The Weekly Economic & Real Estate Forecast – 11/23/15 to 11/27/15

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Originally posted on The Windermere Economist:

What I Saw Last Week

Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, came in right in-line with my forecast with total CPI and core CPI (which excludes food and energy) rising by 0.2%.

CPITotal CPI is up 0.2% year-over-year on an unadjusted basis while core CPI is up 1.9%, which is steady with the year-over-year change seen in September. Total CPI picked up month-over-month on the back of higher energy costs (+0.4%), which featured a 0.4% uptick in the index for gasoline, and a 0.1% gain in the food index, which was bolstered by a 0.2% jump in the food away from home index.

The CPI data for October should contribute to the prevailing mindset that the Federal Reserve remains inclined to raise the target range for the fed funds rate at its December 15-16 meeting.

The NAHB Housing Market Index slid three points in November to a…

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Mercer Island Farmers Market: Holiday Market, Sunday November 22, 2015

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Mercer Island Farmers Market

iStock_000021580592_Full Sunday, November 22nd, is the the offical last market of Mercer Island Farmers Market’s 2015 season. Head on over to Mercerdale Park between 10 am and 3pm to shop locally for fresh fruit and vegetables, your cranberries for sauce and other tasty Thanksgiving dishes, and other items to make your Thanksgiving dinner special. You can also get a head start on your holiday gift shopping. Maybe plan to meet friends for lunch; there will be prepared food vendors there as well.

Here’s a glimpse of some of the vendors who will be at Sunday’s Holiday Market:

    • Alvarez Farms
    • Farmbox Greens
    • Growing Washington
    • Starvation Alley
    • Sky Valley
    • Jeb’s
    • Olsen Farms
    • Emily’s Handmade Soaps
    • Impwear

Mercer Island Farmer’s Market shared the following 2015 market season stats on their home page:

  • Hosted a total of 58 vendors, 23 of whom were farmer vendors.
  • Donated 1,500 pounds of produce to the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Food Pantry and St. Monica’s Church to support our Islander families in need.
  • Diverted two tons of waste per month from landfills through the Cedar Grove composting program.
  • Provided hands-on activities every week at the Children’s Table to teach children about nutrition and farming, led by Judy Witmer, expert early childhood and parent educator.

Congratulations to all the people who make the MIFM happen each year. We sincerely appreciate your efforts. Cheers to some respite before you start working on the 2016 market season!

Windermere Living, Winter 2015

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Windermere Living

The Windermere Living Magazine, Winter 2015 is hot off the presses!! The featured homes are quite lovely and you’ll enjoy reading the article content. Below is a glance at what’s waiting for you in Windermere Living’s pages:

  • Faces & Places, page 6
  • Luxe Trends, page 14
  • Exploration, page 15
  • Spots We ♥ Right Now, pages 24-25
  • Windermere Mercer Island brokers, pages 30-39
  • Market Report, pages 40-41
  • Jet Set, pages 52-53

Infographic: Go-To Tools For Real Estate Agents

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Infographic / Real Estate

I recently asked the brokers from Windermere Mercer Island what were the 5 go-to items they keep in their car that come in handy when they are working with their clients. I prefaced my inquiry with a request — their responses needed to be those “must never leave home without them” things that make them look like rockstars during a long day of showing, or when they are getting a listing ready to photograph, or have saved the day at an open house.

The responses fell into interesting categories: the tools (actual tools, like multi-tools, screw drivers, hammers), the clean team ( hand sanitizers, wet wipes, towels), keep the energy going (snacks and beverages), into every life some rain must fall (umbrellas and sensible shoes)… well, you get the idea. While iPads, smart phones and chargers were incredibly important components on a good number of “rockstar” lists, just as many included old school paper, pens and pencils. First aid items like band aids, and small first aid kits, make it into the cars of a good number of our brokers. The first aid kit of our broker who has also been a nurse is notably comprehensive. One broker replied that he has his “Plan A” group of go-to items, and a “Plan B” group, just in case it’s an extra long day out in the field.

Below is a handy infographic highlighting the top 6 tools-of-the-trade WindermereMI brokers keep in their cars all the time, along with the most unusual items they carry along.

I’d love to hear from other real estate brokers, as well. What do you carry in your car kit that helps you present the best impression to your clients? Please share in the comment section.
Tools Of The Trade

Thank you to all the brokers who helped me create this blog post:
Andrea Iverson, Robyn Kimura Hsu, Kathryn Lerner, Kelly Weisfield, Anni Zilz, Erin Ewing, Sandy Yin, Tom Fine, Seamus Pelan, Paul Tiscornia, Nancy LaVallee, Lara Baca, Marianne Parks, Terry Donovan, Kathryn Buchanan, Lis Brown, Rachel Schindler, Chadd Dierickx, Julie Wilson, Cherrie Lee, Andrew Jackson, Denise Coe, Nicole Demers-Changelo, Brian Rosso, Bonnie Sanborn

Mercer Island Bike Drive: 12 to 3pm on December 6, 2015

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Community Happening / Spirit of Mercer Island

Bike Drive 2015 Poster_editedDo you happen to have a bike or two that you don’t use anymore taking up space in your garage? Windermere Mercer Island and Bike Works are here to help. Together we can ensure those bikes can be given a new life, and support an incredible local community program at the same time!

On December 6th, from 12-3pm, you can bring your bicycles, bike parts and bike accessories to Windermere Mercer Island’s office at 2737 77th Ave SE, Mercer Island and the folks from Bike Works will do the rest. The most needed items are bikes in good condition, including 20″ wheel BMX style bikes, 24″ & 26″ wheel mountain bikes, and road bikes of any size (the smaller sized ones would be especially awesome!!).

What will happen with these donations, besides creating more space in your garage? Bike Works uses, or recycles, all the bikes and parts collected at donation drives just like the one we’ll be hosting. Every year, Bike Works collects 4000+ bicycles that they refurbish or recycle. Bikes in good condition will be repaired and tuned up in the programs the non-profit offers, and then make their way back into our local community. Parts are harvested from the unusable bikes. Left over pieces are then recycled, or upcycled, through partnerships with businesses and donations to artists. To date, Bike Works has diverted approximately 120,000 lbs. of bikes and bike parts from local landfills.

If you don’t know much about Bike Works’ mission, please take a minute to view the video below. They are a non-profit offering an amazing array of classes and programs as part of their mission to build sustainable communities through youth education and promoting bicycling. They provide people of all ages opportunities to learn new skills, develop leadership qualities, give back to the Seattle area community and share the love for riding bikes with others who are in need of a bicycle.

Their youth programs include Earn-a-Bike After School Classes, where participants spend 8 weeks learning bike repair skills by working on bicycles that are then given back to the community. After completing the requisite amount of community service hours, kids who take part in the Earn-a-Bike program can pick a bike to refurbish for themselves. Youth can also participate in summer camps conducted by Bike Works – bikes and other equipment for camps are all provided by Bike Works. UGottaGetABike and Kids Bike-O-Rama are two of their programs that match up low-income kids with bikes and helmets (often from bikes refurbished by Earn-A-Bike kids!). The Street Burners Club is available for kids who graduate from Earn-A-Bike and Summer Camps, meeting on a regular basis for bike rides. Those kids who have not racked up enough community service hours yet to put together their own bikes can still participate in Street Burners Club using bikes provided by Bike Works.

Adults can participate in a plethora of repair classes. They can also join in the twice-a-week Volunteer Repair Parties (VRP). At VRP, participants repair and tune up bikes that will be distributed through Bike Works’ community shop or twice yearly Kids Bike-O-Rama. Adult volunteers complete many much-needed tasks to keep the non-profit going, including being staff at donation events like we’ll be hosting December 6th. If you are age 18 or over, and in need of bicycle transportation, you can apply for Bikes-For-All which pairs low-income adults with a commuter bike outfitted with lights, and provides a bike lock plus a helmet. Bikes-For-All also equips each person who receives a bike with important, quality safety information.

Bike Works runs a bike shop where you can purchase quality used bikes at affordable prices, along with used and new bike parts and accessories. The money generated from bike shop sales is used to fund all their wonderful programs.

We look forward to seeing you at our Mercer Island Bike Drive on December 6th! But if for some reason you can’t make it, but would like to still donate a bike, click here to see where else you can drop off your Bike Works donation around Seattle and the Eastside.

The Weekly Economic & Real Estate Forecast – 11/16/15 to 11/20/15

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Originally posted on The Windermere Economist:

What I Saw Last Week

October U.S. Retail Sales were weaker than I had anticipated and rose by a paltry 0.1%. (I had forecast a rise of 0.3%.) Core sales (which exclude car sales) were also weak and expanded by just 0.2% – I had forecast a rise of 0.4%. Results for September were also revised lower with total sales unchanged (from 0.1%) and sales excluding autos revised to -0.4% (from -0.3%).

Retail SalesThe modest increase in retail sales followed a robust 0.6% increase in aggregate earnings which I had expected would have provide greater impetus for shoppers to head out to the stores, but this was clearly not the case. What it tells me is that consumers continue to show a propensity to save money and/or pay down debt versus spending it more liberally on goods.

Consumer Sentiment in early November rose to 93.1 from a final reading of 90.0…

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NWMLS November 2015 Press Release: Brokers Expect Only A Modest Holiday Slowdown

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NWMLS Press Release

NWMLS press release photo According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) November press release, last month the 4-county Puget Sound region encompassing King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties experienced the highest volume of pending sales for an October in a decade. Low inventory is still a major issue with our housing market, however. For 19 of the 23 counties in the NWMLS service area the number of pending sales outpaced the number of new listings during October.

Closed sales dipped below 8,000 homes for the first time since April 2015, and is attributed to our low inventory woes. “Given the severe shortage of homes for sale, I’m not surprised to see that both pending and closed sales slowed down last month,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. The months of supply for the whole NWMLS is 2.33 months, well below the target of 4-6 months supply. King and Snohomish counties are both below 2 months’ worth of supply.

The growth in home prices in the great Seattle area is getting national press. Closed sales area-wide saw a year-over-year increase of 9.7%. Our healthy economic conditions and influx of relocating employees is a huge factor in making our single family home market so blazing hot! Without more inventory to sell, however, there is a whole segment of eager buyers that are missing out on home ownership and sellers missing out on potentially quick sales of their homes.

Below are experts of the November press release put out by the NWMLS. To read it in its entirity, please click here.

With holidays approaching, real estate brokers usually expect a slowdown as buyers and sellers shift their attention elsewhere. “This year is different,” say some industry leaders.

Newly released MLS figures for October show pending sales are up 7.8 percent from a year ago, rising from 8,643 transactions to 9,317. Nearly half the counties in its service area reported double-digit gains in the number of mutually accepted offers. For the four-county Puget Sound region encompassing King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Northwest MLS members tallied 6,977 pending sales, the highest October volume in a decade.

For 19 of the 23 counties in the latest MLS report the number of pending sales surpassed the number of new listings added to inventory. System-wide there were 8,094 new listings that came on the market during October, about the same as 12 months ago when members added 8,102 listings. With those additions (the fewest monthly total since February) inventory at the end of the month stood at 18,068 listings, well below the year-ago total of 23,501 for a 23.1 percent year-over-year drop.

Closed sales rose 7 percent from a year ago, increasing from 7,257 to 7,769. Last month’s total slipped below 8,000 closings for the first time since April, with some brokers citing inadequate inventory as a factor.

“Given the severe shortage of homes for sale, I’m not surprised to see that both pending and closed sales slowed down last month,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.The MLS reported 2.33 months of supply area-wide, well below the 4-to-6 months figure many in the industry say indicates a balanced market. The months of supply figure has not been above three months since February when the figure was 3.56.

Both King and Snohomish counties had less than two months of supply. The most acute shortages are in King County with only 1.29 months of supply; Snohomish has 1.91 months of supply.

… the gap between supply and demand [ is not sustainable and will promote a market where buyers pay over market value for a home. Multiple offers are being seen more often outside of Seattle and  Bellevue neighborhoods, where they have been most typical. Buyers are looking farther out for a suitable home they can afford.  They are sacrificing distance to work and city amenities for a quality home and good schools.]

Open houses for new listings draw decent traffic…[while] homes that have been on the market for more than 60 days have little traffic unless they have had a price reduction. [There is a segment of sellers who chose to price their home too high for their area, due to the press about how hot our local real estate is. Unfortunately their homes have languished on the market.]

… Seattle area’s home price gains are outpacing the nation’s, earning the city No. 1 ranking on a recently released list of the hottest single-family housing markets in the U.S… strong demand, rising prices, low interest rates and the area’s healthy economic conditions [are credited] as reasons for the strength.

2016 [is expected ] to be “another fantastic year for sales activity.” Noting home sales activity is historically lower during this time of year, [it’s] believe(d)  activity this winter will be “red hot” in price ranges where inventory is low. [It’s] believe(d) continued low interest rates and job growth will ratchet up demand as spring approaches.

Despite general optimism among Northwest MLS leaders, some pullback is anticipated.

Jacobi, who last month commented on the market being on the cusp of a slowdown, faults scarce inventory. “I expect this trend (of slower pending and closed sales) will likely continue through the end of the year due to the lack of available inventory for buyers.” Jacobi also said appreciation may start to slow over the winter months, adding, “but overall the housing market continues to benefit from our thriving local economy.”

[There is frustration within the multiple offer situation, and getting transactions to closing can be a struggle.]  …failed sales [are attributed] to several factors including low appraisals, financing issues, and an increase in sellers and buyers not being able to come to terms on inspections.

Prices on last month’s closed sales jumped nearly 9.7 percent from a year ago. Area-wide the median price for sales of single family homes and condos that closed during October was $318,000. That compares to a price of $290,000 for the same month a year ago.

For single family homes (excluding condos), year-over-year prices increased nearly 8.4 percent, rising from $299,950 to $325,000. In King County, the median price for a single family home was $480,000, rising 7.3 percent from the year-ago figure of $447,250, but dropping from September’s median price of $490,250.

The MLS reported strong sales in the condo segment, with both the volume and prices rising by double digits. Area-wide, closed sales rose 13.2 percent, from 990 units to 1,121. Prices surged 16.2 percent, jumping from $228,500 a year ago to last month’s median price of $265,500.

Condo inventory is also depleted with the number of active listings down nearly 26 percent from a year ago. MLS figures show only about 1.6 months of inventory area-wide; in King County there is less than 1.2 months of supply.

Looking ahead, [it’s] expect(ed) the area’s housing market will continue on a “gradual upward trend” into 2016. [Rising rent prices will be a motivating factor in bringing more renters into the housing market. And as we move into 2016 both housing prices and interest rates may increase, which could lead to some buyers continuing to feel the pressure and stress of multiple offer situations.]

4 county pending sales Oct 2015
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 23,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.


The Weekly Economic & Real Estate Forecast – 11/09/15 to 11/13/15

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Originally posted on The Windermere Economist:

What I Saw Last Week

U.S. Construction Spending in September rose by 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted rate of $1.09B. I had forecast a rise of 0.5%.

Construction SpendingThe uptick in total construction spending flowed from a 0.6% increase in private construction and a 0.7% increase in public construction spending.

Total construction spending in September was up 14.1% year-over-year and shows no sign of letting up just yet.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service released data on home transactions in Washington State in October and there were few surprises.

MLS1MLS2MLS3Given the severe shortage of homes for sale, I was not surprised to see both pending and closed sales slow in October. I expect this trend will likely continue through the end of the year due to the lack of available inventory for buyers. Home prices are holding strong thanks to all the competition out there amongst buyers, many of whom are willing…

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The Industry is Changing. Windermere Agents Stay Ahead.

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Real Estate

Lisa Lewis:

Legal Clock Hour Class_WindermereMIBrokers from Windermere Mercer Island participated in this awesome class taught by Demco Law Firm. It’s so reassuring to be able to stay in touch with current real estate issues, and being a part of Windermere Real Estate makes it so easy. Broker education is such an important part of the Windermere company.

Photos in collage provided by Cherrie Lee and Erin Ewing.

Originally posted on Windermere Eastside:

Last week, over 100 Windermere Real Estate agents gathered for a preventative education class from the legal experts of Demco Law Firm.

Lars Neste and David Daniels proved again why Demco Law is an asset to Windermere brokers and their clients in this legal class focused on keeping everyone up-to-date on current real estate laws. Lars and David are part of a team that is an asset to Windermere brokers and their clients. They are sensible, have practical knowledge and experience, and are accessible to all Windermere agents.

Along with these preventative educational classes comes a sense of camaraderie among Windermere brokers. Real estate can be a lonely profession where agents often spend most of their time independently. Brokers, when is the last time you were in the room with over 100 productive and professional brokers? We bring that atmosphere to each of our educational classes and seminars. Our…

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Premier Networking Meeting Look Book For October 2015

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In October, over 120 Windermere agents from all over Western Washington gathered at Overlake Golf & Country Club to delve into the latest updates and trends involving the waterfront housing market. Brokers also presented their newest luxury listings to this generous sized crowd.

Property appraiser, Alan Pope, was the guest speaker. He examined the current waterfront appraisal process and trends in this particular housing market.The waterfront panel featured brokers Kelly Weisfield, Margo Allan, Anna Riley and Barbara Cahill. They covered waterfront information for Mercer Island (Weisfield), Lake Sammamish (Allan), the Eastside (Riley) and Seattle (Cahill). Many of the waterfront statistics were compiled by Windermere Mercer Island owner, Julie Barrows, for

Check out the look book for a snapshot of the October meeting, and to preview the gorgeous listings featured at the event. Enjoy!