Navigating 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 July 26, 2018 at 11:26 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Strategy |

Back to school – start preparing now!

The first day of school sneaks up so fast… summer is here and then gone in a flash! Use these helpful tips to start getting settled into a new routine for fall, before life gets hectic.

Start talking about it. New teacher, new classmates, new schedules can all create some anxieties with kids. Start talking about school a few weeks before the first day. Talk about practical things like what the new schedule will be like, but also make sure to address their feelings and concerns about the upcoming year.

Go back to school shopping early. The store aisles are currently packed with school supplies. Take advantage of your summer schedule to shop while the store isn’t as busy and the supplies haven’t been picked through. Don’t forget to buy extras for homework time or the winter re-stock that inevitably happens in January.

Determine how your child will get to and from school and practice the route.

Ease back into the scheduled days. When you and your kids are used to lazy mornings and staying up late, shifting to the early morning school bus rush can be incredibly difficult. To ease the transition, start 7-10 days before school starts, and shift bedtimes and wake-up times gradually. Every day, start their bedtime routine 10-15 minutes earlier and wake them up 10-15 minutes earlier until they’re back on track. And don’t forget to readjust your bedtime schedules, too!

Re-set eating habits. When school starts, your student’s eating patterns need to maintain a high level of energy throughout the day. Implementing a routine for breakfast, lunch and snacks is just as important as their sleeping patterns. Begin this transition 7-10 days before school starts as well.

Sync your calendars. Add the school calendar to your personal/family calendar, so important dates like parent-teacher night aren’t missed.

Set rules for after school. After-school time and activities such as TV, video games, play time, and the completion of homework should be well-thought out in advance. Talk about the rules (and consequences) for these before school starts.


Posted on July 26, 2018 at 10:52 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Just for Fun |

Q2 2018 Gardner Report

 The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may 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 your Windermere Agent. 

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy added 83,900 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 2.5%. This is a slowdown from the last quarter, but employment growth remains well above the national rate of 1.6%. Employment gains continue to be robust in the private sector, which was up by 2.8%. The public sector (government) grew by a more modest 1.1%.

The strongest growth sectors were Retail Trade and Construction, which both rose by 4.8%. Significant growth was also seen in the Education & Health Services and Information sectors, which rose by 3.9% and 3.4%, respectively.

The State’s unemployment rate was 4.7%, down from 4.8% a year ago. Washington State will continue adding jobs for the balance of the year and I anticipate total job growth for 2018 will be around 80,000, representing a total employment growth rate of 2.4%.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 23,209 home sales during the second quarter of 2018. This is a drop of 2.3% compared to the same period a year ago
  • Clallam County saw sales rise the fastest relative to the same period a year ago, with an increase of 12.6%. Jefferson County also saw significant gains in sales at 11.1%.
  • The number of homes for sale last quarter was down by a nominal 0.3% when compared to the second quarter of 2017, but up by 66% when compared to the first quarter of this year. Much has been mentioned regarding the growth in listings, but it was not region-wide. King County saw a massive 31.7% increase in inventory, though all but three of the other counties covered in this report saw the number of listings drop compared to a year ago.
  • The takeaway from this data is that while some counties are seeing growth in listings — which will translate into sales down the road — the market is still out of balance.

 

HOME PRICES

  • As inventory is still fairly scarce, growth in home prices continues to trend well above the long-term average. Prices in Western Washington rose 12.2% over last year to $526,398.
  • Home prices continue to trend higher across Western Washington, but the pace of growth has started to slow. This should please would-be buyers. The spring market came late but inventory growth in the expensive King County market will give buyers more choices and likely lead to a slowing down of price growth as bidding wars continue to taper.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Mason County, which was up 17.4%. Eleven other counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • Mortgage rates, which had been rising significantly since the start of the year, have leveled off over the past month. I believe rising rates are likely the reason that inventory levels are rising, as would-be sellers believe that this could be the right time to cash out. That said, the slowing in rate increases has led buyers to believe that rates will not jump soon, which gives them a little more breathing room. I do not expect to see any possible slowdown in demand until mortgage rates breach the 5% mark.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by seven days compared to the same quarter of 2017.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 13 days to sell. Every county in the region other than Clallam saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop when compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of this year. This is down from 48 days in the second quarter of 2017 and down by 20 days when compared to the first quarter of 2018.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of this year. This is down from 48 days in the second quarter of 2017 and down by 20 days when compared to the first quarter of 2018.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the second quarter of 2018, I have moved the needle very slightly towards buyers, but it remains firmly a seller’s market. This shift is a function of price growth tapering very slightly, as well as the expectation that we should see more homes come on the market as we move through the balance of the year.

Mr. Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

 

 

 

 

 


Posted on July 26, 2018 at 9:33 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information |

Seattle Eastside – Q2 Quarterly Report 2018

Q2: April 1 – June 30, 2018

Eastside Quarterly Market Trends

As we head into the summer months we are seeing a healthy jump in inventory in our area. In May, we saw the biggest jump in new listings in a decade! Price appreciation has created this phenomenon, motivating many people to make big moves with their equity. In fact, prices are up 11% year-over-year. We currently sit at 1.5 months of inventory based on pending sales. This more-equal balance of homes for sale compared to the first quarter has created great opportunities for buyers, finally! While it is still a seller’s market, it has eased up a bit. The average days on market in June was 19 days and the average list-to-sale price ratio was 101%. Eastside real estate has a very high premium due to close-in commute times, great neighborhoods and strong school districts. In fact, the median price in June was $980,000. Sellers are enjoying great returns due to buyers choosing to lay down roots in our area, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. The easing of inventory is a welcome change and is helping to temper price growth. 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 July 20, 2018 at 11:01 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information |

North King County – Q2 Quarterly Report 2018

Q2: April 1 – June 30, 2018

As we head into the summer months we are seeing a healthy jump in inventory in our area. In May, we saw the biggest jump in new listings in a decade!

Price appreciation has created this phenomenon, motivating many people to make big moves with their equity. In fact, prices are up 13% year-over-year. We currently sit at 1.1 months of inventory based on pending sales. This more-equal balance of homes for sale compared to the first quarter has created great opportunities for buyers, finally! While it is still a seller’s market, it has eased up a bit. The average days on market in June was 16 days and the average list-to-sale price ratio was 103%.

North King County real estate has a very high premium due to close-in commute times and vibrant neighborhoods. In fact, the median price in June was $800,000. Sellers are enjoying great returns due to buyers choosing to lay down roots in our area, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. The easing of inventory is a welcome change and is helping to temper price growth.

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 July 20, 2018 at 10:50 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information |

South Snohomish County – Q2 Quarterly Report 2018

Q2: April 1 – June 30, 2018

 

As we head into the summer months we are seeing a healthy jump in inventory in our area. In May, we saw the biggest jump in new listings in a decade!

Price appreciation has created this phenomenon, motivating many people to make big moves with their equity. In fact, prices are up 13% year-over-year. We currently sit at 1.3 months of inventory based on pending sales. This more-equal balance of homes for sale compared to the first quarter has created great opportunities for buyers, finally! While it is still a seller’s market, it has eased up a bit. The average days on market in June was 11 days and the average list-to-sale price ratio was 102%.

South Snohomish County real estate has been an affordable option compared to “in-city” real estate. In fact, the median price in June was 41% higher in Seattle Metro. Sellers are enjoying great returns due to buyers choosing to lay down roots in our area, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. The easing of inventory is a welcome change and is helping to temper price growth.

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

 


Posted on July 20, 2018 at 10:40 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information |

How Long do Families Live in Their Homes?

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of their data points, which has changed dramatically, is the median tenure of a family in a home, meaning how long a family stays in a home prior to moving.

As the graph below shows, over the last twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2014, that average is almost ten years – an increase of almost 50%.

How Long Do Most Families Live in a House? | Keeping Current Matters

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful!

The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property). Also, the uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

With home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, 95.3% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situationaccording to CoreLogic.

With the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

One other reason for the increase was brought to light by NAR in their 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. According to the report,

“Sellers 37 years and younger stayed in their home for six years…”

These homeowners, who are either looking for more space to accommodate their growing families or for better school districts to do the same, are likely to move more often (compared to typical sellers who stayed in their homes for 10 years). The homeownership rate among young families, however, has still not caught up to previous generations, resulting in the jump we have seen in median tenure!

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstance; they could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple living in a one-bedroom condo planning to start a family.

These homeowners are ready to make a move, and since a lack of housing inventory is still a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.


Posted on July 18, 2018 at 6:18 am
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information |

Selling Your House on Your Own Could Cost You

WindermereNorth_Bothell_Neighborhood2.jpg

In this extremely hot real estate market, some homeowners might consider selling their homes on their own which is known as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). They rationalize that they don’t need a real estate agent and believe that they can save the fee for the services a real estate agent offers.

However, a study by Collateral Analytics reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money than if they had used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The data suggests the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

As Dave Ramsey, America’s trusted voice on money, explains:

“Research has shown that, between mistakes, lack of negotiating skills, pricing errors and general exposure on the market, you’ll cost yourself more than the real estate commission…You’ll come out slightly better and with a lot less hassle if you use a top-shelf agent.”

 


Posted on May 27, 2018 at 11:25 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Strategy |

When’s the Best Month to Sell Your Home? You might be surprised?

 

This Just In: Data Says May is the Best Month to Sell Your Home | Keeping Current Matters

According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home.

For the study, ATTOM performed an “analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017” and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month and even by date!

Top 5 Months/Dates to Sell:

  • June 28th – 9.1% above market
  • February 15th – 9.0% above market
  • May 31st – 8.3% above market
  • May 29th – 8.2% above market
  • June 21st – 8.1% above market

It should come as no surprise that May and June dominate as the top months to sell and that 4 of the top 5 days to sell fall in those two months. The second quarter of the year (April, May, June) is referred to as the Spring Buyers Season, when competition is fierce to find a dream home, which often leads to bidding wars.

One caveat to mention though, is that when broken down by metro, ATTOM noticed that while warmer climates share in the overall trend, it turns out that they have different top months for sales. The best month to get the highest price in Miami, FL, for instance, was January, and Phoenix, AZ came in with November leading the charge.

If you’re thinking of selling your home this year, the time to list is NOW! According to the National Association of Realtors, homes sold in an average of just 30 days last month! If you list now, you’ll have a really good chance to sell in May or June, setting yourself up for getting the best price!

Bottom Line:  We can show you the market conditions in your area and get the most exposure to the buyers who are ready and willing to buy!  There’s no time like the present!


Posted on May 2, 2018 at 5:49 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Strategy |

Why We Are NOT Headed Toward Another Housing Bubble

Double-digit price appreciation has taken place for over 3 years now, so price are up. Way up. In fact, in just the last year we have seen prices rise 14% year-over-year. When talking with people about our real estate market, the conversation often involves the question, “are we headed toward a bubble?” I get asked this question often, and I can understand why. With the Great Recession not too far back in our rear-view mirror, the fear that surrounds the bottom dropping out in our home values is real. The large price gains might seem familiar to the gains of the previous up market of 2004-2007, but the environment is much different, and that is why we are not headed toward a housing collapse.

Lending Requirements & Down Payments
Previous lending practices allowed people to get into homes with high debt-to-income ratios, low credit scores, risky loan programs, and undocumented incomes. They called this sub-prime lending. This lead to the housing bubble bursting 10 years ago – because people received mortgages they were not equipped to handle. Borrowers were not properly qualified for their monthly payments, and with minimal down payments they had no skin in the game. There were also a ton of adjustable rate mortgages and interest-only loans, which created negative equity positions. In July 2007, the sub-prime loan products disappeared and literally became history overnight. This eliminated a large part of the buyer pool creating over supply, not to mention the foreclosures that followed due to these ill-equipped homeowners walking away. The combination of these two factors caused prices to plummet.

Conversely, in March of this year, the average credit score for an approved conventional loan according to Ellie Mae was 752. Banks are scrutinizing their borrowers much more thoroughly than in the past. Credit scores are only the start; solid documentation of employment, assets, and debt are all passed through strict underwriting standards before closing. During the days of sub-prime lending, banks were funding loans with scores as low as 560! This, coupled with many zero-down loan programs and the risky terms mentioned above, left many new homeowners with little to no equity. When you have little or no equity it is very easy to bail.

In addition to heartier credit scores, down payments have increased significantly. According to Attom Data Solutions the average down payment is 18%. To put this in perspective, the median price in Seattle Metro in the first quarter of 2018 was $775,000. 18% of that is $139,500! There is a marked difference in the connection to one’s investment with such a large amount on the line versus the common 0% down loans of the sub-prime era. When people have high equity levels they are not likely to abandon their home or miss payments.

Our Thriving Local Economy, Job Creation & Californians
According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, it is foretasted that there will be 46,000 more jobs in the Seattle Metro area in 2018. This has created high numbers of residual migration into our area from other states. In 2016 there were 50,000 people that moved here, and 47,000 in 2017. Many of these new Washingtonians are former Californians, specifically from the Bay Area. Unbelievably, our prices are attractive to this group, as they can take a similar tech job here and make the same income with a lower cost of living. If untethered and up for a move, it’s a no-brainer.

The most influential factor that has led the run on prices has been low inventory levels coupled with high housing demand. It’s simply the concept of supply and demand. The growth of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook in our area has created increased demand, especially for homes closer to job centers resulting in shorter commutes. When you have increased demand and not enough homes to absorb the buyers, prices go up. Over the last three years we have easily seen a 10%+ increase in prices year-over-year. That is above the norm, and will slow down once inventory increases. That slowdown will be welcomed and it will not be a collapse in values or a bubble bursting.

Interest Rates
Interest rates are increasing, and it is predicted they will reach close to 4.95% by the end of the year. This will naturally curtail price growth because it will not be as cheap to borrow money, which will cause buyers to temper their pricing ceilings. Bear in mind, that an interest rate of 4.95% is still historically low, we’ve just been incredibly fortunate to be able to secure long term loans with minimal debt service. The average interest rate over the last 30 years is 7%.

I understand that the recent increase in home prices has been big and that it might remind you of the previous up market before the crash. I hope that digging into the topics above has shed some light on how it is different. I always welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about these hot topics and discern how they relate to you. As always, it is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions. Please let us know if we can answer any questions or help you or anyone you know with their real estate needs.


Posted on April 27, 2018 at 4:54 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information |