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Open House: Grandview, #1007 – Sunday, Nov 13th

November 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Grandview, MISC

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Grandview ~ 2201 3rd Ave  ~ Unit # 1007

$215,000

MLS# 209266

Sunday, November 13, 2011 ~ Open from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Your Host is James Stroupe

206.910.5000  ~  james@stroupe.com

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Recently remodeled, this beautiful corner unit has fabulous views of the Seattle skyline. An abundance of light creates a warm home with hardwood floors.  The kitchen has stainless steel appliances plus a 30 bottle wine cooler. A Murphy bed makes the most of your space during the day, while allowing you to sleep by the stars at night.  The large south facing private deck hovers above the street to soak in the fresh air with beautiful city and sound views.

Grandview also offers great amenities including an indoor pool, spa/sauna, gym, outdoor terrace.  Parking and storage is inlcuded.  AND, your HODs include electric, water, sewer.

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Check out Grandview’s Walk Score® of 98 and a perfect Transit Score™ of 100  link here to see all of the restaurants, arts, bakeries, boutiques, coffee shops and so much more that this great neighborhood provides.

Grand Location.  Grand Amenities.  Grandview.  You owe it to yourself to check this out!  We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.  If you can’t make it this weekend but would like to schedule a private tour, just contact us at the phone number or email address above, or drop us a line here at urgent@stroupe.com.

Pioneer Square: Body and Soul

July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Land Use, Lifestyle

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To say life is busy at Pioneer Square is an understatement!  From building rezoning to preservation, the changes now occurring in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood are fast, huge, and potentially historical.  With change, of course, come a few growing pains.

DSCF0370Pioneer Square is on the north end of what the City of Seattle deems “South Downtown”, stretching across the International District and over the Stadium District.  The City does not set official neighborhood boundaries, but the Pioneer Square zone is roughly bordered by Alaskan Way S/Occidental Ave S; S Royal Brougham Way; 4th Avenue S; and a little north of Yesler Way.  More on that later.

In April, 2011, the Seattle City Council ratified new building heights for South Downtown. Addressing concerns that area development was not keeping pace with the rest of the city, hopes were that the new height limits would spur construction and stimulate growth.  It got a little heated when the talk came to Pioneer Square. 

Developers and the Downtown Seattle Association wanted heights up to 180 feet (18 stories if you calculate 10 feet per story).  Preservationists argued that this would be way too high, and radically alter the face of Pioneer Square (also on the National Register of Historic Places).  Preservationists further stated that increased heights in surrounding neighborhoods would still draw people to Pioneer Square without threatening its culture and character.

Compromise was made.  Zoned as Pioneer Square Mixed, buildings may go as high as 100 feet as long as they’re not more than 15 feet taller than the adjacent buildings.  Some areas could rise to 120 feet (without the 15-foot restriction) when certain provisions were met. Part of the entire new South Downtown rezoning plan, these provisions include: Affordable Housing; Historic Preservation; Public Safety; Parking; Economic Development; and Walkability. 

Click on this Pioneer Square Zoning Maps link for a comparison of past and present zoning areas.  If you’d like a lot more detail, check out this City of Seattle Zoning map link, Areas 115 and 116.

pio sq bldgThe City’s recent focus on Pioneer Square began in June 2010 when it released a plan called Pioneer Square 2015, A Strategy for Seattle’s First Neighborhood. This link points to how we’re doing one year later

More changes are occurring to encourage growth in the area.  The City is now laying conduit under First Avenue for fiber-optic broadband internet, and Comcast has been selected as the service provider. Access begins in September. 

Businesses are giving Pioneer Square a second look, and moving in!  Two examples are Onehub, specializing in file sharing resources, arriving from Bellevue and Jones Soda, currently at South Lake Union, relocating near CenturyLink Field.

DSCF0373Pioneer Square’s legacy is important to the history of Seattle.  On the historical side, the Trail to Treasure was introduced in May, 2011.  Its goal is to bring the story of Seattle’s beginning to life through a walking tour of Pioneer Square.  There’s still much to do to complete the full project, but you can currently hit a number of stops (and some side trips) that helped shape the history and development of Pioneer Square, and Seattle/Puget Sound itself.  Pick up a free map at the Cadillac Hotel (which is also a national park) at 319 Second Avenue S, or you can download it here.

The Alliance for Pioneer Square is dedicated to promoting Pioneer Square’s history and its local/tourist destination. The Seattle Square, in Occidental Park, will run through the fall.  This outdoor market operates on Thursdays from 4:00-9:00 p.m with vintage and craft vendors, plus a rotation of food vendors and music.  Finally, catch Pioneer Square’s monthly First Thursday Art Walk.  This is the oldest and largest ArtWalk in Seattle, ongoing for nearly 30 years.

We’ll continue to keep you informed as Pioneer Square evolves—in both body, and soul.

Tax Time Tips

April 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Lifestyle, MISC

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This year’s federal filing deadline has been moved to Monday, April 18th.  More about why later, let’s get to work on deductions!  We riffled through a few websites and came across a few items we hope you know about… or should be made aware of.

Refinancing points–  Any points you pay to refinance your home can be deducted on a monthly basis over the life of the new loan.  

Old refinancing points–  Unamortized points can be deducted in the year of a new refinancing.  And, if you can refinance a 2010 loan in 2011, you can write off the remaining balance in 2012.

Homebuyer Tax Credit—If you received the $7,500 repayable credit in 2008, you’re now liable for repayment at $500 per year.  The $8,000 first-time homebuyer credits of 2009 need no repayment.

Property Tax Deduction—You were able to claim $1,000 on top of the standard deduction for 2009, but not in 2010.  Congress let it expire.

rsz_tax_1Energy Savings Home Improvement Credit— You may be eligible for a 30% credit (maximum $1,500) for skylights, outside doors, windows, pigmented roofs, furnaces, water heaters or central air installed in your primary residence.  

Health insurance premiums—Self-Employed:  Deduct the full amount of your self-employed  health insurance premiums to the extent of your net income if the expense is included in your adjusted gross income. You can also deduct health insurance premiums when you calculate your self-employment Social Security and Medicare taxes.  Premiums paid after March 30, 2010 for kids up to age 27 are deductible.  On the other end, self-employed seniors age 65 and up can deduct Medicare premiums.  Employer Paid:  All health insurance premiums, including some long-term-care (depends on your age), can be deductible.  Add these to your medical expenses, and if they exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, ka-ching! 

Tax expenses – You can include tax-planning and investment expenses but the total needs to exceed 2% of adjusted gross income.  Includes tax preparation fees, plus tax-planning legal or accounting fees.  The tax part of estate planning is deductible, too.   

Investment expenses –  Annual broker fees, directly paid IRA fees, even your security deposit box.  You can also deduct investment-related subscriptions such as Barron’s, Forbes, etc., and get receipts for your investment-related newsstand pickups, too.  Long-distance phone calls to your broker and investment adviser are deductible, so are parking fees and mileage when you visit them.

rsz_tax_2Charitable contributions—This is an auditing minefield, so keep good receipts. Pay by credit card and the deduction is taken on the year you made the charge, and not the charge card payment.  Don’t forget receipts for cash transactions, too.  If you donate through your company payroll, save your annual report.

Donated items— Items dropped in a donation box also bring on auditing risks because you don’t get a receipt.  Many feel more comfortable either dropping items off directly at the nonprofit, or having the nonprofit pick them up.  Most will give you a receipt where you fill in the amount.  If you’re not sure how to calculate value, ask the charity for a suggested amount.  Be fair about actual value.

Educator expenses– If you’re a K-12 teacher, aide, instructor or principal, you may be able to get an above-the-line deduction of up to $250 for materials such as books, supplies, or equipment. 

Higher education expenses—If you or your kids attend college, the American Opportunity Credit is worth up to $2,500 per undergraduate student.  A Lifetime Learning Credit is worth as much as $2,000 per return. Compare and see what’s best.  

Continuing Education courses:  You can’t deduct expenses to qualify for a new business or profession. However, you can deduct continuing-education courses taken to either maintain your business/professional license, or to enhance your  business-related skills. 

Business gifts and Greeting Cards:  Greeting cards to clients and prospects are a deductible advertising expense.  Gifts you purchase for clients are deductible but limited to $25 per person per year.  Companywide gifts are deductible in any amount, as long as it’s reasonable.

The April 18th filing deadline is thanks to Emancipation Day in Washington, DC.  This District of Columbia holiday, celebrated on April 15th this year, honors Abraham Lincoln’s freeing nearly 3,100 slaves nine months prior to his Emancipation Proclamation.  

These tips are meant to be guidelines only. Restrictions apply in some situations.  The IRS has a very comprehensive tax website, even an online filing system.  You can access their information through www.irs.gov , or toll free 800-829-1040, or consult your tax professional with any tax questions you may have.

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SLU Urban Design Framework Complete – Come Celebrate!

February 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Land Use, Lifestyle

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The South Lake Union Urban Design Framework (UDF) is completed and you’re invited to join the party!  Sponsored by the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, it’ll be held on Tuesday evening, February 8th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Cascade People’s Center, located at 309 Pontius Ave N (cross is Thomas Street and two blocks west of Eastlake Ave E) in South Lake Union.

slu roadThe UDF is a collaboration among South Lake Union’s neighbors, City staff and design professionals.  Their goal is to establish a shared design vision and implementation strategy for the future of the SLU neighborhood.  Recommendations range from specific actions, such as creating a new community center at Denny Park; to broader strategies using building form and land use controls to create and maintain an active and inviting lakefront.

Key elements of the UDF include recommendations to create community gateways signifying entrance into distinct neighborhoods; developing neighborhood ‘hearts’ to serve as focal points of the neighborhood for people to gather and interact; and, to develop a network of great streets including green streets and festival streets.

rsz_park_cover_(640x480)Finally, the UDF will complement the City’s soon-to-be released Draft Environmental Impact Statement studying potential increases in height and density in the neighborhood.  Together, these documents will guide zoning code changes, design guidelines, infrastructure investments, streetscape planning, and a variety of other programs and policies shaping the public realm of South Lake Union.

The UDF is available online.  You’ll find it on the DPD website by clicking onto this link. It’s a 40 page .pdf file so it may take awhile to download.  And don’t forget to join the UDF Completion Celebration on Tuesday, February 8th at Cascade People’s Center from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.!

Pike Place Market – Where to Find Everything

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If you and your guests are thinking of visiting Pike Place Market over the holiday season, you may be in for a few surprises when visiting your favorite spots.  Well into Phase 2 of its $68.6 million, four-year renovation project, a number of businesses are now undergoing relocation and in a few cases, closure within the Market.  This part of the renovation will run into the spring of 2011.

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However, construction is now in “slowdown” mode for the rest of the year. Business is currently brisk, with the vendors in full holiday mode.  Shopping is always a fun and festive event at Pike Place Market, and their website now has a link where you can get the latest news about your favorite shops and restaurants.  Click on this construction summary site for more details.  You can also sign up for an online feed to keep you abreast of the latest Market news.

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For example, five portable containers fitted with power, ramps, and water supply will be in operation in front of the Market and in place until springtime.  Choice Produce and El Mercado Latino are currently located in these containers, with Quality Produce to follow. Quality Cheese and Pike Place Market Creamery will also share a container.

Public Restrooms received a makeover too.  Rebuilding the designated women’s room in the First and Pine building is nearing completion, and a new unisex restroom on the First Avenue floor of the Corner Market should now be open.  New restroom transformation of the Rummage Hall has also been completed. You can find the Rummage Hall’s inside location at the rear of the Soames Dunn building for the winter, and its Western Avenue location will remain open until springtime.

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The focus of the renovation work is to upgrade the Market’s core infrastructure.  This includes all mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, installing a four-pipe system serving each of its eight buildings, and implementing new main switch gear.  Leading the renovations is Turner Construction, which is also in charge of  all seismic work, adding three new elevators serving all Market floors, and upgrading the Market’s exterior skin to now withstand salt air and UV rays. 

The Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority (PDA) is working with all affected tenants on everything from packing up to temporary relocation, as well as arrangements to keep business activity going in each venue.  PDA is determined to keep the Market fully operational to vendors, residents and tourists during renovation. 

The Market will be closed on Christmas and New Years Day.  And, when construction gets back into full swing on January 3rd, a number of businesses will be affected. Keep tabs on construction with the construction summary link above, and you can also check out the entire website at  http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/

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

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.

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