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.

Home Price Growth In Seattle Area Appears To Be Slowing

housingThough it may not appear so, considering the seemingly sky-high prices for homes in the Seattle area, the growth in average price for existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties seems to have leveled out in late spring. The average price grew by just 1.4 percent from April to May, compared to a 2.3 percent increase from March to April, according to the S&P/Case Shiller 20-City Index released today.

Though price growth is slowing in the short term, average prices in May for single-family homes in the Seattle area were still up 9.3 percent from May 2013, and in many Seattle-area neighborhoods, median prices are nearing their pre-crash highs. In King County as a whole, the median price was $430,000 for the first six months of this year, just 5 percent below the 2007 peak. According to this article in The Seattle Times, the Seattle market is 13 percent below its 2007 peak.

In the same article, Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, says that all of these numbers point to a normalizing housing market, but that there is a wide variation among markets and submarkets, such as lower-priced homes appreciating at a higher rate than more expensive homes.

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

 

 

Why You Should Consider Getting A Loan PreQualification

If you’re toying with the idea of buying a home, it is generally in your best interest to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. Working with a lender to see if you qualify for a mortgage can be an excellent first step to estimate the amount of money you can borrow, and what price range you can afford in a home. Getting an estimate from a lender is not binding, and does not mean you must use them for representation. If you are not satisfied with the quote you receive, you’re encouraged to move on to another bank and shop around until you have an understanding of the best options for you. Getting an estimate is often free of charge, and will help your real estate agent and lender get a better understanding of a good starting point for your home search. beacon hill home

What is used to determine your mortgage pre-qualification? Your finances, including your assets, income credit report, etc, will all be used to assess your rates. Having your pre-qualification in order before you embark on the home search is great in a hot market like Seattle’s, as this will give you a head start from other applicants, and proves to the seller that you are a serious buyer. If you are interested in search for a Seattle area home, contact your local real estate agent today.

Nine Office Buildings For Sale Around the Sound

This just in: Chicago based private equity real estate firm Walton Street Capital has listed 9 office buildings in the Puget Sound area, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce.Two of the buildings that hit the market are located in downtown Seattle, one at 1111 3rd Ave, and the other (just kitty corner to it), at 2nd & Spring. Six of the other apartmentsbuildings listed are located in Bellevue, and the other is the Island Corporate Center on Mercer Island. The portfolio for sale totals over 2 million sf of office space, a large slice of inventory for the firm to place on the market at one time. Walton Street Capital bought 11 offices in the surrounding Seattle area after a previous owner defaulted on a $900 million dollar loan. Seeing a win-win opportunity, Walton, along with several bankers bought some of that heavily discounted debt, and set themselves up for success to take control of the buildings once the owner defaulted. If you’re in the market to purchase or sell commercial real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

Pacific Place Sold For $271 Million

pac place1998 was a big year for downtown Seattle. Nordstrom completed its move across Pine Street to its shiny new flagship, and just down the street the Pacific Place shopping center opened, finally giving shoppers an alternative to the then-dingy Westlake Center. Can anyone even remember what occupied that block before Pacific Place rose five stories above Pine and Olive?

It appears that the shopping center still has plenty of earning potential, as it was just sold to D.C.-based real estate management company Madison Marquette (along with other unnamed investors) for $271 million, which is believed to be a record for this type of property in Seattle. Additionally, investors are donating $14 million from the sale to the United Way of King County.

According to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Pacific Place sees 6 million visitors annually and it is 90 percent leased. Many tenants have come and gone over the years, and it now houses such upscale retailers as Barney’s New York, Michael Kors, and Tiffany & Co, along with original tenants Williams Sonoma, Helly Hansen, Il Fornaio and what is now the AMC movie theater.

For more information on Seattle Real Estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

 

SDOT Program To Address Construction ‘Hubs’

constructionThese days in Seattle it seems like there’s a construction project on every other block, and it’s not far from the truth. In June alone, there were 100 projects either under construction, permitted or recently completed in downtown Seattle, and the city has identified seven other hubs in Ballard, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, South Lake Union, the central Waterfront, Denny Triangle, and the north end of the Alaskan Way viaduct where there are large concentrations of construction projects in the works.

With construction come the inevitable road and sidewalk closures, and without adequate coordination among projects these areas can become a nightmare to navigate for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The Seattle Department of Transportation has formed the Construction Hub Coordination Program in order to do just that – act as the coordinator between these projects and everyone who is affected by them. According to the Daily Journal of Commerce, SDOT will be identifying scheduling conflicts between projects, creating a mapping system, responding to complaints and other issues in real time, providing on-site enforcement, and generally opening lines of communication between all parties involved.

The goal of the program is to proactively address problems related to this high rate of growth and to lessen impact on commuters and businesses in these hubs. If you would like more information on real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

Low Inventory In King Co. Continues To Push Home Prices Up

housing marketA short supply of housing inventory in King County is continuing to push the median home price upward, and it now stands at $453,500, six percent higher than the median price for June 2013. In Seattle alone, the median price has risen 8.9 percent from June 2013 to $499,000. Though the number of home sales has risen 2 percent from a year ago, there is still less than two months’ supply of homes on the market, far lower than the six months’ supply that constitutes a healthy market. This shortage is sparking bidding wars, especially in highly desirable neighborhoods in Seattle such as Ballard, Queen Anne, and Capitol Hill.

According to an article in The Seattle Times, the homes that are available are selling like hotcakes, often within the first 30 days of being on the market. An impressive 68 percent of homes on the market in Seattle sold in the first 30 days, and 57 percent of homes on the Eastside sold within the first month. Northwest Multiple Listing Service Director John Deely told the Puget Sound Business Journal that even homes in the $1 million+ price range are selling at a higher volume than they have since 2007. So, if you’re looking to sell, it looks like this could be the ideal time. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

How to Get the Best Mortgage

If you have determined that you’re at a good point to start looking to buy a home in Seattle, you’ll likely need to begin researching how to get the best deal on your mortgage. While interest rates continue to remain low, finding the best mortgage option can still be cumbersome, but there are a few steps you can take to save you time and money. One of the biggest factors in determining if you will be approved for a loan, and what your interest rate will look like is your credit score. Reviewing your credit score at least once a year is highly recommended, so that you are aware of any issues or errors that could be improved to give you the extra few points you need to qualify for a better interest rate. Another factor that lenders take into account when you apply for a loan is your debt-to-income ratio. This is your income compared to how much money you owe, so if possible it might be a good time to decrease your debt or increase your income. If you can make larger payments on those credit cards, or pay off a loan, it could save you some money down the road.

Photo Courtesy of Istock Photo

Photo Courtesy of Istock Photo

While many real estate agencies can provide you with an affiliated lending bank, it is always wise to shop around for lenders, and ensure you’re getting the best rates available to you. Shopping for lenders can be as simple as requesting a quote online from several local companies, and comparing your findings. If you’re interested in learning more about your mortgage options, and ready to start the home buying process, contact your local real estate agent today.