Mission: Sustainable ~ Reality TV in Seattle

Just picked up word of this over Twitter from the neighborhood groups around my office I am following. This sounds like a great opportunity for some great education of your friends and family!

Mission: Sustainable
Real People. Real Makeovers. Real Impact.

Think Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and What Not to Wear for green lifestyles and you’ve got Mission: Sustainable. Prepare to witness the transformation of ordinary citizens who grasp their impact on the planet.

Each show will feature a new individual who has been nominated by friends and family for a sustainability makeover. Depending on the nominee’s lifestyle, three consultants will be chosen from our list of green experts to perform a makeover customized to the individual’s needs, desires, and walk of life.

Our green experts support the changes they propose with hard facts, measurable cost savings, and documented improvements to mind and body; these benefits will be verified by credible scientists, doctors, and financial experts.

Grab some organic popcorn, invite friends and family over, and watch how individual changes add up to a world of difference.

Read more about ReGeneration Productions, which has some really neat philosophies. Or you can nominate someone for a sustainability makeover.

Everyone Wants a Lower Price, But What About the Impact of Interest Rates?

I’ve been referring and working with Steve since 2006. He has many very happy clients, including myself!

Guest Blogger, Stephen Hochhalter, of Sound Mortgage

When shopping for a home, the natural tendency of any buyer is to want to pay the lowest price possible. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the sales price is not the only factor that determines what the monthly payment will be. In fact, the impact of higher interest rates can easily nullify any benefit of waiting for a lower price.

Why Should I Rush to Buy?
While you may have heard discussions in the media about the decline of property values in many markets, the rate of decline appears to be stabilizing. That being said, it would not be unreasonable for buyers to want to hold out for an additional decline of 10%, hoping to capture the best possible price. However, as property values have declined in many areas to 2003 levels or lower, waiting longer to pull the trigger could be a mistake. Many markets are reporting that lower property values have been bringing out investors and the result has been multiple offers on many properties. Properties priced correctly are not declining and, in fact, are creating a lot of interest.

Interest Rate Complacency
The problem is that many home buyers have been lulled into a sense of complacency because of extremely low interest rates. Since the Federal Reserve initiated its program of buying mortgage-backed securities, which control the rates people pay for their home loans, rates had been range bound, bouncing between 4.50% to 5.00% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan. But buyers shouldn’t be confused by this. These rates are artificially low! Historically, interest rates have been above 6.00%. And any rate obtained below this number is a great deal, especially on homes with price tags from 2003!

Markets are Unforgiving
The last two weeks of May showed just how unforgiving the markets can be for people who choose to procrastinate. In just five days, interest rates from many lenders increased anywhere from .50% to 1.00% as fixed-income investors demanded more for their money. For anyone who was waiting for prices to drop even more, a 1.00% increase in interest rate would bring a higher monthly principal and interest payment on a home, even if the price of that same home had fallen an additional 10% in value. If a buyer is waiting for prices to fall even lower, be aware that while holding out for a lower price may help win the battle, they could lose the war in terms of monthly payments and overall affordability. With the Federal Reserve scheduled to end its buying of mortgage-backed securities this year, rates only stand to go higher for those that wait. In fact, interest rates are already on the rise and could go higher from here.

Clock is Ticking on Free Money
If someone is planning on purchasing their first home this year, they need to take possession before 12/01/2009 to be eligible for a tax credit of up to $8,000. In a survey conducted in March by Move.com, nearly 50% of home buyers are currently unaware that this free money exists in the marketplace. And since over 50% of all buyers are first-timers in today’s market, this could impact a lot of buyers.

If you have questions about this update, give Wendy or myself a call. We can show you how waiting for the lowest price could really cost you more in the long run.

Stephen Hochhalter
Sound Mortgage

San Francisco, Portland and Seattle Consider Green Districts

The notably progressive major metropolitan centers of the American northwest (San Francisco, Portland and Seattle) all have drawn up plans to green over central parts of their cities. Moving beyond the concept of isolated LEED certified buildings, these cities are planning to maximize sustainability initiatives by introducing ways that adjacent buildings can use collaborative green technologies to become more efficient.

Read San Francisco, Portland and Seattle Consider Green Districts