Seattle-Area Monthly Home Price Gains Second Highest In U.S.

Madison Park home for sale - $2,395,000

Madison Park home for sale – $2,395,000

Just when it seems like Seattle’s home prices couldn’t possibly go any higher, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index releases its monthly housing numbers. According to Tuesday’s release, Seattle-area home prices rose 2.3 percent in March, the second highest monthly gain of any city in the national index, trailing only San Francisco. That is up significantly from the 0.9 percent increase in February. The year-over-year change in March saw Seattle-area home prices gain 7.5 percent, which put us just outside the top five cities in terms of yearly gains. Yet again, San Francisco topped the list with a 10.3 percent increase, followed by Denver, Dallas, Miami, and Tampa. According to The Seattle Times, September 2008 was the last time Seattle’s index was at its current level (ominously, the same month Washington Mutual failed).

The question on everyone’s minds, especially in cities seeing double-digit gains, is whether we’re in the midst of another housing bubble, but S&P Dow Jones Indices Managing Director and Chairman David Blitzer does not believe that’s the case. Despite the steep gains in local markets, Blitzer says the national market is actually moderating. Whereas the national price index saw a yearly gain of a staggering 10 percent in February 2014, this month’s report showed a gain of less than half that, at 4.1 percent.  He says that even though that 4.1 percent gain is far higher than the average rise in inflation-adjusted home prices of 1 percent per year (since 1975), the fact that the rate of increase halved from 2014 to 2015 signals a return to moderate gains. He says “I would describe this as a rebound in home prices, not a bubble and not a reason to be fearful.” National housing prices are still 15 percent below their peak during the housing bubble.

The numbers for Seattle, however, come on the heels of a report from Redfin citing that the number of Silicon Valley residents searching for homes in Seattle has more than doubled over the past year. Likely pushed out by the Bay Area’s 10 percent jump in prices, transplants looking for homes in Seattle are adding even more pressure to the area’s extremely tight housing market, where the median home is selling in just 39 days in April, according to the National Association of Realtors.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Prime Time To Buy, Yet Home Sales Lagging In U.S.

1113 N 26th St. TacomaDespite ideal conditions for home buying in much of the country – continually rising rents, low interest rates, and easing credit restrictions – home sales this April painted a disappointing picture of the spring buying season in the national housing market, according to a report from Zillow. While the number of completed home sales did increase by 4.7 percent on a yearly basis, that was a lower yearly percentage increase than the market saw in both January and February, which are generally considered to be the slow months for home sales.

Experts predicted that the sales market would get a boost from renters pushed into ownership by rent increases, but that hasn’t been the case, so far. While rents increased at a faster rate (4 percent) than home prices did (3 percent), and in general renters are spending a larger percentage of their incomes on housing than owners, there is still a strong demand for rental housing, especially among younger workers and among former owners who are still in the recovery stage after foreclosing during the housing crisis.

Additionally, in some markets such as Denver and San Francisco, both rents and housing prices have risen by double digits since last April, meaning renters may not be able to afford to buy, even if they wanted to. Despite Zillow economists’ prediction that housing prices will level out over the remainder of the year, high rents mean less money going into savings for a down payment, which may exclude many potential buyers from finally being able to make that purchase.

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

 

 

 

 

Tips For Turning Your Patio Into An Outdoor Room

As any Puget Sound resident can tell you, summers in our region are short but spectacular, and taking advantage of every sunny minute spent outdoors is essential. Once the thermometer hits 70 degrees (Ok, maybe 65…), Pacific Northwesterners dust off their barbecues and lawn chairs and breathe in the salty Sound air and sunshine. With warm temps just beginning to arrive, now is a great time to get your deck, patio, and yard shipshape for outdoor living. Here are some tips from the home experts at Zillow:

Lighting Is Everything

Cafe LightsAs with your home’s interiors, lighting can make all the difference in your outdoor space’s atmosphere. String bistro globe lights (like larger versions of classic Christmas lights) in a canopy over your patio to create a cafe-like setting, and use hanging lanterns and plenty of candles for a cozy feel (bonus: cintronella candles are easy to make and serve double duty as a lighting source and bug repellant). Take things up a notch with an outdoor fire pit, and don’t forget the s’mores!

Add Greenery

Succulents

Even if you don’t have traditional garden space, there are more options that ever for greening up your outdoor space, no matter how small. Vertical gardens, such as these Woolypocket planters, can turn a boring exterior into a lush living wall, and are great options if you don’t have the space for pots. Fill them with flowers for a decorative touch, or plant herbs for a delicious and fragrant edible display. Succulents are low-maintenance yet striking centerpieces for outdoor dining tables.

Decor And More

Outdoor space

To make your outdoor area an inviting space where you’ll want to spend time, give the space’s decor the same attention you would give an indoor living room. Pillows made of stylish outdoor fabrics that are water and stain resistant are being offered by more and more retailers such as West Elm and Pottery Barn, and are effortless ways to bring color and interest to your outdoor furniture. If your space is too small for furniture, pillows can also serve as extra seating. Decorative planters can bring additional color and character into your space.

So, time to hit up your favorite shops for the touches that will make your outdoor space feel like not just a patio, but an extension of your house. In addition to serving as a space for you to spend time, these outdoor rooms are attractive selling points for prospective buyers in the future. If you’re interested in talking with a real estate agent about anything home related, contact us today!

King Co. Home Prices Approaching 2007 Peak

Madrona home for sale - 3609 E Union St. - $1,395,000

Madrona home for sale – 3609 E Union St. – $1,395,000

In the booming, yet ominous year of 2007, the median price for a single-family home in King County soared to $481,000. We all know what happened next – the bubble burst, home values plunged, and homeowners were left to pick up the pieces, wondering if values would ever recover. Seven years later, the Northwest Multiple Listings Service (NWMLS) reports that the median price has clawed its way back to just a hair below the 2007 peak, and now stands at $480,000, up 11.5 percent from a year ago and up 9 percent over March.

Every submarket in King County saw prices increase on a yearly basis in April – several by double digits. Prices on the Eastside rose 6 percent to $654,650; prices in North King County also rose by 6 percent to $416,000; and both Southwest and Southeast King County saw double-digit increases of 14 and 15 percent, to $285,000 and $329,950 respectively. Home prices in Seattle are up 15 percent over the past year to a median of $552,500.

So with the words “bubble” and “peak” in the same sentence, buyers and sellers are wondering if we’re headed for deja vu. According to the NWMLS, area brokers are confident we’re not in the midst of the next bubble, saying that today’s buyers are qualified and the overbuilding that contributed to the previous bust is not an issue today. J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott told The Seattle Times that he believes the continued price increases are the result of a strong job market, extremely low inventory (less than a month’s worth), and interest from foreign buyers.

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