Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update: 3/30/2020

Every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. This week he discusses what it really means for the economy and housing to be in a COVID-19 induced recession (hint: it’s not all bad news).

 


Posted on March 31, 2020 at 6:53 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged

6 HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS TO TACKLE IF YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING

Spring has sprung in Seattle — and so has the coronavirus (the cause of the illness called COVID-19). If working from home and practicing social distancing has left you feeling stuck and uninspired, consider rolling up your sleeves and tackling a home improvement project or two.

From the simplest updates to sensational additions, these projects can keep you busy, enhance your curb appeal, and give you more ways to enjoy your home when warmer weather arrives.

1. Install a new mailbox

The simplest and easiest update of all, installing a new (or updating an old) mailbox can add a pop of personality and amp up your curb appeal, where first impressions really count!

Consider painting your mailbox a new color, planting flowers around the base, or installing a smart mailbox to protect your deliveries.

2. Update your address display

Another quick and easy project, updating your address can add flair to your front door. This article from realtor.com offers plenty of crafty and creative ways to display your house numbers.

If you have an HOA, it’s a good idea to check with them first to know what (if any) limitations you might have.

3. Add a new railing to your porch

If your front porch is looking a little ho-hum or drab, a new railing can make a world of difference. For a natural feel, consider a classic wood-tone railing for a natural feel, or add a pop of visual interest with a colored railing. If you’re looking for more, check out the Chippendale railing (it’s currently a hot trend on HGTV).

4. Stain your deck

if your deck is looking a little shabby, one easy improvement is to stain it—to either change the color or just accentuate the wood grain. Staining is also good for your deck, and many builders recommend staining or sealing once a year.

If you don’t yet have a deck, building one could be a great new project to tackle before summer arrives. Plus, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, a new wooden deck will net you a 69% return on investment when you decide to sell.

5. Build a fire pit

Backyard fire pits are perfect for adding a cozy ambiance to your yard, and are certain to be a highlight of a weekend gathering (especially when you bust out those marshmallows).

This guide from realtor.com is a great resource if you want to DIY your new fire pit.

6. Upgrade your garden

Now’s the time to start planning your planting! Consider skipping the typical tulips or daisies, and investigate other greenery. Adding edible plants is a smart way to save money and indulge in the farm-to-table dining trend. Or you can build a butterfly garden, which is good for the environment. (Plus, what’s more beautiful than seeing butterflies flit around your yard?)

This article was first published on realtor.com by Jillian Pretzel.


Posted on March 18, 2020 at 2:30 am
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Living | Tagged ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – MARCH 2020

COVID-19 has not yet stopped the housing market’s momentum. Buyer interest remains strong and those who waited last year for a drop in prices have now seen several months of home prices increases. While some sellers and buyers are going to put their real estate sales and searches on hold, others may find opportunity. Despite the headwinds of uncertainty, the market is still very much in motion, as demand outstrips supply and interest rates remain remarkably low.

The data and analysis below looks back at February’s market performance.

Buyers that may have been in wait-and-see mode at the end of 2019 jumped off the fence in February. Pending sales (offers accepted but not yet closed) jumped 27%, snapping up already-tight inventory. 55% of homes on the market sold in 15 days or less. The median home price jumped 9% over a year ago to $985,000, an increase of $58,000 from the prior month. Development on the Eastside continues to surge and includes the recent groundbreaking for a 600-foot tower in Bellevue and a proposed 11 acre mixed-use project.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT


Posted on March 18, 2020 at 2:26 am
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged

Finding Your New Home in Four Steps

Image Source: G-Stock Studio

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or you currently own and are looking for a new home, the ideas below will help you better navigate that all-important first step: Finding a property that is both appealing and affordable.

The search for a new home always starts out with a lot of excitement. But if you haven’t prepared, frustration can soon set in, especially in a competitive real estate market. The biggest mistake is jumping into a search unfocused, just hoping to “see what’s available.” Instead, I recommend you first take some time to work through the four steps below.

Step 1: Talk to your agent

Even if you’re just thinking about buying or selling a house, start by consulting your real estate agent. An agent can give you an up-to-the-minute summary of the current real estate market, as well as mortgage industry trends. They can also put you in touch with all the best resources and educate you about the next steps, plus much more.

Step 2: Decide how much home you can afford

It may sound like a drag to start your home search with a boring financial review, but when all is said and done, you’ll be glad you did. With so many people competing to buy what is available, it’s far more efficient to focus your search on the properties you can afford. A meeting or two with a reputable mortgage agent should tell you everything you need to know.

Step 3: Envision your future

Typically, it takes at least five years for a home purchase to start paying off financially—which means—the better your new home suits you, the longer you’ll most likely remain living there.

Thinking of your near future, what life events do you anticipate in the next five or six years? If you’re planning to add to the family or change careers, or even rent out a portion of your home to others, share this information with your real estate agent. They will be able to help you evaluate your current and future needs to help find the best home that you can grow into.

Step 4: Visualize your ideal home

When it comes to this step, be realistic. It’s easy to get carried away dreaming about all the home features you want. Try listing everything on a piece of paper, then choose the five “must-haves,” and the five “really-wants.”

For more tips, as well as advice geared specifically to your situation, let’s connect!


Posted on March 3, 2020 at 2:20 am
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Buyer | Tagged

ATARI BRINGS GAMING HOTEL TO SEATTLE COMPLETE WITH “GAMING PLAYGROUNDS”

Video game pioneer Atari is coming to Seattle in a big, new way.

Working with GSD Group — a brand strategy company with ties to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s Woz Innovation Foundation — and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesmovie producer Napoleon Smith III, Atari is bringing eight new hotels to locations across the U.S.

More than just a place to stay, the Atari hotels will offer immersive entertainment experiences with the latest tech and state-of-the-art gaming venues including pro-level esports studios for competitions, plus “gaming playgrounds” that will cater to more casual and curious gamers.

The first location will break ground in Phoenix, AZ this spring. Locations in Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Denver, CO and Las Vegas, NV will follow.

Home to Microsoft and Xbox, Nintendo’s North American headquarters and major gaming studios like Bungie (creator of Halo), Seattle’s high profile in the industry makes it an ideal fit for this new hotel concept.

A version of this article was originally published on Geekwire by Nat Levy. 


Posted on February 21, 2020 at 8:43 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News | Tagged , , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2020

New jobs and low interest rates continue to fuel the housing market boom. While January is traditionally a slower month for activity, the new year saw steady buyer demand. With the number of sales exceeding new listings, all indicators point to a strong spring market.

The tech industry on the Eastside continues to grow rapidly. Microsoft and Alibaba both have significant expansions underway. Amazon expects to increase its workforce in Bellevue to 15,000 in the next few years, a sevenfold increase from today. As the economy continues to grow, inventory keeps being squeezed. There were 47% fewer single-family homes on the market in January than the year prior. Home prices have been stabilizing for some time, fluctuating slightly from month to month. In January the median home price slipped 2% over a year ago to $892,000.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT


Posted on February 17, 2020 at 9:40 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

THE GARDNER REPORT – Q4 2019


ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Employment in Washington State continues to soften; it is currently at an annual growth rate of 1.7%. I believe that is a temporary slowdown and we will see the pace of employment growth improve as we move further into the new year. It’s clear that businesses are continuing to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. This is, of course, in addition to the issues that Boeing currently faces regarding the 737 MAX.

In the fourth quarter of 2019 the state unemployment rate was 4.4%, marginally lower than the 4.5% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2020 will rise 2.2%, with a total of 76,300 new jobs created.

HOME SALES

  • There were 18,322 home sales registered during the final quarter of 2019, representing an impressive increase of 4.7% from the same period in 2018.
  • Readers may remember that listing activity spiked in the summer of 2018 but could not be sustained, with the average number of listings continuing to fall. Year-over-year, the number of homes for sale in Western Washington dropped 31.7%.
  • Compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, sales rose in nine counties and dropped in six. The greatest growth was in Whatcom County. San Juan County had significant declines, but this is a very small market which makes it prone to extreme swings.
  • Pending home sales — a barometer for future closings — dropped 31% between the third and fourth quarters of 2019, suggesting that we may well see a dip in the number of closed sales in the first quarter of 2020.

HOME PRICES

  • Home price growth in Western Washington spiked during fourth quarter, with average prices 8.3% higher than a year ago. The average sale price in Western Washington was $526,564, 0.7% higher than in the third quarter of 2019.
  • It’s worth noting that above-average price growth is happening in markets some distance from the primary job centers. I strongly feel this is due to affordability issues, which are forcing buyers farther out.
  • Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in San Juan County, where home prices were up 41.7%. Six additional counties also saw double-digit price increases.
  • Home prices were higher in every county contained in this report. I expect this trend to continue in 2020, but we may see a softening in the pace of growth in some of the more expensive urban areas.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped four days compared to the third quarter of 2019.
  • For the second quarter in a row, Thurston County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 29 days to sell. In nine counties, the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in four counties and two were unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 47 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter. This was up nine days over the third quarter of this year.
  • Market time remains below the long-term average across the region, a trend that will likely continue until we see more inventory come to market — possibly as we move through the spring.

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.

The housing market ended the year on a high note, with transactions and prices picking up steam. I believe the uncertainty of 2018 (when we saw significant inventory enter the market) has passed and home buyers are back in the market. Unfortunately, buyers’ desire for more inventory is not being met and I do not see any significant increase in listing activity on the horizon. As such, I have moved the needle more in favor of home sellers.

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Posted on February 1, 2020 at 9:36 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

Refresh Your Bathroom into a Spa

Image Source: Canva

With some creative thinking and a few do-it-yourself projects, you too can transform an everyday bathroom into a spa-like experience:

High-end shower head

There are a plethora of shower head options available today that can make even a simple shower space feel like a luxuriating experience.

Heated towel rack

Once out of the tub/shower, heated towels help you comfortably maintain your body temperature while the pampering continues.

Dimmable lights

Adjust the bathroom lights to match your moods and activities: brighter for primping, and dimmed to create a calming effect.

Less clutter

Not everything that’s meant for the bathroom needs to be stored in the bathroom. Look for things that can be moved elsewhere to make the space feel a bit bigger and more organized.

Calming scents

Essential oils, luxury soaps, and scented candles are an easy way to create an aromatic atmosphere of luxuriousness.

 

SOURCE: Windermere


Posted on January 19, 2020 at 2:10 am
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – JANUARY 2020


Posted on January 17, 2020 at 9:40 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

AS BIG TECH’S EASTSIDE PRESENCE EXPANDS, BELLEVUE PREPS FOR MORE COMMUTERS

Back then, planners designed wide six-lane arterials meant to move vehicles fast. The road grid creates 600-foot-wide superblocks on former farmland.

Now, tremendous growth is straining transportation. Traffic stacks up during afternoon commutes, and Interstate 405 slows to a crawl.

As Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and others grow their Eastside workforces, City staff anticipate a net gain of roughly 18,000 downtown jobs by 2025, joining the more than 52,000 people who currently work in the city core.

Roughly translated, this would boost employment higher than the current numbers in Seattle’s busy South Lake Union.

But local leaders acknowledge remaking a car-dominated landscape doesn’t happen overnight. The City aims to cut the share of downtown commuters who drive alone to work to about one-third by 2035, a reversal of today’s pattern where more than two-thirds drive alone.

To do this, they’re planning for trains, buses, bicycles, walking, vanpools — and maybe even autonomous vehicles — to keep people moving.

In past years, the Bellevue City Council voted to create a safer walking network by converting Sixth Street to a 60-foot-wide, tree-lined walking corridor and shortening a street to complete its circular Downtown Park.

Instead of narrowing six- and seven-lane streets with so-called road diets, Bellevue’s approach to reducing car-pedestrian conflicts relies on skybridges around Bellevue Square, and altering some traffic signals to give walkers a head start at intersections. Smaller streets include walker-activated amber flashers.

Large employers and city officials are also counting on the $3.7 billion Sound Transit East Link light-rail line — projected to serve 50,000 daily passengers when it opens in 2023 — to handle many of the new commutes.

New bike lanes on 108th Avenue Northeast serve a trickle of riders for now. More bike lanes are planned on Main Street. Just east of I-405, the 42 miles of abandoned BNSF railroad tracks are being redeveloped for bicycle riders and pedestrians as Eastrail, spanning from Snohomish to Renton.

Bellevue’s growth spurt won’t necessarily translate into massive public-transit ridership, however, at least in the short term. Private transit is adapting faster.

With aid from a $100 million federal loan, the city has created or widened 11 streets between Wilburton and the Spring District east of I-405 where REI’s headquarters, Facebook and other companies are locating.

That follows citywide spending of $5.5 million to equip 197 intersections with adaptive signals that continually re-time to move clusters of approaching vehicles.

And the permit paperwork for the planned 43-story Amazon tower shows 1,175 underground parking stalls (nearly double the 632 spaces in the current parking garage that this new tower will replace).

On I-405, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will build an express toll lane each direction between Renton and Bellevue, to open in 2024, along with exit-only lanes to clear departing drivers off the mainline.

The existing carpool lanes will be converted to a second toll lane each way. Sound Transit will follow with new bus-rapid transit and park-and-ride lots.

Finally, in perhaps its most lofty vision yet, The Grand Connection is a sprawling pedestrian and cyclist pathway that would stretch between Meydenbauer Bay Park on the west, through Main Street and downtown, and across the freeway to Eastrail. With a bridge or park lid above I-405, just south of the nearly completed Sound Transit rail bridge, design concepts show amphitheater steps, sculptures and a row of ginkgo trees.

Unlike the longer Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, the Grand Connection would encourage people to linger at cafes and parks. As a traffic-free shortcut, it would reduce the need to drive and park at downtown spots.

There’s no funding yet. Costs vary based on whether Bellevue builds a full park like Mercer Island has over I-90, or a thin bridge, for around $130 million.

A version of this article was originally posted on U.S. News by Michelle Baruchman


Posted on January 16, 2020 at 9:41 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,