All posts by Mike Stussy

New on the market in Issaquah’s Inneswood neighborhood – $780K

Here’s a classic NW Burnstead home that’s thoughtfully updated and lovingly cared for – a sought after house and neighborhood that’s walkable on its own and also to downtown shopping, parks, and transit.  Here’s real convenience combined with privacy as this lot backs to a green belt.

Visit me here on Saturday, 2/16, from 1-4pm.

1030 NW Inneswood Dr., Issaquah

Plenty of windows and solatubes bring light and even a peek view of the lake. Upgrades include new exterior paint and gutters, and aggregate driveway outside; appliances and counter tops inside. Even a therapeutic salt water hot tub in the back yard.

Which condo would you want to sell – or think about buying?

A pair of agents in my office has a listing that’s not selling in a hot market.  With their permission and company permission, I stopped by to take a few photos to demonstrate why photography matters.  On the left, theirs.  On the right, the ones I took this evening.  Granted, it’s an empty condo – but what do you think, does photography matter?




This beautiful East Bellevue condo with a view of downtown Bellevue is a short walk to the new Spring District.  Listed at $399,800.  You know how to reach me.

Getting Top Dollar For Your Home – With Photography


Great photography is vital for getting the most potential buyers to your listing and top dollar for your home.

The National Association of REALTORS 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers showed that in 2016, 95% of buyers used the internet to search for homes.

This one statistic supports what you already know: virtually all buyers find potential homes online first and then decide whether to visit. That decision to personally visit rests heavily with the online presence of your home, and great photos are the focus of online presence. They, like most of us, sift through online information quickly, saving or discarding based on initial impressions. If your home is not photographed properly, at optimal angles, color corrected, lit correctly, and if those photos do not tell the story of your house, your home may go in the discard bin.

Shameless Plug: let me first be clear that in addition to being a licensed REALTOR in Seattle and Missoula, I am a pro real estate photographer. That’s an additional expertise and service my clients receive. My work has been featured in The Seattle Times and in addition to my own listings I photograph for some of Seattle’s top REALTORS.   Check out my work here:

As a REALTOR and real estate photographer I know that many agents choose the least expensive option and that’s usually reflected in the photos, then in market time, and ultimately in sale price.

Demand these photographic elements from the agent who is listing your property:

  • Professional HD Real Estate Photography. It takes a photographer with training in real estate photography to know how to photograph a home for sale. Even then, there are levels of competency. Are the colors realistic? Is there lens distortion (are vertical lines vertical)? Are windows blown out (white) or is a nondescript view overly accentuated, drawing attention away from the interior? There’s a balance to achieve and your photographer needs to know what’s most important in each photo and how to achieve the desired result.blogp-3

Do the photos flow through the house, giving a sense of the layout to tell the story of your house? A trained real estate photographer knows how to showcase your home in photos that attract buyers.

  • Manage the photo allowance in the MLS. But don’t overdo it. I see many listings underserved with too few photos. In the NWMLS (Seattle), 25 photos are allowed. Your agent should be able to use all 25 to describe your house in pictures. In Montana, where I also list and sell properties, there’s a higher limit and I see listings with up to 40 photos – and in most cases that’s way too many. Your agent should be able to find a balance and post the correct number of photos, with an emphasis on the “money” shots that really bring in buyers. Too many photos may introduce elements that distract buyers from attention getting features. Use the right number of photos to give potential buyers a clear idea of what your property is about and entice a visit.
  • Add Comments To Photos. While it’s the job of photos and the photographer to give a sense of the flow in your home, sometimes a little explanation is in order. Is the Master Bedroom on the main floor or upstairs? Does that door lead to the garage or the back yard? Your agent may know your floorplan, but buyers may need some help with some additional comments.

Look at listings in your town. Is the photography good or is it poor? I work in two distinct US markets (see links at the bottom of the page) and the photo work is vastly different between them. If the photography in your market is good, you must have great photos just to compete. If photography in your market isn’t first rate, that’s an opportunity for you to get the advantage over your competition with great photos and marketing.

Remember how great photography will help when you’re ready to list your home for sale. I’m happy to show you what to expect when we work together.


View: Seattle Real Estate, Missoula Real Estate, Real Estate Photography


What do you think of the Missoula Tourist Home Ordinance?

At a recent dinner with friends, the subject of housing came up as it often does when people learn I’m a real estate agent. Turns out the house next door to our hosts home was purchased by an investor and is now used as a Tourist Home and it was affecting them in a variety of ways.

Residential real estate has historically been a great investment, whether you reside in the home or are an absentee investor renting property at a monthly profit and earning appreciation as well over time. Rental periods are typically one year or more on investment properties, but short-term rentals have also been part of the formula with furnished executive and insurance rentals earning higher weekly or monthly returns.

In recent years, sites like and have shifted the short-term rental market more directly to residential owners and neighborhoods, providing more options for visitors and opportunities for homeowners and investors to profit, essentially becoming part of the hotel/motel market. In Missoula, a house rented short-term (daily or weekly and not occupied by an owner or manager) is called a Tourist Home.

On November 3, 2016 the Missoula City Council approved the use of residential properties in all residential and commercial zoning districts as Tourist Homes, so long as they are:
Registered with Development Services at City Hall
Pay the required registration fees
Notify neighbors within 150 feet of the Tourist Home of its existence and use.
Meet the other requirements of the Ordinance
Note: this ordinance does not override Homeowner Associations and CCR’s that may prohibit rentals in certain buildings or neighborhoods.

The rules for Missoula Tourist Homes are in place for now, but the debate over whether their impact serves the community probably has not.

Supporters of the new rules say that Tourist Homes have been operating illegally in Missoula for some time and the new rules create a means for regulating short-term rental activity; regulations providing a means to register Tourist homes and for residents to make and address complaints about registered and unregistered Tourist Homes.
Many landlords believe they should legally be allowed to rent short-term as well as long-term.
Others believe homeowner’s should be allowed to do what they wish with their properties, including rent them short-term.

Missoulians who oppose Tourist Homes believe they reduce residential home availability and therefore drive up prices in a housing market where prices already outpace wages. Residents note erosion in the quality of neighborhoods when nearby homes begin operating like motels.
Local business owners say higher home prices, resulting in part due to Tourist Home activity, make it difficult to hire because incomes are insufficient for employees to qualify for a home purchase near to their workplace.

Today, the median price for a Missoula home is $249,000. The Montana Association of Realtors says it takes an income of $80,000 to purchase that median priced home with a typical 4% down payment and 30 year loan. With Missoula median family incomes ranging from $43,560 for a single person to $62,220 for a family of four, there’s an affordability gap for working families.

Up to 2 Tourist Homes may be owned by any one individual or LLC in residential districts, and homes zoned commercial are not subject to the rules, which opens up opportunities for investors and homeowners in the Tourist Home business. As of this writing, just one Tourist Home has been registered, and 7 applications are pending. But today, a search on for Missoula Entire Homes brings up 114 rentals. In Sept, there were just 59. One week after the ordinance was approved, that number rose to 89.

Cities across the country are dealing with the short-term rental issue in different ways. Seattle and Los Angeles are considering regulations limiting short-term rentals. Some cities have strict zoning and licensing regulations. Other cities like Denver and San Francisco require that the house be a principle residence. In New York, advertising a short-term rental on Airbnb is now illegal. And in some places there are no regulations at all. Cities with regulations cite the loss of affordable housing as a main reason for instituting ordinances.

As a REALTOR®, my professional and personal duty is to help clients achieve their real estate objectives, whether it’s for investment or personal use. It’s also important to me that I understand the impacts of housing ordinances that affect my community, friends, and clients – and what you think of those ordinances.

What do you think of the new Tourist Home Ordinance in Missoula? If the rules around Tourist Homes were revisited sometime in the future, what would your position be?


Guide to Having Your Home Listed During the Winter


Whether you are putting your home on the market today or it has been on market for a while, there are some winter maintenance items you must make time for to keep your home looking fresh and safe no matter what the weather is doing outside.  The house pictured above is not listed for sale, but if it were we’d have some things to think about.

Wilder Winter Tips For My Montana Friends

  • If you have a driveway, clear it of snow well enough that your home is easily accessible. Missoula road conditions vary by area, but if a buyer makes it to your house, be sure they can get up the driveway.
  • Clear snow from all outdoor walkways and stairs and make sure they have been deiced. You don’t want someone slipping and falling.
  • Clear snow off outside decks, stairs, and walkways in the backyard. Even though the weather may be chilly, you want potential buyers to get excited about your home’s outdoor living potential after the snow melts.
  • Watch for excessive snow buildup on your roof. In the event you receive an offer and the inspector will be checking the roof, you need it to be accessible.
  • Tidy up any garden areas. Trim ornamental grasses and dead foliage to neaten things up and rake.
  • Regularly clean your windows – inside and out. With the low winter sun coming in at an angle, smudges and dirt on the glass stand out more than ever and you need all that sun to provide light in your home.
  • Keep the interior and exterior lights on unless you can come home quickly before a showing and turn them all on. You may have showings after dark and it’s always nicer (for a buyer) to walk into a warmly lit home.


Milder Winter Tips For My Seattle Friends

  • In the event of a freeze, deice and clear all outdoor walkways and stairs. You don’t want someone slipping and falling.
  • Clear all leaves off outside decks, stairs, and walkways in the yards. Even though the weather may be chilly, you want potential buyers to get excited about your home’s outdoor living potential.
  • Blow all leaves off your roof and keep moss down. Not only do you need your roof looking neat for the potential buyer; in the event you receive an offer and the inspector will be checking the roof, you need it to be accessible.
  • Tidy up any garden areas. Trim ornamental grasses and dead foliage to neaten things up and rake.
  • Regularly clean your windows – inside and out. With the low winter sun coming in at an angle, smudges and dirt on the glass stand out more than ever and you need all that sun to provide light in your home.
  • Keep the interior and exterior lights on at all times unless you can come home quickly before a showing and turn them all on.

In all cases, I recommend contacting your homeowners insurance company to alert them that your home is on the market as buyers and other agents will be on your grounds and they may have their own set of guidelines they want you to follow to keep everyone safe.

The winter can be a great time to get your home sold. For additional tips on the steps you should take for your particular home, please contact me at 425-829-7887 in Seattle and 406-282-4976. Or send an email to in Seattle and in Montana.

An unsexy post about mortgage loans


Improvements to an old loan program available in Washington and Montana, and the addition of a new loan program available in Montana, will make buying a home easier – and create a new pool of buyers for many home sellers beginning in October.

First, the old:

The USDA loan program offers 100% loan financing for homes located in designated rural areas. In Missoula, that appears to be anything outside of the city limits. In Montana, East Missoula, for instance – minutes from downtown – is a qualifying area. In the Puget Sound area,  homes in North Bend, Arlington, or Bainbridge Island qualify.   The USDA says 97% of US land mass is USDA loan qualifying.

*There’s an upfront fee for a 100% USDA loan, and it’s being reduced from 2.75% to 1% (of the purchase price). That’s a savings of $5250 on a $300,000 loan.

*There is an annual fee of .35% of the unpaid principal balance per year, down from .50%. That’s a savings of about $30 per month on a $250K loan balance.

The new USDA loan will now be less expensive than a comparable FHA loan which requires a minimum 3.5% down payment, upfront fee of 1.75% and annual fee of .85%.

Find USDA eligible areas with this map:

Learn more about USDA loans:

Next up is a gift program available in Montana and Idaho, which does not require repayment and is available on properties located anywhere in those states. So you can use this one in Missoula city limits.

If you qualify for a FHA, VA, USDA or HUD Section 184 loan and meet the income requirements, you may be eligible for the HomeNow Down Payment Gift Program. Homes must be occupied by the buyer as a principal residence within 60 days of purchase and for at least two years afterward. This is not a first time buyer program. If you’ve owned before, you can be eligible. The gift of $3500 or $5000 may be used for down payment or to pay closing costs.

More on HomeNow here:

For more info on how these loan programs can help you with your next home purchase, and to connect with a lender who works with them, message me on this page or call me at 406-282-2976.

Here is a picture of George Clooney to make up for being boring.clooney

George says, search for Missoula homes here:

Issaquah Highlands Carriage House

Just listed this lovely Carriage House condo in a coveted Issaquah Highlands neighborhood.  It features an open floorplan and vaulted ceilings for a spacious feel. There are no common walls. Rich hardwoods cover the main areas. The generous Master Bedroom has a walk-in closet and bath off Master. There are newer appliances throughout and double-paned windows provide plenty of natural light. Close to trails, parks, playfields, dining, shopping, and other services. The commute to Bellevue and Seattle are easy from here.  I think it will sell quickly, so if you want to see it, give me a call!Julep-17 Julep-1

This Winter is a Great Time to Sell

Winter can be a great time to get your home sold. Especially this Winter. King County median home prices in December were the highest since 2007 at $508,000. Inventory of homes and condos was the lowest since 1993 with 2189 active listings, according to the MLS. Historically high prices combined with historically low inventory makes for very happy sellers.BoeKlahan-20

If you’re thinking of selling and planning to wait until the flowers bloom, perhaps think again. While inventory will continue at the low end in Spring, it will increase and buyers will have more choices. More choices can mean less competition for your home. An increase in interest rates can reduce your potential buyer pool. If you’re selling, those are good reasons to go ahead now rather than waiting for warmer weather. Winter buyers are generally very motivated to make a purchase and get settled quickly. I think that’s especially true of buyers this year.

For tips on the steps you should take for your particular home and a winter sale, please contact me at (425) 829-7887 or send an email to

Interest Rates and Buyer Buying Power

In my previous post, we went over getting started with your home search and the importance of beginning with or at least getting handled your financing early on – hopefully, that means before walking into homes you’re thinking of buying.  Today, let’s look at interest rates and their effect on buying power.

Lately, I’ve received calls from buyers who had wanted to buy in the last year but felt they were priced out of the market. Now, they are back, wondering what their next move should be. They want to pay what prices were over a year ago, not what prices are now with demand being high.  Interest rates are expected to rise and that may decrease demand in many areas; however, is it really worth waiting for prices to come down (if they come down)?

Let’s look at an example. If you are considering the purchase of a $600,000 home and you want to “save” money, so you decide to “wait” until prices fall by 5% – or $30,000. But let’s look at the numbers if you were to purchase the $600,000 home today at today’s low interest rates:

Home Price $600,000
Down Payment $120,000
Loan Amount $480,000
Interest Rate 3.75%
Monthly Payment $2,223
Amount Paid Over Life of Loan $800,263.74

But let’s say you decide to wait in the hopes of purchasing the home for $575,000 … and in the meantime rates creep up to 5.5%.

Home Price $575,000
Down Payment $115,000
Loan Amount $460,000
Interest Rate 5.5%
Monthly Payment $2,612
Amount Paid Over Life of Loan $940,258.59

Over the course of 30 years, that additional $389 you pay each month adds up to an additional $139,995. The point of the story?  Waiting to “save” money by hoping prices will drop may well cost you far more than your expected “savings”.  It will cost you the appreciation you could earn while the market is hot and prices are rising.

If you’re interested in the current status and potential of a particular neighborhood or house to determine how it might fit with your real estate and investment strategy, feel free to give me a call to discuss.

Later, all!