LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – APRIL 2020

Windermere is focused on keeping our clients and our community safe and connected. We’re all in this together. Since the early days of COVID-19, our philosophy has been “Go slow and do no harm.” While real estate has been deemed an “essential” business, we have adopted guidelines that prioritize everyone’s safety and wellness.

Like everything else in our world, real estate is not business as usual. While market statistics certainly aren’t our focus at this time, we’ve opted to include our usual monthly report for those who may be interested. A few key points:

  • The monthly statistics are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for March are mostly reflective of contracts signed in February, a time period largely untouched by COVID-19. The market is different today.
  • We expect that inventory and sales will decline in April and May as a result of the governor’s Stay Home order.
  • Despite the effects of COVID-19, the market in March was hot through mid-month. It remains to be seen if that indicates the strong market will return once the Stay Home order is lifted, or if economic changes will soften demand.

Every Monday, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.

Stay healthy and be safe. We’ll get through this together.


Posted on April 16, 2020 at 12:54 am
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

Your Guide to Spring Cleaning

Image Source: Canva

Many of us have found ourselves spending much of our time indoors as of late, and as spring blooms in the sunlight, you might be noticing that it’s time to treat your home to a little TLC. When it comes to wellness, your health and the health of your home go hand in hand. Here are some tips to guide you through your spring cleaning this year.

First clean, then disinfect​

​​​​​​​General cleaning rids your home’s surfaces of contaminants, but disinfecting targets pathogens. A combination of the two before—as well as after—your spring cleaning will have your home in peak health. When disinfecting, target high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, and faucets.

Devices like your computer, phone and tablets are worthy of disinfecting as well, since they are high-touch surfaces that we carry around constantly. Avoid cleaners heavy in toxins and chemicals, which spread throughout your home. Look for plant- and mineral-based ingredients and natural solvents.

  • Work top-to-bottom
    • ​​Working from ceiling to walls to counters to floors guides dust and debris downwards and prevents any re-cleaning of the same areas.
  • Ceiling
    • Being the season when allergies kick up, a quality dusting can be even more important for your health. Curtains, blinds, carpets and ceiling fans all collect dust easily; being thorough in these areas will pay off in the long run. Don’t forget the corners where cobwebs collect.
  • Walls & Windows
    • Consider giving your walls a cleanse with a damp towel, especially in the kitchen near your oven and coffee maker. Cleaning your windows helps bring in more natural light and is the key to getting the most out of your home’s view.
  • Floors
    • All floors need a good cleanse, but different materials require different cleaning methods. With laminate and vinyl flooring, dry mopping will do the trick. Sealed wood floors can take mopping, but waxed floors can’t—they require sweeping or vacuuming instead.

Declutter

Decluttering can be a daunting task. But with more time at home, we have more time to conquer this task day by day. Divide the rooms up by how much time they will take to declutter. Rooms like the kitchen and playroom will likely take longer than the living room or bathroom.

  • Separate the unnecessary or underused items into two categories: Donate and Storage. Gather your donated items—whether they’re going to thrift stores, local shelters, or charity—so they can be distributed out in one trip.
  • When it comes to storage, consider which items are likely to be taken out more often, like tools or seasonal items. Put them away last so they are easy to access. Hopefully this exercise, done year after year, will cut your storage stockpile down to what is essential.

Go for multipurpose

  • Minimalism is a space-saving movement that has picked up momentum in recent years. Even if you aren’t looking to downsize, incorporating multifunctionality into your home can bring an added dimension to your spring cleaning.
  • ​Common multipurpose features include lofted beds with below storage, using a corner desk to create an office nook, and folding tables to transform a dining room to a dinner party with ease.

Posted on April 9, 2020 at 12:56 am
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update

Every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market.

Update #1 – 3/23/2020

Update #2 – 3/30/2020

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).

Update #3 – 4/6/2020

In the latest episode of “Mondays with Matthew”, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner dives into part one of his two-part series analyzing the mortgage market. Today’s focus is on the substantial impact COVID-19 has had on jumbo mortgages. Check back next week when he’ll discuss conventional mortgages and provide his latest interest rate forecast.

Update #4 – 4/13/2020

This week on “Mondays with Matthew” Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner discusses the impact of COVID-19 on 30-year-mortgages and gives an updated 2020 interest rate forecast.

Update #5 – 4/13/2020

This week on “Mondays with Matthew” Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner analyzes the past two decades of the new home construction market and then discusses his predictions for this segment of the market going forward.


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

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 , , , , ,

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 , , , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – DECEMBER 2019

Favorable interest rates and soaring rents boosted activity in the housing market in November. More buyers competing for less inventory kept home prices strong. With the supply of homes far short of demand, sellers can expect well-priced properties to sell quickly this winter.

With just over a month of available inventory, demand on Eastside remains very strong. Sales are brisk, with 45% of single-family homes selling in 15 days or less and 20% of homes selling for over list price. The median single-family home price in November rose 2% from a year ago to $900,000 and was unchanged from October.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT


Posted on December 19, 2019 at 10:52 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News, Windermere Community | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

WASHINGTON RANKED BEST STATE OVERALL

Some states shine in health care. Some soar in education. Some excel in both – or in much more.

Considering numerous metrics and thousands of data points, a new study by the U.S. News and World Report ranks Washington state as number one in the nation.

Using 71 different metrics and thousands of data points, the magazine measured how well states are performing for their citizens. In addition to health care and education, the metrics take into account a state’s economy, its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure, its public safety, the fiscal stability of state government, and the opportunity it affords its residents.

Named the best state overall, Washington ranked fourth in health care and education, third in economy, second for infrastructure, 14th in natural environment, 15th for public safety, and 19th for opportunity. Our lowest ranking was 22nd for fiscal stability for our residents.

The data supporting these rankings were “drawn from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources,” along with a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country, according to the magazine.

Health care and education were weighted most heavily.

The top 10 states following Washington were New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Colorado in that order.

View all of the results and full rankings for this year and previous years on U.S. News & World Report.

This was originally posted on U.S. News & World Report and on king5.com 


Posted on December 13, 2019 at 10:54 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Living, Market News | Tagged , , , , , , ,