5 Midcentury Modern Homes That Make the Most of Their Small Design

Midcentury modern homes were small out of necessity. Money was in short supply after World War II, so architects and builders had to keep houses compact yet functional to stay within homeowners’ budgets. At the same time, lifestyles were changing. Smart architects took on a new approach and designed homes with an open feel, which differed greatly from the boxy designs of the previous era.

Related: Why You Should Embrace Your Midcentury Modern Kitchen

 

Midcentury Modern 1: Flavin Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

I’ve been enamored with midcentury modern homes since my childhood in California, where I was privileged to spend time in the intimate houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Mark Mills. Mills was the on-site architect for Wright’s famous Walker House, or Cabin on the Rocks, in Carmel, California, pictured. It was during this time that Mills learned an important lesson from Wright: Reject a larger house in favor of a modest home with flowing spaces and no excess.

The following ideas show how midcentury modern homes beautifully make the most of their space in ways that can easily be incorporated in homes today.

 

Midcentury Modern 2: Wheeler Kearns Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

 

1. Open floor plan.

Above all else, the open floor plan is the defining characteristic of midcentury modern homes. Closed-off rooms gave way to flowing spaces that strung one room to the next to form fluid kitchen, living and dining areas.

In a small home, the key to making the open floor plan work is to understand which rooms need privacy, and when. Of course, bedrooms and bathrooms need separation from the main areas of the home, but it’s also good to consider other areas that need privacy: for example, a study where a parent can work without interruption while the kids play nearby.

In this lake house by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the common areas are located in a centralized area, while the more private areas are off to the side or tucked away on another level.

 

Midcentury Modern 3: Balodemas Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

2. Expanded sightlines.

The tendency of midcentury modern homes to have open floor plans speaks to the elegant details often seen within these houses. Without trying to be too sparse, midcentury designers included functional details in their homes that were as uncomplicated as they were beautiful. Finding the balance between sophistication and openness was in the hands of the architect.

Take, for example, the stairs in midcentury modern homes. In this remodel of a midcentury home by Balodemas Architects, they preserved much of the original stair and design. The riser, or the vertical part that connects the stair treads, was simply left out for a lighter appearance. The stair was no longer in a hall but fully opened up and integrated into a room. Walls were often dispensed with entirely. Instead, partial-height screens inspired by Japanese shoji were used to subtly separate spaces.

 

Midcentury Modern 4: Steinbomer, Bramwell & Vrazel Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

3. An instance to avoid “open.”

While photographs of midcentury modern homes often feature great walls of glass, what’s often not shown, perhaps because they are not as photogenic, are the equally generous opaque walls.

These walls are key to the home’s aesthetic success. They provide a protective backing to the composition, since the opaque side of the home often faces the road, as with this house by Steinbomer, Bramwell & Vrazel Architects. Although the back of the house is open, with lots of glass and a sense of ease between inside and out, the street-facing side would never give that away. An opaque wall creates a boundary to the outside world while extending the perceived size of the home. Walls of glass are expensive, so opaque walls are also an economical design move.

 

Midcentury Modern 5: Flavin Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

4. Everything in its place.

Thoughtful storage is a another key aspect of what makes a small midcentury home completely livable. Most midcentury modern homes, particularly those on the West Coast, had no basements or attics, so storage closets needed to be located among the main living spaces. In part, the answer was to do more with less by having well-designed storage throughout and daily items close at hand, as in this kitchen. This has to be married to an ethic of keeping only what you need and having periodic yard sales.

 

Midcentury Modern 6: Koch Architects, Inc. Joanee Koch, original photo on Houzz

 

5. Display with a purpose.

In a small home with innovative but limited storage, it’s important to have display areas for the pieces that don’t need to be tucked away in drawers or closets. This was done beautifully in midcentury modern homes by integrating display areas as a means of aiding with the potential conundrum of scarce storage.

This restoration by Koch Architects shows this exact notion at work. Every other step in the stair has an integrated bookshelf. This would make a perfect rotating library with a range of titles easily seen while ascending the stair.

 

By Colin Flavin, Houzz

What to Expect in Housing Affordability

What keeps Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, up at night? Housing affordability. As the U.S. Population moves towards both coasts and the Southwest, putting upward pressure on land prices and the value of homes, we will see a greater cost of living, which could directly impact the work force and economies in those areas. Gardner weighs in on how West Coast cities can improve housing affordability through policy and infrastructure changes.

 

Windermere Winter Drive Collects over 3,500 Items for Homeless Youth

 

As part of Windermere’s #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, 38 Windermere offices* in King and Snohomish Counties collected new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for Windermere’s “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. The recipient of these donations was YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area.

An estimated 3,500 items were collected during the four-week drive. We are thankful for the generosity and enthusiasm shown by the participating offices—there was even some competition among them to collect the most items. Taking that title for the most donations was the Windermere Shoreline office which alone collected 665 items! Some of the donations were even hand-made by members of the community, like the 10 sets of hats/scarves knitted and donated to Windermere’s Mercer Island office, and the homemade Seahawks scarves and hats that were donated to the Property Management – South office. These generous donations will go a long way towards helping to keep many homeless youth warmer this winter season.

Jody Waits, Development and Communications Officer at YouthCare, was overwhelmed with excitement by all of the winter gear that was collected: “This is AMAZING! We received a truck – a literal truck – full of donations,” she said, adding, “Windermere’s amazing donations provide homeless youth with cold-weather items they would not be able to afford to purchase on their own. Helping a young person feel warm, dry, and safe, frees them up to focus on achieving other goals, and connecting to their future potential. We are very grateful for Windermere’s partnership with YouthCare.”

We are also incredibly grateful to Gentle Giant Moving Company, who partnered with us for this drive, and generously donated their time and trucks to pick up all of the donated items from our offices and deliver them to YouthCare.

 

Thank you to our participating offices, and all those who donated, for making our winter drive a success!

 

 

*Participating Windermere offices

 

Auburn-Lakeland Hills, Bellevue, Bellevue Commons, Bellevue South, Bellevue West, Burien, Enumclaw, Issaquah, Kirkland Central, Kirkland Yarrow Bay, Kirkland-Northeast, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Property Management - South, Redmond, Renton, Seattle-Ballard, Seattle-Capitol Hill, Seattle-Eastlake, Seattle-Green Lake, Seattle-Greenwood, Seattle-Lakeview, Seattle-Madison Park, Seattle-Magnolia, Seattle-Mount Baker, Seattle-Northlake, Seattle-Northgate, Seattle-Northwest, Seattle-Queen Anne, Seattle-Sand Point, Seattle-Wall Street, Seattle-Wedgwood, Seattle-West Seattle, Services-Marketing, Shoreline, Snohomish, Woodinville

 

9 Options to Remove, Hide or Play Down a Popcorn Ceiling

Don’t love your popcorn ceiling? You’re not the only one stuck with some unwanted stucco overhead. There are many options for moving on from it, but not all of them are equally effective — or equally easy. To help you decide how to address your popcorn problem, here are some top ways to remove, cover or distract from stucco ceilings.

 

Related: How to Decorate Your Ceiling

 

Popcorn Ceiling 1: The Kitchen Source, original photo on Houzz

 

From the 1950s to the 1980s, so-called popcorn ceilings (with their prickly stucco texture resembling the popular movie theater snack) were a major architectural staple in America and many other nations.

Eventually the asbestos commonly used in the application was found to be toxic, and demand severely dropped.

However, a textured ceiling does have its advantages. It reduces echoes and hides ceiling plane imperfections, which is why it’s still used (in asbestos-free formulations) today, as shown in the bathroom here.

Despite its practical uses, popcorn ceilings, for many people, are considered an unfashionable eyesore, especially with contemporary demand for “clean lines.” Also, popcorn ceilings can gather dust and be difficult to clean or repaint, which means they don’t always age beautifully.

But don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of options.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 2: Designs by Gia Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

 

Ceiling Scraping

The good news is a sprayed-on stucco coating can be scraped off to reveal the original ceiling surface, a process usually known simply as “ceiling scraping” or “stucco removal.” A specialist typically does this because (here’s the bad news) the process can be somewhat costly at around $1 to $2 per square foot. It’s a messy, labor-intensive process, hence the high cost.

Also, in some cases, the results may not achieve the crispness of a ceiling that had not been stuccoed in the first place, especially if the stucco has been painted over, which greatly complicates the removal process.

Even in the best cases the exposed ceiling will typically require at least some smoothing and patching to create a more even and crisp final product, which makes this an extensive and relatively challenging undertaking for DIYers.

While ceiling stucco no longer uses asbestos in modern applications, homes built before 1980 (or even in the early ’80s while old stucco products were still stocked) may include asbestos. If there is any doubt, a professional asbestos test should be conducted before any resurfacing, which could release heavily toxic dust.

 

Ceiling Replacement

One of the simplest alternatives to scraping is removing and replacing the ceiling drywall. Alternately, you can have the ceiling layered over with new drywall. The drop in the ceiling plane will often be minimal, and this method can encase asbestos rather than releasing it into the air, delaying the issue, if not resolving it.

Redrywalling a ceiling will cost closer to $4 to $6 per square foot, but the results will be more predictable.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 3: Diament Builders, original photo on Houzz

 

Covering Stucco

Speaking of layering, there are many other materials besides drywall that can be installed over a popcorn ceiling, many of which add extra personality to a room.

 

Related: Keep Your Cottage Cool

 

Beadboard. Classic beadboard makes a charming ceiling treatment, and not just in a rustic cottage. Painted white, the subtle texture of beadboard paneling works well in traditional spaces or modern ones, adding a layer of depth in an unconventional place.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 4: Spinnaker Development, original photo on Houzz

 

Panels of beadboard often cost less than 50 cents per square foot, making this a very affordable option, especially for handy DIYers.

For a contemporary twist, try finishing the ceiling in a gloss paint, as shown here. This slow-drying finish will take more labor to complete, but the results have incredible depth and elegance.

 

Warm wood. If you’re not into painted beadboard, try multitonal wood for a rich, inviting treatment that’s great for a den or sitting area. Contrast it with white molding and crossbeams, or let the wood speak for itself. This approach works well with rustic decor, as a gentle touch in a modernist space or somewhere in between.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 5: Bravehart Design Build, original photo on Houzz

 

Pressed tin. Whether you use true pressed tin tiles or a fiber substitute, this classic ceiling look recalls speak-easy style and makes a great cover-up for a kitchen ceiling. You can paint it white or pale gray to keep the look breezy, or an inky dark hue (like charcoal or navy) for moody atmosphere. Or choose a metallic finish for extra sheen and drama.

Many companies now provide faux pressed tin and other panel systems specifically designed to cover stuccoed or damaged ceilings. They typically cost $1 to $5 per square foot.

To have a professional install these materials for you, expect to pay several hundred dollars extra.

 

Popcorn Ceiling 6: The Morson Collection, original photo on Houzz

 

Other Options

Lighting. Sometimes the best way to deal with ceiling stucco is to de-emphasize it, and <a href=‘http://www.houzz.com/photos/ceiling-lighting’>smart lighting choices</a> can go a long way toward that.

Notice how the lighting hitting this stucco wall emphasizes the texture. Great when the effect is desired. To avoid highlighting unwanted ceiling stucco, choose lights that aim downward, rather than upward or outward, so light is cast on beautiful surfaces below and not on your ceiling itself.

Try pot lights, or semi-flush-mounts (or pendants) with an opaque shade to aim light downward rather than multiple directions.

 

Paint. Ultimately, the best way to deal with a popcorn ceiling may simply be to learn to live with it. Think about it: How many people do you know who live with popcorn ceilings? I bet you can’t specifically remember who has it or doesn’t, because unless a ceiling is highlighted, we don’t typically spend much time looking at it.

Try painting the walls and the ceiling the same color to blur the lines between them, and then create drama at ground level to draw the eye down. You’ll soon forget about your stucco altogether.

 

By Yanic Simard, Houzz

Ten Ideas for New Thanksgiving Traditions

 

Most of us already have our “ways” of doing Thanksgiving – ways our mother did it, ways our extended family did it, ways our neighborhood did it. Thanksgiving doesn’t lend itself well to trying out new traditions, but sometimes the situation calls for it – you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving, for example, or you have a family now and want to start traditions of your own. So what can you do to heighten, deepen, and extend Thanksgiving to its most memorable end?

 

  1. Start the day with an indulgent, relaxing breakfast.

While some people are firmly in the “no breakfast” camp to save room for the big meal later, we love the idea of starting the day in such a festive, delicious way! Pancakes, waffles, eggs, even pie – it’s all good.

  1. Take time for yourself before time with family.

As wonderful as Thanksgiving can be, we all know it can be exhausting and overwhelming. That’s why it’s such a good idea to deliberately take a little time for yourself during the day to make sure you enjoy the holiday on your terms.

  1. Remember loved ones who have passed.

Holidays can be bittersweet when beloved family members or friends are missing from the gathering. Look through old photo albums and recall funny, tender or important achievements of those who are gone but not forgotten.

  1. Write your thanks on a butcher paper tablecloth.

Cover the table with butcher paper. During the meal, distribute pens and ask each family member to write down a few things they’re thankful for on the paper and then take turns reading them out loud. We love the practice during the Thanksgiving meal of naming things you’re thankful for, and this is a unique way to do it – especially since you can tear off and save particularly meaningful memories.

  1. Let everyone toast!

Another way to make gratitude gushing even more festive is to let everyone make a toast. Raise your glass to the year, to your family, to your friends!

  1. Have the kids serve dessert.

Let the bigger kids get in on the action of serving to their family.  Put them in charge of delivering dessert and coffee after the meal. The oldest can plate and pour while the younger kids can take orders and serve. It keeps them busy after the meal while the adults talk and gives them a broader sense of appreciation for the holiday.

  1. Have Thanksgiving dinner early.

Planning for a 3 p.m. dinner shifts the momentum of the day. An earlier meal creates a more relaxed celebration, plus there’s plenty of time to digest before going to bed.  An earlier dinner also accommodates traveling guests and lets them return home at a reasonable hour.

  1. Take a long walk together after dinner.

No one is ready for dessert right after dinner anyway, so why not take that time to go on a long walk with your loved ones? Enjoy the cool, crispy (and hopefully dry) autumn weather and get the blood flowing again after all that rich food.

  1. If it’s just two of you, really treat yourself.

It can be hard to justify making a huge Thanksgiving meal when it’s just two of you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special, or even any less of a treat. In fact, it should be more so. Make it special by treating yourselves to nicer ingredients and better wine than you would normally use if you were cooking for a large group.

  1. Stay connected with family members far away.

If you can’t be with your loved ones on Thanksgiving, thankfully you can still be together – just virtually! Do a video call or Google Hangout before dinner, or Facetime family members in for the giving-thanks portion of the evening.

 

This article originally appeared on WindermereSeattle.com  

 

Helping Fight Holiday Hunger in Our Communities

The holiday season is a time in which Windermere offices across our network come together to help those in need in their communities. Here are just a few of the events that our offices are involved in this month to help fight hunger.

 

The Windermere office in El Sobrante, CA is hosting an in-house Holiday Food Drive this season. They held their kick-off event on October 1 and will continue to collect food donations through the month of December. They are accepting nominations from the local community to help select families to receive the donations. Monetary donations are also being collected and will be used to buy food items before delivering to the recipient families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Any extra food items will be donated to the Richmond Rescue Mission.

 

The Windermere Real Estate Professionals office in Boise, ID participated in their third annual “Pick a Pumpkin Feed a Family” event that took place October 12 through November 1. Pumpkins purchased for the office “pumpkin patch” were given to those who donated food during the event. Donations benefitted The Idaho Foodbank, the largest distributor of free food assistance in Idaho.

 

The Windermere office in Kingston, WA is holding its annual holiday food drive for local families in need. Donations are being accepted at the office now through November 21. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and weekends from 10am to 4pm.

 

The Windermere Stellar offices in Portland (Portland-NW Johnson, Lake Oswego, Portland-Lloyd Tower NE, Portland Heights, Portland-Raleigh Hills, West Linn, and Portland-Moreland), are holding a food drive from November 7-28 to benefit Take Action, INC. Take Action INC provides backpacks full of food to low-income children in the Portland metropolitan area schools each weekend during the school year. They pack and distribute backpacks of food to low-income children so that they don’t have to go hungry over the weekend. Last year, they served 620 low-income families. On November 29, Take Action, INC will receive the food items collected during the drive, along with a $2,000 donation from Windermere Stellar and the Windermere Foundation.

 

The Windermere office on Vashon Island, WA is coordinating a food drive on November 20. The Basket Brigade, an annual event that they have sponsored since 2000, provides Thanksgiving meals to families in need. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, agents from the office stand in front of a local grocery store to collect food (or cash) donations for these meals. The Vashon Thriftway and Vashon IGA help provide the turkeys and pies, but the rest of the meal items are donated to the office by members of the community. Agents fill and decorate the baskets, which are then delivered by Saint Vincent de Paul volunteers to the families in time for them to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

 

 

The Windermere Sequim-East and Windermere Sequim-Sunland offices are holding a food drive now through November 30 to benefit the Sequim Food Bank. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at 842 E Washington St or 137 Fairway Drive. Proteins like canned meats, dried beans, and peanut butter are always needed. The food bank serves individuals and families living within the Sequim School District. 

 

Thanks to events like these food drives, as well as a variety of other fundraisers held by our offices throughout the year, the Windermere Foundation is able to continue to support non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

 

If you’d like to help, please consider donating to the Windermere Foundation. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.

Helping Fight Holiday Hunger in Our Communities

The holiday season is a time in which Windermere offices across our network come together to help those in need in their communities. Here are just a few of the events that our offices are involved in this month to help fight hunger.

 

The Windermere office in El Sobrante, CA is hosting an in-house Holiday Food Drive this season. They held their kick-off event on October 1 and will continue to collect food donations through the month of December. They are accepting nominations from the local community to help select families to receive the donations. Monetary donations are also being collected and will be used to buy food items before delivering to the recipient families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Any extra food items will be donated to the Richmond Rescue Mission.

 

The Windermere Real Estate Professionals office in Boise, ID participated in their third annual “Pick a Pumpkin Feed a Family” event that took place October 12 through November 1. Pumpkins purchased for the office “pumpkin patch” were given to those who donated food during the event. Donations benefitted The Idaho Foodbank, the largest distributor of free food assistance in Idaho.

 

The Windermere office in Kingston, WA is holding its annual holiday food drive for local families in need. Donations are being accepted at the office now through November 21. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, and weekends from 10am to 4pm.

 

The Windermere Stellar offices in Portland (Portland-NW Johnson, Lake Oswego, Portland-Lloyd Tower NE, Portland Heights, Portland-Raleigh Hills, West Linn, and Portland-Moreland), are holding a food drive from November 7-28 to benefit Take Action, INC. Take Action INC provides backpacks full of food to low-income children in the Portland metropolitan area schools each weekend during the school year. They pack and distribute backpacks of food to low-income children so that they don’t have to go hungry over the weekend. Last year, they served 620 low-income families. On November 29, Take Action, INC will receive the food items collected during the drive, along with a $2,000 donation from Windermere Stellar and the Windermere Foundation.

 

The Windermere office on Vashon Island, WA is coordinating a food drive on November 20. The Basket Brigade, an annual event that they have sponsored since 2000, provides Thanksgiving meals to families in need. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, agents from the office stand in front of a local grocery store to collect food (or cash) donations for these meals. The Vashon Thriftway and Vashon IGA help provide the turkeys and pies, but the rest of the meal items are donated to the office by members of the community. Agents fill and decorate the baskets, which are then delivered by Saint Vincent de Paul volunteers to the families in time for them to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

 

 

The Windermere Sequim-East and Windermere Sequim-Sunland offices are holding a food drive now through November 30 to benefit the Sequim Food Bank. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at 842 E Washington St or 137 Fairway Drive. Proteins like canned meats, dried beans, and peanut butter are always needed. The food bank serves individuals and families living within the Sequim School District. 

 

Thanks to events like these food drives, as well as a variety of other fundraisers held by our offices throughout the year, the Windermere Foundation is able to continue to support non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

 

If you’d like to help, please consider donating to the Windermere Foundation. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.

Prepare for Winter and the Holidays With This November Home Checklist

With Thanksgiving approaching and the winter holidays just around the corner, there is a lot to look forward to (and prepare for) at this time of year. Batten down the hatches for winter weather and get a jump on holiday hosting prep, so you can relax and savor the many simple pleasures of the season, from big family dinners to walks in the crisp air outdoors.

 

November Checklist 1: Cummings Architects, original photo on Houzz

 

Get a jump on holiday prep. If you plan to host this holiday season, take a bit of time now to prepare a few things in advance. Launder and iron the fancy linens (roll up freshly ironed linens on old wrapping paper tubes to prevent wrinkles), drop off the kitchen knives for a professional sharpening or polish some silver — you’ll thank yourself later.

 

Replace floor protectors on chairs. Don’t let dining chairs do damage to your hardwood floors: Check their feet and add or replace floor-protecting pads if needed. Felt pads come in self-adhesive and nail-in varieties; if you’re using the self-adhesive type, be sure to clean the base of each chair foot thoroughly and allow it to dry before applying.

 

November Checklist 2: Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors, original photo on Houzz

 

Deep-clean bathrooms. Aim to schedule a deep cleaning of the bathrooms a week before entertaining, so that a quick surface wipe-down will be all you’ll need to get things looking spotless again on the big day. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, goodness knows there are plenty of other things to worry about — like how you’re going to fit a turkey and five side dishes in the oven!

 

Check the sump pump. If you have a sump pump in your basement as protection in case of flooding, be sure to check it and make sure it is working properly before the rainy season really gets going, and repair or replace it as needed.

 

November Checklist 3: Bohler Builders Group, Inc., original photo on Houzz

 

Show some kindness to feathered friends. Nonmigrating birds can use some extra help when wild food becomes scarce and water sources freeze. Stock up now on birdseed so you can keep those feeders full, and consider providing a water source as well —refresh it daily to prevent mosquitoes.

 

Related: Give Backyard Birds a Home This Winter

 

Remove the last of the fall leaves. Aim to fit in one final raking and gutter-cleaning session once the last leaves have fallen — but before the first snow.

 

Inspect the home’s exterior and cover gaps. Cover any gaps you find around the exterior of your home that may be large enough for a mouse to enter —it doesn’t take much space for these little critters to sneak in. Cover exterior vents with hardware cloth, and attach door sweeps to the bottoms of exterior doors to stop furry creatures from squeezing in when the weather turns chilly.

 

November Checklist 4: Wright Design, original photo on Houzz

 

Stock up for winter. If you live in a region with cold, snowy winters, taking the time now to stock up on winter gear and supplies will mean less stress when that first big storm hits.

●Check snow shovels and ice scrapers; replace as needed.

●If you use a fireplace or wood stove, order firewood.

●Pick up a bag of pet- and plant-safe ice melt.

●Restock emergency kits for car and home.

●If you use a snow blower, have it serviced and purchase fuel.

●If your home has an emergency power generator, review safety standards (the American Red Cross has helpful tips) and check that it’s working properly.

 

Check paths, stairs and railings for safety. Slips and falls on ice and snow can happen anywhere, but they’re even more likely if the footing is uneven or a railing isn’t sturdy. Take a walk around your home’s exterior, paying special attention to walkways, stairs and railings, and make repairs as needed.

 

By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

The Trump effect. How will it impact the US economy and housing?

The American people have spoken and they have elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Change was clearly demanded, and change is what we will have.

The election was a shock for many, especially on the West Coast where we have not been overly affected by the long-term loss in US manufacturing or stagnant wage growth of the past decade. But the votes are in and a new era is ahead of us. So, what does this mean for the housing market?

First and foremost I would say that we should all take a deep breath. In a similar fashion to the UK’s “Brexit”, there will be a “whiplash” effect, as was seen in overnight trading across the globe. However, at least in the US, equity markets have calmed as they start to take a closer look at what a Trump presidency will mean.

On a macro level, I would start by stating that political rhetoric and hyperbole do not necessarily translate into policy. That is the most important message that I want to get across. I consider it highly unlikely that many of the statements regarding trade protectionism will actually go into effect. It will be very important for President Trump to tone down his platform on renegotiating trade agreements and imposing tariffs on China. I also deem it highly unlikely that a 1,000-mile wall will actually get built.

It is crucial that some of the more inflammatory statements that President-Elect Trump has made be toned down or markets will react negatively. However, what is of greater concern to me is that neither candidate really approached questions regarding housing with any granularity. There was little-to-no-discussion regarding housing finance reform, so I will be watching this topic very closely over the coming months.

As far as the housing market is concerned, it is really too early to make any definitive comment. That said, Trump ran on a platform of deregulation and this could actually bode well for real estate. It might allow banks the freedom to lend more, which in turn, could further energize the market as more buyers may qualify for home loans.

Concerns over rising interest rates may also be overstated. As history tells us, during times of uncertainty we tend to put more money into bonds. If this holds true, then we may see a longer-than-expected period of below-average rates. Today’s uptick in bond yields is likely just temporary.

Proposed infrastructure spending could boost employment and wages, which again, would be a positive for housing markets. Furthermore, easing land use regulations has the potential to begin addressing the problem of housing affordability across many of our nation’s housing markets – specifically on the West Coast.

Economies do not like uncertainty. In the near-term we may see a temporary lull in the US economy, as well as the housing market, as we analyze what a Trump presidency really means. But at the present time, I do not see any substantive cause for panic in the housing sector.

We are a resilient nation, and as long as we continue to have checks-and balances, I have confidence that we will endure any period of uncertainty and come out stronger.

 

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

Oregon and South West Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The labor market in Oregon/Southwest Washington continues to remain robust. During third quarter, the region added 13,800 new jobs, up from the 9,500 jobs that were created in the same period in 2015. Year-over-year, the region has grown at an impressive rate of 3.5%—well above the U.S. rate of 1.7%—and has one of the fastest rates of job creation in the nation. In September the unemployment rate was 5.5%, which is modestly below a year ago when it was 5.7%. I’m not surprised to see the unemployment rate trended lower given the growth in both the labor force as well as the participation rate (the number of people in the economy who are either employed or who are actively looking for work).

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • Continuing the trend seen in the second quarter, home sales are down by 7% compared the same quarter in 2016. In total, there were 18,100 home sales.
  • Sales rose at the fastest rate in Klamath County, which saw a 26.7% increase over the second quarter of 2015. There were also noticeable increases in transactions seen in Coos, Linn and Wasco Counties. The greatest decline was seen in Yamhill, Josephine, and Jefferson Counties.
  • While there were eight counties where sales rose, 18 counties actually saw fewer sales than last year.
  • Housing inventory continues to have a negative impact on sales, but it appears that sellers’ expectations of home prices may also be playing a role in slowing sales.

 

HOME PRICES

  • Average home prices over the past year rose by 8.1% to $335,000. This is down from 10.5% seen in the second quarter of the year. This may be an indicator that home price growth is beginning to revert toward historic averages.
  • When compared to the third quarter of 2015, Hood River took over as the market with the greatest price growth, with homes selling for 29% above that seen a year ago.
  • All but one county saw an annual increase in prices, with some counties seeing significant increases in average sale prices. That said, the number of areas where home price appreciation rose by double-digit percentages dropped from 18 to 11.
  • The key takeaway here is that home price appreciation is starting to slow but remains well above the historic average.

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average days it took to sell a home dropped by 14 when compared to the third quarter of 2015, and is 5 days less than last quarter.
  • The average time it took to sell a home in the region was 83 days.
  • Wasco County was the only area where the average time it takes to sell a home rose (from 88 to 97 days).
  • Homes sold fastest in Washington and Multnomah Counties, where it took 21 and 22 days respectively on average for homes to sell.

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. Economic growth continues to trend well above the nation, and this region is one of the fastest growing in the country. The housing market continues to benefit greatly from this economic vitality. That said, the modest decline in home sales and prices is worthy of note. This suggests that peak price growth is now behind us and that we will start to see a slowing in the upward trend of home values. This actually is not a bad thing because tapering home prices will ultimately lead to a rise in the number of home sales, which still remain below historic averages. As such, I have moved the needle a little toward buyers, however, it certainly remains a seller’s market.

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.