Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Seattle Developers Compete In Apartment Amenities

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Seattle developers compete in apartment 'amenities arms race'


With more high-earning tech workers moving to the Seattle area every day, apartment buildings are trying to woo them with head-turning amenities.
A report released earlier this year from the U.S. Census Bureau said the Seattle metro grew by 1,100 people per week from 2010 to 2016.
Jim Goldberg with Red Propeller, a real estate development marketing firm, said in the industry the competition for the best apartment amenities is known as the “amenities arms race.”
Developers say one goal of the amenities is to give those new to the area a sense of community.
“With the employment driver in the city that’s bringing in new demand and so the apartments and most of the new development is really responding to that demand,” said Goldberg.
Red Propeller said the process usually starts three years ahead of the apartment building’s opening. First they want to define who their target audience is, so they research who will likely want to live there. Then they dream up the ideas with architects and designers through brainstorming. All parties work through potential costs to make sure the amenities are realistic – and then building can begin.
Goldberg said their ideas are not as random as some might think.
“For us, when we develop a real estate strategy, we work to be very focused,” he said. “(There’s a) variety of demographics segments, but we look for commonalities and threads for what we call psychographics and mindset drivers that would tie those audiences together.”
Goldberg explained psychographics are the values that drive the audience to buy.
For instance, in an upcoming Washington D.C. project, Red Propeller is trying to weave seemingly different population segments like college students, empty nesters, and divorced dads together. They’re doing this by trying to appeal to the targeted audience’s love of the area’s park and food culture.
“This is a really aspirational project,” Goldberg said in a Red Propeller meeting in June. “Whether it’s a student transitioning into their first adult home, whether it’s the maturing downsizing audience or those growing their families.”

'Best and greatest'

“The market right now is booming,” said Kathi Williams of developer Security Properties. “You have to think outside the box and offer amenities that you think will make you the best and greatest.”
Security Properties is putting the finishing touches on the Kinects Tower, which is located in Denny Triangle at the corner of Minor Avenue and Stewart Street.
Williams said the company is trying to make a statement with Kinects Tower’s penthouse pool on the 41st floor. The pool area takes over one-half of the top floor and is enclosed with glass, giving residents a view of the Space Needle, downtown, and Puget Sound. The rest of the top floor is an open-air rooftop with views of South Lake Union.
“We have a panoramic view of Seattle and the mountains and the water,” she said. “This is enough to set us apart – to have and build a community with the people who are going to live here at Kinects and this will be a place where they want to come.”

Air conditioning, a rock wall – and a speakeasy?

Brian Runberg of the Runberg Architecture Group said the design of Juxt in South Lake Union was a nod toward changing industry. There are elements of nearby MOHAI and of the neighborhood’s newer technology sector. Juxt is also home to a speakeasy hidden behind a wall on the eighth floor. Residents can use the speakeasy to entertain guests.
Across Dexter Avenue is an apartment building named True North. It’s geared toward outdoor enthusiasts and features a rock climbing wall for residents.
Another Runberg Architecture Group design recently opened in the University District. Augusta Apartments is a Vulcan development that features air conditioning units in each apartment – a rarity due to Seattle’s typically mild climate. Augusta also features a rooftop common area, a fitness center and adjoining basketball court, and curated artwork lining the walls and meeting rooms.

Can amenities be affordable?

Runberg said while most of the headline-grabbing amenities are at market-rate apartments, he said more affordable housing communities are trying to incorporate amenities as well.
He mentioned Marion West, a property run by the Low Income Housing Institute and geared toward formerly homeless youth, has a rooftop common area with an urban garden.

KING 5's Ryan Takeo 





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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – 5 Steps To Take Before Buying Your First Home

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5 Steps to Take Before Shopping for Your First Home

If you're getting ready to shop for your first house, it's vital that you take a few key steps first to ensure buying a home is really the best choice for you.

When you're considering buying your first home, you're probably full of excitement about achieving the American dream. Unfortunately, this dream could turn into a nightmare if you haven't made sure that you're financially ready for the costs of becoming a homeowner. You don't want to fall in love with a house before you've done the practical thing and made certain you're prepared for homeownership. Before you call a realtor, take these five steps to get all your ducks in a row.

1. Calculate what you can comfortably spend

The last thing you want to do is make yourself "house poor" by spending more of your income on a home purchase than you should. The "affordability standard" for housing is that you should spend no more than 30% of your income on housing costs (including insurance and property taxes), while many mortgage lenders prefer that your housing cost is no greater than 28% of your income.
Your outstanding debts can also impact the amount you can spend on a home. Most lenders want a total debt-to-income ratio -- including your mortgage payments and other debts -- to be around 36% or less, although you can still get a standard mortgage with a ratio as high as 43%.
This means if your income is $50,000, you could reasonably afford about $1,170 per month for your total housing costs if you stuck to the 28% rule -- assuming you didn't have a substantial amount of other debt that would push your total monthly payments above the recommended 36% of income. If we also assume you can pay 20% down and qualify for an interest rate of 4%, then you could potentially afford a home price of up to $250,000. That may or may not be a realistic price in your area, and you may want to aim lower if you have other sizable debts.

2. Save a down payment of 20%

In our example above, we factored in having a 20% down payment when calculating the price of the home you could afford. Paying at least 20% of the value of the home up front is vital, because it allows you to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI insures your lender in the event that you're unable to make payments and the lender must foreclose on you. On a $200,000 loan, PMI could cost you $100 a month or more, depending on how much you paid up front -- and you could be paying it for several years.
You're stuck with PMI until you pay your loan down to 78% or less of the home's original value. Once you prove to your lender that you've reached that milestone, your lender is required to drop the PMI requirement. .
If you don't have a down payment, not only will you waste thousands of dollars on PMI and additional interest payments, but you'll also put yourself at substantial risk. When you make a 20% down payment on a home, the value of the house would have to fall more than 20% for the home to be worth less than you owe on it. If you only make a tiny down payment, however, even a slight downturn in the market could mean you're underwater -- i.e., your home is worth less than you still owe the bank. This makes it difficult or impossible to sell unless you can bring cash to the real estate closing for the difference between what your house sells for and what you still owe.

3. Save an emergency fund of three to six months' worth of living expenses

When you're a homeowner, you are responsible for everything that goes wrong in your house. Instead of calling a landlord when the furnace breaks or the pipes freeze, you have to call -- and pay for -- a repair man. If the problems are costly to fix, or can't be fixed, you're the one on the hook. If you don't have money set aside to cover maintenance, repairs, and replacements, then you'll have to use credit. You don't want to be paying interest on your new fridge for the next 10 years, so make sure you have an emergency fund to cover the many costs of being a homeowner.
Not only can an emergency fund help you pay for surprise repairs, but it can also ensure that you don't lose your home in the event that an illness, job loss, or other crisis puts a major strain on your household finances. If you cannot pay your mortgage because your income has taken a hit, you could be foreclosed on, lose your house, and end up with ruined credit. You don't want this to happen, so save up enough money to pay the mortgage for several months in case something goes wrong. 

4. Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan

When you have your financial house in order, it's time to prove to the bank that you're ready for the responsibility of taking on a mortgage. You want to get pre-approved by your chosen financial institution before you start shopping for a home. Getting pre-approved means you'll have a clear idea of what the bank will lend you so you don't shop outside of your price range. You'll also be taken much more seriously by real estate agents and any potential sellers to whom you make an offer. Some sellers won't even consider offers from someone who isn't pre-approved, because there's no way to know whether the financing will be available to complete the sale. 
If you want your bids to be competitive and you want to know you're shopping for houses that are priced right, provide your financial information to the bank before you start house shopping and get a pre-approval letter to take with you. 

5. Find a buyer's agent

Although you can technically buy a house without an agent, it's usually a bad idea to try it -- especially if it's your first home. An agent can help you spot red flags that should send you running away from a prospective home. Agents know the market and can help you make a reasonable offer so you don't overpay, and they can also guide you through the steps of the buying process, like getting a home inspection.  
You'll want to be sure you find a buyer's agent, rather than letting the seller's agent represent both you and the seller. A buyer's agent is focused only on your interests and has lots of experience helping homebuyers find the house of their dreams. If you've already made sure you're financially ready before calling a realtor, your agent can help you make the buying process low-stress and successful.








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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Million-Dollar Homes On The Rise

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com




Million-dollar homes on the rise in Seattle and the Eastside: How many in your neighborhood?

Last year, we got word that a record 12 percent of homes in King County were selling for at least $1 million, a big rise from prior years. Now we know that our share of million-dollar homes is rising faster than just about anywhere in the country.
Zillow released a new national report this week that looked at ZIP codes where at least 10 percent of homes are worth a million bucks or more. Three years ago, the Seattle metro area had 16 of these ZIP codes — now, it has 38.
In the past year only the New York and Los Angeles metro areas — both much bigger — added more of these “million-dollar ZIP codes.”
Seattle, the 15th-biggest metro area in the country, now ranks 7th for the most million-dollar ZIP codes. We’re still behind New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, San Jose and Washington, D.C., Zillow’s information shows.

We asked the Seattle-based real estate site for some extra data — which of our local ZIP codes have the most million-dollar homes, and how has that changed recently? Explore the map for details on your neighborhood.
Not surprisingly, topping the list is Medina (the exclusive 98039 ZIP code, home to the two richest people on Earth — Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos), where 99.7 percent of homes are worth at least $1 million. In Mercer Island, 88 percent sell for more than a million, while 64 percent of West Bellevue homes are worth seven figures.
The only ZIP code in Seattle with a majority of homes over $1 million is 98112 (think Montlake and Madison Park). Next up is the University District (42 percent of homes worth $1 million), Magnolia (39 percent) and Queen Anne (36 percent).
At the other end, a few ZIP codes on the northern and southern edges of the city, like Lake City and Georgetown, still have fewer than 10 percent of homes worth $1 million.
Which areas are making the ascent into luxury living the fastest? In the 98075 ZIP code in Sammamish, 11 percent of homes topped a million three years ago — now, 52 percent do.
The Fremont and Green Lake neighborhoods also stand out. Three years ago, less than 3 percent of homes in the 98103 ZIP were worth seven-figures; now, 17 percent are.

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Million-Dollar Homes On The Rise

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com




Million-dollar homes on the rise in Seattle and the Eastside: How many in your neighborhood?

Last year, we got word that a record 12 percent of homes in King County were selling for at least $1 million, a big rise from prior years. Now we know that our share of million-dollar homes is rising faster than just about anywhere in the country.
Zillow released a new national report this week that looked at ZIP codes where at least 10 percent of homes are worth a million bucks or more. Three years ago, the Seattle metro area had 16 of these ZIP codes — now, it has 38.
In the past year only the New York and Los Angeles metro areas — both much bigger — added more of these “million-dollar ZIP codes.”
Seattle, the 15th-biggest metro area in the country, now ranks 7th for the most million-dollar ZIP codes. We’re still behind New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, San Jose and Washington, D.C., Zillow’s information shows.

We asked the Seattle-based real estate site for some extra data — which of our local ZIP codes have the most million-dollar homes, and how has that changed recently? Explore the map for details on your neighborhood.
Not surprisingly, topping the list is Medina (the exclusive 98039 ZIP code, home to the two richest people on Earth — Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos), where 99.7 percent of homes are worth at least $1 million. In Mercer Island, 88 percent sell for more than a million, while 64 percent of West Bellevue homes are worth seven figures.
The only ZIP code in Seattle with a majority of homes over $1 million is 98112 (think Montlake and Madison Park). Next up is the University District (42 percent of homes worth $1 million), Magnolia (39 percent) and Queen Anne (36 percent).
At the other end, a few ZIP codes on the northern and southern edges of the city, like Lake City and Georgetown, still have fewer than 10 percent of homes worth $1 million.
Which areas are making the ascent into luxury living the fastest? In the 98075 ZIP code in Sammamish, 11 percent of homes topped a million three years ago — now, 52 percent do.
The Fremont and Green Lake neighborhoods also stand out. Three years ago, less than 3 percent of homes in the 98103 ZIP were worth seven-figures; now, 17 percent are.

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Email Scams Target Real Estate Transactions

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Criminals continue to hack email accounts, and many are specifically targeting real estate professionals and their clients.
In such scams, the hackers send an email that appears to be from a realtor or title officer involved in a transaction. The email is sent to a client, usually a buyer who is ready to wire the remainder of a down payment to close escrow. The email informs the client of a last-minute change to wiring instructions and directs the buyer to wire funds directly to a fraudulent account.
“This scam is especially alarming in the Bay Area,” said Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “It is a busy and hectic time in real estate because home prices are high, inventory is low and buyers are trying to close escrow quickly because of the fierce competition for homes.”
SILVAR warns realtors and their clients to be on high alert for email and online fraud. The National Association of Realtors issued the following tips, aiming to keep transactions safe from hackers.
• If possible, do not send sensitive information via email. If you must use email to send sensitive information, use encrypted email.
• Immediately prior to wiring any money, the person sending the money must call the intended recipient to verify the wiring instructions. Only use a verified telephone number to make this call.
• Do not trust contact information in unverified emails. Sophisticated hackers re-create legitimate-looking signature blocks with their own telephone num- bers.
• Never click a link in an unverified email. In addition to leading you to fake websites, the links may contain viruses and other malicious spyware that can make your computer vulnerable to attack.
• If an email or a telephone call seems suspicious, refrain from taking any action until it can be independently verified as legitimate.
• If your email has been hacked, immediately contact all parties to all of your upcoming transactions and inform them of the possibility of fraud.
• Clean out your email account on a regular basis. Your emails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you. Save important emails in a secure location on your internal system or hard drive.
• Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis.
• Implement the most up-to-date firewall and antivirus technologies in your business.
Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com


Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Email Scams Target Real Estate Transactions

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com


Criminals continue to hack email accounts, and many are specifically targeting real estate professionals and their clients.
In such scams, the hackers send an email that appears to be from a realtor or title officer involved in a transaction. The email is sent to a client, usually a buyer who is ready to wire the remainder of a down payment to close escrow. The email informs the client of a last-minute change to wiring instructions and directs the buyer to wire funds directly to a fraudulent account.
“This scam is especially alarming in the Bay Area,” said Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “It is a busy and hectic time in real estate because home prices are high, inventory is low and buyers are trying to close escrow quickly because of the fierce competition for homes.”
SILVAR warns realtors and their clients to be on high alert for email and online fraud. The National Association of Realtors issued the following tips, aiming to keep transactions safe from hackers.
• If possible, do not send sensitive information via email. If you must use email to send sensitive information, use encrypted email.
• Immediately prior to wiring any money, the person sending the money must call the intended recipient to verify the wiring instructions. Only use a verified telephone number to make this call.
• Do not trust contact information in unverified emails. Sophisticated hackers re-create legitimate-looking signature blocks with their own telephone num- bers.
• Never click a link in an unverified email. In addition to leading you to fake websites, the links may contain viruses and other malicious spyware that can make your computer vulnerable to attack.
• If an email or a telephone call seems suspicious, refrain from taking any action until it can be independently verified as legitimate.
• If your email has been hacked, immediately contact all parties to all of your upcoming transactions and inform them of the possibility of fraud.
• Clean out your email account on a regular basis. Your emails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you. Save important emails in a secure location on your internal system or hard drive.
• Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis.
• Implement the most up-to-date firewall and antivirus technologies in your business.
Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com


Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Should Seattle Tax Foreign Investors?

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Seattleites love to blame outsiders for skyrocketing housing prices.
In the 1990s, it was Californians. Today, it’s Chinese investors and their notorious all-cash offers.
Some Seattle leaders want to tax these foreign investors – or at least know how much of the market they’ve cornered.
Said Cary Moon, mayoral candidate: “It is a fact that speculators are driving up prices and exacerbating Seattle’s housing crisis, but we don’t know the real depth or dynamic of this problem because no one wants to look.”
Moon’s rival, Jenny Durkan, said she would oppose real estate databases or taxes as “discriminatory and illegal.”
Moon and others got the idea to tax foreign investors from Vancouver, B.C., neighbor to the north, where 16 percent of buyers were from abroad, mostly China.
And it worked at first. The percentage of foreign buyers dipped to 4 percent from 16 percent right away.
And then it didn’t: Within a year, foreign investors returned, having figured out a way around the tax.
Not that it mattered much for Canadians. Housing prices didn’t go down in Vancouver, and vacancy didn’t go up. But it did help government, said Stephen Quinn, a host with CBC radio. He called it a “windfall for government.”
“It’s raking in hundreds of millions in property transfer taxes,” Quinn said. But, “it’s not meaning much for people buying a house under $1.5 million.”
Marc Stiles, reporter for the Puget Sound Business Journal, said such a tax would be a “knee-jerk reaction.”
“I’m not sure that taxing foreign buyers is going to necessarily calm the roiling waters of Puget Sound’s red-hot housing market,” Stiles said.
Foreigners tend to buy pricier properties, he said, so taxing them in Seattle would have more impact on the higher-end market.
“I’m not so sure on the lower-end market,” he said.
Examples of high-end buying, he said: In Belltown, at Battery Street and 3rd Avenue, a Taiwanese company is building a 12-story apartment building. And at 2nd and Stewart downtown, where the Caffe D’arte used to be, Chinese and other international investors are building a 40-story building called “The Emerald.”
In the residential arena, realtor Becco Zou, said business started booming for her four years ago – she hasn’t had an off season or much vacation. She said most of her clients are new immigrants who have received green cards set aside for investors and entrepreneurs.
“Seattle is attractive for a couple of reasons,” Zou said. “Number 1, it’s the closest city, flying, to China. And number 2, believe it or not, is the movie, ‘Meeting Mr. Right.’ That’s a movie that came out in 2013 and it shows the beautiful scenery of Seattle.”
Zou, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Bellevue, said her clients contact her six months to a year before moving to Seattle.
“They do a lot of online research,” she said. “I ask them what kind of house are you looking for? They are most focused on the good schools. I will present them the different school options, then do a preparation to move the funds to the U.S.”
She said it’s daunting for foreigners to buy property here. Many don’t speak English, she said, and those all-cash offers are dwindling now that China has made it harder to pull a lot of money out of the country.
Candidate Moon told The Stranger last August that "the flow of Chinese money is looking for the next housing market, and it appears that Seattle and California cities are emerging targets." 
She has since softened her position, emphasizing that she has no problems with families buying luxury homes to move here. She and Lisa Herbold, a city council member, say they are focusing on investors -- particularly those who leave homes and units vacant.
Tracking foreign buyers is nearly impossible in King County. There’s no box to check for citizenship.
The Seattle city attorney has said it would be illegal for Seattle to tax real estate sales to foreign investors, as Vancouver has done. And the King County Assessor has refused to collect information on these buyers, saying it could lead to “racial bias” against Asian investors.
Councilmember Herbold said she won't pursue the tax, given the city attorney's position, but she would like more disclosure around real estate investments.
“Given that we don’t appear to have the authority to tax properties that are vacant,” Herbold said, “looking at another way of addressing the problem, like more transparency for these types of investments, might be a good way to go.”
Herbold said she’d like to commission a study like Vancouver’s, which found the city had the highest proportion of empty and underused homes in 35 years. She emphasized that she is not trying to single out foreigners. Rather, she believes that disclosure of investors and shell companies would help discourage investors buying properties to sit vacant.
She said she specifically asked for “neutral” information that would disclose who is behind cash transactions and shell companies.  
“An important first step is to see whether or not we have a problem with large number of vacancies with high-rise or luxury properties,” she said.
In Canada, officials learned about their high vacancy rate by examining where little energy was being used. They’ve also relied on neighbors to tattle.
But Stiles, the reporter, said he doesn’t believe that Chinese buyers are the only reason the market is so hot.
“It’s simply incredibly strong demand,” he said. “This is the most robust, most dynamic market, both commercially and residentially, that I’ve seen in my many years of writing about real estate. It just keeps getting hotter.”
He doesn’t believe it will stay this way forever.
“When the music stops – and it will stop – prices will drop,” he said. “But because Seattle has reached the premier status among U.S. cities, the drop off won’t be as severe.” 









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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Should Seattle Tax Foreign Investors?

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com

Seattleites love to blame outsiders for skyrocketing housing prices.
In the 1990s, it was Californians. Today, it’s Chinese investors and their notorious all-cash offers.
Some Seattle leaders want to tax these foreign investors – or at least know how much of the market they’ve cornered.
Said Cary Moon, mayoral candidate: “It is a fact that speculators are driving up prices and exacerbating Seattle’s housing crisis, but we don’t know the real depth or dynamic of this problem because no one wants to look.”
Moon’s rival, Jenny Durkan, said she would oppose real estate databases or taxes as “discriminatory and illegal.”
Moon and others got the idea to tax foreign investors from Vancouver, B.C., neighbor to the north, where 16 percent of buyers were from abroad, mostly China.
And it worked at first. The percentage of foreign buyers dipped to 4 percent from 16 percent right away.
And then it didn’t: Within a year, foreign investors returned, having figured out a way around the tax.
Not that it mattered much for Canadians. Housing prices didn’t go down in Vancouver, and vacancy didn’t go up. But it did help government, said Stephen Quinn, a host with CBC radio. He called it a “windfall for government.”
“It’s raking in hundreds of millions in property transfer taxes,” Quinn said. But, “it’s not meaning much for people buying a house under $1.5 million.”
Marc Stiles, reporter for the Puget Sound Business Journal, said such a tax would be a “knee-jerk reaction.”
“I’m not sure that taxing foreign buyers is going to necessarily calm the roiling waters of Puget Sound’s red-hot housing market,” Stiles said.
Foreigners tend to buy pricier properties, he said, so taxing them in Seattle would have more impact on the higher-end market.
“I’m not so sure on the lower-end market,” he said.
Examples of high-end buying, he said: In Belltown, at Battery Street and 3rd Avenue, a Taiwanese company is building a 12-story apartment building. And at 2nd and Stewart downtown, where the Caffe D’arte used to be, Chinese and other international investors are building a 40-story building called “The Emerald.”
In the residential arena, realtor Becco Zou, said business started booming for her four years ago – she hasn’t had an off season or much vacation. She said most of her clients are new immigrants who have received green cards set aside for investors and entrepreneurs.
“Seattle is attractive for a couple of reasons,” Zou said. “Number 1, it’s the closest city, flying, to China. And number 2, believe it or not, is the movie, ‘Meeting Mr. Right.’ That’s a movie that came out in 2013 and it shows the beautiful scenery of Seattle.”
Zou, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Bellevue, said her clients contact her six months to a year before moving to Seattle.
“They do a lot of online research,” she said. “I ask them what kind of house are you looking for? They are most focused on the good schools. I will present them the different school options, then do a preparation to move the funds to the U.S.”
She said it’s daunting for foreigners to buy property here. Many don’t speak English, she said, and those all-cash offers are dwindling now that China has made it harder to pull a lot of money out of the country.
Candidate Moon told The Stranger last August that "the flow of Chinese money is looking for the next housing market, and it appears that Seattle and California cities are emerging targets." 
She has since softened her position, emphasizing that she has no problems with families buying luxury homes to move here. She and Lisa Herbold, a city council member, say they are focusing on investors -- particularly those who leave homes and units vacant.
Tracking foreign buyers is nearly impossible in King County. There’s no box to check for citizenship.
The Seattle city attorney has said it would be illegal for Seattle to tax real estate sales to foreign investors, as Vancouver has done. And the King County Assessor has refused to collect information on these buyers, saying it could lead to “racial bias” against Asian investors.
Councilmember Herbold said she won't pursue the tax, given the city attorney's position, but she would like more disclosure around real estate investments.
“Given that we don’t appear to have the authority to tax properties that are vacant,” Herbold said, “looking at another way of addressing the problem, like more transparency for these types of investments, might be a good way to go.”
Herbold said she’d like to commission a study like Vancouver’s, which found the city had the highest proportion of empty and underused homes in 35 years. She emphasized that she is not trying to single out foreigners. Rather, she believes that disclosure of investors and shell companies would help discourage investors buying properties to sit vacant.
She said she specifically asked for “neutral” information that would disclose who is behind cash transactions and shell companies.  
“An important first step is to see whether or not we have a problem with large number of vacancies with high-rise or luxury properties,” she said.
In Canada, officials learned about their high vacancy rate by examining where little energy was being used. They’ve also relied on neighbors to tattle.
But Stiles, the reporter, said he doesn’t believe that Chinese buyers are the only reason the market is so hot.
“It’s simply incredibly strong demand,” he said. “This is the most robust, most dynamic market, both commercially and residentially, that I’ve seen in my many years of writing about real estate. It just keeps getting hotter.”
He doesn’t believe it will stay this way forever.
“When the music stops – and it will stop – prices will drop,” he said. “But because Seattle has reached the premier status among U.S. cities, the drop off won’t be as severe.” 









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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Few In King County Have Flood Insurance

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As the nation watches tropical storm Harvey devastate the U.S. Gulf Coast, officials in King County are taking note of the recovery efforts.
The county has multiple floodplain areas and is no stranger to floods. The lower Snoqualmie River swells into local farmlands most years. Flooding in the 1990s was strong enough to damage levees on the Tolt River and the Upper Snoqualmie.
King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn also chairs the county's Flood Control District.
Dunn: "We have some very significant reservoirs in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and a substantial number of river systems that run right through our populated areas. So we need to be prepared for major flooding. It's happened in the past, it can happen again."
Dunn is spearheading legislation to review the flood response plan and evacuation routes.
He says Kent, Renton and the greater Green River Valley are at particular risk if there's a major rain event.
Dunn: "That's the second largest industrial and manufacturing center on the West Coast of the United States. If we were to have a major flood, or a breach of the levee, you'd see what you're seeing in Houston, you'd see there [in the Green River Valley]. And so, that's one-eighth of the state's economy, we want to make sure we're protecting it as best we can."
Dunn encourages residents to buy flood insurance. A King County report from 2013 shows that 32,000 residents live in the path of a flood-plain. However, only about 7,000 households have flood insurance.
The National Flood Insurance Program helps homeowners obtain coverage. Washington's Insurance Commissioner, Mike Kreidler, is an advocate of the program and says it works thanks to federal subsidies. Kreidler says he wants Congress to keep funding it.
Kreidler: "They need to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. I've been very supportive in seeing that done, I think the federal government is trying to get away from that."
The federal program will expire Sept. 30 if it's not renewed.











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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Puget Sound Housing Market Hits New Summer Record


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Puget Sound housing market hits new summer sales record

“It’s been the best summer for sales activity, with June, July, and August clocking in a record number of transactions,” said Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “The other big stories are the high sales activity compared to new listings coming on the market, with pending sales activity virtually matching the number of new listings in August, and record low inventory.”
In Kirkland, homes continue to sell quickly, and oftentimes with multiple offers. New listings rose 8.5 percent compared to August 2016 and pending home sales increased 4.7 percent. That being said, overall inventory is down 17 percent from last year. In fact, as the summer market comes to a close and we head into fall, low inventory appears to be the new normal. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, last month was the lowest August on record for total active inventory. In King County listings are down almost 21 percent from August 2016; listings are also down 10.6 percent in Snohomish, 14.46 in Pierce, and 18.85 in Kitsap Counties.
“Houses are still selling in a short period of time,” said Mona Spencer, Office Leader of John L. Scott Eastside. “However, there are not as many multiple offers because of the expected seasonal shift due to vacations, back-to-school activities, and some buyer fatigue.”
Spencer goes on to say that the forecast is calling for smaller gains in price appreciation in the next year. Housing inventory in Kirkland still remains tight, which means that prices will still appreciate due to supply and demand.
“If you are buying in the Kirkland market in the near future and on into 2018, be prepared to compete with other buyers,” she said.
As we head into fall, September and October will see new listing inventory coming on the market drop by about 20 percent from the summer months, so the next two months will be the best opportunity for selection and availability for buyers to purchase a home, because starting November the number of new listings will drop another 30 percent over the winter.
Interest rates and job growth also play into the record-breaking summer; we’re experiencing the lowest rates since last November, and job growth remains very strong.
The luxury market continues to outpace last year’s market in a huge way, with 504 homes selling over one million dollars last month in King County compared to last year’s 332 homes, equating to a 51 perent increase in homes sold. A total of 24 uber luxury homes sold (priced above $3 million), compared to last year’s 14 homes, a 71 percent increase.”

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