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McGraw Square Park Reopened

February 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Downtown (MLS Area 701), Featured

mcgraw fullAs you enter the newly renovated McGraw Square, the first question you may ask yourself is, “They spent $900,000 on cement?” But there’s a little more to it than meets the eye.

One of the smallest parks in Seattle, you’ll find McGraw Square downtown at the intersections of Fifth Ave, Stewart St and Westlake Ave.  Its newly completed plaza makes it easier to travel around downtown while enhancing connections from the South Lake Union Streetcar to other mass transit options. It also seeks to better connect the South Lake Union and Denny Triangle neighborhoods to the existing retail core, offering a “sense of place” to help orient new housing and promote economic development.   

Streetcar Station on McGraw Square

Streetcar Station on McGraw Square

 We first blogged about the new construction in September 2010, so we were excited to see how everything turned out. We were there on a cold Friday morning, but there was a nice-sized crowd waiting for the streetcar, and others either crossing the plaza or posing for photos by the statue.  McGraw Square boasts some great city-watching:   from pedestrians crossing the plaza or waiting for the streetcar, to traffic zipping along its three adjoining streets, to the monorail cars rushing overhead.   It would also be a good place to see a few food and beverage carts (we could have used some coffee for warmth), and the broad expanse of plaza has great potential as an entertainment venue.   

The LED insets set up a spectacular light show at night. Note also the recycled granite pavers.

The LED insets set up a spectacular light show at night. Note also the recycled granite pavers.

SDOT’s plans for the new McGraw Square contained:

1.  A second streetcar platform to improve rider access to/from the new plaza;

2.  Integrated transit shelter/covered bicycle parking for up to 10 bikes;

3.  Landscaped rain garden to infiltrate majority of stormwater and reduce runoff entering the sewer system;

4.  Illuminated seat walls with signage, to act as gateway for Westlake Hub;

5.  ADA access, lighting, and seating improvements near the historic McGraw statue;

6.  Inlaid, energy efficient (LED) light tiles as part of a comprehensive dynamic, colored lighting scheme;

7.  Salvaged granite pavers for detailing, taken from overstock of original Westlake Park installation;

8.  New trees for the plaza plus large specimen trees to anchor Westlake Ave terminus; and

9.  Oversized curb ramp and utility connections to facilitate mobile food vending and plaza programming.

A people-watching bench

A people-watching bench

Along with perks for pedestrians and mass transit, it also simplifies a complicated five-way intersection (source of a good number of traffic accidents) by creating a left-turn only lane from Stewart St to Fifth Ave, and closing Westlake Ave between Olive Way and Stewart St.

The McGraw project is also part of the City’s larger strategy to make Westlake one of three transportation “hubs” serving downtown (with King Street Station and Colman Dock).  It  was funded by a transit mobility grant from the Washington State DOT, who will work with the City on a comprehensive operating/programming strategy.  McGraw Square was named for John H. McGraw, Washington’s second state governor, and you can read more about his remarkable life by hitting this link.

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.!

Residential RE: Is Business Really Booming?

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There’s been much news lately that residential construction is roaring back!  But is there too much going on too quickly—and will all these projects really materialize?  And what is this telling us about the condominium market?  Here are some of the latest projects in the pipeline:

311 Cedar St:  The former Musician’s Building is now gone, with work underway on The Alto, a 17-story, 184-unit high-rise with 2,700 sq ft of retail space.  The project is scheduled for completion in early 2012.

504 Terry Ave & 1106 East Jefferson St:  The once-proposed Harbor Vista project from now-bankrupt Mastro Properties just got a new owner– an LLC out of San Francisco.  Rumors are that the property will be developed into a residential/retail complex.

888 Western Ave:  Goodman Real Estate’s original plans for an office building have changed to a 16-story residential building with 208 units with 9,907 sq ft of retail, plus 8,300 sq ft of recreation/public plaza space. 

1430 Second Ave (Second & Pike):   Urban Visions’ hotel and condominium plan have changed to a 440 foot, 35-story LEED-certified building of 290 apartments and 14,850 sq ft of retail and restaurant space, which includes a “Sky Bar” and restaurant overlooking Pike Place Market.  

1623 Bellevue Ave:  Proposed is a six-story building with 23 residential units and 1,000 sq ft of retail. 

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2116 Fourth Ave – located next to the Cinerama, the proposed tower will have 357 units, 2,700 sq ft of ground-level retail. 

2625 Third Ave – The current site of the American Lung Association is slated to make way for a 19-story building with 204 units above 4,000 sq ft of retail space.

Second and Bell  – Bell 206, a 122-unit apartment complex,  is expected to break ground in January.

Eighth and Seneca  –  A recent financial deal has been reached to hang onto this site, where a twin tower project containing 280 units is in development.

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Market Street and 14th Ave (Ballard):  Replacing Sunset Bowl will be Avalon Ballard, a 271-unit apartment complex. Construction scheduled to begin in Summer 2011.

Market Street Landing (15th Ave NW and NW Market, Ballard):  Equity Residential, an S&P 500 company specializing in apartments, condominiums and corporate housing, purchased the 1.4 acre site in October 2010. 

5711 24th Ave NW, Ballard:  Replacing the old Ballard Library will be Ballard West.  Currently scheduled to start construction in the summer, it’s planned to have 107 apartments, three live-work units and 6,500 sq ft of retail.

200 – 106th Ave NE (Bellevue):  Soma Towers is a proposed two-tower project —  Tower One at 23 stories high with 142 units, and Tower Two at 17 stories high with 124 units.   

With few construction events over the past several years, current vacancies are lower and rents are higher, making residential construction promising again.  Recently reported was Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors’ latest forecast that 2,500 units will open in the tri-county area in 2011, with an additional 14,600 units possibly opening between 2012 and 2015. This concurs with opinions recently reported from Apartment Insights.  They predict a tight market from mid-2011 into 2012, bringing on significant rent increases.  

However, just because start or completion dates are announced doesn’t mean they’ll actually happen.  One of the items on our residential list first hit the presses in 2007. After inactivity since 2008, another project is now up and running, but still needs to apply for building permits.  We listed a property which sources tell us is a go, but is currently stalled and looking shaky for a start anytime soon.

The glitch?  Money.  Lending institutions now require a project’s net operating income to be profitable based on current, not projected, rents.  Plus, developers have to put up more of their own money.  Before the recession, developers only needed to contribute 15 percent equity.  Debt coverage ratios (net operating income divided by debt services) of 1.25 or better are now required. This pushes equity contributions to rates between 25 to 35, even up to 40 percent.  A number of developers now need to seek equity partners – if they can find them.  Equity partners were recession victims, too.

The Outlook for Condominium Development?

With current debt coverage ratios applying here as well, there’s nothing in the pipeline regarding new construction.  But as apartment development explodes, we predict that if the condo market picks up as well, they’ll look at apartment buildings to fill demand.  We’ve seen this pattern in the Seattle housing market before.  Both Belltown Court and The Klee Lofts started out as apartment complexes.  And, as condo demand increases, former condo projects which converted to apartments over the past couple of years may return to being condos again.  We think one of the first to turn back may be Bellevue’s The Bravern, which announced that intent when they converted both towers from condos into apartments in 2010. Equinox and Rollin Street Flats were once condominiums, too. 

However, the recession has made for reluctant homebuyers. What will the potential glut of rentals really do for the conversion market this time around?  Will more potential buyers simply remain permanent renters?  We think it’ll depend on what a buyer wants in the long run.  Predictions are that a renter’s market won’t resurface until well after 2015, and maybe beyond if the conversion market takes off.  In the meantime, rents should continue to rise and keep pace with the same costs it would take to own a home.  

All indicators seem to point to the real estate market heating up again. With record-low home prices, plus interest rates the lowest they’ve been in 60 years, buying a home is not only more affordable but is also an investment that could pay off big over time.  You don’t get that option with a rental.  There is a lot to think about but if you’d like to discuss your options further, just contact us at our Stroupe Group link.

Olive 8’s New Listing Agent? Realogics Sotheby’s!

olive 8 seattleRealogics Sotheby’s International Realty is ending 2010 on a very high note, and it could result in an amazing buy for you in 2011.

An exclusive listing agreement was signed last week with developer RC Hedreen Company to sell all of Olive 8‘s remaining inventory, now starting from the 27th floor and up.  Olive 8 is a 39-story, 229 unit mixed-use condominium and hotel ( Hyatt at Olive 8 ) high-rise located at 8th Avenue and Olive Way in downtown Seattle.

In order to maintain 50% project sales as required by Fannie Mae lending guidelines, 32 units at Olive 8 were recently sold at auction to replace mostly investor presales that were unable to close in today’s credit environment. The auction helped establish a base for current market values, enabling RC Hedreen to restructure its construction debt with US Bank, providing a long term runway to sell into an improving marketplace.

“We’ve eliminated many of the pressures that we faced, so it’s now time to realign values for today’s market,” said Dick Hedreen, RC Hedreen’s chairman. “2011 represents a new beginning for Olive 8 and Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is uniquely positioned to lead us through a successful sellout.”

Dean Jones, Principal of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, added that there is a finite supply of new construction condominiums in downtown Seattle. No new developments have broken ground since the credit crunch in 2007 and since that time, several condo projects reverted to apartments and sold to REIT’s, reducing inventory.

According to Jones, fewer than 450 new condominiums remaining unsold in the city center and most pundits agree it could be many years before any new condominiums are developed. RC Hedreen and Realogics Sotheby’s are researching home values by retaining appraisers and meeting with real estate brokers and potential homebuyers to reassess the marketplace. Olive 8 is expected to be reintroduced to the public in 2011 with new lower pricing.

rsz_1olive-8-condo_logo for text“I’m confident that our business philosophy will make perfect sense to those homebuyers that have been waiting on the sidelines for an opportunity,” says Hedreen. “And considering that our available inventory now starts on the 27th floor, we saved the best for last.”

We are in the process of retooling our own websites for the new Olive 8 opportunities. If you would like to stay in touch on news or private tours when Olive 8’s new releases come on market, please contact us at this Stroupe Group link.   

Seattle Makes Top 10 List for Business

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, Finance, National

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MarketWatch, part of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, released its annual rankings of the best cities in the U.S. for business this week. Out of 102 major metro areas covered, guess which city climbed from No. 31 in 2009 to No. 10 in 2010? 

MarketWatch uses a variety of measures to break down data into two categories: “Company Score,” the concentration of businesses within a metro area, and “Economic Score,” which takes into account unemployment, job growth, population growth, personal income and local gross domestic product.  More metric categories were used in this year’s rankings, in part to better reflect tourism business and the economic impact of military bases.

Based on these calculations, Seattle’s No. 10 ranking had a total score of 932, with a Company Score of 501 and an Economic Score of 431. Ranked No. 1 is Washington, D.C., then Omaha; Boston; Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis; Denver; Richmond, Va.; New York City and Harrisburg, Pa.  Other West Coast city rankings include San Francisco at 33, Portland at 52 and Los Angeles at 61.  At the No. 102 position?  Fresno.

What made the difference this year? Employment. Whereas Seattle’s sad showing in 2009 was due to poor statistics in job creation, its jobless rate dropped by a third of a percentage point to 8.7 percent in September 2010. MarketWatch also notes that Seattle did well in jobless comparisons between 2006 and 2010, and in keeping the percentages down over that period.  It also hits the upper ranks in creating jobs relative to its population.

However, MarketWatch noted that Seattle is lacking in the number of major private companies. No businesses from Forbes Private Companies’ list reside in Seattle, and we are the largest U.S. city without one.  But while the Seattle area may be amiss in that sector, it is home to a diverse selection of large S&P corporations such as amazon.com, Boeing, Costco, Microsoft, Nordstrom and Starbucks.  Plum Creek, the largest publicly-held timber REIT in the country, is based in Seattle. And last week, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced its purchase of the 1100 Eastlake building, expanding its South Lake Union footprint to 15.2 acres. 

Add a Pacific Rim gateway, the natural beauty of the Puget Sound area, plus a diverse culture, and we’re confident that Seattle will continue to remain high in “Best” rankings for years to come.

(Photo by Marmaduke Percy, Wikimedia Commons)

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.

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?

epark sign to use

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!

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.

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.

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