Mukilteo Real Estate: #10 best community in America by Money Magazine

This past week I retrieved my latest issue of Money Magazine from the mailbox and was pleasantly surprised to find that Money Magazine ranked the seaside community of Mukilteo as among the very best communities to live in.   Ranked number ten in the country by the magazine,  the town offers spectacular views of the Puget Sound, the Olympics, and the Cascades if your home is situated to look east.   Among the reasons to consider living in Mukilteo were the good schools and lower property taxes when comparing to other communities in the study.

In today’s market, when you consider the housing price pullback, community, schools, employment and intangibles, Snohomish County offers some of the very best real estate in the Northwest.

I can certainly attest to the spectacular setting in Mukilteo.  While waiting for the Ferry to sign some clients on Whidbey Island this past Spring (one of the perks of being in the escrow business is traveling to different communities)   I took some pictures of the “glass-like” water scenery (can be very rough) in the morning.  I’ve never seen any portion of the Puget Sound water so calm.

Mukilteo Ferry Landing

Mukilteo Ferry Landing & Lighthouse -Photo Copyright Tim S. Kane 2009

Mukilteo Ferry & Ivars

Mukilteo Ferry at Ivars Fish Bar - Photo Copyright Tim S. Kane 2009

Mukilteo Ferry & Fishermen

Mukilteo Ferry & Fishermen - Photo Copyright Tim S Kane 2009

Snohomish Kla Ha Ya Days festival this weekend

If you like any of the following then make time to visit Historic Snohomish this weekend during the Kla Ha Ya Days Festival:

  • Music
  • Friends, people watching
  • 80 degree weather
  • Parades
  • Historic downtown shops and eateries
  • Hot-Rod cars (Sunday event)
  • Food (Salmon, Fish n Chips, Burgers, Ice Cream, Pizza, Thai food etc…)
  • Aircraft
  • Hot-Air balloons
  • Skydivers
  • absolutely gorgeous Snohomish Valley
Snohmish Car Show

Car Show - Photo by Brian Thompson Photography

Harvey Airfield

Harvey Airfield

Tonight (Friday) offers a treat for family night at Harvey Airfield featuring “Balloon Glow-Fire in the Sky” event with live Bands and a fireworks show at 10pm.   So, pull out the Harley Davidson from the garage and bike on over to Snohomish for the Kla Ha Ya Days  (schedule) festival going on full throttle this weekend.  It’s a great community and one that residents and future residents are sure to enjoy.

Saturday is the grand parade sponsored by my friend and fellow Seattle Pacific University Alum, Brad McDaniel of Snohomish’ McDaniel’s Do-It-Center.

Snohomish Valley Summer 09'

Snohomish Valley Summer 09' - Courtesy

Tonight watch the Fire in the Sky Hot Air-Balloon event at Harvey Airfield and at 10pm you will be dazzled by a fireworks show.

Snohomish Skydivers - Courtesy

Snohomish Skydivers July '09 - Courtesy

Spring Home Improvement: Deck maintenance

One of the things I enjoy about home improvement is trying out different products so see how they stand up to our Northwest climate.   The project that my wife and I knew was on our top five to-do list was to remove an on-grade slab of concrete which was our patio.    When we purchased our home the only access to the outside patio was through the garage door or walking around the house–a real drag that we had to change.   After we installed an Anderson sliding door from the kitchen and dining area for easy access to the back yard where the concrete patio was, we put our savings in high gear for our on-grade deck where we could lounge and watch the scenery and enjoy our Summer-like weather we are now experiencing.

Spring 09' Copyright Tim Kane

Spring 09' Copyright Tim Kane

I’ve repaired, cleaned and stained numerous decks for family and friends and after considering what products seemed to work well and what types of decks gave me the most frustration in repairing or maintaining, we settled on a composite deck system by Xtendex sold at retailers around Puget Sound.    This decking is extremely dense and has a wood-grain feature that is embossed into the board lengths during the manufacturing process.   My initial concern was that this would wear away, but after three years it still looks very good.

We purchased our deck and railing system at Dunn Lumber.  The color that worked best for us was Redwood.   I’ll be the first to admit this deck has taken a beating both with fireworks landing on it (and being launched from thanks to a creative son),  numerous food spills, ice,  snow (and me shoveling it off with…a shovel), and deck furniture.    This past Fall and Winter weather was as brutal as I can remember since we’ve lived in our home.  A lot of grime and dirt built up since last Spring when it was last cleaned.

Grime vs clean

Grime vs clean

See the pictures of how clean this deck looks after three seasons.   I used a mild detergent and then pressure washed the decking.   About 750 sq. ft was cleaned in about 90 minutes start to finish.   I couldn’t help but look at my neighbors house (Joy, I hope you don’t read this post and if you do I’ll buy you a Mocha) where their decking looked haggard, worn and peeling paint everywhere.   To have a wood deck refurbished, stained and railings painted would cost a bundle and the refurbish cycle would have to be close to every other year depending upon the quality of the materials, workmanship and finish.   Washing down our decking is about the only maintenance I have to look forward to for a number of years.   I we had to do anything all over again it would be to change the fastening system from what we have (Stainless Steel Top screws) to a hidden fastening system.

Detergent w/ pressure washing

Detergent w/ pressure washing

clean deck

clean deck

Good luck to all the D-I-Y ‘s this Spring and Summer.

Historic Snohomish Homes glow in winter wonder.

Some of the many  Historic Snohomish Homes are oriented on wide tree-lined streets and remind me of growing up in the Capitol Hill neighborhoods very near St. Joe’s school, Stevens Elementary School and Holy Names Academy.   Some of the larger historic homes of Snohomish share similar architecture, classic lines and warmth that is accentuated when under the soft blanket of our local snowy weather.

I brought the camera to work this morning to hopefully capture some scenery (or crazy drivers) while coming to work and on my way home.  These are very amateur photos, but I tried.  Enjoy.

This photo above does not show it well, but there is a large wooden placard hanging under the front porch gable that reads, “Merry Christmas.”  It must be about 8 ft wide.  If you click the photos you might see it better.

Classic.  Gorgeous wrap-around radius deck and historical colors, probably from the Benjamin Moore palette paint line.   A wonderful treat to see a full Christmas Tree in the upper 2nd floor porch/deck.  Tremendous detail on this historic home, much of the 2nd floor shows wonderful wood work, pillars and dentil molding.  (Boy, I wish Snohomish had a lumber store similar to Seattle’s old Blackstock Lumber.   I’d probably be broke buying up all that clear VG Fir moldings)  Much is blocked from the trees, but who’s complaining?  Not me.

These homes are a lot to take care of and maintain, but there is nothing like them.

Snohomish river looking from park in downtown Snohomish towards the east.  Just weeks ago, this river was raging and near flood stage.   In years past, the flooding of this river would rise to levels above the bank, which is several feet high and cover those bolted down picnic benches.

MILA's Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy trustee in charge of MILA’s Chapter 11 case says there is evidence that MILA’s founder and CEO allegedly collected $32 million from MILA during the years before its demise, “improperly draining the Mountlake Terrace company’s assets as its fortune declined.”

From the Seattle Times:

“I think the executives at MILA knew by 2004 that this bubble was bursting and did their best to take out as much money as they could before it became obvious to everyone else,” says Brian Esler, who represents the bankruptcy trustee in the suit.

The suit claims Sapp, who owned about 90 percent of MILA, paid himself more than $10 million in dividends in 2004 and 2005 when the company was already “functionally insolvent,” meaning it had insufficient capital to continue normal operations and should have been preserving cash.

It also alleges he took $11.5 million in salary for each of those years, though “by March 2005, MILA was already delaying payments, even to important customers, to conserve cash.”

The trustee’s suit also claims that Sapp damaged MILA — and its creditors — in other ways:

He “surreptitiously seized” the mortgage software MILA developed and had another of his companies bill MILA for using it; charged MILA exorbitant amounts for his private yacht and business jets; and, in a “theft of corporate opportunity,” created separate companies to own a four-story office building and a parking lot that were leased to MILA, rather than having MILA buy the properties.

Sapp’s attorney, Jack Cullen, declined to discuss the allegations in detail but said: “We consider the claims nonsense. We don’t think they are founded in law or fact.”

Sapp did not return a call to his Hunts Point home.

Esler is asking the court to freeze $12 million in cash belonging to Sapp, to keep it available to creditors.

Bankruptcy Trustee Esler’s plan is to convince the court that MILA was technically insolvent for over two years before the company abrubtly closed it’s doors in April of 2007.  Esler cites improper accounting and a  twelve-fold increase in the number of loans MILA was required to repurchase from 2002 to 2004.

To protect creditors, the suit says, as early as 2005 “Sapp should have attempted to sell, liquidate or reorganize MILA at a time when it still had significant value, instead of continuing to manipulate and loot it for personal gain for another two years.”
The suit also takes a microscope to transactions among the various entities owned by Sapp. One example: The company that owned his 130-foot yacht billed MILA $395,374 over two years — although “MILA used that yacht only twice for asserted business reasons,” the suit says.

MILA’s creditor claims have ballooned up to 2 billion dollars.  By asking the court to freeze Layne’s personal assets, is the Bankruptcy Trustee is gathering evidence to try and make a case that the corporate veil was pierced? This means Layne might have co-mingled corporate assets with personal assets.  An example of that would be if personal expenses were paid for with corporate funds. This will be an interesting local case to follow.

Bankruptcy Trustee:
Miller Nash
Brian Esler
Lisa Peterson or Bruce Rubin

MILA Legal Counsel:
Jack Cullen
Foster Pepper
(206) 447-4689

Barclays North: "It's a matter of cash flow"

Snohomish County real estate land developer Barclays North is shutting down.

Back in April, CEO Patrick McCourt went public with their financial problems.

Everett-based developer Barclays North has struggled since late last year to repay loans from nearly 100 banks and other lenders, according to court documents. Company officials said in court papers in January that Barclays North and its many affiliates were in default with at least 56 lenders, though most had agreed to hold off any action until the end of March…

“What got Pat into trouble,” said Britsch, was purchasing land in advance to supply “national contracts with very large builders,” who backed out after the housing downturn began in California and the Southwest in mid-2006.

Demand for undeveloped lots in Snohomish County “fell relatively hard and fast,” he said, “and when that happened the builders obviously didn’t need as many lots as anticipated. That left Pat and the banks holding this huge financial burden.”

Local state-chartered banks exposed to loan losses include Frontier Bank, Banner Bank, Shoreline Bank, Cascade Bank, and First Sound Bank.

and from the Everett Herald story:

“It’s fair to say all builders and developers are facing pressures in this market, although every company’s business model is different,” said Mike Pattison of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties  

I wonder which title insurance companies are on the hook for any outstanding mechanics liens?