New Home Construction

Developers are not building enough single family homes to keep up with demand. The reason why? Cost. Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner explains why new construction is so cost prohibitive and how to shift the trend.



I’m Ready To Downsize But How Do I Start?

By June Griffiths


Are you thinking about downsizing but don’t know how to make the tricky transition work? How do you buy a new place before you sell your current home?


You are not alone as many home owners have the same concerns. They want to embrace a new lifestyle, take advantage of our ever-increasing values, and lock in a smaller home or condo in an area that they covet.


Below are some creative solutions that may help you make your dreams come true too. Keep in mind that everyone’s financial profile is different. One option might not work for you while another one will. It might even be a combination of a few of these.


Here are a few ideas:

HELOC – Home Equity Line of Credit. If you have enough equity in your current home, you may be able to get a HELOC to get a down payment for a conventional loan or to buy the new property outright.


Bridge Loan – These loans can bridge the gap between buying and selling. You can typically borrow up to 65% of the equity in your home with a maximum loan of $500,000.


Margin Loan – most individuals can borrow up to 50% of the balance in their liquid investment accounts (retirement accounts cannot be used). These loans are generally cheaper than a bridge loan and have no major tax implications.


IRA Rollover – Most retirement funds allow a 60 day rollover of funds. It’s very important to know that these funds must be replaced into the retirement account within 60 days or you may incur significant penalties and taxes.


Making a move, whether you are buying a larger home or downsizing out of your now empty nest, is a big decision. You’ll want the best professionals to help you. Ask your real estate agent to put you in touch with a lender who will help evaluate your financial situation and customize the best options for you.


June Griffiths is a Managing Broker in the Windermere Issaquah office and has worked in real estate since 1989. She can be contacted at

Windermere and the Seahawks are Back for Another Season to #TackleHomelessness!

All of us at Windermere are very excited to kick off our second season as the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks!

Once again, our #tacklehomelessness campaign is front-and-center, with the Windermere Foundation donating $100 for every Seahawks home-game tackle during the 2017 season to YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that has been providing services and support to homeless youth for more than 40 years. Last year, the Seahawks helped us raise $35,000 through our #tacklehomelessness campaign, and this year we are looking forward to raising even more money – and awareness – for this important cause. 

Our partnership with the Seahawks and YouthCare fits perfectly with the mission of the Windermere Foundation which is to support low-income and homeless families in the communities where we have offices. Through the #tacklehomelessness campaign, we hope to be able to do even more.

A “score card” will be posted after each home game that shows how much was raised during that game. You can follow our progress throughout the Seahawks season on our Facebook page at



Angels In The Cockpit













The following article appears in the August issue of Alaska Airline’s inflight magazine, Alaska Beyond, and features Windermere CEO, Geoff Wood, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Angel Flight West, an organization whose volunteer pilots fly families in need of vital medical treatment.


Volunteer effort flies thousands of patients in need—for free

As Geoff Wood recalls his most memorable mission with Angel Flight West, he thinks back 10 years, to one of his first flights for the nonprofit that coordinates private pilots, in their own aircraft, to transport people in need. Wood, CEO of Windermere Services Company, volunteered to fly a Spokane man home from Seattle, where his daughter had undergone a bone-marrow transplant. The father was obviously upset about leaving his daughter behind. When their flight arrived in Spokane, Wood was scheduled to return to Seattle with a grandmother and her granddaughter, who was in need of medical treatment. Wood dropped off the father, picked up his new passengers and was taxiing his Cessna back to the runway when the tower asked him to return to the terminal. The father had received a call: His daughter had taken a turn for the worse, and he needed to get back to Seattle.


“Fortunately, I was able to get all three passengers back to Seattle, where they needed to be,” Wood says.


He recalls an old slang term among pilots called the $100 hamburger. Private pilots often look for an excuse to get out and fly, even if it means just flying to another airport, having something to eat, and flying home. In 1983, a small group of pilots in Santa Monica, California, figured there ought to be more to those excursions, some way to make good use of their airplanes and their expertise—like helping families in need. Thus began Angel Flight West.


The fledgling organization—initially known as the American Medical Support Flight Team—flew 15 missions that first year. Today Wood is board chair of an organization that oversees a network of more than 1,400 pilots across 13 western states. These pilots donate their aircraft, piloting skills and all flying costs to help families receive vital treatment that might otherwise be inaccessible because of financial, medical or geographic limitations. Last year, AFW flew 4,113 missions: flying passengers to specialty medical centers; transporting blood to critically ill patients; flying special-needs kids to summer camps; and many more humani­tarian missions. The effort involves more than 2,500 volunteers—not only the pilots, but people who work with hospitals and treatment centers, and who coordinate flights, provide ground transportation and assist pilots on missions—they’re called “Earth Angels.”


Among AFW’s largest supporting partners is Alaska Airlines, which handles most of the Alaska in-state transportation needs, as well as flights for AFW recipients who need to travel to the Lower 48. Alaska donates $500,000 each year in travel credit to AFW. In-kind contributions have totaled more than $8 million since the relationship began in 2003, and AFW is the airline’s single-largest corporate gift recipient.


“Alaska’s values of being caring and kindhearted really come to life when our airplanes and talented professionals are put into service in support of those who need a helping hand,” says Joe Sprague, senior vice president of external relations at Alaska, and a former AFW board member. “Our founders in Alaska used to do mercy flights to remote villages. Alaska’s involvement with Angel Flight West keeps that tradition alive in the 21st century.”


The process starts when a patient in need reaches out to AFW at Once a request is validated, the mission is posted to the pilot base through emails, texts and AFW’s online portal. Pilots accept the routes they’d like to fly and then coordinate the logistics. There is never a charge for passengers. Pilots can fly as many missions as they want: AFW recently honored Seattle area pilot Bob Schaper for his 1,000th mission.


And there is no shortage of pilots. Wood notes a recent listing for a boy who needed to fly from San Juan Island in Washington to Seattle several times a week following brain surgery. Every flight leg was filled the first day of the posting.


By Paul Frichtl, Alaska Beyond

Welcome to the New Windermere Living Experience

If you regularly receive Windermere Living magazine, you might notice something a little different about this issue. That’s because we’ve given the magazine a total redesign to better reflect Windermere’s passion for community, connection, and inspired living. 

Within the pages of this magazine you will find carefully curated editorial which we hope will give our readers an element of surprise and delight. Our goal is to write about people and places that bring a community to life. 

In this issue, we celebrate the magic of Sun Valley, Idaho. A longtime favorite of Hollywood’s A-list and outdoor mavericks, the town of Ketchum and its community of inspired locals make this alpine escape a winter must. Additionally, we’ll take you behind the scenes with celebrity designer Jonathan Adler, who reveals his picks for cozy, chic living spaces. And don’t miss our new Destination GPS, which spotlights Windermere’s vibrant markets throughout the West. 

And of course, the homes. Pages upon pages of beautiful homes in all shapes, sizes, prices, and neighborhoods all over the West Coast.  

You need not be in the market for a home to enjoy Windermere Living; you just need an appreciation for real estate and elevated living. We hope you like it. 

What You Should Know About Load Codes for Your Home Project

Anyone who has built, designed or remodeled a home has heard the term “built to code” and people saying, “The code requires it to be like that.” And when we hear things like this, we tend to think we’re getting a house designed and built to the highest standard.

But that’s not necessarily so. What the building codes do is establish an absolute minimum standard. This minimum may not be what you need in your home. You could, in fact, easily have needs that require the design and construction of your home to exceed code.


Load Codes 1: Wanda Ely Architect Inc, original photo on Houzz


This is especially the case when it comes to structural items. While the code mandates that structural systems be designed to support certain minimum loads, and to do so within certain tolerances, these minimums and tolerances may not be what you actually need. Who wants to live in a house where the floors are so bouncy that you feel like you’re walking on a trampoline? And what happens when you decide to move a water bed into the bedroom next to that stack of heavy books you cherish? Will you need to have your floor joists doubled up under that big soaking tub you are planning?

It’s wise to think about particular situations like this and look at the code mandates as a starting place, not the finish.


Load Codes 2: Bud Dietrich AIA, original photo on Houzz


Weight Loads

Building codes establish many project requirements, not the least of which is the project’s structure. This holds true no matter what material the house will be built of. And a key to designing a structural system is to determine what loads, or weights, will be imposed.

So we first have to look at what the house will be made of (wood, concrete, steel, masonry etc.) to determine the dead load — the weight of materials used in the permanent construction of the house. Note that it doesn’t include items like furniture, people, toys, books, television sets etc. and will vary only a little bit over the lifetime of the house.

Next we use the governing building code to determine what the minimum live load — the impact of movable objects such as furniture and people — will be. For example, per code, the main living areas of a house have to be able to accommodate a uniform live load of 40 pounds per square foot. Bedrooms have a code requirement of 30 pounds per square foot, and roof structures have a varying live load, depending on climate (more snow equals more weight) and roof pitch (steeper roofs will shed snow faster).


Load Codes 3: Bud Dietrich AIA, original photo on Houzz


But the code-mandated uniform loading may not accommodate all of your furniture and books, that large cast iron soaking tub, your water bed etc. So you’ll want to identify any items that this code-mandated requirement won’t accommodate and design the structure accordingly. Otherwise, the extra weight of these items can cause the structure to fail.

When we say a structure has failed, we don’t necessarily mean the house has collapsed. Failure can simply mean a part of the structure has failed so there’s too much deflection. This will result in uneven floors, gaps between walls and floors, and so on.


Load Codes 4: Bud Dietrich AIA, original photo on Houzz



Deflection is the distance that a structural member (say, a floor joist) will bend when a load is placed on it. The greater the distance, the more the deflection and the less level the floor.

In addition to holding up a certain load, a structure has to stay rigid and keep its shape. But that’s nearly impossible, as any structure will start to deflect the moment any load is placed on it.

The code requires that this deflection be limited to L/360, where L is the length of the unsupported span. This means that for a floor structure that spans 18 feet (not uncommon in newer homes with open floor plans), the maximum allowable deflection is 0.6 inches.

In other words, a floor can sag more than a half inch and still be deemed OK. So some architects and engineers will use L/480 to calculate the allowable deflection. For an 18-foot span, using L/480 would limit the amount of deflection to 0.45 inches.

While the difference between 0.6 and 0.45 inches may seem insignificant, it really isn’t when it comes to a floor structure that gets walked on all the time.


Load Codes 5: LDa Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz


If you’re designing or remodeling a house, have a conversation with your architect and builder about what you plan to put into your home and how the structure will accommodate it.


By Bud Dietrich AIA, Houzz

Housing Supply is an Issue that Will Not Improve Any Time Soon and Here’s Why


There are two common concerns about the housing market that one hears from both consumers and real estate professionals alike. First, they question whether or not we are on the brink of another housing bubble, and second, they want to know why there aren’t more homes for sale.

I don’t plan on addressing the concern regarding a housing bubble in this article except to say that we are not currently in “bubble” territory, although affordability does concern me immensely. Today I would like to concentrate on the second question about the lack of homes for sale.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, there were 1.96 million homes for sale in the United States in May 2017. When adjusted for seasonality, this falls to just below 1.9 million which is essentially the same level we saw back in 2000.

Now consider that the country has added over 21 million new households during that same time period, and you can see why this is so troubling. It is worth noting that many of these new households did move into rental properties, but this still leaves the U.S. with a substantial housing shortfall, which explains why demand for homes is so high.

With the shortage of homes for sale, you would normally expect builders to meet this pent-up demand with new construction housing but, unfortunately, this has not been the case. In fact, new single-family housing starts are running at about 800,000 (annualized), and I believe we need starts to come in at over 1 million to satisfy demand – especially as older Millennials start to create households of their own and begin thinking about buying instead of renting.

We therefore have a quandary. Trust in the housing market has clearly returned, but there are not enough homes to meet the demand of buyers, and when a buyer does find a home, they are met with very stiff competition, which is driving prices increasingly higher.

So why are we in this position and how do we get out of it?

In reality, there is no single reason for the situation we are in today. Rather it is a number of factors that, when combined, suggest to me that the market will not return to equilibrium any time soon.

The first reason for the shortfall is purely demographic. As “Boomers” age, they are not following the trends of previous generations. Many are staying in the workforce far longer than their predecessors, and, as they are postponing retirement, they do not feel compelled to downsize. In fact, almost two-thirds of Boomers plan to age in place and not move even after retirement. Without this anticipated supply of homes from downsizing Boomers, there aren’t enough homes for move-up buyers, which in turn limits the supply of homes for first-time buyers.

Secondly, as a nation we just aren’t moving as often as we used to. When I analyze mobility, it is clear that people no longer have to relocate as frequently to find a job that matches their skill set. There has been a tangible drop in geographic specificity of occupations. Where we used to move to find work, this is no longer as prevalent, which means we are moving with less frequency.

Thirdly, as mentioned earlier, builders aren’t building as many homes as they could. This is essentially due to three factors: land supply/regulation, labor, and materials. The costs related to building a home have risen rapidly since the Great Recession, and this is holding many builders back from building to their potential. Furthermore, in order to justify the additional costs, many of the homes that are being built are larger and more expensive, and this is no help for the first-time buyer who simply can’t afford a new construction price tag.

Fourthly, while the general consensus is that home prices have recovered from the major correction that was seen following the recession, this is actually not the case in some markets. In fact, there are 32 U.S. metro areas where home prices are still more than 15 percent below the pre-recession peak. As equity levels remain low, or non-existent, in these markets, many would-be sellers are waiting until they have sufficient equity in their homes before putting them on the market.

And there is still one more issue that is certain to become a major factor over the next few years: interest rates.

Imagine, if you will, the country a few years from now when interest rates have normalized to levels somewhere around 6 percent. Now consider potential home sellers who are happily locked in at a mortgage rate of about 4 percent who are considering their options. Will they sell and lose the historically low rate that they currently have? Remember that for every 1 percent increase in rates, buyers can afford 10 percent less house. If they don’t HAVE to sell, their thoughts may lead to remodeling rather than moving. I think that this is a very reasonable hypothesis which could lead us to see low inventory levels for a lot longer than many think.

With little assistance from the new home market, I believe we will suffer from low inventory levels until well into 2018.

Our best hope for a more balanced market lies with builders, so hopefully they’ll be allowed to do what they do best – build more homes.

Windermere Offices Help Fulfill Back-to-School Needs


According to a 2017 back-to-school survey, parents will spend an average of $501 per child on school supplies, clothes and accessories, computers and hardware, and electronic gadgets for the school year. For school supplies alone, the average spend per child is $104, which can be a lot for parents who are having difficulties just trying to make ends meet.

Thankfully, through donations from the Windermere Foundation, many of our Windermere offices are able to support local nonprofit organizations that provide backpacks, supplies, and other back-to-school necessities to children and families in need. Some offices have even made this an annual giving/volunteer event.

These are just a few of the Windermere offices that volunteer their time and donate funds to support programs that help children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford the basic necessities for the school year.


El Sobrante, CA

On July 15, the Windermere El Sobrante office kicked off their annual back-to-school supply drive with an ice cream social at their office. At the event they collected backpacks, school supplies and other donations, and provided ice cream for attendees. The drive ran from July 11 through August 10. Office staff also shopped for additional backpacks and supplies. Backpacks were then filled with supplies according to age, and delivered to three local area schools to distribute to students in need at the beginning of the school year.


Helena, MT

From June 26 through August 18, the Windemere Helena office supported The Angel Fund’s 11th Annual Stuff the Bus school supply drive. Agents purchased school supplies to fill up a bin at their office. This is the first year that the office has supported this drive. Students in need from over 30 schools in Helena and surrounding areas benefitted from this event.


Seattle, WA

For the past six years, the Windermere Mount Baker office has supported the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness’s Project Cool back-to-school supply drive by holding drives to collect school supplies, and by participating in their annual backpack-stuffing event. This year, the office made a $1,000 donation to Project Cool through the Windermere Foundation, and 18 Windermere agents, staff, and family members volunteered on July 18 where they stuffed 100 of the 1,100 backpacks provided that day. The stuffed backpacks were delivered to various local social service organizations and homeless shelters, to be distributed to children in need. 


Generous donations from Windermere owners, agents, staff, and the community continue to make it possible for the Windermere Foundation to support programs like Project Cool. If you’d like to help children in need in your community during the school year, or throughout the year, please consider donating to the Windermere Foundation. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit