How to Find the Right Real Estate Agent for You!

If you are buying or selling your home, you will want to find a real estate agent that you like and trust. Windermere agents, Marguerite Giguere and Anne Jones have some great tips on how to find a real estate agent, make sure they will fit your needs and set expectations.

 

Perspectives: 2016 Forecast

This is an election year. Economists tell us that nothing out of the ordinary typically happens to the U.S. economy in an election year – even in one as crazy as this one is turning out to be. That being said, it doesn’t mean the economy will stop growing or that the housing market will come to a standstill. In fact, according to Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, employment is anticipated to grow by 1.6 percent in 2016 and unemployment should remain below five percent. This is what is referred to as “full employment”, which means that most people who want a job have one. That’s good news.

Things are also looking good for the housing market in the year ahead. Barring any unforeseeable events, U.S. home sales will continue to rise modestly in 2016. A number of West Coast cities have very strong economies that are poised to just keep growing, so home sales should grow right alongside them. The same is true for U.S. home prices, which will continue to appreciate in 2016, although not at the same pace that we saw in 2015. We’re predicting a more modest 5.5 percent increase, down from 6.8 last year.

Supply and demand continue to be way out of balance in cities throughout the western U.S. We’re optimistic that an increase in homeowner equity and downsizing baby boomers will lead to a modest rise in inventory; this should help address the substantial demand, although not as much as we might hope – or need.

Last, but not least, interest rates. Again, we look to our Chief Economist for insights and he tells us we should see rates gradually rise to about 4.3 percent by the end of the year. So, yes, it’s an increase, but not enough to have a significant impact on home sales.

So there you have it – our forecast for the 2016 housing market and economy. We’re both optimistic and excited to see where the year takes us. 

Celebrating the Windermere Foundation with a Week of Gratitude!

We’re pretty excited at Windermere. Why, you ask? Because our agents recently helped us reach a major milestone. Thanks to their generosity we’ve raised more than $30 million for the Windermere Foundation which supports low-income and homeless families. These donations fund critical services and basic needs, such as foodbanks, homeless shelters, and youth programs.

This is all possible because every time one of our agents helps a client buy or sell a home, a portion of their commission goes to the Windermere Foundation. Starting today, we are celebrating their generosity with the “Windermere Week of Gratitude”. Over the next five days we will share stories about the Windermere Foundation and the types of services we support. You can follow these stories on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Kicking it all off is this video which highlights how the Windermere Foundation is helping to make a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

If you’ve ever worked with a Windermere agent, then you too are a part of the Windermere Foundation, and you too helped us reach this milestone. So on behalf of everyone at Windermere, thank you!   

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Seven Phases of Home Renovation

We haven’t blogged in a while . . . and that’s because we’ve put a slightly unintentional pause on our renovation projects. If you’ve ever done a project around the house, you may have found yourselves in one of these seven stages.

The 7 Phases of Home Renovations:

Phase 1: Get super pumped about an idea. Pin, pin, pin on Pinterest until you’re bursting with excitement. Tell everyone about your amazing project.

Phase 2: Collect materials. Realize things cost a lot. Begin project fueled by coffee, nervous anticipation and adrenaline.

Phase 3: Get halfway through the project. It doesn’t look exactly like your Pinterest board but it’s still cool. Realize you haven’t showered or shaved in +/- 3 days. But it’s all good because you’re 50% there!

Phase 4: There’s visible progress but it’s not totally done. It looks done on the Instagram photo though! But in reality, the project is about 85% complete and it bugs you every time you see that one grout line that needs a little attention or that one corner that needs a little touch up paint. It’s okay though, you’ll get to it this weekend.

Phase 5: Weeks have gone by. The blisters on your hands have healed. You stop noticing the grout line that needs filling or the wall that needs paint. You’re busy enjoying the house and admiring your clean fingernails.   

Phase 6: Write a blog about how you’re still not done with that one bathroom you started two months ago.

Phase 7: Complete project, details included. Toast to celebrate. Post more photos to Instagram. Start dreaming of a new project. Pin, pin, pin… 

Some people may say the hardest part of a renovation is starting the project. We say it’s that last pesky 5%. We’ll get it done . . . eventually.

Stay tuned for our kitchen remodel in late 2016! Until then, Happy Renovations, everyone.

Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram

What Home Buyers Love & Hate

Buying a home is an emotional experience and seeing a home for the first time is not unlike going on a first date. First impressions matter! Windermere agent, Nancy Chapin, has some great tips for sellers who want to put their best home forward.

 

#YourStoryIsOurStory: Home Shopping a State Away

Karina and Julio fell in love with Portland, Oregon one summer and spent three years considering a move from San Francisco, to the City of Roses. When they finally did decide to make the move, Windermere Agent, Allan Dushan was able to help them through the entire process. Karina and Julio went back to San Francisco, and trusted Allan to find their dream home. Through frequent communication, online listings, and video walk throughs, they were able to experience each property almost as if they were there in person. When they made an offer, they knew they wouldn’t set foot in the home until closing, but that did not damper their excitement one bit. How did it work out for them? Watch their story to find out. 

Throughout the year we will be posting some of our favorite #YourStoryIsOurStory videos, photos, and blog posts. Please take a minute to share your experiences, and follow #YourStoryIsOurStory on our blogFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Pinterest pages.

 

 

Keeping up with the Joneses: Giving Our Fireplace a Facelift

 

While we were willing to do some major updates to the bathroom, plumbing and electrical, we decided to pick a few areas of our 1940s fixer to do some smaller, mostly cosmetic updates. One of these projects included giving the fireplace a little facelift to bring it into this century. 

Also, here's a true look at reno life: cords everywhere, cleaning products always out and empty waterbottles (and a beer bottle) strewn because where is the trash can? And yes, that's The Bachelor on the TV.  My wife was watching it.  I'm here only to provide snarky commentary while catching up on email.

 

 

When the house was built, we believe the fireplace was a simple plaster build-out. At some point, the original owners of the home laid on these tan tiles in a decorative pattern around the fireplace. They may have added the wooden mantel piece, as well. And in the 70s, perhaps they added the black and bronze fireplace cover. Not completely sure as this home was an estate sale (which means the owner either passed away or moved into an assisted living community — and in this case, we know the owner passed away in her 90s in another home).

We were told that there is gas available on the street so at some point, we've love to add a gas insert for a gas fireplace and stove. Rumor has it, Seattle may outlaw burning real wood in fireplaces within the next couple of years. But that gas fireplace update will take more time, money and permits. So for now, we paint.

 

After the contractors left, we noticed some brown/yellow stains on the plaster facing. My wife, Jenn, our resident painter, tried to paint over the stains. Even after two or three coats, the marks were still pretty apparent. We waited until we could have our young daughter, Addie, out of the house before trying to prime the fireplace with industrial strength primer. The guy at the hardware store even suggested buying a "throw-away" paintbrush for a few bucks because to get this primer off of a normal brush would take more industrial strength cleaner. Two coats of that primer stuff and voila! Stains hidden.

After the primer dried, Jenn painted the tiles (sorry previous owners!) and fireplace face a bright white which instantly modernized the whole room. We contemplated painting the black half circle that's part of the fireplace cover but decided against it, mostly because we had already put our paint supplies away and #tired.

The fireplace has some areas that need some grout repair and one of the tiles is cracked (and has been for God-knows how long) but this was a nice, easy win. When you're doing home renovations, not much feels easy so three cheers for a white fireplace that only required three trips to the hardware store.

 

Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram

Next week on the blog: finishing the bathroom renovation! 

 

 

Keeping up with the Joneses: The Guest Room, Part I

 

Before we started our renovations, we didn't plan to do much to the basement guest room: maybe a little paint, installing some blinds for the window. My wife, Jenn, thought we'd buy a bench to put at the end of the bed for linen storage. 

Then Demo Day One happened. Within an hour, it was clear we would be a few weeks out from painting. In order to paint, you needed walls. 

In order to replace the galvanized pipes throughout our 1941 fixer, our contractors had to access them, which meant tearing up the ceilings and walls. We didn't realize that the main water shut-off and the main electrical box was in the guest room and most of the pipes ran through the ceiling of our basement. And it wasn't just the walls and ceiling they needed to tear out — when you're pulling out walls; you're also pulling up your baseboards and any ceiling molding. Repairing all of that wasn't in our original cost estimate.

We felt helpless as we were instructed to tear out more and more to update our plumbing. (As we mentioned before we did all of the demo ourselves to save money) It was a necessary evil.  We tried to keep our eye on the prize… at the end of all of this; we have updated plumbing which is great insurance against leaky pipes.

The silver lining to ripping open the ceiling — we had our electrician install a couple of can lights which was a nice upgrade from the flush ceiling fixture the previous owner had installed in the 70s. The descending placement of the three cans seems to give the room a better sense of depth.  This was not in the original budget, but worth the couple hundred bucks.

We are almost four weeks into our renovation and I'm happy to report that we're a little closer to picking out paint colors.
 

We've got walls, people! It's the little things…

 

Check out the below video where I walk through the guest bedroom post demo…

Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram

Next week on the blog: giving our fireplace a lift 

Keeping up with the Joneses: Would You do a DIY Home Renovation again?

Q: What was your thought process leading up to the move?

Jenn: I’ve had a countdown tile on my phone (modern day paper chain) for our close date since our offer was accepted in early December.  We even took our Christmas card photos in the front yard, oblivious to the fact that we could look like total creepers to our future neighbors.  I figured we’d get the keys on Monday night, start plumbing, electrical and painting on Tuesday and move in on Saturday.  Looking back, that was crazy unrealistic!

Tyler: As a real estate broker, I see clients go through remodels all the time.  I thought ours would be a breeze.  I’d heard the conventional wisdom, “Whatever your budget is, double it.  Whatever time you think it’ll take, triple it.”  I’ve even communicated that to other people.  But actually living through it is a completely different story.

Jenn: Yeah, living through it with a 6-month old while also getting our condo ready for the market! Reality is harsh.

  

Q:  What made the renovation process so difficult?

Tyler: Everything hinges on the step before.  If your electrical work is delayed because of rain, your drywall can’t be repaired.  Therefore, you have tarps all over your house for another week and can’t walk around barefoot without risking tetanus or at a minimum, dust and stray flecks of caulk between your toes.  In Seattle, you're also working against the elements.  My dad and I were trying to finish cutting the subway tile for the shower one night and it started pouring.  I was running in and out of the house cutting tile in the dark.  I was soaking wet but we couldn't delay the project another day because we needed to return the saw we rented.

Jenn:  The unpredictability was and is pretty challenging for the planner in me.  The first morning at our house, I woke up early to make some coffee and sit in front of the picture window in my PJs to just have this epic moment alone… and I saw our plumbers drive up into our driveway and walk up to our front door.  Apparently, they were there to hook up our showerhead and faucets.  Surprise! All good things but no moment is sacred. 

 

Q: What’s been the most enjoyable part of renovating?

Tyler: Being able to make it our own.  Seeing the progress is thrilling.  I won’t take my bathroom for granted.  It’s not just a bathroom.  I put a lot of hard work into that tiny little thing.  When a friend walks through the front door, I am going to want to awkwardly walk them straight into the bathroom to show them my tiling and grouting skills.  Sorry friends.

Jenn: Getting the most bang for my buck.  Did you catch the before photos of our bathroom?  Orange countertops, hanging marbled glass dual light fixture, BEAR WINDOW (#savethebear).  If we sold this house now – with its completely updated electrical system, plumbing lines, and updated bathroom, I know we could sell it for more than we paid.  Not that I would do that.  I’m not leaving this place.  Like, ever.  Because that means packing and moving again.  Nope.

 

Q:  So would you do it again?  Buy another fixer?

Jenn: Yeah, I would.  I’m all about the budget and buying something that needed a little work allowed us to land a 2,000sqft house in the neighborhood we wanted, with the ability to gain equity quickly.  It’ll get a little more complicated when Addie can walk though.  It’s been nice to be able to sit her in her bouncer and know she’s not going to chew on a tube of liquid nails or something.

Tyler: Absolutely.  It’s not for everybody.  But for the dreamers out there who can see a diamond in the rough, it’s the way to go.  Maybe one of these days, I’ll convince Jenn that our next investment should be flipping a house…

Jenn: Umm… let’s finish this house and then we’ll talk.

Tyler Davis Jones is a Windermere Real Estate agent in Seattle who, with his wife Jenn, recently traded in their in-city condo for a 1940s fixer-upper. Tyler and Jenn, along with the help of some very generous friends and family members, are taking on all the renovations themselves. You can follow the transformation process on the Windermere Blog or on Tyler’s website and Instagram

Next week on the blog: the guest room, part I 

Windermere Foundation 2015 Infographic

If you've bought or sold a home through Windermere Real Estate, you're a part of the Windermere Foundation, and you've helped make a positive difference in the lives of your neighbors in need. The following infographic shows the types of services funded by the Windermere Foundation, and illustrates how even a small amount can make a big difference for low-income and homeless children and their families.

The Windermere Foundation had a goal to reach $30 million in total donations by the end of 2015. Thanks to the generosity of Windermere owners, agents, staff, and our community partners, we reached that goal three months early! Because of this we were able to fulfill 636 grants and help 409 organizations that provide goods and services to those in need in our communities. 

 

If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button. 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.