Penn Cove Water Festival – May 10, 2014

When you live on an island, it makes sense that as a community you’d celebrate the water around you and all that it offers. And on Whidbey, we celebrate in many ways – and for many reasons. One of our favorite celebrations is Coupeville’s annual Penn Cove Water Festival – this year on May 10th.

Join us for tribal boat races, story telling, music, dancing and the Native Spirit Art Show at the Coupeville Recreation Hall – plus a whole host of other historical and cultural activities. It’s fun for the entire family and a great way to experience Whidbey Island alongside the people who live here and who love their island heritage, culture and lifestyle.

See you on May 10th in Coupeville!

If you’re visiting Whidbey Island for the festival, find yourself falling in love with our beautiful island and think … “Boy, I would love to have a home here!”, you’ll find a complete listing of all the Whidbey Island homes for sale on our Windermere Whidbey website. We’d love to show you why we love living on Whidbey too!

Tiny Homes Promote Quality over Quantity

Are you fascinated about downsizing? Do you love small places? Does a simple and serene ambiance sound like music to your ears? Then hop on the bandwagon and get yourself a ‘tiny house’ because we all know the best things come in small packages.

What’s a tiny house? Tiny houses have recently hit the real estate market by storm. The to-go models typically range from 100-175 square feet, while the larger, more permanent cottage styles are usually around 250 to 500 square feet. With a multitude of floor plan choices that include full kitchens and bathrooms, heating, AC, and a reasonable range of prices, a tiny house couldn’t be more practical.

What tiny house are you? The best part about tiny homes is that you get to pick whichever one compliments your lifestyle and needs the most. Are you more of a beach house or cabin in the woods type of person? What about a pool house for your backyard or an art or yoga studio? Or maybe you’re guilty of always wishing there was somewhere else for your mother-in-law to stay while she’s in town. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something less permanent, then a to-go model might be more your speed. You can grab your house whenever you are feeling an itch of wanderlust and head out on the open road. You can park it near the coast or somewhere concealed for a relaxing and quiet weekend. If being on the water is more your thing, there are even tiny floating homes.

Who owns one? The small, but rapidly growing number of tiny house homeowners can be found all over the country. People are shedding their square footage and downsizing from coast to coast. In 2013, the tiny home movement saw 2,600 residents, while 2014 currently has about 4,000 residents and growing. People are joining the tiny house movement for various reasons. Some want to downsize due to environmental or financial concerns, others are looking for more time and freedom in their lives. Having tiny homes encourages people to live beyond their own walls and spend more time in the outdoors and their community. Tiny homes have redefined the American dream by promoting quality over quantity.

If you think you might want a tiny house as your primary home, the only sacrifice is space; the gains however, are countless. Tiny homes come in all shapes and sizes and can be modern, minimal, or luxurious. These tiny homes are a fun and exciting endeavor to which you can easily add your own flavor. And because you can get a prefab tiny home delivered right to your door, the home buying process is as simple as the homes themselves.

Interested in the tiny house movement and thinking it might be the perfect way to have a home on Whidbey Island? Give us a call and let's talk about Whidbey Island lots and land for sale.

If you want to check out more house styles you can visit this Tiny House page on Pinterest.

Time to Spring Clean – 4 Tips from the Pros

Did you know that the long-held ritual of ‘Spring Cleaning’ is not only good for your house, it’s good for your health as well?

Over the winter, dust, dirt and grime harbor dust mites and allergens that can play havoc with respiratory systems – especially if family members have colds, the flu, or allergies.  Giving your house a good cleaning eliminates the irritants, plus just makes you feel good about taking care of your house as well as well as your family.

Here are four spring cleaning tips to get you started; you can find lots of other great tips at www.greencleaningcoach.com.

1. Place your curtains in the dryer with a damp rag – you’ll remove up to 90% of the dust and dirt without having to wash and iron the fabric.

2. Use an old pillow case to clean the blades of ceiling fans. Put the case over the blade, push down, and pull the case off. You’ll capture the dust without making a mess.

3. Use a blue microfiber cloth to wash windows. Put it in water, wring out the excess and wipe down windows. Saves you from having to spray, wipe and dry and still give you streak-free glass.

4. Spritz a microfiber mop with water and gently wipe down your walls. You’ll be able to reach behind furniture with ease and it saves you from going back over streaks and drips left by too much water and a dirty rag.

As you work through your spring cleaning, you may start to realize that your house is either just too big for your current needs (and cleaning is a huge chore!), or that it’s getting too small for your growing family (there’s nowhere to put all your stuff!). We can help you explore the current real estate market in your neighborhood or community – from what’s for sale on Whidbey Island, to how list and sale prices are affecting the current market. Give us a call … we’re your Whidbey Island real estate experts.

The Winners of the Windermere Charity Challenge are..

We would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated in the Windermere Foundation Charity Challenge! We had high expectations for this event, but were amazed by the more than 78,500 votes that were cast over the past three weeks.

So, without further ado, here are the winners of the Windermere Foundation Charity Challenge:

Western Washington: Hand-in-Hand with 50.8% of the votes

Southwest Washington & Oregon: Friends of Children of Portland with 44.4%

Eastern Washington, Idaho & Montana: Family Promise of Spokane with 35.6%

California & Hawaii: Boys and Girls Club of El Sobrante with 45.7%

Arizona, Utah & Nevada: Yavapai CASA for Kids, Inc. with 45%

Each of these organizations will receive $25,000, for a total donation of $125,000 from the Windermere Foundation. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Windermere Foundation’s 25th anniversary and all that our agents and non-profit partners do to support our neighbors in need.

2014 Cost versus Value Report

Every year, the folks at Remodeling magazine publish a Cost vs Value report that takes a look at up to 35 different home improvement projects and then determines how the improvement (or construction) costs relate to the potential recoup costs. It’s a very good resource; it not only looks at national costs and trends, but it also breaks down categories regionally. In our case, the ‘region’ is Pacific but we can also look at Seattle data.

There’s great news this year; for the second year in a row the values are up overall, after some pretty dismal recessionary trends during the past 6 years.

You’ll find the entire report here – below are a few examples, based on Seattle costs, that are common home addition and remodel projects. We recommend you talk to your Whidbey Island Windermere broker to get an even better idea of local costs and values.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple things to remember before you jump into a huge remodel or update project – values are always subjective … meaning that the value is also tied to the quality of the rest of your house, and it is impacted by the value of nearby comparable houses and the rate that your neighborhood property values fluctuate.

So … what does all this mean for you as a homeowner (or potential homeowner)? It means that if you’ve been anxious to begin a home addition or remodel project, 2014 might be a great time to get started. If you’re house hunting and you find a house that meets part of your needs, but also needs some work, it’s a good time to buy and remodel/update.

Want to know more about our current real estate market? Our website is a great resource for you – we’ve got local monthly sales data and market trends information. In addition to online resources, the best way to really learn about our market is to talk to one of our experienced and knowledgeable Whidbey Island real estate brokers. They’ll be able to help you determine the recoup value of specific projects, whether you’d like to remodel a house you current own, or you’re ready to buy a house that needs a little work.

Windermere Foundation 25th Anniversary Charity Challenge Finalists

Last week we announced the start of the Windermere Foundation 25th Anniversary Charity Challenge and we couldn’t be more excited by the results! Almost 19,000 people have voted to help determine which five organizations will each win a $25,000 donation from the Windermere Foundation.

Leading up to the Charity Challenge, we asked Windermere offices to suggest non-profit organizations to compete in the Charity Challenge and received more than 150 nominations! Choosing the finalists was no easy task, but we feel confident that the non-profits we selected most closely align with the Windermere Foundation and its mission to support low-income and homeless families. The following information will help familiarize you with the organizations that are competing in the Charity Challenge. Remember, you can cast one vote every day until the Charity Challenge ends on April 4, 2014.

Windermere Foundation Charity Challenge Finalists:

WESTERN WASHINGTON

Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing (KITH)

Since 1989, KITH has helped homeless and at-risk families in East King County, by providing transitional and permanent housing, case management, and support services that are designed to help them move out of homelessness.

 

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand provides a safe place for children to stay, giving case workers the time needed to find the best-fitting foster home for each child so that they do not have to move from family to family.

 

 

Boys and Girls Club of North Kitsap/South Puget Sound

The Boys & Girls Club provides afterschool and athletics programs to enable all young people to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

 

YouthCare

For 40 years, YouthCare has helped to build confidence and self-sufficiency for homeless youth in Seattle through programs that provide outreach, basic services, emergency shelter, housing, counseling, education, and employment training.

 

Northwest Harvest (Western Washington)

Northwest Harvest is a hunger relief agency whose mission is to provide nutritious food to hungry people in a manner that respects their dignity, while fighting to eliminate hunger. All funds donated to NW Harvest will go to the three-square backpack program; ensuring children have the food they need throughout the weekend.

 

OREGON & SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON

Corvallis Boys & Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis provides afterschool and athletics programs to help school age youth reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

 

Friends of the Children of Portland

Friends of the Children provide Portland’s most vulnerable children with intensive and long-term mentors. Mentors are full-time, paid professionals that take a preventive, early intervention approach that breaks the cycle of poverty and abuse by helping children in need overcome the many obstacles in their lives.

 

SideWalk of Thurston County

SideWalk is a volunteer operated organization on a mission to end homelessness. Through partnerships with local shelters and transitional housing programs in the area, they help place and screen applicants, with an eye on finding permanent solutions for as many people as possible.

 

Seashore Family Literacy Center

Seashore Family Literacy promotes education, community, health—and life literacy—through numerous programs, including youth and adult tutoring, parenting classes, after-school activities, summer camps, a clothing bank, free meals and more. All programs are free and Seashore operates almost entirely with volunteer efforts.

 

Family YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties

Strengthening community is their cause, with a focus on programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

 

 

EASTERN WASHINGTON, IDAHO, & MONTANA

Family Promise of Greater Helena (Montana)

Family Promise® of Greater Helena provides support and resources to children and their families in a homeless situation until the family can regain sustainable independence. Families have a place to stay, home cooked meals, transportation, and an advocate to help them get back on their feet.

 

St. Vincent DePaul Transitional Housing (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho)

St. Vincent de Paul's Transitional Housing Program provides both housing and supportive services to homeless individuals and families. Case managers work with the residents to help them move toward a long-term goal of self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.

 

Family Promise of Spokane

Family Promise works with homeless families to tailor individualized plans to help them take the necessary steps toward lasting independence. Guest families are hosted at congregations in Spokane’s network, where they are provided with meals, hospitality, and overnight accommodations for one week on a rotating basis.

 

Wenatchee Valley YMCA

The Wenatchee Valley YMCA provides programs and services for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children

 

 

Benton-Franklin Community Action Committee Housing Services (Tri-Cities)

BFCAC provides housing services to low-income and homeless families in Benton and Franklin Counties. Most programs are aimed to assist clients with their road to self-sufficiency.

 

CALIFORNIA & HAWAII

Boys and Girls Clubs of Maui (Hawaii)

The Boys & Girls Club of Maui provides afterschool and athletics programs to help school age youth reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

 

The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante (California)

The Boys & Girls Club of El Sobrante provides afterschool and athletics programs to help school age youth reach their full potential as productive, responsible, caring citizens. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

 

The Community Resource Center in Encinitas (California)

CRC is dedicated to helping women and children, individuals, and families live safe, self-sufficient lives by providing critical assistance in the areas of domestic violence services, food programs, and emergency and transitional housing assistance.

 

Riverside School of the Arts (California)

The Riverside School of Arts in the Cesar Chavez Community Center teaches kids music, dancing and art. A combination of grants and partnerships help fund the program, with mostly volunteer instructors and donated materials.

 

ARIZONA, UTAH, & NEVADA

Yavapai Casa for Kids (Arizona)

For over a decade, Yavapai CASA for Kids has helped provide for local children in foster care and support the work of CASA volunteers by offering special projects, activities and funding for the needs of children in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt.

 

South Davis Community Hospital (Salt Lake City, Utah)

This specialty hospital offers expertise in complex pediatric and adult respiratory therapy services.

 

 

YMCA of Southern Nevada

The YMCA of Southern Nevada is committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility in Southern Nevada. Funds will support programs and services for low-income families and children.

 

Please vote for your favorite non-profit organizations! And remember, you can vote once a day, every day until the contest closes at 5pm on April 4, 2014.

 

VOTE HERE!

Windermere Foundation Celebrates 25th Anniversary With “Charity Challenge”

 

Everyone around Windermere is a little excited right now. Why, you ask? Because we’re giving away $125,000 to some very worthy non-profit organizations!

But we need your help.

In honor of the Windermere Foundation’s 25th anniversary, we’re holding a “charity challenge”. Between March 17 and April 4, 21 non-profit organizations throughout the Western United States will compete for $25,000. At the end of the charity challenge, the five non-profits who earn the most votes, will each receive $25,000 from the Windermere Foundation – for a grand total of $125,000!

YOU have the power to decide who will win!

The 21 competing non-profits were nominated by Windermere office owners and managers, and all reflect the Windermere Foundation’s mission to provide support and services to low-income and homeless families. To see which non-profits are competing in your community, go to the Windermere Real Estate Facebook page. From there, you can also vote for the one you feel is most deserving of $25,000. You can vote up to once a day for the duration of the contest. And please encourage your friends and family to vote too! This is truly a community effort.

For the past 25 years, the Windermere Foundation has donated a portion of the proceeds from every home purchased or sold through Windermere towards supporting low-income and homeless families. During this time, we’ve raised more than $26 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those in need.

Your efforts have the power to make a huge difference for our neighbors in need and the non-profit organizations that support them. Please help us by going online and voting for your favorite non-profit today! And tomorrow. And the next day…you get the idea.

Vote Now!

 

Pricing Your Home: Six Factors to Consider

Your home is likely one of the largest investments you may have in your financial portfolio. When it’s time to sell it, you’re going to expect your sale price to be as high as possible. But how do you determine price? There are many factors that go into pricing a home and you need the help of an experienced REALTOR® to guide you.

The Whidbey Island real estate market varies from the north end to the south end, and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Hiring one of our experienced and knowledgeable brokers to complete a comprehensive comparative market analysis for you is the best way to know how the current market will affect the price that your home will likely sell for.

Here are six factors that you and your broker will need to consider:

Market

If  the inventory of homes similar to yours and currently on the market is low (i.e. a “seller’s market”), you may be able to set a higher price. However, if there is a surplus of homes similar to yours (i.e. a “buyer’s market”), you will need to adjust your pricing to be competitive. Paying close attention to inventory up’s and down’s is key to pricing correctly.

Comparable Homes

Far too often, and without nearly enough knowledge, a homeowner will hear what a neighbor’s home sold for and believe that their home should sell for at least that much, if not more. It’s critical to hire an experienced broker who not only knows what’s happening right now in the local market, but who will assess homes and neighborhoods to find the most comparable sales possible.

Location

Did you know that nearly identical homes located even just blocks apart can fetch very different prices? Factors that might seem insignificant like sun exposure, nearness to a busy street, parking, and surrounding vacant lots can have an impact on price. Your broker can help you determine how your home’s location will affect the sales price.

Condition

It goes without saying that a home that has been very well cared for, and has no deferred maintenance, will sell for a much higher price. Contrary to what you might see on real estate/home improvement television shows, there are far fewer buyers who want to buy a ‘fixer-upper’ than you might expect.

Widespread Appeal

Part of the fun of owning your own home is being able to personalize it for your tastes. But when your home is on the market, it needs to appeal to the largest pool of buyers in order to obtain the highest sale price. Repainting walls in neutral tones, replacing worn flooring, and doing a bit of staging will significantly increase your home’s appeal.

Periodic Price Adjustments

If your home is sitting on the market while comparable houses are selling, adjusting your price to match the market will be critical to getting it sold. While you may think your home should sell quickly for the highest price possible, ultimately it’s the market – and buyers – who determine prices. Remember: a home only sells for what a buyer is willing to pay for it.

Competitively pricing your home for today’s market is key to getting it sold quickly. If you’re considering putting your home on the market this spring, talk to one of our experienced and knowledgeable Windermere Whidbey Island brokers first. They can explain the factors that are currently affecting our local market, and that will affect your ability to sell your home for a price that meets your expectations.

There are lots of reasons to own your own home – it’s an asset that strengthens your financial portfolio and your mortgage interest can be a tax deduction. Just as importantly, owning your home allows you to create a sense of place and security for you and your family.

Below is a great infographic courtesy of House Logic on the benefits of homeownership.

When you’re ready to buy your first home or sell a home, or you’re ready to move up or down in home size, we’re here to help you. Learning more about homes for sale on Whidbey Island is a good first start – you can also give one of our 4 Whidbey Island Windermere offices a call for an up-to-date market report and guidance on buying and/or selling real estate.

How long should they last?

The life span of your household components

Nothing in life lasts forever – and the same can be said for your home. From the roof to the furnace, every component of your home has a life span, so it’s a good idea to know approximately how many years of service you can expect from them. This information can help when buying or selling your home, budgeting for improvements, and deciding between repairing or replacing when problems arise.

According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, the average life expectancy of some home components has decreased over the past few decades.  (This might explain why you’re on your third washing machine while Grandma still has the same indestructible model you remember from childhood.) But the good news is the life span of many other items has actually increased in recent years.

Here’s a look at the average life spans of some common home components (courtesy of NAHB).

Appliances. Of all home components, appliances have the widest variation in life spans. These are averages for all brands and models, and may represent the point which replacing is more cost-effective than repairing. Among major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, at about 15 years. Electric ranges, standard-size refrigerators, and clothes dryers last about 13 years, while garbage disposals grind away for about 10 years. Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and mini-refrigerators can all be expected to last about nine years. For furnaces, expect a life span of about 15 years for electric, 18 for gas, and 20 for oil-burning models. Central air-conditioning systems generally beat the heat for 10 to 15 years.

Kitchen & Bath. Countertops of wood, tile, and natural stone will last a lifetime, while cultured marble will last about 20 years. The life span of laminate countertops depends greatly on use and can be 20 years or longer. Kitchen faucets generally last about 15 years.  An enamel-coated steel sink will last five to 10 years; stainless will last at least 30 years; and slate, granite, soapstone, and copper should endure 100 years or longer. Toilets, on average, can serve at least 50 years (parts such as the flush assembly and seat will likely need replacing), and bathroom faucets tend to last about 20 years.

Flooring. Natural flooring materials provide longevity as well as beauty: Wood, marble, slate, and granite should all last 100 years or longer, and tile, 74 to 100 years. Laminate products will survive 15 to 25 years, linoleum about 25 years, and vinyl should endure for about 50 years. Carpet will last eight to 10 years on average, depending on use and maintenance.

Siding, Roofing, Windows. Brick siding normally lasts 100 years or longer, aluminum siding about 80 years, and stucco about 25 years. The life span of wood siding varies dramatically – anywhere from 10 to 100 years – depending on the climate and level of maintenance. For roofs, slate or tile will last about 50 years, wood shingles can endure 25 to 30 years, metal will last about 25 years, and asphalts got you covered for about 20 years. Unclad wood windows will last 30 years or longer, aluminum will last 15 to 20 years, and vinyl windows should keep their seals for 15 to 20 years.

Of course, none of these averages matter if you have a roof that was improperly installed or a dishwasher that was a lemon right off the assembly line. In these cases, early replacement may be the best choice. Conversely, many household components will last longer than you need them to, as we often replace fully functional items for cosmetic reasons, out of a desire for more modern features, or as a part of a quest to be more energy efficient.

Are extended warranties warranted?

Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items, from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty. Essentially, warranty providers (manufacturers, retailers, and outside companies) are betting that a product will be problem-free in the first years of operation, while the consumer who purchases a warranty is betting against reliability.

Warranty providers make a lot of money on extended warranties, and Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, advises against purchasing them.  You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you; for some, it brings a much needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also, consider if it the cost outweighs the value of the item; in some cases it may be less expensive to just replace a broken appliance than pay for insurance or a warranty.

Whether you're thinking about home projects to do this spring, or you're thinking about jumping into the real estate market, give one of our Whidbey Island Windermere offices a call and let us help you determine what's right for you and your home.