Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Newcomers in King County

According to a recent article in the Seattle Times, the population in King County now compromises more out of town residents than native Washingtonians. Am I surprised? Well no I don't think so. We have seen a large influx of people moving to Seattle and the outlaying areas because they have landed jobs in the tech industry. I recently read that tech jobs here pay approximately $10 more per hour than in other areas. While this has been great for the local economy it has also had an impact on those of us who live here. The biggest impact has been in affordable housing. People are moving farther out into the suburbs and even leaving the city and the state. Although this movement has not been going on long enough to call it a trend, we do expect that it will continue as Seattle continues to grow and the tech industry remains strong. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Should I Sell or Rent My Home?

I just read an article about girlfriends although this could apply to boyfriends as well. You've got one but then you spot another one that's better and you want to move on. Well owning a home is like that. You're fine living in one and then you see a new one in your neighborhood, or spot an open house and fall in love with the location, the house, the neighborhood and more. So now what do you do? You've made an offer on the new one and it's been accepted so now you need to decide what to do with the one you're currently living in. Well there are five things that you should consider when you're making your decision.
1. Will this property generate positive cash flow?  When it's rented out and you deduct all the expenses such as mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, vacancy, repairs etc. will the property produce a monthly profit or will there be a loss?
2. What about ROI or return on investment? How much profit would you make if you sold this home today. If it's not much it might be better to hold on to it for a period of time. Especially if there is a positive cash flow. If you would make a profit by selling and could make $100,000 in profit and your making only $1000.00 per year in cash flow that's a 1% return on your investment. Could you take that $100,000 and invest it some place else for a higher return?
3. And then lets talk about taxes. Usually when you sell a  home for a profit you will need to pay capital gains tax on the sale of potentially up to 20% depending on your tax bracket. However, the IRS allows homeowners to exclude the sale of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if married filing jointly) of a primary residence if you lived in the home for at least two of the last five years. So when you sell the home in the future you may have to pay capital gains taxes but if you sell now, you will be able to save the profit. There are no guarantees however as to what the home will be worth in five or ten years. You will want to check with your CPA for financial advice.
4. What does the future look like? What will your neighborhood look like in the future. Is there  potential growth? Are there services coming into the area and is the current trend leaning toward growth?
5. Don't forget the tenants. Can you handle tenants? Some tenants are easy to work with but don't forget the party animals, the hoarders and more. You can manage the property yourself or you can hire a management firm but there will be a fee involved. 

So should you buy or sell? This is your own personal decision after weighing all the options. You will have t0 decide if renting or owning is in your financial future. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Art in Seattle

Art in Seattle is an ongoing adventure. I am fortunate to live in a city that values all kinds of art and has many art venues. This month I'm interested in an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum of a collection of  clothing by the designer Yves Saint Laurent. This exhibit runs from October 11th - January 8th and will highlight this iconic fashion designers 44 year career.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Kitchen Cabinets

If you think you'd like to do a kitchen upgrade that's really noticeable and fresh looking, consider making a change to your cabinets. There are several things that you can do for an updated look.

Paint - You can change the color of the cabinets so that  it creates the illusion of new cabinets. A lighter color will make the entire kitchen look brighter and more spacious.

Refinish or re-laminate - If you like the natural look, you can sand and varnish the cabinets to make the kitchen look warm and inviting. If the cabinets are laminated, they can be covered with wood or vinyl veneers.

Create open shelving - Remove the cabinet doors and create open shelving. It will create space and allow your dishes to become part of your decorating scheme.

New hardware - This is one of the easiest things that you can do yourself. New drawer pulls or handles on doors can provide an instant upgrade. There is a wide variety of styles and materials available.