Today is Earth Day, and instead of simply suggesting things you can do to help conserve our lovely planet, we're going to do our best to guilt you into doing them. Here are the three easiest ways to do your part
Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room. What’s the point of leaving them on if you’re not in there? And being scared of the dark is only an excuse if you’re under the age of five.
When you're brushing your teeth, turn off the faucet. There is no good reason to waste all that precious water going down the drain. Do you want to turn into California? We think not.
Pick up some environmentally-friendly, reusable shopping bags! In Seattle, plastic bags are banned, and they’ll charge you for paper bags, so it's in your best interest to invest in some that you can use over and over again. Hint: These are some of our faves.
We should also point out that doing all of the above also saves you money! You can sleep well at night knowing you’re doing the right thing for Mother Earth – and your bank account – all at the same time.
Want some more ideas how you can conserve energy at home? Check out the Energy Star website.
Is spring closer than we think? Depending on which Groundhog you witnessed today, you may have less time than you think to get your home on the market before the busy spring season. Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. However, the next six weeks before spring hits also have their own advantages.
Here are five reasons to sell now.
1. Demand is Strong
Foot traffic refers to the number of people out actually physically looking at homes right now. The latest foot traffic numbers show that there are currently more prospective purchasers looking at homes than at any other time in the last 12 months, which includes last spring’s buyers’ market. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.
2. There Is Less Competition Now
Housing supply nationally just dropped to 4.4 months, which is under the 6 months’ supply that is needed for a normal housing market. This means, in many areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market in the near future. Also, new construction of single-family homes is again beginning to increase. A recent study by Harris Poll revealed that 41% of buyers would prefer to buy a new home while only 21% prefer an existing home (38% had no preference). The choices buyers have will increase in the spring. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.
3. The Process Will Be Quicker
One of the biggest challenges of the housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. There is less overall business done in the winter. Therefore, the process will be less onerous than it will be in the spring. Getting your house sold and closed before the spring delays begin will lend itself to a smoother transaction.
4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up
If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 23.5% from now to 2019. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate below 4% right now. Rates are projected to be a full point higher by the end of 2015.
5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life
Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take back control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps, the time has come for you to move on and start living the life you desire.
That is what is truly important.
As I eagerly gear up for what 2015 has in store, I can't help but look back at the past year in amazement. Thank you to all of my wonderful clients, friends and family for your continuous stream of referrals and support. It is because of you that 2014 was such a success and I couldn't be more excited and energized! Cheers to you and yours for a happy, healthy and prosperous year!
A Look Back at What My Clients Purchased and Sold in 2014!
Ballard | $184,000
1 Bedroom | 1 Bath
Whittier | $417,000
2 Bedroom | 1 Bath
Madrona | $742,000
4 Bedroom | 2.75 Bath
Central District | $581,000
3 Bedroom | 1.75 Bath
Magnolia | $815,000
4 Bedroom | 2.75 Bath
A tracker for housing-price trends
Weiss Residential Research tracks individual houses in most neighborhoods nationwide and attempts to provide buyers and sellers with useful market guidance, showing where the value of a home has been and where it may go.
WASHINGTON — Homebuyers, sellers, small investors and real-estate agents are about to get new tools that purport to show where local property values are headed: “house specific” monitors for consumers that can track price trends — and forecast them up to one year into the future — on 50 million single-family homes across the country.
The service already is commercially available to hedge funds and mortgage investors who purchase large quantities of data to guide their investment decisions.
Its developer is Allan Weiss, who co-founded and was CEO of the company that pioneered the iconic “Case-Shiller” price index of major metropolitan markets that is widely cited as a barometer of the housing sector’s health.
But unlike Case-Shiller, which reports on price trends in roughly 5,000 ZIP code areas, Weiss Residential Research tracks individual houses in most neighborhoods nationwide.
Weiss says the company expects to add an additional 20 million houses to the current 50 million total as it continues to gather data on key characteristics from interior living space to tax assessments, mortgage balances, age of home, appraisal information and others.
Weiss holds patents on the statistical techniques and technology underpinning the company’s research and products.
The new house-specific indexes for consumers will not provide current property valuations or cover condominiums and cooperatives.
Rather, they’ll offer graphic displays of how prices on individual homes have moved — up, down, sideways — over a period of recent years in relation to an index.
Later this summer, Weiss Residential will publish “weather reports” on price trends in major metropolitan markets on its website, www.weissres.com.
The site already provides sample dynamic “heat maps” for eight large markets — Southern California, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, San Francisco, New York and Phoenix — that show how prices on individual homes rose and fell in the boom years leading up to the bust in 2006-07, and how they have performed since.
The month-by-month movements almost look organic, with price declines spreading like a disease from one neighborhood to another, then reversing course during the recovery.
In an interview, Weiss said a close inspection of the heat maps reveals how “canary in the coal mine” houses were predictors of important changes in pricing trends getting under way — subtle early moves signaling the shift from boom to crash, then on to recovery — that were not otherwise detectable or known to consumers in the marketplace at the time.
Buying or selling real estate without house-specific monitors in those years, he suggested, was the equivalent “of setting sail before a hurricane” with no advance weather warnings, no satellite photos of emerging meteorological conditions.
Weiss Residential will soon begin selling subscriptions to consumers showing precisely that sort of trendline analysis.
I got a sneak preview on my own home just outside the District of Columbia in Maryland. An indexed line graph showed price movements before, during and after the boom and bust, plus a forecast through March 2015.
The somewhat sobering result: The significant price jumps during the post-recession recovery years have now pretty much flattened out. My likely increase in value over the coming nine months: six-tenths of 1 percent.
An accompanying heat map of houses in my ZIP code in shades of green, pink and red revealed that a few houses in the area are showing slight price declines, though the overwhelming majority are positive.
Weiss says that by Labor Day or before, visitors to the website will be able to sign up for reports like this. Trendline house-specific graphs already are available on the 50 million properties in Weiss’ massive databases.
Consumers who send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org before the neighborhood-level heat maps become available, and list the property address and ZIP code, will be able to purchase one-year forecasts and line graphs for $25.
How good are these price-change projections? We’ll see. Researchers at Weiss’ company tested their accuracy on 10,356 randomly selected houses in 17 states. The test covered price changes from 2005 through 2013.
According to Weiss, the forecasts had an accuracy range of 74 percent to 84 percent, with the higher figure identifying negative pricing trends.
So while there is no guarantee of absolute accuracy, Weiss claims his house-specific indexes and heat maps provide buyers and sellers useful market directional guidance.
By looking at subtle price changes within neighborhoods, then focusing on individual houses, Weiss believes that you should be able to make smarter decisions — and potentially avoid big mistakes.