Teenagers are great :)

I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy teenagers.

My first job right out of college was as a Youth Minister at St. Nicholas Parish in Gig Harbor. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole four years I worked and lived there, and much of the reason is because the kids were so great. Twenty years later, I still remember many of them by name, even though we didn’t stay in touch.

Since then and until recently, however, I haven’t had much reason to interact with high school students. Now that I am writing a book intended for a teenage audience, I decided that I had better immerse myself in the culture once again. So I recruited some 10th graders from Chief Sealth International High School in West Seattle to participate in a focus group to help me.  We had our first meeting/discussion yesterday and I came away feeling incredibly energized and encouraged about the project. (The book is about the trauma and drama many people experience during their high school years.)

Students in my focus group

These kids are sharp, respectful, insightful and just generally pleasant to be around. I’m really grateful that they have agreed to work on this book with me; I know the finished product will be much better than it otherwise would have been. I don’t want to publish their full names without their permission, but they might choose to identify themselves.

Want to know more about the book I’m writing and how you can be in it? Here’s a modest website I created for anyone who is curious: http://home.comcast.net/~alicekuder/site/

Alice Kuder is The Telltale Scribe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this real estate market good for you?

How’s the market?

That is the most common question a Realtor® hears, and it’s my favorite! One reason I like that question is because it gives me an opportunity to challenge some of what the questioner might have gleaned from the media. Many are surprised to hear that the state of the real estate market is never as clear-cut as reporters would have you believe. (Let’s face it, a reporter’s job is to give you a nut-shell analysis; they seldom have the luxury of enough time/space to give you a detailed picture of anything.)

I believe the best answer to “how’s the market” is always, “it depends.” It depends on whether you are buying or selling. It depends upon which city and neighborhood you mean. It depends upon personal factors such as your credit rating, your job security and your goals. In other words, the real estate market varies from place to place and person to person. What’s good for one person at one particular time may be bad for someone else.

Although this is still considered to be a buyer’s market, available inventory in Seattle/King County is down approximately 25% from the same time last year so sellers with quality, well-priced homes are well positioned to get top-dollar and multiple offers.

Right now, our local market (Seattle/West Seattle) is excellent for first-time buyers and investors! Interest rates are at all time lows and home prices have at least stabilized, if not bottomed out. There are lots of deals to be had if you have are financially prepared to make a purchase.

Thinking of buying? If you have the time and inclination to scour the web yourself to find these deals, good for you! If you don’t, find a good Realtor® and have her watch the market for you. Tell her what you are looking for and have her alert you when something new pops up.

I provide this service several different ways. As a potential buyer, you can go to my Prudential Northwest Realty website, www.SingleMindedRealEstate.com, and sign up for “Property Watch” to create your own search, or I can set up an automated search for you with Prudential’s HomeFinder Pro software. The third way I watch out for you is by previewing new homes as they come on the market, keeping you and your particular needs in mind as I tour new listings. When I see one that seems like a good match, I e-mail the listing info to you immediately and directly.

So the real question is, how’s the market for you? If you’re not sure, one way to assess your situation is to consult a knowledgeable real estate professional (preferably, me!). Give me a call and let’s make an appointment for a short, no pressure, no obligation chat. 206-708-9800.

Click here for more Good News in Real Estate.

Do you have bad neighbors?

The front page of the Real Estate section of yesterday’s Seattle Times (Jan. 22, 2012) has an interesting article titled Next-Door Nemeses (by Dianna Wurn). The author puts some much-deserved focus on the phenomenon of bad neighbors and how they can affect both your peace of mind and your property values.

There are all kinds of bad neighbors, of course, ranging from the merely messy to the truly obnoxious. And what bothers you, may not bother someone else. Can you tolerate loud music with a pounding bass on a regular basis? How about dogs that defecate on your lawn or bark incessantly? What about a yard that is grossly overgrown or full of garage sale remnants? Multiple broken-down cars parked in front of the house? A disintegrating fence? Peeling paint? What if you suspect your neighbor is dealing drugs or running a house of prostitution or is a registered (or unregistered) sex offender?

When you think about it, there are soooooo many possibilities for bad behavior by a neighbor that we should be really grateful when the people next door are civil and considerate, even if they might not be best-friend material.

Bad behaviors involving the upkeep of a yard or house are often more easily cured than rude or obnoxious behavior, perhaps because it is less subjective. Most cities, including Seattle, have codes made up of ordinances requiring a certain level of upkeep by homeowners. For the most part, however, it seems to be up to one neighbor to report another for violations. I’ve never talked to anyone who knows the actual contents of these ordinances unless they’ve been in a dispute, but here is the Department of Planning and Development web address where you can fill out a complaint form.

One of the reasons this article caught my eye is that I have a friend who feels trapped in her home by this very problem. She has the neighbor from hell living on the other side of the wall that separates her town home from his. This is a guy who has invested heavily in the most expensive, commercial-grade sound equipment available and delights in cranking the volume up to its maximum during his frequent parties, which last till the wee hours. Hard to believe he has so many equally inconsiderate and oblivious friends.

Unable to negotiate a peaceful co-existence with this neighbor, my friend desperately wants to sell her town home and move, but she bought when prices were still high so selling now would mean losing a painfully significant amount of money. Plus, she took advantage of the $8K government tax credit, so she has to live in the house for 3 years or pay back the $8K.

She submitted a noise complaint to the City once, be the neighbor figured out who made the complaint and retaliated, so she is afraid to try that again. Other neighbors are equally unwilling to turn this guy in. Bad, bad Leroy Brown.

My friend and I have racked our brains, but haven’t come up with a workable solution that will allow her to retain both her mind and her investment. If you have any ideas, she’d love to hear them.

Tell me about the worst neighbor you’ve ever had.

 

 

 

Schizophrenic about living alone

There are times when I am grateful to live alone and times when I am not. At the moment, I am feeling a bit schizophrenic because I am experiencing both emotions at the same time.

On the one hand, for the past week I’ve been sick with some sort of upper-respiratory infection which has me barking like a seal, so I’m grateful I live alone because there is no one else to infect or keep awake at night by my coughing. I can sneeze, wheeze, cough and hack all I need to without feeling guilty about disturbing anyone.

Cassie & me

On the other hand, my precious pet, Cassie, passed away quite suddenly on Tuesday, so my home seems uncommonly empty and devoid of life. Not such a great time to live alone.

Bridging the gap are many generous, caring and considerate friends who allow me to call on them when I am in need. Their condolences, phone calls and company have been a great comfort. That’s another good thing about being single; it forces you to ask for and accept help from a wide base of friends, rather than hoping that one person will provide everything you need.

I will share more of my perspective on living alone in future posts. I’d love to hear yours as well. If you are single and living alone, how do you feel about it?

 

Postage rates will rise Jan. 22, 2012

In case you haven’t yet heard, postage rates are going up starting January 22, 2012. The cost of a first-class stamp will increase from the current forty-four cents, to forty-five cents. Consider stocking up on “Forever” stamps to save yourself a little money on postage once you run out of your current supply of first-class stamps.

“Forever” stamps were introduced back in 2007. They do not show a value on them so they are good for the cost of a one-ounce, first-class stamp “forever”, no matter the current postal rate.

In my opinion, impending postage rate hikes are usually not very well publicized, so I’m passing this information along as a sort of public service. Pennies count these days.

Do you have any money-saving tips you’d like to share?

Caring for my body, the soft machine

Baby Boomers who grew up Catholic undoubtedly remember the term Kyrie Eleison, which is Latin for “Lord Have Mercy”. It seemed to me that we chanted that phrase endlessly during Mass. As I recall, it was punctuated by mild chest-beating (a sign of contrition).

In 1985, the group, Mr. Mister, wrote and recorded a hit song by that title. The lyrics refer to the human body as “the soft machine.” I love that imagery.

I am constantly amazed and grateful for my body’s ability to heal itself, often without medical assistance. And when I consciously listen to the cues my body gives me, I am even more effective at maintaining my good health.

For instance, when I first become aware of a cold symptom coming on — e.g. thickness in my throat, watery eyes, etc. — if I stop, acknowledge and turn my attention to it as a signal from my body, rather than a fait acompli, the cold rarely develops into anything significant. In other words, instead of feeling the symptom and thinking, ‘oh, no, I’m getting sick,’ I address my body almost as if it were a separate person and say, ‘uh oh, have I been neglecting you? You don’t need to get sick in order to get my attention. I will stop what I’m doing and give you whatever you need to stay healthy.’

Then I do just that. I might take a nap, drink extra water, meditate, etc. Essentially, I turn my focus from “doing”, to “being”. I usually find that there is very little on my “to do” list that can’t be done tomorrow instead of today. Then I visualize my body fighting off any harmful intruders from the inside out. My favorite image is an army of little Pac-Man-like creatures traveling through my veins gobbling up any “bad guys.”

Finally, I smile (literally/physically), thank my body for communicating its needs to me, and feel the truth of the healing that has already begun.

If you are thinking, ‘I don’t have time to stop everything and pamper my body,’ ask yourself this. Would you rather spend 12-24 hours preventing a cold from developing, or 7-10 days recovering from one?

I’m not saying that I reject medical attention when I need it, or that doctors and medicine aren’t necessary, but I do think that many day-to-day viral (and possibly bacterial) infections can be avoided this way. I believe that sometimes we get sick because we need a break from stress, work, etc. and getting sick gives us an excuse and a reason to take care of ourselves.

To me, what makes the difference is concentrating on my body’s ability to heal itself, rather than focusing on the ways in which my health might be compromised. I see my body as my ally, rather than as an enemy or a traitor. I believe this has a lot to do with my constant good health.

Then again, I may just have good genes and a strong immune system 😉

I’d love to hear about your experience. How would you describe your relationship to your body?

West Seattle homes: Two Screaming Deals!

One of the ways I differentiate myself from many other real estate agents is to regularly preview new listings as they come on the market in West Seattle. When I was out previewing properties today, I saw two West Seattle homes that I think are exceptional values for the right buyers, so I’m going to post information about them here for you.

UPDATE: 1/19/12 This first property is SOLD.

The first is a move-in-ready 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom home in the Shorewood neighborhood. This property also has a HUGE double garage that ALSO includes a brand new studio apartment, a huge storage loft AND a kitchen equipped to run a professional catering service! The seller has already moved and wants this sold West Seattle home sold NOW, so the list price is just $329K!!

The address is 11028 26th Ave SW, Seattle 98146; MLS #303080. SOLD

 

The second West Seattle home is a rare one because it is located in the Duwamish co-housing cluster of townhomes.

Co-housing is a type of collaborative housing in which residents are consciously committed to living as a community.

This 815 sq. ft., 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom unit in West Seattle’s Puget Ridge neighborhood has soaring, high ceilings, large windows for lots of natural light, a covered porch, off-street parking and a large multi-purpose loft area in a tri-level floor plan. Community amenities include a workshop, p-patch, play area, common house with professional kitchen, laundry, internet and storage. Low HOA dues of $278/month. Priced at $172,950.

The address is 6000 17th Ave SW, #5, Seattle 98106. MLS #282235.

 

If you’re interested in seeing either of these West Seattle homes, I am the Prudential Northwest Realty agent to call. 206-708-9800.

Want me to keep an eye out for other screaming deals for you? I can do that, too. Give me a call and tell me your parameters and I will set up an automated property search that will send you information about new listings that match your criterion as soon as they hit the market.

 

Links to sites with tips for living Green

Sometimes it seems as if the amount of really valuable information available on the web is overwhelming, but I’m so grateful it’s there. I don’t know about you, but when I stumble across an interesting website, I have a tendency to bookmark it/add it to my Favorites, and then forget that it’s there.

Earlier today, I decided to sort through a bunch of my saved sites and I came across some real treasures, so I thought I’d share a few of the “living green” ones with you.

http://safesolutionsinc.com/ A site dedicated to providing non-toxic pesticides and green housecleaning products.

http://www.takeitbacknetwork.org/ This Network was developed to provide consumers with safe and convenient reuse and recycling options for products that contain toxic or hazardous materials.

http://greenlivingideas.com/ Provides ideas, tips, and information to help you improve the environmental sustainability of every aspect of your life: home energy, green building and remodeling, cars, food, waste recycling—and everything in between.

http://www.catalogchoice.org/ Free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.

http://greenhomeadvisor.org/alice-kuder/index Green Home Advisor is your source for information about home improvements that save energy, reduce your home’s carbon footprint and save you money on your energy bills.

http://www.ecosquid.com/client/index.jsp Sell or recycle your gadgets. Instantly compare cash offers and recycling options from across the web in one easy search.

See what I mean? So much useful information and tips for living green, no matter what shade of green you are 🙂

What are your favorite sites for information about living green?

 

 

 

May there be peace within

Below is a variation of one of my favorite inspirations. It has been circulating around the internet for quite some time and authorship has been attributed to everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Mother Theresa. I suspect it is actually a mishmash of the work of several different writers. Personally, I don’t care who wrote it; it works for me. I hope it brings you peace as well.

Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones and allow your sould the freedom to sing, dance praise and love. It is true for each and every one of us.