Not too long ago talk of million-dollar homes would conjure up images of lavish mansions owned by a small percentage of elite homebuyers – one percent, to be exact. Now, according to an article from The Seattle Times, seven-figure homes are becoming the norm across the Puget Sound region.
If you have been in the housing market recently, you have probably experienced the difficulty of finding a home under $1 million – especially if you are looking to find something significantly lower, such as around or under a quarter-million. That is because nearly 12 percent of all single-family houses sold in King County this year have sold for more than $1 million, which is double the average rate over the last decade. On the opposite end of the market spectrum, less than 5 percent of homes fit into the cheapest price bracket of less than $250,000. As of October the median cost of a single-family home in King County is $550,000, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner commented on the extreme shift stating, “It wasn’t that long ago, you start talking about seven figures, that was rarefied air. Now, it’s a more substantial market than we’ve ever seen before.”
Not surprisingly, Eastside neighborhoods have the biggest concentration of million-dollar homes, but they are also becoming more commonplace in several Seattle neighborhoods. The bulk of luxury home buyers are the expected tech executives, California and B.C. transplants, and foreign investors who are taking advantage of opportunities in Greater Seattle. However, the million-dollar market has also expanded to include home buyers outside of those sectors who never imagined they would be million-dollar homeowners – especially out of necessity. That being said…
How does this change how we define “luxury”?
The influx of million-dollar listings and homeowners has spurred a rebranding of “luxury” in our market. One Windermere agent reports, “What we used to consider luxury listings was anything over $2 million, and now that has scooted up to $3 million.” Windermere has responded to this redefinition with the W Collection, our newest brand in ultra-luxury that features homes worth at least $3 million. Our president OB Jacobi describes the program as “a sophisticated, yet humble, brand that evokes the understated expression of wealth that is unique to the Pacific Northwest.”
Find the full article at The Seattle Times.
There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Five reasons to move:
1. Your current location just isn’t working.
Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.
2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.
Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.
3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.
If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.
4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.
This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.
5. You don’t like remodeling.
Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of loosing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.
Five reasons to remodel:
1. You love your neighborhood.
You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.
2. You like your current home’s floor plan.
The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.
3. You’ve got a great yard.
Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.
4. You can get exactly the home you want.
Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.
5. It may make better financial sense.
In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.
Remodel or move checklist:
Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to move or remodel.
1. How much money can you afford to spend?
2. How long do you plan to live in your current home?
3. How do you feel about your current location?
4. Do you like the general floor plan of your current house?
5. Will the remodeling you’re considering offer a good return on investment?
6. Can you get more house for the money in another location that you like?
7. Are you willing to live in your house during a remodeling project?
8. If not, do you have the resources to live elsewhere while you’re remodeling?
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.
Many of us dream of getting a better job. But when a promotion or new job opportunity comes with a request to relocate, the result can be very disruptive to your home life. There’s a lot to consider when making this kind of move, such as do you have a home to sell? Are you planning to rent or buy when you relocate? Is your employer covering some of the costs of your relocation? Should you hire a moving company or handle the move yourself? Following is an overview of some of the most important factors you should take into consideration when relocating.
Assessing the situation
The idea of moving to a new area and into a new job can be very exciting, but you’ll want to assess the situation carefully:
- Do your best to make sure the job is a good fit, the boss is a good personality match (and plans to stay long-term), and that you’ll be comfortable in your new role for at least three years.
- Meet with a human resources manager to make sure you understand all the details of the relocation package.
- Thoroughly research your destination to ensure it’s a good fit for your entire family, and that there are other potential employers in the area in the event your new job doesn’t work out.
- Use one of the online cost-of-living calculators to determine if there’s a significant difference between what you pay now (for rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, gas, insurance, and more) and what you can expect to pay in the new location.
- If your spouse works or is planning to enter the workforce, he or she should apply for jobs in the area to test the employment conditions.
- Ask your real estate agent to perform a detailed market analysis to estimate the value of your current home.
- If you live in an apartment, review your lease carefully to determine if you are facing any penalties for moving out.
Renting versus buying
Once you have made the decision to relocate it’s time to consider your housing options—not only where you live and what type of home you want to live in, but whether to rent or buy.
Financially speaking, it makes more sense to buy today than to rent in most markets. According to the latest research on the subject, it costs 15 percent less to own a home than to rent an apartment in the current economy. That said, renting may be a better option if:
- You can’t decide where you want to live.
- You don’t qualify for a home loan.
- You need to keep your current home and can’t afford a second home.
- You’re moving to an area where home prices are extremely high (e.g., New York City, San Francisco, Orange County).
- You’re not yet certain whether you’ll want to stay long-term in the new location.
Moving your belongings
Fewer and fewer companies are offering to pay employee moving costs today, which means it may be up to you to arrange for one of the following options:
- Hire out the entire process (the moving company does all the packing, loading, driving, and unloading). Expect to pay between $6,000 to $8,000, on average.
- You pack all the boxes while the moving company does all the loading, driving and unloading. Expect to pay between $3,500 and $5,500, on average.
- You rent a truck and do all the packing/unpacking and driving. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000, on average.
Making the move easier
Relocating can be exhilarating, but also extremely stressful—especially if you have school-age children or teens. Here are four tips to make the process easier:
- Get everyone in the family talking about their feelings and concerns. And make sure you’re doing as much listening as talking.
- If you have children, include them in the planning and packing work to make them feel more involved. You may want to hold a going-away party for your children, to show that the move is worth celebrating.
- If you have pets, ask your veterinarian, your moving company, and your airline (if you’ll be flying) to provide you with information, tips and any regulations.
- To protect yourself from identity theft, only work with trustworthy moving companies; submit a change-of-address form to the post office about two weeks before your move; consider moving financial records and other personal files yourself.
Last year, the overwhelming majority of people (77 percent) who decided to move for work reported they were happy and had no regrets.