Beginning in 1984, Windermere closes its offices for one day in June to make a positive difference in the community. After more than 30 years, Windermere brokers, owners and employees have contributed in excess of one million hours of community service. This tradition of neighborhood-enhancing projects has made a real difference in the neighborhoods where Windermere teams live, work and play.
This year, on June 3, the Oak Harbor Windermere office will partner with Habitat for Humanity. Our office will be raising walls on the new SE 10th Ave. duplex construction, and landscaping two other HFH properties. Windermere has a true commitment to giving back to our communities, and is one of the reasons I chose to work with such a great company. Besides the community service day, the Windermere Foundation returns a portion of every transaction back to the local community. To date the foundation has provided over $30 million to support organizations in the communities we serve.
Look for more from Windermere on June 3rd, as we give back to our communities through our annual Community Service Day.
2016 is shaping up to be a great year for the real estate market nationally and locally. Interest rates are remaining at historic lows, employment is strong, housing starts are up, values are increasing and demand is high. There are challenges though as inventory has remained low for several months which has impacted affordability.
Matthew Gardener, the Chief Economist at Windermere Real Estate recently wrote: “In 2016, I believe we’ll see some growth in sales activity, as well as continued price growth – just at more modest levels than last year.”
Locally, the impact of NAS Whidbey expanding, and inventory shortage has led to a strong seller’s market and increase in home value not seen in nearly a decade. With the base expansion continuing for at least another year, we should not expect the market to slow anytime soon.
Freddie Mac seems to agree, here is a quote from their March Housing Outlook Report:
“Despite the challenges facing the housing market, we expect this to be the best year for housing in a decade. Home sales, housing starts, and house prices will reach their highest level since 2006 according to our latest forecast…Challenges remain, with low housing supply and declining affordability being a key concern in many markets, but on balance, the housing markets in the U.S. are poised for the best year since 2006.”
A few weeks ago, Jonathan Smoke, the Chief Economist at realtor.com, exclaimed: “All indicators point to this spring being the busiest since 2006.”
At this point, we should feel very confident in the market over the next year. Controls on lending have reduced the loose money that was a major contributing factor to the market crash a decade ago. Supply and demand fueled by qualified money is what is driving values up. This should be considered healthy and a normal occurrence that happens in the market cyclically.
If you would like to discuss what this means for you in your current housing situation, I would be happy to meet with you.
Clean Water Treatment Facility
Work continues to move ahead at the Clean Water Treatment Facility at Windjammer Park. Sheet piles are being driven into the ground to form a barrier around the excavated ground to begin construction. The sheet piles are 18 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, they interlock and create an underground wall, and are driven into the ground with a vibrating hammer. The process is expected to take roughly 2 months. More information can be found at http://www.oakharborcleanwater.org/. So far work is on schedule and the facility is expected to be operational by 2018.
Along with the construction of the Clean Water Treatment Facility, the city has a great opportunity to shape the future of Windjammer Park, as mitigation of the impacts to the new facility must be done. The Community Advisory Group for the Windjammer Park Integration Plan has been working hard on creating a vision of the park to present to the City Council. It has been extremely interesting to consider what park elements are important to the community, what new features could be implemented, how to incorporate landscaping, art, parking, event plazas, etc. into the existing space. So far, the vision of the group is very exciting, and if it comes to fruition, would make Windjammer Park an extraordinary asset to the community (even more so than it is today!).
There is still time to have input in the process. On Tuesday March 29 from 5:30 -7:30 pm, there will be a public open house at the Elks Lodge. Attendees will be able to see the most recent design concepts and provide feedback to the project team and Community Advisory Group. I am also available to take your feedback to the group if you are not able to attend in person.
Our community is changing whether we like it or not. I decided I needed to be involved in the process, so I would have some say in the decisions being made and hopefully create a more vibrant, welcoming community. It was time to get off the sidelines and truly be a part of the process, so when the call came out for volunteers, I joined the Windjammer Park Integration Community Advisory Group. Because of the new Waste Water Treatment Facility being built in Downtown Oak Harbor at Windjammer Park, this group was formed to provide input to the architects, engineers and City Council as to how to mitigate the impacts the new facility will have on our beloved park.
Thursday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 pm, will be the initial Public Open House at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge, to review the ideas presented to and by the CAG, and for the public to provide their own input regarding the integration plan. This is a wide ranging plan, that could reshape the entirety of Windjammer Park, with ideas as grand as relocating the baseball fields, re-purposing the windmill, rebuilding or relocating the RV park, adding a splash park, altering the lagoon…and a vast array of other ideas to modernize and enhance the park. If you are at all interested in the future of this great park and have ideas of what it could be, or would hate to see an element disappear, please come to the open house, or contact me to share your input.
The City is also renewing it's 20 year transportation elements plan, and is hosting an open house tonight (Wednesday Feb. 3) at City Hall from 7:00 to 8:30, and you can review previous recommendations and give input regarding the plan.
Island County has an opportunity to get involved as well. The Island County Board of Commissioners are seeking someone to fill a vacancy on the Conservation Futures Program Citizen Advisory Board. This person needs to be from District 2, and will review and evaluate applications to acquire by purchase, gift, grant, bequest, devise, lease, or otherwise, except by eminent domain, the fee simple or any lesser property interest, development right, easement, covenant, or other contractual right necessary to protect, preserve, maintain, improve, restore, or limit the future use of, or otherwise conserve selected open space, wetlands, habitat areas, farm, agricultural, and timber lands for the public use and enjoyment and as one tool for salmon preservation purposes.
Interested individuals should provide a letter of interest and statement of qualifications by mail, email or FAX to: Island County Board of Commissioners, Attn: Pam Dill, Re: Conservation Futures Program Citizens’ Advisory Board (CAB), Post Office Box 5000, Coupeville, WA 98239. The FAX number is (360) 679-7381 and email applications should be sent to email@example.com Application materials should be received no later than 4:30 p.m. on February 26th, 2016. For additional information please phone (360) 679-7353 or e-mail Pam Dill at the above address.
These are just a few ways you can get involved in the decisions affecting our community. I urge you to consider getting involved and providing your input, so you can help shape the future of our community in a positive way.
It is time we all do just a little more to get involved in our community. With all the news of late regarding violent attacks and the downward spiral our world seems to be in, we must do something to create change. The only real way I can see to make a huge impact is to start small. If we all do a little, right here at home, we can make a drastic change in our community.
Take an hour to volunteer for your favorite charity. Spend some time handing out food at the North Whidbey Help House, help with a project at the Boys and Girls Club, share your time with a little one at Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Island County, serve a meal at Spin Café, form or join a team for the Relay For Life. Whatever it is that fits with your beliefs, it doesn’t matter, as long as you do something.
We are lucky to live in such a great community, with a lot of really hard working volunteers and advocates for change. Even with all they do, there is still a need for help. Many of us make monetary donations to these groups, which helps. But if you really want to make a real difference, give some time. I am sure you will find that not only will you change the life of someone else, you will realize a change in your own life. The gift of helping others, and seeing someone succeed because of your involvement is priceless.
If you are interested in getting involved in the community, but aren’t quite sure where to start, let me know. I would be happy to connect you to an organization that would love to have your help
Rightsizing is about expanding options and defining purposeful new directions. Isn't it time to do what really makes you happy?
Sometimes the process of rightsizing (or downsizing as many are more used to hearing, which often is associated with the feelings of loss, especially in our modern times when the word most frequently refers to jobs and a company's restructuring technique), triggers strong emotions, especially around sentimental items and lifetime mementos. How can you make the decision to get rid of all those reminders of special moments throughout your life from loved ones, and close friends without feeling guilty or dredging up painful emotions? It is no wonder many times it is difficult to let go of burdensome excess baggage that has been accumulated and pursue the new life we want to achieve.
The goal isn't to simply toss items out of your life. It is to allow yourself to feel good about the decisions and the life you are consciously choosing for yourself. Taking control of your stuff, rather than letting your stuff control you, is a giant step towards defining and loving your life, rather than merely living it. Rightsizing is about more than just "stuff". It means breaking free of responsibilities that are no longer necessary – responsibilities that cause more burden than joy. When you take control and prioritize, you will feel empowered and in control, you can begin to plan the next phase of life, look forward to new adventures and reach goals and dreams that may have been on hold for years. Imagine the power one must feel with the ability to let go and blaze a completely different path…one with less responsibilities and more of what you want.
We can all benefit from rightsizing our life, whether or not we are planning a move. More than anything, it's a mindset that involves breaking free of old habits and reexamining priorities. After all, surrounding yourself with the accouterments of a life that no longer fits is more burden than joy. Give yourself permission to explore new directions!
Some questions to ask yourself to get the process started:
- If you could do anything starting tomorrow, what would you want to do?
- What kind of change in direction do you wish your life could take now?
- What are a couple things you have always wanted to do, but never made time for?
- If you had a clean slate right now and could freely explore any way of life, what would you do first…second…and after that?
Top Ten Rightsizing Tips (for de-cluttering):
Start with the easy stuff. Eliminate anything that's broken, damaged, or no longer wanted. Then go to the out-of-the-way spaces like attics, crawlspaces, and garages. Making progress in "easier" areas will build momentum to go through the harder -to-decide areas.
Ask yourself, "If this disappeared tomorrow, would I run out and replace it?" If you wouldn't miss it or need to replace it, it's probably not worth keeping.
Don't be a storage unit for others. If fiends or relatives have left things for you to store, it's time to ask them to pick them up – or arrange to have them shipped. You may need to be tough and set a firm deadline, after which you will donate the items.
Ask for help. Although you can do much of this work on your own, a family member, a good friend, or even a professional organizer can help make the job more manageable.
Decide what's really important. Pretend you are moving overseas, and the number of items ou can take will be severely limited and it will cost a small fortune to ship things. What items belong on your list? These are the things that matter to you most.
Is this something from a lifestyle I no longer have or want? For example, if you have three cabinets full of plastic containers, but only cook for one or two people, you probably can lose a few plastic sets – and dishes, pots and pans, etc.
Schedule a regular time each week – or several days per week – to work on rightsizing. Realize that this is a life-changing marathon, not a sprint. You didn't accumulate everything overnight, and you won't sort it all out overnight either.
Value what you keep. The fewer things you keep, the more you will treasure and enjoy what you have, instead of tucking them away in a closet or stacked among dozens of other things. These are the few, meaningful items worth having in your personal space.
Prevent new collections from forming. Instead of material gifts, ask people to spoil you by sharing time, enjoying new experiences, and indulging in luxuries (spa certificates, imported chocolate, a musical or other production, gift certificates for dinner out, etc.) – things you love and want, but don't always buy for yourself.
Use age to you advantage. Now is a great time to "gift" items you "eventually" want family members to have. Take a photo (preferably a digital one) of them holding the special item and create a digital scrapbook of "next generation" memories…making your special people happy and freeing yourself of extra "stuff" that you have been charged with keeping for posterity.