Open Houses: Saturday April 19th and Sunday, April 20th, 2014

easter eggThis Saturday, April 19th, is the annual Eggstravaganza and Flashlight Egg Hunts. Both Parks and Recreation activities will be held at Mercerdale Park. Eggs-travaganza! Lil’ Ones Egg Hunt, which begins at 5pm sharp, is for children ages 1-6. A special egg hunting area will set aside for toddlers ages 1-3, who might need a little help from Mom and Dad. The Flashlight Egg Hunt, for children ages 7 to 10, is held in the dark. The fun begins at 8:30pm sharp and remember to bring your flashlight to illuminate your search for the golden egg! Kids will need to bring their own baskets for both hunts, and the suggested donation is $5.00 per family.

Sold By Windermere Are you hunting for your new home? Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island agents are hosting open houses this weekend, to give you an opportunity to preview homes. On Mercer Island a Northend 2-story Traditional home, Southend Luxury Modern Home with panoramic waterviews and shared waterfront, and an Eastside Luxury View Home with 24′ of deeded moorage, will all be held open. In Enatai, a gorgeous contemporary Craftsman will be available to preview. In Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, a sophisticated Bay Vista View Condo will be held open. Details for each open house are below, by city.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Bellevue (Enatai)
$2,095,000 l 620552 l 3130 110th Ave SE l Video Tour l Larry Wiliams l Saturday, April 19th & Sunday, April 20th, 1-4pm

Mercer Island
$990,000 l 617047 l 3911 Greenbrier Lane l Video Tour l Nancy LaVallee l Sunday, April 20th, 1-4pm

$1,725,000 l 606426 l 7449 West Mercer Wy l Video Tour l hosted by Daniel Marinello l Saturday, April 19th, 2-4pm

$2,250,000 l 610392 l 4018 E Mercer Wy l hosted by Sharon Glatz-Scott l Saturday, April 19th, 1-4pm

Seattle (Belltown)
$668,000 l 618757 l 2821 2nd Ave #802 l Video Tour l Cherrie Lee l Saturday, April 19th & Sunday, April 20th, 1-4pm

Document Dilemma – How Long Do You Keep Those Papers?

This blog post discussing how long to keep documents was originally published by Jennifer back in 2010. It’s a popular post as tax time is wrapping up. Since April 15th is Tuesday(!), take a moment to read up on how long to keep documents. There may be quite few papers you can dispose of (ppssstt…. we are hosting our annual FREE recycle and paper shredding event June 14th. Bring those docs over to our office that Saturday to securely shred them!).

Ahhhh…the end of tax time. Now that you’ve filed another year’s return, it’s time to sort through that stack of old paperwork and shred what you can. Here are some quick tips on what you should keep and for how long…

 

Tax Returns: 7 years. This includes but is not limited to W-2 and 1099 forms, mortgage interest statements, property tax records, brokerage statements, and canceled checks or receipts for all deductions.

 

Home or Condo Sales: 6 years. Keep your HUD statement and other records documenting the sale.

 

Paycheck Stubs: 1 Year until you receive your annual W-2 from your employer. After confirming that the information on the stubs matches the W-2, shred the stubs. (If it doesn’t match, alert your employer immediately and get a corrected W-2, known as a W-2c).

 

IRA Contributions: Indefinitely. Make sure you keep the records if you make a nondeductible contribution to an IRA. When the time comes to withdraw funds, you will have proof that you’ve already paid taxes on this money.

 

Retirement/Savings/Investment Statements: Until you retire or close the account. Keep monthly or quarterly statements until you receive the annual summary, confirm that the statement amounts match up, then shred the monthlies or quarterlies.

Consumer Reports published a similar article that includes information on a broader range of documents, along with two helpful charts on what documents to keep at home and what documents to store in your safety deposit box.

We’d love to hear how you conquer the paper piles as you finished up tax season. Please share in the comment section below.

NWMLS April Press Release: March 2014, Lack of Inventory is Holding Back Sales

MC900432680Low inventory throughout our local housing market is still affecting our numbers. Closed sales were almost identical year-over-year, while pending sales experienced a drop for the same time period. When looking at month-to-month changes, pending sales for March were significantly higher than February 2014. There definitely is a continued eagerness to buy within our region.

When looking at new listings, year-over-year, there was a slight increase. However, well priced homes accounted for brisk sales activity and a 3.6 month supply, on average, throughout the NWMLS. King County, at 1.8 months of supply, and Snohomish County, at 2.2 months, are starved for inventory. With Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, indicating in her March 31st press conference that interest rates shall remain on the lower end for now, sellers may be unsure how to move forward. There are buyers eager to buy, but what are seller options for a new home? Windermere president, O.B. Jacobi, mentions the rising rents in our housing market that are also moving people to explore their options to purchase a home. If you are contemplating a home sale, but are unsure of how to proceed and plan for your next step, please consider speaking with a real estate broker. Meeting with a knowledgeable real estate professional is the best way to formulate a plan that best suits your lifestyle and goals.

Below are excerpts of the April press release. To read the whole press release, please click here.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported rising prices on fewer sales during March compared to a year ago, citing inventory shortages as the main reason.

Members of the MLS reported 9,183 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) during the month, about 300 fewer than the same period a year ago for a 3.2 percent drop. Compared to February, pending sales surged 26.7 percent in March, or by 1,936 transactions.

Closed sales were about the same as twelve months ago – 5,753 completed transactions last month, which compares to the year-ago total of 5,745 closed sales.

The median price on last month’s sales of single family homes and condominiums that sold across the 21 counties in the MLS report increased  6 percent, rising from the year-ago figure of $258,500 to last month’s price of $274,000.

Adequate supply to meet demand is a continuing concern, according to Northwest MLS representatives who commented on the latest numbers. Many industry leaders expect the imbalance to persist.

MLS members added 9,598 new listings to the database during March, slightly more than a year ago when they added 9,332 new listings. While last month’s additions were about 33 percent more than February when 7,234 new listings were tallied, brisk sales meant supply remained low.

At month end, the Northwest MLS reported 19,736 active listings of single family homes and condos across its service area. That’s up about 6.7 percent from twelve months ago.

The MLS said there is about 3.6 months of supply, which is down from the end of February when the service reported about 4.6 months of supply. King County has only about 1.8 months of supply, while Snohomish County was slighter better with 2.2 months of supply.

In general, industry analysts say four-to-six months is the supply needed for a balanced market.  “We need a housing supply of over 6 months to have a generally balanced market between home buyers and sellers,” stated Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of research at the National Association of Realtors®.

Commenting on March activity, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said he expects market conditions of low inventory, strong competition among buyers, steadily rising prices – and rising rents – will continue in the foreseeable future. “Rents are on the rise, and when this happens, there’s often a shift where people get priced out of the rental market and move into home ownership. This leads to more demand for homes and upward pressure on prices,” he stated.

Pending sales in Kitsap County were about even with a year ago, while 12 of the 21 counties in the MLS system reported declines.

The condominium component ended on a positive note during March, with pending sales rising nearly 7.9 percent from a year ago. MLS members reported 1,345 pending sales, up from the year-ago total of 1,247.

Closed sales rose 2.4 percent, but prices on those sales jumped 14.7 percent. The median sales price on last month’s condo sales was $220,000, up from twelve months ago when it was $191,750.

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 21,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.

NWMLS 4 county pending stats_March 2014

UPDATED! Washington is Reaching Out to Help Our Neighbors in Oso: Oso Strong!

Bj1xNUTCcAAbODXFor the last week, the community of Oso has been been in our hearts as residents contend with the devastating loss of their friends, neighbors and loved ones. The mudslide that covered areas east of Oso, to the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River on through to adjacent river valley, happened so suddenly and took out everything in its path.  The current official death toll is at 17 and expected to rise daily. In addition, residents of nearby Darrington and Arlington have been affected by the isolating closure of Highway 530.

Washington residents are reaching out to our Snohomish County neighbors and offering a helping hand. Below are Oso Relief Efforts that are providing funds and needed food and emergency products to the communities affected by the mudslide.

Windermere Foundation: Please consider donating to the Oso, Washington Relief Fund online at https://store.windermere.com/content/foundation-donation. The Windermere Foundation will be matching the first $5,000 in donations. 100% of the funds raised through the Windermere Foundation’s relief fund will go directly to the affected families through the Town of Darrington Relief Fund.

Mercer Island Cares Oso Much Mercer Island Cares Oso Much: UPDATE! As of April 5th, $13,000+ has been raised for the Oso Community!! A Fundraising Effort for All Mercer Island Businesses and Residents to
Aid Those Affected by the Oso Mudslide. Please participate in a Month of Giving, April 1st-30th. Businesses: “Big Love Business Challenge” Minimum donation $500. Residents: Donate, Volunteer, Spread the Word! Proceeds will benefit Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation Relief Fund, a 501 (c)(3). All donations are tax deductible and 100% of the money will go to Oso relief. Please make checks payable to The Cascade Valley Foundation Relief Fund. Cash or Check Drop-Off Location & Times: Au Courant Salon & The DEN7900 SE 28th St. #100, Mercer Island, Monday – Saturday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. For volunteer opportunities please contact Barb Hovsepian, barb@aucourantsalon.com or 206-232-1336.

WS4OSO: [ Event Completed ] UPDATE! As of April 5th, $18,000 (and counting) has been raised for the community of Oso!! According to the WS4OSO Facebook Page, the event was super successful. All the business participants appreciate your willingness to give. Watch on there for the final donation tally. Businesses in West Seattle will donation a percentage of their sales on Sunday, March 30th, to benefit the community of Oso. From the West Seattle Herald, “All donations will go to the Red Cross and the United Way Recovery Fund, to directly benefit the ongoing clean up and recovery efforts, as well as helping rebuild this community.” For the most up-to-date information about WS4OSO, please check their Facebook Page.

Washington State Combined Fund Drive: From CFD, “As you know, a massive mudslide rocked our fellow citizens in the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, killing at least eight people and leaving more than one hundred missing. In response to this devastating incident, the CFD has put together a special campaign for those affected. To be a part of the campaign, the charity must be a current active member of the CFD and have provided the CFD with written accounts of their efforts on the ground.” Some of the charities receiving funds to help with the Oso Relief Effort include the Red Cross, Snohomish County Search and Rescue, Hope Unlimited and The Soup Ladies.

Smith Brothers Farms: March 31st to April 11th, Smith Brothers Farms milkmen will be collecting food for Northwest Harvest to refill food bank shelves depleted by the relief efforts for the communities surrounding the Oso mudslide. Customers of Smith Brothers Farms can leave non-perishable food donations, or checks made out to Northwest Harvest placed in a sealed envelope marked Northwest Harvest Food Drive, in their porch box the night before their delivery. Their milkmen will collect and deliver the donations to Northwest Harvest.

On March 31st, Bartell Drug Stores started collecting funds for The Salvation Army to benefit the mudslide disaster fund. Shoppers can give their donations to their local Bartell cashiers. In addition, Bartell Drug Stores will match up to $10,000 in donations.

Helping Hands Ministries is collecting items to help the responders, like the National Guard Armory in Marysville, with needed supplies. They are accepting supplies at both their Bothell and Lake Stevens thrift stores. They have a running list of needed items on their Helping Hands Thrift Store Facebook Page.

The Herald of Everett compiled a list of verified Oso Relief Efforts occurring throughout Snohomish County. This comprehensive list includes a multitude of opportunities to donate to the Oso Relief Effort, government assistance, homeowner assistance, animal welfare assistance (including horses and other livestock), counseling help and potential relief housing.UPDATE: Most of the community events are over in this Herald article, but the ongoing relief effort information is still valid.

If you know of an upcoming Oso Relief Effort event, would you please share details about it in the comment section? I will update this blog post with the new events you share, and include web links when applicable. Thank you!

*The image in this blog post was created by Seattle photojournalist Joshua Trujillo, who has been covering the Oso mudslide. He shared the image on Twitter (@joshtrujillo).

30 Year Historical Interest Rate Chart, March 2014

Interest Rates - Historical March 2014 It’s time to check in with a 30 year historical interest rates chart. Above is both a 30 year and 13 month chart, courtesy of Jennifer Burton of Windermere Mortgage. Interest rates are creeping up – this week Freddie Mac reports 30 year fixed rates are at 4.40% (last week they were at 4.32%). 15 year fixed rate mortgages are also up, coming in at 3.42% (last week they were at 3.32%). While there is upward movement, our current interest rates are well below the 30 year average of 7.503%.

Case-Shiller Index numbers were released this week. Nationally, the numbers are up 13.2% for the 20-city composite house price index for the 12-month period ending in January 2014. Locally, the Seattle area annual gain was only up 11.9%, a bit lower than the estimate offered by Matthew Gardner in his weekly economic and real estate forecast. It’s likely that our slim housing inventory is the biggest culprit in the Case-Shiller Index numbers for our local real estate market.

It will be interesting to follow happenings with real estate in the Greater Seattle area as we move into spring. What are you starting to see in your neighborhood? Please share in the comment section below.

YOU Have the Power To Choose The Winners! Windermere Foundation’s Charity Challenge

Windermere FoundationTo celebrate the Windermere Foundation’s 25th Anniversary, a Charity Challenge was created to give away a total $125,000 worth of donations to deserving non-profits working within the communities Windermere Agents serve.

Windermere’s Charity Challenge features 21 non-profit organizations. Each was nominated to compete for five $25,000 contributions from the Windermere Foundation. The charities are divided into five geographic regions, with one victorious charity from each region. And YOU can help pick the five prizewinning charities by voting for your favorite nominees in each region. In fact, 19,0000+ people have already voted!

Leading up to the Charity Challenge, Windermere offices were asked to suggest non-profit organizations to compete in the Charity Challenge, and more than 150 nominations were received! Choosing the finalists was no easy task, but Windermere Foundation feels confident that the non-profits selected most closely align with the Foundation’s mission to support low-income and homeless families.

Please take a minute to vote for your favorite nominated charity for each region. The information below will help familiarize you with the organizations that are competing. The polls are open until  5pm on April 4, 2014. Remember, you can cast one vote every day until the Charity Challenge ends! VOTE HERE!

Windermere Foundation Charity Challenge Finalists:

WESTERN WASHINGTON

Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing (KITH) : Since 1989, KITH has helped homeless and at-risk families in East King County, by providing transitional and permanent housing, case management, and support services that are designed to help them move out of homelessness.

Hand in Hand: Hand in Hand provides a safe place for children to stay, giving case workers the time needed to find the best-fitting foster home for each child so that they do not have to move from family to family.

Boys and Girls Club of North Kitsap/South Puget Sound: The Boys & Girls Club provides afterschool and athletics programs to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

YouthCare: For 40 years, YouthCare has helped to build confidence and self-sufficiency for homeless youth in Seattle through programs that provide outreach, basic services, emergency shelter, housing, counseling, education, and employment training.

Northwest Harvest (Western Washington): Northwest Harvest is a hunger relief agency whose mission is to provide nutritious food to hungry people in a manner that respects their dignity, while fighting to eliminate hunger. All funds donated to NW Harvest will go to the three-square backpack program; ensuring children have the food they need throughout the weekend.

OREGON & SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

Corvallis Boys & Girls Club: The Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis provides afterschool and athletics programs to help school age youth reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

Friends of the Children of Portland:  Friends of the Children provide Portland’s most vulnerable children with intensive and long-term mentors. Mentors are full-time, paid professionals that take a preventive, early intervention approach that breaks the cycle of poverty and abuse by helping children in need overcome the many obstacles in their lives.

SideWalk of Thurston County: SideWalk is a volunteer operated organization on a mission to end homelessness. Through partnerships with local shelters and transitional housing programs in the area, they help place and screen applicants, with an eye on finding permanent solutions for as many people as possible.

Seashore Family Literacy Center:  Seashore Family Literacy promotes education, community, health—and life literacy—through numerous programs, including youth and adult tutoring, parenting classes, after-school activities, summer camps, a clothing bank, free meals and more. All programs are free and Seashore operates almost entirely with volunteer efforts.

Family YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties: Strengthening community is their cause, with a focus on programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

EASTERN WASHINGTON, IDAHO, & MONTANA

Family Promise of Greater Helena (Montana): Family Promise® of Greater Helena provides support and resources to children and their families in a homeless situation until the family can regain sustainable independence. Families have a place to stay, home cooked meals, transportation, and an advocate to help them get back on their feet.

St. Vincent DePaul Transitional Housing (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho): St. Vincent de Paul’s Transitional Housing Program provides both housing and supportive services to homeless individuals and families. Case managers work with the residents to help them move toward a long-term goal of self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.

Family Promise of Spokane: Family Promise works with homeless families to tailor individualized plans to help them take the necessary steps toward lasting independence. Guest families are hosted at congregations in Spokane’s network, where they are provided with meals, hospitality, and overnight accommodations for one week on a rotating basis.

Wenatchee Valley YMCA: The Wenatchee Valley YMCA provides programs and services for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children

Benton-Franklin Community Action Committee Housing Services (Tri-Cities):BFCAC provides housing services to low-income and homeless families in Benton and Franklin Counties. Most programs are aimed to assist clients with their road to self-sufficiency.

CALIFORNIA & HAWAII

Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui (Hawaii): The Boys & Girls Club of Maui provides afterschool and athletics programs to help school age youth reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante (California): The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante provides afterschool and athletics programs to help school age youth reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

The Community Resource Center in Encinitas (California): CRC is dedicated to helping women and children, individuals, and families live safe, self-sufficient lives by providing critical assistance in the areas of domestic violence services, food programs, and emergency and transitional housing assistance.

Riverside School of the Arts (California): The Riverside School of Arts in the Cesar Chavez Community Center teaches kids music, dancing and art. A combination of grants and partnerships help fund the program, with mostly volunteer instructors and donated materials.

ARIZONA, UTAH, & NEVADA

Yavapai Casa for Kids (Arizona): For over a decade, Yavapai CASA for Kids has helped provide for local children in foster care and support the work of CASA volunteers by offering special projects, activities and funding for the needs of children in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt.

South Davis Community Hospital (Salt Lake City, Utah): This specialty hospital offers expertise in complex pediatric and adult respiratory therapy services.

YMCA of Southern Nevada: The YMCA of Southern Nevada is committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility in Southern Nevada. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

Mostly Music in the Park: 2014 Line-up, Theme Is World Music

Mostly Music In The Park Concert Series 2014Are you ready for some summer heat? How would you like relax on a warm summer night while enjoying a picnic in the park, and listening to Bossa Nova, Reggae or Rhythm & Blues Guitar? On Thursday evenings during the months of July and August, right here on Mercer Island, you can do just that!

The City of Mercer Island and Mercer Island Arts Council recently released the 2014 lineup for Mostly Music In The Park. The selection committee theme for the 2014 concert series centered on music styles from around the world. For 16 years Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island has sponsored Mostly Music in the Park, a cherished island event. We’re honored to help bring free, fun-filled evenings of song and dance to our community. The 2014 Mostly Music in the Park Lineup is below, with links to each band’s online information. On concert nights, the music starts at 7pm and runs until 8:30pm.

July 24: Coco Loco ι Fun, High-energy Latin Music

July 31: Spirit of Ojah ι Rhythmic Dance Music Inspired By Ghanaian Highlife, Reggae And Soukous

August 7: Mark Whitman Band ι Foot-tapping American Rhythm & Blues Music

August 14: Rouge ι Romantic French Café Music

August 21: En Canto ι Lively Brazilian Dance Music