The local real estate market remains very hot with extremely low inventory and prices that are rising faster than anywhere else in the country. However, that rate of price growth appears to be cooling from last year, dropping to its slowest pace in three years. Predictions of more interest rate hikes may further limit price increases. Those considering to sell their home may want to take advantage now of this perfect storm of record-low inventory and record-high prices.
Those looking to buy a home on the Eastside continue to face rising prices and strong competition for limited inventory. With less than a month’s supply of homes, properties here are getting snapped up as soon as they come on the market, and often sell for well over asking price. The median price for homes sold in January climbed 14 percent compared to a year ago to $793,000.
Buyers scrambling to beat increasing interest rates have depleted an already record-low supply of homes. Fewer than 1,600 single-family homes were on the market in King County in January, beating December’s all-time low. The median price of a single family home was up 7 percent over last year to $525,000, but that is the cheapest home prices have been in 11 months. Time will tell whether that price moderation is an anomaly or the continuation of a trend.
After months of robust increases, Seattle home prices slowed down in January. The median price of a single-family home in the city inched up 3 percent over a year ago to $635,000. Some areas of the city even saw small price drops. That should spell good news for buyers, yet razor thin inventory continues to make it a solid seller’s market.
After months of double-digit price increases, Snohomish County may be starting to experience the same market softening as King County. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 8 percent as compared to a year ago to $410,000. Tight inventory continues to be a problem. There are 40 percent fewer homes on the market here than the same time last year.
See full content at https://windermereeastside.com/2017/02/10/local-market-update-february-2017/
Posted on February 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm
Ready to buy a home? Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. From figuring out pricing to why you should consider a realtor, here are 10 Things You Absolutely Need To Know About Buying A Home:
1. Use a trusted realtor. We all know that realtors get a cut of the sales price of a home which makes some buyers hesitant to use a realtor: they believe it drives up the overall cost. Keep in mind that the seller, not the buyer, pays the commission. Brooke Willmes, real estate agent at SPACE & COMPANY in Philadelphia, says that potential buyers should keep in mind that a listing agent (the agent representing the seller) doesn’t protect your interests and “that agent would simply pocket both sides of the commission.” That means that you’re not saving money. A savvy realtor who works for you can protect your interests and guide you through the buying process – from negotiating a price to navigating home inspections.
2. Remember that a house purchase involves a contract. When you’re buying a house, there are papers to sign. And more papers to sign. Many of those papers – which are actually contracts – look like “standard” home buying contracts with no room for negotiation. That isn’t true. Contracts are meant to be negotiated. You don’t have to sign a standard agreement. If you want more time to review your inspection, wish to waive a radon test or want to make a purchase subject to a mortgage approval, you can make that part of the deal. That’s where a savvy realtor can help. See again #1.
3. Don’t necessarily buy for the life you have today. Chances are that buying a house will be one of the bigger financial commitments you’ll make in your lifetime. Before you agree to buy what you think might be your dream house, consider your long-term plans. Are you planning on staying at your current job? Getting married? Having kids? Depending on the market and the terms of your mortgage, you may not actually pay down any real equity for between five and seven years: if you aren’t sure that your house will be the house for you in a few years, you may want to keep looking.
4. Think about commitment. I’m not talking just about your mortgage. When you get married, the laws of your state generally determine how your assets are treated – and ultimately how they’re distributed at divorce. The same rules don’t necessarily apply when you’re not married. That means you need to think long term. When you buy a house with your significant other who is not your spouse, make sure you have an exit plan if things don’t go the way you hope. It’s a good idea to have an agreement in place with respect to titling, mortgage payments and liability, repairs and the like: it’s best to get it in writing (and yes, I’d recommend getting a lawyer).
5. Look beyond paint. It’s often the case that your dream house has that one room that you’re already fantasizing about changing. Willmes says to remember that it’s fairly inexpensive to fix cosmetic issues (a bit of paint or some wallpaper) but making changes to kitchens and baths can be expensive. She says, “People tend to focus on the cost of cabinets, appliances and counters but sometimes forget about the cost of labor which can double to triple the cost.” That doesn’t mean that you should give up on a house in need of a significant fix but you should factor in those costs when determining whether you can afford to buy.
6. Buy the house you know that you can afford. This can be different from the price that your mortgage company believes that you can afford. When my husband and I bought our first house, we were approved for a mortgage of about three times more than we ultimately ended up spending. Fresh out of law school and working for established firms, our finances looked good on paper. But we dialed back our expectations because we weren’t convinced that our income and expenses would remain at those levels. We were right: two years later, we started our own business just as the economy turned south. The less expensive house meant that we could still make our payments even with less income in pocket. So what’s the best ratio to use? Some lenders suggest that you can afford mortgage payments totaling about 1/3 of your gross income but others suggest closer to 28% for housing related costs including mortgage, insurance and taxes. There are a number of factors including your projected income, interest rates, type of mortgage and the market. Ask your mortgage broker to help you understand what’s in play.
7. Don’t fixate on the purchase price. The purchase price is just one piece of owning a house: be sure to consider all of the costs associated with your potential new home. That includes the cost of insurance, homeowner association fees and real estate taxes – depending on where you live, those can quickly add up. And it’s not just home improvements that can cost money: maintenance costs dollars, too. It’s a good idea to ask questions about upkeep for extras like swimming pools, fancy heating and cooling systems and out buildings. Finally, Willmes suggests that you make sure you’re comparing apples to apples: a condo with a large fee that’s priced low may be more costly than a higher priced one with lower fees while a cheap home with high taxes may cost you more a month than a more expensive one with lower taxes.
8. Consider your student loan debt. Following the housing crisis, lending laws tightened. Student debt isn’t merely an annoyance: it’s treated like real debt. Jason Griesser, a licensed Prospect Mortgage Branch Manager in PA, explains that a major revision to FHA guidelines in 2015 negatively affects many first-time homebuyers with student loan debt. Prior to this change, a borrower with student loans deferred for more than 12 months could discount that debt from their liabilities: now, for purposes of determining purchasing power, a borrower is charged with 2% of the outstanding balance of the student loan regardless of deferment status (in a non-FHA, or conventional loan, it’s just 1%). If your student loan is in deferment and you’re planning on buying a home, Griesser suggests enrolling in a properly documented income-based repayment plan so you have the documents your lender will need to properly assess your ongoing liability.
9. Don’t get carried away by the home mortgage interest deduction. Many taxpayers are tempted to buy more house than they can afford by figuring that they’ll save enough with the home mortgage interest deduction to make up for it. The mortgage interest deduction is only deductible if you itemize on your Schedule A: only about 1/3 of taxpayers claim the itemized deduction. You itemize if your deductions exceed the standard deduction: for 2015, the standard deduction rates are $12,600 for married taxpayers filing jointly and $6,300 for individual taxpayers (those rates stay putfor 2016). Assuming that you do itemize, remember that your out of pocket will still be more than your tax savings (if you’re in a 28% bracket, paying $5,000 more in interest will only “save” you $1,400 in taxes). And you can’t count on the same level of savings forever: mathematically, the longer you own your house, the less you will owe in interest. That’s good for building your equity but it means a smaller deduction come tax time.
10. You don’t have to buy a house. There’s no rule that says you have to buy a house by the time you’re 35 – or ever. Buying a home is a big decision and while it can be a sound financial investment,it’s not for everyone. There is a lot to consider, including the housing market, interest rates, timing and your future plans. You might want more flexibility or mobility, or your career and family plans may be in flux. If you’re not sure about a neighborhood, consider renting as a test drive: a realtor can help you with that, too (see again #1). Even then, you don’t have to pull the switch: there are healthy rental markets throughout the country and in some areas, young professionals are choosing rentals over homebuying to preserve cash and remain mobile. That’s showing in the stats: last year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the home ownership rate was 64.9%, not counting borrowers in risk of default. In contrast, ownership in 2010 was nearly 69% (downloads as a pdf): for purposes of context, a one-percent change in the ownership represents well over a million homeowners. For more on the decision to buy versus rent, check out my book, Home, Sweet Rental: Busting The Hype Of Homeownership, available on Amazon.
I’m so excited to be a part of the Windermere Foundation. There is nothing better than handing over money to such deserving organizations. Royal Family Kids Camp, Eastside Academy and the Bellevue Boys & Girls Club are just a few examples of the admirable nonprofits that the foundation helps each year. If you would like to learn more about the Windermere Foundation and how you can help, click the link below.
As we approach the midpoint of 2015, the residential real estate market is on track for its best year since 2006, the peak of the housing bubble. (This time, though, it’s no bubble.)
Job growth is powering the surge in demand for homes. More than 3 million jobs have been created in the past 12 months. And more than 1 million jobs have been created for 25- to 34-year-olds, the age range in which most Americans buy their first home.
We’re seeing record traffic at realtor.com®. Real estate websites across the board are experiencing 15% year-over-year growth in unique users, but our site has seen more than twice that (perhaps thanks to Elizabeth Banks?). The vast majority of our visitors report that they intend to purchase a home.
With rising demand, homes are selling more quickly, too. In May the median age of inventory (homes on the market) nationwide was 66 days—that’s 8 days faster than for last year. The hottest markets are seeing inventory move 18 to 45 days faster.
Along with tulips and daffodils, "For Sale" signs will soon be popping up across neighborhood lawns. An improving labor market in the U.S. is expected to spur increased home sales in 2015, so if you've been wanting to sell your home, low interest rates and tight inventory levels should create an attractive environment.
"With the improving economy, we will see more people leaving their parents' homes. Living in your parents' basement isn't part of the American dream," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. "Nearly three million new jobs were created in the last 12 months, and that provides incomes for families and confidence for making long-term decisions."
NAR forecasts a jump in existing home sales in 2015 to a 5.25 million rate, an increase from 4.93 million sales in 2014. The national median existing-home price was $208,500 in 2014, a 5.8 percent increase from 2013, according to NAR. Yun forecasts the median home price to rise again in 2015 to $218,300.
Inventory levels, or the number of homes for sale, remain tight, which could give sellers an edge. "For most of 2014, inventory stood at 4.5 to 5.5 months of supply. That compares with a more balanced market of 6 to 6.5 months' supply," Yun says.
There are several things you can do to help your home stand out among other listings. "Makeovers can be inexpensive, but give back big returns," says Gary Rogers, broker-owner of Waltham, Massachusetts-based RE/MAX On The Charles.
When it comes to readying your home for sale, think about three things: clean, clutter and color, says Sheryl Grider Whitehurst, managing broker at Traders Realty in Peoria, Illinois.
Here are five things you can do to get a leg up on the competition this spring.
1. Spring-clean your home. Take the time to do a deep cleaning on your home. Clean your windows. Consider a fresh coat of paint. Clean the grout in your ceramic tile. Consider whether your carpets need cleaning. "When you walk into a nice hotel room, everything is nice and sparkly clean. You want the same thing for your house," Whitehurst says.
Even small things can make a difference. "Make sure the furnace filter is clean. If it is dirty, potential buyers will wonder how you have taken care of other mechanicals in your house," Whitehurst says.
Cleaning also means sprucing up your landscaping, which includes flower beds and bushes. "People wait until the last minute to prepare the outside, and sometimes it just doesn't get done," Rogers says.
2. Clear the clutter. It's time to get out the packing boxes. "If you are serious about moving, start packing now. Think about getting a small storage locker. Lighten up the house. If the living room has too much furniture, it doesn't look usable," Rogers says.
With spring just around the corner, consider packing away your winter clothes, so the closets appear more spacious. "People want to go into a property and see that there is ample room for their things," Whitehurst says.
Each year, all 12 of the Eastside offices participate in a campaign to highlight Windermere Real Estate’s “Standards of Practice.” For the entire month of February, Standards of Practice Awareness takes center stage in each office with the “blue folder” containing several documents created bybrokers to help brokers attain the goal of the highest client satisfaction.
Windermere Real Estate brokers “set the standard” and follow a strict etiquette to best serve our clients. Our commitment to these standards is part of what sets Windermere apart and strengthens our resolve. They draw a clear picture of our culture and what our clients, colleagues, and community can expect from us. In turn, we trust this translates into a more satisfying real estate experience and peace-of-mind for our clients knowing that doing right by them is our highest priority.
It’s for these reasons and Standards of Practice that nearly one third of Eastside sellers select Windermere to market and sell their properties. Brokers in the northwest have listed Windermere as the company they are most confident in doing a transaction with due to the high caliber of Windermere’s professionals.
What does this mean for the Eastside?
Our brokers on the Eastside are poised to help you through your buying and selling experiences. We hold high value and honor to these Standards of Practice and apply them to every interaction, customer relationship, and transaction. The ultimate benefit for you as a client is a broker who is practiced and ready to offer you the best experience.
Posted on February 8, 2015 at 10:07 pm
A few weeks ago, we heard a term that was new to us: “emerging adulthood.” It was defined as the life stage where young adults in their 20s take time to find themselves. Otherwise known as the time when kids graduate from college and move home because they don’t know what the heck they want to do with their lives. We have a student like that graduating this spring, so this topic is definitely of interest to our family.
It got us thinking about the millennial generation and first-time home buyers. A lot has been written about this generation’s barrier to home ownership due to school debt, high unemployment, and tight lending standards. But times they are a changing. For one, the recent loosening of credit conditions is making it easier for first-time buyers to secure a mortgage. Secondly, economists say that all of the jobs that were lost locally during the Great Recession have now returned. In fact, Seattle’s unemployment rate is now at levels we haven’t seen since before the 2008 financial crash.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about kids graduating from college with absolutely no job prospects, but in some cities, like Seattle, things appear to be getting a lot better. In fact, the National Association of REALTORS® recently published the top five most affordable cities for millennial home buyers based upon home prices, unemployment rates, and income growth. Seattle was number four. In part, we can thank the growth spurts of local companies like Amazon for this, as well as several Silicon Valley-based behemoths that have taken up residence in Seattle. All of this is helping create a solid job market.
First-time home buyers are critical to the health of the overall market; they’re the vital first link in the all-important housing chain. So it’s encouraging to see that lending standards are loosening, and Seattle’s employment outlook is sunny. It makes us optimistic that the dream of homeownership won’t die with the millennial generation. And that the housing market will continue to strengthen. It also gives us hope that, someday, our soon-to-be college graduate will find somewhere other than our basement to call home.
This year, we are donating $170,000 in grants to 17 organizations. In an effort to make you more aware of each organization, we’ll be highlighting a recipient once a month on the Windermere Eastside blog.
Attain Housing – This grant will help provide affordable housing to homeless families with children as well as case management for setting financial and social goals.
Eastside Baby Corner – This grant provides basic essentials, like diapers and formula to economically disadvantaged children, ages birth to 12.
Bellevue LifeSpring – This grant will be used to support the Breaktime-Mealtime program which provides 80,000 meals to children during school breaks.
Mamma’s Hands – This grant supports three Houses of Hope that house mothers and children in crises from abuse and homelessness and helps them develop individual plans to bring life-altering, positive changes to their lives.
LifeWire – This grant supports the Hotel-Motel Voucher program, which provides short-term stay in hotels and motels for victims of domestic violence, until safe housing can be found.
Backpack Meals – This grant provides weekend meals to Bellevue Schools students who are homeless and would otherwise go hungry.
Friends of Youth – This grant will purchase bed-nights at the Landing, an emergency overnight shelter for homeless young adults ages 18 to 24.
Harrington House – This grant will apply to expenses related to the delivery of case management services to pregnant and new mothers, including parenting skills, job or education placement, and mental and physical health treatment.
Bellevue Boys and Girls Club – This grant supports Project Learn after school and summer camp programs at three low-income housing Clubhouses.
Royal Family Kids Camp – This grant supports summer camp for abused, neglected, and abandoned foster children ages 7 to 11.
Treehouse – This grant supports Little Wishes, which provides in-school and extracurricular activities to foster youth.
Northwest Arts Center – This grant will create the opportunity for children from extremely low-income households to engage in quality art education.
Jubilee Reach – This grant will support direct before and after school care for more than fifty students at Lake Hills Elementary School.
Birthday Dreams – This grant will fulfill parties for homeless youth, specifically through their Birthday-in-a-Box program.
Valley Renewal Center – This grant will provide food, toiletries, clothing, blankets, etc. to homeless families.
Kindering – This grant will provide developmental support, screening, and early intervention therapies to very young children of homeless families.
Posted on November 24, 2014 at 11:59 pm
During the holidays, six Windermere Real Estate offices pull together for Target for Kids event where we give 100 kids from deserving families a $200 gift card to shop for their families. Instead of having our own company holiday party, we help families on the Eastside who might not otherwise be in a position to celebrate the holidays. This year, we’re partnering with The Market Place at Factoria and the Target store on December 6th for the event.
The Target for Kids tradition began in 1998 when Don Deasy, the founder of Windermere/East, Inc., decided that in lieu of a company holiday party, they would try to give back to the community. Over the last 17 years, we have done the event 14 times, donating almost a quarter of a million dollars through the Windermere Foundation.
The morning of the event, a child from each family between the ages of seven and 12 (a “little shopper”) is given his or her gift card and partnered with one of our brokers who helps the little shopper select gifts for members of their family. For many of the children, this is the first time they have experienced the joy of gift giving. Unbeknownst to the little shopper, a gift for them is also purchased. Gifts are then taken into the mall where there are 6 large wrapping stations, each powered by 15 to 20 brokers. The gifts are wrapped, tagged and packaged for the little shopper to take back to their family.
While they wait for the gifts to be wrapped, there are crafts, Santa pictures, and light food and beverages. The event setup begins at 7:00 a.m. and in just a short amount of time the mall is filled with over 500 people! By 10:00 a.m. the last of the cleanup is underway and 100 families are on their way home with gifts for the holidays!
It is wonderful to see how much fun the kids have and to experience the joy felt by getting presents for their loved ones. This event is a favorite because it really welcomes the giving atmosphere of the holiday season.
Posted on November 24, 2014 at 11:56 pm
The real estate market remains strong as we head into the holidays.
• Prices continue to increase over last year
• Number of sales are up slightly
• Inventory remains tight
• Luxury home sales have soared
Eastside home prices rose 7 percent to $615,864. There is just 1.8 months of inventory available in the Eastside market. That number is significantly lower than the 10 year average of 4.5 months. This strong seller’s market has made competition for homes very strong.
Prices in Seattle increased 8.3 percent to $515,000. Supply is particularly low here, with just 1.2 months of inventory. The amount of inventory is even tighter is desirable communities close to the city.
The median price of single family homes sold in King County in October was up 5 percent over last year to $447,250. Inventory remains tight, with less than two months of housing supply available in King County. Supply has hovered around the two month mark all year, so we continue to remain in a seller’s market. With more demand than supply, about half of all new listings are selling in the first 30 days.
Luxury Home Sales
Sales of homes priced at $5 million or more have jumped 59% over last year. 27 homes priced at $5 million or more have sold so far this year (and 14 of those in the last 90 days). That compares with 17 $5 million+ sales in all of 2013. These luxury home sales are heavily concentrated on the Eastside, with 25 of the 27 transactions occurring east side of Lake Washington.
Posted on November 24, 2014 at 11:55 pm