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.

 

 

Join Our #OdeToMyAbode Photo Contest

 

Everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is a day in which we express our affection for those we love. But at Windermere, we don’t think it should stop there. People often feel a deep sense of love for their homes, as well. Do you have a favorite space in your home that you consider your sanctuary? Or a room where family memories are made? Maybe it’s simply a cozy spot to curl up with a good book. Whatever your favorite space might be, we want to see it. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we invite you to share a pictorial love letter to your home through our #OdeToMyAbode photo contest. Simply upload your photo along with the #OdeToMyAbode hashtag via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at http://bit.ly/1uVaVIB, and you will be entered to win $500 worth of home improvement services from Porch.com.

 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Take a photo of your favorite room or space in your home.
  2. Go to Windermere’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page and post the photo along with the hashtag: #OdeToMyAbode
  3. You can also post the photo on the contest website: http://bit.ly/1uVaVIB

 

The #OdeToMyAbdoe contest starts Monday, February 9, and runs through Friday, February 27. For more info, visit http://bit.ly/1uVaVIB

 

Who Needs Super Bowl Tickets With These Man Caves?

Do you have an unfinished room in your house that you just can’t decide what to do with? Finishing that space not only adds square footage to your home, but value too. With the Super Bowl only days away, you might consider turning that empty room into the ideal spot for watching the big game. The ultimate man caves are a combo of creativity, class, and of course, comfort. So let’s get started with some ideas:

Lounge: Create the ultimate gentlemanly getaway with a wet bar, pool table, cigar bar, and dark hardwood floors. You might also add a poker table for those late night poker games.

Sport’s Den: Sports memorabilia is a must for any man cave. Add overstuffed couches and extra cushy carpeting to make it the ideal hangout spot. The only drawback? Your friends may not want to leave when the game’s over.

Home Theater: When it comes to having your very own theater, the more cushions, the merrier. Fully loaded snack bar and built-in seating with different levels are the best way to get the vibe going. Adding a bar/eating area into the cinema room makes multi-function entertaining more favorable for guests.

Don’t Forget the Ladies: It’s easy to put a lady's touch on any one of these room ideas. Use white leather couches, some colorful throw pillows from your favorite team, and fur throws. Trade in the cigar bar for a bubbly bar and the green felt for a pink billiard table to add the perfect girly twist.

Here are some dos and don’ts for your man cave:

  • A lot of people make the mistake of putting their TV above the fireplace. This is a no-no because it’s bad for your neck and shoulder muscles. Don’t believe us? It’s like sitting in the front row at the movie theater, day after day after day.
  • It’s better for the resale value of your home to use a neutral color palette and then personalize with your favorite team’s memorabilia that you can take with you once you decide to sell.
  • It should go without saying, but remember to keep the food and drinks stocked at all times for your guests. It’s easy to get carried away with what’s on the big screen, but this can make or break your party.

So, now that you have everything you need to know about setting up the super-est of Super Bowl man caves, who are you rooting for?  

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Home’s Resale Value

 Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - sell your home faster with these five tips

 

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Judith Burzell

 

Are you getting ready to sell your home? Do you want to get it sold quickly, and for the price you want?

Did you know that most buyers form their first impression of your home within minutes of first seeing it? Years ago sellers would list their homes for sale in “as is” condition. In today’s market, that no longer works. Today you need to make the best possible first impression to get the sale you want – and you only get one chance to make a great first impression.

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, here are 5 great tips to help you sell it fast and get what you asked for–or maybe even more!

1. Deep Clean

Graciela Rutkowski - sell your home 6

Buyers want to see a fresh, clean home – a dirty home will turn buyers off.

  • Kitchens sell homes. Give special attention to countertops, grout lines, appliances, and cabinets, inside and out. Clean the refrigerator and pantry, and hide any trash cans.

  • Clean floors until they shine, and clear away pet areas. Dust all surfaces, including those above your line of sight. Don’t forget the ceiling fans!

  • Make bathrooms look good and smell fresh. Scrub toilets, and clean shower doors. Invest in fresh bedding, linens, and towels. Odors will turn off buyers. Refresh the space with room deodorizers, but don’t use heavy scents.

  • Clean corners, doorways, and window frames. Don’t forget the garage!

  • Clear out closets, and store what you’re not using. A half-filled closet looks much larger than one that is stuffed.

2. Add Curb Appeal

Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - curb appeal

When buyers drive up to your home, you want them to be excited to come in!

  • Invest in professional landscaping. Make sure the lawn is mown, re-seed where the grass looks thin, and trim hedges, trees, and anything that blocks the view to your home. Add colorful flowers along pathways and by the front entry.

  • Power wash the outside of your home, including paths and driveways. Wash windows to make them sparkle and let in light, and clean gutters and walkways.

  • Give your front porch a makeover. Add a bench or chair and a decorative touch. Don’t forget the mailbox! Give it a touch of paint, and be sure it’s standing up straight.

  • Park cars in the garage–or even better, out of the way entirely.

3. Fix What’s Broken

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You want buyers to focus on the best features of your home, and not on problems from deferred maintenance. This is the time to do those ‘fix-it’ projects that you’ve been putting off. It may cost a bit up front, but it will pay off in the long term.

  • Walk through your home with a fresh eye to see if there are obvious maintenance issues. Fix the things you can yourself, and hire a handyman for larger projects. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral color will go a long way!

  • Small details add up. Replace worn, dated hardware and knobs with new pieces that suit the style of the home. Replace worn switch plates and old heating and air conditioning registers with new ones that are clean and uncracked.

  • Lighting makes all the difference. Replace old bulbs with higher wattage, full spectrum light bulbs. Open curtains to let in natural light.

  • If the weather allows, open the windows for fresh air.

4. Stage It!

Graciela Rutkowski Interiors - sell your home

Home staging is one of the best steps you can take when preparing to list your home. Statistically, a staged home will sell 80% faster, and for 10% more than an un-staged home! The cost of staging is one of the best returns on investment a seller can make over any other improvements. If you can afford to, hire a professional stager. You will be surprised at the difference they can make for a small investment. A stager will:

  • Showcase the best features in your home, placing furniture to define focal points and maximize the space.

  • De-clutter to help create a feeling of spaciousness.

  • De-personalize the home so that potential buyers can envision themselves in your home, rather than focusing on the things you own

  • Highlight the best features of your home–a beautiful kitchen, a stunning view, a great fireplace, or whatever it is about your home that makes it special.

  • Organize furniture placement so that it helps to create visual space and good flow, and define rooms, so that buyers can see how each room in your home can be used.

5. Invest in Professional Photos

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Today’s buyers are more likely to see your home for the first time on the internet. Great professional photos will make your listing stand out over similar homes, and encourage potential buyers to come see your home.

Once you get your home looking its best, be sure to keep it “show ready” for a quick sale. Put out some fresh flowers, and you’re ready to go!

Is your home ready to sell? Would you use any of these home selling tips?

 

All photos courtesy of Graciela Rutkowski Interiors

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Another Slam Dunk for Husky Hoops Half-Time Fundraiser Show

Since 1989, a portion of the proceeds from every home purchased or sold through Windermere Real Estate is donated to the Windermere Foundation. The Foundation uses these donations to provide funding to programs that support low-income and homeless families in our communities. One event that we have supported over the past few years is the annual Husky Hoops half-time free-throw fundraiser at the University of Washington vs. Washington State men’s basketball game.

Four kids from the University Family YMCA participated in this year’s event, which took place on Saturday, January 10. The Windermere Foundation donated $100 for each free-throw that was made during the special half-time event, with a minimum $1,000 donation. The four YMCA kids gave it their all, with the stadium crowd cheering them on. The kids had a blast and the University Family YMCA received a check for $1,000.

The YMCA is just one of the many non-profit organizations that the Windermere Foundation supports, donating funds over the years towards tuition-assistance for low-income children to attend after-school enrichment programs and summer camp activities. To date, the Windermere Foundation has raised over $28 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help the most.

To find out more about the Windermere Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation