5 Thoughtful Staging Tips

I usually recommend staging to my sellers. Most of us do not live in our homes the way we present them on the market. To be honest, we are creating an illusion of peace and calm – the way we all wish we lived!  My husband and I sold a home on Bainbridge when our two sons were still young and active – that translates to messy! Sports gear and legos everywhere. We made a pact with our sons that they could keep selected toys in organized bins in their rooms, and the rest would be packed up for the new house to open; like presents! We made their beds, and they slept in sleeping bags on the floor of their room so we could just roll up the sleeping bags and easily store in their (freshly organized) closets. They loved it – like camping!

A home is a big investment and buyers are often paying over $400 a foot for a home on Bainbridge Island. Let them see the space. Let them visualize their own furniture in a room. Depersonalize enough to let them in, but don’t make it sterile. Staging is critical. I can help you find the balance.

Lose the clutter

Visualize walking into your home from your front door with a fresh eye. Are there shoe bins, backpacks, large furniture pieces? Do they need to be there? How does it feel to walk from room to room; does it flow easily? What if someone has a walker or a cane? Remove the large furniture that blocks the flow from room to room. It is ok to have the garage a bit overstuffed if the house is clear and inviting.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate

Lose the clutter and maximize the living space

Return rooms to their original function

You use your dining room as a billiard room or a TV room. However, buyers generally seek an actual dining room. Dig out that dining set that has been languishing in the garage for the last five years. A fresh coat of paint or seasonal color pillows will make it look great! Give each room a purpose. Buyers can see themselves in your home if they understand the use of each space. While they may use it differently after they move in, draw them in with an inviting space.

Maximize room size

You love your living/family room because it works for you. But perhaps removing one of the two sofas and one of the three recliners will let the room look as large as it actually is. Reduce the number of TV’s you have in your home, especially if they are very large. Think of removing unnecessary drapes or window covering. Staging and lighting reveal the room’s best qualities.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate

Elegantly staged living area by Kim McCall. Note the absence of the TV.

Clean the house

Professional cleaners are worth the money. They see things you don’t. (Buyers will!) Maybe your master bath is slightly dated and not “on trend.” Buyers will know they can live with your sparkly clean bathroom until they are ready to renovate. Invest in new bedding, towels and pillows to complete the fresh look. Stage your master bedroom and bath to feel a bit spa like, as if you were treated to a stay in a nice hotel.


Bainbridge Island Real Estate

This spa like master was professionally staged by Kim McCall

Organize the cupboards, drawers and closets.

If buyers are serious about your home, they will look everywhere.  If clothes and shoes are disorganized, your massive master closet will appear to be too small. Pack up your out of season clothes that you will not need while your home is on the market and put the boxes in the garage. Find a way to take everything off the floor of your closet. Inexpensive shoe racks work wonders.  If plastic containers and lids are falling out of the kitchen cabinets when the doors are opened, it screams “Not enough storage!”


Bainbridge Island Real Estate

This beautifully staged kitchen accents space with color

Weighing The Cost vs. The Benefit of Staging

Staging requires an investment – usually of time more than money. It is worth it because it almost always leads to a quick sale at your target price. I work with clients every day to look at rearranging the furniture they have, adding a few pops of seasonal color and depersonalizing a bit. I also work with professional stagers who do wonders with a vacant home. All buyers begin their home search on line – usually in their PJ’s. A bare room will not photograph well and will not give a sense of space. Will their queen bed fit in this home? Who can tell from a photo of an empty room? I love this part of Real Estate. Let me help you with it!

Posted on May 22, 2018 at 5:09 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Buying and Selling Tips, Uncategorized |

Easy Landscaping Tips for Curb Appeal – and Perhaps a Quick Sale

Easy Landscaping Ideas

Landscaping is the first thing buyers see when they consider purchasing your home. It extends either an invitation or a warning. If the outside of your home is neat and well maintained, it is safe to assume that the inside of the house will reflect that same care. Conversely if the outside is unkempt, buyers will assume that maintenance of the house has been neglected. Take any or all of these five measures to spruce up for that crucial first impression.


Outside areas are key to drawing buyers inside.

Trim, Groom and Rake

In the Northwest we love our rhododendrons, but they should not be blocking the windows. Trim all shrubbery and trees and rake out old leaves from the visible base of all hedges and plants.

Pressure Wash

We get an abundance of unwelcome moss over the winter. I recommend a good pressure wash over all hard landscape surfaces. 


Use an edger to define plant beds, lawn and sidewalks. A good edging will give buyers a clear path to the front door. It’s better than a welcome mat.

Pop the Color

Place seasonal annuals in the front for interest and a bit of whimsy. Place potted plants for visual interest near the front door. Nothing says “come in!” like a friendly display of impatiens.


Clean and colorful edges lure buyers to your front door.

Cover Up

Use brown mulch under all the plants to cover dirt. This is quick, simple and cleans up the look of your front yard dramatically.


We get a lot of rain in the Northwest. Since you are already sprucing things up, add some fertilizer so essential nutrients are replenished and not washed away. This will ensure a fresh and healthy look for your landscaping, as well as the promise of a bright future.


A cozy seating area extends an invitation to stay.

Get Cozy

Outdoor “rooms” can be so appealing. Gather a few chairs with comfortable, colorful cushions and place them around a fire pit. Don’t have a fire pit? They start around $50, and you will probably get some use out of it yourself before the “SOLD” sign goes up.

Don’t sweat the details, but don’t skip them either. Survey your property with an objective eye, and get help if needed. Your realtor can assist you with landscaping recommendations that will save or even make you money in the long run.

Posted on May 21, 2018 at 5:12 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Bainbridge by the Seasons, Buying and Selling Tips, Home Living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

5 Lessons Home Renovations Can Teach You About Yourself

5 Lessons Home Renovations Can Teach You About Yourself


I could spend ages talking about everything there is to learn from remodeling your house: the best types of tile for a shower floor, little details that you shouldn’t overlook when remodeling, tips and tricks for finishing a project on time — you name it.

But a remodeling project, being a rather noteworthy life experience, can also teach you a lot about yourself. No, I’m not talking about your tastes or preferences (for example, you learn that you love the color blue on your walls or you learn that you really just don’t like remodeling). Rather, it can teach you about some characteristics you never knew you possessed, or at least never had the opportunity to focus on — the good and the bad. Here are some things you might learn about yourself.


Home Renovations Bainbridge Island Real Estate

Jane Lockhart Interior Design, original photo on Houzz


You’re more impatient than you thought

Remodeling will — I repeat, will — test your patience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a dedicated yogi who can sit and meditate for hours at a time or a hobbyist who works late into the night tirelessly assembling detailed ships in bottles. Weather delays, unforeseen problems (wait, there’s mold behind that wall?), busy trade schedules — it’s almost impossible to have a remodeling project without a delay or two. And when it’s your project with the delays, you might just find yourself repeating the mantra of kids stuck in the family car during a road trip, “Are we there yet?” Or more specifically, “Are we done yet?”


Home Renovations Bainbridge Island Real Estate

Transitional Sunroom, original photo on Houzz


You’re adaptable

Bathroom remodels and kitchen remodels are notorious for, well, making bathrooms and kitchens unusable while they’re under construction. At the beginning this might seem like a major inconvenience (truth be told, it is!), but by the end you might be thinking “Who really needs a full kitchen?” After all, there are so many small appliances loved by college students and remodeling survivors alike — toaster ovens, microwaves, slow cookers, camping stoves.


Related: Brainstorm Ideas for Your Kitchen Remodel


Bathroom remodels can be easy to work around if you have another bath that isn’t under renovation, or a next door neighbor who is fairly generous, or membership in a gym with clean showers. Remember, creativity and adaptability are your friends. So embrace your inner MacGyver.


Home Renovations Bainbridge Island Real Estate

AMW Design Studio, original photo on Houzz


You want in on the action

It starts small: At first, you’re just chatting with your contractor about the status of your project — normal stuff. But as time goes on, you can’t help but ask questions about the more technical side of things. Some people might find details about tile installation eye-rollingly boring, but you’re intrigued.


Related: Read Reviews to Find the Best General Contractor Near You


Suddenly, you find yourself searching for home improvement how-to books and classes on design. You may even start planning your second project (which you’re considering doing yourself) or looking for houses you think you’d like to flip. Watching your own home transform before your very eyes has been an exciting process, no doubt, and now you’re ready to try your hand at it. Don’t be surprised if at first you just want the process to be over, only to find that you never want it to end.


Home Renovations Bainbridge Island Real Estate

Deville Custom Homes, original photo on Houzz


Your relationships can (probably) weather any storm

If the space you’re remodeling is a place that you share with someone else (whether it be your spouse, children or others), it’s likely that you’ll feel a little more stress than if you were just remodeling your own personal space.

Every stress that you feel about the remodel, they probably feel as well. Every worry you have about budgets and schedules and paint colors, they have too. Pour all that stress into a small group of people who live together, and, well … things can get messy.

But when you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, you realize that all that pressure was worth it, because you and your people have a beautiful new space to use for years to come. It probably took some compromise and communication to get there, but now that you’ve finally made it, you know you’re that much stronger because of it.

Or not. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but what you might discover about yourself is that you can’t collaborate with the person you’re with. Remodeling is like a stress-test on relationships — for good or ill.


Tiffany McKenzie Interior Design, original photo on Houzz


You’re fearless

I’ll tell you this much: It takes a lot of inner strength to not freak out when you see someone you’ve never met come through your front door with a hammer. Remodeling can make some people stronger. Once you see your home demolished before your very eyes by strangers wielding tools and driving heavy construction equipment, your definition of “scary” changes a little.

Obviously, this isn’t an all-encompassing list, nor is it supposed to mean that you will find yourself relating to every point. You may or may not feel the urge to become an amateur remodeler. You might (understandably) still get freaked out at a stranger coming into your home with a hammer. Remodeling is a personal journey, full of personal discoveries and accomplishments and all that good stuff. The only way for you to truly know how it will affect you is for you to experience it yourself. But whatever happens, you will learn more about yourself than you have in a long time.


By Hannah Kasper, Houzz

 Originally Posted in Houzz.com and Living by Houzz.com

Posted on May 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Buying and Selling Tips, Home Living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

6 Dramatic Bathroom Makeovers You Won’t Believe

6 Dramatic Bathroom Makeovers You Won’t Believe

Posted in Houzz.com and Living by Houzz.com

Maybe it’s that 1980s soaking tub with the giant surround, or maybe you’re prepping for resale, or perhaps an overhead flood is to blame. Maybe it’s just time for a change. Whatever the motivation behind them, bathroom renovations are one of the projects homeowners put the most effort and investment into. Here are 6 of the most dramatic before-and-after bathroom stories from Houzz, from budget-friendly to luxe.

Related: Mini Bathroom Makeovers You Can Complete in a Weekend

Bath Makeovers 1: Before Photo, original photo on House

1. The Bathroom That Helped Sell a House in One Day

BEFORE: In this Massachusetts bungalow, over 100 years old, the 1960s bathroom renovation wasn’t offering much help to real estate agents.

Bath Makeovers 2: Copper Dot Interiors, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Interior designer Karen Goodman had resale in mind, as she was redoing the house to flip. But it was important to her to preserve and restore the original 1902 feel. She found a claw-foot tub at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and painted it green, added a wall-hung sink and used subway tile befitting the home’s turn-of-the-century aesthetic. A unique shower curtain adds color and personality, while the classic fixtures have widespread appeal.

Great tip: Goodman shared her philosophy about painting the original wood with Houzz contributor Annie Thornton. “If it’s painted, it’s getting painted. If it’s wood, it’s staying wood,” she said. “It wasn’t my place to decide what should be wood and what shouldn’t be in a place I don’t plan to call home.”

Shower curtain: Danica Studio; tub paint: Moss Green Rust-Oleum spray paint; claw-foot tub: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Bath Makeovers 3: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

2. Dilapidated 1970s Bathroom Gets Inspiration From a Dilapidated Mansion

BEFORE: The state of the bathroom in this 1912 Colonial-style home in New Jersey was sending the whole family up to the third floor to use the facilities because they couldn’t stand the cracked tiles, 12-inch-high tub, awkward layout and dated colors in the main bath. While walking through a once-grand old house during an estate sale and seeing its fabulous colors and tile patterns, homeowner Jody Suden had a clear vision for the bathroom makeover in her own home.

Bath Makeovers 4: Tracey Stephens Interior Design Inc, original photo on Houzz


AFTER: Interior designer Tracey Stephens worked closely with Suden to help her achieve her vision, using classic fixtures and completing lots of complicated tile drawings to get the details just right. The tiles are based on historical patterns and colors and were handmade in Arkansas by American Restoration Tile.

The overall style suits the home’s age and style, mixing mint green, white and black with vintage apothecary style.

Great tip: Even if you have a strong idea of what you want your room to look like, hiring a designer is key — you just have to find one who gets it. Suden told me she couldn’t have done it without Stephens, who told me she considered herself the “midwife” helping Suden achieve her vision.

Bath Makeovers 5: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

3. The Bathroom Where 2 Doctors Take Deep Soaks After Long Days

BEFORE: This Cincinnati bathroom was dark, dated and awkwardly laid out. Because of a lack of smart storage, the countertop had become a magnet for clutter.

Bath Makeovers 6: Ryan Duebber Architect, LLC, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Architect Ryan Duebber stole about 16 inches in length for the bathroom from the master bedroom, then moved the toilet to the back of the room. This allowed space for a spacious shower and a Japanese soaking tub.

The sapele wood at the back of the room draws the eye and makes the room look deeper, while a new skylight, lots of reflective white, clear glass, a floating vanity and a strategic lighting scheme bathe the room in light. (For example, check out the glow on the floor provided by the LED tape lights underneath the vanity.) In addition, there’s a place to store everything so the counters can stay clean, maintaining the minimalist look the homeowners love.

Great tip: Having a specific place for everything you use in the bathroom will keep the clutter at bay. Give it a lot of thought early on in the design process. Where will your hairdryer go? Which products do you use every day in front of the mirror? Are you a toothbrush-out or a toothbrush-put-away kind of person?

Bath Makeovers 7: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

4. Saving the Best for Last

BEFORE: These San Francisco parents worked on the spaces the whole family could enjoy before tackling their awkward master bathroom.

Bath Makeovers 8: Hulburd Design, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: Taking over an unused terrace space gave architect Holly Hulburd plenty of room to work in a new bathtub, a generous separate shower stall and a long vanity complete with dressing table. The room is a study in lines and scale, from the way the tub surround extends into a shower bench to the careful use of different sizes of rectangular tiles.

Great tip: When using strong lines, lining things up is important. In order to have the tiles meet the ceiling and floor without any cuts, Hulburd dropped the ceiling a little to make the geometry work.

Bath Makeovers 9: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

5. The Bathroom That Makes the Most of Burgundy Floor Tiles

BEFORE: For the 2012 D.C. Design house, Christopher Patrick decided to embrace the existing tile and plumbing configuration in order to stick to a budget.

Bath Makeovers 10: Christopher Patrick Interiors, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: He chose a neoclassic wallpaper that complemented the burgundy tones in the floor, and added a more modern vanity to blend old and new.

Setting the sink and mirror asymmetrically on the right side of the vanity left ample room on the counter.

Great tip: Don’t get stuck in a bathroom design rut. Patrick had an “antibathroom” attitude, styling the room more like a living room or den and adding open shelves instead of a typical medicine cabinet.

Bath Makeovers 11: Before Photo, original photo on Houzz

6. Adding Laundry Makes Way for a Guest Room in a Toronto Pied-à-Terre

BEFORE: The converted loft in this 1905 eyeglass factory offered a decent-sized laundry room that didn’t get much use, but it didn’t have an extra bedroom. By integrating the laundry into the bathroom, there’s now room for guest bunks in the former utility room.

Bath Makeovers 12: Affecting Spaces, original photo on Houzz

AFTER: This shows the opposite wall from the one in the “before” photo; to see the complete makeover, click over to the story. Architect and designer Gillian Lazanik removed a linen closet and planned a layout that made the most of the space. This included room for a stackable washer-dryer and a new walk-in shower stall with a clear glass divider that opens up the room.


By Becky Harris, Houzz

Posted on April 23, 2017 at 8:47 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |

Green Building Resources

Residential single family home inventory is very low in Kitsap County this Spring, so people are turning to building as an option. Newer concepts are being explored such as how to build a home where you can age in place, and building green.

Here are a few resources for Building Green:

American Institute of Architects: Offers resources for anyone seeking information about Architects: www.aiaseattle.org

Built Green: Master Builder Association King COunty: www.builtgreen.net

EcoCool Remodel Tool: King County’s one stop shop for green remodels and resources: www.ecocoolremodel.com

EcoHaus: Agreen home improvement store located at 4121 1st Ave Seattle: www.ecohaus.com

Energy Star: An EPA/Federal government-backed program helping consumers through Tax Incentives: www.energystar.gov

Energy Star Northwest: A regionally specific program funded by the EPA: www.nothwesternergy.com

Green Pages: A directory from the Northwest Ecobuilding Guild of green contactors and materials. Publications are available at EcoHaus, The RE Store and Second Use: www.greentools.com

Home Performance Wahsington: An association of Washington State businesses offering whole house energy efficiency, comfort and indoor air quality review and services: www.homeperformancewashington.org

Home Resource Network of Seattle: A contractor referral network specializing in greem remodels. www.HRNseattle.com

King COunty On-Line Materials Exchange:www.your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/exchange/index.asp

PSE Energy Advisor: Energy specialists assisting PSE residential and business customers. www.pse.com/solutions/foryourhome/pages/energyAdvisors.aspx

Re-Store: Salvaged building materials and building deconstructive services, located at 1440 NW 52nd St, Seattle www.re-store.org

Second Use: Recovers reusable building materials from their remodeling and demolition projects. 7953 2nd Ave South Seattle www.seconduse.com



Posted on March 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |

Why is home inventory so low?

Associated Press
The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 million at the end of 2012, an 8.5% drop from November.

Home sales in December dropped by 1% from November, the National Association of Realtors reported on Tuesday, but still stood nearly 13% above the levels of one year ago. That means home sales have risen from the year-ago month for 18 straight months.

For 2012 as a whole, sales were up 9% to 4.65 million units, the highest annual total since 2007.

Prices, meanwhile, are picking up because the number of homes for sale continues to drop despite the sales volume gains. The number of homes for sale fell to 1.82 million at the end of 2012, an 8.5% drop from November and a 21.6% decline from one year earlier, the Realtors’ group said on Tuesday.

Here’s a breakdown of why inventory has continued to drop this year:

Many homeowners are underwater: More than 10 million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to CoreLogic Inc. CLGX +0.82%That pencils out to around 22% of homeowners with a mortgage, or 15% of all homeowners (since not every homeowner has a mortgage). Underwater owners aren’t likely to sell unless they need to move due to changing life (marriage, divorce) or financial circumstances, and they’ll take a hit on their credit for pursuing a short sale, where the bank allows the home to sell for less than the amount owed. Data from CoreLogic show that inventory has been the most constrained in housing markets where there’s the largest concentration of underwater borrowers.

Others don’t have enough equity to “trade up”: Another 10 million homeowners have less than 20% equity in their current residence, meaning they can’t easily “trade up” to their next house. Traditionally, homeowners have relied on home equity to make the down payment on their next home, and to pay their real-estate agent to sell their current home and buy their next one. These “under-equitied” homeowners—meaning they don’t have enough equity to make a move to a more expensive home—have added to the drag on inventory.

Everyone wants to buy at the bottom, but few want to sell: Even those people who do have plenty of home equity are likely reluctant to sell if they think prices will be higher tomorrow. Would you sell your largest asset today if you thought it might be worth 5% more next year? This helps explain why markets such as Denver and Dallas, which didn’t have huge housing bubbles and thus had smaller shares of underwater borrowers, have also seen double-digit inventory declines.

More purchases from investors of all stripes: From the big institutional investors that have been grabbing all the headlines, to the mom-and-pop landlords that have traditionally played a much larger role renting out homes, investors have increasingly bought homes that can be rented out rather than flipped and resold for quick profits. This is further keeping inventory off the market in two ways: homes that are bought at courthouse foreclosure auctions never show up on multiple-listing services when they’re initially sold. They’re also held out of the for-sale pool because they’re being rented out.

Banks have been slower at foreclosing: Banks and other companies that process delinquent mortgages have had trouble proving that they’ve followed state law in taking title to homes ever since the “robo-signing” scandal surfaced in late 2010, and they’ve also had to meet a host of new state and federal rules governing loan modifications and foreclosures from settlements spawned by the robo-scandal. Banks have also become better about approving short sales and loan modifications, which has curbed the flow of foreclosed properties onto the market.

Builders have been putting up fewer homes: Housing starts were severely depressed from 2009 through 2011 and have only recently rebounded off of those low levels. Consequently, there’s been much less new home inventory being added to the market at a time when demand (boosted by increases in household formation) is picking up. If more homes are held off the market—for any of the five reasons above—you can bet that builders will move in to fill the void.

Many of these factors that have been dragging down inventory aren’t signs of “normal” or “healthy” housing markets—but then, we probably haven’t had a normal market for around a decade now. If anything, declining inventory shows that normal supply-and-demand dynamics are returning, which is an important step towards putting a floor under home prices and giving markets time to get back to health.

Follow Nick @NickTimiraos

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 11:54 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |

2013 was a good year for Real Estate!






2013: Another Good Year for Housing


Posted in  Market NewsbyMatthew Gardner


Well, the time has come again to polish up the old crystal ball, gaze into it, and see what's in store for the housing market in 2013.

Having spent long hours staring into the mists, it appears as if this year will be about as easy to predict as last year. Not because of any fundamental change in the housing market itself – although I so see plenty of adjustments afoot – rather the future is clouded because of the prevailing fractured political environment.

That said, here is what I am looking for this year.

1. Interest rates are likely to stay at close to historic lows at least through the middle of this year. Inasmuch as there are some mumblings from members of the Federal Reserve relative to a slowing down in Qualitative Easing (which is basically the printing of money which is then added to the economy in order to stimulate growth) before the end of the year, I do not see this as putting rapid upward pressure on interest rates in the near-term. That said, I do think that they will start to come off their current lows, so now may well be a good time to lock in.

2. Housing prices have bottomed out and we will continue to see appreciation in values across the board in 2013. The caveat here is that we are unlikely to see the kind of upward pressure in values that was seen in 2012. Unless we see a rapid increase in inventory levels, look for more modest price increases – but increases we will certainly see.

3. In 2012, many were heralding the veritable tsunami of foreclosed homes that were certain to come to market and cause a rapid reversal in price gains. This, of course, did not happen. Many may remember the huge numbers that were being bandied around as to the number of foreclosed homes that were supposedly heading our way. I personally heard numbers as high as five million units. Now that the smoke has cleared somewhat, the numbers are becoming a little clearer.

With a shadow inventory of around 2.3 million units of pending supply, I am actually not too worried at all. We need to get these homes to market and sold, and we will. It's just a matter of how long it will take. With over half of these homes delinquent, but not yet subject to foreclosure proceedings, I believe there will continue to be a shadow well into 2014.

That said, demand from the investment community, as well as from buyers who are not finding sufficient choice in the non-distressed market, should continue to reduce the number of distressed properties.

4. Household formations should start to increase but this will not be enough to get the homebuilding industry back into full swing. Many builders are still uncertain, and while they see a supply/demand imbalance in the market, they have not yet pulled the trigger and gotten back to full production. This is likely to remain the case in 2013.

5. There are several buyer groups that are expected to make an entry into the market in 2013.

Entry level buyers – First-time homebuyers have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a sign that we’re at the bottom. As they hear about price increases in their desired neighborhood(s) they are likely to rush to become homeowners.

Move-up buyers – The price appreciation that has occurred in the last year has already lifted over one million underwater homeowners above water, with future price appreciation to lift them even more. Look to see many of them considering trading up.

Move-down buyers – Empty nesters and retirees, who still have equity in their existing home, will think about buying a home that is more suitable to their current lifestyle. This may, or may not, include adult children as well as their aging parents.

Investors – Investors and, yes, even flippers, will continue to grow in numbers as they realize housing is the best risk-adjusted return on their money.

The recovery in the housing market has been a very long time coming, but I believe that it is here to stay, and all things being equal, I expect 2013 to be another good year.

Have a fantastic year!







Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:36 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |

New Finance Legislation




Windermere Blog




How new finance legislation affects home owners, buyers and sellers


Posted inMarket NewsbyEdward Krigsman


Many home owners, buyers, and sellers have been carefully watching the new federal finance package passed on January 1, 2013 by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. This is because it included automatic tax increases as well as federal spending cuts that involve real estate programs.

Many important real estate programs were extended, albeit for a limited time. Therefore homeowners, buyers and sellers should pay attention to these new time periods when planning financially.

Components of the legislation most likely to impact real estate decisions:

  • Capital gains tax exclusions for sale of a principal residence remain in place. This benefit protects up to $500,000 of capital gain ($250,000 for individual filers). However, home sellers with incomes of $450,000 ($400,00 for individual filers) or above and where the gain on the sale of their home is above $500,000 will now pay taxes on the excess capital gains at a higher tax higher rate.
  • Key provisions of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act are extended through January 1, 2014. This provides financial relief in the form of lower taxes for home owners or sellers who have a portion of their mortgage debt forgiven by their lender. For sellers, this forgiveness occurs through a form of a short sale or foreclosure. For home owners, this relief comes in the form of a loan modification.

Without this extension, any debt forgiven would become taxable. Home buyers will benefit from this extension since it will likely result in a greater number of short sales and foreclosures being available for sale, as underwater sellers are more incentivized.

  • Deductions for mortgage insurance for filers earning below $110,000 are extended to through 2013. Mortgage insurance—usually paid for by home buyers—allows home buyers who have less money to put down to qualify for better loans. Home buyers with qualified residences will be able to continue to deduct the cost of this mortgage insurance. This benefit is also retroactive through 2012.
  • The 10 percent tax credit for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013. This credit, which is limited to $500, applies to existing homes and is also retroactive through 2012.
  • Capital gains on real estate contributed by home owners for conservation are extended through 2014. Increased contribution limits and carry-forward periods for contributions of appreciated real property will be maintained.
  • The first $5M in individual estates and $10M for family estates are now exempt from estate tax. Tax rates in excess of these figures have increased. This will benefit the heirs.

Other changes—such as new estate tax exemptions and an increased capital gain tax rate for those earning more than $450,000 ($400,000 for individuals)—may also impact real estate decision-making. As always, home owners, buyers, and sellers are advised to seek the advice of a qualified tax advisor before making major financial decisions, including the decision to buy or sell real estate.













Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:27 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |

2012 Bainbridge Home Stats

Finally, positive news in home stats to share! After 4 years of declining home prices Bainbridge Island, median home prices were UP 6% in 2012. The number of home sales  for the year far exceeded the expectation of most people, topping unit sales well above the high of 2007, but equity has slow to return, until now.

Bainbridge Single Family homes for sale is at an almost all time low of about 100 homes ( total 149, with 49 under contract). We have not seen this low an inventory since about 1989.

With interest rates remaining at historic lows, inventory at historic lows and prices showing an increase, I believe we can say our decline is behind us. If you are thinking of putting your home on the market, and have been waitng, NOW is the time.



Filename: 4th Qt 2012 Stats                  
        2012 December Stats          
          December   December        
  December % Sold % Average % Median % Jan-Dec % November
  Sold Change Jan-Dec Change Price Change Price Change Median Change Median
2012 34 79% 386 50%       485,085 -16%      422,500 -16%        524,650 6%     540,000
2011 19 -27% 257 1% 578,158 -24% 500,000 -12% 493,000 -9% 510,000
2010 26 8% 254 19% 762,156 21% 567,000 12% 541,000 -1% 524,500
2009 24 85% 214 14% 631,361 32% 505,000 18% 546,000 -7% 522,000
2008 13 -13% 187 -44% 479,000 -31% 427,000 -29% 589,000 -13% 507,500
2007 15   332   692,957   602,112   680,000   695,000
          November Stats          
          November   November        
  November % Sold % Average % Median % Jan-Nov % Oct
  Sold Change Jan-Nov Change Price Change Price Change Median Change Median
2012 21 24% 352 48%       646,114 -5%      540,000 6%        536,750 9%     602,500
2011 17 6% 238 5% 679,294 28% 510,000 -3% 493,000 -9%     475,000
2010 16 -11% 227 19% 530,978 -11% 524,500 0% 539,000 -2% 420,000
2009 18 13% 191 10% 597,462 -1% 522,000 3% 549,000 -8% 495,000
2008 16 -16% 174 -45% 604,533 -26% 507,500 -27% 598,000 -12% 620,000
2007 19   317   813,483   695,000   680,000   764,000
          October Stats          
          October   October        
  October % Sold % Average % Median % Jan-Oct % Sept
  Sold Change Jan-Oct Change Price Change Price Change Median Change Median
2012 38 73% 331 50%       708,701 24%      602,500 27%        535,000 10%                 –  
2011 22 69% 221 5% 569,792 34% 475,000 13% 487,500 -10% 402,250
2010 13 -43% 211 22% 426,231 -28% 420,000 -15% 540,000 -2% 568,825
2009 23 92% 173 9% 589,902 -9% 495,000 -20% 549,000 -9% 492,500
2008 12 9% 158 -47% 648,781 -36% 620,000 -19% 606,000 -11% 632,500
2007 11   298   1,009,091   764,000   680,000   771,000





Posted on January 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |

Helpful Apps

I know, there is an App for everything these days! I have decided to post some Apps that I think might be of interest to you when I come across them. This list is from the October/November issue of AARP magazine-yes, I am old enough to receive AARP and I have found some great ideas in it. Hope these are useful for you!



  • Helps you learn if you can get a better deal elsewhere on almost everything.
  • How it works: You scan the barcode of an item, and the app shoots back prices from competing stores and online merchants. See a better price? Use the app to buy the item, and some stores will have it waiting when you arrive. Bonus trick: Scan a books bar code and the app finds nearby libraries with a copy.



  • Organizes online shopping e mail such as order confirmations and shipping information.
  • How it works: You provide up to 5 addresses where you get e mail and the app sorts through your in boxes to gather and organize all your shopping related messages, including receipts for online prucahses and vouchers from daily deal sites.


Coupon Sherpa:

  • Helps you seach for and then redeem coupons.
  • How it works: You browse for online or printable coupons by retailer or product type either on CouponSherpa.com or via the mobile app. Take printable coupons to the store the old fashioned way- for mobile coupons just show your phone to the cashier to get the savings.



  • Makes sure you always have your loyalty card data on hand at the check out.
  • How it works: You scan your loyalty cards with your smartphone, then put them away. When you pay for something in a store, the cashier scans your smartphone screen to get your loyality account information. You can also use the app to sign up for other loyality programs.


All information provided by Jean Chatzy from AARP October/November 2012 issue Money section.



Posted on October 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm
Susan Grosten | Posted in Uncategorized |