Windermere Insights: How Low Inventory Is Influencing The Market

“While we see more sellers getting ready to list,” observed Pat Grimm, owner of Windermere Capitol Hill, “every week that those homes don’t go on the market, we risk losing buyers to what I’d call a reasonable fatigue.”

Grimm pointed to Seattle’s imbalanced market activity in the first half of June. Pending sales of single family homes were up 21% from the same period last year, despite a 45% reduction in the number of active listings. By mid-month, there remained a paltry 0.8 months’ supply of homes for sale, based on pending sales. Low inventory led Seattle buyers to purchase homes and condos faster and for higher prices than in June 2019.

“Sellers should benefit from this dynamic,” Grimm said, “if they can undertake a move at this stage of the re-opening.”

On the Eastside, the market is undergoing a similar push-pull, according to Joe Deasy, co-owner of Windermere East Inc. “Active listings are being absorbed faster than we can get new For Sale signs up,” he observed. With month-to-date pending sales activity up 21% this June versus last, Deasy noted that the Eastside’s supply of homes is down to only 0.9 months.

Through the first half of June Eastside single family home listings were down 46% from the same period last year, while there were 28% fewer condo listings. “There’s a bottleneck happening, and we could see sales drop unless we bring more homes to market,” Deasy said. “But more listings will lead to more sales,” he added.

One community that has been keenly watching its real estate market dynamics is West Seattle. Hit by the double whammy of the shutdown and the bridge closure, brokers there were wondering how May and June numbers would stack up for this “small town” within the city.

It turns out that West Seattle is experiencing the same demand-supply issue as other local areas. In the first half of June, the supply of single family homes for sale was down 31% from last year. Based on a 9% increase in month-to-date pending sales, the supply of homes stands at just one month.

“Ours is still a seller’s market,” said Larry Johnson, general manager of Windermere’s West Seattle office. “June has seen faster market times and higher selling prices on the units that have gone pending.” The squeeze on West Seattle homes has also led buyers to move on condos, Johnson noted, with month-to-date pending sales up 56% over last year and average sold prices up by 22%.

SOURCE: Windermere Get The Report


Posted on June 30, 2020 at 7:04 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News | Tagged , , , ,

A Guide to Mortgage Assistance During COVID-19

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

For some homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high level of concern about paying their mortgage. Fortunately, there are options to aid struggling homeowners from governments, financial institutions, and loan providers. The following information is intended to provide clarity on which financial relief options are available to you during this time.

 

What are my mortgage relief options?

Newly placed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

 

  1. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days following March 18, 2020. The CARES Act prohibits lenders and/or servicers from beginning a non-judicial foreclosure, or finalizing a foreclosure sale, against you within this time period. While 60 days has passed since this was put into place, it is still important to be aware of in the event that any of these actions were taken against you.
  2. You have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also apply for a 180-day extension beyond the forbearance period. This does not require submitting additional documentation beyond your claim, nor will you incur additional fees, penalties or interest beyond what has already been scheduled.

 

Forbearance is…

  • With forbearance, mortgage servicers and lenders allow you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a period of time while you get back on your feet financially.
  • Different types of loans beget different forbearance options, understanding the differences and which options apply to your loan is key to navigating the forbearance landscape.
  • Once your income is back to a normal level, contact your loan servicer and resume your payments.

 

Forbearance is not…

  • Forbearance is not a means to forgive or erase your payments. Any missed or reduced payments still require payment in the future.

 

Which relief options do I qualify for?

The first step in discovering your mortgage assistance qualifications is to contact your mortgage provider. If you are unsure of how to get in touch with them, look at your mortgage statement for contact information or see what contact options are available online.

After you have successfully made contact, find out if your mortgage is federally backed. To be eligible for assistance under the CARES act, your mortgage must either be backed federally, or by one of the entities in the list below. These links show the agencies’ current advise and related loan information:

 

For non-federally backed loans, contact your lender or servicer to learn more about their forbearance repayment options.

 

Today’s financial landscape can be stressful for homeowners, especially those that are struggling to keep up financially. Fortunately, these entities, institutions, and servicers have provided options to help lessen the burden. Knowing which options apply to you and your household will help you navigate through hardship as your finances recover.


Posted on June 11, 2020 at 8:23 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – JUNE 2020

  • The Stay Home order, as expected, continued to impact the number of sales. However, the market is starting to move its way towards more normal activity. Pending sales, a measure of current demand, have risen every week since April.
  • The slight drop in median closed sale price is a result of a proportionately larger number of lower priced homes selling than is normal. It should not be interpreted as a decrease in individual home value.
  • There were significantly fewer homes for sale in May than the same time last year. With less than a month of available inventory, competition among buyers was intense. Bidding wars and all-cash offers were common.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for May are mostly reflective of sales in April. If you are interested in more information, 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.  As we adapt to new phases of reopening, know that the safety of everyone remains our top priority.


Posted on June 11, 2020 at 8:16 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market Report | Tagged , , , , ,

Questions to Ask During Your Virtual Home Tour

Image Source: Canva

 

Thanks to COVID-19, the new reality is that many open houses and home tours are being conducted virtually. For prospective home buyers, this new territory brings an added element to prepare for in the home buying process. Some of the questions that should be asked in a virtual home tour parallel those of in-person tours, but others are unique to today’s virtual world.

 

Could you zoom in?

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to get a true glimpse at what you want to see in a room. Asking the agent to zoom in on specific features is commonplace in virtual home tours, and they understand this is part of the viewer experience. Don’t hesitate to ask multiple times. Getting a better look at everything you want to see will help you feel like you’ve gotten the most out of your virtual tour.

 

How many square feet are in this room?

  • Virtual tours can slightly distort space, making it tough to gauge the size. The room-to-room square footage is information the agent is sure to have handy. Since you can’t be there in person, it will help you piece together the virtual visuals with the sense of physical space that we’re all accustomed to feeling in the places we live.

 

What color is that?

  • In the smartphone era, and computer era at large, we have come to understand that digital representations of color are not always true to the eye. Ask the agent to confirm specific colors so you can plan accordingly. Have a color swatch on hand or look the colors up online as you go through the tour.

 

When were the appliances last updated?

  • The importance of this question rings true in past, present, and future. Knowing the state of the home’s appliances, and the likelihood and timing of when they will need replacement, is vital information for both assessing the move-in readiness of the home and understanding what costs might lie ahead.

 

Has the seller provided an inspection?

  • This is another example of a critical question, whether your home tour is virtual or physical. If the seller has already done an inspection, ask the agent to lead you to any areas of concern based on the inspector’s findings. If there is anything that has not yet been addressed by the seller, have your agent ask what their plan is for making the necessary repairs/updates.

 

When is the offer review date?

  • Understanding the seller’s timeline for reviewing and accepting offers will help guide your decision-making process and allow you to strategize based on the timeline.

 

Whether your home tour is physical or virtual, getting the information you need to make an informed decision remains paramount. Although there is no substitute for physically being in the home you are looking to buy, keeping these questions in mind will position you well as you progress through the home buying journey.


Posted on May 27, 2020 at 11:11 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Buyer | Tagged , , , , ,

Neighbors in Need Raises $690,000 for Food Banks

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected populations across the globe, but those who struggle with poverty and count on food programs to meet their basic day-to-day needs are in an especially uncertain place. While coping with increased demand and a bottlenecked pipeline of food supply, food banks are desperate for funds to continue to serve their communities. Because of this, Windermere decided to challenge its offices to raise $250,000, every dollar of which would be matched by the Windermere Foundation and donated to food banks in the areas where Windermere operates. We titled it the “Neighbors in Need” fundraising campaign.

Neighbors in Need kicked off on April 21, with the goal of raising $250,000 by May 5. As word continued to spread, online donations and contributions from both our agents and the public began to increase. Neighbors in Need was given a boost by Seattle Seahawks starting safety Quandre Diggs in a heartfelt message encouraging support. Over the final 24 hours, leading up to the May 5 deadline, support poured in from across the Windermere family as the final figure exceeded the initial goal of $500,000, landing at a total of $690,000.

Neighbors in Need exemplifies Windermere’s deep commitment to supporting our local communities, which traces back to 1989 when the Windermere Foundation first started. Since then, we’ve proudly raised more than $41 million for low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

On behalf of the Windermere Foundation to all those who joined the effort: Thank you. We could not have made this large of an impact without your help. We are humbled to be able to do our part to help those who need it most during these uncertain times.


Posted on May 13, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News, Windermere Community | Tagged , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – MAY 2020

We hope you are weathering the new normal as best as you can. With everyone spending more time than ever at home, real estate has taken on a whole new importance. For those who are interested, here is a brief update on how COVID-19 continues to affect our local market:

  • Business was better than expected under the Stay Home order. COVID-19 did reduce real estate sales in April as compared to a year ago, however the number of sales rose steadily each week of the month. Sales growth continued in early May and we expect sales to increase slowly week by week.
  • The number of new listings dropped, suggesting that would-be sellers are waiting until the shelter-in-place order is over to put their home on the market. With local technology companies continuing to hire, buyers will continue to face competition for limited inventory in the coming months.
  • Home prices remain stable, with the median price of homes sold in April up slightly from a year ago. Sellers appear to be pricing homes realistically and buyers are not finding deep discounts.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for April are mostly reflective of sales in March. Next month’s data will offer a more telling trend of the effect of the virus on the local housing market.

If you are interested in more information, 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.

As our current situation evolves, know that the safety of everyone remains our top priority.


Posted on May 13, 2020 at 5:53 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News, Market Report | Tagged , , , , , ,

Saving to Buy A Home During COVID-19

Image Source: Canva

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way people plan for their future. For those saving to buy a home, the landscape may seem daunting. However, this new world of social distancing and stay at home orders is an opportunity to rethink your spending and saving plans. Keeping the following suggestions for your budget and finances in mind can help make your dream of buying a home a reality.

Rethink your budget:

If there have been changes to your income amid COVID-19, adapting your budget is a logical and necessary step. If your income has gone unchanged, certain tweaks to your budget can yield significant savings. Knowing the leisure portion of your normal expenditure has been removed for the time being is a great starting point for reassessing your spending.

  • Begin with your income and assets
  • Determine your household’s new baseline and arrange your new budget accordingly
  • Divide your budget expenses out into Fixed and Variable
  • Adjust for changes in essential costs—Housing, Utilities, Insurance, Food
  • Put into savings what normally would have been your leisure spending money

As the stay-at-home lifestyle continues, take a look at your unnecessary costs for such things as memberships, subscriptions, and online shopping. Reach out to the subscription organizations and see if they are offering any options to delay your membership until a later date.

  • Categorize all active memberships as Cancel, Adjust, or Keep
  • For live entertainment, research how far out the venues have postponed shows
  • Adjust your online shopping needs for your current lifestyle
  • Reassess the must-haves of your new stay-at-home daily life

Review your finances:

If you’re planning on buying a home in the near future, you are likely already on your financial planning journey. With added uncertainty around COVID-19’s effective timeline, the more information you can gather, the better. In these unprecedented times, flexible solutions are being provided to customers. Exploring what options your banks and issuers are offering will keep you informed and prepared while keeping your finances in order.

Contact your credit card issuer to see if they are offering any of the following options to customers:

  • Payment deferral or forbearance
  • Flexible fee policies
  • Lowering your monthly payment or interest rate temporarily
  • Forgiveness or relief from late fees

Following the steps outlined above can go a long way towards helping you save for a home. As your finances are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, take time to adjust accordingly. Continuing to gather information and developing a strategy will help you steer your eventual home purchase in the right direction through these uncertain times.


Posted on April 23, 2020 at 9:59 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Local News | Tagged , , , , ,

THE GARDNER REPORT – FIRST QUARTER 2020

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please reach out anytime!

A MESSAGE FROM MATTHEW GARDNER

Needless to say, any discussion about the U.S. economy, state economy, or housing markets in the first quarter of this year is almost meaningless given events surrounding the COVID-19 virus.

Although you will see below data regarding housing activity in the region, many markets came close to halting transactions in March and many remain in some level of paralysis. As such, drawing conclusions from the data is almost a futile effort. I would say, though, it is my belief that the national and state housing markets were in good shape before the virus hit and will be in good shape again, once we come out on the other side. In a similar fashion, I anticipate the national and regional economies will start to thaw, and that many of the jobs lost will return with relative speed. Of course, all of these statements are wholly dependent on the country seeing a peak in new infections in the relatively near future. I stand by my contention that the housing market will survive the current economic crisis and it is likely we will resume a more normalized pattern of home sales in the second half of the year.

HOME SALES

  • There were 13,378 home sales during the first quarter of 2020, a drop of only 0.2% from the same period in 2019, but 27% lower than in the final quarter of 2019.
  • The number of homes for sale was 32% lower than a year ago and was also 32% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • When compared to the first quarter of 2019 sales rose in eight counties and dropped in seven. The greatest growth was in Cowlitz and Lewis counties. The largest declines were in Island and Snohomish counties.
  • Pending sales — a good gauge of future closings — rose 0.7% compared to the final quarter of 2019. We can be assured that closed sales in the second quarter of this year will be lower due to COVID-19.

HOME PRICES

  • Home-price growth in Western Washington rose compared to a year ago, with average prices up 8.7%. The average sale price in Western Washington was $524,392, and prices were 0.4% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except San Juan, which is prone to significant swings in average sale prices because of its size.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Clallam County, where home prices were up 21.7%. Double-digit price increases were also seen in Kitsap, Skagit, Mason, Thurston, and Snohomish counties.
  • Affordability issues remain and, even given the current uncertain environment, I believe it is highly unlikely we will see any form of downward price pressures once the region reopens.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter of this year dropped seven days compared to the first quarter of 2019.
  • Pierce County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 29 days to sell. All but two counties — San Juan and Clallam — saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 54 days to sell a home in the first quarter of the year — up 8 days compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • Market time remains below the long-term average across the region. This is likely to change, albeit temporarily, in the second quarter due to COVID-19.

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.

Given the current economic environment, I have decided to freeze the needle in place until we see a restart in the economy. Once we have resumed “normal” economic activity, there will be a period of adjustment with regard to housing. Therefore, it is appropriate to wait until later in the year to offer my opinions about any quantitative impact the pandemic will have on the housing market.

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 April 19, 2020 at 5:50 pm
Lynly Callaway | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

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 , , , , ,