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.

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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.

Is Everyone Moving to Interbay?

seattle sunset“Location, location, location,” has been said is the key to success in real estate. So on the heels of Expedia’s announcement to move to Interbay, Lennar Multifamily Communities couldn’t have been more on the mark in building a seven-story, 221-unit apartment project. Located just north of the new Expedia headquarters, which plans to house 4,500 employees, the apartment project plans to wrap construction in late 2017 or early 2018. Perfect timing to welcome Expedia to the neighborhood.

Lennar Multifamily wasn’t aware of Expedia’s plans to relocate when they took on the project late last year.  The complex will go up where the Quest Church currently resides, which is moving into the previously owned Mars Hill flagship church, located in Ballard. Brad Reisinger, of Lennar Multifamily, told the Puget Sound Business Journal that, “even without Expedia, we always thought Interbay had a lot of potential.”

The sentiment rings true for a number of developers and investors, as the Lennar complex is one of three apartment projects going up in surrounding area of QFC at 15 Avenue West and West Dravus Street. Beyond the development deals happening, it seems that the investment already shows promise as new apartment complexes in the area are already full.

Nestled in between Ballard and downtown, two neighborhoods that are growing at an exponential rate, it’s not surprising the Interbay neighborhood has piqued the interest of developers and investors alike. With dependable public transportation along the 15th Ave./Elliott corridor, the area offers a lot in terms of expansion and mobility. This area will be one to watch over the next few year, if it isn’t already.

Seattle Home Prices Up 18.9% Over Year

MadronaThe Seattle-area housing market is running full speed ahead and shows no sign of slowing down as the spring buying season progresses. With a steady stream of buyers attracted to the area’s strong job market, King County’s 1.3-month supply of homes is being far outpaced by demand, resulting in double-digit price increases over the year. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median price for a single-family home in the city of Seattle has increased by 18.9 percent from March 2014, and now stands at $535,000. Prices for King County as a whole rose by 8.8 percent, and the median price for homes sold in March was $440,250. Condo prices in King County are also up, having risen nearly 8 percent over the year to a median of $269,600.

Potentially further complicating Seattle’s challenging home-buying market is the announcement that travel website Expedia will be moving its headquarters from Bellevue to Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, bringing with it 3,000 employees who may choose to relocate in order to eliminate a commute from the Eastside. The current environment of low interest rates, low inventory, and strong demand, as well as rental rates that are higher than they’ve ever been, point toward a market that will be dominated by multiple-offer situations and continually rising prices in the coming months.

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

Five Tricks to Boost Your Home Value

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De-Clutter

Dump the junk, pack up the knick-knacks, and depersonalize the house as much as possible. Make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to envision themselves in the home. Buyers want to know what their seeing is what they are getting – they will do their job (a.k.a. snooping around) to make sure the image is consistent with what’s hiding behind those closet doors.

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Makeover the Kitchen

Viewed by many as the heart of the house, the kitchen is the top rated room to have in pristine condition.  Make any minor repairs that aid with the function of the kitchen such as leaky faucets, loose light fixtures or missing counter top tiles. Also, painting can go a long way in terms of spiffing things up. Lastly, finishing touches such as new cabinet hardware, curtains and lighting fixtures can really pull a room together.

 

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Turn the Bathroom into a Spa

Give the bathrooms a spa treatment with candles, some greenery and fresh towels fastened with bows. Replace any dated mirrors and light fixtures to really brighten the space up. Be mindful of any unpleasant smells and consider placing a diffuser or scented wall plug to keep the room smelling fresh. 

 

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Paint, Paint, Paint

As mentioned above, painting a few the well-used rooms (read kitchen, bathrooms, and kids playroom) in your home can have a major pay off. Just a few rooms lapped in a fresh coat of paint can help cut costs for a potential buyer and help close a sale.  Make sure to paint the rooms in neutral tones, being white, beige, and grey to allow the eye to appreciate the layout of the home and not any assaulting wall colors.

Broadview home

Exterior Touches

Appearance isn’t everything, but sadly in real estate, this sentiment doesn’t apply. Mow the lawn, yank the weeds, and add some bright flowers. It’s important to work on that curb appeal to gain as many oohs and aahh’s as possible. Any cracked side boarding or paint needs to be repaired.

Seattle Home-Price Growth Slowed In January

1910 NW 100th St-6S&P/Case-Shiller released its housing numbers for January on Tuesday, and while Seattle’s home-price index is up 6.8 percent over the year, it saw a slight drop of 0.5 percent over the month. By comparison, both 10-city and 20-city indexes grew by slower yearly rates of 4.4 percent and 4.6 percent respectively, but decreased by only 0.1 percent over the month. Of all the cities in the index, San Francisco saw the largest monthly decrease of 0.9 percent.

Prices are still rising, but are rising at a slower rate. According to The Seattle Times, the average price for a single-family home in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties was up 0.7 percent from December, whereas prices grew by 1.4 percent from November to December 2014. David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the S&P/Dow Jones index committee stated in a press release that the housing market is currently relatively strong due to low interest rates, strong job growth, and low oil prices, but that stagnant wage growth could lead to an eventual downturn.

“Home prices are rising roughly twice as fast as wages, putting pressure on potential homebuyers and heightening the risk that any uptick in interest rates could be a major setback,” Blitzer said in the release. He also noted that new home starts are at rates normally seen during a recession.

While the median home price in Seattle is still 12 percent below its 2007 peak, prices have bounced back to spring 2006 levels, according to the Times, and they reported that Zillow records the median home value for all three counties at $358,200.

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

Progress Report: 2015 National Housing Market

neighborhoodIn the years since the housing crash, economists have kept a close watch on the housing market, as it is a significant indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy. The huge number of foreclosed properties that flooded the market after the bubble burst created a buyer’s market across most of the country with historically low prices, but many owners are now coming out from underwater on their mortgages and are seeking market rate when selling their homes. With fewer “distressed” properties on the market, lack of affordable inventory has become as issue across much of the country, and the median prices for homes in some markets, such as San Jose, Calif., and Denver, Colo., have surpassed their previous peaks. RealtyTrac reports that the number of foreclosed homes actually increased in January of this year, but it is too early to tell whether that will have an influence on getting more inventory on the market.

RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said in a press release that getting more inventory on the market is crucial, and he predicts that the supply situation will improve slightly in 2015. “I think we’ll see numbers tick up. It’s kind of a seesaw right now between supply and demand. One of the reasons 2014 saw fewer sales [was] not so much lack of demand but lack of supply, especially in the price range the majority of buyers were looking for,” Blomquist said in the release. While low supply is fueling a rise in prices, consumers have also seen their incomes increase at a much slower rate than home prices, making purchasing a home further out of reach. According to RealtyTrac,the median price for a home in the U.S. grew by 17.3 percent over the past two years, whereas the median weekly wage increased by a mere 1.3 percent. Home price appreciation outpaced wage growth in 76 markets in the U.S. in that time period, most dramatically in California, which saw home prices grow by a 141:1 ratio over wages.

Industry experts are cautiously optimistic about the market during the remainder of the year. With national inventory of existing homes is sitting at a five-month supply, with some regional inventories much lower (Seattle is hovering around a two-month supply, and some neighborhoods have even fewer homes available), prices continue to rise. Rick Sharga, executive vice president at Auction.com, told RealtyTrac that “Until these situations change, low inventory will keep sales relatively flat, and keep prices relatively high.”

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