How wealthy is your neighborhood? This interactive map of Washington state will show you - Puget Sound Business Journal

This list ranks the state's neighborhoods or cities based on their affluence score. We looked at 12 statistical indicators to develop this score, including the poverty rate, median income, median home price and how those compare with the national averages.


And Sammamish takes home the bacon again coming in at number 4.

Nine of the top ten are Eastside communities.

These are the best-educated neighborhoods in Washington state - Puget Sound Business Journal

Some of the data might surprise you. Pullman, for example, has a higher percentage of advanced degree holders than any of Bellevue's ZIP codes. That's due to Washington State University and the high percentage of professors and graduate students who live in the area, of course. Seattle's University District was also high on the list for the same reason.


And Sammamish, not surprisingly is in the top 10...

Why More M&As Is a Sign That Scale Is No Longer an Advantage

Terrific article on consolidation of business and growth of small business.  We are definitely seeing this at Northstone.  We have always been able to compete with the big box brokers but today we have even more resources at our fingertips and we are rapidly gaining in market share.  America has always loved the little guy so as a boutique broker we are even at a stronger advantage.

Live near your job? It'll cost you - Puget Sound Business Journal

Simon Pollock and his girlfriend wanted to live within walking distance of an organic grocery store. They wanted easy access to public transportation. And the couple, who are both 26, wanted to live in a vibrant, growing city. They picked Seattle.


Great article on the cost of living in Seattle and the Eastside. The relative affordability of housing has been a big draw to tech workers to our region and a significant force in the increase in housing costs.

We want to pick a real estate broker, but what kind of information will we need?

    It's always wise to be prepared with information that might be related to buying a home. But you'll be pleased to know that you won't be asked for a lot of facts and figures in your first meeting.

    Your goal at this point should be to determine whether you will be comfortable working with this broker, if you like the broker and whether they seem  to like you.

    But the broker will need to ask some pertinent questions. That's good for both of you. It can help you target your home-buying goals and time requirements. And it will give the broker an idea of how to best serve you. Here are some questions I ask during my first meeting with a buyer:

    "What got you thinking about moving to a new home?"

    It helps you both understand your motivation. It could show, for example, that you are more interested in a good, safe neighborhood you can call home. Or maybe that you're actually more interested in a shorter commute.

    “What kind of time frame are you looking at for making a move?"

    Is it something you're looking at over the next couple of months, later this year or maybe next year? 

    This gets to the heart of when you expect to move, which can make a difference in how your search is handled.

    "Besides yourself, who else might be affected by this move?"

    This is a good question because it gives the broker a feel as to who the actual decision makers are. For example, if parents are coming up with the down payment, it might be best to involve them sooner rather than later.

    I also ask you to create a “want to have and a must have” list.  This is helpful in identifying properties that can work and helping to understand priorities.

    The big thing here is finding a broker who is a good match for you, who really cares about your interests and takes the time not only to carefully listen to you but also educate you so you can make the best choices possible.  This is the first big step in the path to homeownership.

Real estate market looks hot this summer

Good news in employment has kicked the real estate market into high gear this summer.  The numbers say it's a great time to sell a home and demand is high.  In the latest figures available, June sales of existing homes climbed 5.1 percent, the third month in a row that sales exceeded 5 million homes.

Home sellers are finding that prices are up nearly 8 percent in the last 12 months. In many markets this is because there just enough homes on the market to meet demand. So prices are being nudged up.  Rising prices brings some cheer to the market because it means that fewer people owe more on their homes than the home value. In fact, the number of people upside down in their mortgages has dropped 19 percent in the last year.  For some homeowners, this could mean it's time to go back in the market and sell.  Meanwhile for buyers, mortgages are still very low.  Most 30-year fixed rate loans have been just above 4 percent this summer.  But that was a slight increase from the dramatic lows of 3.59 percent -- those rates have been offered for more than four years.

Confidence and low interest rates put buyers in the market for their first homes. About 32 percent of homes sold in May were to first-time buyers. That is up from 27 percent a year ago, according to economists.

Low supply: Act fast..  With supply of homes for sale down, buyers have to focus on their goal, making sure to get pre-approved for a loan, and be prepared to make a deal. As interest rates make a slow climb up, people looking for a house to become their home should move quickly. Even a 1 percent rise in the interest rate could slash buying power. Interest rates moving up 1 percent means that a buyer once approved for $500,000 might only be able to spend $460,000. So if your heart is in a home, acting quickly is crucial.

Mortgages are available

New data by lenders shows that some consumers overestimate what they need to qualify for a home loan. Two-thirds think they need a credit score over 780, which is considered excellent, but a credit score of 660 or above is considered good. Some 36 percent think they need 20 percent down, but this is usually not the case.