Relocating For Remote Work

relocating for remote work

As the ubiquity of working from home continues, many homeowners are making the decision to move. Whether the motivation for relocating is to lower the cost of living, to be closer to family, or simply a fresh start, there are various factors to keep in mind when relocating for remote work.

Before You Relocate

Before you make the jump to a new life in a new place, making time for some strategic planning will help ensure your relocation goes as smoothly as possible. A logical first step is to consider the financial impact of your move. Depending on your company’s policy, there may be adjustments to your pay when you relocate. If this is the case, factor in your pay change as you form your relocation budget. Research the cost of living in your new hometown to understand how a compensation adjustment may affect your home search and your lifestyle once you move.

If you are moving out of state, relocating could affect your benefits and your taxes as well. There’s a chance that your employer’s health insurance plan does not offer coverage in the state you’re moving to. Talk to your employer to discuss your options. Before moving out-of-state, find out whether the two states have a reciprocal tax agreement, especially if you’re moving between states that have differing income tax regulations.

Your New Home for Remote Work

Working remote has given homeowners the freedom to choose their desired location, unbound by a work commute, especially if their company has indicated that there are no clear signs of returning to in-person work anytime soon. Knowing your desired work environment will help to tailor your home search. If you’re looking for peace and quiet while you work, explore listings in rural areas. If the hubbub of city life is your idea of a comforting backdrop, direct your attention to metropolitan areas.

For the remote worker, it’s more important than ever that your home accommodates your working needs. As many homeowners have experienced throughout the pandemic, you spend a great deal of time in your home office, so finding the home with the best workspace for you should be a priority. If you desire a private area where you can focus, a home with an open floor plan may not be the best choice. Instead, you may want to look for homes with a separate bonus room or extra bedroom.

Once you’ve moved into your new home, it’s time to put together your home office. Whether your previous home office was a professionally curated environment or a makeshift workspace in the corner of a room, a new home means a fresh start for your remote work. Like many homeowners, by now you’ve likely got a solid grasp on what your ideal home office looks like. Keep those elements alive when relocating for remote work and enjoy productive workdays in your new home.

Madison Park realtor

Posted on March 8, 2021 at 11:21 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends | Tagged

Getting a Second Mortgage

Getting A Second Mortgage

Second mortgages are not as common as they once were, and getting one is not as easy as it used to be, but even with the recent financial pressures that many of us are facing in this economy, there are still a number of options that can allow you to get one. Whether it’s the ability to use the existing equity of your home to help you get through a tough time, or to finance home improvements, a second mortgage in some cases can be the best financial option.

What Is It?

While there are still a number of choices for getting a second mortgage, it is usually possible only when you have existing equity in your home. It differs from refinancing your home in a few ways. The most important thing to remember is the 80% rule, which affects the amount that you can borrow on a second mortgage, and will likely be less than if you refinanced. For example, if you own a $200,000 home and still owe $100,000, the 80% rule means that you can borrow up to 80% of the value of your home, minus the outstanding amount. So in this case, 80% of $200,000 is $160,000. Subtract from this what you still owe—$100, 000. This equals $60,000, which would be the maximum amount you could borrow. The second mortgage on paper becomes a lien against your home.

Is A Second Mortgage Right For You?

In general, and especially in this economy, a second mortgage can often be obtained at a lower interest rate than refinancing, and there are no closing costs associated with this type of borrowing. There are some restrictions, however, on what kind of expenses can be covered with a second mortgage. Lenders usually provide second mortgages for costs associated with home improvements and renovations, as these expenses will increase the value of your home. They also will consider a second mortgage for emergency medical expenses, to fund your child’s education, or for debt consolidation if it is financially reasonable.

In general, a second mortgage may be the right choice for your particular financial situation and can be a smart way to fund much needed home improvements. Remember, it is always important to go to a few lenders to get the best offer possible, and to be sure you are only borrowing from a reputable and established institution. If you would like a mortgage broker recommendation please reach out.

Posted on February 23, 2021 at 5:48 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends | Tagged

We’re not in a housing bubble

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited

The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

In real estate, supply and demand are measured in “months’ supply of inventory,” which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months’ supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers’ market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a sellers’ market in which prices normally appreciate.

Between 2006 and 2008, the months’ supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months’ supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.

Months’ inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at 1.9 months – a historic low.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

2. This time, housing demand is real

During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance, called “irrational exuberance.” The definition of the term is, “unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors.” Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.

The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.

In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of “home” and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today’s demand is very real.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

3. This time, households have plenty of equity

Again, during the housing boom, it wasn’t just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out $824 billion dollars in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.

Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.

This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau data, over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned ‘free and clear’ (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity Report, which revealed:

“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States.”

If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That’s significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.

Bottom Line

This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.

If you would like to discuss the current market and how it impacts you please reach out. 

Posted on February 16, 2021 at 10:55 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

Q4 2020 Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

Q4 2020 Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

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.

 

REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

After the COVID-19-induced declines, employment levels in Western Washington continue to rebuild. Interestingly, the state re-benchmarked employment numbers, which showed that the region lost fewer jobs than originally reported. That said, regional employment is still 133,000 jobs lower than during the 2020 peak in February. The return of jobs will continue, but much depends on new COVID-19 infection rates and when the Governor can reopen sections of the economy that are still shut down. Unemployment levels also continue to improve. At the end of the quarter, the unemployment rate was a very respectable 5.5%, down from the peak rate of 16.6% in April. The rate varies across Western Washington, with a low of 4.3% in King County and a high of 9.6% in Grays Harbor County. My current forecast calls for employment levels to continue to improve as we move through the spring. More robust growth won’t happen until a vaccine becomes widely distributed, which is unlikely to happen before the summer.

WESTERN WASHINGTON HOME SALES

❱ Sales continued to impress, with 23,357 transactions in the quarter. This was an increase of 26.6% from the same period in 2019, but 8.3% lower than in the third quarter of last year, likely due to seasonality.

❱ Listing activity remained very low, even given seasonality. Total available inventory was 37.3% lower than a year ago and 31.2% lower than in the third quarter of 2020.

❱ Sales rose in all counties, with San Juan County seeing the greatest increase. This makes me wonder if buyers are actively looking in more remote markets given ongoing COVID-19 related concerns.

❱ Pending sales—a good gauge of future closings—were 25% higher than a year ago but down 31% compared to the third quarter of 2020. This is unsurprising, given limited inventory and seasonal factors.

WESTERN WASHINGTON HOME PRICES

❱ Home price growth in Western Washington continued the trend of above-average appreciation. Prices were up 17.4% compared to a year ago, with an average sale price of $617,475.

❱ Year-over year price growth was strongest in Lewis and Grays Harbor counties. Home prices declined in San Juan County which is notoriously volatile because of its small size.

❱ It is interesting to note that home prices were only 1% higher than third quarter of 2020. Even as mortgage rates continued to drop during the quarter, price growth slowed, and we may well be hitting an affordability ceiling in some markets.

❱ Mortgage rates will stay competitive as we move through 2021, but I expect to see price growth moderate as we run into affordability issues, especially in the more expensive counties.

DAYS ON MARKET

❱ 2020 ended with a flourish as the average number of days it took to sell a home in the final quarter dropped by a very significant 16 days compared to a year ago.

❱ Snohomish County was again the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 15 days to sell. The only county that saw the length of time it took to sell a home rise compared to the same period a year ago was small Jefferson County, but it was only an increase of four days.

❱ Across the region, it took an average of 31 days to sell a home in the quarter. It is also worth noting that, even as we entered the winter months, it took an average of five fewer days to sell a home than in the third quarter of last year.

❱ The takeaway here is that demand clearly remains strong, and competition for the few homes available to buy continues to push days on market lower.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

Demand has clearly not been impacted by COVID-19, mortgage rates are still very favorable, and limited supply is causing the region’s housing market to remain incredibly active. Because of these conditions, I am moving the needle even further in favor of sellers.

2021 is likely to lead more homeowners to choose to move if they can work from home, which will continue to drive sales growth and should also lead to more inventory. That said, affordability concerns in markets close to Western Washington’s job centers, in combination with modestly rising mortgage rates, should slow the rapid home price appreciation we have seen for several years. I, for one, think that is a good thing.

Madison Park realtor

Posted on January 27, 2021 at 6:32 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

2021 Housing Market

2021 housing market

WINDERMERE INSIGHTS: WHAT THE 2021 HOUSING MARKET HOLDS

It’s no secret that the events of 2020 turned entire industries on their heads, from restaurants and retail to real estate itself. While the housing market certainly experienced a dip at the outset of the pandemic, for the last several months the local market has seen inventory diminish, demand skyrocket and mortgage rates fall. Although there is no sign of a typical winter slow-down, we have yet to see what 2021 has in store.

To get a more holistic look at what these next 12 months hold for the 2021 housing market, the W Report sat down with some of Windermere’s real estate leaders to take a peek into their crystal ball.

We began with Matt Deasy, President of Windermere East, Inc., who takes a practical approach to his forecast. “Our low level of inventory is in uncharted territory,” he points out, “so predicting the market is harder than usual.”

We asked Deasy if 2021 could see builders add enough new construction to lessen the current inventory shortage. He says that while there has been little change to the slow pace of single family new construction, new condominium projects could start to add some units to the market. “High rise condos could be different,” he says. “What happens to demand is still in question, but several projects are being delivered, including The Emerald and Spire.”

Windermere Midtown’s Tamara Marson agrees that condos could offer a positive outlook for buyers in 2021. As Co-chairperson of the Seattle Condominium Network, she offered us her insight on the state of the Seattle condo market.

“This market will improve as buyers gain confidence in COVID-19 relief from vaccines. That will deliver some vibrancy to condominium neighborhoods,” Marson says. “Low interest rates will drive some buyers to come to the market, particularly if the rates increase. And the low number of sales in 2020, particularly in downtown buildings and some neighborhoods, has contributed to buyers watching prices decrease and waiting for the best bargains.”

Marson also believes that the job market in Seattle could continue to help the condo market improve in 2021. “In-migration may also increase as some travel restrictions are reduced and hiring continues,” she says. “If inventory does not spike and demand sees some increase, the market will improve.”

Next, we turned to Laura Smith, co-owner and designated broker of Windermere Real Estate Co., to get her take on how brokers can help buyers find additional housing options in spite of the current low inventory.

“In short, the answer is to help identify more homeowners willing to sell,” Smith says. “We are coaching brokers on how to uncover more potential inventory by doing equity analyses with homeowners. The lens of education is key here — educating prospective sellers about their equity, their home’s market prospects, what it will take to get their home prepared for market, etc. This way more prospective sellers will be able to make informed, confident decisions.”

Smith also reminds brokers of the resources Windermere can offer buyers and sellers. “We have a program — Windermere Ready — that helps sellers prepare their homes for market with minimal effort and no upfront costs,” she says. “We also have a fantastic bridge loan product that enables sellers to make their next move before selling their current residence. So if some homeowners don’t feel fully empowered as prospective sellers or buyers, our brokers have access to programs and tools that will boost their clients’ confidence as they consider entering the market.”

We also asked Windermere Capitol Hill owner and designated broker Pat Grimm what he saw coming in his crystal ball for 2021. “I actually have a crystal ball on my desk and it isn’t telling me anything,” Grimm says. “My gut says that 2021 will be an extremely active year. The amount of upheaval and disruption in people’s lives is unprecedented. The pandemic has caused a lot of introspection and reflection and all that equates to life-altering events, which is the fundamental driver of real estate sales. If we can finally see the pandemic in the rearview mirror by mid-year, the balance of this year will feel like VJ Day back in 1945… We could see a baby boom that will drive demand into 2022.”

As brokers and clients have adapted to the unusual circumstances presented by the pandemic, one can’t help but wonder if the use of remote technologies and substitutions for face-to-face transactions will become the new normal. Patrick Chinn, President of Windermere Midtown, shared his thoughts with us.

“Honestly, most brokers can’t wait for things to get back to normal so they can tour properties, host open houses and meet with clients at the same frequency and level they did pre-pandemic,” he says. “But we’ll definitely see some digitally-based listing tools — like QR code flyers and 3D tours — remain and be relied upon when things get ‘back to normal.’ There’s continued opportunity for brokers to engage with immersive technologies. And remote scheduling tools for showing homes — like the Showing Time app from our MLS — may well supplant the traditional broker-to-broker phone call to schedule a showing.”

With these insights in hand, it’s up to brokers and their clients to decide how they would like to navigate the 2021 housing market and prepare for a post-pandemic world. Luckily, with local leadership and sound advice from Windermere’s own experts, they won’t have to do it alone.

In fact, Patrick Chinn is already pondering the finer points of life after the pandemic. “My big question,” he says, “is whether elbow-bumps will have to be as much of a thing post-COVID.”

His answer? “I think it’s inevitable that celebratory handshakes will be fully back at some point.”

Madison Park realtor

Posted on January 25, 2021 at 6:29 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

How to Increase Your Buying Power

Seattle home buying

How to Increase Your Buying Power

One of the best ways prospective home buyers can empower themselves when purchasing a home is to improve their buying power. The numbers may seem daunting but identifying ways to strengthen your financial standing will help you each step of the way.

When visualizing your dream home, it’s common for buyers to focus on the physical characteristics. But to mortgage lenders, a home is a numbers game. The following categories related to your buying power demonstrate how lenders identify your financial standing and determine your eligibility for a home purchase. Improvements in these areas will increase your buying power, propelling the strength of your offer when you’re ready to put it on the table.

Increase savings for your down payment

As the saying goes, cash is king. The down payment—often 20% of the home’s sale price—can sometimes be the deciding factor between competing offers for a particular home.

Try stashing away a little of each paycheck to build up your savings over time. Set a savings goal, commit a dedicated amount to each pay period, and watch the savings build as time goes on. If you prefer to keep your money separate, open a new account to which you can dedicate the added savings. Another way to save for your down payment is to generate additional income. If you have interest or experience in an area outside of your current job, explore opportunities for part-time work and dedicate the income earned to your down payment savings.

There are numerous benefits to offering a serious down payment. Putting 20% or more down can help your offer stand out, it may allow you to negotiate a lower interest rate on your mortgage and could remove the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Improve your credit score

 Plain and simple—a better credit score leads to better interest rate on your mortgage. Your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit all factor into your credit score. Although improving it will not happen overnight, a higher credit score will pay dividends in the long run.

To improve your credit score, focus on paying down your credit cards, especially those with high interest. Refrain from opening new lines of credit that aren’t necessary and stay away from large purchases leading up to the time when you are preparing to make an offer. Keep in mind that student loans factor into your financial picture. Paying them off consistently will improve your financial standing in the eyes of lenders.

Stabilize your debt to increase buying power

When assessing what you can afford, banks will examine your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders want to know that you’ll be able to pay your mortgage on top of your remaining debt.

They do this by looking at your housing ratio, or front-end ratio, to determine what portion of your income will go to paying your mortgage. Your front-end ratio is calculated by taking your monthly mortgage payment and dividing by your monthly gross income. The higher the ratio, the higher risk of default.

Next, your back-end ratio, or debt-to-income ratio, is used to determine how much of your monthly income goes toward paying your debts. Your back-end ratio is calculated by taking your monthly debt expense (the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance of your mortgage payments, credit card payments, student loans, and any other loan payments), and dividing it by your gross monthly income.

Similar to your credit score, paying off credit cards, and making steady, consistent progress on your loans will help to decrease your debt and improve your debt-to-income ratios, which will increase your buying power.

Although these aspects of your finances don’t cover everything that goes into the purchase of a home, they do play a significant role in how lenders assess your financial standing and thereby eligibility for approval. Increasing your buying power takes time and strategy. Plan accordingly so that when you find your dream home, you’re in the best position possible to buy it.

Madison Park realtor

Posted on December 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

Price Your Home For Sale

It’s natural for sellers to want to get every step of the selling process right, but a successful home sale depends on an accurate listing price. Your real estate agent will work closely with you to set the price, but in the meantime, you can use  the following information to better understand what goes into this process. .

 

What factors influence home prices?

 

Understanding what factors influence home prices will give you a deeper knowledge of the market, give clarity to the selling process, and help you work toward the accurate listing price of your home.

 

Comparable home sales – price your home for sale 

Comparable home sales—or “comps”—have a major impact on the price of your home. Comps refer to the comparable homes in your area, both pending and sold, within the last six months. Your Windermere agent can provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to better determine the price of your home. CMAs factor in aspects, such as square footage, age, and lot size compared to other homes in your area, to determine how your home should be priced among the competition.

 

Your home’s location

Naturally, you home’s location plays a significant role in its asking price. Depending on the market conditions in your area, whether you reside in a metropolitan, suburban, or rural location, and the home’s proximity to amenities, schools, and entertainment all contribute to the price.

 

The home’s condition

If you have recently invested in upgrades or other maintenance projects for your home, they could increase your asking price. However, the price increase potential depends on the kind of renovation, its ROI, and how valuable it is to buyers in your area. If the home is in need of repair, it will likely fetch less interest than better maintained homes at your price point. Any outstanding repairs or projects looming overhead will make the home less attractive to buyers and could lead to a low appraisal.

 

Seasonality

Any factors that impact market supply and demand are worth taking into consideration when preparing to price your home, and seasonality is one that cannot be overlooked. Typically, market activity slows in the winter and picks up during the spring and summer months. However, market seasonality varies region to region. Talk to your Windermere agent about the seasonality trends in your area and how they factor into your asking price. 

 

Market conditions

Naturally, all sellers want to price their home competitively, but what a competitive price looks like depends on the market conditions, such as whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market. Some sellers think that pricing their home over market value means they’ll sell for more money, but the opposite is often true. Overpricing your home presents various dangers, such as sitting on the market too long, which can result in selling for well below what it’s worth.

 

What’s your home worth?

 

Nothing can replace the professional knowledge and local expertise of a real estate agent, but automated valuation models (AVMs) can be a helpful first step in determining what your home is worth. Like comps, AVMs assess your home by comparing its information with the listings in your area.

 

If you’re curious about your home’s value, Windermere offers a tool that provides a series of evaluations on your property and the surrounding market. You can find it here.

 

These are the basic tenets for understanding what goes into the price of a home. When you’re ready, I’d be happy to connect to interpret and expand on this information, perform a CMA for your home, and be the expert in your selling journey.

Madison Park realtor

Posted on December 9, 2020 at 9:53 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

40% of Seattle Homes are Selling Above Ask

Driven by low inventory and increased buyer urgency during the coronavirus pandemic, the Seattle area housing market has seen a significant number of homes selling above ask recently.

Zillow recently published a new report indicating that 44% of homes sold above ask in September, up from 25% of homes in September 2019. Particularly impacted were homes in the $405-515K range. Defined in the report as the lower fifth of all homes, a whopping 52% of homes in this band ended up selling above ask. 

This isn’t limited to just Seattle. Around the country, around 22% of all homes sold above ask, the highest percentage since January 2018. While it is not uncommon for homes to sell above ask, the percentages of homes doing so is largely unprecedented. The local 44% of homes selling above ask in Seattle ranked the region as the fourth highest nationally. San Francisco led the nation in homes selling above ask, with 49% of homes attaining higher prices, Buffalo (46%) and Milwaukee (44%) rounded out the top three.

If you are interested in seeing which neighborhoods in Seattle have had the highest numbers of homes selling above asking price, I update my Seattle Real Estate Trends page monthly.

While local economic factors are crucial in selling above ask, home preparation is also very important. If you are considering listing your home to take advantage of the unusual buyer urgency, it is wise to connect with a local realtor that understands what buyers are looking for and how to prepare your home to be universally appealing to attract multiple offers. If you are looking for a realtor that knows how to maximize a home’s potential and market it efficiently here is more information.

Posted on November 24, 2020 at 5:50 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

Hosting the Holidays

Hosting the Holidays

Are you hosting the holidays this year? Whether you’re planning on having visitors fill your home with holiday cheer or keeping the holiday celebrations to a minimum, there are steps you can take to reduce the stresses of gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many homeowners have become accustomed to applying the following principles to their at-home lifestyles thus far this year, and this holiday season is no different.

 

Disinfect

The first step in getting your home ready for the holidays is to disinfect. When preparing to host, it’s natural to tidy up your home and give everything a cleanse with soap and water. However, additional measures need to be taken this year to reduce the risk of spreading germs.

 

  • Proper disinfectants: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends a 70% alcohol solution—or four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water—for reducing the chance of spreading COVID-19. Be sure to ventilate your home as you prepare to disinfect to avoid any harmful effects of toxins. After applying the bleach solution, let it stand for up to ten minutes before wiping it off.
  • Surfaces: The most problematic surfaces for germs are high-touch areas. Doorknobs, banisters, toilets, sinks, refrigerator and door handles, light switches, and faucets are all likely candidates for spreading germs, so be sure to direct your disinfecting attention there.
  • Your guests: In any event itinerary or reminders you send out, make sure to emphasize the importance of frequent hand washing, especially before and after touching communal items and eating. On the day your visitors come over, provide plenty of disposable towels and hand sanitizer in eating areas, food-prepping stations, and bathrooms. Place garbage cans nearby to reduce contact.

 

Keep a Distance

As the host, you have the opportunity to create a cozy, comfortable environment that still leaves room for practicing social distancing and other preventative measures. Know that indoor gatherings with poor ventilation pose a greater risk than those with good ventilation and that indoor gatherings are altogether more risky than outdoor. Members of different households should remain six feet apart to reduce the chance of spreading infection. Encourage masks to be worn at all times except when eating.

If you are planning an outdoor gathering, get creative with your lighting décor while adding some warmth for your guests. Space heaters, patio heaters, parasol heaters, and propane fireplaces have become more popular as homeowners look for ways to entertain safely and comfortably.

 

Virtual Gatherings

If hosting the holidays is too risky for you and your family, virtual gatherings are a way to celebrate with friends and extended family members while being apart. Here are some ideas for hosting virtually this holiday season:

 

  • Choose fun activities for the group to share virtually. Arrange a time for a virtual gift exchange, sharing the gifts you’ve bought each other.
  • Try a virtual recipe share with friends and family. Send out a recipe for everyone to enjoy and schedule a video call to share in the cooking process.
  • Select a movie and showtime to have everyone settle in with their cup of hot cocoa or tea and enjoy a flick together.

 

No matter the size of the gathering in your home, these steps will help you navigate the stresses that come with hosting the holidays. For more information and advice for gatherings during what will be a unique holiday season, visit the CDC’s website here: CDC Guidelines for Holiday Celebrations

Chris Reis is a Windermere Real Estate Broker serving Seattle.

Posted on November 16, 2020 at 7:50 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends

How to Hold Title

how to hold title

How to hold title in Washington

You can hold title in 5 separate ways – each with its advantages and disadvantages, depending on your situation and how you want ownership to transfer in case of death, divorce or sale.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy involves two or more people holding title to real estate jointly, with equal rights to enjoy the property. In case one of the holders passes away, that individuals rights of ownership pass to the surviving tenant(s).

Advantage

The major advantage of this method is that the parties in the ownership need not be married or related.

Disadvantage

The downside is that any financing or use of the property for financial gain must be approved by all parties and cannot be transferred by will after one passes. If the parties are not married, in order to get out of the title, they must petition the court to divide the property or order its sale.

Tenancy in Common

With tenancy in common, two or more persons hold title to real estate jointly, with equal rights to enjoy the property during their lives. Unlike joint tenancy, tenants in common hold title individually for their part of the property and can sell it at will. Ownership can be willed to other parties, and in the event of death, ownership will transfer to that owner’s heirs undivided.

Advantage

Tenancy in common allows for one owner to use the wealth created by their portion of the property as collateral for financial transactions, and creditors can place liens only against one owner’s particular portion of the property.

Disadvantage 

There must be clean title in Washington for a property to sell. Therefore, any liens on the property must be cleared in order for a total transfer of ownership to take place.

Tenants By Entirety

Tenants by entirety is ownership in real estate under the fictional assumption that husband and wife are one person for legal purposes. This method conveys ownership to them as one person, with title transferred to the other in entirety if one of them dies. This method can only be used when owners are legally husband and wife.

Advantage

The advantage of this method is that there is no need for a will, and probate or other legal action isn’t necessary. Ownership automatically passes to surviving spouse.

Disadvantage

Conveyance of the property must be done together and the property cannot be subdivided. In the case of divorce this type of title automatically converts to a tenancy in common, meaning that one owner can transfer ownership of their respective part of the property to whomever they wish.

Sole Ownership

Sole ownership can be characterized as ownership by an individual or entity legally capable of holding title. The most common sole ownerships are held by single men and women, married men or women who hold property apart from their spouse, and businesses with corporate structure allowing it to invest in or hold interest in real estate.

Advantage

The main advantage is the ease with which transactions can be accomplished because no other party needs to be contacted to authorize a sale.

Disadvantage 

The big drawback is the potential for legal issues to arise regarding transfer of ownership should the sole owner die or be incapacitated. A will would need to exist or transfer of ownership can become very complex.

Community Property

Community property is a form of ownership by husband and wife during their marriage. Under community property, either spouse has the right to dispose of their half of the property or will it to another party.

Real estate that is acquired during a common-law marriage will also be considered to be held as community property.

 

If you have any questions about how to hold title in your purchase please reach out and I would be happy to help. If you have other questions about purchasing real estate, the Windermere buyers page is a good resource.

Posted on November 10, 2020 at 5:11 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Real Estate Trends