Open Houses this Weekend: February 25th & 26th

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Community Happening / Real Estate / Our Open Houses

Are you ready for Spring all ready?

This morning I woke up to a fresh dusting of… snow! Perhaps unlike others, I am overly ready for the sunshine and light rain showers that usually follows early Spring. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I am going to get that this weekend… If only there was another way…

Well, there is!

This weekend, the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show is  staying at the Washington State Convention Center! Various events will be held at the NW Flower & Garden Show, including City Living, where patio garden displays offer both practical and whimsical ideas and inspiration for city dwellers living in apartments or condominiums; Garden Wars will be broadcasted on television, where local TV and Radio personalities compete to create the best garden; the Vintage Garden Market allows patrons to explore a plethora of booths and vendors for beautiful and unusual sale items; and, finally, the Tasting Corner, where a gourmet market place showcases organic foods and beverages.

Need help navigating downtown? Check this out!

Curious about what you may learn, find, or explore? Take a peek at the Garden Show Blog here!

Windermere Mercer Island agents will be hosting many open houses this weekend, both on the island (Mercer Island) and off. Feel free to join us and explore your new home, and meet some great people!

Mercer Island

$439,950 ♦ 1075401 ♦ 3218 80th Avenue Southeast #418, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ Kathryn Lerner ♦ Saturday, February 25th & Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm

$1,167,000 ♦ 1078932 ♦ 2204 61st Avenue Southeast, Mercer Island ♦ Nikki Demers-Changelo ♦ Saturday, February 25th 12pm-2pm (Hosted by Anni Zilz); Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm (the Sirianni Group)

$1,595,000 ♦ 1078687 ♦ 3308 81st Place Southeast, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ Denise Coe ♦ Saturday, February 25th & Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm

$1,742,000 ♦ 1063397 ♦ 5830 West Mercer Way, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ Cherrie Lee & Robyn Kimura-Hsu ♦ Saturday, February 25th 1pm-4pm (Hosted by Tom Fine); Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm (Hosted by Chad Dierickx)

$2,198,500 ♦ 943296 ♦ 7436 West Mercer Way, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ Terry Donovan & Daphne Donovan ♦ Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm

$2,275,000 ♦ 1068295 ♦ 6825 Southeast 32nd Street, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ R2 (Rachel Schindler & Robyn Kimura-Hsu) ♦ Sunday, February 26th 1pm-3pm (Hosted by Anni Zilz)

$2,315,000 ♦ 1068307 ♦ 6829 Southeast 32nd Street, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ R2 (Rachel Schindler & Robyn Kimura-Hsu) ♦ Sunday, February 26th 1pm-3pm (Hosted by Anni Zilz)

$2,588,000 ♦ 1078300 ♦ 7227 93rd Avenue Southeast, Mercer Island ♦ Video Tour ♦ Robyn Kimura-Hsu & Galya Kirstine ♦ Saturday, February 25th & Sunday, February 26th 11pm-4pm


$655,000 ♦ 1081099 ♦ 2021 1 st Avenue #TE, Seattle ♦ Video Tour ♦ Emily Roberts ♦ Saturday, February 25th & Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm

$600,000 ♦ 1077718 ♦ 1749 Northwest 59th Street #B, Seattle ♦ Video Tour ♦ Jay Agoado ♦ Saturday, February 25th & Sunday, February 26th 1pm-4pm

Top 2017 Cost VS Value Report project for the Pacific Region: Engineered Stone Veneer

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Homeowner Tips / Houzz / Real Estate

Including stone on your home’s exterior adds texture and interest to your house. And with today’s engineered stone veneer options, the installation is not as expensive or invasive as it used to be. In fact, this particular task placed in the top 3 projects listed in the Cost VS Value report for the Pacific Region, with 106.7% of the project cost recouped!

Houzz Contributor, Bud Dietrich, authored a Story about the potential stone has for improving the appearance of your home. He features a variety of architectural styles where stone has been added to the exterior to enhance its aesthetic. Stone can be used to add color, for emphasis, used as a decorative. Engineered stone veneer is so versatile, it’s even come indoors for use in kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms!

Top 2017 Cost VS Value Report project for the Pacific Region: Upscale Garage Doors

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Homeowner Tips / Houzz / Real Estate

Adding upscale garage doors to your home can definitely give your home an instant facelift, increasing its curb appeal immensely. In fact, upscale garage doors are the second highest project in the Cost VS Value Report for the Pacific Region. The return on investment for adding garage doors tops out at 110.8% recouped!

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill, compiled this helpful Story with the need-to-know facts about replacing your garage doors. Weather should not be too much of a factor, as long as it’s not freezing out and you are not painting. This is a job that can be tackled by a professional installer in the matter of a few hours. Included in this helpful guide is information on door materials, types of doors, project length including order time for custom doors, and projected costs.

Top 2017 Cost VS Value Report project for the Pacific Region: Attic Insulation

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Homeowner Tips / Houzz / Real Estate

Attic insulation topped the 2017 Cost VS Value report for the Pacific Region. The return on investment for this project is 122.8% of the price recouped!

Houzz Contributor, Mariana Pickering, put together an informative Story covering insulation basics. She discusses how heat moves through a home, what materials can best help retain heat within our homes, and ways to make sure your insulation is being effective.

Also covered is the R-value of thermal insulation, what it means, and how the U.S. measurement of R-value differs from other countries.

2017 Cost VS Value Report

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Homeowner Tips / Real Estate

webheadercostvsvalue-2017The 2017 Cost VS Value Report compiled by Remodeling Magazine is celebrating a milestone anniversary, with its 30th year of publication!

The Cost VS Value report is so popular because it not only shows detailed analysis of best projects for the return on your investment when you sell your home, but the report is also broken down by region. Within this year’s report there were 3 noteworthy take-aways:

  1.  Exterior “curb appeal” improvements generally pack a bigger payback than interior projects
  2.  Inexpensive improvements are easier to recoup than pricier remodeling projects
  3. Replacement projects usually net more than remodeling/expansion projects—which may explain the relatively low returns on kitchen and bath remodels/additions


feb17wreHere in the Pacific Region, three projects rose to the top – attic insulation, upscale garage doors, and adding engineered stone veneer. All 3 projects recouped over 100% of their project costs. Conversely, the three least profitable projects – an outdoor living room, bathroom addition, and upscale composite deck – recouped between 60% to 65% of their costs.

This week on Mercer Island Pulse we’ll be exploring the top three remodeling projects, via Houzz Stories, that produce the best returns in our region. Stay tuned for the first post discussing attic insulation.

If you would like to explore the full Pacific Region report covering a total of 29 projects, including project descriptions and scope, click here!

Mercer Island Spotlight: New Seasons Market Talk N’ Shop

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Mercer Island Spotlight / Spirit of Mercer Island

20161109_095717-01New Seasons Market has been such a nice addition to Mercer Island Town Center. They offer a great shopping experience, a handy place to grab lunch, and they have already been partnering with local non-profits.

A service New Seasons Market offers that you might not be familiar with is access to a store nutritionist. Tran Hoang is the nutritionist on staff at the Mercer Island store. She works full-time at the island location, as it is still the only New Seasons in King County . The shoppers here can benefit from Tran’s expertise full-time! In the Portland area, the store nutritionists share their time between locations.

The New Seasons nutritionists teach classes, provide their store picks each quarter, and host free Talk N’ Taste events. They also will meet with shoppers for one-on-one Talk N’ Shop appointments, where you can explore the store together to learn about what foods might be beneficial for a health concern you may have.

tran2I recently met with Tran for a Talk N’ Shop experience. This service is provided by New Seasons Market for free – you just need to make a reservation with Tran via their online calendar. You can select a preferred topic for your appointment from a drop down menu – I chose an anti-inflammatory diet. After I made my reservation, I received an email confirmation with a 3-day diet journal that I could complete and email to Tran prior to our meeting. The process was very easy!

On my Talk N’ Shop day, I met Tran at the Solutions Counter in the front of the store. We went over to the store’s seating area to talk about my diet, and any concerns I had. Tran shared a bit about her background. She grew up on the East coast and came to the Portland area to attend graduate school. Her nutritionist degree work consisted of 80% of her time in the classroom, and 20% of her time in the kitchen learning ways to prepare food. She shared that if food is healthy but does not taste good, it is hard to get excited about it. Food is meant to be experienced and enjoyed – it’s an important part of life. Tran loves to share her excitement about eating healthy, delicious food and it showed during our time together.

20170118_130718 20170118_130820After asking me some questions about my current diet, Tran explained different aspects of an anti-inflammatory diet that might be beneficial for my health. She had this nifty folder prepared with recipes, shopping lists, pamphlets, rack cards, and a few samples.  She discussed how avoiding foods from the nightshade family – tomatoes, potatoes, chilies (which I eat a lot!) – may help me feel some relief from joint aches I get when my allergies flare up. We covered healthy fats that could be added to my diet, and even discussed ways I could change up my weekly Taco Tuesday meal to avoid using both tomatoes and corn, another food that may cause inflammation.

After the talk portion of our appointment, Tran took me on a tour of the store. She made sure to show me the tortillas New Seasons Market carries that have no corn or wheat in them. I took home the coconut and cassava tortillas to try – and they are delicious! She answered all my questions about the store sections and the products we looked at – and if she did not have an answer available, like the one I asked about the bone broth they carry in the refrigerated section next to the meat counter, she said she could look into it and get back to me. Which she did the next day by email!

If you haven’t had a chance to meet Tran yet, she hosts a Talk N’ Taste at the Mercer Island store each Thursday. She is also teaching a series on Saturdays called January Jumpstart. Stop by and say hello. She is friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. And definitely take advantage of the Talk N’ Shop experience if you have a dietary concern or want to make some lifestyle changes. There is a comprehensive range of topics available to discuss, even eating on a budget and maternal health.  And if the nutrition topic you would like to cover is not on the list, you can choose other and explain what you’d like to discuss.

This is such a cool service New Seasons Market offers its shoppers. The topic of nutrition, and how it applies to our health, is a complex subject. It is so nice know we can stop by to ask Tran a question, or take advantage of a plethora of resources to increase our knowledge in this area. It’s one more reason to be excited to have one of New Seasons’ store locations right here on Mercer Island!


13 Tips to Jump-Start the New Year!

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Homeowner Tips / Real Estate

So, it’s January (almost February). What now? It’s the beginning of a fresh and exciting year, but we all want to start off productive right? A new year for new goals to make and accomplishments to achieve. The big question is: where do you start?

Well, the answer is vast. We are all so different, with different goals, quirks, and ideas of where we want to be a year from now, going into 2017. So, down below, in the spirit of including everyone, I have included a few different categories and some Winter-early-Spring tips!

Home Maintenance:

  • If you have a monthly, seasonal, or quarterly maintenance calendar, check it out! if you don’t have one, consider creating one for your household.
  • Consider updating your insurance. If you have made any big purchases, upgrades, or additions this last year, consider talking with your home-insurance agent to see if there are options for covering your new toys!
  • Check for storm damage, and consider fixes! Especially with the roller-coaster of a season we’ve been having, taking a walk around the outside of your home and property can’t be a bad thing! Who knows, maybe you’ll find something before it becomes and issue!
  • Clean out your rain gutters! I don’t know about you, but my home is surrounded by trees – meaning they always get filled with debris after a big storm! That’s why I clean out my gutters (at least) four times per year. Now, that may seem a bit overboard, but it may extend the life of the gutters, and reduce risks to both my house and the Underground French Drain system.

Spring-into-Spring Cleaning!

  • Handling holiday cleanup can be messy and time consuming. But when it’s done, you’ll feel a whole lot better! Taking a day, or eve a few hours a week, to clean up and put your home back together can make a world of refreshing difference.
  • Create a list of things you want to clean out this Spring (for Spring cleaning). My list includes making numerous trips to Goodwill, tearing apart my extra closets (where accumulated stuff has been hanging out), and
  • Do a deep-clean declutter! For cleaning-bugs, this one will be a real treat! Take a peek, or a walk, around your home and look for things you either don’t use anymore, have never used, or don’t plan on using in the future. You could sell it on trading or resale websites, or just donate it a cause. Donating helps both you (get rid of it with minimal effort) and helps the other party who may be needing that exact item!

Remember, if you don’t want to do any of this – you don’t have too! Calling in a pro may cost more, but it frees up time for you to do the other things you love!

January Gardening Tips:

  • Recycle an old holiday tree into mulch for your garden! You can also use them as a DIY bird-feeding station.
  • Start sprouting! Sprouting now is a great way to jump-start your harvest season!
  • If you haven’t already, prune your rose and fruit bushes, and consider trimming trees and hedges.
  • Organize your seeds and create a list of seeds you would like to order, or purchase.
  • Consider servicing your tools, such as your lawnmower, weed-wacker, and tree trimmer; and clean your everyday gardening tools, like your shovel, rakes, and held tools.
  • On the warmer days, venture out and pull weeds out of you garden. You may consider spraying for moss, tidying borders, and take steps to ensure healthy and nutritious soil.

So, there you have it! Some tips for staying busy in the new year! While these are great places to start, creating your own list will help you cater to what your home needs. What would you like to accomplish in the upcoming year?

3 Reasons to Sell Your House Now

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Windermere Eastside


Thinking about selling your home? With inventory at historic lows, prices at or near record highs, and multiple offers common, it’s a perfect time to list your home. Here’s why:

1) The market significantly favors sellers.

Last month, 53.6% of homes sold in fewer than 15 days. And 39% of homes sold for over asking price.

2) Experts believe interest rates are on the rise. Higher interest rates decrease the amount buyers can pay for a property- and decrease your profits.

The median price for a home sold on the Eastside is $803,500. At today’s interest rate of 4.2%, that would equal a monthly mortgage payment of $3,929. If interest rates increase just a half a percent to 4.7%, that same monthly payment allows a buyer to purchase a home worth just $757,400. The bottom line: As interest rates increase, your pool of buyers decreases.

3) Historically, February through June…

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First Time Buyers, Millennials, and What to Expect in 2017

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Real Estate

Sold By Windermere
Originally posted on Windermere Blog, author Matthew Gardner

I believe that the big story for the coming year will be first-time home buyers. Since they don’t need to sell before purchasing, their reemergence into the market ensures that sales will continue to increase, even while inventory is limited. Thirty-one percent of buyers currently in the real estate market are first-time buyers, but it would be more ideal if that figure was closer to 40 percent.

Why don’t we have enough first-time buyers in the market? With Baby Boomers working and living longer, we aren’t making much room for Millennials to start their careers. Plus, the major debt that the younger generation owes on student loans ($1.3 trillion today) hugely impacts the housing market. But the bigger issue is lack of down payments. Before the recession, many Millennials could look to their parents for help with down payments; however, these days that is not as much the case.

I would also contend that the notion of Millennials being a “renter generation” is nonsense. In a National Association of Realtors survey, 75 percent of them said that buying a home would be the most astute financial decision they’d ever make; however, 80 percent said they don’t think they could qualify for a mortgage. I do believe that Millennials will eventually buy, but they’re delaying their purchasing decisions by about three years when compared to previous generations, which is about the same amount of time they’re waiting to start families as well.

Mortgage rates have risen rapidly since the election, and unfortunately, I do not see a turnaround in this trend. That said, they will remain cheap when compared to historic averages.  Expect to see the yield on 30-year mortgages rise to around 4.7% by the end of 2017. For those who have grown accustomed to interest rates being at historic lows, this might seem high, but it’s all relative.

If I were to gaze all the way into 2018, my crystal ball takes me to the dreaded “R” word. Like taxes and death, recessions are another one of those unwanted realities that inevitably comes to visit every so often. Irrespective of who was voted into the White House, my view remains the same: prepare to see a business cycle recession by the end of 2018, but, rest assured, it will not be driven by real estate, nor will it resemble the Great Recession in any way.

content_Headshot_-_Matthew_Gardner  Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist at Windermere Real Estate.

2017 Windermere Real Estate Eastside Kick-off: We’re Ready For What This Year Will Bring!

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Real Estate / Windermere Eastside


If you follow Windermere Mercer Island on social media, a week ago Friday you saw our brokers attended the 2017 Eastside Windermere Real Estate Kick-off event. And what an event! Over 500 brokers from of the Eastside offices, and the Chelan area, gathered together to get energized for the New Year.

The event, held at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency Hotel, opened with a lovely continental breakfast and the opportunity to network.  The opening emcee was Matt Deasy, owner of Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. Mr. Deasy discussed how Windermere brokers provide value to their clients in 3 different ways: opportunity, synergy, and endurance. Windermere brokers are distinctively primed to take advantage of the strong local economy and educate clients regarding the hot Seattle area housing market.

eastsidekickoff-161The Top Producer Broker Panel featured 5 amazing brokers from Windermere offices around the region. Mike Connolly, owner of Windermere Real Estate/Central, Inc., moderated this panel that included Nicole Mangina (Bellevue Commons), Ruth Harle (Bellevue-South), Jay Agoado (Mercer Island), Clive Egdes (Kirkland – Central), and Tony Butz (Bellevue-South). Each of the stories shared by this group were unique, but their success in real estate all contained common characteristics: determination, hard work, establishing real connections with people in their communities, not being afraid of technology, and offering concierge level customer service. The panel interaction, delivered in an Inman Connect Interview format, was fast-paced and engaging. A key take-away was the importance of adding value for clients who are already data savvy regarding real estate, and to own that professional value proposition.

Tech Tools to Make You Look Like a Rock Star

eastsidekickoff-211Shawn Prutsman, Vice President of Technology with Windermere Services, was introduced by Julie Barrows, owner of Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. She moderated this segment by asking Mr. Prutsman about the impressive new tools that will be available to Windermere brokers during 2017, and what technology updates to expect. An exciting topic was the updated listing photo gallery, and all of its amazing features, that debuted at the end of 2016. All the tools and updates scheduled for 2017 will provide further assistance to Windermere brokers– helping them effectively and beautifully market homes, assist buyer clients in our fast-paced local market, and stay cutting-edge in a region where technology is what helps drive our economy.

Amy Adams, owner of Windermere Real Estate/Bellevue Commons, presented a wonderful introduction of the man everyone in the room was eagerly waiting to hear speak – Matthew Gardner. As chief economist of Windermere Real Estate, Mr. Gardner prepares an annual forecast addressing his predictions for our economic and real estate climates. First, he covered our local economy – which is experiencing remarkable growth. The economies of the large cities in western states have been generally robust, and Washington metro areas have been at the top of the list. He sees this trend continuing into 2017, along with low unemployment. In fact, we should see more people relocating to our area during 2017 to fill jobs in the tech sector, and escape higher priced real estate in the Bay area. Two sectors he noted as slower growing are manufacturing and construction. We’re seeing that trend play out in lower numbers of single family residential permits being issued. Less new construction places pressure on our resale market, which will contribute to our housing market’s continued low inventory this year. House prices will see more increases in Western Washington. Housing affordability is an issue that needs to be addressed. King County homes are not affordable for many first time home buyers, which we’re seeing translated into people opting to purchase outside of Seattle metro.


NW Home Design Trends to Watch

eastsidekickoff-277Peter Hickey, owner of Windermere Real Estate/Northeast, Inc., moderated a panel of architecture and design specialists who detailed current home design trends that are especially popular in the Pacific Northwest.  Sheri Olson of Sheri Olson Architecture, Susan Marinello of Susan Marinello Interiors, Inc., and Brenda Gage with JayMarc Homes shared their favorite trends along with what they are seeing out in the field. New materials, exploring the color black as a neutral, and simplicity are all sought after in the interior design environment.  Modern, yet informal gathering places – both inside and out – are desired by homeowners in our region. Aging in place is also a hot topic in home design — with main floor masters, or dual masters on upper and main floors, an increasingly requested home feature.

The Right Mindset for 2017

eastsidekickoff-288Dan Givens, of Windermere Professional Development, closed out this year’s Kick-off event with a short presentation on having the right mindset to succeed at both work and home. He shared three simple, but impactful, mindsets that can redirect your outlook in a positive direction.

  1. Decide you are going to have fun.
  2. Set out to meet nice people each day.
  3. Help someone solve a problem.

Mr. Givens stressed during his presentation that affirmations don’t just happen by accident. If you consciously set out to change your outlook to meet your desired affirmation, that’s when the real change begins! His message offered simple ways to stay positive, and be effective in changing a habit or adding a new activity to your day.

eastsidekickoff-303What a great way to start of the year! The information shared during the event is so useful, and gave each broker who was in attendance tools that can help them improve their businesses, and deliver to their clients even better customer service during 2017. A round of applause is due for the owners and managers of the Eastside offices for offering such a terrific annual event to your brokers. And a special thank you to Julie Barrows, owner of the Mercer Island office, who organized this year’s Eastside Kick-off.

Photo credit: Frances Gaul