Real Estate Steps into the 21st Century with Cloud Based Apps

Seattle, known as a progressive leader in information and technology, houses established companies and growing start-ups alike. As Amazon expands, Facebook moves in, and numerous start-ups take up stake in Seattle’s burgeoning technology hub, it is evident the commercial real estate industry, a sector some would say is lagging on the technological front,  is a major player in assisting these innovative companies set up shop.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, in 2014, high-tech tenants accounted for 45 percent of leasing activity in Seattle. That’s a good chuck of business coming from a client base who appreciates system innovation – it would be wise if the real estate sector jumped aboard the techie train and geared their marketing strategy towards their forward thinking client base.

That is exactly what co-founder of Hightower, Brandon Weber and Floored CEO, Dave Eisenberg are monopolizing on. Seattle based, Hightower, takes commercial leasing to that magical place everyone seems to love – the cloud. Allowing for full business execution in the palm of your hand, Hightower allows commercial owners and brokers to manage their entire portfolio, leasing documents, and collaborate with their leasing team all in real time. Joining forces with New York City based company, Floored, a fully interactive 3D visual tool for the real estate industry, Weber and Eisenberg have created a full-bodied leasing platform like no other.

“Tenants struggle to visualize how space might look, landlords spend billions of dollars on speculative space construction,” Brandon Weber, explained to Commercial Observer. “Floored greatly reduces this need by delivering a virtual tour experience showing the tenant exactly how their space will look once built out. We believe this can save Landlords billions in spec build out costs.”

Between Hightower’s mobile app technology and Floored’s 3D visual sophistication, brokers and building owners have the ability to virtually walk clients through available properties that provide such robust example of what the space could look like, that the platform is unmatched with anything else out there. What a refreshing game changer – but it is changing the game?

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Weber says Hightower is tracking more than 10,000 vacant office spaces, and that figure is growing 20 percent a month. Hoping to streamline his business for bi-coastal clients, Weber is excited at the prospect of assisting a Los Angeles tenant find property in New York via the Hightower application.

Thanks to new kids on the block, infusing life into the real estate industry, like Hightower and Floored, maybe some of the biggest names in the business will step into the 21st century.

Downtown Seattle Steadily Attracting New Residents

downtown condo1The Downtown Seattle Association held its state of downtown economic forum yesterday, and one of the major takeaways of their economic report was that the state of the downtown housing market is strong. Not only are increasing numbers of people calling downtown home – 16 percent of Seattle’s total population growth between 2010 and 2014 happened downtown – but more and more of them have families, with the number of children living downtown having increased by 17 percent since 2010. Overall, downtown residents tend to be younger, more well-educated, and more likely to live in a single-person household than the rest of Seattle as a whole.

Though only two condominium projects are currently under construction downtown, 3,089 residential units (the majority of which are apartments) are set to be in the construction phase in 2015, with 2,642 more in the works for 2016. Currently, the majority of apartment units downtown are small – an average of 638 square feet – but with the influx of families we could see a trend toward larger two- and three-bedroom units.

Overall, it’s going to cost you more on average to rent downtown compared to other areas of the city. Average rent downtown in 2014 was $1,904 per month, whereas the average for Seattle as a whole was significantly lower at $1,485 per month. Similarly, the median price for condos downtown stood at $409,500, a staggering 40 percent higher than the $292,500 median price for condos in the city of Seattle as a whole. Despite the relatively high prices, the vacancy rate remains under 4 percent. Visit the DSA website to read the economic report in its entirety.

If you are interested in renting or buying a home in Downtown Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today!

Drones Approved For Real Estate Industry Use

DroneEvery realtor wants that spectacular overhead shot of their listing, and recently, the use of drones (or “unmanned aircraft systems”) for real estate photography purposes has become a hot-button issue in the industry. Despite privacy concerns from neighbors and aviation-safety concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA recently approved the use of drones by realtors – with a catch. Make that several catches.

First, you’ll need to get a private pilot’s license, unless you can manage to get an exemption from the FAA. Second, even if you get permission to use it there are several restrictions on when and where you can fly your drone. It must stay under 300 feet and within a 100-foot radius of the controller at all times; the drone must always be in direct sight of the operator; the operator must alert all airports within five miles and give an estimated flight time, elevation, etc.; and the drone cannot be operated over congested areas such as freeways. Your drone must meet the safety standards set by the FAA, so get ready to give them every last detail, including your equipment’s weight, number of propellers, and the details on what type of camera you’re using.

Even with the increasing use of technology, such as virtual tours and videos, in real estate marketing, drones’ capabilities allow agents to create dramatic presentations with views not otherwise available to prospective buyers. Now that they are approved for commercial purposes, there is likely to be a rush on licenses, but if you’re queuing up for one get ready for stacks of paperwork.

2015 Housing Market Off To A Good Start

Wash Park HomedHistorically, mid-winter has been a sluggish time for home-price growth for the national housing market, and while the median price for a single-family home did decline from December to January this year, it fell by a mere 1.2 percent, signaling a stronger than normal start to the new year for the housing market. As a comparison, in recent years month-to-month price declines from December to January have been recorded at 2.8 percent (2014) and 3.5 percent (2013). Redfin reports that the combination of an increase in listings and buyer demand has led to lots of activity, and prices are up 7.6 percent over the year.

Closer to home, supply is still low in the Seattle area, and prices continue to rise. The median price for a single-family home in King County this January was recorded at $441,500, up from $410,000 in January 2014. The city of Seattle saw the median price rise to $517,500, up 12.5 percent over the year. The Seattle Times reports that inventory in Northwest Seattle is down to a three-week supply, driving prices in that area up 19 percent over the year. In the Seattle market as a whole, inventory has been hovering around the two-month mark for several months. Generally, a four-to-six-month supply constitutes a healthy housing market.

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

Tips to Help You Save For a Down Payment

Cutting back on that daily latte, or happy hour with coworkers might help you save a few bucks, but if you’re saving for a down payment, you’ll need to make some larger lifestyle changes in order to help you save the fund you need. The market is improving, and with fixed mortgage payments, buying a home is slowing becoming even more affordable than renting in some area of the US. Here are a few tips you can implement to help you successfully save for your new home.  Renter Postcard 6 mo

Automate your savings contributions. Contact your bank and auto-deposit a fixed amount into your savings every month. Most people can deposit 2% of their income without even noticing a significant difference, and it can accumulate a significant amount over time. Reduce your large expenses month to month. If you live in a two bedroom apartment, consider getting a roommate to cut your costs in half, or move to a cheaper area to reduce your monthly rent. Consider saving a large portion of your tax return. The average tax refund in 2014 was $3,116, and while it might be tempting to splurge and treat yourself, it might be beneficial to deposit a large chunk of that directly into your down payment savings. Making at least one or two of these changes could help you reach your savings goal, and for more information on the Seattle real estate market, contact your local real estate agent today!

Seattle Home Prices Up 6 Percent Over The Year

housing statsThe local housing market continues to grow on a yearly basis, with prices for single-family homes in November 2014 having risen by 6 percent over November 2013, but the market also saw slowing monthly growth for the third month in a row, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday. Despite the slowdown, Zillow’s Chief Economist Stan Humphries told The Seattle Times that the Seattle area’s housing prospects for 2015 are still strong, and the slowdown represents merely the market settling back in to normal levels. The Seattle market continues to outperform both the 20-city index and the national market, which saw annual growth rates of 4.3 percent and 4.7 percent respectively. Rates for 30-year fixed mortgages have held steady over the past week at 3.58 percent.

Lake Union Floating Home Available For $1.7M

houseboat

This houseboat on Lake Union in the Eastlake marina has off street parking and is now listed for $1,795,000! With a scenic setting, this home offers fine design, amenities, convenience & a  once in a lifetime unique lifestyle opportunity. Solarium with garden space, dining room, living room and sauna. Features include a King size master bedroom with a five piece master bath that is finished with Carrera marble. Rooftop deck & largest floating deck in the complex, with city and Gas Works views, moorage, storage, air conditioning, 1 garage stall,  and one uncovered parking stall. For more information on this or other Seattle real estate listings, contact your local real estate agent today.

Status: For Sale
Bed//Bath: 3/1.75
Price: $1,795,000

Tips For Purchasing a Home in 2015

Many homeowners will tell you that they entered and exited the real estate market several times before making the final offer and closing on their home. As a buyer, you’re not always tied down to a time frame, priorities might shift and unexpected things happen that could delay purchasing a home. The beginning of a new year is a great time to review your goals and resolutions for the year ahead, so if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, and want 2015 to be the year you take the plunge, here are a few tips to help you stay afloat in today’s marketplace. 1910 NW 100th St-6

Prospective buyers are usually shopping online, and reviewing several of their dream listings at home, researching the mortgage process, and trying to grasp the local market. Serious buyers partner up with a real estate agent well versed in the neighborhoods, and can walk them through the home buying process. Agents have completed many transactions, and will have the knowledge and experience to put you one step ahead. It also helps to stop thinking that you’re going to get a great deal on your dream home. The great Seattle marketplace is competitive, with low inventory and a growing number of serious buyers, so if you’re truly interested in buying you might want to stop hunting for a bargain. Making a low ball offer on a home when you’re first entering the buying process might seem ideal to test the waters, but it might also sabotage your offer, and lose you a home. Your agent can help you determine a fair offer, and ultimately help you find listings that match your criteria. Every buyer has a unique set of goals and needs, so contact your local real estate agent today to get started on the home buying process.

How To Crunch Your Numbers When Preparing For A Mortgage

for-sale-signRenters scanning Craiglist for their next home often only need to consider one factor when determining housing costs: rent. Rental rates often include utility charges, and although there are additional expenses such as renter’s insurance and furnishings to consider, your monthly costs are relatively straightforward. But when you decide to buy a home, things get a little more complicated. On top of principal and interest on your mortgage, you’ll also pay property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and, in some cases, mortgage insurance or homeowners’ association dues, as part of your monthly payment. So with all those numbers to keep track of, how do you figure out how much home you can afford? Here are some tips to help you crunch the numbers, courtesy of Zillow.

Monthly Payments

Four major factors comprise the bulk of your monthly housing costs: Principal on your mortgage (determined by the price of your home), interest (varies depending on current interest rates), property tax (varies depending on where you live), and homeowner’s insurance (varies by insurance company, environmental risks, etc.). Experiment with a mortgage calculator like Zillow’s to see how your monthly payment changes based on fluctuating interest rates and more or less of a down payment.

Taxes

While initial upfront monthly costs for home ownership can seem high in comparison to your rent payment, owners get the benefit of deducting mortgage interest and property taxes on their annual tax return. So, keep in mind that you’ll end up getting back some of those monthly costs.

Decide On A Mortgage Type

For many renters, the prospect of saving up enough cash for a 20 percent down payment can make home ownership seem like an impossible dream. But many don’t know that conventional mortgage companies require as little as 5 percent down, and a mortgage through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) can be had for only 3 percent down. For a $300,000 home, a 5 percent down payment equates to only $15,000, much more realistic than the $60,000 you would need in order to put 20 percent down. Keep in mind that if your down payment is less than 20 percent, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance, as well. Typical mortgage insurance on a $300,000 house is about $150 per month, though just yesterday President Obama reduced premiums on mortgage insurance for FHA-loan holders. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages typically come with lower interest rates, though as the name suggests, your rate will change (most likely increase) after five years.

If You Don’t Already Have One, Get A Credit Card

Though it may seem counterintuitive to get a credit card if you don’t need one, they serve as helpful records for mortgage lenders who want to make sure you have a history of paying off your debts in a timely fashion. If you don’t have a credit card, consider getting one with the lowest interest rate you can find, and make sure to pay off your balance as you go instead of racking up unnecessary debt.

Seattle Housing: What To Expect In 2015

Wash park home11Millenials

In Seattle’s housing market, where the supply of homes over the past year never exceeded two months’ worth of inventory, a whole new generation of home buyers could be poised to make an even bigger dent in the pool of available homes in 2015. Millenials – people born after 1980 – have been putting off home purchases due to factors such as high student debt, stagnant wages resulting from the recession, and a desire to not be tied to a permanent home, but they could be a bigger force in the housing market in 2015, according to a new report in The Seattle Times. With the median rent in King County now standing at $1,750 per month, home ownership is beginning to look more appealing to many in their late 20’s and early 30’s who have thus far been exclusively renters.

Rental Market

Rents in the Seattle area (King and Snohomish counties) grew at a staggering rate of more than 8 percent in 2014 and are projected to continue to rise in 2015. An estimated 12,273 new apartment units slated to go on the market next year are expected to increase competition for renters and help ease price hikes somewhat, but the glut of new units likely won’t provide much relief for those with budgets at the lower end of the spectrum. For example, in Ballard, where many of these new buildings are going up, apartments built after 2010 are renting for an average of $1,731 per month – not exactly affordable for many single renters. Overall, Seattle remains the 8th most expensive place to rent in the country, with a median rent of $1,580 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Home Prices

Seattle median home prices continue to rise on a yearly basis, having grown 11 percent in 2014, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, but most are predicting slower, yet steady growth for 2015. The median price for a single-family home in Seattle in November this year was $357,000. In King County as a whole, the median price was $440,000 in December, just slightly lower than the 2007 peak of $455,000. Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, told The Seattle Times that he expects to see continued moderation of price gains over the next year, compared with the double-digit growth the market saw in 2013 and early 2014. OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said in a statement that he expects price growth of 4-6 percent in 2015.