Happy Holidays

The holidays are a great time for reflection; a time to take a step back and realize what we are thankful for in our lives.  Whether that be your family, the roof over your head, the job you have, whatever it is that makes you happy in life.  Let’s avoid the negativity this holiday season and embrace those in our lives that make us who we are, and appreciate everything we have.  Let’s think of others and help those less fortunate.  Let’s take the opportunity with the new year to do that one thing we have been putting off; let’s challenge ourselves to be better people, to work smarter, and to love deeper.

Be giving, be kind, be thoughtful, be caring, be cheerful…  And if the opportunity arises to help someone less fortunate, let’s seize that opportunity!

Happy Holidays all!

Seattle Rental Prices Surging

Nationally, rental prices have increased by just under 15% over the last 5 years, compared with Seattle’s 21%.  There’s a strong demand for rental properties in our area for two main reasons: a) the younger generations are renting longer than our parents did, and b) many homeowners lost their homes during the housing crisis and are either still trying to recoup, or are still not ready to commit to home buying yet.  Either way, builders and developers are taking notice and are responding as fast as possible with more rental properties, but it takes time and the demand is still outweighing the supply, causing rent prices to soar.  ”Lots of people have this rule of thumb – you shouldn’t be spending more than 30 percent of income toward housing. In Seattle, we’ve hit that number,” said Skylar Olsen , a senior economist at Zillow.  It’s very hard for renters to stay below 30% of their monthly income when it comes to paying rent, and many are above it.  That number has increased 5% in the last 6 years!

Comparing the rental prices of right around 30% of your monthly income with the average mortgage pricing, including interest rates, of right around 15% of your monthly income, we could see a surge in home buying from the younger generations that have been ‘putting it off’.  Now, we all know interest rates won’t stay this low forever, but that said, it’s highly unlikely they will surge upwards of current rental prices.  This is why we see so many of the current properties on the market get snatched up by investors – they can make added income by renting these homes and condos for absurd amounts of money.

It is becoming increasingly more affordable to buy a home as opposed to renting, and with the holidays and winter being a slower time in the market, now is a great time to buy before the home prices and values increase in the springtime.

Food for thought…  Happy Holidays!

Your kitchen is no longer a workspace

With the holidays here, we find ourselves spending more time in our kitchens than any other place in the home.  It’s become much more than just a place to cook or your “workplace” – it is a prep room, an entertainment room, a service room, a wine room….  The list goes on.  If the added time and attention placed in your kitchen this holiday season has you thinking it’s finally time for that remodel, and you’re telling yourself “2015 is the year I’m going to tackle this project”, then here are some great ideas to grab your attention and inspire you.  I never recommend simply copying one’s design, but it’s always great to take tidbits from some ideas you like, and make them your own.

One approach that is being seen more and more, and is expected to be on the rise in 2015 is the furniture-style look in your kitchen.  This style works great with your cabinetry and other features, and make for a treasured space the whole family can enjoy, rather than just a functional area that’s used for food prep and cooking alone.  For a look at what I am referring to, click here.  Another way to change up the look of your kitchen and add some personal style is through the application of a more open and airy cabinetry setup.  This allows you to incorporate a sense of personality to your kitchen – your personality.  Obviously none of us want all of our items on display for others to see, so having a combination of both open and traditional cabinetry allows for a win-win for everyone.  For inspiration, see here.

Is wallpaper making a comeback in kitchens?  I know most of us are not fond of the idea of wallpaper, and feel it’s outdated and a pain to deal with, but it is a nice way to add a sense of character and wow factor to a room.  Wallpaper is a simple way to provide  a visual impact, regardless of size, and gives you control of complementing elements throughout the kitchen or adding a beautiful contrast to an otherwise simple color palette.  See here for inspiration to get you started.  Another simple way to add some character to your kitchen is by adding some sort of bronze, copper or gold features.  While silver, chrome and stainless steel are the 3 more commonly used metallics amongst kitchen designers, incorporating a warmer metal can add texture and a gleaming finish.  See here for more.

Last but not least, the one most of us are familiar with and are seeing become a bigger and bigger trend in most new, high-end homes – the modern, traditional style kitchen is an everlasting trend and is expected to be a integral part of the kitchen design for years to come.  More and more homeowners are going with the ultra-sleek, contemporary kitchens in favor of spaces that are warm, homey and reflect themselves.  A common element we are seeing in these kitchens is using a mixture of materials such as stainless steel with wood, and wood with marble.  For ideas on how to incorporate this, see here.

If the re-design and re-model of your kitchen is something you’ve been putting off for years, and have just been waiting for the right time to take action, well then maybe now is that time.  With all of the cooking, cleaning and entertaining we all do during the holiday season, having a kitchen you feel right and at home in is something to be proud of.  Hope these great ideas were a way to at least get the ball moving in the right direction.

Happy Holidays everybody!

Thanksgiving Wishes and Market Update

With Thanksgiving on the horizon and the holiday season now in full effect, many would tend to believe the real estate market has slowed down; that it’s time to sit back and wait until next year when the market “heats back up” to sell your home.  On the contrary, though.  The Real Estate market continues to stay strong as we head into the holidays.  A shocking set of statistics, but home prices continue to increase over last year’s numbers, there is still a lack of inventory, and luxury home prices have soared, which is a great sign heading into 2015!  On the Eastside alone, home prices have risen by 7% to roughly $615,000, continuing this strong seller’s market and a very strong competition for homes.  In Seattle, prices have increased 8.3% from last year to roughly $515,000, with supply being particularly low in the communities close to the city.  Would you believe that half of all new listings are selling in the first 30 days in King County?  The median price of single family homes sold in King County last month was up 5% over last year to roughly $447,000, and the inventory has stayed steady at the 2-month supply mark, continuing to prove it is still a seller’s market!

So, while you’re indulging in all that the holiday season has to offer, you can ease some of the stress knowing that the real estate market is continuing it’s onward and upward strength!

Energy Saving Accessories!

Winter has hit, forcing many of us to stay bundled up inside more often.  This tends to lead to higher heating and electrical bills.  Here is a great collection of products that can help lower energy usage and lower bills this season.

The Nest is a new contemporary style thermostat that is being used in many new homes, and is becoming a favorite with many builders.  It is a practical, modern and attractive thermostat that can be controlled by anywhere from just your cell phone.  You can also pre-set the Nest around your schedule, avoiding wasted heat throughout the day while saving you money on your electrical bills.  The Nest is super easy to use and even gives you monthly reports of your energy consumption, which allows you to adjust your habits accordingly.

Another great energy saving accessory is the Bolt Solar Charger.  For how much we as society have become reliant on our smart phones to stay connected, as a result, we have become reliant on our chargers to keep our beloved technology running.  The Bolt Solar Charger uses the sun, USB port or the wall to charge – leaving you a multitude of options.  Never run out of battery in an emergency again!  If you’re looking for a slightly smaller, sleeker, and less expensive option, try the Bamboo Solar Charger, which is roughly the size of your smart phone so easily portable.

One more alternative that is something more commonly sought after is energy-efficient bulbs.  This seems like the easiest and most efficient way to cut back on our monthly energy consumption (while saving money).  The problem is, a lot of people don’t like the look of (and lack of style in) energy efficient bulbs.The power of beautiful design tackles the light bulb, resulting in an energy-efficient, design award-winning bulb – the Plumen 001 Original. It fits into any standard sized socket, and  uses 80% less energy than standard bulbs while having a lifetime of 8,000 hours, about EIGHT years.  Wow!!

Hope these energy-efficient tips helped those looking to cut back on their heating and electrical bills while staying eco-friendly during this chilly winter!

Attain Housing’s Community Supper – Hosted by WRE Yarrow Bay

Another great and successful Community Supper hosted by Windermere Real Estate Yarrow Bay.  On the eve of November 11, the Windermere RE Yarrow Bay office hosted Attain Housing (formerly KITH)’s Community Supper at the Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Kirkland, and what a wonderful event it turned out to be. Volunteers were there early to prepare the dinner and ensure we had a wonderful mean to serve!  This was one of the larger Community Suppers of late, as it was not only our normal families but Unity Camp was invited to dinner, making it quite the crowd.  The special menu was lasagnas, salads, garlic breads and rolls, as well as brownies, cookies and fruit snacks for dessert.  Thanks to our amazing Windermere agents and even Patrick, our Commonwealth Title Rep, we were able to feed the entire crowd with plenty of leftovers for our guests to take home with them!

Thank you to everyone who were there to help, to those who couldn’t make it but still found time to bake cookies and brownies to donate!  We look forward to doing it again soon!!

Importance of a Professional

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite the whirlwind of a journey.  In this world of instant gratification via our lovely internet, many sellers are starting to list their home For Sale by Owner or FSBO, but in all reality, you need an experienced Real Estate Professional to lead you to your ultimate goal.

Below are 5 MAIN reasons to hire a professional to handle your Real Estate needs:

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. Making your dream a reality is where your Real Estate professional steps in to guide you through the paperwork and into your dream home!

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. This is where your agent’s knowledge, expertise, and experience come into play to ensure a smooth and successful process.

3. Are you a good negotiator?

Negotiations play a key factor in getting you the best deal on the purchase or sale of your home.  A Real Estate professional is experienced and is there to get you the best price possible for your home.  From the buyer/seller, to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to during the process.

4. What is your home really worth?

Pricing your home accurately from the start is crucial in attracting the right buyers and shortening the market time.  Having an agent who is not emotionally connected to the home will allow a sense of truth to your home’s value.  According to the National Association of REALTORS“the typical FSBO home sold for $184,000 compared to $230,000 among agent-assisted home sales.” Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

Due to the vast amount of resources on the internet and news about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates, buyers and sellers are becoming more knowledgeable; but how do you know what’s going on specifically in YOUR area?  Who would you turn to in order to correctly price your home competitively or to make the offer on your dream home without paying too much?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying/selling experience an educated one.  You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line:

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make presumably the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional?

New Construction Design Trends

“Traditional” style homes are out – no literally, they’re OUT.  The new term being used for “Traditional” is “Classic”.  That said, the majority of new construction homes you will see on the market these days are taking on a much more modern approach.  Even if the neighborhood doesn’t bear it, you’ll see builders go Classic on the outside, and Modern on the inside.  Floorplan and functionality have become an essential part of building new homes as well.  Walls are out, and open floor plans are in.  With less hallways and wasted rooms, open floor plans allow for more usable space, and homeowners are better understanding that 100% of their spaces should be completely usable.  Outdoor living has also become a must-have in new homes.  We’re seeing an abundance of glass doors as well as lift-and-slide doors designed to open and disappear, and bring the outdoors in.  More and more homeowners are wanting outdoor kitchens and living rooms to entertain and dine in style.

Of all of the design trends in new construction, the spa-like bathrooms are seeing some of the largest upgrades.  Bathrooms are no longer strictly functional, they have become a place of relaxing retreats.  Custom built, walk-in showers are the ultimate lapse of luxury.  Home spas and steam showers can serve as a personal sanctuary from the routine of every day life.  Freestanding bathtubs have become more commonly sought after, causing design firms to roll out an array of aesthetic and economically viable bathtubs.  Though granite is still drawing the highest demand, quartz, marble and onyx are making their way into the modern bathrooms as well, offering natural beauty and a sense of luxury and elegance in higher-end homes.

The beautiful thing about these new trends is that it with all of the new materials being used, it is very difficult to mimic one finish, one room, one design, or one home.  This causes YOUR home to be unique… and your experience to be lasting!

This Weekend on the Eastside: Kirkland Uncorked, July 18-20

Kirkland Uncorked, Washington’s summer food and wine festival, is taking place this weekend! Taking place at scenic Marina Park (25 Lakeshore Plaza Dr), the festival, benefitting Homeward Pet Adoption, features wines from world-class Washington wineries, bite-sized feasts from notable Eastside restaurants, and appearances from the Northwest’s most prestigious celebrity chefs and culinary personalities.

The festival is split into two parts, a 21+ Tasting Garden and an all ages Street Fair. The Tasting Garden features wine tasting, grilling demonstrations, live music, a Friday Burger Brawl and a Saturday Grill-Off. The Street features a Boat Show, the Uncorked Market, the CityDog Dog Modeling Contest, and a Sunday Food Truck Feast.

Check out the event schedule here!

The Annual Collection Magazine Has Arrived!

Introducing the new 2014 edition of The Collection Magazine – it has arrived!  Our 100-page custom publication produced exclusively by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, debuts today with 12,000 Puget Sound Business Journal newspaper inserts and delivering to savvy businesses in downtown Seattle and Bellevue.  Featuring editorial articles on Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty, Millennial trends and a showcase of our brokers and their unique listings – it’s the best of Northwest living!  Additionally The Collection will be polybagged with the July issue of Luxe Magazine top subscribers,  private airports throughout the region and even the ferries will call our new magazine home. We invite you to experience the extraordinary today.  It’s a Collection truly unlike any other.

Read through the magazine, and my personal spread, here!

The 2014 Collection Mock-up2 RGB