Over the past several months Windermere Real Estate has supported our local local communities, assisting front line medical staff and local food banks.
Windermere brokers and staff raised over $17,500 to buy meals for medical staff on the front lines at EvergreenHealth Medical Center. Those funds purchased 1,200 meals from local restaurants – just a small token of our appreciation for all they do, and continue to do.
For the past 35 years Windermere Real Estate offices have closed on the first Friday in June for our annual Community Service Day so our 9,000 member team can head into our local communities to volunteer. This year, due to COVID-19, the decision was made to replace Community Service Day with a fundraising challenge to help local food banks and the people they serve. The Windermere Foundation pledged to match every dollar raised, up to $250,000, with the goal of donating $500,000 to food banks in the communities where we live and work. We are thrilled and appreciative to all those who donated, raising a total of $690,000 for local food banks.
WINDERMERE . . . COMING TOGETHER TO SUPPORT OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES.
The coronavirus health crisis has redirected everyone’s focus. We’re all searching for our “new normal”, abandoning and creating new daily routines, figuring out how to safely shop for groceries, work from home (maybe cope with the temporary or permanent loss of a job or income), home school and entertain children, balance finances and care for family, friends and neighbors.
Real estate is how I’ve earned my living for three decades. I love what I do, but right now, and for the foreseeable future, it’s anything but a priority or business as usual. I’m also trying to figure out how to navigate working from home, support elderly parents on the east coast, stay in touch with family members near and far and reach out to friends and neighbors. Staying connected with family, friends and clients has led to some creative and interesting get-togethers. Virtual coffee meetings and happy hours, with the occasional photo bomb by a family pet, has generated a much needed laugh or two.
Whatever, and whenever normal resumes, there will be plenty of time to get back to previous work and family routines. My priority is to take care of my health and my family’s health and safety. I’m fortunate to be affiliated with a company that helped set the tone for what the industry landscape should look like while Washington’s Stay Home/Stay Healthy order is in effect. Since the early days of this crisis, Windermere has taken the position “go slow and do no harm” with a goal, within strict guidelines set by the State of Washington prioritizing safety and wellness, to take care of our clients. Brokers and management worked hard to help clients who were already under contract on the purchase or sale of a home, to complete that transaction so that no one was caught between moves, but we will slow-roll new business until the coast is clear. Our priority, and one of Windermere’s core values . . . putting people over transactions . . . is more important than ever.
Take care of yourselves. Be safe and stay healthy.
The early spring real estate market was crazy with buyer demand outpacing available housing inventory. With growing concern and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, a few homes are being listed for sale (though far fewer than normal for this time of year) and homes sold last week.
There will always be people who have to move, have to sell or have to buy. Those people that accepted new jobs in February likely already sold the home where they lived and had started their new home search. With so few homes on the market, and seller’s hesitant to list their homes for sale in this environment, inventory will remain low. We may see buyers opt for a temporary rental and resume their plans to buy this summer when there’s more to choose from.
I’ve received many questions from clients, but with things changing on a daily, if not hourly basis, advice I may have given last week isn’t the same this week. Buying or selling a home is a major decision. Should you buy or sell now, or should you wait? It’s a very personal decision and I honestly can’t answer that question for anyone else right now.
Probably the best thing to do is take a deep breath and wait until we know more about how long we’ll need to observe appropriate social distancing, or shelter in place, or when things will get back to “normal”. Life is anything but normal right now and I don’t know anyone who isn’t stressed about their health, job, children, parents, friends, finances, etc. Stay healthy, stay happy, and stay connected. Schedule virtual coffee or happy hour with friends (Facetime is great). Call and check on family and friends. (A personal call and the sound of someone’s voice means so much more than a text or email.) Walk the dog. Read a book. Catch up on movies you missed. Play games. Complete a puzzle. Make cookies and let a neighbor know you’ll leave some on their porch. Life will return to normal, I wish I could say when, but that’s when we’ll have more information and confidence and be better equipped to make life’s important decisions.
The past few weeks/days have created concern, uncertainty and chaos in everyone’s world. Like many people, I am working at home, keeping clients advised of what’s happening in the real estate market and in their neighborhoods (homes are continuing to come on the market and sell) and responding to questions, emails and phone calls.
We’ve had amazing weather this week. Since exercise and sunshine are both good for relieving stress, I’ve made it a point to take the dogs on a couple walks each day. They too enjoy getting outside to enjoy the fresh spring smells and roll in the grass (them, not me). It’s been a great reminder that we live in an incredibly beautiful place, that we should take advantage of this amazing weather (especially for March) and that sunshine and walking are good for your soul. When will things return to normal, I can’t predict, but I do know the rain will return and we will be forced to spend more time indoors. There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is confusing and scary and that we can’t control. Along with social distancing, using appropriate caution and staying in touch with family and friends, remember to step outside, take a deep breath, enjoy the sun, take a walk and clear your head.
Thursday is the first day of spring. Happy Spring!
This year I celebrate 30 years as a Realtor® and a decade with Windermere Real Estate. Locally owned, Windermere has deep roots in the community and a commitment to support the neighborhoods where we live and work. I’m proud to support the Windermere Foundation and its efforts to support organizations assisting low income and homeless families and individuals in our local communities.
Condominiums are an important part of the housing market, especially for first time buyers. Often buyers have the income and credit score needed to purchase a home but lack a substantial down payment which can make entering the housing market prohibitive.
In an effort to promote affordable homeownership for credit worthy buyers, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has issued new guidelines that make FHA condo financing an easier, more streamline process. Once a huge part of the first time buyer market, FHA’s strict guidelines made financing a condo difficult, at best. FHA updated its condominium financing rules, effective October 15th, which will loosen requirements for financing condos.
- Low Down Payment Still Available. Buyers can still purchase a home with as little as a 3.5% down payment.
- FHA Loan Limit. In King County the maximum FHA loan amount is $726,525.
- Single Unit Approvals (“spot loans”) Return. If a condo community wasn’t on the approved FHA list, it was difficult, at best, to obtain FHA financing. New guidelines now make it easier for an individual unit to be approved for FHA “spot loan” financing in a community that doesn’t have current FHA approval.
- FHA Certification and Recertification. Many condo communities have applied for and maintained their FHA certification. Having FHA certification makes a community more desirable to buyers and FHA financing much easier. The FHA condo certification now lasts 3 years vs. 2 and the recertification process has been streamlined.
- Owner/Occupancy Requirements Eased. FHA now requires a condo community be just 50% owner occupied.
- Commercial/Non-residential Space. The amount of permitted non-residential space (retail, commercial, parking, etc.) has been increased from 25% to 35%
These updated FHA loan guidelines will now allow thousands more condominium units to qualify for FHA financing, opening homeownership opportunities to many more qualified buyers. Opening the window to homeownership will encourage more owners to buy and occupy homes resulting in fewer investor owned/rented units, higher owner occupancy levels and stronger communities.
Condominiums are an important part of the housing market for first time buyers. Too often buyers have the income and credit score needed to purchase a home but lack an adequate down payment which can make entering the housing market prohibitive.
In an effort to promote affordable and sustainable homeownership, especially among credit-worthy first time buyers, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has recently issued new guidelines making obtaining FHA financing for condominiums an easier and more streamline process. FHA has issued an update to its condo rules, effective October 15th, that will loosen requirements for financing condominiums. Here are some of the more important changes effective this month:
- Low Down Payments Still Available. Buyers can still purchase a house or condominium with as little as a 3.5% down payment
- FHA Certification and Recertification. FHA requires a condominium community to have obtained FHA certification. It is a detailed process and there is an expense to the HOA involved, but once complete, having FHA certification makes a community more desirable to buyers and FHA financing much easier. The FHA condo certification now lasts 3 years vs. two and the recertification process has been streamlined.
- Single Unit Approvals (spot loans) Permitted. In the past, if a condominium community wasn’t on the approved FHA list, it was difficult, at best, to obtain FHA financing. The new guidelines now make it easier for an individual unit to be approved for FHA “spot loan” financing in a community that isn’t FHA approved as long as no more than 10% of the units in the community are FHA insured. (A buyer must use a FHA approved lender.)
- Owner Occupancy Requirements Eased. FHA now requires that a condo community be just 50% owner occupied.
- Commercial/Non-Residential Space. The amount of permitted non-residential space (retail, commercial, parking) has been increased from 25% to 35%.
These updated FHA loan guidelines will now allow thousands more condominium units to qualify for FHA financing, opening homeownership opportunities to many buyers. Homeowner associations are encouraged to obtain and maintain FHA certification. Opening the window to homeownership will encourage more people to buy and occupy homes resulting in fewer investor owned units, higher owner/occupancy levels and stronger communities.
Most of us agree Bellevue is a great place to live. Residents consistently giving high marks to the city’s government, services, safety, parks and recreation services and overall amenities. One of the city’s biggest perks is its many parks – urban parks, waterfront parks and small pocket parks offering playgrounds, indoor and outdoor recreation options, walking and hiking trails, boat launches, swimming beaches and more. If you’re a park user and appreciate the city’s efforts in maintaining and improving the parks, maybe now is the time to get involved – the City Council is seeking candidates for a vacancy on the Parks and Community Services Board. Continue reading
Windermere Real Estate has partnered with the Seahawks this season to tackle homelessness. So far this year the #tacklehomelessness campaign has raised $14,600. For every defensive home game tackle, Windermere is donating $100 to YouthCare which provides services and housing to homeless youth.