2013 Home Prices Spiked, But Few Areas Surpassed the Pre-Recession High

Over the past year, the median single family home price in King County reached $415,000, the highest it has hit in the past 5 years as the housing market recovers. After dropping to a seven year low in 2011, the median home price rose 7% in 2012, and climbed an additional 14% last year according to the NWMLS. Wash Park Homed

According to the Seattle Times research, There are some areas in King County that saw larger gains such as the Jovita/West Hills neighborhood in Auburn that saw a 29% median home price increase, and not far behind the Sodo/Beacon Hill neighborhood experienced a 24% increase. Despite the strong annual gains last year, the median home price in nearly all neighborhoods of King County is still below the 2007 peak, so there is still plenty of room for improvement. If you’re interested in buying a home, it is still a great time to buy. Contact your local real estate agent today.

Seattle Public Utility Bills to See an Increase in Rates

Seattle Public Utilities has issued a statement indicating they will need to raise rates nearly 30% over the next 6 years for residential garbage, sewer, water, and storm water collection to keep up with current service demands. According to the Seattle Times, the average bimonthly bill will increase $16 each year, and SPU wants to hear from the public on the issue, and will be holding public meetings beginning next month to seek feedback. faucet

They’re inquiring if the general public is most interested in cutting back on certain operations or planned projects, and recommend lower rates or smaller increases. Over the past ten years the city’s utility rates have risen 96%, and inflation in the area has gone up 25.6%. Seattle has higher rates than several of the neighboring cities with an estimated combined monthly bill averaging $139, compared to $126 in Tacoma and Portland, and $127 in Bellevue. If you’re interested in attending one of the public forums to learn more about Seattle Public Utilities plans for the future, see the lists of dates and locations here.

2014 May Be A Good Year For Construction With Enough Skilled Workers

constructionIf contractors can find enough qualified skilled workers, this year may turn out to be a good year for the construction industry. The Associated General Contractors of America surveyed more than 800 construction companies and found that 41 percent of them plan to hire more workers while only 2 percent are planning layoffs. The remaining 57 percent have not yet decided what is going to happen or plan on no changes at all in staffing. To compare, last year 51 percent added workers, 23 percent laid off workers and 26 percent stayed the same.

Demand is expected to increase in 10 of the 11 market segments. Marine construction is the only market expected to fall where as particular growth is expected in private-sector projects such as offices, retail, and manufacturing plants.

One of the biggest challenges for the construction industry this year will be finding qualified workers to meet the demand. The majority of construction firms are already having problems finding the right people and expect the problem to get worse throughout the year. There are not enough training programs out there to properly train people in the skills needed in construction. Most firms believe that policy makers in Washington D.C. should make preparing the next generation of skilled workers top priority.




King County Still Experiencing Low Inventory

Even though 2014 is predicted to see an increase in inventory, right now there still isn’t a  big selection for prospective home buyers. According to the NWMLS, while December saw an increase in inventory of 6.2% from a year ago, an increase in sales mostly offset that increase. Wash park home new

While inventory rose slightly across the board in King County last month, it was especially tight in Seattle, where inventory fell slightly. Inventory is still quite tight across King County as we wait for more listings to hit the market, and builders to finish new construction projects. According to the NWMLS the median home price in King County in December was $419,825 which was up 10.5% from December 2012, and $450,000 in Seattle, up 7%. It is an excellent time to list your home in the Seattle area, and if you’re interested in selling your home, contact your local Seattle real estate agent today.

Home Prices in King County Rose 10.5 Percent for 2013

housing marketKing County experienced a 10.5 percent gain in home prices over the past year. The median price for a single-family home last month was $419,825. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service close to 1,800 houses were closed on in December, 3 percent higher than a year ago. 511 condos sold which is 14 percent more than a year ago. The median price was $250,000, a 21 percent annual gain. 1,748 luxury homes were sold. That is 40 percent more than in 2012.

The average home’s appreciation in 2013 was around 7 or 8 percent in King and Snohomish Counties. The Eastside had the highest median price at $550,000. Southwest King County had the lowest at $255,390. Seattle had the greatest increase, 14 percent, in closed deals with a median price of $450,000. Snohomish County had a median price of $306,000 for single-family homes which is an 11 percent jump from a year ago December.

Staging Your Home for a Winter Sale

winterSpring is a popular time for home sales and easier to make the home appear more desirable when flowers are blooming and the weather is brighter and warmer. Below are a few tips to help make your home more desirable during the winter months.

Be sure to keep walkways to your home safe and clear. Shovel away any snow and put a little sand down if it seems icy so no one falls. Be sure to sweep away loose leaves. If it is rainy and wet, put down a mat for dirty shoes and a place to put wet umbrellas.

Open all blinds and pull back all drapes, except those that would show an undesirable view, to let light in. Make your home as bright as possible especially if there aren’t many windows letting in natural light. Turn on all lights in the house including those in closets and pantries.

Keep your home warm and cozy. You want to make potential buyers stick around and really think about living there. Turn the thermostat up a couple degrees above normal. The house will stay warmer and by doing so, the furnace will not kick on while people are tour your home. You don’t want them to hear your noisy furnace. Keep a small fire going in the fireplace for warmth and to make the home feel more comfortable.

Have framed photos of your yard and flower garden in full bloom set out to show what it will look like in the Spring and Summer.

Many people are allergic to candles and scented sprays. To make your home smell good without it smelling like you are trying to mask an odor, bake cookies or a pie before an open house or simmer a cinnamon stick in a pot of water for a few minutes. Your house will have a more comforting and welcoming smell which many people are familiar with and like.

Following these simple tips can help you create a more appealing image of your home in a more dreary and gloomy time of year.

Make A Rental Feel Like Your Own Home

rentalJust because you live in a rental space doesn’t mean that you have to feel like you are living in someone else’s home. Adding a touch of “you” to the space will make it feel more special and like your own place. Before making changes be sure to talk with your landlord. Many landlords will be okay with certain changes if things are put back the way they were at the end of the lease or because those changes may make the space more desirable.

Sometimes you may have to negotiate certain changes such as painting walls. A new color on the walls could make the space feel more your style and the landlord may give the go ahead to paint in your choice of color as long as you repaint to the original color it was when you move out. You could also negotiate new appliances. If the landlord does not want to purchase new appliances, maybe if you offer to pay half the cost then they might be willing to do so.

Switching out light fixtures for more stylish ones such as hanging globes, chandeliers or sconces would be a great way to brighten the place up and add another touch of “you”. Either changing the cupboard doors in the kitchen or removing them entirely is another way to update the place or make it feel more cozy. Something as simple as replacing door knobs is another way to add character. Be sure to keep the original doors and knobs or anything else you might change so that you can put everything back the way it was before moving out. Things such as removing metal blinds and replacing them with ones made of fabric or putting up curtains are something that could be negotiated with the next tenants. They may want to purchase them from you instead of using the metal blinds which usually make a space feel darker and like a rental.

Little touches here and there and new furniture from retailers or flea markets can make a big difference in making your rental feel like home. Remember that when looking for a rental, keep an open mind and see the potential.



Mortgage Rates: Past, Present and Future

Over the past 30 years, mortgage rates have ranged anywhere from a high of 18.63% in the early 80’s, to a low of 3.2% in late 2013. While rates are considerably low, many prospective homeowners have been able to buy now, taking advantage of a more manageable monthly mortgage payment which can be a huge factor in the overall affordability of the home buying process. But what is in store for mortgage rates in 2014? wash park newsletter

After hitting an all time low near the end of 2012, rates have progressively risen throughout 2013, but now that the Federal Reserve has announced it will begin to wind down the stimulus program, which has helped keep rates down in the past, and rates are expected to rise above 5% as the economy continues to recover. Those who missed out on the 3% mortgage dip might feel disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of the historic low, but in comparison rates will still remain considerably low over the course of the year. For more information on Seattle Real Estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Market for Seattle Area Apartment Rentals Softening in 2014

apartmentsThe average rent for an apartment in the Seattle area rose to $1,214 a month in 2013. A new report suggests that rental prices will at least stabilize if not decline in 2014. Rental prices have dipped $5 and the number of vacancies is up which is a sign of the market softening. The Seattle metro area is experiencing its largest apartment building boom in the past 20 years. All of the upcoming vacant units will cause competition for tenants and slow the rent hike. Bellevue has the area’s most expensive rates for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,434 a month. Belltown, Denny Triangle and South Lake Union are the most expensive submarkets with rates averaging $1,624 a month for a one-bedroom. The most expensive neighborhoods are Fremont/Wallingford ($1,514), Capitol Hill ($1,449) and First Hill ($1,421). Lower rents were found in North Seattle ($957).