LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – OCTOBER 2020

While daily life may seem unpredictable, the local real estate market remains extremely stable. Activity in September acted more like the traditional peak spring market with home sales soaring and prices hitting record highs. Inventory remains very tight and new listings are selling quickly in every price range.

There just aren’t enough homes on the market to meet demand. King County had about half the inventory of a year ago. Snohomish County had 63% fewer available homes. On the other hand, the number of condos on the market in King County jumped by 24% over last September. Brokers attribute the flood of new inventory to COVID remote workers looking to trade their in-city condo for more living space. Despite the increase in inventory, condo prices rose 8% in September and pending sales — the best indicator of current demand — shot up 36% over the same period last year.

The slim supply of single-family homes means bidding wars and all-cash offers were the norm, driving prices to record highs. King County saw the third consecutive month of record-setting values. The median home price hit $753,600 in September, a 14% jump over last year. Prices in Snohomish County soared 16% from a year ago to $569,997, just shy of its all-time high of $575,000. For both counties, half the homes sold for over list price in September as compared with just a quarter of the homes a year ago.

The market doesn’t show signs of cooling off any time soon. In September the greater Northwest area saw the highest number of transactions since June 2018. Pending sales were up 32% in King County and 29% in Snohomish County. Interest rates continue to be at historic lows. With the area posting some of the fastest population growth in the country, expect the market to stay unseasonably hot.

The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. 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.

Posted on October 13, 2020 at 9:28 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Market Report | Tagged , , , ,

10 Steps to Selling Your Home

Image source: Shutterstock

 

Navigating everything involved with selling your home can seem intimidating. Breaking the process down step by step will keep you organized and ready to work towards a successful home sale.

1. Choose an agent

A lot goes into choosing the right agent. If you’re unsure where to start, get referrals from trusted friends, family, and neighbors. Although the ultimate goal is the sale, think about your compatibility outside of the transaction. Their ability to connect with you on a human level through the ups and downs of a home sale is just as important as their expertise and knowledge of the market.
2. Set a timeline 
Depending on your local housing market conditions, your timeline for selling your home may vary. However, a timeline is valuable in that it will keep you organized throughout the selling process and allows you to adjust if circumstances change. Your agent will work with you to build the ideal timeline.
3. What is your home worth? 
The key to selling quickly is correctly pricing your home from the first day it hits the market. In particular, overpricing can lead to serious complications in the selling process. Your agent can provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to better determine the best price of your home. CMAs provide information on comparable home sales in your area, both pending and sold, within the past six months.
4. Repair & upgrade
Now it’s time to get to work on the house! This is the perfect time to tackle any and all outstanding projects or repairs. Create a list separating which repairs can be done yourself and which need professional attention. This is the time to consider a pre-sale home inspection to identify structural and mechanical problems before your home is on the market.
5. Make the best first impression
Making an impactful first impression goes a long way in the minds of buyers, so roll up your sleeves and prepare to check off that to-do-list. Start by cleaning up the garden and lawn, clearing out gutters, and adding color to your flower beds. Apply a fresh coat of paint anywhere you spot peeling or cracked paint. A great way to make an impact is by staging your home, with the goal of making each room feel as spacious and welcoming as possible.
6. Show your home 
Your local pandemic-era regulations will dictate the ability for agents to conduct in-person showings and open houses. Discuss virtual home tour options with your agent and other ways to generate maximum buyer interest. For in-person showings, it’s best that you leave the premises so the buyer can freely ask their agent questions and visualize the home as their own.
7. Offers & negotiation 
If you are in a seller’s market—defined by low inventory and high buyer competition—it is likely that you will receive offers at – or above – asking price. You can respond to an offer by a) accepting the offer, b) making a counteroffer, or c) rejecting the offer. Counteroffers should always be made in writing and provide a short window of time for the potential buyer to respond. If you are selling in a buyer’s market, you may have to be more open to negotiation. Discuss negotiation strategies with your agent to work toward a satisfying final price.
8. Prepare for closing costs
There are costs throughout the selling process, and as the close date approaches, that remains true. Be sure to budget for your real estate agent’s commission, and other common seller’s costs like title insurance, recording fees, and government transfer tax, among others.
9. Home inspection
Buyer offers are usually contingent upon a professional home inspection. Ask your agent for a home inspection checklist, so you know what the inspector is looking for ahead of time. They typically inspect the home’s foundation, structure, roof, plumbing and electrical systems, floors, windows, doors, and more for signs of damage and weathering.
10. Closing time
Congratulations! Your home is sold, but there are still some final steps before the deal is done. This is the time to ask the buyer to release any contingencies, sign the title, and close escrow before handing over the keys. Consult your real estate agent for any questions about legal documentation and settlement costs.
Posted on October 8, 2020 at 8:10 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Seller | Tagged , , , ,

Study Ranks Seattle As Nation’s Best Large City For Real Estate

The real estate competition in Seattle has long been fierce, with tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft pulling ever more workers into the city. Between ample job opportunities, scenic surroundings and charming neighborhoods, it’s easy to see why so many buyers are eager to put down stakes here. But despite this competition — or perhaps because of it — Seattle has recently been recognized as the best market among large cities in which to buy a house.

The study, produced by WalletHub, gave Seattle a score of 67.77 out of 100 — the highest in the nation of any large city, and second-highest overall. Over 300 cities were surveyed, and the only city ranked higher overall than Seattle was Boise, Idaho. The rankings were determined by factors including median home price appreciation, job growth, average number of days a property is on the market and the percentage of homes in the area with negative equity, among 20 other criteria.

Seattle is in good company, too. In Eastern Washington, the town of Spokane Valley ranked no. 2 in the nation among small cities, with Tacoma and Federal Way coming in at no. 5 for best mid-sized and small city, respectively. Bellevue was also highlighted in the study as one of the fastest markets to sell a home, along with Renton.

At the bottom of the list for large cities was Baltimore, Maryland, ranked at no. 65. The worst city for real estate, according to the study, was Miami Beach, Florida, ranked in last place among both small cities and in general at no. 135, with a total score of 37.07.

Among large cities (with populations over 300,000), Nashville and Austin also ranked in the top ten overall, but Seattle was the only west coast locale to rank within the top ten.

What these findings suggest is that despite the pandemic and the tough competition, Seattle’s housing market remains healthy. For buyers who are willing to join the fray, a home in Seattle is a sound investment — and one that many people are seeking in this bustling city.

This article was originally posted on KOMO News.

Posted on September 29, 2020 at 6:40 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Local News | Tagged , , , ,

The Seahawks and Windermere Team Up Again to #TackleHomelessness

 

As the “Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks,” all of us at Windermere are proud to kick off our fifth season of partnering with the Seahawks to #TackleHomelessness. For every defensive tackle made at a Seahawks home game this season, Windermere will donate $100 to Mary’s Place in support of their mission to provide safe, inclusive shelter and services that support women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. Mary’s Place has provided resources, housing and employment services to the homeless in the greater Seattle area since 1999.

Thanks to the Seahawks’ defensive efforts last year, we were able to donate $30,000 to Mary’s Place, bringing our grand total to $128,200 raised over the past four seasons. We look forward to raising even more this year!

Our partnership with Mary’s Place is in harmony with the mission of the Windermere Foundation—to support low-income and homeless families in the communities where Windermere operates.

Posted on September 17, 2020 at 1:45 am
Lynly Callaway | Category: Windermere Community | Tagged , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2020

August saw the lowest number of homes for sale in more than 20 years and the lowest mortgage rates on record. Sparse inventory and high demand pushed home prices to  new highs.

  • With pending sales outpacing new listings, inventory continues to shrink. King and Snohomish counties each have about a two-week supply of available homes.  Four to six months of inventory is considered a balanced market, favoring neither buyers nor sellers.
  • The region saw the second consecutive month of record-setting price growth with home prices experiencing double-digit increases as compared to a year ago.
  • Fierce competition among buyers has made multiple offers the norm. In King County, 46% of home sold for more than the list price. Last August that number was 24%. In Snohomish County, 58% of homes sold above list price as compared to just 28% the prior year.

The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. 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.

Posted on September 11, 2020 at 1:42 am
Lynly Callaway | Category: Market Report | Tagged , , , ,

Preparing for the School Year at Home

Image source: Shutterstock

 

For those whose children will be taking classes online or participating in remote learning this school year, keeping the following tips in mind will help create an at-home learning environment that prioritizes health and learning, while being able to adjust to this year’s unknowns.

A home cannot fully replace all that a formal school classroom has to offer. However, what it lacks in traditional classroom appeal it makes up for in comfort and familiarity. Prepping your home to take on this additional role will help set your child up for success during what will be a unique academic year for many.

 

Set the tone

One of the best ways to set your children up for success this school year is to get them excited. It is important to communicate that this school year, even with all its unknowns, is an exciting opportunity for new and creative ways to learn and grow. Helping your child understand the unique learning possibilities your home provides will get the school year off to an enthusiastic start.

 

Create a space 

Establishing a designated space for school at home is important for a child’s ability to focus and to associate a space with learning. How you create a classroom environment will depend on your home and your needs. If your child is most comfortable in their room, try incorporating their classroom setup there. Depending on your child’s age, it may help to have toys or familiar room objects nearby. However, if your child is distracted by their own room, it may be better to set up elsewhere to help them focus, such as a nook or office.

Allowing your child the freedom to make the space their own will help stimulate their imagination, which is vital to their learning and enjoyment of school.

Wherever the home classroom is, be sure that area has minimal distractions, maintains a strong internet connection, and is well-stocked with school supplies within reach at all times.

 

Back to school

To maintain a sense of normalcy, keep your family’s back-to-school traditions intact this year, such as picking out school supplies, back to school clothes shopping, and everyone’s favorite first day of school photo. These ceremonies of preparation for the school year will build excitement while bringing some familiarity to those final days of summer.

Establish a routine

Just as adults have discovered new routines to parallel the shift to remote work, children need a shift in their daily flow to mirror the change to remote learning. The rigor of their school schedule will determine how much flexibility you have in putting together a routine.

Stay active, incorporating movement breaks throughout the day to make up for the lack of physical activity. Plan out times away from their computer screens to differentiate between work and play time.  It’s recommended that children move at least 60 minutes a day, so prioritize exercise and movement, going outside when possible. This change of scenery is a helpful intermission for children. It gives their eyes a rest from their screens and returns them to their learning space feeling refreshed and revitalized.

 

Granted, your ability to facilitate your child/children’s preparedness and monitor their continued learning is based on various factors like your work schedule and what resources your school district is providing for at-home learning. No matter your household’s situation, taking these factors into consideration where possible will help set your student(s) up for success.

Posted on August 26, 2020 at 8:10 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Living | Tagged , , , ,

How to Improve Your Curb Appeal

Image Source: Canva

When it comes time to sell your home, first impressions are crucial. Improving your curb appeal helps to make the most of a buyer’s first glance and sets the stage for their interest in purchasing your home. The following projects are simple and inexpensive ways to enhance both your home’s first impression and its value.

Landscaping

  • Lawn: A healthy, well-tended lawn goes a long way towards improving your curb appeal. Clean up all weeds, leaves and debris, and consistently water your lawn to give it that fresh green look. If you live in an arid climate, consider grass alternatives like artificial turf for the best lawn aesthetic.
  • Plant colorfully: Adding color variety to your front yard will grab buyers’ attention. Align smaller plants, like groundcover and flowers, neatly within your flower beds, aiming for symmetry when possible. Use larger plants and trees to frame in your entryway or walkup. If your front yard doesn’t have flower beds, try adding hanging planters or window boxes.
  • Lighting: Landscaping lighting boosts your curb appeal during nighttime, accentuates your shrubbery, and adds a welcoming touch for visitors as potential buyers, lighting the way to your door.

Image Source: Canva

Porch

Front porches set the stage for all your home has to offer. Improvements here will play a significant role in how comfortable potential buyers feel about the property and how inspired they are to explore the inside of the house.

  • Door: Your front door is an opportunity to make a tasteful statement. Look at bold color choices that are within or slightly stretch your home’s exterior color palette. Take time to prepare the surface for a fresh coat of paint to make the color pop as much as possible. Try stylish doorknob options that accentuate the aesthetic to give your door some added flair.
  • House numbers: New and stylish house numbers are an easy, eye-catching touch to the look of your porch. Look for styles that match with your exterior color palette and any exterior lighting fixtures.
  • Go for comfort: Incorporating classic front porch elements like a porch swing, sitting bench, and other outdoor furniture gives a welcoming aura to the front of your home and creates a sense of comfort for prospective buyers.
  • Shutters: Windows are the gateway to the inside of your home. Shutters of delicate fabric will bring elegance to your front porch, while wooden shutters deliver a solid, cozy vibe.

Other

These miscellaneous projects will add the finishing touches to your home’s curb appeal and get it in prime selling condition.

  • Quick maintenance: Small chores and minor fixes like cleaning gutters, repairing chipped paint, and cleaning windows are important for buyers with a detailed eye.
  • Staining: Instead of replacing fences or garage doors, look into applying a fresh stain. This brings a refreshed look and is much cheaper than a full renovation or replacement.
  • Power wash: Power washing your walkways and driveways makes a significant difference in curb appeal. If buying a power washer is outside your budget, explore rental options from the big-name hardware stores.
Posted on August 13, 2020 at 9:53 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Living | Tagged , , , ,

LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – AUGUST 2020

While the pace of daily life may seem slow right now, the local real estate market has had an unusually busy summer. The number of new listings in July was up, sales increased, and home prices followed suit.

• While overall inventory is at historic lows, more sellers put their homes on
the market. New listings of single-family homes in King County jumped more than
25% from a year ago. Snohomish County saw a 7% increase in new listings.

• Pent-up buyer demand fueled sales activity in July.  The number of pending
sales was up 17% over a year ago in King County, and up 13% in Snohomish
County.

• With buyers snapping up new listings as soon as they hit the market, total
available inventory dropped to a 10-year low for the month.

• The lack of inventory is benefiting sellers, and multiple offers are now common
at every price point. As a result, single-family home prices rose 7% in King
County and 15% in Snohomish County.

The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. 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.

Posted on August 12, 2020 at 8:15 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Market Report | Tagged , , , ,

SEATTLE RANKS AS 9TH-BEST CITY WORLDWIDE FOR STARTUPS

Seattle has long been home base to big tech businesses like Amazon and Microsoft, but the city is increasingly a haven to smaller startups and spin-off companies as well.  Recognizing the city’s potential for hosting successful startups, think tank Startup Genome recently placed Seattle at no. 9 on their list of the top 30 global ecosystems for startups.

To generate their rankings, Startup Genome evaluates ecosystems on seven indicators of success, including performance, funding, market reach, talent, connectedness, knowledge and infrastructure. The top five ecosystems on this year’s list — Silicon Valley, New York City, London, Beijing and Boston — were also at the top of the list for 2019.

Seattle, however, jumped up three places from last year — landing it within the top 10 startup ecosystems in the world. Of the various success indicators, Seattle ranked particularly high in connectedness, even beating the overall number one ecosystem, Silicon Valley, in this category.

Among Seattle’s other indicators, performance, market reach and talent were also particular strengths.

According to GeekWire, researchers at Startup Genome also noted Seattle’s high performance in big data, A.I., analytics, and its thriving life sciences industry.

Another point of interest is Seattle’s “startup genealogy,” as defined by Startup Genome. Essentially, new founders can draw on a strong legacy of experience from other industry leaders like Microsoft and Amazon. The prevalence of spin-off companies helmed by employees with experience at larger, established companies creates an environment in which startups can tap into time-tested industry knowledge and experience from the get-go. Research and talent from the University of Washington has also been beneficial for improving the Seattle startup ecosystem.

Though Seattle scored lower on funding resources according to Startup Genome, in 2019 the city saw venture capital funding for startups reach a record-high of $3.59 billion. Additionally, Seattle has stayed strong as a tech hub for STEM jobs, drawing more interest from local investors and national firms alike.

By some estimates, Seattle may be heading for a boom in venture capital investment. According to GeekWire, the city’s pool of talent in tech, STEM programs, angel investors, new venture funds for earl-stage startups and more support for company-building could lead to an influx of capital.

Provided these businesses can weather the present storm of coronavirus, the future looks bright for Seattle’s next generation of startups.

This article was originally posted on GeekWire by Taylor Soper.

Posted on July 23, 2020 at 10:21 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Local News | Tagged , , , ,

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

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!

 

REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

It appears as if the massive COVID-19 induced contraction in employment that Washington State — along with the rest of the nation — experienced this spring is behind us (at least for now). Statewide employment started to drop in March, but April was the real shock: total employment dropped almost 460,000 between March and April, a decline of 13.1%. However, this turned around remarkably quickly, with a solid increase of 52,500 jobs in May. Worthy of note is that, in May alone, Western Washington recovered 43,500 of the 320,000 jobs that were lost in the region the prior month. Although it is certainly too early to categorically state that we are out of the woods, the direction is positive and, assuming we respect the state’s mandates regarding social distancing and mask wearing, I remain hopeful that Washington will not have to re-enter any form of lockdown.

 

HOME SALES

  • There were 17,465 home sales during the second quarter of 2020, representing a drop of 22.2% from the same period in 2019, but 30.6% higher than in the first quarter of this year.
  • The number of homes for sale was 37% lower than a year ago, but was up 32% compared to the first quarter of the year.
  • Given COVID-19’s impacts, it’s not surprising that sales declined across the board. The greatest drops were in Whatcom and King counties. The smallest declines were in Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties.
  • Pending sales — a good gauge of future closings — rose 35.7% compared to the first quarter of the year, suggesting that third quarter closings will grow as well.

 

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • Home-price growth in Western Washington rose by a relatively modest 3.5% compared to a year ago. The average sale price in the second quarter was $559,194.
  • Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County, where home prices were up 14.3%. Clallam County also saw a double-digit price increase.
  • It was interesting to note that prices were up a significant 6.6% compared to the first quarter. This suggests that any concern regarding negative impacts to home values as a function of ​    COVID-19 may be overblown.
  • I will be watching for significant price growth in less urbanized areas going forward. If there is, it may be an indication that      COVID-19 is affecting where buyers are choosing to live.

 

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the second quarter of this year matched the second quarter of 2019.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 40 days to sell a home in the second quarter. I would also note that it took an average of 14 fewer days to sell a home than in the first quarter of this year.
  • Thurston, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties were the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 17 days to sell. All but two counties, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz, saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Market time remains well below the long-term average across the region. This is due to significant increases in demand along with the remarkably low level of inventory available.

 

 

 

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.

What a difference a quarter makes! Given that demand has reappeared remarkably quickly and interest rates remain historically low, it certainly remains a seller’s market and I don’t expect this to change in the foreseeable future.

The overall housing market has exhibited remarkable resilience and housing demand has rebounded faster than most would have expected. I anticipate demand to remain robust, but this will cause affordability issues to remain as long as the new construction housing market remains muted.

 

 

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER

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 July 23, 2020 at 10:00 pm
Lynly Callaway | Category: Market Report | Tagged , , , ,