There are many products that will help keep your family and home safe and prevent disaster.
- Water sensors – Water damage is a common issue within homes. There are many types of water sensors that will detect water from a burst pipe, a broken supply line or clogged toilet. Water sensors will alert you if your home gets a leak so that you can act quickly to prevent any more damage.
- Indoor room sensor – An indoor room sensor is like a smoke detector with many more functions. Most indoor room sensors can detect indoor air quality, temperature, and humidity to help you monitor your home. You will receive alerts, and many are also voice activated.
Add these products to keep a close eye on your home and belongings while you’re away, or while you’re home
- Security cameras – Now with home automation you will be able to keep a close eye on the inside and outside of your home. You can get security cameras that include audio recording, motion detection and allow you to view footage remotely using an app.
- Door & window sensors – there are many types of door sensors that will fit your budget. Most are small and sleek so they are undetectable, when their magnetic field is broken by opening a door or window you will receive a notification of the exact window or door that was disturbed.
- Smart lock – These are great not just for security but also for convenience. With smart locks you can lock and unlock your door from anywhere.
Take control of your home with automation and smart tech that is simple and convenient.
- Smart blinds – smart blinds allow you to lower the blinds without ever getting up. There are few different options for smart blinds to control with a remote, your eye phone or connect them to your Alexa to make them voice activated.
- Smart fridge – Smart fridge options can include a lot of different features depending on what you are looking for. Smart fridges can include touchscreen interface that connect to the internet, internal cameras, cooling options and a connection to your phone so that you can control it remotely.
- Smart vacuums – smart vacuums are a great self-cleaning tool that you can activate while you are out of your home. These vacuums will clean your floors without any physical labor and can be controlled remotely.
Smart technology can help make your home run more efficiently & save you money.
- Smart Home lighting – with smart home lighting you can control lights in your home remotely. Set a schedule or turn off and on and dim to save energy powering your lighting.
- Smart fan – With a smart fan you can control the speed and how long your fan is running. This allows you to turn on the fan at optimal times while also shutting it off when the energy it uses is no longer benefiting you.
- Temperature control – For controlling temperatures within your home look for a smart thermostat. Features for smart thermostats include Wi-Fi capabilities, scheduling when your heating and cooling systems start and stop. Most include energy reports so you can adjust how you use the system.
Each new year brings a fresh perspective on the latest design trends, home décor, and popular colors for homeowners to incorporate in their homes. This year has greatly impacted the way we depend on the places we live.
This shift in responsibilities has changed homeowners’ needs, which are reflected in the upcoming year’s most sought-after paint colors. Here are some of the color trends you can expect to see in 2021 and how you can incorporate them into your home.
2021 Paint Color Trends
Embrace neutral colors
After a weary 2020, expect to see a return to prominence for nostalgic, neutral colors. The resurgence of neutrals signals a focus on simple comfort, healing, a return towards wellness, and is representative of a lifestyle with a slower pace. Colors to look for include oatmeal hues, cerulean and Aegean blues, and earthy tones.
More than ever we are looking to our homes to provide us the chance to relax and recharge. Accordingly, serene, warm colors and soft pastels are making a strong comeback. They set the mood by providing a calm foundation, leaving room to add colorful decorations. Keep your eye out for rejuvenating colors including soft reds and creamy off-whites.
To build upon your neutral palette, add touches of vibrant colors for an exciting contrast. This coming spring, you can expect to see nature-based hues on the rise. In 2021, these nature colors will reflect a return to vibrance after homeowners have spent most of 2020—and, in some places, remain—cooped up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Colors to look for include rust tones and hues in the gold-to-orange range.
Color trends in your home
The calm, soothing presence of neutrals is best delivered when given ample space, so look to use the neutral palette on large surface areas. Good use cases in your home include painting whole walls, as well as furniture and carpeting choices. For vibrant colors, sprinkle them throughout the home in your décor and through smaller accents.
After you’ve chosen your colors, follow the 60-30-10 color design rule. It states that 60% of a room’s color should be the dominant color, 30% should be the secondary color, and 10% should be the accent color.
Here are three 2021 paint colors that will deliver the serene home environment you’re looking for while providing a solid foundation to add decorations.
Benjamin Moore’s 2021 color of the year is Aegean Teal. It combines a calming blue, a natural green, and a soothing grey. Its qualities make it a sound choice for bedroom or living room walls, as well as cabinets and other large surface areas. Aegean Teal is the perfect choice for homeowners looking to incorporate a bluish hue into their home without the melancholy undertones that come with blue.
Say hello to Urbane Bronze—Sherwin Williams’ 2021 color of the year. Their selection is founded in the desire to create a sense of calm at home. Urbane Bronze helps to deliver the sense of a sanctuary at home, given its organic appeal. Use this color to give your home a relaxed feel by painting your trim or accent walls. Urbane Bronze pairs nicely with greys and modern greens.
PPG has selected Big Cypress as part of their “Be Well” 2021 Palette of the Year. This ginger orange pairs well with cherry and mahogany woods, as well as touches of gold. Homeowners looking to create a soothing feeling without missing a sense of warmth can depend on Big Cypress to do the job. Another earthy tone, this color is the perfect choice to create what PPG calls a “huggable” room.
2020 has been a unique year, changing how we perceive and live in our homes. The new year presents an opportunity for a fresh start, so consider exploring these colors and trends to find the right combination for your home in 2021.
Throughout 2020, mortgage rates hit historic lows, largely due to the impact COVID-19 had on the housing market. These low rates drove already high demand for housing even higher, and Gardner does not predict mortgage rates will rise significantly in 2021.
His current forecast sees mortgage rates dropping to their lowest rate in the current quarter at 2.83%, and rising to about 3.08% by the fourth quarter of 2021.
As far as home sales for 2021, Gardner is predicting a large increase in home sales (he covers new construction separately). His forecast puts home sales up by 6.9%, a level that hasn’t been seen since 2006.
In conjunction with this, Gardner predicts a rise in housing inventory, as people who can work remotely move farther away from their offices, or those whose homes aren’t conducive to remote work seek out a better living arrangement.
But Gardner also pragmatically points out that a “mass exodus” completely away from urban centers is unlikely, as many workers may find themselves with a flexible blended arrangement of remote work and a few days in the office per week.
In terms of home prices, Gardner predicts they will continue to rise, but slowly. His 2021 prediction caps out at a 4.1% increase, partially because prices have already risen so dramatically this year that it may become an issue of affordability.
With the rising demand for housing inventory, Gardner predicts that new construction starts for single-family homes will rise by a sizeable 16.4%. This is great news for builders, and also for buyers, as increased inventory may help to alleviate the incredible demand the market has been experiencing.
Along with increased starts, Gardner is anticipating an increase of 18.7% in new home sales for 2021—again reaching a level the market hasn’t seen since 2006.
Finally, Gardner touched on the number of homes in forbearance. As of the end of November 2020, 2.76 million homeowners are in forbearance—but that number is down almost 2 million since May 2020, a drop of 42%.
Gardner does predict that foreclosures will rise in 2021, but he cautions that brokers shouldn’t panic. Though there is temptation to compare this situation with the housing bubble collapse of 2008, Gardner predicts that the actual number of foreclosures will be very mild in comparison.
When the pandemic began in March, the housing market overall was in a much healthier place than it was prior to 2008. Additionally, lenders now are more likely to cooperate with homeowners to help them stay in their homes, and homeowners also have the option to sell and get the equity out of their homes if necessary.
While no one can predict the future with complete accuracy, Gardner’s predictions give us a road map to work from as we approach the new year.
Read the full article on Windermere.com.
Image source: Shutterstock
A fast-growing form of cybercrime, wire fraud has led to major losses for homebuyers in recent years. Get to know what it is and what steps you can take to avoid it.
What is wire fraud?
Real estate wire fraud is a scam that targets buyers while making payments during the home buying process. Attackers have taken advantage of the fact that there are several people and entities involved in real estate transactions. Between real estate agents title and escrow companies, mortgage lenders and more, there are many steps, some of which involve sharing financial information and transferring money. This gives ample opportunity for scammers to slip through the cracks somewhere along the line.
The timing of wire fraud is typically during closing using a sophisticated phishing scam. Attackers apply the use of fake emails, phone numbers, or websites, often posing as the buyer’s real estate agent and directing them to allocate funds to a fraudulent account. Because the attacker will have scanned, scrubbed, and lifted your personal information in preparation for the scam, their forms of communication can often look familiar and legitimate.
The mission of the cyberattack is to get your funds into an account the attacker owns. To do this, it is common for them to say that you had previously sent funds incorrectly, that they were never received, that there are new instructions for payment, or that there has been a last-minute change in the closing process. These are all major red flags. It is imperative to take extra caution during the final steps of purchasing a home because transfers, once initiated, are difficult to remedy and can delay your closing process.
- Get to know the closing process: Talk with your Windermere agent ahead of time about what to expect throughout the closing process. Discuss payment options with your lender and ask specifically about instructions for wiring funds. It is safer to share this information over the phone than through email, as scammers could accumulate this information to use against you.
- Record contact information: Keep a list of the personnel involved in your closing process. Beyond your real estate agent, keep a record of contacts at your mortgage lender, title company, and attorney’s office. In the event that someone new reaches out to you with a request, confirm their identity with one of your contacts.
- Call to confirm: Call to confirm wiring instructions before sending the transaction through. Talk to a trusted representative and ask them to repeat the information to verify its legitimacy. After sending the funds, make same-day follow-up calls to ensure they were received.
- Trust your gut: If you receive an iffy email or phone call, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s the perfect time to reach out to your contacts, discuss your hesitancy, and get advice before proceeding.
The threat of wire fraud emphasizes the importance of working closely with everyone involved in the purchase of your home. If you believe you have been scammed, contact your bank or wire transfer company immediately and request that they issue a recall notice for your wire. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and report the activity with as much information as you can gather. For more information about how to protect yourself from wire fraud, visit the National Association of Realtors’ Wire Fraud resources page.
Image source: Shutterstock
VA loans provide a path toward homeownership for active service and veteran personnel and their families. The following serves as a guide to understanding what they are, who they are available to, and what types of loans are available to them.
VA loans can be confusing, so talk with your Windermere agent as you prepare to discuss your options with your lender. “Even people in the military have misconceptions about (VA loans),” said Windermere agent and Veteran Gervon Simon in a recent episode of our “Ask An Agent” series.
What are VA Loans?
The VA loan program was established by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help active service members, veterans, and surviving spouses become homeowners. VA loans are backed by the federal government yet provided by private lenders such as banks and mortgage companies. VA loans can be used to buy, build, or improve a home, or to refinance a current home loan.
How do VA Loans work?
VA loans have appealing characteristics for homeowners including lower-than-average mortgage rates, zero down payment on the purchase price, no-prepayment penalties, limited closing costs, and no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). They are typically easier to qualify for than standard home loans. With VA-backed loans, they guarantee a portion of the loan from a private lender. This means less risk for the lender, often resulting in more favorable terms for the homeowner. You do not have to be a first-time homebuyer to receive a VA loan. VA loan limits vary by county, so be sure to work with your Windermere agent to determine the limit in your area.
Which loans are available?
- VA-backed purchase loans may be used to buy a single-family home, condo, manufactured home, or land. They also may be used to make energy-efficient changes to your home. Additionally, you can use a purchase loan to build a new home.
- They offer no down payment, as long as the home’s sales price does not exceed its appraised value.
- There is no need for PMI or mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).
- For Veterans who are either Native American or have a Native American spouse, the NADL can help to buy, build, or improve a home on federal trust land.
- Beyond basic requirements of eligibility and credit standards, to be considered for the loan your tribal government must have an agreement—or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)—with the VA. For more information on MOUs, visit this page: MOU Info
- The IRRRL is a refinancing tool for those with VA-backed home loans that are looking to reduce their monthly mortgage payments.
- The IRRRL replaces a current loan, giving homeowners the ability to stabilize their repayment plans.
- A VA funding fee may be required. Loan interest and closing fees will be charged by your lender but including these costs in your IRRRL will help you avoid paying the costs upfront.
- The cash-out refinance loan allows homeowners to take cash out of their home equity or refinance a non-VA loan into a VA-backed loan.
- In addition to your Certificate of Eligibility (COE), you’ll need to provide additional federal income tax information to your lender.
- A home appraisal will be ordered by your lender. Similar to an IRRRL, a VA funding fee may be charged at closing. Follow their closing process and pay all closing costs.
Image sources: House, Townhouse, Condo: Canva — Question marks: Shutterstock
Deciding between a house, townhouse, and condominium can be a difficult process. Knowing how their characteristics align with your life and goals as a homeowner will help guide you to the right choice.
- Detached houses offer the most freedom and privacy of the three housing options. They provide the opportunity to personalize your home as desired, without rules from a governing body like HOA. Houses don’t share walls like townhouses or condos, and typically offer larger outdoor spaces as well.
- Situated on their own lots, owning a house leaves the responsibility of maintaining and improving the structure and accompanying land to the homeowner. Between a down payment, closing costs, and other homeowner fees, the upfront costs of owning a house can be significantly higher than a townhouse or a condominium.
- A townhouse is typically a narrow, multileveled structure connected to others in a row or block, typically with a small parcel of property in front of or behind the home. Somewhere between a house and condo, townhouses may be the best of both of worlds for some homeowners.
- Like a house, townhouse owners are responsible for exterior (roof and siding) maintenance and repair. Most townhouses tend to have a small footprint and modern upgrades, with lower HOA fees than condos due to a lesser focus on shared amenities.
- Condominiums are divided, individually owned units of a larger structure. Due to their smaller size and because they come with no land, condos are typically less expensive than a townhouse or a house. However, HOA fees combined with a monthly mortgage payment can increase the cost of condominium living, depending on the amenities offered in a building. Unique to condo ownership, the exterior of the units is considered a common area with ownership shared among the condo owners in the building.
- As a condo owner, you are only responsible for the inside of your unit. With this decreased maintenance comes less exclusivity and privacy. Condo owners live in close proximity and typically share amenities like gym and pool access, laundry, and other facilities.
- For homeowners looking at their property as an investment in their financial future, houses are a strong choice. Houses allow homeowners to plan long-term with the knowledge that their home will build equity over time.
- If you are planning on putting down roots and starting a family, houses provide the best opportunity to grow into your future and are better suited to handle significant life changes.
- For people looking for more space than a condo but are not quite ready to make the jump to a single-family home, townhouses are the perfect fit. They present a great steppingstone for first time home buyers or buyers who simply don’t want the responsibility of taking care of a larger, standalone home and yard.
- Townhouses are often located in residential neighborhoods. They are fitting for those looking to graduate from rented dwellings in city centers or metropolitan areas yet maintain greater ownership flexibility than a single-family house.
- Condominiums appeal strongly to homeowners looking for a low-maintenance residence, with access to shared amenities amongst a community. Condos are usually found in denser areas closer to downtown centers, shopping, and entertainment.
- They are a better fit for buyers seeking metropolitan surroundings than a detached home, which is typically found in a more suburban or rural environment. Given their proximity to city/town centers and mass transit, condos present the opportunity of a shorter commute for those who work in downtown areas.
After all the research, do what feels right. Whether it’s a house, townhouse, or a condo, reach out to me anytime. I can help find the best option for you and your future.
The number of people who can work remotely may be changing the way we view our homes, but one trend has not changed. The local housing market in October remained unseasonably hot. And that doesn’t show signs of changing any time soon.
October saw continued low inventory and record-level sales, with the number of sales exceeding that of 2019 year-to-date.
While new listings are on the rise, they are being snapped up quickly and many homes are selling in a matter of days. In King County there were 38% fewer single-family homes on the market as compared to a year ago. Snohomish County had 59% fewer listings. A four-month supply of homes for sale is considered a balanced market, but King and Snohomish counties currently have less than one month of supply.
With supply unable to keep up with demand, home prices are escalating at double-digit rates. The median single-family home price in King County rose 14% over a year ago to $745,000. Prices in Snohomish County jumped 17% year-over-year to a record high of $579,972. About half the homes that closed in October sold for over the asking price as compared to about a quarter of the homes the same time last year.
The real estate market here is uncommonly resilient. Growing employment in major tech industries and an enviable quality of life have made our region one of the fastest growing areas in the country. With interest rates remaining at record lows, we may well skip the traditional slowing in the winter market altogether.
The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please reach out anytime.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
Employment numbers in Western Washington continue to improve following the massive decline caused by COVID-19. For perspective, the area shed more than 373,000 jobs between February and April. However, the recovery has been fairly robust: almost 210,000 of those jobs have returned. Unemployment levels remain elevated; the current rate is 8.2%. That said, it is down from 16.6% in April. The rate, of course, varies across Western Washington counties, with a current low of 7.2% in King County and a high of 11.2% in Grays Harbor County. The economy is healing, but the pace of improvement has slowed somewhat, which is to be expected. That said, I anticipate that jobs will continue to return as long as we do not see another spike in new infections.
- Sales continued to improve following the COVID-19-related drop in the first quarter of the year. There were 25,477 transactions in the quarter, an increase of 11.6% from the same period in 2019, and 45.9% higher than in the second quarter of this year.
- Listing activity remains woefully inadequate, with total available inventory 41.7% lower than a year ago, but 1.6% higher than in the second quarter of this year.
- Sales rose in all but two counties, though the declines were minimal. The greatest increase in sales was in San Juan County, which leads one to wonder if buyers are actively looking in more isolated markets given ongoing COVID-19-related concerns.
- Pending sales—a good gauge of future closings—rose 29% compared to the second quarter of the year, suggesting that fourth quarter closings will be positive.
- Home-price growth in Western Washington rose a remarkable 17.1% compared to a year ago. The average sale price was $611,793.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Mason, Island, and San Juan counties. Only one county saw prices rise by less than ten percent.
- It was even more impressive to see the region’s home prices up by a very significant 9.4% compared to the second quarter of 2020. It is clear that low mortgage rates, combined with limited inventory, are pushing prices up.
- As long as mortgage rates stay low, and there isn’t an excessive spike in supply (which is highly unlikely), prices will continue to rise at above-average rates. That said, if this continues for too long, we will start to face affordability issues in many markets.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the third quarter of this year dropped two days compared to a year ago.
- Snohomish County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 16 days to sell. All but two counties—Lewis and San Juan—saw the length of time it took to sell a home rise compared to the same period a year ago.
- Across the region, it took an average of 36 days to sell a home in the quarter. It is also worth noting that it took an average of 4 fewer days to sell a home than in the second quarter of this year.
- The takeaway here is that significant increases in demand, in concert with remarkably low levels of inventory, continue to drive market time lower.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
High demand, favorable interest rates, and low supply clearly point to a seller’s market in Western Washington. As such, I am moving the needle even more in favor of sellers.
As I suggested earlier in this report, although the market is remarkably buoyant, I am starting to see affordability issues increase in many areas—not just in the central Puget Sound region—and this is concerning. Perhaps the winter will act to cool the market, but something is telling me we shouldn’t count on it.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.