5 Indoor House Plants to Consider for Your Staging

Plants can help brighten indoor spaces and may offer other mental and physical health benefits. As such, it’s no surprise indoor plants are one of the favorite accessories of home stagers.

Research has linked indoor plants with reduced stress, increased productivity, and improved quality for the home’s air. Some of the most effective house plants to improve the air quality are areca palms, Boston ferns, rubber trees, spider plants, and ficus tree, studies show.

What are some hardy plants to consider using to spice up your listings with more green? A recent article by Kathryn Jackson Fallon at juniperunltd.com highlights some of the following indoor plants:

  • Norfolk Island pine
  • Cast iron plant
  • Snake plant (known as a nearly indestructible houseplant)
  • Cacti
  • Boxwood

[Source: REALTOR® Magazine]

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]

RE/MAX National Housing Report for December 2020

Strong December Home Sales,
Big Second Half of 2020
Set the Stage for Potentially Historic 2021

December home sales increased 6.2% over November and 21.9% year-over-year, capping a record-breaking second half of 2020 that set new overall monthly benchmarks for most sales, highest price, lowest inventory and quickest closings.

Although December is typically a month with fewer sales, December 2020 ranked 5th in highest number of home sales for the year – and its sales exceeded all but two months of 2019.

Down 17.9% from November 2020 and 33.0% from December 2019, December 2020 established a record low for inventory in the 13-year history of the report. It also set multiple new December records:

• Average Days on Market of 37, over two weeks less than the 53 days a year ago.
• Median Sales Price of $290,000 – up 9.4% year-over-year.
• Months of Supply of Inventory at 1.8, which was less than half of December 2019’s 3.9.

After the pandemic’s initial impact on the housing market last spring and early summer, 2020 ultimately posted a number of highlights in the report’s history:

• Home Sales: 5 of the top 10 months of sales since 2008 occurred in 2020 – July (the new record), August, September, October and December
• Inventory: 7 of the top 10 months with the lowest inventory; August through December became the five lowest months in report history, with each month’s inventory lower than the previous month’s
• Days on Market: 5 of the top 10 months with the report’s fewest Days on Market; September through December comprise the four months with the fastest average time for listing to sale
• Median Sales Price: 9 of the top 10 months with the highest Median Sales Price; at $290,000, August, November and December tied with the highest mark in report history

Read the full article

Watch the 40 second summary video

Washington REALTORS® Legislative Day 2021

REALTORS around the state of Washington, including myself, will be meeting with our legislators today to discuss housing solutions for 2021: how to make housing available and affordable, and to erase out-dated racial covenants.

For information about our efforts: MyNeighborWa.com

Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for December 2020

“Extraordinary market conditions” sustain strong home sales around Washington State during holidays

“Insatiable buyer demand” is keeping inventory scarce as house hunters try to outmaneuver and outbid each other, according to reports from Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). Its statistical summary for December showed strong activity throughout the holiday season with double-digit increases in new listings, pending sales, closed sales, and prices.

Northwest MLS brokers added 5,260 new listings to inventory during December, a hefty 39.3% increase over the same month a year ago. Last month’s additions fell short of meeting demand as members reported 6,883 pending sales (mutually accepted offers). That number surpassed the year-ago volume by 940 transactions for an increase of 15.8%.

At month end, there were 4,732 total active listings system-wide in the MLS database, which encompasses 25 counties. That’s down 44% from a year ago when the selection included 8,469 listings. Measured by months of inventory, there is only about two weeks of supply (0.53 months) overall. Only five counties had more than a month of supply, well below the four-to-six months of supply used by housing analysts as a gauge of a balanced market.

Home prices continue to rise. For the 9,008 sales of single family homes and condos that closed last month, prices jumped nearly 12.2% from a year ago, increasing from $435,000 to $488,000.

Watch the 4 minute market report video

Source: NWMLS 1/6/21

Temperatures Are Dropping – Here’s How to Save on Energy Costs This Winter

Winter is here with shorter days, afternoon sunsets and frosty temps.

With an increase in work-from-home flexibility and remote learning for children, chances are that in 2020, your electricity costs are higher than usual. And, depending on the climate where you live, it’s time to assess how prepared your home is to accommodate more time indoors due to frigid weather and dwindling daylight hours.

Snow is on the way and Wi-Fi use at an all-time high, so you may be looking for ways to operate a more sustainable residence. Consider these tips for reducing your household’s energy bill.

Schedule an energy audit

You can hire experts to inspect energy outputs throughout your home while looking for ways in which you can conserve energy. The goal is to ensure your home is running as efficiently as possible. To make that determination, the expert will take a close look at appliances – like your water heater – as well as structural components – like the insulation between walls – and determine if these features are working to the best of their abilities.

An energy audit serves as a roadmap, helping you navigate where to invest time and money in order to make your house as energy-efficient as possible.

Swap out lightbulbs

Nowadays, it’s easy and affordable to swap out traditional incandescent lightbulbs, the kind that produce electricity from heat, for more efficient options. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are two of the most common energy-efficient bulbs on the market.

Additionally, “smart” lightbulbs are becoming increasingly more popular as well, with options to set timers and schedule lighting to avoid wasting energy. Sometimes, these smart light fixtures can even be paired with voice assistants or controlled through smart phone apps for the utmost control over your home’s lighting.

Invest in an advanced thermostat

The modern advancements in heating and cooling technology mean your HVAC system can actually work with you to maintain a comfortable temperature and avoid wasting heat when no one is home. “Smart” thermostats are designed to internalize the homeowner’s living patterns and adjust the temperature accordingly and automatically.

Many of these smart thermostat devices are controllable via a smart phone app, which means that if you left the heat on high, you can turn down the temperature while away from your house.

Seal off windows and doors

You’d hate to be cranking the heat in your home only to find out the hot air is seeping out the front door. If your home feels drafty or has trouble retaining warmth, assess whether you need to better seal doors and windows. This can especially be an issue in older homes.

Found at most hardware stores, draft guards and DIY window and door insulation methods can seal any gaps to trap in heat in the colder months.

Switch the direction of your ceiling fans

Did you know that the direction your ceiling fan spins determines whether it’s helping cool or heat a room? As winter approaches, reverse the direction of your ceiling fan’s spinning to clockwise to encourage cold air to rise, as opposed to the summertime setting of counterclockwise where cold air gets pushed down.

To change the direction, 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.

Regularly replace air filters

When furnace and air filters become clogged, the build-up causes your HVAC system to work harder and use more energy to simply heat the house.

Regularly replacing the air filters not only takes a burden off of your heating system, but it also ensures you and your family are breathing cleaner air.

RE/MAX National Housing Report for November 2020

Monthly Home Sales Up
Nearly 20 Percent from a Year Ago

The housing market continued its extraordinary half-year run of high activity, with November 2020 home sales up almost 20% over November 2019 – establishing a new high for the month in the 13-year history of the report.

November did experience the normal seasonal decline from October, with home sales decreasing 14.5% month-to-month, but that drop was in line with the 12% average of the past five years. In fact, November 2020 broke several records for the RE/MAX National Housing Report, and inventory reached its lowest point since the report debuted in 2008.

In addition to Home Sales that eclipsed the previous high for November, set in 2017, new November records reflecting averages across 52 U.S. markets included:

  • The Median Sales Price of $292,000 was up 13.8% from November 2019
  • Days on Market was a mere 36 – down nearly two weeks from last year’s 49
  • Months Supply of Inventory totaled 1.8 – only slightly more than the report record low of 1.7 set in August

Home sales continued to far outnumber new listings. November was the fourth consecutive month of 2020 to set a new report record for fewest listings.

Read the full article

Watch the 40 second summary video

Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for November 2020

Northwest MLS brokers say real estate activity across Washington remains strong

Some real estate brokers expect the competition for homes to ease somewhat over the holidays, but the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service indicate activity is unusually strong heading into December.

The Northwest MLS report summarizing November activity shows strong year-over-year (YOY) increases in closed sales (up about 23%) and prices (up 13.8%). Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) rose 7.9% from a year ago, and the year’s saga of depleted inventory continued last month with the number of total listings down nearly 43%.

While overall inventory is down, a comparison of counties shows a wide range of deficits, according to NWMLS data. Perhaps surprisingly, King County’s supply declined “only” about 18% from a year ago, while five counties (Clallam, Clark, Island, Mason, and Snohomish) reported drops of at least 63%. A closer look at the MLS report for all counties shows the shortages are most acute for single family homes (off 50.6% area-wide), while the condo supply improved (up 7.1%). Thirteen of the 23 counties in the MLS report had less than one month of supply at month end. Overall, there was about three weeks (0.73) of inventory at the end of November, well below the four-to-six months many analysts use as a gauge of a balanced market.

One indicator of brisk activity is the ratio of pending sales to new listings. November’s 8,584 pending sales outgained the month’s new listings, which totaled 6,425 area-wide, continuing a pattern reported during much of the year. New listings surpassed pending sales during only two months (March and April) this year, resulting in the depleted supply of active listings. Brokers reported 6,505 total active listings at the end of November, down from the year-ago total of 11,366. Supply was at the lowest level since February.

Prices on last month’s 8,875 closed sales were up nearly 14% from a year ago, rising from $434,900 to $495,000. Seventeen of the 23 counties in the report had double-digit price gains compared to a year ago.

Watch the 4 minute market report video

Source: NWMLS 12/7/20

 

24203 204th Ave SE, Maple Valley, WA 98038

$649,900

3 bedrooms + office; 2 bathrooms; 2,230 square feet

Remodeled rambler with newer roof and gutters with guards, fresh interior and exterior paint, new bathrooms, newer kitchen and fresh landscaping. Enjoy hardwood and marble floors through-out, as well as vaulted ceilings with beams, newer large wood wrapped windows, 2 wood stoves and AC. The newer kitchen features expansive quartz counters and generous cabinets with soft close drawers. Your new master bathroom includes a wide jetted tub, marble shower and double sinks. The office has a closet; could be a 4th bedroom. A sizable new covered deck is located off the living room and is wired for a hot tub. You’ll appreciate privacy at the end of a dead-end street, as well as the spacious, level fully-fenced lot with electric gate. Outbuildings include a large shed with ramp and wood shed. Don’t miss this!

Flyer

Photo Slideshow

Property Website

360 degree / 3D Tour

Listing Commercial

Sold 1/21/21

Give Back This Fall: Upcycle Your Unwanted Goods

We’ve spent a lot of time at home this year. A lot!

This means your storage space is likely cluttered with new hobby apparatus and unworn clothing – and, it’s most definitely due for a deep cleaning.

Good news: Fall cleaning is the new spring cleaning. As the holiday season kicks off, it’s the perfect time to find responsible, sustainable ways to dispose of unwanted goods. Consider these options for donating and upcycling household items that others may need.

Clothing, toys, other goods

When in doubt, remember that smaller thrift shops and donation centers as well as national chains like Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and The Salvation Army accept nearly all household goods and personal items.

As you sift through closets and tackle the basement, keep in mind that you can donate most things: unwanted clothing, shoes, furniture, household appliances, children’s toys, sports equipment and much more.

Composed Living lists ways to dispose of other household goods, including electronics and paint.

Many donation centers have an outdoor drop-off option or an at-home pick-up service to safely upcycle goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food

While you can’t salvage all food, you can typically donate most canned goods and unopened, sealed products to organizations such as food banks, rescues, pantries and/or homeless shelters.

Peanut butter, pasta, rice and canned goods are the most common donations. If you have perishable food to give, you can contact the organization to check if it will accept your items.

For food that donation centers won’t accept (but is still safe to consume), get creative and try to use it rather than tossing it in the trash. For instance, you can freeze overripe bananas and use them later in banana bread.

Linens

Your local animal shelter can always use old sheets and towels as bedding for the pets they house. Especially during the cold of winter, your extra bedding can keep dogs and cats warm. With nervous chewing and accidents – you know, general puppy mannerisms – shelters and rescues go through a lot of blankets.

If possible, wash and dry any linens before you donate them.

Books

Most charity centers and local libraries will accept new and used books. In the U.S., chain donation organizations as well as veterans’ associations and retirement homes are always on the lookout for reading material.

Becoming Minimalist lists 20 useful places to donate books that benefit people of all ages.

As you clean your home in preparation for the winter, it’s always nice to consider those you can help this holiday season.