Spring has sprung in Seattle — and so has the coronavirus (the cause of the illness called COVID-19). If working from home and practicing social distancing has left you feeling stuck and uninspired, consider rolling up your sleeves and tackling a home improvement project or two.
From the simplest updates to sensational additions, these projects can keep you busy, enhance your curb appeal, and give you more ways to enjoy your home when warmer weather arrives.
1. Install a new mailbox
The simplest and easiest update of all, installing a new (or updating an old) mailbox can add a pop of personality and amp up your curb appeal, where first impressions really count!
Consider painting your mailbox a new color, planting flowers around the base, or installing a smart mailbox to protect your deliveries.
2. Update your address display
Another quick and easy project, updating your address can add flair to your front door. This article from realtor.com offers plenty of crafty and creative ways to display your house numbers.
If you have an HOA, it’s a good idea to check with them first to know what (if any) limitations you might have.
3. Add a new railing to your porch
If your front porch is looking a little ho-hum or drab, a new railing can make a world of difference. For a natural feel, consider a classic wood-tone railing for a natural feel, or add a pop of visual interest with a colored railing. If you’re looking for more, check out the Chippendale railing (it’s currently a hot trend on HGTV).
4. Stain your deck
if your deck is looking a little shabby, one easy improvement is to stain it—to either change the color or just accentuate the wood grain. Staining is also good for your deck, and many builders recommend staining or sealing once a year.
If you don’t yet have a deck, building one could be a great new project to tackle before summer arrives. Plus, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, a new wooden deck will net you a 69% return on investment when you decide to sell.
5. Build a fire pit
Backyard fire pits are perfect for adding a cozy ambiance to your yard and are certain to be a highlight of a weekend gathering (especially when you bust out those marshmallows).
This guide from realtor.com is a great resource if you want to DIY your new fire pit.
6. Upgrade your garden
Now’s the time to start planning your planting! Consider skipping the typical tulips or daisies, and investigate other greenery. Adding edible plants is a smart way to save money and indulge in the farm-to-table dining trend. Or you can build a butterfly garden, which is good for the environment. (Plus, what’s more beautiful than seeing butterflies flit around your yard?)
Join Sheri Puzke as she partners with American Dream TV, a nation show who’s goal is to positively impact real estate communities through the voice of top realtors.
EPISODE 1: MACADAM FLOOR & DESIGN
In this episode, I had the opportunity to chat with Micheal Owen of Macadam Floor & Design and take a look at some of the beautiful finishes they offer for buyers and consumers of new construction to outfit their new homes.
EPISODE 2: THE POLKADOT JERSEY BIKE SHOP
In this episode, I had the opportunity to chat with the owner of The Polkadot Jersey Bike Shop, Micheal Telmosse and explored the popular Seattle neighborhood, Leschi. Perched on a hill just east of Downtown Seattle, Leschi boasts lush parks, boutique shops, charming local restaurants and stunning waterfront views in this idyllic lake location.
Working from home is an aspiration for many of us, but to do so effectively takes effort. A disorganized space at home can be just as troublesome as a hectic office. The most disciplined telecommuters will tell you that you need a structured routine and organization in order to be successful.
Having a designated workspace is one of the most important elements to your success when you make the switch to telecommuting. Even if you live in a small space, you need to find a balance between home and office. People who work from home often have a difficult time separating their work hours from their non-work hours because it’s so easy to keep at it late into the night. But maintaining a balance and shutting down the computer is important for overall wellbeing. What are some other must-haves for a successful home office? Here are the top five:
- Natural Light – Study upon study tells us that natural light is needed to boost productivity and mood. Make sure to set your desk up as close to a window as you can. If being near a window isn’t an option, a natural light lamp is the next best thing. It helps balance your body clock and leaves you feeling rested and refreshed.
- To-Do List or Planner – Start each day off by making a to-do list outlining what you need to get done before the end of the workday. Make sure to set a realistic time frame in which all of that should be completed, so you can check each one off the list and feel immense accomplishment once you’ve completed them all.
- Storage – If you have a big enough space, put in a large bookshelf where you can organize everything (think storage boxes). It reduces clutter and looks stylish. Using your walls and cabinetry is the most efficient use of space.
- Calendar – Many people tend to rely on digital calendars these days because of their convenience. When all of your devices sync together and pop up with reminders, you never have to worry about missing an appointment. However, many people find that it helps to keep a paper calendar handy too so you can easily view your whole month at a glance. Choose which options works best for you by playing with both options, or something in between and see which one lets you be more productive with the least amount of stress.
- Space for Inspiration – It doesn’t matter what field you work in, having a source of inspiration in your workspace is essential. Whether it’s a photo of your family, your dream car, or that vacation you’ve been dying to take, having that inspiration right in front of you provides a constant reminder of why you do what you do.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
The condo a quarter-mile away from the Life Care Center of Kirkland — the long-term care facility at the epicenter of the U.S. novel coronavirus outbreak — hit the market at $365,000 last week, one day after the first resident of the nearby facility died of the flulike illness.
By Monday, roughly 34 groups of home shoppers and looky-loos had toured the property, not one expressing concern about the viral disease, according to the listing agent.
The condo sold five days after it was listed, with the winning offer of nearly $400,000 waiving all contingencies.
Even as concern over the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus mounts, the most recent data on area home sales from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) shows the market for Seattle-area residential realty remains hot.
It’s too early to tell just what the impact of the novel coronavirus will be in the coming weeks, but all else being equal, low inventory and price increases are expected to continue into the spring, brokers said.
An emergency interest-rate cut Tuesday — the first time the Federal Reserve has used emergency powers since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis — could add further fuel to property markets around Puget Sound, brokers said.
“Our agents aren’t yet seeing any impact on open house attendance due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue, in a statement. “We continue to be bullish on the Puget Sound economy and real estate market.”
In February, median home prices in King County spiked 7% over the previous month, to $675,000, representing a 3% gain year-over-year. There were also more new listings in King County, 2,271, than any time since September.
Meanwhile, inventory plunged even lower than January’s already-tight market, by one metric. There were 40% fewer homes on the market in King County in February than there were in January, the NWMLS data shows.
But months of inventory — a measure of how long it would take to sell all the homes currently on the market — stayed constant at 1.2 between January and February, indicating that homes weren’t moving quite at January’s greased-lightning pace.
Prices rose more slowly in Seattle than anywhere else in King County, to $730,500, a less-than-1% bump over this time last year. Elsewhere in the county, from the tonier neighborhoods of the Eastside to less-expensive parts of Southwest King, price growth saw an increase of roughly 10% compared to last year.
Elsewhere in Puget Sound, home prices continued a meteoric rise, especially in Kitsap County, where they rose by an eyeball-popping 18% year-over-year. Growth in Pierce and Snohomish counties hovered around 10% compared to last year, with median prices hitting $395,000 and $515,000, respectively.
Seattle’s condo market saw rocket-powered growth in sales compared to last year, with a 47% increase in closed sales and a corresponding 8.4% rise in median sale price, to $481,225.
It was joined by the Eastside condo market, with a 25% rise in closed sales and a 6.7% jump in prices, to $475,000. Together, those two markets account for one-third of condo sales in Western Washington.
Brokers said they planned to wait and see how the spread of the coronavirus impacts Puget Sound’s sweltering home markets, with most predicting it would have little to no effect on home sales.
At the condo down the road from Life Care, “people were coming and going” at open houses last weekend, said listing agent Alena Pushkina, of Skyline Properties.
At least nine people associated with the center have died of the new coronavirus, and more than a dozen other cases have been linked to the nursing home.
Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty broker Mei Yang said foot traffic at open houses during the upcoming weekend would show whether area home shoppers are caught up in the worries over the virus.
She’s preparing to list a house next week, she said, and out of an abundance of caution asked colleagues whether they thought she should postpone the open house until after the progress of the disease had slowed.
“Their sentiment was to just go ahead,” she said. “So I plan to go ahead.”
Some brokers, though, are taking precautionary measures to protect themselves and their clients from disease.
The National Association of Realtors issued novel coronavirus guidance Thursday advising brokers to require all visitors to open houses to disinfect their hands and inquire about their clients’ travel histories before meeting in person.
Engel & Völkers agent Freddy Delgadillo, who toured the Kirkland condo near Life Care with a client, said they wore masks while in the unit.
Delgadillo said he also wore a pair of black leather gloves while in the condo. As for his client, “I didn’t have her touch anything,” he said, “just in case.”
Naturally the most frequent question I’m getting lately is about how the coronavirus is impacting our local market. So far, traffic remains brisk and multiple offers with escalations continue for well-presented listings. Savvy buyers are taking advantage of the increased buying power that historically low interest rates afford. Investors looking for a reprieve from stock market volatility are also looking to real estate for stability. Inventory remains extremely tight and demand strong. My advice to my Sellers is to proceed as planned. We are taking appropriate preventive measures by providing hand washing stations at my listings and cleaning surfaces for open houses. As we are all aware, the situation is evolving rapidly.
I am monitoring real estate activity closely and welcome your questions – please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
BY THE NUMBERS
Click the images below to download your neighborhood’s recent real estate figures!
|EASTSIDE||SEATTLE||KING COUNTY||SNOHOMISH COUNTY|
Interest rates dropped again prompting buyers to leap off the fence resulting in multiple offers for well-priced, turnkey properties. Sellers – this is your sweet spot! Inventory is increasing daily but we are still far short of meeting buyer demand. Savvy sellers are rushing to get their homes on market and take advantage of this seasonal opportunity. I have some great listings with more in the pipeline – call me or stop by my open houses to check them out!
BY THE NUMBERS
Click the images below to download your neighborhood’s recent real estate figures!
|EASTSIDE||SEATTLE||KING COUNTY||SNOHOMISH COUNTY|
Incorporated in 1953, during the heyday for cars, Bellevue was originally built for the automobile.
Back then, planners designed wide six-lane arterials meant to move vehicles fast. The road grid creates 600-foot-wide superblocks on former farmland.
Now, tremendous growth is straining transportation. Traffic stacks up during afternoon commutes, and Interstate 405 slows to a crawl.
As Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others grow their Eastside workforces, City staff anticipate a net gain of roughly 18,000 downtown jobs by 2025, joining the more than 52,000 people who currently work in the city core.
Roughly translated, this would boost employment higher than the current numbers in Seattle’s busy South Lake Union.
But local leaders acknowledge remaking a car-dominated landscape doesn’t happen overnight. The City aims to cut the share of downtown commuters who drive alone to work to about one-third by 2035, a reversal of today’s pattern where more than two-thirds drive alone.
To do this, they’re planning for trains, buses, bicycles, walking, vanpools — and maybe even autonomous vehicles — to keep people moving.
In past years, the Bellevue City Council voted to create a safer walking network by converting Sixth Street to a 60-foot-wide, tree-lined walking corridor and shortening a street to complete its circular Downtown Park.
Instead of narrowing six- and seven-lane streets with so-called road diets, Bellevue’s approach to reducing car-pedestrian conflicts relies on skybridges around Bellevue Square, and altering some traffic signals to give walkers a head start at intersections. Smaller streets include walker-activated amber flashers.
Large employers and city officials are also counting on the $3.7 billion Sound Transit East Link light-rail line — projected to serve 50,000 daily passengers when it opens in 2023 — to handle many of the new commutes.
New bike lanes on 108th Avenue Northeast serve a trickle of riders for now. More bike lanes are planned on Main Street. Just east of I-405, the 42 miles of abandoned BNSF railroad tracks are being redeveloped for bicycle riders and pedestrians as Eastrail, spanning from Snohomish to Renton.
Bellevue’s growth spurt won’t necessarily translate into massive public-transit ridership, however, at least in the short term. Private transit is adapting faster.
With aid from a $100 million federal loan, the city has created or widened 11 streets between Wilburton and the Spring District east of I-405 where REI’s headquarters, Facebook and other companies are locating.
That follows citywide spending of $5.5 million to equip 197 intersections with adaptive signals that continually re-time to move clusters of approaching vehicles.
And the permit paperwork for the planned 43-story Amazon tower shows 1,175 underground parking stalls (nearly double the 632 spaces in the current parking garage that this new tower will replace).
On I-405, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will build an express toll lane each direction between Renton and Bellevue, to open in 2024, along with exit-only lanes to clear departing drivers off the mainline.
The existing carpool lanes will be converted to a second toll lane each way. Sound Transit will follow with new bus-rapid transit and park-and-ride lots.
Finally, in perhaps its most lofty vision yet, The Grand Connection is a sprawling pedestrian and cyclist pathway that would stretch between Meydenbauer Bay Park on the west, through Main Street and downtown, and across the freeway to Eastrail. With a bridge or park lid above I-405, just south of the nearly completed Sound Transit rail bridge, design concepts show amphitheater steps, sculptures and a row of ginkgo trees.
Unlike the longer Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, the Grand Connection would encourage people to linger at cafes and parks. As a traffic-free shortcut, it would reduce the need to drive and park at downtown spots.
There’s no funding yet. Costs vary based on whether Bellevue builds a full park like Mercer Island has over I-90, or a thin bridge, for around $130 million.
Classic Blue has officially been anointed Pantone’s 2020 “Color of the Year”. Pantone says it picked this color because of its ability to instill calm, confidence, and connection as we cross the threshold into a new decade. A dependable color, Classic Blue is timeless, and enduring, making it a great addition to just about any room in your home.
Here are some ways to add this stunning shade of blue to your home:
Add a splash of color to any room with Classic Blue furniture, such as these dining room chairs, which express a sense of tradition and elegance, as well as unexpected boldness.
Geometric patterns are all the rage this year, so why not liven up your kitchen backsplash with tiles that incorporate the color of the year? Here’s an example that achieves this through bold, colorful design that doubles as a piece of art.
If geometric tile isn’t your thing, the are other ways to bring your kitchen to life with this stunning shade of blue. If you’re not in a position to purchase all new cabinets, simply paint your current cabinets for a more affordable update.
Whether it’s built-ins, panels, or an accent wall, Classic Blue can make your furniture and décor pop. Consider this color when you paint your living room or bedroom as a way to encourage calm and confidence in your favorite spaces.
Another banner year for the region has brought tremendous prosperity across a breadth of industries, a wealth of new jobs, flourishing tourism, and the welcoming of several large businesses into our cities.
So, how is the Eastside poised to begin a new decade? Will this growth continue? To find out, 425 Business ditched the crystal ball and talked to Eastside movers and shakers across myriad industries to find out what they believe the year ahead holds.
Residential Real Estate
The Eastside residential real estate market is going to experience significant growth in the next few years. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other tech giants are rapidly expanding their footprint to the Eastside. Thousands of tech workers relocating to this area, along with new hires for supporting businesses (such as retail and restaurants), will greatly increase the demand for housing. This year, almost half of the buyers who walked through my open houses were relatively new in town.
Condos under $750,000 and single-family homes under $1.5 million will sell very quickly if they are in good condition and priced right. Also, homes with easy access to public transit and future light rail stations will become more and more desirable. Areas in and near downtown Bellevue and downtown Kirkland will still be the hottest submarkets because they are job centers with superb amenities.
– Mei Yang, global real estate adviser and broker at Realogics Sotheby’s International Reality
Commercial Real Estate
(The current) cycle exhibits some significantly different conditions from those that precipitated the “thrift crisis” of the ’80s; the dot-com bust of the ’90s; or, certainly, the “Great Recession” of the last decade. Interest rates are lower, equity is plentiful, and expectations for return on equity across all asset classes are significantly less expensive.
Federal taxes and punitive regulations are generally lower (unfortunately, we can’t say that about state and local), and corporate earnings are remarkably strong (yes, with a few notable exceptions) despite tariffs and turmoil. Perhaps most important is the fact that employers across all sectors are scrambling to attract workers and have tens of thousands more openings to be filled.
My belief is that real estate economics is pretty simple — it’s all about employment. If you have healthy job creation, everything works. It attracts more residents who need housing, businesses that need more lawyers and accountants, kiddos who need teachers, demand for groceries, and so on. Conversely, if employment flattens or falls, the economy constricts.
Bottom line: If you can tell me when Eastside employers are going to quit hiring or start laying off, I’ll tell you when commercial real estate on the Eastside is going to suffer. Until then, land prices and rents on existing buildings will continue to rise, and developers will race to provide the office, apartment, and retail space to support the growth.
– Robert Wallace, CEO of Wallace Properties
Bellevue has a ton of local transportation improvements on tap for 2020 that will make travel safer and easier for thousands of residents. But we’re also excited about the work we’re doing with our regional partners. It has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of people in the coming years and will be a big boon for transportation options on the Eastside.
Bellevue and Kirkland are working with King County Metro on a new RapidRide K Line that will connect the Eastgate Park & Ride in Bellevue to the Totem Lake Transit Center in Kirkland starting in 2025. And King County Parks is working with several Eastside cities on Eastrail, a regional pedestrian and bicycle path.
On the roads side, the state Department of Transportation will break ground in 2020 on the I-405 Renton to Bellevue Widening and Express Toll Lanes project. It will add capacity, boost transit options, and improve safety on one of the most congested stretches of highway in the state.
– Andrew Singelakis, transportation director for the City of Bellevue
Next year, I see healthcare in general (and EvergreenHealth) placing an increased emphasis on access — both in the traditional sense and through innovative alternatives. The ever-permeating digital age provides care for patients through new approaches with even greater creativity and efficiency. We also will have the increased benefit of effective solutions, possible through new sources of data analysis and other breakthroughs.
As always, we’ll collectively prepare for the needs of an expanding senior population, offering valuable services to help them sustain their well-being and healthy, active lifestyles.
Finally, we are committed to collaborating with our schools and others, supporting care for students with behavioral health issues.
– Jeffrey J. Tomlin, CEO of EvergreenHealth
Bellevue and the Eastside’s tourism and hospitality industry is positioned for continued growth. Demand is projected to increase due to the growing corporate presence on the Eastside, a strong consumer economy, healthy airline capacity, and popularity in the Pacific Northwest as a destination. In recent years, the Puget Sound region has seen significant hotel supply increases, which have caused property rates and occupancy to level out, but we are hopeful that this additional demand will offset the recent inventory surge.
As a whole, travel growth in large technology markets like San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Vancouver have recently slowed, compared with previous years. With that said, many business travelers now book rooms and visitor experiences outside of the large city centers — which positions areas like Bellevue and the Eastside well for 2020 and beyond.
– Brad Jones, executive director of Visit Bellevue Washington
(Next year) is the year that cybersecurity will turn inside-out. Malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks are all significantly on the rise, and (historically) 61 percent of data breach victims have been small businesses. These businesses can no longer rely on legacy tools like antivirus and networks that only protect them at the office.
Security must go mobile and leave traditional technologies behind. It’s also time to eliminate SMS-based authentication in favor of hardware keys that support Universal Two Factor authentication.
– Riley Eller, chief technology officer at Rubica
We expect the rapid growth of technology companies of all sizes based on the Eastside or expanding their operations to the Eastside to continue, many of which will be focused on intelligent connectivity, including 5G, AI, IoT, and Quantum computing. With that, we expect to see more regulatory attention on consumer privacy and data usage.
This regulatory attention will increase the demand for legal service providers, especially those who have a stake in the Eastside community and a desire for more personal interaction with their clients.
– Barry Stulberg, counsel, and Carly Chan, associate, Davis Wright Tremaine’s Bellevue Office
Eastside residents and business owners should have a plan in place for when times are good and when times are bad, regardless of the Federal Reserve’s actions. The Fed cut rates by 25 basis points, to 1.5 percent (from) 1.75 percent. This means that the Fed is helping prolong the economic expansion. The Fed is not expected to reduce rates further in the coming year, barring a recession. However, consumer confidence fell for a third straight month (as of Nov. 1), and consumers have not shown signs of slowing down.
Fed rate cuts to prop up an otherwise-slowing global economy generally mean that they are prolonging the inevitable — a recession. However, the bigger effect is to Americans saving for later. Because of low interest rates, American consumers are forced to take on more risk than necessary to make their money work for them. It would be prudent to include in one’s portfolio insurance and real estate to complement their investment portfolio.
Because of the technology industry and the various Silicon Valley companies coming into the Seattle-Eastside area, our economy will not be as affected as other economies when we experience a recession.
Clients at local technology companies have indicated that hiring has slowed down, and jobs that were eliminated aren’t being replaced with new workers. This can mean they are bracing for a possible recession or slowdown in the economy.
Consumer confidence is still not at a level where they are pulling back from spending; this explains why housing is still strong in the area and consumers are stretching their budget to buy into a hot real estate market.
Restaurants in the area are feeling the effects of a low interest rate environment, which generally follows inflation of raw materials and commodities. It is evident in the exorbitant prices we are experiencing when we go out to eat.
– Tony Sablan, wealth manager at Eagle Strategies LLC
This article was originally posted on 425 Business.
Some states shine in health care. Some soar in education. Some excel in both – or in much more.
Considering numerous metrics and thousands of data points, a new study by the U.S. News and World Report ranks Washington state as number one in the nation.
Using 71 different metrics and thousands of data points, the magazine measured how well states are performing for their citizens. In addition to health care and education, the metrics take into account a state’s economy, its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure, its public safety, the fiscal stability of state government, and the opportunity it affords its residents.
Named the best state overall, Washington ranked fourth in health care and education, third in economy, second for infrastructure, 14th in natural environment, 15th for public safety, and 19th for opportunity. Our lowest ranking was 22nd for fiscal stability for our residents.
The data supporting these rankings were “drawn from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources,” along with a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country, according to the magazine.
Health care and education were weighted most heavily.
The top 10 states following Washington were New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Colorado in that order.
View all of the results and full rankings for this year and previous years on U.S. News & World Report.