2021 is almost over, and it's a good time to reflect upon the year, your wins, losses, and any lessons learned. Every new year brings with it possibilities to improve. It offers you a chance to reinvent yourself, and if you're in the market for a new home, our real estate agents can help you start the new year on a high note by helping you find your dream home.
Your entryway is the first space guests experience when they step into your home. And more importantly, it is the first space you experience when you get home! As such, you really want your entryway to feel warm and welcoming. Here are a few useful tips to help you make your entryway a sight to behold.
As both a licensed REALTOR® and home builder, I often scroll through my Facebook feed and see homes advertised by our area homebuilders and fellow real estate agents. I often see such remarks as: "They want how much for that house? They're crazy!" or "Why can't builders build more affordable homes?" The general public is not aware of the obstacles faced by members of the industry tasked with meeting the demand for housing. Chief among these obstacles are: 1. A lack of affordable land. 2. Dramatic increases in the cost of materials. 3. The scarcity of qualified tradespeople.
Lurking behind every one of these factors in the increasing cost of new homes is the Demon of Demand. As long as Spokane remains the wonderful place to live it is and always has been, we can expect to see increases in the cost of housing, though perhaps less steep than we are coping with now, extending into the future.
From the January 2020 issue of @Home with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson. Written by Neil Johnson, resident CBT Statistics Expert.
The past year has been fraught with a number of issues that have affected the residential real estate market in many ways. The forces that have aligned this unusual year have basically created a housing shortage.
The Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area had been seeing high in-migration prior to 2020 and also low new housing production as evidenced by low rental vacancy rates and a low inventory of homes for sale. When the pandemic became official and businesses related to housing were closed, the supply of building materials and building itself were interrupted for a time. Simultaneously, people who had been relying on the office as a place to work found that they could work anywhere.
Since most large metro housing markets have remained healthy and strong, the option of selling from a large market and moving to a smaller market like ours has remained achievable. Now, mix in extremely low interest rates, more in-migration and fewer local residents moving away, and you get a high concentration of demand in the Spokane market.
Since the demand is high, the rising cost of building new housing has been offset by buyers who have no financial restrictions and can pay higher prices for new homes. As new homes are selling at record prices, those homes become benchmarks to all existing housing, encouraging home sellers to raise their asking prices, only to find that competing buyers bid those prices even higher. Incredibly, the high sales velocities are reflecting market acceptance, as homes are selling in numbers similar to 2006-07, which was the height of the housing market prior to the Great Recession.
Our region, with its affordability, access to recreation and excellent quality of life is very attractive to a great number of people, and as long as the larger markets remain stable, the cost of mortgages low, and the incentive strong for local residents to stay, we will see values rise.
With a brand new year on the horizon, our real estate agents are excited about the new possibilities it represents. A new calendar is a blank slate, and maybe not just for you, but for your home too. So as we look to the future, keep these up-and-coming design trends in mind for your next remodel.
From the September 2020 issue of @Home with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson. Written by Abbey Parsons, CBT West Plains Branch Manager.
Kohlrabi - I had to GOOGLE it; I had no idea what this vegetable was, until a bag of fresh produce showed up on my doorstep in early May of this year. Our family decided to try a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) subscription.
You can join these programs as a community member by paying for a share of the harvested produce. We paid for our share up front in March and we receive a weekly delivery to our door. This has expanded our vegetable choices while supporting a local family business that keeps money in our community.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a farm marketing model that allows the consumer to buy shares of a farm's harvest before the growing season starts. Thus, delivery through the winter months may include beets, corn, broccoli, onions, turnips, radishes, carrots, cilantro, kale, mustard, spinach, basil, lettuce and, of course, kohlrabi! There are also such frozen options as blueberries, peaches, berries, and peas. Customers may also choose from prepared foods, ingredients for which are raised on local farms, such as hummus, soups, sauces and jams.
Courage to Grow Farms is a first-generation, family-owned urban farm that practices zero-waste regenerative agriculture and employs organic methods. It was established in 2018 with the idea of teaching their community, particularly its youth, techniques of sustainable agriculture on small parcels of land. In only two years, they have created, worked and mentored six urban farms in the Spokane area, all of which are now being run successfully by people eager to learn the trade. In cooperation with other farmers throughout the Pacific Northwest, they now offer much of the Spokane region a bountiful, locally-produced fresh box throughout the year.
Since the community keeps them going, they are eager to give back to the community. Since 2018, they have donated hundreds of pounds of wholesome food to the Farm to Food Pantry Program, Catholic Charities, Food For All, as well as providing their packages free of charge every week to families in need.
Twenty consecutive weeks of deliveries are available for $800. For more information, call or text (509) 270-7264 or visit their website at www.couragetogrowfarms.com.
Watch any home improvement show from the last several years, and you'll see it: open shelving in the kitchen. But is this trend something you should embrace in your own space? Will you love it or regret it if you rip out all your upper cabinets? Those are the questions we're posing today as we examine the pros and cons of open shelving.
If it seems like open shelving is everywhere, that's because it is. "Open shelving is one of the most popular - and also the most controversial - kitchen trends of recent years," said Apartment Therapy. Some kitchens, in an effort to look updated and open, have eliminated upper cabinets entirely, integrating open shelving instead. Others utilize the trend more marginally, replacing just one or two smaller sections of upper cabinets. If you are wary of converting your entire kitchen to open shelving, this is a good starter.
Another way to get your feet wet is to simply remove the front of your cabinets instead of taking them down all together. This way, you can get the look without a major change, and you can always put the doors back on when the fad eventually passes.
That's what a lot of people are looking for when they make the decision to go with open shelving. And it works - sometimes too well. Getting rid of all the typical upper cabinets can sometimes make a space look too minimalist. "Open shelving can also look a bit... unfinished," said Apartment Therapy.
Then again, it's a great way to highlight china, nice dishes, or decor items.
Regardless of what your dishes look like, they're likely to get dusty without the benefit of being behind closed doors. "While we love looking at neatly arranged dishware on an open shelf, the reality can be a bit frustrating. Namely, due to all the dust and grease that end up on the carefully-arranged plates, bowls, mugs, and glassware," said House Beautiful. In fact, the site is so adamant about its stance on open shelving that the trend made the list of "9 Trendy Home Features That Are Secretly A Pain."
Buying a house that needs renovations can be a great way to find a deal, but before you decide to pounce on that tempting offering price, ask yourself these questions:
Can your budget accommodate renovations and unexpected costs?
Naturally, the draw of a fixer-upper is that you can purchase it for a much lower price than
a similarly sized and located move-in ready home. The trick is deciphering exactly how much work the home needs, how much it will cost, and whether the combined renovation/purchase cost of the home will ultimately be more affordable than buying a house that's ready right now. When you're done, add 15% for the unexpected.
How much of the work can you handle yourself?
One way to keep renovation costs down when buying a house is to handle as much of the work as possible yourself, but it's important to be realistic about what projects truly qualify as DIY. If you have experience in the contracting trades or have renovated a home in the past, then you may be able to tackle some of the more costly aspects of renovating. Most people will need to leave the bigger, more costly aspects of renovating to the pros.
How soon do you need to move in, and do you have a place to stay?
If you have a place to stay and don't need to move into your new home right away, then time may not be a major issue. If you need to move in ASAP, then a fixer-upper probably isn't the right choice when buying a house.
Do you have trusted service providers?
No matter how much or how little of the work you can handle DIY, you'll likely still need contractors, an architect, and other service providers to tackle key tasks. It helps to have people you know and trust – or referrals from trusted sources – when coordinating work on a fixer-upper. Having quality service providers helps keep added costs down, and makes it easier to keep the project on schedule.
Do you have a vision for the home you'd like to create?
Success with a fixer-upper depends in large part on having a plan and being able to see it through to completion. So it's essential to have a vision of the home that you want to create. If you don't, then buying a move-in ready house may provide more value for your investment.
From the August 2020 issue of @Home with Coldwell Banker Tomlinson. Based on original reporting.
It seems that we find ourselves in a time of great decisions. Should schools and businesses be open or closed? Should the Congress inject more money into the economy, and if so, how much? Soon we will be asked to decide whether to stick with our current president, or go with another.
These are great decisions, and different people will find different answers, but their importance requires that we all be involved, that we study the issues before deciding, and then be sure to make our decisions known, either to our elected leaders or via the ballot box.
There is another great issue that we encounter every day and that is calling for a decision that has for too long been either delayed or confused: How do we in Eastern Washington want our transportation system to be managed? It is the job of Mike Gribner, Region Administrator of the Washington State Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) to do just that, provided we understand that he acts on instructions from us.
Mike has been waiting for clear, consistent instructions from us for years, and both he and his boss, Roger Millar, our state's Secretary of Transportation, are doing all they can to let us know that years of dithering have led our transportation system to a point of crisis, a crisis just as real as that caused by the novel coronavirus.
Good news is, though, it is much easier to solve. All it will take is for an informed electorate (us) to get our priorities straight, to decide just where we want to spend our money, and let our elected officials know about it.
At stake in Spokane is an economy that generates $30,000,000,000 (that's right; with a "B!") every year, and every single component is inexorably tied to transportation. It is what allows goods to get to market, buyers to get to sellers, patients to get to doctors... etc. When Mike Gribner has cause to worry, we all have cause to worry.
He is worried, because, on the one hand, we expect him to be a good steward of the complex and vital system of transportation we own, while, on the other, we deny him the funds to do so. Sometimes we do so intentionally, as when Initiative 976 was passed, which dangled the appealing prospect of lower license tabs at the cost of crippling reductions in WSDOT's revenues. Sometimes, we do it inadvertently, as when we run after the shiny new object of expansion, without first making sure that maintenance of the existing system is properly funded.
The clearest example in our region is the North Spokane Corridor (NSC). A worthy project, no doubt, but one that is funded by bonded (i.e. "borrowed") money, so much money that the interest payments alone consume a huge percentage of WSDOT's budget.
As a result, Gribner has been obliged to cease all repairs on thoroughfares with speed limits under 45mph. That lets out not only our tree-lined residential cul-de-sacs, but such little-used byways as Division Street and Trent Ave!
To be sure, the coronavirus has played its part by ratcheting up the severity of the crisis in our transportation system. The drastic reduction in miles traveled has meant far less consumption of gasoline, which in turn cuts deeply into the gas tax revenues on which WSDOT depends. The Office of Financial Management estimates the cost of the COVID virus at up to $100,000,000 per month.
He grimaces when he is accused by members of the real estate industry of being "anti-growth" for taking such action as opposing large-scale development along the I-195 corridor before steps are taken to improve its safety, steps which the City of Spokane (i.e. "we") agreed to take more than a decade ago.
In fact, the furtherance of economic prosperity is a prominent part of WSDOT's mission statement. Just ask Councilman Al French whether or not Mike Gribner can be relied upon to support our efforts at economic growth. He seems to feel that without the heroic effort of Gribner and his partners, Amazon would not have come to the West Plains.
So what is to be done? According to Mike Gribner, our first job as responsible citizens is to be well-informed. The WSDOT website is a great place to start. Beyond that, a call to the regional office at (509) 324-6000 will be enough to convince anyone that this is an organization devoted to serving the public and fulfilling its mission to support the safety, security, and prosperity of the people of Eastern Washington.
The final step, and the one that counts most, is putting your knowledge to work by voting responsibly and insisting to such elected representatives as Senator Andy Billig and Representative Marcus Riccelli, both ardent advocates for supporting our transportation system properly, that the system is important to you, and that you are willing to pay for it.