Real Estate Site Ranks Seattle No. 1 Housing Market

1150 17th Ave E-33. straightened smalljpgReal estate website auction.com has ranked the Seattle area the No. 1 housing market in the country for single-family homes, according to its analysis of home prices, sales data, demand, and economic factors. They point out the combination of strong price growth, at 10.9 percent over the year, and an equally strong increase in sales over the year, at 12.6 percent, as indicators of our market’s overall strength. The Seattle area’s solid job market keeps attracting new residents, and relative affordability compared to other tech hubs such as San Francisco, San Jose, and New York has seen demand continue unabated. Coupled with the fact that it is still 13 percent less expensive to buy rather than rent in Seattle means that everyone is trying to get their piece of the Seattle real estate pie.

Rounding out the top five behind Seattle are three areas in Florida – Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Palm Beach County – followed by our little sister to the south, Portland, where prices grew by 9.4 percent over the year.

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

Understanding the Basics of Appraisals

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A home appraisal is a step of the mortgage process when an unbiased state-licensed professional determines a home’s value based on size, condition, function, and the quality of the home. To do this the appraiser must first inspect the property. Then, by researching similar homes within the area and comparing recent residential sales, the appraiser will present their “opinion of value” with all supporting data and research used to come to their conclusion.

The appraisal process is important because mortgage lenders require an appraisal before they’ll provide a home buyer a loan. This is because the value of the property will likely determine how much a lender will lend. Lenders want to make sure that homeowners aren’t over borrowing because the home serves as collateral for the mortgage. So, if the borrower were to default on the mortgage and go into foreclosure, the lender would be able to get back the money they lent by selling the house.

If you’re a buyer, a home appraisal also can function as protection for the client too. If an appraisal comes in higher than the price being paid for the residence, than the borrower will have more home equity than initially expected. Also, an appraisal can help protect a client in keeping them from overpaying for a home, if the appraisal comes in lower than the asking price.

If you’re a seller, you want your home to be appraised for the amount you’ve listed it for.  In order for that to happen there are a few things you can do to impact that number. Clean, updated, well-maintained houses tend to receive higher appraisals. Make sure things like the home’s exterior and curb appeal is one that is eye catching, holes in the drywall are patched, and rug stains are cleaned can help. It’s also a good idea to provide your appraiser with a list of recent list of improvement you’ve made to the home as well as a list of attractive aspects about your neighborhood. Be sure to mention items like grocery stores, parks, and neighboring schools.

If you are unhappy with the appraisal, sometimes there is an option to appeal called “Reconsiderations of Value.” So, if there were enhancements made your home or recent comparable residential sales that happened the neighborhood to which wasn’t considered in the initial appraisal, it’s important to provide this information to your lender. Also, getting a second appraisal is always available to the buyer as well. Lastly, it’s important to add that an appraisal that was conducted beyond six month prior will likely be considered out of date by a lender.

King County Home Prices Bounce Back in August

1After the median selling price for a single-family home in King County dropped to $485,000 in July, prices bounced back to just a hair under $500,000 in August, representing a 14.4 percent annual gain, and the biggest yearly gain of any month in 2015. Inventory in King County was also up slightly from July, and now stands at 1.36 months’ worth of supply, the most inventory we’ve seen since February, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. In contrast, median prices within the sub-market of Seattle stayed essentially flat last month, having dropped by just $500 from $575,500 in July to $575,000 in August. However, that is a 15 percent increase over August 2014.

Inventory in Seattle followed King County’s lead and increased by a small increment to .91 month’s supply, up from .74 months’ worth in July. Lack of inventory continues to put pressure on the market in the Puget Sound region, with total listings down 29.7 percent in King County and down 32.7 percent in Seattle since this time last year. “The biggest challenges our buyers face are lack of inventory and the quality of homes to choose from,” MLS director George Moorhead said in a statement. Some believe this continued double-digit price growth combined with lack of available properties is not sustainable and that we may see a slowdown in the market as we enter the fall season, when inventory historically drops by about half.

The area condo market has made great strides over the year, especially in Seattle, where the median price rose from $299,000 in August 2014 to $395,000 this year – a staggering 32 percent. Prices increased more modestly countywide, but still showed strong growth with a 19 percent rise.

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

Seattle Area Market: Prices Are Rising, People Are Buying

812 W GalerS&P/Case-Shiller released its Home Price Index for April today, and the numbers paint a familiar picture of the Seattle-area housing market: prices are rising, and people are buying. The average price for a single-family home in the area comprising King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties rose 0.9 percent in April from March, and was up 7.5 percent over the year. Despite the rise in prices, homes are selling in an average of 8 days in Seattle, and the number of completed sales in the three-county region was up a staggering 38 percent from last April. According to Zillow, the median single-family home in the area will now cost you $366,100.

Compared to the blistering pace of price gains at this time last year, when prices were up 11.2 percent on a yearly basis, gains seem to be moderating. In reference to the housing market as a whole, Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said in a statement that “Normal home value growth is usually between 3 percent and 5 percent annually, well below growth rates of just a year ago, so the current pace is far more sustainable.” While the Seattle area’s growth has not fallen into that threshold yet, we’re not seeing the sustained growth of last year, when prices in the area grew by double digits on a yearly basis for 14 consecutive months. San Francisco and Denver are leading the nation in appreciation, with home prices having risen by 10 percent and 10.3 percent respectively.

It is still a great time to sell in the Seattle area, so if you are interested in listing your home, contact your local real estate agent today!

Seattle Homes Selling In Average of 8 Days

3804 E Blaine St.Across the U.S., houses are selling at breakneck speed, with homes only surviving on the market for an average of 28 days before being snatched up by eager buyers. Many homes sold even faster than that in May, with approximately 35 percent going into contract within two weeks of hitting the market. But you think that’s fast? The national market has nothing on Seattle, where last month homes sold after a mere 8 days on the market, and almost half sold above list price, according to Redfin. This no doubt is due to extremely low inventory, especially within the Seattle city limits, where there is less than a month’s supply of homes available, not nearly enough to satisfy the high demand for homes in the city.

Despite this increased buying activity, national home prices actually grew at a slower rate this May – up just 1.6 percent over April – compared to the 3 percent rise in prices we saw last May. On a yearly basis, prices across the country are up 6 percent from a year ago. List prices in the Seattle market increased just slightly from April to May (1.4 percent), and the median was $426,000. Year over year, Seattle prices were up 6.5 percent.

As these statistics illustrate, now is a great time to sell your home! If you’re on the fence, contact your local real estate agent to learn more about the selling process.

Young Owners’ Share Of Market Lowest Since 1900

1510 37th NewThere likely aren’t many facets of today’s housing market that can be compared to that of the Gold Rush era, but according to a recent article in The Seattle Times, young homeowners’ share of the market has regressed to early 20th Century rates. Among Millenials (25-34 year olds) in King County today, only a quarter own their own homes, on par with statistics for that age group in 1900. The percentage has dropped by 13 percent since the housing market peak in 2007, and it has fallen twice as fast as the national average, according to the Times.

By comparison, about 50 percent of homeowners in 1980 were from the 25-34-year-old age bracket, and 80 percent of young married couples making the median income or higher owned their own home. An increasing number of young people have been delaying marriage, and without the financial security of a two-income household, home ownership is out of reach for many young single people. Even in Seattle’s strong job market, singles and couples earning good incomes are increasingly held back by the area’s skyrocketing home prices, as well as student debt that is five times higher than it was 10 years ago.

But the article suggests that another factor could be simply that home ownership isn’t as attractive as it used to be, and young people just don’t want to buy. Many millenials had just graduated from college just as the economic crisis hit, shaking their confidence in real estate as a good investment. Even with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle hovering around $1,800 per month, it appears that a large portion the city’s population of young workers is choosing the low-maintenance flexibility of renting over the responsibilities of ownership. Apartment living as changed dramatically in recent years, and with the breadth of amenities ranging from community gardens to deluxe bicycle maintenance areas, yoga rooms, and rooftop fire pits, renting offers perks that owning a home can’t, with the added bonus of not being tied to a mortgage.

If you would like more information about renting or buying in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

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!

The 10 Most Expensive Streets in Seattle

 

Recently Seattle-based real estate company, Zillow took a look at which Seattle streets were most expensive to live on. Through their examination, they found homes on descriptive streets, like Laurelhurst Lane or Hunts Point Road, were the highest contenders. Let’s take a look at how Seattle streets stack up.

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Countdown to the #1 Most Expensive Street in Seattle:

#10 Brook Bay Road – The median value of homes on this street, located on Mercer Island, is $2,389,913.

#9 Overlake Drive – The median value of homes on this street, located in Medina, is $2,590,160.

#8  Killarney Way – The median value of homes on this street, located in the Meydenbauer neighborhood near Bellevue, is $2,638,714.

#7 Evergreen Point Road – The median value of a home on this street, located in the Meydenbauer neighborhood near Bellevue, is $2,789,945. You can see the full listing here.

#6 Cherry Loop – The median value of homes on this street, located in The Highlands community in Shoreline, is $2,997,348.

#5 Fairweather Place – The median value of homes on this street, located in Hunts Point in the Eastside, is $3,148,178.

#4 Avalon Place – The median value of a home on this street, located on Mercer Island, is $3,698,755.

#3 Laurelcrest Lane – The median home value is $4,590,474.

#2 Ambleside Road –  The median value of homes on this street, located in the Windermere neighborhood, is $6,022,040.

#1 The most expensive street on the list is Hunts Point Road.  The median value of a home on this road, located in Hunts Point on the Eastside, comes in at $6,181,914. Notable residents reportedly of the neighborhood include, former Microsoft CEO and current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer, American saxophonist Kenny G, and former CEO and co-found of Costco Wholesale, Jim Sinegal. More recently, head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll sold his Hunts Point home for $6.1 million.