Lake Stevens Living – Why We Love Our City

 

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Living in Lake Stevens isn’t just a place to call home. It’s a lifestyle! When selling homes in Lake Stevens, we’re not only helping people buy or sell. We are helping them get one step closer to their goals, for themselves and their family. We love this town. Which is why we’re proud to call it home ourselves! 

From the lake and everything it has to offer, to the beautiful mountain views, to the shops in neighboring Snohomish. To the strong schools. We value the strong sense of community, and the ability to get out and unplug. Lake Stevens is a wonderful place to live and find balance outside of the city. We couldn’t imagine living, or working, anywhere better.

We are a husband and wife lead Real Estate Team. This is where we’ve chosen to put down our roots, raise our two little girls, and grow our business. This is our town and we love it here. So whether you are looking for someone to sell your current home, or thinking you want to buy in the area. We promise to treat you like one of our own.

We are Team Abolafia.

Posted on October 3, 2019 at 2:59 pm
Ashley Abolafia | Category: Buying a Home, Lake Stevens News, Team Abolafia

Local Market Update – September 2019

A decrease in inventory coupled with an increase in sales activity led to fewer options for home shoppers in August. There is some good news for would-be buyers as mortgage rates have dropped to their lowest level in three years. Demand remains high but there simply aren’t enough homes on the market. Brokers are hoping to see the traditional seasonal influx of new inventory as we move forward.

EASTSIDE

The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $935,000 in August, unchanged from a year ago and up slightly from $925,000 in July. New commercial and residential construction projects are in the works. Strong demand for downtown condos has prompted plans for yet another high-rise tower to break ground next year.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

Home prices in King County were flat in August. The median price of a single-family home was $670,000, virtually unchanged from a year ago, and down just one percent from July. Southeast King County, which has some of the most reasonable housing values in the area, saw prices increase 9% over last year. Inventory remains very low. Year-over-year statistics show the volume of new listings dropped 18.5% in King County.

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

Homes sales were up 12% in Seattle for August, putting additional pressure on already slim inventory. There is just over six weeks of available supply. There are signs that prices here are stabilizing as the median home price of $760,000 was unchanged from a year ago and up less than one percent from July. With its booming economy, demand here is expected to stay strong.

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

Buyers looking for more affordable options outside of King County pushed pending sales, mutually accepted offers, up nearly 16% over a year ago. Home prices have softened slightly. The median price of a single-family home in August was $490,000, down slightly from the median of $492,225 the same time last year.

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on September 18, 2019 at 5:28 pm
Ashley Abolafia | Category: Buying a Home, Local Market Update, Selling a Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THE FED JUST CUT INTEREST RATES. HERE’S WHAT THAT MEANS FOR YOU.

Americans juggle a lot of interest rates in their daily lives. They pay interest on car loans, credit-card balances and mortgages. They earn interest, at least a little, on the money they save with banks.

Technically speaking, Federal Reserve officials did not touch any of those rates when they announced a quarter-point interest-rate cut Wednesday, the first cut in a decade. The rate they reduced is the federal funds rate, which is what banks and other financial institutions charge one another for very short-term borrowing.

Most consumers don’t do that sort of overnight borrowing, but the Fed’s moves still affect the borrowing and saving rates they encounter every day.

The effect is not always direct or immediate, so consumers probably will not wake up Thursday to find that all of their favorite rates have changed by a quarter of a point. There is even solid evidence that the mere expectation that the Fed would cut rates Wednesday had already pushed down some of the key rates that consumers pay.

One of the biggest potential effects of the Fed’s cut may be one you don’t see: heading off a recession. If the move works, it could prevent the economy from weakening and forestall layoffs and other economic damage that could hurt workers and consumers.

Here’s where you might see effects from the cut.

Your Savings Account

When the Fed held rates near zero for years after the 2008 financial crisis in hopes of stoking growth and job creation, there was basically no financial incentive to save money with a bank. Near the end of 2015, the average one-year certificate of deposit account yielded an annual return of just over 0.25%, according to Bankrate.com.

Fed officials have raised rates nine times since then, by a quarter-point in each instance. The increases have lifted savers, though not by that much. The average yield on a one-year CD briefly cracked 1% earlier this year. But it has fallen since then, as has the average yield on the five-year CD amid bigger hints from Fed officials that a rate cut was in the works. The trend could continue.

Savers looking for a higher return might consider online savings accounts, which, in many cases, are still paying yields of 2 to 2.5%. Some accounts require a minimum balance, but that is occasionally as low as $1.

Your Mortgage

If you borrowed money to buy a house late last year, you were unlucky — and it cost you. In November, as the Fed neared what appears to have been the end — for now at least — of its slow-march of interest-rate increases, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage was nearly 5%. It has since fallen to 3.75%.

The slide was tied to expectations that the Fed was going to cut rates, said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst, and for consumers, it is probably the most consequential effect of the shift in the Fed’s policy path.

It is also probably fully priced in, unless the Fed shows a strong hint that more rate cuts are coming.

“Mortgage rates are tied to long-term rates, so they move well in advance,” McBride said. “Any further movement in mortgage rates will be tied to the outlook ahead.”

Historically speaking, mortgage rates do not have much further to fall. In the past half-century, the average 30-year rate has never dipped below 3.3%.

Your Borrowing and Spending

One interest rate that has risen by as many percentage points as the federal funds rate in the past few years is the one you probably wish would stay lower: the average interest rate on credit-card debt. It is now at nearly 18% and, unlike savings yields and mortgage rates, it has not fallen in recent months. That probably means you should not expect it to fall immediately after Wednesday’s cut.

Rates on car loans have risen since 2016, but they fell back slightly this year. After peaking near 5% at the end of last year, the rate on the average five-year loan for a new car is now just under 4.75%, according to Bankrate.com. Like rates on credit cards, the rate on car loans does not always move in line with the Fed: It actually fell in 2016, even as the Fed raised rates.

Those rates help explain, in part, why most economists do not expect that a single Fed rate cut will be enough to change consumers’ spending habits.

“The impact on the household budget of one rate cut is inconsequential,” McBride said. “It’s not like it’s going to unleash a flurry of consumer activity”

Your Job

In the scope of your financial life, of course, what you pay to borrow — or what you are paid to save — typically takes a back seat to more basic questions about how much you are able to work and to earn. Those questions appear to be on Fed officials’ minds as they cut rates.

“It’s better to take preventative measures than to wait for disaster to unfold,” John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said in July, in comments that were widely interpreted as signaling that the rate cut was on the way.

In other words: By moving to reduce rates, now and possibly again this fall, policymakers are trying to reduce the risk that millions of Americans could be thrown out of work. They are trying to ward off the prospect of a job-killing recession by giving the economy a little extra boost.

  The New York Times
This story was originally published at nytimes.com. Read it here.

Posted on September 6, 2019 at 12:37 pm
Ashley Abolafia | Category: Buying a Home

Are You Better Off Paying Your Mortgage Earlier or Investing Your Money?

Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments.

For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere.

The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.

Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier

  • You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution.

If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest.

If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier.

Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run.

  • Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment.
  • Enforced discipline: It takes real commitment to invest your money wisely each month instead of spending it elsewhere.

Your monthly mortgage payments are a form of enforced discipline since you know you can’t afford to miss them. It’s far easier to set a higher monthly payment towards your mortgage and stick to it than making regular investments on your own.

Besides, once your home is completely paid off, you can dedicate a larger portion of your income towards investments, your children or grandchildren’s education, or simply cut down on your working hours.

Advantages of investing your money

  • A greater return on your investment: The biggest reason why you should invest your money instead comes down to a simple, green truth: there’s more money to be made in investments.

Suppose that instead of dedicating an additional $200 towards your monthly mortgage payment, you decide to invest it in a conservative index fund which tracks S&P 500’s index. You start your investment today with $200 and add an additional $200 each month for the next 30 years. By the end of the term, if the index fund had a modest yield of 5% per year, you will have earned $91,739 in interest, and the total value of your investment would be $163,939.

If you think that 5% per year is a little too optimistic, all we have to do is see the S&P 500 performance between December 2002 and December 2012, which averaged an annual yield of 7.10%.

  • A greater level of diversification: Real estate has historically been one of the safest vehicles of investment available, but it’s still subject to market forces and changes in government policies. The forces that affect the stock and bonds markets are not always the same that affect real estate, because the former are subject to their issuer’s economic performance, while property values could change due to local events.

By putting your extra money towards investments, you are diversifying your investment portfolio and spreading out your risk. If you are relying exclusively on the value of your home, you are in essence putting all your eggs in one basket.

  • Greater liquidity: Homes are a great investment, but it takes time to sell a home even in the best of circumstances. So if you need emergency funds now, it’s a lot easier to sell stocks and bonds than a home.

Misael Lizarraga is a real estate writer with a passion for teaching real estate concepts to first time buyers and investors. He runs realestatecontentguy.com and is a contributing writer for several leading real estate blogs in North America.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog. 

Posted on March 4, 2019 at 2:23 pm
Ashley Abolafia | Category: Buying a Home

Where Are Home Prices Headed?


Home price increases in the Puget Sound area have started to moderate. While down from the unsustainable highs of this spring, prices continue to be up compared to a year ago. So, where are home prices headed next?

The Home Price Expectation Survey checks in with over 100 national real estate experts every quarter, including Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. Here’s where they think prices will go:

Gardner predicts our local market will fare better than the nation overall.

“As I look to 2019, I believe home prices in King County will increase 7.8% over the current year.”
– Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner

“The local economy will continue to grow and that will drive demand for ownership housing,” according to Gardner. “Supply will slow during the holiday season before we see a new influx of listings in the spring. With more supply, I believe that home price growth will continue to slow, but values will still increase.”

Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling we can provide you with market data that will help you make the best decision for your circumstances.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere Eastside blog.

Posted on December 6, 2018 at 1:09 pm
Ashley Abolafia | Category: Buying a Home, Selling a Home

How to Get Started in Real Estate Investing

Investing in real estate is one of the world’s most venerable pathways to building wealth. When properly managed, income from renting or real estate investment trusts can provide you with the financial security to plan out the rest of your life. The conclusion is easy to envision, but knowing where to begin can be overwhelming, particularly for anyone who has never previously owned a home.

As Windermere agents our goal is always to improve and support our communities, so we’ve put together a few key things to keep in mind as you enter the world of real estate investment.

 

Know the right type of investment for you

Investing in real estate needn’t commit you to being a landlord. A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a low-maintenance way to get involved in real estate with next to none of the day-to-day monitoring required of direct property management. REITs are trusts that typically own multiple properties, and investors may purchase shares within the REIT. Typically, as the value of the property rises, so too do the values of your shares. If you’d like to dip a toe into real estate investing before diving in fully, a REIT is a great place to start.

 

Start with your own home

Owning the roof over your head is a basic step towards investing success. Even better, when you plan to live in the home you’re buying (rather than renting it out), you will likely benefit from lower mortgage rates and a cheaper down payment. The reasoning is straightforward – lenders see a loan to people purchasing the home they live in as an investment in people highly committed to the property.

Once you’ve owned your own house for a few years, you can look to purchase a new home to move into. By purchasing the new home with the intent to move in, you’ll be eligible to receive more favorable financing once again. After you’ve secured your new home, your first home is primed to be transformed into a rental property, and you can continue to see a return on your investment. If you’re seeking further support with buying a first, second, or third home, we are happy to help.

 

Cast a wide net

The best investment opportunity isn’t always going to be right underneath your nose. While there are logistical benefits to focusing locally with your investment, you may miss more profitable opportunities in another burgeoning market. Real estate is a long game, and patience tends to be rewarded. There’s no cause to rush a decision of this magnitude, so investigating other states and regions to find the property that best fits your situation is a process worth considering.

 

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Posted on May 24, 2018 at 9:54 am
Ashley Abolafia | Category: Buying a Home