Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Every New Beginning...

..comes from some other beginning's end.

Nine months ago I created 4% Real Estate in an effort to provide top notch real estate services at a reduced commission. In an effort to continue to provide exceptional service at a reduced price, I have left John L Scott Real Estate and joined the United States' first Internet Real Estate Broker, As a Real Estate Agent at Redfin, I will be bringing Redfin's superior listing and buying services to Pierce County, Kitsap County, and Thurston County.

As I begin this new roll at Redfin, and as I maintain Blue Collar Agents, I am fearful that posts on this blog will be sporadic, if any at all. That being said, thank you for your readership and quality comments, they are truly appreciated. I also invite you to take a look at the Blue Collar Agents Blog, a blog about discount agents that I co-write with Franz Honer from Southern Maine.

May your real estate journies be quality, exciting, and inexpensive!

Trevor Smith
Redfin Real Estate Agent

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Seattle Foreclosures: How do we stack up?

A recent report from Property Shark shows that Seattle has the lowest number of foreclosures between New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Seattle comes in second for lowest rate of foreclosures.

According to the report, the Seattle Area (King County) reported 293 foreclosures during the third quarter. This was well below the 1533 foreclosures which took place in Los Angeles. When the number of foreclosures is compared to the number of households, New York City far and and away boasted the lowest rate of foreclosures, with only .01% of homes going to Trustee Sale.
By studying King County in depth, we find that Auburn and Federal Way, two of the least expensive places to live in King County, experienced the highest number of foreclosures.

Many feel that foreclosure rates will rise in 2007, as tens of thousands of Adjustable Rate Mortgage's fixed terms expire.

Now the stage is set. The nation’s foreclosure total already broke the 1 million glass ceiling in October, and just how high foreclosure levels will go in 2007 is open to
debate depending on how steep one believes the downturn will be.

“When I got into this business, back in 2000, defaults were about 1percent of all first mortgages. Today we’re at 1.5 percent. While it’s not a large number, it’s still a significant move. Do I think the economy is going to crumble? No! Will (the foreclosure rate) go to 2 percent? We’ll have to wait and see,” Saccacio told Doti, an economist and president of Chapman University.

For Esmael Adibi, executive director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University, the key concern is all those people who signed up for those “exotic” adjustable-rate mortgages in 2005 and thereafter. In California, for example, 27 percent of all mortgages were so-called “option ARMs,” where the buyer pays 1 percent interest and the underpaid amount gets added to the loan’s principal. (Foreclosure Pulse, 2006, Para. 2-4)

Despite these nationwide scares, Seattle has remained fairly resiliant to busts in the housing market. Will this be able to continue into next year or will next year bring a housing market disaster? I suppose I'll leave it to my friends over at Seattle Bubble to debate that.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Homes LLC: Poor Product, Poor Service

I recently took one of my home buyers through Rainier Vista, a new community in Covington. As we drove in the community, we began to look for a model home. However, there was none to be found. As we pulled around the corner, we saw a small trailer sitting back in a corner. Hmmm, I thought, I guess that's the sales center.

My Client and I walked into the trailer, and began talking to a very sweet woman, who turned out to be the sales representative for New Homes LLC. Now, I have to admit, after seeing New Homes LLC homes before, I was instantly turned off. New Homes, despite offering fantastic prices, constructs perhaps the lowest quality homes in Western Washington. But, like I said, the price was right, so we continued to listen as the sales rep gave her pitch.

As the representative continued her pitch, I began to notice that she wouldn't even speak to me anymore; she only addressed my client. She showed my clients floor plans (which turned out to be wrong) and photos. She then told my client that she could take a leisurely 1 hour drive to Bonney Lake to view a model home. At that time, I could tell my client was getting the same vibe I was... something is shady about this operation.

I politely excused myself and my client, and we began to leave. As we began to walk out the door, the sales rep asked for my clients contact information. She did this, despite the fact that I introduced myself as a REALTOR, as we entered the trailer. I stepped in, and gave the sales rep my information, and quickly helped my client out of the trailer. Phew, I thought, we made it out of there.

A few weeks went by after that unpleasant experience. Then, yesterday, I received a phone call from the New Homes LLC Sales Manager. He asked if my client had purchased a home yet. I politely said, "No, She has decided to buy closer over to I-5, in the Kent, Sea-Tac, Burien, areas." That didn't phase him. "Well, what if I told you that we are offering a $10,000 discount on our homes?" "Thanks for the information," I replied, "But my client is out of town for a few weeks, and I think she is pretty set on further West." He still didn't get the hint. He kept pressing. Finally, I broke down and told him that I didn't feel that New Homes provided a good product, and that I had had bad experiences in the past. He responded, "Well, New Homes, are no frill homes but they are very quality." And so the story went. He didn't get a clue. Finally, I told him I had to go. "Can I call you tomorrow?" he asked. "No!" I told him emphatically. "Well, lets sit down and meet in person, " he said. "No! No! No!" I said, " I have to go pick up my wife, I have to go!" He finally let me off the phone.

You see, this person was in sales. I know all the sales tricks. I wouldn't bite. My client wasn't interested and I knew it. However, by being a pushy salesman, this sales manager lost me for life as a potential help in selling his product. I now not only passively dislike New Homes LLC, I vehemently dislike and distrust them. Poor Craftsmanship. Poor Salespeople. Just plain a poor company.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Seattle and Snow... Not a Good Mix

Seattleites do a lot of things well. Seattle is the most educated city in the United States. Seattle is also one of the richest cities in the United States. Seattleites can build you a mean computer program. And you can darn well bet that you'll get the best latte you ever had here in Seattle.

Despite being a town of geniuses and entrepreneurs, we Seattleites are complete idiots when it comes to driving in the snow. The last few days we have gotten a rare snow storm here in the Puget Sound, leaving Seattle drivers helpless. Now, I understand that many Seattleites do not have snow tires, and that's OK, given that it almost never snows. I also understand that many folks are driving rear wheel drive cars, and that can be tough. However, there are few common sense things we can do in order to not turn 1-5 and I-405 into an ice-capades show:
  1. Slow down. You can not go 70 on ice. It just doesn't work.

  2. Don't stop on hills. You can't get started again.

  3. Leave the person in front of you allot of room.

  4. Be patient, we'll all get there eventually
So, Seattleites, we're smart, heck we're geniuses, lets beat this winter weather together. Besides, I'm tired of getting made fun of by my friends in Spokane and North Idaho, who think city folk can't drive on snow. Lets prove them wrong.

Photo taken from Monday Night Football coverage of the Green Bay - Seattle Game on

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Interview at Redfin

I recently interviewed for a Real Estate Agent position at Redfin, an Internet based discount brokerage here in Seattle. I met with Allie Howard, Manager of Washington Operations and Rob McGarty, Manager of West Coast Operations. My already high opinion of Redfin has gone up another notch after meeting these two wonderful people.

Allie and Rob were relaxed, positive, and sharp people. They interviewed me by truly getting to know me - allowing me to express my passions and experiences freely. They shared their vision and passion for Redfin and helping real estate consumers as well. As I left our meeting, I knew that despite if I get hired or not, I had found an ally in the real estate industry.

It wasn't just Allie and Rob that impressed me either. Aime Cook, Redfin's Recruiting Director was incredibly responsive in communicating with me and giving me feedback on the interview. Another Redfin employee (please forgive me I forgot her name) even recognized me from my blogging. The whole company truly felt like a community.

I am hopeful of receiving this position. I know they have some more interviews to complete, and it will be at least a week before I hear back.

Redfin has the feeling like "Something big is going to happen." I wonder if this is what Google felt like in 1998, or Microsoft in 1988? I am hoping to be on the ground level of this amazing company.

If you are one of my clients reading this, rest assured, you're needs will not forgotten in any transition I make. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post please email me at