Coming Together For Our Neighbors in Need

 

Every year for the past 35 years, Windermere Real Estate has closed its doors on the first Friday in June for its annual Community Service Day so that our 9,000-member team can head into our local neighborhoods and volunteer. This year, in light of COVID-19, we have made the decision to replace Community Service Day with an immediate fundraising challenge for our offices to help food banks whose operations, and the people they serve, have been heavily impacted by the virus.

Between now and Tuesday May 5, we are matching every dollar, up to $250,000, that our offices raise, with the goal of donating $500,000 to food banks in the communities across the Western U.S. where we operate. The public is also invited to participate by donating to the Windermere Foundation here. All donations will be directed to food banks with the greatest need.

Those who struggle with poverty and depend on food programs are having difficulty meeting their basic needs. Our mission is to help local food banks in our communities keep their shelves stocked and keep food on the tables of those families.

Due to COVID-19, food bank representatives expect the number of people they normally serve to double. The increased consumer demand on grocery stores has slowed the pipeline of food bank donations, which are crucial to their ability to serve their communities. With these complicating factors, every food bank has the same answer when it comes to their greatest need: dollars.

Neighbors in Need is the latest example of the Windermere family coming together in support of our local communities during the COVID-19 epidemic. The positive impact we have seen across our footprint thus far gives us confidence in our ability to meet our total donation goal of $500,000. If you would like to help, you can donate here: 

Celebrating Earth Day at Home

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This year’s Earth Day will certainly look different than in years past. With no large gatherings, marches or events, most of us find ourselves celebrating from home. Fortunately, when it comes to reducing your footprint or assessing the eco-friendliness of your lifestyle, your living space is a great place to start. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day from home.

 

Outside the house:

The combination of spring weather and current shelter and stay-at-home orders have created a gardening renaissance. With April being gardening month and the amount of time we find ourselves spending at home these days, now is the perfect time to start (or get back to) your garden.

 

  • Kick up your composting efforts or build out a composting area in your garden.
  • Get started with a nature DIY project, like a garden shed or planter boxes.
  • Make your garden your own escape. This is more important now than ever, for your health and the health of your household.

 

Around the house:

 

  • Perform a plastic audit of your home.
    • Take count of the plastic items used in your kitchen and bathroom and rethink their necessity.
  • Get in the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room.
    • Little by little this can add up and is an easy green practice for Earth Day and beyond.
  • Turn off the faucet when you aren’t using it.
  • Unplug your appliances after using them.
    • They still use energy even when they aren’t turned on.
  • Turning off phones, tablets, and computers at night will save energy.
  • Use cold water to wash your laundry.
    • This sidesteps any of the energy your machine uses to heat water—which is a large percentage of their energy output.
  • Add plants. 
    • This has a myriad of benefits for both your health and your wallet.
    • Plants are known to reduce stress and regulate temperature, which saves on the energy required to heat and cool your house.

 

By doing these little things around the house you can maximize your Earth Day impact and get an idea of how you can incorporate them into your lifestyle as time goes on.

 

Educate:

Earth Day carries educational significance as well. Learning more about our planet and how we can do our part in its health moving forward is an important aspect of the holiday.

 

  • Though you may not be able to attend a lecture in person, there are a bevy of virtual options to participate in Earth Day learning and planetary education. Discuss with your family what actions you can take to make a difference in your household.
  • Add a nature documentary or series to your watchlist.
  • Travel from home with virtual tours of national parks and natural wonders.
  • Try some new cookbooks. For Earth Day-centric food ideas, look for cookbooks with plant-based recipes.

 

Homeowners everywhere have established an evolved relationship with their homes in recent weeks. Spending time thinking about the footprint of your household and how it allows you to make eco-friendly choices is a worthy investment for Earth Day and beyond.

Saving to Buy A Home During COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way people plan for their future. For those saving to buy a home, the landscape may seem daunting. However, this new world of social distancing and stay at home orders is an opportunity to rethink your spending and saving plans. Keeping the following suggestions for your budget and finances in mind can help make your dream of buying a home a reality.

 

Rethink your budget:

If there have been changes to your income amid COVID-19, adapting your budget is a logical and necessary step. If your income has gone unchanged, certain tweaks to your budget can yield significant savings. Knowing the leisure portion of your normal expenditure has been removed for the time being is a great starting point for reassessing your spending.

 

  • Begin with your income and assets
  • Determine your household’s new baseline and arrange your new budget accordingly
  • Divide your budget expenses out into Fixed and Variable 
  • Adjust for changes in essential costs—Housing, Utilities, Insurance, Food
  • Put into savings what normally would have been your leisure spending money

 

As the stay-at-home lifestyle continues, take a look at your unnecessary costs for such things as memberships, subscriptions, and online shopping. Reach out to the subscription organizations and see if they are offering any options to delay your membership until a later date.

 

  • Categorize all active memberships as Cancel, Adjust, or Keep
  • For live entertainment, research how far out the venues have postponed shows
  • Adjust your online shopping needs for your current lifestyle
  • Reassess the must-haves of your new stay-at-home daily life

 

Review your finances:

If you’re planning on buying a home in the near future, you are likely already on your financial planning journey. With added uncertainty around COVID-19’s effective timeline, the more information you can gather, the better. In these unprecedented times, flexible solutions are being provided to customers. Exploring what options your banks and issuers are offering will keep you informed and prepared while keeping your finances in order.

 

Contact your credit card issuer to see if they are offering any of the following options to customers:

  • Payment deferral or forbearance
  • Flexible fee policies
  • Lowering your monthly payment or interest rate temporarily
  • Forgiveness or relief from late fees

 

Following the steps outlined above can go a long way towards helping you save for a home. As your finances are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, take time to adjust accordingly. Continuing to gather information and developing a strategy will help you steer your eventual home purchase in the right direction through these uncertain times.

Your Guide to Spring Cleaning

 

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Many of us have found ourselves spending much of our time indoors as of late, and as spring blooms in the sunlight, you might be noticing that it’s time to treat your home to a little TLC. When it comes to wellness, your health and the health of your home go hand in hand. Here are some tips to guide you through your spring cleaning this year.  

 

First clean, then disinfect​

​​​​​​​General cleaning rids your home’s surfaces of contaminants, but disinfecting targets pathogens. A combination of the two before—as well as after—your spring cleaning will have your home in peak health. When disinfecting, target high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, and faucets. 

 

Devices like your computer, phone and tablets are worthy of disinfecting as well, since they are high-touch surfaces that we carry around constantly. Avoid cleaners heavy in toxins and chemicals, which spread throughout your home. Look for plant- and mineral-based ingredients and natural solvents.  

 

  • Work top-to-bottom
    • ​​Working from ceiling to walls to counters to floors guides dust and debris downwards and prevents any re-cleaning of the same areas.   

 

  • Ceiling 
    • Being the season when allergies kick up, a quality dusting can be even more important for your health. Curtains, blinds, carpets and ceiling fans all collect dust easily; being thorough in these areas will pay off in the long run. Don’t forget the corners where cobwebs collect. 

 

  • Walls & Windows
    • Consider giving your walls a cleanse with a damp towel, especially in the kitchen near your oven and coffee maker. Cleaning your windows helps bring in more natural light and is the key to getting the most out of your home’s view. 

 

  • Floors 
    • All floors need a good cleanse, but different materials require different cleaning methods. With laminate and vinyl flooring, dry mopping will do the trick. Sealed wood floors can take mopping, but waxed floors can’t—they require sweeping or vacuuming instead.

 

Declutter

Decluttering can be a daunting task. But with more time at home, we have more time to conquer this task day by day. Divide the rooms up by how much time they will take to declutter. Rooms like the kitchen and playroom will likely take longer than the living room or bathroom.   

 

  • Separate the unnecessary or underused items into two categories: Donate and Storage. Gather your donated items—whether they’re going to thrift stores, local shelters, or charity—so they can be distributed out in one trip. 

 

  • When it comes to storage, consider which items are likely to be taken out more often, like tools or seasonal items. Put them away last so they are easy to access. Hopefully this exercise, done year after year, will cut your storage stockpile down to what is essential. 

 

Go for multipurpose

  • Minimalism is a space-saving movement that has picked up momentum in recent years. Even if you aren’t looking to downsize, incorporating multifunctionality into your home can bring an added dimension to your spring cleaning.

 

  • ​Common multipurpose features include lofted beds with below storage, using a corner desk to create an office nook, and folding tables to transform a dining room to a dinner party with ease.

Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update: 4/6/2020

In the latest episode of “Mondays with Matthew”, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner dives into part one of his two-part series analyzing the mortgage market. Today’s focus is on the substantial impact COVID-19 has had on jumbo mortgages. Check back next week when he’ll discuss conventional mortgages and provide his latest interest rate forecast.

All In, For Community Amid COVID-19

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Over the past few weeks, as the effects of COVID-19 have spread to everywhere Windermere has offices, we have seen an outpouring of support from our agents and offices in their local communities, embodying what it means to be All In, For You.  

 

The Bellevue, WA-based Windermere Real Estate East Inc. offices have been all in for their community in recent weeks by organizing “Feed the Front Lines.” This effort has raised upwards of $9,000, with many members volunteering their time to help pick-up and deliver much-needed meals to the medical professionals at a local hospital. So far, they have scheduled six shifts of lunch and dinner deliveries, totaling 415 meals. They have reached out further into the community, collecting donations for local small businesses that have been forced to close. 

 

A flyer for “Feed the Front Lines” 

 

Windermere agent Chris Gaines—based in Boise, Idaho with the Windermere Powerhouse Group—was inspired to deliver food and other necessities to the elderly in his neighborhood. Chris and his family spent the day visiting local grocery stores and gathering supplies to make care packages. After divvying everything up, they safely delivered the care packages to neighbors, who were sincerely grateful. “It was clear by the excitement of some of them that we were the first to have visited since all of this began,” said Chris of his neighbors. 

 

Chris’s daughters delivering supplies to a neighbor

 

In other cities where Windermere operates, such as Palm Springs, agents are volunteering to buy and deliver groceries for the local elderly population who are currently unable to leave home due to the threat of COVID-19. 

 

On Maui, the local Windermere office is routing Windermere Foundation donations to a local food bank. On top of that, they will provide that same food bank with a donation from each closed home sale over the next 60 days. Agents on Maui are also volunteering to prepare grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals for kids at the Kihei Charter School.  

 

The team in Maui, HI

 

In Nevada, the mother-son team of Reba St. Clair & Devone Donley are providing delivery services free of charge to their neighbors throughout the Lake Las Vegas area. They are picking up prescriptions and performing food deliveries, making themselves a dependable resource to their community.  

 

Reba & Devone’s community flyer

 

The Seattle-area offices that make up Windermere Wall Street recently donated $2,000 to Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI) to aid in the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks. RAI’s mission is to transform the lives of refugee and immigrant women by providing sustainable work in sewing and handcrafting goods.

 

As our agents and offices have proven time and time again, together we can make a difference. We will continue to share these uplifting stories of support for our communities through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

All In, For Community. All In, For You.