Real Estate News

Top Residential Real Estate Firms


It’s happened again! The Puget Sound Business Journal has released their 2016 numbers for the top Seattle residential real estate firms. Lake & Company is the #1 independent office in the area!



Barbara’s real estate news bits……. Feds introduce new “rules”


January 16, 2013 · by barbara· in In the News
Federal officials unveiled new mortgage rules January 10th meant to reduce risky lending. The new rules are also meant to make it easier for borrowers to know exactly what mortgage they are getting into.

The rules are meant to avoid the kind of mortgage mess that created the financial crisis and ultimately led to the Great Recession.

The housing bubble was driven by lenders lax (or complete lack of) underwriting standards. Lenders often didn’t check basic, common sense, documentation. Banks did not require minimum credit scores or even take time to determine whether borrowers had income enough to keep up with their new mortgage payments.

I have worked in real-estate for many years and always thought these basic requirements were part of getting a home loan. Apparently we went so far off the rails during the housing bubble that federal officials must present these as “new mortgage rules”. Okay.

Lenders must now consider these factors:

Income and assets must be sufficient to repay the loan;
Borrowers must document their jobs;
Credit scores must meet minimum standards;
Monthly payments must be affordable;
Borrowers must be able to afford other debts associated with the property such as home equity loans;
Borrowers must be able to afford all home-related expenses such as property taxes; and
Lenders must consider a borrower’s other obligations like student loans, car loans and credit cards.
Another requirement addresses the other lending problem abused in the bubble years. When judging a borrower’s ability to repay, lenders can’t use payments based on interest-only loans (also called negative-amortization), a loan type that can cause mortgage balances grow significantly over time.

They also can’t use artificially low interest rates (teaser rates); loans that start out with a ridiculously low interest rate and then adjust higher after a set term.

Additionally, loan terms cannot exceed 30 years.

These rules don’t prohibit those unconventional types of loans. But lenders, in deciding whether to make this type of loan, must underwrite a borrower’s ability to repay as if the loan were a conventional loan.

All pure common sense.

These “new rules” begin January 21, but because these are such dramatic changes to the way some lenders are doing business the lenders will have 12 months to fully implement them.


Barbara’s realestate news bits….Fiscal Cliff

January 2nd President Obama signed the legislation that helped avoid the “Fiscal Cliff” created by Washington DC. So what was in it that pertains to real estate? Here are a few items:

Capital Gains

Capital Gains rate remains at 15 percent for those in the top rate of $400,000 (individual) and $450,000 (joint) return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20 percent.

  • The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for sale of principal residence remains in place.

Estate Tax

The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that the rate will be up from 35 percent to 40 percent (exemption amounts are indexed for inflation).

Other Items

  • Mortgage Cancellation Relief is extended for one year to Jan. 1, 2014
  • Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012
  • 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012
  • 10 percent tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012