We are officially two days into summer and couldn't be happier about it! Summer fun is something special, but the heat can bring some unforeseen dangers. When preparing for your favorite summer activities, don't forget to follow these safety tips to ensure that you and the whole family has a great time.
1. Understand and Use Sun Protection
Sunscreen and UPF clothing are a necessity when heading outdoors. Educate yourself on the meaning of the SPF numbers and what kinds of sun protection to use for your family. Extremely high SPF numbers aren't necessarily as important as careful coverage on all exposed skin. Also, different activities warrant more sun protection - such as hiking, playing in the water or vacationing near the equator. Make sure you have everything you need to protect against UV rays!
2. Protection against Bugs
Mosquitos are carriers of some of the summer's nastiest diseases such as Lyme & Zika and can be difficult to avoid. Arm yourself with repellents that use deet to keep the mosquitos away. Keep away from wasp & hornet nests and treat any stings immediately.
3. Helmets & Kneepads
When skating, biking or doing all kinds of summer sports, equip your kids and yourselves with bodily protection against falls. Helmets are a non-negotiable for head protection and kneepads are also important to protect from scrapes and burns on hot metal surfaces.
4. Practice Proper Water Safety
A vast number of preventable deaths in the summer are caused by drowning. If you or your kids are enjoying pool activities or water sports, always go in pairs and make sure kids constantly have adult supervision from a good swimmer. Be well equipped with proper flotation devices whenever you are at the pool, lake, ocean or other body of water. In many adult water-related deaths, alcohol is a factor. Avoid drinking before swimming or driving a watercraft. Sun & heat exponentially increase the effects that alcohol has on the body.
As it heats up, plan hydration carefully. Dehydration is no fun and could be deadly if ignored. Bring your own water storage and make sure you have enough for everyone in your party. If you are out on an especially hot day, make some stops in the shade to keep from sweating out too much.
6. Be Extra Careful in the Car
Summer can be a dangerous time on the road due to a number of factors: more road-trippers who are unfamiliar with the area, careless behavior behind the wheel and a heightened amount of bicyclists all sharing the road. So, be extra vigilant when driving. It is also important to practice good maintenance on your car during the summer to reduce any potential issues. Additionally, don't leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle for any length of time. Children are at risk of heat stroke when left in hot cars and this can lead to death.
7. Protect Your Food
Practice good food safety handling techniques during the summer months. Keep foods sealed and covered until they are ready to eat and keep them out of the sun if possible. When cooking outside, make sure meats are properly refrigerated before cooking and heated to the proper temperature before service. Finally, wash your hands often to prevent contamination!
For more summer safety tips, check out Seattle Children's Hospital's exhaustive guide!
Real estate inventory in the Northwest is on the rise again! According to the MLS report, 14,524 new listings were added during May, which is the first time volume was over 14,000 in more than a decade!
Brokers and home buyers alike are encouraged by the figures showing gains in inventory. But, we are still keeping an eye on prices and interest rates steadily increasing, as well. In fact, compared to a year ago, the median sale price for a single family home and condo in May was $420,000, which is 11% higher from the year ago price of $378,475. But with inventory on the rise, it is the best time of year for potential buyers. More listings create more opportunities for buyers. With a broader selection, more buyers can purchase homes regardless of increased prices, slightly higher interest rates, and a higher down payment. Hopefully this is a beginning of a trend!
It appears that continuing bidding wars are contributing to rising prices. Fifteen counties had double-digit price hikes for single family homes and condos combined compared to year ago. For instance, King County median sales price on all homes rose over 16%, from $560,000 to $650,000.
It will be interesting to see how the head tax on businesses in Seattle and retiring boomers will effect the real estate market in the coming year. If companies elect to relocate from Seattle to the Eastside, it is likely that their employees will also make the move. Additionally, Seattle may be too expensive of a city to retire in right now. We may see boomers move away from the city as they retire.
Local Farmers Markets are a beautiful ode to the very best of the Pacific Northwest. From makers to growers, they feature a wide variety of high-quality goods that talented WA folks curate. Check out each market's website for various special events offerings and a list of their specific vendors.
If you live in Seattle, chances are your neighborhood hosts a market on a weekly basis! Check out the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market website for more information.
Thursdays from 3-7pm, the city of Bellevue hosts their Farmer's Market from May to October 11th, 2018. They are open weekly, rain or shine in the parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church! This farmers market only sells products that were grown or made in Washington state.
Marina Park in Kirkland hosts a weekly market on Wednesdays from 2-7pm, between June & Sept. They have over 60 vendors every week!
Tacoma has three weekly markets to enjoy! Their vision is to preserve farmland in Pierce County and provide access to fresh food for all residents.
Tuesdays on the Eastside: 35th & McKinley, 3-7pm
Thursdays on Broadway: 9th & Broadway, 10-3pm
Sundays at Point Ruston: 5005 Ruston Way, 10-3pm
This market is set on the Des Moines Marina waterfront with the spectacular backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. They host the occasional special event including Food Truck-Ins, Kids Day, Safety Day and various live musical performances. Open on Saturdays from 10-2pm!
If you didn't find your city on this list, here is an exhaustive list of PNW Markets!
Is there anything more fun than a summer outdoor movie night? What better way to enjoy the long days of summer than a party with your best friends and your favorite movie! The way we see it, there are 5 ingredients to a fantastic outdoor movie night.
Read on to find out our recipe for successful hosting!
1. The Set Up
First of all, you need a great set up. Find a darker corner of your yard to put the screen & projector. There are lots of great projectors on the market ranging anywhere from $200 - $2000. Regardless of your budget, you're sure to find something to fit your needs!
2. The Seating
Seating can be tricky because everyone has their own preferences on how they like to enjoy movies. It's best to just hit every base! Put out picnic blankets and oversized pillows in front of the screen. This is ideal for kids and teens who want to lay down and totally lounge during the flick. Then, have a variety of seats available for the adults - think camping chairs, rockers, some Adirondacks with excellent padding. And don't forget the ottomans for putting up your feet! Finally, make sure to save room in the back for the "pacers" and those who like to hang out near the snack bar.
3. The Snacks
I don't know about you, but I find that great snacks and beverages are key to a great party. Popcorn is the quintessential movie snack, but let's take it up a notch with a Popcorn Bar. Here is a link to a great site that will walk you through the set up for an amazing popcorn bar. Don't forget the beverages! Take inspiration from the movie you are presenting to create a themed cocktail. And for the under 21 movie-goers, how about a make-your-own lemonade? Start with a basic store bought lemonade drink and let your guests add their favorite flavored syrups!
4. The Ambiance
Ambiance means different things to different people. We suggest putting out blankets and extra pairs of (clean) fuzzy socks for when the temp starts to drop. Hang some twinkle lights around the yard to light the way to the snack and drink table. And keep away unwanted visitors with a few citronella candles!
5. The Games
While you are waiting for it to get dark enough to start the movie (sunset is after 9pm these days) why not break out a few lawn games! Bocce ball, oversized Jenga and badminton are always a hit!
What would you add to this list? Do you have any favorite movies that are best viewed out-of-doors?
Bed sheets are a very personal decision and we all have our own preferences when it comes to their look and feel. However, there are some important things to know when it comes to finding the right set and keeping them looking great for years to come. After all, we spend more than a quarter of our lives sleeping! So, let's invest in good quality linens to get the best night's sleep possible.
Some things to consider when buying new sheets are the climate you live in, what feeling you prefer and how you like your bed styled. These preferences will help lead you to the ideal sheets for your bed!
The three main types of sheet materials are cotton, linen and tencel. All three types can be machine washed and dried without concern. Cotton is naturally breathable and relatively maintenance. Linen is softer than cotton and is light & breathable in the summer. Tencel is a soft material that is made from the eucalyptus plant and regulates body temperature.
The differences in the sheet finish determine a lot about the way they feel. Sateen or satin finish is considered very luxurious. It is a dense weave that has a higher thread count which adds weight and an elegant luster. Plain-weave is a tight weave but with a more matte appearance and a "crisper" feeling than sateen. Plain-weave or percale is very durable and doesn't pill. Finally, a washed finish is currently on-trend! It is soft, light and has a more casual look.
One surprising fact we learned is that a higher thread count does not necessarily indicate quality - it is merely a measure of weight. The more important factors are thread quality, size of yarn fibers and the finish on the sheet.
To reduce wear and tear, have a couple of bedding sets on hand that you can rotate weekly. It is recommended to wash sheets using a mild detergent, once per week, to remove body oils. Also, using a pillow protector prolongs the life of your pillow & pillowcases!
You've done your spring cleaning and purged your closets but now you have piles of old clothes and no idea what to do with them! Nowadays, there are plenty of options on getting a little return when it comes to donating or selling used clothing. We've done the research and here are our recommendations:
Many retailers have started to offer cash or product discounts in exchange for your used clothing items. And often times, it's not limited to their own brands!
Check out these options:
- Bring in gently-worn Eileen Fisher items to one of their stores and receive a $5 rewards card for each piece.
- Levi's will give you a store voucher for 20% off one regular priced item if you bring in clothing or shoes (from any brand) to recycle. This offer is available in-store only.
- H&M, as well as their sister brand & Other Stories, offer a unique discount as well on any brand or condition of unwanted clothing. They partner with I:CO, which is a recycling company, who collect and donate old clothes. H&M will exchange your donation for a 15% off coupon and & Other Stories will provide a 10% coupon.
- Madewell is an excellent place to drop off your old denim of any brand. They sell your donated jeans to Blue JeansGo Green who recycle used denim back into housing insulation. Receive $20 off a new pair of Madewell jeans for your donation!
- If you have well-maintained Patagonia gear that you no longer use, you can trade in those garments at any of their retail locations in exchange for up to $100 of Worn Wear Merchandise Credit.
- The North Face has a program called "Clothes The Loop" that you can contribute to by bringing in clothing or footwear from any brand that is in good condition. You'll receive $10 off your purchase of $100 or more.
There are also online resale platforms that are a good option for those who want more control over the return they get on their clothing. Some of these apps are self-managed and others are managed for you. You aren't guaranteed money back with these apps, but if you have the time, they may be worth the effort!
Here's a quick rundown of some larger online resale platforms:
Poshmark - manage your own online storefront of clothing & acessories
Mercari - manage your own online storefront & sell any kinds of goods
DePop - buy or sell unique clothing items & manage your own online storefront
TheRealReal - only accepts luxury clothing & accessories and they consign on your behalf
ThreadUp - accepts less than 40% of donated items and they consign on your behalf
Household incomes have been on the rise in the United States for a while! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American household income is $57,617 a year. In some metros, more than half of the households earn more than $70,000 per year! The median household income in a city is made up of a number of factors - number of citizens with higher education, a healthy job market and a large concentration of industries that pay higher wages.
The wealthiest metros tend be geographically concentrated. The are located primarily along the East and West Coasts - this includes cities in Alaska and Hawaii.
24/7 Wall Street reviewed income levels in 382 major metropolitans across the U.S. to find the 25 richest cities in America. In the wealthiest cities, median household incomes range from $71,700 to over $100,000 annually. A large number of the wealthiest cities in the US are on the West Coast, and nearly all in California.
The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area of Washington state comes in at #9 in the nation. Here, the median household income is $78,612 and 11% of households earn $200,000 or more per year. In this part of the country, we have a high concentration of adults holding at least a bachelors degree at 42%. Fortunately, we are in close proximity to many high-ranking schools! Jobs in the tech industry tend to pay well and the greater Seattle area is home to some of the largest tech companies in the world. This also factors in to the median household income for the area. Finally, in March, the unemployment rate in our area was 3.9%.
The greater Seattle area is a tech & academic hub, which are two huge factors in determining median household income. We can expect to see these trends continue and hopefully increase the quality of life in our area.
A company in New Jersey called Irene started earlier this year with the goal of enabling seniors to stay in their homes for the rest of their lives by giving them access to their home equity. The idea of freeing up equity for a cash-poor senior homeowner to live off of may be a new idea in the US, but the practice has been around for a long time in Europe. While in countries like Italy & France the transaction is done on a peer to peer basis, Irene is seeking to institutionalize this strategy in the US.
First, Irene employees meet with the senior-aged homeowner who are considering selling their home to the company. The homeowner is then provided with an offer, a home inspection and if they agree, the contract is signed and a closing date is chosen. At closing, Irene pays the homeowner cash in the amount of the original down payment and the company takes the title to the home. Irene also takes over mortgage payments, property taxes, maintenance costs and home insurance costs. All the while, the seller agrees to continue to live in the home until they pass away. Depending on the outstanding mortgage balance, the senior either gets to live in it rent-free or for a small rental cost (paid to Irene). Upon the homeowner passing away, Irene will inherit the home.
With rising maintenance costs, insurance and taxes, it is hard for seniors who have a fixed income to continue to afford the monthly cost of homeownership. This new company is poised to provide unique solutions to allow their clients a safe and secure retirement in their own home.
Irene is currently raising capital from real estate investment companies. They chose to start in New Jersey due to the high property tax rates. Next, Irene will be rolling out into Florida, California and Washington state.
Seattle has an incredible food scene where you can find anything your heart desires and some of our best restaurants also come with the best views in the city.
When it comes to scenery, we have it all - mountains, skyline, & water! Here is a collection of some of our favorite restaurants and the views they boast:
Ray's Boathouse, located in Ballard, is a fresh seafood restaurant where you can watch the sun set behind the beautiful Olympic Mountain Range.
In Wallingford, check out Westward on Northlake Way and watch boats passing by on Lake Union. Their menu includes Mediterranean seafood and snacks.
You can't talk about food and views in Seattle without mentioning Canlis. This iconic restaurant seems to float above Queen Anne Hill - you won't be disappointed.
Dining at Mbar is a unique experiences that emphasizes their awesome rooftop view. From the glass-walled restaurant you can see everything - the Space Needle, Lake Union, Queen Anne & Capitol Hill.
For the best view of Elliott Bay, look no further than Aqua by El Gaucho on Alaskan Way. Every seat inside or outside has a view and the menu itself is loaded with exception steak & seafood offerings.
Down in South Seattle, the former Rainier Beach service station as been transformed into the Stone House Cafe. Enjoy views of Lake Washington while you feast on their all-day breakfast menu!
A special fusion of Korean/Hawaiian cuisine lives at Marination Ma Kai on Alki Beach. The restaurant is accessible by water taxi and has a grand view of the Seattle skyline.
Finally, a bar perched on top of the historic Smith Tower downtown comes with a 360 degree view of the city and it's surrounding landscape. The Smith Tower Observatory Bar has retained much of the original charm and served barrel aged cocktails, oysters & classic drinks.
What are your favorite views in the city? Are there any restaurants you'd add to this list?
Craftsman-style! Is it your favorite, too?? Study suggests that whether or not you prefer it may have something to do with your age.
A recent poll commissioned by Trulia revealed that 43% of respondents picked craftsman as their favorite style of home. Runner-ups include ranch at 41% and colonial-style at 36%. (Note that respondents were able to pick more than one style.)
An interesting aspect of this poll is how age factored into responses. The craftsman-style home is favored by 54% of millennials, but only 28% of baby boomers. Conversely, 52% of boomers preferred the single-story ranch home while just 36% of millennials agreed. Colonial style homes aren't quite as divisive. Roughly one third of all age groups preferred colonials.
Not surprisingly, the average price of a craftsman home accurately reflects it's popularity and demand. According to data from Trulia, they are, on average, $209,300 more expensive than the median US home at about $416,900! A ranch style home brings more bang for your buck, at a median cost of $201,000.
The least favored styles include Georgian, mid-century and Greek Revival!