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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.

Four Holiday Décor Trends to Inspire You This Season

The holiday season is here and for many of us, that means it’s time to deck the halls. If you’re looking for some inspiration and a place to start, here are some ideas that are certain to get everyone in the spirit. 

 

A Tree of a Different Color

Photo Credit: Left – Lushome, Center – HGTV, Right – Christmas365

For many, there’s nothing more quintessential during the holidays than a Christmas tree decked out in ornaments. But acquiring a tree can be challenging and expensive. Moreover, housing a tree consumes time and space. That’s why we love the idea of an alternative tree. There are plenty of options you can buy online or create yourself using things you probably already have around the house. And if you miss the smell of a real tree, try a scented candle or essential oils. 

 

The Season of Lights

Photo Credit: Amara

There’s something perpetually charming about twinkling lights. Whether you’re wrapping them around your front porch or adorning your fireplace mantle, extra lights deliver a warm glow during the holiday season. Getting creative and adding light to otherwise unexpected places, including bookcases, around headboards, or even in glassware, is a great way to keep everything looking merry and bright. 

 

Act Natural

Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

Not all holiday climates are built alike. If you’re expecting a white Christmas, you’re probably used to pine trees and winter brush, but for those of you located in regions where the mercury doesn’t drop, sprinkling in natural elements can transform your home into a wintery oasis. Holly and pine needles add a traditional touch, or consider a wreath of olive branches with some sleigh bells interspersed.

 

Bring it All Home at Dinner

Photo Credit: Amara

When decorating for the holidays, don’t forget the table! A sprig of holly adds a festive touch to your place settings. And instead of the traditional centerpiece, try placing candles in glass vases or mason jars to give your tablescape that added touch of holiday pizzazz.

Remodel for the Most Resale Value

Image Source: karamysh on Shutterstock

 

What’s the best remodeling project for your home? The answer, in part, depends on where you live. Every year, Remodeling Magazine evaluates which projects bring the most return at resale in different markets around the country in their “Cost vs. Value” report.  For the purposes of this blog, we are focusing on the Pacific states (WA, OR, CA, AL) and the Mountain states (MT, ID, UT, CO, NV).

According to Remodeling Magazine, these are the six top projects in those two regions that currently have the best return on your investment when it comes time to sell. To see the full report, click here.

 

Garage Door Replacement

The project with the most return from Washington State to Nevada? A new garage door.

In the Pacific States, replacing your garage door will cost an average $3,785, but will increase your resale value by $4,686, recouping 123.8 percent of what you paid for it. Homes in the Mountain States will also benefit from a garage door replacement, recouping 98.6 percent of their costs.

Due to its size, a garage door can have a big impact on a home’s curb appeal.  But adding to your home’s aesthetic is only one advantage; the warranty that comes with the new garage door is also a selling point for potential buyers who can trust that they likely won’t have to deal with any maintenance issues in the near term.

 

Manufactured Stone Veneer

As long as the new stone veneer is consistent with your neighborhood’s overall look, this siding is the second-best project across the Pacific and Mountain states.

Stone veneer can replace your home’s existing siding, adding a fresh, modern look that conjures a cozy vibe all the way from the street, before buyers ever step foot inside. Along the West Coast, it can recoup 110.4 percent of the cost when you sell, and Mountain states will recoup 96.5 percent of the cost. 

 

Wood Deck Addition

While building a deck might seem like a big undertaking, it’s actually a pretty cost-effective way to positively impact your home’s resale value. Pacific states can expect to pay around $15,000 and Mountain states just above $13,000, but they’ll see 87.8 percent and 74.3 percent recouped respectively when they sell.

Adding a deck extends the living space of your home and provides even more area for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors.  Whether you choose a natural wood deck or a low-maintenance composite deck, you can pick from a variety of styles based on the lay of your land and the areas of your backyard you wish to highlight.

 

Minor Kitchen Remodel

No need to move walls or appliances around, a minor kitchen remodel will do the trick to recoup 87.1 percent of the cost in the Pacific states, and 80.3 percent in the Mountain states.

An outdated kitchen can go from drab to fab and become a focal point with a fresh palette. Replace the cabinet doors with new shaker-style wood panels and metal or metal-looking hardware. Switch out the old counter tops with laminate that matches the new look. Think about adding a resilient flooring option, then finish the project with a fresh coat of paint to the walls, trim, and ceiling.

 

Grand Entrance

Looking to improve your curb appeal and create an entrance that guests and homebuyers won’t soon forget? Add a fiberglass grand entrance. This project involves replacing a standard-sized front door with a larger opening with dual sidelights (glass panels). Typically costing around $8,000, Pacific states will see 85.1 percent of that recouped in the sale, and Mountain states will see 71 percent.

 

Siding Replacement

Depending on the size of your home, replacing the siding can be an expensive undertaking. However, it’s a project that comes with high returns. For Mountain states, sellers can expect 75.4 percent of the costs recouped, and Pacific sellers will see 84.3 percent.

Not only is siding one of the first things a buyer sees, but it also serves as an indicator of the overall health of the home. Broken or damaged siding could mean that there are other problems with the home, such as pests and rot. Replacing old siding is a cost-effective way to boost your home’s curb appeal and ensure buyers are going to walk through your front door.

Windermere’s Winter Drive Collects Nearly 6,000 Items for Mary’s Place

 

It’s another fall season and the fourth year of Windermere’s #TackleHomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks. As a part of this campaign, Windermere hosts an annual “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. This year, 33 Windermere offices in in the greater Seattle area* participated in the drive, collecting new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, socks, and other warm winter items for Mary’s Place.  

 

Mary’s Place is a non-profit that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services to support women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness. Since 1999, Mary’s Place has helped hundreds of women and families move out of homelessness into more stable situations. But shelter capacity is limited and there are still hundreds of families sleeping outside in cars and tents each night, so Windermere collected items to help them stay warm this winter.

 

During the four-week drive, our offices collected donations from agents, staff, and the community, which included over 630 hats, 680 pairs of gloves, over 200 scarves, over 2,000 pairs of socks, and an assortment of coats, jackets, sweaters, blankets, toiletries and other items, bringing our grand total to nearly 6,000 items collected for Mary’s Place.

 

One office made the drive extra special by partnering with a local knitting group. The Windermere Mercer Island office partnered once again with the Mercer Island Tuesday Knitters, to make cozy hats and scarves. This year the knitting group contributed 67 hand-knitted hats and scarves to the winter drive.

 

The staff at the Mary’s Place donation center in South Seattle were grateful to receive the bins full of donated items that were delivered by Gentle Giant Moving Company. “We are so incredibly grateful to our Windermere family for all that they do for our families!” said Marty Hartman, Mary’s Place Executive Director. “These gifts of warm winter gear will keep our kids and families warm and loved this winter!”

 

Windermere is also grateful to partner with Gentle Giant Moving Company on our winter drive. For the past four years, they have generously given their time, muscle, and trucks to pick up and deliver all of the donations.

 

And this drive would not be possible each year without the support of the Seattle Seahawks, our offices, and all those who donated. From all of us at Windermere, thank you for making our fourth annual winter drive a success and for supporting families experiencing homelessness in the greater Seattle area!

 

 

*Participating Windermere offices:

Bellevue, Bellevue Commons, Bellevue West, Federal Way, Federal Way-West Campus, Kent, Kirkland, Kirkland Yarrow Bay, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Property Management – Bellevue, Property Management – Edmonds, Property Management-Everett, Property Management – Seattle North, Property Management – South, Redmond, Seattle-Eastlake, Seattle-Green Lake, Seattle-Greenwood, Seattle-Lakeview, Seattle-Madison Park, Seattle-Mount Baker, Seattle-Northgate, Seattle-Northwest, Seattle-Pike/Pine, Seattle-Queen Anne, Seattle-Sand Point, Seattle-Wall Street, Seattle-West Seattle, Services Company, Shoreline, Snohomish