obvious trend.

In an attempt to bring this national information to a local level; I will pass along my most recent rental experience. Our longtime tenant provided notice in February that she was moving to help her elderly parents.   It took the Troll a week get the place ready. He had it professionally cleaned, touched up the paint and completed a landscaping project long overdue (bamboo removal….nasty stuff!).  We listed the property on craigslist on a Saturday evening and to our surprise by Sunday morning we had 14 inquiries. I showed the unit to the first few people and rented it after a credit report and a lease agreement. It Took Less Than A Day!

Now, the Troll is not sharing his story to brag about the one time when the sun actually shined on him. As you will soon find out he has numerous shortcomings which Mrs. Troll is always happy to point out. He just wanted to share with his readers an experience he had and hopefully provide some local feedback.

And with that he will crawl back under his bridge.

The Smiling Troll

Open for Business!

Well, after a good six months of diligent preparation Wallingford Realty Inc. is getting its start! I’d like to take a quick moment to thank a few people for all of their hard work. Cherie Smittle is the one responsible for creating this fantastic site. We set out to create something totally different from our competition and I think we succeeded. I hope you really enjoy it. I’d also like to thank Erin Sartain for her creative thinking in getting our message out. Lastly, and most important, I’d like to thank my wife Carey for her unwavering support in this effort. I love you baby and I couldn’t have done it without you.

For my first post I’d like to briefly discuss the new project at Stone Way and N 40th St. I have to say that as I watched that crane go up I felt for the first time in a while that the winds were changing. The project will be 154 apartments and some additional mixed retail. For those that don’t know our office is very close to that project and it will be nice to look upon that property and not think of it as a pool. Exciting Times indeed folks!

If you poke around the site you will get to know what we are all about so I’ll leave the exploring to you. I’ve been in this game a long time and if I don’t know the answer, chances are I know someone who does. That said; please don’t hesitate to “Ask the Troll….Anything”.

If you’re an agent looking to find the perfect nest to cultivate your skills and expertise, look no further. We will be adding staff in the coming weeks and look forward to speaking with you.

Stay tuned!

The Troll

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