Puget Sound 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!

King Co. Home Prices Approaching 2007 Peak

Madrona home for sale - 3609 E Union St. - $1,395,000

Madrona home for sale – 3609 E Union St. – $1,395,000

In the booming, yet ominous year of 2007, the median price for a single-family home in King County soared to $481,000. We all know what happened next – the bubble burst, home values plunged, and homeowners were left to pick up the pieces, wondering if values would ever recover. Seven years later, the Northwest Multiple Listings Service (NWMLS) reports that the median price has clawed its way back to just a hair below the 2007 peak, and now stands at $480,000, up 11.5 percent from a year ago and up 9 percent over March.

Every submarket in King County saw prices increase on a yearly basis in April – several by double digits. Prices on the Eastside rose 6 percent to $654,650; prices in North King County also rose by 6 percent to $416,000; and both Southwest and Southeast King County saw double-digit increases of 14 and 15 percent, to $285,000 and $329,950 respectively. Home prices in Seattle are up 15 percent over the past year to a median of $552,500.

So with the words “bubble” and “peak” in the same sentence, buyers and sellers are wondering if we’re headed for deja vu. According to the NWMLS, area brokers are confident we’re not in the midst of the next bubble, saying that today’s buyers are qualified and the overbuilding that contributed to the previous bust is not an issue today. J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott told The Seattle Times that he believes the continued price increases are the result of a strong job market, extremely low inventory (less than a month’s worth), and interest from foreign buyers.

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

The 10 Most Expensive Streets in Seattle

 

Recently Seattle-based real estate company, Zillow took a look at which Seattle streets were most expensive to live on. Through their examination, they found homes on descriptive streets, like Laurelhurst Lane or Hunts Point Road, were the highest contenders. Let’s take a look at how Seattle streets stack up.

house

Countdown to the #1 Most Expensive Street in Seattle:

#10 Brook Bay Road – The median value of homes on this street, located on Mercer Island, is $2,389,913.

#9 Overlake Drive – The median value of homes on this street, located in Medina, is $2,590,160.

#8  Killarney Way – The median value of homes on this street, located in the Meydenbauer neighborhood near Bellevue, is $2,638,714.

#7 Evergreen Point Road – The median value of a home on this street, located in the Meydenbauer neighborhood near Bellevue, is $2,789,945. You can see the full listing here.

#6 Cherry Loop – The median value of homes on this street, located in The Highlands community in Shoreline, is $2,997,348.

#5 Fairweather Place – The median value of homes on this street, located in Hunts Point in the Eastside, is $3,148,178.

#4 Avalon Place – The median value of a home on this street, located on Mercer Island, is $3,698,755.

#3 Laurelcrest Lane - The median home value is $4,590,474.

#2 Ambleside Road –  The median value of homes on this street, located in the Windermere neighborhood, is $6,022,040.

#1 The most expensive street on the list is Hunts Point Road.  The median value of a home on this road, located in Hunts Point on the Eastside, comes in at $6,181,914. Notable residents reportedly of the neighborhood include, former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer, American saxophonist Kenny G, and former CEO and co-found of Costco Wholesale, Jim Sinegal. More recently, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll sold his Hunts Point home for $6.1 million.

Seattle Is 4th Strongest Sellers’ Market In U.S.

Judkins-Kristine

Judkins Park home listed for $425,000. Click photo for listing details.

Seattle’s housing market has seen sellers retain the upper hand as we head deeper into the spring buying season, and Zillow reports that Seattle comes in at #4 on the list of top sellers markets across the country. The top five all fall west of the Mississippi, with San Jose, Calif. occupying the top spot, followed by San Francisco, Denver, and Dallas-Fort Worth just behind Seattle at #5. Zillow analyzed how likely homes were to have a price cut, and how much homes are selling for in relation to their list price. Inventory in the Seattle area is at a record low of 2.2 months’ worth, and as any potential buyer is likely to tell you, extremely high demand means stiff competition and minimal bargaining power.

Sellers’ advantage doesn’t stop at the Seattle city limits – rounding out the top five sellers’ markets in the Puget Sound region are Bothell, Duvall, Bellevue, and Lake Forest Park, according to the PSBJ. Those looking for a little more negotiating room might try Gig Harbor, Graham, University Place, Parkland, or Lakewood.

With economists predicting home prices to rise for the next three years – another 5 percent by the end of 2015 and 4 percent in 2016 and 2017 – it appears that Seattle’s red hot market is going to continue to burn for the foreseeable future. If you are interested in listing your home, contact your local real estate agent today.