How much money should I save before buying a house?

Probably the most asked question by any home buyer that hasn’t bought a home in recent years is; How much money should I save before buying a home? The answer to this question, isn’t straightforward but is also not that complicated. A lot of this has to do with the type of loan that you are requesting. So, let’s start their first.

Loan types

Different types of loans, require a different amount of money down. Now within a loan type there are multiple options that won’t be discussed here, I will talk about the most common options. I would recommend to reach out to your lender if you would like to know what option is best for you.

VA Loan:
Down payment: 0% required
Closing costs: 2.5% – 4%
Total: 2.5% – 4%

FHA Loan:
Down payment: 3.5% required
Closing costs: 2.5% – 4%
Total: 6% – 7.5%

Conventional loan 97:
Down payment: 3% required
Closing costs: 2.5%-4%
Total: 5.5% – 7%
(Loan size may not $510,400, and the property must be a single-unit dwelling)

Conventional Loan:
Down payment: 5% (Most Typical)
Closing costs: 2.5%-4%
Total: 7.5% – 9%

The big 20% myth

As you can see for none of these loans you need the famous 20% down. Why is it, that we always hear that you need 20% down? Well, that’s because of the Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). The PMI protects the lender in the event of a foreclosure. You don’t have to pay a PMI if you have a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 80% or lower. The cost of a PMI shouldn’t be a reason not to buy, since in many cases this is insignificant in the whole picture. While you are saving for a home, the home prices are going up. This means that it might be smarter to go with a lower down payment for now and pay the PMI. Over time you will get to the 80% LTV and don’t have to pay for the PMI.


Earnest Money

Earnest money is a deposit made to a seller, that represents a buyer’s good faith to buy a home. The earnest money could be any kind of amount. But the more earnest money you deposit, the stronger an offer will be. Keep in mind that in Washington state the seller, in most cases, cannot keep more than 5% of the earnest money if you back out of the deal without a valid reason. A good amount for the earnest money is typically 3%.

On the day of closing the earnest money will be used towards the loan, either for the down payment, the closing costs or a combination. Any excess earnest money will be returned to you.

Inspection Costs

Upon buying a home, it is always smart to do an inspection. The inspection prices are based on square footage, but a good rule of thumb is that it would cost around $500 USD to do an inspection. This might be higher and this might be lower in some cases. It would also be wise to save up for more than one inspection in case you need to add additional inspections.


As you can tell, depending on your situation you might be able to buy a home with only 2.5% of the purchase price. But in most cases 7.5% – 9% would be a good rule of thumb to aim for. But to be completely sure, talk to your lender first to see what your situation is and to develop a plan so that you know how much money you should save before buying a house.

Looking for a lender or just want to talk about buying or selling a home? Contact me!

Posted on June 9, 2020 at 9:00 am
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Uncategorized |

What are the best Elementary Schools in Seattle?

The best Elementary Schools in Seattle?

If you are moving to Seattle and you are looking for the right neighborhood to live in. You would consider a few factors; is it close to work, where are the stores, what price range and what type of house. But the one contributing factor to the housing market is schools. Schools always had a huge influence on the market, especially the best elementary schools in Seattle. You might be thinking, well I don’t even have kids so what do I care. But the better a school performs, the higher the market price is for a home that feeds into the schools.

Not only is that important, but you would like to know that your kid is going to a good school. After all, we care most about our kids. I have had parents who were okay with traveling for an hour or more to their job, just so that their son or daughter could attend a certain school.

To help you out, I made a top ten, based on the ratings by, to tell you which schools are considered the best elementary schools in Seattle.  On top of that I will let you know in which Neighborhood you should be looking for a home to feed into this school.

Best Elementary Schools in Seattle

Top ten Best Elementary Schools in Seattle

Top 10 Best Elementary Schools in Seattle

  1. Coe Elementary School – 10/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 9/10

Located at:  2424 7th Ave West, Seattle, WA 98119
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: North Queen Anne

  1. Greenwood Elementary School – 9/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 10/10

Located at: 144 Northwest 80th Street, Seattle, WA, 98117
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Greenwood

  1. Lawton Elementary School – 9/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 9/10

Located at: 4000 27th Ave West, Seattle, WA 98199
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Lawton Park

  1. Wedgwood Elementary School – 9/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 9/10

Located at: 2720 Northeast 85th Street, Seattle, WA 98115
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Wedgwood

  1. West Woodland Elementary School – 9/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 8/10

Located at: 5601 4th Ave Northwest, Seattle, WA, 98107
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: West Woodland

  1. Alki Elementary School – 8/10

Test Scores 8/10
Student Progress 9/10

Located at: 32010 59th Ave Southwest, Seattle, WA 98116
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Alki

  1. Bryant Elementary School – 8/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 5/10

Located at: 3311 Northeast 60th Street, Seattle, WA 98115
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Bryant

  1. B F Day Elementary School – 8/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 8/10

Located at: 3921 Linden Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Fremont

  1. John Hay Elementary School – 8/10

Test Scores 9/10
Student Progress 7/10

Located at: 201 Garfield Street, Seattle, WA, 98109
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Queen Anne

  1. John Stanford International Elementary School – 8/10

Test Scores 10/10
Student Progress 6/10

Located at: 4057 5th Ave Northeast, Seattle, WA, 98105
Main Neighborhood to look at homes: Wallingford/ University District


School Boundaries


Did you know that I can set you op on a search based on a school’s boundary? In this way you can be sure that your son or daughter attends the best elementary schools in Seattle. Ask me how I can do this for you, contact me now!


*School boundaries tend to change over time, please make sure to check the attendance zone with the schools website.





Posted on May 26, 2020 at 9:00 am
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Seattle |

Safest Neighborhoods in Seattle


Being a dad myself, I would like to know what the safest neighborhoods in Seattle are. After all my kid’s safety is most important to me than anything else.

Since I was curious about this and I figured you might as well, I compiled a list of the top 5 safest neighborhoods in Seattle And the five least safest neighborhoods in Seattle which you definitely should avoid if at all possible based on the data provided by the Seattle Police Department. I also included a map so that you can see where these areas are.

Let’s Start with the 5 safest neighborhoods in Seattle:

1. Pigeon Point, with only 78 total crimes over 2019. This is definitely the safest area to live in.
2. Eastlake East, has only 102 total crimes over 2019.
3. Genesee, has 132 total crimes over 2019.
4. Madison Park, 189 total crimes over 2019.
5. Hillman City, with 237 crimes over 2019.

Now that we know which areas are the safest, let’s take a look at the area’s you should avoid.

The 5 neighborhoods with the most crime in Seattle:

1. Downtown Commercial, 6080 cases of crime.
2. Capitol Hill, 4241 cases of crime.
3. Northgate, 3906 cases of crime.
4. Queen Anne, 3751 cases of crime.
5. University, 2964 cases of crime.

There is no surprise that the Downtown area is the neighborhood with the highest crime rate. But some areas like Queen Anne are actually rather nice. Queen Anne, consists of lower- and Upper Queen Anne. While most people try to avoid Lower Queen Anne, Upper Queen Anne is actually highly desirable and is a good and safe area to live in.

That being said there are so many pockets with exceptions like these that it is important to get in contact with someone who knows this area, contact me.


The Micro Community Policing Plans

Seattle has a total of 40 main neighborhoods which can be subdivided in many more. The Seattle police department uses The Micro Community Policing Plans (MCPP) which differs from the actual neighborhoods and were defined through police-citizen engagement including community meetings, focus groups, survey data, and the realities of geographic boundaries SPD can use to collect and report on events.

For the results the 2 main commercial zones have been left out since there is barely any housing there.

For more info on the MCPP:

Here is the full list of every neighborhood:

Neighborhoods Total Cases of Crime
Commercial Harbor Island 34
Commercial Duwamish 35
Pigeon Point 78
Eastlake East 102
Genesee 132
Madison Park 189
Hillman City 237
Lakewood Sewer Park 250
South Beacon Hill 268
Judkins Park/ North Beacon Hill 269
South Delridge 281
Alki 288
Fauntleroy 307
Mount Baker 321
Claremont/ Rainier Vista 345
New Holly 351
Montlake/ Portage Bay 388
Columbia City 393
Eastlake West 417
Miller Park 428
Ranier View 457
North Delridge 502
Phinney Ridge 503
High Point 564
Morgan 577
Mid Beacon Hill 587
North Admiral 618
Rainier Beach 626
South Park 649
Madrona/ Leschi 722
Brighton/ Dunlap 786
Highland Park 829
Georgetown 1026
Alaska Junction 1071
Wallingford 1079
Roxhill/ Westwood/ Arbor Heights 1112
Magnolia 1121
North Beacon Hill 1219
Bitterlake 1233
Fremont 1294
Pioneer Square 1389
Ballard North 1434
Sandpoint 1441
Sodo 1578
Central Area/ Square Park 1596
Greenwood 1603
Belltown 1772
Lakecity 1846
Chinatown/ International District 2183
First Hill 2529
Ballard South 2605
Roosevelt/ Ravenna 2619
South Lake Union/ Cascade 2963
University 2964
Queen Anne 3751
Northgate 3906
Capitol Hill 4241
Downtown Commercial 6080

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 9:00 am
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Uncategorized |

Moving to Seattle – 10 Great Things About Seattle


If you are moving to Seattle, then you want to know what makes this city great! I compiled a list of the 10 best reasons out of many that makes this city so Awesome!

The 10 reasons why Seattle is so awesome!

1. Iconic Landmarks
Seattle is home to a lot of landmarks know nation and worldwide! Enjoy the spectacular views from the Space Needle, or stroll around Pike Place Market where you can see them throw fish!! Or enrich yourself in the musical culture of Seattle at the Museum of Pop Culture. If you are in the mood for a little bit of adventure in the unknown, then the Underground Seattle tour is a must.

2. Seattle has some of the best restaurants in the World!
Known as a place with some of the best chefs in the world, restaurants that care about using local and fresh ingredients makes Seattle a foodie paradise. For a perfect night out or an awesome lunch Seattle has everything you can wish for whether it is a Korean-French cuisine, YES, or a kings crab burger you can find it here!

Best Restaurants in Seattle

3. Great Coffee
Home to Starbucks, which you can find on literally every corner here, you are not far away from good coffee. But the best coffee isn’t even Starbucks. I mean if you want a tutti frutti macchiato with extra whipped cream, then by all means go to Starbucks. But most people who live and work in Seattle, and once you move to Seattle, they don’t drink Starbucks they go to the little less know coffee places to drink a good Italian espresso, black, no sugar. Even little places like these are easy to find, often as a drive thru option only.

Best Coffee in Seattle

4. Home to nations fastest growing companies!
Home to Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow, Redfin, Nintendo, REI, Facebook, Google and many more. Seattle is a city that is a techie’s paradise! More then once Seattle has been named The Second Silicon Valley. Not only did many of these companies start here, but a lot of companies are moving to Seattle because of the relaxed environment, the upcoming infrastructure and no income tax. Inc. 500 has a nice article about the fastest growing companies in Seattle other than Amazon or Starbucks that’s definitely worth the read.

Inc. 500 – Seattle’s Fastest Growing Companies

5. Plenty of work opportunity!
With some of the biggest tech companies in the nation or even world, there seems to be an opportunity for anyone to change jobs or even careers! With every tech job created, 7 additional Jobs are added. Moving to Seattle makes a job/ career switch easier.

Geekwire – Seattle Tech Jobs

6. No income Tax!
Yeah, No Income Tax, what else is there to say. Great as an employee, but also great if you have your own business! – Income Tax

Enough about work. Let’s get back to the fun stuff.

7. Outdoor activities
Seattle is surrounded by mountains, water, parks and forest. There is such a variety of nature that there is always something to do. Seattle is home to the best hiking trails, for beginners to advanced hikers there is always a hike for anyone. A good place to start is the Washington Trail Association. What if you are more into water sports? Well, with access to the pacific ocean and an abundance of lakes there is plenty of room for Kayaking, Paddle boarding, Wild Water rafting, boating, water skiing, etc. What about Golf you might ask. Well we have plenty of Golf courses, all beautiful and formed by nature. Due to our climate you can play Golf year around. Moving to Seattle yet?
Seattle’s best water Activities
Seattle Golf Courses

8. We have seasons!
Yes, this is probably one of my favorite things about Seattle. We have actual seasons. I get tired of the nice heat after 4 months of 80-90 degrees and look forward to a really pretty fall. Which is still comfortable enough to be dressed in a light coat. When Winter comes, yeah it might rain a bit more here then anywhere else, but it also means that we have plenty of snow for the ski season. Once you had enough of that spring comes around the corner and everything starts to be in bloom again and with so much green around us it always looks beautiful.

Weather in Seattle

9. Beautiful Views!
Seattle definitely has the best views of any city! So good that there are multiple bars setup in the highest towers so that you enjoy the views. This doesn’t only happen in Seattle but also in the neighboring tows like Bellevue. Even when you are not at a bar, but driving on the freeway or out for a walk the views are amazing and never bore me. It truly is like we are living in a park.

Bars with a view
Best views in Seattle

10. Super dog friendly city
When your city has more dogs then children, you know we love our friend! With an abundance of dog parks, plenty of stores and restaurants that are dog friendly. This is the place to be for a dog and it’s owner. Check out the article below:

Seattle again number one city for dogs

That’s it! Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information about Seattle or the surrounding area!

Posted on May 8, 2020 at 9:41 pm
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Seattle | Tagged ,

Local Market Update – March 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has not yet dampened demand in the housing market. Traffic at open houses remains heavy. Buyers who had waited last year for a drop in prices have now seen several months of home prices increases. With demand far outstripping supply and record low interest rates, the market heading into spring looks hotter than ever.


Buyers that may have been in wait-and-see mode at the end of 2019 jumped off the fence in February. Pending sales (offers accepted but not yet closed) jumped 27%, snapping up already-tight inventory. 55% of homes on the market sold in 15 days or less. The median home price jumped 9% over a year ago to $985,000, an increase of $58,000 from the prior month. Development on the Eastside continues to surge and includes the recent groundbreaking for a 600-foot tower in Bellevue and a proposed 11-acre mixed-use project.



The tight housing market here got even tighter. There were 40% fewer homes on the market in King County in February than there were in January. The median home price rose 3% over the prior year to $675,000, up from $630,525 in January. With mortgage rates and the local unemployment rate both hitting record lows, demand isn’t likely to drop any time soon.



With just six weeks of available inventory, competition for homes in Seattle remains fierce. Multiple offers were the norm, and 34% of homes purchased in February sold for over the listing price. The median price for a single-family home in February was $730,500, unchanged from a year ago and up from $719,950 in January.



The numbers in Snohomish County tell the story. There were 42% fewer listings in February than a year ago, and 42% more pending sales. With inventory at under a month of supply, there just aren’t enough homes to meet demand. That scarcity translated into higher prices, with the median price of a single-family home rising 8% over a year ago to $515,000.


This post originally appeared on

Posted on March 17, 2020 at 5:54 pm
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Market Update |

Local Market Update – February 2020

New jobs and low interest rates continue to fuel the housing market boom. While January is traditionally a slower month for activity, the new year saw steady buyer demand. With the number of sales exceeding new listings, all indicators point to a strong spring market.


The tech industry on the Eastside continues to grow rapidly. Microsoft and Alibaba both have significant expansions underway. Amazon expects to increase its workforce in Bellevue to 15,000 in the next few years, a sevenfold increase from today. As the economy continues to grow, inventory keeps being squeezed. There were 47% fewer single-family homes on the market in January than the year prior. Home prices have been stabilizing for some time, fluctuating slightly from month to month. In January the median home price slipped 2% over a year ago to $892,000.



The number of single-family homes on the market in King County was down nearly 44% from a year ago. That lack of inventory has resulted in more multiple offers and the return of review dates, where sellers identify a date to review all offers. Strong competition for a small supply of homes boosted the median home price 3% over the prior year to $630,525.



The jobs outlook in Seattle for 2020 remains robust, and demand for homes continues to outstrip supply. Traffic at open houses in January reflected that demand, with one central Seattle homes priced in the $1.2 million range drawing more than 300 visitors. Home prices in the city have been relatively stable for the past 12 months. That remained the case in January where the median price for a single-family home inched up 1% over last year to $719,950.



With 35% less inventory than last January, competition among buyers in Snohomish County is fierce and multiple offers have become the norm. The median price of a single-family home soared 12% over a year ago to $509,950. Home prices have been playing catch up, increasing at a much faster pace over the past year than King County. While the prices gap has closed, the median price here is still nearly 20% less than King County.


This post originally appeared on

Posted on February 19, 2020 at 10:32 pm
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Market Update |

The Western Washington Gardner Report Q4


The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (253) 249-1221 or


Employment in Washington State continues to soften; it is currently at an annual growth rate of 1.7%. I believe that is a temporary slowdown and we will see the pace of employment growth improve as we move further into the new year. It’s clear that businesses are continuing to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. This is, of course, in addition to the issues that Boeing currently faces regarding the 737 MAX.

In the fourth quarter of 2019 the state unemployment rate was 4.4%, marginally lower than the 4.5% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2020 will rise 2.2%, with a total of 76,300 new jobs created.

❱ There were 18,322 home sales registered during the final quarter of 2019, representing an impressive increase of 4.7% from the same period in 2018.

❱ Readers may remember that listing activity spiked in the summer of 2018 but could not be sustained, with the average number of listings continuing to fall. Year-over-year, the number of homes for sale in Western Washington dropped 31.7%.

❱ Compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, sales rose in nine counties and dropped in six. The greatest growth was in Whatcom County. San Juan County had significant declines, but this is a very small market which makes it prone to extreme swings.

❱ Pending home sales — a barometer for future closings — dropped 31% between the third and fourth quarters of 2019, suggesting that we may well see a dip in the number of closed sales in the first quarter of 2020.


❱ Home price growth in Western Washington spiked during fourth quarter, with average prices 8.3% higher than a year ago. The average sale price in Western Washington was $526,564, 0.7% higher than in the third quarter of 2019.

❱ It’s worth noting that above-average price growth is happening in markets some distance from the primary job centers. I strongly feel this is due to affordability issues, which are forcing buyers farther out.







❱ Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in San Juan County, where home prices were up 41.7%. Six additional counties also saw double-digit price increases.

❱ Home prices were higher in every county contained in this report. I expect this trend to continue in 2020, but we may see a softening in the pace of growth in some of the more expensive urban areas.









❱ The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped four days compared to the third quarter of 2019.

❱ For the second quarter in a row, Thurston County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 29 days to sell. In nine counties, the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in four counties and two were unchanged.

❱ Across the entire region, it took an average of 47 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter. This was up nine days over the third quarter of this year.

❱ Market time remains below the long-term average across the region, a trend that will likely continue until we see more inventory come to market — possibly as we move through the spring.




This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. The housing market ended the year on a high note, with transactions and prices picking up steam. I believe the uncertainty of 2018 (when we saw significant inventory enter the market) has passed and home buyers are back in the market. Unfortunately, buyers’ desire for more inventory is not being met and I do not see any significant increase in listing activity on the horizon. As such, I have moved the needle more in favor of home sellers.



As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

© 2020 Windermere Services Company. All rights reserved.


Posted on January 22, 2020 at 4:46 am
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Market Update |

Local Market Update – December 2020

2019 ended with too many buyers chasing too few homes. December marked the sixth straight month of declining supply. The severe shortage of homes, historically low interest rates, and strong job growth are predicted to keep the local housing market strong in 2020. In a region starved for inventory, sellers can expect significant interest in new listings.


Homes sold briskly on the Eastside in December in all categories, including the luxury market. The number of listings were down nearly 50% from a year ago and the area had under a month of available inventory. That lack of inventory helped bump the median price of a single-family home up 4% from a year ago to $949,000, which is a $49,000 increase from November.  New large scale developments and a strong economic forecast indicate that the housing market will remain healthy.



King County continues to be a seller’s market. Inventory in December was down nearly 40% compared to a year ago and ended the month with below one month supply. The median price of a single-family home rose 6% over the prior year to $675,000, up slightly from November. More affordable areas saw much higher increases. Southeast King County – which includes Auburn, Kent and Renton – saw home prices jump 16% over the previous year.



Numbers tell the story in Seattle. Inventory was down 25%, while the number of closed sales increased 19%. Strong demand here has kept the housing market solid, with prices fluctuating slightly month-to-month for much of 2019. The median price of a single-family home sold in December increased 2% from a year ago to $727,000. That was slightly down from $735,000 in November.



While the median home price in Snohomish County is less than that in King County, the gap continues to close. Buyers willing to trade a longer commute for a lower mortgage have kept demand and prices strong. Inventory here was off 36% in December as compared to a year ago. The median price of a single-family home rose 9% over a year ago to $510,000, an increase of $15,000 from November.


This post originally appeared on

Posted on January 13, 2020 at 7:21 pm
Dylan Wolf | Posted in Market Update |