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5 Home Improvements That Will Boost Your Property Value

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Photo courtesy of Julia and Mark Krill | MLS 1345624 A home is the largest investment most people will make in their lifetime, so when it comes time to sell, homeowners often wonder what they can do to get the most return on their investment. Many have the misconception that remodeling is the way to go, but that isn’t always the case. Rather than going all-in on upgrading your home, you should know which home improvements are worth it, and which ones aren’t. We’ve sifted through the research and come up with a quick list of five home improvements that’ll help buyers fall in love with your home when it comes time to sell. 1. Add a little curb appeal  Curb appeal is critical. As the name suggests, it’s the first thing buyers see when pulling up to the front of any home so it needs to be in nearly pristine condition. Start with the garage door for the most immediate return. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report and Money.com, the cost of updating your worn builder-grade garage door with an upscale steel model is about $3,470, and it’ll boost your home’s value by 98.3 percent of the installation price, which means you’ll lose about $60 when it’s all said and done. Landscaping can also go along way for a minimal upfront investment. Six rounds of fertilizer and weed control will set you back about $330, but when it comes time to sell, you’ll see an ROI of about $1,000 according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors. Other improvements you can easily make to your curb appeal include: Pressure wash the exterior Liven up your front door with a fresh coat of paint Replace hardware such as doorknobs and knockers Install updated house numbers Make your walkways pop with new greenery or flowers Plant a succulent garden Update your porch lights Add a little charm with window flower boxes Stage your porch 2. Install hardwood floors  Installing or upgrading hardwood floors is pretty failsafe as most buyers love it. Ninety-nine percent of real estate agents agree that homes with hardwood floors are easier to sell, and 90 percent of agents say that they sell for a higher sale price, according to the National Wood Flooring Association. Similarly, research from the National Association of Realtors shows that 54 percent of homebuyers are willing to shell out extra cash for homes with […]

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Local Market Update – November 2018

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Increased inventory, slower sales and more price reductions all point to a balancing market—welcome news for price-shocked buyers. Sales prices are up from last October and down from the all-time high reached this spring. Despite the slowdown, it’s important to point out that we’re only moving back toward what a normal market looks like. King and Snohomish counties each have over two months of available inventory. While that is double the inventory of a year ago, it’s far short of the four to six months supply that is considered a balanced market. Sellers looking to list their home now can be sure there remains plenty of interest among home buyers. Eastside >>>Click image to view full report. The median home on the Eastside sold for $890,000 in October, up 5 percent from a year ago and unchanged from the previous month.  While year-over-year price increases were in the single digits for the Eastside overall, several areas, including Kirkland, Woodinville and Mercer Island, experienced double-digit price gains.  Buyers are still having to pay a premium for desirable Eastside properties. However, with more choices and less buyer urgency, sellers need to price their home correctly to maximize their chances of getting the best possible return. King County >>>Click image to view full report. Inventory in King County for all homes, both single-family and condominium, soared 102 percent over last October.  The increase was due to an influx of new listings and the fact that homes are now taking longer to sell than at the peak of the market this spring. While buyers now have more breathing room to make their decisions, the 2.4 months of inventory in King County is still far from a balanced market. The median price of a single-family home in October was $670,999, an increase of 7 percent from the same time last year, and virtually unchanged from August and September.  South King County showed larger increases, with prices rising more than 10 percent from a year ago in Auburn, Kent and Renton. Seattle >>>Click image to view full report. In October, the median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $750,000, up 2 percent from last October and down slightly from last month. While inventory doubled over a year ago, Seattle falls behind most areas of King County in supply with just under two months of inventory available.  Demand is predicted to stay high, with Seattle’s population projected […]

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Helping Students Realize Their Dreams Through Scholarship Programs

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The Windermere Foundation has raised $1,611,802 so far this year, bringing the total amount raised by the Foundation to over $37 million since 1989. Through the third quarter of 2018, $1,214,576 has been donated to local non-profits and charity organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families. Through donations from Windermere agents, staff, franchise owners, and the community, the Windermere Foundation has been able to donate to local scholarship programs that help students in need realize their dreams of furthering their education. The following are examples of two programs that have benefitted from Windermere Foundation donations this year. Seattle Central College Foundation Scholarship Program Each Windermere office raises its own funds and has a Windermere Foundation account that it can use to make donations to organizations in their local communities. This fall, the Windermere Seattle-Capitol Hill office generously donated to the Seattle Central College Foundation’s scholarship program, which is helping nearly 500 students attend the college this year, relieved of financial stress, and encouraging them to stay committed to their education. Tammara S., the recipient of the Windermere Real Estate/Capitol Hill Scholarship, said, “I am honored to be the recipient of this scholarship… Attending school with an already tight budget was a hard decision to make. This scholarship will ease the stress of extra debt and the fear of having to choose anything over my education. Thank you, I appreciate your confidence in me and willingness to contribute to my future education.” University of Washington Certificate Scholarship Program The Windermere Foundation general fund also made a donation to support the University of Washington Certificate Scholarship program. With the help of UW Certificate Scholarships and the Windermere Foundation, 12 local adults living on low incomes were able to start classes at the University of Washington this fall. These are just a few of the recipients: Loree, who is studying Fundraising Management: A stay-at-home mom and active school volunteer/PTA fundraiser. Sadly, Loree recently lost her husband to cancer and has become her family’s primary provider. The certificate program will help her re-enter the workforce. “The scholarship will provide me the freedom to walk the path of discovery as I redefine who I am in this second phase of my life.” Matthew, who is studying Wetland Science and Management: A single dad of a 6-year-old, Matthew juggles childcare with full-time work supervising Washington Conservation Corps crews in the King Conservation District. Struggling to pay rent in Seattle, his […]

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How Interest Rates Affect Buying Power

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Whether you are thinking about buying or selling a home, interest rate trends are an important factor to consider. Mortgage interest rates have been rising and experts, including Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner, predict that they will continue to increase in 2019. Interest Rates and Buying Power The chart below shows the impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $675,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments at $3,500 a month. Every time interest rates increase by a quarter of a percent, your buying power decreases by about 3 percent. What this means for buyers: With prices moderating and interest rates slated to rise again, now is a good time to buy. If you’re betting on prices falling, you need to consider the strong possibility that an increase in interest rates would offset any potential price savings. What this means for sellers: Listing your home now means you will attract a larger buyer pool before interest rates rise. Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling our brokers can provide you market data that will help you make the best decision for your circumstances. 

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The Gardner Report – Third Quarter 2018

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The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Agent.  Economic Overview Washington State continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the nation and there is little to suggest that there will be any marked slowdown in the foreseeable future. Over the past year, the state has added 105,900 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 3.2%. This remains well above the national rate of 1.65%. Private sector employment gains continue to be robust, increasing at an annual rate of 3.7%. The strongest growth sectors were Construction (+7.4%), Information (+6.2%), and Professional & Business Services (+6.1%). The state’s unemployment rate was 4.5%, down from 4.8% a year ago. All year I’ve been predicting that Washington State’s annual job growth would outperform the nation as a whole, and we now know with certainty that this is going to be the case. Furthermore, I am now able to predict that statewide job growth in 2019 will be equally strong, with an expected increase of 2.6%. Home Sales Activity There were 22,310 home sales during the third quarter of 2018. This is a significant drop of 12.7% compared to the third quarter of 2017. The number of homes for sale last quarter was up 14.5% compared to the third quarter of 2017, continuing a trend that started earlier in the year. However, the increase in listings was only in Seattle’s tri-county area (King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties) while listing activity was down across the balance of the region. Only two counties had a year-over-year increase in home sales, while the rest of Western Washington saw sales decrease. The region has reached an inflection point. With the increase in the number of homes for sale, buyers now have more choices and time to make​ a decision about what home to buy. Home Prices As inventory levels start to rise, some of the heat has been taken off the market, which caused home prices in the Western Washington region to go up by a relatively modest 6.2% over last year to $503,039. Notably, prices are down by 4.4% when compared to the second quarter of this year. Home prices, although […]

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Stay Safe While Selling Your Home With Our Seller’s Checklist

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Staying organized while uprooting your life and moving from one home to another can feel impossible. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers.  One thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions. Like so many things in life, they can feel more manageable once written down, so we made this handy checklist.   Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications. Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting misplaced or stolen. Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy. Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door. Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras. Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger. Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions:  Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos. Go over your agent’s screening process: Phone screening prior to showing the home Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings Their personal safety during showings and open houses Lock boxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home. Work with your agent on an open house checklist: Do they collect contact information of everyone entering […]

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Local Market Update – October 2018

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It appears that balance is slowly returning to the local housing market. Home price growth slowed in September. Inventory continued to climb, but is still far short of the four to six months that indicate a normal market. Homes are staying on the market longer, giving buyers the breathing room to make the right choice for their situation.  With our region’s healthy job growth, and demand still exceeding supply, it’s likely to take some time to move to a fully balanced market. Eastside >>>Click image to view full report. Home price increases moderated into the single-digits in September. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was up 4 percent from the same time last year to $890,0000 but down from a median price of $935,000 in August. Inventory increased significantly and price drops jumped. While the market is softening, the recent expanded presence of Google and Facebook on the Eastside means demand should stay strong.  In addition, the area’s excellent school system continues to be a large draw for buyers both locally and internationally. King County >>>Click image to view full report. Inventory was up 68 percent year-over-year in King County due to a higher number of sellers listing their homes and fewer sales.  There is now more than two months of inventory in the county, a number we haven’t seen in nearly four years. Despite the increase, there is a long way to go to reach the four to six months of inventory that is considered balanced.  In September, the median price of a single-family home was $668,000; an increase of 7 percent from the same time last year and virtually unchanged from August. Seattle >>>Click image to view full report. Inventory in Seattle surged in September from a year ago. Only San Jose, CA saw the number of homes for sale rise faster than Seattle last month. The median home price in September was $775,000. Up slightly from the $760,000 median price in August and a 7 percent increase from last year. The double-digit price growth of past years appear to be waning and overzealous sellers who listed their homes at unrealistically high prices have been forced to reduce them. Bidding wars have declined and the typical well-priced house is now selling right at asking price. Snohomish County >>>Click image to view full report. While not nearly as dramatic as the case in King County, inventory in Snohomish County was up 40 percent. The area has […]

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5 Dangers of Overpricing a Home

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It is still a great time to be a seller, but the local real estate market has begun to soften. With significant increases in inventory, buyers now have more choices and less sense of urgency. If you are thinking about selling your home, pricing it correctly the first time is critical. Here’s why: If you overprice your home, it won’t show up in some search results. Buyers search for homes using the parameters they desire. Price range is one of the most critical. If you set an unrealistic price of $850,000 for your home, all the buyers searching for homes up to $825,000 will fail to see your property in their search results. An overpriced home attracts the wrong buyer. An overpriced home will not compare favorably with the realistically-valued homes in a buyer’s price bracket. If your home is missing the amenities, square footage or other features of homes within the price range you’ve placed it in it won’t sell. Overpriced homes linger on the market and risk becoming “stale”. The interest in a home is always highest when the listing first hits the market. When an overpriced home goes unsold for a long period of time buyers often wonder what is wrong with the property. When a buyer moves on from a listing they rarely come back, even if you drop the price. You run the risk of getting less for your home than if you priced it correctly the first time. A Zillow study showed that homes that linger on the market tend to sell for significantly less than their listing price. When a home sits on the market for an extended period of time, buyers feel they have lots of room to negotiate. The longer your home remains on the market, the more expenses you incur. Every month your home goes unsold you put out money for mortgage payments, utilities and other home expenses that you will never recover.

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