Seattle-Area Home Prices Fell Slightly In September

Cap Hill housingAverage single-family home prices in the Seattle area (King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties) remain up from a year ago, having grown 6 percent from September 2013, but have now fallen on a month-to-month basis for the seventh straight month, according to data released today from the S&P/Case-Shiller Seattle Home Price Index. Average prices dropped by 0.2 percent from August to September, whereas they saw no change from July to August.

Since the market’s peak in 2007, we’ve seen the highest highs followed by the lowest lows after the housing bubble burst, but now the market appears to be stabilizing. In an article in The Seattle Times, Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries was quoted saying, “The days of double-digit home value appreciation continue to rapidly fade away as more inventory comes on line, and the market is becoming more balanced between buyers and sellers.”

Nationally, both the 10- and 20-city indices saw no change in average prices from August to September, and the U.S. market as a whole saw only a slight increase of 0.1 percent. S&P Dow Jones Committee Chair David Blitzer also predicts stability for the market in the coming year, telling The Times, “With the economy looking better than a year ago, the housing outlook for 2015 is stable to slightly better.”

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

Seattle Market Earns ‘D’ Grade For Affordability

roanokeA recent study conducted by Interest.com has found that Seattle is home to the 7th least affordable housing market in the country, based on criteria including median home price, median income, average property taxes and insurance costs, consumer debt, and local mortgage rates. The study assigned a ‘C’ grade to cities where households who make the median income can afford the median-priced home, and Seattle fell short of that, earning a ‘D’ grade with our median income of $67,479 and median home price of $357,400.

In their analysis of the study, mynorthwest.com reports that although housing price growth has slowed recently, the median price for a home in the top 25 largest metro areas grew by 6 percent over the last year, whereas incomes only grew by 2 percent. This is compounded by the fact that in 2013 the recovering housing market grew by leaps and bounds in many cities, and grew by 12 percent nationally, giving wages no chance of keeping up. In the interest.com article summarizing the study, Adam DeSanctis, a media manager for the National Association of Realtors says, “Affordability would improve at a faster pace if wage growth would pick up. We’ve seen an improvement in job growth, but wages have remained somewhat static.”

Not surprisingly, topping the list of unaffordable markets is San Francisco, which earned an ‘F’ for affordability, as did New York City, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Miami. Boston came in at number six with a D-. No cities earned an ‘A’ grade for affordability. Looking for an affordable place to relocate? Head to Minneapolis, where the median housing price is more than $100,000 less than Seattle’s at $212,900, but the median wage is nearly identical at $67,194.

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

Could The Holidays Actually Be A Good Time To Sell?

WreathConventional wisdom has historically dictated that the holiday season is a bad time to sell a home. People are preoccupied with family gatherings, and bad weather can thwart showings. But since you’re likely already putting some extra effort into getting your home spruced up and ready for holiday visitors, why not run with that and put your home on display for prospective buyers?

Embrace the season by adding touches to your home to make it feel extra cozy for house tours. Light a fire in the fireplace, pile your couch with pillows in autumn-inspired hues, and light a candle or two (stick with unscented). Though the thought of sweeping your porch or front walk in the freezing weather isn’t the most inviting, putting effort into curb appeal is more important when you don’t have blue skies and the greenery of your landscaping doing some of the work for you. Get out the broom and make sure your walk and porch are clean, and consider adding a few winter-friendly potted plants to your front entry; Green Mountain Boxwood will stay lush and green all year long. Some tasteful, white twinkle lights never hurt, either, but do not go overboard with Christmas decorations.

So, if you want or need to sell your home during the off season, use the the holidays as your inspiration and you may be surprised with the response! If you are interested in selling or buying a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

First-Time Buyers’ Share Of Market Lowest In 30 Years

housingThe National Association of Realtors recently published results from its annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey, and the association found that the percentage of purchases made by first-time home buyers is at its lowest point since 1987. First-time buyers made up 33 percent of the national market, down 5 percent from a year ago, whereas historically (based on surveys conducted since 1981) four of every 10 home purchases were made by first-time buyers.

Though interest in purchasing homes remains high for young adults, obstacles such as student loan debt, credit card debt, and car loan expenses were the most common deterrents to saving for a down payment among survey participants. Other factors include rising rents; wage growth slowing in relation to housing prices; and market conditions such as low inventory and tight credit restrictions. NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said that lowering mortgage insurance premiums and looser credit standards could give first-time buyers the extra boost they need to jump into the housing market for the first time.

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