All homeowners in Washington should be aware of the changes to the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) rates that went into effect January 1 of this year.
The new rates present a “glass is half full/half empty” scenario and (to mix metaphors) the benefits and drawbacks “are in the eye of the beholder.” The previous state tax rate was a flat 1.28% of the sales price for all properties. The new rates are graduated, which will reduce the tax for some properties and raise them for others*.
Excise Taxes Are Paid On The Sale of Real Estate
Other than farm or timber land, any property selling for $500,000 and under will have lower taxes this year. Anything over $500,000 – you’ll have to do some calculations, but there will be some savings. Once you hit $1,5000,001 and above, the rates are higher.
For perspective, the Median Sale Price last year for Clark County was $371,000. So, the average home seller will benefit from the new rates this year. Remember. these are NOT property taxes, but taxes you pay when a property sells.
Because this is a graduated tax, properties priced between $500,000.01 and $1,500,000 take advantage of the lower rate taxed on the first $500,000. The example provide by the DOR:
If the total sale price is $600,000, then the first $500,000 is taxed at 1.10%. The remaining $100,000 is taxed at 1.28%.
Note: These rates do not affect the additional local excise rates of .50%
If the total sale price is $4.4 million, then the first $500,000 is taxed at 1.10%. The next $1 million is taxed at 1.28%. The next $1.5 million is taxed at 2.75% and the final $1.4 million is taxed at 3%.
For those who are curious, there is a convenient REET Tax Calculator spreadsheet available for download. Since the tax is paid at closing, title should calculate pay it out of the settlement statement.
Every year the Easter Bunny brings big hops and big hopes – and lots of Easter eggs. We’re not sure which came first, the Chicken or the Egg. But we do know Easter is the time of year when many thoughts turn to eggs, the universal symbols of rebirth.
putting them in baskets,
looking for good spots to hide them,
and finding creative ways to eat them.
And a time to reflect.
We know a certain bunny has eggs on his mind. But on Easter, we also reflect on all the Good Eggs we know in life. Like you. (If you’re reading this post, or watching this video, we are talking about YOU!)
In a time when we seem to have so much division, Easter can return us to thoughts of a simpler time in our lives. When we reflect on what makes us more alike than different. And a time when we celebrate the return of a vibrant season. When the earth comes back to life – hence, the egg as a universal symbol of rebirth.
And you may wonder – how did a “Silly Wabbit” become the symbol for Easter? It’s really not clear, but some believe it originated with the pagan festival of Eostre (Easter). She was the goddess of fertility whose animal symbol was a bunny. Known for energetic breeding, it is thought that, from the pagan celebration, the Easter Bunny emerged as a natural symbolize for fertility.
So, Easter – and Spring in general – represent resurrection and renewal in many different cultures. But to children it is one of those magical holidays filled with excitement and wonder. It’s a day when the Easter bunny brings big hops – and big hopes. And our hope is to always remember to view life through the eyes of a child. With wonder and joy at the season!
Spring is almost here and, if you live in the country, you might be thinking about pruning those fruit trees in your yard. Growing fruit trees is not a passive activity – especially on rural property where you often find lots of them. They actually require year-round attention for optimum health and better fruit production.
Obvious chores include watering and fertilizing during spring and summer. But trees also require attention during the winter, even though they are mostly dormant for that season.In fact, late winter is the ideal time for pruning and spraying – hence the term “dormant” oil for the type of spray used.
For ideal conditions, trees should be dry with no foreseeable precipitation for at least 24 hours. Likewise, ideal temps should be close to freezing. Although in some areas, you may be able to prune as late as April as long as the trees have not sprouted leaf buds.
This past winter was a real challenge because it was so wet. Our continuous days of snow and freezing rain made it nearly impossible to get out and take care of the trees.Finally, with dry weather and temperatures still below 40, we found a perfect day in March.
Shaping The Tree For Better Fruit
While pruning is not that hard with the right tools, it helps to know what you want to accomplish with the trimming. A fruit tree continues to grow throughout the year, producing new shoots from its limbs.Unless these shoots have fruit buds, they need to be pruned off. Otherwise, they divert nourishment from the branches that have fruit. Pruning helps direct the nutrients from the tree trunk to branches with fruit.
Likewise, the shape of the tree can determine how productive and healthy the harvest will be. There are several schools of thought about this, but we prefer to prune the center lead (trunk) out. This helps the outer branches spread out and grow into an umbrella shape. The open center allows more air circulation and sunlight into the remaining branches, which helps blooming. This approach also makes it easier to harvest – as the outer branches bear fruit, they tend to bend down, making it easier to reach.Proper pruning can help shape a tree into ideal production.
Sometimes Major Pruning is Necessary
You will often see a mature fruit trees laden with fruit at the very top branches. This makes the fruit nearly inaccessible when the tree hasn’t been pruned regularly.We had a few mature trees on our property when we moved in four years ago.They were overgrown with misshapen branches that criss-crossed inside the canopy. This not only creates a tangled mess, it also invites bugs and disease. And, of course, the harvest was lacking.
So, two winters ago, we did a dramatic pruning that cut back many of the thick, older branches, and opened up the centers.It is a scary proposition and, again, counterintuitive because it looks like the tree will die from all that major surgery.Plus, trees often appear to “suffer” because they will skip a year in production as they recover.However, after a major pruning, trees usually bounce back, and are healthier for it.
And that was the case with our trees – there were no apples last summer. But spring weather has brought tons of flowering fruit buds, and the trees are thriving.Plus, this summer, as the lower branches fill out, the fruit will be a lot easier to reach. Next winter, we will able to return to light pruning.
So don’t be afraid to trim your trees after you’ve determined how you want them to look. Regular pruning and dormant spray will keep them healthy and producing for years.
The magic of gnomes and fairies has always been celebrated at our household. The grandchildren, who call me Oma, substitute it for Gn-oma at times, because they know how much I love these mythical nature spirits.
Therefore, we are especially excited about the Camas First Friday event next month. The Garden Gnome and Fairy Gala on May 4, is in honor of the Camas Plant and Garden Fair which follows in the next week.
If you too appreciate Nature, no doubt you know gnomes are often considered the protector of the forest and healers of animals. According to some legends, the fairies work in concert with the gnomes to carry out this large responsibility.
We think it should be a fun evening in downtown Camas with gnomes and fairies making a rare appearance throughout in shops and businesses. There’s also a treasure hunt for hidden fairy houses, an enchanted fairy garden cake decorating contest, and fairy and gnome crafts for kids.
Naturally the businesses will be open late as usual, from 5-8PM, and the local eateries will be eager to serve hungry families. Don’t forget too, you earn tickets to win great prizes for each location you visit.
At ViewHomes of Clark County we are always game for celebrating Nature As Neighbors. We hope to see you at First Friday on May 4, 2018 in charming downtown Camas.
According to the Earth Day Network, currently about 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year to make bags, bottles, packages, and other commodities for people all over the world. Unfortunately, only about ten percent of this plastic is properly recycled and reused. The rest ends up as waste in landfills or as litter in our natural environment, where it leaches dangerous chemicals into the nearby soil and water, endangering humans and wildlife alike.
Of the 33 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. each year, only about 7 percent is recycled. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a floating mass of garbage the size of a continent where plastic outnumbers plankton. Plus, most plastic is made from oil.
It’s no surprise to learn the theme for this years, May 22, 2018 Earth Day celebration is End Plastic Pollution.
We’re not sure which came first,
but we do know it’s the time of year when many thoughts turn to eggs.
putting them in baskets,
looking for good spots to hide them,
and finding creative ways to eat them.
Even a certain rabbit has eggs on his mind.
As for us, we are reminded of all the good eggs we know in life.
(If you’re reading this post, or watching this video, we are talking about YOU!)
We both wish you a happy and joyful Easter celebration. And, while the day will be celebrated by many faiths in many different ways, to most children it is one of those magical holidays filled with excitement and wonder. It’s a day of big hopes – and big hops. Our hope is to always remember to view life through the eyes of a child.
(Bernie here, it’s my turn to talk about the Holiday season.)
Over the past few weeks, you have probably taken note of Debb’s total obsession with the Christmas spirit – her touching stories of family getting together in warmly decorated homes sharing messages of peace and love, etc, etc. Puts you in the holiday mood, right? Me, not so much.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the holidays as much as the next guy. But I’ll bet the next guy hasn’t endured Hallmark Christmas Movies for weeks on end. Or the almost obsessive tick tick tick countdown from Halloween through Thanksgiving, which officially marks the start of the marathon.
First, there is the endless procession of Christmas lights dragged out of storage – about half still work. (For some reason, storing perfectly good lights for a year seems to break them.) Then the treacherous ladder climb in the wind and cold to attach lights that will be taken down again in a few weeks. It’s all powered by a convoluted connection of timers, plug-ins, and extension cords that would make Clark Griswold proud. And send a building inspector into apoplectic shock.
Next up is the The Annual Hunt for The Perfect Christmas Tree in which we trudge around in the rain, sometimes ice and snow, sizing up every tree in the woods. After a two hours of chill and debate we usually go back to cut the first one we spied. (I have learned to never say “I told you so.”)
At this point, I turn most of the tree decorating responsibilities over to Debb, and indulge in some libations. At some point, I will hang my prized gold Elvis ornament in some prominent spot. After it’s in place, my work is done.
When Christmas Eve finally rolls around I’ve forgotten most of my misery and catch myself enjoying the festivities. So remember when you’re in the thick of it, and ready to book a ticket for one to a deserted island – where there is noholiday season – hang in there. It’s worth it, just ask Debb.
A Washington Post writer treads treacherous territory with a controversial bombshell of an exposé. No, this is not about D.C. politics, this is about something far more critical to our identity as a civilized culture – food! Yes, Tom Sietsema wrote “The Top 10 Best Food Cities in America” and actually dared to rank them in order – rating many smaller cities higher than better-known metropolitan culinary standards. (Hint: Portland was ranked #1, New York disappointed, and Seattle didn’t make the cut!) As you can expect, it has sparked backlash from loyal food fanatics who felt slighted by his (admittedly subjective) findings.
Although published in 2015, the writer is still defending his choices based on his three-month gastronomical journey across this country. Unlike Guy Fieri’s titular “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”, he expanded his criteria beyond restaurants and bars to food carts, farmers markets, even grocery stores to experience a true sense of the city’s food culture. He interviewed chefs, food critics, merchants, and diners in each city to uncover the best, and lesser-known examples of “creativity, community and tradition” in the local food scene.
His review of Portland names some of our favorite places, including healthy fast-food Burgerville and New Seasons Market ( both are located across the Columbia River in Clark County, Washington too) – regional treasures that feature locally-sourced fresh produce and fruit, meats, and seafood. He credits a produce clerk with introducing him to the odd-shaped but wonderful honeysuckle fruit. He also cites examples of food varieties available in the immediate area – including 300 styles of truffles, and berries “so delicate, they don’t leave the state”. With amazing ingredients, and a generation of accomplished chefs, (both pros and amateurs), the area offers an abundance of wonderful food experiences.
This little sweetheart turned two years old, yesterday. She is our family’s tiny Valentine. Raegan Leigh Nelson, as you can likely see in her photo, is full of unbridled joy and delight.
Children truly know how to live in the moment. We FaceTimed last night and she sat with a happy smile while we sang Happy Birthday. The biggest takeaway of the day for little Rae was “Cake!”
Happy Valentines Day to you and to your sweetheart(s).
Launch the holidays in Clark County at the Port of Camas-Washougal Christmas Ships Parade on Saturday, December 3rd. The parade starts at 6 PM – crowds assemble along the docks at the Port around 5 PM to witness this annual tradition. If the weather is bad, you can slip into the Port’s office.
The Christmas Ships Parade has regaled the Portland/Vancouver region with holiday cheer since 1954. What started with a few volunteer enthusiasts has grown to a fleet of roughly 50 to 60 boats. Now two fleets sail along the Columbia and Willamette rivers – sometimes together – lighting up the water with Christmas decorations and customized lights and signs. This year the parades run from December 2nd through the 18th – the first night’s parade is farther down river along Marine Drive in Portland.
You can check out the schedule and best viewing locations along each river at the Christmas Ships web site. It is a delightful show for both young and old with themes that run the gamut from traditional yuletide to whimsical nautical. It’s a great way to set aside some time from your busy schedule to meet up with friends and get into the holiday mood.
This activity is a volunteer labor of love – Christmas Ship skippers donate their own fuel and time, and receive no compensation. The cost of insurance is offset by generous donations from businesses and restaurants located along the waterfront. So support the cause by booking your parties and reservations at the sponsoring restaurants and hotels, and make sure you tell them you’re coming to view the Christmas Ships.
We were on our way to an inspection yesterday when we both felt the joy of a new season. The drive to the Washougal River property was gorgeous, and we both commented on the fall leaves this year – they are exceptionally splendid. It reminded us to showcase the beauty of our region with seasonal videos. Our video of Spring in Clark County is a popular one, but we didn’t have one for this time of year. Naturally, it didn’t take us long to remedy the situation. Welcome to the beauty of Fall in Clark County, WA.
The Clark County Parade of Homes runs through October 2 and is located in Ridgefield, WA this year – an appropriate site to feature larger homes on country estates. An old, established farming community with pastoral settings and rolling hills, Ridgefield is often cited as one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. Yet, even new developments boast larger lots, views, and plenty of open green spaces. Having the National Wildlife Refuge nearby provides many outdoor recreation opportunities helps protects the surrounding streams and wetlands, providing natural havens for birds and wildlife.
The Parade of Homes features custom homes built on country estates priced from $900,000 to $1,400,000. If you are not looking in that price range, you can still find homes with acreage, and a view in that area. In spite of all the new construction, Ridgefield retains its inviting small town atmosphere. An easy stroll with give you access to historic landmarks, charming shops, restaurants, and the Cathlapotle Plankhouse cultural heritage site. The city is finishing a recreational loop system of pathways to connect downtown with neighborhoods, parks, schools, and the waterfront.
VIewHomes™ Market Report for Ridgefield:
7 Active Listings from $475,000 to $1,800,000
Average SqFt – 2433 Average $/SqFT – $360
1 Pending Sale $650,000 Square Footage: 1394 $/SqFt – $466
3 Sold in past 3 months – $495,000 to $637,000 Average SqFt – 3200 Average $/SqFt – $183
One of our favorite events in Camas every year is the Annual Plant & Garden Fair held Saturday just before Mother’s Day (how convenient)! And to get everyone in the mood, the First Friday event May 6th will be the “Garden Gnome Gala.” Featuring a scavenger hunt throughout downtown Camas, the event gives prizes to participants who find the gnomes hidden in various business throughout downtown. Just visiting the locations will enter you in a drawing to win a miniature fairy garden gift basket from Lizzabeth A. Nuestra Mesa restaurant will host the second night of their Cinco De Mayo party (which, of course, starts May 5th) featuring live music and outside dining and dancing both nights.
Those fun activities are just a warm-up for Saturday’s Plant and Garden Fair, which runs from 9 am to 4 pm downtown. It’s an opportunity to experience a wide selection of plants, trees, garden art and supplies – provided by local growers and artists. The fair is known for its selection of unique hand-made garden art, bird houses, garden furniture, fountains, wind chimes, iron works, and a wealth of other products. It will be hard to choose which gift you want for your mom – or even yourself!
This year’s fair will include a free potting station, with assistance, at 3rd and Cedar to put your plants in containers you buy before heading home. Plus, free educational sessions are offered throughout the day at these vendor booths:
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that the founder of Earth Day, Denis Hayes, grew up in Camas and part of his motivation was to clean up his own town’s environment. So what better way to celebrate Earth Day this year, than to help clean up Downtown Camas?
The condition of downtown and our environment have greatly improved since the first Earth Day in 1970, so it shows how effective group effort can be to bring about change. But there is always work to be done, and that is why the Downtown Camas Association organizes an Annual Spring Cleanup and Plant Day.
This year, the event is schedule for Sunday, April 24 from 1 to 4, meeting at the Journey Community Church, 4th and Birch. Be sure to bring gloves and garden tools, and dress to get dirty! There will be lots of weeding, digging, planting, raking, and barkdusting (if that is a word)! Lots of good clean fun, and a meaningful way to contribute to the community and participate in Earth Day. It’s also great preparation for the upcoming First Friday in May -The Camas Plant & Garden Fair – so check back for more information about that event. As a bonus, Journey will be hosting a free lunch for participants.
For more information about Camas Spring Cleanup and Planting Day, give us a call.
Happy Easter. It seems fitting to reflect this morning with one of my favorite quotes. It pretty much sums it up for me.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
There are 5 easy things you can do for Earth Day 2019. While it may seem that climate change and saving the planet are overwhelming, you can contribute in a small but meaningful way.
The theme this year is “Protecting our Species.” This means protecting humans, too, but it starts with examining our own behavior. Nature as Neighbors has long been a supporter of protecting the environment and creatures that are affected by us.
A crucial component of natural plant and tree cultivation is pollination – fertilization spread by bees, butterflies, even hummingbirds. Today, we are finding this is more important than ever, so we are sending out seed packets to help in this cause. Let us know if you’d like a free sample.
A few years back, we set up a “Bee and Bee” and immediately started seeing the mason bee pollinators emerge. Even after harsh winters, they return every spring. And they are here again! Bees are true survivors when they have our support.
There are many variations of honey and bumblebees out there to see. Our biggest concern is they may be threatened due to overuse of pesticides and destruction of their natural habitat.
Here are 5 Easy Things You Can Do for Earth Day 2019 to help preserve bees in your environment:
Reduce or eliminate pesticides used on foraging plants
One of our favorite Downtown Camas events involves an evening filled with chocolate (and who doesn’t love chocolate?) This First Friday, Feb 5th from 5 to 8 pm “A Chocolate Affair to Remember” features shops throughout downtown serving or selling chocolate. As a bonus, to celebrate the final season of Downton Abbey, participants are encouraged to dress in vintage costumes, which will qualify them for a gift basket drawing – containing vintage treasures donated by Camas Antiques.
It’s a perfect pre-Valentine theme to start thinking about and shopping for unique gifts for that special someone. Among the evening’s activities, participants will be able to:
Guess the amount of candy in jar located throughout downtown, and enter to win that candy and other great Valentine’s themed prizes!
Attend a wine and chocolate tasting at The Liberty Theatre, and also see a special viewing of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory at 6:45pm and Chocolat at 3pm and 8:00pm.
Kids crafts are also available with a Valentine’s theme at the Downtown Camas Association table in Journey Community Church.
Washougal Motocross Park in Washougal is pretty well-known in the pro-racing circuits. On July 23, 2016, the park will host the Washougal National. The legendary race marks Round 9 of the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro-Racing.
The track itself is located in the scenic foothills above the Washougal River. It sits amid a forest of towering fir trees. Some say it’s one of the most beautiful Motocross parks in the world. It is also within hearing distance of many homes. Some of those owners have had an on-going battle with the track over the noise created during the events.
However, I’m not taking a political viewpoint on this one. Be forewarned, if you buy property along the Washougal River Road, prepare to have slow traffic when the track hosts races. In addition, some neighborhoods, such Bear Prairie, are impacted with noise from the park.
To me, knowledge is power, if noise bugs you, buy elsewhere. Some folks choose to live in the area as they have children who participate in the sport, and in the races. Remember, one man’s paradise may be another man’s hell.
We can all agree the Washougal Motocross Park has certainly put Washougal and Camas on the map for a lot of families who love the sport of Motocross Racing.
The 2016 Seed Swap and Giveaway takes place on Sunday, January 31at the Old School House at 24309 NE 209th Street in Battleground. The annual event is sponsored by the Verersborg Community Club.
Gardeners and wanna-be gardeners, soon we’ll be digging in the warm soil again. Thanks to a few generous people there will again be a wide selection with many varieties at the Seed Swap and Giveaway. Organizers encourage you to bring your own extras to give away.
Flowers, veggies, herbs, ornamentals and edibles, oh my! Many are local saved seeds, non-gmo, heirloom and more. Last year’s bounty included basil, beans, beets, borage, broccoli, calendula, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, dill, fennel, kale, lettuce, marigold, melons, nasturtium, nigella, onion, parsley, peas, peppers, poppies, pumpkins, radish, squash, sunflowers, swiss chard, tomatoes, and zinnias.
Last year, people also swapped or donated house plants, canna lily bulbs, garlic, horseradish, iris rhizomes and garden related items to share.
Don’t have seeds to share? No problem! Bring something for the very informal soup/snack potluck or a non-perishable item for the North County Community Food Bank. Volunteers are also welcome to help set-up/clean-up.
We both appreciate gardening and having enough land for “Elbow Room for the Soul.” If you’d like to find a ViewHome in Venersborg, with Nature As Neighbors call us today.
In mid-January, our thoughts often turn to Spring. Soon, we’ll see crocus and other early spring bulbs start poking through the earth. Once that happens, it doesn’t take long for the barren landscape to come alive with color.
Spring will be official when the Woodland, WA and the annual Tulip Festival gets underway on April 9th.This year’s 5K run/walk among the flowers is on April 2. The Tulip Trot starts at 9AM and is described as a family-friendly event. Although, awards will be given to the top 3 overall male and female runners. Plus all runners will go home with a bouquet of fresh tulips.
More about the Tulip Festival in Woodland, Washington
The Dobbe family emigrated from The Netherlands in 1979 with a big dream and a history of successful spring bulb farming. 35 years later, Benno Dobbe is the CEO of Holland America Bulb Farm and its sister corporations.
The annual Tulip Festival is the Dobbe family’s way of sharing their love of the craft of bulb and flower husbandry and a way to support and promote of the city of Woodland.It’s no wonder he was selected as Citizen of the Year by the Woodland Chamber of Commerce.
There’s also a gift shop open on the weekends with cut flowers, potted spring flowers, gifts and of course, bulbs.Woodland is just a 30 minute drive north of the Interstate – 5 Bridge between Portland and Vancouver. When these fields are in bloom, you’ll get a taste of Holland, without the international travel.
If you’re interesting in finding a ViewHome in Woodland WA, with Nature As Neighbors – call us today. We know the joy of having “Elbow Room for the Soul.”
You can help plant habitat to help the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer on Saturday, January 23. Organizers at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge are asking all volunteers to register for the event by calling 360-887-3883. They also remind you to wear waterproof footwear, bring gloves, and dress for the weather.
Illuminate history and the dark winter months of January and February with a Lantern Tour at Fort Vancouver. The lantern-lit journey is designed to give you and your family a glimpse into the past. Even after sundown, you’ll discover, Hudson’s Bay Company employees worked much more than eight hour days.
Here’s a reminder for Clark County pet owners, it’s nearly time for the annual Doggie Dive for the Southwest Washington Humane Society . A Doggie Dive is not a low rent establishment where pets go to get down and dirty. Quite the opposite. The Doggie Dive gives your furry friend an afternoon of good clean fun – and for a great cause.
The outdoor pools at Lakeshore Athletic Club will go to the dogs on Saturday, September 27th, 2015 from 10 AM to 2 PM . The club is located at 2401 NW 94th Street in Vancouver. Your $10 donation goes directly to the Southwest Washington Humane Society.
If your dog’s a bit shy, Humane Society Volunteers will be on hand to help encourage all dogs to safely join in the fun. Little dogs and big dogs will be swimming in separate pools. Sorry, no human swimmers will be allowed in the pools the day of the event.
You’ll need to fill out a release waiver before Fido hits the water, and donations are accepted at the door. It sounds like a lot of fun for pets and their owners, but, we don’t think either of us would want to be the one cleaning out the pool filters at the end of the day!