Destination WhidbeyLangley July 18, 2022

Langley Pelicans

Did you know that well over a century ago White Pelicans were common in our area? Unfortunately, the use of pesticides and a change in habitat threatened the species. For years, these gorgeous birds went relatively unseen until a flock graced our South Whidbey waters in 2016 visiting Deer Lagoon and Honeymoon Bay. With the loss of breeding grounds, these huge birds are known to prospect new locations and have returned to Deer Lagoon every year since. Bird watchers now anxiously await these feathered friends every year. Will you be one of the lucky ones to spot them?

If you are or are interested in becoming an avid birdwatcher check out our blog Bird Watching on Whidbey Island here.

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Real Estate April 25, 2022

Your Guide to Celebrating MOM on Whidbey Island

Mothers Day is just around the corner. Are you ready to celebrate mom the way she should be?

Keep reading for our guide to celebrating mom on Whidbey Island so you can create a day filled with memories that will last mom a lifetime.

Sunday Morning:

What better way to celebrate mom than by waking her up with a stunning gift from our local family-owned jewelers at Gerald’s Jewelry?

Mothers day, gift, necklace, bracelet, Celebrate mom

Pack the family in the car, grab a cup of coffee from Café De Lisio (opens at 6 am),  and head down to West Beach to catch the sunrise. Perhaps a short stroll along the beach until someone can find a heart-shaped rock for mom is in order.

Celebrating mom on Wihidbey Island, Whidbey Island, Mom, Mom life, Coffee, Heart shaped rock, Family in car, Kids

Don’t make mom cook today! Treat her to a breakfast at The Mill at Kasteel (opens at 8 am) that will leave her feeling like a queen.

When done, drop mom off FOR HER FACIAL APPOINTMENT (set this in advance) at one of these local studios:

While she is getting pampered, sneak over to Little Town Cottage to pick out the best smelling products to treat mom to a well-deserved relaxing bath later in the evening.

Celebrate Mom, Bubble Bath, mom life

 

Sunday Afternoon:

Once mom has been pampered and is ready to hit the road again, head to one of these three phenomenal ways to spend Mother’s Day afternoon on Whidbey Island.

1.       Stop in Coupeville for her massage appointment (make an appointment in advance) at the Seaside Spa and Salon, before heading to Mother’s day at Meerkerk Garden (11am – 3pm) in Greenbank. While you are waiting, grab her a book from the Kingfisher Bookstore, a bottle of wine from Vails Wine Shop & Tasting Room, and perhaps all of you a treat before the rest of the drive from Front Street Grill.

2.       Her Reservation (make in advance 11am – 4pm) for a pampered Mother’s Day Picnic at Wild Hearts on Whidbey in Langley, which includes charcuterie boxes, 20 breathtaking acres to explore, and mini photography sessions with Phoenix Photography to capture these memories for the rest of her life, and, of course, stunning bouquets.

3.       Treat mom to the perfect Langley adventure complete with the best selection of Whidbey’s own Sweet Monas Chocolates, a trip through the Whidbey Art Market, and when tummies get hungry, fulfill the urge with a stop at Sea Biscuit Bakery.

Sunday Evening:

With a bit of preparation in advance, Mom can be greeted with a unique bouquet specially  handcrafted by Lexi at Forage upon returning home . Let mom relax with a soaking bath complete with the products from Little Town Cottage, the book from Kingfisher, and a glass of wine from Vails, prepare a simple but sweet recipe so that she does not have to cook. Finish the evening with a family movie and get the kiddos off to bed for their early morning at school the next day.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, show mom she is loved this Mother’s Day with a day she will never forget!

If you post a picture to your social for her special day, tag us in it so we can celebrate her too.

Instagram: @windermere_whidbey_island

Facebook: @WindermereWhidbeyIsland

HomeReal EstateStats February 21, 2022

We are NOT in a Housing Bubble: Here’s Why!

Home buyers are beginning to believe we are heading into a housing bubble. It is easy to acknowledge this premonition, as year-after-year home price appreciation has continued to remain in the double digits.

However, we are here to put your mind at ease as this market is very different than it was during the housing crash 15 years ago. Follow along as we explain four fundamental reasons why today's market is nothing like the market was back then.

1. Houses Are Affordable Unlike During the Housing Boom

To understand this, one must understand the affordability formula. The affordability formula consists of three parts: the price of the home, wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time of purchase. Conventional lending standards suggest a purchaser should spend no more than 28% of their gross income on their mortgage payment.

Fifteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%.  While today's  home prices are high, wages have increased significantly, and despite the latest spike, mortgage rates are still well below 6%. This means that todays average buyer spends less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than buyers did back then.

In the latest Affordability Report by ATTOM Data, Chief Product Officer Todd Teta speaks to this stating, "The average wage earner can still afford the typical home across the U.S., but the financial comfort zone continues shrinking as home prices keep soaring and mortgage rates tick upward."

Undeniably,  affordability is not as strong as it was last year, but it is significantly better than it was during the boom. The graph below demonstrates that difference:

How did so many homes sell during the housing boom with such prohibitive costs?

2. Mortgage Standards Were Much More Relaxed During the Boom

Getting approved for a mortgage loan was significantly more attainable during the housing bubble than it is today.  According to credit.org, a credit score between 550-619 is considered poor. They define  those with a score below 620, by stating that, "Credit agencies consider consumers with credit delinquencies, account rejections, and little credit history as subprime borrowers due to their high credit risk."

While buyers can still qualify for a mortgage with a credit score within that range they are considered riskier borrowers. If you are in that range, read our How Long Does it Take to Save for a Down Payment article here. Below is a graph illustrating the mortgage volume issued to buyers with a credit score less than 620 during the housing boom, in compression to the following 14 years.

Mortgage standards are significantly different than they were last time. Buyers that obtained mortgages during the past decade are better qualified for the loans. Lets look at what that means moving forward.

3. Foreclosure Are Completely Different  Than They Were During The Crash

The most obvious difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. The Federal Reserve issues a report showing the number of consumers with a new foreclosure notice. Here are the numbers during the crash compared to today:

 

 

 

Undoubtedly the 2020 and 2021 numbers are impacted by the forbearance program, which was created to help homeowners facing uncertainty during the pandemic. Keep in mind, there are less than 800,000 homeowners remaining in the program today, and the majority of those will be able to work out a repayment plan with their banks.

Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President of RealtyTrac, explains, "The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the ‘forbearance equals foreclosure' narrative was incorrect."

Why are there significantly less foreclosures seen today? Well, homeowners today are equity rich. They are not tapped out.

During the build-up to the housing bubble, some homeowners were using their homes as personal ATM machines. We saw a plethora of people withdrawing their equity the moment it was built up. When home values began to fall, many homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the amount they owed on their mortgage had surpassed the value of their home. Many were faced with the decision of walking away from their homes. When that happened it led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of comparable homes in the area.

Homeowners, have since learned their lessons. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over 40% of homes in the country having more than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like they had previously, as indicated by the fact that national tappable equity has increased to a record $9.9 trillion. With the average home equity now standing at $300,000. What happened last time will not happen today.

As the latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic explains, "Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they've also enabled many to continue building their wealth."

There will be nowhere near the same number of foreclosures as we seen during the crash. What does that mean for the housing market today?

4. There is Not a Surplus of Homes on the Market – We Have a Shortage

The supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued price appreciation. The following graph demonstrates, the surplus of homes for sale between 2007 to 2010 (many of which were short sales and foreclosures). That caused prices to tumble. Today, there is a shortage of inventory, which is creating the increasing home values we are witnessing today.

Inventory is drastically different in comparison to last time. Prices are rising because there is a healthy demand for homeownership while at the same time there is a shortage of homes for sale.

At the end of the day,

if you are worried that we are making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, the graphs above show data and insights to help alleviate your concerns. If you are considering buying or selling and would like to dive deeper into this subject we would be happy to schedule a consult with you. Call us today at 360.675.5953. 

Real Estate January 24, 2022

7 Tips for New Horse Owners

Horses have been a prominent animal throughout history, dedicated to their human’s side. Many would go as far as to suggest that horses, just as dogs, cats, and other pets can be man’s best friend. Like other pets, horses can contribute to the health, wellbeing, and happiness of their humans so much so that there have been people that contribute overcoming their mental illnesses to using a technique called Equine Horse Therapy. Likewise, many children have found companionship in their horses and have grown to learn valuable life lessons from them.

While we as humans receive so much from these amazing animals, it is equally important that we pay attention to their health, wellbeing, and happiness as well.

If you are new to the equestrian lifestyle here are a couple of tips to keeping them happy:

1) Consistent Exercise:

Horses, just like us need daily exercise to stay healthy and fit. A daily workout helps to reduce your horse’s stress and allows them to release pent-up energy. While it might not look like the typical gym workout, working out with your horse by training can be beneficial for both you and your horse.

2) Keep Vaccinations Current:

Like humans, horses also need vaccinations and it is important that they stay current, or like humans, they can get sick. Having the proper vaccination in a timely manner helps you keep your horse healthy, fit, and happy.

If your horse gets sick, it will take a lot of energy for it to fully recover. Keeping your horse on a vaccinations routine not only will help prevent your horse from getting sick but will also help your horse to recover against the more serious diseases more easily.

To ensure you are providing your horse the best care and keeping regular on its vaccinations, you can ask your vet for a list of vaccines he/she suggests you give to your horse and which ones are most important for your horse to have. If you don’t currently have a vet, click here for a list of ones in our area.

3) Your Horse Needs a Safe and Comfortable Environment: 

Here’s one that lies near and dear to our hearts. As real estate agents, we know just how much we as humans want our homes to keep us safe and comfortable. Similarly, your horse not only deserves but needs housing that not only keeps him safe from things like storms and prey but also makes him comfortable. If your horse lives in a barn, provide them a stall and protection.  If they live outdoors, they need some way to get out of the sun. Often a run-in shed, or shady trees can give them protection from the elements they need. Additionally, you will need to provide them with a dry walking area, grass, rubber mats, and hoof care.

Not all properties are created equally. When looking at properties, it is important to make sure it is sufficient for your horse and easy for them to maneuver and permitted for horse use. If you need help determining whether or not a property is viable for your equestrian needs reach out to our equestrian advisors here.

4) Good Nutrition:

We know that when we eat junk food, we feel, well like junk. Similarly, your horse requires a diet that can fuel the energy they need to stay fit and healthy. The digestive system of your horse is designed to process large amounts of fibrous foods regularly.

To keep the horse’s digestive health and increase their energy level, you should include grass, hay, and grains in their regular diet along with a lot of fresh CLEAN water. Including traditional mineral blocks into their routine will help your horse maintain an optimal diet. Check out these great places on Whidbey to purchase food for your horse.

5) Your Horse Needs a Dentist Too!

Have you ever been petting your horse when he decides to give you a big lick across your face?! We have too. That’s how we know it is of the utmost importance for your horse to have a dentist too. You should anticipate a checkup about once a year. Like humans, horse teeth grow. However, unlike humans, horse teeth continue to grow and could potentially become damaged by opposing teeth if not properly taken care of. Because their teeth continue to grow it is important for them to be filed regularly to ensure the horse is comfortable when he eats. Could you imagine trying to eat if your teeth hurt you?

Without regular dental check-ups, your horse could develop problems that could lead to more serious problems like colic and choke.

6) Their Hooves:

It is important to take care of your horse’s hooves, by cleaning them and trimming them regularly. Like humans, every horse is different. The growth at which your horses’ hooves grow may be vastly different from that of another’s. However, it is often common for hooves to grow in between 4 to 8 weeks. You can begin trimming them after that.

7) Visit Your Horse Regularly:

The bond between you and your horse should be very strong like the friendship between you and a best friend. You will develop this bond over time by spending adequate time with them. You should expect to visit your horse daily if possible.

But also, like humans, your horse needs equestrian friends too. So get out and make friends with similar interests as both you and your horse.

At the end of the day…

… if you have been considering buying property for you and your horses – let’s connect to determine what is best for all of you. Email us or call us today!

Destination WhidbeyLangleyPlacesThings to Do on Whidbey December 20, 2021

Goss Lake Langley

Located between Freeland and Langley on the southern end of Whidbey, Goss Lake is the perfect spot for relaxing and taking in the fresh PNW air. Enjoy the beautiful greenery and waterfront view with a hike around Goss Lake Loop or (on the warmer days) take a dip in the freshwaters. During the colder seasons, break out the fishing gear and catch some native coastal cutthroat trout. With only one public access point and no motors permitted except for electric, this location remains the perfect oasis for a quiet afternoon. Yet during the annual Whidbey Island Triathlon, this lake gets some extra activity as the location of the event’s swimming leg.

 

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Real Estate November 22, 2021

The Search for Equestrian Property

Buying property suitable for horses is no small task. It is certainly not the typical home buying experience. There is so much to consider from what kind of property best meets the needs of your horses to what kind of home will best meet your wants and needs. Speaking from experience, the horses’ needs are typically the priority.

Working with an experienced Equestrian Advisor/Realtor will also help ensure your home search and purchase go as smoothly as possible. You can find one here.

The Property has Acreage:  Is it Suitable for Horses?

The search for equestrian properties

Any Equestrian Advisor/Realtor will be the first to tell you that, just because a property has plentiful acreage does not mean it will be a suitable property for your horses. The best property will be flat to gently sloped with good drainage, open areas with grass for grazing, with few trees, and wet areas. Horses weigh 1000 to 1500 pounds on average, which puts a lot of weight on the ground. Therefore, horses can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

The priority is finding an Equestrian Property with useable land – meaning not acres of unusable gullies, steep edges, or too many bodies of water. More land doesn’t necessarily mean it is better, the useability is the priority.

Amenities:

The search for equestrian properties

Housing horses and livestock on your property can be done with ease with a few convenient amenities. It is important to consider these amenities as they add value to the Equestrian Property:

  • Barn – Does it have an adequate number of stalls for your needs and the right size for your type of horse? Horse stalls can measure from 10 x 10 to 12 x 12 or even larger. Does it have the capability to increase the size of the stall to make foaling stalls?  Are the stalls matted? Are there runouts (sacrifice paddocks) off the stalls?
  • Hay Storage – What style is the barn? If it is a Monitor style barn, does it have a hayloft? How much hay can be stored in the hayloft? If there is no hayloft, is there adequate storage for hay elsewhere?
  • Tack Room – Does the barn have a tack room? If so, is it insulated? It is important to be able to store tack, brushes, and other items in the tack room without them getting damp and moldy.
  • Tack Area and/or Wash Bay – While one can do without this amenity it sure is a bonus to have it.
  • Quality and Safe Fencing – Fencing can be quite costly (please watch for our future blog on fencing). It adds a lot of value to an Equestrian Property to have good quality and safe fencing. Equally important is how well it is laid out on the property. Is the property fenced and cross-fenced?
  • Arena (Indoor and/or Outdoor) or Training Round Pen with good footing – It is a huge bonus to find a property with an arena, especially an indoor arena. Indoor arenas are getting increasingly more difficult to get approval to build and depending on the size can cost well over $100,000 to build. Outdoor arenas are great but have their challenges.  It becomes difficult to manage the footing due to weather. Footing in the arena is something to really consider.  Each discipline has its own preferences for footing type and depth.  But any equestrian will agree that poor footing can cost you a lot – cause lameness in your horses resulting in expensive vet bills and not to mention the time to rehabilitate the horse from injury.
  • Water source and location of water on the property. Are there ample spigots to the pastures/paddocks and arena?
  • Electricity – Does the barn have electricity running to it?

Your Routine:

The search for equestrian properties

Transitioning to an Equestrian Lifestyle is a big adjustment.  Make sure you are taking your daily routine into consideration when looking at properties.  Consider the layout of the Equestrian Property. Does it seem that your daily routine will be seamless i.e., bringing horses in and out from pasture/paddocks to the barn?  Are there turnouts off the barn that make it easier on your daily routine?  Where is the manure kept? Ultimately, as an Equestrian, you want to be able to leave your property and know that your horses will be safe and sound while you are away.

Barn(s) and Outbuildings Should be Inspected Too:

The search for equestrian properties

You have found your Equestrian Property.  It will cost you extra, but it is important to have your inspector inspect the Barn(s) as well as the Outbuildings.  Your horses are part of your family, and you want to make sure that they will be safe in their surroundings.  It is important to have a professional evaluate the Barn and Outbuildings for structural issues, electrical issues, or other potential problems.

Zoning Regulations:

Do not assume that the property is an approved horse property just because the owners or prior owners have had horses on the property in the past.  Part of the Inspection process will be to do a little research with local city, county, and/or HOA regulations for agriculture and livestock. Do not let this lack of research cut into your dreams of owning an Equestrian Property.

Let us help you make your dreams of owning an Equestrian Property a reality:

To be honest this is all just the tip of the iceberg when searching for an Equestrian Property.  It helps to have someone working for you that has done this before.  Let’s get you connected. It would be an honor to help you make your dreams a reality.

 

 

 

 

Destination WhidbeyLangleyNeighborhoodsThings to Do on Whidbey October 25, 2021

Langley Village

Langley is known for its unique specialty shops and galleries, showcasing amazing local artisan talent. From the lovely greenery of Bayview Farm & Garden to seaside-inspired jewelry and home décor at Foamy Wader, Langley has something for everyone! Want to try your own hand at some specialty art? Visit Callahan’s Firehouse for a cup of espresso and an amazing glass blowing experience catered to all groups and ages. At the end of the meandering plaza of shops pictured in the postcard is Whidbey’s popular ramen restaurant, “Ultra House.” It’s tucked away from the main drag, makes you feel like you landed in Japan, and is one of the most addictive taste sensations on the whole island!

Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series here.

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Destination WhidbeyLangleyNeighborhoodsPlacesThings to Do on Whidbey September 27, 2021

Downtown Langley

On the southern side of Whidbey Island along the Saratoga Passage lies the lovely little town of Langley. With a population of just over 1,000, this quaint town is home to a creative culture and endless entertainment.

Established in 1891, Langley served as South Whidbey’s trading center for all types of goods with the wharf connecting Island merchants to Everett and Seattle. In the 60s and 70s, that same wharf brought in a wave of hippies who would forever shift the culture of South Whidbey. Although the Langley docks no longer see the traffic they once did, downtown is filled with remnants of the original trades-town married beautifully with the artistic culture of the mid-century hippies. 

Enjoy browsing the Star Store, grabbing a cup of coffee from Useless Bay Coffee Co., or watching a film at the Clyde Theater.

Check out the rest of Whidbey’s beautiful destinations from this series here.

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Real Estate September 20, 2021

4 Online Resources That will Blow Your Mind!

…and help when buying vacant land on Whidbey Island.

ICGeo

This is a sophisticated GIS mapping tool for Island County that can show layers and layers of geographically specific data overlaid on a map. Just turn on the layers of data you are interested in and search till your heart is content!

Island County Public Portal

Use this tool to look up a parcel number or a street address to determine if there are any site registrations, septic permits, or septic as-builts done for the parcel. It will also disclose any permits a property has recently applied for and its status.

Groundwater Spatial Analysis Report

This tool analyzes the potential groundwater quality at any given spot on the island by grabbing the data on wells within 1/8 mile of the point you choose on the map (or the nearest 40 wells). It automatically generates a phenomenal report. Just submit the application and the report is emailed to you almost immediately.  This document will offer you more detailed information on what you get in the report

Washington Coastal Atlas Map

With the Shoreline Photo Viewer, you can compare what has happened to any stretch of shoreline over the last 50 years through photography! This tool uses 5 photo sessions capturing images of our shoreline all the way back to 1970. Even if you are not currently buying waterfront land this is a fun tool to compare what has happened to any section of our shoreline. There are even aerial photos from the 1940s. Check out the image below taken before Rolling Hills or Penn Cove Park were developed.

4 Online Resources That will Blow Your Mind!

To find more amazing tools at your disposal or to get help using these tools to find specific information you can call us, and we will connect you with one of our knowledgeable Windermere brokers. You don’t have to be actively selling or buying a home! We just love to help! Contact us here. 

ClintonCoupevilleDestination WhidbeyFreelandGreenbankLangleyOak HarborPlacesThings to Do on Whidbey July 19, 2021

Bird Watching on Whidbey Island

w, Birds, humming bird, Robin, Eagle

50 miles South of the U.S./Canada border and 25 miles North of Seattle lies Whidbey Island, an incomparable destination for nature lovers and bird enthusiasts. On Whidbey, you can get lost for hours and find yourself mesmerized not only by incredible views but by a breathtaking variety of birds.

Whidbey Boasts 148 miles of winding shoreline, 6 state parks, 4 lakes, hundreds of miles of trail, and a ridiculous variety of habitats from bogs to estuaries to the prairie. It is not surprising then that Whidbey accommodates roughly 250 resident and migrant bird species.

Birds of Whidbey, Views, Hikes, Trails, State Parks, Lakes, Whidbey

Birdwatchers will declare some of the best times to watch for birds on Whidbey are:

Spring:

Late April through May you can expect to be woken early by the Songbirds singing a pleasant tune.

Songbirds, Birds of Whidbey, Birdwatching, Whidbey Island

Fall:

Late July through September It is hard not to miss fat red-breasted Robins filling the apple trees and spot migrant visitors from the north like wigeons, ducks, coots, waterfowl, and red-tailed hawks.

Birds of Whidbey,

Winter:

November through mid-March is a great time of year to watch for Northern Shrike, Bald Eagles, and other raptor-type birds.

Birds of Whidbey< birdwatching, Eagles, Owls, island life

 

Best places for birdwatching:

If you are just trying to take advantage of easily accessible shoreline almost any time of year works. Some of the best places to watch for shorebirds birds on Whidbey Island are Penn Cove, Keystone Landing, Fort Casey State Park, and Dugualla Bay.

If you don’t live on Whidbey and are coming just for birdwatching be sure to schedule more than one day for viewing. Plan time so you can experience multiple locations, each with its unique features. To better understand all the places you can access the shoreline you really need to buy Getting to the Waters Edge! We sell it at our Windermere offices both in Oak Harbor and Coupeville.

Frequently asked questions:

Some people wonder if there is a time of day that birds are most animated. Typically speaking most birds are bustling around sunrise and sunset but that rule does not apply to all birds. For example, the morning is typically the best time for spotting diurnal species, while nocturnal species are generally spotted in the evening, but it really depends on the bird and the time of year.

Whidbey Island is native to species like Eagles, Northern Harriers, wading birds, loons, grebes, sea ducks, including Harlequin Ducks, dabbling ducks, Black Oystercatchers, Common Yellowthroats, Marsh Wrens, and more. It is also is a temporary home for migrant birds who frequent the island seasonally for the island’s ideal breeding habitats.  But do not be fooled. Some birds like robins, hawks, cardinals, finches, sparrows, and more stay here all year but they seem to “return” because they become active again during the spring through fall seasons after they have bundled down in their nests and shelters during the winter.

Additional resources:

To learn more about the birds that can be spotted on Whidbey and a guide for when you will likely catch a glimpse check out this detailed Whidbey Island Bird List created by the Whidbey Audubon Society.

Here are some of our favorite spots on Whidbey to watch for birds let us know your favorite spots in the comments below.