MLS Brokers Detecting Seasonal Slowdown in Some Areas But Expect Price Hikes to Continue in Much of Washington

KIRKLAND, Washington (October 5, 2017) – “October will be the best month for selection and availability until late February,” proclaimed J. Lennox Scott when commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

MLS figures for September show inventory reached 1.7 months of supply at the end of the month, matching the year-to-date high in February. That level is still well below the 4-to-6 months of supply that many industry analysts use as an indicator of a balanced market.

Scott said buyer intensity for new listings is higher today than a year ago. “We continue to have very strong buyer demand as the typical seasonal slowdown begins for new listings.” Other industry leaders agreed seasonal adjustments are underway.

Member-brokers in the 23 counties served by Northwest MLS added 10,120 new listings to inventory during September, slightly more than the number reported for the same month a year ago (10,029). At the end of the month there were 15,888 listings of single family homes and condos in the MLS database, a drop of 12.4 percent from a year ago when buyers could choose from 18,136 listings.

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Posted on October 18, 2017 at 7:54 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Uncategorized |

Renting vs. Buying in Today’s Market

 

The debate about whether it makes more financial sense to rent or buy has been raging for decades. Advocates of buying say: When you rent, you’re essentially paying someone else’s mortgage. Buying, on the other hand, is an investment—one that can significantly increase in value every year you continue living in the home.

 

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Posted on October 11, 2017 at 7:17 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

How to Avoid the Most Common Buying/Selling Mistakes

There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction, and there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.

How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:

 

BUYERS:

#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct, and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.

#2 Get pre-approved

Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.

#3 Know what you want

You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants. A good place to start is the “HUD Wish List,” which is available online for free at http://www.hud.gov/buying/wishlist.pdf

#4 Account for hidden costs

In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:

  • Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
  • Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
  • Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
  • Learn whether there are any homeowner or development dues associated with the property.

#5 Get an inspection

Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.

#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location

When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.

 

SELLERS:

#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.

#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)

Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.

#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)

Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.

#4 Use quality photos

The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.

 

The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

 

First posted in Windermere Blog.


Posted on October 4, 2017 at 7:36 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

When should I buy a home?

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 4.4% by next year.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 5.0% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, talk to a real estate broker and find out if you are able to!

First Posted in Windermere Blog.


Posted on October 3, 2017 at 11:54 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Here’s your fall maintenance list

Is your home ready for fall?

Fall is an ideal time to tackle maintenance projects both inside and outside. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Gutters top to bottom

Water in the wrong spots can do a lot of damage. Start by ensuring that gutters and downspouts are doing their job. (Don’t attempt this task yourself if you have a two-story house with a steep roof; hire a professional instead.) If your home is surrounded by deciduous trees you may need to clean out your gutters a few times a year, especially in the fall. Check to make sure your gutters are flush with the roof and attached securely, repairing any areas that sag or where the water collects and overflows. Clean out the gutters and downspouts, checking that outlet strainers are in good shape, and are firmly in place. Finally, check that your downspouts direct water away from your house, not straight along the foundation.

If you haven’t already, you may want to consider installing gutter guards. Gutter guards create a barrier so water can get through to your gutters, but debris cannot, limiting gutter buildup (and the time you spend cleaning out your gutters). There are DIY installation kits available or you can always hire a professional to install a gutter guard system.

If you have a sump pump under your house, now is a good time to test it. Run a hose to be sure draining water travels directly to the pump (dig small trenches if needed), and that the pump removes the water efficiently and expels it well away from the foundation. For more information about how sump pumps work go to howstuffworks.com.

 

Check for leaks

The best opportunity to catch leaks is the first heavy rain after a long dry spell, when roofing materials are contracted. Check the underside of the roof, looking for moisture on joints or insulation. Mark any spots that you find and then hire a roofing specialist to repair these leaks. What you don’t want to do is wait for leaks to show up on your ceiling. By then, insulation and sheet rock have been damaged and you could have a mold problem too.

Don’t forget the basement. Check your foundation for cracks, erosion, plants growing inside, broken windows, and gaps in window and door weathering.  Make sure to properly seal any leaks while the weather is nice. This will ensure materials dry properly.

 

Pest Prevention

Rodents are determined and opportunistic, and they can do tremendous amounts of property damage (and endanger your family’s health). As temperatures cool, take measures to prevent roof rats and other critters from moving in. Branches that touch your house and overhang your roof are convenient on-ramps for invaders, so trip back branches so they’re at least four feet from the house. If you do hear scuttling overhead or discover rodent droppings in your attic, crawl space or basement, take immediate action. The website http://www.thisoldhouse.com has several helpful articles on the topic.

 

Maintain your heating and cooling systems

Preventative maintenance is especially crucial for your home’s heating and air-conditioning systems. Fall is a smart time to have your systems checked and tuned up if necessary. Don’t wait for extreme temperatures to arrive, when service companies are slammed with emergency calls. Between tune-ups, keeps your system performing optimally by cleaning and/or replacing air filters as needed.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, a professional inspection and cleaning will help prevent potentially lethal chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, always keep a supply of dry firewood or sawdust-composite logs so you have a backup heat source in an emergency.

 

Insulate & seal

Insulating your home is a cost-efficient investment, whether you’re trying to keep the interior warm in the winter or cool in the summer. Aside from more major improvements like energy-efficient windows and insulation, there are some quick fixes that do-it-yourselfers can tackle. If an exterior door doesn’t have a snug seal when closed, replace the weather stripping; self-adhesive foam stripping is much simpler to install than traditional vinyl stripping. If there is a gap under the door (which can happen over time as a house settles), you may need to realign the door and replace the vinyl door bottom and/or door sweep. Air also sneaks inside through electrical outlets and light switches on exterior walls. Dye-cut foam outlet seals placed behind the wall plates are a quick and inexpensive solution.

First Posted in Windermere Blog.


Posted on September 27, 2017 at 8:20 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Home Update | Tagged , ,

August activity described as both “robust” and “stagnant”

KIRKLAND, Washington (Sept. 6, 2017) – As smoke and ash blanketed parts of Washington state, one real estate broker noted, “Even in a fire there are some cooler spots, and seasonally, the housing market is in a cooler spot.”

The latest numbers from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show there are both cooler spots and hot spots, with the demand for housing and prices showing few signs of being extinguished.

“For August, we experienced a more robust market than anticipated,” remarked Diedre Hanes, principal managing broker-South Snohomish County at Coldwell Banker Bain in Lynnwood. “Compared to years past, we’ve seen very limited slowdown,” she added.

Pending sales area-wide during August totaled 11,867 transactions, barely exceeding the number of new listings (11,781) added during the month. At month end, there were 15,987 total active listings in the MLS database, a shrinkage of 12.8 percent from a year ago.

Sparse inventory is a likely factor in the flat pending sales, with year-over-year pending sales for all areas down .09 percent (11,867 versus 11,878). Of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS report, 15 had fewer mutually accepted offers last month compared to twelve months ago. Last month’s total was up slightly from July’s figure of 11,800.

Credit the flurry of back-to-school activities and end-of summer vacations for sidetracking some sellers and buyers. “Typically, the last two weeks or so of August cool a bit and the market picks up again full steam once school resumes,” said Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson.

Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott in Poulsbo, described activity as a “fast-paced seller’s market,” but said the “stagnant pool” is beginning to grow as sellers realize they can’t overprice their homes, “even in this market.” With football season getting underway he expects open house schedules to adjust around Seahawks game times, with Saturdays becoming the preferred showing day.

Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, also commented on seasonal patterns. “This past summer market seems to have followed previous years’ seasonal conditions. While inventory remained low, there was some change of pace from the winter-spring market,” he stated.

O’Leyar said savvy buyers took advantage of slightly longer market times, affording them the opportunity for reasonable contingencies. “Although we saw multiple offers, they were down somewhat, and several offer review dates came and went with no offers by those deadlines.”

Changing seasons will likely mean a drop-off in listing activity, agreed J. Lennox Scott, who was upbeat on summer sales. “It’s been our best summer ever for sales activity with June, July and August clocking in a record number of transactions,” said Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott. He credits strong job growth and attractive interest rates (“the lowest they’ve been since last November”) with propelling sales.

“It’s still a frenzy market in the more affordable and mid-price ranges,” he said, while also noting the luxury segment continues to outpace last year’s market “in a huge way.”

System-wide, 3,727 single family homes have sold for more than a million dollars during the first eight months of the year, surpassing last year’s total of 2,456 such sales during the same time frame – a jump of nearly 52 percent.

With further drops in inventory likely during the fourth quarter, Scott and others expect sales will continue at a quick clip.

“As we head into fall, September and October will see new listing inventory drop by about 20 percent from the summer months, so the next two months will be the best opportunity for selection and availability for buyers to purchase a home,” Scott suggests. “Starting in November, the number of new listings will drop by another 30 percent over the winter,” he added.

“We continue to see low inventory drive the story in the Puget Sound region,” observed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. Thirteen of the 23 counties in the MLS report had double-digit declines in inventory compared to a year ago.

Area-wide, including single family homes and condominiums, the 1.55 months of supply for August slipped from both July (at 1.62 months), and from the year-ago number of around 1.9 months. King County continued to have the tightest inventory, at 0.93 months.

Commenting on rising prices – up 8.3 percent across the MLS service area – Grady said, “Of course, that old law of supply and demand has its natural effect.” The trend is consistent throughout the MLS service area, he noted, adding, “With King County prices escalating at such a fast rate (up 17 percent), the ripple effect will continue to push prices throughout the area, first in neighboring counties, then throughout the region.”

“Kitsap continues to see its share of multiple offers,” Wilson reported, adding, “The effects of this seller’s market can be seen in the 13 percent price increase from a year ago. Also, with more attention coming to Kitsap due to the new fast ferry system there is no reason for prices to temper any time soon.”  He believes challenges for “pent up sellers” will persist “as they have no place to move once they sell their home.”

“Nobody likes this market, – not sellers, not buyers, not real estate brokers,” proclaimed Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson. The reasons vary, he explained. “Sellers aren’t necessarily happy because they think they could be leaving money on the table. Buyers think they’re paying too much. And brokers think sales are more complex and fraught with peril than previously, making them harder to close.”

Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor, believes Seattle and surrounding areas are “forever changed” by this market. “The change isn’t going to be painless. Housing scarcity and increasing prices are sore spots.” Whether price increases will subside is anyone’s guess, he added.

Prices aren’t the only worry, suggested Haines. She said low appraisals occur on about one of every three sales. “The low appraisal number remains consistent at $25,000-to-$30,000 below sales price when it occurs. It makes one wonder why – coincidence or something else?” she stated.

Haines noted multiple offers are continuing, but added a note of caution to sellers: “Overpriced listings are not getting showings or offers. Buyers are well educated and well informed, which definitely eases fears of a developing bubble.”

Condos offered little relief for anxious buyers. Inventory dropped nearly 25 percent from twelve months ago, but pending sales somehow managed to outgain year-ago totals (up nearly 2.9 percent). At the end of August, there was less than a month’s supply of condos for sale across all areas served by Northwest MLS. King County’s supply was slightly better than two weeks. Prices rose 6.7 percent overall, and were up 11.3 percent in King County, 12.6 percent in Snohomish County and 14.5 percent in Pierce County. This tri-county area accounted for nearly nine of every 10 sales.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 26,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Copied from the original post published by NWMLS


Posted on September 7, 2017 at 8:36 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Uncategorized |

Researchers list 10 new and “maybe even a bit surprising” findings in latest State of the Nation’s Housing report

When the State of the Nation’s Housing report is published each year, the researchers are invariably asked “What surprised you?” according to Daniel McCue, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

“Little surprises us by the time of publication,” he confessed, but went on to list 10 findings that “were new and maybe even a bit surprising.”

His list:

  1. For-sale inventories dropped for the fourth consecutive year, shrinking to an historically low 1.65 million homes for sale nationwide, which equates to just 3.6 months of supply, “almost half the 6.0 months level that is considered a balanced market.”
  2. Fewer homes were built over the last 10 years than any 10-year period in recent history. Just 9 million new housing units (single-family and multifamily) were completed and added to the housing stock during the past 10 years, well below the 14 and 15 million units added, on average during the ’80s and ’90s.
  3. Single-family construction grew at a faster pace than multifamily – a first since the Great Recession.
  4. Smaller homes appear to be making a comeback.
  5. Rental markets remain strong. In 2016 multifamily construction levels rose in most of the country, rents declined in just 10 of the 100 markets in the analysis, multifamily loan originations and lending volumes both hit new record highs, and rental vacancy rates were at a 30-year low.
  6. Long-term, metro-area home price trends show surprisingly wide variations. Prices rose in 97 of 100 metros, with 41 of these areas regaining their nominal peak price levels from the mid-2000s.
  7. The 12-year decline in the US homeownership rate may be nearing an end. The number of homeowners increased in 2016 for the first time since 2006. Additionally, first-time homebuyers accounted for a higher share of sales during 2016 than the prior year.
  8. The homeownership gap between whites and African-Americans widened to its largest disparity since WWII. A differential of nearly 30 percentage points separates blacks and whites.
  9. More than half of all poor now live in high-poverty neighborhoods. JCHS reports poverty is growing, concentrating, and suburbanizing all at the same time. The total number of people living in poverty in the US increased by nearly 14 million in 2000-2015.
  10.  Poverty is growing across metros and in rural areas. The number of poor living in high-poverty tracts in moderate- and lower-density suburban areas more than doubled.

JCHS investigates and illuminates housing’s critical role in the economy and in communities. Its work serves as a resource for scholars, public and private sector leaders, housing practitioners, and policymakers.

Copied from the original post published by The NW REporter.


Posted on August 30, 2017 at 8:03 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Uncategorized |

Letter From The Heart

Oleg Doukhnevitch

“You have been created in order that you might make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.”

Dear Friends,

Something happened recently. It made me realize how important it is not only to know someone but know who they are. I talked to my son the other day, and he told me about a great book “The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters” written by Andy Andrews. The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects. “A butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air— eventually capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet.”

This reminded me of a chainsaw story. Please don’t be scared, this is going to be a Washingtonian chainsaw story, a good one. A few years ago I bought a nice chainsaw in Home Depot and it’s been laying in the garage for a long-long time. Back in November 2016, we had a really bad storm. One of the trees in our yard broke. It was a huge tree about 30ft tall with about 20 branches. I called a lot of companies who said it cost over $1000 to cut the tree. Then one of my neighbors highly recommended me to call on a guy who did a job for him. I called this guy and left a message, no one got back to me. A tried calling again within next few days. Finally, he called me back. He said he would come over tomorrow. The next day we met. He was a 60-70 years old man wearing cheap and old tattered clothing. The clothes from Goodwill that you can buy for a couple dollars was much better. He looked at the tree and said that he would charge me only $150… I was surprised because it was at least a day of work. So I decided to help him and brought my nice chainsaw from a garage. He said that my chainsaw is not good for this particular tree and showed me the collection of about 15 chainsaws in his truck. We worked hard all day. Continue reading


Posted on July 14, 2017 at 12:31 am
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Letter From The Heart | Tagged

Coffee with Oleg

How to Hire the Best Landscape Contractor for Your Project

You’ve approved your landscape architect’s final site plan for your landscape design, and now it’s time to get the project built. You can pay the landscape architect to select a contractor for you, or you can hire one on your own. Like other building professionals, landscape contractors have different skillsets and levels of experience. A landscape contractor does not need an award-winning portfolio of work in order to do a great job. The work of the contractor comes down to getting the job done on budget and on time while providing good, reliable service and quality installation work.

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Posted on 31 May 2017 | 6:30 pm

How are inventory shortages impacting the housing market?

The shortage of homes for sale has been a major concern for buyers and real estate agents over the last few years. Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, explains the impact these shortages are having on the housing market.

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Posted on 30 May 2017 | 7:25 pm

At Home in the Outdoors

More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider:

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Posted on 23 May 2017 | 8:50 pm

The Trump Administration’s Impact on U.S. Housing

Will the Trump administration have an impact on the U.S. housing market? Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, weighs in on how mortgage rates, inflation, and the possible repeal of Dodd-Frank could impact housing in the foreseeable future.

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Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:00 pm

Windermere’s Chief Economist Weighs in on White House Uncertainty

Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, was interviewed by real estate industry news leader, Inman News, on what impact recent White House turmoil could have on the U.S. housing market. This is what he had to say:

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Posted on 18 May 2017 | 10:00 pm

5 Things Your Contractor Doesn’t Want to Hear

There are parts of every job, no matter what field you’re in, that are just less fun than others. Building professionals pride themselves on doing anything and everything to make clients happy. But that doesn’t always mean the builder is jumping up and down with excitement at every stage of a project.

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Posted on 18 May 2017 | 6:30 pm

Windermere Helps Fight Food Insecurity by Funding Weekend and Summer Meal Programs

For many children, the free meals that they receive in the school cafeteria may be the only food that they get for the entire day. And that’s just on the weekdays. On the weekends, children often go hungry because their families cannot afford to cover basic household expenses, including groceries. And when the school year ends, they lose the security of those two meals, making summer the hungriest season of the year for children in our communities.

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Posted on 17 May 2017 | 6:00 pm

Oregon and Southwest Washington Real Estate Market Update

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Oregon State has added almost 40,000 new jobs over the past 12 months. Although growth has slowed significantly, we can attribute this to the fact that the state has reached “full employment.” When this is achieved, growth has to rely on the population rising to drive jobs higher and, inevitably, the pace slows. Year-over-year, employment in Oregon rose by 2.2%.

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Posted on 15 May 2017 | 6:00 pm

How to Stay Organized During a Home Renovation

When you’re embarking on a renovation project, it’s a good idea to clear as much space as possible before the chaos ensues. Think about what you want and need in your new room, and thoroughly declutter the area. Follow these tips for clearing, organizing and storing to ensure your building work creates as little upheaval as possible.

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Posted on 12 May 2017 | 6:30 pm

Colorado Real Estate Market Update

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Annual employment in Colorado grew by a respectable 2.3% in February, which equated to about 64,000 new jobs over the past 12 months. Within the metropolitan market areas included in this report, employment has been mixed, with Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs reporting above-average growth. However, Greeley and Grand Junction saw a modest decline in employment.

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Posted on May 31, 2017 at 8:26 pm
Oleg Doukhnevitch | Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , ,