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Open Thread Answers: Changing Lenders, Neighborhood Trends & More

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On Friday, we opened it up to you guys to ask a real estate expert anything and everything you want. We'll do it again this Friday but in the meantime, real estate agent Christian Nossum has some answers for you...

Q: Is it ethical to change lenders before closing?

Buying a house is most likely the largest purchase you'll ever make, and it usually involves getting a large mortgage for hundreds of thousands of dollars. You deserve to have a competent, ethical and honest lender. If for some reason you don't feel as though you're working with someone like that, then I don't think it's unethical to change lenders. In my opinion, it all depends on why you want to make the change.


Q: I recently inherited a house and I just want to sell it. I don't know too much about what to expect but I'm curious specifically about the costs that I should expect to pay (agent costs, taxes, etc). Thanks.

A: I just wrote an article explaining how commissions work when selling last week. In addition to paying around 6% for real estate commissions, you'll be paying title insurance, escrow, and recording fees (about 2%), and state excise tax (1.78%). That brings your sales costs to about 10% of the sale price. This is the cost when selling any home.

The other possible expense is capital gains tax. Many things come into play when calculating your capital gains tax, like: 1) What the fair market value of the property was at the time the decedent passed away vs what it actually sell for, 2) was the property used as your personal residence, an investment property, or sold right after being inherited? There are a few other factors depending on what the answers above reveal. I'd be happy to grab a coffee or beer with you to chat about specifics (here's my contact info). I also have a great CPA that I can recommend to help you navigate this.

Q: Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood seems to be up and coming. It looks to be on the radar for revitalization. Are you seeing this trend too? Would this be a good neighborhood for a potential home buyer?

As someone who was born in and lived my early childhood years in the Greenwood neighborhood, I can say that yes, this is a trend I am seeing as well. I drive through Greenwood every week to watch my 2 year old daughter's dance class, and even over the last year I've seen some pretty significant changes like the new Fred Meyers. Often when big businesses make an investment in the neighborhood, smaller businesses follow and changes take place at a faster pace.

That being said, choosing which neighborhood to buy in depends a lot on what your lifestyle is. We are so lucky in Seattle to have so many awesome neighborhoods to choose from. I even have trouble deciding which neighborhood I want to live in because I spend so many hours in the car with buyers teaching them about the pros and cons of every neighborhood. As a result, I move a lot. Luckily I'm a real estate agent!

Q: Does Seattle have a unused lot program or a unused city property program for non profits? Is there a way to get a property and fix it up and rehab it for little or no money down?

Seattle has a strong commitment to building it's neighborhoods, which is why they have something called the Neighborhood Matching Fund. I don't know about your specific project, but you should check out http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf/ to see if you qualify.