Commute Times & Price Premiums: The Value of Location, Location, Location

It is the time of year when we like to re-cap the price premiums in our area based on commute times. The price divide continued in 2017 between key market areas in the Greater Seattle area based on proximity to major job centers. These pricing premiums have cemented the drive-to-qualify market. Seattle proper has always been more expensive than its neighboring suburbs, but the most current prices illustrate the extreme value of a shorter commute.

In 2017, the average sales price for a single-family residential home in the Seattle Metro area was $801,000, up 14% from the year prior! In south Snohomish County (Everett to the King County line) the average sales price for a single-family residential home in 2017 was $543,000, up 12% from the year prior, however 48% less expensive than Seattle Metro.

Further, if you jump across Lake Washington to the Eastside, the average sales price in 2017 for a single-family residential home was $1,049,000, up 16% from the year prior and 31% more expensive than Seattle Metro! The Eastside has the infrastructure to support their own job centers, making it a second “Seattle”, with the benefit of newer and larger housing stock, which reflects the pricing. Many folks are living and working on the Eastside, or using the 520 toll bridge to jump over to Seattle.

In 2017, closed transactions were up 4% in south Snohomish County despite fewer new listings coming to market, which I think was driven by its affordability compared to Seattle and the Eastside. Snohomish County offers lower prices, larger houses and yards, new construction, lower taxes, strong school district options and longer, yet manageable commute times. Newer transit centers and telecommuting have also opened up doors to King County’s little brother to the north.

Another hot button that has continued to influence pricing is the future expansion of Light Rail and the locations of the planned stations. We have seen home values in these areas sell at a premium as consumers anticipate the shorter commute times the rail will bring. These neighborhoods are experiencing zoning changes now and the additional expansion is being phased in over the course of the next 15 years. There will be more multi-family and commercial development in these areas, creating more density to serve the public using these commuting services. This has created great appeal for homeowners that want to get in on the ease of nearby public transportation, and developers eager to be part of the infrastructure growth. Stations at Northgate, 145th & 185th in Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood are all slated to open over the next 3-6 years.

No matter what neighborhood you are interested in learning about, in either King or Snohomish County, we are happy to provide a 2017 re-cap of that market. We work in both counties and understand each of their nuances. 2017 was another eventful year in real estate and we are looking for that to continue in 2018. With these strong market prices, we hope to see an increase in inventory levels, providing more options for buyers and allowing price growth to temper to sustainable levels.

Here’s to a successful 2018!

 

Posted on February 7, 2018 at 10:50 am
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Demystifying the Zestimate®

Knowing the value of your home is helpful in many ways. It can help determine one’s net worth, help decide if a home sale or purchase is a financially feasible move, determine the ability to get a loan – and it’s just nice to know where your largest investment stands. Consumers have the option to access websites such as Zillow® to search the Zestimate® or other Automated Valuation Model (AVM) on their property.

A Zestimate is an AVM. The product of an automated valuation technology comes from analysis of public record data and computer decision logic combined to provide a calculated estimate of a probable selling price of a residential property. An AVM generally uses a combination of two types of evaluation, a hedonic model and a repeat sales index. The results of each are weighted, analyzed and then reported as a final estimate of value based on a requested date.

Often times when we talk with potential sellers, their Zestimate (or other AVMs) come up in the overall conversation, which is understandable. This information is relatively easy to access and gives the seller a starting point on the value of their home. Where an AVM can become dangerous is when a consumer thinks it’s accurate. Even worse, when a consumer makes a major financial decision solely based on this information. According to Zillow, less than half of all Zestimates in the Seattle metro area are even within 5.4% of the actual value, and they only give themselves a 2-star (fair) rating on their accuracy. In fact, they publish an accuracy report that you can view here.

In August, the average home price in the Seattle Metro area was $824,000. With less than half of all Zestimates within 5% of the actual value, that is a beginning margin of error of $41,200! Further, they claim that 72.3% of their Zestimates are within 10% of the actual value, which is a marked difference – up to $82,400. Where AVMs are incomplete is that the basis of their formula is tax records, which in our experience are often inaccurate. Also, and most importantly, an AVM does not take into consideration the condition of the home, the neighborhood and other environmental impacts such as school district, road noise and unsightly neighboring homes, to name a few.

At the end of the day, to give an accurate accounting of the value of a home in today’s market requires actually physically touring the home and the surrounding homes that compare. As well as considering current market conditions such as supply and demand and seasonality. An algorithm cannot accomplish this, but a real estate broker can.

So why does the Zestimate exist? Zillow is a publicly traded company (ZG) and their website is their vehicle to create profit. The Zestimate drives consumers to the website who are often dipping their toe in the pool to see what their home might be worth, or searching available homes for sale. When a consumer is searching on the website they are surrounded by real estate broker and mortgage broker ads on every page. These real estate brokers and mortgage brokers are paying for that advertising space, which is how Zillow makes its money and why there is a Zestimate. The Zestimate is not a public service, it is a widget to bring eyes to their advertising space which in turn, sells more ads.

Another important item to note is that Zillow does NOT have all available inventory in the Greater Seattle area on their website. In May, they cut off access to manually input listings, leaving some real estate firms unable to get their listings on the site any longer. Some firms just plainly chose not to syndicate to them. It is estimated that Zillow has between 70%-80% of the total available inventory on their site. In an inventory-tight market like the one we are in now, it is important for consumers to understand that if Zillow is the only source they are searching with, they may be missing out. Brokerage firm websites such as ours have a direct IDX feed from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service which refreshes every 15 minutes, insuring the accuracy and completeness of all listing data.

The moral of the story is this: use Zillow as one of the many tools in your real estate evaluation and search toolbox. Zillow provides a great starting point and contains a ton of information to whet your palate when embarking on a real estate endeavor. However, we live in a time of information overload and we are overstimulated at best. Nothing beats the evaluation and discernment of a knowledgeable and experienced real estate broker to help you determine accuracy, which will lead to the empowerment of clarity.

If you are curious about the value of your home in today’s market, please contact us. Any one of our experienced agents can provide an annual real estate review of all of your real estate holdings, or even dive deep into a complete comparative market analysis if you would find that helpful. It is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions.

 

Zillow® and Zestimate® are trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

 

 

Posted on September 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Market Update – Q3


Inventory levels providing more choices for buyers; is the market starting to stabilize?

As we head into the fall and winter months after an incredibly eventful spring and summer, available inventory levels are starting to ease. It is still a seller’s market (3 months of inventory or less) in most areas, but one that is providing buyers increased options. The increase in available inventory is due to pent-up seller demand starting to come to market. The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! Additionally, lending requirements remain stringent and down payments are bigger, unlike the dreaded bubble market we experienced in 2007/2008. Educated pricing and sound condition is what will drive a buyer’s interest in a home. As the market stabilizes, it will be important for consumers to partner with a broker who closely follows the market to help them make informed decisions and develop winning strategies.

Read below for market details from Snohomish County down through south King County.

 

Snohomish CountySno Co

This graph shows that we currently sit at 1.6 months of inventory based on pending sales, which is the highest level we have seen in all of 2016! It is still a seller’s market (3 months or less), but one that is providing buyers increased options.  The average cumulative days on market reached 28 days in September, which was up 8% over August. Median price peaked in August at $401,000 and settled at $397,000 in September after hovering between $380,000 and $400,000 since April. For the first time since February, the average list to sale price ratio was 99% after sitting at 100-101% over the last six months.

The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. In fact, average prices have grown just over 20% over the last two years, freeing up sellers to make the moves they have been waiting for. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! We are still seeing multiple offers and quick market times, but not quite the frenzy that we experienced earlier this year.

All of these factors indicate that we may finally be headed towards a more stabilized market with positive attributes for both buyers and sellers.

 

South Snohomish County South Sno

This graph shows that we currently sit at 1.4 months of inventory based on pending sales, which is the highest level we have seen in all of 2016! It is still a seller’s market (three months or less), but one that is providing buyers increased options.  The average cumulative days on market reached 24 days in September, which was up 14% over August. Median price peaked in August at $453,000 and settled at $440,000 in September after hovering between $440,000 and $450,000 since March. For the first time since February, the average list to sale price ratio was 99% after sitting at 100-101% over the last six months.

The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. In fact, average prices have grown just over 20% over the last two years, freeing up sellers to make the moves they have been waiting for. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! We are still seeing multiple offers and quick market times, but not quite the frenzy that we experienced earlier this year.

All of these factors indicate that we may finally be headed towards a more stabilized market with positive attributes for both buyers and sellers.

 

North King County North King

This graph shows that we currently sit at 1.1 months of inventory based on pending sales, which is the highest level we have seen since January! It is certainly still a seller’s market (3 months or less), but one that is starting to provide buyers increased options.  In fact, we saw a 13% jump in new listings month-over-month. The average cumulative days on market reached 20 days in September, which was up 18% over August. Median price peaked in June at $650,000 and settled at $600,000 in September after hovering between $605,000 and $650,000 since March. In June, there were 95% more home sales above $1M over September. For the first time since February, the average list to sale price ratio was 101% after sitting at 102-104% over the last seven months.

The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. In fact, average prices have grown 21% over the last two years, freeing up sellers to make the moves they have been waiting for. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! We are still seeing multiple offers and quick market times, but not quite the frenzy that we experienced earlier this year.

All of these factors indicate that we may finally be headed towards a more stabilized market with positive attributes for both buyers and sellers.

 

Eastside Eastside

This graph shows that we currently sit at 1.5 months of inventory based on pending sales, which is the highest level we have seen in all of 2016! It is still a seller’s market (3 months or less), but one that is starting to provide buyers increased options. The average cumulative days on market reached 31 days in September which was up 24% over August. Median price peaked in August at $770,000 and settled at $750,000 in September after hovering between $737,000 and $770,000 since March. In June, there were 18% more home sales above $1M over September. Over the last two months, the average list to sale price ratio was 99% after sitting at 101-102% over the five months prior.

The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. In fact, average prices have grown 25% over the last two years, freeing up sellers to make the moves they have been waiting for. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! We are still seeing multiple offers and quick market times, but not quite the frenzy that we experienced earlier this year.

All of these factors indicate that we may finally be headed towards a more stabilized market with positive attributes for both buyers and sellers.

 

Seattle Metro Metro

This graph shows that we currently sit at 1.1 months of inventory based on pending sales, which is the highest level we have seen since January! It is certainly still a seller’s market (3 months or less), but one that is starting to provide buyers increased options. In fact, we saw a 16% jump in new listings month-over-month. The average cumulative days on market reached 21 days in September, which was up 31% over August. Median price peaked in June at $650,000 and settled at $605,000 in September after hovering between $608,000 and $650,000 since March. In June, there were 23% more home sales above $1M over September. For the first time since February, the average list to sale price ratio was 101% after sitting at 102-104% over the last seven months.

The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. In fact, average prices have grown 22% over the last two years, freeing up sellers to make the moves they have been waiting for. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! We are still seeing multiple offers and quick market times, but not quite the frenzy that we experienced earlier this year.

All of these factors indicate that we may finally be headed towards a more stabilized market with positive attributes for both buyers and sellers.

 

South King County South King

This graph shows that we currently sit at 1.7 months of inventory based on pending sales, which is the highest level we have seen in all of 2016! It is still a seller’s market (3 months or less), but one that is providing buyers increased options. The average cumulative days on market reached 27 days in both August and September, which was up 23% over July. Median price peaked in June at $371,000 and settled at $360,000 in September after hovering between $350,000 and $371,000 since March. For the first time since March, the average list to sale price ratio was 99% in August and September after sitting at 100-101% the prior four months.

The return of strong equity levels have brought sellers to market that have been waiting to jump in for some time. In fact, average prices have grown 16% over the last two years, freeing up sellers to make the moves they have been waiting for. Continued buyer demand due to our flourishing job market and historically low interest rates have steadily absorbed new inventory, but we are finally starting to see a trend toward some more balance. This is good news! We are still seeing multiple offers and quick market times, but not quite the frenzy that we experienced earlier this year.

All of these factors indicate that we may finally be headed towards a more stabilized market with positive attributes for both buyers and sellers.

 

These are only snapshots of  the trends in our area; please contact one of our agents if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

Posted on October 18, 2016 at 4:02 pm
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Price Affordability Driven by Commute Times

Close proximity to the work place is often near the top of a buyer’s list of preferred features. 2015 proved to be the year that commute times to major job centers widened the price divide between key market areas in the Greater Seattle area. Seattle proper has always been more expensive than its neighboring suburbs, but the most current prices tell a tale of two different markets. In 2015 the average sales price for a single-family residential home in the Seattle Metro area was $632,000! In South Snohomish County (Everett to the King County line) the average sales price for a single-family residential home in 2015 was $433,000 – 46% less than Seattle Metro. Further, if you jump across Lake Washington to the Eastside, the average sales price for a single-family residential home in 2015 was $787,000 – 19% more than Seattle Metro! In December, pending sales in Snohomish County were up 12% and closings were up 29%, whereas in King County pending sales were down 9% and closings were up only 4%. We believe this is a result of more inventory choices in Snohomish County, as well as lower prices, new construction, lower taxes, strong school district options and manageable commute times. Newer transit centers and telecommuting have also opened up doors to King County's little brother to the north. 

wa stateIf you are curious about possible commute times, you can search for properties here on our website based on commute times, which is a feature provided by INRIX Drive Time. No matter which neighborhood you are interested in learning about in either King or Snohomish County, any of our agents would be happy to provide a 2015 re-cap of that market. 2015 was an outstanding year in real estate and we are looking for that to continue in 2016. We hope to see more homes coming to market due to the market's strong price position, which should help to increase inventory levels, in turn helping temper price growth and giving buyers more options.

 

 

Posted on January 26, 2016 at 1:08 pm
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , ,