Category Archives: mortgage

Closing Costs Calculator for the Washington Home Buyer

We perform home inspections in about 10 counties throughout Washington from Seattle to Wenatchee.  Occasionally our clients call to book an inspection and are still a little confused about the inspection cost– who pays it, how much it is, etc.  We did a little internet search and found a few closing cost calculators that may help the potential home buyer.  The calculator we are sharing seems to have the most descriptions of the costs, but will only give you a rough idea since the costs are only estimations.  For example, they estimate the cost of an inspection at $175, but our inspections start at $275…this is standard for a single family home.  Condos may be less.  Also, the appraisal fee usually starts around $300.  A loan application fee will be added to the credit report for a combined fee of $75-$300.  With all this in mind you can use the calculator to get an idea of the added costs associated with buying a home.  If you have a good agent to walk you through the buying process then you won’t be blindsided with these costs.  They can also help you negotiate fees that may be shared with the seller.

Closing Costs Calculator from Mortgage-Investments.com

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Homeowner Tax Guide: Get All Your Deductions!

In a time where buyers are cautious and are really weighing out all the benefits of home ownership here are some considerations for tax season. Several tax deductions and credits are providing relief to homeowners and making them very proud of their investment decision. Deducting mortgage interest, home equity debt, capital gains on home sales and taking advantage of energy conservation credits are just a few of the tax season benefits that homeowners can cash in on. Do you have a home office? There’s another one. Most of our monthly home loan payment is interest and you can deduct every bit of it. Only those folks with a loan of $1,000,000+ receive a cap on this deduction.

Stephanie Singer, a Realtors.org contributor wrote about this topic in Tax Time Less Taxing for Home Owners. She said that, “ninety-one percent of homeowners who claim the mortgage interest deduction earn less than $200,000 a year, and the ability to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage can mean significant savings at tax time. For example, a family who bought a home in 2010 with a $200,000, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, assuming an interest rate of 4.5 percent, could save nearly $3,500 in federal taxes when they file this year.”

We found a great resource from Kiplinger.com. They have listed all the deductions for homeowners at “What’s Deductible? – A to Z.” Check it out to make sure that you’re getting the most deductions as a homeowner. We use a skilled accountant in Wenatchee to guide us through our own tax deductions. We suggest that you hire a recommended accounting professional to point out these important opportunities for you.

Home Show in Wenatchee: Feb. 11-13th

Home Show Wenatchee Town Toyota CenterEvery year the NCHBA or North Central Home Builders Association produces a spectacular home show in Wenatchee, Washington.  There’s a little something for everyone whether you are interested in remodeling, decorating, building, buying or selling a home…they’ve got all the experts there for your questions!  Here’s some info from their website.  Download this COUPON for $1 off admission:

This year, we have a lot of new things going on and are very excited to “get the Show on the road”! The Kid’s Zone by Lowe’s is going to be fantastic this year. Not only will the kids be able to build their own project with a professional from Lowe’s, they can go on a scavenger hunt with their parents or enjoy FREE ice skating on Friday and Saturday. So, if you have kids that are 12 and under, make sure to take them to the Kids Zone by Lowe’s, located in the Crunch-Pak Hospitality Room on the the main floor of the Town Toyota Center!  Workshops and How-to’s that you WON’T want to miss! Come and see what the Master Gardeners have to demonstrate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the show!   Be one of the first 250 attendees on Saturday and Sunday and receive a special Home Show Entrance Bag! These bags will be filled with small gifts, specials and discount coupons from participating sponsors and vendors! These bags will also come in very handy when you need a place to stow away other information and items you gather!  There will be additional event parking available for attendees across the street at Walla Walla Point Park, both parking lots, as well as at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse. Many thanks to Lowe’s for generously allowing our Home Show attendees to use half of their parking lot for our event!

July 12th Realty Report

There’s a lot going on this week.  Mortgage rates are at a record low of 4.57%.  Apartment vacancies have declined the first time in 3 years.  Refinances have increased 9% this year meaning owners are freeing up cash.  Some of the top markets including Seattle are starting to show action.  Are we starting to see recovery?  For this Seattle-Wenatchee based home inspection company, we hope so!

2010 Real Estate Outlook

I just attended the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Real Estate Outlook breakfast panel discussion on April 22nd. This event provided valuable information and discussed the indicators of the health and direction of the economy…and in effect- the real estate market. The panel included an appraiser, a construction company owner, a mortgage broker, realtor, commercial property manager.

The panel was split on their feelings about the direction of 2010. It was about a 50-50 positive- negative outlook. I’m “the glass is half full” kind of guy so the positive notes inspired me and were really appreciated. Everyone was in agreement that slow growth in the real estate market would be equally healthy and almost inevitable. The big boom from a few years ago isn’t happening again any time soon and for several good reasons. A bubble will always burst. Here’s what I learned from the Wenatchee Valley experts:

The real estate services professional, commented on the slow commercial leasing market. Rents have reduced from $22 per square foot to $12-14 per square foot. Down payments have increased from 25-40%. East Wenatchee is becoming a popular location with several vacancies showing up downtown.

The appraiser indicated that there is a 2-year supply of 500k+ homes and a healthier 1-year supply of 100-200k homes. He agreed that rents are being lowered in order to keep filled. It appears that an occupied space is better than a vacant one, even if it’s not getting its full value.

The contractor remained positive and boasted profits even though he performed below “boom time.” His company modified their target consumer. Now they get more contracts for folks moving into town or retiring and downsizing. They see far less First Time Home Buyers and have yet to sell a home to anyone taking advantage of the 8k home buyer’s credit. I was really surprised to hear this because so many of my realtor friends have been able to help their clients with this credit. This contractor is seeing more buyers paying with cash or financing with great credit and their company offers financing. A true concern for their company is supply costs. With plants closing there is (as Jay explains) an “artificial shortage” that increase the supply costs dramatically, but he also says that if you “provide custom quality at spec house prices, they’ll buy!”

The mortgage expert provided some cold, hard facts to keep us on our toes. Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are pulling the purse strings with tighter requirements. There was a small increase in foreclosures in Chelan County this year but we’ve remained above the state or country average. He suspected that the government policing will decrease growth and concluded that the market is 15% above the long term trend. I asked him for clarification on this. The long term trend is calculated by taking housing appreciation and adding 3% per year. After keying the calculator, in his opinion the market will still decline 15%. Food for thought…Approach with caution or take advantage while you can?

The realtor added more positive spin on the morning. Her introduction: “realtors look forward and appraisers look backward.” With 21 counties in the Northwest Multiple Listings she has seen a 51% increase in pending sales. The March 2010 pending sales were up 35% from March 2009. This is great news! The hottest price range in Chelan County is $250-300k which is also comforting because the Appraiser said there is a 2-year supply of these homes. We need to put them to work! The realtor concluded that she has worked harder than she ever has since her start in 1993. Consumers are making responsible decisions but require a lot of education, hands-on attention, negotiating, meetings and counseling. It’s not coming easy anymore but it is comforting to know that our consumers are making wiser choices.

Well, this was a well-rounded discussion of where the real estate market has come from and where 2010 may take us. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll all approach with caution. We’ve got to get creative in this industry and maybe change tactics a bit, but our consumers are strong and aware. As a home inspector we want our clients to be very active in the services that we provide. Being present on inspections and asking questions is strongly encouraged. It appears that consumers are taking their time to make wise decisions and planning quality investments. That’s good news to me.