With the Washington state Legislature scheduled to start its 2019 session on January 14 and Realtor Hill Day slated for January 24, Realtors and other real estate-related organizations will be coalescing around the housing crisis and strategies for improving supply and affordability.
Among legislative priorities are:
- Condominium liability reform, specifically, language that would 1) prohibit individual HOA officers/board members from being sued; 2) modify statutory “implied warranties” that condo buyers receive from builders; and 3) require purchasers who sue to establish a “performance” defect.
- GMA reform, including a requirement for cities to enact minimum densities in urban areas, thereby making more efficient use of available urban lands designated for jobs and housing.
- Housing Trust Fund legislation that may be proposed to allow use of a portion of the monies for building owner-occupied housing in addition to publicly-owned housing.
- Other budget and financial issues affecting tax collections; education funding subsequent to the 2017 “McCleary Fix;” expenses resulting from compliance with the “Culverts case” that required the state to improve fish passage on almost all culverts under state roadways; B&O and REET related proposals to increase those taxes; and a new capital gains tax (depending on the final number of Democrats in the State Senate).
To help focus attention on the housing crisis and its “real world impacts,” a coalition of nonprofit organizations, builders, Realtors and others joined forces to launch a multi-media campaign.
Using the theme “Unlock the Door,” the campaign invites members of the public and Realtor members to share stories on how the housing affordability crisis has affected them, and their family, friends, and clients.
The effort, now underway, is in response to the struggle families across the state and in all income groups are facing in their search for homeownership opportunities. Organizers cite research from the Rundstad Department of Real Estate at the University of Washington which indicates first-time buyers in King, Kittitas, Pierce and Snohomish counties face home prices that area nearly double what they can afford.
The campaign’s primary focus is on affordable home ownership opportunities, but it will also contain elements related to homelessness and low income housing.
Questions? Contact Jennifer Gilbert-Smith, volunteer member of Seattle King County REALTORS and Tacoma-Pierce County Association of REALTORS Government and Public Affairs Committees
Expect to see more coral hues in home design next year. Pantone, the corporation known for its paint forecasts, unveiled “Living Coral” as its 2019 Color of the Year. The color, an orange shade with golden undertones, embodies “warmth and comfort,” Pantone says.
Living Coral can make a bold statement as an accent color, and forecasters expect to see it in more shag rugs, cozy blankets, and upholstery to “create a warm, comforting, and nurturing feeling in the home.” “With its ebullient nature, Pantone’s Living Coral adds a dramatic pop of color to any room setting, whether in decorative accessories, tabletops, or on the wall,” Pantone said in a statement.
Living Coral succeeds Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year, Ultra Violet. Other paint companies have been offering their picks for the 2019 Color of the Year. Behr chose a rich, bluish hue called “Blueprint,” while Sherwin-Williams chose “Cavern Clay,” a warm terra cotta color.
As winter rolls in, you may find yourself in a funk — especially if you’re a gardener with a green thumb. The growing beds are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees and the dark skies that roll in a little earlier make you long for sunnier days. Hold on — just because the summer gardening season is over, doesn’t mean you can’t plan to get your hands dirty next spring!
Use winter to evaluate (or re-evaluate) your spring gardening goals – set yourself up for success to grow your best harvest yet! If you’re new to gardening, we have tips to help you get started – read on to learn the five winter projects to do now to ready your green thumb to have the best spring garden yet.
- Plan Ahead
As spring rolls around, you could just throw some seeds in the ground and see what happens, but for best results, use a garden planner to map out and maximize your growing space. Now comes the fun part! It’s time to order your seed catalog and decide what varieties and produce to plant. There are so many options to choose from and by spring, the grocery store’s produce won’t be able to compete with your homegrown harvest!
- Weeding, Weeding and More Weeding
Fall and winter are the best times to weed the garden. The beds are clear of produce and you don’t have to worry about the risk of accidentally yanking that prize tomato plant out of the ground. Before you reach for the Roundup, consider doing your soil a favor by opting for more natural weed killer options. Once you’ve finished cleaning the beds, fill them with plenty of mulch-utilizing mulch not only helps to keep the weeds out, but it provides your soil with a host of beneficial nutrients.
- Show Your Soil Some Love
One of the first things you learn in gardening is that not all soil is alike. Plants can die simply because the soil doesn’t drain well and it doesn’t hold many nutrients. Winter is the perfect time to test and amend your soil mix. There are a variety of soil testing kits available on Amazon, but if you really want to take it to the next level, consider having your soil tested at your county’s local extension office or check out this soil testing laboratory database to find a location near you. Once you have an idea of what your soil needs, get those hands dirty and mix it up. To maintain the quality of your soil, make sure to do ongoing maintenance such as applying compost, cleaning up dead material, practicing crop rotation and growing cover crops for the winter.
- Clean ‘Em Up
Don’t just toss your gardening tools in the garage and forget about them, clean them up for storing until the spring. Disinfecting your garden tools is a good way of warding off potential pests and disease and don’t forget to sharpen up any tools that are dull. Nothing is more frustrating than gearing up for some pruning or weeding and the tools are too dull-making it difficult to cut and trim. Tools that are sharpened regularly will last longer, too.
- Cover Up from the Cold
Your garden bed clean-up is done and now’s the time to protect any winter plants from the coming frost. Consider investing in portable cold frames or row covers to keep the warmth in and the cold out. Another option is to invest in a greenhouse or build your own. You can start your seeds inside and once the last frost is over, you can move them into the ground. This is a method to use for those that live in very cold regions.
Inventory Bounces Back, While Home Prices Increase
Extremely low inventory improves as sales drop for the fourth month, according to the November 2018 RE/MAX National Housing Report.
“The road to market normalization can be bumpy,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “It’s good to see the small uptick in inventory, and the drop in November sales isn’t too surprising – given the recent trends, the mid-term elections, and the earlier-than-usual Thanksgiving holiday.”
- Inventory Continues to Climb
Years of shrinking inventory gave way in November 2018 to a second consecutive month of year-over-year growth in the number of homes for sale. Across the 53 metro areas surveyed, inventory rose 3.0 percent – the highest monthly year-over-year gain in the 10-year history of the report.
- Declining Home Sales
November home sales, meanwhile, declined 6.9 percent, which was the second-largest year-over-year decline of 2018 and the biggest year-over-year sales decline for November in five years. This year only April and July sales exceeded 2017 totals for the corresponding months.
- Median Sales Price Increased
November’s median sales price of $235,000 was 4.0 percent higher than November 2017 and was the highest November price in the report’s history. It marked the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. Comparing the first 11 months of 2018 to 2017, home prices are up 6.0 percent.
“As we near year-end, three main themes appear clear – buyers are grappling with affordability issues and tight inventory; sellers are unsure how to react to the cooling market; and homes priced properly are still selling rather quickly,” added Contos. “All three underscore the fact that the guidance of a professional agent is even more critical in times like these.”
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More millennials are pursuing homeownership now than ever before. The national homeownership rate rose to 64.4 percent in the third quarter this year—an increase of half a percentage point over a year ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s largely attributed to the rise in new, first-time home buyers.
As 2018 comes to a close, Dana Bull, an agent with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty who has significant experience working with millennial clients, shares five trends to expect from this generation of buyers in the coming year.
1. Rising Interest Rates Will Prompt Buyers to Change Strategy
Just last week, mortgage rates rose to a seven-year high, with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 4.94 percent. It’s more than likely that rates will climb over 5 percent in the new year. This will cause many buyers to pause and reevaluate their purchasing power and strategy, Bull says. “Even a quarter point has a real impact on housing affordability,” she says. This means you’ll need to take more time to help clients analyze deals and understand what their money can buy in this shifting market.
2. Increased Competition From Baby Boomers for Properties
As millennials age and grow in their careers, they are acquiring more purchase power. According to the 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, 30 percent of millennials purchased homes for $300,000 and higher in the past year, up from 14 percent in 2013. That means millennials and boomers are going head-to-head for the same homes today. That trend is only going to continue to grow in 2019, Bull predicts. Both groups also seek similar amenities, including walkable neighborhoods and smaller home sizes with more upgrades, she points out. “Buyers in different generations—with wildly different points of view—are competing for the same homes,” she says. “For sellers and agents, catering to two different generations in marketing homes will also be a challenge.”
3. Willing to Put In Sweat Equity
Millennials are becoming more savvy to renovations and repairs, and they may have HGTV to thank for that, Bull says. “Millennial buyers are still far more aware of the work, costs, and implications of a renovation than their parents would have been,” she says. “Popular TV shows mean a more educated millennial buyer who knows what to look for in terms of red flags. But also has more confidence around renovating a home to make it their own and the ability to see past outdated wallpaper or a wall that can be easily removed.” Keep this in mind as interest rates continue to rise in 2019 (re: trend number one) and you’re helping clients who want to get creative while staying in their price range.
4. Clients Who are Well-Researched and Prepared
Millennial buyers are doing their online research and are entering the market well-prepared. Show your value as a REALTOR® in other ways, Bull recommends. “They are relying on real estate professionals not to introduce them to homes, most of which they can find online, but to show them what can’t be researched: neighborhoods that are up and coming, which properties stand to gain value in the coming years, and guidance when it comes to negotiations and inspections.”
5. Social Media’s Continued Impact
Social media will continue to influence millennials’ homebuying habits, Bull says. This generation relies heavily on online reviews and social media presence to make purchasing decisions. A strong online reputation for real estate professionals is a must in catering to this market, she adds. Showcasing homes on social media—particularly Instagram—is essential for appealing to millennial clients.
Source: REALTOR® Magazine