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.
Orcas may not be a big island, but it sure celebrates like one. Although July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, this island will be rocking all weekend long leading up to the big day. Whether you are into shopping, eating, or just enjoying the festivities, there is plenty to keep everyone busy. Here’s what to see and do on the rock over the next four days:
Eastsound Fire Station Pancake Breakfast @ 7am-11am
This is a great annual fundraiser to support the Eastsound Volunteer Firefighters and EMT’s. They will be serving up their special recipe pancakes, sausage, eggs, and beverages. Cost is $8 per adult and $5 per child with kids under 5 years eating for free.
Farmer’s Market @ 10am-3pm
Happening every Saturday, all summer long on the Village Green. This is a great place to grab produce and flowers from island farms, check out local artists, and grab some lunch.
Independence Day Celebration @ 10am
This celebration of island history, sponsored by the Orcas Island Historical Museum, takes place on the Village Green in conjunction with the Farmers Market. There will be a pie booth, hot dog stand, and beer garden. Then at 1:30 the local Harvey Family will put on a logging show.
Community Parade – “Celebrating Island Creatures” @ 12 noon
Islanders from local businesses and organizations will be dressing up as all manner of animals and parading through Eastsound Village. Parades on this island are a one-of-a-kind experience, so you will not want to miss this.
Lions Club 42nd Annual Salmon BBQ @ 1pm-7pm
The Lion’s Club is involved in many projects across the island, and this event raises funds so they can continue with their great community service. Served alongside the salmon is a baked potato, coleslaw, roll, beverages, and the option of adding on apple crisp. Cost is $18 per adult and $12 for children up to 12 years.
Deer Harbor Fireworks and Music @ 9pm
Gather down on the docks at the Deer Harbor Marina to hear some music and enjoy the light show. This is a very popular event, so be sure and get there extra early.
6th Annual Funhouse Commons 5K Run @ 9am
Work off some of those calories from the weekend with a race around the Eastsound area. All ages and abilities are welcome with the kids 1K race beginning at 10am. Registration is $35 per adult and $10 per child. All proceeds benefit the Funhouse Commons, who provides many programs for island kids.
4th of July “inter-Dependence Day” Celebration @ 3pm-10pm
Hosted at Orcasong Farm, this is an evening of music, education, food, and fun. From 3-6pm there is a workshop titled “Music as Medicine” and from 6-10pm there will be a potluck dinner and live music provided by The Living Arrows. Cost is $10-$40.
Eastsound Fireworks @ 9pm
Head on into town in the early evening to hear the Community Band play before the big show. Then find a spot on the beach to kick back and enjoy the fireworks.
It’s GiveOrcas month here on the island and everyone is feeling the love. Locals skip through the streets of Eastsound hugging, laughing, and catching up on the latest gossip. Okay, so maybe it’s not quite as cheesy as one of those quaint villages from your childhood storybooks; life is not all sunshine and rainbows after all. But while there isn’t a whole lot of skipping going on, the hugging, laughing, and gossiping are pretty on par. And this month in particular we are reminded of why we are so lucky to live here: we are a community that cares.
The GiveOrcas campaign is run by the Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF), whose mission is “to foster philanthropy to enhance and preserve the quality of life on Orcas Island”. They are a public foundation that fosters community collaboration in order to create a strong financial base for supporting local services and organizations. OICF’s role has become increasingly important on this island which somehow supports a huge number of nonprofits – about 1 per 45 residents. This number may seem insane to some, or most of us, but it’s important to remember that Orcas has no real form of government since there is no incorporated town. As such, these nonprofits help to fill the roles that would traditionally fall under a government’s purview.
Now, what is this GiveOrcas campaign? Well, with all of these nonprofits it’s to be expected that the Community Foundation receives a high number of requests for funding, and they simply do not have the capacity to cover the full needs of every organization. So yes, it is essentially a fundraiser. However, this particular fundraiser is as much about creating awareness as creating cash. For at the public’s fingertips is placed an insight into what each organization is hoping to get funding for; whether it be a specific project, program, or for staffing needs. These needs are then arranged, by OICF, into three categories: Critical Needs, Important Needs, and Opportunities. This allows for members of the community to decide where they want their donated funds to go, based on their own individual ideals. And, given that Orcas is a community that likes to support one another, most of these needs are met during this time.
The GiveOrcas campaign runs through May 19th this year with an Awards Celebration being held on Thursday, May 25th from 3-5pm at the Orcas Center.
Find out more about the GiveOrcas campaign and the projects looking for funding at www.giveorcas.org
To learn more about the Orcas Island Community Foundation and see of list of Orcas Island nonprofits and services, visit oicf.us
I’m happy to report that Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. While the rate of growth is tapering, this is because many markets are getting close to “full employment”, during which time growth naturally slows. That said, I believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continues to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year.
- There were 15,652 home sales during the first quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 9.5% from the same period in 2016, but 20.7% below the total number of sales in the final quarter of 2016.
- With an increase of 45.5%, sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months. There were double-digit gains seen in an additional 10 counties, suggesting that demand remains very robust. The only modest decline in sales was seen in Grays Harbor County.
- The number of homes for sale showed no improvement at all, with an average of just 6,893 homes for sale in the quarter, a decline of 33% from the previous quarter and 25% from the first quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 2% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
- The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will offer little relief to would-be home buyers as the housing supply remains severely constrained.
- With demand continuing to exceed supply, home prices continued to rise at above-average rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351.
- Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County, which rose by 19.6%. Double-digit price growth was seen in an additional 10 counties. The only market where the average price fell was in the ever-volatile San Juan County.
- It is clear that rising interest rates have not taken much of a sheen off the market.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter dropped by 16 days when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
- King County remained the tightest market, with the average time to sell a home at just 31 days. Island County was the only area where it took longer to sell a home than seen a year ago; however, the increase was just one day.
- In the first quarter of the year, it took an average of 70 days to sell a home. This is down from the 86 days it took in the first quarter of 2016, but up from the 64 days it took in the final quarter of last year.
- Given woefully low levels of inventory in all Western Washington markets, I do not expect to see the length of time that it takes to sell a home rising in 2017. In fact, it is likely that it will continue to drop.
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 first quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. The rapid increase in mortgage rates during the fourth quarter of 2016 has slowed and buyers are clearly out in force.
Posted May 1 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.
Seattleites love to come to the San Juan Islands in the summer. Although right in their backyard, it can feel like a whole world away. With everyone wanting to come when it’s sunny and warm(-ish), the island population on Orcas easily triples in the high season. While summer is definitely fun, for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of city living, winter is really the time to come visit. I know, it’s cold, and wet, and yada yada. But keep in mind, the islands actually get milder weather than the city, all year long, which make a trip out here all the more enjoyable. Aside from the weather though, here are five other reasons why a winter stay should be on your To-Do List:
1. The Views are Better.
Okay, so everyone loves to see lush greenery and pretty flowers when they travel (or stay at home for that matter), but let’s face it, not having the trees covered with leaves can really improve your view. And since you are paying to stay in a house, or fun little B&B, having a nice view makes it all worthwhile, especially on this island. So cozy up in your temporary residence, have a cup of something hot, and enjoy being able to look out across the water from your couch.
2. You can actually get into a restaurant.
Vacations are all about the food, and sitting down in a restaurant you have maybe never heard of, in a place you maybe have never been, is both refreshing and exciting. In the summertime, high tourist season, it can be nearly impossible to get seated, unless you are one of those people who is good at planning way ahead. (I’m really more into spontaneity myself.) In the winter, though, most nights of the week you can walk right into a place and find yourself at a table, no wait time. That said, it is worth making a reservation for the weekends, but a day or two in advanced should be all the planning you need.
3. Winter storm wave watching is amazing.
There is nothing like a good wind storm when you are tucked into an island getaway. The salt spray off the top of the waves that are rolling into the beach can be mesmerizing, especially if you are actually on the beach. So bundle up, grab a coffee, and enjoy the show.
4. You can have the trails to yourself.
Whether you are into hiking or mountain biking, it is very possible to find yourself the only person on the trail in Moran State Park. While there is the potential to pass one or two other wandering souls (with their four-legged companions) on the more popular trails, the outer trails can be almost eerily quiet. Best of all, if you are lucky enough to hit one of those crisp, clear days, the view from the top of Mount Constitution is absolutely spectacular. And even if you genuinely like other people, sometimes it’s nice not to have to share.
5. The locals are happier.
The truth is, summer is stressful for locals on the island. Most are working multiple jobs and trying to make enough in four months to carry them through the rest of the year. Islanders want to be helpful, they often just don’t have the time to sit and chat with every person who walks through the door. Winter, however is a whole different experience. This time of year, with most businesses running on a skeleton crew, the locals love swapping stories. Be careful though, it is easy to get caught up for extended periods of time. Still, winter provides the best opportunity to get your insider tips on what to see and do around the islands.
Ready to plan your trip? Visit the Orcas Island chamber of Commerce to find out what’s happening during your stay, and to see the most updated list of restaurant hours.
Need a place to stay? Make it a true getaway by renting your own house at off-season prices. Check out Vacation Doorways, who serves three of the major islands.
The Windermere Foundation had another banner year in 2016, thanks to the continued support of Windermere franchise owners, agents, staff, and the community. Over $2.2 million was raised in 2016, which is an increase of seven percent over the previous year. This brings our total to over $33 million raised since the start of the Windermere Foundation in 1989.
A large amount of the money raised last year is thanks to our agents who each make a donation from every commission they earn. These funds enable our offices to support local non-profits that provide much-needed services to low-income and homeless families in their communities.
|SUMMARY OF FUNDS, GRANTS & DONATIONS IN 2016|
|Number of individual grants fulfilled:||664|
|Average grant amount:||$2,581|
|Average donation to the Windermere Foundation:||$122.05|
|Total funds provided in 2016:||$1,951,878.78|
So how are funds used? Windermere offices get to decide how to distribute the funds their agents raise so that they may help organizations in their communities. Our offices have helped to fund school lunch and afterschool programs, supported non-profits that provide housing assistance to homeless families, donated to food banks, purchased school supplies, provided meals and gifts for families in need over the holidays, fulfilled wishes for children through Make-A-Wish programs, and purchased shoes, clothing, blankets and other items to help keep families warm during the winter months.
This year was also marked by a new partnership between Windermere and the Seattle Seahawks to help #tacklehomelessness. During the 2016 football season, Windermere donated $100 for every Seahawks home game tackle to YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides essential services to homeless youth. At the end of the season, the #tacklehomelessness campaign raised $35,000, which is being used to help fund YouthCare’s transitional housing program.
Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we are able to continue to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. And not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click on the Donate button.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.
Posted January 24 2017, 9:15 AM PST by Christine Wood