Gutter Conversation

Me: We need to clean our gutters.

Michael: I need to see otters.

Me: Gutters. Gutters.

Michael: I need to eat gutters.

The Financing Contingency

I am writing to you tonight with a rendition of “Skip to my Lou” playing in the background — children’s music is often the genre of choice here.

We have been spending some time looking for a home to purchase (our first). I enjoy the process since I get to learn a lot about something new to me (I was totally that way during the pregnancy, too).

The Seattle market is very competitive right now, at least in the neighborhoods we have been targeting. It’s not uncommon for homes to receive multiple offers (say three, four, five, or twelve) before bidding opens, and of course, the homes are being bid up. The house then sells immediately (discounting all of the time that passes before closing). Basically, if you want to get a nice home in these neighborhoods, you need to see the house before bidding opens, and if you like the house and want to know if anything is critically wrong with it before bidding, you need to do a pre-inspection. If your plan is to do a full inspection after your bid is accepted, don’t expect your bid to ever be accepted since all of the other bidders have waived the right to back out of the offer (without penalty) due to discovered maintenance or safety issues after being under contract.

This leads to the topic of this post: the financing contingency. Buyers are waiving this too. For the uninitiated: the financing contingency allows the buyer to get out of the contract without penalty if they are unable to secure financing (after an earnest attempt) or if the lender’s appraisal of the home comes in under the offer price. Not waiving this contingency can currently be the only reason for having an offer beat by a similar offer.

We may be in this situation right now (if you are the seller: we love your house!): we did not feel comfortable waiving the contingency because we worry about the implications of appraisal coming in low. This is not because we have any information to suggest that will happen, but because are being cautious. We are less worried about our financing falling through (although that can, of course, happen — even with pre-approval). For the latter, it falls into the “risk we are willing to take” bucket, but in a less competitive market we would feel better being more cautious.

It occurred to me that the financing contingency is really covering two distinct and different situations. In the case of a buyer confident in their financing, the concern is appraisal coming in low, but in the case of a seller the concern is the unknown buyer being unable to obtain financing. These are both very legitimate concerns, and it is unfortunate they are put together in one clause. If the contingency were split into two contingencies we could allay the fears of a seller by waiving the “obtaining financing” contingency while keeping the appraisal contingency, which is what we would have done with our recent offer.

Today’s Ride

Chao-Jen ordered me out on a ride today. Thanks!

I went a nice distance and would like to keep building on this.

I know I am not very fast, but I think no achievements is a little overcritical. :)

Considering Obliteride

I am considering doing Obliteride — a charity bicycle ride benefiting the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

RAGRAI XLI Route Announced

This year’s RAGBRAI route was announced this weekend.

According to the announcement, the ride is 406.6 miles and is the sixth easiest route in the forty-one years of RAGBRAI. The overnight cities are Harlan, Perry, Des Moines, Knoxville, Oskaloosa and Fairfield. This is the first stop in Des Moines in sixteen years.

Here’s a map of the route.

Last year’s ride was 471.1 miles and took place during a very hot week. Here’s the announcement post for that route.

Michael Jumping

Michael started jumping (for the first time) ten minutes ago! It was so exciting that he kept doing it for several minutes.

Joining Walk Score

Next Monday I start a new job at Walk Score, a Seattle startup that promotes walkability by producing a measure incorporating information on nearby businesses and attractions. You can learn more about the company here.

From a mission standpoint, the appeal of this company to me is obvious to anyone that knows me well. I care a lot about resource consumption issues (which is what initially attracted me to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for my postdoc), having a good commute (good to me is being able to conveniently reach work by transit, foot, or bike), and having tools to assist in finding a home that has sufficient nearby attractions. I like the languages and tools used at Walk Score, and this job is going to give me an opportunity to learn a bunch of new technologies. I will be making contributions that are visible and are valuable to the company, and my contributions will be used by a large number of users every day (a number that I intend to help grow), which I find very motivating.

Also, don’t forget that I a really enjoy compelling and informative visualization. I like Walk Score’s heat maps (here’s Seattle)!

As for my commute: I had a pretty good set up for my job at Microsoft. I was walking to work daily since I live just down the hill. Since Walk Score is in Seattle (and I live in Redmond) it is a more complicated. I will start on a bike and bus commute and expect that to work pretty well for me most of the time.

Announcement: Last Day at Microsoft

Today is my last day of work at Microsoft. After a one-week break, I will start a new position at a different company. More details on that will be posted later. Until then, have a nice day!

U.S. Wind Map

The visualization of wind at is quite interesting.

Source: via David on Pinterest

Shortest Paths Using OpenStreetMap Data

I saw this on Pinterest. Below is a screen capture, but if you go to, you can view the paths being generated in real time.

  • Twitter Feed

    David Alber @davidalber
    I write software @WalkScore. I do whatever needs to be done.
    Four exoplanets orbiting their star, video from direct images. Amazing.
    Heh. My first tweet in two years came from my son randomly clicking on things when I wasn't watching.
    I survived 2m 30s and got a score of 166 in! Can you do better? Come and play!
    Interesting story. "Anchor found off Whidbey Island may solve 200-year-old mystery."
    It is snowing in Seattle. Prepare for chaos!
    Spacecraft passing by for first time in 30 years, but the tech to speak with it no longer used on Earth.
    RT @exploreplanets: Help @jasonrdavis revamp his Mars exploration family portrait:
    RT @mahalie: Our @walkscore Android app just got a major with rental search.
    Number of bikes in American bike shares doubled since January via @seabikeblog
    25% of nationwide car crashes involve cell phone use. 8% of observed WA drivers using cell phones.
    Sheldon Brown has interesting history on bearings:
    Any time I overhaul a hub, I want to watch a video on how bearings are made and then forget about it until next time.
    RT @mrlerner: Crime Reports for 10 new cities from @walkscore: 1st accurate measure of crime in walkable neighborhoods.
    @michalmigurski Understood. Thanks for the update and again for the service. I'll send a link when I have something to share.
    @michalmigurski Thanks for OSM tiles! Is there an estimate on how long server will be down?