Here we are again, with a new school year right around the corner. We all know that this year won’t be anything like what we’re used to, or what we hoped for… those fresh supplies, cute outfits, and all the “first day of school” pictures spamming our Facebook feed. Your family might be mourning what should have been, or you might be stressed just thinking about how you’re ever going to manage it all. Regardless of the initial opening decision your school has made, or what you have decided is best for your family, there is a lot of uncertainty ahead of us this fall and winter.
Below are a collection of tips and strategies I’ve put together for making the most (or maybe just surviving) this coming school year. It won’t look like a “normal” fall, but maybe we can still make it a good one.
- Plan a daily routine
Take the time before the year begins to plan out a daily schedule and family routine. It is tempting to let everyone sleep in as much as possible and log into their Zoom sessions from bed, but it won’t be the best scenario for truly learning or engaging. Having structure and goals to work towards will set up your students for success and give them a sense of security and predictability.
- Verify Materials
Make sure you have everything your kids will need to be successful. Your supply list this year might be fewer pens and markers and folders, and more along the lines of a PDF reader, note-taking apps, noise-canceling headphones, a stable WiFi connection, and pertinent account log-in information.
You might also think about purchasing some of those fresh, fun supplies, even if you won’t really need them. Maintaining a sense of normalcy will be important for everyone’s sanity. Some fun or pretty things for the kids to start the year with might go a long way for keeping their spirits up.
- Create a Learning Environment
Everyone knows the learning environment is important. A space too isolated could create opportunity to slack off. Sitting at the kitchen table might prove to be too distracting. Really think about what each person’s needs are and be prepared to move or switch things around if you find something isn’t working well.
When creating everyone’s work space, think about distractions, comfort, and access to power. Try to eliminate distractions as much as possible. Background noise or music can help with concentration. Help your child create a playlist of soothing music, or try an app like this one for productivity and focus.
- Plan Each Day
This is not the same as your family routine or school schedule. Help your student to make a plan for each day by taking a few minutes every morning to look at their schedule and assignments, and create a specific plan for that specific day. This will be especially helpful for older kids who might have lots of projects to juggle and independent work that can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed.
- Center the Child, Not the Work
This may not be for every household, as it’s definitely more of a parenting philosophy. Some families may find it much more important during this uncertain time to prioritize working hard, rather than getting good grades. If nothing else, keep in mind that we are in unprecedented times, and everyone deserves some grace as we move through this. Our children included.
- Encourage a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset doesn’t put the focus on what they’re learning in school, but rather how to think about what they’re learning. Developing a growth mindset will help your student reframe how they approach challenges in every aspect of their life. Kids with a growth mindset believe that their abilities, intelligence, and performance can improve over time. It’s the subtle difference between “I can’t do this homework. I don’t understand science.” and “I can’t do this homework yet. I don’t understand how to make sense of this problem.” Students with growth mindset see mistakes as ways to learn and will persist in the face of setbacks. We all need more of this, pandemic or not.
- Mask Prep
Even if your school is 100% remote learning for the beginning of the year, we should be preparing our kids now for the possibility of a hybrid learning model that will hopefully come later in the school year. Most of us are familiar by now with wearing masks to the grocery store or in the park, but those situations are not the same as wearing a mask for 7 hours straight during a school day. Start preparing your student now for extended mask wearing.
- Make sure you have several masks that properly fit your child.
- Practice is key. Don’t expect perfection at first, especially with younger kids. Just know that the more they wear masks, the more comfortable they will feel. Practicing at home gives them a safe space to take it off when they need a break.
- Build endurance. Start small, the way you would with any new habit. Have them wear the mask for small increments of time, and gradually build up.
- Make it fun. Do fun activities while they have it on. Let them pick out the colors or the fabric, or buy plain ones along with fabric paint and let them design their own. Disposable masks can be personalized with stickers around the edges. Help them enjoy wearing the mask by letting it reflect their personality.
- Explain the “why”. Children need to know why they have to wear the mask. Talk to them about germs and how the mask helps to prevent spreading sickness. Have lots of conversations with your teens and middle-school kids so they are armed with facts and information in case they experience peer pressure to stop wearing it.
- Model what you want your kids to imitate. When you are asking your child to wear a mask, you should wear it along with them, even around the home when they are practicing.
- Exercise Daily
This might get difficult when the winter weather sets in, but it is so important that we are all exercising every day. Even just a 30 minute walk does wonders for our bodies and our minds. Physical activity will make your student feel better, function better, learn better, and sleep better. It will reduce anxiety and improve overall health. Make this one a priority!
Because big parties with crowds, expensive cocktails, and massive fireworks shows aren’t the only way to ring in the new year.
The holiday season is in full swing, and the year (and the decade!) is almost over. If a big party is not your scene, you’re not alone. Some of the most fun and meaningful moments in life are a little more intimate, and shared with people we love. Below, I’ve rounded up a few ideas for ringing in the new year that are a little off the beaten path.
- Dinner Party
Invite your favorite people to share a meal. Plan an elaborate menu, and go all-out fancy. It’s the end of a decade, after all. Not much of a cook? Plan a potluck instead. Challenge everyone to make something they wouldn’t normally cook. Or assign teams and host a cook-off competition. There are lots of possibilities, but the end result of spending the evening with those you love, reflecting on the past and planning for the future is always a win.
- Game Night
Gather the gang for drinks, snacks, and some good-natured smack talk. Game nights provide an easy way to laugh, play, and get out of your comfort zone, together. To avoid a game night fail, make sure you think about these three questions: 1) How many people can comfortably fit in your space 2) How many people can play the games you want to play 3) What kind of group do you want to have?
There are tons of great games you can play together, but here are some ideas, broken down by category. May the best player win!
- Wine Tasting
Invite a local wine expert and a few friends to a special NYE tasting. Or, choose a type of wine and a price-point, and have everyone bring a bottle. Whether you are supplying the wine, or leaving it up to your guests, you’ll need to make sure you have enough wine glasses and a couple of good corkscrews, as well as plenty of food to soak it all up. Here are some great tips and ideas for hosting a great tasting.
If wine isn’t your thing, you could host a tasting event with beer, chocolate, or a different food item you love!
- Pajama Party
If you’d rather have a low-key, casual evening at home, throw a pajama party! Cocktails, appetizers, and jammies were definitely meant to be together! You could make it a girls night in, a sleepover, a movie marathon, a family affair… so many possibilities! To make the evening feel extra special, have a signature cocktail for the evening. Perhaps something with champagne? Plan lots of snacks, gather all the throw blankets and pillows you can find, and get cozy.
Out & About
- Overnight Hotel Stay
Take a mini vacay! It could be a fun getaway for the family, a renewing solo adventure, or the ultimate date night. During the day you can do some shopping, go see a movie, take advantage of the hotel pool, or relax in the spa. Ring in the new year with a meal in the hotel restaurant, or order room service for a special treat.
- Attend a Religious service
Also called a Watchnight Service or Mass, the late-night New Year’s Eve religious service is a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection, renewal and preparing for the year ahead.
Spend the day volunteering your time for a worthwhile cause that is important to you. Perhaps there is a homeless shelter in your city who is looking for help serving dinner. Or a nursing home nearby, full of people who could use a friendly visitor. Make it a family day, or ask a few friends to join you. Spending time serving others can be one of the most rewarding ways to close out the year.
For a casual, fun-filled evening with friends, ring in the new year with singing, drinks, laughter, and fun. If you like the idea of karaoke, but you’re too shy to sing in front of strangers, rent a private karaoke room so only you and your closest friends can laugh at each other.
No matter how you decide to close out the year, choosing to spend your time with people you love will ensure that you have a holiday worth remembering.
We all know that nothing lasts forever, but when everything is working fine it is easy to forget that all of the systems and appliances in your home have a finite lifespan. Keep this information in mind, whether you are buying or selling a home, budgeting for improvements, or deciding between repairing and replacing.
Here’s a brief look at some of the components of your home and their average lifespans (courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders)
ROOFING, SIDING, WINDOWS & DECKS. You can expect slate or tile roofs to last around 50 years, wood shingles 25-30, metal will get you about 25 years, while asphalts typically last about 20 years. The lifespan for siding can vary quite a bit. Brick will last 100 years or more, aluminum about 80 years and stucco will probably last you 25 years. Wood siding can last anywhere from 10 to 100 years depending on the climate you live in and how it is maintained. Both aluminum and vinyl windows will last 15 to 20 years, while unclad wood windows can have a life of 30 years or more. Cedar decks will average 15-25 years as long as they are properly treated and cleaned, and a high quality composite deck will last 30 years with minimal maintenance.
FLOORING. The natural flooring materials such as wood, marble, slate or granite will all last 100 years or more, while tile has an average life of 70-100 years. Vinyl can last up to 50 years, while laminate and linoleum will get you up to 25 years. Expect your carpet to last 8-10 years, depending on use.
KITCHEN & BATH. Laminate countertops can have a life of 20 years or more, but it will vary depending on use. Wood, tile and stone should last a lifetime, and cultured marble will typically see a lifespan of 20 years. You can expect your stainless steel sink to last you about 30 years, while an enamel-coated sink will give you five to 10 years. Slate, granite, soapstone and copper will be around for 100 years or more. Bathroom faucets should give you about 20 years, and toilets will average a 50-year lifespan, although some of the parts will need replacing.
APPLIANCES. The lifespan of appliances will vary widely depending on the appliance, the brand, model, and use. Use these average lifespan numbers as a rough guide for when it may make more sense to replace rather than repair. Gas ranges tend to have the longest lifespan of your major appliances, giving around 15 years of use. Electric ranges on the other hand, are closer to 13 years, which is also the expected lifespan for standard refrigerators and clothes dryers. Your garbage disposal should give you about 10 years of use, while the dishwasher and microwave will be around nine years. You can expect your electric furnace to last about 15 years, 18 for gas and 20 for oil-burning. Central air systems will live 10 to 15 years on average.
Check out the NAHB website for more information.
Whether you hire an outside professional for help, or tackle the project yourself, now is a great time to get a jump on spring cleaning. Many people wait for warmer temps to start cleaning, but I think most everyone can agree that those weekends would be better spent outdoors, soaking up that sun. So, take some inspiration from the list below to get you started now on freshening up your home for spring.
It will only take a few hours to check everything off this list, and you’ll feel so much better enjoying the last few weeks of winter, knowing that when the warmer weather finally comes, you can get outside and really enjoy it!
Rotate your mattress. Most mattresses need to be rotated regularly in order to even out the overall wear and prolong the lifespan of your bed. However, keep in mind that Sleep Number and Tempur-Pedic mattresses typically should not be rotated. Always check with your manufacturer for their recommendations on your specific mattress. If you own an older mattress with no pillowtop, it should probably be flipped as well as rotated.
Clean your mattress. Strip the mattress of all linens and covers. Start by vacuuming the mattress with the upholstery attachment, paying close attention to crevices and seams. Next, sprinkle baking soda (up to a one-pound box) all over the surface of your mattress. Let this sit for at least an hour, but 24 hours is best. Then go back over your mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment again. If you have a steam cleaner, break it out and go over your whole mattress. The steam will reach further into the mattress than your vacuum is able to, and kills dust mites. *It is generally not recommended to clean memory foam with a steam cleaner.
Organize & clean the laundry room. Clean the outside of your washer and dryer; scrape any dried detergent from crevices. Next, clean the inside of the washing machine. Most newer models have a self-cleaning cycle. If you have an older machine that does not have a self-cleaning cycle, run a cycle with hot water and a quart of white vinegar. After it is finished, clean the detergent dispensers, using a vinegar and water solution and a scrubber. If you have a front-loader, be sure to clean the rubber seal on the door. This area is prone to mold growth, so use an all-purpose cleaner or maybe even bleach to get under and around the seal.
Next, organize a bit. Throw away products you never use, replace damaged sorting bins, and don’t forget to clean out the dryer vent to prevent a fire.
Deep clean the fridge. Twice a year (or more), you should give your fridge a front-to-back, top-down scrubbing. Start by taking everything out and throw away anything that has expired. Next, remove all the shelves and drawers. Put them to soak in a solution of two tablespoons baking soda and one-quart hot water. While they are soaking, wipe down the interior of the fridge with the same solution. Then scrub, rinse and dry the shelves and drawers.
Next, dry the drip pan. Remove the base grill, and pull out the drip pan. If it’s full of water, mop it with paper towels and wash the pan with soapy water. If your drop pan is fixed in place, wrap a cloth around the head of a long-handled brush and use to clean the pan.
Don’t forget the coils. In order to keep your refrigerator running efficiently, unplug it, pull it away from the wall, and use a coil brush or your vacuum’s crevice attachment to clean the condenser coils. This should be done at least twice a year, unless you have pets in the home, and then you should do this three to four times a year.
Clean out spice cabinet. Throw away all expired spices and seasonings. Not only do these lose taste, they actually harbor mold and bacteria.
Clean out expired medications & vitamins If you have unused medications, please take them to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.
Vacuum, wash, or steam window curtains
Wash window blinds
Add color to your table. Treat yourself to fresh flowers while waiting for the spring blooms outside.
And if you’re ready to get some deep cleaning done, check out this blog for the Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist.
The pressure to come up with resolutions and improvements always mounts near the end of the year, but everyone knows that statistically speaking, most of us won’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions much past February. So rather than give in to societal pressure, guilt, and feelings of hopelessness, I propose a shift in perspective this year.
Rather than viewing the New Year as catalyst for sweeping lifestyle and character changes, let’s instead take this opportunity to renew our sense of purpose and determination. Here are five ideas to make some positive changes in a different way this year.
- Express Gratitude
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” -William Arthur Ward. You will be amazed at the ways your life will begin to change simply by expressing gratitude regularly. It will help you maintain a fresh perspective day in and day out, and will help to keep stress at bay. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life, big and small. Take some time to really lean in to this list and reflect on each one. Especially focus on why you are thankful for each of those things.
- Create a list of things to look forward to
This goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. What are you looking forward to this year? A vacation, a family member getting married, a new restaurant opening, a new novel or a new season of your favorite show. By focusing on the good things coming your way, it will be easier to keep a positive and hope-filled attitude.
- Pick a word for the year
Before the year starts, take some time to look at the big picture of the coming year. Find the theme of what you would like to accomplish or focus on, and chose a theme word to guide you. This will give you clarity and focus. Maybe your word for the year is Intentional. Simplify. Peace. Discipline. Fun. When you have your theme word for the year, share it on oneword365.com
- Schedule a quarterly retreat
Life happens, and trying to balance work, family, social life, friends, and other commitments often results in very little time for you. Take some time before the new year starts and schedule yourself a quarterly one-day (or weekend!) retreat to focus on YOU. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.
- Try a 30-day challenge
A 30-day challenge consists of setting a small goal that can be achieved in 30 days, as well as a small, specific action that you will take each day to achieve that goal. For example:
Declutter: every day for 30 days, choose 3 items to donate, sell, give away or throw away.
Random acts of kindness: every day for 30 days, perform a random act of kindness such as: leaving change in a vending machine; buying the coffee of the person behind you at Starbucks; send a thank you email to a coworker who deserves more recognition. Spreading kindness will always come back to you.
Happy New Year!
New Year’s Eve 2018 is almost upon us, and if you are still looking for something to do, read on! There are lots of options in the greater Seattle area, whether you are looking for the biggest blow-out bash or an earlier, family-friendly event.
There are actually two parties that will converge at midnight for the iconic Seattle fireworks show.
The Armory Stage will host rock band SWAY from 8pm until midnight. And at the International Fountain, you can dance the night away with live electronic music and video projection show (starts at 10pm). Tickets are required for both parties, however the big fireworks show is free to enjoy.
The Pacific Science Center transforms on NYE with fire sculptures, drinks and live music. There will be special entertainment throughout the night, as well as the standard Science Center exhibits. At midnight, head outside for the Space Needle fireworks. Purchase tickets in advance.
Watch the Seattle Center fireworks from under the glass of Chihuly Gardens. The evening includes appetizers, desserts, live music and a midnight toast. Purchase tickets in advance.
Another Seattle Center option, the Museum of Popular Culture offers four 21+ parties in one. With live music on three performance stages, comedians, party favors, special VIP areas, more than 20 bars, and a special singles-only cocktail hour, this is one of the largest parties of the year. Museum access is included in the price of the party, purchase tickets in advance.
- Tacoma’s First Night
First Night is an all-ages, family-friendly celebration in Downtown Tacoma’s Theater District. The affordable admission price includes museums, music, art, drama, dance, and a whole day and night of activities. The cost of entry increases as the festival gets closer, so buy early to save!
The perfect NYE celebration if you have older kids, this pajama party features comedians, balloon makers, pizza, snacks, and educational, hands-on activities throughout the night. The fun culminates at 9pm with a ball drop.
- New Year’s Eve with Ivar’s Salmon House
Ivar’s on Northlake will host live music, tasty food and view of the fireworks without the crowds. Advanced reservations are required, and will range in price depending on your selections.
Ring in the new year with the latest in R&B, Old School, Jazz and Hip Hop music. This is a 21+, semi-formal event, and hotel packages are available with your ticket purchase.
- Resolution New Year’s Eve Party at WAMU Theater
A Seattle tradition for almost a decade, this 18+ party always brings a mixed crowd together for a night of dancing. This is one of the biggest EDM parties of the year.
Celebrate the coming new year all day at KidsQuest! There are activities every hour from 10am to 4pm, including Bubble Wrap Stomp, New Year’s Hats, Storytime, glittery tattoos, and more. Admission is free with membership or museum admission.
♦ Buttonwood Farm
14500 NE 116th St, Redmond
100% organic you-cut or white-glove delivery service, saws provided, hot chocolate and cookies
♦ Carnation Tree Farm
31523 NE 40th St, Carnation
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, garlands, mistletoe, Santa visits, Christmas decorations, trees baled, saws provided, hay rides
♦ Cedar Falls Tree Farm
15200 Cedar Falls Rd SE, North Bend
You-cut trees, wreaths, trees bagged & tied, saws provided, free hot cider, picnic area, porta-potties
♦ Christmas Creek Tree Farm
15515 468th Ave SE, North Bend
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, trees baled, refreshments, hay rides, Santa on weekends, picnic areas
♦ Coates Christmas Trees
17225 SE Green Valley Road, Auburn
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, boughs, garlands, mistleto, Santa, trees bagged and tied
♦ Country Tree Farm
18225 116th Ave SE, Renton
You-cut trees, wreaths, holly, refreshments, Santa
♦ Crown Tree Farm
13005 424th Ave SE, North Bend
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths and boughs, decorations, saws provided, trees bagged, free tree trimmings
♦ Crystal Creek Tree Farm
23604 SE 192nd St, Maple Valley
You-cut trees, saws provided, trees baled, cider, porta-potties
♦ Enchanted Winds Tree Farm
8021 Issaquah-Hobart Rd, Issaquah
You-cut trees, wreaths, swags, boughs, holly, gifts, decorations, crafts, trees baled, tree stands, hay wagon, trailer rides, fire pit, hot beverages
♦ Hunter Farms Fresh Cut Trees
7744 35th Ave NE, Seattle
Precut trees, mistletoe, holly, wreaths, flocking, restrooms, trees baled, fire retarding
♦ Keith and Scott Tree Farm
42999 SE 120th St, North Bend
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, boughs, trees tied, baled and trimmed, saws provided, bonfires, refreshments, restrooms
♦ McMurtrey’s Red-wood Christmas Tree Farm
13925 Redmond-Woodinville Rd, Redmond
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, saws provided, wreaths, beverages, restrooms, wagon rides, tree stands
♦ Serres Farm
20306 NE 50th St, Redmond
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, saws provided, wreaths, free hot chocolate, restrooms
♦ Snow Valley Christmas Tree Farm
17651 W Snoqualmie River Rd NE, Duvall
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, Santa appearances, decorations, free hot beverages, gift shop, porta-potties
♦ Wintergreen Tree Farm
13606 S Machias Rd, Snohomish
Precut trees, you choose and you cut trees, wreaths, boughs, garlands, decorations, Christmas festival, bonfires, free hot cider, gift shop, restrooms
Remember to always call the farm before you go to confirm their supply, hours, if they are allowing choose-and-cut or just pre-cut trees, and which attractions or winter activities are available. All of these things can change quickly during the short Christmas season due to weather, demand, and the farmers business conditions!
With a healthy increase in inventory since May, the need for buyers to have all their down payment funds immediately available, and a willingness to make offers with no contingencies has passed in most cases. It has been quite a relief, and is providing opportunities for many folks that have wanted to cash in on their well-developed equity levels, and either move up to a bigger home or down size (right size) to a home that better fits their current lifestyle.
For the first time in years we are starting to see an increase in contingent offers that are turning into pending transactions. A contingent sale is one where a buyer makes an offer to purchase their next home contingent on the sale of their current home. In some cases, the buyer’s current home may be already on the market, or in other cases they still need to launch their home to the market. Many buyers in this situation wait to find a home/seller that is willing to accept their contingent offer, and then they immediately launch their home onto the market.
The goal is a sale within 30-45 days, which will then provide the buyer with their down payment funds, and then close both properties within days of each other, making a smooth transition from one house to the next. We have not seen inventory levels the way they are now since late 2014, so the opportunity for successfully executing a contingent offer has not been an option for 4 years! It is a great time to seize this opportunity. With that said, let’s look at some statistics which highlight some of the gains there are to be had.
First and foremost, let’s look at year-over-year price appreciation. Over the last 12 months, we have seen an 11% increase in prices in both King and Snohomish Counties. Last year, the year-over-year price appreciation was 14% for both counties. This illustrates that price appreciation is slowing, or softening, if you will, due to the increase in inventory levels. This is a welcome trend as we move away from unsustainable appreciation levels, which is helping to stabilize affordability. Bear in mind that a historically-normal appreciation rate is 3-5%, so we are still a ways away from reaching that baseline.
The current market environment for both counties is still a seller’s market, sitting at 2.6 months of inventory based on pending sales for King, and 2.3 for Snohomish. A balanced market is representative of 3-6 months on inventory; we are currently just under that, but well above the extreme 0.5-0.8 months that we experienced over the last year or so. This has created more selection, which has minimized multiple offers and given buyers the opportunity to write offers with more comfortable terms, such as a home sale contingency.
Lastly, let’s talk interest rates! Currently, they are hovering around 5%. Yes, this is up from the 4.5% we saw earlier this year, but still well below the 30-year historical average of 6.7%. Money is still relatively cheap to borrow, and this should be taken advantage of as experts predict interest rates to rise as we head into 2019 and beyond. Your interest rate is typically fixed for the life of your loan, so rate plays into the long-term savings you can have on your asset if locked in at today’s levels.
If you have thought about making a move to a home that is a better fit for your current lifestyle, but have been stalled because you weren’t sure how to do it, now is the time to consider your options. Please reach out if you’d like a review of the current market conditions and how they relate to your goals. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.
Choosing a color palette for your home can be a complex process. Whether you are refreshing the interior or exterior, identifying colors that you relate to and that are on trend can be a challenge. Check out this article from House Beautiful on the most popular color palettes for 2019 based on your color personality. I think there is a lot of fun to be had here, and remember – a couple coats of paint can be the most inexpensive way to refresh your home. If you need a painter or any other contractor, remember that I can be a resource, as I have a preferred contractors list that I can pull from.
Every play matters in the fight against homelessness! Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for helping us raise $4,600 to #TackleHomelessness in their last home game against Los Angeles. That brings our season total to $9,200 and our cumulative money raised to $76,000! Good luck to the Hawks this weekend against the Chargers!
With the sharpest increase of available homes for sale in years, more opportunities are now available for buyers, including first-timers. Many first-time home buyers have sat on the sidelines and remained renters due to the constriction of inventory, which put major pressure on price affordability. Not only has affordability been an issue, but the terms required to prevail in a multiple-offer situation were often not within reach for someone entering the market for the first time.
For example, over the last 12 months in the Seattle Metro area we have seen a 66% increase in the selection of homes for buyers to choose from. There is currently 1.8 months of available inventory based on pending sales versus 0.8 months that was available the same month last year. This is still a seller’s market (0-3 months), but it is providing more than twice as much selection than a year ago. This loosening up of the market has helped to temper price growth by reducing the amount of price escalations and the need to have super aggressive financing terms in order to secure a home.
You see, over the last 3-4 years we have experienced double-digit price appreciation (10-14%) year-over-year, each year. A normal rate of appreciation is 3-5%. Minimal amounts of available inventory, low interest rates, and rapid job growth lead to this increase in prices. Now that more homes are coming to market and job growth has stabilized a bit (still growing, but not as fast), price growth has slowed. This is good news for sustainability and affordability. Here’s the deal though – we are still experiencing growth in values, making home ownership a sound investment over renting.
According to the most recent survey from rentcafe.com, the average rent for an apartment in Seattle is $1,906 with an average square footage of 736 sq. ft. That is quite a bit of money for not a ton of space. Further, that monthly expenditure does not create any wealth for the renter, only for the landlord. With renting, rates can be increased at any time, and you are paying down someone else’s asset, not your own. Also, owning gives the homeowner control of their overhead, while getting to make their house their home by adding improvements such as painting.
There are several factors to consider that will lead a person to make the best decision for their lifestyle and their financial bottom line. One of the biggest factors is interest rates! Currently, the rate for a 30-year fixed, conventional, conforming loan is hovering around 4.88%. Up from earlier this year and predicted to rise, but still historically low over the course of the last 30 years. These rates need to be considered the greatest opportunity of them all! With prices tempering and rates still under the 30-year average of 6.65%, buyers are able to secure a sound investment with very low debt service.
With interest rates predicted to rise over the next year, a good rule of thumb to remember is that for every one-point increase in rate, a buyer loses 10% of their buying power. For example, if the rate jumps from 4.75% to 5.75% and one wants to keep the same monthly payment, they must adjust their price point down by 10%. So, a $450,000 budget becomes a $405,000 budget, and that isn’t taking appreciation into consideration. If you assume an average appreciation rate of 4% year-over-year, today’s $450,000 house will be $468,000 next year. What side of the equity growth do you want to be on? As an owner now, or a buyer a year from now, when prices are higher and interest rates are most likely higher as well?
Once you secure a mortgage, the payment stays the same over the term of the entire loan. The long-term benefits of owning are abundant, including the stability of not being asked to move. These are important factors to consider for everyone, but especially millennials, who are enjoying the benefits of Seattle’s attractive job market. One myth to address is the common belief that you must have a 20% down payment in order to buy a home. That is simply not true. There are loan programs as low as 3% down, decreasing the need to have a large sum of money saved up before being able to buy.
Where folks are having to compromise the most due to affordability is commute times, and settling in less-urban neighborhoods. Worth pointing out, is the average home price in south Snohomish County is 34% less than Seattle Metro – that is a huge savings! Further, south King County is 74% more affordable than Seattle. Some people, mainly millennials, have not been willing to give up living in the core urban neighborhoods that have high walk scores and shorter commute times. That should be apt to change with more selection available in the purchase market, coupled with low interest rates. The advantages of moving out a little further and securing a home will start people on the track of building long-term wealth. If you or anyone you know is currently renting and is considering a change, please let me know, as I would be happy to get their questions answered and help them make an informed decision.
Two Weeks Ready: Be Prepared. Build Kits. Help Each Other.
The first few days after a disaster are often the most critical. Government and essential services may not be available right away, depending on the circumstances. It is imperative to have a plan in place for such a time, and be ready to act on your own.
Washington’s biggest disaster threat is from earthquakes. Washington State’s Emergency Management Division advises that we take precautions to be on our own for at least 2 weeks. Take a look at their Two Week Ready Brochure (PDF) that outlines the basics necessary for your emergency kit. While it is important to get ready, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. The list of necessities is long, so take a look at the agency’s year-long prep plan. You will also find information on pet preparedness, as well as the agency’s Drop, Cover, and Hold Earthquake Scenario map.
During last weekend’s win against Dallas, the Seattle Seahawks had 46 defensive tackles, raising another $4,600 for Windermere’s #TackleHomelessness campaign. Combined with what we’ve raised over the past two seasons, this brings our to-date grand total to $71,400! All season long we’ll be partnering with the Seahawks to raise money for YouthCare in support of homeless youth.
Nothing feels more like fall than pumpkin picking, hay rides and corn mazes. Get your latte in hand and head out to any one of these great, local farms to have some harvest fun and find that perfect jack-o-lantern to light up your porch.
Times, dates & activities may change, please use the links provided for details.
31929 SE 44th St, Fall City
Pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay rides, fresh eggs, gift shop, pony rides, picnic area, farm animals
1148 Central Ave N, Kent
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm fun yard, hay rides, produce stand, concessions
Fall City Farms
3636 Neal Road, Fall City
Pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay rides, fresh honey, pre-picked produce, farm animals, snacks and refreshments.
Fox Hollow Family Farm
12031 Issaquah Hobart Rd SE, Issaquah
Pumpkins for sale, hay bale maze, bouncy house, face painting, haunted house, pony rides, petting zoo, farm animals, concessions
229 W Snoqualmie River Rd NE, Carnation
Pumpkins, horse-drawn covered wagon rides, hay rides, hay bale maze
10819 Carnation-Duvall Rd NE, Carnation
Pumpkins, produce, picnic area, playground
Mosby Farm Pumpkin Patch
12747-b South East Green Valley Rd, Auburn
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, snacks and refreshment stand, picnic area
The Nursery at Mt Si
42328 SE 108th St, North Bend
Pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay rides
32610 NE 32nd St, Carnation
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, animal barnyard, pony rides, steam train, hay jump
20306 NE 50th St, Redmond
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, duck races, animal train
Thomasson Family Farm
38223 236th Ave SE, Enumclaw
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, kids korral, tractor train rides, pumpkin sling shot
Tonnemaker Valley Farm, Woodinville Farm Stand
16215 140th Pl NE, Woodinville
You-pick pumpkin patch, you-pick flowers, produce stand, on-site pepper roasting on Saturdays
Biringer’s Black Crow Pumpkins & Corn Maze
2431 Highway 530 NE, Arlington
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, straw or hay bale maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, farm market, picnic area
Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Farm
10917 Elliott Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, bonfire & picnic area, hay rides, pony rides, playground, concessions
630 Sunnyside Blvd SE, Lake Stevens
Pumpkin patch, train rides, corn maze, haunted corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, farm animals, farm market
13817 Short School Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, face painting, farm animals, snacks & refreshment stand
The Farm at Swans Trail
7301 Rivershore Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, pick your own apples, pig & duck races, petting zoo, putt-putt golf and more
Fairbank Animal Farm & Pumpkin Patch
15308 52nd Ave W, Edmonds
Pumpkins, petting zoo, farm animals, picnic area
Fosters Pumpkin Farm
5818 State Route 530 NE, Arlington
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay bale maze, corn cannon, pre-picked produce, face painting, farm animals, snacks and refreshment stand, picnic area
8705 Marsh Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, jumping pillow and more
Thomas Family Farm
9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, monster truck rides, haunted house, gem mining, Zombie Safari Paintball Hayride, beer garden, putt-putt golf and more
Double R Farms
5820 44th St E, Puyallup
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay rides, farm animals, pumpkin sling shot
25001 Sumner-Buckley Hwy, Buckley
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted woods, farm animals, hay ride, trout fishing, play ground
6502 52nd St E, Puyallup
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay ride, pumpkin sling shot, concessions
12920 162nd Ave E, Orting
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, play area
9622 SR 162 E, Puyallup
Pumpkin patch, farm animals, face painting, pumpkin sling shot, concessions