When it comes to upgrading your home with the latest technology, your garage is likely to be the last thing on your radar. But as electric vehicles and even self-driving cars are hitting the road across the country, real estate listings are touting smart garages in high-tech cities like Palo Alto, California and Austin, Texas. Not to mention the simple fact that garage tech can boost security and convenience for your home, no matter what kind of car you drive. Here, we outline four of the simplest things you can do to make your garage smarter.
1. Learn about internet-connected devices you can install in your garage.
There are all kinds of benefits to installing internet-connected systems in and around your garage — from opening and closing your garage door remotely, to using cameras to monitor your garage, to checking up on your car from anywhere in the world. How’s that for convenience?
These internet-connected devices don’t have to be complicated, either. In fact, they’re designed for your ease of use. You can find smart add-ons for your existing garage door opener, or if you want to go all out (and potentially obtain additional security and other features), you can purchase a brand new, high-tech garage door system with all the bells and whistles.
2. Install motion-sensor lights and security cameras near your garage and other entryways.
Since most thieves like to do their dirty work in the dark, motion-sensor lights can be an effective deterrent to a garage break-in. And if you have security cameras installed too, the police may be able to better identify the perps — if anything ever does happen.
Plus, these easy upgrades can add major market value to your home if you’re looking to put it on the market in the future.
3. Think about the future.
You may still be driving a gas-powered car, but plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming increasingly attractive and affordable to modern car-buyers — especially as states like Texas are offering rebate programs for vehicle replacements to EVs. If you think there’s a chance that you could make the switch in the near future, it’s a good idea to get your garage ready by installing an appropriate outlet or 240-volt battery charger. Many cities and states (including Texas) also offer assistance to help drivers purchase and install a charging station at home. You could also enjoy reduced utility charges, depending on where you live.
Keep in mind that driverless cars will be a common sight in American garages too, as lawmakers are clearing the way for the new technology in Austin and Arlington. Experts have suggested that this shift will transform the real estate market, including the size and functionality of garages.
4. Make sure your homeowners’ insurance is up to snuff.
It’s pretty obvious that your garage door is one of the more exposed areas of your home —when it comes to potential intruders, but also when it comes to bad weather. If a covered incident like a windstorm, fire, break-in, or vandalism occurs, standard homeowners insurance has your back.
Just be sure to purchase enough insurance coverage to completely rebuild your home from the ground up in case catastrophe happens, since your policy will only pay out the maximum limits you choose. The last thing you want after a disaster strikes is extra bills to pay just to get your home back in working order.
Return on Investment
Going all out with brand new, high-tech garage devices is admittedly an investment up front. But when it comes to peace of mind knowing your home and your family are safe, a smart garage could be worth every dime — not to mention the fact that it could boost your resale value in an increasingly connected world.
Haden Kirkpatrick is the director of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance, where he is responsible for initiatives related to product and service innovation. He is constantly thinking about technology changes impacting the insurance industry, and following innovation taking place in high-tech hot spots such as Palo Alto, California and Austin, Texas.
The local real estate market looks like it might finally be showing signs of softening, with inventory up and sales down. More sellers have opted to put their homes on the market. Inventory was up 47 percent in King County and price increases were in the single digits. Despite the increase in inventory and slowdown in sales, it’s still a solid seller’s market. Over half the properties purchased in June sold for more than list price.
A booming economy offered little price relief for buyers looking on the Eastside. In a recent study of economic strength by state, Washington ranked number one in the country. An additional report targeting cities ranks the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma market as the nation’s fourth strongest economy. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside rose 10 percent over a year ago to $977,759 setting another record. There is some good news for buyers. Inventory rose to its highest level in three years, with the number of homes for sale increasing 46 percent from the same time last year.
The number of homes on the market in King County soared 47 percent from a year ago, the biggest increase since the housing bubble burst. Despite the increase, there is just over one month of available inventory, far short of the four to six months that is considered a balanced market. The median price of a single-family home increased 9 percent over last June to $715,000. That’s down 2 percent from the $726,275 median in May. Home prices haven’t dropped from May to June in King County since the last recession.
Seattle trails only Bay Area cities when it comes to greatest profits for home sellers. That may help explain the surge in inventory in June. For example, the number of homes for sale in the popular Ballard/Green Lake area doubled from a year ago. Even though buyers are finally getting more choices, demand still exceeds supply. Homes sell faster in Seattle than in any other U.S. real estate market. That demand propelled the median price of a single-family home to $812,500; up 8 percent over last June and down from the record $830,000 set in May.
The largest jump in home prices in the region came in Snohomish County. While higher-priced markets in King County are seeing increases slowing slightly, the median price of a single-family home here jumped 14 percent to $511,500, a new high for the county. Buyers willing to “keep driving until they can afford it” are finding Snohomish County an appealing destination.
Around the halls of Windermere, we’ve decided that 2018 is the year to hit #refresh; it started with the launch of the refreshed Windermere brand earlier this year and today it continues with the unveiling of our refreshed website! The new Windermere.com is a result of a lot of research and input from our agents, franchise owners – and most importantly – consumers. As you can probably tell, we couldn’t be more excited! Let’s dig in.
Where we innovated:
Through the research process we discovered that over 85 percent of all traffic on our website occurs on our home page, search results, and property detail pages. This made it fairly easy for us to figure out what we wanted to focus on with the refresh. Plus, we heard from our regular site visitors that they felt those were the areas that needed the most improvement. Done, done, and done.
A much happier homepage:
We started with a total redesign of the Windermere.com homepage, which now better reflects the updated Windermere brand that we invested so much energy into earlier this year. The homepage is also now “location-aware” which means it will display listings that are geographically located closest to you. Because if you’re in Fort Collins, Colorado, you probably don’t want to be looking at listings in the suburbs of Boise. Catch our drift?
Mobile site, fast as lightning:
Next on the list to fix was our mobile site. We threw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and started from scratch. The result is an ultra-fast, highly-optimized mobile site that we think might even offer a better user experience than our desktop site (although it’s next to impossible to pick which is better; please don’t make us do it).
Sexy search results:
OK, you probably wouldn’t normally describe search results as sexy, but it’s arguably one of the most important pages on our website, so we spent a lot of time here. What you see in your search results, and how those results are presented, has a major impact on your home search experience. We completely revamped how search results show up, as well as what you see when you click through to see a specific home. Is it the greatest search makeover of all time? Possibly.
Major eye candy:
As we all know, photos and videos are the beginning and end of everything these days, so we’ve placed even greater emphasis on those stunning images on our new property detail pages. We’ve also made it super easy for you to share listings that you love with your friends via social media, email, etc. because #sharingiscaring.
That’s it, go check it out:
Without further ado, we cordially invite you to check out our brand new website for yourselves by going to Windermere.com. If you’re someone who regularly uses our site, we hope you love it. If you’re someone who doesn’t typically use our site to search for homes, we hope you’ll give us a shot. If you feel like it’s completely on point, please let us know by emailing email@example.com. If you don’t, we’d still love to hear from you! After all, any feedback is good feedback – but please, play nice.
Happy home searching!
May 2018’s Median closed sales price saw a 14% increase from $754k to $856k.
Last month brought some long-awaited, positive news for buyers with May posting the most new listings in over a decade. Despite the uptick in inventory, most homes are selling in less than a month. Prices haven’t been impacted either, with the majority of the region continuing to experience double-digit home price increases.
The median home price on the Eastside hit an all-time high of $960, 000 in May; a 10 percent gain over the same time last year. While there were a third more homes for sale in May than a year ago, the area still had only about a month of available inventory. Three to six months is considered a balanced market. Redmond, a city with a population of 64,000, currently has only 51 single-family homes on the market.
- Buyers can be a little more picky, more listings are coming, but they still are going to have to be aggressive with their offers.
- 58% sold for over list price and 83.4% sold in less than 15 days. However these are the properties that sold.
- 82% sold in 15 days or less.
- Sellers may want to be cautious about pushing their asking price.
April 2018 active inventory rose 25% from March 31 2018 and 17% from April 2017.
Historically listings taken and active listings at the end of the month grow from April through July. In addition the majority of the year’s appreciation occurs in the first six months.
What does this mean:
- Buyers can be a little more picky, more listings are coming, but they still are going to have to be aggressive with their offers
- 62% sold for over list price and 83.4% sold in less than 15 days. However these are the properties that sold.
- April 2018 active inventory rose 25% from March 31 2018 and 17% from April 2017.
- Sellers may want to be cautious about pushing their asking price.
Windermere Community Service Day – June 8th, 2018
Every year since 1984, Windermere managers, brokers and staff have dedicated a day of work to complete neighborhood improvement projects as part of Windermere’s Community Service Day. Creating vibrant communities is one of the things that inspire all of us at Windermere as it gives us an opportunity to give back to the communities where we live and work. After all, real estate is rooted in our communities. And an investment in our neighborhoods gives us all a better place to call home.
This year Windermere Community Service Day is on June 8th, 2018. On this day, our brokers and staff at Bellevue Commons will be doing a variety of projects at Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center; we’ve been volunteering at this great organization for the past 18 years. We will be cleaning, gardening and painting to help out this awesome group of people.
Last year we helped Little Bit get ready for their auction, whacked the weeds, and washed windows, and planted new plants. The brokers also washed the horses’ paddock fencing and arena fencing.
Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center improves the bodies, minds, and spirits of children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapies and activities, and to be an inspiration and educational resource to the therapeutic riding profession, both regionally and nationally.
Watch this video to learn more about Little Bit.
Are you ready to go “Over The Edge”?
We are teaming up with Seattle Humane as they are looking for a cast of “Stuntpeople” to take on the challenge to raise money for the animals, with a thrilling goal of rappelling down a 40 story building!
Seattle Humane casting agents are looking for serious fundraisers with a wild streak! Each Stuntperson is required to raise $2,500 to be able to go “Over The Edge.” The cast and crew will be on set July 22 at the 1000 2nd Ave building in downtown Seattle to capture all the action as our brave participants descend one of the tallest buildings ever used for this event!
When: July 22, 2018
Where: 1000 2nd Ave building in downtown Seattle
Western Washington Real Estate Market Update
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
The Washington State economy added 96,900 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9%—still solidly above the national rate of 1.5%. Most of the employment gains were in the private sector, which rose by 3.4%. The public sector saw a more modest increase of 1.6%.
The strongest growth was in the Education & Health Services and Retail sectors, which added 17,300 and 16,700 jobs, respectively. The Construction sector added 10,900 new positions over the past 12 months.
Even with solid increases in jobs, the state unemployment rate held steady at 4.7%—a figure that has not moved since September of last year.
I expect the Washington State economy to continue adding jobs in 2018, but not at the same rate as last year given that we are nearing full employment. That said, we will still outperform the nation as a whole when it comes to job creation.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 14,961 home sales during the first quarter of 2018. This is a drop of 5.4% over the same period in 2017.
- Clallam County saw sales rise the fastest relative to the first quarter of 2017, with an increase of 16.5%. In most of the other markets, the lack of available homes for sale slowed the number of closings during this period.
- Listing inventory in the quarter was down by 17.6% when compared to the first quarter of 2017, but pending home sales rose by 2.6% over the same period, suggesting that closings in the second quarter should be fairly robust.
- The takeaway from this data is that the lack of supply continues to put a damper on sales. I also believe that the rise in interest rates in the finalquarter of 2017 likely pulled sales forward, leading to a drop in sales in the first quarter of 2018.
- With ongoing limited inventory, it’s not surprising that the growth in home prices continues to trend well above the long-term average. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.4% to $468,312.
- Economic vitality in the region is leading to robust housing demand that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of new construction homes— something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. As a result, home prices will continue to rise at above-average rates in the coming year.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County at 27.5%. Ten additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
- Mortgage rates continued to rise during first quarter, and are expected to increase modestly in the coming months. By the end of the year, interest rates will likely land around 4.9%, which should take some of the steam out of price growth. This is actually a good thing and should help address the challenges we face with housing affordability—especially in markets near the major job centers.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by seven days when compared to the same quarter of 2017.
- King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 24 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain essentially static relative to the same period a year ago.
- In looking at the entire region, it took an average of 61 days to sell a home in the first quarter of this year. This is down from 68 days in the firstquarter of 2017 but up by eleven days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
- Anyone expecting to see a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale in 2018 will likely be disappointed. New construction permit activity—a leading indicator—remains well below historic levels and this will continue to put increasing pressure on the resale home market.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2018, I have left the needle at the same point as fourth quarter of last year. Price growth remains strong even as sales activity slowed. All things being equal, 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for sellers but, unfortunately, not for buyers who will still see stiff competition for the limited number of available homes for sale.
Mr. Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
It’s time to check for damage and prepare for hot weather ahead.
Tasks to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing are rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscape materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, then schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.
Keep an eye out for termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. “Termites swarm in the spring,” says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting. “If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest-control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.”
Prevent mosquitoes. In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitos can pose to our health. “West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests,” Sedinger says.
The best way to prevent mosquitoes around your home is simply to get rid of any standing water. “Walk around your property [and peek at your neighbors’]. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly,” Sedinger says.
Tackle These To-Dos Over a Weekend
Wash windows. Clean the grime off glass inside and out for a lighter, brighter home indoors and increased curb appeal outdoors. Wash the exterior windows yourself by using a hose attachment, or hire a pro to get the job done.
Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. “Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,” Sedinger says.Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. “Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,” Sedinger says. “If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.”
Clean your fireplace. If your home has a working wood-burning fireplace, the end of winter is a good time to give it a fresh start. Protect your hands with gloves and cover the area around the fireplace with a tarp. Carefully remove the (completely cool) remains of any charred logs and ash using fireplace tools. Then gently clean the fireplace surround. Do not attempt to clean inside the chimney — that job should be left to a professional chimney sweep.
Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water — and your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system:
- Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
- Make sure none of the sprinkler heads are broken or damaged.
- Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
- Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
- If you don’t know how to maintain your system, call a professional. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.
Check screen doors and windows. Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep the bugs out, but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears.
Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find repair kits at most hardware and home-improvement stores.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Season
Inspect the roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on a roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of yours. “It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,” Sedinger says. “Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.” Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.
Paint exterior. If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.
Reseal exterior woodwork. Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer if they’re stained or resealed every year or two.
Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.