Washington No. 4 Among Fastest Growing State Economies

increaseWashington is outpacing most states on growing its economy, thanks in part to international trade.

Using figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a researcher at a federal policy organization ranked Washington 4th among states with the fastest-growing economies.  North Dakota tops the list, followed by Texas and Oregon.

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.5 percent in 2012, up from 1.6 percent in 2011. By comparison, Washington’s GDP growth for 2012 was 3.6 percent.

“Washington has made considerable efforts to become a major exporter,” noted Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This has allowed the state to become less dependent on U.S. consumers and companies for business, and to “be nimble enough to take products to where the growth is,” he remarked.

In addition to exports, Washington’s information sector contributed nearly one-third of its GDP growth in 2012, the most of any state. The sector accounted for 9 percent of GDP in 2012, also the most of any state. However, information sector employment has been flat in recent years, with no employment growth recorded in 2012.

Robust grown in Texas and North Dakota was attributed in large part to energy production.

On both federal and state levels, the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities conducts research and analysis on budget and tax policies, and works on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.

Top 10 Reasons To Buy 6607 116th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA


10 – The Lot: At just over a third of an acre, this large lot puts all 13,503 square feet to its best use.

9 – Places To Play: The back yard features a generous grassy area for hours of play, while the front of the home has an enormous space for a competitive game of hoops.

8 – The Location: Close to multiple bus stops (238 / 245 / 265 / 277 / 889), if carpooling is your gig, the park and ride is just over a block and a half away.

windows7 – The Master Suite: Situated in its own wing of the home, the master suite has a large walk-in closet with built-in armoire along with a Jacuzzi tub, granite counter double sinks and glass shower.

6 – The Floor Plan: The gourmet kitchen is decked out in granite and walnut. Eat in the nook or at the bar.  When a more formal atmosphere is desired, or for those large events, the inviting dining room, that comfortably sits twelve, is at the ready.

5 – Let There Be Light: With 16’ ceilings and windows galore, there is always light in main livings space.

Trail Map4 – Bridle Trails State Park: One block to the south is an amazing place to explore. The park is 482 forested acres with 28 miles of equestrian/pedestrian trails. There are three marked trail loops of varying distance. See the trail map for details.

3 – Plenty Of Room: With 5 large bedrooms, there is plenty of room to configure a variety of schemes. If a home office is needed, there’s a place. A craft room? You got it!

Theater-TOP-GUN2 – The Entertainment Room: The home theater /game room has a 12.5’ foot screen for huge visuals and the sound effects are provided by the 7.1 surround sound, all the while comfortably seated in plush leather theater seats.

The #1 reason to live here… This house was custom built in 2001! It has been meticulously maintained and enhanced.  Ready to move right in and enjoy a better than new home with nothing to update!

For all you need to know about this home, go to: www.YourKirklandHome.com

How Much Does Solar Power Cost?


Home Ownership & Home Affordability

Real-Estate-PuzzleLast week I had the opportunity to hear one of the premier economists on the West Coast, Matthew Gardner. Each time I listen to him, I come away more educated, and because I provide real estate services in the greater Seattle area, encouraged.

In regards to homeownership in our area, the data below would suggest that we are in good shape in the Puget Sound.


The homeownership rate is reversing toward it’s historic norms. Excluding owners who haven’t made a payment in a year, it is currently at  62%.


If we believe that there was a “Normal” market back in the 1990’s, then it is conceivable that prices should be higher.


Here are Matthew’s conclusions.

• Prices Will Start to Solidify this Year

• Overly Stringent Financing constraining the Market

• 4-County Area Listings are Down 17% but Sales are Up 12%

• Faster Drop Off in Foreclosures in 2012

• Positive Price Growth in 2012 (1.6%).Conclusions

• Local Prices are down by 15.8% but Non-REO prices are down by 9%

• Limited Income Growth will Slow Home Value Appreciation

• Homeowners, as opposed to investors, would rather wait to pay a higher price than admit to their friends that they bought too soon!

• Recovery Will Be Unequal.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?!

balanceBuyer’s Market! That is what the majority of consumers believe we are in… a buyer’s market! Though that may be true in most areas, the statement must have context. Let’s take a look.

The amount of homes available on the market in King County is running at 4.2 months (based on closed sales). In other words, if no other home came on the market, and buyers purchased homes at the present rate, there would be no homes left after four months.

Traditionally, markets have been labeled as Seller’s (3 months of inventory or less), Buyer’s (6 months of inventory or more), and finally, balanced markets (4-6 months).

Below is the inventory in King County based on closed sales.


What doesn’t get identified is the quality of the inventory. Parts of King County, particularly areas of the Eastside are very short on inventory. What is presently on the market is sometimes less than pristine. To exacerbate the low inventory problem, distressed properties are making up more and more of the inventory pie.

Below is the inventory in the 98008 zip code based on closed sales.


The West Lake Sammamish area (98008) in Bellevue has 2.4 months of inventory. In most consumer’s minds, this would qualify as a “seller’s market”. Only 34 of the 71 homes available are not short sales or bank owned. That is 50% of the market!

Are we really in a “balanced market”? When buyers, who are eager to pull the trigger on a home, are stymied due to the lack of supply, can we still call that a balanced market?

What consumers need, are well priced, great conditioned homes that can be sold with traditional buyers and sellers (not requiring bank approval or other considerations).

If you know of someone considering making a move, I would love the opportunity to sit down and talk to them.

Not All Feet Are The Same

feet One of the most misunderstood data points in real estate is square footage. To some this seems like a solid, historically accepted statistic that should be left alone. The reality is that not all feet are created equally.

As someone who consults both buyers and sellers on strategies that include pricing, I have had more than one occasion where square footage has been an issue of consternation.

Though I’m not an appraiser, I do understand the principals by which they establish value. In the Puget Sound, our topography dictates a variety of architecture. We have two-story, ramblers, split-entry, multi-level, townhomes and many more variations of those. Some homes have mountain views, while others look out on one of our gorgeous lakes. Still others look into a school yard or directly to a brick wall. Not all feet are created equally.

To suggest that, if all things being equal (number of bedrooms, baths and size), square footage would offer the key to pricing, is in my opinion a precarious position to take.

The truth is that floorplan rules! Useful (useable) design and flow are imperative to the way the home lives. People make due with the spaces they occupy, however, many of us have said something like, “If only that wall was over there”, or “If only we had a larger kitchen”, or “I wish the laundry room was upstairs”. As an aside – another benefit of our current inventory levels is that buyers have the opportunity to select homes that fit their needs at a pace where there is less compromise than in the frenzy market of 2003-2006.  The floorplan MUST be considered when evaluating the profile buyer (most likely buyer for the property), usefulness of the spaces and subsequently, the value of the property.

Multi-level homes, though fun and interesting, may have a smaller pool of buyers (older families, due to the distance between bedrooms and other layout considerations) which in turn can affect its value, depending on when it is sold. View homes may be more valuable to some than others (ask an appraiser how much a view is worth and you may receive a very long bluff – there IS a value, but determining that number is science and gut mixed with a little Pepto Bismol). Craftsmanship has to play a role in the valuation of a home. Different builders use assorted materials and sub-trades. The quality of materials and appliances cannot be ignored when valuing homes.

As a city or neighborhood ages, we see gentrification. In Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, comparing homes in neighborhoods that are mixed with original and newly built structures is not for the faint of heart.

Many homes in our area have multi-levels due to where they are placed on the lot. Often these homes have an abundance of stairs and hallways, whereas a well designed rambler will yield the highest return on investment.

This is not to say that there aren’t times to use the square footage data. Identical homes in neighborhoods (unless there are some major differences such as location & condition), and more likely condominiums and townhomes, can benefit from the square footage valuation model. Again, one must consider the updates that may or may not have been done. The most important component in those cases is timing. I have observed and have been a part of selling identical properties only 6 months apart at dramatically different prices. Even the micro-market is affected by variations in the economy and lending.

Though none of this is splitting the atom, I have seen many who deal with home sales and marketing gloss over this point, sometimes putting their seller clients in a less than successful position.

If this resonates with you, let me know how I can help 206-713-3244 or email.

Conducting a Marketing & Sales Plan

conductor_6It started when I was 14. It was my first opportunity to conduct a symphony orchestra. I took the conductor’s score home, following along with a recording of Mozart’s ‘Andante & Allegro’; I identified whom I needed to communicate with, so that the melody would be clear to the listener. Hours of perfecting my patterns, and my movements, so that the orchestra would know exactly what I wanted them to do. Phrasing and rhythm had to be internalized so that I could communicate and control the entire group. Everything needed to be memorized… all the parts… all the phrases… to assure a gorgeous timbre was played by all. Yet, I couldn’t make a single sound…

Even at 14, I knew what I expected. No one would get away with giving less than what was needed to serve the music. I can remember some instrumentalists complaining that I expected them to play the 16th note runs, in tempo. Of course, I did! How else would the phrase be propelled as it needed to be?

After 25 years of leading, directing, creating, performing, I have found myself doing the same job but with a new set of players, and a new checklist. No longer do I have to verify that the trumpets are playing in Bb or C. I, now, verify if I am hitting our target buyer’s needs and wants. Telling the story about a home, a neighborhood or a lifestyle is up to me – just like conducting an orchestra. Again, I don’t make any of the sound, but the message has to be tailored to the recipient and to make sense, no, to captivate them.

Though, there is a small minority of buyers (typically investors), that do not engage emotionally in the buying process. Most buyers make a decision based on emotion and subsequently, solidify their choice with logic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Why our properties sell is because we pay attention to the story that the home, the neighborhood, and the lifestyle provides to the next owner. Technology delivers the message immediately; the speed of the message is lightning fast (in real time). For properties on the market today, the first impression is almost always the ONLY impression.

Another reason my team’s marketing works is because we understand human nature, in that, we all want significance. Many of the orchestras I conducted were made up of volunteers. My job was to make the many sound as one unit. This is counterintuitive to most ego-driven performers. To do that, I had to make sure the musicians felt important and valued. When the 2nd violin playing in the 4th row felt valued, she performed better. When she played better, we would all sound better. The reality is; this was about them, not me. When they sparkled, the music was served. When the music was served, we all won!

When the buyer’s values are identified and met, they are emotionally engaged. This is crucial to ensuring that buyers commit to a property, and stick with it until the closing.

We are all in sales. Teachers, parents, politicians, lawyers, even you! What you need to remember is; IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! It is about THEM!