Monthly Newsletter: March 2020 – COVID-19 & the Real Estate Market: Real Time Numbers from the Front Lines
Things are changing rapidly these days, and if I had a dollar for how many times I have said “one day-at-a-time” over the last two weeks, I’d have a nice stack of cash. There are lots of questions swirling about simple everyday life and big life decisions like buying and selling real estate. I’m a believer in studying the numbers and sharing that data. It has always been my practice in my business to provide my clients with the information they need to help empower their decisions. With that said, I did a real-time pull of numbers on 3/18/20 in order to gain some understanding of the current trends amongst the COVID-19 outbreak.
I pulled three different market areas: Lake Stevens (North Snohomish County), Lynnwood (South Snohomish County) and Shoreline (North King County). I felt this would give a good representation of some different geographical markets and would avoid making any sweeping observations.
Below is an accounting of all of the active listings on the market in each of these cities along with all of the sales that went under contract from 3/11/20 to 3/18/20 (pulled around 1:30 pm PST) and the percentage relationship between those numbers. As you can see, we have had quite a bit of sales activity over the last week. Schools shut down through April 24th on 3/12/20 and restaurants and bars closed for dine-in business on 3/16/20, and homes continued to sell. We are certain that the historically low interest rates are fueling this demand. As of 3/17/20, the rate for a conventional, conforming loan was right around 3.5 – 3.65%.
Below you can see a chart that reports the average days on market for the homes that are currently active and the homes that went under contract over the last week. The average days on market for the homes that were absorbed over the last week were markedly shorter, indicating that the homes that sold were newer to the market, well-presented, and appropriately priced. The longer market times for the actives indicate possible overpricing, as the average days on market for the month of February were 27 for Lake Stevens, 53 for Lynnwood, and 50 for Shoreline. This also shows a trend for March average days on market to be shorter than February.
The last set of data that I pulled below is the average prices of the active listings and the average prices of the homes that went under contract last week. These percentage differences are in line with a similar comparison from February. In February, the percentage difference in the average active list price to the sold price was -22% in Lake Stevens, -9% in Lynnwood, and -29% in Shoreline. Since the under-contract sales have not published a closed sale price yet, we cannot take into consideration if there were any escalations above the list price. With the shorter-than-normal days on market and the stories I am hearing on the front lines of multiple offers, I believe we will have some escalations reported once these transactions close. I am sure there will be some concessions reported as well.
You may be wondering if this is still a good time to buy or sell, and the answer to that is different for each person. What I can say with certainty is that I am committed to bringing current facts and statistics to our conversations, and answering your questions as best I can. I hope you found the above figures to be encouraging, I did! Real estate is a cyclical business, and although the current economic shifts may be unsettling, we have weathered these cycles before. At this moment, record-low interest rates and low inventory are creating continued demand for homes, and from the figures reported, homes are going under contract. This is what I know today, and I felt it was worth sharing.
Below is a video from Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner that was released on Monday, 3/16/20 assessing the fate of the Greater Seattle real estate market during this time. Please contact me with your questions and concerns, I am here to help keep you informed!
At this time, we are still planning to hold our annual Shred Event and Food Drive on April 18th. We will update you if anything changes due to crowd requirements and your safety.
This event will be vitally necessary to help stock our local food bank, which is struggling to meet demands. We also know that since many of you are staying home for extended periods of time, you will be cleaning and organizing, and will need the shredding services come April. We hope to meet these needs and bring our community together in a safe way.
Celebrate Earth Day with us! We are partnering with Confidential Data Disposal for our 9th year; providing you with a safe, eco-friendly way to reduce your paper trail and help prevent identity theft.
Saturday, April 18th, 10AM to 2PM
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood
Bring your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site. Limit 20 file boxes per visitor.
We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.
Hope to see you there!
**This is a Paper-Only event. No x-rays, electronics, recyclables, or any other materials
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the power of mindset. It is proven that what you focus on, expands. Setting aside time every day to focus on gratitude has been hugely beneficial in my business as well as my personal life, and I am finding this discipline to be even more important in today’s uncertain world. We are surrounded with scary news, unprecedented government announcements, and a whole lot of uncertainty. We are in uncharted territory, but the one thing we do have control over, is our own mindset.
Here are a few practical ideas to foster positivity in your life.
Daily Gratitudes. Carve out just a few minutes every day to write down two or three things you are grateful for. Make this part of your morning routine to help center yourself before the day begins, or part of your evening routine to help calm your mind before bed.
Savor small moments. No matter what situation you find yourself in, there are still many small moments to be enjoyed. The smell of coffee in the morning, or the quiet house in the evening when the children are all asleep. A hot shower or a luxurious lotion. Don’t rush through these. Stop and take a moment to really enjoy.
Look to the past. Humans are resilient. You have weathered uncertain times before, perhaps during the Great Recession, 9/11, or a major natural disaster. You made it through those, and you are stronger and better for the experience. Take a moment to look back at all you have been through as a reminder of your own resilience.
Follow social media accounts that provide good news only. There is quite a bit of doom and gloom out there right now. In addition to watching some funny YouTube videos or some heart-warming animal stories on Facebook, make sure you are plugged in and following some accounts that are all good, all the time. Some good ones on Facebook are
If you’re on Instagram, be sure to check out
Take social media breaks. This will be important. Not only because social media can be a hotbed of misinformation, but it can also provide an overload of general information. Many people are beginning to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of news, suggested kids activities, and overall noise happening on all social channels right now. Take some time every day to be intentional about closing these apps, putting your phone or laptop away, and focusing your attention on something else. #DigitalDetox
Above all, be deliberate with integrating positivity into your daily life, knowing that together, we will get through this.
If you have ideas of how to stay positive, please share them with me!
Most recently, we have experienced an uptick in market activity. In fact, King County saw a 35% increase in pending sales from December to January, and Snohomish County 38%. The seasonal uptick from the holidays to the New Year is normal, but it was quite sizable. This is reinforced by a 6% increase in pending activity this January over last January in King County, and a 10% increase in Snohomish County. This increase is being driven by multiple factors, such as our thriving economy and growing job market, generational shifts and historically low interest rates.
Currently, rates are as low as 3.5% for a 30-year fixed conventional mortgage – 1 point down from the fourth quarter of 2019. Moreover, the interest rate is down 1.75 points from 2 years ago. These levels are unprecedented! The current rates are as low as they have been in 3 years. This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point decrease in interest rate, a buyer gains ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate decreases by a point during their search, the buyer could increase their purchase price to $550,000 and keep the same monthly payment.
Why is this important to pay attention to? Affordability! The Greater Seattle area is not an inexpensive place to own a home; we have seen strong appreciation over the last 7 years due to the growth of the job market and overall economy. The interest rate lasts the entire life of the loan and can have a huge impact on the monthly cash flow of a household. This cost savings is also coupled with a balancing out of home-price appreciation. Complete year-over-year, prices are flat in King County and up around 3% in Snohomish County. Note that from 2018 to 2019 we saw an 8% increase in prices in both King and Snohomish Counties. Price appreciation is adjusting to more normal levels and is predicted to increase 5-7% in 2020 over 2019.
As we head into the spring market, the time of year we see the most inventory become available, the interest rates will have a positive influence on both buyers and sellers. Naturally, buyers will enjoy the cost savings, but sellers will enjoy a larger buyer pool looking at their homes due to the opportunities the lower rates are creating. Further, would-be sellers who are also buyers that secured a rate as low as 3.75% via a purchase or refinance in 2015-2017, will consider giving up that lower rate for the right move-up house now that rates would be a lateral move or possibly even lower.
This recent decrease in rate is making the move-up market come alive. Baby Boomers and Gen X’er’s are equity rich and able to make moves to their next upgraded home or fulfill their retirement dreams. What is great about this, is that it opens up inventory for the first-time buyer and helps complete the market cycle. First-time buyers are abundant right now as the Millennial generation is gaining in age and making big life transitions such as getting married, starting families, and buying real estate.
Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! Right now is a historical low, and depending on economic factors rates could inch up. According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, rates should hover around 4% throughout 2020. While still staying well below the long-term average of 7.99%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the long-term average – it is reasonable to think that rates closer to that must be in our future at some point.
So what does this mean for you? If you have considered making a move, or even your first purchase, today’s rates are a huge plus in helping make that transition more affordable. If you are a seller, bear in mind that today’s interest rate market is creating strong buyer demand, providing a healthy buyer pool for your home. As a homeowner who has no intention to make a move, now might be the time to consider a refinance. What is so exciting about these refinances, is that it is not only possible to reduce your monthly payment, but also your term, depending on which rate you would be coming down from. There are some pretty exciting money saving opportunities for people to take advantage of right now.
If you would like additional information on how today’s interest rates pertain to your housing goals, please contact me. I would be happy to educate you on homes that are available, do a market analysis on your current home, and/or put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional to help you crunch numbers. Real estate success is rooted in being accurately informed, and it is my goal to help empower you to make sound decisions for your lifestyle and investment.
Celebrate Earth Day with us! We are partnering with Confidential Data Disposal for our 9th year; providing you with a safe, eco-friendly way to reduce your paper trail and help prevent identity theft.
Saturday, April 18th, 10AM to 2PM
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood
Bring your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site. Limit 20 file boxes per visitor.
We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.
Hope to see you there!
**This is a Paper-Only event. No x-rays, electronics, recyclables, or any other materials.
It’s a great time to begin preparing your home for spring. Here are a few general home maintenance tips to consider this time of year.
- Clean the kitchen exhaust hood & filter.
- Replace the furnace filter. It may be especially filthy after the winter months.
- Inspect the roof for water damage. It’s also a good idea to check any fences, carports and sheds. TIP: check the south end of your roof first; it is the first to show wear.
- Test the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Clear the gutters of any buildup to allow for proper functioning.
- Start the grass revival cycle by aerating, thatching and fertilizing.
- Be sure no inside or outside vents are blocked by fallen debris.
- Clean the windows and screens. Repair any holes in screens or replace them if needed.
- Inspect and repair siding and peeling paint. Fix or replace damaged siding. Strip peeling paint and replace it with a new coat.
- Check the basement for water damage. Pay attention to musty smells, water stain and damp surfaces.
- Invest in a carbon monoxide detector – every home should have at least one.
Monthly Newsletter – January 2020: Top 12 Takeaways from Matthew Gardner for 2020, A Macro-to-Micro Look at the Economy & Housing Market
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending our office’s 11th Annual Matthew Gardner Economic Forecast Event. At this event, Matthew gives the crowd a review of the previous year and forecasts trends for the economy and housing market for the next year and beyond. Below are my Top 12 Takeaways worth noting as you start to chart your economic goals for 2020 and beyond.
- He anticipates our next recession taking place in 2021, not 2020 as previously thought. The last 11 recessions averaged 58 months in between one recession to the next, and we are currently at 127 months since the last recession, so we are due. Worth noting is the next recession will not be based on housing like the previous recession. It is predicted to be a more normal adjustment that should also be short in length, unlike the Great Recession of 2008-2010.
- Recessions do not always cause home prices to drop. Of the last six recessions, home prices actually ended up higher than when the recession began with the exception of the Great Recession of 2008-2010, which was based on housing due to predatory lending.
- The U.S. Economy will add 1.8M new jobs, but national unemployment rates should rise to 4% from 3.5% by the end of 2020. However, wage growth should start to improve as that has been slow over the last decade. In the Greater Seattle area, unemployment hovered at 3% in Q3 of 2019.
- We are living in our homes longer. In 2019, the average home seller in the U.S had owned their home for an average of 8.2 years compared to the average home seller in 2000 at 4.2 years. This is reflective of homeowners choosing to build more equity over time before they cash-out and move on to the next home, as well as the increased amount of Baby Boomers coming to market with their long-time homes as they pivot towards retirement.
- We are not headed toward a housing bubble. When seasonally adjusted, home prices are still 5.8% below the prior peak. In addition, predatory lending practices were eliminated after the 2008 housing crash and the average down payment is much higher. Overall, home equity is high with the national average in Q3 2019 sitting at 26.7% and the average FICO score of a borrower in Q3 of 2019 was 755. This, along with foreclosure starts being low, indicates that we are not headed towards a housing bubble.
- Interest rates should remain under 4% in 2020. These are historical lows, but reflective of the last decade. In 2010, rates were around 5% and were as low as 3.4% in 2012. In late 2018, rates almost crested 5% but careened down under 4% for most of the year. The 2000’s averaged 6.3%, the 1990’s 8.1%, the 1980’s 12.7%, and the 1970’s 8.9%. This should put today’s rates in perspective.
- Single-family new construction remains muted due to the expensive cost of land, labor, materials, and regulatory fees. This has made inventory levels tighter and the appreciation of existing homes stronger. The lack of overbuilding is also another contributing factor to no housing bubble.
- Millennials are a force in the real estate market! They are the largest generation at 79M, are the largest cohort in the U.S. workforce, and more than 1M Millennial women are becoming moms every year. This generation has grown up and is experiencing big life transitions that lead to home ownership decisions. Nationally, they accounted for 37.5% of home purchases in Q3 of 2019. In the Greater Seattle area in 2019, 46% of home purchases were done by Millennials with an average down payment of 17% and with a FICO score of 741.
- The Greater Seattle economy looks to outperform the U.S. economy due to continued corporate growth, specifically in information services, which will balance out any losses we may see due to the current setbacks in aerospace.
- In the Greater Seattle area, as we start 2020 inventory levels are tight due to a high level of absorption over the course of 2019 after a big inventory dump in mid-2018. Many investors offloaded properties in 2018 and it took time to absorb this inventory as it accompanied a time frame where interest rates were near 5%. The market softened at that time, but now we have returned to constricted inventory levels and lower interest rates. This will bode well for home sellers and provide buyers low debt service.
- The average sale price in King County in December of 2019 was $830,000 and King County saw a 3% increase in home prices in all of 2019 over all of 2018. It is predicted, due to low inventory, strong job growth. and low interest rates that year-over-year price appreciation in King County in 2020 will be around 6.6%. Affordability and consumer sentiment are the biggest challenges in King County, especially in-city Seattle and on the Eastside, which are closer to job centers.
- The average sale price in Snohomish County in December of 2019 was $552,000 and Snohomish County saw a 5% increase in home prices in 2019 over 2018. It is predicted, due to low inventory, strong job growth, and low interest rates that year-over-year price appreciation in Snohomish County in 2020 will be around 7.3%. Snohomish County has benefited from the high prices in King County, leading folks to purchase further out for affordability purposes.
If you would like more information or a copy of Matthew’s PowerPoint, please reach out. It is my goal to help keep my clients well-informed in order to empower strong decisions. 2020 looks to be another positive year in real estate! If you or anyone you know is considering either buying or selling, please use me as a resource. It is an honor to help people make such important investments and meaningful lifestyle choices.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
I am pleased to present the fourth-quarter 2019 edition of the Gardner Report, which provides insights into select counties of the Western Washington housing market. This analysis is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. I hope that this information will assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
In 2019 Windermere agents, offices, and staff raised nearly $3 million for the Windermere Foundation, surpassing $40 million total raised since 1989. These dollars stay local, supporting low-income and homeless families in the communities where we do business. We’re proud of the work we’ve done so far, but there’s so much left to do. As we begin 2020, we look forward to seeing how we can further impact each community we serve.
2019 was a return to normalcy in the real estate market. After a volatile 2018 which encountered a sharp mid-year shift from an extreme seller’s market, 2019 had a more normal pace of seasonality and selection. After four to five years of multiple offers, week-long market times, waived inspections, and huge price escalations, we’ve now experienced a balancing out in price appreciation and in some areas, a correction.
Affordability and inventory have driven demand. A healthy increase in homes coming to market compared to two years ago has provided more selection and afforded buyers time to decern their choices. In-city prices found an affordability cap as buyers were forced to move north or south to find the payment they could afford. Close-in, in-city neighborhoods saw a bit of a price correction due to demand slipping for this reason. Overall, it’s been a welcome change to help buyers and sellers operate in a more balanced environment.
It’s important to understand that each market area has its own unique circumstances. Above and throughout this review, I divided the Greater Seattle area into 6 different market areas in order to illustrate this.
This chart is a study of the comparison of new listings to sold listings, which indicates demand. Over the last 12 months in each market area, sold listings have outpaced new listings. While some areas experienced more new listings from the same 12 months the year prior and some less, in each area the sold listings moved at a higher level than the previous 12 months. This is encouraging, as it shows that demand for our area is still very high.
This is driven by having one of the leading national job markets and continued low interest rates. One of the factors that affected the 2018 market shift was higher interest rates. The majority of 2018 rates were in the 4’s and almost reached 5% in late fall. In 2019, we started at 4.5%, and currently sit around 3.7% according to Y charts. In fact, since June we have remained under 4%. This has helped curbed affordability issues, brought first-time buyers out in force, and helped buyers that are also sellers move equity with low debt service. Believe it or not, experts are predicting rates will remain low throughout 2020. This is a key factor for consumers to pay attention to if they plan to jump into the market.
Above is a look at the new normal for market times and list-to-sale-price ratios. On average, it simply takes longer to sell your house now compared to the constricted, extreme seller’s markets of 2016-2018. The expectation of your home selling in the first weekend needs to be tempered, as the playing field of inventory has equaled due to more new listings coming to the market.
There is a phenomenon of Baby Boomers cashing out their equity and downsizing or moving out of the area. This is providing great move-up inventory for Gen X and Millennials to absorb. That absorption is then providing a nice selection of first-time-homebuyer houses. Bear in mind however, that the lower price points are where we are seeing the strongest demand, shortest market times, and stronger price appreciation. It’s a pretty awesome cycle to witness!
Sellers have had to negotiate a bit more, whether on the initial offering or during the inspection period. List-to-sale price ratios indicate that buyers and sellers are engaging in the dance of negotiations as prices return to a more normal level of price appreciation. Sellers on average are still getting very close to their list price. Since these are the averages, you must realize that there are still sellers that are escalating.
Homes that come to market with a well-thought-out pricing strategy, in great condition, and expertly merchandised are the ones we see breaking the average. Also, the influx of first-timers has helped drive demand in the lower price points, curtailing days on market and tighter list-to-sale price ratios in that section of the market.
When analyzing price appreciation, it is important to use a large data pull. For example, the chart above takes the last 12 months of prices and compares them to the previous 12 months. This provides a much more holistic observation of price growth versus a smaller data pull, such as month over month. Take note that the media often uses month-over-month data to paint a more dramatic story.
As mentioned above, the close-in, in-city markets have experienced a correction. It is clearly more expensive to live where you have a shorter commute to major job centers. Also, on the Eastside where the prices are the highest, they enjoy close proximity to some of the area’s biggest employers and arguably some of the best school districts in the area. The more out-lying communities found in south King and all of Snohomish County continue to see steady appreciation due to still-manageable commute times and affordability. The north Snohomish County market has been a hotbed for first-timers and Baby Boomers moving out of the area due to retirement and commutes not being a factor.
Note that this data pull is a complete year-over-year look at December 2018 to November 2019 compared to December 2017 to November 2018. Bear in mind that the first half of 2018 was an extreme seller’s market with sparse inventory and crazy escalations. This is where prices found their peak, and as we move away from those unique months and head into 2020, I believe that we will see the decrease in appreciation equal out and possibly have some subtle growth.
The chart above is a study of the months of inventory. This illustrates how quickly we would sell out of homes based on demand if nothing new came to market. We are calling the 2019 market a more normal market, but in reality, it was still measured as a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory). It just hasn’t been so extreme, which has created a mentality that needs to be adjusted.
Just like the pricing study above, the data from the first half of 2018 included some markets that had only weeks of inventory versus months. That feels wildly different and takes some getting used to. Some may argue that the new normal of measuring a seller’s market is now 0-2 months, and that 2-4 months is a balanced market. Perspective is driving that viewpoint, as we have an entire portion of consumers that have known nothing besides historically low interest rates and low inventory levels. The vantage point of what is actually normal is finding its footing.
Right now, all six markets sit at a lower inventory level than the average of the year. This is due to seasonality. Many sellers prefer to come to market when the days are longer and we are outside of the holidays. I predict that the low interest rates and the turn of the new year will encourage strong buyer demand. New Year’s resolution goal setting always brings demand. With that said, the sellers that come to market earlier in the year prior to the spring rush will enjoy a large audience hungry for inventory to gobble up.
Overall, 2019 has been a very positive year in real estate. The majority of the sales have been propped up on incredibly favorable equity positions on behalf of sellers and historically low interest rates for buyers. If a person has owned their home for 3 or more years and hasn’t cashed equity out, they are in a positive equity position. For those that have been in their homes for 10 or more years, they are knocking it out of the park!
Below you can watch a short video from Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, and hear what he thinks we have in store for 2020 on the national level. As we head into the New Year, please reach out should you have a curiosity about how your local real estate market relates to your financial and lifestyle goals. It is always my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions through thorough research and a high level of communication.
Here’s to a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2020!
It’s that time of year when Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner dusts off his crystal ball and peers into the future to give us his predictions for the 2020 economy and housing market.
This Christmas, my office adopted 23 foster boys, ranging in age from 13-18 years old, and living in group homes managed by Pioneer Human Services. These group homes serve boys who are struggling with emotional, behavioral and/or psychiatric problems that prevent placement in a traditional foster care setting. We purchased gifts, using wish lists from the boys, to help provide a joyful Christmas morning for these teenage boys who might otherwise be overlooked.
The office also raised money for grocery gift cards for families in need (also referred by Pioneer Human Services). This year we distributed $3,538 in grocery gift cards to 12 local families.
We are also thrilled to report that we were able to deliver a full car load of warm winter donations to Mary’s Place from all of your generous donations during our Thanksgiving pie giveaway and Santa photo events.
I am pleased to present the third-quarter 2019 edition of the Gardner Report, which provides insights into select counties of the Western Washington housing market. This analysis is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. I hope that this information will assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
As winter approaches, it’s time to make sure your home is ready for the harsh weather ahead. To avoid costly repairs later, take some time now preparing your home to withstand another cold season. Here are 30 important tasks to protect and prepare your investment. View the full list here.
Have you been keeping track of the Seahawks home game defensive tackles? We have. Every one means another $100 donated to Mary’s Place. After the last home game win against Tampa Bay, our total raised to date is $118,100. Every play matters in the fight against homelessness! Follow along on social media with #tacklehomelessness. Go Hawks!
Last month, I did an analysis on the new phenomenon of a dual market. A dual market is when you have different market conditions within the same overarching real estate market. This duality presents amazing opportunities for sellers who are also buyers, depending on where they want to go. I reported on two dual markets, the move-up market and the move-out market. Another dual market that deserves to be shared is the condo market compared to single-family residential.
In September, single-family residential homes in Seattle Metro had an absorption rate of 43% while condos were at 27%. Months of inventory based on pending sales for single-family residential was only 1.9 months of available inventory, and condos, 3.5 months! That is the difference of a seller’s market for single-family residential to a balanced market for condos. After many solid years of strong appreciation, folks that are looking to cash out the equity on their single-family residential homes and move to a condo have the opportunity to move their investment with a sizable down payment and upgrade to a lifestyle that is often stair-free with less maintenance.
The median price for a condo in Seattle Metro in September was $455,000 and for a single-family residential home, $750,000. The median price for a condo in south Snohomish County is September was $343,000 and for a single-family residential home, $569,000. It is common for folks to sell their long-time family home and downsize into a condo and pay all cash. The buildup of equity over the years and paying down their loans allow for large cash-outs and easier all-cash purchases.
If one is getting a loan though, it is important to highlight today’s interest rates. They are a point lower than they were a year ago, affording buyers 10% more buying power. For example, a one-point-lower rate on a purchase at $500K will now afford a buyer the purchase of a home at $550K with the same monthly payment. Couple that with price appreciation tempering and you have a perfect downsizing market, which often includes condo purchases!
If you are curious about moving from a single-family home to a condo and the opportunity this dual market presents, please reach out. It is my goal to help keep my clients educated and empowered to make strong decisions. This is especially rewarding when it leads to their next chapter in life, which are amazing transitions to be a part of.
Did you know that giving thanks on a daily basis can reduce your trips to the doctor, increase your overall happiness, improve personal relationships, and lead to more exercise? Sounds like a magic pill to me, and it’s free! Harvard Medical School recently released a study that speaks to the benefits of practicing gratitude. With Thanksgiving approaching, challenge yourself to write down your gratitudes daily, and see how it goes.
It’s true! A listing agent’s goal is to get their listing sold to a qualified buyer who will close. However, a good listing agent also realizes that once a home is under contract, they now have to sell the house to the appraiser if the buyer is getting a loan. You see, a buyer cannot complete their financing if the appraisal does not come in at the same value or higher than the agreed-upon contract price. A good strategy, especially if the price escalates above the list price, is for the listing agent to prepare an appraisal packet and meet the appraiser or share it with them via email. This gives the listing agent the opportunity to share their research and the story of the demand surrounding the property. This is some extra effort, but so worth it to ensure success for the seller!
2019 has been a year where we have continued to gain more balance in the real estate market. Inventory levels have increased, days on market are longer, negotiations have opened up, and the constricted multiple-offer market is no longer the norm. It has been comforting to see price appreciation temper and move towards more normal, historical levels. Today’s market certainly seems more sustainable and has provided some great opportunities for both buyers and sellers, especially for those that are both.
Recently, I did an analysis on new phenomenon that has presented itself. This is the presence of a dual market. A dual market is when you have different market conditions within the same overarching real estate market. This duality presents amazing opportunities for sellers who are also buyers, depending on where they want to go.
Two dual markets that I have discovered are the move-up market and the move-out market. The move-up market is when you sell the home you are in and move up to an upgraded home in a higher price point. For example, in Edmonds, WA there are many people who are interested in selling their current home and upgrading to a view home. When I analyzed the statistics in both sections of the Edmonds market it appears that a dual market is presenting itself.
In August, all homes in Edmonds under $1M had an absorption rate of 88% while all homes over a $1M, 16%. Months of inventory based on pending sales under $1M was only one month of available inventory, and over $1M, six months! That is the difference of a seller’s market under $1M to a balanced market teetering on a buyer’s market over $1M. After many solid years of strong appreciation, folks that are looking to cash out the equity on their current home and move it into a view home have the opportunity to move their investment with a sizable down payment and upgrade to the lifestyle they have been dreaming about.
Let’s also not forget to mention today’s interest rates. They are a point lower than they were a year ago, affording buyer’s 10% more buying power. For example, a one-point lower rate on a home priced at $1.2M will now afford a buyer the purchase of a home at $1.32M with the same monthly payment. Couple that with price appreciation tempering and you have a move-up market heyday in the making!
The other dual market that is exciting to witness is the move-out market. This is prevalent for the Baby Boomers looking to cash out on the home that they enjoyed during their working years, typically near job centers, and relocate to an outlying area to retire. The chart below illustrates the market conditions and prices in the urban markets and compares them to the market conditions in some of the most popular retirement destinations in the state, such as Sequim, Island County, Okanogan County, and Chelan County. Note, if there is a destination that is not listed and you would like the statistics, please reach out. I have access to many markets across the state and beyond. Also, I am a part of an agent network that I can access to put you in touch with capable experts across or out of the state to help educate and serve your real estate needs with these markets.
The previous, hard-core seller’s market we experienced was quite the ride and built up some pretty major equity gains for homeowners across the board. It was exciting, but these more normal conditions are more pliable and comfortable. They allow for moves that don’t require physically moving twice, high price escalations, or constantly getting beat out by other buyers to succeed. Overall, there is just more breathing room. Are there homes that get multiple offers, yes! Homes that are expertly brought to market with thoughtful pricing and dialed-in preparation are having fun with their results. Opportunities abound for both buyers and sellers, and in a market with more options it is important to align with an agent that can help navigate all the choices.
If you are curious about the opportunities these dual markets present, please reach out. It is my goal to help keep my clients educated and empowered to make strong decisions. This is especially rewarding when it leads to their next chapter in life, which are amazing transitions to be a part of. Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter, when I will feature opportunities in the condominium market and how this duality is starting to take shape.
Nothing feels more like fall than pumpkin picking, hay rides and corn mazes. Get your latte in hand and head out to any one of these great, local farms to have some harvest fun and find that perfect jack-o-lantern to light up your porch.
We all know that nothing lasts forever, but when everything is working fine it is easy to forget that all of the systems and appliances in your home have a finite lifespan. Keep this information in mind, whether you are buying or selling a home, budgeting for improvements, or deciding between repairing and replacing.
Here’s a brief look at some of the components of your home and their average lifespans (courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders)
ROOFING, SIDING, WINDOWS & DECKS. You can expect slate or tile roofs to last around 50 years, wood shingles 25-30, metal will get you about 25 years, while asphalts typically last about 20 years. The lifespan for siding can vary quite a bit. Brick will last 100 years or more, aluminum about 80 years and stucco will probably last you 25 years. Wood siding can last anywhere from 10 to 100 years depending on the climate you live in and how it is maintained. Both aluminum and vinyl windows will last 15 to 20 years, while unclad wood windows can have a life of 30 years or more. Cedar decks will average 15-25 years as long as they are properly treated and cleaned, and a high quality composite deck will last 30 years with minimal maintenance.
FLOORING. The natural flooring materials such as wood, marble, slate or granite will all last 100 years or more, while tile has an average life of 70-100 years. Vinyl can last up to 50 years, while laminate and linoleum will get you up to 25 years. Expect your carpet to last 8-10 years, depending on use.
KITCHEN & BATH. Laminate countertops can have a life of 20 years or more, but it will vary depending on use. Wood, tile and stone should last a lifetime, and cultured marble will typically see a lifespan of 20 years. You can expect your stainless steel sink to last you about 30 years, while an enamel-coated sink will give you five to 10 years. Slate, granite, soapstone and copper will be around for 100 years or more. Bathroom faucets should give you about 20 years, and toilets will average a 50-year lifespan, although some of the parts will need replacing.
APPLIANCES. The lifespan of appliances will vary widely depending on the appliance, the brand, model, and use. Use these average lifespan numbers as a rough guide for when it may make more sense to replace rather than repair. Gas ranges tend to have the longest lifespan of your major appliances, giving around 15 years of use. Electric ranges on the other hand, are closer to 13 years, which is also the expected lifespan for standard refrigerators and clothes dryers. Your garbage disposal should give you about 10 years of use, while the dishwasher and microwave will be around nine years. You can expect your electric furnace to last about 15 years, 18 for gas and 20 for oil-burning. Central air systems will live 10 to 15 years on average.
Check out the NAHB website for more information.
Most recently, buyers have enjoyed more selection in the marketplace which has led to more open negotiations versus bidding wars. This is illustrated by an increase in average Days on Market and a decrease in the average Sold-to-List Price Ratios complete-year over year (the last 12 months over the previous 12 months). In King County, the average Days on Market increased from 22 days to 36 days complete-year over year, and the Sold-to-List Price Ratio decreased from 101% to 98%. In Snohomish County, the average Days on Market increased from 25 to 35 days complete-year over year, and the Sold-to-List Price Ratio decreased from 100% to 98%.
Buyers have had more selection to choose from which has tempered price growth complete-year over year. Median price remains even in King County and up 3% in Snohomish County. Multiple offers are not as commonplace as they were, but terms such as inspection contingencies and home sale contingencies are doable in some areas and price ranges. This balancing out has created some more normal terms for buyers, while sellers are getting close to full price on average and cashing out on the above-average appreciation we enjoyed from 2012 to 2018.
It is still a seller’s market, yet we are heading towards balance. The months of available inventory based on pending sales (the amount of time it would take to sell out of homes if no new homes came to market) currently sits at 1.7 months in King County and 1.5 months in Snohomish County. Zero to 3 months is a seller’s market, 3-6 months a balanced market, and 6+ months a buyer’s market. In 2017 to early 2018, inventory levels were commonly under one month, which was a very volatile and constricted environment within which to purchase a home. The direction towards balance is welcome and providing much more comfort when making a move.
The inventory levels are an amazingly beneficial phenomenon due to the fact that buyers are simultaneously enjoying the lowest interest rates we’ve had since 2016! Currently, the 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 3.6% and the 15-year around 3.07% according to Freddie Mac. Not only are rates the lowest we’ve seen in 3 years, but they are an entire point lower than they were a in Q4 of 2018. When rates crested 4.5% last year, we saw a marked reduction in pending sales. This highlights the recent opportunities that have come alive for buyers to secure such low debt service and for sellers to have a larger audience. When rates rise, folks reassess and sometimes step aside, which is why this current opportunity should be taken advantage of.
This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point decrease in interest rate, a buyer gains ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate decreases by a point during their search, they can up their price ceiling to $550,000 and keep the same monthly payment. This is huge, especially in the wake of intense price growth over the last 6-7 years, which priced many buyers out of the market. Buyers that took a break and stepped to the sidelines in the past may want to consider their opportunities now. This is the most favorable buyer environment (inside of a seller’s market) we’ve seen in some time!
This recent decrease in rate is helping the move-up market come alive. What is great about this, is that it opens up inventory for the first-time buyer and helps complete the market cycle. First-time buyers are abundant right now as the Millennial generation is gaining in age and making big life transitions such as buying real estate. According to Nerd Wallet, 49% of all Millennials have a home purchase in their 5-year plan. The rates are also providing very low debt service for investors, second-home buyers, and down-size buyers headed toward retirement.
Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! According to Freddie Mac, rates should increase closer to the 4’s as we round out 2019 and head into 2020. While still staying well below the 30-year average of 6.85%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the 30-year average – it is reasonable to think that higher rates must be in our future at some point.
So what does this mean for you? If you have considered making a move, or even your first purchase, today’s rates are a huge advantage in helping make a move more affordable. If you are a seller, bear in mind that today’s interest rate market is creating strong buyer demand, providing a healthy buyer pool for your home. As a homeowner who has no intention to make a move, now might be the time to consider a refinance. What is so exciting about these refinances, is that it is not only possible to reduce your monthly payment, but also your term, depending on which rate you would be coming down from.
If you would like additional information on how today’s interest rates pertain to your housing goals, please contact me. I would be happy to educate you on homes that are available, do a market analysis on your current home, and/or put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional to help you crunch numbers. Real estate success is rooted in being accurately informed, and it is my goal to help empower you to make sound decisions for you and your family.
I am pleased to present the second-quarter 2019 edition of the Gardner Report, which provides insights into select counties of the Western Washington housing market. This analysis is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. I hope that this information will assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Summer is quickly coming to a close, and it’s time to think about prepping your yard for fall. Here are a few quick tips to get you started, and a full article here.
All summer long, plants and grass are using up nutrients in the soil. After months of growing, your soil’s reserves become depleted, which is why a fall fertilizer is great to restore nutrients and give your grass, shrubs, and perennials a boost to help them make it through winter. It is recommended to fertilize once every season.
Stop Pruning and Watering
Late summer and fall might seem like a good time to prune dead flowers and branches, but several experts recommend waiting until spring to prune anything. Pruning stimulates new growth, but with the frost coming, chances are this new growth won’t survive. Pruning also interferes with the plant when it is going dormant.
In late September, you should also stop watering your plants to help them go dormant as well.
Price appreciation has been a hot topic for some time, but over the last year, prices have started to balance out and it takes some explaining. As you can see from the map above provided by the National Association of Realtors, price appreciation over the long haul has been robust. The map above points out price appreciation since 2005, which was prior to the economic downturn. This demonstrates that if a homeowner was able to retain their home through the downturn of 2007-2012, that they came out on the other side well-positioned. Real estate is typically a long game, and that is one of the key points we will cover here.
First, let’s review price growth after the down turn. Since 2014, price appreciation has been out of the ordinary! The average (normal) price appreciation is 3-4% year-over-year. For clarity, “year-over-year” is defined by the last 12 months averaged over the previous 12 months. This is a larger data pull and tells a deeper story than just taking one month and comparing it over that same month the year prior like the media typically does.
Over these last five years, we have seen double-digit year-over-year appreciation, specifically from 2015-2018. In fact, 2018 started out with 14% price gains over 2017. This was due to rapid job growth, tight inventory, and low interest rates. It was the perfect storm to rapidly drive up prices. In the second half of 2018, interest rates started to rise, inventory had huge gains, and affordability became an increasing issue. This stalled out demand and prices came off their spring peak. The second half of 2018 brought on a price correction and started to lead a path toward more normal appreciation levels.
In the beginning of 2019, we saw year-over-year price gains average from 8-9%. As we finished out the second quarter of 2019, the year-over-year price growth continued to balance out toward typical, historical levels. We are at a place in the year-over-year data where the crazed price appreciation is no longer within 12 months, and we are tracking from the correction that happened in the second half of 2018, reflective of more normal inventory levels.
The majority of the large gains in 2018 happened in the first half of the year. Since May of 2018, inventory has grown, meaning we have seen more homes come to market, providing buyers more selection which tempers price growth. This has evened out price growth to more sustainable levels and aided in affordability. Coupled with the recent drop in interest rate (.75% since November 2018) the market has provided more ease for buyers to make purchases and for buyers that are sellers to make transitions without having to move twice. It is still a seller’s market with inventory levels under 3-months, but we are starting to move toward more balance. This is a good thing!
What does all of this mean? Quite a bit, but I’ll touch on some key points.
- Many homeowners are in very favorable equity positions, especially those who bought prior to 2016 (back to that long-game point).
- The days of owning your home for 1-3 years and turning a profit with a quick sale are a blip in history from 2015-2017.
- Buyers simply have more selection, so the homes that are in good condition, show-ready, and priced appropriately are seeing fantastic results such as quick market times, favorable terms, and full-price or sometimes over-list-price offers.
- Overpricing is becoming more common as home sellers wrap their heads around the new normal of price appreciation. Attention to market trajectory and aligning with a trusted professional can help avoid this pitfall.
- The more affordable areas have seen higher gains recently as the core areas balance out from hitting affordability ceilings.
- Historically low interest rates (lowest in three years!) continue to drive demand and should be as important to watch for a seller as they are for a buyer.
Below are some national price appreciation predictions from CoreLogic and various economists. It is predicted that we will continue to have price appreciation, but for it to be more subtle. The fear of equity loss on a national level from these experts is minimal. It is understandable that when price gains become more subtle that it may seem like the sky is falling, but it is important to keep the long game in perspective.
Real estate is a complicated investment to navigate, but one that can provide amazing opportunity. It also relates to big life choices; whoever said moving was easy? That is why aligning with a trusted professional is key to help make these life-changing transitions. If you are curious about the value of your home in today’s market or have thought about a move or even a first-time purchase, please reach out. It is our mission to help keep our clients informed and empower strong, life-changing decisions.
We’re halfway through the Windermere Foundation’s 30-year anniversary and there’s no sign of donations slowing down. In the second quarter of this year, the Windermere Foundation collected $556,937, bringing our year-to-date total to $865,029, and our grand total to $38,871,157 raised since 1989. These donations are used to support non-profit organizations and programs that help low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.
Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account from which we make donations to help those in need in our local communities. These funds come from each real estate transaction that we close, as well as individual donations from agents, staff, and the community.
Thank you for your support! Together, we are able to make a real difference for those in need in our local communities.
All of us at Windermere are very excited to kick-off our fourth season as the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks!
Once again, our #tacklehomelessness campaign is front-and-center, with the Windermere Foundation donating $100 for every Seahawks home-game defensive tackle to Mary’s Place, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services supporting women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. We are looking forward to raising even more money – and awareness – for this important cause.
Our partnership with the Seahawks and Mary’s Place fits perfectly with the mission of the Windermere Foundation which is to support low-income and homeless families in the communities where we have offices. Through the #tacklehomelessness campaign, we hope to be able to do even more.
Check out the Seahawks schedule here, the preseason is just a couple of weeks away!
Changes are coming: The Washington State Legislature is changing the way in which real estate excise taxes (REET) are calculated. REET are different from your annual property taxes; they are the tax that a seller pays when they sell their home, based on the sale price.
Currently, the Washington State excise tax is 1.28 percent. Local municipalities add their excise tax on top of the state tax, with most cities in our area adding 0.50 percent, to total 1.78 percent. Effective January 1, 2020, Washington State will begin calculating real estate excise taxes based on a tier system. Below are examples of how this change will affect the different price points.
The majority of sellers will enjoy a slight savings once the new tax structure starts in 2020, however, sellers whose homes are worth $1.5M or more should pay close attention as the tiered system will cost them more in 2020. If you own a high-end home and have been considering downsizing, doing so inside of 2019 may be a winning strategy.
If you or someone you know is curious about the value of your home or you have considered a move, please reach out. It is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions.
On June 7th, my office spent our annual Community Service Day with the Snohomish Garden Club constructing trellises, weeding and staking beds and planting and labeling a half-acre of produce!
The Snohomish Garden Club will harvest this half-acre, which will yield close to 10,000 pounds of fresh produce to be donated to various food banks and senior centers in Snohomish County. The land for the garden is generously donated by the Bailey Family Farm.
For more information on how you can lend a hand, please visit: SnohomishGardenClub.com
Windermere’s Community Service Day was established in 1984 to offer agents and staff a chance to volunteer an entire workday to give back to the neighborhoods in which they live and work.
The longer days and warmer weather means that your favorite movie is no longer relegated only to a dark stuffy room. Grab the folding chairs, blankets and popcorn, and check out a few of these fun outdoor movies. You’ll find classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Princess Bride, as well as newer releases like Mary Poppins Returns and Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Most of them are free, and many locations also offer fun, family-friendly activities before the movie starts.