Millennials Are Buying Homes After All

broadview homewwThe National Association of Realtors 2015 report on generational trends showed that millennials make up the largest share of homebuyers, sitting at 32 percent. According to a recent TD Bank Survey of 1,002 adults, millennials who are currently between the ages 25 and 34 will be looking to purchase their first home over the next two years. Alas, putting to rest their reputation as the transient renter generation.

As the older tier of Gen Y rounds into their early 30s, many of whom didn’t experience the housing crisis firsthand, they view home buying with innovative eyes. Millennials see the potential in the “fixer upper” home and aren’t ruling them out as viable housing options. Just as likely to roll up their sleeves as the generations before them, millennials like the idea of tailoring their home to their needs.  Despite being laden with college loans and debt, and maybe because of that, Gen Y-ers are also less romantic about the process – purchasing before marriage, owning for shorter amount of time and flipping with success. There is as much risk as there is reward, and this robust generation isn’t questioning if the rewards exists.

Beyond changing the home owner relationship, this generation is also changing the home buying process. “We’re on our phones all the time, and this generation does not like to pick up the phone,” Player Murray, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices York Simpson Underwood Realty told US News. “They don’t want to bother with a conversation if it can be texted.” And because it’s predicted that millennials will (soon) rise as the generation buying the largest number of homes this year, their preference in how the process works, matter – big time. Nela Richardson, chief economist for the real estate company Redfin, agrees that “because of their size, whatever they decide to do will have an impact on the housing market,” and really, with smart phones and searching apps like Redfin and Zillow, Richardson is on to something.

This tech-savvy generation is spearheading change in many industries and real estate has been no exception. As Gen Y-ers overtake baby boomers in the home buying game, there is a ripple effect. Being that only 3 percent of agents are under 30, and 81 percent of real estate agents are over the age of 45, according to a NAR survey of its members, the tables have turned and the consumer isn’t being served by its own age group.

It’s not that Gen Y-ers aren’t buying homes, they are, just on their terms. They know what they want, which is not a phone call, but rather a text or app that will give them the freedom to research on their time. They do their homework – they aren’t looking for an access point to the information, as that is already at their fingertips, what they are looking for is a person to interpret the information and not leave anything out. Surprises aren’t fun for this generation, but home improvement projects are!

Prices Down In King Co., But Sales Are Strong

1Home prices in the Puget Sound housing market showed signs of cooling in July, but sales volumes were on par with the blazing temperatures we saw for much of the month. While the number of closed sales of single-family homes in King County held relatively steady from June to July, there were 266 more closed sales this July than during the same month in 2014, despite there being 1,311 fewer active listings than a year ago, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The median sold price for a home in King County actually fell from $500,000 in June to $485,000 in July, but prices were still up 3.63 percent on a yearly basis. The median sales price for single-family homes in Seattle showed no change from June to July, holding steady at $575,000.

Though that may seem like a modest yearly increase compared to the 10 percent year-over-year price increase in June, median prices in many sub-markets in King County are growing at much higher rates. Prices in west Auburn in southwest King County grew by nearly 25 percent over the year, and Kirkland saw a yearly increase of almost 18 percent. The city of Seattle saw median prices rise by 5.9 percent to $575,000. Even the West Bellevue area made up of communities including Medina, Hunt’s Point, and Clyde Hill, which is home to the county’s highest median price of $1,537, 500, saw prices rise 14.4 percent over last July.

King County’s supply of homes actually increased slightly over the month, from 1.18 months’ worth in June to 1.22 months’ worth in July, but that is still far below the ‘balanced’ range of 4-6 months’ of inventory. Some areas, especially neighborhoods within Seattle, are scraping by with under a month’s worth of homes. The northwest Seattle neighborhoods of Ballard, Green Lake, Fremont, and surrounding areas have just half a month’s supply; and northeast Seattle is doing just slightly better with 0.6 months’ worth of homes available.

Despite the slight drop in home prices over the month, the continued lack of inventory means it is still a great time to sell. If you’re interested in buying or selling a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

A Hidden Cost That May Be Helping Drive Rent Increases

Parked CarsThe affordable housing crisis in Seattle is garnering attention from the media, homeowners and politicians alike. Rent costs continue to rise and more than 100,000 people are estimated to move to the Seattle area in the next 20 years. Minimal affordable housing options have over half of Seattle renters paying more than one third of their income on rent, an average of $1,501 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Common reasons thought to contribute to rising rentals costs are lack of rent control and the fact that almost 65 percent of the city is zoned for single-family housing, leaving limited areas for multifamily development. But an article in The Stranger recently outlined a less visible factor that contributes to monthly rental costs: parking garages in apartment buildings.

Off-street parking requirements and more conservative developers contribute to the, arguably excess, parking built for apartment buildings. It’s estimated that one parking stall in a residential garage can cost between $20,000 and $50,000. Depending on the size of the building this can add several hundred thousand dollars in cost, not to mention taking up space that could be used to construct far more profitable housing units.

The article states that though many still cite parking as an amenity they prefer, more than 30 percent of parking spaces in buildings built after 2008 go unused at night, according to a  2013 report by the Sightline Institute. So who pays for these parking spots? All tenants, even those without cars.

Because the developers rarely see a full return on investment for parking spaces, landlords generally pass on the expense to their tenants. These expenses, usually represented in higher rent, can add up to 15 percent of monthly rent, applying to all tenants regardless of whether or not they own a car.

This issue was recently addressed in the final proposal of Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. “Off-street parking requirements or quotas have a large impact on the financial viability of new housing for both market and affordable housing development,” the report states. “Parking quotas act as density limits, inflate the average size and price of housing units, and prevent some smaller properties from being developed altogether.”