Category Archives: Hood Canal Homes

Hood Canal Real Estate – House Flipping is Back!

for sale
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The number of homes flipped in 2015 was the highest in nearly 10 years, according to a report from RealtyTrac. The report showed that 179,778 single-family homes and condos were flipped — the highest since 2007.
According to RealtyTrac’s fourth-quarter 2015 U.S. Home Flipping Report, flips made up 5.5% of all single-family home and condo sales, up from a 5.3% share in 2014. This is the first annual increase in share of homes flipped following four years of shrinking. 
“As confidence in the housing recovery spreads, more real estate investors and would-be real estate investors are hopping on the home-flipping bandwagon,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac.
“Not only is the share of home flips on the rise again, but we also see the flipping trend trickling down to smaller investors who are completing fewer flips per year. The total number of investors who completed at least one flip in 2015 was at the highest level since 2007, and the number of flips per investor was at the lowest level since 2008,” added Blomquist.
A flip is defined as a home that is bought and sold again within the same 12 months. In 2015, the 5.5% share of U.S. homes flipped in 2015 was still well below the peak of 8.2% of U.S. homes flipped in 2005.
See below for the five habits of highly profitable home flippers. Click to enlarge.
5 Habits of Highly Profitable Home Flippers
The share of homes flipped in 2015 was above 2005 levels in 12 of the 110 metro areas, including Pittsburgh, Memphis, Buffalo, New York, San Diego, Seattle, Birmingham, Alabama, and Cleveland.
“When home flipping numbers go up, it is usually an indication that the housing market is in trouble,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market, where the share of homes flipped in 2015 was down from 2014 despite being above 2005 levels.
“The problem with a rise in home flipping is that these sales artificially inflate home prices, making housing even less affordable for buyers and increasing the risk of a bubble. I’m happy to see that the percentage of home flipping sales in Seattle does not exceed the national average and that they’re down from a year ago. This makes sense given our affordability constraints and lower potential for profits for home flippers,” added Gardner.
Metro areas with the biggest year-over-year increase in share of flips were Lakeland, Florida, New Haven, Connecticut, Jacksonville, Florida, Homosassa Springs, Florida, and Akron, Ohio.
“We continue to see distressed properties funnel through the pipeline in South Florida, which makes it ripe for investors to profit in a strong selling market,” said Mike Pappas, CEO and president at the Keyes Company, covering the South Florida market.
“There are always sellers that will discount for a quick cash sale and open the door for astute investors to make a good return by repositioning the property,” Pappas said.
The Miami metro area had the most homes flipped of any market nationwide in 2015, with 10,658, representing 8.6% of all Miami-area home sales for the year and up 4% as a share of all sales from 2014.
Among 110 metro areas with at least 250 flips in 2015, those with the highest average gross flipping profit in dollars in were San Francisco, San Jose, California, New York, Los Angeles, and Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California.
States with the highest share of home flips in 2015 were Nevada, Florida, Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee.
Among states with at least 1,000 single family homes flipped in 2015, those with the biggest year-over-year increase in share of flips were Connecticut, Oregon, Maryland, Illinois, and New Jersey.
See below for the rest of the 2015 hot and cold home flipping markets. Click to enlarge.
2015 Hot and Cold Home Flipping Markets

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Hood Canal Real Estate – 3 Ways to a Happy Remodel!

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You love browsing remodeling ideas on Pinterest, but you also live in the real world. So how do you figure out what project will ultimately be worth the cost and effort? It’s not a whole lot different than choosing a life partner — will you still love them once the passion’s worn off? Will you still love your remodel after you’ve had to clean and maintain it year after year?

These three homeowners are still in love with projects they finished years ago. We give you permission to steal their strategies.

1.  Expanding Living Space — Outside

Florida’s called the Sunshine State for a reason, but what’s the point of all that vitamin D without a proper spot to enjoy it? When Jane Watkins purchased her Miami home 13 years ago, it offered a pool and plenty of yardage — but little outdoor living space.

Watkins is no stranger to DIY projects, so she decided to build an outdoor space herself. Armed with hammers, nails, and a few good friends, she framed and built a simple, low-to-the-ground deck.
Building the back yard deckImage: Jane Watkins

The spacious outdoor room bridged the gap between the wild outdoors of her tropical backyard and livable space with cutouts for existing trees, providing enough square footage for a full set of patio furniture — and lots of play space for the kids.
DIYed deck in back yard
Image: Jane Watkins

With the decking installed, stained, and sealed, Watkins’ family became masters of outdoor entertainment. They release ladybugs, paint artwork, and, of course, host parties, including an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner, a Kentucky Derby party, and an epic birthday celebration, complete with a cardboard castle.
Cardboard castle constructed for a birthday partyImage: Jane Watkins

And it’s not just good for grand gestures and major events. It’s the “preferred sitting spot” for supervising swimming kids, Watkins says. “I sip my coffee out there, check out the yard, and hang.”

Lasting Love Lesson #1: Take on a project that physically expands the livable area of your home, even if it doesn’t require walls or a ceiling.

Related: 7 Ideas to Use Your Outdoor Space More
2.  Creating a Family Fun Hub

Georgia Harris and her husband Tim purchased their Los Gatos, Calif., home for its view of the Santa Clara Valley — definitely not for its design. “It looked like a brown, tiny little house, like the ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ It was very basic,” says Harris.

The unassuming home became a blank canvas for the family’s dreams. Their biggest renovation success: turning the downstairs into an all-in-one entertainment center to complement their brand new pool.
Couches and an entertainment center in a renovated basementImage: Starburst Construction Company, Inc. CSL 580070

The previous owner had abandoned a basement remodeling project, leaving the lower level in dire straits.

Adding an enormous bonus room downstairs provided room for games and hanging out — a much-needed addition with two growing kids — and a 400-bottle wine cellar provides plenty of entertainment for the adults. The renovated basement helps the family stay in shape, too. An exercise room and direct pool access mean a well-rounded workout is only a flight of stairs away.
Wine cellar and home exercise roomImage: Starburst Construction Company, Inc. CSL 580070

They even added an arched hallway to highlight that amazing view. “You can look from one end to another and see out the back,” Harris says. “We made everything really open.”

With one big project 11 years ago, the new Harris home went from an OK house with a great view to a house that’s as fun as it is functional.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever gone through a renovation like this,” Harris says. “I’ve done small projects, like bathrooms, but because we were involved in picking out everything, it feels like we built our dream home.”

Lasting Love Lesson #2: Give underused space a function that addresses the needs of everyone in the family.

3.  Upgrading Entertainment Capacity

When both halves of a couple come from enormous families, finding room for everyone at Thanksgiving can be quite the challenge. For Cindy Carey, she met the challenge with a remodel that combined her kitchen, dining, and living room into one ginormous great room — long before the Property Brothers made open floor plans de rigueur.

And more than 20 years later, she’s still in love.

“I love the big open room,” she says. “Everyone loves it. We’re able to entertain a lot of people.”

Carey often plays host for the holidays, and keeping the dining room as-is would have meant stuffing 26 people into one small room — or assigning everyone to different tables in separate rooms. Now, they’ve got elbow room to spare.

“Everyone may not be seated in a straight row, but we can all sit down and eat dinner,” Carey says.

A consummate entertainer, Carey regularly hosts employee holiday parties for her construction company. For this year’s party, she fit about 40 guests and a strolling magician into the room, no squishing required.

Carey says visitors are often astounded by the room’s size, considering its location — a tract home in the Bay Area.

“People don’t know how big it is until we get inside,” Carey says. “We get a lot of people that never knew this room could be back here.”

Lasting Love Lesson #3: What’s your lifestyle? Pick a project that enhances it.
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Hood Canal Real Estate – – The Year Ahead in Commercial Real Estate

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The Year Ahead in the Commercial Real Estate Market

Uncertainty Breeding Opportunity

After several years of increasing domestic economic expansion and an ever-recovering and ever-growing real estate market, 2016 opens with the return of global economic uncertainty as China’s economic growth moderates, energy prices decline significantly, and geopolitical threats such as ISIS, pose a consistent threat to Europe and the rest of the world. While it remains unclear how today’s macroeconomic conditions will impact commercial real estate markets, there are two scenarios. The first is that global market weakness will impact domestic financial markets, the second is that market impacts remain moderate and commercial real estate remains stable and continues to grow due to strengths in core fundamentals. We believe that the second scenario is more probable given the unique opportunities being posed by forces – like demographic shifts – that are proceeding independently of macroeconomic trends.
Manhattan - commercial real estate market
Manhattan, NY
As for the commercial real estate markets themselves, 2015 was an amazing year. Real Capital Analytics reported a total of $533 billion in sales representing a 23% gain over 2014, and the second highest level of investment volume over time behind the peak $573 billion in activity seen in 2007. Further, the Moody’s/RCA CPPI has given an initial estimate of 12% year over year price appreciation in 2015. These trends are more likely than not to persist throughout 2016 for several reasons. First, global pressures will have two effects:  One, keeping interest rates low (despite the best intentions of the Federal Reserve) and keeping foreign money flowing to the United States, a decent amount of which will flow to real estate. Second, fundamentals are strong – in fact, many markets in almost all property type segments experienced rising lease rates and falling occupancies for most of 2015 and are forecast to continue such growth. Third, new supply remains balanced with demand growth and thus oversupply seems unlikely. The lack of increasing new supply given the growth of rental rates amidst falling vacancies can largely be attributed to rising construction costs and relatively tight lending standards for new development.
What happens in the broader United States macro economy is far more difficult to predict. First, the decline in oil and energy prices is absolutely going to cause highly localized and specific harm to those sectors and in turn cause some level of harm to the real estate markets dependent on energy production, such as those in Texas and the Midwest. Historically, oil price declines acted like a tax break or stimulus package for consumers and businesses and the overall economy thus prospered; since the United States has significantly increased its production of oil and energy following the pre-recession oil price spikes, the effect is less certain today. High price markets like those found in the Northeast and California and parts of Florida are likely to benefit the most from energy price declines as it lowers transit and utilities costs and could boost employment via the stimulus effect.
Overall, we expect that the United States economy will grow more slowly in 2016 than 2015 while still remaining positive and thus avoiding recession. Therefore, we do not see any major risks to the commercial real estate markets as long as fundamentals remain relatively strong.

Investment Outlook

commercial real estate market - chicago
Chicago, IL
Commercial real estate investors who made acquisitions during the downturn are now reaping the benefits of taking such risks. Despite, or in fact, because of these significant gains, many investors and market participants are now openly opining on the possibility of a new downturn in the real estate asset cycle. We do not find such arguments to be very compelling for several reasons. First, many of the causal conditions present before the 2008 economic turmoil are not present in 2016 and are not likely to appear in the near-term horizon. The most meaningful indicator of a potential bubble or overpricing of commercial real estate is the spread between cap rates and underlying treasury rates. According to RCA, cap rates averaged 6.5% nationwide during 2015, while the 10-year treasury rate averaged in the low 2% range for most of 2015 and early 2016. This implies a spread of over 4% (or 400 basis points). Today’s spreads are significantly higher than those observed pre-crash where they averaged slightly below 200 basis points and even below 100 basis points for class A assets in top markets according to the commercial real estate economics researchers at the Lakemont Group. In summary, the market is not presenting the same risk/return profile observed before the 2007 peak of pricing. Further, debt availability is far more constrained post crisis with total leverage utilization down significantly (in fact, the percentage of all equity transactions in many markets is staggering) and therefore the risk of default is relatively low for most investors and deals. Thus, we believe pricing in commercial real estate markets does not represent a new bubble or other significant source of risk.
This conclusion is further strengthened by our belief that interest rates will not experience significant upward pressure in 2016. The energy sector declines and overall global pressures will likely start impacting GDP and employment statistics by the end of the first quarter of 2016.  The likely result will be the Federal Reserve slowing or even pausing further rate increases in 2016. Debt markets should remain open and active in 2016 as they did in 2015. If debt costs do not rise and fundamentals remain stable or growing (even if at slower rates than in 2015), it is not logical to expect price declines. In fact, we expect modest price appreciation for most markets.

Top Markets for Property Sales in 2015

(Ranked in terms of total dollar volume)
  1. Manhattan – $55.9B
  2. Los Angeles -$27.6B
  3. Chicago – $22.6B
  4. Dallas – $19.5B
  5. Atlanta – $16.9B
  6. Boston – $16.4B
  7. Seattle – $14.9B
  8. San Francisco – $14.3B
  9. San Jose – $12.5B
  10. Phoenix – $12.1B
Source: Real Capital Analytics
The list of top markets for commercial real estate sales in 2015 appears relatively similar to lists for the past 5 years with the new additions of Phoenix and San Jose. These markets attract institutional capital from private equity, REITs, and foreign buyers and have been the most competitive to find deals, especially with attractive yields. Overall, given the increasing level of global macroeconomic uncertainty, we expect these and related top tier markets to gather an increasing share of commercial real estate investment activity in 2016 as money moves to areas of perceived lowest risk.

Top Growth Markets for Property Sales in 2015

(Ranked in terms of YOY percentage increase in sales volume)
  1. DC/Virginia Burbs – 121%
  2. Baltimore – 71%
  3. Orange County – 70%
  4. Northern New Jersey – 69%
  5. Seattle – 68%
  6. Orlando – 68%
  7. Portland – 61%
  8. Central California – 60%
  9. Inland Empire – 58%
  10. Phoenix – 54%
Source: Real Capital Analytics
The above list of markets may present some of the best opportunities for growth and price appreciation given their relative strength. Capital is starting to rotate to these markets and further price increases may potentially follow. There will likely be expansion in cap rate spreads between primary and secondary markets in 2016, especially if foreign capital flows increase as predicted and those funds seek assets predominantly in only the largest markets. Thus, yield-seeking investors will likely find the best opportunities in the non-top tier markets (such as most of those on the list above).
Miami - commercial real estate market
Miami, FL
Beyond market, property sector is equally important in terms of forecasting investment performance. According to RCA, the apartment sector has been the top performer, up 38% from the peak (defined as Q4 ’07), followed by office, up 18% from the peak. Retail and industrial have lagged at -1% from peak and up 3% from peak respectively but performed well in recent years. We find it impractical to give overall guidance for property sectors on a nationwide basis and encourage investors to work with Advisors who are knowledgeable about each sector in their respective market as finding the best performer can be challenging. Industrial properties offer a prime example of such quandaries – industrial real estate in energy markets should face decreased space demand as that sector contracts in 2016. By contrast, industrial distribution facilities in areas of high population growth (like Florida) may over-perform as retailers shift distribution from stores to warehouses as online sales continue to dominate.

Trends to Watch

Perhaps the most discussed trend in commercial real estate in recent years has been the Millennials, the age cohort who are changing work and living arrangements across the nation. A relatively less covered demographic trend of greater size and perhaps importance is the aging population. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and analyses by the Lakemont Group, the overall population in the United States is forecast to grow by 11.55% in the next 15 years while the population above the age of 75 is forecast to grow 69.21%. In fact, those over 75 years old will represent almost 10% of the population by 2030 (those above 65 will be over 20% as well). While many real estate market participants correctly use these statistics to justify the need for more senior housing, there are actually many other real estate  opportunities to service this growing segment of the population. Market rate apartments with features and locations this demographic wants, can use, and can afford is one such example. Properties to house medical services and activity retail is another. We encourage investors to think long-term when making acquisition, disposition, and asset management decisions. This is one long-term trend that could shape demand for many property types for decades into the future.

Concluding Thoughts

2016 has started with higher levels of volatility in United States equity markets as a result of justifiably significant fears of global economic pressures causing falling demand domestically. While some investors are taking a fearful stance, we see a different outcome. It is probable that global uncertainty will serve to keep interest rates low and allow for growth of fundamentals in the commercial real estate markets and in the broader domestic economy. Furthermore, even in the event of a domestic economic slowdown, the global uncertainty could lead to lower interest rates and even greater inflows of foreign capital, supporting the domestic commercial real estate market (the current risk / reward proposition of U.S. investment is unbeatable).
Commercial Real Estate Market - Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA
If such occurs, it is likely for 2016 to be another strong year for commercial real estate transaction volume, net operating income growth, and even price appreciation; however, expect all to grow at a slower rate in 2016 than in 2015. Investors and property owners should be aware that today’s commercial real estate economy has little in common with previous downturns. As such, we believe that the risk and return profile of commercial real estate is still attractive in 2016 and is likely to remain so for at least the near-term horizon.

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Hood Canal Real Estate – – Correct Renovation Strategy

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Justin Pierce is a real estate investor and real estate agent who regularly writes about his experiences buying, renovating and selling houses in the Washington area.
Back in May, I was presented with a little house in Alexandria.  The house was vacant and, of course, it was in really rough shape.  It was also very small with only two bedrooms, one bathroom and a dated layout that would not appeal to the modern buyer.
This little rambler had less than 900 square feet of living space on the main level.  It was originally built on a crawl space but someone along the line had dug it out and created a full basement complete with cement block walls and poured concrete slab.  However, the only real access to the basement was a steep stair well under a storm door on the outside of the house.  There was also a hatch access in the floor in one of the closets but it was cramped and the ladder was steep.
My first thought for this house was to do a pop-top renovation.  We’d remove the roof completely, add a second floor, thereby creating a nearly 1,800-square-foot Colonial-style house with a modern layout on all levels and full interior stairs.
In this scenario, my total costs would have been somewhere around $406,000 and the house would be worth around $480,000. I estimated profit would have been about $73,000.  However, this project would take a significant amount of time, probably around nine months from purchase to sale, possibly more.  And this type of project is always fraught with risk.  You can never be sure what hurdles the county building department will put in front of you or structural issues that might arise.
Even more worrisome is the fact that there were no real comparable sales in the area.  The neighborhood was full of ramblers.  There were very few two-level Colonials and none of them had sold recently.  Without those solid comps to fall back on I can never be sure what value an appraiser will put on a house.  In cases like that, appraisers will either go out of the area to get comparables and you’re never really sure which area they’ll choose or they’ll use a square foot cost to adjust for the size difference of the comps in the area.
Either of those scenarios leaves a lot to the appraiser’s discretion and a lot of possible outcomes.  Many possible outcomes equal uncertainty which is something we don’t like in this business.
My other option was to just do a simple renovation, keeping the home layout as is and just redoing the bathroom and kitchen and new flooring and paint.  The house needed new siding, a roof and windows as well.  In this scenario, I estimated a total profit of about $13,000 which is dangerously low.  There are almost always additional costs in any project and it really left no cushion on the sales price or room for error.  If I had to come down on my end sales price at all I would be in trouble.  I also felt the house would be tough to market with its current layout.  On the bright side, however, the project would be very quick.  I could have this one done and be moved on to the next one in just a couple months.
But there was a third option.  We could maintain the house’s foot print and keep it as a simple rambler.  However, we would modify the interior layout, adding full interior stairs to the basement and a second bathroom.  Then we could get a legal bedroom downstairs and then market it as a three-bedroom, two-bath house which is much more appealing to families.  I estimated my total costs would be around $310,000 and there were pretty good comparable sales in the area that made me confident I could get about $380,000 for the house — leaving me with a profit of about $47,000.
This seemed to be a good middle ground.  The potential profit was there with plenty of cushion to keep me in the black and even though it would require quite a few building permits it would still be relatively quick and easy.
So with that decision we set to work. My contractor had the project completed in about 10 weeks, which was perfect because it was just in time for the fall market.
Typically, I really like the fall market.  Right after Labor Day, the buyers seem to come out and the housing market is normally pretty healthy until late October or early November.  But this year seemed different.  Most of September seemed very slow and I wasn’t seeing the little market pop that I normally expect in September.  Other real estate agents confirmed seeing the same thing in most areas around the city.
After several weeks on the market, my house had no offers or real serious interest.  I originally priced the house at $385,000, which I had thought was going to be a steal since one very similar house had recently sold for $400,000. My house just sat.  The traffic was pretty good but most people said it was too small for them.
By this time a couple of Colonials had come on the market and sold and another investor around the corner had just started a pop-top renovation.  I started thinking I should have gone with option one and added a second level to the house.
Getting top dollar for your house is all about appealing to the buyers who are out at the time and the buyers who were out when I listed this house seemed to be interested in more square footage.  So I probably didn’t make the optimal choice in hindsight.
I’m not in the business of holding houses so I did a significant price drop to $365,000 and immediately got a contract on the house at asking price.
The fall market pop did eventually come this year but it seemed to have come late.  After I got the house under contract I had several people call on it with a lot of interest.  It’s always hard to judge or time the market and most times you just follow your gut and or play the odds.  Luckily, real estate isn’t like Vegas.  You don’t either win big or lose big.  If you know what you’re doing you’ll either win big or you’ll just win.  In this case I just won.
In the end, I netted about $20,000 of profit on this deal and my investor who provided most of the funds made more than $25,000 — well over an 18 percent annualized return on her money.  So even though profit was not as high as it probably could have been it was still a good little deal and we gave the home buyer a very good value, which is also a win.

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Hood Canal Real Estate – – The 10 Most Shocking Numbers for 2015.

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The 10 Most Shocking Numbers in NWMLS's 2015 Summary

Image: SounderBruce
NWMLS recently sent out their annual summary of the year that was in Western Washington real estate. We probably don't need to tell you that most of those numbers are up, up, up. Especially if you've been trying to buy a house all year long. We perused the report, which was chocked full of numbers, and picked out some of the most shocking, revealing and fascinating numbers within.
1. 2015 saw 88,331 closed sales amongst NWMLS members in 2015, up 14.3 percent from 77,276 in 2014.
2. The value of every NWMLS member single-family home & condo sale was over $34 billion, up almost 23 percent from 2014.
3. Both of those numbers are higher than the previous highs of 2007 when the housing market peaked (don't ask what happened after that...).
Image: AAG
4. Average area-wide supply was 2.4 month, down from the 3.5 months number of 2014. King County was the lowest of all, averaging only 1.3 months of supply. 4-to-6 month supply is considered a balanced housing market.
5. 2,676 single family homes sold at $1 million or more, which was up over 29 percent from 2014. Add 237 condos priced at $1 million and up in as well.
6. The median price for a 3-BR home was $283,250, about 7.9 percent higher than 2014. Highest median price for 3-BRs came courtesy of San Juan County with $452,500.
7. Six of every 10 condo sales (61.9 percent) were located in King County.
8. As well as older sales did, new construction sales did even better. 8,548 newly-built single family homes sold for a median price of $425,000 while 1,018 new condos sold for a median price of $449,950.
9. The highest-priced single family home sold in 2015 by a NWMLS member?This $13.8 million Mercer Island estate. Topping the chart of high-priced condos was an Escala 3-BR that went for just over $3.1M.
10. There was a tie atop the list of cities with the most $5M+ home sales. Mercer Island and Bellevue both saw seven, while Clyde Hill (5), Medina (4) and Seattle (4) were close behind.

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Hood Canal Real Estate – – New Home Sales Soar in December!

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Americans rushed to buy new homes in December at the strongest pace in 10 months, with 2015 marking the strongest year for this segment of the housing market since 2007.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales surged 10.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000. It was the third consecutive monthly gain since sales collapsed in September. The increase nearly pulled the sales rate even with the level of 545,000 in February 2015 and points to continued momentum for real estate and construction in the opening months of this year.
"This is a promising sign for the housing market as we move into 2016," said Tian Liu, chief economist at Genworth Mortgage Insurance. "We expect the strong increase in new home sales to continue as the fundamentals in the housing market remain strong and newer vintage homes are in short supply."
Sales of new homes accelerated sharply in 2015, rising 14.5 percent on the entire year to 501,000. Steady job growth that cut the unemployment rate to a healthy 5 percent has given many homebuyers increased confidence, while relatively low mortgage rates improved affordability. Yet sales of new homes continue to run below the 52-year historic average of 655,200, a sign of the severe hit absorbed by the market after the housing bubble burst.
Builders responded to the demand by increasing construction. Over the course of 2015, ground breakings rose 10.8 percent to 1.1 million. Yet supplies main relatively low with only 5.2 months' inventory of new homes available, down from 5.6 months in November. The industry generally considers six months' supply to be healthy.
New-home sales climbed strongly in the Northeast, Midwest and West in December. They were nearly flat in the South — the country's largest housing market.
The median new-home sales price fell 4.3 percent from a year ago to $288,900. But Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at the real estate firm Trulia, cautioned that this doesn't necessarily mean that affordability has improved for first-time buyers.
Only 19 percent of new-home sales were below $200,000 in 2015, a decrease from 23 percent in 2014.
"This is likely due to a combination of low inventory of new starter homes and fewer first-time homebuyers," McLaughlin said.
Still, lower borrowing costs have helped reduce cost pressures and encourage sales, a trend likely to run through this year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.81 percent last week from 3.92 percent a week earlier. Rates have historically averaged 6 percent, meaning that interest expenses are relatively low for homebuyers.
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Hood Canal Real Estate – Pests in Your Home

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Common Pests and Your Home

The list of new responsibilities can seem overwhelming when you buy a home or become a first-time homeowner. One responsibility that tends to get overlooked until it becomes a larger issue is that of household pests. A household pest is "a destructive insect or other animal that attacks" your home. Pests range throughout the U.S., but the most common pests are those that have become almost commonplace in our lives. Here are some of the most common pests encountered by homeowners throughout the U.S., and what you can do to help prevent pests in your home.
Most common Spring and Summer Pests:


Termites are generally grouped by their nesting and feeding habits: subterranean, soil-dwelling, dry wood, damp wood and grass-feeding. They feed on dead plant material, generally in the form of wood, leaves, soil and animal dung. Termites can cause significant structural damage to buildings. Those classified as subterranean and dry wood are those that are responsible for the damage to homes.


Ants are the most common household pests in the north central states. They are social insects, and they have a wide variety of nesting habits. Ants can build nests in soil, behind moldings, baseboards and counter tops, and some types nest in decaying or moisture damaged wood. Ants will feed on all types of food, and ant damage varies. Most ants cause little damage, but carpenter ants can weaken wood structures similar to termites, and the majority of ants don't transmit diseases.


Flies are some of the most annoying pests in the home. They land on almost every surface, and their diet includes a wide variety of foods: human food, animal food, animal carcasses, garbage and excrement. Flies also carry germs and diseases. They are known to transfer over 100 pathogens, some of which include salmonella, anthrax, tuberculosis, and the eggs of parasitic worms.


Spiders are generally not harmful and they do feed on other insects like flies and other spiders. Most spiders found in the home are not venomous, but there are some that homeowners don't want to find inside their house. The Black Widow and Brown Recluse are two of the most talked about spiders homeowners do not want to find in their homes. Black Widows can be found throughout the U.S., and Brown Recluse are predominately found in the Midwestern States, most notably Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. All spiders have the ability to travel to all states by ways of hiding in boxes, packages and produce.

Most Common Fall and Winter Pests:

Stink Bugs:

Stink bugs are found throughout the U.S., and most of the time homeowners don't know they have an issue until early fall, when stink bugs turn up on the sunny side of homes where they can warm themselves. During the summer months stink bugs live outside, feeding on fruits, grains and other crops. During the colder months, stink bugs will hide inside walls or in attics and crawl spaces. These bugs get their name from the unpleasant odor they produce when they feel threatened.


Rodents are warm-blooded and are found throughout the U.S. The most common types of rodents are mice and rats. Both rapidly breed and are capable of squeezing through spaces that appear smaller than their bodies. Rodents seek warm shelter in the cold months, particularly mice, who seek food, water and warmth within homes. Generally, if one rodent is found, many more are hiding nearby.

How to Avoid Pests:

Most home pests can be avoided by doing simple, everyday things. As a homeowner, make sure your doors and windows are closed, as these are the most common ways for pests to enter a home. Make sure window and door screens are in good repair or working order. By eliminating moisture buildup in small areas and basements you reduce the risk of creating hospitable environments for pests. Sealing openings in a home's foundation will help reduce access to your home.

Trees harbor pests -- by keeping tree branches trimmed and away from the home you deter pests (especially spiders) from having easy access to your home's roof. Moisture attracts pests -- direct rain water away from the home and foundation to prevent possible moisture buildup. If you have fire wood, store it at least 20 feet away from the house. Flies and other pests are attracted to garbage, so ensuring that garbage cans are sealed tight and all animal deposits are picked up will help reduce the risks of attracting pests into your home. The best deterrent to pests remains a clean, uncluttered home, where food, crumbs, and anything else that has the potential to attract pests is put away, covered or thrown away.

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