Serving Greater Seattle and North King County
Doug Holman
206-930-1733206-930-1733

Is Your Home Fully Winterized?

December 4th, 2014 by Doug Holman

winterize

If you are concerned about winterizing your home, a still-pertinent 2007 article in About.com by Bob Formisano may interest you. He writes in detail about getting your home ready for winter. There is a tutorial entitled “Easy Home Winterizing”, with an easy-to-implement, comprehensive list of things to check. From plumbing systems to your roof, he’ll walk you through each system and hit the major things to check before winter comes so you can enjoy the snow and not worry about your home.

Is there a cold spot in your house? Stuck with electric baseboards? Remodeling an unfinished space?

November 17th, 2014 by Doug Holman

Mini_Split

A DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT HEAT SYSTEM may be right for you

Ductless mini split HVAC systems are a lesser known heating and cooling alternative that may be the perfect solution for your needs.  Mini-splits are ductless.  Taking ductwork out of the equation immediately eliminates 20-30% of heat loss but the added bonus of freeing up space. Mini-splits systems have two components: an indoor air-handling unit (or units) and an outdoor condenser, the two connected by conduit in place of ducting.

The technology has been around for 30 years, commonly used in Europe and Japan. Like a refrigerator, a heat pump uses electricity to pump refrigerant, transferring heat from one place to another. They are generally designed to cool and heat a single room or zone, and there may be up to four indoor handling units hooked up to a single outside condenser.

Mini splits are not right for every space, but there are definitely advantages for particular applications. Here are a few places you might consider installing such a system:

  • A home that has no ductwork, like one that has previously had radiant or electric baseboard heat. One outdoor condenser can operate up to four indoor air handlers, so you could individually control four rooms/zones with a single mini-split system
  • Rooms that are not regularly occupied. You can turn off the mini-split system and close the door to save money.
  • Additions or outbuildings where extending or installing ductwork is not feasible.
  • Spaces adjacent to unconditioned spaces (like garages, attics, and unfinished basements) where ductwork would be exposed to harsher temperatures.

Mini splits can be hung on the wall or ceiling, some even come as freestanding units. Mini-splits aren’t pretty. Upgrading will not land you on the cover of Architectural Digest. But these systems can lower the heating portion of your electrical bill by as much at 30% and might just be the special situation solution you are looking for.

AND, if you are a Seattle City Light customer, you may qualify for rebates as high $1200 when using qualified providers.  You can learn more about SCL rebates and whether or not you might qualify at http://www.Seattle.gov/ductless

Seattle home prices up again

November 5th, 2014 by Doug Holman

MARKET UPDATE

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In short, the real estate market is still hot in the greater Seattle area. Prices had actually fallen a bit between July and August but are up again for September and October.  The inventory of homes is still low, less than a 4-6 month supply which signifies a balanced market.  The median price of a home in Seattle at the peak of the market in August of 2007 was $466,000.  Today the median price for a Seattle home is $465,000. Shoreline, Bellevue, Kirkland, all have median prices that are within 3% of the peak prices. Wow.   Aubrey Cohen from the Seattle – PI goes into more detail below…..

Doug (206-930-1733)

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Seattle-area home prices up again

By AUBREY COHEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

After retreating a bit in August, Seattle-area home prices rose again last month, according to a new report. The median price of a King County house that sold in September was $460,000, up 5.3 percent from August and 9.5 percent from a year ago, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported Monday. Seattle’s median price was $517,000, up 3.4 percent from August 12.15 percent from a year ago.  “It’s looking pretty frothy out there,” said Stephen O’Connor, director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. “Double-digit increases, it’s not the norm.”  Prices had fallen a bit in the city and county from July to August, although they still rose from August 2013. O’Connor noted that August tends to be a slow month in Seattle.  One reason for the rising prices is that inventory (how long it would take all the homes on the market to sell at the current rate of sales) remains well below that four to six months considered the balance area between supply and demand.

For the complete article:  http://www.seattlepi.com/realestate/article/Seattle-area-home-prices-up-again-5805039.php

New 3.8% tax may affect your next real estate transaction

December 20th, 2012 by Doug Holman

Come January 1st 2013, a new tax on investment income will take effect.  This tax will only affect individuals with an adjusted gross income (AGI) in excess of $200,000 and couples with and AGI above $250,000.  While this tax is designed to affect the wealthy, certain scenarios could end up snagging you in this new tax.

Sherri Sommerseth   from Chicago Title has written an excellent summary on the subject.  Thanks Sherri!

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the 3.8% Tax

1) When you add up all of your income from every possible source, and that total is less than $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint tax return), you will NOT be subject to this tax.

2) The 3.8% tax will NEVER be collected as a transfer tax on real estate of any type, so you’ll NEVER pay this tax at the time that you purchase a home or other investment property.

3) You’ll NEVER pay this tax at settlement when you sell your home or investment property.  Any capital gain you realize at settlement is just one component of that year’s gross income.

4) If you sell your principal residence, you will still receive the full benefit of the $250,000 (single tax return)/$500,000 (married filing joint tax return) exclusion on the sale of that home.  If your capital gain is greater than these amounts, then you will include any gain above these amounts as income on your Form 1040 tax return. Even then, if your total income (including this taxable portion of gain on your residence) is less than the $200,000/$250,000 amounts, you will NOT pay this tax.  If your total income is more than these amounts, a formula will protect some portion of your investment.

5) The tax applies to other types of investment income, not just real estate. If your income is more than the $200,000/$250,000 amount, then the tax formula will be applied to capital gains, interest income, dividend income and net rents (i.e., rents after expenses).

6) The tax goes into effect in 2013. If you have investment income in 2013, you won’t pay the 3.8% tax until you file your 2013 Form 1040 tax return in 2014. The 3.8% tax for any later year will be paid in the following calendar year when the tax returns are filed.

7) In any particular year, if you have NO income from capital gains, rents, interest or dividends, you’ll NEVER pay this tax, even if you have millions of dollars of other types of income.

8) The formula that determines the amount of 3.8% tax due will ALWAYS protect $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint return) of your income from any burden of the 3.8% tax. For example, if you are single and have a total of $201,000 income, the 3.8% tax would NEVER be imposed on more than $1000.

9) It’s true that investment income from rents on an investment property could be subject to the 3.8% tax. BUT: The only rental income that would be included in your gross income and therefore possibly subject to the tax is net rental income: gross rents minus expenses like depreciation, interest, property tax, maintenance and utilities.

10) The tax was enacted along with the health care legislation in 2010. It was added to the package just hours before the final vote and without review. NAR strongly opposed the tax at the time, and remains hopeful that it will not go into effect. The tax will no doubt be debated during the upcoming tax reform debates in 2013.

Get rid of that old refrigerator (and other stuff) the EASY way

December 10th, 2012 by Doug Holman

Recently in a fit of productivity I made a number of trips to the dump; also known as a transfer station for those under the age of 30, who’ve never laid eyes on an actual dump.  Between 3 different properties (upcoming new listing, a rental property and my own home), 4 significant dump runs were made with the help of a friend’s very large truck.  No you cannot have his phone number.  It was both successful and cathartic except for the one item I couldn’t wrestle into the truck myself, an old refrigerator long past its prime.  Fortunately the manual labor jogged free a distant memory I had about a service company known as JACO Environmental. 

Jaco provides curbside pick-up service of old refrigerators for $25-30, about the same cost as taking the appliance to a King County transfer station yourself.  And if the appliance meets certain requirements, Jaco will actually pay you (up $50) to properly dispose of an old refrigerator.  The amount depends on your local utility provider and meeting certain requirements.  You can learn more about the program at http://www.jacoinc.net.

Many additional hazardous waste products can find their way out of your home at no cost through the King County Hazardous Waste program.  There are 5 different locations including a North Seattle facility at NE 125th Street and Stone Avenue.  You pay for it in your utility bill so use it! 

Rid yourself of the following (subject to limits)

–          Fluorescent tubes or bulbs, up to 10.

–          Car batteries, up to 5.

–          Liquid waste, up to 50 gallons.  There is a long list of included items at the website.

–          Gasoline up to 30 gallons (I’ll take your gasoline, jeez).

You can learn more about King County recycling at:  http://www.lhwmp.org.

Finally, if you’re like me you’ve got a bag full of those CFL light bulbs that have burnt out that you’re not sure what to do with.  Any Home Depot or Lowe’s will take those off your hands.  Typically you’ll find a small disposal station just inside the big box entry, no expense to you.

Sometimes you just need to know where to go!