Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest. Traditionally, they would have been right.
Buyer demand has seasonality to it. Usually, this falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic conditions, although that has not been the case this year!
Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with an increase in rates forecasted for 2019, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Buyers are increasingly jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.
Those who act quickly and list now, before a flood of increased competition, will benefit from additional exposure to buyers.
Bottom Line: If you are planning on selling your home in 2019, contact me and we can evaluate the opportunities in your market.
6 Easter Egg Hunts on the Eastside
There is just something special about Easter chocolate. It doesn’t even matter if you can buy chocolate year round. There is just something special about Easter chocolate. Maybe that’s why so many East-siders are so loyal to the idea of community egg hunts.
The tradition of hiding and seeking eggs goes back thousands of years. In many cultures, the egg represents new life, making it the poster-child for Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For many of us, memories of hunting hidden eggs and acquiring hidden candy, toys, or even money brings back all kinds of fond memories. It’s so much nostalgia!
Here’s where to find the best egg hunts around the Eastside in 2019.
- Kirkland Egg Hunt
Held every year at Peter Kirk Park, this event is a favorite for so many people in Western Washington. The city will scatter eggs inside of the baseball diamond before releasing the kids like a pack of hungry wolves. There really is no “hunt” involved, and every year I am terrified that some child will be mobbed and trampled to death, but so far that hasn’t happened. All anxiety aside, this is a fun event where you’re almost certain to run into a neighbor. Just make sure you get downtown early to find a parking spot.
Pair a 5k with a traditional egg hunt and come out with something for everyone in the family! This event places eggs along the 5K route, which really motivates runners to hustle! Get this- the eggs are prize based. Some eggs will add minutes to your run time. Other eggs take time off your total. The catch? You’ll never know what is inside the egg until you’re done running and gathering. So, is it worth it to collect a lot of eggs? That’s up to you! While there is a fee for participation for the grown-ups, kids can dash for free and without prior registration.
Fox Hollow Farm, Issaquah
I just love the idea of this one! The folks over at Fox Hollow in Issaquah blend an old-fashioned farm experience with thousands of hidden eggs just waiting to be found! Kiddos can fill their baskets while petting baby animals, playing in the corn bin, and meeting the Easter Bunny himself! If your kiddo finds the 1 (out of thousands) of Golden Eggs hidden at the farm, we’re told you’re in for a “big” surprise. You must pre-reserve a spot to attend this event, and prices range from $10 per person to $50 per carload.
Redmond Town Center
RTC seems to always have something exciting going on, don’t they? Their annual egg hunt is pretty great, too. Hosted by the Kiwanis Club, the event will be held on April 20 and kicks off at noon. The event features an egg scavenger hunt as well as prizes for the first 2,000 kids under 12. There will also be inflatables, trampolines, arts and crafts, face painting, and all sorts of other fun things to do.
- Bellevue Community Egg Hunt
Every year Bellevue College puts this event on as an annual community affair. It’s free and open to children 10 and under, and one of my favorite events in Bellevue. With more than 50,000 eggs, you can also expect face painting and inflatables. Even better yet? You can pre-reserve things so that you’re able to skip the long lines on the day of. Now THAT is nice!
What better way to play around than in a comfortable, safe kid’s museum? This annual event does have a cover charge, but once you’re in the door you can expect games, crafts, and of course a good old fashioned egg hunt. Children must be accompanied by a paying adult. Watch the website for sales times on tickets!
There are so many egg hunts out there that AREN’T on the Eastside, and I wanted to share those with you as well. Everything from a flashlight hunt for teens to egg hunting with animals at Woodland Park Zoo, it’s all right here.
- What started April Fools’ Day: Some experts believe it began after the shift from the Julian calendar (with the new year starting around the March equinox) to the Gregorian calendar (which start the new year
on Jan. 1) in the 1500s. Some people were mocked if they didn’t know about the switch and followed the
- Sounds pretty fishy: The French call April 1 “Poisson d’Avril,” or “April Fish.” French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered.
- How to celebrate: April Fools’ Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include having
someone look for things that don’t exist, playing pranks and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.
- Speaking of ridiculous: In the 1960s there was only one TV channel in Sweden, which broadcast in black and white. As an April Fools’ joke, it was announced that viewers could convert their sets to display color.
They simply needed to pull a nylon stocking over the screen.
Other names for April Fools’ Day around the world: April Noddy Day, Gowkie Day, Huntigowk Day and St. All-Fools Morn.
Are you ready for a green beer?
St. Patrick’s day is always such a fun day. Kiddos enjoy setting leprechaun traps in the day time, and parents enjoy a night out after the kids go to bed! It’s not all alcohol-infused parties, though. Many communities are working hard to develop more family-friendly and healthy events for the major American holiday. For now, though, here are my favorite hot-spots for dining and drinking this March 17th.
Eat, Drink & Be Irish!
While we’re not seeing anything special planned for the Irish pub, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be a festive atmosphere and green beer here on the 17th. And hey, you could always bring your own green food coloring
Right in downtown Bellevue, this Irish pub is the perfect place to grab some food and a beer before heading out on the town. With so many hotels within walking distance, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the holiday responsibly.
With regularly scheduled live music three nights per week, you can believe that St. Patrick’s day will be a lively event at this local eatery. This place is super unique, as it blends Celtic and Cajun food for a totally exciting experience.
Right on the Kirkland waterfront- this one is always busy. On St. Pat’s though, things get really intense! Expect live music, drink specials, and a lively crowd.
No shortage of runs scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day 2019, either! On the Eastside, my pick would be the Kirkland Shamrock Run.
If you’re up for a trip across the lake- don’t forget that Seattle puts on one heck of a parade. Complete with bagpipers and Irish dancing and music. It’s sure to entertain the entire family! There is also an Irish festival and 5K at Seattle Center.
Anyone on a diet can tell you that one of the biggest struggles of dieting is dining out. Portions are huge, flavors of magnetic, and dessert is always on the menu. But dining out doesn’t have to sabotage your success. Here are a few big name restaurants with surprisingly healthy (and amazingly delicious) menu items that will keep you on track and happy about it!
Did you know that a single burger on the Red Robin menu can cost you up to 1,200 calories? That’s right, a whole day’s worth of calories for a typical female dieter… and that’s before we even talk about the fries. So it might be a bit surprising to see it topping my list. But hear me out!!! Skip the burger and opt for the Ensenada Chicken Platter. Double up on the meat, trust me you’ll want it. This is a south of the border inspired dish focusing on getting flavor from calorie-free spices instead of sauces. Since there is no bun the carbs are naturally low, though you can get them even lower if you ask for no chips. The Baja ranch dressing that compliments your (bottomless) side salad is amazing, too. All of this, for under 500 calories.
I know, I know… it’s delicious and that means that it can’t be healthy. Right? Turns out you’re wrong. A chipotle bowl (not the burrito) is actually a well-balanced meal that keeps your intake on point and your family happy about dinner. There are a few tips to getting the most nutrition bang for your buck, though. First up- try for chicken instead of beef. And make it double the protein. Load up on the fajita veggies too, and skip the rice. If that’s asking too much, just ask them to go light on the rice. I love adding black beans in place of rice. It’s still a carb, but the high fiber offsets the carb count for those tracking net carbs.
The Cheesecake Factory
If you don’t trust me by now, this one will win you over. The answer is yes, you can stay on a diet when you eat at a place dedicated to decadent desserts. You can even HAVE dessert. Here’s how. Start by ordering the “Skinny-Licious” grilled salmon. (I don’t name the dishes people, I just endorse them.)You’re getting a heap of protein and Omegas without the fat of beef. And hey- it’s not chicken! Compliment the fish with green veggies to get some fiber in while keeping your carbs low. Ask for no butter in the preparation, or butter on the side to manage fat. All of this clears the way for dessert. Stick with regular plain cheesecake (no Oreo cheesecake allowed!) for a dessert with a decent amount of protein that is still satisfying! Yum!
Yes, I went there. I have a friend who taught me this hack and it is so satisfying! Order the chicken scampi dish … but substitute out the angel hair pasta. Instead, ask for your meat to be served on a bed of broccoli. She usually asks for an extra side of sauce, but doing that will up your total fat intake. In any event, it comes out similar to a stew. The broccoli sops up the sauce in a satisfying way, and you’re out the door for under 20 carbs. If you can avoid the breadsticks, that is…
Finally, if nothing on my list gets you excited to dine out on a diet, head to Applebees. Here you can actually have a steak and stay under 500 calories! That’s because the restaurant created an entire menu of items offered under 500 calories. They did it back when they were partnered with Weight Watchers. And, while that partnership may not have worked out the way that they had hoped, the end result was a delicious menu well suited to dieters with a lot of options to choose from.
Now that I’ve totally blown your mind, grab your purse. It’s time for dinner on the town!
Join me next week when we take a tour of yoga studios around the Eastside!
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Agent.
The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9% — well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.
My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will still be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 83,480 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.4%.
Home Sales Activity
- There were 17,353 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2018. Year-over-year sales growth started to slow in the third quarter and this trend continued through the end of the year. Sales were down 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
- The slowdown in home sales was mainly a function of increasing listing activity, which was up 38.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 (continuing a trend that started earlier in the year). Almost all of the increases in listings were in King and Snohomish Counties. There were more modest increases in Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Skagit, and Island Counties. Listing activity was down across the balance of the region.
- Only two counties—Mason and Lewis—saw sales rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, with the balance of the region seeing lower levels of sales activity.
- We saw the traditional drop in listings in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, but I fully anticipate that we will see another jump in listings when the spring market hits. The big question will be to what degree listings will rise.
With greater choice, home price growth in Western Washington continued to slow in fourth quarter, with a year-over-year increase of 5% to $486,667. Notably, prices were down 3.3% compared to the third quarter of 2018.
Home prices, although higher than a year ago, continue to slow. As mentioned earlier, we have seen significant increases in inventory and this will slow down price gains. I maintain my belief that this is a good thing, as the pace at which home prices were rising was unsustainable.
When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Skagit County, where home prices were up 13.7%. Three other counties experienced double-digit price increases.
Price growth has been moderating for the past two quarters and I believe that we have reached a price ceiling in many markets. I would not be surprised to see further drops in prices across the region in the first half of 2019, but they should start to resume their upward trend in the second half of the year.
Days on Market
The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped three days compared to the same quarter of 2017.
- Thurston County joined King County as the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 35 days to sell. There were eight counties that saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in five counties and was unchanged in two.
Across the entire region, it took an average of 51 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter of 2018. This is down from 54 days in the fourth quarter of 2017 but up by 12 days when compared to the third quarter of 2018.
I suggested in the third quarter Gardner Report that we should be prepared for days on market to increase, and that has proven to be accurate. I expect this trend will continue, but this is typical of a regional market that is moving back to becoming balanced.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am continuing to move the needle toward buyers as price growth moderates and listing inventory continues to rise.
2019 will be the year that we get closer to having a more balanced housing market. Buyer and seller psychology will continue to be significant factors as home sellers remain optimistic about the value of their home, while buyers feel significantly less pressure to buy. Look for the first half of 2019 to be fairly slow as buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for price stability, but then I do expect to see a more buoyant second half of the year.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the Unversity of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
New Year New You?
Tell me, how’s that going?
If you’re like most people, you resolved to get in shape and lose weight in 2019.
If you’re like most people, by February you’ve already given up.
Well, my friends, this is the year we change that. Let’s get back in the saddle, back on the horse, and back on course! To spice it up, I did a LOT of digging to find some new, exciting exercise options for you around the Eastside. No more dreadmills and forget about those “lose 100 pounds in a month at our Bootcamp challenge!” places. Here’s how to break a sweat and have a fun time doing it.
Cycling is always a hot class to take. It might not be the most original thing out there, but it certainly has a cult following. Offering high energy classes that focus on big time cardio, lots of people see fat melting away in no time when combined with a low-calorie diet plan. Cyclebar has just one Eastside location in Redmond. Before heading out, check with your local Facebook Community group. Someone is always giving away free class passes.
Want a dancer’s body? Then you gotta dance! If you haven’t tried Barre method yet, I think you really should give it a try. Pure Barre has locations around the Eastside and focuses on core stability and strength to create a tone, lean look. There are music and community at each class, creating a fan base of women who report classes leading to awesome friendships. That means a built-in accountability buddy! This is not your traditional tutu ballet class, but you will be using the traditional bar. You’re in and out in about 50 minutes though, so it’s great for busy people!
Remember when Zumba was all the rage? I mean, I guess it still kind of is, but it’s far from unique these days. Now you can take an exciting and totally unique dance exercise class in Bellevue with a dance theme, but it’s not Latin at all. The focus is on Bollywood. That’s Indian music and movement. Its crazy fast-paced and utilizes every inch of your body from the tips of your fingers to the point of your toes. You’re moving fast and having a blast, too. You’re in and out in about an hour.
Now here is a unique class! Let inhibitions go and try your hand at pole dancing. Let’s get this out of the way early on. Yes. I am talking about a “stripper-pole.” You have to be a bit brave to walk in for that first class. But really? It’s a great workout that is physically challenging in a way few classes can be. You’re focused on your own abilities, not noticing those around you. (That means that they’re not noticing you, either.) You’ll feel triumphant highs as you master new skills and gain great strength. It’s a fun, supportive environment and unlike anything you’ve ever tried before!
“But Denise, you said these were unique fitness ideas…”
You’re right. I did. And give me a chance, here! This is totally unique! I recently met a gal who works at the Redmond 24 hour fitness location. She told me about a class called “Aqua Fitness.” It’s not your grandma’s water aerobics, ladies. Instead, it’s an upbeat, low impact dance class that blends weights, strength, and cardio in a style similar to Zumba. Only, it’s done in the water. Now that is unique!
So, for the next month, I want to post four blogs. We’ll cover dining out on a diet, as well as essential exercise. See you in a week to talk about the best healthy restaurants on the Eastside.
Part of the joy of the holiday season is exploring holiday lights with the kids. They’re bright and festive, and just inspire imagination and awe. Especially in young children, going hunting for lights is a time-honored holiday tradition. Unfortunately, more and more people are not decorating their homes with lights. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still great light displays out there to be found and enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorite holiday lights hot spots.
23620 ne 183RD St. Woodinville, WA 98072
A family oriented display awaits you in Woodinville! Here you’ll find a full acre display of lights set to music and light animations. The display is free to visit, but cash donations are appreciated. The donations benefit a variety of charities. To get the most out of the experience, tune your radio to 101.9 FM.
16504 112th PL NE Bothell, WA 98011
Another home with a ton of lights can be found in Bothell. Keener Christmas is a drive-through experience with no foot traffic allowed. You’ll find more than half a million lights as well as animations and inflatables. This family favorite home has been featured in many newscasts about the best-decorated homes in Western Washington. From time to time you’ll even find Santa on site handing out candy canes! If you’re so moved, you can also donate food to charity at the site!
Bellevue Botanical Gardens
12001 Main St. Bellevue, WA 98005
Get lost as you wander through the fields of flower-themed lights at Bellevue’s annual Garden d’Lites festival. Now in its 24th year, the tradition of nature-themed light shows is a must for many people during the holiday season. You’ll also find a running river made of lights. The Gardens set up a scavenger hunt among the lights to keep young people excited, and there is always espresso and hot cocoa on site, too. There is a small admission fee, but there are also free nights every season as well. Check the website before heading out so that you can plan! Remember – kids ten and under are free!
19525 SE 54th St Issaquah, WA 98027
For something just a little different, head out to Issaquah and the Cougar Mountain Zoo! Here you’ll find a full Christmas themed park, culminating with live reindeer! The 31st annual Reindeer festival keeps limited hours, open only until 4:30 pm, but is nothing short of pure wonder for your children. Since the reindeer are on site, of course, you can expect to see Santa! You can also hear a story from an elf during your visit!
For more homes with amazing lights, check out this interactive map!
If you’re up for a drive, there are plenty of lights in Seattle, too. You can visit the Woodland Park Zoo for their annual Wild Lights show, or check out the Candy Cane Lane neighborhood! Whatever you do, be sure to take lots of photos and share them with me! And, if you know of a hot spot that I’ve missed, I really want to hear about it!
The real estate market continued to improve for buyers in November. Interest rates dropped slightly, price increases slowed and inventory soared. It’s important to note that inventory increases, while significant, are being compared to the record low supply of last year. We’re still far short of the inventory needed for a truly balanced market, however buyers have greater choice and less competition than they’ve had in years. Sellers who price their home according to current market conditions continue to see strong interest. Heading into the holiday season, there’s something for everyone to celebrate.
The Eastside economy continues to be very strong. Heavy investment in commercial construction from companies such as Vulcan boost expectations that the area will continue to thrive. The median price of a single-family home in November hit $885,000 on the Eastside. Although an increase of 4 percent from a year ago, home prices have remained steady since this fall. With continued demand and only 2.4 months of inventory, the market has a long way to go to becoming balanced.
Price increases continued to slow in King County. The median single-family home price was $643,913 in November, an increase of 2 percent over a year ago. South King County, where the most affordable homes in the county are located, saw significantly greater increases compared to a year ago. North King County also posted greater increases than the county overall. Inventory has skyrocketed as the number of homes for sale in King County more than doubled year-over-year. While that’s good news for buyers, there is only 2.1 months of available inventory in the county, slightly down from October and not nearly enough to meet demand.
The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $760,000 in November. This is up 3 percent from a year ago and slightly up from October. Inventory jumped 177 percent year-over-year however, at just two months of supply, the Seattle area has the tightest inventory in King County. With the city’s strong economy and lifestyle appeal, that’s not expected to change any time soon. Forbes recently named Seattle as the best place for business and careers in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Washington among the top ten universities in the world with Money Magazine rating Seattle the #5 Best Big City to Live In.
Inventory in Snohomish County continued to climb, surging 88 percent in November as compared to a year ago. That said, the area has fewer homes for sale than King County with just 1.8 months of inventory. This is still far short of the four to six months of supply that is considered a balanced market. The median price of a single-family home sold in November was up 6 percent from last year to $470,000, virtually unchanged from October.
This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com blog.
If you haven’t gotten your tree already — and you are feeling adventurous — here are some places you can cut your own tree down. Close to home even!
We live in the Christmas tree capital of the United States, it’s easy to see why so many people enjoy cutting their own tree. But, given the traffic situation in the Seattle & Eastside areas, it’s also easy to understand why you might want to cut a tree close to home. While there may not be any Christmas tree farms in Seattle, Kirkland or Bellevue, you can find a couple in Redmond and a few more just outside of the central Eastside. Now go find your perfect tree!
13925 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE Redmond, WA 98052
Open daily from 10 am to 8 pm, McMurtrey’s makes it simple to plan a tree cutting trip with your family. Found in the heart of the Sammamish Valley, you’ll find Noble, Grand, and Fraser Firs on the property. Extra tall trees are on site, and delivery is even an option, in case you don’t have a large enough vehicle to tow the tree back to your home. The farm is dedicated to sustainable harvesting, meaning that once a certain number of trees have been cut they’ll close the season. So get out there early! Once you’ve found the perfect tree, the farm treats you with complimentary hot cider or hot chocolate.
14500 NE 116th St. Redmond, WA 98052
Offering 100% organic trees as well as home delivery service, Buttonwood Farm is another close-by option for creating a family tradition of cutting your own tree. Here you’ll find Douglas, Turkish, Nordman, Noble, Grand, Fraser, and Blue Spruce trees. The site also offers sturdy stands. The farm has limited hours, however. If this is where you want to cut, be sure to visit on the weekends. Buttonwood is open Friday and Sunday from noon until 4 pm, and on Saturdays from 10am-4pm. You should check out their website before heading out to find tips for tree care as well as fun seasonal recipes.
3861 Tolt Ave Carnation, WA 98014
Open from the day after Thanksgiving until trees sell out, the Carnation tree farm has been offering trees for over 30 years. The farm has been in the family since 1901 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That means you’ll be taking a step back in time as you step into the forest to play your part in this time-honored family tradition. Across 16 acres you’ll find Douglas, Fraser, Grand, Noble, and Nordman Firs as well as Norway and Blue Spruce. In addition to cutting your own tree, you can pick up handmade local greens, garland, swags, mistletoe, and holly. Employees will let you borrow a saw and even help you select your perfect tree. With a focus on family fun, expect to spend some time in the shelter area where you can have complimentary cider, shop a fresh bake sale, or even have your photo taken with Santa. The shop is open Sunday- Thursday from 9 am until 4 pm.
Where did you get your tree this year!