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  • Free Diamonds!

    June 23, 2008 /
    Dennis S. Pearce /

    Have you got a dream? I mean a gnaw-at-your-brain, tried-to-forget-it, leave-me-alone kind of wishful fantasy that fires your imagination some days, and tantalizes you with its out-of-reach nature on others. Many of us here in the Northwest, in spite of having seen our share of liquid sunshine, are still drawn to the many lakes, streams, rivers, and salt water frontages that abound in our glorious corner of the world. There is something primal about the urge to live near water- it's truly a gut level need for many. I count myself among those who dream of waking to the sight of a sailboat bobbing at anchor outside my own front door, or stepping off the deck of my small fishing cabin, fly rod in hand, for a day on the stream. I alternate between these twin romances and honestly couldn't choose between them if my life depended on it. A former client of mine had a term for the dancing flickers of light refracted off water that define the essence of the waterfront experience: He called those flashes and sparkles "free diamonds". I love the evocative image of that phrase, as it encapsulates for me the dream of finding a…Read more

  • Surveying the lending landscape

    June 18, 2008 /
    admin /

    Whether we are representing a buyer or seller, as Realtors it is our job to keep on top of what is going on in the mortgage industry. There has been a lot of press about the changes occurring within the lending arena, but even the news has a hard time keeping up with the extremely fluid nature of lending today. I think it would be safe to say that the mortgage brokers themselves have a real challenge in “knowing” what is going to happen from day to day. First, let’s get this out of the way: “Zero Down” loans are no longer in existence. “No Income Verification/No Asset” (NINA) loans with small down payments have gone the way of the dodo bird and dinosaur. Fogging a mirror will no longer qualify you for a mortgage. While this makes getting a loan more difficult, perhaps it’s all for the best. Lenders actually should want to be sure that their borrowers can afford to pay them back. If you would like to hear a very interesting commentary on exactly how we ended up in this mortgage crisis, click HERE. In fact, let’s not forget, it wasn’t all *that* long ago that 20%…Read more

  • A better way to search the NWMLS

    June 2, 2008 /
    Jesse D. Moore /

    I just returned from a trip to my hometown, Miles City, Montana. A friend of the family’s had just made an offer on a home, which they had come across thanks to the ability of their agent. In Miles City there is no MLS as we know it, no catalogue of listings, either bound or online. There are only a few websites with listing information, and these are not comprehensive. Things truly are done more word of mouth around here, which means that if a consumer wants information on a home for sale, going online isn’t going to help them. This obviously isn’t the case for us in the Puget Sound. Not only can we not find a single-family residence on four city lots for $92,000 (as my family friend did), but new listing information is available on several thousand websites. Since most of the general information is the same on all of these sites, the real issue involves usability: which site is the most intuitive? The least invasive? The most informative? The fastest? Which brings us to After months of comprehensive searching , we came across the holy grail in the property search engine realm. The solution we…Read more

  • Pickett Street Properties moves its sign

    May 28, 2008 /
    Dennis S. Pearce /

    It’s been busy times on Pickett Street, as we’ve made a few significant upgrades to our business in the interest of improving service, and providing a more enriching online experience. You may have heard: The Pickett Street Team now resides in the brand-new Keller Williams Bothell office. The reasons for the change are many, but the biggest item addressed by the change was the frustration our clients expressed in their interactions with the available property search tools. If you’ve been in the market for a property lately, you’ve likely tried out some of these online search tools. And in fact, the unfriendly user experience of those tools provided plenty of incentive for us in the quest to raise the bar; which makes this an opportune moment to put in a loud ‘thank You’ to all who offered suggestions, and provided the feedback we live by. What we came to realize was that, as agents there are advantages to membership in the largest real estate network in the world, but those advantages don’t always translate to a better experience for our clients. A ‘bigger bureaucracy’ is not generally the most creative answer to new challenges. In spite of our best efforts…Read more

  • The Future of Housing Demand

    March 3, 2008 /
    Dennis S. Pearce /

    Heard a good economy joke lately? Me neither. Everyone seems pretty down on the prospects for the immediate future of the US GDP. The dollar is down. Gold is up. Stock Market’s down… no it’s up… no….? And so it goes: it seems the harder you look for answers to where this train is headed, there’s still one more gloomy ‘bridge-is-out’ prediction up ahead. At least that’s the typical News-at-five, sell-another-ad, soundbite takeaway message. Even Bernanke can’t seem to give us anything but mystery shrouded in intrigue. And we all thought Greenspan was opaque. But, stepping away from the abyss for a minute, if you look out toward the horizon there’s the glimmer of something brighter - could it be…we do have a future!? Remarkably enough, hope comes in the form of some concrete, positive, undeniably real numbers. Seen the latest census report? Maybe you had heard - there’s a new American created every 13 seconds! In fact, with a new birth every 8 seconds and a death every 11, that’s a net gain of 3 per second. And if you clicked on the previous link, you’ve seen the dramatic counter on the US census site- we’re now a nation…Read more

  • To Market, To Market

    February 4, 2008 /
    Dennis S. Pearce /

    So, how’s the market? If there’s a defining question right now in Real Estate, that one certainly would qualify. And the undisputed champion answer would have to be: “Depends”. In the Northwest, and particularly here in the immediate shadow of employment giants Microsoft, Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, Starbucks, and the growing bio-tech industry, with players from Zymogenetics to Corixa, along with technology and gaming innovators like Microvision, Infospace & Nintendo, we have been blessed the past few years with an exceptionally strong housing market. So, when our friends in the media start trotting out housing fears as their lead story every night, it can’t help but become fodder for watercooler and cocktail party conversations across the country. Then again, if you’ve had a marketing 101 course, you know that the top 2 attention-getting drivers for advertising are #1-Sex, and #2-Fear. Recognizing that it’s not that easy making Real Estate Sexy, it’s understandable that Fear has become the currency of choice. Now, to get back to the question at hand- how is that market? Well, it depends on your needs- If you’re selling, be sure you need to sell. In a buyer’s market, sellers are at the mercy of the market, and we…Read more

  • Suze Orman Sells Seattle

    October 23, 2007 /
    Dennis S. Pearce /

    How’s that for a catchy headline? Well, if you’re a follower of Oprah, you might have caught the reference. In a recent show, which aired 10/18/07, Suze dresses down a California couple whose lavish lifestyle has driven them off a financial cliff. As she outlines her prescription for their recovery (a process she refers to as financial detox), Suze's suggestions take an unexpected turn toward Seattle. “Suze's final step is the most drastic. Suze tells Felice and Phil they must sell their California home and move to Seattle, Washington. With a booming housing market and high-tech industry, Suze says Seattle is particularly well suited to both Felice and Phil's strengths—Phil is a computer contractor and Felice was once a mortgage broker.” Now, if you live in Seattle, you probably aren’t surprised to hear about yet another Californian preparing to migrate to our fair city. But this isn’t just another LA escapee; this is Seattle as a recipe for financial survival. And if you’re in the market for a Seattle home, you’re probably wondering why Seattle would specifically be mentioned by any responsible financial consultant - and particularly one of Suze’s national stature. Given the “Subprime Meltdown”, the “Mortgage Morass”, and…Read more

  • Pickett Street updates “Resources” page

    September 2, 2007 /
    Jesse D. Moore /

    We're proud to announce that after several weeks of development, we've successfully completed our update to the "Resources" page of our site. Synonymous with all things "Pickett Street," we found that to get the tools that we wanted to offer, we needed to start from scratch. The Interest Rate Update, for example, was designed for our lending partner (Jeff Brown with Homestead Mortgage) the ability to update the web pages without delay as rates fluctuate. This gives visitors to our site easy access to timely and accurate information in a fluctuating mortgage market. All rate information is assuming a 3% down-payment, which we consider a reasonable expectation as zero-down loan programs become less and less available. Jeff Brown will be updating the rate information every other day, and more frequently as necessary if the rates shift drastically, so we expect the "Resources" page to be one of our most frequently visited pages on our site. Visitors will also find a mortgage calculator on our "Resources" page. While the end-user can change all of the fields on the calculator, the tool assumes a downpayment of 3% and pulls the 30-year fixed rate from the rate update tool above. We'll be updating…Read more

  • World’s Greenest Hummer?

    August 28, 2007 /
    Dennis S. Pearce /

    I was at Home Depot a couple weeks ago, putting in my order at the paint counter for a couple more sample quarts, in the hopes that we could arrive at some armistice in the paint wars - it was color selection time at our house again. The last time our house was painted, a Democrat was in the Presidential hot seat, so we were close to the statute of limitations on that batch of pigment. The colors we had chosen for this particular round of paint scheme roulette came from the green family, and had names like Sonoran Sands, Raked Leaves and Palisade. Grandiose handles for wall coverings. As it happened, I was also wearing a loose green shirt, over a green t-shirt, with olive green sandals (no socks- it was in the 80’s) A fellow customer standing in line sized me up succinctly with his observation: “you like green, don’t you?” I was in no position to deny it as I headed across the parking lot, back to my Galapagos green 2004 Honda Element. I’m sure there’s a personality test based solely on color preferences. I wouldn’t take it - I already know the likely results: Green lovers…Read more

  • Dual Agency or Double Agent – What’s the Difference?

    May 3, 2007 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    Recognizing that what is legal is not always what is best, I am writing this in response to a situation I recently found myself in: Imagine you are a buyer, searching for a home - for nearly a year and a half. The perfect home comes on the market, and your agent is hot on the trail; previewing the home, running comps, feeding you all the information you need to make an informed decision. Wanting to have all the latest status info, your agent contacts the listing agent, who reveals that she has a buying client of her own, who is viewing the subject property for a 2nd time, and considering making an offer. What to do? The listing agent, under Washington state law, and according to current MLS rules, has the legal right to “represent” both sides of a transaction. Now my question: Is it ethically, physically, and humanly possible for one person to effectively represent both sides of any transaction? What would you do? If, as a responsible agent, you recommend that your clients submit an offer prior to the listing agent’s clients, you know the listing agent’s competing offer will win, regardless of how strong your clients…Read more

  • Of Sharks, Birds, and Open Houses

    April 22, 2007 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    It’s a beautiful day in Bothell, WA. I could give you the specifics (57 degrees, light breeze, blooms are budding and the birds are chirping), but it’s enough to say that the sun is shining. Any day in the Puget Sound with a shiny orb beaming down on you is a beautiful day – no matter the temperature or wind speed. For prospective home buyers, it’s a great day to look at open houses. As a Realtor, it’s less than ideal. I think I would rather sit an open in the rain than in the sun, knowing that professional obligations aside, the weather would keep me from doing something more personally fulfilling. I can’t help but feel a little jealous working on a day like today - my clients, meanwhile, are taking their daughter to the park to play while they soak up the sun under the shade of a good book. I’m more envious of those that are chasing a little white ball on manicured greens, and I can’t help but think that many of these Columbia-clad golfers are my peers, who merely chose their 9-iron over sitting an open. I haven’t noticed that my traffic goes up on…Read more

  • Live Like You Were Selling

    April 15, 2007 /
    Pickett Street Properties Team /

    A seller and I may work together for weeks (sometimes months) to prepare their property for the market. This is more work for the seller than for me obviously: decongesting closets that are busting at the hinges, getting the kids to put their clothes on hangers, painting a few spots that were missed because of large furniture, and fixing the hole in the drywall that was borne out of a misbegotten re-enactment of WrestleMania. When it’s ready for me to step in I schedule the cleaning, followed by the staging, followed by… [insert obligatory surprise service that is needed due to revealing nature of the prior events – carpet cleaning for spots that were covered by a rug for the last five years, handyman services for remembering that the large picture you didn’t like was placed only to cover several holes that were created in an attempt to prove that you didn’t need a studfinder, etc]. When all is said and done, I stand back with the seller and peruse the fruits of our labor: the floors are clean, the rooms are uncluttered and tastefully decorated, unsightly blemishes have been covered with designer paint, and the home even smells inviting.…Read more