Local Market Update – March 2018

The local real estate market set new home price records in many parts of the region in February. Prices here have grown faster than anywhere else in the country for the last 16 months in a row. Demand remains high and inventory very low. Brokers are hoping the normal seasonal increase in listings this spring will help give buyers some relief.


>>>Click image to view full report.

With home prices soaring on the Eastside, it’s not a matter of whether the median price will exceed a million dollar, but when. February brought the market very close to that milestone. The median price of a single-family home increased 14 percent to a record $950,000 on the Eastside, surpassing the previous peak recorded in December.

King County

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The red-hot job market in King County continues to outpace nearly every area in the nation. Well-paid workers looking to buy close to city centers have fueled a growing competition for a shrinking number of homes. That demand boosted the median price of a single-family home up 16 percent over a year ago to $649,950.


>>>Click image to view full report.

The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit a new high of $777,000 in February, $20,000 more than the previous record set in January and up 14 percent from the same time last year. Despite the sharp increase in prices, multiple offers have become the norm for most properties. It remains to be seen if recent interest rate hikes will have a moderating effect on home values.

Snohomish County

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After several months of moderating growth, Snohomish County set a new record for home prices in February. The median price of a single-family homes jumped 18 percent to an all-time high of $485,000. Inventory is down from a year ago, with less than a month’s supply of homes available for sale.

If you are considering buying a home in today’s market, here are three things to consider:

  1. Make sure you can afford the payments.
  2. Choose a location that will appeal to you long-term.
  3. Be committed to living there for a minimum of five to seven years.

This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com blog.

Posted on March 13, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Gardening Trends For 2018

Outdoor living during the spring and summer months is extremely popular. Months of cold, wet winters are followed by glorious spring colors and warm summer days of vivid blue skies. In this post, we thought that now would be the best time to share some pretty garden trends for 2018.




Leisure time should be just that: relaxing and rejuvenating. So why labor relentlessly to create and maintain a perfect landscape? Wabi-sabi, is the Japanese art of accepting transience and imperfect beauty. Relax and appreciate nature as it is, with humble imperfections, weeds and all. Recognize (and tell others) that dandelions and clover in untreated lawns are not blights. They are status symbols for ecological horticulture. Consider natural grasses and groundcovers as low-maintenance substitutes for sod. Opt for perennials instead of annuals, let flowers go to seed and give nature license to evolve on her own.


Reclaiming Small Outside Spaces

For many of us these days, space is at a premium and with house prices continually on the rise, more and more people are living in apartment blocks or tiny lots. Garden designers are determined to make even the smallest of spaces useful and attractive, and manufacturers have taken notice. Look for a better choice in planters that slot onto balcony rails. New models will have coverings for protecting plants from cold temperatures so that you can even grow seeds and vegetables on your balcony alongside your flowers.

Self-watering wall planter systems have been improved for 2018 and the hanging macramé plant holder is having a bit of a revival. Add a small patio heater and you have an outside space you can enjoy all year round with minimal effort.


Purple Passion

Pantone’s Ultra Violet is the color of the year. Maybe that’s why you find purple flowers in this year’s plant varieties and garden design. It’s easy to incorporate this color in the garden as there are many flowers and shrubs with this beautiful color. However, there are also several edible purple plants that you can grow. Purple vegetables are not only interesting and pretty, their unique color denote anthocyanins which are very beneficial to your health.



This is a style that keeps popping up time and again. However, 2018 has taken the re-wilding trend up another notch. It is still all about working with nature, growing wildflowers and supporting our pollinating insects. Re-wilding means adjusting plant selections to better support local wildlife and growing both seed-producing and berry-bearing plants. However, now it is also about using ‘green’ gardening products, natural solutions to bug and slug killers instead of chemicals and insecticides and using peat-free products.


Alfresco Living

Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas are tipped to be a key trend for Spring/Summer 2018. We are not talking about a little nook corner just off the kitchen. Alfresco dining spaces are being pushed out into the garden itself and made into a major feature. These dedicated outdoor dining areas are surrounded by in-ground and container plants for that lush feeling. Special flooring, comfy furniture and mood lighting turn it into a little haven. Complete the trend with a sunken fire pit, barbecue or pizza oven and you might never want to leave.


Lighting The Way

Adding lighting to your garden is not a new thing. However, in this age of renewable energy, garden lighting companies are turning away from the more traditional lighting solutions we have seen in the past. The advances in solar energy capture, means that we can light up our gardens in a variety of fun, affordable and better ways. No more changing batteries or wiring up the garden with electricity.

The wide range of lighting methods allows you to create whatever ambience you want. Simple stand-alone lights can mark pathways, either discreetly embedded into the path edges or standing loud and proud along the side. Multi-colored fairy lights can be tangled among the overhead branches of a tree creating dazzling shapes and textures. Solar Mason jars can be hung from above or used as table lighting. Festoon lights can create an ambient glow around any outdoor space creating romantic nooks.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.


Posted on March 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Home Ownership | Tagged , , ,

8 Laundry Room Updates to Fit Any Budget


Hoping to transform your tired laundry room into a sparkling clean, efficiently working space, but without the major costs of a full remodel? By not changing the layout or adding square feet, you can bring costs down while still making meaningful changes to your space. Use this guide to help you decide what to prioritize and what to put on the back burner, and give your laundry room an update that works with your space — whether your budget is $100 or $10,000.


Laundry 1: Sharon Barrett Interiors, original photo on Houzz


If your budget is about $100: Clean, declutter and upgrade laundry baskets that have seen better days. It’s worth spending a little more for hampers that can stand up to heavy use.

Also think about which features would be most helpful to have, such as hampers on wheels, triple-sorter bins or stackable baskets that can tuck out of the way when you’re not using them.


Laundry 2: David Charlez Designs, original photo on Houzz


If your budget is about $300: Clean up, get hampers and then give the walls a fresh coat of paint. A cheerful color can make your laundry room feel brand-new without breaking the budget — especially if you’re willing to DIY.


If your budget is about $500: Get hampers, fresh paint and then a soft new rug. You’ll appreciate the dose of color as much as the softness underfoot. If moisture is a concern (for example, if your laundry room is in the basement), you may want to choose a sturdy indoor-outdoor rug.


Laundry 3: ACQUIRE, original photo on Houzz


If your budget is about $700: Get hampers, fresh paint and a new rug, and then swap out the lighting.

Ample lighting is important when you’re trying to check laundry for stains and read labels, so pay attention to the recommended wattage of any light fixture you are considering — anything less than 75 watts may not shed enough light (especially if it’s the sole light source in the room).


Laundry 4: CVI Design – Carly Visser, original photo on Houzz


If your budget is about $1,200: Tackle all the above, and then treat your space to some bonus storage and extras, like an ironing station, a drying rack or open shelves. If your laundry room is small, look for space-saving designs like folding drying racks, retractable clotheslines and wall-mounted ironing boards.


If your budget is about $3,500: What’s next? New appliances! A new washer and dryer can work more efficiently than older models, operate more quietly and get your clothes cleaner.

If you’re going from top-loading to front-loading machines, consider adding a countertop above to hold supplies and act as a surface for folding. Not in the market for a new set? Give your old machines a thorough cleaning to keep them running well (and smelling fresh).


Laundry 5: colorTHEORY Boston, original photo on Houzz


If your budget is about $5,000: If you have more room in the budget, think about replacing the laundry room sink and faucet. If you’re hoping to avoid additional installation costs, choose a new model that is the same size as the old one. If you don’t already have a sink in the laundry room, adding one will require more extensive help from a plumber, and costs will be significantly more.

Related: Get a Sturdy Utility Sink for the Laundry Room


Laundry 6: Dina Bandman Interiors, original photo on Houzz


If your budget is about $10,000: So you have the hampers, paint, rug, lighting, storage, appliances and sink. If you still have room in the budget, think about tackling a bigger project like installing a new tile floor or a pet-washing station. Your furry friend may not thank you but sure will look cute sitting in that tub.


This post was originally published on the Windermere.com Blog.

Posted on March 1, 2018 at 11:06 am
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Home Ownership | Tagged , , , , ,

Local Market Update – February 2018

With competition for homes growing and inventory shrinking, the Real Estate market in January was as hot as ever.  Home prices were up by double digits as buyers chased severely limited inventory. The number of homes for sale hit a record low for the month of January, which should strongly favor sellers as we move into the prime Spring selling season.  The average home seller in our area now makes a 64 percent profit, the fourth-highest rate of any region in the country, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.


>Click image to view full report.

Home prices on the Eastside continue to climb. The median price of a single-family home was up 18 percent over last January to $938,000 —­ virtually unchanged from the record high set a month ago. West Bellevue, King County’s most expensive area,  saw the median home price surge to a record high of $2.72 million. With less than a month of available inventory, prices aren’t expected to cool any time soon.

King County

>Click image to view full report.

Single-family home prices in King County soared 20 percent over a year ago to $628,388, with double-digit increases recorded in every area of the county.  Lack of inventory continues to fuel the market.  There were 21 percent fewer homes for sale here as compared to a year ago, with inventory hitting a record low for the month of January. The region has now been the hottest housing market in the country for 15 months in a row.


>Click image to view full report.

An ongoing shortage of inventory combined with an economy that continues to add jobs has kept the Seattle housing market very competitive and increasingly expensive. Seattle’s median price hit a new record in January jumping 19 percent to $757,000.  Despite the increase in prices, brokers are reporting open house traffic that can number in the hundreds of interested buyers.

Snohomish County

>Click image to view full report.

Home price increases in Snohomish County were more moderate than those in King County. The median price of a single-family home grew 10 percent over a year ago to $450,000. That number is down from the high of last year, and reflects a more common seasonal slowdown.


Posted on February 15, 2018 at 8:45 am
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , ,

Creating Comfort Through Interior Design



Just because the Christmas decor is put away and the festive mood of the holidays is over doesn’t mean we have to stop creating a snug and cozy home. It’s a good time to embrace winter Hygge! If you aren’t familiar with Hygge, it’s a Danish word for feeling content and cozy.

Here are seven ways to bring Hygge style comfort to your home, even during the dreariest winter month of the year!


Even if you feel like you’re lacking in the cozy department, simply addressing your lighting will make a huge difference. Layers of lighting make every room feel more welcoming. In the daytime, natural light is ideal. But for evenings, it’s nice to add a cozy glow. A good rule of thumb is to try to have a least three light sources in every room. Use a mix of table lamps, floor lamps, task lamps, and overhead lighting. Consider using warmer lightbulbs for the coziest ambience.


Your home will offer a sense of comfort when you incorporate some favorite photos of loved ones, treasured hand-me-downs, antiques or flea-market finds, eye-catching conversation starters, art that inspires you, special mementos, or simply things that make you smile.


What aroma feels ‘cozy’ to you? Set the tone for your home by filling it up with winter scents that inspire you.


The coziest homes contain a variety different textures that delight the eye. Incorporate different touch-worthy materials through pillows, drapery, throw blankets, rugs, lamps, and furniture. The fabric possibilities are endless: velvet, woven, knit, embroidered, grain sack, faux fur, tweed, etc. You can also consider creating contrast with varying materials like metal, wood, glass, rattan, mirrored, painted, and more.


Make yourself a special cozy place to relax. A reading chair will be extra cozy with some good books nearby in a basket, a lamp, a footstool, a side table to set a cup of tea, and a soft blanket you can curl up in.


Every home can benefit from warmth. No matter what your color scheme, you can add warmth through natural tones like wood, leather, jute, warm metals, etc.


A room comes to life when an organic element is incorporated into the decor. Every room can benefit from having at least one plant, bouquet of flowers, or even a sprig of greenery like eucalyptus to remind us that spring is on its way.


This post originally appeared on the Windermere Blog.

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 11:58 am
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Local Market Update – January 2018

2017 closed out the year with historically low inventory and record-breaking price gains. A strong local economy and brisk population growth has helped fuel a steep discrepancy between supply and demand. As long as this imbalance remains, 2018 is on track to remain a very strong seller’s market.


>Click image to view full report.

Defying the usual winter slow-down in home prices, December broke new records on the Eastside. The median price of a single-family home soared 17 percent over a year ago to $938,240 – an all-time high for the region. Appreciation in higher-end areas, like West Bellevue and Mercer Island, topped 20 percent. Homeowners, especially those considering downsizing, may want to take advantage of the sharp increase in equity.

King County

>Click image to view full report.

King County recorded the lowest inventory since records began in 2000, and demand just keeps rising. As a result, the price of a single-family home jumped 15.5 percent over the same time last year to $635,000. Those looking buy a condo as a more affordable option were out of luck. The median price tag of $402,000 is a relative bargain when compared to a single-family home, but there are only about 200 condos on the market, another record low.


>Click image to view full report.

While below the high point last summer, the median price of a home in Seattle jumped 14 percent year over year to $725,000. Supply and demand is again the culprit. There are just two weeks of available inventory on the market. Not only are homes here selling quickly, but fewer people are putting their homes up for sale. Most economists are predicting a moderate slowdown in cost increases here in 2018, with prices still rising but not as sharply as they did in 2017.

Snohomish County

>Click image to view full report.

Prices in Snohomish County continue to rise at a rapid pace. The median price of a single-family home here grew 12.5 percent from a year ago to $449,950. With less than a month of available inventory, prices are projected to remain high.

Posted on January 9, 2018 at 3:25 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Local Market Update |

2018 Housing Forecast: Where are we headed?

2018 Housing Forecast
What lies ahead for the local housing market in 2018? We sat down with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner to get his thoughts. Here are some highlights:

Home prices will continue to increase, but at a slower pace

The strong local economy, high demand and very low inventory will continue to boost home values in 2018, according to Gardner. However, he believes that the double-digit growth of 2017 will moderate, and predicts home prices in King County will rise by 8.5% in the new year.

Mortgage interest rates will rise slightly.

Gardner admits that interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The rise that many economists have predicted the past few years has yet to materialize. His forecast for 2018 sees interest rates increasing modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

More Millennials will enter the housing market.

Despite the relatively high cost of homes in our region, Gardner expects more Millennials to buy homes in 2018. They are getting older and more established in their careers, enabling them to save more money for a down payment. Many are also having children and are looking for a place to raise their family.

The tax reform bill will have a limited effect on our housing market.

The recent changes to the income tax structure will have an impact on homeowners, but Gardner does not believe that impact will be significant here.

    • The mortgage interest rate deduction will be capped at $750,000 – down from $1,000,000. But according to Gardner, just 4% of the mortgages in King County exceeded $750,000 in 2017. Most buyers of more expensive homes have been making larger down payments, or buying homes for cash.
    • Since the $1,000,000 mortgage deduction cap is grandfathered in for those who have already purchased a home, some homeowners may opt to stay put rather than move. That could result in fewer homes being placed on the market.
    • The tax bill eliminates the deduction for interest on home equity loans. This is bound to slow down the trend of homeowners choosing to remodel their home rather than trying to find a new home our inventory-deprived market.

Bottom Line

The increase in home prices may moderate, but inventory will still be very tight. 2018 is on track to be a strong seller’s market.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere Eastside blog.

Posted on January 8, 2018 at 4:14 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Buying & Selling, Local Economy |

New Year’s Tips for Buying and Selling



Now that the end of the year is upon us, it’s time to start thinking about some New Year resolutions. If your 2018 resolution is to buy or sell a home, here are some suggestions to help you along the way. For everyone else, we’ve added some tips about building equity and investing in updates to your home.



If you’re in the market to buy your first home or if you’re upsizing/downsizing, here are some ideas that can help you make this dream a reality:

  • Create a buying timeline and work towards your goal
  • Check your credit scores and work to improve your rating
  • Start or increase your savings for a down payment
  • Start the loan pre-approval process
  • Meet with your real estate agent
  • Start looking for homes



If you are planning to put your home on the market in 2018, here are some good places to start:

  • Create a selling timeline to work towards having your home ready for market
  • Make a list of home improvements and a plan on how to manage them
  • Get rid of the clutter
  • Contact a real estate agent (If you don’t have an agent, click here to be introduced to a Windermere Real Estate agent.)


Building Equity:

You may not be moving this year, but you can create a plan to increase your equity in the home you have now.  Here are some tips:

  • Take advantage of low interest rates by refinancing to a lower rate
  • Consider refinancing to a shorter term loan
  • Make extra lump-sum payments. Consider using your tax refund, cash gifts, work bonuses, garage sale money, or any other unexpected income toward paying down your principal.
  • Pay every two weeks instead of once a month. A biweekly payment plan can substantially reduce the amount of interest you pay because you are breaking the interest accrual down from 30 days to every 15.
  • Pay a little extra each month. Even if you’re only rounding up to the next $100 increment, putting a little extra money towards your principal every month can add up.


Investing In Your Home

You can add a lot of value and additional enjoyment to your home by investing in improvements and upgrades.

  • Choose a home improvement project that will yield a good return on investment when you do choose to sell
  • Create a home checklist to track maintenance projects over the year
  • Make eco-improvements to increase your home’s sustainability and reduce your utility payments over the long-term. These improvements are generally a good return on your investment when reselling.
    • Upgrade furnace to an efficient model
    • Upgrade windows for better insulation
    • Add alternative energy resources, such as solar power
    • Update toilets and showers to low-flow
    • Install a programmable thermostat
    • Update to energy-efficient appliances

Posted on December 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Buying & Selling |

Local Market Update – December 2017

It looks like we’re skipping the normal holiday slowdown this season with brokers reporting crowded open houses and competitive bidding in many areas. However, since sellers who list their homes at this time of the year are usually motivated to move soon, the holidays are still a good time to buy. Some of the best pricing is historically found between December and February.


Click image to view full report.

The rate of appreciation for homes on the Eastside continues to be as robust – or more so – as in Seattle. Both local and international buyers attribute the appeal of the area to larger lot sizes, newer construction, and highly-rated school districts. Inventory here is extremely low, and homes are selling quickly. The median price for a single-family home on the Eastside reached $851,000 in November, a 12 percent increase over the same time last year.

King County

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The number of new listings in King County is down 19 percent as compared to a year ago. With demand still strong, the median home price in King County rose 15 percent over last year to $630,750. Condo inventory, long an option for more affordable housing, is at a record low as developers opt for building apartments to avoid the legal and financial risks that come with building condos.


Click image to view full report.

Seattle is one of the fastest growing American cities, and demand doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon. Combine that with a very limited supply and it’s no surprise that for over a year home prices here have been rising faster than anywhere in the country. Last month, the median price for a single-family home in Seattle was $741,000, soaring 21 percent from the previous year.

Snohomish County

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Buyers priced out of the King County market are taking this advice: drive until you qualify. Many are ending up buying in Snohomish County. The number of homes for sale was down more than 24 percent here in November and there is currently less than one month of inventory available. The median price of a single-family home was $445,000, up 11 percent year-over-year.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 1:54 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Local Market Update |

The Gardner Report – Third Quarter 2017

Economic Overview

The Washington State economy added 79,600 new jobs over the past 12 months—an impressive growth rate of 2.4%, and well above the national growth rate of 1.2%. However, as we anticipated in last quarter’s report, we continue to see a modest slowdown in the growth rate as the state grows closer to full employment. Growth has been broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than Aerospace (a function of a slowdown at Boeing). Given the current rate of expansion, I am raising my employment forecast and now predict that Washington will add 81,000 new jobs in 2017.

Given the robust job market, it is unsurprising that the state unemployment rate continues to fall. The current unemployment rate in Washington State is 4.6% and we are essentially at full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report reported either a drop or stability in their unemployment rate from a year ago. I maintain my belief that the Washington State economy will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole. Given such a strong expansion, we should also expect solid income growth across Western Washington.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 25,312 home sales during the third quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.6% over the same period in 2016.
  • Clallam County maintains its number one position for sales growth over the past 12 months. Only four other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. This demonstrates continuing issues with the low supply of listings. There were modest declines in sales activity in six counties.
  • The market remains remarkably tight with listing inventory down by 14.2% when compared to the third quarter of 2016. But inventory is up a significant 32% compared to the second quarter of this year. Pending sales rose by 5.2% over the same quarter a year ago, which suggests that closings in Q4 will still be robust.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that inventory is still very low, and the situation is unlikely to improve through the balance of the year.

Home Prices

  • Given tight supply levels, it is unsurprising to see very solid price growth across the Western Washington counties. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12.3% to $474,184. This is 0.9% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
  • With demand far exceeding supply, price growth in Western Washington continues to trend well above the longterm average. As I do not expect to see the new home market expand at any significant pace, there will be continued pressure on the resale market, which will cause home prices to continue to rise at above-average rates.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Grays Harbor County where sale prices were 20.1% higher than the third quarter of 2016. Nine additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • Mortgage rates in the quarter continue to test the lows of 2017, and this is unlikely to change in the near-term. This will allow home prices to escalate further but I expect we will see rates start to rise fairly modestly in 2018, which could slow price growth.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by eight days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market, with homes taking an average of 17 days to sell. Every county except San Juan saw the days on market drop from the same period a year ago.
  • This quarter, it took an average of 43 days to sell a home. This is down from the 51 days it took in the second quarter of 2016 and down by 8 days from the second quarter of this year.
  • At some point, inventory will start to grow and this will lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. However, I do not expect that to happen at any time soon. So we remain in a seller’s market.


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 third quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as the second quarter. Though price growth remains robust, sales activity has slowed very slightly and listings jumped relative to the second quarter. That said, the market is very strong and buyers will continue to find significant competition for accurately priced and well-located homes.




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 more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.


This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Posted on November 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm
Marilena Sirbu | Posted in Buying & Selling |