How an unsightly neighborhood patch of brush and weeds with junk cars turned into a wonderful Tacoma North End Neighborhood garden and park:
Barbara and Peter Temple Thurston have lived in this neighborhood for 24 years. About twelve years ago Barbara began working with the City of Tacoma to gain access to an unsightly dump area at the head of Buckley gulch, They designated the area as a public park that folks could use as a pleasant walk through from the east side of N. 16th to the west side of N.16th. Then Barbara and Peter, with the help of the city and a friend or two, set about cleaning up the waste lot. They hauled away junked car parts, and built soil, created a path, and planted trees and plants to establish a peaceful and beautiful space. Thanks to a neighborhood grant that Barbara secured they were able to buy some plants and hire a fellow to build the path.
Adjacent to the park was a defunct substation. Around five years ago when the park was doing well, Barbara and a couple of neighbors pursued gaining access to the fenced empty substation to establish a community garden. Again, this took countless meetings with TPI who owned the property, with the city, and with representatives of the city and neighborhood councils. Big thanks go to the North End neighborhood council for their assistance and support.
A couple of years of pressure and at last they got the green light! Barbara and Peter called a meeting of interested neighbors and formed a solid committee to plan and build the now flourishing garden. Again, Barbara accessed a grant which funded the building of raised beds and the purchase of a delightful little gazebo which adds charm and beauty to the garden. Peter, an artist, designed the front gates and sign, while others built the shed and everyone came together to build the boxes. The fence and the surrounding shrubbery was already there thanks to TPU's stewardship, so after the garden boxes were filled and the gazebo built, neighbors donated a table and chairs. Neighbors quickly signed up for a garden bed and today they enjoy both the peace of this beautiful setting and the delicious harvest of their organic produce! Everyone has made friends with their neighbors.
In Gig Harbor we have a great shopping area called UPTOWN!. It has a wide variety of stores including Marshall's, Chico's, JJill, and our newest addition is Home Goods…opening soon to name a few! There is a 12 screen Century Theatre complex and a wide variety of restaurants including Vietnamese/Thai (LeLe's), Pizza (Fondi's), Cupcakes (Melissa's), Mexican Food (Blue Agave), Ice Cream (Ben and Jerry's) and great hamburgers (Blazing Onion). On Thursday during the summer there is an outdoor area and live music with room to dance.
My friend Denese and I were out strolling in Gig Harbor down on Harborview St. and saw this adorable shop called Sea Hags! When we went in…guess who I ran into? Melissa Moller is the owner and operator and Melissa used to own a store in Alaska and wanted to open one here. It has been open since August and has really great ocean- inspired items for the home. One of the items is a water fountain made out of used propellers. She has gorgeous clocks, jewelry, housewares items of all prices ranges beautifully handcrafted by local artisans. Please stop in and see Melissa and tell her Joyce said hello.
Sea Hags – 8805 North Harborview Drive, Suite 201 Gig Harbor, Washington 98332 – Near Anthony’s on the water.
Yesterday was a gorgeous day and on days like that in Gig Harbor, we want to be on the water. And what better place to go than The Tides! When it is warm you can sit on the deck and enjoy the sunshine. For now, it is great to be inside and surrounded by friends and the water view. I meet friends there or take my clients. They have wonderful Halibut Fish and Chips, Clam Chowder, great salads, a wide variety of hamburgers and sandwiches as well as specials. Beer, Wine and an open bar. Big TV’s for the games. Just a fun place to go! Service is great and now they have an expanded parking lot! You can tie up your boat there or do like the Gig Harbor folks do…come by kayak and have lunch! If you have time, check out all the pictures on the wall of patrons all over the world in their Tides Tavern apparel. I sent a shirt to one of my friends in Iraq to get his photo up there.
It always seems that something drives to me write about issues that come up! And here is another one that happened to two of my clients. We looked at 10 – 12 homes, choose one that they fell in love with and all the while, thought they were prequalified…and they weren’t. Lender rules have changed dramatically in the past several years and Realtors and Lenders are under stricter guidelines. When Realtors ask you for a prequalification letter from your chosen lender, we are not doing this to make you feel bad. We are protecting your time and investment in looking for a home. There is nothing more frustrating than to spend time looking, running numbers, making decisions, dreaming and then finding out you can’t buy.
If you are putting a large down-payment down or paying cash, be prepared to provide documentation that your down-payment is accessible. Cross out account numbers and provide it to your Realtor. Your Realtor Is often required to send it in with the offer and any preapproval letter you have provided. If you have cash under your mattress, you have to document where it came from. Ie: One of my clients sold a Streamline Trailer and put the cash in his bank account. It held up closing while we waited for him to find the buyer and get a receipt to prove where it came from at the last minute.
Lender rules are tougher and Realtors have to abide by them.
Your Realtor and your Lender are your team and are here to help you in any way possible. If you need a Realtor, call me. I would love to be your dream guide.
I wanted to share with you a wonderful experience I had with my friends(Kathy, Debbie, and PJ) in Costa Mesa, CA. While visiting down south over the holidays this year, we got tickets to this production. It said dress up in your boas and tiaras…so we did. They offered a 5 course meal which was catered and delicious and we found out it is based in Seattle by the Key Arena. There were jugglers, acrobats, high wire acts, singers and a wonderful comedian (pictured) who came out in these funny costumes and drew the audience in to participate. The waiters were the actors also and it was just hilarious, good fun and we enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend it to you and hope you will take a minute to check it out.
www.zinzanni.org. 222 Mercer St, Seattle · (206) 802-0015
Blogs happen when something prompts me to write them and today is one of those days. Let me preface this by saying, I love my clients! And I keep in mind that I have to impart to them the details so their life is easier and therefore mine is too. But sometimes, things come up and I learn something too. For this closing, I learned two things!
- Quick Claim Deed.
If you want to buy a property and put your friend, child or someone on the title by a quick claim deed, it can be done most of the time after closing because there are few escrow companies that will facilitate them and they give you the paperwork and you do it yourself…after closing. Today I learned from the escrow company handling this closing that if you wait to do it later, the Pierce county recorder is now charging almost a percentage point in excise tax to put them on later. So in order to do it at the time of closing, you must think about it ahead of time and get the lenders approval as well as a title report on the individual. But it can be done. Also that individual has to sign a document at escrow. This varies in other areas.
- No Cashiers Checks Accepted on Closing Day!
My client went to the bank this morning to get a Cashiers check for closing.Unfortunately she didn’t do it yesterday as she said she was.So the escrow company turned it down and she had to go back to the bank to wire the funds.There are some escrow companies that only accept wire transfers.It is important to determine ahead of time how you will bring in your funds.And the frustrating part is that sometimes you can’t get the amount needed until the last minute for a variety of reasons. So being mentally prepared to just go with the flow makes life easier and less stressful. Plan to wire your funds.The escrow company will give you the instructions and keep them with you.When you get the amount from escrow, go take care of the wiring of funds.
What happens at closing? It is confusing and makes everyone anxious. Once the escrow gets loan documents, several things have to happen.
a. The escrow company completes a HUD statement of all the charges for both buyer and seller which is then sent to the lender to be approved. This includes seller payoffs. It also comes to the selling and buying agents for approval. Once the lender signs off on it, then they call the seller and buyer to arrange signings.
b. As a buyer or seller you will go in to sign the selling documents at escrow. If you can’t go to escrow, they can arrange a signing for you at an additional charge usually. Let your agent know your availability so we can plan around your schedule.
c. Once you have signed your documents…usually 1 – 2 days prior to closing, the documents get sent back to the lender for a final look see. They may call the buyers employer to verify your employment or even pull your credit again. That is why we say…don’t go buy a car or charge up your credit cards with furniture etc. until it is closed. It changes your FICA score and can totally mess up your loan.
d. Once the bank has approved it, they will fund in the morning or by 1:30 on closing day. At that point the escrow company releases it to close and it is taken to be recorded. The only time you can sign and close on the same day is if you are paying cash.
e. Once we have recording numbers, the buyer gets keys and all is wonderful. Congratulations! You are a new home owner. Always feel free to call me with your questions!
I received an article on Facebook from a friend yesterday and I decided to blog my response. I think I shared with you my moving adventure earlier this month. Now I will share with you that I bought 2 properties in WA in 2004 and 2 properties in 2005. All from the proceeds of the sale of my condo in Channel Islands, CA. One of my friends was a lender with Countrywide. And again I was not in real estate and was depending on my lender and my agent to see me thru all this. What I learned from this is that it is not their responsibility. It is mine.
Being an agent today, I can truthfully say, my views have changed. It is my job to provide my clients with the best information available to help them make good decisions. I am not a lawyer or an accountant and I do not give legal advice. At any time, you can talk to a lawyer or accountant to get a better feeling about what you are doing. But the bottom line is, it is the buyers responsibility to do their due diligence in regards to making the biggest purchase of your life. Just because you can buy a home with very little down, doesn’t make it the right purchase for you. Read the contract and make sure you understand the terms. Get more than one good faith estimate. If they won’t give you one, something is amiss. I have had to learn the hard way…you don’t have to.
Inspecting the home.
If you are buying a home, you should plan to have a complete inspection done. I will provide 3 inspectors that my clients have used and respect. Generally, their cost is about $400, give or take. You can find them online for half of that and you are welcome to use them, but my experience is that you don’t get a complete inspection. Do they go into the attic and inspect? Do they crawl under the house and inspect? Are they certified for WA pest inspections? Do they run the appliances to see if they are working? Do they give you a written report with photos of the inspection? The most important part is that you plan to be present at the inspection. We have many unique reports and/or data that we supply to you to help you make the best decision for you.
I lucked out in that I bought two rentals in 2004 with 20 percent down and arm loans. I didn’t understand them to be honest. And I wasn’t present at the inspections because I bought them while living in CA. Big Mistake. Now that I am in real estate and have more experience, I realized what I had signed on for and was able to sell them in 2007 before I got into deeper trouble. So I am very careful when working with my clients to line them up with lenders that will take the time to explain the intricacies to them. It is a big purchase and I want you to be happy with your choices and have an awesome experience but buyers have to take responsibility for what they are signing. The biggest benefit to you will be that you will enjoy your new home and that you can learn from my experience.