Good tidings we bring, with turkeys and things!

Agents from the Windermere Moses Lake office delivering 100 turkeys to the Moses Lake Food Bank.

 

 

Free turkey dinners and programs for women in need. Backpacks for children with food for the weekend. Scholarships for college so youth can realize their dreams. These are a few of our favorite things!

 

‘Tis the season of giving and Windermere offices across the Western U.S. are out donating to local non-profits and bringing good tidings and cheer to those who need a little extra help during the holidays. This is all made possible through the Windermere Foundation which is funded by donations from our agents, owners, and staff, as well as office fundraisers. Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund that can be used to support non-profits in their communities. Below are just a few examples of how our offices are giving back to local non-profits during the holidays and throughout the year.

 

Windermere Moses Lake

For the past five years, the Windermere office in Moses Lake, Washington has donated 100 Thanksgiving turkeys to the Moses Lake Food Bank. Since 2015, the office has supported the food bank and other local assistance programs with donations totaling over $13,000. Representatives from the Windermere office were on hand to help deliver the turkeys to the food bank this year, which provided 1,278 families with Thanksgiving meals.

 

Windermere Homes and Estates

The Windermere Homes and Estate group of offices in Southern California (San Diego-Downtown, Scripps Ranch, South Carlsbad-Aviara, Temecula, and The Plaza at Aviara/South Carlsbad) pooled their Windermere Foundation funds together to make a $15,000 donation to support Feeding San Diego’s backpack program.

 

Holiday and summer breaks are especially hard on families who are reliant on school meal programs. This program aims to meet the nutritional needs of food insecure children over weekends and school holidays. Each child receives an easy-to-carry bag filled with nutritious staple items and fresh produce when leaving school on Thursday or Friday afternoons. Feeding San Diego works closely with 150 partner agencies to provide food and resources to individuals and families across San Diego. According to research by Feeding America, 26 percent of those served by partner agencies are under the age of 18 and 10 percent are under 5.

 

Photo courtesy of Feeding San Diego

 

Windermere Missoula

The Windermere office in Missoula, Montana donated $1,550 to Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development, Inc. (WORD). Its mission is to strengthen our community by creating opportunities that support and inspire women. Its programs offer support, education, and training to empower women and their families to move from a place of need to a place of independence, participation and choice.

 

Windermere Headquarters

The team at Windermere’s head office in Seattle donated $2,500 to the Marcus Trufant Family Foundation (MTFF) to support its annual holiday fundraising event. MTFF awards college scholarships to under-represented students in the greater Seattle area and partnering communities. The Foundation also provides programs of fundamental support needed to achieve life goals. Last year, MTFF awarded over 300 scholarships to youth to help them achieve their dreams of going to college.

 

Thanks to everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation we have been able to make a significant difference in the lives of many families in communities throughout the Western U.S. And this year, we have also proudly reached our goal of raising over $40 million in total donations since 1989.

 

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation or to make a donation, please visit WindermereFoundation.com.

 

2020 Economic & Housing Market Forecast

As we head toward the end of the year, it’s time to recap how the U.S. economy and housing markets performed this year and offer my predictions for 2020.

 

U.S. Economy

In general, the economy performed pretty much as I expected this year: job growth slowed but the unemployment rate still hovers around levels not seen since the late 1960s.

Following the significant drop in corporate tax rates in January 2018, economic growth experience a big jump. However, we haven’t been able to continue those gains and I doubt we’ll return to 2%+ growth next year. Due to this slowing, I expect GDP to come in at only +1.4% next year. Non-residential fixed investment has started to wane as companies try to anticipate where economic policy will move next year. Furthermore, many businesses remain concerned over ongoing trade issues with China.

In 2020, I expect payrolls to continue growing, but the rate of growth will slow as the country adds fewer than 1.7 million new jobs. Due to this hiring slow down, the unemployment rate will start to rise, but still end the year at a very respectable 4.1%.

Many economists, including me, spent much of 2019 worried about the specter of a looming recession in 2020. Thankfully, such fears have started to wane (at least for now).

Despite some concerning signs, the likelihood that we will enter a recession in 2020 has dropped to about 26%. If we manage to stave off a recession in 2020, the possibility of a slowdown in 2021 is around 74%. That said, I fully expect that any drop in growth will be mild and will not negatively affect the U.S. housing market.

 

Existing Homes

As I write this article, full-year data has yet to be released. However, I feel confident that 2019 will end with a slight rise in home sales. For 2020, I expect sales to rise around 2.9% to just over 5.5 million units.

Home prices next year will continue to rise as mortgage rates remain very competitive. Look for prices to increase 3.8% in 2020 as demand continues to exceed supply and more first-time buyers enter the market.

In the year ahead, I expect the share of first-time buyers to grow, making them a very significant component of the housing market. 

 

New Homes

The new-home market has been pretty disappointing for most of the year due to significant obstacles preventing builders from building. Land prices, labor and material costs, and regulatory fees make it very hard for builders to produce affordable housing. As a result, many are still focused on the luxury market where there are profits to be made, despite high demand from entry-level buyers.

Builders are aware of this and are doing their best to deliver more affordable product. As such, I believe single-family housing starts will rise next year to 942,000 units—an increase of 6.8% over 2019 and the highest number since 2007.

As the market starts to deliver more units, sales will rise just over 5%, but the increase in sales will be due to lower priced housing. Accordingly, new home prices are set to rise just 2.5% next year.

 

Mortgage Rates

Next year will still be very positive from a home-financing perspective, with the average rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage averaging under 4%. That said, if there are significant improvements in trade issues with China, this forecast may change, but not significantly.

 

Conclusion

In this coming year, affordability issues will persist in many markets around the country, such as San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Jose; Seattle; and Bend, Oregon. The market will also continue to favor home sellers, but we will start to move more toward balance, resulting in another positive year overall for U.S. housing. 

 

 

About Matthew Gardner:

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 University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Home Security for the Holidays

The holiday season can bring joy and peace, but it can also bring package thieves and burglary. Stay safe this winter by taking a few precautions with your home security. From old-school security tricks to new digital home monitoring tools, there are many options when it comes to keeping our homes safe and preserving that sensibility. 

 

Upgrade your locks:

A poorly installed deadbolt can make it easy for an intruder to kick in your door. Start by making sure that your door frames are in good condition and then look into getting a higher quality deadbolt. You’ll find everything from classic models with keys, or digital options that require passcodes or a fingerprint.

It’s also a good idea to check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks. It goes without saying, leaving windows open during the summer is a bad idea – especially those that can be easily accessed.

 

Exterior and interior home lighting:

Having your exterior lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime snoopers.  Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.

If you will be gone from your home for an extended period, consider using timed lighting options in your home to make it appear someone is around. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas. Also, you can program a radio to turn on and off for sound.

 

Alarm systems:

If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems.  If you choose to do-it-yourself, you will want to install motion detectors on doors and windows – especially those that can be easily accessed on the ground floor. In most cases, these kits also offer a 24-hour call service for an extra fee.

Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors/ fire prevention system. These services are expensive up front but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. And keep in mind, having a home security system installed can also reduce your insurance rates.

If installing an alarm system is cost-prohibitive or does not fit your lifestyle, consider purchasing stickers and a sign that state that your home is monitored by a trusted security system, and place them so they are visible at every entrance.

 

Security cameras:

Security cameras are readily available for home installation. You can install these in prominently viewed places to deter burglars. There are do-it-yourself install options and professional systems that come along with monitoring services. There are even options that will work with your smartphone.

If the cost of security cameras is too steep for your budget, you can purchase fake cameras to act as a visible deterrent for intruders.

 

Build your community:

Programs like Neighborhood Watch are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.

Four Holiday Décor Trends to Inspire You This Season

The holiday season is here and for many of us, that means it’s time to deck the halls. If you’re looking for some inspiration and a place to start, here are some ideas that are certain to get everyone in the spirit. 

 

A Tree of a Different Color

Photo Credit: Left – Lushome, Center – HGTV, Right – Christmas365

For many, there’s nothing more quintessential during the holidays than a Christmas tree decked out in ornaments. But acquiring a tree can be challenging and expensive. Moreover, housing a tree consumes time and space. That’s why we love the idea of an alternative tree. There are plenty of options you can buy online or create yourself using things you probably already have around the house. And if you miss the smell of a real tree, try a scented candle or essential oils. 

 

The Season of Lights

Photo Credit: Amara

There’s something perpetually charming about twinkling lights. Whether you’re wrapping them around your front porch or adorning your fireplace mantle, extra lights deliver a warm glow during the holiday season. Getting creative and adding light to otherwise unexpected places, including bookcases, around headboards, or even in glassware, is a great way to keep everything looking merry and bright. 

 

Act Natural

Photo Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

Not all holiday climates are built alike. If you’re expecting a white Christmas, you’re probably used to pine trees and winter brush, but for those of you located in regions where the mercury doesn’t drop, sprinkling in natural elements can transform your home into a wintery oasis. Holly and pine needles add a traditional touch, or consider a wreath of olive branches with some sleigh bells interspersed.

 

Bring it All Home at Dinner

Photo Credit: Amara

When decorating for the holidays, don’t forget the table! A sprig of holly adds a festive touch to your place settings. And instead of the traditional centerpiece, try placing candles in glass vases or mason jars to give your tablescape that added touch of holiday pizzazz.