Celebrating 25 Years of the Windermere Foundation

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Windermere Foundation. What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need in the Seattle area, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over $26 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help the most.

In honor of this anniversary, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the milestones the Windermere Foundation has achieved over the past 25 years. We also want to recognize and thank everyone who has helped us get to where we are today – especially our agents who continually embody the notion that service to others is not something you do, it is who you are.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Windermere Foundation through the years. With your help, we will continue to help make a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

Follow your local Community Service Day projects!

On Friday, June 20, Windermere offices in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah will be closed for a very special reason. Since 1984, Windermere has dedicated the third Friday of June to our annual Community Service Day*. On that day, you will find our team doing a variety of projects, including cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low income housing, and emergency shelters, among others.

Follow what are offices are doing on Community Service Day! Each office that posts a Community Service Day photograph or video on the Windermere Real Estate Facebook page, (www.facebook.com/WindermereRealEstate) the Windermere Foundation will donate $100 dollars to that office’s Foundation fund, to benefit low-income and homeless families. We encourage you to “like” our Facebook page, follow the Community Service Day projects, as well as your favorite Community Service Day photos. The office with the most photo/video “likes” and comments will receive a $1,000 donation for the Windermere Foundation charity of their choice. The contest will end Thursday, July 3.

*Windermere’s Southwest offices hold their Community Service Day in October

 

Hawaii    
Office Name Project Project Description
Kahului- Maui Hawaiian Islands Landtrust Public area clean up.
Kona- Big Island Kona W. Hawaii Humane Society Painting, landscaping and cleaning new location. 
Paia- Maui Hawaiian Islands Landtrust Public area clean up.
Waimea- Big Island Waimea Middle School Painting and cleaning school parking lot. 
     
Idaho    
Office Name Project Project Description
Boise- Richard B. Smith Food Bank Stocking and organizing food bank warehouse.
Coeur d'Alene Children's Village Gardening, cleaning, painting, building shelves, organizing children's toys and clothes for the facility.
Caldwell Food Bank Stocking and organizing food bank warehouse.
Hayden Children's Village Gardening, cleaning, painting, building shelves, organizing children's toys and clothes for the facility.
Moscow Sojourner's Alliance  Cleaning an organizing facility and storage space. 
Post Falls Children's Village Gardening, cleaning, painting, building shelves, organizing children's toys and clothes for the facility.
     
Montana    
Office Name Project Project Description
Helena Helena Food Share Landscaping, sorting food, and general help around the building. 
Missoula Child Development Center  Restore garden and build a cement patio for bike riding.
     
Oregon    
Office Name Project Project Description
Bend Healing Reins Painting indoor arena.
Cannon Beach Seaside Baseball Field, Brodway Park Paint dugouts and shack at baseball field.
Corvallis SafeHaven Humane Society Help relocating to new facility 
Eugene Food for Lane County Clean and plant community gardens. 
Hillsboro Orchard Park Landscaping and mulching. 
Lake Oswego Lakeridge High School Landscaping, cleaning up sports fields
Lake Oswego - West Volunteers of America - Children's Relief Nursery Weeding, playground cleaning, general maintenance. 
Newport Habitat For Humanity Planting flower boxes, mural painting, facility clean up
Portland Heights Project Lemonade Sorting clothes that are sold to foster kids.
Portland- Lloyd Tower NE St. Andrew's Nativity School Cleaning, painting, straightening - get projects dones that have been on the teachers' lists since its summer!
Portland- Moreland Boys & Girls Club Cleaning up and organizing the center, which includes painting, yard work, and cleaning play areas.
Portland- North the Hereford House PDX   Painting, power washing, yard work and donation collection.
Portland- NW Johnson Lift Urban Portland Gardening.
Portland- Raleigh Hills Hopewell House Cleaning up the grounds at a hospice facility.
Seal Rock Habitat For Humanity Planting flower boxes, mural painting, facility clean up
West Linn West Linn Adult Community Center Landscaping.
     
Utah    
Office Name Project Project Description
Coalville Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
Park City Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
Salt Lake City- Foothill Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
Salt Lake City- Union Park Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
     
Washington    
Office Name Project Project Description
Anacortes Storrik Park Painting.
Arlington City of Arlington Cleaning up and landscaping our adopted park in downtown
Bainbridge Island City cleanup projects Pick up trash at Hawley Cove, High School Road Round About and City Hall parking lot. 
Bellevue Commons Little Bit Theraputic Riding Center Weeding, painting, cleaning tack and paddocks, power washing and even ironing ribbons for the participants.
Bellevue South Camp Korey Gardening, weeding, fence repair, trout pond restoration, painting, cleaning storage facility and facilitating a craft project.
Bellevue West Evergreen Court Retirement Community Landscaping, power washing and yardwork.
Bellingham Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Birch Bay Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Burien  Lake Burien School Memorial Park & Mathison Park Playground updates and invasive plant removal
Camano Island- Terry's Corner Derby Day Community event. 
Centralia Student backpacks Purchase, assemble and distribute backpacks for low-income students. 
Euphrata George Community Hall Cleaning, painting, weeding. 
Fairhaven Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Federal Way Boys & Girls Club Summer camp clean up: adding mulch to play area, clearing an overgrown area and removing some unwanted trees. 
Gig Harbor- Builder's Choice Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
Issaquah Hopehouse Building deck, cleaning housing, landscaping and painting. 
Kelso/Longview Salvation Army Various community service duties 
Kingston Litter Patrol Trash clean up for the beach, ferry terminal and downtown area
Kirkland Kirkland Interfaith Transitional Housing (KITH) Repair fencing, tree removal, deck repair, landscaping and painting
Kirkland- Northeast Hopelink Collecting, sorting and bagging food for the foodbank
Kirkland- Yarrow Bay Kirkland Performing Arts Center Landscaping and painting. 
Lake Stevens Local community families Home maintanence for families in need. 
Lynden Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Lynnwood YWCA Facility painting, installation of doors, new lighting and flooring, supply room organization and landscaping. 
Maple Valley Tahoma Senior High School  Painting the baseball dugouts and doing landscaping around the school grounds.
Marysville    
Mercer Island City of Mercer Island Mercerdale park flower bed clean up, tree trimming, debris hauling and Summer Celebration preparations.
Monroe Matthew House Exterior clean up, landscaping, sorting and organizing donations. 
Mount Vernon Sedro-Woolley Boys and Girls Club Food collection and facility clean up. 
Mukilteo Mukilteo Food Bank All day food drive for local food bank.
Property Management- Bellevue Teen Feed Clean kitchens for nightly meals and assemble summer resource kits for homeless youth.
Property Management- Edmonds Teen Feed Clean kitchens for nightly meals and assemble summer resource kits for homeless youth.
Property Management- Seattle Teen Feed Clean kitchens for nightly meals and assemble summer resource kits for homeless youth.
Property Management- Seattle/Eastlake Seattle Parks Department Removing invasive plants and cleaning up the Burke Gilman Trail.
Property Management- South Kent Youth & Family Services Exterior updates? Painting fences and curbs
Pullman Sojourner's Alliance  Cleaning an organizing facility and storage space. 
Relocation and Referral Srvs Noel House Serve breakfast to shelter clients. 
San Juan Island Mullis Senior Center Landscaping, weeding, cleaning beds and sprucing up with 3yards of beauty bark. 
Seattle- Ballard Golden Gardens/ City of Seattle Wetlands restoration: planting trees, cleaning up debris and mulching. 
Seattle- Capitol Hill Capitol Hill Housing Paint and landscape low-income housing site. 
Seattle- Eastlake Rebuild Together Home rehabilitation on a elderly gentlemen's home to make it safe and habitable.
Seattle- Green Lake Bathhouse Theater Pick up parking lot and garden area. 
Seattle- Greenwood Boys & Girls Club Gardening, painting, facility organization, cleaning, and building fences.
Seattle- Lakeview Good Shepard Senior Center Clean, garden and serve lunch. 
Seattle- Madison Park City cleanup projects Pick up trash and weeds on city traffic circles. 
Seattle- Magnolia Street Fair Provide community resources for neighborhood. 
Seattle- Mount Baker Wellspring Baby Boutique Organize baby supplies. 
Seattle- Northgate YouthCare Facility cleaning and yard work.
Seattle- Northlake Bothell Senior Center Weeding and Gardening.
Seattle- Northwest Greenwood Foodbank Cleaning, organizing and sorting food.
Seattle- Queen Anne City cleanup projects Pick up litter and weeds along Queen Anne Avenue.
Seattle- Sand Point YMCA Magnuson& Sand Point Elementary Cleaning, organizing, gardening, and summer event support.
Seattle- Wall Street Mary's Place Painting, cleaning, organizing and other needed projects.
Seattle- Wedgwood Nest Help maintain homes for elderly community members.
Seattle- West Seattle Longfellow Trail & Pea Patch Project Cleaning and weeding community garden & greenbelt. 
Services Company Ryther Landscaping, mural painting and other improvement projects. 
Services Mountain West Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Sequim Sequim Boys & Girls Club Clean and organize club location, make space for kids exercise room.
Sequim- SunLand Sequim Boys & Girls Club Clean and organize club location, make space for kids exercise room.
Silverdale Central Kitsap Foodbank Widdening access road, building retaining wall and building raised veggetable beds. 
Shoreline Food Lifeline Foodbank support.
Spokane- City Group Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Cornerstone Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Liberty Lake Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Manito Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- North Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Valley Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas. 
Tacoma- North Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
Tacoma- Professional Partners Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
Tacoma- University Place Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
TriCities- Kennewick  Cooper Larson Baseball Field at Kennewick American Fields Paint Grandstand, Power Wash & Shop Vac entire facility, fix up dug outs & paint benches, clean the clubhouse and paint bathrooms.
Tri-Cities- Richland Kids Safety Fair Providing community resources for kids summer safety. 
Vancouver- Mill Plain Fruit Valley Food Drive Hosting a local food drive, filling backpacks with food and distributing to local schools for low-income students. 
Vashon Island Granny's Attic Sort donations for re-sale. 
Walla Walla YWCA Family Shelter Staining the downtown benches, weeding & cleaning the tree wells and building some play equipment. 
Whidbey Island- Oak Harbor Help House food Bank Food collection, interior painting and exterior clean up.
Woodinville Neighborhood beautification Planting along 175th street.
Yakima Northwest Harvest and Habitat for Humanity Food drive and house painting. 

June Perspectives

Recently, we were at a luncheon honoring corporate philanthropists from throughout the Puget Sound region. Companies of all shapes and sizes were honored, from the largest technology giant to a local shipyard committed to preserving Ballard’s Nordic heritage. The commonality among all these companies was giving back. Some do it by donating millions of dollars to non-profit organizations, while others give through volunteerism and in-kind donations.

We were reminded that philanthropy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – and it got us thinking about our own charitable efforts at Windermere. While we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve through the Windermere Foundation, can we do more?

The answer is always yes.

For us, that comes in the form of our annual Community Service Day. Cash is king, but there’s something to be said for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. That’s the philosophy behind Community Service Day.

For 30 years, Windermere offices have closed their doors for one day to help make a positive difference in the local community. This year’s event is on June 20, and on that day you will find us doing a variety of projects, including cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low-income housing, and emergency shelters, among others.

We love living in a region that is known globally for its charitable giving. And we love being a part of a company whose agents prove time and time again that service to others is not something you do, it is who you are.

 

 

June Perspective

Recently, we were at a luncheon honoring corporate philanthropists from throughout the Puget Sound region. Companies of all shapes and sizes were honored, from the largest technology giant to a local shipyard committed to preserving Ballard’s Nordic heritage. The commonality among all these companies was giving back. Some do it by donating millions of dollars to non-profit organizations, while others give through volunteerism and in-kind donations.

We were reminded that philanthropy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – and it got us thinking about our own charitable efforts at Windermere. While we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve through the Windermere Foundation, can we do more?

The answer is always yes.

For us, that comes in the form of our annual Community Service Day. Cash is king, but there’s something to be said for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. That’s the philosophy behind Community Service Day.

For 30 years, Windermere offices have closed their doors for one day to help make a positive difference in the local community. This year’s event is on June 20, and on that day you will find us doing a variety of projects, including cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low-income housing, and emergency shelters, among others.

We love living in a region that is known globally for its charitable giving. And we love being a part of a company whose agents prove time and time again that service to other is not something you do, it is who you are.

 

 

Time to De-Clutter? Some Tips for Selling Your Stuff

If you are looking around your home and thinking to yourself that it’s time to de-clutter, the summer months provide an ideal time to hold a garage sale. But if that sounds like too big of an undertaking, there are other options available to you thanks to popular resale sites like eBay and Craigslist. And if even that sounds like too much effort, you might also consider donating lightly used items to charity or sending them off to the dump. Here are some questions to help you decide which method is best for you.

How much stuff do you have?  Are you liquidating your space of large furniture items, a large quantity or quality items, or do you have a small pile of electronics?

If you have yards worth of stuff to get rid of, you definitely want to consider a garage sale. Getting rid of multiple items on Craig’s list can be time consuming, and shipping items sold on eBay can be expensive and eat into your profits. On the other hand, if your items are easily shippable or you have a small enough quantity to take quality photos and post online, then you can save time by using eBay or Craig’s list – and potentially make more money too.

What type of stuff am I getting rid of? Is it worth anything?

 If you have large furniture or unique/valuable pieces it may be worth the time to take some quality photos and try to sell these items on Craigslist first. Generally Craigslist works as “first come, first serve” so be prepared to respond to inquiries quickly. If you have small items that have some value, you may want to consider eBay. You reach a much larger audience through eBay which can result in a greater financial return.

How much time do I have?

Garage/yard sales are by far the most time intensive of your options. If you choose to hold a garage sale, you will likely need to dedicate at least three days for prep, clean-up, and the sale itself. All items should be cleaned up, priced, and neatly displayed for sale. Signage should be prominently placed around your neighborhood. You can also place an ad in your local classifieds or on Craigslist to attract a larger crowd.  

Will your home/community accommodate a Garage Sale?

Garage and yard sales are generally held at a single-family residence. If you live in an apartment or condo, you may want to consider alternatives due to limited public space. You may also want to consider your community traffic. If you live on a quiet street, you may not get enough customers to generate sales. 

Can you enhance a sale by joining with neighbors, friends and family?

Some communities hold an annual neighborhood garage sale, encouraging all neighbors to participate on the same day. This increases your ability to market the event and attract a larger audience.

For tips on hosting a garage sale: http://www.houseofhepworths.com/2012/09/24/10-tips-for-havin-a-killer-garage-sale/

 

Outdoor Living Trends

Summer is just around the corner and there is no better way to prepare than indulging in some exciting backyard inspiration. Your outdoor living space can be more than just a place to spend time with family and friends; it can be your sanctuary as well. This year is the time to turn your backyard into your own personal vacation spot.  

 

Sunken hot tub

If you don’t have a tub already, consider adding a sunken hot tub into your backyard with a deck of natural stone, tall grasses, and outdoor curtains for privacy.  Include pillar candles and some twinkling lights for ambiance.  

 

 

 

 

 

Modern outdoor kitchen

If you entertain a lot, a kitchen is the ideal outdoor space for summer entertaining. Bring out your inner Bobby Flay with a cooking station that includes a high-end grill, refrigerator, wine chiller, and elegant washbasin. Round this all out with a concrete counter, bluestone tile floor, and stainless steel.  

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor theater

Nothing says summer like outdoor movies and your own personal drive-in. All you need is a projector to watch your favorite movie, some dangling lights in the trees, blankets, and pillows. You could also watch it from a hanging bench or my personal favorite, a floating bed. 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable and fruit gardens

Gardening can go beyond being a relaxing pastime; consider growing your favorite foods and join the “farm to table” movement. In 2012, people spent $1.2 billion more dollars on food gardening than they did flower gardening. An easy way to incorporate this is to use blueberries as foundation plants or other fruits, such as raspberries. If you already have flowers planted, tuck a pepper plant or basil in between your flowers.

 

 

 

 

Reading nook

A reading nook outdoors is the perfect way to get lost in your favorite book or magazine. You can convert a small shed into a private reading spot, an arbor with a bench surrounded by clematis, or a relaxing hammock. These hideaway spots are what turn your home into a staycation resort.

 

 

 

 

 

Fire pits

Is your ideal summer situated by a campfire? Build a fire pit and enjoy s’mores in the comfort of your backyard. Use an old wine barrel, bricks, stones, or a concrete bowl. A lowered fire pit is great if you want to use sand for a beachy atmosphere. On a warm summer night a campfire sets just the right mood for outdoor fun.

 

 

 

 

Water features

Having a water feature in your backyard instantly creates a Zen space.  They can deflect unwanted attention by drowning out unwelcome sounds. Add a fountain, pondless waterfall, or small stream to complete the vibe.  If you want a smaller commitment, a shallow recirculating foundation will also do the trick. All you need is a simple foundation and recirculating pump.

 

 

 

 

 

To enhance your space with little to no cost, add dangling vines or twinkling lights as a finishing touch to create your backyard haven. Time is something there never seems to be enough of, but these low-maintenance enhancements will enable you to spend that time in your very own outdoor living space.

 

 

 

 

 

For more outdoor living ideas, follow our Pinterest board.

Oregon and Southwest Washington I 2014 First Quarter Market Update

Windermere Real Estate is proud to partner with Gardner Economics on this analysis of the Oregon and Southwest Washington real estate market. This report is designed to offer insight into the realities of the housing market. Numbers alone do not always give an accurate picture of local economic conditions; therefore our goal is to provide an explanation of what the statistics mean and how they impact the Oregon and Southwest Washington housing economy. We hope that this information may assist you with making an informed real estate decision. For further information about the real estate market in your area, please contact your Windermere agent.

Regional Economics

From a job growth perspective, numbers for the end of the first quarter showed a vast majority of the counties contained within this report having added to their job bases over the past 12 months rather nicely.

In aggregate, the market has added 32,621 jobs over the past four quarters which represents an annual growth rate of 1.9 percent. For comparison purposes, the state as a whole grew by 2.9 percent, but the U.S. expanded by a more modest 1.64 percent.

Even though the growth was less robust than seen in Oregon as a whole, we were impressed that the growth crossed all major industry sectors. This is an important fact as it suggests that the job recovery is not limited to lower paying, service jobs but has become broad-based and, therefore, sustainable.

Compared to the end of the first quarter of 2013, growth was most robust in Washington County, which added 8,800 jobs (+3.3%). This was followed by Clark County (+3%), and Klamath, Cowlitz, and Deschutes Counties, each increasing their employment base by 2.5 percent.

When compared to March of 2013, job losses were extremely modest and seen in just three counties. Lincoln County lost 70 jobs while Skamania and Klickitat Counties lost just 20 jobs, respectively. In my last report I suggested that the region should add 35,000 jobs in 2014. With the current annual growth of 32,600 jobs, we appear to be squarely on track.

The unemployment rate continues to drop with every county—other than

Benton—seeing unemployment rates lower than a year ago. We should note that Benton County did not see its rate rise, rather it remained static at a still-fairly-respectable six percent.

That said, I would taper all this enthusiasm with the fact that there are still several counties where the unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 10 percent. In as much as I would like to attribute this to an expanding labor force, this is not the case. Generally, these counties represent areas where there is little economic diversity, which is slowing their recoveries. Still, I am hopeful that they will start to see their unemployment rates drop as we move through 2014.

Although the counties shown here have, generally, seen improvements in their respective job markets, several have seen a slowdown in the first quarter when compared to the end of 2013. However, this is not unusual. County-level data is not seasonally adjusted, which makes direct comparisons to the previous quarter somewhat erroneous. Even with any perceived slowdown, I am still raising the grade to a “C+” from the “C’ grade given at the end of 2013.

Regional Real Estate

The housing market showed a fairly substantial deviation in the first quarter of the year which is worthy of discussion. On the positive side, price growth was quite impressive and generally broad-based; however, this was offset with a somewhat counterintuitive drop in sales activity.

Any hopes of a spring “bump” in sales were eroded by the fact that total listings dropped by five percent when compared to a year ago. It is clear that lower listing activity has started to have a pronounced effect on the market, but that said, it has yet to translate into any real effect on sale prices.

Listings grew at the fastest rate in Cowlitz County where total listings were up by 6.5 percent year-over-year. The only other counties that saw an increase in listings were Klickitat County (+3.2%) and Clark County (+0.5%).

With the lower level of inventory, home sales took a hit in early spring and were two percent lower in the first quarter of this year when compared to a year ago. In total, the quarter saw a total of 6,392 sales—down from 6,524 in the first quarter of 2013.

Compared to the first quarter of 2013, sales rose in just two counties, with Cowlitz County up by 7.6% and Multnomah County growing by 1.9%. Declines were widespread, with the largest drops seen in Hood River (-17.5%), Skamania (-16.7%), and Klickitat (-13.6%) Counties.

It might seem that the drop in sale activity would have a negative impact on prices; however, this was not the case. When we looked at home prices, the picture was generally bright, with 11 counties showing home values above those seen in the first quarter of 2013, and six registering double-digit growth. In total, the markets surveyed saw average home prices rise from $255,508 to $285,091—an increase of a healthy 11.6 percent. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, sale prices have risen by 2.9 percent.

We continue to see some very impressive price gains in smaller counties; however, prices in these markets tend to move erratically due to the limited number of home sales. In Coos County, for example, prices rose by 48 percent year-over-year (from $125,000 to $184,667). Other counties that saw large increases in average sale prices were Skamania (+36%) and Columbia (+35%).

There were just two counties where prices fell. Klickitat County saw the greatest drop in value compared to a year ago (-30.7%), but we again attribute this to the fact that it is a small market. The other market where prices dropped was Hood River (-2.1%).

On a positive note, just one county—Klickitat—is showing home values that are below those seen two years ago. Additionally, over half of the counties surveyed saw home prices in the first quarter exceed those seen in early 2009. This is important, as it was at that time that the market started to see a major decline in values.

Home prices are certainly influenced by the number, quality and mix of homes that are being offered for sale. Many times, markets with limited supply demonstrate stronger price growth than markets where inventory is less tight. However, the drop in sales as well as listing activity, although nothing to panic about, does give us pause for thought and may lead to slower price appreciation unless we start to see more activity.

As such, I am maintaining the “C+” grade that I have given this market for the past year.

Conclusions

On a whole, Oregon’s economy is starting to perform well, with seasonally adjusted employment growing by 46,300 jobs over March of 2013.

In the markets covered by this report, employment growth has not been as robust, but is still— on a percentage basis—higher than that seen in the U.S. as a whole. It is also pleasing to see that employment growth is not limited to service sector industries (which are generally lower paying), which bodes well for the housing market.

As discussed earlier, the housing market itself is somewhat contradictory. Prices are, on the whole, higher than those seen a year ago and in the fourth quarter of 2013. That said, the boost in inventory that I was hoping to see this quarter did not occur.

As predicted, interest rates are moving modestly higher and we are standing by our forecast that the year will end with average 30-year fixed rates marginally below five percent. The upward move in rates continues to get prospective buyers off the fence, but they are still faced will little in the way of choice in homes to buy.

I remain hopeful that the region will start adding to its supply of homes for sale, but it will take a dramatic rise during the balance of the year for me to start believing that the market is heading toward equilibrium.

 

About Matthew Gardner

Mr. Gardner is a land use economist and principal with Gardner Economics and is considered by many to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to managing his consulting practice, Mr. Gardner chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; sits on the Urban Land Institutes Technical Assistance Panel; is an Advisory Board Member for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington; and is the Editor of the Washington State University’s Central Puget Sound Real Estate Research Report.

He is also the retained economist for the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties. He has twenty-five years of professional experience in the U.K. and U.S.

He has appeared on CNN, NBC and NPR news services to discuss real estate issues, and is regularly cited in the Wall Street Journal and all local media.

 

Western Washington I 2014 First Quarter Market Update

Windermere Real Estate is proud to partner with Gardner Economics on this analysis of the Western Washington real estate market. This report is designed to offer insight into the realities of the housing market. Numbers alone do not always give an accurate picture of local economic conditions; therefore our goal is to provide an explanation of what the statistics mean and how they impact the Western Washington housing economy. We hope that this information may assist you with making an informed real estate decision. For further information about the real estate market in your area, please contact your Windermere agent.

Regional Economics

With the first quarter of 2014 now in the rear view mirror, I think that it is fair to say that our state as a whole, and specifically the counties covered within this report, continue to improve from an economic perspective.

Washington State added just shy of 61,000 jobs over the past 12-month period, an annualized growth rate of 2.1 percent, while the markets covered by our report added 50,690 jobs (a 2.3 percent increase over a year ago).

This annual rate was modestly better than the 2.1 percent growth rate seen in our last report and, additionally, the market added 23,730 jobs during first quarter.

The tri-county areas of King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties continue to dominate in terms of employment growth with the addition of 43,700 total jobs over the past 12 months—slightly higher than the 42,800 jobs added in calendar year 2013.

On a county level, King County (+3.3%) maintains its top position relative to annualized employment growth. Somewhat surprisingly, this was matched by San Juan County (+3.3%), but in real terms this meant the addition of only 160 jobs. Rounding out the top three growth markets was Cowlitz County which added 900 jobs, a 2.5 percent annual rate. It is pleasing to see some of the southern counties starting to improve. It has been a while!

Job losses were limited to just two counties, with Jefferson County (-1.0%) and Kittitas County (-0.2%) seeing a decline in employment over the last year.

Looking at unemployment rates in the region, all but two counties saw an unemployment rate that was lower than that seen a year ago.

When compared to March of 2013, the greatest declines in the unemployment rate were in Lewis County and Cowlitz County where the rate dropped by 1.7 percent to 10.7 percent and 9.4 percent respectively. This was followed by San Juan County (6.2%) and Grays Harbor County (11.4%).

We saw the unemployment rate rise in Snohomish County which moved up from 5.7 percent to 6.0 percent, and in King County where the rate rose marginally from 5.1 percent to 5.2 percent. Although this may appear surprising, it really isn’t. The principal reason for this statistic was that the labor force in both areas grew by a substantial three percent. I’ll explain: As job markets improve, more people start to look for work. When they look for work, they are officially counted as being unemployed and, therefore, it is not a surprise to see the rate rise. In fact, this is actually good news! The current labor force in these counties was measured at 1.565 million—a figure that has never been higher. As such, I am not worried about the increase and anticipate that the rate in both these counties will start to drop again shortly.

In my last report, I suggested that in 2014 the region should add approximately 50,000 new jobs. At the current rate of 50,690, I appear to be right on track. That said, we are still not “outperforming” and, as such, I am still maintaining the “B+” grade that I have given the employment situation for the past three quarters.

Regional Real Estate

Brokers throughout Western Washington that I have talked to this spring are, on the whole, confident that the market will continue to improve as we move through 2014, but there are some obstacles. In general, these revolve around the disappointing levels of inventory which in certain markets have led to frantic bidding wars—something that holds little appeal to anyone other than sellers.

Year-over-year, listings are generally higher than March 2013, with the market reporting a five percent rise in inventory levels. This is a good thing; however, the total number of homes for sale still remains well below historic levels. By example, total listing activity is 49 percent below that seen in March of 2009. Many, including myself, hope that this will improve in the coming months.

The greatest growth in listings was again seen in Snohomish County which saw a 35 percent increase in homes for sale. This was followed by Pierce County where total listings were 18 percent higher than a year ago, and Cowlitz County where inventory levels were 11 percent higher. Five other counties experienced single-digit increases in listings, but eight counties saw listing activity at the end of 2013 below that seen a year ago. The largest losses were seen in Skagit (-15.7%), Grays Harbor (-11%), and Mason (-10%) Counties.

Year-to-date, home sales in 2014 were 10.8 percent higher than seen in the first quarter of 2013, with a total of 14,896 sales recorded. The greatest increase in home sales was seen in Grays Harbor County (+46.6%), which would explain their lack of inventory at the present time. This was followed by Snohomish County (+37.3%), Island County (+22.3%) and Kittitas County (+20.5%). Five additional counties saw year-over-year home sales rise by 10 percent during the first quarter, while two others saw single-digit growth. All-in-all, positive momentum for home sales in Western Washington.

There were five counties where home sales fell compared to a year ago, but these declines were fairly modest. What was of particular interest, and just a little concern, was the number of home sales in the first quarter versus fourth quarter of 2013. Total sales were down by 20.2 percent, which is somewhat counterintuitive as one would expect the spring market to be better than the winter. At the present time, I am putting this down less to inventory limitations, and more to the fact that interest rates fell last quarter, which may have pulled some buyers forward who would have normally bought in the spring. Time will tell if this is an accurate hypothesis or not!

The average home price in the Western Washington region was $315,835 – up by 7.1 percent over the first quarter of 2013. As is seen in the chart to the right, all but two counties saw average sales prices rise versus those seen in the first quarter of 2013. Prices have been evening out over the past year, which is actually good news and indicates that growth rates are moving toward more sustainable levels.

When we look at individual counties, the strongest annual gains were in King County where prices rose by 11.4 percent. There were also double-digit gains seen in Grays Harbor County (+10.8%) and Pierce County (+10.4%). Of the balance, all but two saw price increases in the single digits. These modest declines were in the small Lewis County market (-8.6%) and the equally diminutive Kittitas County (-6.1%).

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2013, home prices were higher in five counties, with King County remaining at the same level. Home prices fell in ten of the counties analyzed but most of the declines were relatively modest.

Not particularly surprising was the comparison to sales prices seen two years ago. All but two counties (Thurston and Mason) showed home pricesrising. At long last, we saw a county where prices are now higher than seen five years ago, with King County home prices 9.2 percent higher than seen in the first quarter of 2009. Home prices in several other counties are now less than ten percent below that seen five years ago, and I anticipate that they will all enter positive territory before the end of the year.

It is now time to bump the grade on home prices from a “B-” to a “B”. Although home sales activity has slowed, sustained price growth is likely to be seen in 2014 assuming that numbers of listings continue to rise.

Conclusions

Some people I’ve spoken to appear to be waiting for “the other shoe to drop”; meaning that we should expect to see a decline in home values after a rather bullish market over the past two years.

For my part, I am not seeing that happen. In fact, I still believe that there is quite reasonable upside potential for home values in 2014. Why do I say this? Well, there are several reasons that suggest a relatively healthy prognosis for our region.

The first reason is that economically the region continues to add jobs. This is a critical component of the housing market. With a regional growth rate that is well above that seen in the U.S. as a whole, we are in pretty good shape. And as of yet, I do not think we are firing on all cylinders.

Secondly, the interest rate environment is still really good. Although interest rates are above the historic lows seen in 2013, they are still remarkably modest. I do expect to see rates continue to rise this year, but my forecast suggests that average 30-year fixed mortgage rates will still end 2014 at a level around five percent.

Finally, although banks have been notoriously tight in terms of qualifying potential buyers for mortgages, all indications suggest that they are starting to ease a little. Average FICO scores are slowly coming down, which will only add to potential buyers’ abilities to qualify for mortgages.

There is, however, a flip side to this argument and that is inventory-related. Although we did see a five percent increase in listings in March of 2014 compared to March of 2013, the current level is still well below where it should be. Despite that, I remain confident that we will see further growth in listing activity as we move through the year, but do not expect to see a “balanced” market in the near-term.

Belief in home ownership has returned. That being said, I anticipate that buyers will continue to outpace sellers in the coming year. This will be frustrating to some, but a benefit to others. So goes the market!

About Matthew Gardner

Mr. Gardner is a land use economist and principal with Gardner Economics and is considered by many to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to managing his consulting practice, Mr. Gardner chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; sits on the Urban Land Institutes Technical Assistance Panel; is an Advisory Board Member for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington; and is the Editor of the Washington State University’s Central Puget Sound Real Estate Research Report.

He is also the retained economist for the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties. He has twenty-five years of professional experience in the U.K. and U.S.

He has appeared on CNN, NBC and NPR news services to discuss real estate issues, and is regularly cited in the Wall Street Journal and all local media.

 

Home Security Systems: Protecting the People and Things You Value the Most

Home Security Systems: Protecting the People and Things You Value the Most   

With warmer weather come open windows and extended vacations, so it should come as no surprise that the highest percentage of home burglaries happen during the summer months. With that in mind, now is a good time to start thinking about the security of your home. From old-school security tricks to new digital home monitoring tools, there are many options when it comes to keeping our homes safe. Read on to learn more about how you can modify your home and keep it safe from intruders.

 

Security bars and gates:

Sometimes the simplest security is just deterring people from trying to get in. While security bars across windows are a great way to keep intruders out of your home, they can be a real eyesore. Luckily, there are now options for decorative security bars that simultaneously protect your home while enhancing its beauty.

Upgrade you locks:

A poorly installed deadbolt can make it easy for an intruder to kick in your door. Start by making sure that your doorframes are in good condition and then look into getting a higher quality deadbolt. You’ll find everything from classic models with keys, or digital options that require passcodes or a fingerprint.

It’s also a good idea check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks. It goes without saying, leaving windows open during the summer is a bad idea – especially those that can be easily accessed.

Exterior and interior home lighting:

Having your exterior lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime snoopers.  Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.

If you will be gone from your home for an extended period of time, consider using timed lighting options in your home to make it appear someone is around. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas. Also, you can program a radio to turn on and off for sound.

Alarm systems:

If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems.  If you choose to do-it-yourself, you will want to install motion detectors on doors and windows – especially those that can be easily accessed on the ground floor. In most cases, these kits also offer a 24 hour call service for an extra fee.

Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors/ fire prevention system. These services are expensive up front, but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. And keep in mind, having a home security system installed can also reduce your insurance rates.

If installing an alarm system is cost-prohibitive or does not fit your lifestyle, consider purchasing stickers and a sign that state that your home is monitored by a trusted security system, and place them so they are visible at every entrance.

Security cameras:

Security cameras are readily available for home installation. You can install these in prominently viewed places to deter burglars. There are do-it-yourself install options, and professional systems that come along with monitoring services.  There are even options that will work with your smart phone. If the cost for security cameras is too steep for your budget, you can purchase fake cameras to act as a visible deterrent for intruders.

Build your community:

Programs like Neighborhood Watch are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.

Sometimes the best part of security systems is the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home is protected. Many of our personal items can be replaced thanks to homeowners insurance, but you cannot put a price on feeling safe at home. How do you keep your home safe?

 

GiveBIG to the Windermere Foundation on May 6!

This year, Windermere is participating in the fourth annual Seattle Foundation GiveBIG event! The Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG is a one-day, online charitable giving event to inspire people to give generously to nonprofit organizations who make our region a healthier and more vital place to live.

On Tuesday, May 6, from 12:00 am to 12:00 pm, a portion of each donation made on behalf of the Windermere Foundation through the Seattle Foundation website will be matched, allowing your donation to go even further towards helping our neighbors in need. All the money raised through the GiveBIG program will benefit nonprofits in the King County region, with specific emphasis on providing emergency services to low-income and homeless families.

On Tuesday, May 6, click the following link and make your donation http://www.seattlefoundation.org/npos/Pages/WindermereFoundation.aspx

This year’s GiveBIG theme honors the heroes in our community. Your support of the Windermere Foundation and GiveBIG makes you a hero to us and to all of the low-income and homeless families your donation will help.