Washington Real Estate and Community News

May 15, 2024

Stir It Up!: Simmering in the World of Blended Interest Rates

In our latest podcast episode, we had the pleasure of hosting Gary Kawano, of Success Lending and a seasoned professional with thirty years of experience in the mortgage industry. Gary's wealth of knowledge in financial planning, especially when it comes to the intricacies of managing mortgages for those looking to downsize their living spaces, proved to be invaluable. The primary focus of our discussion revolved around the concept of blended interest rates—a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of financial health for downsizers.

Gary explained that a blended interest rate is a comprehensive measure that considers all of one's financial obligations, not just the mortgage. It is a more accurate representation of one's overall financial burden. This is particularly important for individuals who are contemplating selling their larger homes to move into smaller ones, often during their retirement years. He stressed the importance of taking into account not just the mortgage rates which may be attractively low but also the rates on other debts like credit cards, car loans, and home equity lines of credit, which can significantly impact one's financial standing.

One of the key takeaways from our conversation with Gary was the importance of evaluating your financial health regularly. He recommended that homeowners assess their blended interest rates at least annually, as this can provide insights into the true cost of their debt. It helps homeowners understand whether they are making the best use of their finances, not just from a cost perspective but also considering cash flow needs. Gary pointed out that the 'smartest' financial decision might not always be feasible due to real-life cash flow requirements, thus a balance between the two needs to be struck.

Another crucial topic we touched on was the broader housing market trends and how they affect personal financial decisions. The conversation made it clear that understanding these trends, including fluctuations in interest rates and home prices, is essential for homeowners, especially those looking to downsize. Gary shared client stories that illustrated how some individuals were able to improve their financial health and cash flow by downsizing, even in a market with higher interest rates, thanks to the elimination of higher-interest debts.

The episode wasn't just about theoretical knowledge; it also provided actionable advice and resources for listeners. A spreadsheet created by Gary for calculating blended interest rates was mentioned, which would be linked with the podcast for listeners to use. This tool can empower homeowners to make more informed decisions about their financial futures.

In conclusion, our enlightening discussion with Gary Kawano shed light on the importance of considering a wide array of financial factors when downsizing. His expertise highlighted that the decision to downsize is not only a matter of mortgage rates but a complex interplay of various financial obligations that can affect one's overall economic well-being. Listeners were encouraged to consider their financial health holistically, utilizing tools like blended interest rate calculations to make educated decisions that align with their personal and financial goals.

For anyone grappling with the decision to downsize or manage personal debt more effectively, this podcast episode is an invaluable resource that could indeed be the catalyst for a smarter, more secure financial future.

Gary Kawano   Success Lending

Producing Area Manager NMLS #455499
Direct:  (760) 809-1597
Mobile:  (760) 809-1597
Licensed In:  AZ, CA, CO, FL, TN, TX, WA

Check out our youtube version: 

Posted in Selling Your Home
May 8, 2024

From Title to Tranquility: Safeguarding Your Real Estate Investments with Jane Boyle

When it comes to protecting your real estate investment, title insurance stands as a critical, yet often overlooked, component. Jayne Boyle, a seasoned expert from Stewart Title, recently shed light on this essential topic during an episode of the "Getting Your Edge" podcast. Her insights offer homeowners, especially those considering downsizing, a wealth of knowledge to navigate the complexities of real estate transactions with confidence.

Title insurance, as explained by Boyle, serves as a safety net, ensuring that the ownership of a property is clear from any past issues. This one-time payment for lifelong security is a game-changer for anyone involved in the real estate market. Unlike recurring insurance premiums, title insurance requires just a single payment at the closing of a property transaction, providing coverage for as long as you own the home. This unique aspect of title insurance offers buyers and sellers unparalleled protection against potential legal disputes over property ownership.

Boyle emphasizes the importance of understanding the difference between title and escrow. Title insurance protects against past property ownership issues, while escrow acts as a neutral third party to facilitate a smooth transaction. As a homeowner, you may encounter unforeseen complications, such as claims from previous owners or undisclosed liens. Title insurance serves as your defensive shield against such financial and legal headaches.

The discussion further delves into the intricacies of closing costs and the proactive measures taken by title officers. These professionals perform thorough title searches to uncover any encumbrances, such as child support liens or tax liens, and work diligently to resolve them. Their role is crucial in ensuring that property details are accurate and that any easements or rights affecting the property are identified and addressed appropriately.

In addition to safeguarding against past issues, title insurance plays a pivotal role in protecting homeowners from fraud and clerical errors. Boyle shares an alarming story of a clerical mistake that could have led to a homeowner's catastrophe. She explains how title insurance comes to the rescue, offering continuous protection even after a mortgage is cleared. This level of security is invaluable, particularly in combating title theft and other fraudulent activities that can threaten homeownership.

For families dealing with property transfers, such as through quitclaim deeds, title insurance becomes even more critical. Boyle reassures listeners that while such transfers can invalidate existing policies, it's a solvable issue. Her expertise highlights the need for professional guidance in securing or reinstating title insurance to ensure the safe transfer of property ownership among family members.

To sum up, Jayne Boyle's appearance on the podcast is not only enlightening but also serves as a call to action for homeowners to recognize the hidden superpower of title insurance. It is a testament to the peace of mind and security it can provide in the often tumultuous realm of real estate transactions. Whether you're downsizing or just stepping into the world of property ownership, understanding the nuances of title insurance is essential for safeguarding your investment and legacy.

Posted in Community News
April 6, 2024

Safeguarding Our Seniors: A Battle Plan Against Elder Scams with Kaitlin Cooke

Ep. 38 Scams Blog ImageWith the growing concern of financial exploitation targeting the elderly, our latest podcast episode couldn't be timelier.

Featuring Kaitlin Cooke, a former federal prosecutor with a specialization in elder justice, we delve into the intricacies of elder scams and offer strategic measures for protection. This blog post aims to extend that discussion, focusing on the multifaceted approach needed to combat these crimes effectively.

Elder scams have become a disturbing trend, with financial predators seeing seniors as easy targets due to a combination of factors, including a shift in demographics known as the "silver wave," and natural age-related changes in cognitive functions. This makes the elderly particularly susceptible to a range of deceptive tactics, from government imposter scams to fraudulent tech support offers.

Cooke explains that understanding these risks is the first step in prevention. By raising awareness, we can foster a community that's both vigilant and empathetic, a crucial balance when dealing with potential victims. It's essential to create an environment where the elderly feel safe and supported, especially when they might be dealing with the emotional fallout from being defrauded.

The podcast highlights that scam awareness isn't just about recognizing the danger signs but also about understanding the psychological impact these crimes have on victims. Often, elder scam victims experience a profound sense of betrayal and embarrassment, which can lead to underreporting. It is here that Cooke emphasizes the importance of reporting such crimes to the authorities, which can not only help in prosecuting the scammers but also prevent future scams from taking place.

Families and caregivers play a pivotal role in this context. Recognizing the signs that an elder may be involved in a scam is critical. Sudden changes in financial behavior, unexplained withdrawals, and the emergence of a new, influential 'friend' can all be red flags. Additionally, we must consider the potential dangers of giving someone power of attorney without proper oversight, as well as the risks that come with digital accessibility for seniors.

Cooke also draws attention to the available resources that can aid in the prevention of elder financial exploitation. From the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act to the educational initiatives by AARP, these resources serve as valuable tools for both scam awareness and victim support. It's vital to emphasize that prevention is more effective than attempting to recover lost funds, especially when international scams are involved.

In the digital realm, the episode explores how international call center scams, often based in countries like India, prey on the trusting nature of seniors. The complexity and reach of these operations make recovery of funds challenging, with victims rarely getting their money back once it has been transferred overseas. The emotional toll on the victims is significant, and the podcast offers advice on how to approach them with understanding and compassion.

As the episode concludes, we are reminded of the long-term financial implications for scam victims, including potential tax liabilities on withdrawn retirement savings. It's a sobering reminder of the sophistication of these scams and the absence of protective measures like 'scam insurance'.

To encapsulate the essence of this podcast episode: vigilance, education, and empathy are the pillars of protecting our seniors from financial scams. The onus is on us to arm ourselves and our communities with knowledge and resources to fortify the vulnerable against these threats. Let this blog post be a stepping stone to greater awareness and proactive defense against elder scams.

Posted in Community News
April 3, 2024

Eight Surprising Household Tips

Eight Surprising Household Hints Using Everyday Items by Barbara Pronin

Home store shelves are full of goop and gadgets for cleaning or fixing just about anything. But, says Julie Edelman, better known to readers and viewers as The Accidental Housewife, you can save a lot of money by cleaning and fixing things with the goop and gadgets you already have at home.

Edelman offers specific tips in a recent issue of Bottom Line Personal:

Polish glass and faucets with newspaper – Newsprint ink is a wonderful polishing agent, so crumple a piece of newspaper and rub.

Shine shoes and plants with banana peels – The inner peel contains oil and potassium, two of the key ingredients in shoe polish. Wipe shoes or plant leaves with the inside of the peel, then buff with a soft, clean cloth.

Clean the dishwasher with Kool-Aid – Fill the dispenser with lemonade Kool-Aid or any powdered drink mix that contains citric acid. Run the dishwasher through a full normal cycle to wash away gunk, lime or rust stains, and odors.

Quiet a squeaky door with cucumber – Rub a slice of cucumber all around the hinge. Wipe away any residue and enjoy the quiet.

Mend minor cracks in china with milk – Milk contains casein, a protein that, when heated, turns into natural, plastic-like glue. Place the cracked plate in a pot large enough to cover it with milk. Bring the milk to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Let the milk cool. Rinse the plate. The crack should be sealed.

Repel ants and roaches with citrus rinds – Bugs hate the oil that is found naturally in citrus rinds. Place pieces of orange or lemon rind in door or window openings or wherever bugs are prone to enter. Replace every few days.

Clean a toilet bowl with Alka Seltzer – Drop two of the tablets, or a couple of Polident effervescent tablets, into the bowl. Let them fizz and remain for 15-20 minutes. Clean with a toilet brush and flush.

Fix a small wood scratch with walnuts – Gently rub the walnut meat, with a circular motion, into small scratches on your dark wood furniture. Let the natural oil seep in for up to10 minutes, then buff with a clean cloth.

Judy Gratton Your Real Estate Edge  with the Edge Group Team and EXP Realty

Posted in Community News
Dec. 13, 2023

Moving with Pets

Moving with Pets

Americans love our pets. 86 million households in the U.S. have at least one pet. But, both moving your pet, and moving with a pet are challenging. Many pets don't respond well to a move. And managing the moving of your pet, can be daunting. Here's a few tips to minimize the stress for your pet(s) and yourself. 

Make sure your pet has a well fitting collar with your current mobile phone number on it.  Microchipping is also an excellent idea.

Does your pet get car sick?  Visit the vet for medication well in advance of any travel to help and discuss feeding  ideas. 

For long distance moves where you will be spending the night in hotels identify “pet friendly” hotels in advance.  Here are some links to help you find them: www.petswelcome.com or www.pet-friendly-hotels.net.

On the day of moving make sure your pet is secured in a crate (preferably) or a room with the door closed well in advance of the start of the move.  The noise and commotion is very upsetting and will cause your pet to become nervous. The last thing you want is for your beloved pet to dart out the door and run away!

Always transport small dogs, and cats in a well-ventilated pet carrier.  Always keep larger dogs on a leash.  Make sure that your animals have access to water frequently, and never leave them locked up in cars with all the windows rolled up tightly.  Do not place carrier on top of cars, or in trunks.  Do not allow dogs to ride on flat bed truck or in truck beds without being secured.  Dogs should have a safety harness when traveling just like a person attached to a seat belt to prevent them from being hurt in an accident or accidently getting loose when you open the door. 

For long distance moves in the car make sure they get plenty of potty breaks. 

Once at the new home, walk them around the house and the yard.  Place some of their favorite items somewhere in a safe room.  Make sure they are secure for the unpacking, just like you did for the packing.  Be aware of their presence around open doors for sometime until they get used to their new environment.  

Finally, give them lots of love, attention, and walks around their new neighborhood, if that applies to your family.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Oct. 30, 2023


Curious about staging a home? Tanya Howard the Founder and Interior Designer/ Stager with “The Final Piece” gives us some simple ideas to clean up, brighten up, and bring your home up in $$$ when selling.


Posted in Selling Your Home
July 31, 2017

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates