Q3 2019 Reports: Market Update

Q3 Market Snapshot for Seattle and the Eastside

 

Q3 was the most stable and balanced market we have seen in years. With very low mortgage interest rates compelling buyers to act and fewer homes for sale than we saw last fall (when a flood of homes came to market), buyers and sellers are each finding their own place in a more equitable real estate arena.

 

Approximately 41% of homes for sale in Q3 sold at or above their listed price. This segment was on the market for an average of just seven days and included the most highly desired and well-priced properties in mainstream price points. Of the remaining homes for sale, just over one third underwent a price reduction before resulting in a sale. That number increased steadily as we moved deeper into Q3, ending the quarter with an average of 43% of listed homes with sales occurring following a price reduction.

 

From a home buyer’s perspective, the best properties sold quickly and at a premium. Of the homes that remained on the market, there was ample room for negotiation to a fair price. Q3 home sellers were generally more informed and more likely to price realistically from the start and adjust quickly if they were off target.

 

This more balanced market afforded many more consumers the ability to comfortably complete a sell/buy transaction and with enough time and space to thoroughly conduct due diligence on prospective properties.

 

Click or scroll down to find your area report:

Seattle | Eastside | Mercer Island | Condos | Waterfront

 

Is it a Buyer's or Seller's Market?

 


SEATTLE

The Seattle in-city real estate market slowed from a racetrack inferno to cruising speed over the past year and a half. Prices softened an average of 2% in Q3 with the Central Seattle region feeling the biggest impact (down 7.6% from Q3 2018). The Ballard-Green Lake region had the highest number of Q3 sales (582) while the Lake Forest Park-Kenmore area boasted the most affordable cost per home square foot ($340). When it comes to returns, Lake Forest Park-Kenmore, South Seattle, and Richmond Beach-Shoreline were nearly tied for the strongest five-year growth trend at 73.9%, 73.3% and 73.2% respectively.

Seattle Q3 2019 Recap

Click here to view the complete report for a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of Average Sale Price, size, and number of homes sold.

Seattle Report

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EASTSIDE

Stimulated by announced expansion from the top names in tech, the Eastside is the place to be right now. Buyers found far fewer homes for sale—nearly 25% less—in Q3 than they did just one year ago. Sale prices in Kirkland, bolstered by recent announcements from Google and Tableau, were up an average of 15.4% over Q3 2018. Prices near the Microsoft campus, where the Spring District is coming online, where up 3.2%. The West Bellevue market saw a lower Median Sale Price which was attributable to fewer high-end sales in Q3 this year compared to last year. All in all, the Eastside had a very good quarter. Home sellers should be pleased with their returns and home buyers should feel good about purchasing in a robust market.

Eastside Q3 2019 Recap

Click here for the full report and neighborhood-by-neighborhood statistics!

Eastside Review

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MERCER ISLAND

Mercer Island experienced continued slowing in the luxury market with fewer waterfront sales (5) than typical in Q3. Conversely, many moderately-priced renovation-ready homes transacted this quarter bringing the overall Q3 Median Sale Price down 4% to $1,678,000. The Island is finally beginning to see a moderate number of building and remodel applications submitted after a two-year lull sparked by major changes in the city’s residential building code. The North End had the highest average cost per square foot ($620) while Mercerdale ($435) was most affordable. First Hill had the shortest average market time with just 5 days and East Mercer had the longest (117 days). Demand remains steady and we expect well-priced, turnkey condition homes to continue to do quite well as we move further into the fall market.

Mercer Island Q3 2019 Recap

Click here to view the complete report for a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of Average Sale Price, size, and number of homes sold.

Mercer Island Report

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CONDOS – SEATTLE & EASTSIDE

Competition from new and pre-sale buildings, aging structures, a larger percentage of affordable units transacting, and urban flight have contributed to the 12.3% Median Sale Price decline in Seattle to $438,500 (from $500,000 in Q3 2018). To be fair, the Five-Year Median Price Trend shows prices up 71.9% since Q3 2014, giving most condo owners a nice cushion to fall back on.

The Median Sale Price was down 1.9% on the Eastside to $471,000 from $480,000. An extremely low number of resale units for sale, coupled with many of the same attributes impacting the Seattle condo market, contributed to the slight softening seen in the Eastside condo market.

Recent changes in Washington condo laws will eventually bring more condos and townhomes online in the next economic cycle, but potential buyers may have to wait 5-7 years to see that morph from concept to reality.

Check out all of these factoids and more in the full condo report.

Condo Report

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WATERFRONT

Seattle had 13 private waterfront home sales in Q3, the highest of which was a $10.6 million Laurelhurst estate on a shy acre with 150 feet on the water. The Eastside (Bellevue-Kirkland) had nine sales in Q3, including a $15.4 million 1925-built Yarrow Point home on 1.15 acres with 100 feet along the water’s edge. Further east, Lake Sammamish had eleven waterfront sales in Q3 ranging from $2.0-4.5 million.

Centrally located to the Seattle-Bellevue metro areas, Mercer Island had five private waterfront sales ranging from a $10.1 million, 2002-built North End home with 124 feet of waterfront on one and a half acres to a $3.6 million, mid-century Eastside home with 85 feet on the water and just over half an acre.

This top-level overview of the entire Seattle-Eastside private waterfront market, including Mercer Island and Lake Sammamish, provides a glance into the trends occurring in our region over time. Interesting, and certainly insightful, it in no way replaces an in-depth analysis on waterfront value provided by a savvy broker with years of local waterfront experience.

Waterfront Report

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ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service and deemed accurate but not guaranteed.


Posted on October 14, 2019 at 9:19 am
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Market Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Seller Property Disclosure: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Seller Disclosures: Because there's no such thing as a flawless house

 

So, you just made an offer on your dream home and are now lying awake at night wondering… “What if there’s a big problem with the house that I missed?” Well, it may help to know that Washington State requires sellers of residential real property to thoroughly disclose material facts on a form called the Residential Real Property Disclosure Statement (often referred to as Form 17). Unless the buyer has expressly waived their rights, the seller must deliver this completed disclosure with 5 days after mutual acceptance.  The buyer then has a window of time to walk away with their earnest money at their discretion.

While sellers have always been required to disclose material facts, the Form 17has been required by law (RCW 64.06.020) since January 1, 1995. It has undergone ten revisions since its inception, the last of which will go into effect in January. In addition to the residential disclosure, the state added an unimproved property (land) disclosure in 2007 (RCW 64.06.015) and a commercial property disclosure in 2012 (RCW 64.06.013). The current form is 6 pages long and includes most of the typical property issues requiring disclosure with a catchall question for anything left out.

 

Is every seller required to complete this form? Are there exemptions?

The statute allows very limited exceptions RCW (64.06.010) to completing the disclosure statement. They include transfers…

  • by foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure
  • that are gifts to a parent, spouse, domestic partner, or child
  • related to marital dissolution or dissolution of a state registered domestic partnership
  • to buyers who had a prior ownership interest in the property in the last two years
  • of an interest that is less than fee simple
  • made by the personal representative of the estate or by a trustee in bankruptcy
  • in which the buyer has expressly waived the receipt of the seller disclosure statement

However, if the answer to any of the questions in the section entitled “Environmental” would be “yes,” the buyer may not waive the receipt of the “Environmental” section of the seller disclosure statement.

 

What happens after delivery of the disclosure statement?

The buyer has three business days from receipt of the disclosure statement to cancel the agreement for the purchase of the property (unless they waived their rights to do so in writing).

This right to rescind is statutory, and the decision to revoke the offer may be made by the buyer at the buyer’s sole discretion. If the buyer elects to rescind the agreement, the buyer must deliver written notice of rescission to the seller within the three-business-day period.

Upon delivery of the written rescission notice the buyer is entitled to immediate return of all earnest money deposits and the agreement for purchase becomes void.

If the buyer does not deliver notice the disclosure statement is deemed approved and accepted by the buyer. The full provisions of this right are found in RCW (64.06.030).

 

What happens if the seller doesn’t deliver a completed disclosure?

If the seller fails or refuses to provide a disclosure statement to buyer within 5 days, the prospective buyer’s right of rescission extends until the earlier of three business days after receipt of the disclosure statement or the date the transfer has closed (unless the buyer has otherwise waived the right of rescission in writing). After closing, per RCW 64.06.040 (3) the seller’s obligation to deliver the disclosure statement and the buyer’s rights and remedies related to it terminate.

 

Some sellers are more forthcoming than others…

When sellers claim there are no issues to explain, you should be wary…very wary. In 34 years of practice, I have yet to see a perfect house. Whether a 10-million-dollar estate, a newly constructed home, or a $300,000 starter home, every house has a story and every buyer has a right to know about it so they can knowledgeably complete their due diligence.

Making full disclosure actually benefits the seller, too. By disclosing a condition, the seller shifts the burden of investigation to the buyer under Washington law. By remaining silent, a seller risks the appearance of concealment and a lawsuit.  Think of it this way: disclose an issue and if the buyer accepts it you move forward with no worries since they are barred from seeking compensation later; fail to disclose it and you could be looking over your shoulder for years.

I like to see issues disclosed on a disclosure statement. It makes me feel like the seller has been honest and transparent. When I see a “perfect” disclosure, I know the seller is either in total denial or has decided not to disclosure the little (or big) issues they know about. Most buyers expect far more disclosure from the seller than the law requires. While sellers don’t have a duty to inspect their home or look for defects, they do have a duty to disclose defects that affect the value, physical condition, or title to the property. Sellers should consider disclosure to be a form of insurance.

Instead of minimizing disclosures, a prudent seller will try to consider the property from the perspective of a buyer and then disclose what a buyer would want to know. Many of the conditions that lead to lawsuits would have been acceptable to the buyer if they had been disclosed in advance. Other conditions simply are not important enough to the buyer to fully investigate before purchasing a property. To maximize the benefit of disclosure law, sellers may want to make full disclosure of the property and neighborhood even if they have no legal duty to do so. It is usually better to be over-insured than not insured at all.

 

Buyers have duties, too…

In addition to a thorough inspection, investigating issues raised in the seller disclosure statement is one of the most important parts of due diligence in a real estate transaction. Buyers have a duty of thoroughness and inspection that should not be taken lightly.

The buyer should evaluate each disclosed item, and (especially) those items not disclosed, but easily discovered during a walk-through and inspection. If there are many items identified and not disclosed, a buyer should be concerned about other unseen issues that might also not be disclosed. A savvy buyer will investigate a home with limited disclosure more thoroughly and/or make the decision not to purchase form a seller who is seemingly not transparent with the truth.

It is also important to note that sellers typically have no duty to disclose neighborhood conditions or past events at the property, even though these may be issues of concern to the buyer. For instance, sellers usually have no legal duty to disclose the following conditions either at the property or in the neighborhood:

  • Death, murders, suicides, rapes or other crimes
  • Ongoing criminal or gang activity in the neighborhood
  • Registered sex offenders in the neighborhood (RCW 64.06.021)
  • Future development in the area
  • Political or religious activities in the area

If these or similar matters are of concern, buyer should conduct their due diligence prior to submitting an offer or include an inspection and “Neighborhood Review” contingency in the offer to allow them time to complete it as part of their purchase agreement.

 

What is the seller’s responsibility after delivery of disclosure statement?

The disclosure statute (64.06.040) states that if after delivering a completed disclosure statement, the seller learns from a source other than the buyer or others acting on the buyer’s behalf such as an inspector of additional information or an adverse change which makes any of the disclosures made inaccurate, the seller shall amend the real property transfer disclosure statement, and deliver the amendment to the buyer. The buyer then has the right to rescind the purchase agreement within three business days after receiving the amended disclosure statement.

No amendment is required if the seller takes whatever corrective action is necessary so that the accuracy of the disclosure is restored, or the adverse change is corrected, at least three business days prior to the closing date.

 

The seller disclosure statement is not a warranty

RCW 64.06.050 says the seller shall not be liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission in the disclosure statement if the seller had no actual knowledge of the error, inaccuracy, or omission. This includes disclosures based on information provided by public agencies, or by other persons providing information within the scope of their professional license or expertise, including, but not limited to, a report or opinion delivered by a land surveyor, title company, title insurance company, structural inspector, pest inspector, licensed engineer, or contractor. This applies to the seller’s real estate broker as well.

This should give a conscientious seller the assurance that the statute provides for property disclosure only and is not a warranty of current or ongoing condition. Provided a seller discloses everything they know, or that a reasonable seller should have known, about their property, a seller should feel good in knowing they are not held liable for its condition.

 

Here are a few great online resources to add to your knowledge base:

Current local Form 17 Real Property Transfer Disclosure Statement: https://windermeremercerisland.com/files/2019/08/17_SellerDisclosureForm.pdf

The complete text of the Washington State Real Property Transfer Act: https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=64.06&full=true

NOLO Article: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/residential-home-sellers-washington-what-the-law-requires-you-disclose.html

 

Of course, nothing tops having an experienced pro to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds with gorgeous looking veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is an advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.


Posted on October 3, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Julie Barrows | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , ,

Key Buyer Protections You May Need for Your Home Purchase

How Can You Protect Yourself When You Buy?

 

When purchasing a home, there are a number of protections—called contingency clauses—that you can write into your contract to allow you to back out of the sale for specific reasons.  For instance, if your inspection reveals major problems with the home that the seller can’t or won’t fix, your loan financing falls through, you find out the HOA rules or neighborhood weren’t what you were expecting, etc. The sheer quantity of available contingencies is dizzying. Our list includes 26 provisions alone on preprinted forms, not including any specific requests your broker might negotiate in.

Clearly, not all contingencies are used in a typical transaction and many make your offer less competitive. Still, we think it’s critical for you to understand the legal implications and trade-offs of each contingency so you can make the smartest decisions possible.

Financial

We’ll start with contingencies that relate to financing. Except in extremely competitive situations or non-financeable home sales (think dilapidated homes, major structural issues, or land-value sales), a financing contingency is relatively commonplace. It generally protects you in the event you can’t secure a loan (provided you follow the agreed upon protocol). It includes an appraisal contingency to protect you in the event the lender feels the homes is worth less than you agreed to pay for it.

If you have an existing home that needs to close before you can complete your home purchase, there are two standard contingencies available to you. The first, Buyer’s Sale of Property Contingency, is used when you have not yet secured a buyer for your current home. It sets time periods to both actively list your home for sale and to secure a buyer contract. It ties the closing of your new home to the closing of your current one, and because of this, sets very specific protocols for accepting an offer. It has a bump provision that allows the seller to accept a non-contingent offer if you don’t remove your contingency within a predetermined time frame.

The second contingency, Buyer Pending Sale of Property Contingency, is used when you have already secured a buyer for your home and are awaiting its closing. Because your home is already under contract it is far less controlling than the Sale of Property Contingency, but it protects you if your first sale falls through.

Less common financial contingencies include a standalone appraisal contingency available for cash transactions, a seller-financing attorney review, and a contingency related to homeowner’s insurance availability.

Home and Property Condition

In highly competitive situations a buyer may need to conduct their due diligence before making an offer. In most other scenarios, though, the buyer has countless opportunities to investigate a potential property and walk away or renegotiate if it doesn’t measure up to expectations.

The inspection contingency includes the ability to evaluate the structural, mechanical, and general condition of the structure(s), compliance with building and zoning codes, an environmental or hazardous materials inspection, a pest inspection, and a Geotech or soils and stability inspection. In addition, it includes the option to allow a sewer system inspection or a neighborhood review and permits an inspection to determine the presence or non-presence of oil storage tanks on the property.

Specific separate contingencies allow for evaluation and review of documentation related to wells and septic systems, assessment the presence of lead-based paint, or review of lease agreements for components like propane tanks, security systems, and satellite dishes, etc.

There is an option to make the sale contingent upon seller providing a home warranty or require cleaning and personal property removal prior to buyer taking possession.

Buyers wanting to determine if a home or property is suitable for their intended use (think building, remodeling, platting or development) would incorporate a feasibility contingency into their offer. Buyers of vacant land might include the Land and Acreage Development and Use addendum that incorporates both disclosures and contingencies.

Built into the standard local purchase and sale agreement is an Information Verification Period that gives the buyer 10 days (unless modified) to verify statements made by the seller of listing firm related to the property.

Title

In Washington State, the buyer most commonly receives a deed at the time they purchase a property. That deed is subject to financial liens and encumbrances, restrictions, and physical encroachments. A standard title review contingency allows the buyer the opportunity to review these items and object to any they cannot live with. A buyer has the option to complete a survey of the property boundaries and purchase extended title insurance if desired. Surveys are exceedingly expensive and most typically completed on valuable parcels of land such as waterfront and commercial property.

Community and Homeowners Association

Many communities have homeowner’s associations that govern rights and responsibilities within a community. A homeowners’ association review contingency requires the seller to deliver documents and meeting minutes to buyer that are then subject to buyer’s approval.

Condominiums and Common Interest Communities are also regulated by statute and have specific requirements for review and approval of budgets, documents and meeting minutes like traditional contingencies. Although governed by statute, it’s important for buyers to ensure they receive and review the resale certificate or public offering statement within the allotted time frame to avoid an automatic waiver.

Perhaps you are making an offer in a community or neighborhood you know nothing about and don’t have enough time to check it out. A neighborhood review contingency allows you to do things like research crime statistics, talk with neighbors, explore traffic patterns, and check the noise level (nothing like finding out about that incessantly barking dog after closing). This is something that ideally you do before writing your offer to make it as strong as possible, but it’s nice to know its available in a pinch.

Leases

When buying a property subject to an existing lease that will continue after closing, a lease review contingency will require the seller to deliver a copy of the lease along with books, records and other agreements and provide for your review and approval within a specified time frame.

Attorney Review

Finally, an attorney review contingency will allow you a defined time period with which to have your attorney review and approve specific provisions or the entire purchase contract.

 

No two homes, buyers, or sellers are the same. Every offer you write should be tailored to the specific situation. Nothing tops having an experienced broker to guide you through the process. This is what we do every day. Together, we’ll create the best strategy for you.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is one advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.


Posted on September 20, 2019 at 4:11 pm
Julie Barrows | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Planning for the Life Expectancy of Your Home

Planning Ahead: The Life Expectancy of Your Home's Components

 

Nothing in life lasts forever – and the same can be said for your home. From the roof to the furnace, every component of your home has a lifespan, so it’s a good idea to know approximately how many years of service you can expect from them. This information can help when buying or selling your home, budgeting for improvements, and deciding between repairing or replacing when problems arise.

 

According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) study, the average life expectancy of some home components has decreased over the past few decades.  (This might explain why you’re on your third washing machine while Grandma still has the same indestructible model you remember from childhood.) But the good news is the lifespan of many other items has actually increased in recent years.

 

Here’s a look at the average life spans of some common home components (courtesy of NAHB).

 

APPLIANCES. Of all home components, appliances have the widest variation in life spans. These are averages for all brands and models and may represent the point which replacing is more cost-effective than repairing. Among major appliances, gas ranges have the longest life expectancy, at about 15 years. Electric ranges, standard-size refrigerators, and clothes dryers last about 13 years, while garbage disposals grind away for about 10 years. Dishwashers, microwave ovens, and mini-refrigerators can all be expected to last about nine years. For furnaces, expect a lifespan of about 15 years for electric, 18 for gas, and 20 for oil-burning models. Central air-conditioning systems generally beat the heat for 10 to 15 years.

 

KITCHEN & BATH. Countertops of wood, tile, and natural stone will last a lifetime, while cultured marble will last about 20 years. The lifespan of laminate countertops depends greatly on the use and can be 20 years or longer. Kitchen faucets generally last about 15 years.  An enamel-coated steel sink will last five to 10 years; stainless will last at least 30 years; and slate, granite, soapstone, and copper should endure 100 years or longer. Toilets, on average, can serve at least 50 years (parts such as the wax ring, flush assembly, and seat will likely need replacing), and bathroom faucets tend to last about 20 years.

 

FLOORING. Natural flooring materials provide longevity as well as beauty: Wood, marble, slate, and granite should all last 100 years or longer, and tile, 74 to 100 years. Laminate products will survive 15 to 25 years, linoleum about 25 years, and vinyl should endure for about 50 years. Carpet will last eight to 10 years on average, depending on use and maintenance.

 

SIDING, ROOFING, WINDOWS & DECKS. Brick siding normally lasts 100 years or longer, aluminum siding about 80 years, and stucco about 25 years. The lifespan of wood siding varies dramatically – anywhere from 10 to 100 years – depending on the climate and level of maintenance. For roofs, slate or tile will last about 50 years, wood shingles can endure 25 to 30 years, the metal will last about 25 years, and asphalts got you covered for about 20 years. Unclad wood windows will last 30 years or longer, aluminum will last 15 to 20 years, and vinyl windows should keep their seals for 15 to 20 years. Cedar decks average 15-25 years if properly cleaned and treated, while high quality composite decks should easily last 30 years with minimal maintenance.

 

Of course, none of these averages matter if you have a roof that was improperly installed or a dishwasher that was a lemon right off the assembly line. In these cases, early replacement may be the best choice. Conversely, many household components will last longer than you need them to, as we often replace fully functional items for cosmetic reasons, out of a desire for more modern features, or as a part of a quest to be more energy efficient.

 

Are extended warranties warranted?

Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items, from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty. Essentially, warranty providers (manufacturers, retailers, and outside companies) are betting that a product will be problem-free in the first years of operation, while the consumer who purchases a warranty is betting against reliability.

 

Warranty providers make a lot of money on extended warranties, and Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, advises against purchasing them.  You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you; for some, it brings a much-needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also, consider if it the cost outweighs the value of the item; in some cases, it may be less expensive to just replace a broken appliance than pay for insurance or a warranty.

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Adapted from an article originally posted on Windermere.com.


Posted on August 30, 2019 at 2:59 pm
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Buyer Tips, Homeowner Tips and Happenings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s YOUR Golden Age for NW Homes?

The Eras of NW Home Building: Get the Scoop Before You Buy

 

The Northwest has experienced many changes in residential construction though the eras of home building. While not universal, here are a few typical housing rules of thumb we have seen in the Seattle region…

 

Styles, floor plans and typical home attributes:

1900-1920’s

Craftsman, Arts & Crafts, and Tudor homes dominated this era. They often featured more built-in cabinets and custom woodwork. Most were two stories (with or without a basement), and had smaller, functional rooms with an overall feel of quality and charm. Smaller, detached, alley-accessed garages were common.

1930-1940’s

Seattle Box Houses were typical of this depression and wartime era. Often very small and economically constructed, they had fewer windows, were most likely one-level homes or basement ramblers with only one bathroom, and rarely had a garage.

1950-1960’s

Mid-Century Modern homes inspired by post-war exuberance brought us the solidly built homes of this era, which remain extremely popular today for their design, floor-plan flow, and significant use of windows that invite in the natural light. Modern lines, larger and flowing rooms, flatter rooflines, and smaller kitchens were typical of his era. Larger lots were the norm and carports were more typical than garages.

1970-1980’s

Mid-Entry or Split-Level and NW Contemporary homes brought an entirely different vibe altogether. Affordable building was the buzzword as interest rates hovered at their highest levels in trackable history. Often square footage was split at the entrance by an upper and lower stairwell. Eclectic designs were simple and functional with very separated floor plans and spaces, smaller kitchens, and significant use of stairs. Basements were less common and attached garages became the norm.

1990-2000’s

NW Contemporary and Traditional subdivision homes, inspired by the Growth Management Act of 1990, brought smaller lot sizes to the overall region. The NW Contemporary transitioned into styles that were easily replicated en masse with three car garages, additional rooms, and more bathrooms tucked into a tighter and more efficient package. Traditional home styles emulating earlier 20th century Craftsman and Tudor designs made a comeback with more open floor plans, larger bedrooms, kitchens and family rooms. Formal living and dining rooms began to fade and be replaced with larger universal spaces.

2010-present

Ultra-Modern homes, often with boxy structures and statement or flat roof lines dominate the homebuilding scene. Open floor plans, significant use of windows, very small lot sizes, extreme energy efficiency and smart home technology have become the norm.

 

Major milestones in home building standards:

Washington’s first energy code, adopted in 1977, was a voluntary requirement, and as such was not well adopted by local home builders. The first statewide energy code applicable to all new buildings came to be in 1986.

Good – Significant improvements in the energy efficiency of homes didn’t occur until 1990, when the Revised Code of Washington required energy-related building standards and increased the insulation requirements for residential buildings. The State Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality Code was also established at that time. The code was amended in 2001 to include increased envelope insulation requirements for residential buildings.

Better – The Washington State Energy Code was made effective July 1, 2007, setting even higher energy efficiency standards for residential construction.

Best – The energy code was updated again in 2015 and is contained in the state of Washington Administrative Code (WAC), (Chapter 51-11).

See the International Code Council for Washington State, the WSU Energy Program, International Building, Fire, Residential and Mechanical Codes, and the Uniform Plumbing Code for more information.

 

Good years and more cautious years in building:

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that homes built during economic downturns (when times are tight) or significant booms (when builders build as fast as they can to meet demand) are often lower quality than homes built when the economy and demand are more stable.

That said, not all homes built in the same era are equal. Some builders deliver solid quality regardless of the cycle while others jump in only when they can turn a quick profit. See below on how to investigate builders.

Every homebuilding era has its upside and its challenges. A good home inspector can evaluate any specific home to determine what deficiencies exist. Here are a few era-based issues we see come up again and again:

Pre 1950 – knob & tube wiring, post & pillar foundations, inferior sewer piping (especially 1940’s), asbestos, lead-based paint

1950’s & 60’s – asbestos, inferior sewer piping, lead-based paint

1970’s – aluminum wiring

1980’s & 90’s – polybutylene/ABS plastic piping, horizontal furnaces/NOX rod heat exchangers, oriented-strand board (OSB) siding failure, exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) failure

2000 & beyond – mold caused by improper ventilation in extremely efficient homes

 

Not all homes built (or remodeled) in the same era are equal…

In any market, there are entry-level builders, mainstream builders and high-end builders. Some builders even offer products that span the quality spectrum. Most of the time, these homes remain at that quality level through the years unless a major remodel or significant re-build occurs. As a home buyer, it is important that you evaluate the quality of each home so that you are comparing apples to apples and not giving equal weight to homes of different qualities.

Careful evaluation of a home’s components can help you with this process, as can a qualified inspector. It also helps to check out a builder’s history. This applies whether you are looking at newer construction or something decades old. Start by Googling the builder. Your real estate broker can identify them through the chain of ownership on the tax record.

In addition, home renovations may add another layer of complexity as you’ll not only consider the era of both the original construction and the remodel, but also the quality of the builder/contractor work in each.

Homes that are “flipped,” or renovated to sell, have their own special category. This is because the renovator’s primary goal is to create the most profit, which is directly at odds with renovating for the highest quality (something you would typically see when a homeowner remodels a home for their own use). One inspector put it succinctly: “I’ve inspected thousands of homes and I can count on two hands the flips that have been very well done.” It is more critical than ever to have a flipped home inspected thoroughly to ensure that no corners were cut in the process of giving the home a beautiful new veneer.

Homes that have previously been foreclosed on or were not owner-occupied (rentals) for many years also deserve careful evaluation for signs of deferred maintenance. They might have been maintained perfectly, but it never hurts to be extra careful.

In addition to Googling a home, neighborhood, and/or builder, you can check the history of any builder/remodeler on the State’s L&I Contractor database. The National Association of Home Builders and our local Master Builders Association also offer great resources to help you with your process.

Here are a few more great online resources to add to your knowledge base:

https://sdinspect.com/insiders-guide/

https://www.zillow.com/research/housing-stock-age-8148/

https://www.historylink.org/File/9116

 

Of course, nothing tops having an experienced pro to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds hiding beneath a gorgeous veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is an advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.

 


Posted on August 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm
Julie Barrows | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Spot Big Issues Before You Pay for a Home Inspection

How to Spot Big Issues Before You Pay for a Home Inspection

 

Before you plop down $500-$800 for a home inspection, it really helps to identify obvious issues up front and determine if A) you are willing to buy the home despite them or B) the seller appears reasonable about addressing them. If neither of the above are yes, but you might want to keep looking rather than investing hard-earned dollars in an inspection that, at minimum, will bring up items that you can clearly see, and more likely, will unveil even more issues.

Taking a bit of time to do a quick personal inspection of the property you are ogling can help you make smarter decisions about when or whether to write that offer. This list includes bigger ticket items we often see come up in an inspection.

 

  • Evidence of moisture or water damage in and around showers or tubs and under sinks
  • Missing or cracked grout/caulk around the tub or shower (a major cause of rot in walls and the sub-floor)
  • Cracked, peeling or weathered exterior paint and caulking
  • Evidence of moisture or water damage around the exterior, especially at windows and doors
  • Heavy moss, sagging or a roof that looks near the end of its life span
  • Signs of improper drainage around the perimeter of home, driveway and yard
  • Unexplained mildew smell in the basement
  • Uneven floors or the appearance of leaning or sagging
  • Obvious remodeling completed with no permits on file (this is easy to lookup online), especially when involving opening or movement of walls, plumbing or electrical
  • Rotted or damaged deck/porch boards, stairs, railings, or supporting joists/structure
  • An aging heating/AC system (more than 15-18 years old and/or no recent maintenance stickers)
  • An aging hot water tank (more than 9-10 years old)
  • Aging appliances (more than 10-15 years old)
  • An electrical panel that appears modified by someone other than an electrician (obvious changes that don’t look proper, open breaker sections or loose wires)
  • Railings (inside or out) that are missing or not up to code (ie. your smaller toddler could fit through them)
  • Cracked or damaged foundations or retaining walls
  • Evidence of unstable soil/earth movement (slides, cracks or gaps, leaning supports/structure or trees)
  • Evidence of rodents (odor, droppings, chew marks or damage around exterior/vents)
  • Properties with a high likelihood for costly sewer line issues include those with very large trees near the most likely sewer line path and those more than forty years with no prior evidence of sewer line re-lining/replacement
  • Signs of home maintenance neglect such as broken or missing hardware or components, improperly functioning doors/locks

 

Not all these issues will turn out to be major expenditures, but they often can be. Better to note them early and decide if it makes sense to proceed with a more thorough professional inspection or walk away and save those dollars for a more likely candidate.

Here are a few great online resources to add to your knowledge base:

https://www.homeinspector.org/HomeInspectionNews/the-quick-home-inspection-checklist-what-to-look-for-when-buying-a-home.5-1-2017.1724/Details/Story

https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/common-problems-found-during-home-inspections

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/tips-for-getting-the-most-out-of-a-home-inspection/

https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/bad-home-inspection-for-sellers/

https://wini.com/articles/home-inspection-checklist-a-complete-guide-to-the-home-inspection-process/

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/home-facts-this-is-how-long-these-parts-of-your-home-should-last/

 

Of course, nothing tops having an experienced broker to guide you through the process. They’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of homes and can help you identify the solid finds from the duds with gorgeous looking veneer.

Choosing the right broker can save you thousands on your home purchase. Whether through local market knowledge and pricing analysis allowing you to make a smarter offer, recommendations and resources to thoroughly conduct your due diligence and avoid costly mistakes, or savvy contract negotiation to help you get the terms you need, having a Windermere broker on your side is one advantage you can’t afford to sacrifice.


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.


Posted on August 13, 2019 at 9:08 am
Julie Barrows | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

2019 Football Schedules, Venues, Recipes & Tips…

Football Fans Assemble! Schedules, Venues, Food & Tips

 

Are you ready for some football? Scroll down for printable schedules, favorite places to watch, game-day recipes and awesome tailgating hacks…

 


Download the Seattle Pro Football ScheduleDownload the UW College Football ScheduleDownload the WSU College Football Schedule

 


 

5 Favorite Seattle Area Spots to Watch the Game

Can’t make it to the stadium? Here are some tried and true local hot spots where you can catch the game in good company.  All of these venues are family friendly for your little 12s, too!

1. Tavern Hall, Bellevue

Right in the heart of Bellevue Square, Tavern Hall offers 30 (!!) flatscreen TVs and 4 shuffleboard tables.  Brick oven pizzas and pretzels accompany the 20+ different beer varietals on tap.  All-ages restaurant + bar seating.

Tavern Hall

Photo courtesy of tavern-hall.com

2. Buckley’s in Belltown, Seattle

A 5-foot projection screen accompanies the 22+ TVs and 24 beer tabs in this family-friendly favorite.  Check out the Queen Anne location as well (complete with a 10-foot projection screen!).

Buckley's in Belltown

Photo courtesy of buckleyspubs.com

3. Flying Pie Pizzeria, Issaquah

If you’re watching the game with kids (or just love good pizza), Flying Pie in Issaquah offers a full arcade, mounted TVs, pitchers of local beer and plenty of 1980s nostalgia.  Gluten-free and vegan options provide a modern twist on the classic pizzeria.

Flying Pie Pizzeria

Photo courtesy of flyingpiepizzeria.com

4. Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub, West Seattle

Touted for its organic handcrafted ales, great food and kid-friendly atmosphere, the Elliott Bay brew pub also broadcasts local games on its mounted TVs.  Don’t miss the local Stout Wort ice cream (made right across the street at the Husky Deli).  Take a victory lap–or burn off all your stress eating–at nearby Alki Beach.

Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub

Photo courtesy of 5280lensmafia.wordpress.com

5. McMenamins Woodshop at Anderson School, Bothell

Northeast of Seattle, this converted schoolhouse in newly re-imagined downtown Bothell is well worth the drive.  Enjoy shuffleboard, pool or pinball while you catch all the action on big screen TVs.  Bribe kids with post-game pool time in the incredible North Shore Lagoon (with its own Tiki pub for mom or dad).

McMenamins Woodshop at Anderson School

Photo courtesy of parentmap.com.

 


 

12 Clutch Gameday Recipes


 

Click Here for Our Favorite Tailgating Hacks

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.  Main photo courtesy of https://joenicholsonphotos.wordpress.com.


Posted on August 5, 2019 at 1:32 pm
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kicks for Kids Shoe Drive Now Through August 15th

Windermere Kicks for Kids

WHAT: Windermere’s Kicks for Kids event is a back-to-school sneaker drive for low-income youth, distributed through the Eastside Baby Corner.

WHY: Kids from struggling families are in need of back-to-school shoes that fit. When kids feel good about their appearance, it improves both their self-esteem and their performance in school.

WHEN: Formal shoe collection will take place through August 15, 2019.

WHERE: Windermere Mercer Island is the collection point where you can drop off new athletic shoes or sneakers (youth sizes 1-6 and adult sizes 7-9) or a gift card.

WHO: Sponsored by Windermere Mercer Island in partnership with the Eastside Baby Corner, located in Issaquah, Washington.

Windermere Mercer Island invites you to help in its back-to-school sneaker drive, known as the Kicks for Kids Shoe Drive, which serves the local communities to connect low-income youth with shoes for the upcoming school year. This year, we’re connecting once again with the Eastside Baby Corner, which is an amazing organization that helps kids thrive by providing resources and essentials with their 51 partner agencies – 26 of which are access to services through schools. The Eastside Baby Corner partners with charitable organizations throughout the Greater Seattle Area and helps them with the resources they need to best assist local families in need.  Click here to go above and beyond the shoes with their back-to-school wish list!

Help us make sure every child has a new pair of shoes for school!

 

 

 


ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island


Posted on July 29, 2019 at 10:52 am
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Q2 2019 Reports: Market Update

Q2 Market Snapshot for Seattle and the Eastside

 

Changes in the home lending environment drove down mortgage interest rates in Q2 to their lowest levels in years, giving buyers more buying power for their money and stimulating demand for available homes on the market.

 

The number of homes for sale is up markedly, especially in Seattle, as is the number of closed sales, with low interest rates and high local incomes taking much of the credit for the market activity. Sale prices have remained modest as buyers feel more cautious about overpaying for a home at or near the cyclical market peak.

 

As stated in earlier reports, the market has much to offer buyers and sellers this year. We believe those looking to make a move in the next few years should do so this year when they can still secure incredibly affordable mortgage financing. Today’s buyers should be prepared to stay in their home at least five years. Home sellers moving to lower cost regions may also benefit from selling now. We know that every situation is unique, and we are here to help you evaluate your personal real estate holdings and purchase strategy.

 

Click or scroll down to find your area report:

Seattle | Eastside | Mercer Island | Condos | Waterfront

 


SEATTLE

The number of homes for sale continued to rise across Seattle. West Seattle and Richmond Beach/Shoreline experienced the greatest velocity in number of sales. Seattle’s overall Median Sale Price was up 4.8% from Q1 to $760,000, but down 5.2% from Q2 2018. The Average $ Per Square Foot was down 5.1% from Q2 last year to $436. North Seattle, Queen Anne/Magnolia and West Seattle all performed better than the average in Q2. Seattle homeowners have seen a 61% increase in the Median Sale Price over the past five years.

Seattle Chart

Click here to view the complete report for a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of Average Sale Price, size, and number of homes sold.

Seattle Report

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EASTSIDE

The Eastside cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond have become the epicenter of tech growth planned over the next few years. Recent announcements from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, coupled with light rail coming in 2023, have made the Eastside the place to be. The Eastside’s Median Sale Price was up 1.9% from Q1 to $945,000, but down 1.6% from Q2 2018’s peak of $960,305. The five-year Eastside median price trend is up 53% since 2014.

Mercer Island rebounded in Q2 from a poorly performing Q1 while Kirkland and South Eastside fared better than average. A total of 2,334 Eastside home sales closed in Q2, up 1.2% from Q2 2018.

Eastside Chart

Click here for the full report and neighborhood-by-neighborhood statistics!

Eastside Review

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MERCER ISLAND

Mercer Island’s Median Sale Price rallied back up in Q2 to $1.8 million after lower than typical sales drove it down to $1.53 in Q1. Eight waterfront sales contributed to the overall increase, as did the total sales velocity of 101 homes sold in Q2—the highest number of sales than in any of the preceding eight quarters.

Mercer Island Chart

Click here to view the complete report for a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown of Average Sale Price, size, and number of homes sold.

Mercer Island Report

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CONDOS – SEATTLE & EASTSIDE

Seattle’s condo Median Sale Price was up 5.1% from Q1 to $483,500, but down 7.9% from a peak of $525,000 in Q2 of 2018. The Average $ Per Square Foot was $580. Condos in West Seattle and Lake Forest Park/Kenmore performed best in Q2.

The Eastside’s condo Median Sale Price was up 4.3% from Q1 to $480,000, but down 2.1% from the $490,500 median of Q2 2018. The Average $ Per Square Foot was $453. West Bellevue and Kirkland Condos performed well above condos in other Eastside markets.

Check out all of these factoids and more in the full condo report.

Condo Report

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WATERFRONT

A significant number of private waterfront homes transacted in Q2 2019—fourteen on the Eastside, eight on Mercer Island, and eleven each in Seattle and Lake Sammamish. The highest Q2 sale was a 1998 Yarrow Point home on 115 feet of waterfront sold at $14,250,000 after 22 days on the market. The lowest sale was a 1945 Kennydale area home on 53 feet of Lake Washington waterfront for $1,075,000 on the market for 64 days.

The Eastside and Lake Sammamish both had a very moderate supply of inventory in relation to the number of sales that occurred. Seattle and Mercer Island still had more homes on the market than recent demand has dictated, although the volume of sales in Q2 improved the oversupply of inventory, heating up these markets to their highest levels in some time.

This top-level overview of the entire Seattle-Eastside private waterfront market, including Mercer Island and Lake Sammamish, provides a glance into the trends occurring in our region over time. Interesting, and certainly insightful, it in no way replaces an in-depth analysis on waterfront value provided by a savvy broker with years of local waterfront experience.

Waterfront Report

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ABOUT WINDERMERE MERCER ISLAND

We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service and deemed accurate but not guaranteed.


Posted on July 12, 2019 at 3:41 pm
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Market Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

New Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) Rate (eff. 1/1/20)

We Want YOU...to Know About the Excise Tax Change

 

Now that Washington State Senate Bill 5998 has been signed into law, our local real estate excise tax—the tax paid when you sell a property—will be getting a facelift in 2020.  The flat rate of the past will make way for a new tiered system which gives owners a tax cut on the first $500,000 of home value, keeps the current tax rate on the next $1 million of value, and then increases it sharply after $1.5 million.

 

The good news is that taxes will go down for the vast majority (~93%) of sellers in King County.  Sellers of luxury homes that fetch more than $1.56m, however, will be paying more—much, much more in the case of multi-million dollar home sales.

 

Wondering how the changes might impact your bottom line when it comes time to sell?  Scroll down or check out our quick reference worksheet

 

2020 CHnages to King County Excise Taxes

 

DETAILS & BACKGROUND

 

The previous flat state REET tax of 1.28% (1.78% after the 0.5% local portion is added) will be replaced on January 1, 2020, by the following rates (total REET after King County local portion is shown in parenthesis):

 

1.1% (1.6%) – Portion of selling price less than or equal to $500,000

1.28% (1.78%) – Portion of selling price greater than $500,000 and equal to or less than $1.5 million

2.75% (3.25%) – Portion of selling price greater than $1.5 million and equal to or less than $3 million

3.0% (3.5%) – Portion of selling price greater than $3 million


These thresholds may be adjusted again in 2022 and every four years after that using a formula for calculating value trends.


The current state real estate excise tax rate has been the same since July 1, 1989 while the local portion of the rate has been managed by each jurisdiction individually. You can find the full details in this Real Estate Excise Tax historical rates chart provided by the Department of Revenue.


The state provides a summary of the history and use of the real estate excise tax in Washington State detailing changes over the years. Currently, the bulk of the estate tax (92.3%) goes to the General Fund. Beginning January 1, 2020, and ending June 30, 2023, revenue distributions must be as follows: 1.7 percent must be deposited in the Public Works Assistance Account; 1.4 percent must be deposited in the City-County Assistance Account; 79.4 percent must be deposited in the general fund; and the remaining amount must be deposited in the Education Legacy Trust Account. Beginning July 1, 2023, and thereafter, revenue distributions to the Public Works Assistance Account increases to 5.2 percent. You can find the full law and definitions in Chapter 458-61A WAC (Washington Administrative Code).

 

SO WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?

 

If you sell for $1,561,258 or less in King County, you will pay the same or less (up $900 less) in REET after 1/1/20. This is great news for most property owners in King County and across the state. Because the rate states the same on the portion of the selling price greater than $500,000 and equal to or less than $1.5 million as it currently is, all the savings comes in the portion below $500,000. This begins to whittle away as you creep above $1.5 million and into the higher tax rate of 2.75% (3.25%).


If you sell for more than that amount, you’ll be paying more–often much more. You can see from the quick reference chart below that the seller of a $2.5 million property will pay an additional $13,800, while a $5 million sale will cost an extra $55,550 and a $10 million sale a whopping $141,550 more.


Everyone will have a different take on the new tax rate, but if you have a valuable property and contributing more to the state’s coffers isn’t part of your charitable giving strategy, selling in 2019 might offer significant savings. On the other hand, selling in 2020 and beyond funds education and public works at greater levels than ever before, and that benefits everyone.

 

EXCISE TAX QUICK REFERENCE WORKSHEET


 

 

MERCER ISLAND


We earn the trust and loyalty of our brokers and clients by doing real estate exceptionally well. The leader in our market, we deliver client-focused service in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner and with the unmatched knowledge and expertise that comes from decades of experience.

 

© Copyright 2019, Windermere Real Estate/Mercer Island.  Originally posted on Windermere Mercer Island’s “Local in Seattle” blog.


Posted on May 31, 2019 at 4:28 pm
Jennifer Craven | Posted in Homeowner Tips and Happenings | Tagged , , , , , , ,