Progress Report: 2015 National Housing Market

neighborhoodIn the years since the housing crash, economists have kept a close watch on the housing market, as it is a significant indicator of the overall health of the U.S. economy. The huge number of foreclosed properties that flooded the market after the bubble burst created a buyer’s market across most of the country with historically low prices, but many owners are now coming out from underwater on their mortgages and are seeking market rate when selling their homes. With fewer “distressed” properties on the market, lack of affordable inventory has become as issue across much of the country, and the median prices for homes in some markets, such as San Jose, Calif., and Denver, Colo., have surpassed their previous peaks. RealtyTrac reports that the number of foreclosed homes actually increased in January of this year, but it is too early to tell whether that will have an influence on getting more inventory on the market.

RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist said in a press release that getting more inventory on the market is crucial, and he predicts that the supply situation will improve slightly in 2015. “I think we’ll see numbers tick up. It’s kind of a seesaw right now between supply and demand. One of the reasons 2014 saw fewer sales [was] not so much lack of demand but lack of supply, especially in the price range the majority of buyers were looking for,” Blomquist said in the release. While low supply is fueling a rise in prices, consumers have also seen their incomes increase at a much slower rate than home prices, making purchasing a home further out of reach. According to RealtyTrac,the median price for a home in the U.S. grew by 17.3 percent over the past two years, whereas the median weekly wage increased by a mere 1.3 percent. Home price appreciation outpaced wage growth in 76 markets in the U.S. in that time period, most dramatically in California, which saw home prices grow by a 141:1 ratio over wages.

Industry experts are cautiously optimistic about the market during the remainder of the year. With national inventory of existing homes is sitting at a five-month supply, with some regional inventories much lower (Seattle is hovering around a two-month supply, and some neighborhoods have even fewer homes available), prices continue to rise. Rick Sharga, executive vice president at, told RealtyTrac that “Until these situations change, low inventory will keep sales relatively flat, and keep prices relatively high.”

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


4-Star SLS Hotel Graces Seattle

seattle nowOriginated in Los Angeles, the SLS Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel owned by Hollywood tycoon, Sam Nazarian, founder and CEO of the SBE Entertainment Group. Dubbed as the “King of the Night”, Nazarian is responsible for some of the hottest clubs (Create, Greystone Manor, Emerson, Hyde, MyHouse), restaurants (Katsuya, The Bazaar, XIV) and hotels (the SLS Hotels in Beverly Hills, South Beach, and Las Vegas). Creating his very own hotel empire, he has set his sights on expanding the luxury hotel chain to the Bahamas, Philadelphia, four properties in China, two locations in New York and lastly, but most importantly, the SLS Hotel will be coming to Seattle in Spring 2016.

Behind the SLS masterpiece stands a trifecta of men, comprised of owner Sam Nazarian, French-designer Philippe Starck, and James Beard Award-winning chef, José Andrés. These men operate at such a level excellence that joining forces in creating a hotel brand known for its style, luxury, and service, was clearly a no-brainer. They have already established quite the reputation, which is why it’ll be interesting to see what they feel the SLS Seattle should encompass in order to capture the hearts of the notoriously cold Pacific Northwesterners.

Philippe Starck, excited about the expansion to the Emerald City, feels Seattle is “a city of science and city of nature,” he told Marc Stiles in an interview for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Monday through Friday, people “create the future in science and on the weekends they hug trees.” As much of a generalization that is, he isn’t entirely off. Seattle effortlessly sits pretty between these two worlds. A hub for information and technology companies like Amazon, Google, and F5 Networks, Seattle also attracts outdoors enthusiasts to its gorgeous mountainous terrain and acres of uncharted territory.

Just as Seattle has become the mecca for hikers and tech-geeks alike, the 44-story Fifth + Columbia tower offers a seemingly contradictory exterior design – a 44-story contemporary silhouette is paired alongside a church sanctuary.  The structural collaboration has promise to effortlessly settle into a city that doesn’t overlook its history in exchange for progress. The First United Methodist Church which was sold with the property, will remain the same on the exterior as an ode to its important history, whereas the interior of the church will be re-purposed as a restaurant, ballroom and conference center for the SLS Hotel.

To Starck, “the most interesting thing is not the [high rise]. It is not the church. It is the mix of both,” which is so much of what Seattle is – a mix of contradictions that supports one another as if they are the same. For Starck, there isn’t a standardized formula he applies to every hotel he designs. Rather, he looks at each new location individually and focuses on creating an environment where people “will be at their best, will be uplifted, will be more sexy, more intelligent, more creative, more sparkling, more in love.”  Who isn’t on board for feeling smart, sexy and in love? Can we move in?

Going beyond the design of the four-star hotel, the SLS Seattle will offer 30,000 square feet of a José Andrés dining concept is sure to flood your mouth with flavor. Los Angeles Times’ food critic, S. Irene Virbila, described the food experience at The Bazaar, Andrés’ restaurant in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, as, “Fellini-esque, a gastronomical circus, a flirtation with the flavors and soul of Spain.” She continued, “Los Angeles has never seen anything remotely like this exciting restaurant,” and she was right. Six years after Virbila’s bold words, a simple “Best Restaurants in Los Angeles” google search will come up with pages of lists all with The Bazaar still sitting at the top. So the question is, is Seattle’s foodie culture ready for José Andrés?

With the magnifying glass hovering over the Pacific Northwest, there is no question Seattle is emerging as one of the nation’s hot spots. Running with the cool-kids can come at a cost; for growing cities that generally means tearing down the old in exchange for the shiny and new. Fortunately masterminds, Nazarian, Starck, and Andrés saw the beauty in the conflicting architecture of an old church, a new skyscraper and wanted to incorporate a piece of Seattle’s history into its trendsetting future. A trend hopefully Seattleites can jump on board with.


For more information about the SLS Hotel Seattle



The Seattle Times To Host Forum On Affordable Housing

seattle nowWith home prices and rents in Seattle continually rising, housing affordability has been a hot topic among residents, city council members, and the media alike. On March 31, The Seattle Times’ business reporter Sanjay Bhatt will host a forum addressing how wages, policy, and costs intersect to create Seattle’s complex and ever-changing housing landscape. The event, titled “Priced Out: The Struggle for an Affordable Seattle”, is free, but space is limited, so make sure to register in advance if you’d like to attend.

The event’s featured speakers include Skylar Olsen, chief economist at Zillow; David Rolf, president of Service Employees International Union 775; Jake McKinstry, principal at Spectrum Development Solutions; and Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin.

Event Details: “Priced Out: The Struggle for an Affordable Seattle”

Location: Kane Hall at the University of Washington, 4069 Spokane Ln.

Date: Tuesday, March 31

Time 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Register here:

7 Tips To Prepare You to Sell Your Home

Madrona Home KL

Ladies and Gentleman, the House is back on the Market!

Like a freshly single twenty-something with a new hair style, a little black dress, and a recent appreciation for the gym – here is your seller’s to-do list to spiff up your crib and attract some lookers. Now we’re talking!

1. Mentally & Emotionally Remove Yourself

When preparing to sell your home, the first step is mentally and emotionally separating yourself from your home. A home is a place holder for a human – that is all. Just like any other transaction, a home is something you purchased, as you would a car, a phone, or a t-shirt – there comes a time to let those things go. Take a moment to honor your time in the home, say your goodbyes to each room, and allow yourself to sit with the idea of the home no longer being yours. You’re moving on to a new chapter and it’s time to look towards the future, not wallow in the past.

2. Pack up those Pictures

You’ve shed your tears, said your goodbyes, and taken a moment to cherish the time spent within those walls. Now it’s time to pack up those memories and clear the space so new memories can be made. Would you be able to envision yourself with someone if you walked into their place and there were photos of their ex still up? It would kind of derail your daydreams of life with them, wouldn’t it? The same goes for house-hunters. When they walk into your home, they should be able to see themselves building a life there, not wondering about the life of current tenants.

3. Check that Curb Appeal, Homie!

External appearance isn’t everything, but you want to catch their eye. If they like what they see from the curb, chances are they will be knocking at the front door.  So, mow that lawn, trim those bushes, and keep the sidewalk clean. Also, make sure visitors are able to easily identify your home address.

4. Dump the Junk, Cut the Clutter, and Organize Closets and Cabinets


You’re in the game now. You’ve mentally moved out, the space is ready for new life and memories, and the exterior of the home is attracting interested candidates. It’s time to de-clutter, check that baggage (or trash it?) and rearrange the closets.

Buyers want to know what their seeing is what they are getting – they will do their job (a.k.a. snooping around) to make sure the image is consistent with what’s hiding behind those closet doors. Make sure your home isn’t just for show – it truly is what is seems – a dream home for that potential buyer.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you haven’t used it in over a year, chances are you aren’t going to need it. Create three piles to ignite the process:

To sell, to keep, to donate. GO!

5. Don’t be a Tease

If you have items you love and plan to take with you, take them down before showing the home. This is important for the overall happiness of both the buyer and the seller.  If that show-stopping chandelier is making the move with you, don’t let your prospective buyers lay their eyes on it. A buyer could easily fall in love with it and use the fact it isn’t in the deal, for leverage.  Don’t let them know what they are missing out on. If necessary, replace the items with cheaper models.

6. Repair, Renew, Reinvent

This one takes a little elbow grease, but the concept is simple: make your house sparkle.

Fix the leaky faucet, re-caulk showers and tubs, paint any loud walls in a warm neutral color, patch holes in the walls and do any other work that would leave a potential buyer on the fence. The little things matter, so replace linens and dingy rugs, bleach the title grout, and grease those squeaky door jams. Give the bathrooms a spa treatment with candles, some greenery and fresh towels fastened with bows. Oh, you fancy! Also, pay attention to smells – this hugely impacts our memory and no one wants to be remembered as the smelly house.

7. Final Touches

Pretend you are the buyer from start to finish. That’s right, get out on the curb and take a step-by-step walk-through of your home as if you are the buyer. Is the home inviting? How does it make you feel? Are the pictures hung evenly? Does that bed-spread need replacing? Would the front yard fare better with some bright flowers? Try to work from an objective point of view and write down anything you need to change or rearrange.

Home Prices Up 6% Over Year In King County

renton homeSpring has officially sprung for the Seattle-area housing market, with a now all-too-familiar story playing out: inventory is at a historic low of less than two months’ worth of supply, while strong demand for homes is fueling a continued rise in prices.

In King County, the median price for a single-family home stands at $429,900, up 6 percent from this time last year. The number of active listings is down, but at the same time, the number of pending sales in February was up more than 18 percent, demonstrating that the homes that are on the market are selling quickly. “February was a very robust month,” Gary O’Leyar, a former chairman of the MLS board said in an NWMLS press release. “If there is any real estate market slowdown, we’re not seeing it.” The city of Seattle is performing better than King County as a whole, with prices having risen 13 percent over the year to the current median of $520,000. Not helping matters is the fact that there are 18 percent fewer active listings in Seattle than there were a year ago.

Prices for condos are up nearly across the board. Snohomish County saw a dramatic increase in the median condo sales price over the last year, with the median price increasing from $174,975 in February 2014 to $240,712 in February 2015. Prices in King County increased just slightly from $245,000 to $257,000, but prices for condos in Downtown Seattle actually decreased by 2 percent over the year. Pierce County saw a nearly 52 percent jump, but the Puget Sound Business Journal suggests that number could be skewed because it is based on only 40 sales.

All of these numbers add up to a strong sellers’ market in the region, so if you are interested in selling – or buying!- a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

No Horsing Around – Union Stables Restored

TUNE, architecture firm Weinstein A+U, and joint owner of the building, general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis will take up the ole’ nine to five in arguably one of the coolest workspaces in Seattle. Once housing over 300 horses, employees of TUNE, Weinstein A+U, and Lewis will be the first human tenants to move into the building.

An ode to Seattle’s pioneering days, the landmark building was used as a livery stable, housing horses used for deliveries and to pull streetcars. Once considered the most modern building west of the Mississippi, the building has seen fires, earthquakes and was the scene of a major Prohibition raid back in 1923.

Paying respects to the building’s rich history, Lewis persevered and reused 127,000 board feet of lumber and milled old beams from the original building turning them into flooring and other materials. Additionally he reused every single road brick, as road brick is no longer available. Timber chewed and rubbed on by the horses can be seen throughout the build, as well as a large V-shaped hay cart which will be hung in the lobby of the building as “a nice little reminder of what the building was like..,” Dave Rauma, Lewis senior project manager said, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Offering exposed beams, bike storage, and a green roof on part of the building, the renovation hits a sweet balance in paying homage to the past while setting an energy conscious precedent for the future. Going beyond the boundaries of the building, thinking of our carbon footprint, Lewis anticipates the green roof to be certified LEED gold, and hopes to outfit his office at the highest LEED certification, LEED platinum. It seems this waterfront building has jumped leaps and bounds ahead of its time and is quickly becoming more legendary than its historic past. With the tone set, let’s hope to see some legendary business for the companies settling in.

Union Stables Building

2200 Western Ave.

Seattle, WA 98121