Update: A Legislative Effort Is Now Underway In Congress To Extend The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act

UPDATE: Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) have introduced a bipartisan bill that would extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act through 2015 and all of 2016. Heller is an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee and has pledged to attach the bill to a larger piece of legislation that is moving through his committee. We will keep you posted on the progress of the extension as the process moves forward.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted in Short Sales on December 22, 2014
 

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Extended Retroactively for 2014:
Future of Mortgage Debt Relief Uncertain in 2015

On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed a bill that extended the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act retroactively to cover mortgage debt cancelled in 2014. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act (MFDRA) prevents homeowners who went through a short sale from being taxed on the amount of their home mortgage debt that had been forgiven. For homeowners to qualify for a tax break in 2014, their short sale must close by December 31, 2014.

The Act has only been extended through 2014. Congress is expected to debate further extension of the Act as part of a larger tax package in 2015. In the meantime, mortgage debt forgiven by a lender in 2015 might count as taxable income.

According to a brief from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), about 5.3 million homes are still under water. In addition, there are still more than 1 million homes in the process of foreclosure. If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is not extended further, hundreds of thousands of American families who did the right thing by short-selling their home will have to pay income tax on income they never received.

IRS “Insolvency Clause” Offers Tax-Saving Alternative

Short sale sellers can still be exempt from tax liability under the “insolvency clause” of the Internal Revenue Code. The clause states that a seller is exempt from paying tax on any forgiven debt to the extent that they are insolvent. In other words, if the seller’s debts and liabilities exceed their assets by more than the amount of debt forgiven, they do not have to pay taxes on the forgiven debt.

Here’s an example of how the Insolvency Clause works:

A seller has a home valued at $300,000, but the mortgage debt is $400,000. We short sell the property for $300K and the bank elects to forgive the debt on the $100,000 shortfall amount. Since debt that has been forgiven counts as taxable income, the IRS would treat the $100,000 of forgiven debt as income.

MORTGAGE DEBT

$400,000

SALE PRICE

-$300,000

FORGIVEN DEBT
(Taxable income)

$100,000

 

This is where the insolvency clause formula comes in. Begin by adding up all of your debts/liabilities in one column and all of your assets in another. For this formula, the IRS wants you to include the mortgage debt as a liability, and the fair market value of your house as an asset. Let’s say you have $600,000 in assets and $700,000 in debts/liabilities. You are insolvent by $100,000.

ASSETS

$600,000

LIABILITIES

-$700,000

INSOLVENCY

[$100,000]

 

Since your insolvency amount of $100,000 equals the forgiven debt amount of $100,000, it’s a wash and you will not have to pay taxes on that forgiven debt. You are shielded dollar-for-dollar on the amount of forgiven debt up to your insolvency number. Let’s say you were only insolvent by $80,000. In that case, you would still have to pay income tax on the remaining $20,000 of forgiven debt.

INSOLVENCY

[$100,000]

FORGIVEN DEBT

-$100,000

TAXABLE INCOME

-0-

 

It is critical that homeowners considering a short sale meet with a professional to review their options and discuss the potential legal and tax implications.

 

Richard Eastern is a Windermere broker in Bellevue, WA and co-founder of Washington Property Solutions, a short sales negotiating company. Since 2003 he has helped more than 900 homeowners sell their homes. A Bellevue native and a University of Washington grad, Richard is an avid sports fan and a devoted Little League and basketball coach. You can learn more about Richard h

How to Hire a Home Inspector

Is this year you make the leap to buy your first home?

A home is a major investment and, for many people, the greatest financial asset they have. With so much at stake, it makes sense to do what you can to protect your financial interest. Getting a home inspection is a smart, simple way to do just that.

When you make a written offer on a home, insist that the offer provide that your contract is contingent on a home inspection conducted by a qualified inspector. You’ll have to pay for the inspection yourself, but an investment of a few hundred dollars could save you thousands of dollars and years of headaches. If you’re satisfied with the results of the inspection and are assured that the home you’re purchasing is in good shape, you can proceed with your transaction, confident that you are making a smart purchase.

 

Hire a professional

When you are ready to hire a home inspector, be sure they’re licensed in your state. They should be able to provide you with their license number, which you can use to verify their status with the appropriate government agency. The best way to find an inspector is to ask your real estate agent for a recommendation. Even among licensed and qualified home inspectors, there can be a difference in knowledge, performance, and communication skills, so l it’s a good idea to do some research to ensure that you get the type of inspection you need.

 

What to ask your home inspector

Ask the right questions to make sure you are hiring the right professional for the job.

 

What does your inspection cover?

Insist that you get this information in writing. Then make sure that it’s in compliance with state requirements and includes the items you want inspected.

 

How long have you been in the business?

Ask for referrals, especially with newer inspectors.

 

Are you experienced in residential inspections?

Residential inspection in a unique discipline with specific challenges, so it’s important to make sure the inspector is experienced in this area.

 

Do you make repairs or make improvements based on inspection?

Some states and/or professional associations allow the inspector to perform repair work on problems uncovered in an inspection. If you’re considering engaging your inspector to do repairs, be sure to get referrals.

 

How long will the inspection take?

A typical single-family dwelling takes two to three hours.

 

How much will it cost?

Costs can vary depending upon a variety of things, such as the square footage, age, and foundation of the house.

 

What type of report will you provide and when will I get it?

Ask to see samples to make sure you understand his or her reporting style. Also make sure the timeline works for you.

 

Can I be there for the inspection?

This could be a valuable learning opportunity. If your inspector refuses, this should raise a red flag.

 

Are you a member of a professional home inspector association? What other credentials do you hold?

Ask to see their membership ID; it provides some assurance.

 

Do you keep your skills up to date through continuing education?

An inspector’s interest in continuing education shows a genuine commitment to performing at the highest level. It’s especially important with older homes or homes with unique elements.

 

What doesn’t a home inspection cover?

For a variety of reasons, some homes will require specialty inspections that are not covered by a typical home inspection. A specialty inspection might include such items as your home’s sewer scope, septic system, geotechnical conditions (for homes perched on steep slopes or where there are concerns regarding soil stability) or underground oil storage tank. If you have any questions about whether or not your home needs a specialty inspection, talk to your real estate agent.

 

Here’s Your Spring Maintenance Checklist

Now that spring has sprung, let’s clear the cobwebs and get your home ready! Here is our quick guide to spring home maintenance:

Inspection top to bottom: Now that the weather is temperate you will want to check on how your home weathered the winter. Check the roof for leaks, the gutters for damage, and the siding for cracks. You will also want to inspect your basement or foundation for any shifts. Make repairs now to prevent further damage.

Clean out the gutters: April showers bring May flowers… so clear out the gutters to keep rain from pooling on your roof or near your foundation.

Pest control: Spring is mating season for eight legged critters, so sweep out cobwebs, clear debris, and check the nooks and crannies. If you live in an area prone to dangerous species like brown recluse or black widows, you may want to contact your local pest control, but otherwise household spiders do help eliminate other bugs.

Check your basement and attic for signs of other infestations. For more information on pest control go here: http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere/categories/living/posts/when-things-go-bump-in-the-night

HVAC system: If you have an air conditioner now is the time to check to make sure it is ready before summer gets here and everyone else is clamoring for maintenance. Now is a good time to check your home air filters and replace or upgrade to keep allergens at bay.

Clear the clutter: Do a sweep around the house and get rid of junk that you don’t use! Take a little time each week to tackle a room. Closets, playrooms, and basements can be especially daunting, but getting rid of old stuff and refreshing your space will go a long way!

Deep clean: On a nice day open the windows, dust, wipe, scrub, and clean. You will get a nice work out and your home will look and feel so fresh after a winter of being cooped up.

Update your décor: Add a splash of color to your home with small embellishments. Add a colorful vase, a lighter throw for your sofa, pretty pastel pillows, or spring-time candles, to upgrade your living space.

Take it outdoors: Let your throw rugs, curtains, and other tapestries air our outside. Shake off the dust, spot clean what you can and let everything bask in the sun for an afternoon.

Don’t forget the back yard: It may not be time to start up the grill, yet, but you can get started on your outdoor entertaining checklist. Check your lawn, and if you have some spare spots start filling in with seed. Check your outdoor plants, prune, plant bulbs, start to replenish soil for your garden, and mow, so you are ready to start when the season allows. 

Speaking of the grill – if you have a gas grill you will want to pull this out and perform a maintenance check. Clean everything up and check to make sure all the gas lines are clear, as these can get clogged after sitting idle all winter. Make sure the grill is clear of spiders too, as they can build webs in the tubes, causing damage to your grill. You can start to bring out your garden furniture too, or clean it up if you left it covered outside all winter. Because before you know it, it’ll be barbeque season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon and Southwest Washington Real Estate Market Update

Windermere Real Estate is proud to partner with Gardner Economics on this analysis of the Oregon and Southwest Washington real estate market. This report is designed to offer insight into the realities of the housing market. Numbers alone do not always give an accurate picture of local economic conditions; therefore our goal is to provide an explanation of what the statistics mean and how they impact the Oregon and Southwest Washington housing economy. We hope that this information may assist you with making an informed real estate decision. For further information about the real estate market in your area, please contact your Windermere agent.

 

Regional Economics

Job growth in the Oregon market areas contained in this report continues to pick up steam with a total of 41,809 jobs added in 2014 —this represents an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent. In the fourth quarter alone, 14,833 jobs were added to the economy.

When compared to a year ago, the growth in employment was most prevalent in Multnomah County where employment rose by 10,800 jobs. This was followed by Clark County which saw total employment rise by 6,200, and Washington County rounded out the top three with an increase of 3,600 jobs.

Versus September of 2014, we did see job losses in half of the counties surveyed; however this is not a concern as the data used is not adjusted for seasonality and, therefore, it is not surprising to see some losses. The largest decline in employment in the last three months was seen in Marion County where over 3,000 jobs were lost. Additional substantial losses were seen in Lincoln County where employment declined by 1,080 positions. In total, 2014 was not a bad year and exceeded my forecast for the addition of 35,000 jobs.

As I stated in my last report, given the improving job market seen in 2014, it is not surprising to see the unemployment rate continuing to drop in every county discussed in this report. The lowest unemployment rate was in Benton County at 4.7 percent, and the highest in Klamath County, where 9.7 percent of the labor force was out of work.

Given the job losses that were seen in the quarter, when we compare the latest data to that seen in September we note that the unemployment rate rose in 19 of the 24 counties surveyed. Again, we can put this down to seasonal layoffs; it is not indicative of a long-term trend. The average unemployment rate across the region has now shrunk from 7.6 percent to 6.9 percent which is not bad at all.

I am still maintaining the “C+” grade that I have given the region for each quarter in 2014. The numbers are improving, but the unemployment rate is still higher than I would like to see.

 

 

 

 

Regional Real Estate

Total sales in 2014 were 3.8 percent higher than those seen in 2013; however, inventory constraints in many markets kept this number below its full potential.

Compared to last year, the number of sales rose in all but three counties. But it is clear in many markets that transactional velocities would have been higher had there been an adequate supply of homes for sale. That said, there were several counties where transactional velocities rose well above the average and they are worthy of mention.

Year over year, sales increased by the greatest margin in Linn County (+ 17.6%). Additional double-digit gains were seen in Polk, Cowlitz, Tillamook, and Yamhill Counties.

The areas where sales slowed were all small, which makes the drop in transactions not that great—in total, the decrease in sales in Hood River, Skamania, and Benton Counties only amounted to a loss of 38 units over the previous year.

 

 

The average sale price for the region last quarter was $293,402—an increase of 6.6 percent over the fourth quarter of 2013. However, when compared to the third quarter average sale prices dropped by

3.8 percent. This is not too surprising given the fact that the sales tend to trend down, as do prices, as we run through the winter months.

Fourth quarter saw an annual gain in prices in 19 of the 23 counties surveyed, with the largest increases being in Cowlitz (+19.6%), Klickitat (+18.7%), Columbia (+13.8%), Lincoln (+12.5%), and Marion (+12.1%) Counties. There were four counties where prices fell, with Skamania County seeing the greatest drop in value compared to a year ago (-17.1%). This was followed by Klamath County (-12.2%) and Hood River County (-8.8%).

Interestingly, home prices in all but two counties (Clatsop and Skamania) are higher than seen two years ago and all but five counties have seen prices appreciate over the past five-year period.

Lack of inventory continues to be a major concern and, even though the market is still performing adequately, I am maintaining a “C+” grade.

 

 

 

Conclusions

The Oregon economy continues to improve with a majority of the counties in this report seeing employment growth above the national average.

As compared to 2013, unemployment rates continue to fall even as the civilian labor force continues to expand. This is important as it indicates an economy where jobs are being created and improving unemployment rates are not due to people stopping their search for work.

Improvement in the region’s housing markets continues to be uneven; however, aggregate price growth is still above the national average and likely to stay that way as we move through 2015.

Interest rates in 2014 did not trend upward as I had expected. That said, I am still predicting that rates will move higher as we continue through the year, but not at excessively fast rates. By the end of 2015, I expect to see the average 30-year fixed rate below five percent, but a lot closer to it than we stand today.

My call for this year is for the regional economy to continue adding jobs at rates that exceed the U.S. as a whole. In the housing market, we should see modest growth in the number of homes for sale, and this will allow prices to continue to trend higher, averaging just below five percent home price growth in 2015.

 

 

About Matthew Gardner

Mr. Gardner is a land use economist and principal with Gardner Economics and is considered by many to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to managing his consulting practice, Mr. Gardner chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; sits on the Urban Land Institutes Technical Assistance Panel; is an Advisory Board Member for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington; and is the Editor of the Washington State University’s Central Puget Sound Real Estate Research Report.

He is also the retained economist for the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties. He has twenty-five years of professional experience in the U.K. and U.S.

He has appeared on CNN, NBC and NPR news services to discuss real estate issues, and is regularly cited in the Wall Street Journal and all local media.

 

 

 

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

Windermere Real Estate is proud to partner with Gardner Economics on this analysis of the Western Washington real estate market. This report is designed to offer insight into the realities of the housing market. Numbers alone do not always give an accurate picture of local economic conditions; therefore our goal is to provide an explanation of what the statistics mean and how they impact the Western Washington housing economy. We hope that this information may assist you with making an informed real estate decision. For further information about the real estate market in your area, please contact your Windermere agent.

 

Regional Economics

2014 was a pretty good year for the 15 counties covered in this report. In total, Western Washington added 65,710 jobs in 2014, up from the annual rate of 62,520 through the third quarter, which is a growth rate of 2.9 percent. For comparison purposes, the state as a whole grew by 2.7 percent and employment nationwide rose by 1.9 percent.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, employment made an impressive jump as the market added 22,410 new jobs in the fourth quarter, up dramatically from the meager 3,100 jobs added in in the third quarter.

The tri-county area of King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties continues to dominate in terms of total jobs as well as total growth rates, having added 53,400 jobs year-over-year, and a substantial 14,000 jobs in the fourth quarter.

King County continues to lead with 43,300 jobs added in 2014. This was followed by Pierce County which added 7,900 jobs, and Thurston County rounds out the top three with 3,600 jobs. Interestingly, no market saw its total employment level decline in 2014.

When looking at percentage growth rates, the small San Juan County area saw employment leap by 10.8 percent. This was followed by Cowlitz County (+4.1%) and Skagit County (+3.7%).

When we look at unemployment rates in the region, we note a change from the recent trend of declining unemployment across the entire region. At the end of 2014, the unemployment rate dropped in eight of the 15 counties surveyed. Two counties saw the rate remain static and five saw the rate rise.

This is not unusual for several reasons. Firstly, as markets improve, more people start to look for work and they are then counted as being unemployed. Secondly, we are starting to see growth in the total labor force, which can have a negative effect on the unemployment rate. I am not concerned about this, as the overall trend has been that of unemployment rates trending lower and I anticipate that this will continue as we move through 2015.

When compared to December of 2013, the greatest unemployment rate decline was seen in Grays Harbor County where the rate dropped by 1.1 percent. This was followed by Snohomish County with a drop of 0.9 percent, and King and Mason Counties saw their rates decline by 0.6 percent.

From an employment growth standpoint, Washington State and the counties contained in this report continue to outperform the nation as a whole. Smaller markets will always be subject to (potentially) wild fluctuations, but the overall trend has been positive for the last few years. Furthermore, I do not see any obvious obstacles that would suggest we are likely to see a slowing economy any time soon.

That said, I am going to maintain the “B+” grade that I have given the economy for over a year. We continue on the upswing but have yet to reach our full potential.

 

Regional Real Estate

The number of homes that were for sale at the end of 2014 was 9.7 percent lower than at the end of 2013, which is a little disappointing as it continues a trend that was seen at the end of the third quarter. The total number of listings in the counties covered by this report was measured at 14,219, compared to 15,743 a year ago. As a point of reference, in December 2009, there were 26,711 homes listed for sale. There is no doubt that the continued lack of homes for sale has many frustrated.

Interestingly enough, while inventory levels have continued to fall, home sales in 2014 actually rose. When we look at sales activity, 65,457 homes sold in 2014—an increase of 3.2 percent versus 2013. However, in fourth quarter there was an 18.6 percent drop in home sales compared to third quarter numbers. We can certainly attribute some of this to seasonality, but it was not the way I wanted to see the year end.

When we look at a year-over-year comparison, home sales grew the fastest in San Juan County (+38.3%), followed by Mason County (+26.1%), and Grays Harbor County (+17.5%). There were just two counties where annual home sales fell: King County (-0.6%) and Clallam County (-5.4%).

The weighted average home sale price in Western Washington in the fourth quarter was $350,667—an increase of 6.5 percent compared to 2013. As is seen in the chart to the right, all but two counties saw average prices go up. Price growth continues to moderate somewhat—which isn’t a bad thing— but remains above the U.S. as a whole.

The strongest annual gains during fourth quarter were in Lewis County where prices rose by 18.1 percent. There were also significant gains seen in Kittitas County (+15.7%), Grays Harbor County (+12.3%), Pierce County (+12.2%), and Thurston County (+10.2%). As for price declines, Skagit County had a loss of -6.5% and Mason County -5.7%.

Interest rates remain at close to historically low levels and the economy continues to chug along, but we need more homes for sale. As such, I am maintaining the “B+” grade that I gave the market in the third quarter.

 

Conclusions

Our market continues to add jobs and our population continues to rise (+63,000 in 2014), both of which are very positive. However, our housing market continues to have a lack of homes for sale.

Will we see an increase in listings in 2015? That is the million dollar question. If not, then we might see builders going into overdrive in an attempt to address pent up demand.

Interest rates are going to rise in 2014, but not at excessively fast rates. By the end of 2015, I still expect to see the average 30-year fixed rate below five percent, but a lot closer to it than we stand today.

I expect to see home prices continue to appreciate in 2015, but at somewhat slower rates that are more sustainable over the long term. However, it is possible that price growth may continue to escalate faster than anticipated, even if we see the number of homes for sale increasing, if a higher proportion of those homes coming to market are high-end homes.

 

About Matthew Gardner

Mr. Gardner is a land use economist and principal with Gardner Economics and is considered by many to be one of the foremost real estate analysts in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to managing his consulting practice, Mr. Gardner chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; sits on the Urban Land Institutes Technical Assistance Panel; is an Advisory Board Member for the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington; and is the Editor of the Washington State University’s Central Puget Sound Real Estate Research Report.

He is also the retained economist for the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties. He has twenty-five years of professional experience in the U.K. and U.S.

He has appeared on CNN, NBC and NPR news services to discuss real estate issues, and is regularly cited in the Wall Street Journal and all local media.

 

 

 

Windermere Foundation 2014 Year in Review

This past year, the Windermere Foundation had a milestone anniversary, celebrating 25 years of supporting programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to low-income and homeless families. What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need in Washington State, has grown to encompass ten states and raised over $28 million—bringing us closer to reaching our fundraising goal of $30 million by the end of 2015.

It was a busy year for our Windermere agents and offices, whose participation and contributions make our funding possible. Here are some highlights from the past year…

Charity Challenge: We kicked off our anniversary celebration in March with the Windermere Foundation 25th Anniversary Charity Challenge. Twenty-one non-profit organizations were nominated by Windermere offices to compete via Facebook for $25,000. Almost 19,000 people voted to help determine the winners. The five non-profits that received the most votes were Hand in Hand, Friends of the Children of Portland, Family Promise of Spokane, Boys and Girls Club of El Sobrante, and Yavapai CASA for Kids, Inc. Each organization received $25,000, for a total donation of $125,000 from the Windermere Foundation.

       

Prize monies awarded allowed the non-profits to hire more staff, purchase additional food and clothing to serve more children and families, and provide additional summer programming and weekly field trips. The donations also helped fund critical programs for foster children that were not covered by state funding, and allowed one non-profit to move into a larger, newer building, enabling them to serve more clients.

Windermere Kicks for Kids: In August, Windermere offices in the greater Seattle area collected over 1,400 pairs of sneakers during a shoe drive campaign to benefit Boys & Girls Club of King County and Mary’s Place. Many of our offices came up with creative ways to collect shoes, including the Windermere office in Mercer Island, WA, which took the award for collecting the most shoes.

Coat & Blanket Drives: In the fall, Windermere offices throughout our network collected winter clothing and gear to help the homeless and families in need in their communities. The Windermere Prescott and Prescott Valley offices in Arizona collected and sorted nearly 500 jackets. Thirty-five Windermere offices throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington held their annual Share the Warmth Coat & Blanket Drive.

Food Drives:  Windermere offices also collected food during the holiday season. The Mukilteo, WA office collected over 4,600 pounds of food and over $1,000 in cash donations. The Windermere Professional Partners offices in Tacoma, WA collected and delivered over 2,500 pounds of food and $924 in cash donations, which provided over 1,950 meals to individuals and families served by their local food bank.

Auctions & Holiday Events: The Windermere Raleigh Hills office in Portland, Oregon raised over $8,000 at their Winter Wonderland Silent and Live Auction. Windermere offices throughout the Western U.S. partnered with local service organizations to adopt children and families for holiday gift-giving. In December, over 200 brokers from six Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. offices participated in the Target for Kids event, helping bring the holidays to 100 children and their families. This was their fourteenth year participating in the event, which in total has donated almost a quarter-of-a-million dollars through the Windermere Foundation. The Windermere Redding, CA office held their annual Fundraiser for Make-A-Wish and Wings of Angels, as well as a Wish List Drive for One Safe Place, a domestic violence crisis center.

No Child Sleeps Outside: Through the Windermere Foundation, Seattle-area Windermere offices came together to donate $35,000 to Mary’s Places “No Child Sleeps Outside” campaign in December. Donations were immediately used to open a crisis-response night shelter to provide homeless families with a warm place to sleep during the winter months.

Stellar Contributions: The Windermere Stellar offices in Oregon and SW Washington continued to demonstrate their commitment to community by nearly doubling their charitable contributions in 2014 from the previous year. They donated a total of $370,000 throughout the year, which supported 45 charitable organizations in their communities.

SUMMARY OF FUNDS, GRANTS & DONATIONS IN 2014      

  • Scholarships:                                                           $63,936                                
  • Youth/Child Programs:                                           $634,423.08        
  • Emergency Assistance:                                         $401,086.79        
  • Shelter:                                                                      $326,999.25        
  • School Assistance:                                                 $168,654.78        
  • Education/Job Training & Counseling:               $55,521  
  • Administrative Expenses:                                      $58,889.66              
  • Funds provided in 2014:                                       $1,650,620.90

 

  • Percent raised through individual contributions & fundraisers:  69%
  • Percent raised through transactions:                                               31%
  • Number of organizations served:                                                      434
  • Number of grants awarded:                                                                591
  • Average grant size:                                                                               $2,792.08
  • Average donation amount:                                                                  $129.67
  • Funds raised since 1989:                                                                  $28,763,253.09

Thank you to our agents and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation. Your generosity is truly making a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities.

If you’d like to help us reach our goal of $30 million by the end of the year, please click on the Donate button to make a donation. 

Visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation to learn more about the Windermere Foundation, and remember to read the Windermere Blog for more in-depth stories about what our offices are doing throughout the year.

Windermere Foundation 2014 Year in Review

This past year, the Windermere Foundation had a milestone anniversary, celebrating 25 years of supporting programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to low-income and homeless families. What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need in Washington State, has grown to encompass ten states and raised over $28 million—bringing us closer to reaching our fundraising goal of $30 million by the end of 2015.

It was a busy year for our Windermere agents and offices, whose participation and contributions make our funding possible. Here are some highlights from the past year…

Charity Challenge: We kicked off our anniversary celebration in March with the Windermere Foundation 25th Anniversary Charity Challenge. Twenty-one non-profit organizations were nominated by Windermere offices to compete via Facebook for $25,000. Almost 19,000 people voted to help determine the winners. The five non-profits that received the most votes were Hand in Hand, Friends of the Children of Portland, Family Promise of Spokane, Boys and Girls Club of El Sobrante, and Yavapai CASA for Kids, Inc. Each organization received $25,000, for a total donation of $125,000 from the Windermere Foundation.

        

Prize monies awarded allowed the non-profits to hire more staff, purchase additional food and clothing to serve more children and families, and provide additional summer programming and weekly field trips. The donations also helped fund critical programs for foster children that were not covered by state funding, and allowed one non-profit to move into a larger, newer building, enabling them to serve more clients.

Windermere Kicks for Kids: In August, Windermere offices in the greater Seattle area collected over 1,400 pairs of sneakers during a shoe drive campaign to benefit Boys & Girls Club of King County and Mary’s Place. Many of our offices came up with creative ways to collect shoes, including the Windermere office in Mercer Island, WA, which took the award for collecting the most shoes.

Coat & Blanket Drives: In the fall, Windermere offices throughout our network collected winter clothing and gear to help the homeless and families in need in their communities. The Windermere Prescott and Prescott Valley offices in Arizona collected and sorted nearly 500 jackets. Thirty-five Windermere offices throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington held their annual Share the Warmth Coat & Blanket Drive.

Food Drives:  Windermere offices also collected food during the holiday season. The Mukilteo, WA office collected over 4,600 pounds of food and over $1,000 in cash donations. The Windermere Professional Partners offices in Tacoma, WA collected and delivered over 2,500 pounds of food and $924 in cash donations, which provided over 1,950 meals to individuals and families served by their local food bank.

Auctions & Holiday Events: The Windermere Raleigh Hills office in Portland, Oregon raised over $8,000 at their Winter Wonderland Silent and Live Auction. Windermere offices throughout the Western U.S. partnered with local service organizations to adopt children and families for holiday gift-giving. In December, over 200 brokers from six Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. offices participated in the Target for Kids event, helping bring the holidays to 100 children and their families. This was their fourteenth year participating in the event, which in total has donated almost a quarter-of-a-million dollars through the Windermere Foundation. The Windermere Redding, CA office held their annual Fundraiser for Make-A-Wish and Wings of Angels, as well as a Wish List Drive for One Safe Place, a domestic violence crisis center.

No Child Sleeps Outside: Through the Windermere Foundation, Seattle-area Windermere offices came together to donate $35,000 to Mary’s Places “No Child Sleeps Outside” campaign in December. Donations were immediately used to open a crisis-response night shelter to provide homeless families with a warm place to sleep during the winter months.

Stellar Contributions: The Windermere Stellar offices in Oregon and SW Washington continued to demonstrate their commitment to community by nearly doubling their charitable contributions in 2014 from the previous year. They donated a total of $370,000 throughout the year, which supported 45 charitable organizations in their communities.

SUMMARY OF FUNDS, GRANTS & DONATIONS IN 2014      

  • Scholarships:                                                           $63,936                                
  • Youth/Child Programs:                                           $634,423.08        
  • Emergency Assistance:                                         $401,086.79        
  • Shelter:                                                                      $326,999.25        
  • School Assistance:                                                 $168,654.78        
  • Education/Job Training & Counseling:               $55,521  
  • Administrative Expenses:                                      $58,889.66              
  • Funds provided in 2014:                                       $1,650,620.90

 

  • Percent raised through individual contributions & fundraisers:  69%
  • Percent raised through transactions:                                               31%
  • Number of organizations served:                                                      434
  • Number of grants awarded:                                                                591
  • Average grant size:                                                                               $2,792.08
  • Average donation amount:                                                                  $129.67
  • Funds raised since 1989:                                                                  $28,763,253.09

Thank you to our agents and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation. Your generosity is truly making a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities.

If you’d like to help us reach our goal of $30 million by the end of the year, please click on the Donate button to make a donation. 

Visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation to learn more about the Windermere Foundation, and remember to read the Windermere Blog for more in-depth stories about what our offices are doing throughout the year.

Your Favorite Space Could Win You $500 From Porch.com

Last week we launched our #OdeToMyAbode photo contest and the pics of people’s favorite rooms and spaces are really quite inspiring. There’s still time for you to post a photo of your favorite space for a chance to win $500 in home improvement services from Porch.com. Just go here, or post it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #OdeToMyAbode, by Friday, February 27.

Prefer to just look? For the voyeur in all of us, go here to peruse the photos we’ve collected so far and vote for your favorites. The pic with the most votes wins! In the meantime, we thought we’d provide motivation from some of our favorite luxury listings on Windermere.com. These rooms really take #OdeToMyAbode to a whole new level.

 

A grand entrance

Talk about a great first impression; check out the wallpaper in this glorious entryway. We’re halfway expecting Rita Hayworth to come sauntering down those stairs in kitten heels and a fur stole.

 

We are family

This photo proves that family rooms can be both functional and fabulous. And a pop of orange never hurt anyone. That table at the back of the room could seat a small army (of children).

 

A room with a view

An incredible, jaw-dropping view from the famous Escala building in downtown Seattle. We could host dinner parties in this space all week long and twice on Sunday. #PagingMrGrey

 

Grab your hot stones and a robe

Marble counters? Soothing color palette? Cool rectangle-shaped bathtub complete with candles? Check, check, and check. Really, what more could you ask for from a spa, I mean bathroom? In our opinion, this is total perfection.

 

The Home Theater (or is it Theatre?)

The key to the perfect home theater starts with super cush seating, larger-than-life surround sound, and a crystal clear, high-def TV – 3D perhaps? Top it all off with a snack bar that would do Han Solo proud.  

 

Outdoor Oasis

OK, ok, we can’t all live in Hawaii where this redonkulous photo was taken, but outdoor spaces come in all shapes, sizes, and weather patterns. Just ask anyone who lives in Seattle.

 

The center of the universe

It’s true what they say about kitchens. They’re where everyone wants to be. Doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny little studio kitchen or something more along the lines of this fabuleuse cuisine (as the French say). We love the marble/butcher block combo counters. And the built-in cookbook case adds a nice touch. Do we spy Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cuisine? Oui Madame.

 

So, these are some of our favorite things when it comes to cool rooms and spaces. What about you? You can still enter our #OdeToMyAbode contest by posting your photo here: http://bit.ly/1uVaVIB. You can also post it on Twitter or Instagram with the #OdeToMyAbode hashtag. Remember, the photo with the most votes gets $500 in services from Porch.com.

What are you waiting for?

 

February Perspectives

If you’re in the market to buy or sell a home, or you’re just a real estate junkie at heart, you may have heard the term “months supply” used by real estate agents or the media when discussing the housing market. For example, right now there’s about a 1.4 month supply of homes for sale in King County, and less than a month’s supply in a lot of Seattle neighborhoods. But what does that mean and why does it matter? Believe it or not, the months supply of homes is probably one of the best indicators of what’s going on in the market. But before we get into that, we’ll start by explaining what it is.

The months supply is the measure of how many months it would take for all the homes that are on the market to sell given the current pace of home sales. So, if there are 50 homes on the market, and 10 homes are selling every month, then there is a five month supply of homes. The general rule is that if there is less than a three month supply, it’s a seller’s market; a three-to-six month supply is considered a balanced market; a six-plus month supply shifts into a buyer’s market. It’s all about supply and demand.

It’s no secret that Seattle is in the midst of a seller’s market and competition between buyers is fierce. This often results in bidding wars and homes selling for well over asking price. Last year this helped push prices up by more than 10% in the Seattle area. We all like to see our homes go up in value, but market extremes over the long term can lead to a boom/bust cycle like we saw back in 2006 and 2007. That’s why we’re happy that appreciation this year is expected to slow a little to around 4-6%. Months supply is also supposed to rise, leading us towards a healthier, more balanced housing market.

To keep track of what's going on with home sales in your neighborhood, contact a Windermere Real Estate agent and ask them to sign you up for our monthly Neighborhood News e-newsletter.

6 Essential Steps to Pet-Proofing Your Home

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Holly King 

 

By Design Interiors, Inc. - pets

Bringing a pet into your home can be a source of great joy, but it’s also a huge responsibility. Not only do you have to feed these furry fellas, take them out for exercise, and bring them to regular vet screenings, you are also in charge of their safety. Nobody wants their little ones escaping and living out their own version ofHomeward Bound. That kind of adventure doesn’t always end as well as it does in the movies!

Use these helpful tips to ensure that you’re actively guarding all of your family members from harm, including your four-legged friends.

1. Hide Your Hazards

NB Design Group - pets

 

Photo courtesy of NB Design Group

Dogs, cats, and just about any animals are like babies – they’re notorious for putting anything they can get their paws on into their mouths. That’s why it’s important to tuck away loose wires or cords that might be within their reach. If your pet bites into a wire or cord, they risk getting poisoned or electrocuted. Products like the Cable Turtle  or other cord management tools are convenient ways to hide errant cords so your pet can’t get to them.

2. Avoid Slippery Situations

Gelotte Hommas - pets

 

Photo courtesy of Gelotte Hommas

Animals, dogs in particular, have a tendency to get excited and tear through the house. If you’re living in a home with wood, tile, or laminate flooring, you’ve probably seen your dog turn the floor into a slip-n-slide in his eagerness to greet you. To help avoid falls and broken furniture, consider placing area rugs on large areas of open flooring. Your dog will be able to run happily through the house without going face-first into a wall.

3. Install a Security System

Architect Mason Kirby Inc. - pets

 

Photo courtesy of Architect Mason Kirby Inc.

 Home security systems aren’t just for humans anymore. In fact, there are some systems on the market that can recognize the difference between animals and people. Pet-immune motion sensors work by recognizing differences in infrared body temperatures between humans and animals.

There are some great products coming soon that will even recognize the habits of the pets in your home and know when to record and when not to, like the smartphone-operated Butterfleyeand Canary home security systems. The Canary security system not only checks for intruders, but also monitors air quality in your home, so you know that you and your pets are safe from things like carbon monoxide poisoning.

4. Purchase a Pet Emergency Kit

NB Design Group - pets 2

 

Photo courtesy of NB Design Group

When preparing your home for a natural disaster or other emergencies, don’t forget your pets! Pet emergency kits can be bought or easily put together on your own. The ASPCA provides a handy pet emergency kit checklist. Some of the items include:

  • Canned food
  • Enough water to last for a week
  • Blankets and storage containers
  • Litter trays for cats and other small pets
  • Medical/veterinary histories for your pets
  • A pet first-aid kit in case you need to patch small injuries

The ASPCA also notes that it’s important to get a Rescue Alert Sticker. You’ve probably seen these before; they’re the stickers you place in your window to let emergency personnel (like firefighters and police) know that there are animals inside in need of rescue.

5. Provide Proper Fencing

By Design Interiors, Inc. - pets

 

Photo courtesy of By Design Interiors, Inc.

A lot of homeowners fail to consider proper fencing when getting their first pet, even if they aren’t bringing a dog into the home. In fact, it’s quite easy for cats and other small animals to get past a normal fence if they manage to get out of the house.

Have your fence placed deep into the ground so your pet can’t dig underneath and escape. You might also consider extending the video surveillance system that pairs with your security system to include the length of the yard, just to keep an eye on pets and any threats trying to get in.

6. Secure Your Cabinets

HOUSEplay Interiors - pets

 

Photo courtesy of HOUSEplay Interiors

Animals are nosy creatures (kind of like humans!), and they’ll go rooting around in your cupboards for food if you give them the chance. Add cabinet doors that lock into place to prevent them from getting into harmful chemicals and toxic foods. Be particularly careful about what you allow your pets to eat, because many foods people munch on are deadly for pets. Check out this helpful list of foods your pet shouldn’t eat if you’re not sure what’s good and bad for Fido.

Keep these tips in mind when bringing a new pet home to be part of the family, and you’ll feel more secure knowing everyone will be much safer if you’re away.

Tom Image Credit By Design Interiors, Inc.

Have you taken all of these steps to keep your furry family members safe?

 

 

 Porch.com is the free home network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals.