Q2 2019 Gardner Report

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.

If you’d like to download a copy of this report you can do so here.

Posted on August 8, 2019 at 8:34 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Market Updates, Trends

Caring for your winter plants

Winters in many parts of Western Washington can easily see temperatures that dip down below freezing. For many gardening homeowners, this can be troublesome when precious plants are concerned. Covering your plants with sheets may not be enough to save a plant from succumbing to freezing temperatures. Check out these ways to bring your plants inside for winter:

Take Inventory of Plants
Unless you have planted exotic plants that are definitely not going to survive cold temperatures, there are probably more than a few plants within your yard that should be okay. Healthy native plants are used to the climate of your area and should be able to withstand the winter temperatures without any issue. Those plants that are better suited for a higher growing zone will need to be cared for in order to best survive the season. Consider every plant within your yard and access their health, maturity, and location in order to choose which plants to bring indoors.

Indoor Placement
Exotic plants love the sun and should be placed near southern facing windows that aren’t drafty or cold. Create a spot within your home that is far from drafts or cold breezes from open doors. Spread plastic sheeting to protect flooring and create a little greenhouse group of plants that will still receive plenty of sunlight. Refrain from placing plants too close together in order to allow for equal access to sunlight and air flow.

Container Issues
Many potted plants can easily be moved indoors without having to transplant them. Easily place potted plants in a group to ride out the winter season. In-ground plants within your landscape will need to be transplanted to a container in order to bring them indoors. Make sure that you consider the size of the plant and use a container that is big enough around for the root ball of the plant. Using a container that is much too large for a plant is better than one that is too small and could damage the plant’s root system.

Keep the Fan On
Many indoor plants enjoy being near a window but will also need adequate air circulation to prevent soggy soil conditions. It is a good idea to keep the ceiling fan on in the room, at a low speed, in order to keep the air moving within the room. Don’t place plants too close to heating vents in order to keep them from becoming too hot and overheated. Plants that produce browning leaves will need to be moved to a room with a humidifier in order to keep them in good condition as well.

Keep Pets Away
Many indoor plants can become curious items for an indoor pet. Make sure to keep pets away from plants in order to keep both safe. Some tropical plants are toxic for animals and some pets can prove damaging to plants. Create a barrier between plants and animals so that both are kept safe during the winter season.

Water & Dust
Keeping your plants watered indoors may look different than what it receives in an outdoor environment. Make sure to consider the plant before watering in order to keep it in soil that it prefers. Many winter climates will not see a lot of added water so choosing to water your indoor plants at a minimum will help mimic those conditions that it would receive outside.

Also, check the plants for accumulating dust that can easily be found after a few weeks indoors. Dust off plants on a regular basis in order to keep them healthy and able to absorb important nutrients. Use a wet cloth to gently wipe down leaves in order to keep dust free from indoor plants.

There are many things to consider when choosing to bring plants indoors for winter. Make sure to choose plants carefully and monitor their progress as the winter season wears on. Consider all of these tips for bringing your plants inside for winter in order to keep them from freezing outdoors.

Kelly Holland is a gardening and landscape design writer who loves experimenting in her kitchen. Her quirky nature loves a bright color palette so naturally, her coveted garden is covered in a rainbow of fruits, vegetable, and flowers.

Posted on December 6, 2018 at 12:10 am
Tracie Gulit | Category: Community, Trends

Home Decor that Adds Value

Getting ready to put your home on the market or just want to give it a fresh look? You probably have heard that professional photos and video increase the chances of your home being seen online!

However, you’ve got to clean up your home a bit before we can get to the good stuff. It’s a daunting task, but decluttering and cleaning up will help attract the most buyers. Once you’ve said bye-bye to that clutter and have made your home look spruced up, you can go back in and add some decor that will accent what you already have and catch the eye of a potential buyer.

Here are some decor ideas that are current with today’s style and will add a touch of ‘wow factor’ to your Realtor’s marketing techniques.

 

Posted on November 6, 2018 at 5:58 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: DIY, Selling a Home, Trends

Myths and Truths About Millennial Home Buyers

Source: www.blog.windermere.com

 

In recent years there has been a lot written about millennials and their impact on the housing market. Because of this, there are also a lot of misconceptions about what this generation wants from a home. To start, it’s important to know that there are more than 71 millennials, which are defined as those aged 22-37. They also represent 34 percent of all home buyers which makes them tremendously important to the real estate market. We were curious if what we’ve read about millennial home buying habits is true and here’s what we found.

 

Simple, Functional, Minimal Maintenance

 

Millennials do not appear to be drawn to fixer uppers in the same way as prior generations. They want something that is “move-in” ready with minimal maintenance. They also value simplicity and function over extravagance which means they’re drawn to spaces that serve dual purposes and furniture that doubles as storage. The old adage “less is more” takes on new meaning for millennial buyers.

 

Location

 

Similar to older generations, millennials place a great deal of importance on location. The convenience to their job, friends, family, entertainment, and shopping is a must. But the rumor out there that they only want to live in city dwellings is a myth. Millennials are getting older and starting to have families, so like prior generations, many of them are moving away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into nearby neighborhoods with good schools and family-friendly amenities.

 

Digitally Engaged

 

Millennials have grown up surrounded by technology, so smart home technology is a high priority for these buyers. And they’re willing to pay more for it: a survey conducted by Wakefield Research states that millennials are willing to pay a 20 percent premium for smart home technology, such as voice assisted devices, smart phone-controlled security systems, electronic door locks, and doorbell cameras.

 

Experience over Luxuries

 

One of the main things we’ve learned about millennials is that they are not prone to conformity. They’re a practical bunch who places a very high priority on experiences and quality of life. Studies show that millennials would rather have discretionary income to pay for things like healthy food, gym memberships, and international travel than blowing their budget on an expensive home. In other words, they’re happy with a modest space so they have money left to spend on their quality of life.

In the end, millennial buyers aren’t that different from prior generations. They’re clearly a pragmatic group that sees their home more as a functional space than a symbol of their success. Technology definitely plays a far greater role for them than their baby boomer parents, but ultimately they still want a home in a nice neighborhood with good schools and access to friends, family, and nearby amenities.

Posted on March 7, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Market Updates, Trends

Gardening Trends for 2018

Source: www.blog.windermere.com

Outdoor living during the spring and summer months is extremely popular. Months of cold, wet winters are followed by glorious spring colors and warm summer days of vivid blue skies. In this post, we thought that now would be the best time to share some pretty garden trends for 2018.

 

Wabi-Sabi

Leisure time should be just that: relaxing and rejuvenating. So why labor relentlessly to create and maintain a perfect landscape? Wabi-sabi, is the Japanese art of accepting transience and imperfect beauty. Relax and appreciate nature as it is, with humble imperfections, weeds and all. Recognize (and tell others) that dandelions and clover in untreated lawns are not blights. They are status symbols for ecological horticulture. Consider natural grasses and groundcovers as low-maintenance substitutes for sod. Opt for perennials instead of annuals, let flowers go to seed and give nature license to evolve on her own.

 

Reclaiming Small Outside Spaces

For many of us these days, space is at a premium and with house prices continually on the rise, more and more people are living in apartment blocks or tiny lots. Garden designers are determined to make even the smallest of spaces useful and attractive, and manufacturers have taken notice. Look for a better choice in planters that slot onto balcony rails. New models will have coverings for protecting plants from cold temperatures so that you can even grow seeds and vegetables on your balcony alongside your flowers.

Self-watering wall planter systems have been improved for 2018 and the hanging macramé plant holder is having a bit of a revival. Add a small patio heater and you have an outside space you can enjoy all year round with minimal effort.

 

Purple Passion

Pantone’s Ultra Violet is the color of the year. Maybe that’s why you find purple flowers in this year’s plant varieties and garden design. It’s easy to incorporate this color in the garden as there are many flowers and shrubs with this beautiful color. However, there are also several edible purple plants that you can grow. Purple vegetables are not only interesting and pretty, their unique color denote anthocyanins which are very beneficial to your health.

 

Re-Wilding

This is a style that keeps popping up time and again. However, 2018 has taken the re-wilding trend up another notch. It is still all about working with nature, growing wildflowers and supporting our pollinating insects. Re-wilding means adjusting plant selections to better support local wildlife and growing both seed-producing and berry-bearing plants. However, now it is also about using ‘green’ gardening products, natural solutions to bug and slug killers instead of chemicals and insecticides and using peat-free products.

 

Alfresco Living

Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas are tipped to be a key trend for Spring/Summer 2018. We are not talking about a little nook corner just off the kitchen. Alfresco dining spaces are being pushed out into the garden itself and made into a major feature. These dedicated outdoor dining areas are surrounded by in-ground and container plants for that lush feeling. Special flooring, comfy furniture and mood lighting turn it into a little haven. Complete the trend with a sunken fire pit, barbecue or pizza oven and you might never want to leave.

 

Lighting The Way

Adding lighting to your garden is not a new thing. However, in this age of renewable energy, garden lighting companies are turning away from the more traditional lighting solutions we have seen in the past. The advances in solar energy capture, means that we can light up our gardens in a variety of fun, affordable and better ways. No more changing batteries or wiring up the garden with electricity.

The wide range of lighting methods allows you to create whatever ambience you want. Simple stand-alone lights can mark pathways, either discreetly embedded into the path edges or standing loud and proud along the side. Multi-colored fairy lights can be tangled among the overhead branches of a tree creating dazzling shapes and textures. Solar Mason jars can be hung from above or used as table lighting. Festoon lights can create an ambient glow around any outdoor space creating romantic nooks.

Posted on March 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Home Ownership, Trends

Windermere and Zillow Economists Come Together To Discuss Housing

Source: www.blog.windermere.com

 

Earlier this week, nearly 200 Windermere brokers came together at Windermere’s monthly luxury breakfast at Overlake Golf Club in Medina, WA. The featured speakers were Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, and Zillow Senior Economist, Skylar Olsen. Matthew interviewed Skylar on a number of topics related to the housing market and economy, including interest rates, inventory levels, Millennials, and where they predict Amazon will open their second headquarters (they both are betting on Austin, TX).

 

The two economists discussed the overall health of the housing market. Both predict sales to soften a little this year, but still remain strong overall. When asked about interest rates, Skylar stated that she believes they will land just below 5 percent by the end of 2018 and rise to around 6 percent by early 2019. They noted that luxury home prices have slowed a little in certain cities, with the exception of places like Seattle and San Francisco, where the economies and job growth are very strong.

 

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Matthew and Skylar addressed first time buyers – and more specifically – Millennial home buyers. Both say this generation will play an increasingly important role in the health of the housing market, but their biggest obstacle is saving enough money for a down payment. Skylar stated that more than 25 percent of first time buyers end up borrowing from the “bank of Mom and Dad” in order to be able to afford a home. With rapidly rising prices in many cities across the US, both agree that there probably isn’t much relief in sight in the near term for these buyers.

 

 

It was an honor to have two such well-respected economists on hand to provide their insights into the housing market. For more information about Matthew Gardner, and to read his analysis of regional markets throughout the Western. U.S., please visit: https://www.windermere.com/economics.

Posted on March 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Market Updates, Trends

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update- Quarter Four 2017

Posted in Western Washington Real Estate Market Update by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy added 104,600 new jobs over the past 12 months. This impressive growth rate of 3.1% is well above the national rate of 1.4%. Interestingly, the slowdown we saw through most of the second half of the year reversed in the fall, and we actually saw more robust employment growth.

Growth continues to be broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than aerospace due to a slowdown at Boeing.

With job creation, the state unemployment rate stands at 4.5%, essentially indicating that the state is close to full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report show unemployment rates below where they were a year ago.

I expect continued economic expansion in Washington State in 2018; however, we are likely to see a modest slowdown, which is to be expected at this stage in the business cycle.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 22,325 home sales during the final quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.7% over the same period in 2016.
  • Jefferson County saw sales rise the fastest relative to fourth quarter of 2016, with an impressive increase of 22.8%. Six other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. A lack of listings impacted King and Skagit Counties, where sales fell.
  • Housing inventory was down by 16.2% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, and down by 17.3% from last quarter. This isn’t terribly surprising since we typically see a slowdown as we enter the winter months. Pending home sales rose by 4.1% over the third quarter of 2017, suggesting that closings in the first quarter of 2018 should be robust.
  • The takeaway from this data is that listings remain at very low levels and, unfortunately, I don’t expect to see substantial increases in 2018. The region is likely to remain somewhat starved for inventory for the foreseeable future.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • Because of low inventory in the fall of 2017, price growth was well above long-term averages across Western Washington. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12% to $466,726.
  • Economic vitality in the region is leading to a demand for housing that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of newly constructed homes—something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. This means home prices will rise at above-average rates in 2018.
  • Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County, where home prices were 18.8% higher than a year ago. Eleven additional counties experienced double-digit price growth as well.
  • Mortgage rates in the fourth quarter rose very modestly, but remained below the four percent barrier. Although I anticipate rates will rise in 2018, the pace will be modest. My current forecast predicts an average 30-year rate of 4.4% in 2018—still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the fourth quarter dropped by eight days, compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 21 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain static relative to the same period a year ago.
  •  Last quarter, it took an average of 50 days to sell a home. This is down from 58 days in the fourth quarter of 2016, but up by 7 days from the third quarter of 2017.
  • As mentioned earlier in this report, I expect inventory levels to rise modestly, which should lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. That said, with homes selling in less than two months on average, the market is nowhere near balanced.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the fourth quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as third quarter. Price growth remains robust even as sales activity slowed. 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for housing.

 

 

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

 

Posted on January 29, 2018 at 10:10 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Market Updates, Trends

Creating Comfort Through Interior Design

source: www.blog.windermere.com

Just because the Christmas decor is put away and the festive mood of the holidays is over doesn’t mean we have to stop creating a snug and cozy home. It’s a good time to embrace winter Hygge! If you aren’t familiar with Hygge, it’s a Danish word for feeling content and cozy.

Here are seven ways to bring Hygge style comfort to your home, even during the dreariest winter month of the year!

LAYERED LIGHTS

Even if you feel like you’re lacking in the cozy department, simply addressing your lighting will make a huge difference. Layers of lighting make every room feel more welcoming. In the daytime, natural light is ideal. But for evenings, it’s nice to add a cozy glow. A good rule of thumb is to try to have a least three light sources in every room. Use a mix of table lamps, floor lamps, task lamps, and overhead lighting. Consider using warmer lightbulbs for the coziest ambience.

COMFORTING MOMENTS

Your home will offer a sense of comfort when you incorporate some favorite photos of loved ones, treasured hand-me-downs, antiques or flea-market finds, eye-catching conversation starters, art that inspires you, special mementos, or simply things that make you smile.

AN INVITING AROMA

What aroma feels ‘cozy’ to you? Set the tone for your home by filling it up with winter scents that inspire you.

TOUCHABLE TEXTURES

The coziest homes contain a variety different textures that delight the eye. Incorporate different touch-worthy materials through pillows, drapery, throw blankets, rugs, lamps, and furniture. The fabric possibilities are endless: velvet, woven, knit, embroidered, grain sack, faux fur, tweed, etc. You can also consider creating contrast with varying materials like metal, wood, glass, rattan, mirrored, painted, and more.

A PLACE TO CURL UP

Make yourself a special cozy place to relax. A reading chair will be extra cozy with some good books nearby in a basket, a lamp, a footstool, a side table to set a cup of tea, and a soft blanket you can curl up in.

A BIT OF WARMTH

Every home can benefit from warmth. No matter what your color scheme, you can add warmth through natural tones like wood, leather, jute, warm metals, etc.

SOMETHING LIVING

A room comes to life when an organic element is incorporated into the decor. Every room can benefit from having at least one plant, bouquet of flowers, or even a sprig of greenery like eucalyptus to remind us that spring is on its way.

Posted on January 17, 2018 at 10:21 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: DIY, Home Ownership, Trends

Empty Nesters: Remodel or Sell?

source: www.blog.windermere.com

 

Your kids have moved out and now you’re living in a big house with way more space than you need. You have two choices – remodel your existing home or move. Here are some things to consider about each option.

 

Choice No. 1: Remodel your existing home to better fit your current needs.

  • Remodeling gives you lots of options, but some choices can reduce the value of your home. You can combine two bedrooms into a master suite or change another bedroom into a spa area. But reducing the number of bedrooms can dramatically decrease the value of your house when you go to sell, making it much less desirable to a typical buyer with a family.
  • The ROI on remodeling is generally poor. You should remodel because it’s something that makes your home more appealing for you, not because you want to increase the value of your home. According to a recent study, on average you’ll recoup just 64 percent of a remodeling project’s investment when you go to sell.
  • Remodeling is stressful. Living in a construction zone is no fun, and an extensive remodel may mean that you have to move out of your home for a while. Staying on budget is also challenging. Remodels often end up taking much more time and much more money than homeowners expect.

 

Choice No. 2: Sell your existing home and buy your empty nest dream home.

  • You can downsize to a single-level residence and upsize your lifestyle. Many people planning for their later years prefer a home that is all on one level and has less square footage. But downsizing doesn’t mean scrimping. You may be able to funnel the proceeds of the sale of your existing home into a great view or high-end amenities.
  • A “lock-and-leave” home offers more freedom. As your time becomes more flexible, you may want to travel more. Or maybe you’d like to spend winters in a sunnier climate. You may want to trade your existing home for the security and low maintenance of condominium living.
  • There has never been a better time to sell. Our area is one of the top in the country for sellers to get the greatest return on investment. Real estate is cyclical, so the current boom is bound to moderate at some point. If you’re thinking about selling, take advantage of this strong seller’s market and do it now.

 

Bottom Line

If your current home no longer works for you, consider looking at homes that would meet your lifestyle needs before taking on the cost and hassle of remodeling. Get in touch with Tracie Gulit to discuss the best option for you.

 

Posted on January 10, 2018 at 10:25 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Market Updates, Selling a Home, Trends

Why aren’t home builders building more homes?

source: www.blog.windermere.com

Posted in Inman News by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

This article originally appeared on Inman.com 

 

Housing markets all across the U.S. are suffering from serious shortages of homes for sale, and this isn’t expected to change in the foreseeable future.

When I think about inventory levels and the fact that demand is clearly outstripping supply, it makes me question why homebuilders aren’t stepping up to the plate to meet all this pent-up demand.

Interestingly enough, there are several obstacles holding builders back that I think are worthy of further discussion.

According to my calculations, since 2008, builders have started construction of new single-family homes at an average annual rate of about 594,000 units per year. For context, the average annual rate of new-home starts between 1963 and 2007 was over 1.1 million, so we have been behind the ball for some time now.

Although new-home starts have now risen to 835,000 units from the historic low of 353,000 units that we saw in 2009, we are still well below the level that meets demand given new household formations.

Since 2009, new housing supply has consistently fallen short of new housing demand. The shortfall was the largest in 2011 at 465,000 housing units, and cumulatively through 2015, the total shortfall was 2.2 million housing units.

 

Currently, I estimate that the amount of housing supply necessary to just keep pace with demand is probably around 1.1 million housing units a year; however, housing completions as of May were running at an annual rate of just 817,000 — far below what is needed.

So why is this? The simple answer is that it is very expensive to build a new home.

The expense of building a new home can be essentially broken down into three components: land, labor and materials.

Land

Let’s start with land, which is expensive, and it is very expensive in markets where land availability is scarce (either because of unique topography or political limitations — or both).

This is further exacerbated in markets where the economy is growing rapidly and attracting more new residents.

Another hindrance is the cost of obtaining a building permit, which is remarkably high, thanks to government regulations, and can account for almost 25 percent of the final price of a new single-family home.

 

Labor

The second thing to consider is labor. As the housing market was entering the Great Recession, many construction workers were laid off and have not subsequently returned.

In fact, my calculations indicate there are currently over 200,000 job openings in the construction industry, and this lack of supply combined with high demand for labor, has led to rising labor costs.

 

Material costs

Finally, material costs. The cost of homebuilding materials have risen by almost 5 percent due to high demand and low supply. Everything from the copper used in wiring to the lumber used for framing, continues to escalate at fairly rapid rates.

All of this combined makes it very expensive to build homes — especially affordable homes.

In fact, the National Association of Homebuilders stated back in 2015 that it is difficult to build a home anywhere in America for less than $300,000. Then take into account that only 4 percent of all new homes sold in 2016 were priced below $150,000, and in the Western U.S., just 6 percent were priced below $200,000.

Conditions are particularly tight at the more affordable end of the market, clearly reflecting the fact that fewer entry-level homes are being built.

Between 2004 and 2016, completions of smaller single-family homes (under 1,800 square feet) fell from nearly 500,000 units to only 136,000. Similarly, the number of townhouses built in 2016 (98,000) was less than half the number started in 2005.

It is clear that we need more housing solutions to address the shortages out there, but it won’t be easy.

From a builder’s perspective, they cannot change material costs, nor can they force workers into the construction industry.

However, what they can do, and what needs to be done, is try and shift government policy to better address permit fees, hookup fees, impact fees and the like. If these costs could be lowered, I believe that many builders would have the ability to ramp-up activity in a fairly dramatic fashion.

Given how important increasing the supply of new homes is to the long-term health of the market, I hope that the efforts being undertaken at the national level by the NAHB, and the local level by various homebuilder associations, start to see positive results in the near future.

For the sake of our housing market, we need to make it easier for builders to do what they do best: build homes.

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 10:08 pm
Tracie Gulit | Category: Buying a Home, Home Ownership, Trends