How Home Values are Affected by Seattle Ranking as #2 Western City for Public Transit



According to Walk Score Seattle ranked #2 in the Western states for having  the best public transit and ranked #8 in the nation. The city’s transit score was 57 compared to San Francisco’s 80. Home value in cities are affected by transit scores in the way that the better transportation options a city has, the more desirable that city will be. People are more apt to purchase a home that is close to public transit which helps make it easier to commute to work. Living near public transit saves you money as well by not having to spend so much money on gas. Transportation is the 2nd largest expense in American family households. Being able to take public transportation also takes away the stress of having to deal with traffic.

2014 May Be A Good Year For Construction With Enough Skilled Workers

constructionIf contractors can find enough qualified skilled workers, this year may turn out to be a good year for the construction industry. The Associated General Contractors of America surveyed more than 800 construction companies and found that 41 percent of them plan to hire more workers while only 2 percent are planning layoffs. The remaining 57 percent have not yet decided what is going to happen or plan on no changes at all in staffing. To compare, last year 51 percent added workers, 23 percent laid off workers and 26 percent stayed the same.

Demand is expected to increase in 10 of the 11 market segments. Marine construction is the only market expected to fall where as particular growth is expected in private-sector projects such as offices, retail, and manufacturing plants.

One of the biggest challenges for the construction industry this year will be finding qualified workers to meet the demand. The majority of construction firms are already having problems finding the right people and expect the problem to get worse throughout the year. There are not enough training programs out there to properly train people in the skills needed in construction. Most firms believe that policy makers in Washington D.C. should make preparing the next generation of skilled workers top priority.




Home Prices in King County Rose 10.5 Percent for 2013

housing marketKing County experienced a 10.5 percent gain in home prices over the past year. The median price for a single-family home last month was $419,825. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service close to 1,800 houses were closed on in December, 3 percent higher than a year ago. 511 condos sold which is 14 percent more than a year ago. The median price was $250,000, a 21 percent annual gain. 1,748 luxury homes were sold. That is 40 percent more than in 2012.

The average home’s appreciation in 2013 was around 7 or 8 percent in King and Snohomish Counties. The Eastside had the highest median price at $550,000. Southwest King County had the lowest at $255,390. Seattle had the greatest increase, 14 percent, in closed deals with a median price of $450,000. Snohomish County had a median price of $306,000 for single-family homes which is an 11 percent jump from a year ago December.

Staging Your Home for a Winter Sale

winterSpring is a popular time for home sales and easier to make the home appear more desirable when flowers are blooming and the weather is brighter and warmer. Below are a few tips to help make your home more desirable during the winter months.

Be sure to keep walkways to your home safe and clear. Shovel away any snow and put a little sand down if it seems icy so no one falls. Be sure to sweep away loose leaves. If it is rainy and wet, put down a mat for dirty shoes and a place to put wet umbrellas.

Open all blinds and pull back all drapes, except those that would show an undesirable view, to let light in. Make your home as bright as possible especially if there aren’t many windows letting in natural light. Turn on all lights in the house including those in closets and pantries.

Keep your home warm and cozy. You want to make potential buyers stick around and really think about living there. Turn the thermostat up a couple degrees above normal. The house will stay warmer and by doing so, the furnace will not kick on while people are tour your home. You don’t want them to hear your noisy furnace. Keep a small fire going in the fireplace for warmth and to make the home feel more comfortable.

Have framed photos of your yard and flower garden in full bloom set out to show what it will look like in the Spring and Summer.

Many people are allergic to candles and scented sprays. To make your home smell good without it smelling like you are trying to mask an odor, bake cookies or a pie before an open house or simmer a cinnamon stick in a pot of water for a few minutes. Your house will have a more comforting and welcoming smell which many people are familiar with and like.

Following these simple tips can help you create a more appealing image of your home in a more dreary and gloomy time of year.

Make A Rental Feel Like Your Own Home

rentalJust because you live in a rental space doesn’t mean that you have to feel like you are living in someone else’s home. Adding a touch of “you” to the space will make it feel more special and like your own place. Before making changes be sure to talk with your landlord. Many landlords will be okay with certain changes if things are put back the way they were at the end of the lease or because those changes may make the space more desirable.

Sometimes you may have to negotiate certain changes such as painting walls. A new color on the walls could make the space feel more your style and the landlord may give the go ahead to paint in your choice of color as long as you repaint to the original color it was when you move out. You could also negotiate new appliances. If the landlord does not want to purchase new appliances, maybe if you offer to pay half the cost then they might be willing to do so.

Switching out light fixtures for more stylish ones such as hanging globes, chandeliers or sconces would be a great way to brighten the place up and add another touch of “you”. Either changing the cupboard doors in the kitchen or removing them entirely is another way to update the place or make it feel more cozy. Something as simple as replacing door knobs is another way to add character. Be sure to keep the original doors and knobs or anything else you might change so that you can put everything back the way it was before moving out. Things such as removing metal blinds and replacing them with ones made of fabric or putting up curtains are something that could be negotiated with the next tenants. They may want to purchase them from you instead of using the metal blinds which usually make a space feel darker and like a rental.

Little touches here and there and new furniture from retailers or flea markets can make a big difference in making your rental feel like home. Remember that when looking for a rental, keep an open mind and see the potential.



Market for Seattle Area Apartment Rentals Softening in 2014

apartmentsThe average rent for an apartment in the Seattle area rose to $1,214 a month in 2013. A new report suggests that rental prices will at least stabilize if not decline in 2014. Rental prices have dipped $5 and the number of vacancies is up which is a sign of the market softening. The Seattle metro area is experiencing its largest apartment building boom in the past 20 years. All of the upcoming vacant units will cause competition for tenants and slow the rent hike. Bellevue has the area’s most expensive rates for a one-bedroom apartment at $1,434 a month. Belltown, Denny Triangle and South Lake Union are the most expensive submarkets with rates averaging $1,624 a month for a one-bedroom. The most expensive neighborhoods are Fremont/Wallingford ($1,514), Capitol Hill ($1,449) and First Hill ($1,421). Lower rents were found in North Seattle ($957).

Home Price Surge to Ease in 2014 but Interest Rates May Rise

housing marketMany buyers took their time searching for a new home in 2013. Prices and mortgage rates were low but took an unexpected jump in late May which forced home buyers to have to make a decision whether to buy then and which home to buy. Due to a shortage of houses on the market potential buyers found themselves caught in bidding wars and many ended up paying well over the asking price. It became a seller’s market.

Experts believe that in 2014 prospective buyers will not be able to afford the homes they would normally be able to due to interest rates rising which will make it more difficult to fund the purchase. There will be more homes available on the market because the rise in home prices have caused the value of homes to rise up above owners’ mortgage debt.

Experts also say that if the tech industry continues to boom as it has in the past couple of years, there will be a higher demand for housing. If tech stocks suffer, it could cause a problem around the Puget Sound. If Boeing decides to build its 777X outside the state of Washington, its widebody plant in Everett would shrink dramatically, effecting its 40,000 employees. Those employees may decide to sell their homes instead of wait for prices to fall which would greatly impact the market.

Overall, it will be easier to find a home to buy but may be more difficult to get the funding to do so. If people are not able to afford to buys homes in 2014, it is likely home prices might fall a bit to accommodate to buyers as a whole.

Sell Your Home Quickly With These 5 Helpful Tips

HouseMany homes sit on the market for months and even years. Owners think that lowering the asking price will entice buyers but it only sends red flags and creates the idea that there is something wrong with the house that is causing it to not sell. Owners become frustrated and not sure what to do. If you follow the 5 tips below, you won’t have to worry as these tips will help your home sell quickly.

1.   Price it Low:   Many owners are hesitant to set an asking price lower than the estimated value of their home but it helps sell the house quickly. Most want to ask more than the value to give room to drop the price during negotiations but by asking a lower price, more buyers become interested and compete for the home which often results in a selling price that is higher than the value of the home and a much shorter time spent on the market. A real estate agent in Northern California listed a house for $535,000 even though it had been appraised at $560,000. The house had multiple bidders and sold for $575,000 within weeks.

2.   Try a New Sales Approach:   If your house is not selling and nobody is looking, try a new approach to advertising your home. Put out a larger ad that gives little, but important, information. The info should catch the buyer’s interest and lure them in. Use a photo that shows nice curb appeal and descriptive words. Be sure to keep the house clean so that buyers will be intrigued with what they see.

3.   Do Not Try to Fight the Market:   If in general houses are just not selling, don’t try too hard to get exactly what you want for your home. In a not-so-great market, many people have a hard time getting financed or can’t buy a new home until theirs sells. You may not get the price you hoped for but by accepting a lower offer you will be done with the deal and less stressed.

4.   Renovations Don’t Guarantee a Sale:   Although a new coat of paint or new carpet may make your home look nicer and allow the asking price to go up a little, spending a ton of money on renovations will not necessarily sell your home or at least not for the price you would hope for. A lot of sellers spend thousands of dollars making changes hoping that they can sell their home for a higher price and earn their money back that was spent on the renovations. Some changes are good but for the most part the price is based on appraisals of the surrounding houses. If you ask $100,000 more than what the houses in your neighborhood are worth because you remodeled the kitchen and put in new floors, buyers will find your home to be over priced and walk away.

5.   Advertise Your Home Online:   In this day and age everyone is doing everything online. There are more people searching for homes online than there are circling ads in the paper. Post an ad online using attractive and good quality pictures to advertise your home. Use social media to get the word out that you are selling. People aren’t walking into real estate offices asking “find me something” as often as they used to. They are now coming in with a list of homes they found advertised online.

Bonus Tip:   Find a good realtor. Interview at least 3 real estate agents before choosing one. Be sure to trust them and their methods. Selling houses is what they do for a living and they know what they are doing.

Home Buying Credit Options

homeBuying a home is exciting and stressful especially if you are a first time home buyer. Finding the right home can be challenging but the biggest challenge is financing it. You need to have enough money in the bank to convince the lender you can make monthly payments on top of having enough to cover the costs of closing the loan in order to obtain a mortgage loan. Some home buyers search for available home buyer credits to help fund the purchasing process. Here are a few options available:

Mortgage Credit Certificate: MCC is available for first time home buyers in certain states and provides up to $8,000 in tax credits for those who have not owned a home in the previous three years, meet certain income criteria and will be using the new home as their permanent residence.

Good Neighbor Next Door Program: This program makes homes available for up to 50 percent off the listing price as long as the buyer agrees to live in the home for at least three years. HUD offers credits to school teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who purchase single-family homes in areas targeted for revitalization.

Credits for Native American Buyers: HUD provides two programs for Native Americans who wish to buy a home. Native Americans are given access to sources to private mortgage financing to buy homes in Indian or Alaskan Native areas through the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program. Members of Indian tribes who cannot qualify for mortgages through other sources can be guaranteed a loan through The Tribal Housing Activities Loan Guarantee Program.

The Federal Housing Authority has several other options to help reduce the burden of financing a home for first time home buyers, single parents, minorities and people with moderate-low income.

Two Men Shot in Pioneer Square

Police are investigating a shooting which happened around 2:00am this morning near Occidental Ave. S. and S. Washington St. Police responded to a call of shots being fired and found the two men who had been shot while sitting in a car. The men were treated for their injuries and transported to Harborview Medical Center. The suspected shooter could not be located. Anyone with any information regarding the incident should contact the Seattle Police Department.