Growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding. It might seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but once you get started, you’ll discover that it isn’t very hard. Gardening is a learning experience, though. You’ll find that some things work better than others, and every planting season gives you another opportunity to make some tweaks and try again.
The first thing you need to decide is where to plant. For most veggies, this should be the sunniest spot you have. And of course the second big question is what to plant. Go for the things you love to eat, as well as plants that will thrive in the amount of sun you have.
Our climate in the Pacific Northwest requires some crops to be started indoors in the winter and transplanted outside in the spring. But it’s not too late to get started. There are lots of plants that you can sow directly into the garden in early spring. This graphic shows a few:
There are also many crops that can be planted in the summer for a fall harvest. Click here for a complete timeline of planting vegetables in the Seattle area.
There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Five reasons to move:
1. Your current location just isn’t working.
Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.
2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.
Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.
3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.
If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.
4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.
This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.
5. You don’t like remodeling.
Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of loosing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.
Five reasons to remodel:
1. You love your neighborhood.
You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.
2. You like your current home’s floor plan.
The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.
3. You’ve got a great yard.
Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.
4. You can get exactly the home you want.
Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.
5. It may make better financial sense.
In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.
Remodel or move checklist:
Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to move or remodel.
1. How much money can you afford to spend?
2. How long do you plan to live in your current home?
3. How do you feel about your current location?
4. Do you like the general floor plan of your current house?
5. Will the remodeling you’re considering offer a good return on investment?
6. Can you get more house for the money in another location that you like?
7. Are you willing to live in your house during a remodeling project?
8. If not, do you have the resources to live elsewhere while you’re remodeling?
If you have questions about whether remodeling or selling is a wise investment, we can help you. Feel free to contact us.
The current break-even horizon* in the Seattle Metro area is 1.69 years!
*The amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision.
With expensive rental rates, historically low interest rates, and home prices softening, there are advantages to buying versus renting.
In fact, the Seattle Metro area has seen some of the sharpest rent hikes in the country over the last few years! There are several factors to consider that will lead you to make the best decision for your lifestyle and your financial bottom line. Zillow Research® has determined the break-even point for renting versus buying in our metro area. In other words, the amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision. Currently in Seattle, the break-even point is 1.69 years – that is quick! What is so great about every month that ticks away thereafter, is that your nest egg is building in value.
I am happy to help you or someone you know assess your options; please contact me anytime.
These assumptions are based on a home buyer purchasing a home with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and a 20 percent down payment; and a renter earning five percent annually on investments in the stock market.
Most recently, we have experienced an uptick in market activity. In fact, in King and Snohomish counties we saw a 53% increase in pending sales from December to January. While it is seasonally normal to see activity increase at the first of the year, it was 16% higher than the previous January. This increase is being driven by multiple factors, such as our thriving economy and job market, price acceleration softening, and the recent decrease in interest rates.
Currently, rates are as low as 4.5% for a 30-year fixed conventional mortgage – 0.75 points down from the fourth quarter of 2018. In fact, the interest rate in November was the highest we’ve seen in five years! The current rate level is the lowest we have seen in a year. This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point increase in interest rate, a buyer loses ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate increases by a point during their search, in order to keep the same monthly payment, the buyer would need to decrease their purchase price to $450,000. Conversely, for every decrease in interest rate, a buyer can increase their purchase price and keep the same monthly mortgage payment.
Why is this important to pay attention to? Affordability! If you take the scenario I just described and apply it to the link above, you can see that the folks who choose to jump into the market this year will enjoy an interest cost savings when securing their mortgage. This lasts the entire life of the loan and can have a huge impact on the monthly cash flow of a household. This cost savings is also coupled with a slow-down in home-price appreciation. Complete year-over-year, prices are up around 8% in both King and Snohomish counties, but note that from 2017 to 2018 we saw a 14% increase. Price appreciation is adjusting to more normal levels and is predicted to increase 4-6% in 2019 over 2018.
As we head into spring market, the time of year we see the most inventory become available, the interest rates will have a positive influence on both buyers and sellers. Naturally, buyers will enjoy the cost savings, but sellers will enjoy a larger buyer pool looking at their homes due to the demand the lower rates are creating. Further, would-be sellers who are also buyers that secured a rate as low as 3.75% via a purchase or re-finance in 2015-2017, will consider giving up that lower rate for the right move-up house now that rates are not as big of a jump up as they were during the second half of 2018.
This recent decrease in rate is making the move-up market come alive. What is great about this, is that it opens up inventory for the first-time buyer and helps complete the market cycle. First-time buyers are abundant right now as the Millennial generation is gaining in age and making big life transitions such as buying real estate. According to Nerd Wallet, 49% of all Millennials have a home purchase in their 5-year plan.
Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, rates should increase into the 5’s in 2019. While still staying well below the 30-year average of 6.85%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the 30-year average – it is reasonable to think that rates closer to that must be in our future at some point.
So what does this mean for you? If you have considered making a move, or even your first purchase, today’s rates are a huge plus in helping make that transition more affordable. If you are a seller, bear in mind that today’s interest rate market is creating strong buyer demand, providing a healthy buyer pool for your home. As a homeowner who has no intention to make a move, now might be the time to consider a refinance. What is so exciting about these refinances, is that it is not only possible to reduce your monthly payment, but also your term, depending on which rate you would be coming down from.
If you would like additional information on how today’s interest rates pertain to your housing goals, please contact me. I would be happy to educate you on homes that are available, do a market analysis on your current home, and/or put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional to help you crunch numbers. Real estate success is rooted in being accurately informed, and it is my goal to help empower you to make sound decisions for you and your family.
With their bright pops of color tucked into our green forests or scattered across our central scablands, wildflowers herald a warmer, sunnier hiking season. From marshy yellow skunk cabbage to unlikely glacier lilies, you can find early spring wildflowers all over the state this time of year.
In Washington, we have a wildflower season that lasts from March through August. With so many unique ecosystems right in our backyard, many incredible flowers have found their niche.
The rich variety of flora could have you hiking for decades and still finding new wonders on the forest floor. Early spring is the perfect time to stride out on trail to see big, showy balsamroot, delicate calypso orchids or bright salmonberry bushes in bloom.
Tips for wildflower hiking:
- Take tick prevention measures, and know how to remove them safely.
- Learn how to watch for and avoid rattlesnakes drier eastern trails.
- Be careful not to trample the delicate plant-life.
- It’s bad form to pick wildflowers along public trails.
Location: Puget Sound & Islands – Bellingham area
Length: 2.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 890 ft.
The network of trails on the Anacortes Community Forest Lands is extensive enough that you can spend all day hiking and exploring here. Keep your eyes peeled for camas and delicate avalanche lilies dotting the hillsides. Don’t forget to look up from your wildflower hunt every now and then to take in the views of the sound, too!
FIDALGO HEAD LOOP TRAIL
Location: Puget Sound & Islands – Bellingham area
Length: 4.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
All the benefits of an island hike, without the ferry ride (unless you’re starting on the islands, of course). While this trail is known more for it’s wildlife-watching opportunities, the hillside meadows and trees come into bloom in early spring. On a sunny day, this is a terrific spot for a short hike and a picnic. When it the spring clouds roll in, you’ll still have great views and a little more solitude.
FOURTH OF JULY CREEK TO ICICLE RIDGE
Location: Central Cascades – Leavenworth
Length: 12 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4370 ft.
While there is often still snow on the upper reaches of this trail in spring, this popular destination outside of Leavenworth offers a riot of wildflower offerings. You’ll have a good chance at balsamroot or lupine, but keep your eyes peeled for the rarer delights as well: flowers like Tweedy’s Lewisa or Chocolate Lilies. Come back in a month or two for less snow and summer flowers.
CHELAN LAKESHORE TRAIL
Location: Central Cascades — Entiat Mountains/Lake Chelan
Length: 17 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 4030 ft.
This early-season trail features craggy, snow-capped peaks, a sapphire-blue lake, wildflowers, as well as regular maintenance by WTA volunteers. The 17-mile thru-hike on the Chelan Lakeshore Trail will take you to the delightful and secluded town of Stehekin where you can take a quick tour of the valley via bus or bike or visit the Stehekin Pastry Company—two miles from the ferry dock.
KLICKITAT RAIL TRAIL – KLICKITAT RIVER
Location: Southwest – Columbia River Gorge
Length: 10.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 200 ft.
Hop aboard for an early-season wildflower bloom amid open terrain and open air. At a healthy clip or a slow meander, this rail trail is fun at any speed! The Klickitat Trail runs 31 miles, with multiple access points placed in unique areas, from grass plains and the rugged Swale Canyon along the Wild and Scenic Klickitat River, to oak-filled valleys dropping down to Lyle and the Klickitat’s mouth at the Columbia River.
COLUMBIA HILLS STATE PARK
Location: Southwest – Columbia River Gorge
Length: 12.4 miles (Horsethief Butte)
Elevation Gain: 1870 ft.
Climb gentle hills exploding with lupine, paintbrush, balsamroot and other wildflowers. Make it multi-day adventure by camping in the state park and hiking Crawford Oaks and The Dalles Mountain. Go prepared for ticks.
WHISKEY DICK WILDLIFE AREA
Location: Central Washington, near Yakima
Length: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1750 ft.
Wander among a wide variety of wildflowers—including a rare species of cactus, Simpson’s hedgehog, with its hot pink blossoms—chunks of petrified wood, and panoramic views of the Columbia Basin, under usually sunny, blue skies. Bring your camera and your field guide. For those hikers who prefer vistas or bird-watching to finding flora, there’s plenty of that to go around, too.
SNOW MOUNTAIN RANCH
Location: Central Washington, near Yakima
Length: 9.2 miles (with shorter options)
Head towards Yakima for some of the best wildflower shows in the state. Spend the day roaming on this former ranch, which in spring is cloaked in wildflowers! Keep your eyes peeled for the delightfully bright hedgehog cacti, bitterroot and more. If you want to make
Location: Central Washington — Potholes Region
Length: 3.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 235 ft.
Sitting inside the 30,000 acre Columbia National Wildlife Refuge, Frog Lake, and the nearby Crab Creek and Marsh Loop trails provide hours of trail exploration. With basalt views, sagebrush-steppe, rocky cliffs and budding wildflowers you won’t run out of beautiful views to take in—just watch out for ticks!
Location: Eastern Washington – Blue Mountains
Distance: 4.4 miles, roundtrip
Tucked into the southeast corner of the state, this little trail in Field Spring State Park rewards with big views and solitude. The time to visit for wildflowers is now, when snow melt is feeding the first flush of wildflowers (and before things begin to heat up).
Length: 2.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 10 ft.
While many wildflowers have roots here, but these mysterious hills are best enjoyed when Washington’s native camas blooms blanket the rolling open landscape. This destination is a good one for families looking to just spend the day outside, and has paved trails for strollers or wheelchairs.
MILLER PENINSULA-THOMPSON SPIT
Location: Olympic Peninsula — Northern Coast
Length: 5.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 360 ft.
This wooded walk enters a lush ravine lined with remnant old-growth and gives way to an isolated beach with views of Protection Island. There are many miles of trails here — whether you do a meandering route around the area or the more direct 4 miles to the water and back. Additionally, it’s possible to create all sorts of loops as well. If you look closely, you may be able to spot a few wildflowers along the edges of the trail.
Whether you hire an outside professional for help, or tackle the project yourself, now is a great time to get a jump on spring cleaning. Many people wait for warmer temps to start cleaning, but I think most everyone can agree that those weekends would be better spent outdoors, soaking up that sun. So, take some inspiration from the list below to get you started now on freshening up your home for spring.
It will only take a few hours to check everything off this list, and you’ll feel so much better enjoying the last few weeks of winter, knowing that when the warmer weather finally comes, you can get outside and really enjoy it!
Rotate your mattress. Most mattresses need to be rotated regularly in order to even out the overall wear and prolong the lifespan of your bed. However, keep in mind that Sleep Number and Tempur-Pedic mattresses typically should not be rotated. Always check with your manufacturer for their recommendations on your specific mattress. If you own an older mattress with no pillowtop, it should probably be flipped as well as rotated.
Clean your mattress. Strip the mattress of all linens and covers. Start by vacuuming the mattress with the upholstery attachment, paying close attention to crevices and seams. Next, sprinkle baking soda (up to a one-pound box) all over the surface of your mattress. Let this sit for at least an hour, but 24 hours is best. Then go back over your mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment again. If you have a steam cleaner, break it out and go over your whole mattress. The steam will reach further into the mattress than your vacuum is able to, and kills dust mites. *It is generally not recommended to clean memory foam with a steam cleaner.
Organize & clean the laundry room. Clean the outside of your washer and dryer; scrape any dried detergent from crevices. Next, clean the inside of the washing machine. Most newer models have a self-cleaning cycle. If you have an older machine that does not have a self-cleaning cycle, run a cycle with hot water and a quart of white vinegar. After it is finished, clean the detergent dispensers, using a vinegar and water solution and a scrubber. If you have a front-loader, be sure to clean the rubber seal on the door. This area is prone to mold growth, so use an all-purpose cleaner or maybe even bleach to get under and around the seal.
Next, organize a bit. Throw away products you never use, replace damaged sorting bins, and don’t forget to clean out the dryer vent to prevent a fire.
Deep clean the fridge. Twice a year (or more), you should give your fridge a front-to-back, top-down scrubbing. Start by taking everything out and throw away anything that has expired. Next, remove all the shelves and drawers. Put them to soak in a solution of two tablespoons baking soda and one-quart hot water. While they are soaking, wipe down the interior of the fridge with the same solution. Then scrub, rinse and dry the shelves and drawers.
Next, dry the drip pan. Remove the base grill, and pull out the drip pan. If it’s full of water, mop it with paper towels and wash the pan with soapy water. If your drop pan is fixed in place, wrap a cloth around the head of a long-handled brush and use to clean the pan.
Don’t forget the coils. In order to keep your refrigerator running efficiently, unplug it, pull it away from the wall, and use a coil brush or your vacuum’s crevice attachment to clean the condenser coils. This should be done at least twice a year, unless you have pets in the home, and then you should do this three to four times a year.
Clean out spice cabinet. Throw away all expired spices and seasonings. Not only do these lose taste, they actually harbor mold and bacteria.
Clean out expired medications & vitamins If you have unused medications, please take them to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.
Vacuum, wash, or steam window curtains
Wash window blinds
Add color to your table. Treat yourself to fresh flowers while waiting for the spring blooms outside.
Over 500 REALTORS® adorned with “Unlock the Door for Affordable Homeownership” scarves converged on Olympia for the Washington REALTORS® Legislative Day event. Over the course of two days, REALTORS® participated in governance meetings, installed our 2019 Leadership, networked and met with legislators to discuss solutions for the acute housing affordability crisis in Washington State.
Our event keynote speaker, Dr. James Young with the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, presented valuable information on real estate trends affecting REALTORS® and consumers alike. The statistics and data he presented highlighted the extreme difficulty for first-time buyers to find affordable housing and for “empty nesters” to trade down, creating a ripple effect in the housing market. Dr. Young also points out that the most efficient means of providing opportunities for first-time home buyers (affordable condominium development) has not taken place in this market due to supply constraints. These supply constraints are having a significant impact on the overall housing market which is why Washington REALTORS® have identified several legislative priorities to address them.
Over the course of over 140 different scheduled meetings with legislators on Thursday, January 24, 2019, REALTORS® received encouraging and positive response to the following Legislative Priorities:
- Reforming Condominium Liability Laws
- Increasing Urban & Suburban Housing Supply in Urban Growth Areas
- Aligning the Short Subdivision Process with Ecology’s SEPA Regulations
- Supporting the Housing Trust Fund for Homeownership
- State Funding Support for Housing, Homelessness & Infrastructure
- Expanding the Multi-family Tax Exemption Program
- REET & Lodging tax—Local Funding Tools for Housing & Homelessness
- Read more details about Washington REALTORS®’ Legislative Priorities.
All of our Legislative Priorities are part of the Unlock the Door for Affordable Homeownership initiative. Partnered with other non-profit and for-profit entities, Washington REALTORS® will continue to work with our legislators and lead the way to help create affordable homeownership opportunities for all.
Thank you to all of the REALTORS®, affiliates, and industry professionals who showed up to make Washington REALTORS® Legislative Day a success. Stay tuned throughout the Legislative Session for updates and news!
For more information regarding SCCAR visit their website at: https://www.sccar.org/
2018 concluded with another great year of fundraising and giving for the Windermere Foundation, thanks to the continued support of Windermere franchise owners, agents, staff, and the community. Nearly $2.5 million was raised in 2018, bringing our grand total to over $38 million raised since the Foundation’s inception in 1989! During the past year, nearly $1.9 million was donated to non-profit organizations throughout the Western U.S. that provide much-needed services to low-income and homeless families. In 2018, theWindermere Foundation fulfilled 689 grant requests and served 507 non-profit organizations.
A portion of the money raised every year is due in part to our agents who each make a donation to the Windermere Foundation from every commission they earn. Additional donations from Windermere agents, the community, and fundraisers made up 68% of the money collected in 2018. Each Windermere office has their own Foundation funds, which enable them to support local non-profits in their communities.
One organization that received Windermere Foundation donations from several Windermere Real Estate offices in the Seattle area is Treehouse. Treehouse’s mission is to give foster kids a childhood and a future. Their goal that they have set to achieve by 2022, is to see youth in foster care graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers across Washington State. And to provide them with support and a plan to launch successfully into adulthood. Donations from the Windermere Foundation have helped Treehouse clients like Ashley, get the support she needed to turn her life around.
“I didn’t have a childhood that all kids should have–like making friends my age or playing sports. I changed the path that I was on because I wanted to give people a reason to believe in me. You have to want to change and speak your truth, but you can’t do it without people believing in you. You can get through the darkest situations, you just gotta look for a little crack of light. Treehouse is that crack of light for me,” ~Ashley
2018 also marked the third year of our #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, in which Windermere committed to donating $100 for every Seahawks home game defensive tackle to YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides critical services to homeless youth. While the Seahawks didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs, they did help us raise $31,900. When added to previous seasons, the total donation for the past three years is $98,700! We are grateful for the opportunity to provide additional support to homeless youth thanks to the Seahawks, YouthCare, and the #tacklehomelessnesscampaign.
Over the course of the last thirty years, a shift has happened. An entire generation has been raised to believe that a college education is their key to unlocking opportunities that were not available to their parent’s or grandparent’s generations.
Due to this, student loan debt has soared to $1.5 trillion and represents the largest category of debt, surpassing credit card and auto loan debt in 2010 and never looking back. As more and more Americans continue their education amongst rising tuition costs, this number will no doubt increase.
Many housing experts have blamed student loans for a drop in the homeownership rate for young families, and to an extent, they’ve been right. Increased debt at the time of graduation has no doubt limited young people from being able to afford a home at the same rate as their parents or grandparents did at the same age.
In a recent Forbes article, the author explained that “in just the class of 2017, the average student has about $40,000 in debt — almost enough for a 20% down payment on a median-priced home.”
The Federal Reserve set out to determine exactly how much impact student loan debt has had on the homeownership rate of those 18-34 (millennials). Their results found that,
“Every $1,000 in student loan debt delays homeownership by about 2.5 months, but it doesn’t prevent homeownership entirely.
In fact, by the time college grads reach their 30s, those with student loan debt have a homeownership rate nearly identical to those who didn’t take out loans.” (emphasis added)
In the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the Fed report, they found that recent graduates prioritize paying off their student loans over saving for a down payment, despite their desire to be a homeowner. Many with debt want to “get that monkey off (their) back (before they) make any new investments.”
This has just delayed the wave of young home buyers from hitting the market. But as Danielle Hale, the Chief Economist at realtor.com warns,
“2020 will be peak millennial, the year when the largest number of millennials will turn 30.”
By age 30, those who attained a bachelor’s degree right after high school will be one or two years away from paying off their loans and will have been in their career long enough to earn a higher salary.
In the long run, research shows that attaining a bachelor’s degree or more actually increases the chances that someone will become a homeowner.
If you are one of the many millennials who has prioritized paying down your student loans over saving for a down payment, you’re not alone. Even if you are a couple years away from paying off your loans, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine if waiting really is the best decision for you!