Q4 Quarterly Snapshot Statistics

North Snohomish County – South Snohomish County – North King County – Seattle Metro – South King County – Eastside

 


 

 

 

 


Posted on January 16, 2020 at 10:07 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Quarterly Reports, Statistical Information |

What You Should Really Know About Browsing for Homes OnLine?

  • by Cami Morrill
  • Dec 18, 2019

Oh, let’s just admit it, shall we? Browsing for homes online is fun and exciting! However, it is important to take everything with a grain of salt. Browser beware, though: those listings may be seductive, but they might not be giving you the complete picture.

That charming old home? Might be hiding some super icky plumbing problems. That attractively priced condo? Might not actually be for sale. Imagine your despair when, after driving across town to see your dream home, you realize it was sold.

You keep current. Your property site should, too.

You wouldn’t read last month’s Vanity Fair for the latest gossip, right? So, you shouldn’t browse property sites which show old listings.

Get the latest listings from realtor.com®, which pulls its information every 15 minutes from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), regional databases where real estate agents post listings for sale. This means realtor.com®’s listings are more accurate than some others, like Zillow and Trulia, which may update less often.

The best properties aren’t always the best looking.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what they don’t say is a picture can also hide a thousand cracked floorboards, busted boilers, and leaky pipes. So, while it’s natural to focus on photos while browsing, make sure to also consider the property description and other key features: the year the home was built, price per square foot, and how many days the property has been on the market.

Ultimately though, ask your agent to help you interpret what you find. The best agents have hyper-local knowledge of the market and may even know details and histories of some properties. If a listing seems too good to be true, your agent will likely know why.

Treat your Realtor® like your bestie.

At the end of the day, property sites are kind of like CliffsNotes for a neighborhood: they show you active listings, sold properties, home prices, and sales histories. All that data will give you a working knowledge, but it won’t be exhaustive.

To assess all of this information and gather facts about any home you’re eyeing, like how far the local elementary school is from the house or where the closest Soul Cycle is, talk to your Realtor®.

“Partnering with a RealtorÒ delivers the peace of mind which comes from working with a real person, a real advocate, and a real and trusted professional who is committed to their clients’ futures and neighborhoods just as much as they are,” said Glenda Krull, President of Snohomish County-Camano Association of RealtorsÒ.

An agent who can go beyond and deliver the dish on specific properties is a true friend indeed, more likely to guide you away from homes with hidden problems, and more likely to save you the time of visiting a random listing.

Want to go deeper? Consider these sites and sources:

  • School ratings: GreatSchools.orgNational Center for Education Statistics, and the school district’s website
  • Crime rates and statistics: CrimeReports,comNeighborhoodScout.comSpotCrime.com, and the local police station
  • Walkability and public transportation: WalkScore.com, and APTA.com
  • Hospital ratings: HealthInsight.orgLeapfrogGroup.org, and U.S. News and World Report rankings

Just remember, you’re probably not going to find that “perfect home” while browsing listings on your smartphone. Instead, consider the online shopping experience to be a good way for you to get a taste of the different types of homes which are available and a general idea of what else is out there. Once you’ve spent time online, you’ll be ready to share what you’ve learned with an agent.

For more information about buying or selling a home, be sure to work with a RealtorÒ, a member of the National Association of RealtorsÒ. Snohomish County Camano Association of RealtorsÒ is the voice for real estate in Snohomish County. If you have questions for The Expert about Real Estate email us at info@sccar.org, or by visiting https://www.sccar.org.


Posted on January 8, 2020 at 5:56 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information |

2019 – The Year in Review

 

2019 was a return to normalcy in the real estate market. After a volatile 2018 which encountered a sharp mid-year shift from an extreme seller’s market, 2019 had a more normal pace of seasonality and selection. After four to five years of multiple offers, week-long market times, waived inspections, and huge price escalations, we’ve now experienced a balancing out in price appreciation and in some areas, a correction.

Affordability and inventory have driven demand. A healthy increase in homes coming to market compared to two years ago has provided more selection and afforded buyers time to decern their choices. In-city prices found an affordability cap as buyers were forced to move north or south to find the payment they could afford. Close-in, in-city neighborhoods saw a bit of a price correction due to demand slipping for this reason. Overall, it’s been a welcome change to help buyers and sellers operate in a more balanced environment.

 

It’s important to understand that each market area has its own unique circumstances. Above and throughout this review, I divided the Greater Seattle area into 6 different market areas in order to illustrate this.

This chart is a study of the comparison of new listings to sold listings, which indicates demand. Over the last 12 months in each market area, sold listings have outpaced new listings. While some areas experienced more new listings from the same 12 months the year prior and some less, in each area the sold listings moved at a higher level than the previous 12 months. This is encouraging, as it shows that demand for our area is still very high.

This is driven by having one of the leading national job markets and continued low interest rates. One of the factors that affected the 2018 market shift was higher interest rates. The majority of 2018 rates were in the 4’s and almost reached 5% in late fall. In 2019, we started at 4.5%, and currently sit around 3.7% according to Y charts. In fact, since June we have remained under 4%. This has helped curbed affordability issues, brought first-time buyers out in force, and helped buyers that are also sellers move equity with low debt service. Believe it or not, experts are predicting rates will remain low throughout 2020. This is a key factor for consumers to pay attention to if they plan to jump into the market.

 

Above is a look at the new normal for market times and list-to-sale-price ratios. On average, it simply takes longer to sell your house now compared to the constricted, extreme seller’s markets of 2016-2018. The expectation of your home selling in the first weekend needs to be tempered, as the playing field of inventory has equaled due to more new listings coming to the market.

There is a phenomenon of Baby Boomers cashing out their equity and downsizing or moving out of the area. This is providing great move-up inventory for Gen X and Millennials to absorb. That absorption is then providing a nice selection of first-time-homebuyer houses. Bear in mind however, that the lower price points are where we are seeing the strongest demand, shortest market times, and stronger price appreciation. It’s a pretty awesome cycle to witness!

Sellers have had to negotiate a bit more, whether on the initial offering or during the inspection period. List-to-sale price ratios indicate that buyers and sellers are engaging in the dance of negotiations as prices return to a more normal level of price appreciation. Sellers on average are still getting very close to their list price. Since these are the averages, you must realize that there are still sellers that are escalating.

Homes that come to market with a well-thought-out pricing strategy, in great condition, and expertly merchandised are the ones we see breaking the average. Also, the influx of first-timers has helped drive demand in the lower price points, curtailing days on market and tighter list-to-sale price ratios in that section of the market.

 

When analyzing price appreciation, it is important to use a large data pull. For example, the chart above takes the last 12 months of prices and compares them to the previous 12 months. This provides a much more holistic observation of price growth versus a smaller data pull, such as month over month. Take note that the media often uses month-over-month data to paint a more dramatic story.

As mentioned above, the close-in, in-city markets have experienced a correction. It is clearly more expensive to live where you have a shorter commute to major job centers. Also, on the Eastside where the prices are the highest, they enjoy close proximity to some of the area’s biggest employers and arguably some of the best school districts in the area. The more out-lying communities found in south King and all of Snohomish County continue to see steady appreciation due to still-manageable commute times and affordability. The north Snohomish County market has been a hotbed for first-timers and Baby Boomers moving out of the area due to retirement and commutes not being a factor.

Note that this data pull is a complete year-over-year look at December 2018 to November 2019 compared to December 2017 to November 2018. Bear in mind that the first half of 2018 was an extreme seller’s market with sparse inventory and crazy escalations. This is where prices found their peak, and as we move away from those unique months and head into 2020, I believe that we will see the decrease in appreciation equal out and possibly have some subtle growth.

 

The chart above is a study of the months of inventory. This illustrates how quickly we would sell out of homes based on demand if nothing new came to market. We are calling the 2019 market a more normal market, but in reality, it was still measured as a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory). It just hasn’t been so extreme, which has created a mentality that needs to be adjusted.

Just like the pricing study above, the data from the first half of 2018 included some markets that had only weeks of inventory versus months. That feels wildly different and takes some getting used to. Some may argue that the new normal of measuring a seller’s market is now 0-2 months, and that 2-4 months is a balanced market. Perspective is driving that viewpoint, as we have an entire portion of consumers that have known nothing besides historically low interest rates and low inventory levels. The vantage point of what is actually normal is finding its footing.

Right now, all six markets sit at a lower inventory level than the average of the year. This is due to seasonality. Many sellers prefer to come to market when the days are longer and we are outside of the holidays. I predict that the low interest rates and the turn of the new year will encourage strong buyer demand. New Year’s resolution goal setting always brings demand. With that said, the sellers that come to market earlier in the year prior to the spring rush will enjoy a large audience hungry for inventory to gobble up.

Overall, 2019 has been a very positive year in real estate. The majority of the sales have been propped up on incredibly favorable equity positions on behalf of sellers and historically low interest rates for buyers. If a person has owned their home for 3 or more years and hasn’t cashed equity out, they are in a positive equity position. For those that have been in their homes for 10 or more years, they are knocking it out of the park!

Below you can watch a short video from Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, and hear what he thinks we have in store for 2020 on the national level. As we head into the New Year, please reach out should you have a curiosity about how your local real estate market relates to your financial and lifestyle goals. It is always our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions through thorough research and a high level of communication.

Here’s to a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2020!


Posted on December 19, 2019 at 12:34 am
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information, Strategy |

Home Security During the Holidays

The holiday season can bring joy and peace, but it can also bring package thieves and burglary. Stay safe this winter by taking a few precautions with your home security. From old-school security tricks to new digital home monitoring tools, there are many options when it comes to keeping our homes safe and preserving that sensibility.

Upgrade your locks:

A poorly installed deadbolt can make it easy for an intruder to kick in your door. Start by making sure that your door frames are in good condition and then look into getting a higher quality deadbolt. You’ll find everything from classic models with keys, or digital options that require passcodes or a fingerprint.

It’s also a good idea to check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks. It goes without saying, leaving windows open during the summer is a bad idea – especially those that can be easily accessed.

Exterior and interior home lighting:

Having your exterior lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime snoopers.  Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.

If you will be gone from your home for an extended period, consider using timed lighting options in your home to make it appear someone is around. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas. Also, you can program a radio to turn on and off for sound.

Alarm systems:

If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems.  If you choose to do-it-yourself, you will want to install motion detectors on doors and windows – especially those that can be easily accessed on the ground floor. In most cases, these kits also offer a 24-hour call service for an extra fee.

Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors/ fire prevention system. These services are expensive up front but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. And keep in mind, having a home security system installed can also reduce your insurance rates.

If installing an alarm system is cost-prohibitive or does not fit your lifestyle, consider purchasing stickers and a sign that state that your home is monitored by a trusted security system, and place them so they are visible at every entrance.

Security cameras:

Security cameras are readily available for home installation. You can install these in prominently viewed places to deter burglars. There are do-it-yourself install options and professional systems that come along with monitoring services. There are even options that will work with your smartphone.

If the cost of security cameras is too steep for your budget, you can purchase fake cameras to act as a visible deterrent for intruders.

Build your community:

Programs like Neighborhood Watch are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.

by Meaghan McGlynn/Windermere


Posted on December 13, 2019 at 6:45 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information |

New Year’s Eve Alternatives!

Celebrating New Year’s Eve off the Beaten Path 

Because big parties with crowds, expensive cocktails, and massive fireworks shows aren’t the only way to ring in the new year. 

The holiday season is in full swing, and the year (and the decade!) is almost over. If a big party is not your scene, you’re not alone. Some of the most fun and meaningful moments in life are a little more intimate, and shared with people we love. Below, I’ve rounded up a few ideas for ringing in the new year that are a little off the beaten path. 

 

STAYING IN 

  • Dinner Party 

Invite your favorite people to share a meal. Plan an elaborate menu, and go all-out fancy. It’s the end of a decade, after all. Not much of a cook? Plan a potluck instead. Challenge everyone to make something they wouldn’t normally cook. Or assign teams and host a cook-off competition. There are lots of possibilities, but the end result of spending the evening with those you love, reflecting on the past and planning for the future is always a win. 

  • Game Night 

Gather the gang for drinks, snacks, and some good-natured smack talk. Game nights provide an easy way to laugh, play, and get out of your comfort zone, together. To avoid a game night fail, make sure you think about these three questions: 1) How many people can comfortably fit in your space 2) How many people can play the games you want to play 3) What kind of group do you want to have?  

There are tons of great games you can play together, but here are some ideas, broken down by category. May the best player win! 

  • Wine Tasting 

Invite a local wine expert and a few friends to a special NYE tasting. Or, choose a type of wine and a price-point, and have everyone bring a bottle. Whether you are supplying the wine, or leaving it up to your guests, you’ll need to make sure you have enough wine glasses and a couple of good corkscrews, as well as plenty of food to soak it all up. Here are some great tips and ideas for hosting a great tasting. 

If wine isn’t your thing, you could host a tasting event with beer, chocolate, or a different food item you love! 

  • Pajama Party 

If you’d rather have a low-key, casual evening at home, throw a pajama party! Cocktails, appetizers, and jammies were definitely meant to be together! You could make it a girls night in, a sleepover, a movie marathon, a family affair… so many possibilities! To make the evening feel extra special, have a signature cocktail for the evening. Perhaps something with champagne? Plan lots of snacks, gather all the throw blankets and pillows you cafind, and get cozy. 

 

OUT & ABOUT 

  • Overnight Hotel Stay 

Take a mini vacay! It could be a fun getaway for the family, a renewing solo adventure, or the ultimate date night. During the day you can do some shopping, go see a movie, take advantage of the hotel pool, or relax in the spa. Ring in the new year with a meal in the hotel restaurant, or order room service for a special treat.  

  • Attend a Religious service 

Also called a Watchnight Service or Mass, the late-night New Year’s Eve religious service is a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection, renewal and preparing for the year ahead. 

  • Volunteer 

Spend the day volunteering your time for a worthwhile cause that is important to you. Perhaps there is a homeless shelter in your city who is looking for help serving dinner. Or a nursing home nearby, full of people who could use a friendly visitor. Make it a family day, or ask a few friends to join you. Spending time serving others can be one of the most rewarding ways to close out the year. 

  • Karaoke! 

For a casual, fun-filled evening with friends, ring in the new year with singing, drinks, laughter, and fun. If you like the idea of karaoke, but you’re too shy to sing in front of strangers, rent a private karaoke room so only you and your closest friends can laugh at each other. 

 No matter how you decide to close out the year, choosing to spend your time with people you love will ensure that you have a holiday worth remembering. 

 Cheers! 


Posted on December 10, 2019 at 12:06 am
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Just for Fun |

Matthew Gardner’s 2020 Real Estate Forecast


Posted on December 5, 2019 at 6:50 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information |

Is the Condominium Lifestyle Right for You?

Condominium homes are a great, low-maintenance choice for a primary residence, second home, or investment property. This alternative to the traditional single-family home has unique issues to consider before buying, as well as unique benefits.

Increasingly, condos are not just for first-time homebuyers looking for a less expensive entry into the housing market. Empty-nesters and retirees are happy to give up mowing the lawn and painting the house. Busy professionals can experience luxury living knowing their home is safe and well-maintained while they are away on business.

If you are considering buying a condominium for a home, here are a few things you should know:

Condominium basics:

With condominiums, you own everything in your unit on your side of the walls. Individual owners hold title to the condominium unit only, not the land beneath the unit. All owners share title to the common areas: the grounds, lobby, halls, parking areas and other amenities. A homeowners’ association (HOA) usually manages the complex and collects a monthly fee from all condominium owners to pay for the operation and maintenance of the property. These fees may include such items as insurance, landscape, and grounds up-keep, pool maintenance, security, and administrative costs.

The owners of the units in a condominium are all automatic members of the condo association. The association is run by a volunteer Board of Directors, who manage the operations and upkeep of the property. A professional management company may also be involved in assisting the board in their decisions. The condo association also administers rules and regulations designed to ensure safety and maintain the value of your investment. Examples include whether or not pets are allowed and the hours of use for condominium facilities, such as pools and work-out rooms. Should a major expense occur, all owners are responsible for paying their fair share of the expense.

The pros and cons of condominium living:

The condominium lifestyle has many benefits, but condominium ownership isn’t for everyone. Whether living in a condominium works for you depends on your current and planned future lifestyle. By necessity, condominium associations have a number of standardized rules. You need to decide whether these regulations work for you or not. Here are some points to keep in mind if you’re considering condominium living.

Convenience: People who love living in condominiums always cite the convenience factor. It’s nice to have someone else take care of landscaping, upkeep, and security. Condominium homes are often located in urban areas where restaurants, groceries, and entertainment are just a short walk away.

Luxury amenities: May condominiums offer an array of amenities that most homeowners couldn’t afford on their own, such as fitness centers, clubhouses, wine cellars, roof-top decks, and swimming pools. Lobbies of upscale condominiums can rival those of four-star hotels, making a great impression on residents.

Privacy: Since you share common walls and floors with other condominium owners, there is less privacy than what you’d expect in a single-family home. While condominiums are built with noise abatement features, you may still occasionally hear your neighbors.

Space: Except for very high-end units, condominiums are generally smaller than single-family homes. That means less storage space and often, smaller rooms. The patios and balconies of individual units are usually much smaller as well.

Autonomy: As a condominium owner, you are required to follow the laws of the associations. That means giving up a certain amount of control and getting involved in the group decision-making process. HOA bylaws vary greatly from property to property, and some people may find certain rules too restrictive.

Things to consider when you decide to buy:

Condominium homes vary from intimate studios to eclectic lofts and luxury penthouses. The right condominium is the one that best fits your lifestyle. Here are a few questions to ask to determine which condominium is right for you.

How will you use it? 

Will your condominium be your primary residence? A second home? An investment property? While a studio may be too small for a primary residence, it might be a perfect getaway. Also, consider how your lifestyle may change over the next five to seven years. If you are close to retirement, you may want to have the option of turning a vacation condominium into your permanent home.

What amenities are most important to you?

Amenities vary location to location. Decide what you want, and you can be assured of finding it. Most urban and resort condominiums have an enticing array of extras, from spas to movie screening rooms to tennis courts.

What are your specific needs?

Do you have a pet? Some associations don’t allow them; others have limitations on their size. Most buildings will have a rental cap, so be sure to know what that cap is if you’re buying as an investment. Parking can also be a major issue, especially in dense, urban areas. How many spaces do you get per unit? Do you pay extra if you have more vehicles?

Cost: Condominium homes typically cost less than houses, so they’re a great choice for first-time buyers. However, because condominiums are concentrated in more expensive locations, and sizes are generally smaller than a comparable single-family home, the price per square foot for a condominium is usually higher.

Finally, once you’ve found a property you like, examine the association’s declaration, rules, and bylaws to make sure they fit your needs. The association will provide you with an outline of their monthly fees and exactly what they cover so you can accurately budget your expenses.

Ask to review the association board’s meeting minutes from the past year to get an idea of any issues the association is working on. An analysis of sales demand and property appreciation compared to like units may help ensure that you make the best possible investment.

Meaghan McGlynn/Windermere November 2019


Posted on November 8, 2019 at 10:30 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information, Strategy |

Sell Your House Twice? That’s Right!

It’s true! A listing agent’s goal is to get their listing sold to a qualified buyer who will close. However, a good listing agent also realizes that once a home is under contract, they now have to sell the house to the appraiser if the buyer is getting a loan. You see, a buyer cannot complete their financing if the appraisal does not come in at the same value or higher than the agreed-upon contract price. A good strategy, especially if the price escalates above the list price, is for the listing agent to prepare an appraisal packet and meet the appraiser or share it with them via email. This gives the listing agent the opportunity to share their research and the story of the demand surrounding the property. This is some extra effort, but so worth it to ensure success for the seller!

Need some help selling your house?  Give us a call – We’re here to help!

 


Posted on November 4, 2019 at 11:14 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information |

October 2019 – What is a Dual Real Estate Market?

 

 

Last month, we did an analysis on the new phenomenon of a dual market. A dual market is when you have different market conditions within the same overarching real estate market. This duality presents amazing opportunities for sellers who are also buyers, depending on where they want to go. We reported on two dual markets, the move-up market and the move-out market. Another dual market that deserves to be shared is the condo market compared to single-family residential.

In September, single-family residential homes in Seattle Metro had an absorption rate of 43% while condos were at 27%. Months of inventory based on pending sales for single-family residential was only 1.9 months of available inventory, and condos, 3.5 months! That is the difference of a seller’s market for single-family residential to a balanced market for condos. After many solid years of strong appreciation, folks that are looking to cash out the equity on their single-family residential homes and move to a condo have the opportunity to move their investment with a sizable down payment and upgrade to a lifestyle that is often stair-free with less maintenance.

The median price for a condo in Seattle Metro in September was $455,000 and for a single-family residential home, $750,000. The median price for a condo in south Snohomish County is September was $343,000 and for a single-family residential home, $569,000. It is common for folks to sell their long-time family home and downsize into a condo and pay all cash. The buildup of equity over the years and paying down their loans allow for large cash-outs and easier all-cash purchases.

If one is getting a loan though, it is important to highlight today’s interest rates. They are a point lower than they were a year ago, affording buyers 10% more buying power. For example, a one-point-lower rate on a purchase at $500K will now afford a buyer the purchase of a home at $550K with the same monthly payment. Couple that with price appreciation tempering and you have a perfect downsizing market, which often includes condo purchases!

If you are curious about moving from a single-family home to a condo and the opportunity this dual market presents, please reach out. It is our goal to help keep clients educated and empowered to make strong decisions. This is especially rewarding when it leads to their next chapter in life, which can be an amazing transition.

 

 

 

 


Posted on November 4, 2019 at 11:00 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information, Strategy |

2019 Holiday Tree Lighting Celebrations

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebrations 

 Kick off the holiday season with a community tree lighting celebration. Thanksgiving falls late on the calendar this year, so the Christmas festivities will be right on it’s heels. Some of these celebrations start as early as the day after Thanksgiving! 

The bigger celebrations feature Santa’s arrival, and most of the communities will have fun activities designed to put you and your family in the holiday spirit. live music, refreshments, crafts, and other fun activities. Santa will make an appearance at most of these as well. 

Nov. 29 – Bellevue at Bellevue Place 

Nov. 29 – Seattle at Westlake Center 

Nov. 30 – Seattle at Pike Place Market 

Nov. 30 – Tacoma at the Broadway Center 

Nov. 30 – Edmonds at Centennial Plaza 

Dec. 1 –  Bothell on Main Street 

Dec. 1 – Olympia at Sylvester Park 

Dec. 6 – Mercer Island at Mercerdale Park 

Dec. 6 – Mountlake Terrace at Evergreen Playfield 

Dec. 6 – Renton at Coulon Park 

Dec. 6 – Sammamish at City Hall 

Dec. 6 – University Place (south of Tacoma) 

Dec. 7 – Kenmore at City Hall 

Dec. 7 – Kent at Kent Town Square Plaza 

Dec 7 – Lynnwood at City Hall 

Dec. 7 – Mill Creek on Main Street 

Dec 7 – Mukilteo at Rosehill Community Center 

Dec. 7 – West Seattle at West Seattle Junction 

Dec 7 – Woodinville at DeYoung Park & Wilmot Gateway Park 


Posted on October 23, 2019 at 10:39 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Just for Fun |