How to Improve Your Curb Appeal

Image Source: Canva

When it comes time to sell your home, first impressions are crucial. Improving your curb appeal helps to make the most of a buyer’s first glance and sets the stage for their interest in purchasing your home. The following projects are simple and inexpensive ways to enhance both your home’s first impression and its value.

Landscaping

  • Lawn: A healthy, well-tended lawn goes a long way towards improving your curb appeal. Clean up all weeds, leaves and debris, and consistently water your lawn to give it that fresh green look. If you live in an arid climate, consider grass alternatives like artificial turf for the best lawn aesthetic.
  • Plant colorfully: Adding color variety to your front yard will grab buyers’ attention. Align smaller plants, like groundcover and flowers, neatly within your flower beds, aiming for symmetry when possible. Use larger plants and trees to frame in your entryway or walkup. If your front yard doesn’t have flower beds, try adding hanging planters or window boxes.
  • Lighting: Landscaping lighting boosts your curb appeal during nighttime, accentuates your shrubbery, and adds a welcoming touch for visitors as potential buyers, lighting the way to your door.

Image Source: Canva

Porch

Front porches set the stage for all your home has to offer. Improvements here will play a significant role in how comfortable potential buyers feel about the property and how inspired they are to explore the inside of the house.

  • Door: Your front door is an opportunity to make a tasteful statement. Look at bold color choices that are within or slightly stretch your home’s exterior color palette. Take time to prepare the surface for a fresh coat of paint to make the color pop as much as possible. Try stylish doorknob options that accentuate the aesthetic to give your door some added flair.
  • House numbers: New and stylish house numbers are an easy, eye-catching touch to the look of your porch. Look for styles that match with your exterior color palette and any exterior lighting fixtures.
  • Go for comfort: Incorporating classic front porch elements like a porch swing, sitting bench, and other outdoor furniture gives a welcoming aura to the front of your home and creates a sense of comfort for prospective buyers.
  • Shutters: Windows are the gateway to the inside of your home. Shutters of delicate fabric will bring elegance to your front porch, while wooden shutters deliver a solid, cozy vibe.

Other

These miscellaneous projects will add the finishing touches to your home’s curb appeal and get it in prime selling condition.

  • Quick maintenance: Small chores and minor fixes like cleaning gutters, repairing chipped paint, and cleaning windows are important for buyers with a detailed eye.
  • Staining: Instead of replacing fences or garage doors, look into applying a fresh stain. This brings a refreshed look and is much cheaper than a full renovation or replacement.
  • Power wash: Power washing your walkways and driveways makes a significant difference in curb appeal. If buying a power washer is outside your budget, explore rental options from the big-name hardware stores.

Posted on August 13, 2020 at 9:53 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Living | Tagged

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – AUGUST 2020

While the pace of daily life may seem slow right now, the local real estate market has had an unusually busy summer. The number of new listings in July was up, sales increased, and home prices followed suit.

• While overall inventory is at historic lows, more sellers put their homes on
the market. New listings of single-family homes in King County jumped more than
25% from a year ago. Snohomish County saw a 7% increase in new listings.

• Pent-up buyer demand fueled sales activity in July.  The number of pending
sales was up 17% over a year ago in King County, and up 13% in Snohomish
County.

• With buyers snapping up new listings as soon as they hit the market, total
available inventory dropped to a 10-year low for the month.

• The lack of inventory is benefiting sellers, and multiple offers are now common
at every price point. As a result, single-family home prices rose 7% in King
County and 15% in Snohomish County.

The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.


Posted on August 12, 2020 at 8:15 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market Report | Tagged

SEATTLE RANKS AS 9TH-BEST CITY WORLDWIDE FOR STARTUPS

Seattle has long been home base to big tech businesses like Amazon and Microsoft, but the city is increasingly a haven to smaller startups and spin-off companies as well.  Recognizing the city’s potential for hosting successful startups, think tank Startup Genome recently placed Seattle at no. 9 on their list of the top 30 global ecosystems for startups.

To generate their rankings, Startup Genome evaluates ecosystems on seven indicators of success, including performance, funding, market reach, talent, connectedness, knowledge and infrastructure. The top five ecosystems on this year’s list — Silicon Valley, New York City, London, Beijing and Boston — were also at the top of the list for 2019.

Seattle, however, jumped up three places from last year — landing it within the top 10 startup ecosystems in the world. Of the various success indicators, Seattle ranked particularly high in connectedness, even beating the overall number one ecosystem, Silicon Valley, in this category.

Among Seattle’s other indicators, performance, market reach and talent were also particular strengths.

According to GeekWire, researchers at Startup Genome also noted Seattle’s high performance in big data, A.I., analytics, and its thriving life sciences industry.

Another point of interest is Seattle’s “startup genealogy,” as defined by Startup Genome. Essentially, new founders can draw on a strong legacy of experience from other industry leaders like Microsoft and Amazon. The prevalence of spin-off companies helmed by employees with experience at larger, established companies creates an environment in which startups can tap into time-tested industry knowledge and experience from the get-go. Research and talent from the University of Washington has also been beneficial for improving the Seattle startup ecosystem.

Though Seattle scored lower on funding resources according to Startup Genome, in 2019 the city saw venture capital funding for startups reach a record-high of $3.59 billion. Additionally, Seattle has stayed strong as a tech hub for STEM jobs, drawing more interest from local investors and national firms alike.

By some estimates, Seattle may be heading for a boom in venture capital investment. According to GeekWire, the city’s pool of talent in tech, STEM programs, angel investors, new venture funds for earl-stage startups and more support for company-building could lead to an influx of capital.

Provided these businesses can weather the present storm of coronavirus, the future looks bright for Seattle’s next generation of startups.

This article was originally posted on GeekWire by Taylor Soper.


Posted on July 23, 2020 at 10:21 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News | Tagged

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please reach out anytime!

 

REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

It appears as if the massive COVID-19 induced contraction in employment that Washington State — along with the rest of the nation — experienced this spring is behind us (at least for now). Statewide employment started to drop in March, but April was the real shock: total employment dropped almost 460,000 between March and April, a decline of 13.1%. However, this turned around remarkably quickly, with a solid increase of 52,500 jobs in May. Worthy of note is that, in May alone, Western Washington recovered 43,500 of the 320,000 jobs that were lost in the region the prior month. Although it is certainly too early to categorically state that we are out of the woods, the direction is positive and, assuming we respect the state’s mandates regarding social distancing and mask wearing, I remain hopeful that Washington will not have to re-enter any form of lockdown.

 

HOME SALES

  • There were 17,465 home sales during the second quarter of 2020, representing a drop of 22.2% from the same period in 2019, but 30.6% higher than in the first quarter of this year.
  • The number of homes for sale was 37% lower than a year ago, but was up 32% compared to the first quarter of the year.
  • Given COVID-19’s impacts, it’s not surprising that sales declined across the board. The greatest drops were in Whatcom and King counties. The smallest declines were in Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties.
  • Pending sales — a good gauge of future closings — rose 35.7% compared to the first quarter of the year, suggesting that third quarter closings will grow as well.

 

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • Home-price growth in Western Washington rose by a relatively modest 3.5% compared to a year ago. The average sale price in the second quarter was $559,194.
  • Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County, where home prices were up 14.3%. Clallam County also saw a double-digit price increase.
  • It was interesting to note that prices were up a significant 6.6% compared to the first quarter. This suggests that any concern regarding negative impacts to home values as a function of ​    COVID-19 may be overblown.
  • I will be watching for significant price growth in less urbanized areas going forward. If there is, it may be an indication that      COVID-19 is affecting where buyers are choosing to live.

 

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the second quarter of this year matched the second quarter of 2019.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 40 days to sell a home in the second quarter. I would also note that it took an average of 14 fewer days to sell a home than in the first quarter of this year.
  • Thurston, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties were the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 17 days to sell. All but two counties, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz, saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Market time remains well below the long-term average across the region. This is due to significant increases in demand along with the remarkably low level of inventory available.

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

What a difference a quarter makes! Given that demand has reappeared remarkably quickly and interest rates remain historically low, it certainly remains a seller’s market and I don’t expect this to change in the foreseeable future.

The overall housing market has exhibited remarkable resilience and housing demand has rebounded faster than most would have expected. I anticipate demand to remain robust, but this will cause affordability issues to remain as long as the new construction housing market remains muted.

 

 

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Posted on July 23, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market Report | Tagged

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – JULY 2020

While our lives are very different than they were a year ago, the local real estate market has recovered to 2019 levels. Record low interest rates are helping spur demand. Sales were up, home prices increased and multiple offers were common.

  • The number of pending sales, a measure of current demand, was higher in June than for the same period a year ago.
  • The supply of homes on the market remains very low, with just a month of available inventory.  When inventory is this low, quick sales over full price are common. That was the case in June when about 40% of homes sold for more than the asking price.
  • Home prices in King County rose 4% over a year ago. Snohomish County home prices increased 5%.
  • More sellers put their homes on the market. While total inventory remains low, the number of new listings in June was similar to the same time last year.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for June are mostly reflective of sales in May. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market.


Posted on July 10, 2020 at 6:28 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News, Market Report | Tagged

SEATTLE’S HOUSING MARKET REMAINS RESILIENT DESPITE COVID-19

The Seattle area housing market in May continued to show resiliency amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, with increases compared to the previous month in new listings and pending sales.

A report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service — which covers 23 counties in the region — showed King County had 3,585 new listings during May, compared with 2,707 new listings that came on the market during April. The total number of active listings in King County also went up slightly month over month, from 3,255 in April to 3,467 in May.

“The market has proved to be very resilient,” Northwest Multiple Listing Service Director Mike Larson said in a news release.

But the number of active listings in May of this year was still about 40% lower than the total active listings in May of last year, according to the report.

The report also found pending sales in King County went up month over month, from 2,246 to 3,358. But the number of pending sales was about 20% lower than it was at the same time last year.

The median home price for closed sales in King County dropped month over month, from $650,000 to $627,000.

“I don’t think anyone should be surprised that home prices in King County took a ‘breather’ in May,” said Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist. “Clearly COVID-19 was the cause for this drop, but I’m confident this is a temporary situation that will be reversed as King County starts to reopen, and fresher inventory comes to market.”

Gardner said he expects prices to go up again in the months ahead.

While the local housing market is still hot, it looks a bit different than in previous years. The number of new listings dropped in the first few months of the shutdown, but homes going under contract (pending sales) are on the road to recovery.

The pandemic caused some sellers to put their sale on pause, compounding the fact that the Seattle housing market was already experiencing low inventory and strong buyer demand.

The drastically low inventory is posing some challenges, making it feel like there just aren’t enough homes. Properties under $1 million are selling quickly, with new listings going pending after just a few days on the market. Bidding wars and multiple offer situations are again becoming commonplace. A balance in the market is unlikely until more sellers decide to list their homes and new construction accelerates to meet demand.

Since the start of the pandemic, real estate agents have been taking advantage of technology, doing virtual tours and using social media to interact with clients. Even as the pandemic put much of life on hold, people have continued needing to sell and buy homes.

While experts have said that uncertainty remains about the long-term impacts the coronavirus pandemic may have on the housing market and the region as a whole, real estate agents are staying positive. The market is strong with improving outlooks week over week.

A version of this article was first published on seattlepi.com by Becky Savransky.


Posted on July 3, 2020 at 8:48 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News | Tagged

Windermere Insights: How Low Inventory Is Influencing The Market

“While we see more sellers getting ready to list,” observed Pat Grimm, owner of Windermere Capitol Hill, “every week that those homes don’t go on the market, we risk losing buyers to what I’d call a reasonable fatigue.”

Grimm pointed to Seattle’s imbalanced market activity in the first half of June. Pending sales of single family homes were up 21% from the same period last year, despite a 45% reduction in the number of active listings. By mid-month, there remained a paltry 0.8 months’ supply of homes for sale, based on pending sales. Low inventory led Seattle buyers to purchase homes and condos faster and for higher prices than in June 2019.

“Sellers should benefit from this dynamic,” Grimm said, “if they can undertake a move at this stage of the re-opening.”

On the Eastside, the market is undergoing a similar push-pull, according to Joe Deasy, co-owner of Windermere East Inc. “Active listings are being absorbed faster than we can get new For Sale signs up,” he observed. With month-to-date pending sales activity up 21% this June versus last, Deasy noted that the Eastside’s supply of homes is down to only 0.9 months.

Through the first half of June Eastside single family home listings were down 46% from the same period last year, while there were 28% fewer condo listings. “There’s a bottleneck happening, and we could see sales drop unless we bring more homes to market,” Deasy said. “But more listings will lead to more sales,” he added.

One community that has been keenly watching its real estate market dynamics is West Seattle. Hit by the double whammy of the shutdown and the bridge closure, brokers there were wondering how May and June numbers would stack up for this “small town” within the city.

It turns out that West Seattle is experiencing the same demand-supply issue as other local areas. In the first half of June, the supply of single family homes for sale was down 31% from last year. Based on a 9% increase in month-to-date pending sales, the supply of homes stands at just one month.

“Ours is still a seller’s market,” said Larry Johnson, general manager of Windermere’s West Seattle office. “June has seen faster market times and higher selling prices on the units that have gone pending.” The squeeze on West Seattle homes has also led buyers to move on condos, Johnson noted, with month-to-date pending sales up 56% over last year and average sold prices up by 22%.

SOURCE: Windermere Get The Report


Posted on June 30, 2020 at 7:04 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News | Tagged , , , ,

A Guide to Mortgage Assistance During COVID-19

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

For some homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high level of concern about paying their mortgage. Fortunately, there are options to aid struggling homeowners from governments, financial institutions, and loan providers. The following information is intended to provide clarity on which financial relief options are available to you during this time.

 

What are my mortgage relief options?

Newly placed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

 

  1. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days following March 18, 2020. The CARES Act prohibits lenders and/or servicers from beginning a non-judicial foreclosure, or finalizing a foreclosure sale, against you within this time period. While 60 days has passed since this was put into place, it is still important to be aware of in the event that any of these actions were taken against you.
  2. You have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also apply for a 180-day extension beyond the forbearance period. This does not require submitting additional documentation beyond your claim, nor will you incur additional fees, penalties or interest beyond what has already been scheduled.

 

Forbearance is…

  • With forbearance, mortgage servicers and lenders allow you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a period of time while you get back on your feet financially.
  • Different types of loans beget different forbearance options, understanding the differences and which options apply to your loan is key to navigating the forbearance landscape.
  • Once your income is back to a normal level, contact your loan servicer and resume your payments.

 

Forbearance is not…

  • Forbearance is not a means to forgive or erase your payments. Any missed or reduced payments still require payment in the future.

 

Which relief options do I qualify for?

The first step in discovering your mortgage assistance qualifications is to contact your mortgage provider. If you are unsure of how to get in touch with them, look at your mortgage statement for contact information or see what contact options are available online.

After you have successfully made contact, find out if your mortgage is federally backed. To be eligible for assistance under the CARES act, your mortgage must either be backed federally, or by one of the entities in the list below. These links show the agencies’ current advise and related loan information:

 

For non-federally backed loans, contact your lender or servicer to learn more about their forbearance repayment options.

 

Today’s financial landscape can be stressful for homeowners, especially those that are struggling to keep up financially. Fortunately, these entities, institutions, and servicers have provided options to help lessen the burden. Knowing which options apply to you and your household will help you navigate through hardship as your finances recover.


Posted on June 11, 2020 at 8:23 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – JUNE 2020

  • The Stay Home order, as expected, continued to impact the number of sales. However, the market is starting to move its way towards more normal activity. Pending sales, a measure of current demand, have risen every week since April.
  • The slight drop in median closed sale price is a result of a proportionately larger number of lower priced homes selling than is normal. It should not be interpreted as a decrease in individual home value.
  • There were significantly fewer homes for sale in May than the same time last year. With less than a month of available inventory, competition among buyers was intense. Bidding wars and all-cash offers were common.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for May are mostly reflective of sales in April. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.  As we adapt to new phases of reopening, know that the safety of everyone remains our top priority.


Posted on June 11, 2020 at 8:16 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market Report | Tagged , , , , ,

Questions to Ask During Your Virtual Home Tour

Image Source: Canva

 

Thanks to COVID-19, the new reality is that many open houses and home tours are being conducted virtually. For prospective home buyers, this new territory brings an added element to prepare for in the home buying process. Some of the questions that should be asked in a virtual home tour parallel those of in-person tours, but others are unique to today’s virtual world.

 

Could you zoom in?

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to get a true glimpse at what you want to see in a room. Asking the agent to zoom in on specific features is commonplace in virtual home tours, and they understand this is part of the viewer experience. Don’t hesitate to ask multiple times. Getting a better look at everything you want to see will help you feel like you’ve gotten the most out of your virtual tour.

 

How many square feet are in this room?

  • Virtual tours can slightly distort space, making it tough to gauge the size. The room-to-room square footage is information the agent is sure to have handy. Since you can’t be there in person, it will help you piece together the virtual visuals with the sense of physical space that we’re all accustomed to feeling in the places we live.

 

What color is that?

  • In the smartphone era, and computer era at large, we have come to understand that digital representations of color are not always true to the eye. Ask the agent to confirm specific colors so you can plan accordingly. Have a color swatch on hand or look the colors up online as you go through the tour.

 

When were the appliances last updated?

  • The importance of this question rings true in past, present, and future. Knowing the state of the home’s appliances, and the likelihood and timing of when they will need replacement, is vital information for both assessing the move-in readiness of the home and understanding what costs might lie ahead.

 

Has the seller provided an inspection?

  • This is another example of a critical question, whether your home tour is virtual or physical. If the seller has already done an inspection, ask the agent to lead you to any areas of concern based on the inspector’s findings. If there is anything that has not yet been addressed by the seller, have your agent ask what their plan is for making the necessary repairs/updates.

 

When is the offer review date?

  • Understanding the seller’s timeline for reviewing and accepting offers will help guide your decision-making process and allow you to strategize based on the timeline.

 

Whether your home tour is physical or virtual, getting the information you need to make an informed decision remains paramount. Although there is no substitute for physically being in the home you are looking to buy, keeping these questions in mind will position you well as you progress through the home buying journey.


Posted on May 27, 2020 at 11:11 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Buyer | Tagged , , , , ,