And I thought the NY Times was authoritative…

688newspaperHaving gone to college in NYC, I was indoctrinated at a relatively young age into believing that the New York Times was the “paper of record,” a bastion of journalistic integrity, a font of inestimable wisdom.  Today, I grew up.  I’ve seen the light.  I now recognize the New York Times for what it apparently really is: A shameless, self-promoting spout for an exclusively East Coast world view.

The source of this revelation?  An article in today’s NY Times.  As stated there:

“The sale of The Post by the Graham family, which owned it for 80 years, leaves The Times as the nation’s last major newspaper run by a family.”

Uh, that’s flat-out wrong.  The Seattle Times has been owned and operated by the Blethen family for 117 years.  Indeed, Wikipedia provides perhaps the perfect rebuttal:

“The [Seattle] Times is one of the few remaining major city dailies in the United States independently operated and owned by a local family (the Blethens).”

I guess it’s true, anything west of the Hudson river really isn’t that important in the first place.  Or perhaps Seattle just doesn’t qualify as a “major” city.  Whatever.  But I did make sure to let the Times knows of this rather shocking breakdown, which – conveniently? – promotes the NY Times.  I mean, who doesn’t love the last remaining family-owned anything?

UPDATE: Hmm, I guess my message got through.  Now appearing at the bottom of the article in the NY Times (link above):

Correction: August 8, 2013

An earlier version of this article erroneously attributed a distinction to The Times. Several newspapers serving major American cities are still family-run, including The Seattle Times, which is owned and operated by the Blethen family.  The Times is not “the nation’s last major newspaper run by a family.”

A resounding victory for truth, accuracy, and family-owned businesses everywhere!!

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The Dream Home You May Never Own

newtown-borough1Blythe Lawrence over at The Seattle Times asked me to write a little something about “people who fall in love with a particular house or houses and eagerly wait (sometimes for years) for them to go on the market.”

Have you ever “stalked” a home? Blythe’s request reminded of a time when I lived and worked in the little town of Newtown Borough, Pennsylvania, which was laid out by William Penn in 1682.. The town was chock full of historic and unique homes of varying styles, shapes and sizes. It was not uncommon for people to schedule their daily walks past their favorite houses and dream of some day owning “The big yellow house” or “the Grand Home near the Buck Hotel”.

Fairly often people would come to me and say “if the yellow house ever goes up for sale, can you let me know?” The yellow house was just about everyone’s favorite. More often people would come to my office wondering if any of their favorite homes, of which there were many, might be coming up for sale.  Being a rather bold person myself, I would say, “Well, why don’t we take a walk around town and you can point to all of the homes you like, and I’ll write down the addresses.  Then we’ll just knock on the door and ask the people if they are thinking about moving.  Or you can write them a letter complimenting their home and ask them to please let you know if they are ever thinking about selling. It always surprised me when they didn’t want to do that.

As Blythe pointed out in her email, more often people become “Real Estalkers” walking by the house almost every day. Dreaming that one of their favorites would one day have a “For Sale” sign out front and they would buy it. I thought it was pretty simple to just write them all and find out…but I realized that people didn’t want to know that NONE of their favorite houses would be coming on market. They didn’t want to shatter their dream that someday soon it would. They didn’t want to spoil their morning walks fantasizing about the possibility.

Do you have any stories for Blythe?  Have you ever stalked a home hoping it would someday be for sale, and then eventually buy it? Seems to me Rhonda Porter may have stalked and found her dream home. Blythe is planning to write a little something on this on Thursday, so if you have any stories for her, please post them here in the comments.

Thank you.

15 Year Mortgage Too Pricey for Normal People

This morning, I read a commentary on from columnist, Christy L. Thomas called Seattle too pricey for normal people.   It’s regarding her move from Boise and how she and her boyfriend are considering whether or not they can afford to buy what they would like to have in Seattle. 

The part that struck me, being a Mortgage Planner, is that they are selecting a 15 year fixed mortgage for their financing.   That avenue would be an expensive choice for anyone.   She mentions trying to find a home priced around $320,000 based on what she sold her Boise property.   I’m assuming that Christy and Tom (her boyfriend) are conservative folks since they’re looking at a 15 year fixed mortgage…so the following comparisons are based on putting approx. 20% down.   I’m also using the rates I quoted on Friday.

  • With a sales price of $320,000, their loan amount would be $256,000.  A mortgage amortized over 15 years would provide a principle and interest (P&I) payment of $2108.75
  • A mortgage amortized for 30 years with P&I of $2108.75 would provide a loan amount of $356,480 and an approx. sales price of $427,750.
  • Amortize a mortgage over 40 years with P&I of $2108.75, you will have a loan amount of $377,270 and an approx. sales price of $452,725.

Same payment with each scenario…except you’re able to buy $132,725 more home using a 40 year fixed over the 15 year fixed and  $107,750 more home with the 30 year fixed mortgage.    With an interest only product, such as a 30 year fixed rate with a 10 year interest only payment, the savings (or how much more home they could buy) would be even more substantial.

I hardly ever recommend 15 year fixed mortgages to my clients…unless they’re doctors or someone who makes so much money that their mortgage deduction is reduced and they all ready have all the investments they need.  

Even if Christy and Tom’s case where they want to “look around and buy the home where, if we’re lucky, we’ll grow old together”.    Why pay off your mortgage and lose one of your best income tax deductions?

Christy, Seattle is not too pricey for normal people…your 15 year fixed mortgage is.

Puget Sound's Market Conditions Update

Every New Year, my husband’s family makes a trip to Ocean Shores with most of his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. It is a tradition that we look forward to which includes as much bowl games you can cram into a weekend, razor clamming, go karts and I get to read the newspaper from front to back while everyone else in our hotel room is still sleeping.

To my delight in the Dec. 30, 2006 issue of The Seattle Times, there is an article forecasting the local 2007 real estate market called Looking ahead: The sky isn’t falling for the Puget Sound market