Set the Stage for a Fantastic Fourth of July Party!

#WinderPup staying cool in the shade

#WinderPup staying cool in the shade

 

 

Grab the sparklers, clean up the grill, and don your red, white and blue! A fourth of July theme barbecue is the perfect way to ring in summer and celebrate. Here are some fun tips for a fun and safe holiday shindig:

 

Get the décor right: We love a good theme party, and nothing screams Independence Day more than red, white and blue; you can find decorative plates just about anywhere these days. Make your own fancy decorations. Go above and beyond with holiday lights and a decorative place setting. Just make sure your flag flies right.

 

 

 

Make the menu: Keep the theme with your food with a festive fruit salad and decorated cupcakes.  While everything cannot fit within the color theme, mixing traditional BBQ goodies with some fancy appetizers will add interest. And don’t forget the libations; whip up some fun red and blue adult beverages. *

 

 

 

 

 

Fire up the grill: Get your grill ready with a good scrub down and set up a grill station with all your tools; grill brush, utensils, seasonings, and plates so you don’t have to run to and from the kitchen and risk charring the burgers. Make sure to keep the grill safe with this easy guide.

 

Fun for the kids: Everyone loves a good game of horseshoes. Set up a game area with some fun lawn sports, including lawn twister, Jenga, and bean bag toss. We have more ideas where those came from, find them on our “outdoor entertaining“ Pinterest board.

 

Plan for the pets: Pet’s don’t typically enjoy Fourth of July as much as their humans with the loud noises and intense heat. Keep your furry friends safe by creating a comfortable and cool place for them to lounge indoors, that way they can retreat from the heat and the crowds.  Make sure they get plenty of water in the intense summer heat.

 

We hope you have a fun and safe holiday weekend. You can find more fun Fourth of July tips on our PInterest board

 

*Photo courtesy of Windermere Camano Island

Hunger Doesn’t Take a Summer Vacation

 

 

Summertime couldn’t come soon enough for most children. But for many, the end of the school year marks a time of uncertainty for those who don’t have access to regular meals at home. According to the Food Research and Action Center, over 21 million students receive free or reduced lunches during the school year, and that need doesn’t go away when the school year is over.

 

There are thousands of summer meals program sites across the country, but many low-income families have difficulty accessing these programs. Many families often aren’t aware that these programs even exist or they have trouble getting to the program locations with no school buses available for transportation. To make matters worse, many qualifying children live in communities that aren’t even eligible for meal sites. And for those wanting to help, much of the paperwork and requirements for setting up these programs are time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. As a result, only about 15 percent of children who qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year are served by these programs during the summer months.

 

Through the Windermere Foundation, Windermere Real Estate offices across our network have been able to support local organizations that provide summer meal programs to children in need through grants and other donations. These organizations include local Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, school districts, and local area food banks. You can help children this summer by making a donation to the Windermere Foundation or donating directly to your local area food banks.

 

If you know of any families that are in need of summer meals, but don’t know where to look for assistance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service operates the Summer Food Service Program that is administered by state agencies to serve hungry children. Visit the Summer Food Service Program website and search for program locations to find free summer meals for children in your community. Let’s all do our part to help make this summer hunger-free for all children.

June Premier Networking Breakfast: Windermere Agents Come Together to Learn About Being Culturally Savvy

 

Every month, Windermere brings together its top luxury agents for the Premier Networking Breakfast. This month’s breakfast saw more than 100 Puget Sound area agents come together to discuss the latest luxury housing market trends and activity. Agents from as far away as the San Juan Islands joined local agents at Broadmoor Golf Club to present their newest $1 million-plus listings and hear speakers talk about the nuances of working with international and multicultural clients.

 

Agents discussed the ups and downs of the local luxury housing market, where sales are strong, but buyers continue to struggle to find homes amidst some of the lowest inventory levels in recorded history. As one agent put it, “As long as rates are low and jobs are up, I don’t expect much to change”.

 

Real estate attorney, Daniel Shin, from the law firm Inslee, Best, Doezie & Ryder, PS, presented some very interesting information on Chinese homebuyers. He stated that China recently replaced Canada as the largest population of international home buyers in the U.S. And Seattle is increasingly becoming one of their favorite destinations – but not necessarily for its investment potential. Rather, Mr. Shin said that the Chinese are drawn to the area for the clean air, top schools, and quality of life.

 

Lance Grob, who is the Business Development Leader for Multicultural Markets at Chicago Title, added to this by talking about how to be a culturally savvy real estate agent. He gave helpful insights into engaging with multicultural clients, whose customs and culture often differ from our own, as well as the importance of understanding other culture’s communication styles.

 

Given the growing number of international and multicultural home buyers and sellers in the greater Seattle area, our agents found both presentations particularly helpful and relevant to today’s rapidly evolving real estate market. The group’s next breakfast will be held in July at Overlake Golf and Country Club in Medina.    

 

Announcing the Winner of the 2015 Community Service Day Photo Contest!

On June 5, Windermere offices across the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Arizona, all took a day off from selling homes to help make a difference in their local communities. 

 

We challenged our offices to share their community service day photos on the Windermere Facebook page, in order to participate in our third-annual voter-driven photo contest. Almost 70 offices shared photos, and in turn, they each received a $200 donation to the Windermere Foundation charity of their choice.

 

To add some competition to this challenge, we offered an additional $2,000 charitable contribution to the office with the most votes on their photo. So, who won?

 

With a total of 320 votes, the winner of the CSD photo contest is Windermere Salem! The team plans to donate their winnings to their local YMCA chapter.

 

Honorable mentions go to our Windermere offices in Salt Lake City, Utah and Everett, Washington for coming in a close second and third place.

 

Thank you to all of our Windermere offices and agents who spent the day giving back to local organizations, community centers, and public spaces throughout the Western U.S.

 

 

Join Us for the Western Washington Waterfront Open House Tour

 

We’ve found the perfect way for you to kick off summer this year. On June 27 and 28, Windermere is sponsoring the first ever Western Washington Waterfront Open House Tour. More than 125 homes from Bellingham to Westport are available for visitors to tour by boat, bike, or car. Homes are priced from $299,000 to $32 million. Yes, you read right, $32 million. But not all the homes are uber expensive; there are properties that fit a wide variety of needs, styles, and budgets.

 

If you’re wondering about the investment potential of a waterfront home, you should note that sales for these properties have been booming throughout Western Washington. In the Puget Sound region, the average sales price is up nearly 19 percent* compared to a year ago. With the amount of water we have throughout the area, it’s no surprise that waterfront homes are a popular choice, but our strong local economy is doing its part to drive up sales activity and prices.    

 

A map of the homes and their open house hours can be found here; most will be held open from 10am-4pm on June 27 and 28. Just look for the open house signs with the blue balloons to identify which homes are a part of the tour.

 

Follow the fun on the Windermere Real Estate Facebook page, and share your own photos while you tour these beautiful homes by tagging your pictures on Instagram and Twitter with #WaterFrontLife.

 

Happy hunting!

 

For more information, go to the Western Washington Waterfront Open House Tour website.

 

*Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Services 

He Shed She Shed

 

The general consensus is that the She Shed is the answer to the Man Cave; a new movement that’s meant to knock man caves down to second place. Well, we respectfully disagree with this silly crusade. Everyone needs a little “me” space and we believe they both can be rocked by boys and girls alike. Get some peace and quiet amongst all the hectic and crazy that life can be with these personal shed ideas.

 

 

She Sheds

Craft - Whether its scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, or working on that long list of DIY projects you’ve saved on Pinterest, this is the place to make it happen. No more cluttered space in the home.

Reading Room - The ideal place to hide out and read without getting interrupted. Go for a Boho vibe, clean and chic style, a feminine Victorian look, or whatever tickles your fancy.

Spa - Always wanted a bigger tub to soak your worries away in, but don’t have the space in your house? Turn a shed into a spa dream getaway with bubble bars, bath bombs, candles, and of course, a bottle of bubbly.

 

He Sheds

Arcade – This throwback shed space is for the lover of old-school video games. It’s just crying out for Pinball, Space Invaders, and our personal fave, Pac-Man.

Sports Den - Packed floor-to-ceiling with his favorite sports memorabilia, a flat screen TV, and a man-sized couch. Now you’ll have a no judgment zone where you can eat chicken wings and watch sports to your hearts content. Touchdown.

 

For Both:

Wine Room – Do you and your partner need a place to escape together? Make this shed a theme you can both enjoy, like wine. Whether you need a break from the kids, your pets, or each other, think of it like an adult time out, but with wine.

Home Office – Not the most fun option, but quite possibly the most practical. Whether you work from home or just need a space to pay the bills, this shed provides a quiet place to get stuff done. 

 

Check out more great Shed inspiration on our Pinterest board.  

No Housing Bubble in Sight – For Now

Exactly 10-years ago this month, Alan Greenspan was asked if he had any concerns regarding the housing market. At that time, he emphasized that he saw no sign of a nationwide housing bubble, but he did have concerns over "froth" in the market and pointed to a big increase in the purchase of investment properties -- particularly in second homes. As a result, he said, there are "a lot of local bubbles" around the country, but not at a national level.

As we are all very much aware, he, along with many other esteemed economists, was incorrect in his prediction that there was no national housing bubble in sight.

So here we are, a decade later, and some are starting to suggest that we are on the verge of another “bubble” bursting due to an overheated housing market. I’m often asked if there is any truth to this, and my response is no, I don’t believe there is a national bubble on the horizon. And here are the reasons why:

 

1. The flippers have left the building – in as much as it causes me untold angst to see the resurgence of reality TV programs espousing the wonders of house flipping, the country has seen a marked slowdown in this type of business. Why? Well one reason is that the number of foreclosed homes continues to drop. Foreclosures are the preferred property type for flippers, as margins can be significantly higher.

Given that there is less distressed inventory, it’s not surprising that homes purchased with the intent to “flip” have declined nationwide. Data supplied by RealtyTrac suggests that the percentage of homes that were bought with the intent to “flip” has dropped from a peak of 6.7 percent at the beginning of 2014 to 4 percent today, and I believe that this share will continue to decline, signifying a more normalized market.

 

2. Lending standards remain very stringent – Banks actually did learn a lesson from the collapse of the housing market and remain wary, and because of this, qualifying for a mortgage remains difficult. For example, in April of this year, the average FICO score required for an approved conventional home loan was 756 with a 19 percent down payment. The average FICO score for someone who was denied a loan (with an average down payment of 17 percent) was very high at 699.

Even low down payment programs (i.e. FHA loans) that have less stringent FICO requirements (686 for FHA loans approved in April) are still high enough as to not cause me concern when I think about these borrrowers ability to handle their mortgage obligations..

To further support this view, there are several components of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that provide substantial safeguards when it comes to irresponsible lending practices, such as requiring lenders– through the qualified mortgage rule – to ensure a borrower’s ability to repay.

 

3. Home prices are up, but not to pre-bubble levels – here I looked at data provided by S&P Case Shiller index which is a useful resource because it calculates the increase/decrease in value of the same house over time, rather than just the make-up of sales during a specific time period. At the national level, the bursting of the housing bubble led to a 27 percent drop in the index.  The index has risen back up but is still 9 percent below the prior peak.

 

4. Interest rates are going to (eventually) start to rise – and this will take some of the heat out of the market. Now, there are some who will say that any increase in mortgage rates will negatively impact the housing market, but I don’t agree. Although it is true that an increase in rates does decrease buying power, the naysayers are ignoring the fact that we are in a growing economy. The growth in employment, and the subsequent drop in the unemployment rate, will lead to wage growth, and increasing incomes will take some of the sting out of any rate increase.

 

Given all of these points, I do not see the risk of a national “housing bubble” anywhere in the foreseeable future; however, I do think we are seeing localized “froth” in some markets. Watch for my next blog post where I will discuss this further.

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

 

 

No Housing Bubble in Sight – For Now

Exactly 10-years ago this month, Alan Greenspan was asked if he had any concerns regarding the housing market. At that time, he emphasized that he saw no sign of a nationwide housing bubble, but he did have concerns over "froth" in the market and pointed to a big increase in the purchase of investment properties -- particularly in second homes. As a result, he said, there are "a lot of local bubbles" around the country, but not at a national level.

As we are all very much aware, he, along with many other esteemed economists, was incorrect in his prediction that there was no national housing bubble in sight.

So here we are, a decade later, and some are starting to suggest that we are on the verge of another “bubble” bursting due to an overheated housing market. I’m often asked if there is any truth to this, and my response is no, I don’t believe there is a national bubble on the horizon. And here are the reasons why:

 

1. The flippers have left the building – in as much as it causes me untold angst to see the resurgence of reality TV programs espousing the wonders of house flipping, the country has seen a marked slowdown in this type of business. Why? Well one reason is that the number of foreclosed homes continues to drop. Foreclosures are the preferred property type for flippers, as margins can be significantly higher.

Given that there is less distressed inventory, it’s not surprising that homes purchased with the intent to “flip” have declined nationwide. Data supplied by RealtyTrac suggests that the percentage of homes that were bought with the intent to “flip” has dropped from a peak of 6.7 percent at the beginning of 2014 to 4 percent today, and I believe that this share will continue to decline, signifying a more normalized market.

 

2. Lending standards remain very stringent – Banks actually did learn a lesson from the collapse of the housing market and remain wary, and because of this, qualifying for a mortgage remains difficult. For example, in April of this year, the average FICO score required for an approved conventional home loan was 756 with a 19 percent down payment. The average FICO score for someone who was denied a loan (with an average down payment of 17 percent) was very high at 699.

Even low down payment programs (i.e. FHA loans) that have less stringent FICO requirements (686 for FHA loans approved in April) are still high enough as to not cause me concern when I think about these borrrowers ability to handle their mortgage obligations..

To further support this view, there are several components of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that provide substantial safeguards when it comes to irresponsible lending practices, such as requiring lenders– through the qualified mortgage rule – to ensure a borrower’s ability to repay.

 

3. Home prices are up, but not to pre-bubble levels – here I looked at data provided by S&P Case Shiller index which is a useful resource because it calculates the increase/decrease in value of the same house over time, rather than just the make-up of sales during a specific time period. At the national level, the bursting of the housing bubble led to a 27 percent drop in the index.  The index has risen back up but is still 9 percent below the prior peak.

 

4. Interest rates are going to (eventually) start to rise – and this will take some of the heat out of the market. Now, there are some who will say that any increase in mortgage rates will negatively impact the housing market, but I don’t agree. Although it is true that an increase in rates does decrease buying power, the naysayers are ignoring the fact that we are in a growing economy. The growth in employment, and the subsequent drop in the unemployment rate, will lead to wage growth, and increasing incomes will take some of the sting out of any rate increase.

 

Given all of these points, I do not see the risk of a national “housing bubble” anywhere in the foreseeable future; however, I do think we are seeing localized “froth” in some markets. Watch for my next blog post where I will discuss this further.

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

 

 

June Maintenance Guide

une maintenance guide image

 

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Anne Reagan

 

June is the month with the longest daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s the time of year when we feel we have more time to be outside and enjoy the weather. In some states, June brings summer storms and flooding, so it’s a good idea to invest time in preparing your home for this potential danger. June can be a great month to start entertaining outdoors and spending time in the yard. Below we’ve gathered some great projects to complete this month.

 

Gardening checklist

  • Keep your raised beds and container gardens moist

  • Deadhead spring blooms

  • Weed garden beds

  • Plant sun-loving herb seeds like basil, chives, thyme, and sage

  • Plant edibles like pumpkins, melons, beets, carrots, beans and summer/winter squashes

  • Can’t get to these projects yourself? Look for a landscaper or gardener on Porch.

 

Weekend projects

  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

  • Service air conditioning unit (schedule an HVAC professional)

  • Swap out seasonal clothes and bedding

  • Turn over mattresses

  • Organize garage for summer activities

  • Pressure wash the patio and clean off outdoor furniture (hire a professional power washing company)

 

Tip of the Month

  • Create a summer car emergency kit! Fill a container or box with bug spray, bug bite relief, sunblock, hats, and an umbrella.

  • Keep an extra gallon of water to make sure everyone stays hydrated while on the road. Read our tips here to help get you started.

 

 Porch.com is the free home network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals.

 

June Perspectives

Many years ago we realized that we have a responsibility that goes way beyond helping people buy and sell homes. We too are home owners. We too have kids. We too want safe, vibrant and livable neighborhoods. Because of that we have committed to helping create and maintain communities that are thriving and interesting places to be. One way we do this is through our annual Community Service Day.

For the past 31 years, Windermere offices have closed their doors for one day to give back to the communities that have given so much to us. The types of projects our offices take on vary from cleaning up parks and community centers to feeding the hungry. For example, one of our Bellevue area offices spends every Community Service Day at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, an organization that provides equine therapy to children and adults with disabilities. Like many non-profits, Little Bit is short staffed and heavily reliant upon volunteers to help care for their 18 acre property. So last Friday, our team was there washing fences, weeding, and clearing out paddocks to help keep Little Bit’s facility in prime condition for its patients.

On that same day, you could find a team of Windermere volunteers at Mary’s Place, an organization that provides food, shelter, and resources to homeless families. For the second year in a row, this group spent the day prepping meals, sorting through donations, and deep cleaning the shelter. Mary’s Place tells us that having the Windermere team there makes the families who use this facility feel loved and valued.

If you live in the area, you’ve probably heard of Camp Korey. It’s an amazing organization that provides recreational programs for children with serious medical conditions. For several years, a team of Windermere volunteers have spent Community Service Day cleaning the grounds, painting, gardening, and prepping for incoming campers. The group loves knowing that they’re making a positive impact on the brave children who visit Camp Korey.

We’re so proud of our team and the selfless role they play in their communities. We might be the leadership of this company, but it’s our agents who are the true leaders, proving time and time again that service to others is not something you do, it is who you are.