Northwest Living

Category Archives: Home Buying

5 Places to Retire in Washington State

During your working years you may be forced to live close to a big city like Seattle. But once you’re ready for retirement, all bets are off, and you’re free to go wherever you want. Luckily, the state of Washington has many of places for retirees to call home. Whether it’s taking in the outdoors, visiting great restaurants, or swinging the old nine-iron, Washington is the place to be. We examined a ranking done by which listed the five best places to retire in Washington state.

5. Lynden

Can’t believe that 2 months from today I will be here! September can’t come fast enough!!:)

A photo posted by Maggie Bouley (@mbouleyyy) on

With great weather and access to restaurants/recreational facilities, it’s no secret that Lynden is a top destination for retirees. It boasts a manageable housing cost of $1,012/mo. One of the great things about Lynden is that it’s 5 miles from the Canadian border, so when the dollar is good you can head north for some great savings.

Residents 65 years old and over: 20.4%
Access to Golf: B-
Access to Restaurants: A-
Crime and Safety: B+
Average Monthly Housing Cost: $1,012

4. Anacortes

Sunset Ferry, Anacortes, Washington, 2016

A photo posted by Steve G. Bisig Photography (@stevebisig) on

If you love the ocean, then Anacortes is for you. It’s just off the number 20 highway, west of Sedro-Woolley. Nearly a quarter of all people in the city are 65 or older. Not a bad place to retire in Washington if you ask us.

Residents 65 years and over: 22.7%
Access to Golf: B-
Access to Restaurants: A-
Crime and Safety: B-
Average Monthly Housing Cost: $1098

3. Ocean Shores

Bringing back one of my all-time favorite GoPro shots. Also one of my firsts. 

A photo posted by Aubs (@camaraub) on

Ocean Shores is located southwest of Seattle, and is gorgeous. Here you’ll have great access to restaurants and golf, not to mention, the ocean.

Residents 65 years and over: 34.5%
Access to Golf: A-
Access to Restaurants: A
Crime and Safety: C+
Average Monthly Housing Cost: $927

2. Port Townsend

Road tripping- Washington views. If you look real close, Center of the photo, just under the fog our tiny traveling home 🚐🌿💙

A photo posted by We Believe in Natural Beauty (@cosmicbath_beauty) on

Port Townsend is in Jefferson County, with a population of 9,113, it’s grown over 9% since 2000. Over ¼ of all residents are 65 and over, making it a popular destination those looking to retire in Washington State. Not to mention, it’s got a relatively low monthly housing cost at $904/mo.

Residents 65 years and over: 25.8%
Access to Golf: B
Access to Restaurants: A
Crime and Safety: B-
Average Monthly Housing Cost: $904

1. Sequim

Sequim is located just north of Olympic National Park, off the 101. It’s home to just over 6,000 people, making it a quiet town. A cost-effective place for retirees, the average monthly rent cost is $784. It also boasts an A+ weather grade from Niche – some things are just better in the Pacific Northwest.

Residents 65 years and over: 35%
Access to Golf: B-
Access to Restaurants: A-
Crime and Safety: C+
Average Monthly Housing Cost: $784


PC: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

Top Interior Design Trends for 2016


 The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today. Here are 10 of the top design trends for 2016. 

1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel, then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions.

2) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction.

3) Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens (shown here) promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

4) Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. According to Houzz data, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

5) Heated entryway floors. Sure, heated floors are popular in bathrooms, but if you live in a cold region, consider putting them in your entryway to help melt snow and dry boots.

6) Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets. Hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

7) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.

8) Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have all the ambiance without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen.

9) Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount.

10) Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal. (Shown here is LG’s new Black Stainless collection.) Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish. Article courtesy of


Weighing the Pros and Cons of a High HOA Fee

Weighing the Pros and Cons of a High HOA Fee

By: Danielle Hegedus 1 Via Modernize

Via Modernize


When purchasing a new home, encountering a homeowners association (HOA) can feel like a mixed bag. You mady spare the expense of a lawn mower, snow shovels, and various other tools needed for the maintenance of your property, but how much are you willing to tack onto your monthly bills in exchange for these services? Are you willing not to paint your home your favorite shade of green in order to ensure your neighbor can’t paint their home pink? Being part of an HOA definitely requires some give and take.


An HOA is typically run by a group of your neighbors, elected to enforce the HOA by-laws and maintain certain standards for the appearance, and activity within a neighborhood. If you buy a home that is covered by an HOA, you’ll be responsible for dues (monthly or annual), as well as special assessments for major expenses. You must adhere to the HOA rules, but you also get to enjoy the perks.


The Bright Side of a Homeowners Association


Community Appearance is a Priority

Though services differ between HOA’s, most offer ongoing maintenance for the community’s common areas such as parks, pools, fitness centers, and parking lots. An HOA might also offer security personnel or a gated entry to your neighborhood. Regular maintenance such as landscaping is typically covered, as well as major repairs that would impact a majority of homeowners. If you are a first time homebuyer, face health challenges, travel often, or just don’t want to worry about handling major home issues, an HOA could be for you.

2 Via Modernize


Via Modernize


Access to Pricey Amenities

An HOA offers you access to amenities that you may not be able to afford in a single family home like a pool or a golf course. Even if you aren’t keen on these features, they could be major selling points for buyers when you are ready to sell.

3 Via Moderize

Via Modernize


Your HOA dues could save your some money, too. If your new community offers a fitness center, maybe you can cut the cost of an expensive gym membership out of your budget.


Conflict Resolution

Does your neighbor’s dog bark all day? Has your neighbor found a new passion for “tinkering” with cars and turned your parking lot into a junkyard? Have you had enough of your neighbor’s year round blinking and singing Christmas lights? The HOA (or a property management company contracted by them in many cases) enforces the rules and has the power to fine residents that are not adhering to them.

4 Via Pinterest

Via Pinterest


Carefully consider all that an HOA offers in terms of amenities, property maintenance and repairs, and peace of mind


What’s the Downside? Renting Restrictions

Sure you are happy in your new home right now, but what if you get a great job opportunity across the country? Well, you’ll just rent your home out, right? Not so fast! If you are in a condominium, many HOA’s limit the percentage of condos that can be rented at any given time, and there is often a long wait list to be able to rent your home. In other communities, HOA’s can have a say in who you rent to with restrictions that may eliminate tenants with children or specific breeds of dogs. You’ll want to investigate this before you buy.


Limited Freedom–It’s a Two Way Street

It’s so great that your neighbor can’t keep their giant work trailer in front of your home, right? Well guess what? You can’t put up that political sign or decorative flag. Same goes for window coverings and that manatee mailbox (pictured) that you love so much. Understand not just the community standards before you purchase your home, but the fine print details of what you can and cannot do to individualize your home.

5 Via Holy Taco

Via Holy Taco

Fees, Fees, and More Fees? Did I Mention the Fees?

Find out what HOA fees are like in your area for comparable properties. Depending on the neighborhood, HOA fees can range from $200 a year to $600 a month. It’s important that you know what you are getting into before you buy. Ask how much the HOA fees have increased over the past five years. Find out when was the last time major repairs, like the resurfacing of a pool deck were performed? Understand that special assessments for major repairs or maintenance can come without any warning, and unlike your mortgage, HOA dues are not tax deductible.  Additionally, some HOA’s will level fines for rule infractions so toe the line!


All HOA’s are Different. Do Your Due Diligence

Ask your agent to get a copy of the HOA by-laws, fee structure, and any other applicable information. You want to be clear about what is the HOA’s responsibility and what falls under your jurisdiction. Investigate the financial health of the HOA and what major expenditures they have approved over the past five years. This information will give you a sense for what kind of fee increases or special assessments you may expect down the line.


If you ultimately decide that the high cost of an HOA is worth it to you, consider getting involved  and even taking a leadership role within the HOA. If you’re a part of making the rules and approving expenditures, you just might get the best of both worlds.

Lease-Own Option provides Path to Home Ownership

IMG_0184Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate broker, Jeff Kuhns, was the first agent in the company to close a home with Home Partners of America using the Lease-With-A-Right-To-Purchase Program.

His clients chose this program as a stepping stone in their home buying process. They are now happily living in their new Bonney Lake home. Jeff was quoted as saying, “Working with Home Partners was GREAT! They were so friendly every step of the way.”

Home Partners aims to provide “a new path to homeownership” for those who can’t obtain a mortgage. The real estate investment company started offering a lease with purchase option program in November 2012.

Through the program, qualified applicants work with brokers, like Jeff Kuhns, to find a house they would like to buy. The house must also meet minimum investment criteria. Home Partners then buys the house, in cash, and leases it to the resident with an option to purchase at a set price. About 53 percent of the people who fill out the online pre-application are ultimately approved to participate in the program.

The applicant then agrees to a one-year lease and has to come up with a security deposit equal to two months rent. The resident can get financing to buy the home at a 5 percent premium over the initial cost of the home. Home Partners returns the security deposit, which can be used to help with a down payment.

The resident can also choose to continue to lease on a yearly basis, with rent increasing 3.75 percent a year, for up to five years.

Likewise, the purchase price increases 5 percent annually for up to five years.

The resident also can decide not to buy the house. In this case, the security deposit would be returned minus any expenses for repairs.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate is excited to be a part of this new path toward home ownership. Call us today to learn more and to see if you qualify.




Way to go Jeff!

Lease with a Right to Purchase Program

Lease with a right to purchase program

Call a broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate today to learn about this new “Lease With A Right To Purchase” program.  The terms are easy…

  • Fill out an online application
  • Pick out a qualifying home
  • Lease it for 1 to 5 years
  • Activate the purchase anytime within five years
  • Prices and appreciation are pre-determined upon home selection

It’s a WIN/WIN! Call to find out more!



New Enhancements to our Real Estate Website make it easier for consumers to use!

BHHS Website

We Are Excited to Announce New Enhancements to the SEARCH, SEARCH RESULTS, and LISTING PAGES of our Company and Agent Websites!


At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate, we understand the value of using online sources for researching real estate.  That’s why our team of web designers are always creating new enhancements to improve your experience when using our corporate and agent websites.

Our latest updates were designed to create a smooth search with multiple search results viewing options, and a clean listing detail page which opens within the framework of the website instead of a pop-up window.

The new PROPERTY SEARCH includes:

  • A clean and easy-to-use interface with a large map area
  • Property results display the map at all times (regardless of the number of results)
  • Small property markers show every listing for sale in the area
  • Once the count of results is less than 250, clickable icons appear!

The new redesigned LISTING PAGE includes:

  • A modern look and feel that matches the new property search
  • Detailed MLS listing information
  • Mortgage Calculator
  • Price History
  • Similar listings for sale
  • Social Media sharing links
  • And optional embedded lead capture forms


Check out one of the most comprehensive and informative real estate websites out there: and start searching today!



Open House Blitz Weekend is this Saturday and Sunday

Open House Blitz weekend is this Saturday and Sunday!  Watch for our cabernet and cream Open House signs this weekend all across the tri-county area of Puget Sound as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate launches our first ever company-wide OPEN HOUSE BLITZ weekend.  Stop in to any of our Open Houses or local office branches to learn about the real estate market in your area and to receive a free Competitive Market Analysis.

 Open House Blitz WeekendBlitz Weekend Part 2

The DOs & DON’Ts of a New Mortgage



You made a great decision to buy a home.  From now until you closing, you’ll want to keep your accounts clean when it comes to getting a mortgage.  Here are just a few things to remember throughout the process.



  • Do understand the process is invasive and requires extensive documentation/explanation
  • Do be exceptionally prompt at providing documentation requested by your lenderKeys
  • Do keep all of your paperwork readily available including paystubs and bank statements
  • Do explain any credit blemishes and credit inquiries
  • Do realize that deposited funds other than a paycheck within 60 days of making loan application, will need explanation (if possible, deposit these  prior to 60 days before applying for your mortgage)
  • Do know that gifted funds need a Gift Letter Affidavit
  • Do continue on-time payments and paying off debt
  • Do choose a Homeowner’s Insurance company
  • Do be prepared to prove that your Earnest Money funds, when deposited, have cleared your account



  • Don’t stop making your monthly payments
  • Don’t apply for any new credit or attempt to consolidate bills
  • SignDon’t move assets from one bank account to another
  • Don’t change jobs or quit your job
  • Don’t make any large purchases (furniture, appliances, etc…)
  • Don’t run or allow anyone to run a credit report on you
  • Don’t make unusually large deposits without documentation




Always seek counsel from a Prudential Northwest Realty Sales Associate.  Our associates work closely with your lender throughout the entire process and will do their best to keep you apprised of tips and tricks to stay on track.





You can get a mortgage after a Foreclosure, Bankruptcy or Short Sale


The dream of homeownership doesn’t have to end because of a past hardship. 


An estimated 3.3 million buyers are currently in a category recently coined by the Wall Street Journal as “Boomerang Buyers” or buyers who experienced recent foreclosures, bankruptcy or short sales and are shopping again.  These buyers are not alone! With some patience, persistence and help from a qualified and experienced REALTOR® like me, there is hope!


Underwriting guidelines are constantly changing and it has become much easier to purchase a home after a foreclosure, bankruptcy or short sale.  Borrowers need to reestablish their credit, meet minimum guidelines, and wait the appropriate time frames.


There is hope!


The waiting period for purchasing a new home depends on the scenario, but here is an easy chart to help you better understand the different waiting requirements.


  Conventional FHA USDA VA

7 or 11

4 years from discharge 2 years from discharge 3 years from discharge 2 years from discharge
Chapter 13 2 years from discharge or 4 years from dismissal 1 year of payment performance and court approval of those payments 1 year of payment performance and court approval of those payments 1 year of payment performance and court approval of those payments
Short Sale or Deed-in-Lieu 2 years = 80% LTV

4 years = 90% LTV

7 years = <90% LTV

3 years, if there was a valid hardship 3 years, if there was a valid hardship Typically 2 years, unless there are extenuating circumstances
Foreclosure 7 years, but there are exceptions after 3 years for extenuating circumstances 3 years from the trustee’s deed 3 years from the trustee’s deed 2 years from the completion date or recording of the trustee’s deed


The most important thing one can do if they have questions, is ask for help!  I have navigated even the most arduous of circumstances and I have a full team of support, including a local lender with Northwest Mortgage Alliance who can discuss (for no obligation and no fee) individual situations.  If you, or someone you know would like more information please call or email me anytime.  I am here to help!



PNWR Logo Black no background

A Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate

Prudential Northwest Realty Associates

4700 42nd Ave. SW #620



Please note:  All loans are subject to underwriter approval, terms and conditions, and are subject to change without notice.  The above waiting periods and information are only typical guidelines and not guarantees.  Borrowers will need to speak with a lender to discuss individual situations as the variances between each case and each loan type is vast. In addition, these mandatory waiting periods often begin upon payoff dates, discharge dates and dismissal dates so careful consideration will need to be noted as to when the waiting periods can begin.