Neighborhood Spotlight: Floating Homes

montlake-houseboats

For more than 100 years, floating homes have helped define Seattle’s social culture and maintain its reputation as a place where unconventional modes of living are enjoyed. The thriving houseboat colony on Lake Union, made famous in the 1993 film Sleepless In Seattle, attests to the continuing desirability of this unique lifestyle.

House boats have come a long way since their inception as affordable alternatives to traditional homes and vacation rentals.  Currently there is a floating home available for $3.2 million dollars, however most sell for well under that.  In the past six months, there have been 21 floating home sales with a median sale price of $635,000.  Pack lightly however, those same 21 homes average a tidy 777 square feet.  For those who love them, they wouldn’t live anywhere else, but bring your sea legs.  Life on the water isn’t everyone’s cup of chowder.

 

floating-home-chart

What to Expect in Housing Affordability

What to Expect in Housing Affordability | Windermere Blog | Windermere Real Estate

Posted in Economics 101 Videos and Market News by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

What keeps Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, up at night? Housing affordability. As the U.S. Population moves towards both coasts and the Southwest, putting upward pressure on land prices and the value of homes, we will see a greater cost of living, which could directly impact the work force and economies in those areas. Gardner weighs in on how West Coast cities can improve housing affordability through policy and infrastructure changes.

 

We’ve Got You Covered Winter Drive for YouthCare – Wrap Up

mercer-island-3

Windermere Winter Drive Collects over 3,500 Items for Homeless Youth

As part of Windermere’s #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, 38 Windermere offices* in King and Snohomish Counties collected new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for Windermere’s “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. The recipient of these donations was YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area.

An estimated 3,500 items were collected during the four-week drive. We are thankful for the generosity and enthusiasm shown by the participating offices—there was even some competition among them to collect the most items. Taking that title for the most donations was the Windermere Shoreline office which alone collected 665 items! Some of the donations were even hand-made by members of the community, like the 10 sets of hats/scarves knitted and donated to Windermere’s Mercer Island office, and the homemade Seahawks scarves and hats that were donated to the Property Management – South office. These generous donations will go a long way towards helping to keep many homeless youth warmer this winter season.

Jody Waits, Development and Communications Officer at YouthCare, was overwhelmed with excitement by all of the winter gear that was collected: “This is AMAZING! We received a truck – a literal truck – full of donations,” she said, adding, “Windermere’s amazing donations provide homeless youth with cold-weather items they would not be able to afford to purchase on their own. Helping a young person feel warm, dry, and safe, frees them up to focus on achieving other goals, and connecting to their future potential. We are very grateful for Windermere’s partnership with YouthCare.”

We are also incredibly grateful to Gentle Giant Moving Company, who partnered with us for this drive, and generously donated their time and trucks to pick up all of the donated items from our offices and deliver them to YouthCare.

Thank you to our participating offices, and all those who donated, for making our winter drive a success!

*Participating Windermere offices

Auburn-Lakeland Hills, Bellevue, Bellevue Commons, Bellevue South, Bellevue West, Burien, Enumclaw, Issaquah, Kirkland Central, Kirkland Yarrow Bay, Kirkland-Northeast, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Property Management – South, Redmond, Renton, Seattle-Ballard, Seattle-Capitol Hill, Seattle-Eastlake, Seattle-Green Lake, Seattle-Greenwood, Seattle-Lakeview, Seattle-Madison Park, Seattle-Magnolia, Seattle-Mount Baker, Seattle-Northlake, Seattle-Northgate, Seattle-Northwest, Seattle-Queen Anne, Seattle-Sand Point, Seattle-Wall Street, Seattle-Wedgwood, Seattle-West Seattle, Services-Marketing, Shoreline, Snohomish, Woodinville

 

Ten Ideas for New Thanksgiving Traditions

christmas-583369_1280

Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving – ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our neighborhood did it. Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself well to trying out new traditions, but sometimes the situation calls for it – you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, for example, or you have a family now and want to start traditions of your own. So what can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end?

  1. Start the day with an indulgent, relaxing breakfast.

While some people are firmly in the “no breakfast” camp to save room for the big meal later, we love the idea of starting the day in such a festive, delicious way! Pancakes, waffles, eggs, even pie – it’s all good.

  1. Take time for yourself before time with family.

As wonderful as Thanksgiving can be, we all know it can be exhausting and overwhelming. That’s why it’s such a good idea to deliberately take a little time for yourself during the day to make sure you enjoy the holiday on your terms.

  1. Remember loved ones who have passed.

Holidays can be bittersweet when beloved family members or friends are missing from the gathering. Look through old photo albums and recall funny, tender or important achievements of those who are gone but not forgotten.

  1. Write your thanks on a butcher paper tablecloth.

Cover the table with butcher paper. During the meal, distribute pens and ask each family member to write down a few things they’re thankful for on the paper and then take turns reading them out loud. We love the practice during the Thanksgiving meal of naming things you’re thankful for, and this is a unique way to do it – especially since you can tear off and save particularly meaningful memories.

  1. Let everyone toast!

Another way to make gratitude gushing even more festive is to let everyone make a toast. Raise your glass to the year, to your family, to your friends!

  1. Have the kids serve dessert.

Let the bigger kids get in on the action of serving to their family.  Put them in charge of delivering dessert and coffee after the meal. The oldest can plate and pour while the younger kids can take orders and serve. It keeps them busy after the meal while the adults talk and gives them a broader sense of appreciation for the holiday.

  1. Have Thanksgiving dinner early.

Planning for a 3 p.m. dinner shifts the momentum of the day. An earlier meal creates a more relaxed celebration, plus there’s plenty of time to digest before going to bed.  An earlier dinner also accommodates traveling guests and lets them return home at a reasonable hour.

  1. Take a long walk together after dinner.

No one is ready for dessert right after dinner anyway, so why not take that time to go on a long walk with your loved ones? Enjoy the cool, crispy (and hopefully dry) autumn weather and get the blood flowing again after all that rich food.

  1. If it’s just two of you, really treat yourself.

It can be hard to justify making a huge Thanksgiving meal when it’s just two of you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special, or even any less of a treat. In fact, it should be more so. Make it special by treating yourselves to nicer ingredients and better wine than you would normally use if you were cooking for a large group.

  1. Stay connected with family members far away.

If you can’t be with your loved ones on Thanksgiving, thankfully you can still be together – just virtually! Do a video call or Google Hangout before dinner, or Facetime family members in for the giving-thanks portion of the evening.

The Trump effect. How will it impact the US economy and housing?

8567813820_57dc199e5f_o

Posted in Market News by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate 

The American people have spoken and they have elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Change was clearly demanded, and change is what we will have.

The election was a shock for many, especially on the West Coast where we have not been overly affected by the long-term loss in US manufacturing or stagnant wage growth of the past decade. But the votes are in and a new era is ahead of us. So, what does this mean for the housing market?

First and foremost I would say that we should all take a deep breath. In a similar fashion to the UK’s “Brexit”, there will be a “whiplash” effect, as was seen in overnight trading across the globe. However, at least in the US, equity markets have calmed as they start to take a closer look at what a Trump presidency will mean.

On a macro level, I would start by stating that political rhetoric and hyperbole do not necessarily translate into policy. That is the most important message that I want to get across. I consider it highly unlikely that many of the statements regarding trade protectionism will actually go into effect. It will be very important for President Trump to tone down his platform on renegotiating trade agreements and imposing tariffs on China. I also deem it highly unlikely that a 1,000-mile wall will actually get built.

It is crucial that some of the more inflammatory statements that President-Elect Trump has made be toned down or markets will react negatively. However, what is of greater concern to me is that neither candidate really approached questions regarding housing with any granularity. There was little-to-no-discussion regarding housing finance reform, so I will be watching this topic very closely over the coming months.

As far as the housing market is concerned, it is really too early to make any definitive comment. That said, Trump ran on a platform of deregulation and this could actually bode well for real estate. It might allow banks the freedom to lend more, which in turn, could further energize the market as more buyers may qualify for home loans.

Concerns over rising interest rates may also be overstated. As history tells us, during times of uncertainty we tend to put more money into bonds. If this holds true, then we may see a longer-than-expected period of below-average rates. Today’s uptick in bond yields is likely just temporary.

Proposed infrastructure spending could boost employment and wages, which again, would be a positive for housing markets. Furthermore, easing land use regulations has the potential to begin addressing the problem of housing affordability across many of our nation’s housing markets – specifically on the West Coast.

Economies do not like uncertainty. In the near-term we may see a temporary lull in the US economy, as well as the housing market, as we analyze what a Trump presidency really means. But at the present time, I do not see any substantive cause for panic in the housing sector.

We are a resilient nation, and as long as we continue to have checks-and balances, I have confidence that we will endure any period of uncertainty and come out stronger.

 

 

 

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

Windermere Foundation Announces New Total for #Tacklehomelessness Campaign

16243_tacklehomelessness_11082016-2

Earlier this year, Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks announced that we were joining together to help #tacklehomelessness. For every home game tackle made by the Seahawks, the Windermere Foundation is donating $100 to YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area. During yesterday’s game we raised an additional $4,300 for a total of $12,500 so far this season. We’re proud to cheer on our home team and make a different while doing it! #GoHawks #GiveBack #MNF #WindermereBlue

Prepping your Kitchen for the Holidays

food-kitchen-cutting-board-cooking

Check spices that may need restocking

You may think your spice rack is well-stocked, but before you hunker down for the holiday, double-check expiration dates and give them a sniff test. Spices can go rancid or lose their flavor and scent entirely.

Audit your Pantry

A well-stocked pantry of coffee, tea, soda, and snacks is a great start. Then add wine (red, white, and sparkling), unscented candles, and an extra bag of ice for the freezer to your shopping list.

Get your service ware ready

Have your knives sharpened so you don’t end up hacking away at your honey-baked ham. If you are planning on any formal dinner parties over the holidays; polish silver, wash and iron fabric napkins, and clean china well in advance so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

 Clean your cutting board(s)

If you haven’t done a deep clean on them lately, now is a good time to do so. If you want to avoid using bleach or chemicals, sprinkle the board with a coarse salt and massage it in using a lemon wedge. The lemon juice disinfects and neutralizes any odors, while the salt sloughs off any scraps and stains.

Clean the microwave

There are fewer things less appetizing than a filthy microwave and it is so easy to clean one. Put one cup vinegar and one cup hot water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes (depending on the level of mess and the strength of your microwave), remove the bowl and wipe the inside clean with a damp towel.

Getting new glassware ready

Put your hair dryer on its highest heat setting and hover it directly over the sticky label for about 30 seconds. Next, test a corner to see if the label lifts up easily. (If not, zap it for another 30 seconds.) Then peel the label off. If there is residue left behind, rub a few drops of olive oil on any sticky parts and let it sit for a minute or two. Then gently peel or scrub the remaining bits off.

Bottle Opener

If you don’t have a good bottle opener – invest in one that does all the work for you, never causing a fuss.

The Refrigerator
Pull everything out. Discard bottles with remnants of ketchup and old leftovers hiding in the back. Remove shelves and drawers and wash them in warm soapy water. Make as much room for pre-prepared dishes and the ultimate onslaught of new leftovers.

Smile
Your kitchen looks great and will function for you like a champ all holiday season long.

Windermere Launches New Ultra-Luxury Brand: W Collection

Black wooden texture background blank for design

Anyone who has spent time in the Seattle area in recent years has likely seen for themselves how much the city has changed. Thanks in large part to the booming economy, growing tech sector, and increasing international appeal, Seattle is no longer a sleepy little city tucked away in the far corner of the United States. With this changing landscape has come an infusion of wealth that has seen the area’s high-net-worth population explode. And with it, so too has the ultra-high-end real estate market.

In order to meet the specialized needs of this burgeoning market, Windermere has launched W Collection, a new ultra-luxury brand specifically designed for homes priced at $3 million and above in Western Washington. OB Jacobi, President of Windermere Real Estate, says that Seattle’s population of “global affluent” is on the rise and they greatly value real estate. The proof is in the numbers.

Over the past five years there has been a significant increase in the number of home sales in the $3 million+ market. In 2011 there were only 45 such sales in King County, while in 2015 there were 131. “Windermere agents represent anywhere from 40-60 percent of the $3 million+ sales in the Seattle area, so we felt we were in the ideal position to build a brand that could provide enhanced marketing support to the growing number of ultra-luxury homes,” said Jacobi.

W Collection is its own standalone brand with a separate website, WByWindermere.com, signage, presentation materials, and specialized advertising opportunities. When developing W Collection, Jacobi said that the goal was to create a sophisticated, yet humble, brand that evokes the understated expression of wealth that is unique to the Pacific Northwest. “Our clients are not largely drawn to the shows of excessive wealth that you see at other companies and in other parts of the country. This is reflected in the W Collection brand,” said Jacobi.

The development of W Collection began a little over a year ago, and according to Jacobi, was a highly collaborative process with Windermere agents playing an integral role in every step, “Over the past 44 years some of Windermere’s best ideas have come from our agents who are totally in tune with the needs of their clients and the shifting demands of the market; W Collection was born from this same agent ingenuity.”

Originally posted on Windermere by Shelley Rossi

The Gardner Report | Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

content_16229_wwa_gardnerreportq3_masthead

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Annual employment growth in Washington State slowed somewhat in the third quarter of this year, but still remains well above the long-term average. Additionally, the jobs that are being created are primarily quality, high-paying positions, which is important for the health of our economy.

Unemployment in the state remains at levels that are somewhat higher than I would like to see, but this continues to be impacted by a growing labor force and modestly slowing job growth. I still expect to see the rate drop a little further as we move through the final quarter of the year.

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 24,277 home sales during the third quarter of 2016—up by an impressive 7.9% from the same period in 2015, and 6.8% above the total number of sales seen in the second quarter of this year.
  • Skagit County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with transactions up by 25.6%. There were also impressive increases in home sales in Thurston, San Juan, Pierce, and Grays Harbor Counties. Sales fell slightly in Jefferson and Kittitas Counties.
  • Overall listing activity remains low with the total number of homes for sale at the end of the quarter 11.2% below that seen a year ago. That said, I’m happy to report that listings have been slowly trending higher in 2016.
  • I’ve been thinking about how sales can continue to rise while inventory remains so low. I believe this is due to an uptick in first-time buyers. These buyers have no home to sell, so they don’t add to the number of listings; however, they do cause sales to increase when they buy. This is a good trend to see!

HOME PRICES

  • As demand continues to exceed supply, we are continuing to see upward pressure on home prices. In the third quarter, average prices rose by a substantial 10.2% and are 3.2% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
  • The current rate at which homes are appreciating cannot continue, and I anticipate that we will see a “cooling” start to take place in 2017.
  • When compared to the third quarter of 2015, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County. In total, there were nine counties where annual price growth exceeded 10% and prices were higher across the entire region when compared to a year ago.
  • Although supply levels are slowly starting to creep higher, we are still solidly in a seller’s market. Rising inventory levels should start to do a better job of meeting demand next year, which when combined with modestly higher mortgage interest rates, will see the region move closer toward becoming a balanced market.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by twenty-two days when compared to the third quarter of 2015.
  • All the counties that comprise this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop.
  • In the third quarter of 2016, it took an average of 52 days to sell a home. This is down from the 74 days it took in the third quarter of 2015, and down from the 67 days it took in the second quarter of this year.
  • King and Snohomish Counties remain the only two markets where it took less than a month to sell a home. Even though King County saw days on market rise slightly from 18 to 20, it remains the hottest market in the region.

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. For the third quarter of 2016, I am moving the needle very slightly toward the buyers. This is entirely due to the recent increase in inventory levels that I believe will continue through the rest of the year. That said, the region remains steadfastly a seller’s market.

content_MatthewGardner_color

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

Haunted Houses: Parties and Interactive Entertainment

haunted-house

Who says Halloween is just for kids?

Remember when being an adult on Halloween meant handing out candy and watching movies at home? Halloween is not only popular with children; more adults are actively celebrating the holiday and venues are rolling out the red carpet for them.  We’ve gathered a list of adult-only entertainment options in Seattle this weekend, varying from from haunted houses, party events, to live theater and more.

Harvest

Seattle’s largest immersive experience of horror and intrigue; choose your own path and test your bravery as you crawl beneath the skin of this gruesome open world at Seattle Immersive Theatre.

Georgetown Morgue

This Halloween you can’t miss the scariest and best haunted attraction in the entire state of Washington, The Georgetown Morgue.

HAUNT: The Ultimate Halloween Bash

Nearly 2,000 guests will converge on the EMP Museum in Downtown Seattle to enjoy multiple rooms of entertainment, theme decorations, and a gigantic costume contest!

The 13th Annual Cabaret Macabre

For over a decade, the Cabaret Macabre has existed in various forms as hosted by The Bad Things. This year, Cabaret Macabre returns to Columbia City Theater on Halloween for an evening of music and cabaret performance with high Halloween pageantry.

Sister Kate’s “The Seance”

Join the Sister Kate Dance Company as they channel the spirits of jazz rhythm in their exciting new Halloween-themed show, THE SÉANCE.

The Shadow Knows

Seattle-based Sandbox Radio recreates the classic experience of old-style radio magic, with modern touches. This all-new episode—created just for Halloween—presents new plays, songs, poetry, and adaptations of classic literature, all scored with live music and sound effects.

This Is Halloween

Can Can’s seasonal Halloween show is an extravaganza of live orchestral music, cabaret, burlesque and video projected sets inspired by Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.”