19 December 2012

Deluxe New Homes at 11-WEST

We launched 11-WEST in November and we have received a wonderful response!  11-WEST is an enclave of 11 affordable new homes in a quite neighborhood in West Seattle with quick and easy access to the California Junction, Alki, the golf course, and the freeway.  Four-Star Built Green, these homes epitomize comfortable, sane living.  You will feel the difference on a daily basis and you will see the difference in your utility bills.  Our first home (see photos below) closed in early December and the new home owner is overjoyed.  Our second home, with all the bells and whistles of the first home, will be ready for the New Year, and we are breaking ground on the next two large homes as I write.  2900-3300 square feet (including 2-car attached garage), 4-5 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, master bedroom with en suite 5-piece bathroom, and a kitchen-great room that will knock your sox off - these home are a sight to behold!  Let me know if I you'd like to take a look!

Seattle Real Estate Market Update ~ Got Growth?

Stats are in for November and we are continuing to see growth in the market.  With 2012 coming to a close, what is your prediction for housing values in 2012?  Are we going to see appreciation, depreciation, or level prices?

Information and statistics compiled and reported by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Seattle Residential Homes - Months of Inventory
 Seattle Condominiums - Median Prices
 Seattle Residential Homes - Months of Inventory
 Seattle Condominiums - Median Prices

From the Chef ~ Holiday Booze Cake


Something about the holidays says rum cake to me, so much so that I’ve been compelled to try out various recipes.  Yes, I’ve tried Paula Dean’s version, and yes, it’s loaded with butter.  Yes, it’s darn good, and yes, I’m still alive and kicking.  Along the way, I’ve played around with various modifications.  For instance, sprinkling a cup or so of chopped pecans in the bottom of your bundt cake pan is a nice addition.  And instead of just rum, I’ve used combinations of brandy, grappa, and homemade nocino, or walnut liqueur, and they have all turned out nicely.  And it never hurts to add a splash more liquor when it comes time to soak the cake.  Here’s my favorite at the moment and it comes from Saveur (November ‘12).  Happy baking!

1. Heat oven to 325º.  Butter and flour a 10” Bundt pan; set aside.  Whisk together the following ingredients:  2 cups flour, 1 ¾ sugar, ¼ dry milk powder, 3 tbsp. cornstarch, 1 tbsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. kosher salt.  Separately whisk together ½ cup rum, ½ milk, ½ canola oil, 1 tbsp. vanilla, and 4 eggs.  Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.   Pour into prepared pan.  Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool 20 min., then unmold and let cool.
2. Bring 8 tbsp. butter, 1 cup sugar, and ¼ water to a boil over high heat; cook for 5 min. stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add ½ cup rum (take my advice and add a drop or two more!)  Place cooled cake top side down on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and poke holes all over bottom.  Slowly pour syrup over cake, letting it soak in as you pour.  Cool completely before serving.  Great on day one and stores well!

19 November 2012

"Mangia Italia 101" for ASB School Auction


Below you will find a sample menu for "Mangia Italia 101", a very special cooking class offered by Carmela and Joe Mele and Fiore and Lisa Pignataro for the Assumption-St. Bridget School Auction 2012.

Antipasti Assortiti e Bevande
Assorted Antipasti and Drinks

Primo Piatto  ~  Spaghetti al Pesto Genovese

Primo Piatto  ~  Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Primo Piatto  ~  Spaghetti alla Frutta di Mare
Spaghetti “Fruits of the Sea” with Secret Ingredient

Secondo Piatto  ~  Gamberi al Limoncello
Grilled Prawns Marinated in Homemade Limoncello

Insalata Mista

Dolci e Liquori Assortiti
Assorted Sweets and Liqueurs

Fiore = 5-time Seattle Magazine 5 Star Realtor!

Seattle Real Estate Market Update ~ Think You're Underwater? Think Again.

Are current market conditions buoyant enough to lift the value of underwater homes?  Happily for some, the answer is yes.  While we probably can't expect robust growth for some time, 2012 is the year when we will probably see real appreciation for the first time since the downturn in 2007.  Given a little equity, some homeowners may see an opportunity to list their home and take advantage of ridiculous interest rates and pricing much lowered from the peak.  If you think 2013 could be the year to consider entering the market, please don't hesitate to call and I can help you understand the value of your home.

The charts below show the very restricted inventory currently on the market, which is one big reason why we are seeing prices rise steadily.  It's basic supply and demand principles at work, and it's fascinating to watch how it plays out everyday in the market.
Information and statistics compiled and reported by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Seattle Residential Homes - Months of Inventory
 Seattle Residential Homes - Median Price
 Seattle Condominiums - Months of Inventory
Seattle Condominiums - Median Price

15 November 2012

From the Chef ~ Gnocchi di Ricotta e Zucca

These tasty and comforting dumplings made of ricotta and winter squash or pumpkin arrive just in time to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey!  This easy-to-make recipe is my own creation!  Like gnocchi?  Check out my recent posting for Gnocchi with Spring Greens and Ricotta at CasaFioreOnline.com (March 2012)!

1. Let 1 cup ricotta drain in a cheese cloth-lined colander for roughly 30 min.  Meanwhile, steam 1 lb. fresh winter squash or pumpkin until a butter knife will slide easily into flesh.  I grow big Blue Hubbard squash to use in recipes like this all winter long.  Remove skin and puree.  Alternatively, substitute with 1 cup canned pumpkin.
2. Mix squash thoroughly with ricotta, 1 lightly beaten egg, 3/4 cup floor, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 cup grated parmigiano, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg.  Some tips:  Depending on the moisture in your ricotta, this can be a very sticky mixture, so you may need to add flour in small amounts.  Don’t add too much lest they become gummy and heavy.  Also, consider making homemade ricotta.  It’s extra work, but it’s easy and rewarding, and you’ll be making an ingredient superior to what you can buy at the store.  Check out my recipe at CasaFioreOnline.com (March 2012).
3. On a floured surface, roll out cords of mixture roughly 3/4” thick.  Cut into 1/2” pieces with a butter knife.  Roll in semolina flour (you’ll need 1-2 cups) and set aside.
4. Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil.  Carefully add gnocchi.  After 2-3 minutes, they will rise to the top.  Allow to cook another minute.  Remove and gently toss in a pan of 1/2 stick (or more!) melted butter and 12-16 fresh sage leaves.  Serve with more grated parmigiano.  Dig in!

09 November 2012

Deluxe New Homes at 11-WEST

Classic Craftsman   +   Sustainability   +   Modern Design   +   Affordability   =

11-West is an enclave of generous new Four-Star Built Green homes in a serene and convenient neighborhood in West Seattle.  Inviting Craftsman exteriors, contemporary interior finishes, sensibly designed 3000-3400 ft² floor plans on 5000 ft² lots, and comfortable and efficient Built Green systems.   

· 4-5 bedrooms, 3-4 up, master with en suite bath
· 3.5 baths and open kitchen-great room design
· Formal dining room plus media room
· 2-car attached garages

High $300s—$400s

Completion beginning early December

12 October 2012

Seattle Real Estate Market Update ~ Consistent Improvement into the Fall

The Seattle Real Estate market continues it's hot, hot run into the fall.  We have seen year-over-year appreciation for single-family homes of 3-11% in every month since February.  At the same time, we continue to see roughly two months of inventory, an anemic trend that started during 2011 and which looks and feels a lot like 2005-2007.  To top it off, cumulative days on market was at its lowest point in five years in September at 43 days on market.  We see these trends playing out in other markets as well, like in the Seattle condominium market and in Eastside communities. Consistent improvement for nearly a year now lends credibility to the idea that real estate has turned a corner in Seattle.

How does this play out in the lives of buyers and sellers?  Buyers are showing more confidence in investing in real estate.  They are showing up on Day One at hot new listings ready to jump into highly competitive multiple offers.  Sellers have much more leverage than during the downturn.  And all homeowners are seeing appreciation creep up, with some able to get out from being underwater.  Here are some anecdotes from the field:
  • A buyer recently said the following to me: "Since we started looking 3-4 months ago, I am noticing that the price seems to be rising on what we can expect to get."  What she describes on the ground reflects what we are seeing in the statistics below, and it feels like prices are literally rising before our eyes.
  • To further illustrate how things are playing out right now, let me tell you about the buyers I am currently working with.  I currently have buyers in the Green Lake/Wallingford $600-700K single-family home market, the $450-500K West Seattle single-family home market, and the $200-250K Capitol Hill and the Downtown Bellevue/Downtown Kirkland condo markets.  All of these buyers are facing multiple offers ranging from 2-10+ offers.  When faced with competitive bidding situations like these, very, very good offers usually come in second.  Speaking from experience (and with a touch of hyperbole!), these are bloody battles where the slightest difference in price, terms or intangibles like offer presentation and buyer effort can give the edge to the victor.  It's rare that I cannot get my client into the final round, and thankfully we are prevailing at a excellent rate.
Below you will find detailed statistics.  I have many other sets of data, including this same set of data for condos, distressed (short sale and bank-owned homes) vs. non-distressed homes, and various geographic areas like the Eastside. As always, let me know if I can be of help in any way! 

These charts come from Trendgrafix, Inc. and represent all single-family homes (not condos but including town homes) in all Seattle areas.

From the Realtor ~ And Now for Some Good News!

Here are a couple of links to some good news regarding real estate both locally and nationally.

Home Prices Increase Again Both Locally and National.  

The S&P/Case-Shiller House Prices Indices, a highly-regarded housing values source, showed national and local prices rising year-over-year for the 4th consecutive month in the nation’s 20 largest metropolitan areas.  The Seattle Metro area, which includes a mammoth range of Everett to Tacoma, showed 3.1 growth over July of 2011.  Access these statistics at: 


Seattle Ranked #2 Best US City by Bloomberg Businessweek. 

Leisure attributes, educational attributes, economic factors, crime, and air quality—we rank #2 behind San Francisco.  Any ideas on how this might impact real estate values in town?  Access the article at: 



From the Chef ~ Insalata Fantasia

Whether store-bought or fresh out of the garden, we enjoy a green salad every night in my home.  Most nights it’s simply greens—and a wide variety at that—dressed in olive oil, vinegar, kosher salt and fresh pepper.  On occasion, I let fantasy reign and whip up an insalatone (translated “big ol’ salad”) that I call Insalata Fantasia.  Imagination, resourcefulness and pure yumminess are the rules to follow.  Here are some ideas for you!

Herb and Blossom Forager. Most fun when you get to gather what is right there in your garden, like fresh nasturtiums, scarlet runner bean blossoms, zucchini blossoms (or most any blossom, for that matter), fennel pollen, and whatever herb you have on hand.  I like to mix my greens with some of the herbs and flowers and then sprinkle the rest on top for a salad that pops both edibly and visually.  (See photo above.)

Insalata dell’Ortolano.  This is your basic Gardener’s salad.  Pull together whatever is in season from your garden or grocer, and invent a hardy and healthy salad.  Fresh snap peas?  Throw ’em in!  Tender young fava beans?  Toss ’em on top!  Baby zucchini?  Slice them finely and add to the mix.  

Salad Niçoise.  Chopped hard-boiled eggs, olives, tomato slices, green beans, anchovies, tuna—these are many of the tasty garnishes of this classic dish.  We fell in love with this generous dish all along the French and Italian Riviera; you can find a plethora of recipes online.  

Finely grated carrot and baked beet. A very simple way to kick up your basic greens.  Grating them finely makes them soft and juicy and helps them marry well with choice olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which really highlights the sweetness of both beets and carrots.

24 September 2012

What They Are Saying About Fiore

Making happy clients is my business.  Here are some letters from summer clients that make me proud.

"Fiore is the hardest-working real estate agent I've met. He tirelessly worked with me and my fiancé over 6 months to find us the perfect house in Queen Anne. Fiore doesn't try to oversell you - he's more interested in finding a good fit. I really appreciate Fiore's work - and will continue to refer my friends to him.” 
—Kurt W., Queen Anne
"I could not have asked for more from Fiore. Top notch professionally & personally. He was great at reading our knowledge and needs as well as anticipating potential challenges and preparing us to make well-informed decisions. Without Fiore's expertise and professionalism, we are not sure if we would have bought this house, which we love so much! We were nervous to ask too much in concessions after the inspection. Fiore was very confident we could ask for a lot back and since we trusted him, we agreed. We ended up getting way more than we expected and are VERY grateful for his advice on every step of the process!"

—Katie K., North Beach