Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are The Financial Heavens Opening up in Washington State

JP Morgan Chase is expanding it's home lending business in Washington State and will more than quadruple it's market share by the end of the year. Chase has seven branches and plans to open up four more offices this year.

As reported in the Puget Sound Business Journal "The financial's giant's plans are reflective of the state's rosy reputation among mortgage bankers, and also could indicate a resurgence of the mortgage industry as stable lenders step in to fill the gaps left by those that have gone out of business."

They also reported that Golf Savings Bank, a subsidiary of Spokane-based Sterling Financial Corp., is also expanding its home loan business and plans to add 20 new loan officers by the end of the year probably hiring former employees of Washington Mutual who just closed 23 offices in Washington State.

So buyers, get off the fence, we have a great economy here in Snohomish County, interest rates are low and there is plenty of inventory to choose from.

Contact me, Karen Villa Schweinfurth, ABR, CRS, SRES, e-PRO, REALTOR - "As no one knows Washington Real Estate like a Washington Realtor - 425-308-3669.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Washington Real Estate

Washington State - The Sky is NOT Falling

With all of the attention on the failing national housing market, many people have lost sight of the fact that Washington State is a unique market place. We have not seen the crash that most other states have. The median priced single family home in Snohomish County has dropped only .92% since last year. Here is why:

1. Washington has an extremely strong economy: unemployment is under 5 percent and according to the Washington State Office of financial management, we are projected to add another two million residents in the next 12 years.

2. Wshington has few subprime loans in danger of foreclosure so, contrary to what is happening in some states, we have fewer "distress sales" and foreclosures.

3. The historic low mortgage rates are tuning the market around. If you are renting, you are not along. There are thousands of people just like you who want to buy a home and are just waiting to see what the market will do. As these people enter the market, supply will go down and the market will heat up.

This is a great time to buy a home in Washington State. Be sure to ask a Washington Realtor, as no one knows Washington Real Estate like a Washington Realtor.

Please contact me for housing information and a special booklet for first time homebuyers. Karen Villa Schweinfurth 425-308-3669; or visit

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Washington Realtors Leadership Institute Northwest

I have the privilege of having been chosen as one of seven applicants accepted from a pool of 25 applicants for 2008 to attend the Leadership Institute Northwest for Washington Realtors. It is an intense 9 day session broken into three two and half day sessions over six months. The goal is to identify future leaders of the Washington Realtors Association. They bring in national speakers, do leadership training sessions and prepare you to be a future officer and leader. We join in with the Oregon Association of Realtors in this venture so there are seven participants from each state. I am honored to have been accepted and humbled by my fellow participants.

Here is some information from the leadership web site:

Our Mission

The leaders of the Oregon and Washington Association of REALTORS® recognize that leadership development is an essential element in the process of improving our Associations and our profession. For that reason, we administer the Leadership Institute Northwest. Through this program, we attempt to identify emerging REALTOR® leaders, encourage them with motivation activites and assist in sharpening their leadership skills. We do this in the hope they will exert a strong positive influence on the future of the Association and profession.

Selection Criteria

Participation in the Leadership Institute NW is limited to REALTORS® living in Washington and Oregon. Seven REALTORS® will be selected from each state to participate in the program. Since the number of appointments in the program is limited, applicants who are not selected are encouraged to reapply in subsequent years. Participants will be chosen by the Leadership,Institute NW selection committee of each state based upon the information completed on this application. The Committee will be seeking representation from a cross-section of the profession. These leaders and potential leaders will be active in either business, education, the arts, religion, government, community-based organizations, or real estate specialty areas. Attendance at retreats and quarterly sessions is mandatory. Those who fail to attend may be asked to withdraw, with no refund of tuition.


To graduate from Leadership Institute NW, a participant is expected to attend all sessions: Retreat format is to arrive the evening of the first date for an informal gathering and group mixer followed by two intensive days of workshops and discovery.

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Jones Soda Partners with Alaska Airlines

Seattle based Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air just announced a partnership with a local soft drink company, Jones Soda.

Visit their web site, they have such a unique product, they solicit their labels from their customers. In 1995 they created WAZU Water (named for a local university), Washington State University, (WAZZU) NOT to be confused with the University of Washington (UDUB). We do have strange nicknames, don't we.

Jones' soda has always been about interacting with the consumer and placing their product in botique and surf shops at the beginning, then branching out to convenience stores. Now they are branching out to stores such as Target, Safeway, Meijers, etc. In addition to their natural cane sodas like cola, root beer, blue bubble gum, fufu berry and lemon drop; at holiday time they have unique flavors such as mashed potatoes & gravy and turkey! And yes, do taste authentic
Jones' has a "corner on the market" in Seattle.

But what it all boils down to is customer service.


Send Out Cards

Don't know if any of you have seen this program; it is called Send Out Cards.

It's an online service where you can join and have the capability of sending cards (real cards by real mail) to your family and friends. You have a choice of ove 12,000 cards in varying categories.

You have the capability to upload photos of yourself, family, friends, animals, sporting events of the kids and add them to your cards. You can add your business logo, and you can even do it in your own handwriting.

The program can catalog your names by groups so that if you want to send an invitation to your family for a summer bar-be-que, you, with one click, can send the same invitation to all the members in your "family group". It's so easy. Or say your tennis club is going to have a surprise birthday party for Mary, and Mary is in your group, you can uncheck Mary's name and everyone in the group will get the invitation except Mary, keeping the surprise. Or Christmas cards, keep it easy and send them from here. There are so many ways to use this cleaver program.

Want to send a gift card, a box of chocolates or decadent cookies - you can all with one click in this sytem. It's amazing.

Click here and trying sending A FREE CARD ON ME. If you are interested in using this fabulous, easy system, please email me at and I'd be happy to get you started and explain fully the system.

Again, just another way to connect with my clients and help them. This is a fabulous tool. Forget driving to Hallmark and spending a bundle on cards, forget ordering cards on line, forget those email cards, send a REAL CARD, WITH YOU HANDWRITING, BY U.S. MAIL, ALL WITHIN ONE MINUTE!

Call Karen at 425-308-3669

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Good News for Vacation and Second Homes

There is a new IRS Code for established vacation and second homes.

This revenue procedure, which will be effective for exchanges occurring on or after March 10, 2008, establishes a safe harbor regarding when a vacation home can be considered investment property and traded in a §1031 exchange. The ruling states that a vacation home qualifies for a §1031 exchange if the investor owns the home for at least 24 months, rents it for at least 14 days for each 12-month period, and uses it no more than the greater of 14 days per year or 10 percent of the number of days during the year that the home is rented. These requirements apply to both the relinquished and replacement properties.
For purposes of this revenue procedure, a vacation home, also called a "dwelling unit" in the Revenue Procedure, is real property improved with a house, apartment, condominium, or similar improvement that provides basic living accommodations including sleeping space, bathroom and cooking facilities.

If you are interested in more information in a tax deferred 1031 exchange, contact

First Time Home Buyers in Washington State

First Time Home Buyers in Washington State

Do you fit that category? You will want to visit this website, a dedicated page on the Washington Realtor's Web site that will give you great information on the home buying process and a step by step guide to accomplish this.

Here's an sample of what is available to you:

Congratulations! You are thinking of buying your first home. We know this is a big decision for you with a lot of unknowns.Many first time home buyers will contemplate the decision for years before taking any action, even a first step. Our research indicates that once a first time home buyer does take that first step, they purchase their first home within three months.This site helps you take that first step.Once you purchase a home you will soon learn the tax advantages of home ownership and the opportunity to build equity (or wealth) over time. According to the Federal Reserve, the median household wealth accumulation for a homeowner was $184,000; in comparison, the median net worth of a renter was $4,000.You've probably already been using the Internet to search for homes, financing options and home buying information. You will find many of those resource links included in this brochure. We also encourage you to contact a Realtor® at the very beginning of your quest and put that Realtor® to work for you. He or she will help you find what you are looking for in a home, in the area you want, and at a price you can afford. When you find a home that you want to make an offer on, your Realtor® will research the market and let you know if the price is fair. He or she can help you negotiate an offer and advocate on your behalf throughout the process.

A Realtor® can help take the mystery out of the purchase of your new home and show you the ropes. There are hundreds of little details in buying a home and some details that are not so little-like property lines, easements, earnest money and the time allowed for home inspections (to name a few). Don't worry, you will be involved throughout the process and if you have any questions along the way, do not hesitate to ask your Realtor®.

Starting the home search
Determine how much home you can afford
Shop for a loan & research first time home buying programs
Decide on a home & make an offer
Get home inspected
Shop for homeowners insurance
Complete the transaction

The 28 page booklet is downloadable in a pdf format for your use or contact me to send you one at or 425-308-3669.

Remember to look for the REALTOR® trademark designation when contacting an agent. Not all licensees are REALTORS® and "NO ONE KNOWS WASHINGTON REAL ESTATE LIKE A WASHINGTON REALTOR®.

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