Consulting your trusted advisor vs following the media

 

Spring is in the air! The bulbs are starting to poke out of the ground and we recently hit 70 degrees in the Greater Seattle area. This is the time of year, due to weather and the end of the school year approaching, that the local real estate market starts to take off with activity. Not only is the sun thawing out gardens and backyard patios, helping to ready homes for market, but interest rates are continuing to fall, providing a heyday for buyers and sellers.

 

Spring is the time of year we see more homes come to market providing more selection for buyers. This is what we call our peak season. This spring, however, is especially meaningful due to the recent decrease in interest rates. Seasonality naturally brings more activity, but 2019 has started out with a downward trajectory in regards to interest rates, which has been a welcome shift after watching rates increase by almost an entire point over the course of 2018.

 

According to Ycharts.com, as of March 14th the US 30-year mortgage rate is at 4.31%, compared to 4.41% the week prior and 4.46% last year. This is quite a bit lower than the long term average of 8.07%. Additionally, rates are now over half a point lower than they were just four months ago, which gives buyers 5% more buying power. Meaning they can increase their price range by 5% and keep the same mortgage payment.

 

We are beginning to see a ton of activity at open houses, market times are starting to shrink, and multiple offers are popping up again. Demand is on the rise, with first-time home buyers out in full-force along with move-up and down-size buyers all going after the same inventory. Price appreciation will start to happen again month-over-month as the tulips start to open and veggie gardens start sprouting.

 

This assessment is not only factual and researched, it is anecdotal. You see, statistics are only reported monthly from the NWMLS, so the stories from the streets tell the real story of where we have been, what’s happening now, and where we are headed in the real estate market. My daily engagement with the market, either helping buyers or sellers, researching values, showing properties, negotiating contracts, and working on inspections and appraisals helps me to be informed of the trends before they are even reported.

 

Around the third of each month, the NWMLS distributes a press release to the media reporting the previous month’s statistics. The media grabs the numbers that are most exciting to them to craft a story around. They create headlines to entice readership, which in turn sells advertising. The problem is that these news stories often only tell part of the story.

 

A classic example of cherry picked statistics used to create a headline came earlier this month.  The Seattle Times reported in a sub-headline that Snohomish County home prices were falling at their fastest rate in seven years. This is simply not the whole truth. This is a common tactic of the media often only using month-over-month numbers (comparing the current month to the same month a year ago) versus a complete year-over-year analysis. Real estate is a long-term investment, and month-over-month numbers tend to provide more of a snapshot rather than a longer-term analysis of data and what influenced it.

 

We need to look at the data from all angles. Where were we a year ago, what has happened over the course of the last year in comparison to the previous year, and what happened this month compared to last month? Real-time experiences matter too, as the market changes weekly and even daily. Interactions throughout the month help me understand what opportunities the current environment will provide before the ink even dries on the media release. All of this helps us understand where we have come from and where we are headed. Couple that with front-line, daily experiences, and your trusted advisor can help you determine how all of this relates to your bottom line much more effectively than an article in the newspaper.

 

Another important factor to consider is that the bulk of the statistics reported in that monthly NWMLS press release are based on closed sales. While closed sales are very important, we must also closely track pending sales activity (homes currently under contract). Closed sales show where we have been and pending sales indicate where we are headed. February was a misleading month because of Snowmageddon. It halted new inventory reaching the market and kept buyers at home. The second half of February once the roads were cleared, had buyers lined up. Many of those buyers are anxiously waiting for that seasonal surge in inventory as we head into spring. This is indicated by conversations being had at open houses and one-on-one encounters with clients. Buyers want to take advantage of these surprisingly low interest rates now and sellers are enjoying the audience they are providing.

 

 

Unfortunately, the media is the initial source of information, and sometimes the only source a consumer considers when making such big decisions. I can’t tell you how often I encounter people that are grossly misled by alarming headlines and bite-sized bits of media when it comes to their largest asset, or the consideration of entering into home ownership.

 

Supply and demand illustrates where we are at in the market, and factors such as interest rates, the local and global economy, and simple things like weather and consumer mindset drive the market. Consumer mindset is influenced by the media. Take it a step further and make sure you are aligned with a professional who is committed to tracking all of this and can help explain how it all relates to you. Everyone has their own goals and their own concerns; it is the analysis of a well-researched trusted advisor that can help you navigate these meaningful financial decisions. It is our goal to provide our clients with the most up-to-date information to help empower strong decisions. If you are curious how this all relates to you, please reach out. We would be happy to connect you with agent who can discuss and help educate.

 

 

Posted on March 25, 2019 at 1:32 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q4 South King County

Q4: October 1 – December 31, 2018

 

SOUTH KING COUNTY: 2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 89%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.7 months, 30% more than 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in south King County; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:32 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q4 Eastside

Q4: October 1 – December 31, 2018

 

EASTSIDE: 2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 8% and since 2012 has increased 87%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 2 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

This is only a snapshot of the trends on the Eastside; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:30 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q4 Seattle Metro

Q4: October 1 – December 31, 2018

 

SEATTLE METRO: 2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 93%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.5 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

This is only a snapshot of the trends the Seattle Metro area; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:28 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q4 North King County

Q4: October 1 – December 31, 2018

 

NORTH KING COUNTY: 2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 92%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.5 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north King County; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:27 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q4 North Snohomish County

Q4: October 1 – December 31, 2018

 

NORTH SNOHOMISH COUNTY: 2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 88%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.6 months, higher than 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north Snohomish County; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:25 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q3 North King

 

Q3: July 1 – September 30, 2018

 

NORTH KING COUNTY: In September, the average days on market landed at 23 days and the original list-to-sale price ratio 98%. Since May, inventory growth has been noticeable, and has given buyers more options. This has led to more negotiations and fewer bidding wars, which is tempering month-over-month price growth to a more sustainable level.

Back in April, the average days on market was 12 days and the original list-to-sale price ratio 106%; but months of inventory based on pending sales was 0.8 months, compared to 2.2 months currently. Year-over-year, prices are up 10%, still well above the historical norm of 3%-5% year-over-year gains—but note that the majority of this growth happened during the spring, due to constricted inventory levels.

Supply has increased, creating more options for buyers and helping to buffer affordability issues. Many sellers are deciding to make moves and cash in on the equity gained over the last six years. An average original list-to-sale price ratio of 98% is a positive return, yet illustrates a softening in the market after some very extreme times. With 10% price growth over the last 12-months in a seller’s favor, the increase in selection has led to more nimble moves from one house to another. Where sellers need to be careful is anticipating the month-over-month price growth we saw prior to the shift in inventory. Prospective buyers would be smart to take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates and the added inventory selection.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north King County; please contact us if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

 

Posted on October 11, 2018 at 11:57 AM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Reports: Q3 North Snohomish

 

Q3: July 1 – September 30, 2018

 

NORTH SNOHOMISH COUNTY: In September, the average days on market landed at 29 days and the original list-to-sale price ratio at 98%. Since May, inventory growth has been noticeable, and has given buyers more options. This has led to more negotiations and fewer bidding wars, which is tempering month-over-month price growth to a more sustainable level.

Back in May, the average days on market was 22 days and the original list-to-sale price ratio 101%; but months of inventory based on pending sales was 1 month compared to 2.3 months currently. Year-over-year, prices are up 11%, still well above the historical norm of 3%-5% year-over-year gains—but note that the majority of this growth happened during the spring, due to constricted inventory levels.

Supply has increased, creating more options for buyers and helping to buffer affordability issues. Many sellers are deciding to make moves and cash in on the equity gained over the last six years. An average original list-to-sale price ratio of 98% is a positive return, yet illustrates a softening in the market after some very extreme times. With 11% price growth over the last 12-months in a seller’s favor, the increase in selection has led to more nimble moves from one house to another. Where sellers need to be careful is anticipating the month-over-month price growth we saw prior to the shift in inventory. Prospective buyers would be smart to take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates and the added inventory selection.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north Snohomish County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

 

 

Posted on October 11, 2018 at 11:53 AM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis, Quarterly Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wealth-Building Opportunities Abound for First Time Home Buyers

With the sharpest increase of available homes for sale in years, more opportunities are now available for buyers, including first-timers. Many first-time home buyers have sat on the sidelines and remained renters due to the constriction of inventory, which put major pressure on price affordability. Not only has affordability been an issue, but the terms required to prevail in a multiple-offer situation were often not within reach for someone entering the market for the first time.

For example, over the last 12 months in the Seattle Metro area we have seen a 66% increase in the selection of homes for buyers to choose from. There is currently 1.8 months of available inventory based on pending sales versus 0.8 months that was available the same month last year. This is still a seller’s market (0-3 months), but it is providing more than twice as much selection than a year ago. This loosening up of the market has helped to temper price growth by reducing the amount of price escalations and the need to have super aggressive financing terms in order to secure a home.

You see, over the last 3-4 years we have experienced double-digit price appreciation (10-14%) year-over-year, each year. A normal rate of appreciation is 3-5%. Minimal amounts of available inventory, low interest rates, and rapid job growth lead to this increase in prices. Now that more homes are coming to market and job growth has stabilized a bit (still growing, but not as fast), price growth has slowed. This is good news for sustainability and affordability. Here’s the deal though – we are still experiencing growth in values, making home ownership a sound investment over renting.

According to the most recent survey from rentcafe.com, the average rent for an apartment in Seattle is $1,906 with an average square footage of 736 sq. ft. That is quite a bit of money for not a ton of space. Further, that monthly expenditure does not create any wealth for the renter, only for the landlord. With renting, rates can be increased at any time, and you are paying down someone else’s asset, not your own. Also, owning gives the homeowner control of their overhead, while getting to make their house their home by adding improvements such as painting.

There are several factors to consider that will lead a person to make the best decision for their lifestyle and their financial bottom line. One of the biggest factors is interest rates! Currently, the rate for a 30-year fixed, conventional, conforming loan is hovering around 4.88%. Up from earlier this year and predicted to rise, but still historically low over the course of the last 30 years. These rates need to be considered the greatest opportunity of them all! With prices tempering and rates still under the 30-year average of 6.65%, buyers are able to secure a sound investment with very low debt service.

With interest rates predicted to rise over the next year, a good rule of thumb to remember is that for every one-point increase in rate, a buyer loses 10% of their buying power. For example, if the rate jumps from 4.75% to 5.75% and one wants to keep the same monthly payment, they must adjust their price point down by 10%. So, a $450,000 budget becomes a $405,000 budget, and that isn’t taking appreciation into consideration. If you assume an average appreciation rate of 4% year-over-year, today’s $450,000 house will be $468,000 next year. What side of the equity growth do you want to be on? As an owner now, or a buyer a year from now, when prices are higher and interest rates are most likely higher as well?

Once you secure a mortgage, the payment stays the same over the term of the entire loan. The long-term benefits of owning are abundant, including the stability of not being asked to move. These are important factors to consider for everyone, but especially millennials, who are enjoying the benefits of Seattle’s attractive job market. One myth to address is the common belief that you must have a 20% down payment in order to buy a home. That is simply not true. There are loan programs as low as 3% down, decreasing the need to have a large sum of money saved up before being able to buy.

Where folks are having to compromise the most due to affordability is commute times, and settling in less-urban neighborhoods. Worth pointing out, is the average home price in south Snohomish County is 34% less than Seattle Metro – that is a huge savings! Further, south King County is 74% more affordable than Seattle. Some people, mainly millennials, have not been willing to give up living in the core urban neighborhoods that have high walk scores and shorter commute times. That should be apt to change with more selection available in the purchase market, coupled with low interest rates. The advantages of moving out a little further and securing a home will start people on the track of building long-term wealth. If you or anyone you know is currently renting and is considering a change, please let me know, as I would be happy to get their questions answered and help them make an informed decision.

 

 

Posted on September 29, 2018 at 10:35 AM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s in Your Toolbox to Navigate the Changing Market?

 

The late spring market brought about some welcomed change to our local real estate markets. In May, we experienced the largest increase in inventory in a decade! North King County and South Snohomish County are two examples of what is happening in all the markets across the Puget Sound as we head into the second half of 2018. Below is a breakdown of the current environment; further is an explanation of what it all means.

North King County (Ship Canal to Snohomish County Line):

  • 38% increase in new listings from April to May 2018
  • 16% more new listings in May 2018 vs. May 2017
  • Overall 5% more new listings over the last 12 months vs. the previous 12 months
  • Average list-to-sale price ratios reduce to 104% from 105% in May 2018
  • Median Price up 15% complete year over year, but down 1% vs. the previous month, landing at $815K.

South Snohomish County (Snohomish County Line to Everett):

  • 27% increase in new listings from April to May 2018
  • 10% more new listings in May 2018 vs. May 2017
  • Overall 2% more new listings over the last 12 months vs. the previous 12 months
  • Average list-to-sale price ratios reduce to 102% from 103% in May 2018
  • Median price up 12% complete year over year, but equal with the previous month, landing at $500K.

This increase in inventory is awesome! It is providing more selection for buyers and is helping temper price growth, which was increasing at an unsustainable level. It is still a Seller’s market by all means, which is defined by having three or less months of available inventory. Both market areas are still just under one month of inventory based on pending sales, but not as low as the two-week mark they were experiencing in March.

The increase in inventory is the result of pent up seller demand. From 1985-2008 the average amount of time a homeowner stayed in their home was 6 years. From 2008-2017 it grew to 9 years. With a resounding amount of equity under their belts, many homeowners are now deciding to make moves. Some are moving up to the next best thing and others are cashing out and leaving the area for a new beginning or retirement. This is providing buyers with the selection they have been waiting for after a very tenuous, inventory-starved start to 2018. The buyers that have stayed on the forefront of the market are now being rewarded with choices. These choices are best accompanied with keen discernment in order to craft the best negotiations – the broker they choose to align with is key.

The price analysis above indicates strong equity positions for sellers, but also a leveling off in price growth. Over the first quarter we saw prices increase month-over-month quite handily; now that more inventory is appearing and demand is being absorbed, price growth is not as extreme. This has highlighted the importance of having a strategic pricing and marketing plan for sellers wanting the highest price and shortest market time. The broker they choose to align with is key.

The importance of both buyers and sellers aligning with a knowledgeable, well-researched and responsive broker is paramount. One might think that it is “easy” to sell a house in this market, but the pricing research, home preparation, market exposure, varied marketing mediums, close management of all the communication, and how negotiations are handled can make or break a seller’s net return on the sale. With market times increasing, having a broker with a tight grasp on the changing environment will help create an efficient market time, resulting in the best price and terms for a successful closing. It is important that sellers do not overshoot this market, and it takes a broker with a keen gut sense rooted in in-depth research to help get them their desired results.

If you’re a buyer, it is overwhelmingly important that you are aligned with a broker that knows how to win in this market. The increase in selection has left some room for contemplation in some cases. Considering possible terms and price based on thorough market research as you head into negotiations are what set a highly capable selling broker apart and are required to prevail. With more selection coming to market, buyers have more to consider, and having a broker alongside them to help craft a strategy of negotiations will ensure they don’t overpay.

If you have any curiosities or questions regarding the value of your current home or purchase opportunities in today’s market, please contact us. It is our goal to help keep you informed and empower strong decisions.

 

 

 

Posted on June 27, 2018 at 12:58 PM
Windermere Real Estate North | Category: Local Market Analysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,