WINTER PREPARATION FOR YOUR HOME
With the early onset of winter weather, it seems an appropriate time revisit some home maintenance tasks. Though we go through these changes every year, sometimes it is nice to have a reminder of what needs to be examined before the temperatures changes too dramatically.
First off, since our heating systems are about to get a lot more use (if they are not already), let’s be sure everything is in good working order. If you have a gas or oil furnace system, have someone come out to inspect it to be sure everything is in good working order. And don’t forget to check those air filters. If you use electric heaters, keep the area around these clear, thus avoiding potential fire hazards. For those with a wood stove, have a chimney sweep come out and do a thorough clean. It is recommended to do this annually, before the cold season if possible.
Other areas of note: examine your insulation, particularly if you have an attic, and feel for spots where cold air may be leaking through. Changing out insulation now will help you heat your home more efficiently all winter long. Weather stripping may also need to be replaced to keep cold air from seeping in around doors and windows.
Outside your home, make sure that hose bibs are covered up and hoses stored away for the season. Gutters should also be cleaned out, especially after all the leaves that have been falling off trees recently. And speaking of trees, take a look around the house and note any branches that could cause problems under heavy snow or wind conditions. Better to take preventative measures than have problems later on down the road.
Finally, stock up on emergency supplies such as first aid, flashlights, batteries, blankets, water and extra food. For those of you living in the higher elevations, such as Buck Mountain, this is extremely important. We have already had our first winter warning on Orcas, so don’t delay in checking these items off your To-Do-List. A prepared home is a happy home.
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
AFFORDABLE HOUSING — WHAT COULD BE DONE
This column is the second on the affordable housing issue. We all know what is needed, but it seems we don’t have a clear vision of how to accomplish it.
Last time I mentioned an affordable housing solution on San Juan Island that appears to have served that island well since its development in 1982. It’s called The Oaks. Located in a rural area and buffered from surrounding properties, most Islanders don’t even think about it and some don’t even know it exists.
In a time of less restrictive zoning regulations, the developer acquired 7 contiguous parcels of rural land totaling approx. 40 acres. They installed streets, sidewalks and utilities serving 76 home sites for double wide manufactured homes. The land is leased to the homeowners who own the units, which can be resold by owners moving off-island, or to other properties. Sales prices have ranged from around $100—$200K depending on location and size of the homes. The property lease includes water, sewer and road maintenance such that the area appears well maintained. There are relatively few sales of these homes because turnover of residents is low.
Today, due to County zoning regulations, it would be almost impossible to do an Oaks. Yet we can see it works and addresses affordable housing needs, at least on San Juan Island by being a product that naturally falls into the right price point. Our County needs to encourage affordable housing development by creating new zoning regulations to allow projects like this to occur today. Of course, the devil is in the details, and zoning modification would have to include safeguards such that neighbors would not be adversely affected.
Orcas Island has areas of forested and/or buffered land where thoughtfully-designed high-density development could occur on otherwise low-density land. This would be an excellent topic for each of us to address with our Commissioners. The time may now be right for such a discussion.
Since I started this column, I have received a fair amount of thoughtful feedback and I encourage you to give me a call or drop by to say hello and discuss any Island issue you feel is important. My intention is to make this column thought provoking and helpful in some small way.
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
With the weather changing and winter rapidly approaching, Windermere Real Estate offices in Snohomish and King Counties are participating in the “We’ve Got You Covered” campaign; collecting cold weather gear for homeless youth in the city. While we are lucky to not have a large homeless population here on Orcas, there are still many people in our community who could use a helping hand.
With this in mind, our office has decided to run a local version of this campaign. So from now until November 10th we are collecting warm socks, hats, scarves, mittens and gloves for youth in our community. Items will then be delivered to Orcas Family Resources, who has graciously agreed to help us with distribution.
If you would like to donate, items can be dropped off at the Windermere Office in Eastsound. (*all items must be new)
Thank you for helping us keep our community warm this winter!
The Windermere Foundation was started in 1989 by the owners of Windermere Real Estate, which is based in Seattle. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $33 million to support it’s mission: helping low income and homeless families.
The Foundation began in Washington, but now has grown to serve the 10 western states. Currently, there are more than 40 major organizations that receive significant funding from the Foundation. These organizations provide emergency assistance, and youth and children’s programs.
As part of the Windermere organization, each of our brokers donates a portion of their commission from every transaction to the Windermere Foundation. Each of us is proud to support the Foundation. A portion of the funds that we donate comes back to our office to enable us to donate directly to local organizations within our community that support the same cause as the Windermere Foundation: helping local families right here on Orcas.
We have a local Foundation Representative, Elyse Van den Bosch, who works directly with the local non-profits to assist in their applications for funding. We have supported organizations such as the Funhouse, Orcas Family Connections, OPAL immediate housing needs, the Food Bank, and each of the various early childhood programs, to name just a few.
In addition to our broker commission donations, our office has also coordinated various fundraising and volunteer activities to raise additional money for our local non-profits that assist families and children in need.
Being a part of this community is very important to all of us. We take great pride in the fact that our office has put thousands of dollars back into our local community, and we look forward to continuing to do so. If you have questions about the Windermere Foundation, or whether your organization may be a candidate to receive funding from the Foundation, please contact Elyse for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
There is nothing like stepping outside, taking a deep breath, and pulling your jacket just a little closer around yourself. I haven’t worn a jacket in months – oh the joys of summer. But I can’t resist the smile that emerges on my face as the goose bumps rise. Maybe it has to do with how fresh the air feels, maybe it’s because the island has made it through the summer rush, or maybe it simply has to do with the fact that I love getting to put on my beloved boots and sweaters again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love summer as much as the next person. Sun and heat are two of my favorite things, but this summer was particularly dry for the San Juan Islands and I for one am tired of the color brown. For the last few months everything has just felt dusty and dirty – not something those of us from the great ‘north-wet’ are used to. I miss the green. And so, the return of the rain is something I welcome with open arms.
There is also this miraculous slowdown that happens post-Labor Day. September is still a busy month on the islands, but nothing compared to July and August. It just has an entirely different feel. Now, not only is it easier to get on a ferry last minute, but going to Island Market is no longer a hassle, and everyone is so much more laid back. It’s as if the islands have been holding their breath for two months and are finally able to exhale. Locals stop and chat on the street again, without that wild look in their eyes that says, “I am going to lose it on the next person that asks what times the whales go by”. Yes, that is a common question, and no, the whales do not share their schedule with us bipeds, so please stop asking.
After the breath of September, the islands start churning again, with all kinds of activities suited to the shift of seasons. Savor the San Juans runs from the first day of fall through the first week of November and brings with it many events and opportunities to enjoy the flavors of island life. The Orcas Island Film Festival runs the first weekend in October and has become quite the affair over the last few years, bringing in award winning films from around the world. There are also a slew of lectures, classes, and farm tours that happen through the end of the year. And the holidays out here, truly magical.
As the days begin to cool and the darkness stretches longer than the day, all I can think about is being curled up on my couch with my dog; a fire burning in my woodstove; mouthwatering smells emanating from the slow cooker; hot apple cider warming on the stove. Fresh pressed cider is everywhere on the islands right now and will be the majority of what I drink for the next couple of months, interspersed with some hot chocolate and homemade hot buttered rum. Oh yes, the season of coziness is upon us. Welcome back autumn.
Alysha Sherburne | Office Manager
In a past article I discussed where our Buyers are coming from, but in this article, I think you might like to see how our 2017 sales market stacks up against last year at this same time….
The total number of Orcas sales has increased from 42 in 2016 to 53 this year to date. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, because the price points where the sales have occurred are significantly different year-to-year.
The 2016 and 2017 number of properties sold between $150 and $350K are very similar. But, starting at $400K thru $550K, there have been almost twice as many sales in 2017. Interestingly, homes priced in the $600K range sold better in 2016 with the $700K range being very similar year-to-year.
The real change is from $800K and up. Last year there were no sales in the $800K range but there have been a number of sales this year. 2016 sales between $900K and $1,400K were stronger than 2017, but 2017 exceeded from $1,500K and above.
What can we draw from all of these statistics? Honestly, no real pattern other than the availability of inventory is our largest determinant of what sells. We have a shortage of properties currently on the market, and yet many buyers are still coming into our offices on a daily basis, still looking for their dream home or second home. Isn’t this just the way it always happens?
For those owners who have been hesitant to list their Land or Homes, we haven’t seen a better time than now! And that isn’t just hyperbole. We are approaching our prime selling season of the year.
People visit Orcas during the summer, fall in love with the Island, return home to mainland America, and start trying to figure a way to make our home their home. They return in September with money in pocket, ready to make their move. It’s just the way this business works.
Enough of statistics….we wish everyone a wonderful fall in the Islands and hope to see many of you in the office, where the coffee is always on and the conversation interesting and friendly.
Until next time,
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
A few months ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article stating that the San Juan Islands are the fastest growing luxury home market in the country. This article has created many discussions in the local real estate world all revolving around the question: “What does this statistic mean?”. It also asks the question: “Who is really buying on Orcas Island?”
It may surprise you to find out that in the past twelve months, of the 191 sales of both land and residential properties on Orcas Island, 75 of those sales were represented by Buyers already living on Orcas Island. No wonder the locals pay such close attention to the real estate market!
In addition to these 75 purchases, 48 of the sales were by Buyers from the Seattle metropolitan area, and 11 from greater Washington State. That equates to 70% of our Buyers being from Washington State.
The graph below illustrates the breakdown of where our Buyers are coming from overall.
I hope you find these statistics as interesting as I do. If you have any questions, or would like more information, stop by our office here in Eastsound to speak with any one of our highly qualified Brokers….We always love to talk real estate!
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
*Source: NWMLS & Realist
As the owner of the Windermere agency on Orcas, I am often asked; How’s the market? The answer is that the market is continuing to improve, and we are grateful to be past the challenging times of 2009 – 2012. But, this answer warrants further comment.
We have come a long way from 2009, when four months passed without a single real estate sale occurring on Orcas Island. In contrast, during the first six months of 2017, 45 homes sold, leaving us with only 113 active Orcas listings today. It’s easy to understand why our Buyers are struggling to find their “perfect home.”
It is evident, however, that pricing correctly is still the key to achieving a sale. The average number of days on the market for the homes that have sold within the past 6 months is 185 in contrast to an average of 248 days for the active listings, with many having been for sale for more than a year.
When we look at the residential market by price range, the bulk of the activity is still occurring in the $300,000 -$599,000 range, where 26 of the 45 homes sold this year were located. The median number of days on market for homes in this range has decreased to 52 days.* Currently 17 homes are in escrow, which means it will take 6.6 months to absorb the current listed inventory.
As you can see, there truly is a bit more to answering the “How’s the Market” question. If you would like more information, or to inquire as to your property’s value today, please stop in to visit with one of our 22 Orcas-based brokers. We always love to talk about the market!
John Dunning, Designated Broker/Owner
*Source: Real Market Reports.
The Washington State economy has been expanding at a rapid pace but we are seeing a slowdown as the state grows closer to full employment. Given the solid growth, I would expect to see income growth move markedly higher, though this has yet to materialize. I anticipate that we will see faster income growth in the second half of the year. I still believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017.
Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continue to see unemployment fall. The latest state-wide report now shows a rate of 4.5%—the lowest rate since data started to be collected in 1976.
I believe that growth in the state will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole and, with such robust expansion, I would not be surprised to see more people relocate here as they see Washington as a market that offers substantial opportunity.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 23,349 home sales during the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 1.1% from the same period in 2016.
- Clallam County maintains its position as number one for sales growth over the past 12 months. Double-digit gains in sales were seen in just three other counties, which is a sharp drop from prior reports. I attribute this to inventory constraints rather than any tangible drop in demand. The only modest decline in sales last quarter was seen in Grays Harbor County.
- The number of homes for sale, unfortunately, showed no improvement, with an average of just 9,279 listings in the quarter, a decline of 20.4% from the second quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 3.6% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that it is unlikely we will see a significant increase in the number of homes for sale for the rest of 2017.
- Along with the expanding economy, home prices continue to rise at very robust rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.9%. The region’s average sales price is now $470,187.
- Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in San Juan County where sale prices were 29.2% higher than second quarter of 2016. Eight additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
- The specter of rising interest rates failed to materialize last quarter, but this actually functioned to get more would-be buyers off the fence and into the market. This led to even more demand which translated into rising home prices.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by 18 days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
- King County remains the tightest market; homes, on average, sold in a remarkable 15 days. Every county in this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop from the same period a year ago.
- Last quarter, it took an average of 48 days to sell a home. This is down from the 66 days it took in the second quarter of 2016.
- Given the marked lack of inventory, I would not be surprised to see the length of time it takes to sell a home drop further before the end of the year.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the second quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. To define the Western Washington market as “tight” is somewhat of an understatement.
Inventory is short and buyers are plentiful.
Something must give, but unless we see builders delivering substantially more units than they have been, it will remain staunchly a sellers’ market for the balance of the year.
Furthermore, increasing mortgage rates have failed to materialize and, with employment and income growth on the rise, the regional housing market will continue to be very robust.
Posted July 26 2017, 11:00 AM PDT by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate. Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. Find the original post here
We made it past July 5th and summer is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest! For many of us, this is the time when we not only get out of the house, but get out of the town where we live to enjoy a summer vacation. While I am a big proponent of hitting the road and leaving my troubles behind me, there are a few things that need to be done in advance of any travels in order for me to be able to truly relax and let go. Before I can put myself in vacation mode, I must first put my house in vacation mode. So, here is my pre-departure checklist which allows that laissez-faire feeling to remain long after my return home.
Clean, clean, and yes, clean
I know, there is already tons to do before you leave; how are you also supposed to find time to clean the house? You’re stressed about getting packed on time, making sure all your travel arrangements are made, reservations are set – but trust me, there is nothing like coming back to a shiny, fresh home. Your future self will thank you for this gift.
- Clean out the fridge/freezer – no one likes coming home to the smell of rotting food.
- Take out the garbage & recycling – again, no smell is a good smell.
- Leave cleaner in the toilets – do I have to repeat myself about smells?
- Do all the laundry – clothes from the trip can go right in the basket when you get back. And since it will not be full, you can put off throwing a load in the wash for a while.
- Put fresh sheets on the bed – after sleeping in strange places it’s nice to not have to worry about what’s under the covers.
Give yourself (and your insurance company) peace of mind
Whether you are taking off for a week or a month, it is worth eliminating all need for worry about the state of your home. If no one is going to be there, then no one is going to need to use anything that is plumbed or wired. And let’s face it, there is nothing worse than coming home to an unnatural home disaster.
- Unplug the small things – you’re cleaning your house anyway right? So why don’t you put that curling iron back in the bathroom drawer and wind that cord around the toaster. It’s tidy and safety all in one go!
- Lower your bills – turn the water heater to “vacation mode” and turn off your thermostat. No need to have these running while you are away; plus, that’s a few more dollars allotted to the travel funds.
- No pools in the house – turn off water valves to major appliances like your washing machine, dish washer, etc. Better yet, if you can, turn the water off completely via the main shut off valve.
- Check the weather – if extreme weather is forecast for the time you are away, make sure your house and yard are ready to endure it.
Don’t worry, be happy
We all know there are people in this world who feel the need to make giant messes and take things that don’t belong to them. And where better to partake in these activities then in a house that is currently unoccupied? Oh wait, maybe someone is home. Never mind, let’s try somewhere else.
- Lights on, lights off? – I’m the kind of person that turns a light off every time I leave a room, but in this case, it may be worth leaving a couple on. Flood lights and interior lights on timers help your home maintain that lived in feel.
- Business as usual – don’t make it obvious that no one is home. People do not normally leave all the curtains closed up tight (unless you a serious recluse… or a vampire).
- Mail call – check in with your local post office before you leave and have them hold your deliveries until you return. Or have someone you trust pick it up for you. Don’t forget the paper.
- Landscaping matters – if you are planning an extended trip, hire someone to come mow your lawn and water your plants. A neglected yard is a sure sign that no one is around.
- What spare key? – if you are in the habit of leaving a key hidden around the outside of your home, please remove it and give it to a friend or neighbor in case of emergency.
All in all, common sense will go a long way in helping you prepare your home for vacancy. If there is something that could be a potential hazard, take care of it before you leave. The less you have to worry about, the more you get to enjoy your time away from the every day.