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  • Pike Place Market

    April 21, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    For a long time, I only went to Pike Place Market when my extended family from the East Coast visited Seattle, which might be the reason I’ve since avoided it for much of my adult life.   Don’t get me wrong: I love my family, and I never felt any ill-will toward the Market. If anything, I essentially forgot about Pike Place’s existence, writing it off as a tourist novelty that didn’t warrant attention from a Puget Sound native. Never mind that I was actually from New Jersey, and probably would have spent my life there if my parents hadn’t decided to relocate to the Emerald City (I imagine one of them randomly looking up from the newspaper and saying something like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be swell if we moved to the rainiest corner of the country?”); no, in my mind I was already a true Seattleite, and I couldn’t be bothered by tourist attractions.   Of course, whenever my uncles, aunts, grandparents, and cousins gathered in the Northwest for reunions, Pike Place was always their destination of choice. On one memorable family outing, everyone insisted on visiting Pike Place’s Starbucks, famous for being the business’ original location. It’s also…Read more

  • Spring Has Sprung!

    April 14, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Why Spring is the Best Time to Sell your Home Spring has sprung, and Americans around the country are emerging from winter sluggishness and preparing for a season of renewed vigor and activity. While this idealistic portrait might not totally fit reality (if you’re like me, it takes a few months and several strong cups of coffee to fully shake off winter hibernation), spring is still the perfect time to resume productivity after a long break. Unsurprisingly, spring is also one of the best times to sell your home. If you’re trying to sell your home this spring, Pickett Street’s talented team can help. However, before you go on the market, it helps to know exactly why selling your home while the garden blossoms is a winning move. Capital Curb Appeal Winter’s dreary procession of cold weather rarely improves a home’s curb appeal. Mounds of snow kill grass, torrents of rain flood the yard, and that chronic lack of sun isn’t doing your flowers any favors. As such, a house just doesn’t look as appealing from the outside, and so buyers are going to be much less motivated to explore it. That’s bad news for an owner trying to sell…Read more

  • Neighborhood Profile: Mercer Island

    April 7, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    In the not so distant past, Native American traditions held that Mercer Island was not only a refuge of ghosts, but also prone to sinking into the waters of Lake Washington overnight, only to emerge in the morning. Since enduring a nightly dunk in the briny would be something of an annoyance, it’s hardly surprising that settlement of Mercer Island occurred relatively late compared to the rest of the Puget Sound region. Now, the island is one of the most popular parts of the Seattle area, a reputation that has no doubt been buoyed by the island’s apparent reluctance to sink beneath the waves. Drifting in the middle of Lake Washington has allowed Mercer Island to escape suburban sprawl and maintain a small-town feel in the midst of an urban metropolis. The island’s population hovers just above 24,000 residents, and the community enjoys a calm, peaceful atmosphere. Despite its slower pace of life, Mercer Island’s close proximity to Seattle’s downtown makes it easy to commute to the city for work or recreation. However, Mercer Island has plenty of its own attractions, making it easy to stick around and bypass the city altogether. Just because it’s tucked away from downtown Seattle…Read more

  • A Job Is Only As Good As The Team

    March 24, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    I didn’t truly understand the benefit of teamwork until my first post-collegiate job, a gig painting the exterior siding of houses. My original intent in taking the job was to earn some money in a low-key setting before moving on to the stress of graduate school, and I envisioned myself whistling as I leisurely ascended a ladder, paint can in hand, for sunny days of minimal responsibility. At first, this dream was more or less true: as the new guy on the paint crew, I was trusted with easy tasks providing minimal chances for mistakes. Unfortunately, this blissful experience changed a week into the job when my boss told me I was going to be the jobsite manager. “Excuse me?” I said. “Jobsite manager,” my boss said. “You’re gonna be the new one.” “Oh.” An uncomfortable silence. “Why?” “All my guys quit and you’re technically the most experienced, now.” I pondered this strange new universe in which I, a former English and Philosophy major, was suddenly the most senior member of a painting crew. “Well,” I said, “I imagine this will just be a ceremonial title, right?” “No. You’re gonna be in charge. You’ll talk to the homeowner and make…Read more

  • Neighborhood Profile: Capitol Hill

    March 17, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    For some, going home means retiring to a quiet corner to enjoy a predictable evening away from the city’s stressors. For others, going home means embarking on an eclectic adventure full of new surprises and opportunities. If you’re a member of the latter camp, then Seattle’s Capitol Hill might be the perfect place to call home. Capitol Hill is indisputably one of the Emerald City’s most important cultural hubs, and residents of the hip urban neighborhood can enjoy a vast and diverse assortment of restaurants, bars, and art galleries. In fact, there’s so much to do in Capitol Hill, even longtime natives of the area are still likely to enjoy new experiences and fresh surprises. If you’re looking for some of Seattle’s best restaurants, Capitol Hill is certainly the place to start. The neighborhood serves up many different kinds of cuisine, so even the pickiest eater can find something to munch on. Stateside uses seasonal ingredients to serve traditional Vietnamese cuisine with an innovative French twist. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, Poquitos boasts some of the best Mexican food in the city, while Bateau offers delicious farm-to-table ingredients fresh from their farm on Whidbey Island. Or,…Read more

  • How Paying Off A Mortgage Builds Wealth

    March 10, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Few homeowners are likely to say that they enjoy making monthly mortgage payments. Fulfilling an essential financial duty might be satisfying in the same way that cleaning one’s room or emptying the dishwasher is satisfying, but few people are likely to relish the act of paying off a mortgage. Which is strange, because most people enjoy receiving checks in the mail. While paying for a mortgage and receiving a paycheck aren’t quite the same, the comparison highlights an important feature of owning a home and having a mortgage: both are far better at building wealth than renting. The classic argument for this idea is that, while rent checks pay for a physical space that the renter will never own, a mortgage payment finances a piece of property that will one day be owned completely by the occupant. However, while this reasoning is perfectly sound, it also misses a key factor in a mortgage’s wealth-building power: mortgage payments contribute to building home equity, while rent payments do not. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve just bought a $250,000 house using a 30-year FRM. The beauty of this loan is that, no matter what the market does in the three decades following…Read more

  • How I Got The Gumption: The FHA 203K Loan

    March 3, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Sometimes, renovations can cause even the mildest mannered homeowner to panic. After all, home improvements can be costly and stressful. However, when Pickett Street’s very own Margaret Smith, Director of Operations, decided to purchase a vacant, bank owned fixer-upper, the FHA 203K Loan presented her with an opportunity that turned the process into a dream come true. Margaret bought her duplex in south Everett near Paine Field in August 2014. It was a bank owned property, meaning nobody had been living there for over a year. The previous owners had gone into foreclosure, so the home sat there vacant, lacking love and attention. The upstairs unit was a 3 bed, 1 bath layout that Margaret planned to rent out. It needed a new bathroom, new washer and dryer, a fresh coat of paint on the laundry room walls, and an all-around thorough scrubbing. The bottom unit was a 2 bed, 1 bath layout that was perfect for Margaret and a roommate. That 2 bed unit also needed a new bathroom, new kitchen and new vinyl wood flooring (which also needed to be leveled). The bottom half of the duplex’s exterior required a new paint job, and some general TLC. The…Read more

  • Landmarks of Washington State: The Fremont Troll

    February 20, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    When my parents told me we were going to see the troll under the bridge, I was a little worried. For one thing, I was five years old, the age when one still imagines that monsters live under the bed. Also, I’d originally been told that we were going to the beach: as recent transplants from New Jersey, my parents failed to realize that Washingtonians don’t visit any kind of seaside locale outside of August, and so they’d promised to drive the family to Alki Beach on February 15th, 1995. You can imagine my dismay when we arrived and found a grey waste of fog and mist hovering over the steely edge of the Puget Sound. As I recall, my tiny Hawaiian shirt, flip-flops, and white tube socks (essentially the miniature version of a middle-aged man’s attire during a vacation to Miami) were particularly unsuitable for the situation. Since there was little point building sandcastles in 30 degree weather, my parents came up with a backup activity: visiting the Fremont Troll. Though the Fremont Troll has become a major Seattle landmark, back then it was a relatively new addition to the city. The troll (which, for no apparent reason, I’ve…Read more

  • Five Tax Breaks for Homeowners

    February 10, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Now that it’s February, most of us have probably emerged from our flabbergasted holiday stupors and (with the help of a strong cup of coffee), finally achieved normalcy just in time for tax season. However, before you panic and begin overturning couch cushions to find the receipts you foolishly lost back in September, it’s useful to remember that plenty of helpful tax breaks exist for homeowners. Homeowner tax breaks vary widely according to each person’s unique situation. Even so, it helps to be aware of the general options available for homeowners looking to save money during the tax season. Read on to learn more about how your home can help you save money when it comes time to file. Deductions for Mortgage Interest The interest American homeowners pay on a mortgage is tax deductible. For those who are married and filing jointly, it’s possible to deduct your interest payments for mortgages totaling as much as $1 million. Additionally, private mortgage insurance payments are deductible for those homeowners who took on a mortgage after 2006.  Overall, these tax breaks make a big difference when it comes to alleviating the financial burden of homeownership. In fact, in 2011 American homeowners benefited from…Read more

  • No Need to Fear the Downpayment

    February 3, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    New homeowners are liable to get nervous when it comes to applying for a mortgage. Many people have trouble sifting through the real estate terminology and the legal requirements of buying a home. However, if there was one aspect of buying a home that makes people the most nervous, it’s probably the downpayment. If making a downpayment is stressing you out, you should know there are many ways to obtain downpayment assistance, or even secure a mortgage without any downpayment at all. So, if you’re a buyer who wants to make a very low down payment or avoid one altogether and maintain maximum liquidity, check out some of the options outlined below. State Bond Loans In general, State Bond Loans help buyers secure a loan at below-market interest rates. The exact rates offered through State Bond Loans vary, but they generally increase long-term affordability and decrease monthly home payments. These bonds are available through local housing agencies, which sell tax-exempt mortgage revenue bonds and then use the income from these sales to offer below-market rate loans to buyers. This type of loan looks a little different depending on the state you’re living in. The Washington State Housing Finance Commission is the organization…Read more

  • Neighborhood Profile: East Hill

    January 27, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Imagine you could live in an urban neighborhood with an international flavor without having to brave the hustle and bustle of Seattle. With Kent’s East Hill neighborhood, you’ll have the benefit of a diverse, vibrant community without the craziness of the big city.   For a large chunk of its 120+ year history, Kent, Washington was a prosperous farming community. In fact, the city was originally named after the County of Kent in England, as both shared a talent for growing quality hops. However, even after aphids destroyed the hop crops in the late 1800s, Kent continued to prosper, becoming a major supplier of produce and dairy, and for a time the city was known as the “Lettuce Capital of the World.” Today, Kent is a thriving urban center with unique neighborhoods, including East Hill.   East Hill is known for being a diverse neighborhood in an already diverse city. In fact, the households in East Hill speak many languages in addition to English, including Russian, languages from South Asia, and languages from a variety of African countries. Overall, the presence of many different ethnicities and nationalities gives East Hill a culturally rich character, and it’s an important addition to…Read more

  • Who’s Afraid of the FHA?

    January 12, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    At the beginning of the week, the Federal Housing Administration announced it will decrease its annual mortgage insurance premiums by .25% annually or from .85% to .6% per year. This measure will go into effect for new mortgages closing or starting disbursement on or after January 27, 2017. This is the first reduction in insurance premiums since January 2015, when the FHA reduced premiums by 50 basis points. While this decrease might seem modest, experts estimate that it is likely to save consumers hundreds of dollars each year. For instance, with this reduction a homeowner with a $200,000, 30-year fixed rate mortgage can expect to  save about $500 annually. Looking at the larger picture, it’s expected that the reduction in insurance premiums will in total save $5 million for about 1 million borrowers. The announcement arrived on the heels of the FHA’s fourth straight year of economic health. In fact, since 2012 the FHA has reportedly increased its assets by over $40 billion. With such successful economic growth, the FHA has determined that offering lower prices to borrowers is fiscally responsible. The FHA’s decision further cements its importance for prospective homeowners. Since the Great Recession, FHA loans have been vital…Read more