Outdoor Kitchens Continue to Be Major Draw

The appeal of outdoor living continues to be important to homeowners, and the outdoor kitchen is at the center of that. The latest American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey shows that outdoor kitchens are among the most wanted kitchen features in new architectural projects.

Nearly 50% of the architect respondents surveyed reported the popularity of outdoor kitchens is still growing. The popularity is seen in markets across the country, and not just in warmer climates like Florida, Texas, and California—outdoor kitchens are also taking hold in colder areas like the Northeast.

Read more in REALTOR® Magazine…

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Three Tips for Making Small Spaces Work for Your Family

Small spaces aren’t the traditionally sought–after spaces for growing families, but with more millennial parents choosing to live a minimal lifestyle — families are adapting to life in homes with less square footage. If your family is downsizing by choice, or by necessity, follow the tips below for creating a functional space that can support your growing family.

Channel Your Inner Marie Kondo

It’s time to purge! Take a tip from tiny home enthusiasts who have chosen to live a simpler life — downsizing means committing to decluttering. Re–gift, donate and sell unwanted items. Eliminate multiples and only keep items that spark joy — and have your kids help.

Every Item Has a Home, Every Space a Purpose

Being thoughtful about what items stay in your family’s space is just as important as figuring out where to store it. Families without the space for a designated playroom may want to consider where toys will be tucked away. Try rotating toys to save space, while helping kids get the most out of playtime.

Go Vertical

Some may say that floor space is the most valued space in a smaller home — but vertical is the way to go! Bookcases, coat racks and shoe trees are all great options for tiny spaces.

Looking for a new home, or know someone else who is? Contact me; I’ll be happy to help!

RE/MAX National Housing Report for July 2019

Home Sales Increase 2.4% in July,
Ending Nine Months of Inventory Growth

July home sales bounced back after a sluggish June by increasing 2.4% year over year, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. This was enough to end nine months of year-over-year inventory growth as the number of homes for sale declined 1.4%.

A drop in home sales from June to July is typical in the report’s 53 metro areas. But the 0.2% decline from June to July 2019 was by far the smallest month-over-month decline since July 2013. And while June sales failed to top May for only the second time in the report’s 10-year history, July sales set a report record for the month.

July’s Median Sales Price of $273,000 – while down slightly from June’s all-time report record high – was 9.2% higher than July of 2018. It marked the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year price growth. Home prices have risen, year over year, in 88 of the last 90 months dating back to February 2012.

Read the full article

Watch the 40 second summary video

Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for July 2019

The newly released MLS figures show last month’s closed sales reached a 12-month high. Member-brokers also reported the number of new listings (11,193) nearly matched pending sales (11,139).

A closer look at new listing activity shows last month’s total was down from both the previous month (-6.7%) and the same month a year ago (-8.2%). The total number of active listings of single family homes and condos, at 16,787, was about the same as June’s inventory (16,680) and the selection of a year ago (16,773 listings). A comparison of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS report shows about half the counties have more inventory than a year ago, and half have less.

System-wide there is 1.76 months of inventory, with King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Snohomish and Whatcom counties all reporting less than two months of supply.

Pending sales declined slightly from June (11,139 versus 11,573) but showed a 1.6 % gain on the year-ago total of 10,965 mutually accepted offers.

Closed sales were up from both the previous month and the same month a year ago. Northwest MLS brokers tallied 9,540 closed sales last month-the highest volume since June 2018 when they reported 10,072 completed transactions.

Year-over-year (YOY) prices rose nearly 3.6%, but declined about 2.9% from June. The area-wide median price for July’s completed transactions was $429,900; a year ago it was $415,000. Eighteen of the 23 counties in the latest report showed year-over-year price appreciation.

What the Fed’s Rate Cut Means for Buyers

The Federal Reserve recently cut interest rates for the first time since the Great Recession took hold in 2008, though the move is not likely to deliver significant juice to an already favorable borrowing environment for home buyers. The federal funds rate, which is what banks charge one another for short-term borrowing, will now hover between 2% and 2.25%, according to news reports.

The Fed says its decision to lower interest rates, which comes after months of pressure from President Donald Trump, is designed to stave off the threat of an economic downturn. But it’s unlikely to translate into additional mortgage savings for many buyers. With the interest rate for a 30-year loan already hovering below 4%, the Fed’s move may be more meaningful for buyers with other types of financing, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. “Many borrowers will benefit, especially those with adjustable-rate mortgages and commercial real estate loans,” Yun says. “The longer-term 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will see little change in the near future because they had already declined in anticipation of this latest move by the Fed.

“These low interest rates will partly help with housing affordability over the short-term. Both rents and home prices have been consistently outpacing income growth. The only way to mitigate housing-cost challenges as a long-term solution is to bring more supply of both multifamily and single-family homes to the market,” adds Yun.

Still, lower borrowing costs are helping buyers manage rising home prices. For example, buyers who spend $1,500 on monthly mortgage payments can afford to purchase a $402,500 home this year compared to $367,500 last year, when mortgage rates averaged 4.57%, according to realtor.com®. “Last year, buyers would have needed an additional $145 a month on top of the $1,500 to afford a $402,500 home,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist.

In some locales, buyers’ money can stretch even further. “An extra $35,000 in purchasing power, depending on where you are in the country, can really make a difference to buyers today,” Hale says. “It still counts, even with home prices up 6% nationally. That increase in purchase power is greater than the national price increase.”

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

6102-6104 85th St SW, Lakewood, WA 98499

$409,900

Duplex: 4 bedrooms; 3.5 bathrooms; 2,888 square feet

Awesome Investment Opportunity! Well maintained duplex with spacious 2 bedroom, 1.75 bath units. Newer roof, garage doors w/ openers, and appliances. Updated windows & insulation. Well maintained synthetic stucco, brick chimneys & sprinklers. Tenants appreciate the large master bedrooms w/ double closets, living rooms w/ wood fireplaces, utility rooms w/ sink & cabinets, extra deep & wide garages, and large fully-fenced professionally maintained yards. Both long term tenants are month-to-month.

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Sold 9/13/19

From ‘Smart House’ to Smart Homes: How Today’s Tech Compares to the Iconic Disney Movie

Voice-activated music. Touch-screen powered appliances. An omnipotent, but friendly, virtual assistant providing homework help.

When “Smart House” debuted on the Disney Channel in 1999, its portrayal of a family living in a home powered by artificial intelligence seemed far-fetched. Watching it 20 years later, it’s a surprisingly prophetic portrayal of the way technology has become fully integrated into our daily lives.

In case you missed this made-for-TV masterpiece, the plot is simple: A family wins a home featuring an artificial intelligence (AI) system named P.A.T. (Personal Applied Technology). P.A.T. is programmed to take care of everything from house cleaning to meal prep, and can help coordinate outfits, give basketball advice and throw an epic party complete with mood lighting and cleanup. Chaos ensues, though, when P.A.T. is frighteningly overprotective after being reprogrammed to serve as the family’s maternal figure.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of “Smart House,” here’s a look at the technology covered in the film and how it compares to today.

Yep, homes can be controlled by AI

Similar to P.A.T., smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home can control everything from music to lights with a few voice commands (and strategically placed smart plugs, if needed). But whereas P.A.T. was portrayed as the home’s central operating system, today’s smart homes are usually more of a combination of apps, gadgets and high-tech appliances.

The advantage is that homeowners can customize the technology to fit their lifestyle. It also means the tech can typically move with homeowners if they relocate.

Safety technology gives smart-home owners peace of mind

When a misguided P.A.T. attempts to lock the Coopers inside indefinitely, she blocks the windows with steel and adds an electrical force field to the home’s doors.

True, smart-home technology can greatly enhance home security, but it’s much more subtle.

For example, the If This Then That app is able to trigger an empty home’s interior lights as soon as the owner approaches. The Ring video doorbell helps residents monitor (and chat with visitors to) the front door. And many new home security systems, smoke alarms (check out Home Advisor’s breakdown of options), garage doors and surveillance cameras feature a virtual assistant integration, which means they can be controlled and monitored by a phone app or smart speaker.

Even our pets are avid technology enthusiasts

Considering the fact that keeping pooches happy is one of the primary reasons millennials buy homes, the movie’s inclusion of pet technology (the family dog is entertained by P.A.T. while the family’s away) is spot on.

One piece of especially buzzworthy pet technology is Furbo, an interactive pet camera that tosses treats to pets stuck at home. Then there are the pet doors that open only when triggered by an ultrasonic signal emitted from a special collar, blocking access to intruders. The doors can also be programmed to remain locked at certain times of day, keeping Fido and Fluffy inside for the night.

Technology can create the perfect mood

One of P.A.T.’s coolest features in the movie is her use of virtual reality to transport the Coopers to Cape Cod or a serene farm complete with a rooster’s wake-up call. While VR technology gets more sophisticated every year, full-screen virtual experiences don’t come standard in homes just yet. However, several pieces of smart appliances can help change the mood in your home.

Philips Hue is a line of smart lamps and light bulbs that can be timed to adjust from bright to softer lighting as the day goes on, mimicking natural daylight patterns. The Nest thermostat automatically sets the temperature in your home to your desired preferences, turns the temperature down when it senses you leave the home, and can be controlled from an app for on-the-go changes.

One downside of smart home technology? Energy drainage. But there’s even a “smart” solution for that. The Emporia Vue system helps homeowners monitor their energy usage through an app on their phone to reduce monthly costs and identify potential issues before they require major repairs.

Even as our lives become increasingly inseparable from technology, a home is much more than its futuristic appliances. If you’re looking for a home, working with an experienced professional such as myself is a smart move!