Valentine’s Day at the Gardens at Juanita Bay

V Day Blog Collage

Last month I posted about my Butterfly Effect group, which focuses on making a positive impact on our community and the world through small but meaningful acts of kindness. This month our main project was a special Valentine’s Day visit to the Gardens at Juanita Bay retirement home that allowed us to gather to spread love and joy to its residents.

Prior to the party we created handmade invitations for the seniors so they knew we were coming. Once there we provided a wonderful dessert table, flowers, socks, and a specially made Valentine’s Day card for each resident. We also had a piano player with two singers who led the residents in song. It was delightful to see guests’ happy faces.

The 48+ residents and The Butterfly Effect group raved about the event, even saying it was the best part they have had. We all agreed it was a very sweet day for one and all.

Local Market Update – February 2017

The local real estate market remains very hot with extremely low inventory and prices that are rising faster than anywhere else in the country. However, that rate of price growth appears to be cooling from last year, dropping to its slowest pace in three years. Predictions of more interest rate hikes may further limit price increases. Those considering to sell their home may want to take advantage now of this perfect storm of record-low inventory and record-high prices.

Eastside

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

Those looking to buy a home on the Eastside continue to face rising prices and strong competition for limited inventory. With less than a month’s supply of homes, properties here are getting snapped up as soon as they come on the market, and often sell for well over asking price. The median price for homes sold in January climbed 14 percent compared to a year ago to $793,000.

King County

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Click image to view full report.

Buyers scrambling to beat increasing interest rates have depleted an already record-low supply of homes. Fewer than 1,600 single-family homes were on the market in King County in January, beating December’s all-time low. The median price of a single family home was up 7 percent over last year to $525,000, but that is the cheapest home prices have been in 11 months. Time will tell whether that price moderation is an anomaly or the continuation of a trend.

Seattle

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Click image to view full report.

After months of robust increases, Seattle home prices slowed down in January. The median price of a single-family home in the city inched up 3 percent over a year ago to $635,000. Some areas of the city even saw small price drops. That should spell good news for buyers, yet razor thin inventory continues to make it a solid seller’s market.

Snohomish County

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Click image to view full report.

After months of double-digit price increases, Snohomish County may be starting to experience the same market softening as King County. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 8 percent as compared to a year ago to $410,000. Tight inventory continues to be a problem. There are 40 percent fewer homes on the market here than the same time last year.

Realtors Make A Difference at Hill Day

IMG_0163I am proud to serve on the board of the Seattle King County Realtors and as a State Representative and member of the Governmental Affairs Committee. We are constantly working to protect homeownership rights and create healthy communities. On January 19th I joined Realtors from all over Washington State for Hill Day to meet with our legislators to talk about issues facing Realtors and homeownership.

What did we talk to legislators about?

First, it is important to note we are facing one of the most tenuous sessions in history. Our lawmakers need to raise about one BILLION dollars for education – that means increased property taxes, transfer fees, and taxes are all on the table. We also discussed…

1. Opposing an increase in Service rate B&O tax. Governor Inslee proposed to increase the B&O tax rate on businesses from 1.5% to 2.5%, a whopping 66% increase.

2. Opposing a tax on income from Capital Gains. Governor Inslee has proposed a 7.9% tax on income from Capital Gains, including all real estate except single family dwellings. While most sources of retirement income would be exempt, real estate is not even though real estate is a major source of retirement or college savings for many families.

3. Supporting reforms to increase housing and land supplies. The lack of housing supply at all income levels is a significant problem throughout Washington. King County has the least affordable housing in the nation, which is contributing to the worsening homelessness issue.

4. Ensuring rural water supply for new homes. The Supreme Court’s recent Hirst decision regarding the Growth Management Act eliminates the use of small wells for new homes in many counties even though the water code and ecology’s water regulations allow for wells. Thousands of properties are unable to be built, creating financial disaster for property owners and adding to our housing shortage.

I am glad I could be part of this important event and excited to see how we can work together to further improve the lives of Washingtonians.

The Butterfly Effect

Lynn Final Banner

There are a lot of things that motivate me to be involved in our community, and one of the most important is my Butterfly Effect group. 

The Butterfly Effect is based in Kirkland, WA and was named after the concept that all small efforts have a ripple effect – essentially a simple act or kind gesture can remind people that we are thinking of them, they are important, and they also have the power to positively impact the world. I learned a long time ago that I get much more than I give by supporting these great charities and people who are doing good things in our community and world.

I want all of you to feel inspired as well, so each month I will share news of the good things we in The Butterfly Effect are doing in the community. Stay tuned and always feel free to reach out to me with questions about how you can get involved!

Local Market Update – January 2017

A record low number of houses for sale in December indicates that 2017 will continue to be a very competitive market for buyers. The good news: those who decide to take the plunge and list their home can count on getting a premium price for their property. Brokers reported that about three-fourths of the homes sold in December involved bidding wars.

Eastside

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Click image to view full report.

Strong demand driven by a booming tech economy and great schools continue to strain the already low inventory on the Eastside. It’s not unusual for a well-priced new listing to receive dozens of offers and to sell for well over asking price. With supply failing to meet demand, the median price for homes sold in December soared 19 percent to a new record high of $803,500.

King County

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Click image to view full report.

King County had only about 1,600 single-family homes on the market in December, an all-time low. With the healthy regional economy, demand remains very strong. Prices, however, appear to be moderating somewhat. The median price for a single-family home sold in December was $550,000, up 8 percent over a year ago, but unchanged from October and November. A traditional uptick in inventory this spring may help keep price increases more modest this year compared to the double-digit increases seen in 2015.

Seattle

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Click image to view full report.

According to the Case-Shiller home price index, home prices are rising faster in the Seattle metro area than in any other major region in the country. One issue is space. The city’s existing density means that virtually no new single-family homes are being built in Seattle. As new residents flood in, more people are competing for the already tight inventory. As a result, home prices are up. The median cost of a single-family home rose 6 percent from a year ago to $635,000.

Snohomish County

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Click image to view full report.

While home prices in Snohomish County are well below those of King County, the gap is closing as prices here are increasing at a faster pace than neighboring counties. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 12 percent as compared to a year ago to $400,000. Like King County, inventory is very slim, indicating a market heavily favoring sellers.

Top 5 Seattle-Area Superlatives From 2016

Happy New Year 2017 retro design with inspiring handwritten typography

2016 has been quite a year to live in the Pacific Northwest, especially if you spent some or most of it in the housing market. This year’s market was truly unique, record-breaking, and game-changing (see: Windermere’s W Collection). To close out the year here are a few of the most noteworthy Seattle-area superlatives related to real estate – and a few confirming just how lucky we are to live in this beautiful pocket of the world.

Nation’s Hottest Housing Market

Let’s get straight to the point – this year Seattle was named the hottest housing market in the nation! According to Geekwire home prices in our region rose 11 percent between September 2015 and 2016, putting us ahead of Portland for year-over-year growth.

We owe much of this recognition to our booming tech industry, which has been bringing people to the Seattle area in droves. “Droves” refers to the 86,320 residents (and counting) who moved to Greater Seattle between April 2015 and 2016, marking the region’s biggest population gain this century.

Many of these thousands of people who flocked here for tech jobs were probably also considering other tech hubs, but we were more alluring because tech salaries in the Seattle area are among the highest in the U.S. after cost of living adjustments. That means their salaries go much farther here than other tech towns, such as San Francisco, enabling them to have a better quality of life.

The Region’s Largest Property Sale

Of all of the multi-million dollar property sales in our region the largest was the 50-story Safeco Plaza in Seattle, which sold for $387 million. The buyer was a Munich-based company that had previously acquired an Amazon-occupied property in the thriving South Lake Union neighborhood.

Eastside’s Biggest Property Sale

The Seattle Times recently reported a pair of investors from the United States and China bought a major office complex in Bellevue for $202.2 million, making it the biggest transaction on the Eastside this year. The three-building, 480,000 sq. foot complex is fully leased and will be home to tenants such as BitTitan and CenturyLink.

Seattle No. 1 Choice for Foreign Investors

What’s one important thing buyers of both of these properties had in common? They were foreign investors. This year Seattle became the No. 1 choice for foreign investors after British Columbia enacted a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers in August, causing them to redirect their real estate searches to the Seattle area. To quantify this impact, as of November, Chinese money accounted for about 55 percent of all homes purchased by foreign investors in Washington.

Seattle No. 1 Place to Live If You Love Spending Time Outdoors

While this last ranking isn’t directly related to real estate, it’s definitely worth boasting about! Six Washington cities made Business Insider’s list of “25 beautiful US cities to live in if you love spending time outdoors.” Seattle topped the list and Bellevue came in at No. 5. Every day we are surrounded by the beauty of trees, mountains, and water with endless opportunities and ways to enjoy them.

Local Market Update – December 2016

Buyers spooked by a spike in mortgage interest rates gave rise to the busiest November for homes sales in over a decade. Prices rose accordingly. Case-Shiller ranked the area as the housing market with the fastest rising prices in the country. Sellers can expect to get a premium for their homes as we move into 2017, but they need to consider how an expected further increase in interest rates may impact the market.

Eastside

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Click image to view full report.

There hasn’t been a stronger seller’s market on the Eastside in recent memory. Record-setting home sales, combined with record-low inventory, has resulted in a significant imbalance of supply and demand. It’s no surprise that home prices surged upward. The median price of a single-family home sold on the Eastside was $759,400, an increase of 13 percent over last November.

King County

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Click image to view full report.

Home sales in King County soared nearly 30 percent over a year ago. With frenzied demand gobbling up inventory, most homes received multiple offers. Median home prices here were up 10 percent over the same time last year to $550,000. Brokers expect the market will continue to be extremely active through the winter.

Seattle

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Click image to view full report.

A severe inventory shortage continues to make multiple offers the norm in Seattle. Even the uptick in mortgage interest rates has done little to moderate demand. The median home price here increased to $615,000 in November. If it’s any consolation for buyers facing sticker shock, that was just a 3 percent increase over the same time last year.

Snohomish County

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Click image to view full report.

Snohomish County experienced the same boost in buying and bust in inventory as the rest of the region. Prices climbed at an even faster rate than in King County. Compared to a year ago, the median price of a single-family home was up over 14 percent to $400,000.

Local Holiday Light Shows

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Ready to lift your spirits? Shimmering light shows are a brilliant way to celebrate the winter holiday season. Grab a warm coat and go exploring in gardens, zoos and even on the water. Here are five local venues that are worth braving the cold to see…

1. WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo

5500 Phinney Ave. N, Seattle WA 98103
www.zoo.org/wildlights | click here to get tickets

  • Dates/Times: Open nightly 11/25/16 – 1/1/17 | 5:30-8:30 pm
  • Cost: $7.95-$9.95 per person (ages 2 and under are free)
  • Promotion: Zoo members who purchase tickets by 12/9 get a $2 discount off each adult ticket
  • Parking: Free parking at the north (Bear Lot), inner north (Otter Lot) and and northwest lot (Penguin Lot)
  • Food: Refreshments are available at food kiosks, Pizza Corner, the Rain Forest Pavilion and at the Pacific Chowder House (with covered seating). Outside food and non-alcoholic drinks are permitted.
  • Special Events and Activities
  • Holiday Closures: 12/24 & 12/25

Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo

 

2. Garden d’Lights at Bellevue Botanical Garden
12001 Main Street, Bellevue WA 98005
www.gardendlights.org | click here to get tickets

  • Dates/Times: Open nightly 11/26/16 – 12/31/16 | 4:30-9:00 pm
  • Cost: $5 per person (ages 10 and under are free)
  • Promotion: Free admission on 11/28, 11/29, 11/30, 12/1, 12/5, 12/6, 12/7 and 12/8
  • Parking: $5 per car in the Garden’s lot (cash only) as space allows OR park for free at Wilburton Hill Park
  • Food: Hot drinks and snacks are available at the Aaron Education Center
  • Holiday Closures: None

Garden d'Lights at Bellevue Botanical Garden

 

3. Snowflake & Celebration Lane at the Bellevue Collection
Bellevue Way & NE 8th Street, Bellevue WA 98004
http://bellevue.com/snowflake-lane

  • Dates/Times: Nightly 11/25/16 – 12/31/16 | 20 minute show starts at 7 pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Parking: Free parking at Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square.
  • Food: A variety of dining options (from happy hour, to kid fare, to gourmet meal) are all within walking distance
  • Special Events & Activities: Ice Skating, Santa Parade & Tree Lighting
  • Holiday Closure: 12/25

Snowflak Lane at the Bellevue Collection

 

4. Christmas Ship Festival
Launch locations include Lake Union Park, Kirkland City Dock, Leschi Marina, Des Moines Marina, Poulsbo Marina, Seattle Waterfront – Pier 55, Tacoma (Dock Street Marina), Port of Edmonds Marina, Fishermen’s Terminal, AGC Marina, and Shilsole Bay Marina
www.argosycruises.com | click here to get tickets

Christmas Ship at Lake Union, Photo Courtesy of Seattle Parks

 

5. Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
5400 N. Pearl Street, Tacoma WA 98407
www.pdza.org/zoolights
click here to get non-member tickets OR click here to get member tickets

  • Dates/Times: Open nightly 11/25/16 – 1/1/17 | 5-9 pm
  • Cost: $8.50-$10.00 per person (ages 2 and under are free)
  • Promotions:
    -$5 tickets for zoo members
    -Combo Pass that includes daytime zoo admission ($12-$16)
    -Military Nights ($8 for US Veterans): 11/28, 11/30, 12/5, 12/7, 12/12 & 12/14
    -Scout Night ($8 for registered Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts): 12/6
  • Parking: Free parking in zoo lots (entrance on Pearl Street)
  • Food: Hot drinks and treats are available at the café and kiosks throughout the zoo
  • Activities
  • Holiday Closure: 12/24

Zoolights at Point Defiance

©Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island

This blog post originally appeared on the MercerIslandPulse.com blog.

 

Babies of Homelessness Donations

Outside of real estate my focus is community involvement and helping people who are less fortunate or who have fallen on hard times. Although I try to make this a priority year-round, the Holidays are especially busy as everyone recognizes it is a time to be thankful for what we have and spread kindness and resources to individuals who aren’t as lucky. Today I want to highlight an organization with a unique focus, Babies of Homelessness, and share how we can help with their important mission.

Babies of Homelessness raises awareness about a particularly vulnerable population within the homeless community – babies and toddlers. Some of these kids were born into homelessness while others were brought into it. Regardless, their parents are unable to support them and provide the care they need and they are too young to protect and fend for themselves. They experience awful conditions at a young age that no one should have to endure in their entire lifetimes.

How can we help?

Babies of Homelessness’s immediate goal is to collect essential resources for these children who are living in homeless encampments and emergency shelters. For kids in encampments they are looking for items to fill care packages to hand out and would like to see each package include a set of PJs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, a blanket, diapers/underwear, and an activity/coloring book. For kids in emergency shelters they suggest donating tickets to an event and restaurant and clothing gift cards to provide a little bit of an escape from their situations.

I am collecting items until December 9th. Contact me and I will come to you to pick up items you want to donate. Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Local Market Update – November 2016

Home sales outgained new listings again in October, further squeezing already tight inventory and pushing prices higher. Since new listings traditionally decrease in the fall, that inventory shortage is expected to last until spring. Sellers willing to put their home on the market now can expect plenty of interested buyers, and a highly favorable chance of getting the best possible price for their home.

Eastside

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Click image to view full report.

Home prices on the Eastside took a big leap in October, fueled by record low inventory. The median price of a single-family home sold that month was $768,000, a jump of 15 percent over the same time last year, and the fastest price growth in several months. With the market so strongly favoring sellers, brokers are hopeful more consumers will opt to list their homes.

King County

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Click image to view full report.

The amount of inventory in King County fell to levels not seen since the 1990s with just one month of available inventory. With supply falling well behind demand, prices jumped significantly. The median price of a single-family home sold in October jumped 15 percent over a year ago to $550,000.

Seattle

Click image to view the full report.

Click image to view the full report.

There is no place where the supply of homes is tighter than Seattle, particularly in areas close to the city center. Just three weeks of inventory has kept this market in solid multiple-offer territory. Prices in October increased accordingly. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle rose 13 percent to $625,000.

Snohomish County

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Click image to view full report.

Inventory in Snohomish County dropped more than 20 percent from a year ago. With just over a month of available inventory, prices climbed. The median price of a single-family home was up 6 percent over last year to $386,599. Even with that increase, buyers continue to be drawn to the area by home prices that average 30 percent less than King County.