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Vacation Home or Income-Producing Investment

Image Source: Alex Master Shutterstock

Whether you’re a skier who loves the mountain slopes of Colorado, a lover of the beaches of Southern California, or a potential retiree seeking to escape the snow-laden Northeast for the wide-open, sunny lands of Arizona, there are homes available to meet a wide range of budgets. The biggest decision a potential second homeowner must make is whether they are going to solely own their vacation home or turn it into a vacation rental. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to both options:

 

Investing in vacation rentals

  • Pros:
    • A good vacation rental property generally provides a healthy rental revenue which could potentially cover mortgage payments while also generating healthy additional profit.
    • Using an online short-term rental service like Airbnb makes it convenient to manage your rental property. Their website interface makes pricing, marketing, and communication with potential guests quite straightforward and easy. Airbnb will also oversee the billing process for you.
    • You may qualify for federal tax breaks and deductions related to your investment property. Everything from professional fees or commissions – including property management services- to cleaning and maintenance are potential tax write-offs.
  • Cons:
    • Vacation rentals can be costly to manage, both in terms of time and money. These properties may require seasonal upkeep and special maintenance considerations. You may even incur costs to maintain or monitor the property even when it’s not actively being utilized.
    • Vacation rental properties are particularly sensitive to seasonal fluctuations and economic downturns, which could leave you financially exposed if you suffer a lack of booking revenue.
    • Many states and cities are cracking down on short-term rental services. In California, for example, the fight has been primarily local, reaching a fever pitch in the San Francisco Bay Area. Increasingly state and local municipalities are seeking to reign in short-term vacation rentals, which could put a damper on potential revenue from these properties.
    • You may experience higher renovation and repair costs on a short-term rental. Most travelers expect the latest appliances and furnishings, so you will have to update every few years. Unfortunately, short-term renters are less likely to report any necessary repairs and guests are far less likely to treat the property with respect since there’s no sense of ownership or obligation.

 

Owning a vacation home

  • Pros:
    • Long-term profits: While assets fluctuate in value in the short term, vacation properties are more likely to retain their value and appreciate because they are located in popular areas with a geographically limited supply.
    • Familiarity: Returning to the same place time and after time can be comforting as you become familiar and comfortable with the location. It allows you the freedom to be yourself and the opportunity to expand long-term friendships with residents.
    • Convenience: The ability to conveniently store items that are used exclusively at the second home simplifies travel and packing.
    • Retirement head starts: Though we may love where we work and live, every place has its drawbacks. A common goal of retirement is to have a place to retreat for the times of the year we dislike the most at our main residence. Locating and buying a second home prior to retirement enables you to experience the benefits of a refuge before actual retirement, a time to correct and amend your plans if the reality is different than the dream.
  • Cons:
    • Initial purchase costs: Most people have higher expectations for a property that they intend to own, rather than to rent. These expectations can translate into high prices.
    • Home maintenance: As the homeowner, you are responsible for all home maintenance work.
    • Travel time: A second home will be located hours from your primary residence, requiring either long auto trips or airline flights.
    • Inflexibility: If you are paying a significant amount of money each month for a second home, you may feel that you need to constantly visit the property to justify your investment.

Incorporate Pantone’s Color of 2020 into Your Home

Image Source: Pantone

Classic Blue has officially been anointed Pantone’s 2020 “Color of the Year”.  Pantone says it picked this color because of its ability to instill calm, confidence, and connection as we cross the threshold into a new decade. A dependable color, Classic Blue is timeless, and enduring, making it a great addition to just about any room in your home.

Here are some ways to add this stunning shade of blue to your home:

 

Furniture

Image Source: Stacy Zarin Goldberg 

Add a splash of color to any room with Classic Blue furniture, such as these dining room chairs, which express a sense of tradition and elegance, as well as unexpected boldness.   

 

Tile Work

Image Source: Stacy Zarin Goldberg 

Geometric patterns are all the rage this year, so why not liven up your kitchen backsplash with tiles that incorporate the color of the year? Here’s an example that achieves this through bold, colorful design that doubles as a piece of art.

 

Cabinets

Image Source: Davonport Kitchen Designers and Remodelers. 

If geometric tile isn’t your thing, the are other ways to bring your kitchen to life with this stunning shade of blue. If you’re not in a position to purchase all new cabinets, simply paint your current cabinets for a more affordable update.

 

Walls

Image Source: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Whether it’s built-ins, panels, or an accent wall, Classic Blue can make your furniture and décor pop. Consider this color when you paint your living room or bedroom as a way to encourage calm and confidence in your favorite spaces.

Windermere Foundation Reaches $40 Million Donation Milestone

 

As we head into a new decade, the Windermere Foundation reached a milestone in 2019 by raising nearly $3 million, bringing the grand total to over $40 million in donations raised since 1989.

 

Twenty-five percent of the funds raised in 2019 were donated by agents from their commissions. The rest was raised through office fundraisers, additional giving by owners, agents, and staff, and public donations. These dollars stay local, as each Windermere Real Estate office has their own Foundation funds, supporting low-income and homeless families in the communities where offices do business.

 

One office that celebrated a milestone of its own this past year is the Windermere office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The Coeur d’Alene office became a part of the Windermere network in 1994. In 1996, the office hosted its first annual “Boots and Socks for Kids” event by purchasing and donating 47 pairs of boots and socks to Coeur d’Alene Children Village and St. Vincent DePaul. Since then, the office has donated a total of 12,546 pairs of boots and socks to children in the 40 area schools and local agencies that provide services to low-income or homeless families.

 

In 2019, Windermere Coeur d’Alene reached a milestone of $1 million total donated to support local non-profits. Organizations that have received donations include CAP Food Bank, Family Promise, CASA, Shared Harvest, St. Vincent DePaul North Idaho, Union Gospel Mission, and United Way of North Idaho, to name just a few. Safe Passage and The Children’s Village of Coeur d’Alene are two non-profits that receive support from the office annually.

 

Last year also marked the fourth year of Windermere’s #TackleHomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, in which Windermere committed to donating $100 for every Seahawks home game defensive tackle. This year Windermere partnered with Mary’s Place, a non-profit that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services to support women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. Thanks to the Seahawks, we raised $30,000 this season for Mary’s Place, bringing our grand total to $128,200 raised through our #TackleHomelessness campaign.

 

We are proud of the fundraising efforts made by the Windermere team and are grateful to all who have supported the Windermere Foundation over the years. Because of that support and generosity, we have been able to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities over the past 30 years. And we look forward to supporting even more families in 2020. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button.

 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit https://windermerefoundation.com/.

Is it time to downsize?

Image Source: Shutterstock 

 

Choosing less space often has to do with a desire to live a life that’s simpler. Whether you’re retiring, want an eco-friendly, low-maintenance lifestyle or your children have moved away, downsizing might be the best option for you. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider before making the move and questions to begin asking yourself now.  

 

Advantages

  • Increased cash flow.
    • Spend less on your mortgage payment and you are likely to have more money leftover for other needs or desires.
  • More time.
    • Cut down on time spent on household chores such as cleaning and vacuuming which will leave you with more hours in the day to do something more enjoyable.
  • Lower utility bills.
    • Costs less to heat and air condition a small home.
    • Less square footage decreases the amount of energy expended.
    • Reducing energy is better for the environment and it helps keep your home green.
  • Reduced consumption.
    • You would likely buy less since you won’t necessarily have the room for it.
  • Minimized stress.
    • Homeowners who have successfully downsized often feel happier because they are no longer overwhelmed by the demands of a larger home.
    • Less responsibility, less housework to do, increased cash flow and flexibility equals reduced stress.

 

Disadvantages

  • Fewer belongings.
    • Moving into a smaller space would mean you would need to give away or donate furniture, books, kitchen supplies, etc.
  • No room for guests.
    • Hosting holiday dinners might be out of the question for a smaller home.
  • Space restrictions.
    • Less space means you could feel cramped.
  • Lifestyle changes.
    • For long-term homeowners, downsizing means changing a lifestyle.

 

What to consider before downsizing

These questions are important to ask yourself because for some people, downsizing may not be the best option for them. 

  1. Does size matter to me?
    1. Think about how much your identity is wrapped in your house.
    2. Is it important for you to have a guest room or a second bathroom?
  2. Will I miss some important things about a more spacious home?
    1. Will moving into a smaller home feel like a step backward?
  3. How will other life events affect my living in a smaller home?
    1. Consider possible scenarios you may not expect such as adult children moving back home or if you plan to add a child. 

 

The Cost to You

  1. How much will it cost to replace the furniture?
    1. When you move into a smaller home this means you might have to downsize your furniture to make room.
  2. How much will it cost to get rid of the stuff I don’t need or won’t fit?
    1. It’s important to have a plan for how you’re going to sell or give away the things you don’t need.
    2. Consider things like family heirlooms. What are you going to do with all your antiques or treasures that your smaller home may not be able to accommodate?
  3. How much will I get when I sell my current home, and will it help cover the cost of buying my new home?

 

If you know downsizing is the right option for you, you’re probably asking yourself, “Should I sell first and then buy or buy first and then sell?”. When you’re ready to discuss your options, talk to an experienced Real Estate Agent. 

Refresh Your Bathroom into a Spa

Image Source: Canva

With some creative thinking and a few do-it-yourself projects, you too can transform an everyday bathroom into a spa-like experience:

 

High-end shower head 

There are a plethora of shower head options available today that can make even a simple shower space feel like a luxuriating experience.

 

Heated towel rack 

Once out of the tub/shower, heated towels help you comfortably maintain your body temperature while the pampering continues.

 

Dimmable lights

Adjust the bathroom lights to match your moods and activities: brighter for primping, and dimmed to create a calming effect.

 

Less clutter 

Not everything that’s meant for the bathroom needs to be stored in the bathroom. Look for things that can be moved elsewhere to make the space feel a bit bigger and more organized.

 

Calming scents 

Essential oils, luxury soaps, and scented candles are an easy way to create an aromatic atmosphere of luxuriousness.

 

Good tidings we bring, with turkeys and things!

Agents from the Windermere Moses Lake office delivering 100 turkeys to the Moses Lake Food Bank.

 

 

Free turkey dinners and programs for women in need. Backpacks for children with food for the weekend. Scholarships for college so youth can realize their dreams. These are a few of our favorite things!

 

‘Tis the season of giving and Windermere offices across the Western U.S. are out donating to local non-profits and bringing good tidings and cheer to those who need a little extra help during the holidays. This is all made possible through the Windermere Foundation which is funded by donations from our agents, owners, and staff, as well as office fundraisers. Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund that can be used to support non-profits in their communities. Below are just a few examples of how our offices are giving back to local non-profits during the holidays and throughout the year.

 

Windermere Moses Lake

For the past five years, the Windermere office in Moses Lake, Washington has donated 100 Thanksgiving turkeys to the Moses Lake Food Bank. Since 2015, the office has supported the food bank and other local assistance programs with donations totaling over $13,000. Representatives from the Windermere office were on hand to help deliver the turkeys to the food bank this year, which provided 1,278 families with Thanksgiving meals.

 

Windermere Homes and Estates

The Windermere Homes and Estate group of offices in Southern California (San Diego-Downtown, Scripps Ranch, South Carlsbad-Aviara, Temecula, and The Plaza at Aviara/South Carlsbad) pooled their Windermere Foundation funds together to make a $15,000 donation to support Feeding San Diego’s backpack program.

 

Holiday and summer breaks are especially hard on families who are reliant on school meal programs. This program aims to meet the nutritional needs of food insecure children over weekends and school holidays. Each child receives an easy-to-carry bag filled with nutritious staple items and fresh produce when leaving school on Thursday or Friday afternoons. Feeding San Diego works closely with 150 partner agencies to provide food and resources to individuals and families across San Diego. According to research by Feeding America, 26 percent of those served by partner agencies are under the age of 18 and 10 percent are under 5.

 

Photo courtesy of Feeding San Diego

 

Windermere Missoula

The Windermere office in Missoula, Montana donated $1,550 to Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development, Inc. (WORD). Its mission is to strengthen our community by creating opportunities that support and inspire women. Its programs offer support, education, and training to empower women and their families to move from a place of need to a place of independence, participation and choice.

 

Windermere Headquarters

The team at Windermere’s head office in Seattle donated $2,500 to the Marcus Trufant Family Foundation (MTFF) to support its annual holiday fundraising event. MTFF awards college scholarships to under-represented students in the greater Seattle area and partnering communities. The Foundation also provides programs of fundamental support needed to achieve life goals. Last year, MTFF awarded over 300 scholarships to youth to help them achieve their dreams of going to college.

 

Thanks to everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation we have been able to make a significant difference in the lives of many families in communities throughout the Western U.S. And this year, we have also proudly reached our goal of raising over $40 million in total donations since 1989.

 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation or to make a donation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.

 

2020 Economic & Housing Market Forecast

As we head toward the end of the year, it’s time to recap how the U.S. economy and housing markets performed this year and offer my predictions for 2020.

 

U.S. Economy

In general, the economy performed pretty much as I expected this year: job growth slowed but the unemployment rate still hovers around levels not seen since the late 1960s.

Following the significant drop in corporate tax rates in January 2018, economic growth experience a big jump. However, we haven’t been able to continue those gains and I doubt we’ll return to 2%+ growth next year. Due to this slowing, I expect GDP to come in at only +1.4% next year. Non-residential fixed investment has started to wane as companies try to anticipate where economic policy will move next year. Furthermore, many businesses remain concerned over ongoing trade issues with China.

In 2020, I expect payrolls to continue growing, but the rate of growth will slow as the country adds fewer than 1.7 million new jobs. Due to this hiring slow down, the unemployment rate will start to rise, but still end the year at a very respectable 4.1%.

Many economists, including me, spent much of 2019 worried about the specter of a looming recession in 2020. Thankfully, such fears have started to wane (at least for now).

Despite some concerning signs, the likelihood that we will enter a recession in 2020 has dropped to about 26%. If we manage to stave off a recession in 2020, the possibility of a slowdown in 2021 is around 74%. That said, I fully expect that any drop in growth will be mild and will not negatively affect the U.S. housing market.

 

Existing Homes

As I write this article, full-year data has yet to be released. However, I feel confident that 2019 will end with a slight rise in home sales. For 2020, I expect sales to rise around 2.9% to just over 5.5 million units.

Home prices next year will continue to rise as mortgage rates remain very competitive. Look for prices to increase 3.8% in 2020 as demand continues to exceed supply and more first-time buyers enter the market.

In the year ahead, I expect the share of first-time buyers to grow, making them a very significant component of the housing market. 

 

New Homes

The new-home market has been pretty disappointing for most of the year due to significant obstacles preventing builders from building. Land prices, labor and material costs, and regulatory fees make it very hard for builders to produce affordable housing. As a result, many are still focused on the luxury market where there are profits to be made, despite high demand from entry-level buyers.

Builders are aware of this and are doing their best to deliver more affordable product. As such, I believe single-family housing starts will rise next year to 942,000 units—an increase of 6.8% over 2019 and the highest number since 2007.

As the market starts to deliver more units, sales will rise just over 5%, but the increase in sales will be due to lower priced housing. Accordingly, new home prices are set to rise just 2.5% next year.

 

Mortgage Rates

Next year will still be very positive from a home-financing perspective, with the average rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage averaging under 4%. That said, if there are significant improvements in trade issues with China, this forecast may change, but not significantly.

 

Conclusion

In this coming year, affordability issues will persist in many markets around the country, such as San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Jose; Seattle; and Bend, Oregon. The market will also continue to favor home sellers, but we will start to move more toward balance, resulting in another positive year overall for U.S. housing. 

 

 

About Matthew Gardner:

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

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

Home Security for the Holidays

The holiday season can bring joy and peace, but it can also bring package thieves and burglary. Stay safe this winter by taking a few precautions with your home security. From old-school security tricks to new digital home monitoring tools, there are many options when it comes to keeping our homes safe and preserving that sensibility. 

 

Upgrade your locks:

A poorly installed deadbolt can make it easy for an intruder to kick in your door. Start by making sure that your door frames are in good condition and then look into getting a higher quality deadbolt. You’ll find everything from classic models with keys, or digital options that require passcodes or a fingerprint.

It’s also a good idea to check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks. It goes without saying, leaving windows open during the summer is a bad idea – especially those that can be easily accessed.

 

Exterior and interior home lighting:

Having your exterior lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime snoopers.  Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.

If you will be gone from your home for an extended period, consider using timed lighting options in your home to make it appear someone is around. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas. Also, you can program a radio to turn on and off for sound.

 

Alarm systems:

If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems.  If you choose to do-it-yourself, you will want to install motion detectors on doors and windows – especially those that can be easily accessed on the ground floor. In most cases, these kits also offer a 24-hour call service for an extra fee.

Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors/ fire prevention system. These services are expensive up front but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. And keep in mind, having a home security system installed can also reduce your insurance rates.

If installing an alarm system is cost-prohibitive or does not fit your lifestyle, consider purchasing stickers and a sign that state that your home is monitored by a trusted security system, and place them so they are visible at every entrance.

 

Security cameras:

Security cameras are readily available for home installation. You can install these in prominently viewed places to deter burglars. There are do-it-yourself install options and professional systems that come along with monitoring services. There are even options that will work with your smartphone.

If the cost of security cameras is too steep for your budget, you can purchase fake cameras to act as a visible deterrent for intruders.

 

Build your community:

Programs like Neighborhood Watch are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.