6 Checklist Items to Make a Home’s Interior Ready for Winter

‘Tis the season for snow boots – and the mess they trail inside. Prepare the interior of your home now for wintry days ahead.

Have you checked the forecast? Winter is almost here – and some places have already received their first snowfall of the season!

For homeowners in chillier climates, now’s the time to prepare for the challenges of winter weather. In addition to turning off outdoor waterlines and stocking up on shovels and sand, it’s important to get the interior of the home ready for frosty temps, too.

Consider these checklist items to help prepare the inside of your home to withstand the colder months – and run smoothly throughout them.

1. Stock the entryway with winter gear

If you live in an area that experiences the harsh weather of the season, it’s officially time to remove summer items from the entryway and replace them with more insulated options. Store away warm weather shoes like sandals and bring out the boots and slippers. In bins or on hooks, find convenient space to store coats, mittens, and hats.

Invest in plastic or rubber shoe trays for each entrance to prevent dragging snow into the house. Some people even opt for a boot brush mat outside the door to wipe off shoes before stepping inside.

2. Make sure nothing is touching the heater

Redecorated recently? Whether the answer is yes or no, furniture can scooch around throughout the year with use. To prevent risk of damage or fire, make sure items like furniture, blankets, or drapes aren’t touching the heating system, including baseboards or a radiator.

The same awareness goes for candles. Lighting a candle is a great way to make a room feel cozy on a winter day, but be cautious when placing them throughout the house. Put them in exposed areas situated far from notoriously flammable items like drapes and curtains, holiday decorations, and more.

3. Switch out linens for warmer options

If your house runs cold, try swapping out lighter bedding for toastier options, including flannel sheets or a more insulated comforter. Also consider adding a few throw blankets in common seating areas to make evenings more comfortable.

4. Organize the garage for indoor parking

Home to yard supplies, sports equipment and outdoor recreation gear, the garage can get messy in the warmer months when people tend to park outdoors more frequently. Take time now to organize the garage, sweep the floor, and make room for a parked car. This could save you from the trouble of windshield scraping when overnight frosts and snowstorms arrive.

5. Reverse ceiling fans

Did you know the direction a ceiling fan’s blades spin determines whether it pulls air up or pushes air down? This little fact can help cut costs on energy bills throughout the year.

In the summer months, it’s best to have the fan run counterclockwise, blowing air down to create a cooling effect. And in the winter months, it’s best to have the fan run clockwise, redistributing hot air throughout the room. Figure out which way you currently have it running by turning off the fan, standing underneath (looking upward) and having someone else switch the fan back on. Pay attention to the first few revolutions.

Then, to change the direction of the blades, turn off the fan (wait for a complete stop!) and then flip the switch that is often found on either the motor housing or the base.

6. Clean up the fireplace

Whether you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, make sure it’s in good shape prior to using it.

For a gas fireplace, ensure you have a sufficient supply of propane and, while the fireplace is off, clean the vent and glass panel of any dust and buildup. For a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney inspector and hire a professional chimney sweep. These annual services will help keep your fireplace in pristine condition and safe to use.

Spending the first winter in your new home? Check out tips for preparing the exterior of the property for the snowy season ahead.

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RE/MAX National Housing Report for October 2022

More Inventory, Fewer Homes Selling
As Sale Prices Slowly Dip

October revealed a vastly different housing market from one year ago, with 30.7% fewer closings, 36.8% more homes for sale, and the average home taking nearly a week longer to sell, at 35 days on market. As a result, the Median Sales Price was pushed down 0.3% to $399,000 from September’s $400,000 – the third straight month of decline.

Across the report’s 53 metro markets, all 10 months of 2022 thus far have posted lower home sales compared to 2021. October was the sixth consecutive month with more for-sale signs than the same month last year.

Compared to September, home sales in October were down 13.5% while inventory grew 2.9%. Homes were on the market one day longer.

Read the full article

Watch the 48 second summary video

Washington State NWMLS Market Update for October 2022

The latest Northwest MLS stats show 6,435 pending sales last month, and about the same volume (6,464) of closed sales. Both figures were down from the year-ago totals, with pending sales dropping about 39% and closings declining around 35%.

Median sales prices still rose year-over-year in most of the 26 counties on the report. Area-wide, the median price on last month’s completed sales of single family homes and condominiums was $595,000. That was an increase of about 3.5% from twelve months ago, but a decline of approximately 9% from May when prices peaked at $660,000.

Last month’s closings in King County had a median price of $811,000, up more than 8% from the year-ago figure of $750,000.

Brokers added 7,260 new listings during October, down about 21% from the same month a year ago. At month end, the selection included 14,214 active listings of single family homes and condos system-wide. That was more than double the year-ago inventory of 6,588.

The uptick in supply boosted the months of inventory figure to 2.2. That is the highest level, based on this metric, since January 2019.

“Even with more choice on the market than we’ve seen in several years, pending sales fell last month,” remarked Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. “The cause is almost certainly rising mortgage rates, which rose from 6.65% early in the month and ended above 7.1%; this is clearly having an impact on buyers,” he added.

Gardner believes many buyers may remain sidelined until mortgage rates stabilize, but added he had “bad news for those buyers who are sitting on the fence waiting for home prices to implode.” He expects regional home values will turn modestly negative in 2023, but said, “those who hope to pick up a home ‘on the cheap’ are likely in for a long wait.”

Also commenting on interest rates was the National Association of REALTORS®, which noted the slight dip in mortgage rates this week despite the Federal Reserve approving another 0.75% rate hike for the fourth time this year.

NAR cited Freddie Mac’s 30-year fixed mortgage rate that fell to 6.95%, down from 7.08% the previous week. “It seems that rates have already priced in some of the effect of the Fed’s higher interest rates. It is also promising that this was likely the last rate hike of this magnitude, as indicated by the Fed,” wrote Nadia Evangelou, NAR’s senior economist and director of forecasting.

Evangelou also speculated “a return to the sky-high interest rates of the 1980s isn’t likely in today’s economy” and drew comparisons to payments now with those of 40 years ago in today’s money. “In real terms, after adjusting the median home price for inflation, the monthly mortgage payment was about $450 higher in 1982 than it is now,” she wrote in a blog, adding, “If mortgage rates were currently 9% the monthly mortgage payment would be comparable to 1982 rates. Thus, in real values, current buyers pay less for their home purchase than buyers who purchased their home 40 years ago, although home prices are significantly higher now.”

Watch the 1.5 minute market report video

Source: NWMLS 11/7/2022

4 Ways to Prepare for the First Winter in Your Home

Have you recently moved to a colder climate with harsh weather? Plan ahead to get your new home ready for winter.

The winter months are right around the corner – and in some locales, winter weather is already here. It’s time to make sure your home is ready to stand up to the freezing temperatures on the way.

Will this be the first winter spent in your new home? If so, consider these steps to ensure the property is protected and prepared for the upcoming season.

1. Hire a professional to conduct an in-home energy audit

Conducting an energy audit may save you a few dollars off your electric bill in the winter months. Hire a professional to locate air leaks in windows and doors and identify other places to save on energy costs.

If you’re already aware of drafts in your home, applying weather stripping or caulk – or even putting a draft-stopping pillow in place – are relatively easy DIY fixes. As a bonus, you’ll likely notice a difference in the summer months, too, when better sealed areas trap air-conditioning.

2. Prep the fireplace for use

If your home has a fireplace, whether gas-powered or wood-burning, make sure it’s ready to use so you can safely enjoy its toasty benefits on cold days.

With a gas fireplace, start the winter with a sufficient supply of propane. And, make sure to clean the vent and glass panel of any debris (while the fireplace is off, of course).

With a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney inspected by a professional chimney inspector to prevent the possibility of a house fire or carbon monoxide buildup in the home. Hire a professional chimney sweep, too, to spruce up a charred firebox and remove creosote buildup. Take advantage of still-temperate days to start chopping or purchasing wood and storing it in a cool, dry place.

Now is also a great time to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors inside the home and replace batteries where necessary.

3. Drain and cap outdoor water pipes

When below-freezing temperatures are on the horizon, it’s time to drain any outdoor water lines (like a hose or sprinkler system) and turn them off for the season. If leftover water freezes inside pipes, you run the risk of pipes bursting and causing catastrophic plumbing issues and damage.

4. Gather the right tools for snow removal

If you live in an area where winter storms are common, make sure you own a sturdy snow shovel to help clear the driveway and surrounding sidewalks. A bag of sidewalk salt or sand are seasonal staples to keep on hand to melt ice.

If you recently moved to a new climate – or just need a refresher – check out local snow removal regulations that vary town by town and state by state.

While preparing for snow maintenance outside the home, pick up necessary tools for the car too, including a windshield scraper, freeze-proof windshield wiper fluid, and essential supplies in case of emergency, such as a blanket and flashlight.

Don’t Scare Away Buyers: Four Spaces to Stage for Fall

Getting ready to list your home for sale? Consider these tips for staging with seasonal flair.

In the season of Halloween, homeowners might have a haunting desire to get into the spirit of things when decorating. But when listing a home for sale in the fall, consider leaving the dark and macabre for the costumes, not the decor.

A recent poll of RE/MAX agents showed 90% of responders opted for sellers to decorate with gourds and garland over ghosts and goblins. Shannon Murree, an agent with RE/MAX Hallmark Chay Realty in Ontario, Canada, suggests sellers stick with a neutral harvest theme when decorating their home for the season – and preparing to hit the market.

“The harvest theme has more longevity and is easier to keep with staging advice, which is ‘neutral is best.’ Neutral allows buyers to imagine themselves in their potential new home,” she says.

For those preparing to sell a house, but still looking to capture the seasonal spirit, here are four spaces to spruce up without scaring away potential buyers.

1. Front Porch

Focus on the entrance of the home by freshening up the front porch. First, be sure to remove all summer blooms and clean up any withered plants in window boxes, gardens or planters. Then, add some seasonal spice. Consider using ferns, mums, ornamental grasses, or pumpkin vines for a festive feel. For a pop of color, a fresh coat of paint on the front door always helps, as does a seasonal wreath.

Pumpkins and gourds are tried-and-true décor – for inside or outside a home – that still rule the fall season. Whether they’re real or reusable, try placing an arrangement of cucurbits big and small on the front porch or steps.

2. Outdoor Areas

A patio can be an extension of a homeowner’s living space, so it’s best to treat it like one. Clean up any outdoor furniture with a good power washing and sweep away any debris.

Then, bring the focal point to a gathering space. Whether it’s a sitting area around a firepit or an outdoor table, consider draping a cozy plaid blanket across the back of a chair and adding throw pillows to seating areas. Plus, add a pumpkin or two on a side table or as a centerpiece for an eating table.

3. Fireplace

For any home that has a fireplace, the mantle is a mainstay for fall decor. Especially if it’s a wood-burning fireplace, hone in on the hearth and clean the fireplace first. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is a great way to ensure it’s done safely.

Then, make it inviting by subbing in some fall objects, while avoiding a look of clutter. Items like a heartwarming sign or an assortment of tapered candles, dried wheat stalks or bittersweet branches are a subtle way to pay homage to autumn. Add some birch logs to a wicker basket for a finishing touch.

4. Dining Table

With holidays fast approaching, buyers may be scoping out the dining area as the centerpiece of the home. Swap the summer bouquet for a bountiful centerpiece. And while flowers like mums and sunflowers are welcome, small gourds, dried seed pods, or apples can add some fall color with contrast. If staging with place settings, consider mixing materials and use a woven or wooden charger under colorful glass plates to show a traditional setting with a touch of modern flare.

When extending the harvest theme throughout the home, also keep in mind the colors and materials being used. While red, orange and yellow are traditional autumn hues, decorating primarily in neutrals is often a versatile choice. Consider using neutral paint colors, natural textures like wood, and timeless fabric – like buffalo plaid.

Looking for home staging advice – or, ready to sell? Contact me today!

RE/MAX National Housing Report for September 2022

Inventory Grows, Home Prices Drop
as Homes Take Longer to Sell

Typical for this time of year, September home sales declined 9.7% from August across the report’s 53 metro areas. That led to inventory climbing to two months’ supply for the first time in nearly two years – an encouraging sign of a more balanced market to come.

September’s Median Sales Price of $400,000 was 6.1% lower than the year-high of $426,100 in June. The Median Sales Price dropped 1.2% below August’s but was 6.7% above September 2021. The average Close-to-List Price Ratio in September was 99%, meaning that homes sold for 1% less than the asking price for the second consecutive month after being at 100% or above through the first seven months of 2022.

Despite inventory growing 3.9% over August and 30.4% year-over-year, New Listings were down 7.6% month to month and down 11.4% compared to September 2021.

Other notable metrics include:
• September’s two months’ supply of inventory jumped from 1.6 months in August and 1.3 months a year ago. The National Association of REALTORS® last reported months’ supply of inventory above two in November of 2020, when it was 2.3.
• The number of homes for sale has grown in five of the past six months.
• Year-over-year, September home sales were down 23.5%.
• Days on Market averaged 34, five days higher than July and six days more than September 2021.

Read the full article

Watch the 48 second summary video

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Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for September 2022

The report on September activity shows active listings are nearly doubled from a year ago, pending sales declined more than 31%, but prices in most counties are still rising.

  • Closed sales during September were down 27% from a year ago.
  • The median price on last month’s sales across the 26 counties in the report rose about 5.1% from a year ago, increasing from $570,000 to $599,000. Prices are down slightly from the August median of $600,000 and from the year’s peak of $660,000 that was reported in May.
  • There were 15,008 active listings at the end of September, a jump of more than 93% from the year-ago total.
  • Measured by months of supply, there are only two months of inventory, an improvement from one year ago when there was only about 0.75 months of supply.
  • The inventory of single-family homes (excluding condominiums) nearly doubled from a year ago, up 98.6%. Condo listings jumped about 62%.
  • Pending sales declined from a year ago, more than 31%. Last month’s pendings also fell 18.7%.

Uncertainty about the direction of mortgage rates is prompting buyer hesitancy, according to some market watchers.

Allison Schrager, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who covers economics, recently commented about buyers “sitting on the sidelines until rates or prices or both decline.” She faults the Fed’s interference, writing “don’t count on rates falling to those pandemic lows. They were the result of extraordinary market manipulation from the Fed,” suggesting there will be a “hangover from the very low rates in 2020 and 2021.”

Watch the 1.5 minute market report video

Source: NWMLS 10/6/2022

RE/MAX National Housing Report for August 2022

Drops in Sales Price Result in More
Closings, Less Inventory

According to August data in the RE/MAX National Housing Report, home sellers, on average, accepted offers below their listing prices last month – a further indication of rebalancing in the housing market. Across the report’s 51 metro areas, the average Close-to-List Price Ratio in August was 99%, meaning that homes sold for 1% less than the asking price. That’s down from 101% in July and 104% in April. This change helped push August sales 5.3% higher than July, while the Median Sales Price declined 2.4% to $410,000 after peaking at $426,000 three months earlier.

At the same time, new listings dropped 12.8% from July and inventory declined 1.8% after four months of double-digit growth. Even so, the number of homes for sale was 20% higher than in August 2021.

Two-thirds of the way through 2022, home sales have declined every month compared to 2021. Other notable metrics include:

• Months Supply of Inventory was 1.6 months in August, a decline from 1.7 in July but an increase compared to 1.2 in August 2021.
• Days on Market averaged 28, four days higher than July and three days more than August 2021.
• August’s Median Sales Price of $410,000 was 2.4% below July but was up 7% year over year.

Read the full article

Watch the 40 second summary video

Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for August 2022

In a report summarizing August activity, Northwest MLS figures showed a continued buildup of inventory – nearly double the selection of a year ago and more than three times the offerings at the end of the first quarter.

Brokers added 9,914 new listings to inventory during August, a drop from both July’s total of 11,805 and the year-ago total (11,437). At month end there were 14,683 active listings of single family homes and condominiums across the 26 counties in the NWMLS report.

Fewer sales were reported than a year ago, but both pending sales (mutually accepted offers) and closed sales improved on July’s figures.

Northwest MLS members reported 9,552 pending sales, a drop of nearly 22% from the year-ago total of 12,238 pendings. Every county except Columbia experienced a decline in pending sales. Activity picked up from July when there were 8,775 pending sales, a gain of nearly 8.9%.

Similarly, the volume of closed sales fell from a year ago. MLS members recorded 7,998 completed transactions, improving 4.6% from July’s total of 7,645. But last month’s closings were down about 24% from the same month a year ago when members notched 10,571 closed sales.

The median price on sales of single family homes and condos that closed during August was $600,000, up more than 3.6% from a year ago, but down slightly from July when the area-wide price was $625,000.

A comparison of the four counties in the Puget Sound region shows year-over-year median prices for single family homes increased from 5.9% in King County to 9.2% in Kitsap County.

A check of the sales price to list price ratio shows an area-wide ratio of 99.3%. In three counties – Pierce, Thurston and Douglas – sellers received slightly more than their asking price. In ten other counties, the ratio was between 99.1% and 99.9%.

Despite the surge in inventory, the Northwest MLS report shows there is only 1.84 months of supply – and that’s down from July’s figure of 2.01 months. Only six counties had more than three months of supply: Adams, Ferry, Lewis, Okanogan, Pacific, and San Juan. Most industry analysts consider four to six months of inventory to be a balanced market.

Watch the 1.5 minute market report video

Source: NWMLS 9/8/2022