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I am wishing you a happy and relaxing holiday season and all the best in the new year!

Peace to you and yours,

CategoriesSeattle, Washington real estate

Stability in Seattle?

If homebuilders may be considered a leading indicator of market direction, up or down, then consider the following good news from John Burns, a real estate industry consultant in the Northwest.

Seattle is starting to show some signs of recovery at least among new construction and planned community home sites. Visiting nearly 50 residential projects, including regional master planned communities like Issaquah Highlands and Snoqualmie Ridge, as well as stand-alone projects in Southeast King County the data speaks for itself.

Here are a few of the interesting trends observed that suggest Seattle is postioned for a comeback:

  • Year over Year Prices are improving.
    1 Year Ago Current
    Median New Home Price $330,000 $344,346
    1-Year Growth Rate -13.8% 4.3%
  • Builders who have adopted smaller floor plans are acheiving higher prices and performing better overall than others. There is some evidence that price per square foot actually increased on a year-over-year basis in King county.
  • Destination “master planned” communities appear to be garnering the best sales rates because consumers value the amenities and lifestyle.
  • Plats that have been on hold for the last few years are being restarted, as some public builders and larger regional builders are finding opportunities to purchase distressed projects or re-launch mothballed projects.
  • We anticipate job growth to return to Seattle in 2011 and will continue to strengthen in 2012.

Additionally, Seattle ranks 6th for commercial and multifamily investments among the nations top 50 markets. According to the Price Waterhouse Coopers report’s author, “Seattle is retaining it’s position as an up-and-coming gobal gateway.” He also says that apartments will be the only sector to see significant new construction in the region for 2011.

The bottom line?
Home prices, and particularly price per square foot, appear to be showing some new strength as home designs are reconfigured for the evolving market. Seattle is still a market with some barriers to entry, but the strongest local and national builders are finding opportunities in today’s enviornment.

Windermere Real Estate

Categoriesinfo for home owners

Home Moaner-ship

Like it or not, routine maintenance comes with ownership of a home or condo.  We often grumble about the work.  Friends can’t bear the thought of spending a month painting the house.  The job seems endless and we sometimes transform into what my friend calls a “home-moaner”.

Are you paralyzed by fear about home maintenance?  Alfred Hitchcock gives some tips here.


All kidding aside, without proper care costly repairs will sneak up on you and can become an enormous burden.  For example, the unpaned cost of a new roof can a shock to the budget, especially when combined with other expenses such as the holiday or an unforeseen injury.

How to avoid home “moaner” ship?

Set up a schedule for routine maintenance.  Many costly repairs can be avoided by attending to problems before they start.  For instance, extend the life of your roof by regular treatment for moss and clean your gutters so water drains freely to avoid damage to your roof.  Make sure downspouts move water away from your foundation to avoid flooding of basements and crawl spaces.  Especially important in our typical rainy Northwest Fall!

Click here for a copy of a user friendly home maintenance checklist.

Budgeting is key

Make a simple maintenance and replacement budget for the key elements of your property and build up your reserves.  This will show you how much you should set aside each month to avoid unplanned expenses.

It might look something like this:

For more budgeting tips, click here.

Keeping your property well maintained will allow you to enjoy it more while minimizing unplanned expenses and ultimately allow you to maximize resale value down the line.

Want to talk about other keys to successful property ownership?  Or would you like an annual update on the value of your home?  I’d be happy to take a look for you!

Best Regards,
Windermere Real Estate


Haunted Houses

Haunted houses have intrigued the masses for centuries.  The spirit of past inhabitants is often intertwined into history, whether a tragic tale or just friendly ghosts roaming the halls of their beloved home.Haunted Houses
To compile this new book, written by Corrine May Botz, the authorHaunted House spent 8 years visiting over eighty homes, museums and hotels across the country in search of the stories of haunted spaces and capturing their unique character through her photography.

“Haunted Houses provides a unique way of understanding our relationship to the spaces we inhabit, and reflects romantic and dystopian notions of the domestic realm. The notion of hauntedness activates and highlights the home, revealing the hidden narratives and possibilities of everyday life.”

Haunted Houses contains friendly ghosts – no evil spooks or demons looking to scare people away. These haunts want to retain their connection to their homes and lives. The stories tell of protective spirits that like the families that have moved in. Read more in this book review

10 most Haunted houses in the US:


This Zillow article ranks some of the country’s most infamous haunted houses that are rich with history and have inspired endless stories from generations of inhabitants.

Is the Log House Museum haunted?
Recently, the West Seattle Blog posted that an investigation from Paranormal Investigations of Historical America occurred at our very own Log House Museum, though the results are not yet published…
Halloween Haunted Houses-just for fun:

Here is a great site for checking out all the local haunted houses this weekend.

Have a frightfully good Halloween,

CategoriesSeattle, Washington real estate

Seattle is a good place to build a “nest egg”

One result of the last few years for most of us is a change in our perspective about spending, and saving, habits.  Personal savings rates have increased significantly in the US compared to 5 years ago, from -0.5% in 2005 to 5% in September of 2010.  That’s a start.  The idea of saving for the future, from that occasional “rainy day” to the dream of someday retiring, is something most people are taking much more seriously these days.

This recent article from U.S. News places  Washington State as a great place to build a “nest egg” for the future.  U.S. News created an index to measure which states are the best for Americans who are saving for retirement and Washington ranked #4!  Home prices here are expected to surge by 6.6% per year between 2010 and 2013, according to Moody’s Analytics, providing residents who are downsizing for retirement with opportunities to put away some extra cash.

As always I appreciate the opportunity to help you build your nest egg over the long-term and continue to endeavor to provide you with useful information to help you make sound decisions along the way.

Warm Regards,

Windermere Real Estate

Categoriesinfo for home owners, taxes

Are Your Property Taxes Based on Market Values?

We usually get a couple of calls each year from clients who receive their property tax assessment notification with an assessed value that is above their market value.  This August, a good client of ours called because her assessed value was at least $50K over her home’s value and she needed some comparable sales to support her case.  This is the second time in 4 years that she has appealed her property taxes, most likely because she owns a home with very small square footage in a nice location (i.e. least expensive house on the block).  I’ve heard that it can be a slow process with a fair amount of “hoop jumping” and patience required, but she was successful the first time around and I am hopeful that she will be successful again.

In my experience, tax assessed values are rarely accurate.  It is actually more common for the values to be lower than market value by about 25% on average.  Although there are plenty of instances where they are above market (usually in view and waterfront areas).  Here is King County’s webpage outlining real estate tax assessments and how they are calculated.  Property taxes pay for important services like our schools, parks, water districts, emergency medical service and fire protection, among others, which are vital to the strength of our neighborhoods.
If you feel your tax assessment is incorrect and you want more information about the process, here are the guidelines for appeal.  We are always available to discuss your home value and help provide you with recent market data if you choose to appeal.
Warm Regards,

Windermere Real Estate

Categoriescommunity service, events

Habitat Build-A-Thon

One of the best things I’ve ever done was to spend 8 days in Baton Rouge a few years ago to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.  It was an amazing week of heat & humidity, rain, wind and a lot of hard work.  By the end of the week I’d been dubbed the “Realtor on the Roof”.  I met a lot of great people and got a real sense of satisfaction from the experience that has informed my ideas of community contribution moving forward.

Habitat helps create affordable housing for families in need all over the world every year.  So far they’ve built over 300,000 homes and counting.  But you don’t have to travel to participate!

The local Seattle chapter of Habitat for Humanity is holding a building-a-thon this month and they need your help.  If you don’t have time to volunteer right now then you can sponsor another person by pledging money toward their work hours.

Click here for details!

Please forward this to your friends and thank you for your support of this great organization.

Warm Regards,

Windermere Real Estate

Categorieseconomy, financing, info for buyers, info for home owners

Rent vs. Buy

In the market today, we see opportunity for buyers – BIG TIME.  There are so many great homes on the market for buyers to choose from and interest rates continue to hover around 4.25%.  At the same time, we try to temper our enthusiasm about the current market (for buyers) and look at the big picture so we can help our clients make sound choices for their own personal situations.  In researching the topic “Rent vs. Buy” we found sound points in favor of both choices and would like to share with you some of the highlights:

  1. The info-graphic The True Cost of Home-ownership  offers a sobering look at how much it can cost to own a home.  It also outlines the comparison of renting to buying over a 5 year period, showing that at year five the benefits outweigh the costs of owning your own home.
  2. Matthew Gardner, a local Land Use economist, offers his insight into the future of home-ownership by looking at the past, in this recent blog post.  His conclusions are optimistic for our region and he feels there is reason to believe that Seattle will not “over-correct” when it comes to home-ownership.
  3.  This New York Times article offers a framework for analyzing the benefits of rent vs. buy using a concept of “rent ratio: the purchase price of a house divided by the annual cost of renting a similar one”.
  4. Finally, we recommend the calculator tools on to compare your own situation.  This rent vs. buy calculator is one of the best we’ve found and is an interesting exercise to help you look at your individual situation.

As always, we’d love to participate in your explorations of whether now is the time to buy and we hope you will forward this to your friends who currently rent and are considering their options.
Warm Regards,

Windermere Real Estate

Categoriesinfo for buyers, info for home owners, referrals, Seattle

What does your house say about you?

Part of helping our clients in a changing market is to be creative and resourceful about how we prepare and market properties.  We have been exploring the use of Feng Shui in our staging over the last few months and thought we would introduce the woman who has been helping us.  Danielle Varanda, owner of International Feng Shui Design,  has been practicing Feng Shui principals for many years and is offering our clients a special rate for consultations.  If you have interest in improving your space, and your lives, give her a call!

We asked Danielle to give us insight into how Feng Shui principals work in our homes:

“Just as we are all unique individuals, so are the spaces we live in. We tend to gravitate to places that resonate with us and our lives.  Individuals will find some styles of homes more appealing to them then others, and different locations will appeal to different people. For instance, extroverted people tend to live on a more dynamic street and people who are a bit more reserved will often prefer a quiet, calm neighborhood.

 Not only do our homes reflect us in our taste and lifestyle, we can say that our homes nourish us and we nourish our homes. Our space either enhances us or may in some cases hinder us.  Our homes reflect, or could even be the cause of, what is going on in certain aspects of our lives.  For example, how well are things going in our financial affairs?  Do we have enough money coming into our lives?  If so, are we able to hang on to it or does it tend to slip away?  In the area of our health, how well do the people in the house sleep?  Are there health issues with the people who live there? How is the overall energy of the people living in the home?  Are the relationships within the home harmonious or is there often conflict? Did these changes occur after moving or remodeling?”

These and many other things are seen through Feng Shui principals.  When we keep these principals in mind we can literally see why these things are occurring, understand the source of the issues and ultimately offer solutions to improve the situation.”

Danielle recently consulted for one of our listings and we believe her guidance contributed to the successful sale of that home.  If you would like to hear more, or have any questions, just give us a call!

Warm Regards,

Windermere Real Estate

Categoriesevents, Seattle

I-90 Seafair and Blue Angels Closures

Happy Seafair!
I know there are many folks who love this time and many folks who dread it.  I have to admit I’m in the love it camp.  I know it’s a little weird, but I just love airplanes!  So this morning I stopped on Airport Way to watch the Angels take off for about the 100th time in my life.  I got to enjoy a few moments of thrill and reminisce about all the years and times I’ve spent watching them in and around Georgetown and even traveling to see them fly from time to time.

Of course there is also a logistical aspect to living in a city with such a summer festival.  Desiree shared this funny (now) story about getting caught in the middle of bridge closures unexpectedly:

“It was 2 years ago that I had an unfortunate oversight and missed the fact that I-90 was closing for the Blue Angels practice.  I had just made it to Bellevue to drop a friend off at a doctor’s appointment and needed to get right back to West Seattle for an inspection with a buyer client.  I was stuck in the worst traffic I’ve ever experienced and was re-directed through Renton to drive around Lake Washington back to Seattle.  To top it off, my client was also stuck on the Eastside, meaning that we were both 1 1/2 hours late for the inspection and arrived just as the inspector was finishing.  Now I make sure I know when the Blue Angels are flying.”

The annual Seafair festival begins when the Seafair Pirates land on Alki the first week of July and ends with the Blue Angels flying over Lake Washington in a spectacular display of aeronautics.  The first practice flight (and closure) is today from 9:45 a.m. – noon and then again from 1:15 – 2:30 p.m. and there are several more closures throughout the weekend.  For more information check out the WSDOT website at:
So we just wanted to say happy Seafair and make sure no one gets stuck in traffic this year!

Here’s a snapshot of the closure dates and times:
Thursday, Aug. 5:  9:45 a.m. – noon & 1:15 – 2:30 p.m., (Practice)
Friday, Aug. 6:  12:45 p.m. – 2:40 p.m., (Practice)
Saturday, Aug. 7:  12:45 p.m. – 2:40 p.m., (Full show)
Sunday, Aug. 8:  12:45 p.m. – 2:40 p.m., (Full show)
We hope you are able to catch a glimpse of the Blue Angels this weekend!
Warm Regards,

Windermere Real Estate