Price Growth In Seattle Area Slows In May

1S&P/Case-Shiller released its monthly home price index this Tuesday, and the numbers show that home prices in the Seattle metro area have reached a minor lull in the traditionally busy buying season, with the index up just 1.4 percent in May from April. Average prices stayed the same from April to May, whereas prices grew by 0.6 percent from March to April. The weaker than expected gains still reflect a 7.4 percent increase from last year, on par with year-over-year gains in April. The median price in the Seattle area is still 6 percent below the 2007 peak.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, said in a statement that first-time home buyers are partially to blame. “First-time buyers provide the demand and liquidity that supports trading up by current homeowners. Without a boost in first-timers, there is less housing market activity, fewer existing homes being put on the market, and more worry about inventory,” he said.

Though the Case-Shiller index showed an overall gain of 7.4 percent from last year the most notable jump was still in the most affordable homes. There was a 10.7 percent gain in homes sold under $296,017 and only a 6.7 percent gain in houses sold over $471,764.

Data from CoreLogic shows that only 2.18 percent of homes mortgaged in King and Snohomish counties are delinquent by 90 days or more. A sharp decline from last year’s 3.26 percent delinquency rate, and the July 2012 peak of 6.68 percent.  This decline has helped to ground home prices.

Though gains have slowed for the current month, it is anticipated that the stagnation will not continue in the coming months according to Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

Nearly Half Of Seattle Homes Selling For Over Asking

Blue RidgeOnly four cities in the U.S. have a higher percentage of homes selling above their listing price than Seattle: San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. are seeing nearly 80 percent of homes selling above asking; Oakland, Calif. is not far behind at more than 70 percent; and Denver, Colo. is narrowly edging out Seattle with slightly more than 50 percent of homes going for more than list price. Seattle clocks in at just under 50 percent, according to Redfin Research. Despite home prices in Seattle being up 15 percent from this time last year, a recent report by the Puget Sound Business Journal showed that homes are not only selling for above asking, but FAR above asking. A home in Ravenna, where the buyers never personally set foot in the house before making an offer, sold for $1,175,000 – $200,000 more than its list price of $975,000. Similarly, a home in Magnolia listed for $699,000 ended up selling for $800,000. Underscoring the great lengths buyers are going to in order to purchase a home, even this home in Bellevue, which backs up to a 50-foot ravine instead of a backyard and was found to have cracks in its foundation, sold for $893,900 – 6 percent over asking.

Not only are homes selling for sky-high prices, but they’re selling in the blink of an eye. Seattle boasts the second lowest number of days on the market of any city in the U.S. at an average of nine days, according to Redfin. Only Denver is seeing its homes sell in a shorter period of time, at an average of just six days. With inventory down 27.5 percent over the year in Seattle and very high demand, it doesn’t look like this mad scramble for homes will let up in the near future.

If you have questions about buying or selling a home in Seattle, one of our agents would be happy to help you navigate this challenging market!

Median Home Price In King Co. Hits $500,000

1215 McGilvra NewThe median price of single-family home sold in King County has reached new heights this year. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median price in King County has risen to $500,000, a 10.3 percent increase over the last peak of $481,000 in July 2007. In Seattle, the median is significantly higher than that, having risen 15 percent over the year to $575,000. It’s been rumored that we are in a bubble, but Alan Pope, a real estate appraiser in Redmond, says he believes we aren’t in a bubble, but that “… the balloon is growing, and I can’t tell when it’s going to stop.” In fact, the housing market is just gaining traction from taking a hit during the past recession and isn’t too far above the prices they normally would be had we missed it.

The Seattle area’s healthy job market has caught the eye of the nation and beyond. As more people settle in to Seattle and surrounding cities, the housing market has become quite competitive. With a surge of buyers and very little increase in single-family residential development, there is a shortage of houses on the market. Between March and May of this year, Seattle only had a month’s supply of single-family homes and condominiums on the market, according to a Seattle Times analysis of NWMLS data. Inventory in June of this year was well below the average three months’ supply, and the number of residential listings in King County was 23 percent lower than last year.

Other counties are seeing similar patterns. In Snohomish County, the median price of single-family homes sold was $360,125, that’s 6 percent higher than last year. Pierce County prices are up an impressive 9.5 percent, sitting at $257,000.

In Seattle, homes for sale sit on the market for an average of just eight days, compared to the national average of 28 days. When a home goes on the market, Seattle house hunters are ready to play ball, even if that means paying well above the listing price. The only true fix to relive the pressure on the current housing market is to build new houses. The National Association of Home Builders reports that there were 3,481 permits issued for new single-family homes between January and May, down 4 percent over the year. That might be due to the lack of adequate plats to build on. Allison Butcher of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties told the Times that land is becoming increasingly hard to find in Seattle.

As for condominiums, we’re seeing a bit of a trickle-down effect, as the median price in King County was $287,000, up 7 percent over last year, and up 12 percent in Snohomish County, now sitting at $239,950. However, Pierce County is down about 7 percent, at $162,500. Listings for condos aren’t climbing as quickly as single-family homes, but they are taking some of the heat as buyers look for other more available options.

If you are interested in buying or selling a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Seattle Area Market: Prices Are Rising, People Are Buying

812 W GalerS&P/Case-Shiller released its Home Price Index for April today, and the numbers paint a familiar picture of the Seattle-area housing market: prices are rising, and people are buying. The average price for a single-family home in the area comprising King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties rose 0.9 percent in April from March, and was up 7.5 percent over the year. Despite the rise in prices, homes are selling in an average of 8 days in Seattle, and the number of completed sales in the three-county region was up a staggering 38 percent from last April. According to Zillow, the median single-family home in the area will now cost you $366,100.

Compared to the blistering pace of price gains at this time last year, when prices were up 11.2 percent on a yearly basis, gains seem to be moderating. In reference to the housing market as a whole, Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said in a statement that “Normal home value growth is usually between 3 percent and 5 percent annually, well below growth rates of just a year ago, so the current pace is far more sustainable.” While the Seattle area’s growth has not fallen into that threshold yet, we’re not seeing the sustained growth of last year, when prices in the area grew by double digits on a yearly basis for 14 consecutive months. San Francisco and Denver are leading the nation in appreciation, with home prices having risen by 10 percent and 10.3 percent respectively.

It is still a great time to sell in the Seattle area, so if you are interested in listing your home, contact your local real estate agent today!

Seattle Homes Selling In Average of 8 Days

3804 E Blaine St.Across the U.S., houses are selling at breakneck speed, with homes only surviving on the market for an average of 28 days before being snatched up by eager buyers. Many homes sold even faster than that in May, with approximately 35 percent going into contract within two weeks of hitting the market. But you think that’s fast? The national market has nothing on Seattle, where last month homes sold after a mere 8 days on the market, and almost half sold above list price, according to Redfin. This no doubt is due to extremely low inventory, especially within the Seattle city limits, where there is less than a month’s supply of homes available, not nearly enough to satisfy the high demand for homes in the city.

Despite this increased buying activity, national home prices actually grew at a slower rate this May – up just 1.6 percent over April – compared to the 3 percent rise in prices we saw last May. On a yearly basis, prices across the country are up 6 percent from a year ago. List prices in the Seattle market increased just slightly from April to May (1.4 percent), and the median was $426,000. Year over year, Seattle prices were up 6.5 percent.

As these statistics illustrate, now is a great time to sell your home! If you’re on the fence, contact your local real estate agent to learn more about the selling process.

Millennials Opt Out of Seattle’s Real Estate Goat Rodeo

Mt Baker

The fact that the housing market in Seattle is hot, is not new news, and finding a home without over paying is becoming quite a task. When a 1,100 square foot home listed at $559k, sells for $717K, it feels it might take miracle to lock something down that is both desirable and reasonable. Moreover, when, and more so, if¸ you find a great buy, the market heavily favors those willing and able to pay cash to win the bid. Well, there is one demographic of Puget Sound residents who aren’t jumping on the real estate bandwagon – millennials.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, people between the ages of 25 and 35 who are homeowners is at the lowest since the Gold Rush era. And for good reason. Overall, things are just more expensive now than they were during the previous decades. College tuition has tripled since 1980, causing millennials to take out college loans or needing to take a longer time getting their education due to having to work simultaneously. As such, paying off acquired debt, or simply just getting the basics (job, place to live, overhead costs) nailed down is priority number one. With such a competitive job market, it takes a few years (or ten) of hard work to reach reasonable earning potential.

open-house-illustration

However, Seattle has some of the biggest businesses headquartered here favoring hiring millennials, one of which is Amazon. The online retailer hires thousands of employees yearly, many of which are coming in out of state. Most of those recruits, still fresh to Seattle and a little leery of all the grey, are perfectly content with renting even if they could afford a nice house to match their nice salary. And this doesn’t just happen for Amazon employees, as Seattle has plenty company employees working the same model.

Not surprisingly, this might be a piece of why Seattle currently ranks second on the list of best cities to own a rental property (a jump from seventh place last year). The region’s job growth, paired with the number of people moving into the area, and with the lack of available homes for sale, these are some key factors in why the rental market is going so well. So, for now the millennials are opting out of Seattle’s real estate goat rodeo, but it doesn’t seem like too many people, no matter how ready, are having much success either.

Young Owners’ Share Of Market Lowest Since 1900

1510 37th NewThere likely aren’t many facets of today’s housing market that can be compared to that of the Gold Rush era, but according to a recent article in The Seattle Times, young homeowners’ share of the market has regressed to early 20th Century rates. Among Millenials (25-34 year olds) in King County today, only a quarter own their own homes, on par with statistics for that age group in 1900. The percentage has dropped by 13 percent since the housing market peak in 2007, and it has fallen twice as fast as the national average, according to the Times.

By comparison, about 50 percent of homeowners in 1980 were from the 25-34-year-old age bracket, and 80 percent of young married couples making the median income or higher owned their own home. An increasing number of young people have been delaying marriage, and without the financial security of a two-income household, home ownership is out of reach for many young single people. Even in Seattle’s strong job market, singles and couples earning good incomes are increasingly held back by the area’s skyrocketing home prices, as well as student debt that is five times higher than it was 10 years ago.

But the article suggests that another factor could be simply that home ownership isn’t as attractive as it used to be, and young people just don’t want to buy. Many millenials had just graduated from college just as the economic crisis hit, shaking their confidence in real estate as a good investment. Even with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle hovering around $1,800 per month, it appears that a large portion the city’s population of young workers is choosing the low-maintenance flexibility of renting over the responsibilities of ownership. Apartment living as changed dramatically in recent years, and with the breadth of amenities ranging from community gardens to deluxe bicycle maintenance areas, yoga rooms, and rooftop fire pits, renting offers perks that owning a home can’t, with the added bonus of not being tied to a mortgage.

If you would like more information about renting or buying in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

Seattle-Area Monthly Home Price Gains Second Highest In U.S.

Madison Park home for sale - $2,395,000

Madison Park home for sale – $2,395,000

Just when it seems like Seattle’s home prices couldn’t possibly go any higher, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index releases its monthly housing numbers. According to Tuesday’s release, Seattle-area home prices rose 2.3 percent in March, the second highest monthly gain of any city in the national index, trailing only San Francisco. That is up significantly from the 0.9 percent increase in February. The year-over-year change in March saw Seattle-area home prices gain 7.5 percent, which put us just outside the top five cities in terms of yearly gains. Yet again, San Francisco topped the list with a 10.3 percent increase, followed by Denver, Dallas, Miami, and Tampa. According to The Seattle Times, September 2008 was the last time Seattle’s index was at its current level (ominously, the same month Washington Mutual failed).

The question on everyone’s minds, especially in cities seeing double-digit gains, is whether we’re in the midst of another housing bubble, but S&P Dow Jones Indices Managing Director and Chairman David Blitzer does not believe that’s the case. Despite the steep gains in local markets, Blitzer says the national market is actually moderating. Whereas the national price index saw a yearly gain of a staggering 10 percent in February 2014, this month’s report showed a gain of less than half that, at 4.1 percent.  He says that even though that 4.1 percent gain is far higher than the average rise in inflation-adjusted home prices of 1 percent per year (since 1975), the fact that the rate of increase halved from 2014 to 2015 signals a return to moderate gains. He says “I would describe this as a rebound in home prices, not a bubble and not a reason to be fearful.” National housing prices are still 15 percent below their peak during the housing bubble.

The numbers for Seattle, however, come on the heels of a report from Redfin citing that the number of Silicon Valley residents searching for homes in Seattle has more than doubled over the past year. Likely pushed out by the Bay Area’s 10 percent jump in prices, transplants looking for homes in Seattle are adding even more pressure to the area’s extremely tight housing market, where the median home is selling in just 39 days in April, according to the National Association of Realtors.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Prime Time To Buy, Yet Home Sales Lagging In U.S.

1113 N 26th St. TacomaDespite ideal conditions for home buying in much of the country – continually rising rents, low interest rates, and easing credit restrictions – home sales this April painted a disappointing picture of the spring buying season in the national housing market, according to a report from Zillow. While the number of completed home sales did increase by 4.7 percent on a yearly basis, that was a lower yearly percentage increase than the market saw in both January and February, which are generally considered to be the slow months for home sales.

Experts predicted that the sales market would get a boost from renters pushed into ownership by rent increases, but that hasn’t been the case, so far. While rents increased at a faster rate (4 percent) than home prices did (3 percent), and in general renters are spending a larger percentage of their incomes on housing than owners, there is still a strong demand for rental housing, especially among younger workers and among former owners who are still in the recovery stage after foreclosing during the housing crisis.

Additionally, in some markets such as Denver and San Francisco, both rents and housing prices have risen by double digits since last April, meaning renters may not be able to afford to buy, even if they wanted to. Despite Zillow economists’ prediction that housing prices will level out over the remainder of the year, high rents mean less money going into savings for a down payment, which may exclude many potential buyers from finally being able to make that purchase.

If you are interested in buying or selling your home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

 

 

 

 

Tips For Turning Your Patio Into An Outdoor Room

As any Puget Sound resident can tell you, summers in our region are short but spectacular, and taking advantage of every sunny minute spent outdoors is essential. Once the thermometer hits 70 degrees (Ok, maybe 65…), Pacific Northwesterners dust off their barbecues and lawn chairs and breathe in the salty Sound air and sunshine. With warm temps just beginning to arrive, now is a great time to get your deck, patio, and yard shipshape for outdoor living. Here are some tips from the home experts at Zillow:

Lighting Is Everything

Cafe LightsAs with your home’s interiors, lighting can make all the difference in your outdoor space’s atmosphere. String bistro globe lights (like larger versions of classic Christmas lights) in a canopy over your patio to create a cafe-like setting, and use hanging lanterns and plenty of candles for a cozy feel (bonus: cintronella candles are easy to make and serve double duty as a lighting source and bug repellant). Take things up a notch with an outdoor fire pit, and don’t forget the s’mores!

Add Greenery

Succulents

Even if you don’t have traditional garden space, there are more options that ever for greening up your outdoor space, no matter how small. Vertical gardens, such as these Woolypocket planters, can turn a boring exterior into a lush living wall, and are great options if you don’t have the space for pots. Fill them with flowers for a decorative touch, or plant herbs for a delicious and fragrant edible display. Succulents are low-maintenance yet striking centerpieces for outdoor dining tables.

Decor And More

Outdoor space

To make your outdoor area an inviting space where you’ll want to spend time, give the space’s decor the same attention you would give an indoor living room. Pillows made of stylish outdoor fabrics that are water and stain resistant are being offered by more and more retailers such as West Elm and Pottery Barn, and are effortless ways to bring color and interest to your outdoor furniture. If your space is too small for furniture, pillows can also serve as extra seating. Decorative planters can bring additional color and character into your space.

So, time to hit up your favorite shops for the touches that will make your outdoor space feel like not just a patio, but an extension of your house. In addition to serving as a space for you to spend time, these outdoor rooms are attractive selling points for prospective buyers in the future. If you’re interested in talking with a real estate agent about anything home related, contact us today!