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Mass Transit Made Simple

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We recently reported on parking updates, and now we’ll look at mass transit. Most of us have experienced a late or no-show bus, some even deciding that $20 of parking is worth 40 minutes of wasted time.  However, new technology could now change your mind.  AND, if mass transit access is a factor in your real estate purchase, we’ve come across a link for that as well.  Click on the titles below for these websites:

ONE BUS AWAYis an online bus tracking system, using data feed supplied by transponders of its various transit companies.  There’s even an “Explore” tool which allows you to search for restaurants, businesses, parks and other amenities “One Bus Away”!   

Get real-time arrival information, on the stop of your choice, for the following transit companies:

  • Metro Transit
  • Washington State Ferries
  • King County Marine Division (Water Taxi)
  • Sound Transit
  • Community Transit
  • Pierce Transit

 And, you’re able to access this in a number of ways:

  • Web Interface
  • Touch-Tone Phone
  • SMS Text

Plus, there are native OneBusAway client setups for:

  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Windows Phone 7

Finally, OneBusAway is a local business!  It was developed at the University of Washington by grad students Brian Ferris and Kari Watkins, with additional funding by Nokia Research and the National Science Foundation. It’s an open-source system and the group is working towards offering the service to other cities nationwide.  OneBusAway was also a 2010 winner at the Washington Technology Industry Association’s Industry Achievement Awards.  

RIDER ALERT – Sign up for your bus route and Metro’s “rider alert” tool delivers text or e-mail alerts about your bus in case of construction, special event re-routing, or snow emergencies.  It’ll also zap you an email with schedule changes and holiday information.  

METRO APP CENTER –  There are a number of apps and mobile tools which developers have built using Metro Transit data, and they’re free for you to download at this site, including OneBusAway.

REAL ESTATE — For those who want to buy in an area with mass transit options, there’s a local link in the Metro App Center for estately.com.   Click on Options. The right hand column has a “choose” link under Mass Transit where you can type in a Metro route number, and properties either along or close to that bus line appear.  You can check out neighborhood walkability scores and yes, parking too. Run in conjunction with NWMLS, it provides a lot of information and can be confusing to wander through.  Just contact us at this Stroupe Group link and we’ll help you find what you’re looking for, in fewer steps.

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There’s still some glitches with OneBusAway and Rider Alert, most recently when buses changed to snow routes during the recent Thanksgiving week storms. In 2011, these should run smoother when Metro buses are equipped with GPS systems.  Technology comes at a price, though– fare increases for most passenger groups go up in January.  However, mass transit is easiest on the environment, your wallet and your driving sanity.  For most of us, mass transit is the only way to fly.

For One-of-a-Kind Giving: Try an Artwalk!

Among Seattle’s great neighborhoods are a dozen monthly Artwalks, and they’re ready for holiday shoppers!  All types of media are featured, but most Artwalks also have music, food and special events, too. Artwalk hours are from 6-9 pm unless otherwise noted. Below is a timeline of what’s happening when during December, as well as when Artwalks are held year-round. Click on the neighborhood name for their weblink.

December 1st (first Wednesdays)

WallingfordOne of the largest of the neighborhood art walks, most located right on 45th St N.

 

December 2nd (first Thursdays)

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Pioneer SquareThis venue is so big, it’s best to check their website where you can choose what kind of art you’re searching for.

ChinatownThis month, they also have Shop-o-Rama events on Saturdays from December 4-18.

 

December 3rd (first Fridays)

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Fremont – You don’t need a First Friday to party at Fremont, but this month also hosts the Annual Lenin Lighting!  Join the fun at 5 pm and stay for shopping at many venues.

 

December 9th (second Thursdays)

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Capitol Hill –Hours for the Blitz Capitol Hill Arts Walk runs from 5-8 pm.  Wander around more than 50 venues, with activities varying every month.

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West Seattle – Over 60 merchants covering West Seattle Junction, Alki Beach, Admiral District, Morgan Junction, Fauntleroy District and Delridge.  This month’s hours are extended for late night shopping.

 

December 10th (second Fridays)

Greenwood/Phinney –Located along Phinney Ave N and Greenwood Ave N.

 

December 11th (second Saturdays)

Ballard — Start at the south end of Ballard Ave, work your way up the street to Market and beyond!

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Central District   — Held at 23rd Ave and E Cherry St from 1-5 pm.

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Georgetown – Art Attack at over 30 venues, covering the neighborhood, the Horton Building, south of Corson and North Airport Way.

 

December 16th (third Thursdays)

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Belltown – Art, food and music all around Belltown.

Upper Queen Anne – No active website available.  Look for the balloons in front of participating venues along Queen Anne Ave N.

 

If you’d like to see all the Artwalk information at a glance, Seattle Councilman Nick Licata has a great arts link.  Check it out for all kinds of Seattle culture information. And happy shopping!

Getting Around Downtown – by Car

November 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, Lifestyle, MISC

Ready or not, it’s Holiday Time!  Downtown Seattle’s holidays link is loaded with information about entertainment and arts events, shopping, dining and fun in general. But where, oh where, can you park?

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GARAGES:  TRY e-PARK!

The City of Seattle recently introduced e-Park, a guidance system providing short-term (approx 2-4 hours) parking information in real time. At a glance, e-Park signs can guide you to available parking spaces throughout the Downtown Retail Core and Pike Place Market, a combined total of over 4,500 parking spaces. Here are the e-Park locations:

Republic Parking at Third and Stewart Street Garage

Washington State Convention and Trade Center

Pike Place Market

Unico Properties at the Puget Sound Plaza/Cobb Building garage

Pine Street Group and Ampco Parking at the Pacific Place Garage

Washington Athletic Club

Second Avenue, near the southwest corner of Second and Virginia

Fifth Avenue, near the northwest corner of Fifth and Lenora

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The system is pretty simple. At key entrance points to downtown, signs guide drivers towards participating garages with available short-term spaces. The sign above will tell you, in real time, how many spaces are available in each garage.

You can also plot your parking strategy ahead of time by visiting www.seattle.gov/parkingmap. This is an interactive citywide parking map, displaying e-Park and on-street parking information, garage and lot locations, rates, and hours of operation.

The e-Park system is not a new one.  Guidance system technology is commonly used throughout Europe and in our country, has caught on in Portland, San Francisco and San Jose.  Seattle’s program is unique because in addition to city garages, we also partner with those that are privately owned. Watch for the program to expand into Pioneer Square and the Central Waterfront within the next two years.

 

METERED PARKING: LATEST NEWS

In recent days, the Seattle City Council made compromises with Mayor Mike McGinn on this hot-button issue. Meter rates will increase up to $4 an hour, BUT not in all neighborhoods. 

Two parking studies will be done prior to any changes. The first one will take a look at current space usage. The second will assess whether to tailor parking rates to specific neighborhoods, and adjust those rates depending on the time of day. The goal is to have 85 percent of the street spaces filled.

The council agreed to extend parking-meter hours from the current 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. instead.  However, they rejected McGinn’s plans to charge for Sunday parking, bringing sighs of relief to a number of business owners relying on free parking for weekend customers.  At this time, it looks as if no changes will take place until at least 2012.

 

PARKING METERS & PAY STATIONS:  HELP INFO

Questions about a credit card transaction? Call 206.684.PARK

Problems with a parking meter or pay station? Please call 206.684.5260. Best to report this, because it’s illegal to park at a nonworking meter.  

Want to pay or contest a parking citation? Call 206.684.5600

General questions about pay stations? Email paystations@seattle.gov or call 206.684.ROAD

And remember… your parking stub is good for anywhere in the City. Say you pay for time downtown, then need to run to Capitol Hill. Keep it on your window, for when you park the second time, whatever minutes are left on your stub still apply.

We haven’t forgotten those who Go Green… there’s some great mass transit links online that you may not be aware of, and we’ll spotlight them in a separate article. Watch for it!

Open House – Sunday, November 21

November 18, 2010 by  
Filed under MISC, Watermark

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Watermark Tower – 1107 1st Avenue, Unit #1702 – Open 2 – 4 p.m.

$485,000 – NWMLS #: 028680

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This lovely 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home is warm and inviting!  Located on the 17th floor with southeastern exposure and spectacular citywide views. Only minutes away from Seattle Art Museum, Benaroya Hall and Pike Place Market.  This in-city oasis also provides spacious living with open floorplans, plenty of windows, and air conditioning.

Hosted by James Stroupe,  James@Stroupe.com , 206-910-5000

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Grandview – 2201 3rd Avenue, Unit #2104 – Open 1 – 4 p.m.

$650,000 – NWMLS #: 107494

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Truly amazing!  This unit boasts 180-degree views from every room PLUS its three private decks! Lake Union, Space Needle, Puget Sound– extraordinary at this price! 2 bedrooms plus a custom-built office and 2 bathrooms.  Hardwood floors and custom tile flooring complete this graceful home.  Secured parking and entrance.  All this and more at the Grandview!

Hosted by Julie Roh,  Julie@Stroupe.com , 206-354-1030

Harvest Time in Seattle: Commercial Real Estate

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We are currently experiencing a bumper crop of new and existing property changes in Seattle, and receiving national notice as well.  Let’s go through the latest on the commercial side:

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7th & Madison:  Nine stories, 204,000 square feet, zero tenants! But that may be changing. Rumors are that HAL Real Estate and Urban Renaissance Group have purchased the property and The Polyclinic may become the primary tenant.  

818 Stewart St:  DCI Engineers took advantage of their expiring lease in Bellevue’s Skyline Tower to move, occupying 16,000 square feet on 818 Stewarts’s tenth floor by the end of November.  A caveat is that DCI was the structural engineer of this building and will now be able to show their work, onsite, to potential clients.  Although 55 employees will be relocating to work in Seattle, DCI will still maintain a presence in Bellevue and is looking for other space.  818 Stewart has 14 stories, 238,000 square feet, and is 86 percent leased.

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1301 Second Ave: Tacoma’s largest private employer, Russell Investments, bought the former 42-story WaMu Center on Second Avenue in 2009 and moved in 900 employees this fall.  What’s next for the company?  An outdoor sign!  In the works is an amendment to the City’s Land Use Code (Title 23) “to allow placement of wall identification signs in certain downtown zones on buildings at heights above sixty-five feet when tenants have a lease in effect for a minimum of 200,000 square feet of floor area in a single building.”  The City would still retain sign design approval.

1321 Seneca St:  Owned at the time by the now-defunct Barclays North of Lake Stevens, plans had been to turn this quarter-block of property into a 24-story tower.  Now a parking lot, its bank group recently put it up for sale.  Happily, representatives are now fielding queries from interested buyers at better than anticipated prices.  A sale is expected by year-end or by early 2011.

1501 E Madison St:  The former home of CC Attle’s bar is undergoing a bit of transformation. The Bullitt Foundation is going to turn the space into a six-floor, 52,000 square foot building called the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction. Its goal is to be a “living building”, designed to satisfy all its energy, waste and water needs onsite.  It will headquarter Bullitt, plus provide office and commercial space for companies involved in the green building industry.  It also plans to position itself as a focal point for education and sustainable development awareness. Construction begins this winter, scheduled to be completed in early 2012.

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224 Westlake Ave N:  The former Athletic Supply building was recently sold to Northwest Retail Partners.  Built in 1926, plans are underway to remodel the entire 32,000 square foot building, plus add a fifth floor penthouse. The penthouse will house Northwest Retail’s offices, and NRP plans to lease out the rest of the building.  

On the national front, the Urban Land Institute, in conjunction with PricewaterhouseCoopers, performs surveys and interviews with over 875 real estate investors on the country’s top 50 markets, then releases annual rankings and forecasts. For 2011, they ranked the Seattle Metropolitan area at No. 6 for commercial and multifamily investments.  When you take into context that Seattle was ranked No. 1 in 2009 and dropped to No. 8 in 2010, the climb back up is great news!  There’s more to come, and we’ll keep in touch.

200 W Highland – An Address with Star Power

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Your chance to view the first group of units back on the market at 200 W Highland will be Tuesday, November 16th at 5pm.

Perched on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill, 200 W Highland is a 25-home condominium development.  Its location provides you the best of all worlds.  Where do we start?  First, you have an easy walk to the great restaurants and services in Upper Queen Anne.  You’re moments away from Lower Queen Anne, home to Seattle Rep and Intiman Theaters, plus Seattle Opera, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle International Film Festival’s year-round film venue. Let’s not forget easy access to Seattle Center and Key Arena, either!  You’re close to the vibrancy of downtown Seattle, and it’s also easy to hop onto the freeways.

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But while you’re easily in the midst of all that activity, it’s just as easy to escape it. You can enjoy sumptuous views of downtown, Elliott Bay, the Space Needle and Mount Rainier from your living room, bedroom or terrace.  Sun getting in your eyes?  The window shades are mechanized and programmable.  If you’d like to go outside for a relaxing stroll, 200 W Highland is located right across the street from the historic and beautiful Kerry Park.

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Timeless architecture, combined with classic materials, complement this historically upscale neighborhood.  All units contain open kitchens with top-of-the-line appliances including Sub-Zero refrigerators and Viking gas ranges.  Want some further pampering?  You’ll also find special touches such as a wine cooler, a warming drawer, and a pantry.  There are high-quality finishes throughout from marble and granite countertops, to exotic hardwood flooring, to spacious bedrooms with wool carpeting.  Finally, there is a security system in place, along with indoor parking.

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Although the homes are stars in themselves, they share billing on Tuesday with host Kendra Todd, who heads up the The Kendra Todd Group. If her name sounds familiar, she was the Season 3 winner of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, and host of HGTV’s My House Is Worth What?

Homes are available in 2- and 3-bedroom units, with 1,500 to 2,800 square foot floor plans. Prices range from around $700,000 to $1.7 Million.  If you’d like to meet us at the Open House or arrange for a private showing, please contact us at this Stroupe Group  link!

Real Estate Powers of Attorney

November 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying, Featured, MISC, Selling

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It’s a reality of life that there may come a time when your spouse, partner or loved one either becomes incapacitated or unable to act for themselves.  If the individual has financial matters involving real estate, it’s very important to have a Power of Attorney filed in order to protect their interests.  Below are the different types of POA’s available for real estate transactions:

Special Power of Attorney for a Sale – Good for six months or less in most cases, this POA is used for selling  property.  A legal description of it, notarized and recorded*, is also needed to finalize the transaction.  It’s also good for only one specific piece of property.  Another sale would need another POA.

Special Power of Attorney for a Purchase/Encumber - Covers a property purchase. With lender approval, you can also use this POA to financially encumber property with a security instrument.  This POA is also only good for six months or less, and a legal description of the property must be notarized and recorded*.  In addition, this POA only covers one specific property purchase.  If the individual wants to do another buy, they’d need to do another POA.

Durable Power of Attorney – This is the most common POA, where an individual may give power to cover a wide array of matters from health care, to buying or selling, to managing business or financial matters.  A POA can even be set up to file a lawsuit. The length of a POA can be set for a specific or indefinite period, but can also be cancelled at any time. It can also take effect immediately or in the future.  There is language one can put in to cover everything but for real estate transactions, the POA needs to specifically include the right to sell and/or purchase property, make property gifts, or change community property agreements.  Filing* this document also ensures that real estate transactions are valid for title insurance purposes.

Other Power of Attorney Information – The POA ends in the event of the individual’s death.  And, a POA does not substitute for a will by either creating or altering one.

How to Create a Power of Attorney – A Durable POA is typically set up and filed by an attorney.  A Special POA can either be done by an attorney, or by using approved generic forms which you can download from the Washington State Bar Association forms website.  If you go this route, don’t forget to get it recorded!

For More Information – The University of Washington’s Marion Gould Gallagher Law Library website is an excellent source on all sorts of legal matters. Their Power of Attorney link also includes information on Guardianships.  Legal advice via email and phone is also available, just check out the links on top of their webpage.

*For King County residents, ”Recorded” and “Filing” refers to registering POA’s with the King County Recorder’s office.  POA’s are considered confidential and in King County, are not accessible to the public.

A Look at Title Insurance

November 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying, Featured, Land Use

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Title insurance refers to indemnity insurance for your property. First established in the U.S. in 1853, it is meant to protect an owner’s or a lender’s financial interest in real property against loss due to title defects, liens, or other surprises involving your property purchase. This insurance defends you against a lawsuit attacking your title, or will reimburse you for actual monetary loss incurred up to the dollar amount of insurance the policy provided.

Real property interests insured are either fee simple (full outright ownership) or a mortgage (loan secured by a lender).  However, title insurance can be purchased to insure any interest in real property, including easements, leases, or life estates.  Just as lenders require that you hold fire and other types of insurance to protect their investment, nearly all lenders (save for some non-institutional ones) also require title insurance to protect their interest in a loan secured by real estate. Buyers purchasing properties for cash often go for title insurance to protect their purchase. All in all, for a little money, you can save yourself a lot of headaches.

There are three types of policies for buyers to choose from. Standard is the cheapest, followed by ALTA® Homeowner’s (American Land Title Association), and finally, Extended.  Costs vary depending on the property value.

Standard Coverage insures only items found by searching public records.

ALTA® Homeowner’s Coverage has the same coverage as Standard, plus items which may pop up post-policy.

Extended Coverage involves having a survey done, and is probably the best choice if you’re purchasing land and you want to verify your property boundaries and outbuilding encroachments.

The chart below outlines the types of policies in more detail.

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There’s some famous examples of people who lost their homes due to no title insurance. When Abraham Lincoln was three years old, his family was forced to move from his birthplace because of title errors, and the same thing nearly cost them their second home four years later. Frontiersman Daniel Boone lost tens of thousands of acres of land he speculated in, also due to errors in his title documents.  Title insurance was established to ensure that what you buy is truly yours, with no worries about forgery, deceptive surveys, hidden liens, conveyances by minors or mentally incompetent persons, and other title errors.

This information is based on rules and regulations issued by federal agencies, but please check with your bank or loan adviser to discuss your title options in more detail.  Or, just contact us at this Stroupe Group link for more info.

Beep, Bzzt: Electric Car news (and a test drive, too)

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Nissan’s first zero-emission, all-electric car, the Nissan LEAF, will be hitting Seattle streets in December. And where will you plug them in?  In August 2009, a $99.8 million goverment grant to Electric Transportation Engineering Corporation (eTec) was awarded to set up electric car networks in five cities nationwide. Seattle’s portion will be used to set up around 2,550 charging systems, enabling drivers to use electric vehicles throughout the region with the security of knowing a charging station is nearby.  AND, under this program, LEAF buyers will also be offered a free 220-volt charging station for home use, similar to the power level you’d use to run your dryer.

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With an agreement between local goverments and Nissan North American in place, both Seattle and King County are working to get these cars into their carpools, as well as encouraging buyers to get them on the streets. Zipcar users both public and with the city will be able to drive a LEAF, too, because Zipcar is also an eTec program partner. 

Plug-in locations are still being determined throughout King County, but currently scheduled for setup in Seattle are as follows:

Central Library Parking Garage- 4 stations

Fauntleroy Ferry Dock- 6 stations

King Street Center- 8 stations 

Pacific Place Parking Garage- 5 stations

Pike Place- 2 stations

SeaPark Garage – 6 stations

Seattle Center, 5th Ave Parking Garage- 5 stations

UW Foster School of Business- 1 station

The LEAF is a five-passenger hatchback with sporty handling that can go about 100 miles on an eight-hour charge. At current Seattle City Light electric rates, the LEAF would cost approximately $200 to drive 10,000 miles, or around 2 cents a mile. With the same scenario, a gas-powered vehicle based on 25 mpg would cost approximately $1,220, at $3.05 per gallon. One hears about the high cost of purchasing an electric car, but the LEAF is scheduled to be priced in the range of a typical family sedan. And, you’ll be able to set your mobile phone to activate the air conditioning and the charging performance wirelessly.

If you’d like to take the future out for a spin today, Nissan is sponsoring a test drive in Tukwila from Friday through Sunday, November 12th – 14th.  Register ahead of time at https://www.drivenissanleaf.com, select Events in the left column, then Seattle, and a registration form will pop up. Allow around 60-90 minutes for the test drive. If you want to go on a first-come, first-serve basis, the event takes place at Westfield Southcenter in the parking lot area north of Macy’s.  Hours on Friday and Saturday are from 7am – 5pm, and Sunday from 8am- 4pm.