Home Buying FAQ: How Long Will I Live Here?!

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How long do I plan to live in my future home?

This may be the single most important question for you to answer.  Why? Because the answer directly affects the size and type of home that you buy, where it’s located, as well as the type of mortgage you use to finance your purchase.

Times have changed since our parents bought their homes.  Chances are, unless they’ve retired or are in professions where thy are required to relocate to different parts of the country from time to time, you parents are still living in the home in which you grew up.

Statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR, which your Realtor should be a member of), reveal that today, on average, people live in their homes only about 5 to 7 years. That’s it.  Then, they move.  

How are you supposed to know how long you’re going to live in your home?  I suppose there is no way to know for sure, but here are some general guidelines, which can be referred to as the Cycle of Life.

Cycle of Life:

Young and single:  If you buy a home here and you’re interested in having a long term relationship or getting married, it’s likely that what you can afford as a single person won’t be quite enough space for two.  Within five to seven years you’ll probably trade your one bedroom or two bedroom home for something larger.  Tip: look for a property that is an investment and in a neighborhood that is seeing appreciation. Ask your Realtor to help you locate a property that you may be able to turn into cash flow 5-7 years down the road

Newly Married:  You may want to start a family within a few years of your marriage.  Within 5-7 years, you’ll need additional space as your family starts to grow (and their stuff multiplies exponentially).

Divorced or Separated:  This can be another move.  At this point, in your second or third home, with young children in school, you’ll probably settle down for a while.  You may even find a house in a good school district and decide to stay for 10-15 years, until your children are through with school.

Empty Nesters: Once your children are grown and out of the house for good, you might decide to sell your big house, take your profits (up to $250,000 for qualified single homeowners and up to $500,000 for married homeowners, tax-free) and move to a smaller condo somewhere warm or perhaps cold, if you like skiing.

Vacation Home: And finally, it’s possible that you’ll purchase a second (or third) home, to which you may actually end up retiring.  The most popular age to buy a second home is 55-65, followed by 45-55, followed by 65-75, which mean the baby boomers are just beginning to enter their prime second home buying years.

Look Before You Leap

Before you start to look for a home, think about where you are in the Cycle of Life, and where you’ll be in five to seven years.

  • Is marriage, a life partnership, or living with someone else a possibility within five to seven years?
  • How many children do you plan to have during the next five to seven years:
  • Are your children near or at school age? Have you chosen the school district you want for them?
  • Is it likely you’ll be transferred for your job within the next five to seven years?
  • Do you have an aging parent in another part of the country who may require your close supervision or attention?
  • Do you have an aging parent or post-college-age children who might be moving back home with you? Will you need flexible living space that your current home can’t provide?

If you are thinking of buying a home, download my app (click on link OR download via QR code below) and pull all active, pending and sold listings in your neighborhood or desired neighborhood.  If you find a house you like, I am right at your fingertips and am happy to assist you!

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Live Washington: Valentines Day Getaway

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This week in the “Live Washington” series, we are getting into the spirit of love in honor of the beloved consumer holiday, Valentines Day.  Whether or not you are single or coupled up, these mini getaways are a great alternative to the traditional activities, as well as another perfect excuse to see what Washington has to offer it’s residents.

I hope your week is full of love and am so grateful for all of the amazing people that make up this incredible community I get the privilege of living in.  

The Heron Inn & Day Spa
117 Maple Ave.
La Conner, WA 98257
(360) 399-1074
www.theheroninn.com
Located in the artist town of La Conner, The Heron Inn & Day Spa is near both the small town art galleries and Fir Island. La Conner is a small town, filled with wonderful restaurants and art galleries. It sits on the Swinomish Channel, across from Hope Island. The channel is home to otters, great blue heron and other wildlife. The galleries feature local Pacific Northwest artists of all disciplines. The Next Chapter Bookstore & Coffee House has some of the best coffee in town, and great selections of books. The La Conner Pub & Eatery has wonderful fish and chips, burgers and other food. In the other direction, Fir Island is the wintering grounds for 40,000 to 60,000 snow geese. The birds feed in the wintering farm fields along Fir Island Road and other areas throughout the island. A stay at this inn will fulfill your wildlife fix with your loved one.

Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd.
Crystal Mountain, WA 98022
(360) 663-2265
www.crystalmountainresort.com
If I had to choose, this would be my perfect getaway….Crystal Mountain Ski Resort is located about two hours from Seattle. It is situated off Highway 410 and near Mount Rainier. The resort offers runs for beginners through advanced skiers. Equipment is available for rental or purchase at the Mountain Shop (base area) and the RDL Test Center (top of the gondola). They both offer opportunities to test out the latest equipment and will take the rental fee off of the purchase price. The resort also offers guided snowshoe tours. Lodging is available in the area and is listed on the website.

A Tree House Retreat

A Tree House Retreat is a romantic getaway in the trees. The Tree House has views of the forest and Puget Sound (looking west). A continental breakfast is included, and guests can make an appointment with Whidbey Wellness in the Woods for a rejuvenating massage. The beach is a 1/8-mile walk, with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sounds. Other areas to visit in the area are Fort Casey State Park, South Whidbey Island State Park and Fort Ebby State Park. The area is home to deer, raccoons, eagles and more. Reservations are required.

Salish Lodge & Spa
6501 Railroad Ave. S.E.
Snoqualmie, WA 98065
(425) 888-2556
www.salishlodge.com
The Salish Lodge & Spa is located at the scenic 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls near North Bend on I-90. The lodge is the perfect place for a pampered getaway for any couple. The spa facilities are first class, offering a variety of services for both men and women. The four-star restaurant is one of the best in Western Washington, and looks out over the falls. In North Bend, the avid shopper can explore the North Bend Premium Outlet Mall, which includes stores like Reebok, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Wilsons Leather, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and more. For those who love the outdoors, the lodge is next to Snoqualmie Falls Park, which has two observation decks overlooking the falls.

Argosy Cruise
1101 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 622-8687
www.argosycruises.com
The Locks Cruise is 2.5 hours of seeing Seattle and Ballard from the water. It starts at Pier 56 on the Seattle waterfront and ends at Lake Union. Visitors are brought back to the pier via motor coach, which takes about 15 minutes. The tour starts in Elliott Bay, goes around Magnolia, through the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, and finishes in Lake Union. Local history and current sites are shared throughout the trip. Tours are discounted if booked more than one month in advance. The company offers several other tour options that cover the Seattle waterfront, Tillicum Village, Lake Union and Lake Washington areas.

Home is where the heart is; Creëer jouw lievelingshuis - Blog - ShowHome.nl

And remember, YOUR referrals are the HEARTBEAT of my business. Thank you all, love and blessings to you and your families.

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Market Mondays: Kirkland

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Happy Monday everyone! The Holidays are over, football season has ended and the post Super Bowl depression has started to lift…that means people are getting back into thinking about real estate!

This week, we are taking a quick look at the current market in Kirkland, Washington.  If you want to see what is happening in your immediate neighborhood, download my app at http://jlsapp.com/rachelwagner , this will show you all the active listings in your area as well as pending and sold! It’s a great resource to have at your fingertips and I use it personally daily and clients also love it! If you want more information on a property, you can request it on the spot and I will get back to you immediately.

Currently, there are 105 active listings in Kirkland, ranging from $234,000-3.4 million with a median list price of $900,000.  In the last 90 days, there have been 116 residential/condominium sales ranging from $220,000-3.12 million, with the median sale price of $860,000.  The graph below shows months of inventory based on closed sales.  Currently, we are in what is considered a “sellers market” with 1.8 months supply of inventory, up slightly from the end of December and similar to the numbers seen in January.  As we move into the Spring months, this may fluctuate slightly with the increase of inventory.  With historically low interest rates, however, it’s a great time to purchase a home in any area…Kirkland being one of the hottest markets in the greater Seattle area.

The home below is listed for $489,500 on 112th st in Kirkland, Washington and is a perfect home for first time home buyers on a large lot, beautifully updated and located near the Kirkland Corridor trail, elementary school, gym and within walking distance from Juanita beach park and shopping.  Call/text 425.324.0302 if you are interested in more information.

Market Mondays: First Time Home-Buyers + West Seattle

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The market predictions for 2015 are all about buyers – especially young home buyers – having their best shot in years at finding a home.

First-time buyers who stayed out of the market – either for demographic reasons or because they just couldn’t find the right entry-level home – will have a breakthrough year in 2015..

These predictions are based on housing data that shows rents continuing to skyrocket while the for-sale market levels off. That economic reality, increased inventory, and millennial s getting married and having children after delaying those choices, will give buyers more negotiating power.

In fact, it is predicted the millennial generation will overtake Generation X as the biggest group of home buyers in 2015.

This week I’m excited to look at the market in West Seattle., from the beach culture at Alki and tide pools of Lincoln Park to “city” living at The Junction (SW Alaska Street and California Avenue SW) and its proximity to the multicultural up-and-comer White Center, West Seattle is diverse and full of opportunity.  It is becoming an increasingly popular destination for young families and with it’s affordable housing opportunities, I am beginning to see why.  For those who are concerned about the commute, through some qualitative research (asking West Seattle friends about their commute), the average commute time to downtown Seattle is approximately 30 minutes, which isn’t too bad considering the lifestyle and community that West Seattle offers its residents.

Micro ’hood to watch: Arbor Heights. While it’s not a destination, Arbor Heights, full of modest homes built for Boeing workers in the 1940s, is on the rise. Sadly, it ranks 98th of 100 Seattle neighborhoods on Walkscore.com, which means you may have to drive to get a latte, a cupcake and a library book, but people love it because the backyards are huge, the views are expansive, and the kids can walk safely to the school right down the street.

Don’t miss: Primo shopping at The Junction, including a growing assortment of consignment boutiques; the fried chicken at Ma‘ono; anything from Bakery Nouveau; and a delicious, kid-friendly breakfast at Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant (technically in White Center).

Go-to for out-of-town guests: Lincoln Park for the view.

Famous for: Current resident Eddie Vedder and former residents Frances Farmer and Ivar Haglund.

So, what’s happening in the housing market? Well, as of January 26th, 2015 there are 148 active listings which include both single family homes and condominiums.  The price range is between $143,100- $2.85 million with the median list price being $469,500.  In the past 90 days, there have been 368 homes sold, ranging from $113,500-$2 million with the median sale price being $399,000.  This puts months of inventory based on closed sales at 1.21 months, down slightly from December that was at 1.7 months inventory.  This indicates a really hot market, which is understandable based on historiclly low interest rates and a great place for young famlies who are first time home-buyers to move.

Months of inventory through Devember 2014. January 2015 is almost down to record low months supply of inventory.

Average price for sale vs. actual sale price through December 2014.

What does $400,000 get you in West Seattle? After doing some research, I have become quite the fan of West Seattle myself and below are a few pictures of what $400,000 will get you in West Seattle.

New Construction Town homes minutes from Alki + the city

If you are thinking of purchasing a home, please contact me at rachelwagner@johnlscott.com, shoot me an email and I can send you a buyer’s packet outlining the process.  It’s a great time to buy, and the more questions you ask up front the better prepared you will be when you decide to take the purchasing plunge.  Happy Monday everyone!

Tips for Finding the Perfect Neighborhood

The neighborhood you choose can have a big impact on your lifestyle—safety, available
amenities, and convenience all play their part.  While the home itself is the icing on the cake of the home buying process, the neighborhood your home is in can be equally important in the decision.  You are not only buying the home itself, but are also becoming part of the community that home is in.  The following are a few helpful tips in narrowing down your perfect neighborhood.

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1. Make a list of the activities—movies, health club, place of worship—you engage in
regularly and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each
neighborhood you’re considering to engaging in your most common activities.
2. Check out the school district. The Department of Education in your state can probably
provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college,
and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, also consider paying a
visit to schools in the neighborhoods you’re considering. Even if you don’t have children,
a house in a good school district will be easier to sell in the future.
3. Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime
statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type—burglaries, armed
robberies—and the trend of increasing or decreasing crime. Also, is crime centered in
only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area?
4. Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with your local city
economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood
are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments? Apartments don’t
necessarily diminish value, but they do mean a more transient population. Do you see
vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months?
5. See if you’ll make money. Ask your REALTOR to get information about price
appreciation trends in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of
future results, this information may give you a sense of how good an investment your
home will be. Also, your REALTOR or the government planning agency may be able
to tell you about planned developments or other changes in the neighborhood—like a
new school or highway—that might affect value. Check out City Data for some
great information by zip code or city.
6. See for yourself. Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go
there, and walk around. Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets quiet? Pick a
warm day if you can and chat with people working or playing outside.

Live Washington: 5 “Cozy” Winter Getaways

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This week, we are embracing the sometimes bittersweet rainy season the PNW has come to be known for. As cold weather arrives, anyone looking for a weekend getaway often has “cozy” on the list of criteria. Here are 5 cozy getaways around Western Washington (and it’s a good time to enjoy low-season rates).

1. Coupeville Inn

Winter is the quiet season on Whidbey Island, but Penn Cove mussels are still fresh and salty in local restaurants and a hike at Ebey’s Landing will wake you up when Strait of Juan de Fuca winds blow. Afterward, cozy up in the pink lady of Coupeville, the Italianate Kineth House, part of the Blue Goose Inn, or one of the rustic madrona-log rooms of the Captain Whidbey Inn.

2. Tokeland Hotel

This funky/delightful historic inn at the upper edge of Willapa Bay has a view of old orchard trees and meadow-grazing deer rather than the ocean, but a 5-minute drive puts you on a sandy beach. Wine and Scrabble in front of the fireplace. No TV, no phones. A true winter getaway.

3. Lake Quinault Lodge

Rain, rain and more rain grows record-size trees here, and the rainy season is the right time to get cozy with a chess board and a cocktail from the bar in the lodge’s pleasantly-wood-smoky lobby. Dine in the Roosevelt Room, named for FDR from his 1937 visit where he fell in love with the area. Nine months after his visit, Roosevelt signed a bill creating Olympic National Park. Today, you can enjoy incredible food and drink, as well as panoramic views of the Lake and the mountains beyond.

Quinault Lodge

Quinault Lodge’s Beautiful + Cozy lobby

4. Ashford cabins

When the snow flies at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, it’s a wintry wanderland for snowshoers and inner-tubers. If braving the cold and staying at Camp Muir isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of rental cabins at the foot of Mt. Rainier, most with fireplaces, many with hot tubs, all just right for snowy getaways!  Try Stormking Cabins(this is definitely our next adventure!). Or check other cabin listingshere.

Three Bears Lodge view of the mountain

Cozy Mt. Rainier Cabin

5. Iron Springs Resort

This historical collection of bluff-top Mocrocks Beach-area cabins in Grays Harbor County underwent a major makeover a couple years back, so the original 1940s look has gotten a freshening up like there was a shipwreck of interior decorators out front. But the sandy Pacific beach is still classic, with razor-clam digs when the season’s right.

Live Washington: Winthrop

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Happy New Year Everyone! Week 2 of the “Live Washington” series will kick off with Winthrop, Washington which is best known for its winter recreation, sunshine, and dry snow!

Winthrop is home to the nation’s largest cross-country ski area and some of the most acclaimed snowmobiling and backcountry skiing around. Ski, snowshoe, sled, shred, or skate, the Methow Valley has it all.

Winthrop has 120 miles of groomed, interconnected trails, surrounded by more than a million acres of wilderness and forest lands, the Methow Valley is a beautiful getaway during the long winter months.

Winthrop also boasts Methow Trails, which operates the nation’s largest cross-country ski area of 120 miles of trails where Kids 17 and under ski free everyday on the cross-country ski trail system.  The Loup Loup Ski Bowl operates another 23 kilometers of Nordic trails which is also located just a hop, skip and a jump from the downhill ski hill.

If you enjoy back country skiing as much as my fiance and I do, Winthrop is just the place for you. Most local back country skiers will head up Highway 20 for ski-from-the-road access, or to the end of the plowed road and snowmobile in from there. The options are endless in the Methow Valley!

The Summer months in Winthrop are equally amazing, with an abundance of road/mountain biking opportunities, climbing, camping, golfing, farmer’s markets and according to Winthrop’s website you can also:

“Soar the skies above in a bright balloon, or experience the country at eye level by foot, hoof and pedal! Or stay close to the turf—play 18 holes on a certified Audobon Course. For the less serious golfer, putt-putt can be found right in downtown Winthrop, right next to Sheri’s Sweet Shoppe. Cool off on by floating the river, or paddling the lake.”

Winthrop is a great option for a vacation home for you and your family.  It’s also a good opportunity to have a rental property like the one displayed below, for an affordable $225,000.  The grounds and exterior maintenance of this 2005 condo are managed by the HOA (which means your driveway will always be plowed).  You can utilize your 3 bed, 2+ bath Methow Valley vacation cabin yourself, as a nightly rental, or both. Stay here on your next trip & check it out! If you are interested in this please email me at rachelwagner@johnlscott.com or call/text 425.324.0302.