5 Ways to Make Your Pet Dog More Comfortable When Moving

Moving homes means big changes for everyone – including your furry friends. Here’s how to help dogs prepare.

As loyal members of the family, pet dogs play an important role in making any house feel like a home. But dogs are creatures of habit and may feel disoriented (nose out of joint, if you will) when it’s time to relocate or move to a new home.

While they may not help pack boxes or load the car, you can still appreciate your beloved furry friends accompanying you on the journey. Here’s how to make your pup more comfortable during the big move.

1. Contact the vet before you go

Pay a visit to your local veterinarian before moving,especially if your travel plans require a long car ride or taking an airplane. They may have tips and tricks for calming nerves during travel and can also provide you with updated copies of medical forms for your dog.

2. Pack their comfort items

Finding familiarity is key in brand-new surroundings. Make sure to bring along your pup’s favorite toys, blanket that lines their crate or go-to dog bed. These security items hold the scent of a place they are used to.

When you reach your new home, create a safe space right away – whether that’s a crate or just a cozy nook – that your dog understands is their zone for relaxing.

3. Update I.D. methods

It’s critical that you update important information like your address and phone number on your dog’s metal tag. If your dog is micro-chipped, make sure to update your contact info in the database system. Your dog may try to do some unwanted exploring – so if they do escape from a new yard, an updated address will help them get home safely.

4. Stick to their typical food

Sometimes, too many changes at once can lead to anyone not feeling their best. With new surroundings and so much unfamiliarity, make sure to bring along your pup’s normal food to not throw off their stomachs as they undergo stress. Plus, this will help ensure your new space remains accident-free (hopefully!).

5. Create routine from the start

For many people and dogs alike, routine is grounding. Even amid a busy move, try to stick to your dog’s regular schedule, like the time of day they eat and when they get their exercise. Taking a break from moving to walk the dog might even help clear your head, too.

Before moving day, take time to get acquainted with a map of your new neighborhood and look up parks and walking areas nearby. Once you’ve arrived at your new home, a neighbor may know of the best local dog-friendly spots.

Considering Buying a House? 6 Signs That Confirm You’re Ready

Are you sick of paying monthly rent that contributes to someone else’s mortgage payment? Are you craving the freedom to repaint walls? Or, are you looking to build wealth through what is often considered a smart investment? If so, it sounds like it may be time to start your homebuying process.

Consider these six reasons that help affirm you’re ready to become a first-time homebuyer.

1. You crave the freedom to personalize and renovate

Owning a home gives you the freedom to express yourself by completely customizing interior and exterior spaces. You no longer have to abide by regulations regarding wall colors or hanging art.

Additionally, you can remodel and renovate your home as you see fit. From small projects, like changing cabinet pulls, to big projects, like tearing down a wall or adding hardwood floors, you have the authority to make decisions regarding design.

2. You’ve outgrown your space

An obvious reason to move is when you’re tight on space. For many, this could be because you’re expanding your family – think a baby on the way, more pets, aging children who want their own bedrooms or in-laws that are here to stay.

A shift in lifestyle patterns, like working from home and online schooling, means you may be on the hunt for more quiet workspaces. And, if you have hobbies or own outdoor equipment, it may also be time to assess your storage needs – like an attic or garage.

3. You seek outdoor accessibility

In apartment living, outdoor space is limited – and sometimes crowded. When you buy a home, a criterion may be a grassy yard, deck or patio space. Whatever your preference may be, you’re likely seeking a way to enjoy the outdoors with privacy.

Having your own outdoor space means room for entertaining and room for exercise. Plus, you can accentuate the curb appeal of your home with exterior décor like potted plants, flower boxes, furniture and seasonal holiday flare.

4. You’re done with fees and rules

A major downside to renting is paying for a property that you do not own, and therefore is not your personal investment. Apartment fees go toward necessary services, like garbage disposal, but also may contribute to amenities you don’t use, like a gym or pool.

Additionally, apartment communities often have time restrictions and limited hours on resources you would like to take advantage of.

5. You’re ready to make an investment

Have you been saving for a down payment? Though the initial cost can often be a barrier to entry for first-time homebuyers, the down payment may not need to be as high as you think.

Once you’ve saved enough money for that initial investment, however, the monthly costs associated with homeownership can be similar to what you would have paid in monthly rent. Only this time, your payments contribute to your property becoming an asset. The more you pay off your mortgage, the more valuable your home is to your personal net worth.

6. Long-term happiness

One of the biggest reasons to purchase a home is for the stability and security it provides you and your family. You can truly settle into the space and life can slow down a bit.

With the ability to personalize most aspects, and by thinking of it as a long-term investment, a home of your own becomes the place you cross milestones, celebrate holidays and create lasting memories.

Housing Experts Expect Post-Pandemic Rebound

Spokane-Spokane Valley is expected to be a “top 10” market during and in a post-COVID environment, according to the National Association of Realtors®, which made the prediction as part of last month’s second annual Real Estate Forecast Summit. It was the only area within Washington state to make the list.

In addition to demonstrated resilience, NAR considered a variety of indicators deemed to be influential for a metro area’s recovery and growth prospects. The factors for the “top 10” list included unemployment rate; net domestic migration, including movers from expensive West Coast areas; share of workers in retail trade, leisure and hospitality industries; mobility to retail and leisure places; and the fraction of the workforce working from home.

“Some markets have been performing exceptionally well throughout the pandemic and they’ll likely carry that momentum well into 2021 and beyond because of strong in-migration of new residents, faster local job market recoveries and environments conducive to work-from-home arrangements and other factors,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist and senior vice president of research.

Housing experts tended to be optimistic about a post-pandemic rebound, citing improving conditions for jobs and stable interest rates as key reasons.

More than 20 leading economic and housing experts participated in the summit, which was held virtually. Among their predictions they expect GDP growth of 3.5% and an annual unemployment rate of 6.2% this year. The forecasters believe the unemployment rate will decline to 5.0% in 2022.

Yun said another 9.8 million more jobs are needed to match the prior peak.

Housing prices are expected to rise 8.0% during 2021 and 5.5% the following year, while 30-year fixed mortgage rates are projected to be 3.0% this year and increase to 3.25% in 2022.

The panels of prognosticators also anticipate:

  • Housing starts will total 1.5 million this year and 1.59 million in 2022.
  • The share of U.S. workforce working from home will shrink from 21% in 2020 to 18% this year; by 2022, it is expected to shrink to 12%.
  • Small declines in office and hotel vacancy rates in 2021, but a slight improvement in retail vacancies.

An overwhelming 90% of the experts surveyed expect the Federal Open Market Committee will make no change in the current federal funds rate of 0% during 2021. For 2022, a rate increase of 0.25% is predicted.

“It is an understatement to say the year 2020 has been filled with challenges and full of surprises,” said Yun. “Yet, one astonishing development has been the hot housing market as consumers eyed record-low mortgage rates and reconsidered what a home should be in a new economy with flexible work-from-home schedules.”

In his presentation, Yun said the months supply of inventory is at an all-time low.

In 2020, home sales will reach 5.52 million, the highest annual mark since 2006, with the median home price setting a record high of $293,000, according to NAR.

“Overall, residential real estate will continue to be an important driver of our nation’s economic recovery and the activity in these markets will help lead the way,” stated NAR President Charlie Oppler, a Realtor® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.

The 2020 NAR Real Estate Forecast Summit consensus forecasts are compiled as the median of the responses of 23 economic and housing market experts who participated during the 2019 and 2020 summits. The survey was conducted from November 19 through December 4, 2020.

[Source: Seattle King County REALTORS® NW Reporter]

What Buying a Home Looks Like This Spring

Here’s how agents are helping clients adapt to homebuying under social distancing orders.

Streets may be quieter these days and open houses are on pause, but as people retreat inside to do their part in keeping the community healthy, they’re bringing their home search with them.

“Our online traffic is way up, more people are at home and have more time to look at properties,” says Mark Pietig, an agent with RE/MAX Lakes Area Realty in Nisswa, Minnesota. “We have not seen a slowdown in sales at all.”

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. real estate market showed every indication of heading into another strong spring market. Many buyers who had spent the previous months or even years preparing to buy a home this spring probably share the same question: What now?

According to Pietig, there’s still opportunity to buy a home this spring or summer, but working with an experienced agent has never been more important.

“We are fully capable of adapting to a new environment,” Pietig says. “Accommodating a new style or approach is something experienced agents, like RE/MAX agents, are great at.”

Preparing for Every Situation

A real estate transaction has always been complex – and even more so today. Many buyers are wondering how they can possibly plan for anything in 30 days, let alone closing on a home, when even the world’s top health experts are unable to predict when a sense of normalcy will return. The key for agents and other professionals is to adjust their business accordingly.

Agents are taking this into account, and while Pietig says he currently hasn’t seen a change in buyer timelines, steps are being taken to prepare for longer contingencies.

“As long as you’re working with quality agents, you’re not going to see any delays,” Pietig says. “If anything, there’s more collaboration between buyers, sellers and their agents than ever. Everybody truly has to work together to get a transaction done.”

John Manning, Owner and Managing Broker of RE/MAX on Market in Seattle, says the local MLS (the primary listing service of homes) has taken it a step further to help protect clients from the unexpected.

“They took an extraordinary step – they put together a ‘force majeure’ addendum to include in contracts.”

A ’force majeure’ is a legal term often referred to as, quite frankly, “an act of God.”

“It essentially allows our contracts to stretch as a result of unforeseen circumstances,” Manning says. “Let’s say we have a closing next Tuesday and we find the county recording office is closed because of staffing. This addendum allows for an extension of the closing, so we don’t have people refusing to leave their homes or ending up homeless because they can’t move into their new property.”

Opening Up Opportunities in a Competitive Market

Even with contingency plans in place, many buyers are putting their plans on hold while they wait out what the next few weeks could bring. At the same time, sellers are continuing to list their homes.

“We’ve been seeing more of an increase in new listings over the past few weeks, which is providing more opportunities for buyers,” Pietig says.

But Pietig doesn’t expect this to be a permanent reprieve.

“In the grand scheme, this isn’t going to last forever,” Pietig says. “You could remove a third of the buyers from our market here, and we would still have a seller’s market. Right now we have pent-up demand from earlier this spring with some people deciding to hold off until they’re comfortable again.  This will mean increased competition down the road.”

For the next few weeks, current buyers could find more options available in their price range, and score a deal while others are sitting out.

Buying in a Time of Uncertainty

One thing has not changed: It’s impossible to predict what the real estate market is going to do next. But that hasn’t stopped buyers from trying. Manning says over the course of his career, he’s found that homebuyers tend to move in groups.

“What tends to happen is buyers get spooked and they all rush out together, and they all wait together,” Manning says. “They say they’re going to buy at the bottom – but they don’t know where the bottom is.”

Once prices appear to be moving up, all the buyers that were on the sidelines rush back in, Manning explains. Competition – and home prices – end up right back where they started.

Pietig advises homebuyers to focus on their personal goals of wanting to own a home, and not worry about trying to time the market.

“If we look at things day to day, it’s not going to feel like the right time to buy,” Pietig says. “I would advise people to take a long-term approach and don’t get caught up with the short-term mindset.”

More importantly, stay positive as you navigate the new process with an agent.

“I know right now people could use a little nudge saying that it’s going to be okay,” Pietig says. “If you wake up each day and focus on the good in life, you’re going to be fine.”

Source: ReMax.com

Great News for the Real Estate Industry in WA

On Saturday, March 28th, in cooperation with Washington Realtors, Governor Inslee agreed to certain modifications to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order for the real estate industry.  Due to the fact that the vast majority of real estate brokers are abiding by the Order, several of the original restrictions on in-person activities have been revised – provided that strict protocols for social distancing are implemented.

The protocols that must be followed for the permitted in-person activities include:

  • In-person activities must be by appointment only
  • No more than two people, including the broker, may be at the property at any one time
  • Those two persons must strictly follow social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

The revisions to the Order are limited to allow the following in-person activities, provided the above protocols are followed:

  • Previews and showings of listings by appointment only
  • Listing presentations, photography, and creating virtual tours for new listings [Note: professional photographers are not considered “essential,” thus all photos must be taken by the broker or seller]
  • Inspections for pending transactions
  • Appraisals for pending transactions
  • Buyer “walk-throughs” for pending transactions prior to closing
  • Providing keys to buyers at closing

The Order strictly prohibits all other real estate brokerage services that are not conducted remotely from the broker’s home. Also, please note that staging and moving services are not considered essential and also remain prohibited by the Order.

Source: NWMLS 3/28/20

WA State Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order

Effective midnight on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, real estate brokers in the state of Washington are limited to providing services to their clients remotely from their homes using technology for a minimum of 2 weeks. You may read the document NWMLS created that provides details of how we’re effected. If you’re planning to buy or sell real estate soon, please reach out to me and I’ll be happy to explain what we may do to help you prepare to be ready when the order is lifted.

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3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Second Home

Buying a second home is a great way to lock in a great vacation spot and earn some extra rental income. However, there are also some financial realities that many homeowners aren’t aware of before they purchase their second home.

IRS Limitations

If you rent your second home more than fourteen days a year, the IRS qualifies that home as a rental/investment property. As such, the income you gain from your home is taxable. Your second home also won’t qualify for the same deductions as your primary home.

Risk & Liability

It’s easy to overlook problems like leaks and water damage in a home that goes unoccupied for long periods of time. Empty homes are also more likely targets for vandalism. Hiring a property management company to keep an eye on the home can help ensure you catch potential problems before they get out of hand.

Other Expenses

Expenses such as home insurance, security monitoring fees, and running utilities can add up in your second home. On top of these costs, you have annual maintenance costs and repairs that will inevitably pop up over the years.

Understanding the expenses involved with owning a second home is an important part of purchasing your next home! That way, you can make a plan. Vacation rental services like Airbnb make it easy to cover the costs of owning a second home or even profiting from it. You can also use remote monitoring technology, such as video doorbells, access control systems, and environmental monitoring to minimize the risk of missing important developments while away from your home.

Buying a second home is a great investment, but one that you need to be well informed about before you commit yourself. For more information about buying a second home or an investment property, give me a call!

The Global Demand for Affordable Housing

The subject of affordable housing in cities around the world is becoming a focus of discussion as we move into the next decade. Whether it be in Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Sydney, or Cape Town, academics, politicians, and developers are trying to solve the growing problem.

It cannot be a solution to the demand for housing in thriving cities, to move people further away from the city in search of cheaper places to live. The cultural issue is how to bring about significant increases in supply to city precincts without resorting to building on green belts and other open areas. Various cities will require the incumbent powers and political leaders to align with housing providers, new financial models, and the market to support low-cost housing essential to creating economically successful and enduring living places.

LA’S CRISIS

Los Angeles’ affordable housing crisis is well documented. According to the annual report from the California Housing Partnership, LA county would need over half a million units of affordable housing to meet the demand from low-income renters. In most major cities around the world, the price of most market-rate units is out of reach for low-income earners.

Most definitions of affordable housing are homes affordable to those entering or in the housing market but unable to access current planned or available supply either because of income circumstances or the stage of their lives.

According to the California Housing Partnership, the crisis is more significant than single communities. No matter how hard local governments and citizens work, help is needed from state, provincial, and federal authorities. A report by Savills in Britain estimated that as many as 500,000 families a year are unable to access available housing supply.

In Sydney and Cape Town, demand for affordable housing far exceeds supply. A comparison between the 20 most affordable Sydney suburbs for low-income earners in 2006, and again in 2010, found dramatic reductions in the number of affordable properties. The suburb of Westmead, for instance, recorded a 90 percent reduction in affordable properties over the period. A study done in Cape Town by a prominent architect suggests that mixed-income high-rise residential developments have the potential to break the mold. Integrating private sector investment and provision of tax breaks to developers would allow a larger budget for better aesthetics in design, giving people from a spectrum of income groups the ability to be accommodated in previously exclusive city areas. Blended buildings would provide people with inhabiting social housing units more integrity and all the inhabitants a sense of value and strong dignity.

We have a way to go before viable solutions are found to this problem, but comfort can be found in the fact that some of the most qualified people are applying their minds to solving the global affordable housing crisis.

Source: Washington REALTORS®

Top 10 Outperforming Markets

Metro Areas NAR Expects Home Price Appreciation to Outpace in the Next 3 to 5 Years

The National Association of REALTORS® identified the top metro areas taking into account a myriad of variables, including domestic migration into the area, housing affordability for new residents, consistent job growth outperforming the national average, age structure of the population, attractiveness for retirees, and the area’s home price appreciation.

In alphabetical order, the markets are:

  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Ogden, Utah
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

Read more on the National Association of REALTORS® website…

Beware of the Flip

Before the Great Recession of 2008, housing prices climbed dramatically, and homes sold faster than buyers could gush, “I love that spa bathroom.” Contractors and even handy DIYers got in on the uptick by buying fixer-uppers and improving them in the quickest ways possible, selling them, and reaping the profits. Enter the real estate phenomenon of flipping.

The trend waned a bit as the housing market hit the skids, but then returned with some significant differences. Today’s flippers are more often professional investors with access to cash as banks tightened mortgage loan guidelines and available work crews, says Seth Captain, managing broker of Captain Realty in Chicago.

Read the article in REALTOR® Magazine