Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist Report

Some insight from Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, “Washington State employment has softened slightly to an annual growth rate of 2%, which is still a respectable number compared to other West Coast states and the country as a whole. In all, I expect that Washington will continue to add jobs at a reasonable rate though it is clear that businesses are starting to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. The state unemployment rate was 4.6%, marginally higher than the 4.4% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.2%, with a total of 88,400 new jobs created.”

Full report available here

Posted on October 22, 2019 at 5:02 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

October American Lifestyle Issue

October is an ideal month to turn your home into a place of optimum comfort—from giving your home its own coffee bar to a bathroom spa that takes self-care to a whole new level.

Access full issue here 

Posted on October 3, 2019 at 10:24 am
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

New listing! 5937 Beach Dr SW Seattle, WA 98136

Custom glass doors open to stunning water views from 50′ of no bank waterfront. A gourmet kitchen with a den right off it is perfect for casual dining, while you can drink in the views from your formal living and dining rooms. 2 bedrooms and a full bathroom round out the main floor. Master Suite has incredible views, tons of coveted, closet space and sitting area to enjoy a book if you don’t get distracted by the views. An extra large garage and off street parking. Finished lower level with a rec room, office, 3/4 bath and an extra room. Enjoy everything West Seattle has to offer from this spacious oasis on the Sound!

Posted on October 1, 2019 at 11:41 am
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall | MyKCM

Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase…and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal market. This means that in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Posted on September 5, 2019 at 9:20 am
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

The Legal Dangers of Living Together

The Legal Dangers of Living Together

An estate planning lawyer’s cautionary advice for unmarried couple

For couples over 50, living together has a lot of appeal and is on the rise. In fact, the number of unmarried couples who are 50+ shot up 75% between 2007 and 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. One likely reason: many have experienced at least one difficult divorce, so they’re gun-shy about remarrying and potential legal entanglements if things don’t work out.

Unfortunately, however, as with many things in life, what seems simple — living together — is often quite complex. Unmarried couples, of all sexual orientations, can face a variety of problematic and emotionally difficult issues because estate planning laws are written to favor married couples.

Living Together: ‘Legal Strangers’

Consider for example, what will happen if an unmarried couple doesn’t plan for the possibility that one partner will no longer be able to manage his or her health care due to a serious medical issue. At that point, the law will treat the other partner very harshly.

Without appropriate advance planning, courts are generally forced to rely on blood kin to fill financial and medical decision-making roles.

For example, if a married person is rushed to the hospital unconscious and hadn’t prepared a health care power of attorney giving the other spouse the right to make medical decisions on his or her behalf, that husband or wife  will probably be allowed to make them anyway. But if an unmarried couple is in this same situation, the law will consider them to be “legal strangers.” Therefore, the partner who is not incapacitated will have no right to make medical decisions on behalf of the other.

Now, certainly there might be a hospital willing to bend the rules in this situation, but it’s unlikely. By doing so, the hospital would expose itself to liability issues should a blood relative of the incapacitated person — a sibling or an adult child, for example — challenge the medical facility’s decision.

When Money Is Imbalanced

Another serious financial problem could arise when an unmarried partner becomes incapacitated without proper estate planning. Say the couple consists of an older, wealthier partner and someone substantially younger and they have an understanding that the older partner will support their lifestyle. Then, suddenly, the older partner becomes ill and can no longer manage the couple’s finances.

Under such a scenario, unless the older partner had given the younger one financial power of attorney, that older partner’s assets will probably be frozen by his or her financial institutions; the younger partner won’t be able to access them. Furthermore, a court action might be necessary to unfreeze the assets, which would take time and money.

Without appropriate advance planning on the part of the ill partner, courts are generally forced to rely on blood kin to fill financial and medical decision-making roles. The younger partner would lose control of those assets and could even be evicted if the couple’s home is owned solely by the partner who is ill and no longer able to manage their finances.

Both of those scenarios could have been avoided if the unmarried partners had executed key estate-planning documents while they were healthy and competent, including a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a living will (which applies to end-of-life decisions). Many states call the latter two documents advanced health care directives or health care proxies. A living trust could also have helped avoid the problematic financial issues.

The Need for a HIPAA Release

Unmarried couples also need to get signed HIPAA releases. HIPAA is a federal health privacy law that prevents medical facilities and health care professionals from sharing a patient’s medical information with anyone not designated on the person’s HIPAA release form. You can find HIPAA release forms online, but it’s best to get them from estate planning attorneys to ensure they’re up-to-date and correct.

Unmarried couples can also face difficult legal situations when one of them dies. Without the proper legal documents, the surviving partner won’t be entitled to make decisions regarding the donation of the deceased’s organs or arrange for the person’s burial or cremation. These problems can be avoided either by pre-planning through a funeral provider or — if their state allows — by signing a document giving the other partner the right to make final arrangements on behalf of the deceased.

Living Together and Then Dying Without a Will

Here’s another potential problem for unmarried couples: If the deceased failed to write a will or set up a living trust, the state will distribute his or her assets and what are known as intestate laws (for people who die without wills) don’t recognize a surviving unmarried partner. Therefore, he or she won’t be legally entitled to inherit any of the assets. Instead, they’ll go to the deceased’s blood relatives, such as his or her children or siblings.

By contrast, if a married partner dies without a will or a living trust in a community property state, the surviving spouse is automatically entitled to inherit as much as half the value of the deceased’s assets. (Those states are  Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.) In other states, the surviving spouse would be entitled to receive an “elective share,” a part of the estate that the surviving spouse can “elect” or choose to receive.

Home, Not-So-Sweet Home

Then there’s the matter of a couple’s home.

Although laws in some states give a surviving spouse the automatic right to occupy the couple’s home for life, that’s not the case for a surviving unmarried partner.

An unmarried couple could avoid this problem if the partner who owns their residence gives the other this right by specifying it in their will or living trust. Also, in some states, if the unmarried homeowner has a Transfer on Death deed, the home would automatically go to the other partner. One caveat: if the owner partner became incapacitated, the only way the other one would have a legal right to remain in the home during the incapacity would be if this was spelled out in a living trust.

401(k)s, Life insurance and IRAs

What about retirement funds and life insurance proceeds?

Sadly, if an unmarried partner owned assets like a 401(k) or a employer-sponsored group life insurance policy and died, the other partner won’t be legally entitled to those assets unless he or she was designated as the beneficiary. Otherwise, the assets will go to the deceased’s blood relatives. Of course, if the couple were married, the surviving spouse would automatically be entitled to funds in the deceased’s 401k and proceeds from the life insurance, unless someone else was named a beneficiary.

Beneficiary designations also control Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and privately-owned life insurance. So, unless the unmarried partner is named as the beneficiary for those, he or she won’t be entitled to those funds either.

The lesson for couples living together: protect your finances and your emotional health by getting your estate-planning documents in order.

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Posted on September 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

September Digital Magazine

Posted on September 3, 2019 at 12:30 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

September Events

Posted on August 30, 2019 at 2:41 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

The Benefits of Growing Equity in Your Home

The Benefits of Growing Equity in Your Home


Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard quite a bit about rising home prices. Today, expert projections still forecast continued growth, just at a slower pace. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising home prices is the positive impact they have on home equity. Let’s break down three ways this is a win for homeowners.

1. Move-Up Opportunity

With the rise in prices, homeowners naturally experience an increase in home equity. According to the Homeowner Equity Insights from CoreLogic,

“In the first quarter of 2019, the average homeowner gained approximately $6,400 in equity during the past year.”

This increase in profit means if homeowners decide to sell, they’ll be able to put their equity to work for them as they make plans to move up into their next home.

2. Gain in Seller’s Profit

ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their Q2 2019 Home Sales Report, indicating the seller’s profit jumped at one of the fastest rates since 2015. They said:

“A look at the national numbers showed that U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since the original purchase of $67,500…the average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of the original purchase price.”

Looking at the amount paid when they bought their homes, and then the amount they received after selling, we can see that some homeowners were able to walk away with a significant gain.

3. Out of a Negative Equity Situation

Negative equity occurs when there is a decline in home value, an increase in mortgage debt, or both. Many families experienced these challenges over the last decade. According to the same report from CoreLogic,

“U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all properties) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $485.7 billion since the first quarter 2018, an increase of 5.6%, year over year.

In the first quarter of 2019, the total number of mortgaged residential properties with negative equity decreased…to 2.2 million homes, or 4.1% of all mortgaged properties.”

The good news is, many families have moved beyond a negative equity situation, and no longer owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home.

Bottom Line

If you’re a current homeowner, you may have more equity than you realize. Your equity can open the door to future opportunities, such as moving up to your dream home. Contact a real estate professional in your area to discuss your options and start to put your equity to work for you.

Posted on August 29, 2019 at 1:19 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

2019 Happy Hour For Good

Posted on August 26, 2019 at 1:51 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized

Common Real Estate Terms

Take a look through these commonly used real estate terms!

Posted on August 23, 2019 at 12:19 pm
Diane Terry | Category: Uncategorized