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  • Neighborhood Profile: Queen Anne

    May 22, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Way back in the Stone Age (or thereabouts) Queen Anne was among the least popular parts of Seattle when it came to purchasing property. Much of this unpopularity was a result of the neighborhood’s steep and hilly geography (which, to be fair, would have been much more annoying before the advent of the automobile). Whatever the reason for public distaste when it came to Queen Anne, local developers were desperate to get land off their hands, and even tried to entice potential buyers by offering two plots of land for the price of one. Now, of course, Queen Anne (named after the style of home many original builders constructed in the area) lives up to its regal name and is one of Seattle’s most popular places to live in. However, even characterizing the neighborhood itself can be something of a challenge. The lower end of the region is close to downtown attractions like the Key Arena and the Space Needle, while other parts of the neighborhood are comfortably residential. And let’s not forget that, with the presence of Seattle Pacific University in the north end, some of the area has a distinctly collegiate atmosphere. In short, there’s a little bit…Read more

  • The Space Needle

    May 22, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Like most things in Seattle, the Space Needle began with a cup of coffee. To be fair, there was a napkin involved, too. It was the end of the 1950s, and Edward E. Carlson was relaxing in a coffee shop, idly doodling on a serviette. It’s impossible to say for sure whether or not the impending World’s Fair was on his mind when he originally sketched the city’s sci-fi pinnacle (for all we know, Carlson might have been dreaming about his dry cleaning whilst scribbling). What we can say is that Carlson’s design, etched onto scrap paper amidst a peppering of coffee stains, served as the inspiration for one of the Northwest’s most important monuments. It wasn’t completely Carlson’s brainchild, however. Left to his own devices, he would have designed a building resembling either a massive balloon tethered to the earth or an equally large balloon perched on top of a column (the man liked his balloons, it seems). It took architect John Graham and his dedicated team to translate Carlson’s initial inspiration into the flying saucer structure we have today. After successfully building the first suburban shopping mall in the country (which just so happens to be Seattle’s Northgate…Read more

  • Do You Like Low Interest Rates?

    May 9, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Interest Rates Unchanged After The Fed's Wednesday Meeting After its meeting this Wednesday, the Fed voted to leave interest rates unchanged, keeping its benchmark rates at 0.75-1.00%. The decision was a response to the economy’s slow .7% growth in the year’s first quarter. Much of this slowing growth can be attributed to the transition period following the presidential election, so the Fed remains optimistic for future economic growth. In that case, two more rate increases are expected by the end of the year. The next rate hike is expected to occur in June as long as the economy continues to grow, while many experts expect a second increase to occur in September. Overall, the decision seems to have had a very slight indirect effect on mortgage rates. As of Thursday, the average 30-year FRM was down about 1 basis point, hovering around 4.02%, while the average 15-year ARM and remained around 3.27%. And, though rates are always changing, many experts don’t expect them to increase dramatically between now until the end of the year. Many economists expect the 30-year FRM to fall between 4.2-4.5% at the end of 2017. For some, these rates might seem to be way too high.…Read more

  • Rain, rain, (Don’t) Go Away

    April 28, 2017 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Seattle’s had quite a lot of rain recently. For the second year in a row, Seattle has broken a century-plus record for rainfall, enduring almost 50 inches of rain since the beginning of October. Usually, the city gets just over 30 inches by this time, so it would be an understatement to suggest that it’s been moist lately. In fact, the whole of Western Washington seems to have been caught in the deluge. Quillayute in Clallam County, for instance, has received more than 100 inches of rain since the beginning of October, or more than 10 feet. To put that number in perspective, if you were to clone me (because why not?) and perch my double on top of my shoulders, our combined height would be only slightly taller than the amount of rain that’s fallen in Quillayute. Some of you (all the transplants from California, I expect) might balk at this veritable monsoon. However, I’ll take the opportunity to be bold and suggest that life in Seattle is at its finest when experienced under a constant curtain of drizzle. I’ve already written about how much I love rain in Seattle, so I…Read more

  • 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