Preparing for Homeownership Expenses

With bidding wars, and low inventory causing housing prices to continually rise in the Seattle marketplace, unexpected financial burdens can arise. Purchasing a home is an exciting time, especially for first time home buyers, so to avoid any unplanned surprises, it is wise to prepare and save for the unexpected. There are expenses you know to prepare for such as standard mortgage, tax and insurance calculations that come with closing, but other costs build up after it is all said and done such as decorating, seasonal updates to the home, roofing expenses, and landscaping. While it may be easy enough to come up with a budget for weekly or monthly expenses, looking at the bigger picture and figuring out the larger projects to spread out throughout the year will help you get a better idea for an estimated budget for home improvement expenses. Ongoing expenses like utilities, and garbage/recycling can also be more expensive when you own a home, so be prepared for a significant increase when comparing to what you’d paid previously as a renter. broadview homeww

Renters do not typically have to pay for services such as hiring a plumber, fixing a garbage disposal, or updating a patio deck. These expenses add up quickly, so make sure you have saved enough to provide a nice cushion for first year homeowner expenses. We suggest you continue to save and put money aside every month for ongoing expenses that may arise with owning a new home, that way you’ll always be somewhat prepared for the unexpected. If you’re interested in Seattle Real Estate, contact your local real estate expert today!

New SHA Program Would Raise Rents For Many In Subsidized Housing

housesAn article published yesterday by The Seattle Times outlines a proposed new program from the Seattle Housing Authority that would introduce progressive rent increases for about 35 percent of households that are part of the subsidized housing system. The program, titled “Stepping Forward”, aims to cycle more people out of subsidized housing by putting residents on the path to a higher wage through job counseling, and would raise rents accordingly over a span of six to eight years.

Stepping Forward would apply to 4,600 “work-able” households, which is defined by SHA as one where at least one person between the ages of 24 and 61 has no disabilities that prevent them from working. Currently, residents in subsidized housing pay 30 percent of their income for rent, but under the new plan rent would be based on home size rather than income. For example, potential rent for a one-bedroom apartment would be $140 per month for the first year of the program, $310 per month for years two and three, $480 per month for years four and five, and $720 per month for years six and seven. Different rent amounts would apply to studios, two bedrooms, etc. For households with no work-able adults, rent would continue to be a percentage of income.

Five community meetings being held in September will give the public a chance to comment on the proposal. All meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the following dates:

- Today, September 16 at the Meadowbrook Community Center

- Wednesday, September 17 at the Yesler Community Center

- Monday, September 22 at the Rainier Community Center

- Tuesday, September 23 at the NewHolly Gathering Hall

- Monday, September 29 at the High Point Community Center

For more information on rentals or real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

First Drop In Median Home Price In Six Months Came In August

housingAfter a blockbuster July when we saw the median price for a single-family home in Seattle rise to $543,500, topping the market’s 2007 peak, the median price in August came a little closer to earth, showing its first monthly decline in six months. The median price dropped 8 percent from July to August, and now stands at $499,950, according to The Seattle Times.

But despite slowing monthly growth, yearly appreciation for median home prices in Seattle still stands at a healthy 9.4 percent, the highest rate among the sub-markets in King County. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service says the biggest challenge currently facing buyers throughout Western Washington is inventory, as has been the case for the past several months. They report that although inventory has risen slightly since this time last year, the number of listings added in August was the lowest since April, and King County has the tightest inventory with only two months’ supply available.

The NWMLS uses the word “stability” to describe the market in Western Washington as a whole, and says we should continue to see “moderated growth” 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!

30 -Year Fixed Mortgage Rate in Washington Below National Rate

Borrowers were quoted just below 4% last week for 30-year fixed mortgage rates Nationally, which is down from 4.08%, where the rate had been previously hanging for weeks. According to Zillow, mortgage rates in Washington State stayed at 3.99% last week, but have since increased to 4.05% this week after the long weekend. Today other state mortgage rates have ranged from a low of 3.94% in South Dakota, to a high of 4.17% in Wyoming and West Virginia.

Photo Courtesy of Zillow Mortgage

Photo Courtesy of Zillow Mortgage

While the rate has risen, Zillow experts predict the rates will remain low this short work week, as breaks in our domestic economic data will be overshadowed by concerns over the European economy. News of a plausible European Central Bank plan to instill a stimulus program similar to the Federal Reserve’s is one reason the rates in the US remained low last week, and are predicted to remain in this range for weeks to come. If you’re interested in learning more about Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Monthly Housing Price Growth Continues To Slow, Still Rising Annually

Though housing prices in the Seattle area continue to rise on a yearly basis (up 8.6 percent over this time last year), the market saw a continued slowdown in monthly price gains for single-family homes in June, similar to the trend in May. Prices in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties rose by just 1.1 percent in June, a slightly lower rate than the 1.4 percent price growth in May, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday. The Seattle market is still outperforming the 20-city Index by a small margin, with those prices having grown by 1 percent in June, and 8 percent over the year.

Case-Shiller is calling the numbers part of a “widespread slowdown” in home-price growth nationwide that began last fall. They say that despite the slowdown in growth, other positive factors such as builders’ sentiment and existing home sales point to a normalizing housing market. If you are interested in buying or selling a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Apartment Developer Takes Over Central District Park Space

Yet another Seattle apartment building is in development, and this time it is taking over what could have been a small neighborhood park in the Central District. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Spectrum Development Solutions bought the property located at 1023 E Alder Street for just over $2.2 million, and plans to build an 84 unit apartment building on the land. The City Parks department had attempted to absolve the property for a pocket park, in a neighborhood which currently only has one small open space, Horiuchi Park. central district park

Spectrum has since received the nod of approval from Ed Murray to move forward with the building development, squashing further disputes between Spectrum and the City Parks Department. In an area that could use more open spaces, the Central District currently has 3 apartment projects planned by Spectrum in various phases of development, but this is certainly becoming commonplace around other urban areas of the city. More people are moving in, and new housing options are needed to accommodate population growth. One of the goals presented by the City is to have two acres of parks in this area by 2024, stay tuned for further updates. For more information on Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Number Of Single-Family Homes Declining In Many Neighborhoods

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The single-family house is still at the top of many home buyers’ lists when searching for a property to buy, but the influx of condominiums and townhouses in many of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods is further decreasing the supply of stand-alone homes in a market where inventory is already tight.

According to a Seattle Times analysis of census data from 2000-2012, the number of single-family homes has decreased most significantly in North Seattle neighborhoods such as Wallingford, Green Lake, Maple Leaf, and Northgate, as well as in the area surrounding Dexter Avenue North on the east side of Queen Anne above South Lake Union. However, South End neighborhoods such as Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill, Mount Baker, and South Park all saw increases in single-family homes in the same time span.

In a market that has seen prices soaring and bidding wars erupting over the small supply of single-family homes that are available, this is not encouraging news for buyers looking to live in neighborhoods where many multifamily developments are in the works. The city has added 5,000 net single-family homes since 2000, but with 80,000 new residents having moved to Seattle since then, that barely makes a dent in terms of demand. To see the Times’ detailed map of single-family home inventory, click here.

If you would like more information about buying a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Monthly Condo Market Recap: Activity is Strong

The first half of 2014 has proven to be very active in the condo market.  The stats for the first 6 months reflect a very active time with successful closings. The number of active listings in the Downtown and Belltown neighborhoods rose each month.  There were 91 active listings in these neighborhoods in January.  It rose to 107 in February, 113 in March, 116 for the months of April & May and has increased to 130 active listings in June.  This shows that Spring is definitely the most popular time to put a home on the market. The number of sales per month also steadily rose over the past 6 months.  Downtown condo

There were 23 closed sales in January, 38 in February, 43 in March, 54 in April, 59 in May and then dropped slightly back down to 49 in June. The median sales price in these neighborhoods ranged from $405,000 to $549,500 per month.  The highest median sales prices were in February at $549,500. Some would say it is definitely a seller’s market right now.  Homes in good condition and priced to sell are going fast!  Many units are seeing bidding wars and selling within days of being listed.  The comparison of the list price to the sell price was 98.3% in January and was 99% from February thru April. It is important for condo sales to be successful that their HOA is managed well and they are properly funded. For more information on condo sales or condo management please contact your local condo management team today.

Median Home Price In Seattle Surpasses 2007 Peak

housing marketIt has finally happened – Seattle’s median home price has officially topped its 2007 peak, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service is reporting. The median price now stands at $543,500, significantly more than the $501,000 peak of 2007, and nearly $80,000 higher than the median in July 2013 of $465,000.

Seattle’s market appears to be recovering by leaps and bounds compared to the national market, where the median price for homes in the top 20 markets is still 18 percent below the the peak set in 2006. J. Lennox Scott, the CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate told The Seattle Times that the major factors boosting our housing market are jobs – Seattle’s unemployment rate is down to 5.8 percent – and interest rates, which are historically low.

Another factor likely playing a part is that inventory remains very limited, and prices are responding in classic supply-and-demand fashion. Bidding wars are erupting for the few homes that are available, pushing prices upward. According to The Seattle Times article, some neighborhoods in Seattle such as Ballard and Green Lake only have a one-month supply of homes listed for sale, in a market where a 4-6-month supply is considered “balanced.” According to data from Redfin, 39 percent of homes in the Seattle Metro area sold for more than the listing price in the second quarter of 2014.

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

 

Why First Time Buyers Should Consider Condo Homeownership

For first time home buyers, saving up for a down payment and getting pre-qualified for a loan can be terrifying, and often stressful. There is a great option for the first time buyer who wants to build equity without the weight of a heavy mortgage, and that is condo ownership. Condo homeownership comes with many of the same perks as single family home ownership, such as benefiting from the tax incentive, and building equity. Condo living is not for everyone, but here are some things you should consider when deciding if buying a condo is the right option for you. There will be noise restrictions in nearly every condo building – first time home buyers are within reach of their party days, and quiet hours will generally be enforced from the hours of 10pm-8am. This should excite buyers who enjoy their quiet time, or are used to living privately. downtown condo1

There are also often pet restrictions, so if you have a large dog, be prepared that your pooch might not be welcome to live in a condo you’ve fallen in love with. Check the building policy prior to viewing a unit so you don’t get your hopes up on a space you won’t be able to bring your whole family. Many condo owners see an opportunity to earn extra income by renting out their condo unit. While this is certainly a great option for many, there are restrictions on the number of rentals that are allowed in many condo buildings, and they may already be at capacity when you close on your condo. Having a higher percentage of rentals than owners in the building can actually make it difficult for new buyers to secure a loan, and some owners believe owners living in their units have a stronger interest in keeping their property nice in comparison to renters who do not have as much invested in building. Check with the building owners before looking into renting out your unit to determine if you’re legally allowed to rent it out. For more information on buying a condo in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.