What’s a Moon Fest?

Family, Prosperity and Dancing in the Moonlight: at its first Moon Fest, HomeSight lights up Othello Park with southeast Asian cultural traditions.

While the lunar new year is a familiar celebration in cities with large east Asian communities such as Seattle, fewer people are familiar with the culturally significant autumn festival traditions celebrated in China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and other east Asian cultures.

“The Moon Fest marks the end of the harvest season,” said event organizer Spring Gin, HomeSight’s community development manager. “It’s a day to celebrate family, and especially children, at the end of the agricultural work year. It’s a time for family reunions. The full moon represents fullness, prosperity, peace and a plentiful harvest.”

Fireworks, lion dancing, food, music, fun and lanterns will light up Othello Park on Saturday, September 30 from 6-10 p.m. at HomeSight’s first-ever Moon Fest. Free and open to the community, the festival will bring the traditions of southeast Asian harvest celebrations to its southeast Seattle neighbors.

The festival will also feature martial arts demonstrations and a fashion show of traditional dress from several southeast Asian cultures. A special moon dance will be performed by senior members of the community, and fireworks will top off the celebration.

With the festival’s special focus on children and families, young attendees will be given treats and lanterns. “In Vietnamese culture, the lanterns light the path for prosperity and good fortune,” said Gin.

Moon Fest is sponsored by HomeSight, a catalyst for community and economic development in southeast Seattle for over 30 years, and Seattle’s Office of Economic Development.

“There’s a lot more to Asian culture than dim sum and pho,” said Gin. “Moon Fest is an opportunity for our large east Asian community to reconnect with their cultural traditions, and for all our community members and neighbors to learn, join in and celebrate with us.”


What: Moon Fest, sponsored by HomeSight and Seattle’s Office of Economic Development

Where: Othello Park, 4351 S Othello St, Seattle, WA

When: Saturday, September 30, 2023 6-10 p.m.

Who: Everyone!

Cost: Free

Find more information here.

Sign up to volunteer here.

Don’t Let Them Take Our Neighborhoods

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge:
“Don’t Let Them Take Our Neighborhoods”

Attendees L to R: Back row: Jasmyn Jefferson, Deacon Tyson, Brooks Glenn, Donald King, Nicole Bascomb-Green, Tina LaBouve, Councilmember Kiara Daniels, Bishop Tyson. Front row: Patience Malaba, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, HomeSight Executive Director Darryl Smith, Michael Brown, Margaret Salazar, Gary Gant

Key member of the Biden-Harris administration met HomeSight stakeholders and Black Homeownership Initiative Network members this week to give support to Black homeownership efforts.

HomeSight Executive Director Darryl Smith moderated a roundtable discussion with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia Fudge, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, Representative Adam Smith and members of the Black Home Initiative Network (BHIN) to discuss hurdles to homeownership in the Black community.

Several representatives from the BHIN—a coalition of 72 housing leaders dedicated to improving homeownership access in the Black community—attended the event, including Darryl Smith and Nicole Bascomb-Green, a HomeSight board member and the new chair of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission.

Secretary Fudge acknowledged the racial gap in homeownership is a pressing and longstanding issue. “It’s been 55 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed,” she said. “We know we have to do better.”

Noting the Biden-Harris administration had increased tax credits available for housing construction, Secretary Fudge said the problem only began with the affordable housing shortage. “We know we need to build houses. We are woefully short. But we can’t just build our way out of the problem,” she said. “We have to preserve the housing we have, and we have to preserve our communities.”

 To do that, Mayor Harrell said more robust assistance was needed for down payments in this region that generally ranged from $100k-$150k. “We live in a very wealthy city,” Mayor Harrell said. “This creates a sub-class. You don’t become worth more than $180 billion and don’t recognize the wake you just left.” Mayor Harrell praised HomeSight for its “amazing” work directly tackling the challenges posed by increasingly unreachable starter home prices, saying: “That’s the kind of work we have to do.”

Darryl Smith said HomeSight’s programs addressed a critical gap in Seattle’s housing market. “The reality is that down payment assistance for low-income people is capped at 80 percent of the area median income. House prices have risen so far, and so rapidly, that even people making up to 120 percent of the area median income can’t bridge the gap, and don’t qualify for any assistance.”

At the roundtable, local teacher James Dixon shared his experience purchasing a home with the assistance of HomeSight’s Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund, a loan product created in partnership with Windermere Real Estate designed to increase purchasing power of Black homebuyers earning between 80-120 percent of Washington state’s median income. After years of struggling with rising rent in Seattle, his hometown, Dixon was able to bridge the affordability gap to purchase his home last year with this program.

Bascomb-Green said: “That’s what we see every day as brokers. We have clients who are income rich, but asset poor. They can afford a mortgage, but don’t have the down payment, because they make too much money.”

Darryl Smith said the work must continue on every front. “When we talk about the issues surrounding creating generational wealth, the answer is ‘yes, and …’ It’s supply. It’s homebuyer education. It’s down payment assistance. It’s all of these.”

Secretary Fudge’s message was clear in response: “We want to work with you.”

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and HomeSight Executive Director Darryl Smith

Are you ready to buy a home?

Quiz: Are you ready to buy a home?

The benefits of homeownership are great, but getting there takes preparation. There are many factors to consider before you buy a home, such as your income, savings, credit score, debt, budget, lifestyle, and goals. How do you know if you’re ready to take this step? Take our quiz!

  • Do you have a stable and reliable source of income? (2 points)
  • Have you been saving money for a down payment and closing costs? (2 points)
  • Do you have a good credit history and score? (1 point)
  • Do you have a realistic budget that includes all the costs of homeownership, such as mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities? (1 point)
  • Do you plan to stay in the same area for at least five years? (2 points)
  • Do you have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of living expenses in case of unexpected events? (1 point)
  • Do you have a clear idea of what kind of home you want and need? (2 points)
  • Are you willing to compromise on some features or amenities if necessary? (2 points)
  • Are you prepared to deal with the responsibilities and challenges of homeownership, such as repairs and maintenance? (2 points)

Add up your score:

You’ve prepared financially and done your homework. You’re ready to learn about your mortgage options. Call HomeSight today and learn about all the opportunities we can offer to start building equity in your new home!

You may be perusing homebuying websites, but you haven’t evaluated your own financial toolkit. Even if you’re just surfing on Zillow or Redfin, it’s never too early to lay the groundwork so when the time comes, you’re financially prepared. The good news is you’re not alone. HomeSight’s homebuying classes can help you budget, plan and get you financially ready to take this first step toward building equity.

You’ve got to start somewhere! You may think homeownership is out of reach for you, but HomeSight’s lending experts can show you how to prepare. If you’re at the beginning of your homebuying journey, we’re happy to help you create a realistic budget and timeline. Try our Homebuyer Education class to get your budget in shape.

We love showing our clients what’s possible for them in the Washington housing market.

Your Credit Score

HomeSight Mythbusts: Your Credit Score

Your credit score is the number that reflects how well you manage debt. If you’re getting ready to borrow money to buy a new home, a good credit score will open options for you. In general, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved for loans with lower interest rates and better terms.

Because HomeSight’s mission is to help low- and moderate-income families buy their primary residences, we’re able to offer mortgages at competitive rates that don’t rely on your credit score or the loan amount. 

But good credit is a valuable tool in any homebuyer’s toolkit. You can build your credit if you don’t have any, or if you’ve made past mistakes, but there is conflicting advice on how to do that. Below, HomeSight separates myth from fact.

MYTH or FACT? You should check your credit reports often.

(MOSTLY) MYTH: This is only partially true. Multiple inquiries into your credit report can lower your score a few points. However, you should check your credit once a year. You can get a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion— through this website. Review your reports for any errors or inaccuracies and dispute them if you find any. You can also sign up for alerts and notifications that inform you of any changes or suspicious activity on your credit report.

MYTH or FACT? Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit report.

FACT: Your payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit score, making it the largest factor in your credit score. Make sure you pay at least the minimum amount due on all your bills every month, preferably more if you can afford it. Pay your bills on time! Set up automatic payments or reminders to prevent missing deadlines.

MYTH or FACT? You need to apply for several credit cards to establish credit.

MYTH: Apply for new credit sparingly. Every time you apply for a new loan or credit card, the lender will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can lower your score by a few points. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can signal that you are desperate for credit and pose a higher risk to lenders. Only apply for new credit when you really need it, and ask yourself twice: do I really need a credit card from Sunglass Hut?

MYTH or FACT? High credit use leads to a high credit score.

MYTH: Your credit use is the percentage of your available credit that you are using. For example, if you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit and a $500 balance, your credit use is 50 percent. Ideally, you want to keep your credit use below 30 percent, as this shows lenders that you are not overextended and can handle your debt responsibly.

MYTH or FACT? You need to diversify your credit mix to improve your credit score.

FACT: Your credit mix is the variety of credit accounts that you have, such as revolving (credit cards) and installment (loans). Having a diverse credit mix can boost your score, as it demonstrates you can handle different types of debt. However, this factor only accounts for 10% of your score, so don’t open new accounts just for the sake of diversifying your credit mix.

Building your credit takes time and patience, but the effort is worthwhile.

HomeSight can help you create a budget and learn how to manage your finances to ensure your credit is in the best shape possible when you’re ready to put that credit score to use.

Join a Cultural Exchange Tour

Join a Cultural Exchange Tour and Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

Leave the Space Needle to the out-of-towners. HomeSight’s “100% Recommended” Cultural Exchange Tours give city residents and visitors an inside look into Seattle’s most diverse communities.

Not all tours are just for tourists. For over a dozen years, HomeSight has been inviting curious neighbors, old and new residents and passers-through to join them for a Cultural Exchange Tour, an unforgettable deep-dive into the culturally diverse Othello and Graham neighborhoods.

These South Seattle neighborhoods aren’t the city’s typical tourist stomping grounds, but tourists and residents alike are delighted when they experience HomeSight’s showcase of the best and most diverse shopping and dining neighborhoods in town. 

The tours, which are free but require registration in advance, are held four Saturdays this summer—the remaining three tours are July 15 th, August 15th and September 9th from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The tours are led by locals along a route designed to give participants an inside look into corners of the neighborhood they may not have explored. With prizes, free food and giveaways, the tour introduces the people of South Seattle as well as the places.

Said HomeSight Director of Community Development Sarah Valenta, “We don’t just want to show people where stuff is. We want to build a real community.”

The idea for the first Cultural Exchange Tour was hatched in 2008, when the city’s light rail project drove its development plans through the heart of Othello, purchasing properties, laying track and building stations. In response to the changes transforming their neighborhood, businesses organized and formed the MLK Business Association.

“We wanted to make sure the neighborhood had a voice among all these changes,” said Valenta. “We said: ‘we have something special here.’ We wanted to make sure the neighborhood’s small businesses weren’t getting displaced. One of our neighbors, Mona Lee, stood up and said: ‘I’m going to give people a tour.’ And it just took off from there.”

Now supported by a swell of community involvement, the tour has stayed true to its original purpose. “We wanted to prevent the retail leak that often comes along with neighborhood growth and gentrification,” said Valenta. “We want residents to know they can get all their necessities here: groceries, medicine and services. We even have a stop at a Buddhist temple this year. We want to keep our residents in Rainier Valley. The light rail is a great asset to the community but with it comes the real risk of displacement of our incredibly diverse demographic.”

Valenta said HomeSight has gotten “amazing feedback” from participants over the years. Surveying all participants, “we usually hear back that 100 percent of our participants would recommend the tour to someone they knew,” said Valenta. “I love hearing that, and I love hearing from people who commute through the neighborhood but have never stopped to take a look. I’ve heard from so many people: ‘I’ve never visited any of these businesses before and now I will definitely be back.”

Four Ways Buying a Home Will Change your Financial Life

Four Ways Buying a Home Will Change your Financial Life

Buying a home can improve your quality of life and build financial security for your family that can last generations. However, it’s a major financial commitment that requires careful planning and preparation.

“Buying a home can seem intimidating to the first-time buyer, but the rewards are undeniable. It’s an investment in your life, and your family,” said Scott Kim, Director of Portfolio and Lending Operations at HomeSight.

As you consider buying a home, know upfront this decision will transform your financial life, in ways that are undoubtedly beneficial—but also in ways that will be tough. And, like most things worth pursuing, you have to go through the tough parts to get to the beneficial parts. Here are the ways buying your first home will change your financial life:

1. You’ll get to know your budget on a more intimate level.

Depending on the type of mortgage for which you qualify, you may need to put down anywhere from three to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. This means you will have to set aside money every month and reduce expenses until you reach your goal.

The down payment is just one of the new expenses you’ll be facing as a homebuyer. You’ll also need to plan for short-term expenses such as closing costs, and long-term expenses such as your mortgage, maintenance, repairs, property taxes and insurance.

To get started, you’ll need do a deep dive into your budget and find out exactly where your money is going and where you can save. It might be tough to whittle down the number of streaming services you subscribe to, but it’s good to take an honest look at your needs and habits. Have you really been watching Max since the Game of Thrones sequel ended?

2. You’ll create a new financial roadmap.

If you’ve been renting, your budget probably hasn’t contained expenses for lawn care, pest control, painting and cleaning, or unexpected repairs such as plumbing leaks, roof damage or appliance breakdowns. If you’ve never had these expenses before, they can be tough to estimate. To create line items for these – as well as for other expenses such as property taxes and insurance – you’ll need an all-new budget.

Fortunately, the homeownership team at HomeSight has expertise in advising first-time homebuyers and can help you estimate your new costs, creating a budget with you that works for your family and helps you save enough to meet your goals.

3. You’ll build equity in your home.

What’s equity? It’s the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe on your mortgage. As you pay off your mortgage over time, your equity will increase. When you’re renting, you’re paying for living expenses and you’ll never see that money again. With a mortgage, you’re paying for living expenses, and most of that money remains yours. This means …

4. You’ll have options in the future.

Ultimately, buying a home will transform your financial life and open options you wouldn’t have without home equity. You can use your equity to borrow money for home improvements, education, debt consolidation and other purposes. You can also sell your home and use the proceeds to buy another one, or to fund your retirement.

It’s true you’ll need to jump the initial financial hurdles of home ownership to reach the benefits. But if you’re considering taking the first step down the path to homeownership, remember you don’t have to take this journey alone. Consult with trusted community professionals who are committed to helping you along the way. Homebuying will create new financial realities, but you don’t have to navigate them alone.

An Opportunity to Build Generational Wealth

Smith at the official opening of Bryant Playfield (May 4, 1978), Seattle Municipal Archives

“Safety,” “Security,” & “An Opportunity to Build Generational Wealth”

Today, the last day of #NationalHomeownershipMonth, our clients who benefitted last year from HomeSight’s Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund tell us what the joy of homeownership means to them.

Last year, HomeSight partnered with Windermere Real Estate to create the Sam Smith “Hi Neighbor” Homeownership Fund, a loan product to increase purchasing power and bridge the affordability gap facing Black homebuyers earning between 80-120 percent of Washington state’s median income.

The partnership addresses the importance of helping a population that has been deliberately denied opportunity and aims to help fix the resulting, historically rooted imbalance. This collaboration linked key forces in real estate and housing opportunity, amplifying the impact of each and spurring more collaboration across the community. U.S. Bank, Key Bank, JP Morgan Chase and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers joined the effort.

This initiative was inspired by legendary Washington state legislator and Seattle City Council President Sam Smith, whose perseverance in passing the state’s Open Housing Law in 1967 resulted in a major, hard-won civil rights victory, ensuring that all people, regardless of race or religion, could live wherever they pleased. The fund’s name also gives a nod to Smith’s congenial personality.

The fund allowed eligible recipients to borrow up to $20,000 to layer into a mortgage loan to use toward their home’s purchase cost.

We’ve used their first initials only to protect their privacy. Here are their stories:

R is caretaker for her brother, who has a disability, and her mother. Homeownership gives her “peace of mind, stability, safety and security.” Because she can own her home “she’ll always have a place to live,” and she can “realize the benefits of equity in her home.”

S was “sick and tired of renting in Section 8 housing.” She wanted the “security of being on the top floor.” She cited security and stability as well as achievement of the goal of home ownership. “It’s a new starting point for building generational wealth,” she told HomeSight. “Homeownership is a huge asset towards my future.”

K was looking for a place with “enough space so she and her kids, her kids’ friends, and extended her family could spread out and relax.” She also wanted live close to public transportation with a garage and a yard that could accommodate a dog. She loves the feeling of “achievement of the goal of home ownership,” acknowledging it is “another step towards generational wealth” and would allow her “to leverage equity towards another home down the road.” Most of all, she wanted a place that she and her family “could call home.”

J, a teacher and lifelong resident of Washington, found renting in Seattle “really, really expensive.” He sought the financial stability of homeownership, and said he and his wife, son and dog are “really happy to own a home now.” The funding through this program made his family’s “homeowning dream come true.”

S and K, after living in Washington for 11 years, had decided to not buy a house, but life changed their minds. After their granddaughter was born, they wanted to “be nearby to provide support.” They found the cost of leasing versus buying “wasn’t that different” so they “decided to just go for it.” Safety factored heavily into their decision to move out of the city into Snohomish County. “I previously lived in Baltimore and Philly without feeling unsafe,” said S. “However, in 2021, within a span of six months, I witnessed two fatal shootings when I lived near Rainer Avenue South.” The experiences convinced her she “no longer desired to struggle navigating a big city.” The couple is accelerating their mortgage payments to significantly reduce the mortgage within 15 years. “Leaving a legacy of wealth across generations is important to us,” S said “We especially want to provide for our oldest son, who has a disability.”

Generations of people of color have been largely shut out from the benefits afforded by owning a home. Hearing this feedback from our clients makes us grateful for our community partnerships and hopeful for the future.

Gardening with Native Plants

National Homeownership Month in June exists to remind Americans that homeownership is the foundation on which the American dream is built. That dream was historically denied to many, and HomeSight is working to right past wrongs by putting the joy of homeownership, and the keys to a financially stable future, into the hands of people who may have thought homeownership was out of reach.

This National Homeownership Month, HomeSight celebrates the Joy of Homeownership. Homeownership brings security and a place for families to plant roots and grow. It also presents new responsibilities. We hope the following series of posts will help our new homeowners unlock the door to all the advantages and joys homeowning can provide. Congratulations to all our HomeSight homeowners!

Gardening with Native Plants in the Pacific Northwest

You know you’re a real Pacific Northwest homeowner when you go to your first native plant sale.

At HomeSight, we hear from our clients that homeownership gives them “safety,” security,” “a place to spread out,” and “a place to plant roots.” Now that you own a home, those roots can be figurative and physical. Even if you’ve purchased a home in an urban space – such as HomeSight’s U-lex co-op in South Seattle – many of them feature opportunities to plant a garden. (If, however, you live in a condo that doesn’t offer gardening opportunities, and you want to feel some soil beneath your toes or fingers, the P-Patch program offers Seattle residents the opportunity to apply for a plot of land to grow their own food or plants of their choice.)

We recommend starting with native plants.

Why go native?

Native plants are plants that have evolved in a specific region and adapted to its climate, soil, and wildlife. They have natural resistance to pests and diseases, need less maintenance such as water and fertilizer than non-native plants, and provide food and shelter options for native birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Pacific Northwesterners are spoiled for choice when it comes to native vegetation. It’s abundant, easy to grow, and can even be fun to eat.

Here are just a few suggestions to start your garden:

Plant a tree:

  • Washington is home to 25 native tree species, including Western hemlock (the state tree), Western red cedar, Sitka spruce, red alder, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine. Choose trees that tolerate the amount of sun and type of soil you have.

Liven up the lawn with shrubbery:

  • Oregon grape: This evergreen shrub has glossy green leaves and yellow flowers in spring, followed by blue berries in summer. It can grow in sun or shade and tolerates dry conditions.
  • Red-flowering currant: This deciduous shrub has fragrant pink or red flowers in early spring that attract hummingbirds. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Trichterfarn Straussenfarn Matteuccia struthiopteris Farne mehrjaehrige Pflanzen Schattenpflanzen Stauden gruene Wedel Portraets Details Stills Garten Praxis Mai Juni Fruehjahr Sommer
  • Sword fern*: This large fern has arching fronds that create a lush green backdrop for other plants. It thrives in shady and moist areas.
  • False Solomon’s Seal is a great choice for shady areas of your yard where grass has trouble growing. It spreads, so it will fill up an area nicely after planting.
  • Rhododendron: Add Washington’s state flower, the coast rhododendron, to your yard. These shrubs can grow to the size of a small tree.

Add some color to your yard with flowers:

  • Common yarrow has tiny white and yellow flowers, tolerate a variety of soil conditions and require little maintenance.
  • Monkshood loves water-rich soil and shade and produces purple flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It blooms in July and August.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Michaelmas daisy in bloom, autumn ornamental herbaceous perennial plants, yellow center, group of flowers
  • Aster is a meadow flower that loves full sun and well-watered soil. They come in a variety of colors. produce colorful and fragrant blooms that attract butterflies and other pollinators. Arrowleaf balsamroot, a species of aster with a yellow, single-flower bloom, is important to bees and grows well even in sandy or gravelly soil.
  • Western columbine has delicate red and yellow flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer. It grows well in partial shade and moist soil.

Eat your plants:

  • One of the best parts of living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of wild berries. Raspberries, salmonberries, and huckleberries, to name just a few, grow everywhere. If you cultivate them in your yard, they might take over – and you might let them! (Be aware that Oregon grape doesn’t taste like a grape you’d buy at the store.)

There are so many more varieties and species to investigate and explore. If you’re looking to do a deep dive into Washington’s native plants and how they benefit the ecology of your yard, visit the Washington Native Plant Society or the National Wildlife Federation.

Happy gardening!

Home Maintenance 101

National Homeownership Month in June exists to remind Americans that homeownership is the foundation on which the American dream is built. That dream was historically denied to many, and HomeSight is working to right past wrongs by putting the joy of homeownership, and the keys to a financially stable future, into the hands of people who may have thought homeownership was out of reach.

This National Homeownership Month, HomeSight celebrates the Joy of Homeownership. Homeownership brings security and a place for families to plant roots and grow. It also presents new responsibilities. We hope the following series of posts will help our new homeowners unlock the door to all the advantages and joys homeowning can provide. Congratulations to all our HomeSight homeowners!

Home Maintenance 101: Give Your Home Love, Get Joy in Return

Admittedly, home maintenance tasks may not top the list of fun weekend activities, but when it comes to home ownership, you have to give to receive. To receive the full joy of homeownership, you have to invest a little attention in your home at regular intervals throughout the year.

Why? Investing a small amount of time into your home can pay big dividends. When it comes to owning a home, prevention is always a less expensive strategy than having to call in the emergency plumber – and discovering he has regular rates and weekend rates. Murphy’s Law tells us that toilets don’t explode on weekdays during working hours.

To make sure your toilet and other home necessities never reach that point, HomeSight has put together a schedule of basic inspection tasks that can forestall and prevent costly problems, improve your home’s comfort, safety and appearance, and increase its value.  

Here is HomeSight’s checklist for basic home maintenance tasks every new homeowner should know:

Once a year:

water heater
    • Flush your water heater. This can remove sediment buildup, improve your water heater’s performance, and extend its lifespan.
    • Clean your dryer vent. Failure to clean the dryer vent was the leading cause of residential house fires between 2018-2020, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System and the U.S. Fire Administration. You can hire a professional duct cleaner for this or consult YouTube for advice on how to DIY.

Twice a year, at Daylight Saving Time:


You can remember to do all your twice-yearly checks by coordinating them with your clock changes on Daylight Saving Time Sunday. 

    • Check the pressure gauges in the fire extinguishers in your house. (We recommend keeping one on each floor.)
    • Clean your gutters and downspouts at least twice a year (more often if you have trees nearby). This prevents water damage, mold growth, and pest infestation, especially in Seattle’s climate.


Young woman cleaning air conditioner at home
    • Check and change your air filters every month to improve your indoor air quality and reduce your energy bills.
    • Remove dirt, dust, and debris from your air vents and heat registers each month. Clean vents to keep your appliances efficient and remove circulating dust and dander from the air.

Every Fall:

    • Keep your outdoor faucets from freezing over the winter by closing off your shut-off valve before temperatures drop. (Your realtor or home inspector can help you find your water shut-off valve!) Then drain the line to make sure there’s no water trapped inside.
    • Make an annual appointment to have your furnace inspected to make sure it’s properly maintained before winter. These maintenance checks will always be more cost-effective than emergency repair calls, and less life-disrupting!

After it rains:

    • As you get to know your house, check for damp areas or moisture intrusion in gaps or cracks around your windows, doors, pipes, or vents. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal any minor leaks you find. Check your attic for any signs of water intrusion or insulation issues. If you find any problems, contact a professional roofer as soon as possible.

After you do laundry:

    • Get in the habit of cleaning your lint trap every time you use your dryer. This can prevent fires and improve your dryer’s efficiency.


    • Set reminders on your phone or calendar to remind yourself to do these, and you’ll find yourself creating habits in no time. Enjoy your clean, safe, efficient home!

Is Co-op Living Right for You?

Is Co-Op Living Right for you?

If you’re looking for a home, have you considered a co-op? Cooperative housing, or co-ops, such as HomeSight’s U-lex at Othello Square in south Seattle, can provide an affordable entry point into the Seattle housing market. A co-op is a form of housing where residents share ownership and responsibility for their building and its facilities. Co-op members can build equity while paying less than what they’d pay for rent.

While co-op living presents an opportunity for some—such as first-time homebuyers—it’s not for everyone. Co-ops encourage owners to participate in decision-making and government and generally have more comprehensive rules than typical homeowner associations. Buying into a co-op means buying into a commitment to respect the rules and values of the community.

There are pros and cons to this type of housing, and to illustrate them, we’ll use HomeSight’s co-op, U-lex, as an example.


With so many people feeling shut out of the housing market in Seattle, co-ops are creative options for helping families stay in their community and build equity. U-lex, which offers 68 low- and middle-income residents an affordable equity-building opportunity in South Seattle’s Othello neighborhood, is in the heart of south Seattle, one block from the Othello Light Rail station.

One major benefits of co-op living at U-lex is the ability to affordably live in the city,” said Uche Okezie, HomeSight’s Director of Real Estate Development. “We want residents to know they can build equity here. They can build wealth in their price range.

Pro or Con?

If affordable housing is a priority for you, affordability is a co-op’s biggest “pro.”


Instead of buying a structure or the land where it sits, a co-op buyer is buying shares in a corporation. The corporation owns the building and land, and all the members of the co-op are member shareholders in the corporation, with each household having an equal voting right. The co-op is run by a board selected by popular vote of the co-op members. Co-op members are encouraged to participate in their governance.

U-lex (pronounced OH-lew) means “gather” in Lushootseed, the language spoken by the Coast Salish people who originally lived in Seattle. Co-ops typically feature gathering spaces designed to build a real community. At U-lex, a central courtyard connected to interior amenity spaces provides a large multi-purpose area. There will also be communal sun decks on the second and fourth floors.

Pro or Con?

If living in a community and knowing your neighbors is important to you, a co-op would be a “pro.”


Consumer demand for sustainability is high, and construction trends are responding. U-lex will keep energy costs low by installing rooftop solar panels and water- and energy- efficient fixtures and appliances. In addition, living where you work and play reduces commuting costs and carbon expenditure. Although U-lex offers some garage space under the building, its location one block from the Othello Light Rail Station and its bike storage options will reduce residents’ reliance on their cars.

Pro or Con?

If sustainability factors into your housing choices, a co-op would be a “pro.”

Rules and Restrictions

Co-ops, governed by residents, tend to have more rules than a typical condominium board or homeowner association. At U-lex, with its mission of providing affordable residential ownership to income-qualified families, renting out units will be prohibited and making major changes to units won’t be allowed.

Pro or Con?

Know the rules before you buy. If they appeal to you, rules can be a “pro.” If they contradict your goals or you want to make major changes to your unit, put rules and restrictions in the “cons” column.
To learn more about co-op living at Homesight’s affordable U-lex co-op, visit here or sign up for our next information session!

If you have questions about co-op living, contact HomeSight. We can give you all the information you need to make the right housing decision for your family, and your budget.