Higher-end Homes Hit by Excise Tax Rate Increase

Sellers of higher-end homes will pay more in real estate excise tax (REET) next year due to changes adopted by the Washington state Legislature. A new graduated tax, or tiered REET, will go into effect for homes sold on or after January 1, 2020.

Washington state has one of the highest real estate “transfer tax” rates in the country, according to a study by the National Association of REALTORS®. That rate will now be higher for sellers of homes valued at slightly over $1.5 million or more. The current single rate REET is assessed at 1.28% on the sale price of the home. In addition, most local governments in the state assess an additional one-half percent on the sales price, making the current effective rate 1.78%.

Under the new system, effective in 2020, the first $500,000 of value will be taxed at a new reduced state rate of 1.1%, saving the seller of a $500,000 home $900. For the value of the sale between $500,000 and $1,500,000, the tax rate remains 1.28%. For the value of the sale between $1.5M and $3M the rate is 2.75 % and for sales above $3M the rate is 3%. Because the tax is assessed at a marginal rate (the different rates apply on each portion of the sale), the actual break even point between the old and the new rates is $1,561,224 of value. Sales greater than that amount will pay more REET under the new system and sales under that amount will pay less.

The local government REET rates do not change and remain in effect. The combined state and local taxable rate is shown in the table above.

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Housing Options Expand in King County

King County residents will have more options for owning a home thanks to a new law championed by REALTORS®. As Seattle and King County continue to experience greater demand for housing and an uptick in home prices, a coalition of housing advocates worked with the Legislature to pass a condominium reform measure that will make condo construction more attractive across the state.

The result: More housing choices for more people in King County.

Read more…

6 Tips to Prep Your Home for the Best Summer Ever

You’ve been waiting for summer all year, but just how prepared is your home? You’re probably planning for a beach trip or some time to unplug, not a bug invasion or a sprinkler leak… All it takes is a little elbow grease in the meantime to ensure this summer goes off without a hitch!

1) Service the A/C

Your air conditioner requires regular maintenance but was likely pushed to the wayside at the first sign of cooler weather. To give it a refresh, clean or replace dirty, clogged filters that may be blocking airflow. While you’re at it, check your evaporator coil. Dirt accumulates on the coil, also reducing airflow and ability to absorb heat. Purchase a “fin comb” and comb any bent aluminum fins on the evaporator and condenser coils back into place. Finally, thread a stiff wire through the A/C drain channels. Any blockage in these channels will limit humidity reducing abilities, and risk discoloring walls or carpet.

2) Clean windows

You can’t enjoy the warm summer sun without sparkling, clean windows! Remove dust and lint from the area and mix a solution of white vinegar and hot water. Dip a sponge in the solution and wet the windows, following with vertical squeegee strokes. Finish by wiping sills with all-purpose cleaner and water.

3) Rotate ceiling fan blades

If you’re hoping to keep cool this summer, while also saving some cold hard cash, you’ll want to make sure your ceiling fan is in tip top shape. As the weather warms, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan counterclockwise. Stand directly under the fan and feel for a slight cool breeze. When fan blades rotate in this direction a wind-chill effect is produced, subtly making you feel cooler.

4) Pest-proof your home

Nothing ruins summer fun like unwelcome house guests, and when it comes to pest prevention the best offense is a good defense. Store all accessible food in sealed containers and tightly cover trash cans. Don’t let water accumulate anywhere in the home, including sinks and tubs. Seal off places where pests could get in with caulk or steel wool. If you do end up using a pesticide, do your research and spray safely and correctly.

5) Prepare the backyard

If you didn’t get around to spring cleaning the exterior, there’s no time like the present. Whether power washing the deck or installing some tiki torches, your backyard should be the life of the party this summer. You can also check furniture stores for deals on patio decor, or maybe even bust out the grill!

6) Test your sprinklers

Speaking of the yard… If you haven’t done so already, check up on your sprinkler system. Inspect sprinkler heads and replace any that are clogged, broken or missing. Then, check for leaks where they connect to pipes or hoses. Aim each sprinkler toward the lawn, and away from the driveway, house, and sidewalk, and update your system’s watering schedule for the coming months. After all, no summer is complete without lush, green grass!

RE/MAX National Housing Report for May 2019

Home Sales Accelerate
While Inventory Hits 34-Month High

May home sales ticked slightly higher year-over-year, ending a 9-month streak of declines, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. At the same time, inventory grew for the eighth consecutive month, representing the most units for sale since August 2016 in the report’s 54 metro areas.

Homes sold quickly, as evident in the Days on Market average of 47 – the second-fastest May average in the 10-year history of the report. And home sales increased 15.3% from April to May – the second-highest April-May jump in report history.

Home sales were up 0.4% over May 2018 – the first year-over-year gain since July 2018. The number of homes for sale increased 4.9% year-over-year to set a report record for the highest May growth. However, based on the pace of home sales, May’s 2.6 Months of Inventory was down compared to April’s 2.8 months and the 2.9 months of May 2018.

The Median Sales Price of $259,500 was up 3.4% year-over-year, representing the lowest May increase since 2011.

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Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for May 2019

Northwest MLS figures show last month’s 12,006 pending sales across its 23 county service area nearly matched the year-ago total of 12,168 mutually accepted offers. Nine counties notched increases.

Two other indicators of activity – the volume of new listings, and the number of closed sales – both showed slight gains from a year ago. MLS member brokers added 14,689 new listings to inventory during May, up 165 units from twelve months ago. Year-over-year (YOY) closed sales rose about 1.6 percent (from 9,011 in May 2018 to last month’s total of 9,153).

Inventory improved 24.5 percent from a year ago, with brokers adding 14,689 new listings to outpace the 12,006 pending sales. The MLS report for May shows 16,133 active listings at month end, up from the year-ago total of 12,956. King County recorded the largest gain in total inventory, at more than 62 percent, but supply remained below 2 months in that and several other counties.

System-wide there was 1.76 months of supply at the end of May, well below the 4-to-6 months that experts say indicate a balanced market.

14108 SE 45th St, Bellevue, WA 98006

$1,549,900

3 bedrooms + den; 2.5 bathrooms; 3220 square foot basement rambler

You won’t forget the Panoramic Views showcasing Seattle, the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and Lake Washington! You’ll love the private park-like backyard with mature trees and plants, lighted water feature, landscape lighting and automatic sprinklers. The open kitchen, dining and living rooms feature views, custom fir cabinets and pantry with soft close drawers and doors, pull outs, glass mosaic back splash and in/under cabinet lights, skylights, gas fireplace and tigerwood floors. The partially covered deck, flagstone patio and multiple rooms downstairs offer entertaining options. You’ll enjoy the heated tile and slate floors, heated towel rack, heated medicine cabinets with outlets, and steam room with two rain showers. Though this home is completely updated, you’ll appreciate the recently remodeled master suite, new roof and gutters, and newer carpet and paint. With so much space downstairs, it may become an additional dwelling unit. The panoramic views include Bellevue and Mt Baker on a clear day. Don’t miss this!

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How a Home Office Can Increase Appeal for Homebuyers

With housing inventory remaining tight in recent years, RE/MAX agents are diligent about keeping up with the trends to help clients buy and sell properties in this competitive market.

“Remote-friendly” workplaces are one of those rising trends. In fact, according to 2018 data from the U.S. Census, nearly 8 million people worked at home in 2017.

“In my experience, the home office is an integral part of the millennial homebuying criteria,” says Chris Krzemien with RE/MAX Experience in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

If you think it might be time to get to work (pun intended) on sprucing up – or creating – that home-office space, here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Designate a Dedicated Office Space

One of the pitfalls to working from home is distraction. It’s crucial to create an atmosphere that’s conducive to professionalism and creativity. If your home is big enough to accommodate an entire room dedicated solely to work, an office might be a draw for millennials envisioning their productive and comfortable work-from-home days. If not, it’s a great idea to establish a semi-private area in your home where a buyer could picture themselves using a computer, talking on the phone and keeping important documents stored.

  1. Seek the Sunshine

Employees working from home are saying “sayonara” to the cubicle! Rather than putting a home office desk in a corner, try moving it close to a window – a buyer might appreciate the chance to take in the scene during the workday (pro tip: Make sure your view and garden are in tip-top shape for prospective buyers!). And don’t forget lamps in case the shades need to be closed for glare.

  1. Get Comfortable – Stay Awhile!

Many office environments provide a creative space away from desks for employees to think and brainstorm. A home office should provide the same comfy area. Add a chair, coffee table and colorful throw, and the buyer might just choose to brainstorm the next big app there. Voila!

  1. Plant Your Next Move

Houseplants convey a happy and healthy home. When you’re in seller’s mode, you know that a good first impression is key for success. If your office has empty space, add a floor plant. If the space lacks color, pair the plant with a colorful container. You get the idea.

  1. Don’t Make It Personal

This one’s easy. You already know that buyers want to envision themselves in your home, so removing anything overly personal, like photos and kids’ artwork, goes a long way. The same advice applies to the home office. Keeping this carved-out space for work only, when possible, boosts productivity and limits distractions. If you’re preparing a home office before you sell, box up those photos now so you can take them with you to your next home.

“You have to remember, there’s a reason why employees choose to work from home. It’s a feel-good space for them. Make it as bright and pleasant as possible,” added Krzemien.