Real Estate for Vashon and Points Beyond

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Vashon Home Tips, Hot Deals and Happenings

If you aren't already aware, Home Team Realty sends out a monthly e-mail newsletter filled with lots of useful information and valuable coupons! The newsletter features tips for your home, community happenings, money-saving offers with local businesses, and more. If this sounds like information you can use, visit our website and click the Newsletter Sign-up link on the left-hand navigation menu to sign-up. It's really simple.

Here is a sample from our current newsletter, regarding our monthly market stats:

The latest Vashon market stats
The market feels a bit like when your car battery is dying and you just keep cranking and cranking and hoping that the darn thing will start up. Any minute now...
Things are picking up a bit, but we still have nowhere near the activity we had last year. From January to April of 2007, we had 36 houses close after being on the market an average of 94 days. This year, average prices are down, and days on market are up. We've had 24 closings (that's two thirds - I can do that math without my calculator) at an average of $459K, after 135 days on market. Months in inventory is still quite high in some price points. To check out the latest, go to our website, then click on Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics to see the April report.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Vashon Recycling Events

April is a busy month for spring cleaning and recycling! I know Granny's Attic continues to get a tremendous amount of donations thanks to Islanders who believe in keeping gently used items in circulation and out of the trash (and in the process, they are supporting the health of fellow Islanders). And Vashon Freecycle has a large volume of items offered and taken on a daily basis. However, there are certain items that cannot be donated or thrown away (such as hazardous waste), but they can be recycled through the upcoming recycling events on Vashon Island:

Wastemobile Collection Event
Dates: April 11 - 13, 2008
Time: 10 AM to 5 PM
Location: K2 Parking Lot

Vashon Recycling Collection Event (some fees apply)
Date: April 26, 2008
Time: 9 AM to 3 PM
Location: Harbor School

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Cleaning Your New Home Naturally

Moving into a "new" house is always an adventure, especially identifying what you need to do to be comfortable as you move into the new space. At a minimum, you will need to clean your new home. And depending on your attitude toward cleaning, or your budget for hiring someone else, you will need to clean your home on a regular basis! I would like to share some ideas for naturally cleaning your new home and keeping it clean:

First, use non-toxic ingredients to clean your new home. The germs that you are fighting as you clean your home are often not as harmful to your health as the ingredients that are in the cleaning agents themselves. Try natural cleaners such as vinegar and water, baking soda, tea tree oil and salt. Many websites have recipes and instructions for mixing the most effective cleaner for specific jobs. Try putting the keywords "natural, homemade, cleaners" in your favorite search engine, or check out the links below:

Second, let the sunshine in! There is nothing like fresh air and sunshine to freshen your home and keep it nice and clean. Winter is over, so now is an optimal time to be letting as much light and fresh air into your home as possible. (Assuming you don't want to be living with things that *like* dark and musty spaces!)

Third, clean as you go. If you put off cleaning, the effort and time required to clean can increase immensely. Clean up spills when they happen, rinse dishes that you don't have time to wash right away, wipe the counters in the kitchen and bath, etc. Regular, light cleaning significantly reduces the need for major deep cleaning -- and seriously, who enjoys that??

Good luck in your efforts to maintain a clean, healthy, and non-toxic home!

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Opening Day!

The Farmers Market Opening Day is finally here--this Saturday at 10:00 AM. Every time I drive past the Village Green on Saturday mornings, my son says we need to stop and get pluots. Luckily, pluots and all of the wonderful produce are not so far off!

Here are the (brief) details...

The market will be open this Saturday, April 5th from 10am to 2pm. You'll find plant starts, vegetable starts, trees and perennials, plants, annual and perennial cut flower starts, culinary herbs, strawberry plants, and possibly some produce. Also, meats, eggs, dairy products, wine, chocolates, hot teas, hot lunches, art work, crafts, knife sharpening, chair massages, soap, lotions, essential oils, original drawings, homemade cutting boards, jewelry, incense, thought bubbles, and metal work!

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Monday, March 31, 2008

More Fun Stimulus Payment Links

Find out when your stimulus payment will be transmitted or mailed:,,id=180250,00.html

Do you qualify for a payment? How much of a payment?
Economic Stimulus Payment Calculator:


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In search of SMART Part 1

Ok so I have been driving Marie nuts talking about the new smart cars. As gas prices here on Vashon Island soar out of control $4.09 per gallon today its time to get serious about reducing our fuel consumption. In this business of real estate we do a fair amount of driving both with clients while showing houses and alone running around contracts and driving to look at peoples homes. Even though a Smart car is a two seater its a great option for us as an island car and it looks cool in a nerdy sorta way.

Right after we test-drove the Smart car at the Green Car Co. Marie and I set off in search of the Smart car dealer.We pulled into a number of other car dealers thinking maybe they might have a used one on the lot. Not a bad idea but no luck…..well duh its brand new it just hit the streets a short time ago. We really had a lot to learn about Smart cars. We had little luck that day and decided to head back to Vashon and our home office to do some research online. My first stop online was this is the official website and from there I learned that these were really like brand spanking new….nobody has em yet. You have to sign up for a reservation program and pay $100 to be on the reservation list just to get a test drive.
Ok so this was all seeming very crazy to me I just test drove a 2004 at the GCC and I didn’t have to pay $100 bucks I could have bought that one and drove it home and now online it says the wait is 18 months…..all very confusing.

Here seems to be the deal:

This is my take on it anyway its what I am piecing together. Once upon a time This company Zap (maker of the Zebra) had a dream and a deal to import the Smart car to the U.S. Unfortunately for Zap, that plan didn't work out and Smart's parent Daimler ultimately did a different deal with Roger Penske to be the U.S. distributor for Smart. Zap decided not to take this lying down and ultimately filed a lawsuit in 2005 against Daimler (then DaimlerChrysler) alleging the German company interfered with their business (need more background? click here). So that’s why there are a few older models apparently with a different engine then the 2008 model that is coming out right now.
You can also find Smart cars up in Canada. Oh yeah they have had a diesel version since 2005 it get 90 mpg and runs bio diesel with out doing any type of conversion. There are of these little beauties for sale on craigslist and I was stoked thinking I would just go buy one from our neighbor to the north. Not so its my understanding that its impossible to bring it in….no strike that you can bring it here drive it here but you can’t own it or register it here. I can’t help but think how sad it is that we have to struggle and fight to bring the cleanest burning, most economical vehicle in the world to the US and be able to own/register it here. It should really be the other way around… anyone who wants to drive a vehicle that averages under 15 mpg should have to justify why they need to waste all that fuel. Well its late and I have a big real estate day tomorrow. Things really are heating up here on Vashon we signed around 2 deals today and have another offer to present tomorrow. If we can get a few deals closed maybe Marie will let me do more then test drive a Smart car……one can hope!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Troy and Marie's Day Off goes SMART

Ok so sometimes I get obsessed. ("focused") As far as Home Team Realty and our business goes that’s a great thing and our clients benefit from our focus. It’s not always a great thing as it drives Marie nuts at times. When I get too “focused”.

We took a day off from Real Estate a couple days ago - our first day off in months I might add, and my wonderful wife let me decide what to do with it. I wanted to get off Vashon and head into Seattle. I have been very interested and very curious about electric cars for well over a year now and I have begged her to go test drive a
Zap Zebra at the Green Car Company so that is what we did. We headed out on a beautiful sunny day for long trip out to Kirkland to test drive this little car.

Ok so we have been to the Green Car Company once before and new the way so didn’t have to rely on our navigation system. The last time we went there they gave us some excuse why we couldn’t test drive the Zebra and sent us home. On this day I called ahead and explained that we would be there in about an hour and wanted to take a test drive they said ok come on out so we did.

When we got there
Don Fahnestock asked all the standard questions why a Zebra. Where did we hear about them yada…yada…Come on Don let me just drive one….
The time came to get behind the wheel oh man was I excited.
Harley had been instructed by Don to bring up a Zebra but when he went back for it with myself and Marie in tow the battery was dead. He selected a different one it was the Zebra pick up model and that was fine with me I just wanted to get behind the wheel and open her up and feel the wind blowing my hair back.

Something blew alright but it wasn’t the wind in my hair…. the Zebra blows…..Man was I disappointed. I had dreamed of this day. I thought this would be a great rig for us. This was going to a green car that would fit in with Vashon and reduce our carbon emissions and a 3-wheeler that we could priority load on the Vashon ferry the best of all worlds. But instead it was slow and tiny and just a disappointment. It may be great for some but its not for us.

I handed the keys back to Harley and started to walk out then I spotted the Smart car.
It was small but cute and I asked Harley about it and he said it was quick. I asked if we could drive it.
No problem…..says Harley

Wow what a cool rig. It drove great had tons of head and leg room and it was fast, really fast compared to the slug of a Zebra that we just got out of. Now its not as fast as my 300sl but it gets like 50mpg. And check this out it is made by Mercedes well sorta. Anyway Harley let slip that this was the European model with the great Mercedes engine and that’s why its 10k more then the new ones you can buy out by south center mall.

We thanked Harley and set out towards Tukwila in search of the Smart car. More on that later…..Now I need to get my head back on Vashon and selling real-estate.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mooseheads and prime rib

We just got back from the Sportsman of the Year banquet at the Vashon Sportsmans Club. No tofu in sight, just bloody juicy rare prime rib and all the good stuff that goes with it. I love the Club - it's the real deal. Mooseheads on the massive timbered walls, trophies, a roaring fireplace and plenty of whiskey drinking good ole boys. I have a lot of fond and blurry memories from nights at the Club - dancing to the Doiley Brothers in high school, assorted weddings and funerals, New Year's Eve parties with Loose Change, and the annual banquet, where they honor a long standing sportsman - Ed Babcock, a 41 year member, won the honors this year. Oh yeah, and Todd Gateman got Vermin Exterminator of the Year. It's a long story.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Rules for 1031 Exchanges

Effective yesterday (March 10, 2008), tax-free exchanges are now possible on investment property that has been used partially for personal purposes. This falls under IRS Revenue Procedure 2008-16, with the stated purpose of "providing a safe harbor under which the Internal Revenue Service ... will not challenge whether a dwelling unit qualifies as property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment for purposes of § 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code." The procedure further states:

"In the interest of sound tax administration, this revenue procedure
provides taxpayers with a safe harbor under which a dwelling unit will qualify as property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment under § 1031 even though a taxpayer occasionally uses the dwelling unit for personal purposes."

Check out the full Revenue Procedure on the IRS website:

Or, check out this story on the new rules on

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Farmers Market News

The Farmers Market opens for the season on Saturday, April 5th at 10 am!

In the meantime, this Saturday, March 8th at 7:30 PM, Cafe Luna will be hosting a Vashon Island Growers Association (VIGA) benefit concert featuring Sarah Christine and special guests. The cover charge is $12.oo and proceeds support music at the Vashon Farmers Market this summer.

Can't wait for the market to open? Good news--some farm stands are already open. Check out Vashon's many farm stands on the VIGA website: