Welcome to the WBC Book Club, where your favorite Admins & Agents share our favorite books of the moment! From fictional adventures to inspiring true stories, you can find it all right here on the WBC blog. You may notice that the format of our book recs look a little different than most, but that’s because our team loves to stand out and provide an unparalleled experience in all aspects of our business.
This month’s Literary Listings are all about the places we call home, whether it be a glamourous pied-a-terre in Paris, a hauntingly beautiful estate in the English countryside, or a traditional colonial on the hill. Houses are the overlooked characters of our favorite stories, bearing witness to private conversations, clandestine meetings and secret dreams. It makes you wonder what these homes might have to say if walls could talk…
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Marketing Remarks: Now is your chance to own a bit of Pennsylvania history! Built by the illustrious VanHoebeek family in 1922, this Dutch colonial home with period details is in pristine condition. Enjoy evening soirees in the third floor ballroom and relax by the pool all summer long. This property spans several acres and offers unobstructed territorial views from the floor to ceiling windows. All art and furniture is conveyed with the house, including several priceless portraits that trace the long history of this amazing home.
Agent Remarks: Spanning more than three decades, The Dutch House chronicles the lives of Maeve and Danny Conroy, siblings who suddenly find themselves orphaned and disinherited by their stepmother after the untimely death of their father. With enough acerbic wit to counter the more sober themes, this is a beautiful coming of age story about love, forgiveness and the unbreakable bonds of family, reminding us that home is not where you are, it is who you are with.
Directions: Read the synopsis here!
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Marketing Remarks: Quiet and secluded baroque pied-a-terre close to local amenities. Secure passcode entry & on-site concierge to monitor all deliveries, building maintenance and mysterious goings-on. Building features include a lovely courtyard, hidden passageways, a wine cellar with convenient storage area – but beware, it’s easy to get locked in down there if you aren’t careful. Enjoy timeless elegance at one the most sought-after apartment buildings in Paris.
Agents Remarks: A suspenseful guessing game where no one is ever truly what they seem, The Paris Apartment takes you on a twisting investigation through the streets of Paris as a young woman attempts to find her missing brother. Then tension builds as we meet his various neighbors, each of whom seem to have a reason for wanting the charismatic, aspiring journalist out of the picture. This book has mystery, childhood trauma, and revenge – all the makings of a classic thriller!
Directions: Read the synopsis here!
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Marketing Remarks: Step back in time to this 12th century abbey situated in the idyllic English countryside. This estate has been lovingly restored and repurposed into a family residence while keeping the building’s original architectural details intact. Arching gothic windows let in plenty of natural light to chase away any ghostly shadows, while the grand Rumford fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere in the spacious drawing room. It would be an alleged crime to pass up on this amazing opportunity!
Agent Remarks: Jane Austen’s first published work, Northanger Abbey satirizes the popular gothic novel that was sweeping the literary world in the 1800s. It follows a lovable yet naïve heroine, Catherine, who finds herself caught in a tug-of-war of friendship and romance with two very different sibling duos. When invited to visit her friends’ ancestral home, Catherine’s imagination takes flight as she searches for ghostly apparitions and murderous schemes around every turn. Expectations are turned upside down, relationships are tested and true natures revealed in this hilarious romp. This is a palatable book for those new to the work of Jane Austen and a great read for passing dark, stormy evenings.
Directions: Read the synopsis here!
What should we read next? We are always on the lookout for new book recommendations and would love to hear from you – tag us on social media with your favorite stories!
Written by Makena Schoene
So, you want to become an AirBnB host. How do go about converting your property into a vacation destination?
The hospitality industry has been hard at work to regain its foothold with stir-crazy consumers who have a whole new set of values post-Covid. The growing popularity of the short-term vacation rental is poised to redefine the nature of vacationing for years to come, thanks to increased space, flexibility, and lower average rates.
The demographic for Airbnb guests is changing as well, as Gen Z and millennials are more inclined to travel with groups of friends rather than just their immediate family. Future Airbnb owners can capitalize on this trends for unique, photogenic accommodations that hotels can’t always provide.
If you are willing to put in the hard work, your vacation rental can turn a good profit, and we’ve got a quick guide to get you started!
Laws & Logistics
Converting your home into a vacation rental isn’t as easy as listing it on a site like AirBnB. There are a lot of hoops to jump through regarding local regulations, insurance policies, market trends and HOA rules. Start your research by looking into the ordinances of the city where you are located, as municipal law can vary even within the same state.
Seattle law, for example, states that property owners are restricted to operating a maximum of 2 dwelling units as short-term rentals, whereas Bellingham only requires that short-term rental operators obtain the appropriate vacation rental permit and pay the associated fee. Paying attention to regional codes is an important first step towards turning your property into a vacation rental.
Looking into the local market is a great way to get a feel for whether or not your vacation rental has a chance to really succeed in that area. “Look for your direct competitors,” advises Alex Haler, a strategic account executive with AirDNA, “What are they doing well? Do any of them have a particular amenity or feature that is helping them outperform the others? Keep track of this group of competitors as they will aid you in setting the right price, benchmarking your performance and staying ahead of the curve.”
Reduce, Repair & Redecorate
The next step is to take care of any necessary repairs, update the furniture and install new tech if need be. Start by depersonalizing the space – as much as you love those family mementos, you are selling a space as a blank canvas for others to create their own memories.
Install smart technology to enhance connectivity for your guests and to keep an eye on your property when you can’t be there in person. Electronic locks that can be managed via the internet are a great addition, as they generate unique codes for each guest stay and make the check-in process quicker and easier.
Now is the time to take care of those pesky quirks that you have grown accustomed to, like squeaky doors or testy faucets. While some guests may not even register these issues, you are investing in your property’s longevity. By being proactive with repairs from the get-go, you save yourself stress and potentially more costly problems down the line.
When decorating, consider the aesthetic of your vacation rental and how it will complement the local vibe. What draws people to the area? Would a coastal motif fit best or would a cozy cabin vibe be more appropriate? “Think about how your guests are going to use the space, rather than simply throwing things together,” advises Nikki Kaestner, a Senior Design Associate with Vacasa.
Good design isn’t about finding matchy-matchy pieces, but creating a space that feels like a home. This can be achieved by layering pieces for a lived-in look that don’t necessarily match but blend cohesively. Make sure you invest in sturdy, quality materials (especially in high touch areas like dining rooms) that can withstand the wear and tear of multiple guests over several seasons – this includes solid wood tables and fabrics that have passed the Martindale test for performance, like Sunbrella.
Stock Up On Supplies
You’re almost ready to welcome your first guests! All that’s left is making sure all the little essentials are well-stocked. Guests are always on the lookout for amenities such as extra towels, sheets and basic toiletries. These are items that are used the most and are almost always left behind in a packing frenzy.
Invest in quality bedding, kitchen supplies and travel-size toiletries to make your vacation rental stand out from the crowd. Being an over-prepared vacation rental host by anticipating these needs can make the difference between a glowing review and an unsatisfied comment that affects future bookings.
Advice From An Agent
Don’t just take our word for it! We sat down with WBC broker, Mylo Adams, one our amazing real estate professionals for her tips on property management. “Vacation rental listing setup is the most important,” Mylo advises, “Be sure to verify your property may legally be used as a vacation rental.” This means understanding tax liability on the city, state and federal level, including excise, Business & Occupation (B&O) and capital gains tax.
Mylo’s Top Tips
– Prepare a Rules & Regulations handbook for your guests, as many condominiums allowing vacation rentals have specific rules.
– Invest in excellent professional photos. Did you know that professional photos can lead up to 20% more bookings?
– Respond to inquiries quickly (within 1 hour).
– Clean, Clean, CLEAN! Hire a professional cleaning service to make sure everything looks its best.
Its no secret that the nature of travel has changed over the last few years, creating new opportunities for homeowners to get involved in the field of hospitality and generate another revenue stream. If you think that converting your property into a short-term or vacation rental sounds like the right move, make sure you are doing as much research as possible. It’s a competitive market but creating an insta-worthy escape can pay significant dividends if done right.
Written by Makena Schoene
Featured Image Source: NWMLS Listing Courtesy of Duke Young
Welcome to the WBC Book Club, where your favorite Admins & Agents share our favorite books of the moment! From fictional adventures to inspiring true stories, you can find it all right here on the WBC blog. You may notice that the format of our book recs look a little different than most, but that’s because our team loves to stand out and provide an unparalleled experience in all aspects of our business. We hope you enjoy this summer edition of Literary Listings!
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Marketing Remarks: Embrace the easy-going vibe of the Southern California coast without sacrificing ultimate luxury. With a contemporary design and open concept layout, this beach house on the bluff is perfect for entertaining. This property is best known for being the site of the annual Riva Party, hosted by professional surfer, Nina Riva and her famous siblings. Just a few minutes’ walk to the beach, don’t miss the opportunity to call this beautiful Malibu oasis home!
Agent Remarks: Beautifully capturing the intricacies of family relationships and the profound effects of generational trauma, Malibu Rising tells the story of four siblings grappling with the cost of their own fame and the notoriety of their playboy father. The consequences of their choices come to a head on one summer night in 1983, where each must face uncomfortable truths that will alter the course of their lives forever. This book is the ultimate summer read, transporting you to the sunny beaches of California where you can’t help but get swept away by an intriguing cast of flawed, fiery characters.
Directions: Read the synopsis here!
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters
Marketing Remarks: Live la dolce vita in this remote and peaceful village on the coast! Nestled among the cliffs of Porto Vergogna, the Hotel Adequate View is an investor’s dream, a historic property that has played host to Hollywood stars and literary scions. Convert into individual units, renovate into a single-family residence or restore this pensione to its former glory – anything is possible for the right buyer.
Agents Remarks: While Beautiful Ruins evokes visions of limoncello and vespa rides on a summer day, it shines a harsh light on the perception of women and the toxic nature of the film industry as the golden age of Hollywood begins to crumble like the ruins of Italy. This book is hauntingly beautiful, a love letter to love itself. Within these pages, we encounter love in its varied forms, from the unrequited to the toxic to the complicated, all seen through the eyes of our unlikely hero, Pasquale.
Directions: Read the synopsis here!
Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Marketing Remarks: Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life? This quaint little hamlet is home to Goode’s Lily Cottage, a lovely two-bedroom farmhouse with recent updates & classic charm. Just a few miles from Main Street, you can visit all the sites that inspired Dusty Fielding’s bestselling novel, Once in a Lifetime, or sit on the front porch to enjoy the picturesque landscape. This property is perfect for year-round living or for use as a vacation rental – find your happily ever after in Sunshine Falls!
Agent Remarks: Book Lovers checks all the boxes for a light, summery beach read. A prickly editor and career-minded publicist butt heads until they inevitably find themselves having to work together on a new project – all while saving a local book store from financial ruin! It has all the makings of a classic Hallmark movie, but it’s intentionally cliché. This satire pokes fun at the rom-com formula without losing the heart that makes these stories so beloved. You can’t help but get drawn in by Nora and Charlie’s intense connection, especially as they both face difficult decisions as their careers and family dramas intersect.
Directions: Read the synopsis here!
We are always on the lookout for new book recommendations and would love to hear from you! Tag us on social media with your favorite beach reads and summer-time stories!
Written by Makena Schoene
Giving Tuesday may be over but you can still give all season long. Your donations make a positive difference in the lives of local low-income and homeless families by providing necessary resources for emergency services, food, housing and more. Please select Windermere Bellevue Commons to designate your Foundation donation. The money designated by WBC will serve Bellevue organizations, making a difference in your neighbors’ lives. Click or tap on image to donate.
Pumpkin season is upon us and we can’t wait to hit the local corn mazes and pumpkin patches this year. Don’t miss out on the chance to support small farms around the Eastside and beyond for all things fall including cider, doughnuts, pumpkins, mazes, apple picking and more. See below for our complete list of the area’s best.
The real estate market continued to improve for buyers in November. Interest rates dropped slightly, price increases slowed and inventory soared. It’s important to note that inventory increases, while significant, are being compared to the record low supply of last year. We’re still far short of the inventory needed for a truly balanced market, however buyers have greater choice and less competition than they’ve had in years. Sellers who price their home according to current market conditions continue to see strong interest. Heading into the holiday season, there’s something for everyone to celebrate.
Windermere Eastside brokers donated $225,000 in 2017
In 2017, 22 organizations on the Eastside were granted $225,000 thanks to Windermere Eastside brokers. The grants help our Eastside community in various ways from providing school supplies and meals to housing needs.
The list of grant recipients
- Acres of Diamonds – $4,000. This grant provides women and children transitional housing and support programs to rebuild lives from domestic abuse and/or substance abuse.
- Assistance League – $15,000. This grant goes to the Operation School Bell program that provides basic items of clothing to low-income students, grades K-12.
- Attain Housing – $56,000. This grant provides affordable housing to homeless families with children as well as case management for setting financial and social goals.
- Backpack Meals – $10,000. This grant provides weekend meals to Bellevue School District students who are homeless and would otherwise go hungry.
- Bellevue LifeSpring – $31,000. This grant supports the Breaktime-Mealtime Program which provides 80,000 meals to children during school breaks.
- Boys and Girls Club of Bellevue – $7,500. This grant supports Project Learn after school and summer camp programs at three low-income housing Clubhouses.
- Eastside Academy – $6,000. This grant pays food expenses for homeless and poverty-level students while they attend this alternative high school.
- Eastside Baby Corner – $20,000. This grant provides essentials like diapers and formula to economically disadvantaged children, from birth to age 12.
- Escape to Peace – $2,500. This grant helps create awareness of sex trafficking of Eastside minors and helps fund a healing center – a safe place for children to escape and to provide healing.
- Friends of Youth – $2,500. This grant helps fund emergency response and shelter, then long-term placement, to children (ages 7-17) experiencing trauma or abuse in east King County.
- Hopelink – $2,300. This grant supports the Pantry Pack Program which provides lunches to poverty-level children in the 36 Lake Washington School District schools.
- Imagine Housing – $5,000. This grant will target under 18-year olds in their Support Services Program that provides affordable housing and life skill case management in East King County.
- Issaquah Community Services – $2,500. This grant will provide emergency aid in the form of utility payments to low-income families in the Issaquah School District.
- Issaquah Food Bank – $2,500. This grant helps maintain a refrigerated box truck utilized as a mobile food bank to remote Eastside communities that have difficulty accessing food bank services.
- Kindering – $3,000. This grant provides developmental support, screening, and early intervention therapies to the very young children of homeless families.
- Lifewire – $20,000. This grant supports the Hotel-Motel Voucher Program, which provides emergency short-term stays in hotels and motels for victim of domestic violence.
- Mamma’s Hands – $15,000. This grant supports three Houses of Hope that house mothers and children from abuse and homelessness and helps them develop individual plans to bring changes to their lives.
- Pantry Packs – $3,700. This grant supports the Lake Washington Schools Foundation’s program that provides weekend, child-friendly food packs to children of qualified low-income families.
- Royal Family Kids Camp – $6,000. This grant supports summer camp for abused, neglected and abandoned foster children (ages 7-11).
- Treehouse – $3,000. This grant supports the Little Wishes Program which allows foster care youth to participate in extracurricular arts, athletics, and other educational experiences.
- Village Theatre – $2,500. This grant helps the Theatre’s outreach to the youth of low-income families so they can have access to theatre and arts education, regardless of their ability to pay.
- Youth Eastside Services – $5,000. This grant supports YES Lifeline, which provides free mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment to low-income East King County youth and families.
The Gardner Report – Third Quarter 2017
The Washington State economy added 79,600 new jobs over the past 12 months—an impressive growth rate of 2.4%, and well above the national growth rate of 1.2%. However, as we anticipated in last quarter’s report, we continue to see a modest slowdown in the growth rate as the state grows closer to full employment. Growth has been broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than Aerospace (a function of a slowdown at Boeing). Given the current rate of expansion, I am raising my employment forecast and now predict that Washington will add 81,000 new jobs in 2017.
Given the robust job market, it is unsurprising that the state unemployment rate continues to fall. The current unemployment rate in Washington State is 4.6% and we are essentially at full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report reported either a drop or stability in their unemployment rate from a year ago. I maintain my belief that the Washington State economy will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole. Given such a strong expansion, we should also expect solid income growth across Western Washington.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 25,312 home sales during the third quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.6% over the same period in 2016.
- Clallam County maintains its number one position for sales growth over the past 12 months. Only four other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. This demonstrates continuing issues with the low supply of listings. There were modest declines in sales activity in six counties.
- The market remains remarkably tight with listing inventory down by 14.2% when compared to the third quarter of 2016. But inventory is up a significant 32% compared to the second quarter of this year. Pending sales rose by 5.2% over the same quarter a year ago, which suggests that closings in Q4 will still be robust.
- The key takeaway from this data is that inventory is still very low, and the situation is unlikely to improve through the balance of the year.
- Given tight supply levels, it is unsurprising to see very solid price growth across the Western Washington counties. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12.3% to $474,184. This is 0.9% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
- With demand far exceeding supply, price growth in Western Washington continues to trend well above the longterm average. As I do not expect to see the new home market expand at any significant pace, there will be continued pressure on the resale market, which will cause home prices to continue to rise at above-average rates.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Grays Harbor County where sale prices were 20.1% higher than the third quarter of 2016. Nine additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
- Mortgage rates in the quarter continue to test the lows of 2017, and this is unlikely to change in the near-term. This will allow home prices to escalate further but I expect we will see rates start to rise fairly modestly in 2018, which could slow price growth.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by eight days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
- King County continues to be the tightest market, with homes taking an average of 17 days to sell. Every county except San Juan saw the days on market drop from the same period a year ago.
- This quarter, it took an average of 43 days to sell a home. This is down from the 51 days it took in the second quarter of 2016 and down by 8 days from the second quarter of this year.
- At some point, inventory will start to grow and this will lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. However, I do not expect that to happen at any time soon. So we remain in a seller’s 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 third quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as the second quarter. Though price growth remains robust, sales activity has slowed very slightly and listings jumped relative to the second quarter. That said, the market is very strong and buyers will continue to find significant competition for accurately priced and well-located homes.
ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
Matthew 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.