Seattle’s Red Hot Housing Market and Its First-Time Homebuyers

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This is a well-written blog post covering the “whys” regarding the importance of our region’s double-digit price increases. These factors mean a great deal to those who are looking for starter homes. The greatest increases have been seen in those homes in the lower prices ranges, resulting in a 75% jump in starter home pricing over the past for years. It can definitely be intimidating to buy, especially as a first time home buyer, when home prices are growing so quickly. Connecting with a real estate broker who can help you with the process and be your guide is imperative. The brokers at Windermere Mercer Island would be happy to meet with you, discuss your home ownership goals, and answer your questions.

Windermere Eastside

dreamstime_s_8927135The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index was just released earlier this week ranking the major metropolitan areas across the U.S. by the fastest-rising home prices. While we have not muscled out Portland for the No. 1 spot on the list, we came in a close second having narrowed the gap significantly.

According to an analysis by The Seattle Times, Seattle-area home prices are now rising at their swiftest pace in 2.5 years. While we missed out on taking over Portland for the top spot on the Case-Shiller index, Seattle did increase its lead over third-place Denver where prices only rose 8.8 percent over last year.

Portland, having led the Case-Shiller index all year, had the fastest-rising home prices up 11.7 percent over a year ago. In Seattle, home prices were up 11.4 percent over 2015. Both Pacific Northwest cities saw home costs increase at more than twice the national…

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Should I Move or Remodel?

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Interior Decorating / Real Estate


Originally posted on Windermere Blog, author Tara Sharp.

There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.

Five reasons to move:

1. Your current location just isn’t working.

Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.

2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.

Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.

3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.

If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.

4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.

This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.

5. You don’t like remodeling.

Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of loosing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.

Five reasons to remodel:

1. You love your neighborhood.

You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.

2. You like your current home’s floor plan.

The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.

3. You’ve got a great yard.

Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.

4. You can get exactly the home you want.

Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.

5. It may make better financial sense.

In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.


Remodel or move checklist:

Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to move or remodel.

1.      How much money can you afford to spend?

2.      How long do you plan to live in your current home?

3.      How do you feel about your current location?

4.      Do you like the general floor plan of your current house?

5.      Will the remodeling you’re considering offer a good return on investment?

6.      Can you get more house for the money in another location that you like?

7.      Are you willing to live in your house during a remodeling project?

8.      If not, do you have the resources to live elsewhere while you’re remodeling?


If you have questions about whether remodeling or selling is a wise investment, or are looking for an agent in your area, we have professionals that can help you. Contact us here.

Photo credit: Christi Love | Pixabay

“We’ve Got You Covered” Winter Drive For YouthCare

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Community Happening / Windermere Real Estate Partners With Seattle Seahawks / #tacklehomelessness

weve-got-you-covered-poster-jpgStarting today, October 17th, and running until November 14th, Windermere Mercer Island agents and staff will be collecting new winter hats, scarves, mittens and gloves, plus warm socks to help homeless youth stay warm during the cold months. Your donations will be passed out to the youth that local non-profit, YouthCare, supports.

We have collection bins in our office lobby. You could also ask your Windermere real estate agent to drop off your donation at our office. Thank you for helping Windermere Real Estate, and The Seattle Seahawks, #tacklehomelessness!

Seattle Region: Stormy Weather Is In Our Forecast

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Homeowner Tips

rain-432770_960_720 We’re in for some interesting weather the next few days around the Seattle Region, but it may not be as stormy as originally reported. At 11 am local weather guru Cliff Mass shared an updated forecast based on the infrared satellite images released earlier this morning. Click here to check out his storm update blog post for all the details. KOMONews also updated their discussion regarding the projected windy weather that may hit our region. Click here for the details KOMONews posted this morning at 8:30 am.

It still would be a good idea to secure anything outside your home that could be blown about by the wind, and make sure your flashlights are in good working order, just in case. Take time to top off your car with gas on the way home from work, and charge up your cell phone. It’s always good practice to shut off your computer at night. And with the possibility of power outages still on the table, running a back up of your computer, if it has been a while, would be worthwhile as well.

local-utility-contactsIn case you need the contact information for your local utility provider(s) over the next few days, Windermere Mercer Island has put together a handy list of Seattle Region utilities. Click here to print out the list.

We hope the wind won’t be as powerful as originally speculated, but being prepared is always helpful. Please take care as the weekend approaches, and be on the look out for any further storm updates.  The storm is being closely monitored for any changes as the weather system nears our region.

Photo Credit: sandid ♦ Pixabay

Do I Need A Sign In My Yard?

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Real Estate

Sold By Windermere

Originally published on Jay Agoado’s Blog on September 15, 2016, author Jay Agoado.

I recently had a request from a seller to not put a “For Sale” sign in their yard as the home was vacant and they didn’t want to attract “lookie-lous”.

The seller must indeed weigh the pros and cons of having a sign in the yard. Certainly, especially in the case of an empty home or in a situation where the sellers may be out-of-town, security may be a concern. However, here are some facts to consider when making this decision according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:

• The first step taken by home buyers 6% of the time was to drive by homes and neighborhoods.
• 48% of buyers cited that yard signs were a source of information used in the home buying process
• 91% of buyers indicated a yard sign was “very useful” (32%) or “somewhat useful” (56%) source of information
• 9% of buyers ultimately found the home they purchased via a yard or open house sign
• 6% found the home they ultimately purchased through a friend, relative, or neighbor

I have seen situations where it might not be wise to post a for sale sign. One example would be if the home was well-known for the wrong reason (murder or other crimes). Ultimately it is up to the Seller, but it seems like a for sale sign is generally good practice.

How Much Of A Home Can You Afford? Interest Rates Do Matter

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Real Estate

how-much-home-can-you-afford-2_10-3-2016Last week Freddie Mac reported 30 year fixed-rate mortgages(FRM) hit a 10 week low, dipping to an average of 3.42%. We also saw a slowing in the greater Seattle area housing market last week, resulting in balanced markets in several price points across the region, which is a breath of fresh air for buyers.

A year ago the 30 year FRM averaged 3.85%. It’s good to review how much of a home you could afford if you are thinking of making a home purchase, especially as rates decline. This handy chart above demonstrates how different 30 year FRM interest rates can impact the loan amount you may qualify for. Lower interest rates increase your buying power.

If you are considering a home purchase, speaking with a real estate broker about the process, and the questions you have, is a terrific first step. The brokers at Windermere Mercer Island would love to meet with you, and discuss your goal of owning a home.

Millennials Buying Into the American Dream

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Windermere Eastside

Millennial buyers header

Contrary to some predictions, Millennials are making owning a home a priority. While they’re buying their first home a bit later than prior generations, they’re embracing the long-term value that home ownership brings.

1) Millennials are dominating the first-time homebuyer category today.

The median age of first-time homebuyers is 31, according to a National Association of Realtors study.

2) The vast majority of Millennials think owning a home is important.

According to a Merrill Lynch study, 81% of Millennials agree that “homeownership is an important part of the American Dream.”

Percent who agree that “Homeownership is an important part of the American Dream”

3) Most Millennials consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons.

In a survey by Fannie Mae, Millennials who own a home prefer owning over renting for these reasons:

Millennials why buy

A strong local economy, rising rents and low interest…

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Local builder chooses to renovate an existing Mercer Island home rather than tear it down

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Real Estate

Green building is a hot topic in our area. Home buyers want to feel good about their home purchase and also support environmentally sound practices. When discussing green building, new construction often comes to mind – green builders develop their plan for environmentally friendly homes right from the design phase. In our region land is at a premium, and to accommodate new construction builders have been purchasing existing homes, which are then torn down to make way for the new, green home.

A local builder who lives on Mercer Island, Justin Davis of True Design Build, approaches his design and remodeling projects with a focus on creating a greener home, rather than tearing down an existing residence. Davis enjoys the challenge a remodel presents – he works diligently to find the balance between a project’s goals and retaining a portion of a home’s original character. So when a Mercer Island house came to market last year in East Seattle, one where the estate did not want to sell the property to anyone who would tear it down, Davis decided to submit an offer. He had a plan for reinventing this home to fit both the neighborhood and today’s lifestyle.

In our current market, selling over asking price is common. However, the managers of the Blauman estate, Mr. Blauman’s sons, wanted to make sure their father’s legacy lived on. Mr. Blauman had been remodeling his home as a labor of love, and was not able to finish what he started. The home contained special touches, like tongue and groove joints, car decking material, and Blauman’s signature “wavy brick” design he installed on the sides of the house. It was important to his sons that the property be finished, rather than torn down, because it was Mr. Blauman’s dream to build a quality home for his family. When Davis submitted an offer, along with a commitment to remodel rather than tear down, the estate was willing to take his offer even though it was not the highest.

Davis was then able to take Mr. Blauman’s dream and make it a reality, while following his own passion for green building. He composed a remodel design that effectively used the existing space and available resources, while keeping a significant amount of debris out of local landfills. The studs-out remodel allowed for installation of products that provide better heating and cooling efficiency, water-saving fixtures, and an energy efficient gas tankless water heater. Davis preserved the wavy brick that was originally installed, and he reused resources – for example, he repurposed the garage door for the barn-style master bath doorway.

The finished house fits the scale and style of the other homes on the East Seattle street it resides on. The neighbors have been quite complimentary of the process and the final product. They expressed their gratitude for keeping the existing home in place, while Davis’ vision, and work of True Design Build’s team, made it shine. The neighbors are eager for new owners to move in!

Davis shared that there are similar properties in the Mercer Island community that possess the same potential as the Blauman home. He would love to see more properties revamped rather than torn down, “The community is something I am already invested in as a resident on Mercer Island, and by building beautiful, healthy, well-designed homes I can continue to contribute to the future of the island. The island is changing quickly and it is important to me to do what I can to make the changes intentional…” With the city of Mercer Island’s having the most tear downs, per capita, in King County, and the trend to replace existing properties with ones twice as large, exploring creative solutions to building is a noteworthy topic. The reality is it often comes down to the numbers – how can a builder make it work, from the purchase of the property, and then afford the remodeling costs. It’s a conversation that will continue here on Mercer Island, as the community continues to grow.

The home described in this article is listed for sale, mls number 1024199. If you would like to speak with Justin Davis, owner of True Design Build, he can be reached via his office (206-294-5227), cell (323-481-6805), or by email .

Windermere Real Estate & The Seattle Seahawks #Tacklehomelessness: SEA vs SF on 9/25

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tacklehomelessness_image-for-social-mediaWindermere Real Estate has embarked on a fantastic partnership with the Seattle Seahawks. As the official real estate company of the Seattle Seahawks, we are working with them to provide services and support to homeless youth in the Seattle area via the #tacklehomelessness campaign. For each home game the Seahawks play, the Windermere Foundation will donate $100 per Seahawks tackle to YouthCare.

At the season opener against the Miami Dolphins, the Seahawks had 31 tackles. This resulted in a $3,100 donation to YouthCare, which will ensure more homeless youth are able to stay warm, dry, and have access to basic necessities.

On Sunday, September 25th, the Seahawks will be playing at home once again, against the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is 1:05pm PST.  Whether you are at Century Link, or watching the game at home, cheer loudly every time the Seahawks tackle a 49er – it will be another $100 donated to #tacklehomelessness!

Be watching our Facebook page, or Instagram profile @windemere_mi, on Monday, 9/26, for the final donation tally.

Windermere Living Magazine: Fall 2016

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Windermere Living

The articles in the Fall 2016 issue are global in nature, and include an interesting variety of topics. Don’t miss the terrific photo of the Windermere Mercer Island brokers who attended the Lake Washington Argosy cruise to preview homes on the 2016 Waterfront Tour. The photo is on page 7, in the Faces & Places section. Pictured left to right are Julie Wilson, Kelly Weisfield, Marianne Parks, Julie Barrows, and Cynthia Schoonmaker. If you’d like to see the Windermere Mercer Island agent features in this issue, they run from pages 27-33. Enjoy!