Southland Home Prices Tumble Fast LA Times Article. Eventhough we do live on an island, the ramifications of California and other sliding markets will affect us all – to some extent. We are fortunate to have a finite amount of land here on Bainbridge Island, not to mention an even more finite amount of waterfront land. However, no matter how badly someone wants to move to our happy little island, if they can not sell there house in LA, or some other falling market, they probably can not afford to buy a house here. More of the reality is that the equity people thought they had is no longer there. Their freedom to move is no longer there.

My husband and I bought our first house in California in 1998 and during 97-99, many of our friends bought their first houses as well. One of my good friends moved out of her original house in early 2004 and said that the equity they had gained was like winning the lottery. Her analogy always stuck with me and that is how I always tried to think of our equity, as a bonus, trying not to think of it as our income or an ATM machine. Luckily, when we moved, we still had a nice chunk of equity. But we did not sell at the height of the market, and as a Realtor, I know we could have gotten 100-125K more if we would have sold a year earlier. But, when it was time to put that sign on our front lawn, it was time to put the sign on our front lawn. My husband had a good job offer, and we were ready for a change. The year before was not the time for us to sell.

And, where were we moving? We were moving out of a falling market, into the growing Seattle market. A tough move. The buy was not easy. Houses in Seattle were $100K more than the previous year and we had $100K less, easy to do the math, we were $200K off. But, here is the silver lining, and something to relate to folks in markets like LA. The market there is falling, and most likely will continue through 2008 into 2009, but here in the Seattle area we are growing or stable at best. My husband and I squeaked into a house in the Bainbridge market. Trying to be smart by purchasing in a popular neighborhood near town, we have kept our equity, and perhaps gained a few dollars as well.

Our old house? Well, no matter how much I loved it, it is worth less money now, than when we sold it. But, we did not lose that money. We have kept our equity, and hopefully it will continue to be safe up here.

If you are in a declining market, but you can sell, sell. Take any equity you have and look for a growing market. If you do make that move, the money you lost is more likely return. Waiting out your current market means you have to follow it to the bottom. Sit there a while, then ride back up. That is probably not the momentum you want for your investment.

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On March 17, 2008, in Moving, Real Estate Business, by

Just off the island in downtown Poulsbo is a great little place that can make your life easier. The What’s For Dinner Kitchen is a meal preparation kitchen thats “mission is to strengthen families by enabling them to enjoy dinner together without the stress.” The owner was a former caterer and the quality of the menu selections prove that.

At What’s For Dinner, you have the option to schedule a time and prepare up to twelve meals yourself, or now, even better, I think, you can order online and they will prepare and package the meals for you and you can just swing in and pick them up. And, there is no extra charge for the preparation!

A meal for four runs about $20, depending on how many you buy at once, and my calculations show that once you factor in the time it takes to find a recipe to prepare, shop for it and then put it together, $20 is a great value. One of the best things about their meals are the sauces, they are so full of flavor and so obviously not from a jar. A nice change. So, even meals like enchiladas or lasgana, are not ordinary – they are restaraunt quality. Some of my favorites are their chicken pot pie, enchiladas verde, mahi mahi, and meatloaf.

So, about once a month, I buy about four to six meals and find it is a great substitution for going out to dinner. Now, if they’d just open one on Bainbridge Island, I would be really happy!

What’s For Dinner Kitchen is now closed :( 6/2015. I still want them to open one on Bainbridge!

On March 13, 2008, in Community, Personal, by

No, it is not 9am, it is 10am, yikes. Today we will all spring forward, (in Washington anyway) and now our mornings will be a little darker for a while. But, the upside is that we will have a little more light in the evening. And, light is an important thing here in the Pacific Northwest. When we first moved to Washington, I was a bit worried about the lack of light. Local folks made it sound as if there were only four hours of light during the day. My worry led me to investigate and what I found was this detailed website tool that charts Sunrise and Sunset for your city. You can watch how the hours of light increase and then decrease by day, kind of cool. And what I learned is that the darker winters balance out with the very long summer days (even longer than CA, where I grew up).

The real issue, I always find with time change is getting my kids to adjust their bedtime. So, I wish all the parents out there luck this Sunday night, as we try to get the little ones to sleep.

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On March 9, 2008, in Community, by

A home on Bainbridge Island

We’ve done it now twice and however painful it might be living without a kitchen sink, it is still strangely addictive. I swear we will never do it again, that is what I tell my friends and family. But, because I always seem to love that special home with character and a view, odds are that this home we are currently working on might not be our last.

The problem I have, when I am out touring houses on Bainbridge Island, is that when I see a tired house, I start imagining how I would tear it up: remove walls, make the kitchen bigger, add wood flooring, paint, add clean white molding. It is easy for me to have the vision, which is great, many people struggle with that, but the thing I now know is that a seemingly simple task like adding molding can take an entire day. Why? Because the walls in any house new or old might not be square. The paint might have to be redone after trying to make it straight and the transition to the stairs might have to be trimmed and sanded. And then, well you have to make another trip to Ace or Home Depot. Even jobs that seem easy enough, can take double or triple the time you estimate.

So, why are we so crazy? Well, in this market we live in on Bainbridge Island, which has and holds more value than many of our neighbors, it is hard to lose money when you are building sweat equity. And well, it is nice to make extra money on probably your largest investment, your home. I call what we do our third job. And, it is also nice to have the kitchen you want, not the kitchen the previous owners wanted.

So, I’ll continue to imagine taking a Sawzall to walls I’d like to see disappear in houses with great potential. One I recently came upon is this sweet little house out off Sunrise on Sunrose Lane. It is on a great lot with a view of the Sound through the trees. The inside however, needs some opening up (i.e. a Sawzall) a revamp, in my opinion. See for yourself. It is priced well for those who like a challenge and instant equity.

On March 5, 2008, in Homes, Personal, by

A couple of weeks ago, my seven year old and I were talking about birthdays. Her 8th birhtday is coming up and the party planning is in full swing. However, this particular conversation was about which day of the week she was born. A quick Google check revealed it was a Thursday. I remembered I was also born on a Thursday. Googling revealed that my youngest was also born on a Thursday. My husband, was the odd one out, being born on a Saturday. Regardless, my daughter thought that was “so cool and amazing.” All the girls were born on a Thursday.

Her mind has been working on this birth order topic for a while and today, she came up with another realization. “Mom,” she said, “Dad is the oldest, and his name starts with a C, you are the second youngest, and your name starts with a J, then comes me and my name starts with an O, and Zoe’s, name is with a Z. The ages of our family and our initials follow the order of the alphabet, she announced. So cool . . . ,” she added as she went upstairs to get dressed.

I had to pause and digest this information as I was writing a note to her school, thinking about her snack, which I hadn’t made yet, and gearing up to clean up the post-breakfast mess. So much is always on my mind. I am continually envious of the uncluttered young mind.

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On March 3, 2008, in Personal, by

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