The real estate market continued to moderate in July. Inventory rose and home values softened, providing buyers with increased selection and more favorable pricing. With strong job growth and interest rates holding at below 4 percent, brokers expect the market to remain solid through fall.
The market remains strong on the Eastside. The current tech boom continues to fuel demand, buoyed by Google’s recent plans to build out another office in Kirkland. An increase in inventory gives buyers more time to find the right home for their budget. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $925,000 in July, down 2 percent from the same time last year.
Home prices in King County continued to ease. Buyers took advantage of lower prices and new inventory to boost home sales in July. The median price of a single-family home was $680,000, a 3 percent decline from the same time last year. More moderately-priced areas in the south end of the county saw continued price growth.
It’s no surprise that Seattle is the top city in the country where millennials are moving. Apple plans to add 2,000 jobs in Seattle. The first of 4,500 Expedia employees will start moving into Interbay soon. While demand here is expected to stay strong, prices continue to cool. The median price of a single-family home was $755,000, down 6 percent from a year ago and a decrease of 3 percent from June. Southeast Seattle, which generally has more affordable homes, saw the median home price rise 9 percent over the same time last year.
Inventory remains very tight in Snohomish County. The number of listings on the market were up 6 percent over last year, and the county has only six weeks of available supply – far short of the four to six months that is considered balanced. The median price of a single-family home in July was $502,000 – up slightly from the median of $495,000 a year ago.
This post originally appeared on windermere-bellevue.com
We’re halfway through the Windermere Foundation’s 30-year anniversary and our offices aren’t showing any signs of slowing down their donations. Last quarter, the Windermere Foundation collected $556,937, bringing our year-to-date total to $865,029, and our grand total to $38,871,157 raised since 1989. These donations are used to support non-profit organizations and programs that help low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.
Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account from which they make donations to help those in need in their local communities. This quarter, we’re highlighting Windermere offices in Oregon, Utah, and Colorado, which are each doing their part to give back by hosting clothing and donation drives, contributing to educational programs, and funding weekend backpack meals for public elementary schools.
The Windermere office in Medford, Oregon collected clothing donations for CASA of Jackson County’s summer clothing drive for kids in local foster care homes. The Windermere agents also volunteered their time to help sort and put away the collected items. According to CASA, the donations are enough to help 150 kids going through the court and foster care system. CASA was grateful to have the help and support of the Windermere Medford office.
“Thank you all for everything! Your team goes over the top each year and it is so fun and heartwarming. If we could only share the stories of these children, but please know what a difference having a new summer outfit, shoes, swimsuits, etc. makes. Many, many happy hearts and smiles to come!” ~Erin Carpenter, Development and Media Manager, CASA of Jackson County
The Windermere offices in Utah combined their funding to make a donation to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Salt Lake City Walk. Through the Windermere Foundation, they donated $5,000 to raise awareness about mental health issues and teen suicide. The mission of the AFSP is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. The programs are offered in schools and include speakers which are usually the surviving parents or other siblings telling their stories of loss to prevent others from making the same deadly mistakes.
The Windermere DTC office in Centennial, CO donated $5,000 to The CE Shop Foundation to support their recent fundraising campaign at the Elephant Rock Cycling Festival. Donations collected will help fund weekend backpacks of food for two Denver public elementary schools for the 2019-2020 school year. The CE Shop Foundation is on a quest to help Eliminate Childhood Hunger.
Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we have been able to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. This year we celebrate the Windermere Foundation’s 30th anniversary with a renewed year-long focus on giving back, doing more, and providing service to the communities that have made us who we are.
Our goal for 2019 is to raise over $40 million in total donations. If you’d like to help us reach this goal, or learn more about the Windermere Foundation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.
Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Unsplash
Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments.
For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere.
The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.
Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier
- You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution.
If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest.
If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier.
Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run.
- Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment.
- Enforced discipline: It takes real commitment to invest your money wisely each month instead of spending it elsewhere.
Your monthly mortgage payments are a form of enforced discipline since you know you can’t afford to miss them. It’s far easier to set a higher monthly payment towards your mortgage and stick to it than making regular investments on your own.
Besides, once your home is completely paid off, you can dedicate a larger portion of your income towards investments, your children or grandchildren’s education, or simply cut down on your working hours.
Advantages of investing your money
- A greater return on your investment: The biggest reason why you should invest your money instead comes down to a simple, green truth: there’s more money to be made in investments.
Suppose that instead of dedicating an additional $200 towards your monthly mortgage payment, you decide to invest it in a conservative index fund which tracks S&P 500’s index. You start your investment today with $200 and add an additional $200 each month for the next 30 years. By the end of the term, if the index fund had a modest yield of 5% per year, you will have earned $91,739 in interest, and the total value of your investment would be $163,939.
If you think that 5% per year is a little too optimistic, all we have to do is see the S&P 500 performance between December 2002 and December 2012, which averaged an annual yield of 7.10%.
- A greater level of diversification: Real estate has historically been one of the safest vehicles of investment available, but it’s still subject to market forces and changes in government policies. The forces that affect the stock and bonds markets are not always the same that affect real estate, because the former are subject to their issuer’s economic performance, while property values could change due to local events.
By putting your extra money towards investments, you are diversifying your investment portfolio and spreading out your risk. If you are relying exclusively on the value of your home, you are in essence putting all your eggs in one basket.
- Greater liquidity: Homes are a great investment, but it takes time to sell a home even in the best of circumstances. So if you need emergency funds now, it’s a lot easier to sell stocks and bonds than a home.
None of us want to admit it, but Winter is Coming. The new season of Game of Thrones might not be until 2019, but your home will need preparation before then. As the days shorten, you can mitigate many mid-winter headaches with some preemptive prep. Proper weatherizing can help protect your investment from preventable damage, save money on energy costs, and, most importantly, keep your home safe and warm for you and your loved ones throughout the winter season. Here is a useful checklist to manage your weatherization project. Setting aside some time on a couple Sundays should be more than enough to knock this out:
Getting started: Check your toolbox to make sure you have all the materials you need for home maintenance in one place. This NY Times article provides a good list of the tools you’ll really need to maintain your home. After your toolbox is put together, you can confidently begin the maintenance on your home.
Insulation: Insulating a home can reduce your energy bill by up to 50%. For the best results, your home should be properly insulated from the ceilings to the basement. By starting in your attic and progressively adding insulation to other areas of your home over time, you will avoid spending a large sum of money up-front.
Cracks & Leaks: Do a run-through of your entire house for cracks and leaks, from your roof to your baseboards. Winter weather is unpredictable. Whether your area gets rain, wind or snow, cracks in your house can lead to cold drafts or leaks that cause water damage. Depending on your house type, most cracks can be easily filled with supplies from your local hardware store in a do-it-yourself fashion. Use caulk to seal any cracks in the permanent building materials.
Windows & Doors: Another common place for heat leakage is in your windows and exterior doorways. Make sure seals are tight and no leaks exist. If you have storm windows, make sure you put them on before the cold season begins. Don’t underestimate the difference some weatherstrips and a door sweep can provide in preventing drafts and keeping the heat in.
Rain Gutters: Clean your rain gutters of any debris. In colder climates, buildup will cause gutters to freeze with ice, crack and then leak. Once you have removed the residue from the drains, test them by running hose water to make sure cracks and leaks have not already formed. Even in warmer locales, the buildup can put undue stress on your roof and home.
Pipes: Pipes are a number one risk in winter climates. A burst pipe can become a winter disaster in a matter of seconds. Remember to turn off your exterior water source and take in your hose. Internally, wrapping your pipes is a recommended precaution to take.
Heating System: What’s one thing gas fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and central air heating systems all have in common? They all need to be cleaned and maintained. Annual checks of are vital in avoiding dangers such as house fires. If you use an old-fashioned wood stove, make sure there are no leaks and that all soot build up or nests are removed. If a furnace is what you have, remember to change the filters as recommended or clean out your reusable filters.
Fireplace & Wood burning stoves: Make sure to have chimneys and air vents cleaned early in the season if you are planning on warming your home with a wood-burning source. When your fireplace is not in use make sure to close the damper, some resources estimate an open damper can increase energy consumption by as much as 30%.
Outside: As we mentioned before, make sure you bring your patio furniture inside (or cover) for the winter- but don’t forget other, smaller items such as your tools, including a hose and small planting pot. Clear out any piles around the side of your house, checking for cracks as you go so to avoid providing shelter for unwelcome guests over the cold season. If your property has large trees check for loose branches and call someone to trim back any items that may fall in your yard, on your roof or even damage a window.
Emergency Kit: Lastly, make sure your emergency kit is up-to-date with provisions, batteries, fresh water, food for animals, entertainment for kids, etc- especially if you live in an area prone to power outages.
First posted at windermere-bellevue.com
by Marilou Ubungen originally posted on the Windermere blog
Education First Scholarship Program
It’s that time of year again! As families prepare to send their kids back to school, Windermere agents have been out in their communities raising money to support programs that provide school supplies and scholarships to students in need.
These are a just a few examples of how Windermere agents are making a difference.
Seattle, WA: For the second year in a row, agents with the Windermere Wall Street Group offices have pooled their local Windermere Foundation funds to sponsor college scholarships for low-income youth who strive to improve their lives. Through a partnership with Education First, students receive tuition assistance along with access to college coaching services to stay on track.
The Windermere Wall Street, Magnolia, and Queen Anne offices used their funds to sponsor Yosef Yirdaw, who plans to study computer science at Eastern Washington University. Originally an orphan from Ethiopia, he shined in high school with both academics and cross country.
The Windermere office in West Seattle sponsored Brandon Olivera, a Chief Sealth High School graduate heading to the University of Washington, who is setting an example for his younger brothers to follow. During high school, Brandon spent many hours working in his father’s restaurant while making sure to help his siblings with their homework.
Both scholars will be the first in their families to attend college. The Windermere Wall Street Group offices have generously donated a total of $12,000 to Education First’s scholarship program since 2016.
Equipped 4 Success School Supply Drive
Alameda, CA: Through the Windermere Foundation, Windermere Bay Area Properties offices donated $1,000 to the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) to purchase new backpacks and supplies for their Equipped 4 Success School Supply Drive. Contributions to the drive provide homeless, formerly homeless, and low-income students with the materials they need to be ready to learn on the first day of school.
The mission of the Alameda Education Foundation is to engage the community, raise funds, and coordinate programs to support and enhance the quality of K-12 public education in Alameda.
Make The “Change” For Lewis County
Centralia, WA: On August 21, the Windermere Centralia office teamed up with KELA/KMNT Radio to host the Make The “Change” For Lewis County fundraising event. A school bus was parked next to the Windermere office to collect school supplies, checks, cash or change, and KELA/KMNT Radio was on site broadcasting live from the event. Over $2,000 worth of school supplies were collected for Lewis County schoolkids in need.
High Point Healthy Families Celebration
Seattle, WA: Approximately 830 community members attended this annual event on August 15 hosted by Neighborhood House, whose mission is to partner with diverse individuals and families to build community and achieve their goals for health, education, and self-sufficiency. With the help of a $3,000 donation from the Windermere Foundation, Neighborhood House was able to purchase enough school supplies to stuff 500 backpacks and serve 100 more school-aged youth than last year. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was also on hand at the event to help distribute backpacks.
Thanks to the generous donations and support of Windermere owners, agents, staff, and the public, the Windermere Foundation has been able to raise over $36 million since 1989 to support local non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families in our communities. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click on the Donate button.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.
First posted at windermere-bellevue.com