Amazing Real Estate Tips, Trends & Ideas

Amazing Real Estate Tips, Trends & Ideas for the Greater Seattle market: Local real estate news in the Greater Seattle market: Home prices and trends in Seattle, on the Eastside, and across the Puget Sound region. By Dave McFarland, Broker with RSVP Real Estate.

Sept. 8, 2017

Fannie Mae - Provides for an increase in your HOME BUYING power

Do you know that a huge amount of new mortgages go through either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting systems. 

This helps create conformity in the mortgage market so mortgages can be transferred to Fannie/Freddie, bundled into mortgage backed securities and then sold on the open bond market.  Recently Fannie Mae updated their system to allow a couple of important changes. 

They include:

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio allowed goes up to 50%
  • On a buyer making $4000/month that’s a $200 increase in allowable payment.  THAT’s a BIG DEAL as it equates to about a $40,000 increase in purchase price.
  • Loan-to-value (LTV) on ARMS increased to 95% - this is what is currently allowed on fixed rate mortgages.
  • Typically self-employed borrowers are required to provide a two year history of tax returns.  They’ve loosened the guidelines so that a one year tax return finding comes back.  While they don’t specify what the magic pill is for getting the one year funding, a 5 year business history probably will be one of the requirements.
  • Some disputed accounts on the borrower’s credit report may ignored.  This helps as lenders historically have had to get borrowers to jump through hoops to remove or resolve them before qualifying for the loan.

Need a loan?  We’ve got some trusted lenders we work with.  Let us know how we can help!



Aug. 17, 2017

Getting a Loan AFTER An Extended Absence From Work

Got hurt on the job?  Took time off for personal reasons?  Just because you have only been back to work a short time, say for 6 months, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a home.  Here’s how the requirements work.


Conventional Loans

You are not required to be back on the job for a certain time after an extended gap of employment.

Underwriters will need to determine that your income is stable, predictable and likely to continue based on the documentation you have provided.

A letter explaining the circumstances for the job gap may be required.



A borrower re-entering the workforce with an employment gap of at least six months must be employed for a minimum of 6 months before income can be considered for qualifying purposes. The underwriter must verify a 2 year history prior to the gap.  




A borrower re-entering the workforce with an employment gap greater than six months typically needs to be employed for a minimum of 6 months before income can be considered for qualifying purposes. A borrower with variable income or hours may require even greater than 6 months of employment for the underwriter to reasonably determine income is stable, predictable, and likely to continue.


Let me know if you have questions on this or other lending issues.


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March 31, 2017

How Does Living Near a Light Rail Station Affect The Value of Your Home?

People ask all the time “How will the new transit system and loading stations affect the price of my home?”  In a recent report, it was determined that it can increase the price of a home by an average of $2,040, or 0.6 percent!

Homes with great transit access are really rare in U.S. cities. Less than one percent of homes that are listed for sale today are considered to be in a rider’s paradise (Transit Score of 90 and above). Yet in a survey of more than 1,300 people who bought a home last year, more than one in five said they wish they had paid more attention to the length of their commute from their new homes.

To estimate how much transit access is worth when buying or selling a home, the report looked at the sale prices and Transit Score ratings of more than one million homes sold between January 2014 and April 2016 across 14 major metro areas.

Here are the price premiums of one point of Transit Score on a home, grouped by metro area.

On average, across the 14 metros analyzed, one Transit Score point can increase the price of a home by $2,040. But it really varies widely from area to area.

It’s easy to see a value premium for a home located near one of the main commuter lines in the metro area because walkability and access to public transportation are relatively rare. 

Seattle is known for its traffic, so more and more homebuyers want to be closer to a light rail station or bus line for commuting to and from work.

Some people even commute from the suburbs to park near a transit line to get into the downtown area because it is easier than driving.  Homes near the proposed Lynnwood–Bellevue Express, the Everett/Lynnwood–Seattle Express  or the Everett–Seattle Express transit centers could see a real uptick in home values.

Transit is an important building block to economic mobility.  The more that cities invest in good transit the bigger financial impact for homeowners and the better access families of all incomes have to jobs and public amenities. Transit is an economic win-win for communities.

Want to see how a light rail transit center affects the value of your property?  Looking for a home near light rail centers?  Click here.  Or just call Dave directly at 425-330-0663 or shoot him and email at if you have questions.



March 30, 2017

How Your Neighbor’s Airbnb Rental Can Affect Your Home Value

If you’ve done any amount of travel recently, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Airbnb, a service where you can rent a room, an apartment or even an entire house from someone who lives in the area you’re visiting. It’s a growing trend among vacationers looking for either inexpensive accommodations or more amenities than a hotel can offer. It’s also very popular when big events come to town, like the Super Bowl in Houston or Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

According to DMR, there are an estimated 2.3 million properties listed on Airbnb across 57,000 cities and 191 countries. I was surprised to learn that in my small suburb, 1.5% of the housing market calls itself an Airbnb rental.

What makes Airbnb different than other rentals? This type of service is also known as a “short-term rental” or STR. Originally, customers who used the service would rent a room or space in an owner or renter occupied dwelling, so it was common to have to share the space with the residents. The trend now, however, is away from such shared spaces. In many cases, individuals are now purchasing single-family or multifamily units to turn them into STRs.

The Washington Post recently reported that STRs are of increasing concern to homeowners, real estate agents, local communities, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). According to a spokesman for NAR, the organization hasn’t taken a position on either side of the argument. After all, someone is still buying and selling these properties, whether they’re primarily owner-occupied, vacation homes, second homes or investment homes.

So we asked ourselves, do STRs have an effect on properties in their neighborhood? And what’s the impact if you’re trying to sell your home and an Airbnb rental is next door?

It depends.

PRO?  STRs like Airbnb help struggling homeowners and protect a community’s character.

According to a Cornell University Case Study, the ability to rent one’s property?—?even in the short-term?—?may be a tremendous financial aid to struggling homeowners. It can help to avoid or at least mitigate instances of blight due to disrepair, distressed sales at below-market-rate sales prices, and even foreclosures. The case study concludes that allowing owners to home share can protect a community’s character and property values.

PRO?  Homes could sell for more money.

In areas where STRs are accepted or encouraged, and neighbors aren’t hostile to it, a home with “rentable” features might actually sell for more money, according to some realtors.

PRO?  Vacation home sales are increasing.

Craig Kalkut, Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said there’s evidence that vacation-home sales are going up because STR platforms have become an accepted way to book a vacation.

CON?  Party house stigma.

Trying to sell your home, but your neighbor is renting a “party house?” This could have a negative impact. And although Airbnb reports that the majority of their renters are respectful travelers, thanks to, we know these party houses do exist.

CON?  Revolving door of strangers.

You never know who your neighbors could be, and that’s a classic fear for homebuyers, especially for families with young children. A growing concern, Airbnb recently released an online feature where neighbors can now report annoyances such as safety, noise, cleanliness, parking and even suspicious criminal activity.

CON?  Neighboring homes could take longer to sell.

Although we couldn’t find evidence of this, many realtors feel that a single-family home or condo unit next door to a

STR?  Where the occupants change every few days?  Will take longer to sell and bring in lower offers.

It’s easy to see how the real estate industry is caught in the middle of a fight between those who oppose STRs and the property owners and companies promoting them.

According to a recent article in Realtor Magazine, in the future, real estate agents could be required to disclose to a seller or long-term renter the existence of a nearby STR. In fact, the California Association of REALTORS® may soon ask its Forms Committee to add a question to the Seller’s Property Questionnaire: “Is your home across from or nCext door to a short-term rental?”

Given the new nature of these rentals and occupancy issues, it may vary greatly from one neighborhood to another whether a STR like Airbnb can help or hurt a neighborhood or a particular development.

When buying a home you can never have too much information. Contact Dave McFarland at 425-330-0663 to and know before you buy!

March 3, 2017

Q & A: When Does The Clock Start Ticking?


Q & A:  When Does The Clock Start Ticking?



Jan. 19, 2017

Local Market Update - Woodinville 98072


Jan. 13, 2017

Prices Rose 7.1% Year-Over-Year

Some Highlights:

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index shows that prices rose by 7.1% across the United States year-over-year.

With mortgage interest rates rising in the short term, CoreLogic believes price appreciation will slow to 4.7% by this time next year.

49 out of 50 states, and the District of Columbia, all had positive appreciation over the last 12 months, with the only exception being the state of Connecticut, which experienced a -0.5% appreciation.


Dec. 15, 2016

The Fed Just Raised Rates. What's It Mean to You?

The Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) controls the Fed Funds Rate and the Discount Rate. These are overnight loans from bank to bank or from the Fed to member banks. The Fed adjusts the rate to influence the economy. For example, if things are going well, a rate increase may slow inflation. If the economy is struggling, a rate drop could be the boost it needs.

Two important things to remember:

- The Fed can influence, but does not directly set, consumer rates.

- The Fed's rates are short term and often do not impact longer term rates, such as mortgage loans.

Why all the fuss?

Increases in the Fed Funds rate can cause banks to raise their “prime” rates, which are often used to calculate costs of revolving credit or home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

What about mortgages?

Mortgage loans are a different animal, so to speak. The "agencies" (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) pool them together and sell them as mortgage bonds. The amount investors pay for these bonds directly influences mortgage rates.

Bottom Line:

When the Fed moves, it generally provides lots of warning, and markets have already had a chance to react. Markets are constantly responding to other factors as well, from the stock market to global events to consumer spending. In the end, no one can say for certain what the reaction to Fed moves will be.

Dec. 2, 2016

Real Estate Market Report - Bothell/Mill Creek 98012

Here is our fast real estate Market Snapshot. This information is for Mill Creek (Zip Code 98012), but particular neighborhoods may be significantly different.  Please contact us for a detailed Market Report for your home value and on your neighborhood.  Even if you're not looking to buy or sell a property anytime soon, it’s always a good idea to stay informed.

KIRKLAND, Washington (Dec. 5, 2016) - Pending sales of homes hit an all-time high for the month of November according to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report covering 23 counties around Washington state also shows the number of new listings added during the month plunged to the lowest level in 11 months, prompting MLS leaders to predict a busy winter for residential real estate as buyers compete for the smallest inventory since March.






Give us a call or send us an email if you'd like more detailed information on your neighborhood, what your home's value is today, or to receive automatic emails when new listings go live in your neighborhood.

Nov. 3, 2016

Market Snapshot - Everett/Mukilteo

Here is another quickie update for the Everett/Mukilteo real estate market. Please contact us for a report on your house and neighborhood if you're thinking of buying or selling.

This area covers MLS area 740 which includes the following neighborhoods:

Alderwood   -   Edmonds   -   Everett   -   Mukilteo


 This house sold for 99.3% of list prince and only took 6 days to sell.  

New paint, new flooring throughout! Beautiful 3 bed/2.5 bath townhome. End unit, lots of light. In floor radiant heat throughout home. Large master bedroom with vaulted ceiling. Master bath has two sinks ample counter space. Kitchen with breakfast bar and walk-in pantry. Huge family room w/natural gas fireplace. Laundry room upper level (bedrooms), washer and dryer stay! Unusual garage on lower level, space for shop/storage! Deck off dining room overlooks greenbelt. Move in ready. Pet friendly!



Your neighborhood may be way different.  Please contact us for our insanely informative report for any neighborhood if you're thinking of buying or selling.