Local Market Update – April 2018

Despite the typical seasonal surge in new listings, supply in our area continued to fall far short of demand in March. With just two weeks of available inventory in every market, competition for homes is intense. The result was another month of double-digit price increases as compared to a year ago. The region has now led the country in home price increases for 17 months in a row. The prediction for the spring market: HOT with no signs of cooling.

Eastside

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The median price of a single-family home was up 6 percent over last March to $926,000, down slightly from the record-setting price last month. Sales were brisk at every price, including the luxury market. Sales of homes priced at $2 million or more were up 23 percent in the first quarter of 2018 as compared to the previous year.

King County

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A booming economy combined with insufficient inventory propelled prices to an all-time high in March. The median price of a single-family home in King County jumped 15 percent to $689,950. Multiple offers remain the norm. Buyers here need to plan on moving very quickly and working with their agent on strategies to navigate bidding wars.

Seattle

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The median home price in Seattle set a new record of $819,500 in March, up a whopping 17 percent from a year ago. Homes are selling within days of being listed. Only 19 single-family homes are currently on the market in Ballard and just 24 in Queen Anne. South Seattle, traditionally the most affordable part of the city, has seen the greatest increase in prices. Home values in these neighborhoods have nearly tripled since the recession ended, while home values in the rest of the city have doubled.

Snohomish County

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Once a less competitive market than King County, Snohomish County now has the lower amount of inventory of the two. The median price of a single-family home grew 12 percent over a year ago to $475,000. Prices here remain significantly lower than in King County and many buyers priced out of that market are trading a longer commute time for the opportunity of ownership.


Posted on April 11, 2018 at 6:05 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market Update |

Local Market Update – March 2018

The local real estate market set new home price records in many parts of the region in February. Prices here have grown faster than anywhere else in the country for the last 16 months in a row. Demand remains high and inventory very low. Brokers are hoping the normal seasonal increase in listings this spring will help give buyers some relief.

Eastside

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With home prices soaring on the Eastside, it’s not a matter of whether the median price will exceed a million dollar, but when. February brought the market very close to that milestone. The median price of a single-family home increased 14 percent to a record $950,000 on the Eastside, surpassing the previous peak recorded in December.

King County

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The red-hot job market in King County continues to outpace nearly every area in the nation. Well-paid workers looking to buy close to city centers have fueled a growing competition for a shrinking number of homes. That demand boosted the median price of a single-family home up 16 percent over a year ago to $649,950.

Seattle

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The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit a new high of $777,000 in February, $20,000 more than the previous record set in January and up 14 percent from the same time last year. Despite the sharp increase in prices, multiple offers have become the norm for most properties. It remains to be seen if recent interest rate hikes will have a moderating effect on home values.

Snohomish County

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After several months of moderating growth, Snohomish County set a new record for home prices in February. The median price of a single-family homes jumped 18 percent to an all-time high of $485,000. Inventory is down from a year ago, with less than a month’s supply of homes available for sale.

If you are considering buying a home in today’s market, here are three things to consider:

  1. Make sure you can afford the payments.
  2. Choose a location that will appeal to you long-term.
  3. Be committed to living there for a minimum of five to seven years.

This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com blog.


Posted on March 21, 2018 at 10:22 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market Update |

Gardening Trends For 2018

Outdoor living during the spring and summer months is extremely popular. Months of cold, wet winters are followed by glorious spring colors and warm summer days of vivid blue skies. In this post, we thought that now would be the best time to share some pretty garden trends for 2018.

 

 

Wabi-Sabi

Leisure time should be just that: relaxing and rejuvenating. So why labor relentlessly to create and maintain a perfect landscape? Wabi-sabi, is the Japanese art of accepting transience and imperfect beauty. Relax and appreciate nature as it is, with humble imperfections, weeds and all. Recognize (and tell others) that dandelions and clover in untreated lawns are not blights. They are status symbols for ecological horticulture. Consider natural grasses and groundcovers as low-maintenance substitutes for sod. Opt for perennials instead of annuals, let flowers go to seed and give nature license to evolve on her own.

 

Reclaiming Small Outside Spaces

For many of us these days, space is at a premium and with house prices continually on the rise, more and more people are living in apartment blocks or tiny lots. Garden designers are determined to make even the smallest of spaces useful and attractive, and manufacturers have taken notice. Look for a better choice in planters that slot onto balcony rails. New models will have coverings for protecting plants from cold temperatures so that you can even grow seeds and vegetables on your balcony alongside your flowers.

Self-watering wall planter systems have been improved for 2018 and the hanging macramé plant holder is having a bit of a revival. Add a small patio heater and you have an outside space you can enjoy all year round with minimal effort.

 

Purple Passion

Pantone’s Ultra Violet is the color of the year. Maybe that’s why you find purple flowers in this year’s plant varieties and garden design. It’s easy to incorporate this color in the garden as there are many flowers and shrubs with this beautiful color. However, there are also several edible purple plants that you can grow. Purple vegetables are not only interesting and pretty, their unique color denote anthocyanins which are very beneficial to your health.

 

Re-Wilding

This is a style that keeps popping up time and again. However, 2018 has taken the re-wilding trend up another notch. It is still all about working with nature, growing wildflowers and supporting our pollinating insects. Re-wilding means adjusting plant selections to better support local wildlife and growing both seed-producing and berry-bearing plants. However, now it is also about using ‘green’ gardening products, natural solutions to bug and slug killers instead of chemicals and insecticides and using peat-free products.

 

Alfresco Living

Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas are tipped to be a key trend for Spring/Summer 2018. We are not talking about a little nook corner just off the kitchen. Alfresco dining spaces are being pushed out into the garden itself and made into a major feature. These dedicated outdoor dining areas are surrounded by in-ground and container plants for that lush feeling. Special flooring, comfy furniture and mood lighting turn it into a little haven. Complete the trend with a sunken fire pit, barbecue or pizza oven and you might never want to leave.

 

Lighting The Way

Adding lighting to your garden is not a new thing. However, in this age of renewable energy, garden lighting companies are turning away from the more traditional lighting solutions we have seen in the past. The advances in solar energy capture, means that we can light up our gardens in a variety of fun, affordable and better ways. No more changing batteries or wiring up the garden with electricity.

The wide range of lighting methods allows you to create whatever ambience you want. Simple stand-alone lights can mark pathways, either discreetly embedded into the path edges or standing loud and proud along the side. Multi-colored fairy lights can be tangled among the overhead branches of a tree creating dazzling shapes and textures. Solar Mason jars can be hung from above or used as table lighting. Festoon lights can create an ambient glow around any outdoor space creating romantic nooks.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

 


Posted on March 6, 2018 at 7:35 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Home Maintenance |

Local Market Update – February 2018

With competition for homes growing and inventory shrinking, the real estate market in January was as hot as ever. Home prices were up by double digits as buyers chased severely limited inventory. The number of homes for sale hit a record low for the month of January, which should strongly favor sellers as we move into the prime spring selling season. The average home seller in our area now makes a 64 percent profit, the fourth-highest rate of any region in the country, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.

Eastside

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Home prices on the Eastside continue to climb. The median price of a single-family home was up 18 percent over last January to $938,000 —­ virtually unchanged from the record high set a month ago. West Bellevue, King County’s most expensive area, saw the median home price surge to a record high of $2.72 million. With less than a month of available inventory, prices aren’t expected to cool any time soon.

King County

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Single-family home prices in King County soared 20 percent over a year ago to $628,388, with double-digit increases recorded in every area of the county. Lack of inventory continues to fuel the market. There were 21 percent fewer homes for sale here as compared to a year ago, with inventory hitting a record low for the month of January. The region has now been the hottest housing market in the country for 15 months in a row.

Seattle

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An ongoing shortage of inventory combined with an economy that continues to add jobs has kept the Seattle housing market very competitive and increasingly expensive. Seattle’s median price hit a new record in January jumping 19 percent to $757,000. Despite the increase in prices, brokers are reporting open house traffic that can number in the hundreds of interested buyers.

Snohomish County

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Home price increases in Snohomish County were more moderate than those in King County. The median price of a single-family home grew 10 percent over a year ago to $450,000. That number is down from the high of last year, and reflects a more common seasonal slowdown.


Posted on February 21, 2018 at 6:28 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market Update |

The Gardner Report – Fourth Quarter 2017

Economic Overview

The Washington State economy added 104,600 new jobs over the past 12 months. This impressive growth rate of 3.1% is well above the national rate of 1.4%. Interestingly, the slowdown we saw through most of the second half of the year reversed in the fall, and we actually saw more robust employment growth.

Growth continues to be broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than aerospace due to a slowdown at Boeing.

With job creation, the state unemployment rate stands at 4.5%, essentially indicating that the state is close to full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report show unemployment rates below where they were a year ago.

I expect continued economic expansion in Washington State in 2018; however, we are likely to see a modest slowdown, which is to be expected at this stage in the business cycle.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 22,325 home sales during the final quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.7% over the same period in 2016.
  • Jefferson County saw sales rise the fastest relative to fourth quarter of 2016, with an impressive increase of 22.8%. Six other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. A lack of listings impacted King and Skagit Counties, where sales fell.
  • Housing inventory was down by 16.2% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, and down by 17.3% from last quarter. This isn’t terribly surprising since we typically see a slowdown as we enter the winter months. Pending home sales rose by 4.1% over the third quarter of 2017, suggesting that closings in the first quarter of 2018 should be robust.
  • The takeaway from this data is that listings remain at very low levels and, unfortunately, I don’t expect to see substantial increases in 2018. The region is likely to remain somewhat starved for inventory for the foreseeable future.

Annual change in home sales

Home Prices

  • Because of low inventory in the fall of 2017, price growth was well above long-term averages across Western Washington. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12% to $466,726.
  • Economic vitality in the region is leading to a demand for housing that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of newly constructed homes—something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. This means home prices will rise at above-average rates in 2018.
  • Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County, where home prices were 18.8% higher than a year ago. Eleven additional counties experienced double-digit price growth as well.
  • Mortgage rates in the fourth quarter rose very modestly, but remained below the four percent barrier. Although I anticipate rates will rise in 2018, the pace will be modest. My current forecast predicts an average 30-year rate of 4.4% in 2018—still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the fourth quarter dropped by eight days, compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 21 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain static relative to the same period a year ago.
  • Last quarter, it took an average of 50 days to sell a home. This is down from 58 days in the fourth quarter of 2016, but up by 7 days from the third quarter of 2017.
  • As mentioned earlier in this report, I expect inventory levels to rise modestly, which should lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. That said, with homes selling in less than two months on average, the market is nowhere near balanced.

Average Days On Market

Conclusions

Market SpeedometerThis speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the fourth quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as third quarter. Price growth remains robust even as sales activity slowed. 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for housing.

 

 

 

 

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 more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

 

 

 

 

 

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.


Posted on February 6, 2018 at 8:03 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in The Gardner Report |

Local Market Update – January 2018

2017 closed out the year with historically low inventory and record-breaking price gains. A strong local economy and brisk population growth has helped fuel a steep discrepancy between supply and demand. As long as this imbalance remains, 2018 is on track to remain a very strong seller’s market.

Eastside

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Defying the usual winter slow-down in home prices, December broke new records on the Eastside. The median price of a single-family home soared 17 percent over a year ago to $938,240 – an all-time high for the region. Appreciation in higher-end areas, like West Bellevue and Mercer Island, topped 20 percent. Homeowners, especially those considering downsizing, may want to take advantage of the sharp increase in equity.

King County

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King County recorded the lowest inventory since records began in 2000, and demand just keeps rising. As a result, the price of a single-family home jumped 15.5 percent over the same time last year to $635,000. Those looking buy a condo as a more affordable option were out of luck. The median price tag of $402,000 is a relative bargain when compared to a single-family home, but there are only about 200 condos on the market, another record low.

Seattle

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While below the high point last summer, the median price of a home in Seattle jumped 14 percent year over year to $725,000. Supply and demand is again the culprit. There are just two weeks of available inventory on the market. Not only are homes here selling quickly, but fewer people are putting their homes up for sale. Most economists are predicting a moderate slowdown in cost increases here in 2018, with prices still rising but not as sharply as they did in 2017.

Snohomish County

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Prices in Snohomish County continue to rise at a rapid pace. The median price of a single-family home here grew 12.5 percent from a year ago to $449,950. With less than a month of available inventory, prices are projected to remain high.


Posted on January 23, 2018 at 7:03 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market Update |

New Year’s Tips for Buying and Selling

 

If your 2018 resolution is to buy or sell a home, here are some suggestions to help you along the way. For everyone else, we’ve added some tips about building equity and investing in updates to your home.

Buying:

If you’re in the market to buy your first home or if you’re upsizing/downsizing, here are some ideas that can help you make this dream a reality:

  • Create a buying timeline and work towards your goal
  • Check your credit scores and work to improve your rating
  • Start or increase your savings for a down payment
  • Start the loan pre-approval process
  • Meet with your real estate agent
  • Start looking for homes

Selling:

If you are planning to put your home on the market in 2018, here are some good places to start:

  • Create a selling timeline to work towards having your home ready for market
  • Make a list of home improvements and a plan on how to manage them
  • Get rid of the clutter
  • Contact a real estate agent

Building Equity:

You may not be moving this year, but you can create a plan to increase your equity in the home you have now.  Here are some tips:

  • Take advantage of low interest rates by refinancing to a lower rate
  • Consider refinancing to a shorter term loan
  • Make extra lump-sum payments. Consider using your tax refund, cash gifts, work bonuses, garage sale money, or any other unexpected income toward paying down your principal.
  • Pay every two weeks instead of once a month. A biweekly payment plan can substantially reduce the amount of interest you pay because you are breaking the interest accrual down from 30 days to every 15.
  • Pay a little extra each month. Even if you’re only rounding up to the next $100 increment, putting a little extra money towards your principal every month can add up.

Investing In Your Home

You can add a lot of value and additional enjoyment to your home by investing in improvements and upgrades.

  • Choose a home improvement project that will yield a good return on investment when you do choose to sell
  • Create a home checklist to track maintenance projects over the year
  • Make eco-improvements to increase your home’s sustainability and reduce your utility payments over the long-term. These improvements are generally a good return on your investment when reselling.
    • Upgrade furnace to an efficient model
    • Upgrade windows for better insulation
    • Add alternative energy resources, such as solar power
    • Update toilets and showers to low-flow
    • Install a programmable thermostat
    • Update to energy-efficient appliances

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.


Posted on January 9, 2018 at 9:48 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market News |

What Can We Expect From The 2018 Housing Market?

This article was originally written by Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner on the Windermere.com blog.

It’s the time of the year when I look deep into my crystal ball to see what’s on the horizon for the upcoming year. As we are all aware, 2017 has been a stellar year for housing across the country, but can we expect that to continue in 2018?

Here are my thoughts:

Millennial Home Buyers

Last year, I predicted that the big story for 2017 would be millennial home buyers and it appears I was a little too bullish. To date, first-time buyers have made up 34% of all home purchases this year – still below the 40% that is expected in a normalized market. Although they are buying, it is not across all regions of the country, but rather in less expensive markets such as North Dakota, Ohio, and Maryland.

For the coming year, I believe the number of millennial buyers will expand further and be one of the biggest influencers in the U.S. housing market. I also believe that they will begin buying in more expensive markets. That’s because millennials are getting older and further into their careers, enabling them to save more money and raise their credit profiles.

Existing Home Sales

As far as existing home sales are concerned, in 2018 we should expect a reasonable increase of 3.7% – or 5.62 million housing units. In many areas, demand will continue to exceed supply, but a slight increase in inventory will help take some heat off the market. Because of this, home prices are likely to rise but by a more modest 4.4%.

New Home Sales

New home sales in 2018 should rise by around 8% to 655,000 units, with prices increasing by 4.1%. While housing starts – and therefore sales – will rise next year, they will still remain well below the long-term average due to escalating land, labor, materials, and regulatory costs. I do hold out hope that home builders will be able to help meet the high demand we’re expecting from first-time buyers, but in many markets it’s very difficult for them to do so due to rising construction costs.

Interest Rates

Interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The anticipated rise that many of us have been predicting for several years has yet to materialize. As it stands right now, my forecast for 2018 is for interest rates to rise modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage – still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

Tax Reform

Something that has the potential to have a major impact on housing are the current proposals relative to tax reform. As I write this, we know that both the House and Senate propose doubling the standard deduction, and the House plans to lower the mortgage interest deduction from $1,000,000 to $500,000. If passed, the mortgage deduction would no longer have value for home owners who would likely opt to take the standard deduction.

If either of the current proposals is adopted into law, the potential reduction in mortgage-related tax savings means the after-tax cost of home ownership will increase for most home owners. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills also end tax benefits for interest on second homes, and this could have a devastating effect in areas with higher concentrations of second homes.

The capping of the deduction for state and local property taxes (SALT) at $10,000 will also negatively impact states with high property taxes, such as California, Connecticut, and New York. Furthermore, proposed changes to the capital gains exemption on profits from the sale of a home (requiring five years of continuous residence as compared to the current two) could impact approximately 750,000 home sellers a year and slow the growth of home ownership.

Something else to consider is that all of the aforementioned changes will only affect new home purchases, which I fear might become a deterrent for current home owners to sell. Given the severe shortage of homes for sale in a number of markets across the country, this could serve to exacerbate an already-persistent problem.

Housing Bubble

I continue to be concerned about housing affordability. Home prices have been rising across much of the country at unsustainable rates, and although I still contend that we are not in “bubble” territory, it does represent a substantial impediment to the long-term health of the housing market. But if home price growth begins to taper, as I predict it will in 2018, that should provide some relief in many markets where there are concerns about a housing bubble.

In summary, along with slowing home price growth, there should be a modest improvement in the number of homes for sale in 2018, and the total home sales will be higher than 2017. First-time buyers will continue to play a substantial role in the nation’s housing market, but their influence may be limited depending on where the government lands on tax reform.


Posted on December 22, 2017 at 10:31 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market News |

Local Market Update – December 2017

It looks like we’re skipping the normal holiday slowdown this season with brokers reporting crowded open houses and competitive bidding in many areas. However, since sellers who list their homes at this time of the year are usually motivated to move soon, the holidays are still a good time to buy. Some of the best pricing is historically found between December and February.

Eastside

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The rate of appreciation for homes on the Eastside continues to be as robust – or more so – as in Seattle. Both local and international buyers attribute the appeal of the area to larger lot sizes, newer construction, and highly-rated school districts. Inventory here is extremely low, and homes are selling quickly. The median price for a single-family home on the Eastside reached $851,000 in November, a 12 percent increase over the same time last year.

King County

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The number of new listings in King County is down 19 percent as compared to a year ago. With demand still strong, the median home price in King County rose 15 percent over last year to $630,750. Condo inventory, long an option for more affordable housing, is at a record low as developers opt for building apartments to avoid the legal and financial risks that come with building condos.

Seattle

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Seattle is one of the fastest growing American cities, and demand doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon. Combine that with a very limited supply and it’s no surprise that for over a year home prices here have been rising faster than anywhere in the country. Last month, the median price for a single-family home in Seattle was $741,000, soaring 21 percent from the previous year.

Snohomish County

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Buyers priced out of the King County market are taking this advice: drive until you qualify. Many are ending up buying in Snohomish County. The number of homes for sale was down more than 24 percent here in November and there is currently less than one month of inventory available. The median price of a single-family home was $445,000, up 11 percent year-over-year.


Posted on December 11, 2017 at 10:26 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Local Market Update |

November Home Maintenance Checklist

November brings a transition to shorter days, colder weather and spending more time indoors. It also brings anticipation, planning and preparation for the upcoming winter holidays.

Our checklist this month includes small, quick and easy tasks you can do now to get a jump start on your holiday hosting preparation so you can enjoy friends and family when they arrive.

Replace chair floor protectors. Prevent damage to your hardwood floors by adding or replacing floor protection pads to the legs of your chairs. Hardware stores sell felt self-adhesive protectors that are easy to use.

Clean garbage disposal. Run a few pieces of lemon rind with some ice cubes through your garbage disposal to keep it smelling fresh. The ice chunks scour the blades and scrape away debris. Products that clean and deodorize garbage disposals can also be purchased in retail stores.

Repair plumbing issues. Fix a slow drain or a stuck garbage disposal now rather than wait until you have a full house of guests.

Check bathtub caulk. Use diluted bleach to clean caulk that is moldy or mildewed. Avoid water damage to your home’s framing by replacing worn-out caulking as soon as possible.

Stock up for winter. Buy winter supplies like shovels and ice melting products now so you’ll be ready when the first snow falls.

Silence squeaky door hinges. Spray some cooking oil or other lubricant on door hinges. Be sure to first place a drop cloth on the floor to protect it and also blot the hinge with a rag to remove excess oil.

Clean kitchen exhaust fan filter. Remove kitchen exhaust fan screen and scrub with a mild detergent or run through the dishwasher.

Check fire extinguishers. Locate your fire extinguishers and be sure their gauge shows enough pressure.

Set aside a November afternoon to do the items on this home maintenance list, then sit back and enjoy a cup of hot apple cider. Happy Thanksgiving!

This blog was reposted with the permission of Long & Foster.


Posted on November 28, 2017 at 11:20 pm
Kim Gervasoni | Posted in Home Maintenance |