Security systems are the most desired feature in Smart Homes and not so much gadgets that control lights and appliances.  Security features include fire, carbon monoxide and gas leak alarms as well as intrusion detection.  90% of respondents in a survey by Icontrol Networks cited security as their premier desire in home automation systems.

Energy management was important to 78% of respondents for second place.

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Wow, wildfires are burning all around the Lake Chelan area right now and there are even evacuations in Antoine Creek, Washington Creek and Union Valley.  Just to the north, the City of Pateros was devastated by fire last night with the loss of dozens of homes.  I planned to talk about other topics today, but that was not to be.

Wildfires are not uncommon to this area in the summer and fall season. Last fall, I had “Firewise” style of treatment of the vegetation done around our cabin in the Lake Wenatchee area.  Even so, a fire in the area would be a challenge if it travels into our neighborhood.

Yet, there are ways to live here that have much lower fire danger than other choices.  Living further out, generally, entails greater risk and requires better fire planning to be able to reduce the risk from wildfire damage.  The materials chosen for a home and the landscaping have are big factors in the survivability from wildfires as well as how well flammable materials are kept away from structures.

Even so, in some cases the power of wildfires are almost unimaginable.  There are folks who have lost their homes and forces are being rallied to help.   The Community Foundation of North Central Washington has set up a fire relief fund to help our displaced neighbors all over our three county area. Visit their website for details. Call 509-663-7716. Chelan County Emergency Management is using tools like facebook to keep folks updated as well.

Stay aware of wildfire issues and still pray for all those in the line of the fires as well as the heroes fighting the fires.

 

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Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the Fed may raise rates sooner than expected, but it depends on the labor market.

If labor markets continue to improve more quickly than expected, the Fed may move to raise rates sooner than expected.  Current expectations are that rates will start climbing within a year.

Ms. Yellen acknowledged that wage growth is still anemic.  So, basically, anything could happen.

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According to a new Redfin survey, home buyers and sellers are diverging in their view of the marketplace with many home sellers digging in on over pricing their homes and buyers are just saying no to bidding wars.

How bad is it?

“In May, 40 percent of sellers surveyed by Redfin said that they planned to list their homes above market value, even though home sales had dropped by 9 percent since the year before,” says Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. “Typically, it takes sellers six to nine months to adjust to a price change, but this latest shift is longer. Prices have moved down and then up so much over the past five years that it’s even more difficult for sellers to have a realistic baseline for what their homes are worth in the current market.” – Redfin.com

Home buyers are becoming more willing to walk away from a deal and are more often adopting a take it or leave it attitude.    The market has shifted, and it is shifting back to a more balanced market for buyers.

Home sellers just aren’t getting it yet.  58% of Redfin agents said that sellers held unrealistic expectations about the value of their homes, an increase from 49% last quarter.

The Lake Chelan market has been this way all year, with sellers expectations similar to 2005 and buyers seeming to look for depressed pricing like it was 2011.  Nobody said it would be easy.

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Times change, and with them so do the amenities that home buyers are looking for in their next home purchase.  Pulte Homes surveyed 1000 adults aged 25 to 65 to find out the current preferences.

To get what they want in a home, survey respondents were even willing to give up other features in many cases.  Almost half, 44%, are willing to give up a location near public transportation for specific amenities and 35% are willing to give up better schools and proximity to entertainment and shopping for the right home.

The amenities they are looking for include more space for the 51% that want their next home to be larger than their current residence.  Move-in ready was even more popular, with 64% preferring a move-in ready home.

Some of the most important features include:

  • “His and her closets” in the master bedroom  were important to 31% of respondents and a spa-like master bathrooms was important to 23%.
  • A large eat-in kitchen area is important to 23% and a kitchen island is key for 22% of home buyers.
  • 54% if buyers want at least one bathtub in a home

As far as which spaces have the most priority, the kitchen is most important to 29%, bedrooms to 22% and the living room was most important for 18% of home buyers in the Pulte survey.

At Lake Chelan, views are critical to many buyers and others are looking specifically for waterfront or waterfront access.  The sunny weather makes outdoor living spaces highly desired as well where home owners and their guests to spread out and enjoy open spaces.

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The FAA, in their interpretation of model airplane rules released this week, specifically mentions real estate agents.  In their interpretation of the rules the FAA said “a REALTOR® using a model aircraft to photograph a property that he (or she) is trying to sell and using the photos in the property’s real estate listing does not constitute hobby or recreational use.”

That means real estate agents would likely be subject to the Federal Aviation Administrations safety and designated airspace enforcement.  Photographers selling the service or photos to someone else using a drone don’t qualify for the hobby or recreation exemption either.

The commercial use of drones is currently only allowed on a case-by-case basis and requires an FAA certificate of airworthiness.  The new interpretation is open for public comment  until July 25th, 2014.  The FAA “may modify this interpretation based on comments received.”

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New home sales were up nearly 19% in May according the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau.   Overall home sales are still expected to below last year according to Fannie Mae’s latest projections for 2014.

The economists at Fannie Mae project that existing home sales will be down over last year, but new home sales will increase 12% to 15% in 2014.    The net result is expected to be a 2% to 3% decline in home sales in 2014.

Lake Chelan home sales saw a hotter than usual January, due to mild weather.  In February, things cooled a bit.  Since then home sales are running a bit below last year.

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I hear folks talk about, and reference, Lake Chelan having 300 days of sunshine each year.  You can find the claim in almost every web site for lodging or fun in the Lake Chelan area.  But I have never seen the data to back it up.  Do we get lots of nice sunny days at Lake Chelan, absolutely!  Does Lake Chelan get 300 days of sunshine per year?  Let’s see what we can find.

The first map above shows the relative amounts of solar power generated, per year, from a flat-plate solar collector in various parts of the United States.  It does show Lake Chelan experiencing considerably more sunshine than Seattle, and having a similar level of solar power per square meter to places like Houston, Texas.

According to Wikipedia, we are in a Cold Semi-Arid Climate.  Those areas have “hot and dry (often exceptionally hot) summers, though their summers are typically not quite as hot as those of hot semi-arid climates” according to Wikipedia.  They tend to be at higher altitudes and have major temperature swings from day to night, as much as 27 degrees Fahrenheit.  That certainly describes Lake Chelan.  This map shows other areas of the world with Cold Semi-Arid Climates:

At www.city-data.com I was able to find these charts showing Sunshine and Cloudy Days for Chelan:

Homefacts.com had this chart too:

Sunny Days in Chelan

For 300 days of sunshine per year, that would require 82% of days to have sunshine.  Nothing so far demonstrates that, so I went right to the source, and asked the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce!  The very helpful folks at the Chamber directed me to  http://alltowndata.com/living-in/Chelan-Washington.

Sure enough, if you consider “Sunny Days” as being days without precipitation, the number of days with rain per year over 0.1″ are 35 days.  The number of days with snow per year over .5″ are 6 days.  Thirty five added to 6 is 41 days.  Taking the yearly total of 365 days minus 41 days yields 321 days of “sunshine” average per year!

Sure, you can argue all you want about whether there are really over 300 days of sunshine at Lake Chelan per year.  My suggestion is that you just get out and enjoy the beautiful weather!  To purchase your own home in Lake Chelan, arguably Washington’s best place to enjoy the sun, give me a call!

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