Refer Black Real Estate
Business by the Numbers

Business by the Numbers

Hi friends! Thought I’d share a bit of data I scrounged up today. A potential seller was interviewing me recently and wanted to know a little about my career as a listing agent. They asked for my history of listings back 15 years…talk about thorough 😂

Anyhoo, I ran the numbers and this is what I found:

– 307 listings taken
– Median list price: $409,950
– Median sale price: $419,950
– Sale price 102.4% of list
– Median days in market: 9
So, yes. I’ve killed it for my sellers over the last 15 years.

If you’re looking for a listing agent or are wondering what your home is worth, just give me a call!

COVID-19 Resource Handbook

COVID-19 Resource Handbook

I hope everyone is staying safe, healthy and happy during this time.

My office has complied a COVID-19 handbook with everything from unemployment information to mortgage forbearance, rental information, food support, healthcare, and more.

Please feel free to share with your family and friends!


Investing in Single-Family Homes

Investing in Single-Family Homes

In my 20+ years of real estate investing the prime driver in my portfolio has always been the single-family home, whether that be owner occupied, long term rental, or vacation rental. If you focus on the right fundamentals it is a fantastic vehicle to grow wealth and passive income.

Why the Single-Family?

First and foremost, the competition for these homes is less than for multi-family housing. I’m often competing with first time buyers who are generally less knowledgeable about the investment side of a purchase. Anyone who has worked with me knows my love of the mid-century rambler. These are the post war homes that were built as baby makers during the 50s and 60s boom after World War II. They were generally built by small builders, with old growth lumber, and post war technology. For example, copper piping replaced galvanized steel, romex wiring replaced knob and tube wiring, and poured concrete foundations were poured considerably stronger. The baby boomers grew up in these homes and in the last 15 years or so I’ve seen a movement of these same boomers downsizing back into these homes as their children flew the nest. Kids of these boomers also love ramblers as their entry home, as do investors for their simplicity and quality of construction. For these reasons the mid-century rambler is an ideal play as an investment property..a great home to rent out with minimal overhead and a popular style to meet the needs of retiring boomers (with bad knees, hence the need for one level), their children, and investors.

Location, Location, Location

Another benefit to these this housing style is where they were built. Take North Seattle for example; the old city line is 85th Ave. Prior to the war, the city was already built out up to 85th and even further in some areas like Maple Leaf and up to Northgate Way, so the post war housing boom generally happened North of that in areas like Pinehurst, Jackson Park, Haller Lake, Olympic Hills, and Crown Hill to name a few. These communities have now become very popular for first-time buyers, empty nesters downsizes, and investors. They provide larger lots and cheaper prices per square foot while still being very close to the major employment areas of the city. This is where I often direct my clients looking for their first investment property.

Know your Numbers

Breaking down the numbers is just like you would do for a triplex. Calculate your gross annual income, back out expenses and vacancy to establish your NOI (net operating income), and then divide that into the purchase price (plus upgrades after closing if there are any) to determine your Capitalization Rate (Cap) or rate of return on your investment. A good number to shoot for is about 5-6 percent. The key to a good investment is to buy a great piece of dirt with a structure on it that you can improve with sweat equity and then let your tenants pay off the mortgage for you.

Whether it’s a single-family home near where you live or a vacation spot in a place you’d love to spend a month or so a year at then rent out the rest of the time, feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to sit down for a one-on-one to go over how to use real estate to build wealth and balance your portfolio!

Chelan: Vacation Rentals and Weekend Getaways

Chelan: Vacation Rentals and Weekend Getaways

Thinking about owning a vacation rental? Lake Chelan is a great choice for many reasons. The average number of nights homes are rented per year in the Lake Chelan area is 110, with June-September being the peak season. As an owner, those numbers can provide you with enough income to cover all your holding costs and still have over 200 days a year to enjoy the home yourself. There are three different zones (Chelan, Manson, and unincorporated Chelan) and each have their own set of rules regarding property rentals. If you want to learn more about the different regulations, just give me a call.

Besides all the water recreation activities and its great weather, Chelan is also home to over 35 wineries, great hiking, cross country skiing in the winter, a casino, and a great small-town vibe. The two towns of Chelan and Manson offers a wide range of eating experiences, shops, a bowling alley, and movie theater. There are festivals year-round and it’s a beautiful place in all seasons. Below are a few of my favorite spots to hit when I’m in the area.

Sunset Bar and Grill

Located in Mason, the Sunset Bar and Grill is a great spot for a casual night out. They have a full menu with items like burgers, pizza, and pasta to go along with your beverage of choice. They also have plenty of TVs if you’re looking to catch a game and during the summer you can sit out on the patio and enjoy the weather.

Blueberry Hills Farm and Restaurant

It’s a family owned and operated 20+ acre farm with more than 16 different types of blueberries. At the farm, you can buy plants, pies, tea, and more. But my favorite part of Blueberry Hills is their restaurant, which is open Wednesday through Sunday 8am-3pm. They have a great breakfast, which is served all day, and my go-to is their Danish yeast Waffles. During the warm months, you can sit outside in the middle of the field and enjoy the view of the mountains while you eat.


As I mentioned earlier, there are no shortage of wineries in the area, but I’ll give you my top three recommendations: Cairdeas Winery, Lake Chelan Winery, and Hard Row to Hoe VinyardsWhile they’re all great spots for a glass of wine, Hard Row to Hoe has the best story for how it was named – in the 1930’s a Manson resident ran a rowboat service between Lucerne and Point Lovely for the miners to get to the brothels. 


Located in the heart of the North Cascades, take a trip to Stehekin on the Lady of the Lake. You can explore for the day, traveling on the red bus to see the 312-foot rainbow falls or take a guided fly fishing tour, or stay the night at The Lodge. 

If you’ve read this and are sold on a trip to Chelan for the weekend to test the waters and see what you think, I’ve got a place you can stay, just click here. And if you’re ready to look at buying a vacation rental for yourself just give me a call, I am here to help!

Seattle to Bainbridge

Seattle to Bainbridge

I love living in two very different communities. After a year of calling both Seattle and Bainbridge Island home, I know I’ve found the balance in life that works for me. I split my month between South Bainbridge and the Maple Leaf neighborhood in North Seattle. Waking up in my Bainbridge home never gets old; the smell of the sound, the waves from the ferry, the gulls with my morning coffee…then on to the 7:05 ferry to head to the big city. The trip over gives me a chance to prepare for my day and enjoy the views from the top deck. Arriving to the city that I’ve called home my whole life was a bit odd at first, but I’ve come to love Seattle all over again. I love the bustle and business of it (strange to say about my little berg I grew up in), all day knowing I’ll end my day back in my Japanese garden on the island.

A few weeks a month I stay in Seattle full time, especially during the busier times of year in real estate. Moving from Wallingford to Maple Leaf has allowed me the chance to explore another area I hadn’t spent much time in. Maple Leaf is an interesting neighborhood as it’s one of the last pre-war neighborhoods, which is why the sidewalk ends at 92nd. There’s a good combination of old century and new world charm homes with the last decade bringing a wave of newer construction. It’s been so fun walking out my door and finding new places to eat and parks to walk through. If you find yourself in the Maple Leaf neighborhood here are a few spots I recommend:

Judy Fu’s Snappy Dragon

A true Maple Leaf icon. If you haven’t had the chance to eat at Snappy Dragon, you are missing out. Judy Fu has been whipping up amazing Chinese food since 1993 and shows no signs of stopping. The signature jiao-zi (boiled dumplings) are served with Judy’s tangy dipping sauce and if you’re not careful you might just eat a whole order by yourself (and I wouldn’t blame you).


I’ve only been once so far, but it was memorable, so it makes the list. This small restaurant is located to the right of the Southbound freeway entrance on Lake City. Just look for the yellow building and you can’t miss it. Mojito has been serving authentic Latin American food for 18 years and almost everything on the menu comes with tostones, which are tasty, twice-fried plantain slices.

The Maple

If you’re looking for a great cocktail, check out The Maple. Located right on Roosevelt, this pub serves great cocktails, craft beers, and seasonal dishes. It’s the perfect stop to grab a drink any time of the year with a cozy fireplace inside for the rainy season and outdoor seating for the sunny Seattle days.

Art Tile Co. 

For all your tile needs, there’s no better spot than Art Tile Co. In business since 1947, the pros at Art Tile can help with your project from finding tile that match your specifications to installation. And you can even bring your dog!

The Rez

The Rez is a local icon that’s been around forever. It’s a classic drive bar located across the street from Maple Leaf Reservoir Park. If you’re looking to snack on some decent pub food and drink a cheap beer this is the place for you.

Maple Leaf Reservoir Park

Opened in 2013, this 16-acre park sits on top of the 60 million-gallon reservoir. The park features a play area, sports courts, gardens, and on a clear day there’s viewpoint of Mount Rainier and Lake Washington.

I’ve loved exploring Bainbridge, some of my favorite things to do are walk among the old grove trees in the Grand Forest, venture around the Gazzam Lake trails. It’s also fun to learn more about the local history. Fun fact: Pleasant Beach, my neck of the woods, is where the local timber industry used to be and was home to the brothels, which is how it got its name. There’s also a lot of different house styles ranging from Northwest contemporary, modern styles, 90’s boxes, and rustic cabins. If you ever make the trip over to the island for a day, here are a few of my other favorite spots you can check out:

Proper Fish

A newer restaurant owned by a British expat, Proper Fish serves fish and chips, classic mushy peas, and a rotating selection of chowders, made fresh daily. All their cod is sourced from boats that use a sustainable hook and line technique.

Treehouse Cafe

The Treehouse Café is a great pizza place on the South end of Bainbridge in the Lynnwood Center neighborhood and they frequently have live music. You can check out their calendar and buy tickets here.

The Beach House

Located in Pleasant Beach Village, The Beach House is an upscale restaurant perfect for a nice night out. Their BBQ heirloom carrots are so tasty my mouth waters just thinking about them. Boasting the Island’s best happy hour and bar, The Beach House is 21+ except Sundays from 9am-1pm for brunch.


Opened in 2010, Hitchcock serves farm-to-table dishes inspired by the PNW. My favorite thing to do is order the chefs choice – you tell them how much you want to pay and they’ll bring you food and wine until you’ve hit your cap. No matter what they bring to the table, it’s always delicious.