Another “not so big” masterpiece

When we bought our first home in 2001 I was given the book “The Not So Big House” as a housewarming gift from one of my friends. I still have the book, even though I don’t still have that house. The book is great even for my new place, a nuevo Craftsman rowhome in High Point.

This weekend’s Pacific Northwest Magazine in the Seattle Times features an article about a new book in the collection “Not So Big Remodeling”.

A new book in the “Not So Big” series focuses on remodeling, showing ways to make a big impact with relatively inexpensive changes, while living sustainably. Many Seattle-area homes are featured.

I won’t be needing this book anytime soon, but you might! It sounds like a great handbook. Read Remodeling for Real People

Certified Green Homes Inspired by GE’s Ecomagination Program

According to Realty Times, a 2007 Energy Source report states that 86 percent of recent homebuyers said they would choose an energy-efficient home over one that was not energy-efficient.


Visit the GE ecomagination site for yourself. It’s got some whiz-bang cool features!

OBTW, Green Festivals resported the Seattle green fest had 33,000 visitors this year, a 10% increase over last year. That would explain why I got sick after spending two days hanging out with 33,000 people. There was bound to be someone with a bug! Great to see those numbers!

It’s not too late to join this pre-Earth Day tour of a Seattle Built Green community

I am honoring Earth Day by giving two very different tours of the High Point neighborhood in West Seattle.

One is for the dogs – at 3 PM I will be leading a group dog walk to the proposed area for an off-leash dog park in this community.

You probably will be more interested in the 11 AM tour of the Built Green features of this neighborhood and a tour of a couple of the homes for sale here.

I have lived in this community for almost two years and love giving group tours. Please join us – sign up online so I don’t ditch you in the parking lot.

What: Walking Tour of High Point (West Seattle)

When: April 18, 2009 11:00 AM

Get an up-close and personal look at the environmental aspects of this Built Green certified community. The tour includes exterior bio-features, and then we tour a few of the homes for sale based on vacancy and what people are interested in.

Learn more at Green Spaces RE meetup site!

First-time home buyers can plan for tax credit — even if they’ve yet to buy

I am working with a client who is a first time homebuyer in her 50s. I will definitely be forwarding this and the HomeSight information to her!!!

Many of this year’s first-time home buyers will get an extra perk: a tax credit of up to $8,000 that can be claimed on their 2008 taxes.

The option to claim the credit now instead of next year puts cash in the hands of eligible buyers soon after they’ve committed to one of the biggest purchases they’ll ever make.

See TaxWatch.

Lawn care done right can save you money, and help sell your home

Yesterday’s Real Estate Weekly (an email newsletter, sign up here) included an introductory article by Amy Hoak, a real estate writer with It is very appropriate for a green real estate blog, of course, to pass on this valuable information!

Her article is exactly what I preach! (I used to practice it, too, until I sold my home and moved to a lovely contemporary Craftsman townhome in High Point. 5 homes and 5 condominiums for sale today!)

A for-sale home with great curb appeal has an advantage over its competition: It makes a favorable first impression. For many, improving curb appeal starts with the lawn.

More than one-third of those surveyed in a recent Consumer Reports poll said they’d put more of an effort into their outdoor spaces this year, compared with last year, putting in extra work to entertain guests, or to make yards look at least as good as their neighbor’s yard.

“We found that homeowners should be prepared to dedicate an average of 6.5 hours per week working outdoors during growing season,” said Peter Sawchuk, project leader at Consumer Reports, in a news release. In its May issue, the magazine rates mowers and provides tips on how to save money and time while taking care of your lawn.

Here are the tips, according to Consumer Reports:
1) Fertilize less. Instead of stocking up on fertilizer, clear out yard debris and test the soil to find out the soil’s pH, missing nutrients, how much of each is needed, and when to apply them.
2) Maintain your mower. Oil changes, basic engine maintenance and sharp blades can reduce fuel costs by up to 25%.
3) Thicken your turf. Choose grass suited to your climate, soil conditions and lifestyle.
4) Mow less. Never cut more than one-third of the blade’s total height or it will weaken the roots. Mow less often as the weather heats up and grass growth slows.
5) Add compost. Adding a quarter-inch of top-dressing compost once or twice a year promotes a healthy turf and saves money by reducing need for fertilizer and water.
6) Mulch clippings. Mulching instead of bagging returns natural nutrients to soil, saving time, bags, and as much as 30% on fertilizing costs.
7) Be smart about watering. Water deeply and infrequently: 1 inch per week, although hot spells may require additional watering.
8) Improve sprinkler-system efficiency. Irrigation systems save on watering the lawn, but vary in efficiency. On existing sprinkler systems, install a rain sensor or a soil-moisture sensor so the lawn is only watered when the air or ground is dry.
9) Think beyond grass. Grass won’t grow everywhere, so consider shade-loving ground covers, ornamental grasses, and plants instead.
10) Do a weekly walk-around. Check the lawn once a week for stressed plants and turf, bare spots, compacted soil, and signs of too much watering.

Following these guidelines can trim an hour or more off of yard work each week — and save you money, too, according to Consumer Reports. For those trying to sell a home in this market, or those simply trying to reduce home-maintenance costs, it’s worth a shot.

First time homebuyer? Refinancing? You should know about HomeSight!

Another email chains its way to me…


South Seattle Community College Women’s Center with Special Guest, Rep. Eileen Cody, has partnered with HomeSight to present to you “An Introduction to Home Financing and Purchase Assistance: The HomeSight Program”

South Seattle Community College
6000 16th Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98106

Location: Olympic Hall, Room 206
Date: Wednesday, April 29th
Time: 6:00-7:30p.m

HomeSight offers one of the most comprehensive homeownership program in Washington State, including refinancing.

The HomeSight Program curriculum is designed for potential first time home buyers seeking basic to extensive knowledge of the purchase process. Homebuyer education classes are combined with financial assessment and coaching sessions where a HomeSight counselor and the potential buyer collaboratively create budget and homebuyer action plans. HomeSight works to tailor the education, counseling, and purchase assistance to ensure clients’ needs are met.

Click here to find out more about HomeSight Programs or call Nicole at 206-760-4244.

Cosponsored by: White Center Community Development Association
For more information, contact Patricia Julio at the White Center Community Development Association
P: 206.708.8762 F: 206.658-8344

Heads-up! Some cool classes courtesy of Seattle Tilth

Fresh out of my email Inbox courtesy of the P-Patch listserv!

The Eco Design class series is focusing on landscape design that teaches how people can design their own yards and community spaces to protect the environment and enhance natural systems. The first one is coming up on April 20, Intro to Eco Design: Conserving Resources.

During that class, students will have hands-on opportunities to build a rainwater garden in conjunction with Stewardship Partners, and also to work on the green roof on our greenhouse, and check out our water catchment system including rainbarrels and swales.

Permaculture Design Course with guest teacher Toby Hemenway. Permaculture uses ecological principles to create sustainable human communities that are harmoniously woven into the environment and that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. This class is an intensive educational experience and a certificate program – two full days each month for six months.

Seattle Tilth provides all sorts of education and experience to create healthy landscapes and protect waterways, including……
the Children’s Garden to get ‘em while they’re young,
The Garden Hotline for info and referrals,
the Master Composter program providing education about composting and healthy soil to neighborhoods all over Seattle,
and the Demonstration Gardens in north and south Seattle and also on the Eastside.

For more information, contact:
Liza Burke, Outreach & Development Coordinator
Seattle Tilth Association
4649 Sunnyside Ave North, Room 120
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 633-0451 ext. 103 or

FREE Greatest Hits Tours: Chart Toppers and Heart-Stoppers

When: Saturdays, April 18th and April 25th – 10 or 10:30am both days
Where: Rainier Square Atrium, Third Level

Registration required
Sponsored by Seattle Architecture Foundation

Each year a new class of tour guides leads a practice tour as part of their training. This year 40 new guide trainees will conduct the Greatest Hits: Chart Toppers and Heart-Stoppers tour. The tour focuses on the construction, context and culture which shaped our skyline, from golden oldies like the Rainier Club to popular favorites like the Central Library.

The only cost to participants is to complete a brief evaluation of their guides at the end of the tour. Space is limited and advanced registration is required.

WSB post about new off leash area for dogs in High Point spins off-kilter to real estate and neighborhood

The folks at the West Seattle Blog were kind enough to help me recruit “fresh blood” into The High Point K9 Club interested in helping build an off-leash area in High Point, a Built Green Certified Community in West Seattle.

This great call to action stirred great supporting comments on Facebook and Twitter, and even two comments as a follow-up to the actual post on WSB. But invariably there is always someone who chooses to make negative remarks unrelated to the original post (“Comment by A Highpoint Owner — April 7, 09 2:20 pm”). High Point seems to be the ugly step-child everyone loves to pick on.

Personally I think a lot of people are jealous. They wish they could live here. Many of them actually could (referring to SHA housing – many of the homes are available for rent at market rates – the rental office is located at 35th Ave SW and SW Holly, call 206-932-2736). All of the homes in High Point are new, beautiful, green and of smart design. There are pocket parks on almost every block, huge trees and plants everywhere, a super waterfall and pond with a 1/4 mile trail around it, a 4+ acre “Commons Park” with a new p-patch, cool “viewing mound” with a spiraling trail up it, and an outdoor ampitheater with art designed by people living in the community.

I could go on all day about the great things in this neighborhood. I was so impressed with it I moved here myself, with my husband, in July of 2007. For the 4 months we had to wait for our home that was under construction to be completed I would come to High Point to walk my dog. It was that much safer than my former neighborhood of Puget Ridge, where there are no sidewalks, people let their dogs run off leash and harass people, and sparsely spaced street lights.

So in response to this anonymous High Point homeowner who hates where s/he lives, I say this:

As for High Point property values, the “social experiment”, foreclosures and ALL of that OTHER STUFF people worry about – I am a home owner in Phase 1 AND I am a real estate agent. I did not take my purchase in this community lightly. I bought with the intent to hold for ten years. Real estate is not a short term investment (altho for some people they thought it could be and now they are stuck.)

Currently FOR SALE are 5 homes and 5 condominiums. 2 of the 5 homes for sale NEVER sold and are still owned by the builder, only 3 are resales. Obviously over-priced and they got caught in the downturn like everyone else.

SOLD since June 1, 2008 – when many of us consider the real estate crash really set in – are 10 homes, 0 condos. Only ONE home was a short sale (pre-foreclosure), NONE of the homes currently offered for sale are foreclosures. And whoever bought the short sale townhome got a 1 year old $425k townhome for $360k. Frankly I was jealous because that is a great price.

NOTE: In real estate short sales/auctioned/REO properties are not considered when trying to determine market value of a home being willingly sold by an owner. Also: you aren’t entitled to making a profit off your home. It’s called market forces and the world revolves around them.

I hate hijacking a post like that (I don’t think WSB will let my rant through anyway, so I am using my own pulpit) – but for those of us who love living in High Point and believe it is a rich and fulfilling community worthy of our efforts and volunteer time I am speaking out because I am sick of hearing people who dis the ‘hood. The crime rates are statistically lower here than anywhere in West Seattle (High Point is a dense neighborhood). I’ve lived in West Seattle for almost 13 years and watched the Phase 1 High Point redevelopment process from beginning to end and I am PROUD to call it home.

Maybe residents who complain about it should do something about it. There are a ton of options, let’s start with three:

1) Volunteer on one of the many associations

2) Join a dog walk/litter pickup group of neighbors (Saturday, 4/11 10 AM, meet at the Redwood High Point kiosk)

3) Volunteer to tutor some kids and help them with their homework.

I do ALL OF THESE THINGS, plus other activities outside of the neighborhood that interest me. You have to be invested in your community to value it. Until you do, you won’t. I challenge you to do something to improve this neighborhood – it just might improve your attitude right along with it.

Top 10 Home Buying Tips For Short Sales – A Guide To Understanding Short Sale Foreclosure Real Estate

I’ve been boning up on the best ways to negotiate and manage a SS transaction. I also am signed up to do BPOs, although you have to be quick on the button since a lot of agents are doing them these days (I haven’t actually go to do one yet, I am always getting beat out for the assignment).

Here is something from Today’s Realty Times that I thought you should read:

Modern homebuyers will inevitably come across one or more properties currently classified as a short sale. A short sale is an attempt by the current owner to sell a home in lieu of the bank taking it back through foreclosure proceedings, thus partially salvaging their credit rating and lifting the burden of heavy mortgage debt. This is what they should know.

Read Top 10 Home Buying Tips For Short Sales – A Guide To Understanding Short Sale Foreclosure Real Estate