How Long Things Last

We all know that nothing lasts forever, but when everything is working fine it is easy to forget that all of the systems and appliances in your home have a finite lifespan. Keep this information in mind, whether you are buying or selling a home, budgeting for improvements, or deciding between repairing and replacing.

Here’s a brief look at some of the components of your home and their average lifespans (courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders)

ROOFING, SIDING, WINDOWS & DECKS. You can expect slate or tile roofs to last around 50 years, wood shingles 25-30, metal will get you about 25 years, while asphalts typically last about 20 years. The lifespan for siding can vary quite a bit. Brick will last 100 years or more, aluminum about 80 years and stucco will probably last you 25 years. Wood siding can last anywhere from 10 to 100 years depending on the climate you live in and how it is maintained. Both aluminum and vinyl windows will last 15 to 20 years, while unclad wood windows can have a life of 30 years or more. Cedar decks will average 15-25 years as long as they are properly treated and cleaned, and a high quality composite deck will last 30 years with minimal maintenance.

FLOORING. The natural flooring materials such as wood, marble, slate or granite will all last 100 years or more, while tile has an average life of 70-100 years. Vinyl can last up to 50 years, while laminate and linoleum will get you up to 25 years. Expect your carpet to last 8-10 years, depending on use.

KITCHEN & BATH. Laminate countertops can have a life of 20 years or more, but it will vary depending on use. Wood, tile and stone should last a lifetime, and cultured marble will typically see a lifespan of 20 years. You can expect your stainless steel sink to last you about 30 years, while an enamel-coated sink will give you five to 10 years. Slate, granite, soapstone and copper will be around for 100 years or more. Bathroom faucets should give you about 20 years, and toilets will average a 50-year lifespan, although some of the parts will need replacing.

APPLIANCES. The lifespan of appliances will vary widely depending on the appliance, the brand, model, and use. Use these average lifespan numbers as a rough guide for when it may make more sense to replace rather than repair. Gas ranges tend to have the longest lifespan of your major appliances, giving around 15 years of use. Electric ranges on the other hand, are closer to 13 years, which is also the expected lifespan for standard refrigerators and clothes dryers. Your garbage disposal should give you about 10 years of use, while the dishwasher and microwave will be around nine years. You can expect your electric furnace to last about 15 years, 18 for gas and 20 for oil-burning. Central air systems will live 10 to 15 years on average.

Check out the NAHB website for more information.

Posted on October 2, 2019 at 2:58 am
Jill Langer | Category: Home Improvement, Home Maintenance, Monthly Newsletters

Don’t Miss the Boat on Current Interest Rates

 

 

Most recently, buyers have enjoyed more selection in the marketplace which has led to more open negotiations versus bidding wars. This is illustrated by an increase in average Days on Market and a decrease in the average Sold-to-List Price Ratios complete-year over year (the last 12 months over the previous 12 months). In King County, the average Days on Market increased from 22 days to 36 days complete-year over year, and the Sold-to-List Price Ratio decreased from 101% to 98%. In Snohomish County, the average Days on Market increased from 25 to 35 days complete-year over year, and the Sold-to-List Price Ratio decreased from 100% to 98%.

Buyers have had more selection to choose from which has tempered price growth complete-year over year. Median price remains even in King County and up 3% in Snohomish County. Multiple offers are not as commonplace as they were, but terms such as inspection contingencies and home sale contingencies are doable in some areas and price ranges. This balancing out has created some more normal terms for buyers, while sellers are getting close to full price on average and cashing out on the above-average appreciation we enjoyed from 2012 to 2018.

It is still a seller’s market, yet we are heading towards balance. The months of available inventory based on pending sales (the amount of time it would take to sell out of homes if no new homes came to market) currently sits at 1.7 months in King County and 1.5 months in Snohomish County. Zero to 3 months is a seller’s market, 3-6 months a balanced market, and 6+ months a buyer’s market. In 2017 to early 2018, inventory levels were commonly under one month, which was a very volatile and constricted environment within which to purchase a home. The direction towards balance is welcome and providing much more comfort when making a move.

The inventory levels are an amazingly beneficial phenomenon due to the fact that buyers are simultaneously enjoying the lowest interest rates we’ve had since 2016!Currently, the 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 3.6% and the 15-year around 3.07% according to Freddie Mac. Not only are rates the lowest we’ve seen in 3 years, but they are an entire point lower than they were in Q4 of 2018. When rates crested 4.5% last year, we saw a marked reduction in pending sales. This highlights the recent opportunities that have come alive for buyers to secure such low debt service and for sellers to have a larger audience. When rates rise, folks reassess and sometimes step aside, which is why this current opportunity should be taken advantage of.

This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point decrease in interest rate, a buyer gains ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate decreases by a point during their search, they can up their price ceiling to $550,000 and keep the same monthly payment. This is huge, especially in the wake of intense price growth over the last 6-7 years, which priced many buyers out of the market. Buyers that took a break and stepped to the sidelines in the past may want to consider their opportunities now. This is the most favorable buyer environment (inside of a seller’s market) we’ve seen in some time!

 

This recent decrease in rate is helping the move-up market come alive. What is great about this, is that it opens up inventory for the first-time buyer and helps complete the market cycle. First-time buyers are abundant right now as the Millennial generation is gaining in age and making big life transitions such as buying real estate. According to Nerd Wallet, 49% of all Millennials have a home purchase in their 5-year plan. The low rates are also providing great opportunities for investors, second-home buyers, and down-size buyers headed toward retirement.

Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! According to Freddie Mac, rates should increase closer to the 4’s as we round out 2019 and head into 2020. While still staying well below the 30-year average of 6.85%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the 30-year average – it is reasonable to think that higher rates must be in our future at some point.

So what does this mean for you? If you have considered making a move, or even your first purchase, today’s rates are a huge advantage in helping make a move more affordable. If you are a seller, bear in mind that today’s interest rate market is creating strong buyer demand, providing a healthy buyer pool for your home. As a homeowner who has no intention to make a move, now might be the time to consider a refinance. What is so exciting about these refinances, is that it is not only possible to reduce your monthly payment, but also your term, depending on which rate you would be coming down from.

If you would like additional information on how today’s interest rates pertain to your housing goals, please contact me. I would be happy to educate you on homes that are available, do a market analysis on your current home, and/or put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional to help you crunch numbers. Real estate success is rooted in being accurately informed, and it is my goal to help empower you to make sound decisions for you and your family.

 

 

I am pleased to present the second-quarter 2019 edition of the Gardner Report, which provides insights into select counties of the Western Washington housing market. This analysis is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief EconomistMatthew Gardner. I hope that this information will 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 me.

Click to view the full report

 

Summer is quickly coming to a close, and it’s time to think about prepping your yard for fall.  Here are a few quick tips to get you started, and a full article here.

Fertilizing

All summer long, plants and grass are using up nutrients in the soil. After months of growing, your soil’s reserves become depleted, which is why a fall fertilizer is great to restore nutrients and give your grass, shrubs, and perennials a boost to help them make it through winter. It is recommended to fertilize once every season.

Stop Pruning and Watering

Late summer and fall might seem like a good time to prune dead flowers and branches, but several experts recommend waiting until spring to prune anything. Pruning stimulates new growth, but with the frost coming, chances are this new growth won’t survive. Pruning also interferes with the plant when it is going dormant.

In late September, you should also stop watering your plants to help them go dormant as well.

>>Keep reading

Posted on August 24, 2019 at 9:23 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardner Reports, Home Maintenance, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Mortgages, Selling Homes

Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning

 

Whether you hire an outside professional for help, or tackle the project yourself, now is a great time to get a jump on spring cleaning. Many people wait for warmer temps to start cleaning, but I think most everyone can agree that those weekends would be better spent outdoors, soaking up that sun. So, take some inspiration from the list below to get you started now on freshening up your home for spring.

It will only take a few hours to check everything off this list, and you’ll feel so much better enjoying the last few weeks of winter, knowing that when the warmer weather finally comes, you can get outside and really enjoy it!

Rotate your mattress. Most mattresses need to be rotated regularly in order to even out the overall wear and prolong the lifespan of your bed. However, keep in mind that Sleep Number and Tempur-Pedic mattresses typically should not be rotated. Always check with your manufacturer for their recommendations on your specific mattress. If you own an older mattress with no pillowtop, it should probably be flipped as well as rotated.

Clean your mattress. Strip the mattress of all linens and covers. Start by vacuuming the mattress with the upholstery attachment, paying close attention to crevices and seams. Next, sprinkle baking soda (up to a one-pound box) all over the surface of your mattress. Let this sit for at least an hour, but 24 hours is best. Then go back over your mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment again. If you have a steam cleaner, break it out and go over your whole mattress. The steam will reach further into the mattress than your vacuum is able to, and kills dust mites. *It is generally not recommended to clean memory foam with a steam cleaner.

Organize & clean the laundry room. Clean the outside of your washer and dryer; scrape any dried detergent from crevices. Next, clean the inside of the washing machine. Most newer models have a self-cleaning cycle. If you have an older machine that does not have a self-cleaning cycle, run a cycle with hot water and a quart of white vinegar. After it is finished, clean the detergent dispensers, using a vinegar and water solution and a scrubber. If you have a front-loader, be sure to clean the rubber seal on the door. This area is prone to mold growth, so use an all-purpose cleaner or maybe even bleach to get under and around the seal.

Next, organize a bit. Throw away products you never use, replace damaged sorting bins, and don’t forget to clean out the dryer vent to prevent a fire.

Deep clean the fridge. Twice a year (or more), you should give your fridge a front-to-back, top-down scrubbing. Start by taking everything out and throw away anything that has expired. Next, remove all the shelves and drawers. Put them to soak in a solution of two tablespoons baking soda and one-quart hot water. While they are soaking, wipe down the interior of the fridge with the same solution. Then scrub, rinse and dry the shelves and drawers.

Next, dry the drip pan. Remove the base grill, and pull out the drip pan. If it’s full of water, mop it with paper towels and wash the pan with soapy water. If your drop pan is fixed in place, wrap a cloth around the head of a long-handled brush and use to clean the pan.

Don’t forget the coils. In order to keep your refrigerator running efficiently, unplug it, pull it away from the wall, and use a coil brush or your vacuum’s crevice attachment to clean the condenser coils. This should be done at least twice a year, unless you have pets in the home, and then you should do this three to four times a year.

Clean out spice cabinet. Throw away all expired spices and seasonings. Not only do these lose taste, they actually harbor mold and bacteria.

Clean out expired medications & vitamins If you have unused medications, please take them to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.

Vacuum, wash, or steam window curtains

Wash window blinds

Add color to your table. Treat yourself to fresh flowers while waiting for the spring blooms outside.

And if you’re ready to get some deep cleaning done, check out this blog for the Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist.

Posted on February 3, 2019 at 7:02 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Fun Things To Do, Gardner Reports, Home Improvement, Home Maintenance

Wealth-Building Opportunities for First-Time Home Buyers Abound

 

 

With the sharpest increase of available homes for sale in years, more opportunities are now available for buyers, including first-timers. Many first-time home buyers have sat on the sidelines and remained renters due to the constriction of inventory, which put major pressure on price affordability. Not only has affordability been an issue, but the terms required to prevail in a multiple-offer situation were often not within reach for someone entering the market for the first time.

For example, over the last 12 months in the Seattle Metro area we have seen a 66% increase in the selection homes for buyers to choose from. There is currently 1.8 months of available inventory based on pending sales versus 0.8 months that was available the same month last year. This is still a seller’s market (0-3 months), but it is providing more than twice as much selection than a year ago. This loosening up of the market has helped to temper price growth by reducing the amount of price escalations and the need to have super aggressive financing terms in order to secure a home.

You see, over the last 3-4 years we have experienced double-digit price appreciation (10-14%) year-over-year, each year. A normal rate of appreciation is 3-5%. Minimal amounts of available inventory, low interest rates, and rapid job growth lead to this increase in prices. Now that more homes are coming to market and job growth has stabilized a bit (still growing, but not as fast), price growth has slowed. This is good news for sustainability and affordability. Here’s the deal though – we are still experiencing growth in values, making home ownership a sound investment over renting.

According to the most recent survey from rentcafe.com, the average rent for an apartment in Seattle is $1,906 with an average square footage of 736 sq. ft. That is quite a bit of money for not a ton of space. Further, that monthly expenditure does not create any wealth for the renter, only for the landlord. With renting, rates can be increased at any time, and you are paying down someone else’s asset, not your own. Also, owning gives the homeowner control of their overhead, while getting to make their house their home by adding improvements such as painting.
  
There are several factors to consider that will lead a person to make the best decision for their lifestyle and their financial bottom line. One of the biggest factors is interest rates! Currently, the rate for a 30-year fixed, conventional, conforming loan is hovering around 4.88%. Up from earlier this year and predicted to rise, but still historically low over the course of the last 30 years. These rates need to be considered the greatest opportunity of them all! With prices tempering and rates still under the 30-year average of 6.65%, buyers are able to secure a sound investment with very low debt service.

With interest rates predicted to rise over the next year, a good rule of thumb to remember is that for every one-point increase in rate, a buyer loses 10% of their buying power. For example, if the rate jumps from 4.75% to 5.75% and one wants to keep the same monthly payment, they must adjust their price point down by 10%. So, a $450,000 budget becomes a $405,000 budget, and that isn’t taking appreciation into consideration. If you assume an average appreciation rate of 4% year-over-year, today’s $450,000 house will be $468,000 next year. What side of the equity growth do you want to be on? As an owner now, or a buyer a year from now, when prices are higher and interest rates are most likely higher as well?

Once you secure a mortgage, the payment stays the same over the term of the entire loan. The long-term benefits of owning are abundant, including the stability of not being asked to move. These are important factors to consider for everyone, but especially millennials, who are enjoying the benefits of Seattle’s attractive job market. One myth to address is the common belief that you must have a 20% down payment in order to buy a home. That is simply not true. There are loan programs as low as 3% down, decreasing the need to have a large sum of money saved up before being able to buy.

Where folks are having to compromise the most due to affordability is commute times, and settling in less-urban neighborhoods. Worth pointing out, is the average home price in south Snohomish County is 34% less than Seattle Metro – that is a huge savings! Further, south King County is 74% more affordable than Seattle. Some people, mainly millennials, have not been willing to give up living in the core urban neighborhoods that have high walk scores and shorter commute times. That should be apt to change with more selection available in the purchase market, coupled with low interest rates. The advantages of moving out a little further and securing a home will start people on the track of building long-term wealth. If you or anyone you know is currently renting and is considering a change, please let me know, as I would be happy to get their questions answered and help them make an informed decision.

 

 
Don’t Wait for a Disaster to Build Your Emergency Kit
 

 

Two Weeks Ready: Be Prepared. Build Kits. Help Each Other.

The first few days after a disaster are often the most critical. Government and essential services may not be available right away, depending on the circumstances. It is imperative to have a plan in place for such a time, and be ready to act on your own.

Washington’s biggest disaster threat is from earthquakes. Washington State’s Emergency Management Division advises that we take precautions to be on our own for at least 2 weeks. Take a look at their Two Week Ready Brochure (PDF) that outlines the basics necessary for your emergency kit. While it is important to get ready, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. The list of necessities is long, so take a look at the agency’s year-long prep plan. You will also find information on pet preparedness, as well as the agency’s Drop, Cover, and Hold Earthquake Scenario map.

 

 
#TackleHomelessness Update

 

 

 

During last weekend’s win against Dallas, the Seattle Seahawks had 46 defensive tackles, raising another $4,600 for Windermere’s #TackleHomelessness campaign. Combined with what we’ve raised over the past two seasons, this brings our to-date grand total to $71,400! All season long we’ll be partnering with the Seahawks to raise money for YouthCare in support of homeless youth.
Posted on September 26, 2018 at 1:51 am
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Community, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Home Maintenance, Monthly Newsletters, Windermere Foundation

Fall is Just Around the Corner! How to Prepare for it…

 

Summer is quickly coming to a close, and it’s time to think about prepping your yard for fall.  Here are a few quick tips to get you started, and a full article here.

Fertilizing
All summer long, plants and grass are using up nutrients in the soil. After months of growing, your soil’s reserves become depleted, which is why a fall fertilizer is great to restore nutrients and give your grass, shrubs, and perennials a boost to help them make it through winter. It is recommended to fertilize once every season.

Stop Pruning and Watering
Late summer and fall might seem like a good time to prune dead flowers and branches from trees and bushes, but several experts recommend waiting until dormancy or spring to prune anything. Pruning stimulates new growth, but with the frost coming, chances are this new growth won’t survive. Pruning also interferes with the plant when it is going dormant. In late September, you should also stop watering your plants to help them go dormant as well. 

Furnace Filter
Okay, this isn’t really a yard tip but it’s still important, and after all this smoke – critical! It’s recommended that you change your furnace filter at least every three months, if not more often. Having a clean furnace filter will make the air circulating through your house cleaner, and will put less stress on your heating and air systems.

Posted on August 26, 2018 at 8:15 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Community, Gardening & Landscaping, Home Improvement, Home Maintenance, Monthly Newsletters