The Windermere Bridge Loan – A Solution for Competing!

Inventory levels got you down?  But your equity is high?  A solution for competing in this market.  The Windermere Bridge Loan program can help…

Homeowners across our region are enjoying very healthy equity levels due to an amazing upswing in the real estate market over the last five years. In fact, the median price in King County is up 49% over the last five years and up 51% in Snohomish County. This growth in equity has given homeowners the exciting option to sell their homes for a price that will bear a sizable down payment or the ability to “buy all-cash” on their next home. This has many people exploring their next chapters, such as moving up to a larger home or downsizing for retirement. The strong price appreciation is great news and provides many opportunities; however, we have also faced some challenges in how to make these transitions work without moving twice.

Our biggest challenge for homebuyers in the marketplace right now is inventory levels. It is also the reason so many home sellers are doing so well. Currently, King County sits at 0.9 months of inventory based on pending sales and 0.6 months in Snohomish County. Historically, buyers that are also sellers would commonly secure a new home with a home sale contingency on the sale of their current home. Meaning the seller of the new home they are buying would give them a month or so to get their current house sold in order to be able to buy theirs.

Well in this market, utilizing a home sale contingency is only rarely an option, especially on desirable homes. So, the million-dollar question is this: how does one who has gained so much equity, now itching to get that bigger house, different location, or perfect rambler for settling into retirement, make this transition without having to move twice? We need to get creative and have a strategy. The Windermere Bridge Loan program has been a powerful tool to help homebuyers transition their equity without having to sell their house first.

This is an amazing tool for homeowners that own their homes free-and-clear or have gained a large amount of equity over time. This is also a low-cost and faster alternative to a cash-out re-fi or securing a HELOC which enables one to pull the equity out of their current house prior to selling it in order to make a non-contingent offer.

The way it works is we take the market value of the house the homeowner current lives in, established by a comparative market analysis (CMA) that I complete and is approved by my Broker. We then take 75% of the CMA value and subtract any debt owed, and that is the maximum amount the homeowner can borrow for their next down payment. For example, if the market value is $700,000: 75% of $700,000 is $525,000. Say the homeowner owes a remaining $225,000 on their mortgage; the max amount they could borrow would be $525,000 – $225,000 = $300,000.  If that same homeowner didn’t have a mortgage then they could borrow up to $525,000 as that is 75% of the CMA value.

This tool enables people to make transitions without having to sell their home first, attempt a home-sale-contingent offer, or go through the lengthy and expensive process of a cash-out re-fi or securing a HELOC. What makes this tool so efficient, is that it doesn’t require an appraisal (like a re-fi or HELOC does), and these can easily be turned around in 5-7 business days. This tool provides the opportunity to quickly and inexpensively pull your equity out, be competitive, and eliminates the double move.

The fees associated with this program are a 1% loan fee on the loan amount (minimum fee of $1,000), a title report, credit report, recording fees for the deed, and interest that is incurred between the loan funding and being paid off once the subject home is sold. That interest is conveniently wrapped up in the closing costs when the client closes the sale of the collateral home, eliminating the need to make monthly interest payments. Clients who use this program are also required to list the home 30 days after the loan has funded.  This allows time for the client to prepare their home for sale after they have moved out. Lastly, only homes in Washington state are eligible to be the collateral property, but note this can be a tool for relocating out-of-state which we are seeing a lot of.

In a strategy that is somewhat mind-blowing, we can sometimes use these bridge loans and never have to actually fund them. For example, if we secure a property non-contingent with the bridge loan and immediately get the subject home on the market, we can often secure a sale with a simultaneous closing, and never have to fund the loan. This eliminates the loan fee, interest, and the need to carry two mortgages. All this requires is getting pre-approved for the bridge loan and preparing the home for sale prior to shopping, so one is prepared to act quickly and line up both closings.

If you are excited about equity levels and today’s low interest rates and have thought about making that move you’ve been waiting for, but have been fearful of how to do it all – We can help. These two options, along with great attention to detail, hand-holding, and careful planning have helped many people make these exciting transitions. It is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions. Please contact us if you would like further information on how this might work for you or someone you know.

 

 

 


Posted on October 7, 2020 at 2:27 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information, Statistical Information, Strategy |

Homebuyers Tips for Winning a Home in a Seller’s Market

 

We’ve said it so many times, but it is so true: these are unprecedented times! In relation to the real estate market, there are many factors that are contributing to this environment. First and foremost, we are living through a global pandemic. Our daily lives have changed and they will probably never be quite like they were before. Besides this major upheaval in life as we know it, we have the lowest interest rates ever in history (this won’t last forever), formidable equity levels, and we are at the corner of a generational shift. These factors are fueling demand in the real estate market despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to light. In fact, the pandemic has influenced some very big lifestyle moves due to having time to reflect on goals and the new normal of working remotely.

Low interest rates, Baby Boomers retiring, Millennials stepping up to the home-ownership plate, Gen X settling into their forever homes, and commute times becoming less important are the ingredients in the proverbial pot that is being stirred in the 2020 real estate market. The demand is high! Couple that with a reduction in new listings over the last year and it is competitive. Sellers are in such a favorable position and buyers are devising solid plans to win a home with the lowest debt service in history.

Before I share some tips on how to win a home in today’s market, let’s look at the numbers. 2020 started off with abnormally low inventory levels following 2019 when we were headed toward more balance in the marketplace. Then COVID hit and the market briefly stalled. There were 8 weeks in King County and 4 weeks in Snohomish County from the onset of COVID where the market performed under 80% of the pending sales rate in 2019. We adjusted rather quickly as the influence of the demand mentioned above found its way with masks on and hand sanitizer at the ready.

Now that we have established that the demand is strong, debt service is low, and that lifestyle moves are leading the way, how do you make it happen if you want to participate?

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 a roller coaster. 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 on the roller coaster. 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 shortlist of lenders that fit this description, please contact me.

Be Willing to Take Calculated Risks
Buyer due diligence is key to making a sound investment. Even though timelines are tight and buyers must act swiftly, it is not time to just throw caution to the wind. Having some funds set aside to perform a pre-inspection will help a buyer make a purchase with both eyes open and be competitive. Also, going back to getting pre-underwritten, this could empower a buyer to waive financing and beat out all-cash buyers.

Strategizing Down Payment Funds
Many buyers are moving big chunks of equity from their previous home to the one they are buying. Equity levels are deep and prevailing buyers are commonly reserving some of their equity to offset appraisal risk for a seller. The market is appreciating so rapidly that a buyer holding back down payment funds and shifting them to an appraisal safety net has been one of the most successful strategies to help a buyer win a home. The best part is the safety net only seldomly has to be used. This plays into the calculated risk category and also highlights the importance of a good lender and broker to help navigate such decisions.

The Triangle of Buyer Clarity
Buyers must be realistic with their expectations. The triangle of buyer clarity rests on the three corners of Location, Price, and Condition. If a buyer continues to run into walls when making offers it typically has to do with the need to adjust one of the corners of the triangle. Buying a home take compromise, especially with such low inventory. By staying connected to the big picture of building wealth with low debt service, gaining a home that will work with your goals may require an adjustment of location, price, or level of condition. Focusing on the triangle of buyer clarity and talking it through during the buying process leads to clarity and success. A rule of thumb to bear in mind is that when a home starts to check 75% of your boxes, it should be considered.

The 2020 real estate market has provided a ton of opportunity during a very challenging time. It’s been a bright light in the economy. If you are curious about how the current market relates to your housing and financial goals, please reach out. It is always our goal to help keep our clients informed so they are empowered to make strong decisions.

 


Posted on September 22, 2020 at 9:21 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Strategy |

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Finding the right home to purchase today is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.

New Construction  

When buying a new home, you can often choose more energy-efficient options. New appliances, new windows, a new roof, etc. These can all help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. With programs like ENERGY STAR, your home also helps protect the environment and reduces your carbon footprint.

Lower maintenance that comes with a newer home is another great benefit. When you have a new home, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. With new construction, you’ll also have warranty options that may cover portions of your investment for the first few years.

Another solid benefit to new construction is customization. Do you want a mudroom, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, an office, or a multipurpose room to homeschool your children? These items can be customized to your specific needs during the design phase. With an existing home, you’re buying something that’s already completed, so if you want to make changes, you may need to hire a contractor to help get your home ready for your family.

Existing Home

When buying an existing home, you can negotiate with the current homeowner on price, which is something you generally don’t get to do with a builder. Builders know their material and construction costs, and they have a price set for the model you’re buying. So, if you want to negotiate, then maybe an existing home will be best.

For many families, having an established neighborhood is also important. Some buyers like to know the neighbors, if it’s family-friendly, and traffic patterns before making a commitment. When you buy new construction, you won’t have a full view of some of those details until the lots around you are sold.

Finally, timing comes into play. With an existing home, you can move in based on the timeline you agree to with the sellers. With new construction, you need to wait for the house to be built. Depending on the time of the year you’re buying and the region you’re in, the weather can also be a factor in the timeframe. This is something really important to keep in mind, especially if you need to move sooner rather than later. Over the past few months with COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, some areas for new construction have been delayed.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to buy a newly built home or one that’s already established, both are great options. They each have their pros and cons, and every family will have different circumstances driving their decision. If you have questions and want to know more about the options in your area, contact us so you can feel confident making a decision about your next home.

KCM Real Estate Blog


Posted on August 27, 2020 at 3:17 am
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information, Strategy |

August 24 – Understanding the U.S. Household Debt & Credit Report

Mondays with Matthew

On this week’s episode of “Mondays with Matthew”, Matthew Gardner shares some reflections from his vacation and explains why the relatively unknown U.S. Household Debt & Credit Report is one we should all be paying more attention to. Take a listen…


Posted on August 26, 2020 at 5:16 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information, Strategy |

When Equity Meets Lifestyle – August 2020

 

Over the last 5 years, housing has had abundant price appreciation, providing substantial equity for homeowners to utilize to make meaningful lifestyle moves or invest back into where they are. In King County, the median price has appreciated from $463,000 to $689,000 since July 2015, which is a 49% increase equaling $226,000! In Snohomish County, the median price has appreciated from $340,000 to $515,000 since July 2015, which is a 51% increase equaling $175,000. Bring on a global pandemic that has turned the world as we know it on its heels and the needs and desires for housing are starting to change!  Solid equity positions and the changes the pandemic have create is creating The Big American Move.

In a July survey by Realtor.com the results show that consumers are looking for larger interior spaces, more spacious outdoor areas, and a desire to move to suburban areas from urban locations. This has been fueled by the ability to work remotely, providing many homeowners the opportunity to pivot to locations not driven by commute times, but by the overall enjoyment of the spaces that the home and yard provide. In fact, in that same survey 2-out-of-3 consumers noted the ability to work remotely was fueling their decision to move. Some are fleeing from urban density to more wide-open spaces to provide more room to roam for children as on-line school looked to be the plan for 2020-21.The pandemic has also spurred retirement for many, as well as adding the big retirement or second home move to the east of the mountains or out of state. These markets are much more affordable, and folks that spent many years in their homes in King and Snohomish Counties are selling and turning their big chunks of equity into their dream oasis in the mountains, by the beach or in the desert. Many of these purchases are able to be made all-cash due to the affordability of these areas in relation to liquidated equity. This simplifies life with no mortgage payments to maintain. An agent in my office just shared that of the last ten listings she had, eight either went east or out of state.The established equity, increased demand, low inventory, and the lowest interest rates we have ever seen have created one of the most vital housing markets ever. According to Housing Wire, the rebound in the housing market since the National Emergency was announced has been shockingly strong. Meyers Research calls it nothing short of remarkable. Home purchase mortgage applications are up year-over-year for 11 straight weeks since mid-May.Seven out of nine economists predict national price growth in 2020. Locally, Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist predicts 5% year-over-year appreciation. In July, King County’s median price for Single Family Residental Homes (SFR) is up 3% complete year-over-year and Snohomish County (SFR) 6%. The higher price growth in Snohomish County is a reflection of the push to the suburbs and affordability.

John Burns Consulting is calling this The Great American Move. The phenomenon is being fueled by safety reasons, financial prospects, life-change improvements, personal comfort, and employment. They expect a surge in household and business relocations over the next few months that will provide new, strategic opportunities for the real estate market.

The Greater Seattle job market is still strong in many sectors and commutes will come back. While folks are cashing out their equity and going for larger spaces because they can, the Millennial generation is still very much attracted to the in-city neighborhoods. We have not seen this wealth transfer hurt these markets, as it is perfect timing for the maturing Millennials to put roots down in urban locations as they flourish in their careers, migrate to our area for work, marry or start families.

2020 has been downright astonishing in regards to the housing market. In fact, it has felt like two different worlds managing the pace of such a brisk real estate market during a time where we have slowed down and simplified our daily lives. Maintaining the safety of everyone around me by observing all the proper safety protocols has been a top priority. I’ve felt a great responsibility to help my clients navigate some very big lifestyle decisions through the purchase and sale of their real estate. It has been an honor and something we take very seriously. It is always our goal to help keep our clients informed and to empower strong decisions, especially during this unprecedented time. Please reach out if you’d like us to answer any questions or shed light on the trends in your area.

 


Posted on August 24, 2020 at 5:31 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information, Strategy, Uncategorized |

The Top Reasons People Are Moving This Year

Today, Americans are moving for a variety of different reasons. The current health crisis has truly re-shaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many families to re-evaluate what homeownership means and what they find most important in a home.

According to Zillow:

“In 2020, homes went from the place people returned to after work, school, hitting the gym or vacationing, to the place where families do all of the above. For those who now spend the majority of their hours at home, there’s a growing wish list of what they’d change about their homes, if possible.” 

With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the top reasons people are reconsidering where they live and making moves this year.

1. Working from Home

Remote work is becoming the new norm in 2020, and it’s continuing on longer than most initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore, and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside the city limits. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

“With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work and continued productivity very challenging.

2. Virtual Schooling

With school about to restart this fall, many districts are beginning the new academic year online. Education Week is tracking the reopening plans of schools across the country, and as of August 21, 21 of the 25 largest school districts are choosing remote learning as their back-to-school instructional model, affecting over 4.5 million students.

With a need for a dedicated learning space, it may be time to find a larger home to provide your children with the same kind of quiet room to focus on their schoolwork, just like you likely need for your office work.

3. A Home Gym

Staying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans. With various levels of concern around the safety of returning to health clubs across the country, dreams of space for a home gym are growing stronger. The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans explains:

“For many in quarantine, a significant decrease in activity is more than a vanity issue – it’s a mental health issue.”

Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – mentally and physically – may prompt you to consider a new place to live that includes space for at-home workouts.

4. Outdoor Space

Especially for those living in an apartment or a small townhouse, this is a new priority for many as well. Zillow also notes the benefits of being able to use yard space throughout the year:

“People want more space in their next home, and one way to get it is by turning part of the backyard into a functional room, ‘an outdoor space for play as well as entertaining or cooking.’”

You may, however, not have the extra square footage today to have these designated areas – indoor or out.

Moving May Be Your Best Option

If you’re clamoring for extra space to accommodate your family’s changing needs, making a move may be your best bet, especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. Low rates are making homes more affordable than they have been in years. According to Black Knight:

“Buying power for those shopping for a home is up 10% year over year, with home buyers able to afford nearly $32,000 more home than they could have 1 year ago while keeping their monthly payment the same.”

It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need the extra space.

Bottom Line

People are moving for a variety of different reasons today, and many families’ needs have changed throughout the year. If you’ve been trying to decide if now is the time to buy a new home, reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss your needs.

 

Keeping Current Matters

 


Posted on August 24, 2020 at 5:18 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Helpful Information, Strategy |

Updated 2020 Puget Sound Area Forecast

In his updated 2020 forecast, Matthew Gardner discusses how COVID-19 has changed what he sees taking place in the economy and housing market through the end of the year.

Posted on August 20, 2020 at 10:30 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Local Communities, Statistical Information, Strategy |

August 3 – Case Shiller – Mondays With Matthew Gardner


Posted on August 3, 2020 at 9:52 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information, Strategy |

July 27 – Real Numbers From The Front Lines! Where Are We?

 

As we head into the second half of 2020 we are starting to see the makings of a housing market recovery. There was a steep dive down in closed sales in April and May, but a quick snap back in June. This trajectory illustrates a “V” shaped change from the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis until now.

Nationally, sales are down year-to-date but they were up 21% from May to June, the largest month-over-month increase ever recorded by the National Association of Realtors. According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist and sought after expert across the nation, he sees our position as a “glass half full” reality. He just released his updated 2020 housing market forecast and believes that sales will be down year-over-year, but that prices will be up!

He believes that the strongest influence on the reduction in sales is the lack of inventory, not lack of demand. In fact, inventory levels are the lowest they have been in two decades. Currently, national prices are up 3.5% year-over-year and he anticipates that prices will end the year up 4.3%. Currently in King County, prices are up 2% year-over-year and in Snohomish County 4% year-over-year.

Eight out of the last nine weeks of pending sales in King and Snohomish counties have outperformed the pending sales for the same weeks in 2019. Historically low interest rates are driving demand, as well as many people making big lifestyle moves due to remote working, the Millennials expanding their families, and Baby Boomers retiring.

He does not anticipate a huge flood of foreclosures despite some of the noise out there. He believes the mortgage forbearance programs are providing great relief for those out of work and that this will enable those in need to hold on to their homes until their jobs return. The sizable equity position many homeowners are in across the country is also ensuring that fewer homes will be foreclosed upon.

Housing is performing very well despite the health crisis and it will be a key leading factor for the recovery of the economy overall. Unlike the 2008 Great Recession, housing is the cornerstone of economic fortitude right now. If you would like additional information or if you’re curious how the market relates to your lifestyle and bottom line, please reach out. It is our goal to help keep our clients informed and empower strong decisions.

 

 


Posted on July 28, 2020 at 10:34 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information, Strategy, Uncategorized |

Consumer Confidence – July 20 – Mondays With Matthew Gardner


Posted on July 20, 2020 at 6:39 pm
Becky and Steve Larsen | Posted in Statistical Information, Strategy |