Total Eclipse of the Moon coming to Seattle!

By Posted in Blog on Oct 7, 2014

As humans began to roam the Earth, when the full moon was shaded by some not understood phenomena, those ancients ascribed all sorts of meaning to the event.
We now, of course, understand the Earth casts it shadow on the Moon, shading it from the Sun’s rays.
Such an event is coming to Seattle for your viewing pleasure on October 8, 2014.  The event, from the lightest shade of grey, then to a dark amber, back to a light shade of grey will last almost five hours.

Beginning at a few minutes after 1:00 PM, look in the South South-west sky for the show to start.  You will see a light grey shadow pass over the Moon.  It is not a fast process.  The dark amber shading does not begin until about 2:15 pm and it will take about 1 ½ hours to cross the face of the Moon.  The dark amber shading will last about 45 minutes.  Then the process reverses itself.  The show will end about 6:30 PM.

Now, will someone arrange a cloudless afternoon, please?

Get the details by visiting this website à

            Play the animation to understand the process.

Naturally, the Knowles Team would like to claim credit for the show.  We can’t, of course.  We don’t control the Sun, the Moon, and the stars.

However, we do have great dominion over Seattle’s real estate market.  Call us when you are ready!

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HUD Homes – What, Why, Who, Where, How, and When?

By Posted in Blog on Jun 18, 2014

Have you ever had any questions regarding HUD Homes? Read on for quick answers to the most fundamental questions regarding HUD properties. If you have any questions that aren’t answered below, please drop us a line – we’re experts!

What is a HUD Home?

A HUD Home is a property that HUD (a.k.a. The Department of Housing and Urban Development) has put back on the market through Local Listing Brokers. It is HUD’s sincere belief that finding new owner occupants for these homes will help improve the neighborhood they are in and the housing market as a whole. While HUD Homes are also available to investors, priority is give to owner occupants, and the content of this article will refer only to owner-occupants.

Why should I purchase a HUD Home?

There are enough reasons to fill an entire article on their own!

  • In this hyper-competitive Greater Seattle real estate market, HUD Homes are one of the best ways for a buyer using financing to be on equal footing with a cash buyer. HUD gives the same priority to cash buyers that they do to financed buyers – even FHA buyers! No more getting beat out by a lower cash offer. In a similar vein, HUD will also pay up to 3% of the buyer’s closing costs.
  • Earnest money deposit for HUD homes are never more than $1000. This is great for financed buyers that don’t necessarily have a lot of cash to put down.
  • Owner occupants are given priority over investors for the initial bidding period. This period differs based on the insurability status of the home, but owner occupants will always have the first crack at a HUD Home when it is listed.
  • For FHA buyers, many expenses are paid for by HUD. An FHA appraisal is performed for every HUD property before it is listed, and it is good for up to four months. If applicable, lead based paint and termite inspections are performed by HUD, as well as necessary lead or termite remediation. This could save thousands of dollars for an FHA buyer.
Who can buy a HUD Home?

Anyone who has not purchased a HUD Home within the last 24 months can purchase a HUD Home, as long as they then occupy the home as their primary residence for at least 12 months.

Where can I find HUD Homes?

The best place to look for HUD Homes is at Every HUD Home in the nation that is currently open to bids is listed on this website. A licensed real estate agent can also find and show you HUD Homes in your area.

How can I purchase a HUD Home?

A licensed real estate agent can put in a bid on your behalf at If the bid is accepted, then a complete contract will be submitted – but that’s a topic for another article! If you will be using financing to purchase the home, it is a good idea to have your pre-approval letter before submitting the bid.

When should I purchase a HUD Home?

Right away! The market is heating up and interest rates are rising with little sign of either slowing down soon. The sooner you move into your new home, the better deal you can find and the more equity you can build!

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Tuscan Real Estate

By Posted in Blog on May 10, 2014

Follow this link to learn more — Tuscan Real Estate

Located just a short and quite picturesque 1-1/2 hour drive from Jim’s ancestral home in Spoleto, Italy, Montepulciano, Italy is the prototypical Tuscan “hill” town.  Both Montepulciano and Spoleto originated as defensive locations.  Early Italy was a bunch of small nation states all vying for power and control.  Montepulciano’s description in the accompanying article is mirrored in Spoleto.

If you visit one, you just have to visit the other.  Stop by and say high to Jim’s cousins in Spoleto!

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Short Sale Guidelines Continue to Evolve

By Posted in Blog on Jan 11, 2014

We do a lot of short sales.  They are never fun because it means someone is really struggling.  Dreams and hopes are being dashed.  It is a painfully emotional roller coaster ride.
If you know of anyone who is facing this situation, suggest to them that knowledge can go a long way toward easing the uncertainty.  The Knowles Team is ready to share our knowledge without obligation.  All someone has to do is ask!
A short sale is a real estate transaction.  And it is riddled with legal consequences.  That’s why we team up with one of the most experienced law firms in the area.  Not only are they good, but they are very cost effective.  Over half of the time, they are able to get the seller’s lender to pay their fee.  The other part of the time their fee is covered by parties other than the seller.
An extract from recent information provided by the law firm we use, McFerran, Burns & Stovall, is reprinted below.

1.         Mortgage Forgiveness Relief Act:  First the bad news.  As stressed over the last few months, the tax break afforded to homeowners who sell short or whose home is foreclosed is now expired.  Forgiven or cancelled debt is taxable income to the borrower unless the borrower falls into another exception like bankruptcy or insolvency.  There is legislation pending to extend the relief in the House and Senate with almost 30 co-sponsors, both Democrat and Republican.  However, the bills are given little hope of passage

2.         Ability-to-Repay Rule: Starting on January 10, 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Ability-to-Repay Rule goes into effect.  The rule sets out guidelines for lenders to follow.  Loans within these guidelines are called “Qualified Mortgages” or “QMs”.

To be a QM, the loan:

•          Cannot have excessive points and fees.  For example, a loan over $100,000 cannot have points and fees in excess of 3% of the loan amount;
•          Cannot be longer than 30 years;
•          Cannot have risky features, like interest only payments;
•          Must be in one of three categories:
1.        The monthly payment, plus the borrower’s other debt payments cannot exceed 43% of the borrower’s monthly income; or
2.        The loan qualifies for purchase or guarantee by the FHA or a government sponsored enterprise (Fannie or Freddie);
3.        The loan is made by a small lender that keeps the loan in its portfolio.

NOTE: Lenders may continue to offer loans that do not meet the requirements for a QM, but they must take steps to verify the borrower’s ability to repay the loan based on income, debt and credit history.  

3.         Mortgage Servicers: There are also new rules for companies that service mortgage loans. 
•          Servicers must send a clear monthly statement, showing how payments are being credited.
•          Mistakes must be fixed promptly.
•          Payments must be credited on the day they are received.
•          Early notice must be given before the interest on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage is about to change to give borrowers an opportunity to refinance.
•          Servicer employees who take calls from borrowers must be able to answer questions and have access to critical documents.

4.         Default: In the event of a default by the homeowner:
•          Servicers must call or contact borrowers by the time they are 36 days late on a payment;
•          With limited exceptions, servicers cannot initiate foreclosure until the borrower is more than 120 days delinquent;
•          Servicers cannot start a foreclosure if the homeowner has submitted a complete loss mitigation application;
•          Mortgage servicers must evaluate a loss mitigation application for ALL OPTIONS that may be available.  This is intended to eliminate the frustration of requiring multiple applications to be considered for different foreclosure alternatives;
•          Servicers are required to give homeowners who ask timely, accurate information about their foreclosure status.

5.         Mortgage Steering: Mortgage brokers who assist borrowers in finding a mortgage are not permitted to steer them into more costly loans to earn a higher commission.

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Address for Real Estate Q and A Session! Starts at 7 pm PST!

By Posted in Blog on Nov 6, 2013
We’ll be answering any and all questions. My name is Lissie, I’m 25, and I have been in sales and brand marketing for over three years. I am now a social media and content manager developing new ideas for Keller Williams Greater Seattle and using social networking for real estate lead generation. Sheryl Knowles, my boss, has been a real estate broker for over 20 years and she really knows the business.
We’ll be answering any and all questions live. We’ll get started at about 6:45 PM PST to set up and take things from there.

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Only One Hour Until The Real Estate Q and A!

By Posted in Blog on Nov 6, 2013

Sheryl and I will be hosting a real estate question and answer session in one hour! We will e answering any and all real estate questions for buyers, sellers, and agents. Got a question? Come on in! Address to follow!

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New Money Show Interview with Sheryl Knowles Plus Mini-Show And Commercial

By Posted in Blog on Nov 5, 2013

The Mini Show  With Sheryl Knowles
Full Show – The Money Hour 

Sheryl’s Appearance was timely and relevant (especially in a climate where there can be a lot of uncertainty). Of course, it helps to have the facts on your side. There is no substitute for experience and knowledge! I recommend you listen to these podcasts to get a great disambiguation on Seattle real estate and to see just what The Knowles Team can do for your home buying and home selling, Seattle!

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Final Part of Our Series on QR Codes in Real Estate

By Posted in Blog on Nov 5, 2013

1) Start Slow And Build Solid Foundations

– The Scenario – 

Obviously, this is a lot to take in at first. It can seem like a sudden reversal to be so technology dependent in real estate, and to be so transparent can seem like a dangerous game. However, technology works. And more importantly, it’s proven by the best. Now is the perfect time to ease into it.

– The Solution –

Gary Vaynerchuck, in his bestselling book Crush it!, expressed how real estate is especially resistant to change, due to a mindset that does not trust transparency. With my nascent experience I can’t definitively say how true this is, but what matters is that veterans of the industry with proven success think it’s true. The public also thinks it’s true: one stop on the Trulia or Zillow and their forums will show you how ignorant people are about the home buying process itself. This isn’t because agents aren’t doing their jobs; agents are nothing if not enthusiastically trying to get their information out there. It’s simply that people feel pressured up front to buy but unsure of their knowledge, which makes them nervous. The last thing you want to do is look nervous as well be rejecting evolving technologies.

No one is suggesting any one person can change real estate over night; nor should you or your team even try. The beauty of being an agent means independence, so you can simply change yourself.

Don’t start a QR campaign and expect a hit overnight: start small and give yourself time to make changes. Make practice codes and signs before you are ready to show any new marketing materials to clients. Build your network and invite suggestions if you find yourself struggling, or simply take a break and get back to what you know. If people copy your ideas, great! Don’t get cagey when the new guy down the hall asks you for help because he can’t understand what an app is. Try to provide him with help or at least point him to a better resource to save yourself time. Like with anything, you want an audience, but you need to tell a good story.

– The Reward –

It is, as with all things, simply about effort. You are your own best source of feedback. Find what’s feasible for you at the time and what is worth your time. Little things, like saving paper and learning a new app, are just the first step into a high-tech endeavor which will leave you ready for the future. Most importantly: it will make you a leader when you get there.


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QR Codes and Real Estate: The Next Part

By Posted in Blog on Nov 2, 2013

3) The Future QR Code Is Already Here, It’s Optimized For Brands, And This Will Help You Prepare For It

– The Scenario – 

Have you heard of Gravatar?

It is essentially an online image that follows you around and links you to commentary and posts. If you use Wordpress for your blog, you already have the code for it. It’s like an embedded, protected, digital signature you can use on any site. Now imagine using it for your branding and your listings, connecting them all together.  Imagine your users being able to contact you by simply clicking on your Gravatar and getting your V-card off of your listing. It’s that simple and, because you can pick any image as your Gravitar, it can be your logo or brand! A lot more attractive than a bunch of blocks, yes? And you can use it on any site you join!

– The Solution –

Google Glass and other image apps scan images and link them to similar images on the Internet. These apps are more popular than ever and people use them to inspect and get news on new brands and their interactions with others. With Gravitar, when the public scans your logo, they see your brand logo has a Gravitar history and they can see what else you’ve done online as well as to contact you. 

– The Reward –

You will have successfully established your image and your brand as something that belongs to you and you alone. No one can impersonate or imitate your posts as long as your Gravitar account itself is secured. It leaves you less open to costly online attacks.

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