Monthly Newsletter – November 2018

 

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.

Read the full report here.

 

 

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.

 

Tackle Homelessness
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 #tacklehomelessnessGO HAWKS!
Posted on November 26, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Selling Homes

Don’t Miss the Boat on Current Interest Rates

 

 

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 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 low rates are also providing great opportunities 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 EconomistMatthew 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.

Click to view the full report

 

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.

Fertilizing

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.

>>Keep reading

Posted on August 24, 2019 at 9:23 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardner Reports, Home Maintenance, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Mortgages, Selling Homes

June Monthly Newsletter

 

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 difference 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 my goal to help keep my 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 andSpider Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Most of them are free, and many locations also offer fun, family-friendly activities before the movie starts.
Posted on June 27, 2019 at 9:27 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Community, Events, Fun Things To Do, Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Selling Homes

New Formula For Real Estate Excise Tax Calculations Beginning January 1, 2020

 

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 difference 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 my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 9:10 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Selling Homes

April Newsletter

 

I am pleased to present the first-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.

Click to view the full report

 

 

When you shop at a local Farmers Market, you’re buying outstanding freshness, quality and flavor. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown provides peace of mind for your family. Plus, you’re supporting a sustainable regional food system that helps small family farms stay in business; protects land from development, and provides the community with fresh, healthy food. Find one near you!

 

 

We are collecting vegetable seeds and starts for the Martha Perry Garden, where volunteers grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce every year for local food banks.

My office will be spending a volunteer day in the garden for our annual Community Service Day in June. In addition to our labor, we will gift them all of the vegetable seeds and starts collected between now and then.

All seeds should be no more than a year old, although fresh seeds are preferred.

Wish List:
Basil, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots*, Cauliflower, Chard, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Herbs, Marigolds, Peppers, Radishes, Summer Squash, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Zucchini
*High Demand!

Starts of cucumbers, winter & summer squash, cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc) are especially welcome.

Thank you!!

 

Thank you for another successful Shred Day!

Two full truckloads of paper were safely shredded and recycled.

We love providing this service for our clients, friends and neighbors, but what we’re really excited about is how you all gave back to the community. Your donations provided 534 pounds of food and $1,129 to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Thank you!

Posted on May 6, 2019 at 6:10 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Community, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Events, Fun Things To Do, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters

Monthly Newsletter

Most recently, we have experienced an uptick in market activity. In fact, in King and Snohomish counties we saw a 53% increase in pending sales from December to January. While it is seasonally normal to see activity increase at the first of the year, it was 16% higher than the previous January. This increase is being driven by multiple factors, such as our thriving economy and job market, price acceleration softening, and the recent decrease in interest rates.

Currently, rates are as low as 4.5% for a 30-year fixed conventional mortgage – 0.75 points down from the fourth quarter of 2018. In fact, the interest rate in November was the highest we’ve seen in five years!  The current rate level is the lowest we have seen in a year. This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point increase in interest rate, a buyer loses ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate increases by a point during their search, in order to keep the same monthly payment, the buyer would need to decrease their purchase price to $450,000. Conversely, for every decrease in interest rate, a buyer can increase their purchase price and keep the same monthly mortgage payment.

Why is this important to pay attention to? Affordability! If you take the scenario I just described and apply it to the link above, you can see that the folks who choose to jump into the market this year will enjoy an interest cost savings when securing their mortgage. This 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 slow-down in home-price appreciation. Complete year-over-year, prices are up around 8% in both King and Snohomish counties, but note that from 2017 to 2018 we saw a 14% increase. Price appreciation is adjusting to more normal levels and is predicted to increase 4-6% in 2019 over 2018.

As we head into 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 demand 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 re-finance in 2015-2017, will consider giving up that lower rate for the right move-up house now that rates are not as big of a jump up as they were during the second half of 2018.

This recent decrease in rate is making 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.

Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, rates should increase into the 5’s in 2019. 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 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.

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.

Celebrate Earth Day with us! Bring all your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site by Confidential Data Disposal. Limit 20 file boxes per customer.

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.

Saturday, April 20th, 10am – 2pm.
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood 98036

*This is a shredding-only event. Only paper will be accepted – no electronics or recyclables.

 

I am pleased to present the fourth-quarter 2018 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.

Click to view the full report

Posted on March 10, 2019 at 12:48 am
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Community, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Events, Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters

2019 Economic & Housing Forecast

 

Happy 2019! As we head into the New Year, it’s a great time to look ahead to what the real estate market has in store. Just last week, I had the pleasure of hosting an Economic Forecast Event with Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, and soaked up his knowledge and predictions. Below are his general predictions for the at-large real estate market across the nation. Please review and let me know if you have any questions.

Beyond the national forecast, at the event Matthew reported specifically on the Greater Seattle market, including both King and Snohomish counties. I received his Power Point presentation and I am happy to share his slides, should you request them.

A few take-a-ways to note are:

  • Seattle remains strong economically and our job market is thriving.
  • Interest rates are still historically low and will rise, but not beyond 6%.
  • It is still a seller’s market in our area, but price escalations are softening, creating more balance and sustainability. We are NOT experiencing a bubble.
  • 25% of homeowners in our region have 50% equity in their homes.
  • An economic recession is upon us in 2020. This one should be much like the 1991 recession; short and not based in housing.
  • Be careful how you process the media’s take on the market as they often use extreme month-over-month numbers vs. richer long-term data.
  • Prices are expected to rise 5-7% in 2019, which is more normal, but above the long-term average, yet lower than the recent double-digit year-over-year gains we’ve seen since 2012.

It is always my goal to help empower my clients with information to help them make informed decisions regarding their real estate.  Let me know if you’d like that Power Point. I’m happy to share and help you dissect the information. Here’s to a great 2019!

 


2019 Economic and Housing Forecast
Posted on Windermere.com in Market News by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate 

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.
Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing.  Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales
This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market.  In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices
We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017.  In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales
In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates
In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling.  We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

Conclusions
There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating.  In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

Originally published on Inman News.
 

 

At Windermere we help people buy and sell homes, but we also help build community. I’m proud to support the Windermere Foundation with every home I help sell or buy. 2018 concluded with another great year of fundraising and giving for the Windermere Foundation, thanks to the continued support of agents, franchise owners, staff, and the community. Nearly $2.5 million was raised in 2018, bringing our grand total to over $38 million raised since the Foundation’s inception in 1989! This money goes right back into our community, helping low-income and homeless families. Read the full blog post here.

 

 

This past Christmas, my office adopted 22 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 $2,068 in grocery gift cards to 15 local families.

We are also thrilled to report that through our partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, this season Windermere raised a total of $31,900 for YouthCare, an organization that provides critical services for homeless youth. This brings our three-year total to $98,700 towards our#tacklehomelessness campaign! Thank you to the Seahawks and to YouthCare for helping us support homeless youth in our community. We’ll be back next year to raise even more!

Posted on February 3, 2019 at 7:18 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Selling Homes, Windermere Foundation

November Monthly Newsletter

 

Quarterly Economic Update for Western Washington
We are so fortunate here at Windermere to have Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist to help keep us informed on our economy and the real estate market. Each quarter Matthew compiles in-depth research on counties from across Western Washington. Click here to download Matthew’s full Q3 2018 report and check out the latest on the area you call home.

 

 

 

At the close of the third quarter, the Windermere Foundation had donated (year-to-date) over $1.2 million to non-profit organizations in communities throughout the Western U.S. that provide services to low-income and homeless families.

During the third quarter alone, the Windermere Foundation collected over $742,226 in donations; 70 percent of which came from individual contributions and fundraisers, while 30 percent came from donations through Windermere agent sales transactions. This brings the grand total to $37,151,731 raised since 1989!

If you would like to learn more about how the Windermere Foundation is supporting low-income and homeless families in our communities, check out this blog post. And for information on how we’re helping the California Wildfire Relief Fund, click here.

Thank you for your support! Together, we are able to make a real difference for those in need in our local communities.

Click here to learn more about the Windermere Foundation.

 

 

#TackleHomelessness Update
Consider this house protected. In our last home game win against the Packers, the Seattle Seahawks also brought home $2,800 to be donated to YouthCare to #TackleHomelessness. With that, we’re up to $15,000 raised this season and $81,800 in total! Great work and #GoHawks!
 

 

Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in.Click here to sign up on my website.
Posted on November 28, 2018 at 11:26 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Selling Homes, Windermere Foundation

A Love Letter to Buyers

 

I hope your Valentine’s Day was a sweet one, but it got me thinking. I am often sharing with you the advantages of this market for home sellers, which is unbelievably positive. With that said, I thought I’d take some time to give the potential buyers in our marketplace some love, hope, and of course, data!

Dear Greater Seattle Home Buyer,

Let’s just be up front: buying a home in today’s market is not easy. Quite frankly, it can be a wild roller coaster ride with twists and turns; but remember, folks pay a lot of money and stand in long lines for roller coaster rides. Imagine the excited pit in your stomach as the cart clicks up to the highest point before you plunge down a steep drop, and the thrill of raising your hands up because you trust that you are going to be okay. These emotions also accurately reflect the feelings of today’s home buyer – it can be a wild ride! Let’s also note that many roller coaster riders return to the back of the line right after getting off. Home ownership is also a good exercise to repeat and is often the investment that leads to the most built wealth in one’s life.

So how does one ensure that they are not the Nervous Nelly who stands in line for over an hour, finally makes it to the front to be strapped in to the cart, but who then chooses to bow out? The one that sits on the sidelines watching others throw up their hands with a thrill in their eye; the one with that tinge of regret as their friends rejoin them back on hallowed ground to recount their adventure. Wow, this is getting dramatic! Here are a few tips to follow that will ensure that one can find success securing a home in today’s market and get on the equity building train.

Waiting is Even More Expensive
In 2017, the year-over-year median price gains across our region were strong. In fact, here is a little break down.

North Snohomish County: $371,000  up 13%
South Snohomish County: $508,000  up 14%
North King County: $715,000  up 14%
Seattle Metro: $710,000  up 15%
South King County: $405,000  up 13%
Eastside: $865,000  up 15%

The appreciation is for real and as each month ticks by, prices are going up. That is why it is incredibly important to have a plan and realistic expectations. In referring to the chart above, it is plain to see the affordability of each area. Buyers have had to get creative and honest with themselves regarding the city or neighborhood in which they land. Commute times are one of the biggest indicators of home cost. It is paramount to line your budget up with a realistic commute time and then dig in. Too often I’ve seen buyers tightly grip to the idea of an in-city commute, only to have it end up being a more suburban choice in the end. The months wasted trying to perform in a market that didn’t match their budget ended up costing them at least 1% a month, based on last year’s appreciation. Getting real saves time, money, and heartache.

Interest Rates are a’Rising
This aspect is actually one to pay very close attention to. We have been amazingly spoiled with historically low interest rates over the last five years. In fact, there is an entire generation of buyers who only know rates that have hovered from 3.5 – 4.5% – that is close to 3 points under the 30-year average! A good rule of thumb regarding interest rates, is that for each 1-point increase a buyer loses 10% of their buying power. That means that if you have a $500,000 budget and the rate goes up by a point, that you are now shopping for a $450,000 house if you want the same payment. Note, that shift does not take appreciation into consideration. Today’s rates have helped buyers bear the home prices in our area. It is predicted that rates will rise in 2018 by .5 to 1%.

Rents are High and Don’t Build Wealth
Seattle is now the 5th most expensive city to rent in the country according to the US Census Bureau. With rising rental rates, still historically low interest rates, and home prices on the rise, the advantage of buying versus renting has become clear for folks who have a down payment saved, good debt-to-income ratios and strong credit. Currently, the breakeven horizon (the amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision vs. renting) in the Greater Seattle area is 1.6 years according to Zillow research.

Partner with a Broker Who Will Get the Job Done
A broker that has a process is key! It starts with an initial buyer consultation. I liken the buyer consultation to the seat belt you would wear on the roller coaster ride. When you go to the Dr. they start with your intake, check your vitals, ask questions, etc. The buyer consultation aims to unearth a buyer’s goals, research the areas they are interested in, address financing, and illustrate the challenges of the environment, so one can be successful. Time is money, and this consultation brings clarity, efficiency and trust. This upfront education coupled with a high level of communication and availability is paramount. The depth of the relationship will lead to success, and is the ingredient that enables a buyer to throw up their hands and take the thrilling plunge. It is hard to do that without a seat belt!

Get Your Finances in Order
Aligning with a trusted real estate professional is key, but so is aligning with a reputable and responsive mortgage lender. Getting pre-approved is the minimum, but getting pre-underwritten is a game changer. Finding a lender that is willing to put in the work up-front to vet credit, income, savings, debt, and all other financial indicators will lead to being pre-underwritten, which listing agents and sellers appreciate! Also, be aware that you do not always need to have a huge down payment to make a purchase work. Employment, assets, credit, and what you have saved all work into your ability to acquire a loan. I have seen plenty of people secure a home with 3-5% down. Education and awareness create clarity, and investing into understanding your financial footing equals empowered and more efficient decisions. Note that I mentioned “responsive”. This is a 24/7 market, and lenders who don’t work evenings and weekends can get in the way of a buyer securing a home. If you need a short list of lenders that fit this description, please contact me.

‘Tis the Season – Inventory is Coming
Have hope! This is the time of year where we see inventory climb month over month. There will be more selection, but bear in mind it is also the time of year that the appreciation push happens. If you are feeling 75-80% in love with a home, it is one to act on. You’re never going to “get it all”, so a willingness to focus on priorities will pay off, because waiting will have an expense.

If you or someone you know is considering a purchase in today’s market, please contact me. It is my pleasure to take the time to educate, devise a plan, and help buyers find success in a challenging, yet advantageous market.

 

Celebrate Earth Day with us! Bring all your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site by Confidential Data Disposal. Limit 20 file boxes per customer.

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.

Saturday, April 21st, 10am – 2pm.
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood 98036

*This is a shredding-only event. Only paper will be accepted – no electronics or recyclables.

 

We are so fortunate here at Windermere to have Matthew Gardner help keep us informed on our economy and the real estate market.  Each quarter Matthew compiles in-depth research on counties from across Western Washington. Click here to download Matthew’s full Q4 2017 report.  Also, I recently hosted Matthew’s 2018 economic forecast for the Greater Seattle area and had it professionally recorded.  If you are interested in receiving access to view the entire presentation, please contact me and I’ll send it to you.

 

Posted on February 17, 2018 at 6:56 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Gardner Reports, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Renting

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

Flickr Photo/SounderBruce (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://flic.kr/p/MzGznr
It is the time of year when I 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 which neighborhood you are interested in learning about, in either King or Snohomish County, I am happy to provide a 2017 re-cap of that market. I 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. Check out the article below that touches on Matthew Gardner’s, Windermere’s Chief Economist, 2018 predictions for the national housing market. I attended his local forecast last week and if you’d like a copy of his presentation, outlining what he thinks is in store for our area, please email me. I’d be happy to forward it along and explain his findings. Here’s to a successful 2018!

 

 

You can download a PDF of Matthew’s predictions here.

 

 

 

This past Christmas, my office adopted 26 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). Our in-office donations totaled $1,430, and together with a $1,000 match from the Windermere Foundation and a 5% bulk bonus from Safeway, we were able to distribute $2,557.50 in grocery gift cards to 10 local families.

We are also thrilled to report that through our partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, this season we raised a total of $31,800 for YouthCare, an organization that provides critical services for homeless youth. Last year’s season raised $35,000, for a two-year total of $66,800 towards our #tacklehomelessness campaign!

 

 

Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.

 

Posted on January 30, 2018 at 10:23 pm
Jill Langer | Category: Buying Homes, Eastside, Economic Forecasts & Trends, Matthew Gardner, Monthly Newsletters, Seattle Metro, Selling Homes, South Snohomish County | Tagged , , , , ,