Windermere Luxury Breakfast March 2017

This week, more than 100 Windermere brokers from all over the Puget Sound area came together to discuss the local luxury real estate market, premier their newest luxury listings, and hear from featured speaker, Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate.

Matthew Gardner gave a lively and engaging presentation on the regional economy and housing market, and how they compare nationally. He spoke of the impact that the technology sector is having on Seattle area housing, as well as King County’s population, which has grown by more than 50,000 since 2011. He said that more and more Silicon Valley-based tech companies are looking at Seattle in order to keep their employees happy, including Apple, Facebook, Google, and others. For some, the lifestyle and relative affordability is seen as a much better choice than cities like San Francisco where even the highest paid employees simply cannot afford to buy a home.

Matthew also discussed the Millennials who he says are incorrectly described as being the “renter generation”.  Instead, he said that many of them are delaying their home purchases because of student debt and lack of choice in the current market. But 2016 saw a significant increase in the number of Millennial buyers in Seattle, and he expects to see even more in 2017.

In terms of what to expect in the luxury housing market in the coming year, Matthew says it will generally parallel what we’re seeing in the rest of the market. Competition from Seattle’s growing wealthy population is causing homes to sell quickly and driving up prices. Furthermore, interest rates for jumbo loans remain historically low, making it more accessible for buyers to access large sums of money to purchase higher end homes.

 

 

What Buyers Want Today

The National Association of REALTORS® recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Here are a few items about buyers that we thought you’d find interesting.

If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, reach out to a Windermere Real Estate broker to help you successfully navigate the Seattle housing market.

 

This blog originally posted on Windermere Eastside Blog

Best of the Northwest Art and Fine Craft Show

With so much great art on view at Seattle’s museums and various art walks, it can be hard deciding which shows to prioritize. The Best of the Northwest Art and Fine Craft Show has long been a celebrated cultural event in Seattle for its carefully curated booths of more than 100 of the area’s best artists and artisans, but there are many other things that also make the annual show stand out.

  • The show is organized by the Northwest Art Alliance, a nonprofit organization that has supported Seattle artists since 1989.

Originally founded by a group of artists to produce a holiday art show, the NWAA has since become an important resource for artists. Exposure, education and essential tools to foster the growth of emerging artists is their primary function, along with providing the public access to the artwork of Seattle’s greatest artists that are not necessarily featured in local museums.

  • The booths are intimate spaces to view art.

While the exhibitions on view in each booth are conceptually rigorous and thematically expansive, the scale and installation of the booths invites close and thoughtful viewing.  The intimate setting also provides a special opportunity to talk with the artist about their work and their passion for their medium.

  • The show is held in a historic building: Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park.

The property is historically significant based on the role it played in the U.S. Navy’s expansion and development in the Puget Sound region, and on the architecture of many of its buildings. Hangar 30 has the distinctive Art Deco architectural style characterized by streamlined, rhythmic machine forms, exotic imagery, and the use of materials to give a feeling of motion.

  • Hangar 30 at Magnuson Park is adjacent to the NOAA Western Regional Center.

Created in the early 1980’s The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Art Walk includes six outdoor artworks by nationally recognized artists. The most recognized sculpture is “A Sound Garden“. This piece is located at the eastern end of the NOAA campus and features organ-like pipes that make sounds depending upon wind direction and speed.

  • The Popular Art-4-Kids Table

Kids 12 and under can enter the show for free and have a great time trying out numerous art techniques.

 

Spring is Here: Get Your Home Ready!

Now that the days are a little longer, the sun a little warmer, and blossoms are starting to pop, you may suddenly have the urge to do some spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition; an opportunity to sweep the cobwebs from your home, clear out the dust that accumulated during the winter, and let the sunshine in.

For many people spring cleaning may seem tedious but it doesn’t have to be! Crank some tunes, get some room decor inspiration from Pinterest, and get out the garbage bags because it’s time to get cleaning.

  1. Make a list of what needs to be cleaned in each room.

Lists can help you stay organized — especially if you have a huge project on your plate. Walk through each room and write down what needs to get done. Writing a list will ensure you have all the cleaning materials you’ll need before getting started.

  1. Make your playlist.

Listening to music while cleaning can make things go by faster. Of course, you don’t have to make a playlist; you could always just turn the radio on to your favorite station.

  1. Get three bins and label them: trash, recycle and donate.

As you go through each room, make sure to declutter. Recycle old magazines and papers from the previous year. Put items you no longer use or need, like that book you bought 10 years ago but never read, in the donate box. Itemize your donate pile when finished because you may be able to deduct those donations on your taxes.

  1. Work on one room at a time.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you want to clean your entire home all at once. Refer to your list in step 1 and check each one off as you go. Tracking your progress will keep you working in an organized fashion and keep you going when you start to get tired.

  1. Set an amount of time to work on each room.

It’s easy to get distracted, looking at items you’ve forgotten or old photographs, and before you know it you’ve spent the entire day cleaning just one single room. Set a timer so you don’t fall into this trap and to give yourself small breaks throughout the process.

  1. Get some help.

Don’t do all the cleaning yourself! Recruit your kids, significant other or roommates to help out. Anyone who contributes to the mess should also help clean it.

  1. Start from the top and work your way down.

Use the law of gravity and clean from the top of the ceiling to the floor. Knock all the dusty cobwebs from the corner, wash the curtains, clean the windows, dust/vacuum the furniture, and finally vacuum the floor.

  1. Consider using natural cleaners.

Many chemical-based cleaners emit hazardous fumes. Some cleaners when mixed together can even emit toxic fumes that can seriously hurt you. Vinegar is a great substitute to use as a general household cleaning solution, and it is not nearly as expensive as packaged cleaning solutions.

  1. Be patient.

Take your time and let grimy surfaces, like the ones in your bathroom and kitchen, soak in your cleaning solution. Work on something else on your list while your cleaner does the hard work.

  1. Reward yourself at the end.

Having something to look forward to at the end of a long day of cleaning sure makes things go a lot faster. Plus, you worked hard and deserve it. Treat yourself.

Saint Patrick’s Day in Seattle

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day which means Corned beef and cabbage, green beer, and people dressed like deranged Leprechauns are everywhere. Despite the lack of a large population of Irish descendants in Seattle, we still have several great Irish Pubs that share the food, music and merriment of a pub you might find in our Sister City; Galway, Ireland. So if you can’t celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on the Emerald Isle – then do it in the Emerald City.

Murphy’s Pub

Family friendly until 9pm, Murphy’s offers a seat to your whole family – but your dog is welcome to stay there with you until closing time. The oldest Irish Pub in Seattle, Murphy’s was also the first to offer local microbrews when Redhook Brewery opened in 1982.

TRY: Black and Tan

Mulleady’s Pub

Being a restaurant with food that is much better than the usual pub fare, Mulleady’s will be serving a five-course St. Patrick’s Day dinner tonight. Calling ahead to see what the lines are like might be prudent.

TRY: Red Breast Collection Spirit Flight

Conor Byrne

A tried and true Irish Pub, the doors open today at noon and the live music starts at 1pm. Skillet Street Food will have a food truck parked outside all day – no word on what their menu might be.

TRY: Jameson and ginger cocktail

Owl N’ Thistle

Located on Post Alley in an old red brick building, on a rainy Seattle day, all you need to do is close your eyes to make believe you’re in Ireland. The doors open at 11am today with live music starting at 1pm. Post Alley is closed off in this small section so revelers can also hang outside.

TRY: Irish coffee

Kells

Arguably the most well-known Irish restaurant and bar in Seattle, so naturally their Saint Patrick’s Day event is huge. In fact, their festival is a three-day event from Thursday, March 16 through Sunday, March 19. The doors open at 9am and music starts at noon.

TRY: Guinness or Harp lager

 

Why We Love Living in Seattle: Lesser Known Parks Worth Discovering

Kubota_Garden

Kubota Gardens

Hidden in South Seattle, Kubota Garden is a stunning 20 acre landscape that blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. Master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials in his display garden in 1927. His vision has undeniably permeated the horticulture culture of the Puget Sound area and remains as one of the most enduring and beloved landscaping designs in countless home gardens.

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Parson’s Garden

It’s the most romantic park in the city, and still one of Seattle’s best-kept secrets. Stroll among the flowers, picnic on the lawn, or just climb up a tree for a private moment. The intimate and natural setting makes this a lovely spot for small gatherings, so don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a wedding during your visit.

sound garden

A Sound Garden

Located on a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Northeast Seattle, giant pipe-like structures murmur, whistle, and howl when the wind blows through them at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration center on Sand Point Way.

Designed and built by sculptor Douglas Hollis, it is one of several art installations to be enjoyed on the NOAA campus. And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes: the Seattle band Soundgarden was named after this inspiring piece.

Visiting the NOAA campus is free, but security is tight. Make sure to bring a photo ID with you in order to get a day pass, and be prepared to have your bags searched. You also have to park your car and hike about a half mile to get to the art installations, but the walk is well worth it.

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Thomas C. Wales Park

Once the site of a gravel pit, the Thomas C. Wales Park is an urban wildlife habitat and public art installation on Queen Anne. Adam Kuby’s five “Quarry Rings” that punctuate the site not only allude to the landscape’s history but create bird and nesting habitats within the park, as well. Walk the path through the park to get the best view of each of them.

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Lowman Beach Park

Located a few blocks north of the more popular Lincoln Park in West Seattle, this little gem will not disappoint you. It is a waterfront park with about 300 feet of beach area, plus an acre of land above it with tennis courts and swings. Take a picnic lunch or launch a kayak from the water’s edge.

2017 Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show

A fur-ocious competition with the most paw-some and glamour-ruff dogs outside of Paw-llywood

To say Seattle is a dog lover’s city is putting it mildly. Off leash dog parks, pubs that allow dogs, dog-centric parades, and doggie daycare centers have become the norm for our fair city. With all of these dog lovers in one city, naturally the arrival of the Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show is a highly anticipated event. This year it will take place on March 11 and 12 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

Signature events will include everyone’s favorite: best-in-breed, as well as agility and obedience trials. These events are fun for dog lovers to watch, but the list of demonstrations this year also sound pretty entertaining. These are events that are not judged; they are purely educational and entertaining. Topics range from obedience, fly ball, herding and other typical dog sport themes, but there are two unique demonstrations that really stand out:

First, Amy Trotter the Pig will be hogging the spotlight and demonstrating her remarkable obedience, rally and agility exercises.

Agility Pig

The second wildly popular event is the Dog and Person Dance Demonstration, which is just as fun and crazy as it sounds: choreographed dance performances between owners and their dogs. Hopefully the four-legged dance partners won’t have any trouble, considering they have two left feet.

dancing with dogs

For more information on the show and ticket sales, visit their website at:  Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show

Maximizing Your Curb Appeal

Never underestimate the importance of a pretty face.

When it comes to buying or selling a home, first impressions count. While major renovations or additions can affect your home’s value, you don’t need to add a new pool to improve your home’s desirability. In fact, improving your home’s curb appeal through relatively low-cost, but simple, changes, can significantly improve its standing in the market. A curbside “face lift” is always money well-spent, whether prepping to sell your house, increasing its equity-value, or just for your own benefit.

House numbers

Updated house numbers: Adding new, elegant numbering to your home’s address signage can create a flattering statement. Choose larger numbers in simple, unfettered designs for maximum appeal.

Wow

Keep it neat: The first glance at your home should reveal a neat, clutter-free exterior. Remove any standing objects, trash, or items in disrepair, and keep the exterior area as tidy as possible.

Front door

Try a new door: Though a new door is a costlier investment than, say, house numbers, it can spruce up your home’s exterior, and even help your home look newer. The cheapest option is to repaint it, and people are getting more adventurous with color choices for doors. Contrast is good, and some homes benefit from brightly colored doors. At minimum, keep your existing door clean and in tip-top condition by replacing knobs, hinges and doorbells if they’re in disrepair.

outdoor-lighting

Lighting: Good lighting can give your home’s exterior a cheap makeover and make first impressions more positive. Try path-side lighting in your entryway, or selective lighting to accentuate particularly beautiful landscaping, such as blooming flowers.

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Landscaping matters: Landscaping may be the single most important component of a home’s curb appeal. First things first: Plants in poor condition immediately detract from your home’s appearance, as do weeds. Commit to maintaining whatever landscaping you choose in prime condition. If your budget allows, you might consider a professional landscaping service. Homes with more “sophisticated” landscaped exteriors can be perceived as having a larger market value.

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Check Your Mailbox: In many neighborhoods, another first curb-appeal object is literally at the curb: the mailbox. It’s often not seen for what it is: an eyesore. You can spend a pile of money for a pile of bricks to dress up your mailbox, but a recent trend is less costly: unique and artsy mailboxes and posts. Visit an arts and crafts show and you may find hand-crafted mailboxes for a reasonable price.

North Town

Know your neighborhood: We don’t want to encourage you to worry about the proverbial Jones’, but knowing the context of your neighborhood is important to creating curb appeal. Create an exterior that complements the neighborhood and nearby houses.

How Often Should You Replace Household Items?

Some things get better as they age – like wine and cheese. However, this concept does not apply to many of your household items that you use on daily basis.

The experts tell us that if we don’t routinely purchase new mattresses, pillows, and kitchen sponges we could actually be doing damage to our health. From food storage containers to HVAC filters, you might be surprised how frequently you should be replacing these items.

Throw Pillows: Every Two to Four Years

A lot depends on the wear and tear, but if you clean the pillows inserts every four to six months and replace the covers if there’s a stain, you can get more mileage out of them. Plus recovering them gives your space a renewed sense of style.

Mattress: Every Seven Years

Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress every seven years. In seven years, the mattress will most likely not be providing you the most comfort and support. Keeping your mattress in a dust mite resistant cover will also keep your mattress fresh and less likely to cause allergy-like symptoms to develop.

Bed Pillows: Every Two Years

Just like your mattress, pillows are a haven for dust mites. Zipping your pillows into a pillow protector underneath your pillow covers will not only keep the pests at bay – it will protect it from oils from your skin and prolong the freshness of the pillows in between washing them.

Duvet: Every Five Years

In colder environments a thick comforter is a necessity for many months of the year. To keep them in good condition – and some style to your bedroom – it’s a good idea to use a duvet cover. While a cover might need to be replaced over time, it’s far more affordable than dry cleaning or purchasing a new down comforter.

Towels: Every Two to Three Years

Eventually, even the most expensive towels will get thin and lose their absorbency. Depending on what kind of water service you have, they might also get a little funky from well water or rough from chlorine.

If you notice they’re losing their absorbency—or worse, starting to smell—it’s time to donate them to an animal shelter and treat yourself to new towels.

Bath Mat: Every Two Years

This actually gets more wear and tear than your towels, but you should replace it for similar reasons: It’s less absorbent or it starts to fade or smell.

Kitchen Sponges: Monthly

Bathed in soap, water and food particles multiple times daily, sponges are pretty disgusting. No, really. Filled with bacteria and mold, they’re the top source of germs in your home, according to WebMD. You can extend the life by placing them into a dishwasher or soaking them in a little hot bleach water but if neither of these solutions appeals to you, consider replacing them altogether with a dish brush.

Plastic Food Storage Containers: Every Two to Five Years

Be on the lookout for scratches and cracks. If you spot one, toss the container now to steer clear of food spoilage or germs. If you are not fond of disposable containers for environmental and health reasons, glass food containers are readily available, easy to clean and safe for reheating in microwaves or ovens.

Smoke Detectors: Every Ten Years

If it chirps after you’ve replaced the batteries or there’s no sound when you perform the monthly test, it is time to replace them. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries in all your smoke detectors at the same time to avoid monthly trips to the hardware store.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Every Five to Seven Years

Most carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms are backed by a five- to seven-year warranty, but they typically emit a chirping or signal when they’re nearing the end of their useful life. This signal differs from the one that indicates a low battery. If there’s a problem with the unit, a model with a digital display will show an error message, and one without a digital display might flash LEDs in a particular pattern.

Heat Pump: Every 12 to 15 Years

Some experts say it’s all about energy efficiency, so replacing your heat pump every 10 to 12 years will keep your electric bills down. Others say maintain it well and keep it running until it literally dies on you and you can get another 3 to 5 years from it. Make sure you have the correct size for the heat and cooling load it will have to provide, based on square footage of your home.

HVAC filter: 1-3 months, Depending on Season and Usage.

If you are running your heat pump or forced air unit year-round, it is more likely to clog, so you should replace your filter once a month. This is especially important if you have pets or someone in your home who suffers from allergies or respiratory issues.

Fire extinguishers: Every 10 years

Portable extinguishers may lose pressure over time and become ineffective whether or not they’ve been triggered, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If your extinguisher is rechargeable, have it serviced every 6 years or when the pressure is low. (Look for service companies online under fire extinguishers.)

 

 

New Features vs. Character

We are often asked, “Which is the better buy, a newer or older home?” Our answer: It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. We decided to put together a list of the six biggest differences between newer and older homes:

The neighborhood

Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.

Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.

New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.

Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).

Design and layout

If you like Victorian, Craftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.

Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.

If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.

Materials and craftsmanship

Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).

However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).

Current condition

The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost.  But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.

On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.

Outdoor space

One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature tress and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.

Car considerations

Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-care garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.

Finalizing your decision

While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.