Washington REALTORS® Win in the 2019 Legislative Session

The 2019 Legislative Session ended April 28 and Washington REALTORS® had some big wins. We got REALTORS® exempted from a 20% B&O tax increase, killed an effort to undermine “in-house” transactions and passed much of our “Unlock the Door” campaign’s affordable housing agenda, including condo liability reform.

Protecting Our Members

Our trade association’s primary purpose is to protect our members. With that in mind, we were successful in fighting off a direct tax increase on your bottom line. Although the Legislature passed a 20% B&O tax increase that hit most service businesses, REALTORS® were not included. We reminded the Legislature that the B&O Small Business Tax Credit does not apply to REALTORS® because commissions are pooled, and they agreed that exempting REALTORS® was both fair and a reasonable policy decision.

Additionally, we protected the foundation of the industry’s business model. When a bill was introduced that would have changed many independent contractors to employees, we made sure REALTORS® were exempted.

Protecting Your Clients

From the first days of the Legislative Session, we knew that the Legislature was committed to a Tiered Real Estate Excise Tax, based on the idea that higher priced properties would pay more in REET. Although we did not support this proposal, the Legislature listened to us when we spoke and made significant changes, with the result that approximately 90% of transactions will pay the same or less Real Estate Excise Tax. All Transactions up to $500,000 will get approximately a 15% cut in REET. In fact, due to the marginal nature of the new tiered tax (a REALTOR® suggestion), all transactions up to about $1.75M should not be impacted. While this tax impacts commercial real estate and multifamily, it is hoped that the marginal nature of the tax structure will limit that impact. These new rates will not take effect until January 1, 2020.

Protecting the Transaction

Very early in the session, a bill was introduced in both the House and Senate to require all parties in an “in-house” transaction to have an attorney sign off at every step in the transaction. Obviously, this bill would make real estate more expensive for consumers and greatly impede transactions. Washington REALTORS® jumped in and made sure this proposal did not even make it out of Committee in either the House or the Senate.

Increasing Transactions

Thanks to great work from our Washington REALTORS® Condominium Work Group and some passionate members across the state, Washington REALTORS® was able to help pass condominium liability reform that continues to protect the consumer but adds a fairer standard that should encourage developers to start building condominiums again. After looking at the more balanced bill, one developer told us that once developers got comfortable with the new regulations, we should expect a “mini condo boom” in Washington. Additionally, while working with a number of stakeholders, we passed a bill that encourages cities to adopt growth policies that allow for additional density in a responsible way, including Accessory Dwelling Units, allowing duplexes and triplexes in single family zoning and cluster zoning or lot size averaging allowances.

Advertisements

4 Landscaping Ideas for Your Front Yard

Even if you can’t tell a tulip from a turnip at the garden center, you can still create eye-catching curb appeal by paying attention to the basics of good landscaping, especially in the front yard.

Ignoring your front yard — or doing something that’s out of character with the neighborhood — can jeopardize the assessed value of your home.

Landscape economist John Harris says good landscaping can add up to 28% to the overall value of a house and cut its time on the market 10%-15%.

Here are the top suggestions from real estate agents, appraisers, and landscape designers for boosting the curb appeal of your yard:

#1 Plant a Tree

The value of mature trees is particularly difficult to determine. Lucco says that in his market, mature trees contribute as much as 10% of a $100,000 property’s overall value. In addition, a properly placed shade tree can shave as much as $32 a year on your energy bills. Expect to pay $50-$100 for a young, 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree.

You can make your own initial assessment of the value of your property’s trees by visiting the National Tree Benefit Calculator. For example, a mature Southern red oak tree with a diameter of 36 inches in the front yard of a house in Augusta, Ga., might add $70 to the property value.

#2 Green Up the Grass

If your house has a front yard, make sure it‘s neat and green by following a lawn maintenance calendar. You don’t want bare spots, sprawling weeds, or an untrimmed appearance.

“It’s so simple to go to Home Depot, buy fertilizer, apply it every six weeks, and water it,” says Mitch Kalamian, a landscape designer in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It will green up.”

If the yard looks really scruffy, you may decide to invest in some sod. Sod will average about 15-35 cents/sq. ft., according to the National Gardening Association. If you hire a landscaper to sod your yard for you, labor will add 30% to 50% to the total cost of the project.

Another alternative is to plant low-maintenance turf grasses. Turf grasses are durable and drought-resistant. Expect to pay $18-$30 for enough turf grass seed to plant 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area.

#3 Landscape Lighting

For homeowners who have made a sizeable investment in landscaping, it makes sense to think about adding another 10%-15% to the bill for professional outdoor lighting. After all, buyers aren’t always looking at houses on a Saturday afternoon.”

The cost of a system runs from $200 for a DIY installation to more than $4,000 for a professional job. If you‘re doing it on your own, the key is to light what you want people to see, such as mature trees and flowering shrubs.

#4 Colorful Planting Beds

Flower beds add color and help enliven otherwise plain areas, such as along driveways and the edges of walkways. In general, annual flowers are a bit cheaper but must be replaced every year. Perennials cost a bit more but come back annually and usually get larger or spread with each growing season.

If you’re not sure what to plant, inquire at your local garden center. Often, they’ll have a display of bedding plants chosen for their adaptability to your area. Also, they‘ll be inexpensive because they’re in season, says Peter Mezitt, president of Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Mass. Try pansies in the summer, and asters and mums in the fall to add vibrant color. “That’s what we do around the entrance to our garden center,” Mezitt says.

6118 85th St SW, Lakewood, WA 98499

$409,900

4 bedrooms; 2.25 bathrooms; 1878 square feet

An impeccably maintained Gardener & Mechanic’s Paradise! Enjoy lots of natural light w/vaulted ceilings & skylights. The extra wide & deep detached garage/shop is heated & has its own driveway w/parking. Fully-fenced w/multiple gates, large covered patio, greenhouse w/tempered glass & power, & shed. Newer roof, water heater & appliances. Large kitchen opens to family rm w/gas fireplace, slider & new carpet. Formal living & dining rms w/notable natural wood & crown molding. Abundant storage too!

Flyer

Virtual Tour

Sold 6/10/19 for $420,000

How Cash-Strapped Consumers Can Become Homeowners and Build Equity

Anyone who has saved for a down payment for a home knows it’s tough — especially for first-time homebuyers. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 13 percent of first-time homebuyers said the most difficult step in the homebuying process was saving for a down payment.

It’s a misconception that a 20-percent down payment is required for a home purchase, when in reality, many home loan options exist that may be able to put consumers into a home for as little as three percent down. In fact, 77 percent of non-cash first-time homebuyers in 2018 purchased a property using a down payment of less than 20 percent. Buying a home may be within reach — RE/MAX and Motto Mortgage put together a list of the most popular loan options for first-time buyers.

RE/MAX National Housing Report for March 2019

March Sales Signal Slowest Start to Spring Homebuying Since 2014

Kicking off the spring homebuying season, March sales climbed almost 29% over February, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. But this remains the slowest start in five years, with March sales 8.6% lower than March 2018.

March was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines and the sixth straight month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 5.3% gain. Housing activity in the report’s 54 markets nationwide also saw the Median Sales price grow by 3.4% year-over-year – notably smaller than the year-over-year increases in February (5.5%) and January (4.6%).  However, the median sales price has risen by more than 3% year-over-year in 17 of the last 18 months.

From 2015 to 2018, the housing market’s spring sprang to life with an increase in sales from February to March averaging 37.0%. March 2019’s month-over-month increase of 28.8% was the smallest since 24.6% in 2014.

Read the full article

Watch the 40 second summary video

Fast, Affordable Online Interior Design Options

It was only a matter of time before the internet would disrupt how the design trade has worked for decades.

In the past, interior designers ordered almost every piece of furniture or decor from trade vendors on behalf of their clients, and billed them an hourly rate plus charges for purchases—typically, wholesale plus a markup or retail minus a discount. Then, it would take the merchandise months to be fabricated and delivered.

Obviously, homeowners were exhilarated when other resources emerged, such as HGTV shows, hip housing magazines, and online idea sites such as Houzz and Pinterest, allowing them to take a more active role in home design. The latest iteration to shake up the process is online companies that employ staff designers or freelancers with the goal of simplifying the designer-homeowner partnership and allowing the act of home furnishing to became transparent, faster, and more affordable.

Read the full article on REALTOR® Magazine…

33709 40th Ct SW, Federal Way, WA 98023

$304,900

3 bedrooms; 1.75 bathrooms; 1750 square feet

Ideal for an Investor! This home has tons of potential & simply awaits a buyer w/cash or rehab loan. The master bedrm & 2nd flr deck feature Olympic Mtn Range views. Fully fenced w/gates on both sides, double gate in back & backs to a greenbelt/city retention system. Updates include a 10 yr old roof w/transferable warranty & newer gas water heater. Keep comfortable year-round w/gas heat & A/C. Insulated garage includes multiple circuits, lots of shelves & benches, a portable fireplace & freezer.

Flyer

Virtual Tour

Sold 5/8/19 for $310,000