Yet another Real Estate Acronym to Add behind My Name: SRES

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SRES: Senior Real Estate Specialist is a National Association of Realtors designation awarded to those completing coursework and testing for specialization in working with SENIORS, or those age 50+.  I have to admit the coursework did little to help me be proficient in understanding all of the housing opportunities available to seniors here in Washington.  As a result I have been on my own mission in gathering information which I hope to assemble in an understandable format to offer seniors in their quest for learning and selecting housing most suitable for their circumstances.  From assisted living facilities, to retirement communities, SHAG housing to Class A facilities, I hope to be more resourceful in these areas soon, due in large part to demand.  For now all I can only say is Stay Tuned (or if you have needs now - contact me and we can learn together).

Curbed Features Stunning Lois Jane Hastings' Home

Curbed has recently featured the stunning Lois Jane Hastings home which is listed by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty broker Pamela Bellah.

This chic and contemporary home has stunning views of the Seattle Skyline and Puget Sound which can be enjoyed from many of the rooms as well as two of the decks.

Chic West Seattle Home | 3816 SW Massachusetts St Seattle, Washington 98126 United States | $1,298,800

There are many unique features within this home, including a custom kitchen that was shipped in from Harrod’s in London and the excellent design by notable architect L. Jane Hasting. Hastings, who started as the only woman in her University Of Washington architecture class in 1949, went on to become the eighth woman to be licensed as an architect in Washington State and the first woman president of the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architectures.

To learn more about this magnificent property, please visit: Curbed | Sleek and bright L. Jane Hastings home listed for $1.3M

Advertising, Accolades

Pamela Bellah Feature in Top Agent Magazine

I am excited to share that I was chosen as a featured broker for Top Agent Magazine!

This feature is quite an honor, as the Top Agent Magazine website describes that the agents included in the magazine “have earned their place because of their commitment to providing the best real estate service possible. They are innovative in marketing your home for sale, renowned for pairing Washington home buyers with their perfect home, and experts at negotiating your home sales and purchase prices.”

Read the e-book online here >>

Featured Property

"Home of the Week" Winner | Luxury Townhome in North Beacon Hill

I am excited to share that my luxury townhome in North Beacon Hill won "Home of the Week" on the Puget Sound Business Journal! THANK YOU to all of you who voted for my property. Home of the Day is a feature presented by the Puget Sound Business Journal and Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. This is your invitation to view some of Puget Sound’s most luxurious properties.

Exceptional quality & design adorn this spectacularly light-filled luxury end-unit townhome built in the midst of red hot N. Beacon. A commuter’s paradise, walkable to light rail, & the Metro bus hub offering access/transportation to almost everywhere! Rarely offered 2 Car off-street parking (1 garage/1 space in front of garage), plus all the interior features for the most discerning buyers: quartz countertops, SS, bamboo floors, hydroponic heat, tankless H2O, 4 Star Built Green.

Featured Property, News Article

Cedar Cove Inn is Featured on the Cover of the Kitsap Sun

Lavishly Restored Port Orchard Home, represented by Pamela Bellah, was featured on the front cover of the Kitsap Sun! It’s no surprise that the stunning property drew local attention, as Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes recently told Bellah that the home is unquestionably “one of the nicest of two, if not the nicest, homes in all of South Kitsap.”

In the article, Chris Henry describes owners Gil and Kathy Michael, who “poured their heart, soul and elbow grease into a lavish restoration and expansion of the home, turning it into a B&B that draws visitors from around the world.” Part of the appeal? “The Port Orchard landmark pays homage to local author Debbie Macomber and her best-selling Cedar Cove series.”

228 Seattle Ave | Port Orchard, WA | Offered at $1,595,500

The couple enjoyed owning and operating the inn for years, as Kathy Michael told the Kitsap Sun, “we very much enjoyed doing it. Saving a historic site was very much rooted in both of us. It benefits the town and vice versa.” But after Gil’s death last year, Kathy is ready to move on to her next adventure and give another lucky owner the opportunity to own this wonderful historic property. The home certainly does stun, from modern amenities including radiant heated floors to quiet places of solitude perfect for curling up with a novel or watching the sunset.

Learn More >>

Pacific Northwest

Seattle Ranks as the 4th Richest City in the Country

Big news for the Emerald City! According to a recent list released by Bloomberg, Seattle is the fourth-richest city in the country when ranked by gross metropolitan product, following San Jose, Bridgeport, Connecticut and San Francisco. It’s no surprise when you consider that “the Seattle-area is home to some of the largest public companies in the country, as well as a bevy of smaller, but fast-growing businesses.”

The study found that Seattle has a GMP of $75,874 per resident (a growth of 7.9% since 2009), which puts it above Boston at $74,746 and Washington D.C. at $72,191.

Read the Full Article >>

Featured Property

Classic Craftsman Bungalow Featured on Seattle PI

The Seattle PI recently profiled real estate in Seattle’s popular Wallingford neighborhood, choosing to include Classic Craftsman Bungalow, listed by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty broker Pamela Bellah, on the front cover of the feature.

As Kirsten O’Brien from the Seattle PI describes in the article, Wallingford is desired for its central location and easy accessibility. Further, “aside from being the home of the iconic Gas Works Park and the first Dick’s Drive-In, the neighborhood has a close-knit feel” that brings the community together. Of Bellah’s listing, which is currently pending, O’Brien notes the close proximity to “Gas Works Park, the University of Washington and the Burke-Gilman Trail.”

Read the Full Real Estate Profile >>

Market Reports

Market Update: October 2015

October’s numbers are in and inventory continues to wane for King County Residential homes, down 15% compared to last month and 40% year over year. The median listing price was just under $530K, with an average sale price of $427K, up nearly $40K compared to the previous year. Buyers came out strong, as homes were on the market for an average of just 28 days, down 30% from last year’s numbers. In downtown Seattle, condo inventory was down 15% from the previous year but rose slightly compared to last month. The median sale price held steady from month to month but was up $35K from last year’s average.

For the latest numbers from areas around the sound, View October’s Market Reports >>

Real Estate Market

Evergreen Dreaming: Californians Flock to Washington State

According to recent Census data, California sends more new residents to King County than any other state in the US, as noted in a recent Seattle Times article. The trend makes a lot of sense considering that the two states share a time zone, a love for the ocean and a propensity for employing high-tech workers, as recently highlighted by The Wall Street Journal and the Puget Sound Business Journalwhich described that the average home costs nearly $600,000 less in Seattle compared to Silicon Valley. A delegation of RSIR brokers and owners recently visited the Bay Area to explore these trends firsthand.

Thousands of Californians moving from the Golden State to the Evergreen State. For the year ending July 2015, nearly 22-percent of the 16,999 new residents in Washington came from California, according to State of Washington Department of Licensing:

“Many inbound Californians recognize that Washington offers a bounty of opportunity with a much lower cost of living,” said Dean Jones, President & CEO of RSIR. “I joke that we’re the Evergreen State not just because of the lush forest and landscapes but because we have no state income tax. Washington’s a good place to get wealthy and stay wealthy, whereas California has the highest combined tax rates in the US and top earners can pay up to 13-percent state income.”

Jones says one of the trends is for affluent Californians to buy a principal residence in Washington State and keep their current home in California as a second home. By becoming a Washington resident and living in the Puget Sound region for the majority of the year, passive income earners can avoid paying state income tax in California and invest those savings in building equity in two homes instead of paying the government.

Californians remain a targeted consumer group for RSIR, as have immigrating Asian home buyers, who comprise the second largest relocating demographic in Washington.

Real Estate Market

FHA to Cut Mortgage Insurance Premiums, Caliber Home Loans Predict Boom of Homebuyers in 2015

In an effort to expand homeownership among lower-income buyers, President Barack Obama cut mortgage-insurance premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in an announcement according to Bloomberg News.

“Lowering the annual mortgage insurance fee from 1.35% down to .85% will be a significant boom for both first-time homebuyers and current homeowners that want to refinance their FHA loans,” says Keith Lashley, Mortgage Banker with Caliber Home Loans and Preferred Lender for Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.  “Prospective homebuyers are urged to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in over a year.  Factoring in the rising median home prices and positive economic trends, I’d say this is about the most confident time to buy in recent memory.”

Lashley breaks down the changes like this.  Mortgage insurance on a $400,000 loan currently costs a homeowner $450 per month but will drop down to $283 per month under the reduced premium providing a $166 per month savings to homeowners financed through FHA.

Under the new premium structure FHA estimates that 250,000 additional first-time homebuyers will be able to enter the market due to the reduce premium and over 2 million  borrowers will save an average of $900 annually over the next three years if they purchase or refinance homes.

2015 is quickly shaping up to be a blockbuster year in real estate according to Lashley.  He says homebuyers can take advantage of incredibly low interest rates, less restrictive FHA underwriting guidelines and now lower mortgage insurance to leverage their purchasing power all at the same time. He also warns that an increase of more homebuyers could make the marketplace even more competitive for buyers.

These favorable factors coupled with fast rising rents are not lost on first time homebuyers as Millennials and other modest income buyers are projected to move into the home buying market in record numbers this year.  Other macro factors such as increased employment, low inflation and low relative home prices are further enticements for new home buyers to act in the first quarter of the New Year.

Anticipating a return of consumers favoring ownership over rental, some developers that rented their remaining condominium inventory are returning them for sale.  Such is the case at Carbon 56 in downtown Seattle in the popular South Lake Union neighborhood.  Broker Carrie DeBuys with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty says remaining homes are priced from $377,500 to $529,500 and monthly payments can look a lot like rent.

Real Estate Market

Seattle to be a Hot Housing Market in 2015

Trulia released their annual report of the hottest housing markets to watch for in the coming year, and we have to say that we are not surprised to see that Seattle picked up the number ten spot on their list. Erin Renzas explained that this year, Trulia’s Chief Economist Jed Kolko determined which markets made the cut using “fundamentals such as job growth, rising incomes, and more household formation.” Thus, Renzas says his ten selections, “have strong fundamentals for housing activity,” which “include job growth, which fuels housing demand, and a low vacancy rate, which spurs construction.” She added that they “gave a few extra points to markets with a higher share of millennials.”

10. Seattle, WA

Companies like Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, and UPS have provided steady job growth for the area, but, hey, Seattleites know how to rock, too — as the home of grunge, which is still popular in the music scene there.

RSIR

RSIR 2014: By The Numbers

The year 2014 was one of tremendous growth for RSIR and for many of our top producing brokers. In total our real estate professionals generated 794 transaction sides totaling in excess of $580 million in gross sales volume, as compared to 494 transactions grossing $330 million in 2013. That’s an increase of about 60-percent. Roughly half of our sales were as the listing broker and the balance were representing buyers on other listings. Interestingly, RSIR brokers were on both sides of 13-percent of these transactions. The average selling price in 2014 was $730,000, which is on average twice the value of the remaining top ten top producing real estate brands in the region. The firm also increased referral revenues by 70-percent demonstrating traction with other Sotheby’s International Realty affiliates in other interstate and international markets.

In comparison to our peers, RSIR is consistently growing faster, has a higher number of producing brokers and the highest average listing and selling prices.

While RSIR is perhaps best known for representing extraordinary properties and lifestyles, our price point distribution reveals that 46-percent of these sales were actually below $500,000 while 34-percent of our sales were between $500,000 and $1 million and 20-percent were valued over $1 million.

See how RSIR compares to the top ten real estate brands in the Puget Sound: 

Our broker count has increased from 69 licensed real estate professionals at the end of 2013 to 120 by year end 2014.  That’s an increase of 58-percent.  In addition to opening our flagship Eastside office in downtown Kirkland, we also opened a second Gallery Branch Office on Bainbridge Island in 2014.  In early 2015, RSIR will also open in Issaquah.

Congratulations to all RSIR brokers, employees and executives for a phenomenal year of growth. Happy New Year!

RSIR, Holiday

Give Back this Holiday Season with the RSIR “Giving Tree”

Beginning November 28th, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty is hosting a “Giving Tree” for several families in the Kirkland area. The RSIR staff and brokers are working to ensure that the holidays are a time of joy for those in need in our community. Stop by our Connoisseurs of Life Showroom in Kirkland if you’d like to make a donation or grab a tag off of the “Giving Tree”and make a holiday wish come true yourself. We ask that you return all unwrapped gifts to our Kirkland Showroom by Wednesday, December 17th.

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty’s Connoisseurs of Life Showroom is located at 15 Lake Street, #200 in Kirkland.

RSIR

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty Partners with Puget Sound Business Journal on Exclusive “Home of the Day” Online Voting Platform

Interactive Tool Allows Viewers to Compare Featured Listings and Elect “Home of the Week” Based on Popularity

Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, the Pacific Northwest’s largest affiliate for the global real estate network, announced today its collaboration with The Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) in the launch of an interactive voting tool on their exclusive “Home of the Day” platform.  The media partnership had previously introduced “Home of the Day” on PSBJ’s multi-media website and as part of the popular afternoon newsletter that reaches nearly 20,000 subscribers.  Now users are able to activate a dynamic voting component where they can register their preferences for the “Home of the Week”, which will be further promoted online and in print within the weekly newspaper. The updated “Home of the Day” feature is now live.

“We’re excited to launch this new voting enhancement to our ‘Home of the Day’ feature, which has already been very successful for the Seattle market,” said Gordon Prouty, Publisher of The Puget Sound Business Journal. “It’s clear that our audience enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest’s most extraordinary properties and now they can further engage with ‘Home of the Day’ by voting for their favorites.”

The Journal reports impressive statistics for the platform. Since launching on September 1, 2014, over 656,000 photos have been viewed from 44 property galleries. “Home of the Day” has risen in popularity each month, going from 4.26% of PBSJ’s website traffic to accounting for 7.76% in early November.

The voting tool will allow consumers to submit votes for the properties they prefer, similar to a “Like” on Facebook.  The total votes each week will be tallied and the most popular listing will be identified as the “Home of the Week” on the platform as well as published as the winner in the PSBJ’s print edition the following Friday.  Likewise, each weekly honoree will compete for “Home of the Month” and even “Home of the Year”.  All listings will remain active on the website portal for a minimum of 30 days and the vote counter will track the number of unique votes in real time.

“We believe this voting feature will enhance the social media component of this platform as our brokers, clients and consumers rally behind their favorite,” says Andrea Savage, Marketing Manager for Seattle-based Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “In addition to showcasing select properties from around Puget Sound, we will also soon introduce featured markets in sun, snow and surf destinations that are popular for residents of the Pacific Northwest.”

The “Home of the Day” platform is currently running in metro areas in several states across the U.S. including California, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and Washington, D.C.

For more information visit www.NWHomeoftheDay.com.


Around the Home

Where Your Money Goes for a Bathroom Remodel

Per square foot, no room in the house takes more work or costs more money to remodel than the bathroom. The combination of plumbing, moisture content, electrical wiring and decorating schemes packed into the smallest residential spaces create unique demands on bathroom remodeling. Yet, these same demands also place unmatched value on bathroom spaces, whether in terms of day-to-day living or home property values.

Like a kitchen remodel, there will be substantial costs in finished products from flooring, bathtubs, shower surrounds, cabinets, countertops and numerous bathroom fixtures. These products, however, don’t typically have the same price tags as major kitchen appliances or full cabinet and countertop installations.

Plus, bathroom remodeling is a more labor-intensive process between tearing out old bathroom amenities or tedious tile and plumbing installation: Sixty to 70% of bathroom remodel costs are labor and expenses, and about 30 to 40% is finished product.

Of course, this cost breakdown indicates only an estimated average, as the cost breakdown of specific projects can vary quite a bit.

Read the Complete Article on REALTOR.com >>

RSIR, Inventory

New Listing! Contemporary Home in Regency Woods

Attractive two-story homein highly desirable Brittany Lane in Regency Woods. Vast oak hardwoods ceramic tile adorn the entire first floor. Agraceful floor plan adjoins a large kitchen with a viewable family room for large festive gatherings.All 4 bedrooms are up, including a large master suite 5 piece master bath, cathedral ceilings and skylights. Multilevel cedar decks,lighted arbors water feature spilling into a beautiful pond make the landscaped private backyard peaceful inviting.

Read More >>

RSIR

RSIR Draws Attention from Asia’s Leading Real Estate Publication – Property Report

In a recent article entitled Foreign Firms Bullish on Asian Real Estate Expansion PlansProperty Report took note of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty’s new Asia Desk and concluded that numerous real estate firms are entering the Asian marketplace to tap the rise in foreign buying in the US. Given that “International” is our middle name, it makes sense that RSIR has taken some leadership in promoting the Pacific Northwest through attending luxury property shows, generating editorial content in Asia, hosting local events and of course, helping to establish the first Mainland Chinese affiliate at Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty.

Property Report is Southeast Asia’s leading luxury real estate, architecture and design magazine. It presents up-to-date information and coverage of industry trends and innovations. Each issue incorporates an in-depth Special Report on a business trend and a Market Focus on a real estate hot spot, interviews with leading industry figures and news stories on villas, land, condominiums, construction, finance, legal issues, in addition to extended interiors and architecture features. A total of 32,000 copies are printed every month and Property Report is distributed at newsstands throughout Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong. It is also available at more than 30 business class lounges at airports in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong, including gate service at all Emirates flights out of Bangkok, over 200 five-star hotels around the region, including 90 in Hong Kong, and more than 30 marinas, golf clubs and private clubs in Asia.

See more here >>

Featured Property, RSIR

Holly House Featured as "Home of the Day" on the PSBJ

Home of the Day is a new feature presented by the Puget Sound Business Journal and Realogics Sotheby's International Realty. This is your invitation to view some of Puget Sound's most-luxurious properties. 

Nostalgic 1920's era meets modern day amenities while retaining the charm and appeal of yesteryear. 1928 Brick Tudor invites you to entertain comfortably in the updated kitchen with amenities including Brazilian Solid Slab Granite, Cherry Raised Panel Cabinets, SS Appliances, 5 Star Oven / Gas Cooktop. After entertaining friends in your gourmet Chef's Delight kitchen, retire to the lovely Grand Patio to watch and hear nature from your private yet close-in and perfectly sized property oasis.

Read the Complete Feature Here >>

RSIR, Featured Property

Destination Property: The Snow Ghost Chalet in Whitefish Montana

Fall is nearly upon us and as we shift our mindset toward cooler weather we undoubtedly begin to consider the activities that winter will soon bring, from snuggling up to warm drinks enjoyed fireside to the thrills of hitting the slopes. And while the greater Seattle area offers some truly excellent skiing, why not consider carving the powder at Whitefish, a premier lake and Alpine resort destination in Montana where you'll find Snow Ghost Chalet, a stunning property offered by CTA Architects.

For the competitive $3,000,000 listing price you’ll find 6,400 square feet of highly customized space, a complete designer furniture package, and truly superb craftsmanship. The Chalet is perfect for a family holiday and makes entertainment a breeze from its guest quarters with private bathrooms to the stunning views, open spaces, theater, and deck complete with patio and jacuzzi. State-of-the-art technology means you can have the house warm before you’re done playing in the snow or check on your property while you’re away, making it an ideal vacationer’s retreat.

Located in Elk Highlands, an exclusive community, reaching the slopes has never been easier as residency means private chairlift access with a ski-in/ski-out option. And a year-round well-maintained highway means you’re only a short ten minutes from Whitefish Lake, a perfect summer spot, and charming downtown Whitefish.