If you're like me, making resolutions is something you try to do every year but they don't last. This year I decided to challenge myself on a few things rather than "make a resolution". The link below helped me come up with some fun challenges for myself and my family. Take a look and see if something catches your eye. Good luck and may 2014 be your best year ever!!!
Fall is upon us! Soon the leaves will be falling and the days will be shorter. The change of the seasons is always a good time to go over some home maintenance items that may need attention. Checklists are my favorite way to stay on top of these potential problems. Hopefully there are some things listed here that will be helpful to you.
- Inspect your furnace or heat pump to ensure that it can achieve maximum efficiency
- Check to make sure your thermostat works properly
- Schedule to have your chimney serviced and cleaned
- Clean your gutters and downspouts throughout the season
- Repair and window cracks or holes in weather stripping or caulking.
- Check your crawlspace for flooding after the first long rainfall
- Make sure you have new batteries in all flashlights and you have a specific place to keep them.
- Have your lawn irrigation system professionally drained and winterized
- Make sure your attic and crawlspaces have adequate insulation
- Clean out your bathroom fan
- Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Make sure you have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of the house and in the garage
- Make a fire escape plan for your house and take time to review it with all family members
- Disconnect garden hoses and drain water still in faucets
Paying attention to these items will help prevent costly and/or emergency repairs and will allow you piece of mind as the weather changes.
Steve Sloboda is a Managing Broker & Premier Associate with Windermere Real Estate in University Place, WA.
Want to Sell Your House This Fall?
If you're looking to sell your home this Fall you'll want to do everything you can to make your house look its best. Contrary to popular belief, Fall can actually be a great time to sell. Keep these tips in mind and you're likely to achieve positive results:
- Curb appeal. A home shopper's first impression is everything. The moment they pull up to the curb, they'll make an instant judgment. You'll want to be sure it's positive. You can begin by making sure leaves are raked, and your shrubs and bushes are pruned. Hang a festive fall wreath on your door.
- Make sure your walkway is free of leaves and debris.
- The Northwest is rainy…Be sure you have a good doormat so visitors can wipe their feet and not traipse mud and water through the house.
- Make sure gutters are free from debris and drain properly.
- Keep the house cozy. Entering a cold house could leave an unfavorable impression. Instead, set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.
- Make sure the back yard and your roof aren't covered in leaves.
- Make sure your windows are sparkling clean.
- Keep wall colors neutral and light. A light yellow or beige will make the room feel cooler than a brick red or dark taupe.
- Let the light in. Open blinds and curtains so plenty of light can brighten up the home's interior.
- And, just like any other time of year, get rid of the clutter throughout your house. And get rid of any odors that might be a distraction.
University Place, WA, June 27, 2013:
Steve Sloboda of Windermere Real Estate – Professional Partners in University Place has closed University Place's first million dollar listing of 2013. Only the fifth residential property in University Place city limits to sell for more than a million dollars since 2008, this magnificent home located in the gated neighborhood of Augusta lasted only five days on the market.
"Homes like this with a rare combination of size, location, and elegance don't often become available" said Steve Sloboda. "In a real estate market like we're currently experiencing, even luxury homes can sell fast if they're priced right and marketed correctly."
The residence checks in at 5822 square feet with five bedrooms and five bathrooms. It's situated on a 1.5 acre lot above Chambers Creek. Features include a temperature controlled wine cellar, a master suite with separate sauna, a billiards room, and a commercial quality HVAC system. The new owners, also represented by Windermere, are already residents of University Place.
- Steve Sloboda is an award winning Residential Real Estate Broker with Windermere Real Estate – Professional Partners in University Place. He was voted "Best Real Estate Agent" by readers of South Sound Magazine and is one of only two Windermere Premier Associate Agents in Pierce County. The Windermere Premier Program is specialized to luxury homes priced $700,000 or higher.
- University Place is located in Pierce County, Washington. It's home to beautiful parks, highly rated schools, wonderful views, and Chambers Bay Golf Course – Host of the 2015 US Open Golf Tournament.
Steve Sloboda Windermere Real Estate – Professional Partners
2700 Bridgeport Way West, Suite F University Place, WA 98466
Kirkland, WA, January 17, 2013 – Members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service tallied 64,624 closed sales of single family homes and condominiums during 2012, improving on 2011’s volume by 8,332 transaction for a gain of nearly 15 percent.
Last year’s completed sales included 55,699 single family homes and 8,925 condominiums. Together, these sales were valued at more than $19.9 billion, which compares to the previous year’s total of around $16.7 billion (up nearly 19.6 percent).
Median prices area-wide increased by $10,000 (about 4.3 percent), rising from $235,000 to $245,000, although not all areas reported gains. Mason, Snohomish and King counties reported the healthiest jumps.
Prices on single family homes rose, while condo prices fell. The median price for single family homes that sold last year was $255,000 across the 21 counties, improving on the previous year by 8.5 percent. King County claimed the highest median prices for single family homes ($365,000), while the most affordably priced homes – based on 2012 median prices – were located in Pacific County ($111,000).
Condo prices declined about 2.7 percent, with the area-wide median price falling from $180,000 in 2011 to $175,200 for last year’s sales.
Inventory also shrunk from 2011 levels year as a result of stronger sales and fewer new listings. Over the course of the year, brokers added 10,071 fewer new listings to the Northwest MLS database when compared to 2011 for a drop of 9.9 percent.
In its annual statistical summary report for its 20,000-plus brokers, the multiple listing service examined various indicators of activity. Among the findings:
- Single family homes accounted for about 86 percent of the sales volume as measured by units, and nearly 90 percent of the dollar volume.
- About 40 percent of last year’s sales were for homes in King County.
- About half the homes that sold last year (48.8 percent) had 3 bedrooms, while more than three-fourths of condos (77 percent) had 2 or fewer bedrooms.
- Last year’s sales included 7,710 newly built single family homes and 930 newly built condominiums. Of this new construction component, new condos fetched a higher price ($331,888) than newly built single family homes, which had a median sales price of $299,950.
- Northwest MLS brokers reported 1,254 sales with prices of $1 million or more, including 1,116 single family homes and 138 condominiums. More than half the top-end homes were located in Eastside communities, including Bellevue, Kirkland, Mercer Island and Sammamish.
- The highest priced single family home in the MLS system that sold last year was on Mercer Island (with a selling price of $21.625 million), while the most expensive condo ($4.25 million) was a penthouse in a downtown Seattle high-rise.
- Northwest MLS members reported 93,778 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) during 2012. That marked an increase of about 15.6 percent from 2011 when members logged 81,109 pending sales. (Note: Not all pending sales become closed transactions. Failed home inspections, mortgage loan rejections, low appraisals and contract contingencies are among many factors that cause transactions to be cancelled.)
- The pace of sales as measured by “months supply” (an estimate of how long it would take for all inventory of active listings to sell at the current pace assuming no new inventory is added) showed a system-wide total of 3.15 months, which compares to a figure of 5.02 months for 2011. Based on this barometer, both King and Snohomish counties averaged less than two months of supply during 2012. (Analysts consider a supply of 3-to-6 months to be a balanced market, meaning the market favors neither buyers nor sellers.)
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 20,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.
Are you still with me? If so, Here's the complete report……All 37 pages of it. Read and enjoy! As always, I'm here if you'd like some of this information broken down into details. Don't hesitate to drop me a line….
In 1997 I started working in ticket sales for the Seattle Seahawks. It was my dream job (at the time) and everything about it was pretty much awesome. One of the coolest coincidences was the Seahawks acquisition of Jon Kitna from Tacoma's Lincoln High School. Jon had starred at baseball and football at Lincoln then went on to a great career at Central Washington University. If not for a chance meeting with Coach Dennis Erickson, whose son was also a student at CWU, that would have been the end of it and Jon would have gone on to a teaching career with some football coaching on the side.
That wasn't the end of it though. Coach "E" saw Jon play and decided he needed a "shot" at the NFL. He had an NFL body and the mind of a mathematician. That combination is rare, so a chance he got. First the practice squad, then the NFL Europe where he ripped it up for the Barcelona Dragons. From there, Jon made the active Seahawks roster and actually started quite a few games while battling Hall of Famer (and Husky Legend) Warren Moon for playing time.
One of my favorite things about working for the Seahawks was the fun interaction I experienced with Jon. I was sales guy and he was a practice squad player turned NFL starter….That didn't matter though. We were both kids from Tacoma walking through NFL halls and absolutely loving it. There were more than a few times when we talked about the old neighborhood and how cool it was to represent our home town together. Jon knew that he could have been making ticket sales calls like the other former college athletes that were in my department. He was living the dream…And I was happy to be witnessing it first hand.
Then came Mike Holmgren and the fit for Jon wasn't right. Jon signed with Cincinnati and went on to play with Detroit and Dallas….15 years in the NFL! While playing pro football Jon never lost sight of his first dream….Teaching math and coaching high school football. Last year, when his career finally came to end, Jon immediately jumped into the "dream" career he always wanted. A month into his "retirement" Jon started teaching and coaching at his alma mater, Lincoln High School.
It really is a story worthy of front page news. He doesn't have to be there. He doesn't need to be there. He's chosen to be there with intent to make a true difference. It's great when pro athletes make appearances at schools and hospitals to lift spirits and sign autographs. What Jon is doing at Lincoln is amazing, inspiring, and absolutely fantastic. It's more than an appearance, it's immersion in the community. To him, it's what seems right.
There have been nice articles written locally but this national one I've linked below really tells the story well. There is a lot more to be written about Jon's journey but the start is something pretty legendary already. Coach Kitna is doing things right. Stay tuned…
My new obsession with HBO’s “Game of Thrones” made it so I had to share this.
One of Britain’s most historic country mansions has gone on the market for the bargain price of $3.8 million. Not bad considering the British government bought it just eight years ago and spent $6 million dollars renovating it. You’ll have to live without bathrooms though because this palace is missing its ‘throne room.’ The whole story is here.
Just more proof that buyers want updated baths! I hope you’re having a great day – Let me know if you need anything.
Would you live in a dumpster? This one has hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. No joke!
Here are some other unusual homes. Don’t miss the one in Pullman made from used car parts. Rumor has it the President of WSU is interested. He said it would be an upgrade from campus…Kidding, of course. (Go Dawgs)
Real estate agent members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service are reporting positive gains in activity. Pending sales for February increased more than 27 percent from a year ago, more sellers are listing their homes, and brokers are reporting an uptick in multiple offers.
“Buyers are beginning to realize that we may have seen the bottom of this real estate market,” remarked Frank Wilson, a Pulsobo-based member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “Waiting to buy may only result in paying a higher interest rate, having fewer houses to choose from, or finding that sellers do not need to give up as much as they have in the past.”
Brokers reported 7,623 pending sales during February, the highest volume since August when there were just nine more mutually accepted offers. Last month’s tally jumped 27.4 percent from 12 months ago, with 20 of the 21 counties in the MLS service area reporting double-digit gains.
Total active Pierce County single-family and condo listings are down 22 percent from a year ago and the number of closed unit sales is up 9.7 percent over 2011 year-to-date.
In Thurston County, there were 205 fewer listings at the end of February and 56 more units in the pending sales category for houses and condominium units.
So there’s this guy named John R. Talbott. He seems like a pretty smart dude. His bio says he’s a bestselling author and former Goldman Sachs Investment Banker. He wrote a book in 2006 called “Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble”. That book basically said the housing market was gonna crash and it was in your best interest to get your real estate sold before it lost serious value. As we know now, he was right.
Anyway, now the guy has seriously changed his tune. Recently he penned an article that was featured on the Huffington Post entitled “Homes – Buy Now!”. The article got me thinking… I know, crazy right? My peeps are always asking how the real estate market is flowing and what the latest trends are showing. This seems as good a time as any to share the opinion of a noted expert. Take a look and let me know your thoughts… If it gets you jacked up, let me know and we’ll go find a place that can make you some money short term or long…
I have been waiting for more than five years to offer this advice. It is now time in most cities across the country to buy a new home or refinance your existing home with thirty-year fixed rate mortgage debt. And this from the author of The Coming Crash in the Housing Market published in 2003 and my 2006 book, Sell Now! The End of the Housing Bubble. Let me explain why.
Home Prices Relative to Peak Prices During Bubble
Home prices are off anywhere from 10% to more than 60% in cities across the country. There is no reason to believe that prices were “fair” during the bubble as we have seen they were largely caused by loose and aggressive lending by banks and non-banks. But, it is always better to buy at a discount rather than at a historical peak, and these seem like awfully big discounts. And by my calculations, in most cities across the country, real prices adjusted for inflation have just about come into line with where prices were in 1997, before all this crazy bank lending started, so there should be little additional downside risk by buying today. There are still some neighborhoods across the country that have not seen very dramatic declines in price, many of them very wealthy and expensive enclaves, but given the distribution of incomes lately heavily weighed toward the wealthy, these areas may never see a really large home price decline.
Home Prices Relative to Construction Costs or Replacement Costs
Homes in many cities across the country are now selling for as little as $60 to $70 a square foot. Depending on the quality of construction and the underlying land value, this represents a 50% to 65% discount to the costs you would incur if you tried to build a similar home today in these cities. While there is no guarantee that there will be a strong rental market in the short run, in the long run it just seems to make sense to buy if you can acquire assets at half or less of the cost of building them.
Home Prices Relative to Incomes and Rents
During the peak years of the housing bubble, entire cities like San Diego were seeing their homes priced on average at 11 times the area’s median family income. Such prices financed primarily with debt are by definition unsustainable. Now, because banks have pulled back on their lending formulas, homes in many cities are changing hands at three to four times average family incomes. Similarly, at the peak, houses traded at such large multiples of possible rents that it made the projects uneconomic from the start. Now, with homes trading at more reasonable multiples of rents, houses and condos can be purchased that are immediately cash flow positive in year one and enjoy all the upside of any appreciation that will occur as inflation returns.
Home Prices in Real Terms, Not US Dollar Terms
We still talk about home prices in dollar terms, which is silly because the dollar has lost 98% of its purchasing power relative to a more stable asset like gold over the last fifty years. If instead of pricing houses in dollars, we look and see what a home would cost in ounces of gold, we see that houses today are a real bargain. As a matter of fact, this graph shows that average homes, measured in the number of gold ounces it would take to buy them are now trading at forty year historical lows.
You might argue that this is because gold is priced highly today. I would argue that gold’s purchasing power has changed very little over time, it is the dollar that is depreciating and thus giving the appearance that the price of gold is rising. Actually, gold is quite stable relative to other assets and commodities and it is the dollar that is highly volatile and declining in value due to the US funding its deficits by printing dollars.
The Real Bubble – US Treasuries and Future Inflation
The real bubble out there is longer US Treasuries and 30-year fixed rate mortgages for homebuyers. With US debt equal to its GDP and equal to more than four times our government’s total tax revenues and with annual deficits of $1.3 trillion and growing, it is amazing to me that people will lend to the US for thirty years for less than 3.0% a year. Even more amazing is that individual homeowners can borrow at 4.0% (around 3% after tax) for thirty years on a fixed rate basis, some 300 basis points better than Italy which has a lot more people and makes much better shoes. Homes may not appreciate greatly in real terms over the next twenty years, but they don’t have to if inflation comes back, which is the only way the US and Europe are going to get out from under the huge debts on their countries and their banks. You may not make a lot in real terms on the house, but if inflation returns, you could make a killing on your investment as your thirty year debt becomes worth less and less in real terms. Run the numbers, but if inflation and interest rates go back to say, 7% to 8%, you could easily make eight to ten times your equity investment on the house because you locked in your borrowing costs and home appreciations historically have always correlated well with unanticipated inflation.
So, run, do not walk to your neighborhood banker and either finance a new home purchase or take out the maximum amount of money he or she will lend you on a home equity loan and buy hard assets, not financial securities, with the money. When inflation comes roaring back the only perfect hedge is to be a borrower, not a lender or investor. Shakespeare said “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” but they didn’t have huge government deficits and the risk of future inflation back in the Bard’s time.
John R. Talbott, previously a Goldman Sachs investment banker, is a best selling author and economic consultant to families. You can read more about his books, the accuracy of his predictions and his family consulting activities at www.stopthelying.com.