Windermere Celebrates 37 Years of Community Service Day

Every year in June, Windermere offices close for business in order to participate in Community Service Day. An annual tradition since 1984, our agents, staff, and franchise owners spend the day volunteering in their communities completing a variety of neighborhood improvement projects. Here are a few highlights from this year’s Community Service Day from around our network.

 

Windermere Rowland Realty – California

The Windermere Pinole and Diablo Realty offices joined together and volunteered for the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano Counties, working in their warehouse to bag produce for a food giveaway. After reaching out to their clients and peers, agents were able to gather $2,850 in donations for the food bank, an amount that will allow them to provide 5,700 meals to the local community.

 

Pictured: Scott Tuffnell, Denise Ramirez, Mike Rowland, Renee Rowland, Diane Cockrell, Mona Logasa, Dave Nardi, Ellen Osmundson, Jim Georgantes, Tina Rowland, Jacob Cardinale, Nicolars Ramirez, Luis Ramirez-Agudelo

 

A group of people hold up a check in a warehouse.

Pictured: Scott Tuffnell, Denise Ramirez, Mike Rowland, Renee Rowland, Diane Cockrell, Mona Logasa, Dave Nardi, Ellen Osmundson, Jim Georgantes, Tina Rowland, Jacob Cardinale, Nicolars Ramirez, Luis Ramirez-Agudelo

 

Windermere Fort Collins & Windsor – Colorado 

For CSD 2021, Windermere Fort Collins partnered with ChildSafe Colorado, an organization that provides therapy for victims of childhood abuse and seeks to “break the cycle and heal the trauma resulting from childhood abuse and neglect with specialized treatment, education, and community outreach.”

Windermere agents and staff completed a variety of indoor and outdoor projects including painting, planting flowers, landscaping, as well as supply collection and organization. In addition to their hands-on work, Fort Collins also set up an online portal for clients, friends, family, and community members to support their work through online donations to ChildSafe.

 

Two women and a boy work in the garden.

Pictured: Heather Patel, her son, and Jill Pino

 

The Windermere office in Windsor, Colorado partnered with the Weld RE-4 School District to host a school supply drive to provide supplies for children in low-income households for the 2021–2022 school year. In addition to the in-person event, they also had over fifteen local businesses volunteer by hosting a drop box in the weeks leading up to the event. Twenty-five boxes were donated by a local moving company, Johnson Moving & Storage. On the day of the supply drive, the boxes were filled with donations.

 

A group of women handle drop box donations.

Pictured: Suzanne Ekeler, Tammy Fisher, Angie Hoskins, Kelsey Vandemark, Angie Clauser, Karla Laferriere, and Anali Roath

 

Windermere Sandy Real Estate – Oregon

The Windermere Sandy Real Estate office organizes blood drives every year, so when it came time for this year’s Community Service Day, they knew exactly where to turn: The American Red Cross. With the help of Windermere agents, Red Cross volunteers set up in Windermere Sandy’s conference room, getting folks registered for the drive and handing out t-shirts. The Windermere Sandy staff greeted donors on the way in and during the afternoon, reception was handled by Windermere owners Alan and Therese Fleischman.

 

A white American Red Cross truck parked in a parking lot.

A white American Red Cross truck parked in a parking lot.

 

Windermere Real Estate Utah 

In communities throughout the state of Utah, Windermere agents were out in force for Community Service Day. The office in Layton, UT weeded and maintained playground areas and outdoor spaces at the Safe Harbor Crisis Center. Agents joined together to lay bark and install solar lights along the walkways on the property. The organization was also presented with a $5,000 check from the office’s Windermere Foundation funds.

Agents from the Park City office worked with local organization EATS Park City to package seeds and provide interview clips of stories relating to food and local culinary traditions. EATS Park City is dedicated to empowering and growing healthy communities with fun, food, and nutrition advocacy. Windermere Utah also made a $5,000 donation to the organization.

 

Windermere Real Estate Ellensburg – Washington

The agents and staff at Windermere Real Estate Ellensburg held a canned food drive, collecting donations at their office and dropping off grocery bags at three-hundred homes in the area for people to add non-perishable food items. They made the round on the final day of the drive, collecting 1,387 pounds of food for the Fish Community Food Bank. After they dropped off the donations, the Ellensburg team went to two different gardens owned by the food bank and spent the day weeding, cleaning up, and planting new foods.

 

A group of people posing for a photo in a garden.

Pictured: Caitlin Wable, Sally Vietzke, Danielle LaHaie, Erich Cross, Jennifer Savage, John Gardner, Cara Marrs, Genevieve Gillman, Casey Mills, Taylor Hull, Misti Sandnes

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6/28/21 Housing and Economic Update from Matthew Gardner

This video is the latest in our Monday with Matthew series with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. Each month, he analyzes the most up-to-date U.S. housing data to keep you well-informed about what’s going on in the real estate market.

 

Hello! I’m Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate and welcome to this latest edition of Mondays with Matthew.

Before I get going with this months’ discussion, I did want to thank you for all the very gracious comments I received following last month’s video when I offered my views regarding the rumor that’s circulating about a new housing bubble forming.

Well, today we’re going to stay inside the same broad topic, but this time we will be focusing on why home prices have been able to rise at such a significant pace over recent years but—more importantly—I’m going to share my analysis showing that, in reality, home prices are actually not as high as they appear on face value!

 

 

For context, let’s look at home prices over the past three decades and this chart shows the median sale price of existing homes—both single-family and multifamily—over time.

In the 1990’s – prices rose by over 45%.

 

And this was followed by a significantly faster pace of appreciation as the housing bubble was really getting inflated—with prices soaring by over 68% between the start of the decade and its ultimate peak in the summer of 2006.

 

Well, we all remember what happened then! The bubble burst, with prices dropping by almost 29% between July 2006 and early 2009.

This was followed by a brief period of relative stability—due to the introduction of the first-time homebuyer buyer tax credit—but, as the impacts of that stimulus wore off, prices dropped further, bottoming out in January of 2012—32.9% below the pre-bubble peak.

 

But, from 2012 until today, sale prices have shot up by more than 126%—a remarkable number—and I would add that prices are up by over 42% since the end of 2017; 37.5% since 2018; and 27.6% since the start of this decade.

 

Interestingly, well, interesting to me at least, the number of homes sold actually bottomed out in 2010—well before prices hit their low point. And this was because a lot of buyers got into the market for one primary reason: home prices were cheap!  So cheap, in fact, that back then you could actually buy a home in many markets for less than it would cost to build the very same home.

Now, given the pace of price growth that we have seen since the 2012 trough, I’m really not at all surprised to hear rumblings regarding bubbles. But is this really the case?

Let’s take a peek at what had been going on with mortgage rates over the same time period.

Slide title reads conforming 30-year mortgage rates. Line graph with y axis showing the monthly 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rates; ex points from 0% to 12% at the top. The X axis has years from 1990 to 2021. Overall the trend on the graph shows a decrease from 1990 to 2021. Data source is Freddie Mac.

 

As home prices were rising, what were mortgage rates doing? That’s right! They were falling. Of course, there were some periods where rates trended higher—most recently in 2018—but I really want you to look at the overall direction of rates over the last 30 years. They’ve been heading in one direction and that’s down.

So! What happens when we overlay sale prices with mortgage rates?

 

Slide title is Home Prices versus Mortgage rates. Line graph with 2 lines. On the y axis on the left, which is in light blue, is median sale price from $80,000 at the bottom and $380,000 at the top, the y axis on the right, which is in navy, is Average mortgage rates from 0% at the bottom and 12% at the top. The blue line shows that home prices increased by 268% since 1990. Meanwhile, the navy line shows that mortgage rates have decreased from 10.5% in 1990 to 3% in 2021. The Source is NAR Home Prices & Freddie Mac Mortgage Rates Existing single-family & multifamily units; nsa.

 

Here are the sale prices we looked at earlier.

And here are mortgage rates.

Prices are up by almost 270% over the past three decades.

But in the same time period, mortgage rates have fallen from over 10% to around 3%. And it is this massive drop in rates that, over the long-term, allowed buyers to finance more expensive homes and this, naturally, has led prices higher.

And this is a part—just a part mind you—of the reason why prices have been able to rise so significantly.

So! Prices have risen almost threefold as the cost to finance a home has dropped by 72%.

But that’s not the whole story.

You see, it’s not accurate to simply look at the change in home prices over time without considering inflation, and the impacts here are very significant.

Inflation plays a substantial part in understanding prices of any commodity, and that certainly includes housing.

But before we dig into this part of the discussion, I have to give a shout out to Bob Shiller—of the famed Case-Shiller Index—who I believe was the first person to have written about the relationship between housing and inflation in his book “Irrational Exuberance” and whose work I used as a foundation for these next few slides.

So, if you are wondering what inflation has to do with home prices, I will tell you. Just like other goods and services, the price of a house today is not directly comparable to the price of that same house 30 years ago, because of the long-run influence of inflation.

For example, in 2020, the median sales price of a home was almost $297,000. That is 14 times the average sales price in 1968 – which was just over $20,000!

That might sound terrible, but back in 1968, the median household income was $7,700 a year, a gallon of gas set you back around 33 cents, and you could buy a dozen eggs for 53 cents.

And it’s because of this that we need to look at inflation adjusted home prices simply because the value of money changes over time.

Slide title is Nominal & Inflation-Adjusted Home Prices. Two line graphs next to each other. On the left is Nominal U.S. Median Sale Prices. On the Y axis are prices from $80,000 to $380,000 at the top. The axis is dates from 1990 to 2021. The line shows that prices have increased by 268%. On the right is a line graph of the inflation adjusted U.S. median sale prices. The y axis is prices from $80,000 to $380,000 at the top. The x axis is dates from 1990 to 2021. The line graph shows that the “real” prices have increased by 83.6%. Data Source is Windermere Economics analysis of Fannie Mae; NAR and BLS data.

 

This slide shows nominal median sale price over time—its chart we started out with. And when I use the term “nominal”, it means that it’s not adjusted for inflation and therefore the value of each dollar spent on housing was actually depreciating over time because of inflation.

And we know that prices are up by 268% over the past 30+ years—a very significant increase. But what happens when you adjust sale prices to account for inflation?

That’s right! Real prices are certainly higher, but by a more modest 83.6%.

 

So, we know that prices are higher than they were three decades ago but, in reality, the real increase is significantly lower than most people are talking about today.

 

The compounded annual growth rate—unadjusted for inflation—was over 4%; but when you adjust for inflation, the REAL rate was just 2%.

But there’s another factor which we need to consider when we are thinking about home price growth, so now we need to bring mortgage rates back into the equation.

I know we’ve already discussed the fact that rates dropping helped prices to rise at well above the long-term average, but now we need to look at what happens to mortgage “payments” when we use inflation-adjusted home prices.

 

Slide title is Nominal & Real Monthly Payments. Two line graph next to each other. On the left is Nominal U.S. Monthly Mortgage Payment. On the y axis is prices from $500 to $1,700 at the top. The x axis is dates from 1990 to 2021. The graph’s trend line shows that mortgage payments have increased by 74.3%. On the right is Inflation Adjusted Monthly Mortgage Payment. The axes are the same as the graph to the left. The graph’s trend line shows that the “real” payments are 10.7% lower. Data Source is Windermere Economics analysis of Fannie Mae; NAR and BLS data.

 

For comparison purposes, you are looking at the monthly mortgage payment for a median priced home in the US—using the average conventional mortgage rate during that month and assuming a 20% down payment.

From 1990 until today, P&I (principal & interest) payments are up by a bit more than 74%.

Of course, I am sure that there are some of you out there again crying “foul” because I am using a high downpayment but, in reality, it really makes no difference to the percentage increase in payments. You see, whatever the downpayment a buyer uses, the percentage change is actually the same.

Anyway, monthly P&I payments—in nominal terms—have risen by 74.3% BUT, what happens when you use the same mortgage rates, but to buy a home where the value has been adjusted to account for inflation?

That’s right…. “Real”—or inflation-adjusted mortgage payments—are almost 11% LOWER today than they were back in 1990 and, as you can see, significantly lower than they were during the” bubble” days”.

 

Now I fully understand that this is not a perfect analysis.

Monthly housing costs don’t just include mortgage payments, but they also include property taxes and insurance, both of which—unfortunately—don’t fall even if mortgage rates do!

Additionally, it does not address prices changes due to over or undersupply in any one market, and it also can’t address the impacts of changing lending policies.

But, that said, I stand by my belief that prices have been able to rise so significantly because mortgage rates have dropped AND because inflation-adjusted house prices really haven’t skyrocketed—contrary to popular opinion.

But, of course, all real estate is local, and although the numbers I’ve shared with you today might be comforting when you read articles from the “bubble-heads” out there, I must tell you that there are some markets across the country where the picture isn’t quite as rosy.

In these areas prices have risen significantly more than the national average so, even when you adjust sale prices for inflation, mortgage payments are a lot higher today than they were three decades ago.

And it is these markets that will be impacted when mortgage rates start to trend higher—which they surely will—and growing affordability constraints further limit the number potential buyers.

The bottom line is, as far as I am concerned, there are quantifiable reasons to believe that we are not in a national housing bubble today, but some markets will experience a significant slowdown in price growth given where prices are today in concert with the specter of rising mortgage rates.

So! there you have it.

I certainly hope that you found this topic as interesting as I do!

As always, if you have any questions or comments about inflation and home values, I would love to hear from you but—in the meantime—stay safe out there, and I look forward to talking to you all again, next month.

Bye now.

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Understanding Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Buyers are constantly looking for ways to streamline the buying process, whether that’s working with their agent to identify how they can increase their buying power, getting pre-approved, or being as cash-ready as possible. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), though it is an additional expense, can be a gateway to homeownership, and for some buyers, may be their only choice to secure the required financing for a home.

 

What is PMI?

Understanding PMI begins with understanding down payments. A down payment is a lump sum payment made by the buyer early on in the process of obtaining a mortgage. The magic number lenders prefer to see paid down is usually twenty percent of the home’s purchase price. If a buyer doesn’t have that secured, the lender will typically require the buyer to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), which protects the lender against the possibility of the buyer defaulting on the mortgage.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

The Benefits of PMI

Fortunately, it’s not all-or-nothing when it comes to the twenty percent down payment—if you don’t have that amount on-hand, you can still purchase a home. Private Mortgage Insurance creates a pathway to home ownership for buyers who find themselves in this situation. Although PMI can raise the buyer’s monthly costs, it allows them to move in and start building equity immediately. For this reason, PMI may be a saving grace for buyers who are looking to leave their days of renting behind them and become a homeowner.

 

Alternatives to PMI

Saving up enough money to make a twenty percent down payment is the most direct way to avoid private mortgage insurance, but a down payment of this size may not be feasible for some buyers, especially in markets where prices are on the rise. Here are some alternatives:

Piggybacking

A common alternative to PMI is to take out a second loan to pay back the twenty percent down in addition to the primary mortgage. This is known as piggybacking, which rearranges the loan into an 80/10/10 split, where the first loan accounts for 80 percent of the total property value, the “piggyback” or second loan covers the next ten percent, and the down payment covers the remaining ten percent. (There are other loan structures besides 80/10/10, this is just one example.) This can be an effective strategy for those who are ready to purchase a home but do not have the savings to make the full down payment. However, buyers should be aware that the second loan will likely come with higher interest rates.

VA Loans

VA Loans are a helpful resource for active service personnel and veterans looking to purchase a home. Not having to purchase mortgage insurance is included among the list of benefits VA Loans offer to qualified buyers, however, they require a one-time “funding fee” that functions similarly to mortgage insurance.

Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance

LPMI may be a viable option for buyers in certain cases. Not to be confused by the name, LPMI is a restructuring of the loan in which the lender pays the mortgage insurance premium upfront. LPMI will remain in place for the life of the loan and usually comes with higher interest rates. Buyers should consider the terms of LPMI and how they differ from standard PMI to decide which is right for them.

Other

Other types of loans offer an alternative to conventional mortgages. FHA loans have their own mortgage insurance, as do USDA loans. The mortgage insurance premium (MIP) on FHA loans may be favorable, but buyers should keep in mind that in most cases they will be paying two different insurance premiums—the upfront rate and an annual fee. To be eligible for a USDA loan, there are several requirements that both the buyer and the property must meet.

 

To navigate the process of home financing and learn about the options around obtaining Private Mortgage Insurance, it helps to work closely with a great real estate agent who can help their clients identify lenders in their network that they know and trust to secure the right loan. For more information on purchasing a home, visit the buying section of our blog: Windermere Blog – Buying

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National Homeownership Month – Part Two

In recognition of National Homeownership Month, we’re featuring unique home buyer stories from across our network. Earlier this month, we shared three stories of first-time home buyers and how they worked with their agents to find the perfect home. Here is part two:

 

Jordan Cain

After years of helping clients find their dream homes, Windermere agent Jordan Cain of Windermere Abode and his girlfriend Sami decided it was time to find theirs. And their hearts were set on Tacoma, Washington. Even though Jordan had a deep understanding of the local market conditions, it was important to him to let Sami learn about the home buying process at her own pace.

Looking for a home in the summer of 2021 meant Jordan and Sami were up against some serious competition, including bidding wars and cash buyers. Jordan knew the process could get emotional. As an agent, he has helped calm many clients so they can make educated and calculated decisions. This time around, he leaned on his fellow agents for moral support when he found himself in those same emotional moments.

After putting several offers in, they eventually found the perfect home. For Jordan and Sami, becoming homeowners will allow them to continue to grow in their lives together. For Jordan and his family, owning his first home is deeply significant. Here’s what he had to say: “As the youngest child in my family, I’m the last one of my siblings to purchase a home. I’m even more proud of the fact that four Black siblings, and our mother, have all pushed past systemic racism to pursue one of the pillars of the American dream—owning property.”

 

Danica and Nick – Windermere Agent Ashley Abolafia

It’s been Danica and Nick’s dream to own a home before turning thirty. And this year, they made that dream a reality!

In a competitive market, it’s common for buyers to put in multiple offers and face rejection again and again. Fortunately for Danica and Nick, luck was on their side. With low interest rates and a lack of inventory, their local market in Lake Stevens, Washington was just beginning to heat up when they started the process with their agent, Ashley Abolafia of Team Abolafia. Throughout their home buying journey, they saw Ashley and her team as a guiding light, who they leaned on for her wealth of knowledge.

When they found their dream home, Danica and Nick jumped at the opportunity to make an offer. And to their surprise, it was accepted without having to enter a bidding war! Reflecting on their time with Ashley, and the entire home buying process, Danica and Nick say that owning a home means they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

 

Lauren – Windermere Agent Jana Ross

Being a first-time home buyer, Lauren had no idea what to expect as she prepared to hit the market in Tacoma, Washington. She had a million questions for her Windermere agent Jana Ross, who answered every single one with a level of care and knowledge that put Lauren at ease.

It didn’t take long for the process to pick up steam. Just two days after meeting her agent, Lauren was looking at houses and picking out things she liked and noticing things she didn’t. Jana took notes and found a home for Lauren she thought was perfect. Sure enough, Lauren fell in love, and they put in an offer.

Most of the process from there was routine, but it wasn’t without its bumps. After Lauren took possession of the home, the seller retained access by keeping a key in a contractor box, which they used to access  a garage full of items they left behind after the closing was finalized. Though these complications tested Lauren’s patience, Jana was there the whole time to help keep her levelheaded until move in day. Jana gave Lauren the encouragement she needed and allowed her to keep a sense of humor along the way.

Now that she’s settled into her new home, Lauren is grateful for the stability it provides and appreciative of the support she received from Jana throughout her home buying journey.

 

To begin your own home buying journey, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent today:

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What is a Rambler?

The distinct “rambler” architectural style is known by several names—rambler, ranch house, California ranch. Whatever you call it, the rambler has played an important role in the evolution of the American home. From its spacious interior to its welcoming layout, the rambler is tailor made for a comfortable home life.

 

History of the Rambler

Originally conceived in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that the rambler became a staple of domestic American life as the suburban boom reached new heights. The intention behind the architecture was simple: design the perfect post-war American home. The term “rambler” was a reference to the way the single-story design sprawled—or rambled—across the landscape, opting for horizontal expanse rather than vertical. One can imagine how fitting a portrayal this was of the American West—a home that allowed for expansive views of the surrounding landscape on a level plain. The rambler style was one of the first architectural styles to incorporate an attached garage into the home design. Over time, the rambler style began to take on elements of modern design and eventually evolved into split-level homes, creating rambler variants such as “raised ranch style,” “suburban ranch style,” and “storybook rambler.”  Even with these developments, the rambler has always stayed true to the theme behind its inception: a home designed to accommodate the needs of the modern American family. To this day, rambler homes are found in great numbers across the country.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Characteristics of a Rambler

Ramblers are known for the flow of their interiors that allow for easy movement throughout the home’s horizontal spaces. The spacious layout, often times anchored by a central area, creates a feeling a continuity between rooms, a concept that was influenced by modern architecture. The wide layouts also resulted in large footprints, even though the majority of the homes in this style were constructed as one-story structures.

In another nod to modernist homes, ramblers often prioritized outdoor spaces for entertaining and gathering. This connection to the outdoors is reinforced by large windows and easy access to back patios to create a harmony between nature and the home itself. Similar to its distant relative, the Craftsman style home, it’s common for rambler to have low-pitched roofs and overhanging eaves.

For more information on home design, check out the Design Page on our blog.

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The Importance of Homeowners Insurance

In addition to providing shelter and comfort, our home is often our single greatest asset, and it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. However, what they may not know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured.

 

What a Standard Homeowners Policy Covers

A standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of an insured disaster.

The policy likely pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by disasters, such as wildfires, a winter storm, or lightning. Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are also insured against these types of disasters, as well as theft.

Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from homeowner policies. Special coverage is needed to protect against these incidents. Your insurance company can let you know if your area is flood or earthquake prone. The cost of coverage depends on your home’s location and corresponding risk.

Other coverage in a standard homeowners policy typically helps cover the legal costs for injury or property damage caused to other people. For example, if someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance would cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home. If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, a standard policy will usually cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.

Keep in mind that homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for the owner(s) living in the home. If you plan on renting out your home, you’ll need to purchase landlord insurance in addition to your homeowners policy.

 

How Much Insurance Do You Need?

Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
  • Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
  • Do I have enough insurance to replace all my possessions?

Here’s some more information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home is sufficiently protected.

 

Protect Your Assets

Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that even a dog bite claim can easily be tens of thousands of dollars. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.

 

Rebuild Your Home

You need enough insurance to finance the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, which vary by area. Don’t confuse the amount of coverage you need with the market value of your home. You’re not insuring the land your home is built on, which makes up a significant portion of the overall value of your property.

The average policy is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding your home using today’s standard building materials and techniques. If you have an unusual, historical or custom-built home, you may want to contact a specialty insurer to ensure that you have sufficient coverage to replicate any special architectural elements. Those with older homes should consider additions to the policy that pay the cost of rebuilding their home to meet new building codes. Finally, if you’ve done any recent remodeling, make sure your insurance reflects the increased value of your home.

 

Replacing Your Valuables

If something happens to your home, chances are the items inside will be damaged or destroyed as well. Your coverage depends on the type of policy you have. A cost value policy pays the cost to replace your belongings minus depreciation. A replacement cost policy reimburses you for the cost to replace the items.

There are limits on the losses that can be claimed for expensive items, such as artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. You can get additional coverage for these types of items by purchasing supplemental premiums.

To determine if you have enough insurance, you need to have a good handle on the value of your personal items. Create a detailed home inventory file that keeps track of the items in your home and the cost to replace them.

 

Create a Home Inventory File

It takes time to inventory your possessions, but it’s time well spent. This extra preparation also helps to keep your mind at ease.  The best method for creating a home inventory list is to go through each room individually and record the items of significant value. You can also sweep through each room with a video or digital camera and document each of your belongings. Your home inventory file should include the following:

  • Item description and quantity
  • Manufacturer or brand name
  • Serial number or model number
  • Where the item was purchased
  • Receipt or other proof of purchase / photocopies of any appraisals—along with the name and address of the appraiser
  • Date of purchase (or age)
  • Current value
  • Replacement cost

Pay special attention to highly valuable items such as electronics, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. Simple inventory lists are available online.

 

Storing Your Home Inventory List

Make sure your inventory list and images are safely stored in case your home is damaged or destroyed. Keep them in a safe deposit box, at the home of a friend or relative, or on an online storage site. Some insurance companies provide online storage for digital files. (Storing them on your home computer does you no good if your computer is stolen or damaged.) Once your inventory file is set up, be sure to update it as you make new purchases.

We invest a lot in our homes, so it’s important we take the necessary measures to safeguard against financial and emotional loss in the wake of a disaster. Homeowners insurance is that safeguard. Be sure you’re properly covered.

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National Homeownership Month – First-Time Buyers

In recognition of National Homeownership Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the home buying process. Each home buying journey is unique, as are the challenges that people face en route to becoming a homeowner. These three stories of first-time homebuyers showcase the importance of working closely with an agent to navigate the buying process and find the perfect home.

 

Maria and Alvaro – Windermere Agent Team: The Brazens

Being first-time homebuyers, Maria and Alvaro knew they would have to adjust to the changes in the market. They were among a large influx of buyers buying during the pandemic, so they were aware that sellers had high expectations when it came to accepting an offer. A confluence of factors, including the pandemic, low interest rates, and many buyers’ desire for homes with more space, were igniting bidding wars left and right, with houses often going well above asking price. This also drove up listing prices on comparable homes in the area. These factors forced Maria and Alvaro to be flexible when it came to location and what they had previously considered “must-haves” for their ideal home at the beginning of their search.

They worked closely with their agents Taylor Brazen Tagge and Randi Brazen of The Brazens—a family-led real estate team based in Bellevue, Washington—to find the right competitive balance in what they were able to offer before hitting the market. This meant, in some cases, adjusting their expectations about what the “perfect” home was for them and having the patience to wait until they found it. They knew that when they time came; they would have to be aggressive in their approach.

Maria and Alvaro relied on Taylor and Randi throughout the buying process. The Brazen team’s knowledge of the Bellevue area provided the guidance and advice they were looking for to help them make informed decisions. The Brazens met with them at several showings, walked them through neighborhoods, and made themselves available to answer any and all questions they had along the way. The trust they formed in the early stages of working together laid a foundation for a friendship that translated to a successful experience navigating the market. They eventually found the home of their dreams, and although Maria and Alvaro miss working with the Brazens, they are grateful for the ultimate success of their home buying journey.

For Maria and Alvaro, homeownership is not just a financial investment; it is the start of a new chapter that will eventually provide the means for them to grow their family. They encourage buyers to be patient in finding their perfect home. It may be challenging at times, but the reward is so worth it.

 

Jocelyn – Windermere Agent: Nick Odermann

During her yearlong home search, Jocelyn’s expectations were quickly replaced with the reality of the hot housing market amid the pandemic. While touring homes, she realized that many listings were in worse condition than the photos implied, so she adjusted her expectations to remain levelheaded through the process. She experienced the pandemic buying frenzy first-hand when she was outbid multiple times and saw several homes sell for significantly higher prices than what they were listed for.

Luckily, Jocelyn had a trustworthy agent at her side by the name of Nick Odermann, who is one half of the Odermann Brothers team in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Together with his brother Steve, Nick helped Jocelyn navigate the challenges of finding a home in a seller’s market. Jocelyn was living in Southern California at the time, so she relied heavily on Nick’s judgement as he toured homes on her behalf. She had a specific vision of her dream home and Nick stayed true to it, quickly pointing out which homes would not suffice. When Jocelyn began to lose hope, Nick stayed positive. He was sure the perfect home was out there—and he was right.

For Jocelyn, homeownership is her path to adulthood. Now that she has a home, she looks forward to growing her pet care business. Becoming a homeowner was a major life goal of hers, and now that she’s achieved it with the help of her Windermere agent, she couldn’t be happier.

 

Jake – Windermere Agent: Taylor Hinds

It’s common for first-time homebuyers to learn as they go through the process, and Jake quickly discovered that information was the key to overcoming challenges. For example, he had no idea what earnest money was or that it was something he had to factor in on top of his mortgage. Learning that helped him work with his Seattle-area agent, Taylor Hinds, to form a strategy for making an offer.

Like the buyers above, Jake was buying in a hot seller’s market during the pandemic. He was surprised by how cash-ready sellers expected buyers to be. Luckily, he had a team behind him who were communicative and transparent throughout the whole process. When it came time to write a competitive offer, he leaned on Taylor’s expertise and advice to make the offer as attractive as possible, which eventually made all the difference in securing a home.

To Jake, homeownership means having a place to call your own, a place to be proud of. He looks forward to creating memories in his new home and building equity over time.

 

To begin your own home buying journey, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent today:

The post National Homeownership Month – First-Time Buyers appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

What Is Landlord Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

If you are a landlord, it’s important to take steps to properly protect yourself and your property before the renters move in. Landlord insurance helps fill in the gaps of coverage where homeowners insurance policies don’t apply and allows you to rest easy knowing your home is sufficiently covered while tenants occupy your property.

 

What is Landlord Insurance?

While homeowners insurance provides coverage for a home occupied by its owner(s), landlord insurance covers properties that are rented to short-term guests or long-term renters. If you plan on renting out a room while you stay in the home, your homeowners insurance policy may offer coverage, but it depends on factors like the number of renters and the length of their rental agreement(s), so check your policy first.

A typical landlord insurance policy will cover the following:

Property Damage

Property damage insurance ensures your home is protected against damage caused by natural disasters, fire, electrical mishaps, and more while your home is being rented. This typically covers the home itself, any detached structures on the rental property such as ADUs or garages, and any personal property you use to maintain the home.

 

Liability

If a renter or visitor suffers an injury on your property, your landlord insurance will help cover their medical costs and, if legal action is taken, legal costs. Liability costs can snowball quickly, and it’s important to have coverage in place to protect yourself from having to pay out a lump sum for hospital bills or a settlement. For example, if a renter steps through a floorboard while walking on the deck and hurts their leg, a court may decide that a lack of property maintenance was the cause of the injury, thus leaving you responsible. However unlikely the scenario may seem, having coverage in place is better than the alternative.

 

Rental Income Loss

Homes are prone to accidents and issues that can render them uninhabitable. If this happens at your rental, you won’t see rental income until the problem has been fixed. Most policies provide reimbursement for lost income during a time when you’re unable to rent out the property, as long the cause of the underlying issue is covered. For example—if you live in a climate that’s conducive to mold growth, a rapid spread of mold could put a halt on renting your property. Accordingly, you’d want to make sure your policy provides adequate coverage against damage caused by mold.

 

Why Do You Need Landlord Insurance?

In short, renting out your property and having landlord insurance go hand-in-hand. Because homeowners insurance is unlikely to provide sufficient coverage for your rental, you’ll need a separate policy that covers you specifically as a landlord. When shopping around for landlord insurance, make comparisons based on the needs of your rental property. For instance, if you have separate dwellings on the property, prioritize additional structures coverage when looking at different policies. If you’re looking to bundle your landlord insurance with your existing coverage, keep an eye out for bundling discounts.

 

For more information on managing your rental, read our article on how to Give Your Rental A Competitive Advantage.

The post What Is Landlord Insurance and Why Do You Need It? appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Where to Stay While You Sell Your Home

The time between selling a home and moving into a new one can be a challenging period for homeowners that leaves them with a basic question: Where should I live? In the interim, there are various housing options to choose from but picking the right one depends on your personal situation and the amount of time it will take until you move into your new home.

Once you know it’s time to sell your home, there are various factors that will have an influence on what housing is available to you. Your budget will help determine your options. For example, if you are already in contract with your new home, you might be looking to save some money in preparation for move-in costs. Seasonality plays a role as well. Talk to your agent about real estate trends in your local market to understand which housing options tend to be available at certain times of year.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Where to Stay While You Sell Your Home

 

In Your Home

There is the option to stay in your home while you sell it. If your home is still on the market, understand that a fully staged home will be fundamentally different from the one you’re used to. Once you’ve sold your home, there are additional options for staying as well. By working closely with your agent, you can negotiate a longer closing period or a rent-back agreement with the new owners. A rent-back agreement is an agreement between the two parties in which the seller rents their old home from the buyer for an agreed-upon period of time before the new buyers move in, allowing for a smooth transition to take place. Depending on the buyer’s urgency to move in and the competitiveness of the market, a rent-back agreement may not be feasible, but in the right situation it presents a mutually beneficial solution.

 

Apartment or Condo

Renting an apartment or condo while you wait to get into your new home can help make the transition easier. To avoid unpacking all your belongings only to have to pack them back up when it’s time to move again, try to find furnished listings in your area, or search for units that offer furnishing at an added cost. Although paying rent is an added expense, this set-up can help you stay organized throughout the moving process.

 

Friends & Family

If you have friends or family nearby that have space to accommodate you, they may be open to the idea of taking you in until you’re able to move into your new home. In this scenario, you’ll likely need to store your household items elsewhere, which will come with an added cost. Of all the options, this is typically the least expensive.

 

Short-Term Rentals

The short-term rental market offers a flexible approach to finding somewhere to stay. Filtering your results by location will allow you to select a place that won’t disrupt your daily routine. If you won’t be moving into your new home for an extended period of time, you can choose a rental with amenities accommodate your longer-term needs. Keep in mind, the cost of short-term rentals can easily add up, and in some cases may be more expensive than renting an apartment or condo.

 

Hotel

Another popular option for riding out the interim period between houses is staying at an extended-stay hotel. These hotels usually offer amenities that accommodate long-term living like a kitchen, living space, laundry services, a refrigerator, internet, and more.

For more information on selling your home, visit the Selling Page on our blog. To get an idea of what your home is worth, try our free home value calculator at the link below:

 

What’s my home worth?

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Designing Your Backyard for BBQs

Summer is the season of spending long days and nights out in the backyard and making home-cooked meals on the barbecue. Whether classic BBQ dishes like ribs and hamburgers or skewered grilled vegetables are more your style, these tips will help get your backyard in prime shape for grilling season.

 

Designing Your Backyard for BBQs

Some homeowners may choose to make their barbecue the focal point of their backyard, while others view it as something to accentuate more central features like a deck, patio, or outdoor kitchen. The grill alone will take up significant space, not to mention the crowd it can attract. With that in mind, avoid situating it in areas of high foot traffic, such as near the stairs of your deck or along a main walking path. You should also provide ample room between the barbecue and your backyard seating.

A simple charcoal grill is ideal for small spaces. It also allows you to be flexible with your barbecue setup. If you are hosting a gathering, you can simply move the grill if need be and rearrange your backyard to accommodate the occasion. Built-in barbecues provide a more robust grilling setup, while freeing up space on the deck or patio. Though built-ins are typically more expensive than a standalone grill, they are a hub for outdoor entertainment. For homeowners who enjoy grilling in the shade, or those who live in climates where it sometimes rains in the summer, covered barbecues may be the way to go. Pergolas, canopies, and awnings are all popular options for providing cover. Outdoor kitchens are the most comprehensive grilling setup. With countertop space, a sink, and the barbecue all within reach, all the prep work for your cookout can be done outside, right next to the grill.

 

Image Source: Getty Images

 

Once you’ve chosen the best barbecue for your backyard, it’s time to start designing around it. The right combination of seating will add the social touch to your barbecuing setup. Bench seating is a popular option for barbecuing on the deck, while tables and chairs out in the backyard lawn create more of a picnic-style feel. Installing a fire pit will bring an added element to you outdoor entertaining, helping to make the transition from an afternoon or evening barbecue into a night spent under the stars. Experiment with different fire pit styles to match the surrounding elements of your backyard. For those with built-in barbecues and outdoor kitchens, consider matching your fire pit’s stonework to tie the backyard together.

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