Seattle Condos Appreciating Faster Than Homes

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Featured condo – 1000 1st Ave., Unit 2202, Seattle, 98104

Condominium property values were some of the hardest hit after the housing crash, with the typical condo in the U.S. losing a third of its value. But according to a recent Zillow survey, condos are finally making a long-awaited comeback and are appreciating more quickly than single-family homes in many U.S. markets, including Seattle’s.

According to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), the median sales price for a condo in Seattle in October was $368,000, up 23 percent over the year, compared to an 8 percent price increase for single-family homes. Condos in many neighborhoods within the city saw much higher rates of appreciation. Prices increased by 55 percent in Southeast Seattle (Columbia City, Rainier Valley, Seward Park), and by 45 percent in both Beacon Hill and the Ballard/Green Lake/Phinney Ridge area. Prices for condos in Seattle’s most expensive market, comprising Downtown and Belltown, rose by 34 percent over the year to a median of $539,000, and Queen Anne condo prices are the highest in a decade.

The condo market may be especially attractive to first-time home buyers, who are largely being priced out of Seattle’s expensive single-family market. Condos are often more affordable and lower maintenance, and many offer the urban lifestyle that young professionals are increasingly attracted to. Seattle’s condo market is also suffering from a lack of inventory with only 1.18 months’ worth of supply available (compared to the 4-6 months’ worth that is generally considered a ‘balanced’ market) which could be another factor helping drive price increases. Currently, there are 107 condos on the market in Downtown Seattle, ranging from $209,900 for a 447-square-foot unit at Vine and Western, to $9,990,000 for the 6,758-square-foot full-floor penthouse at the Madison Tower.

Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell wrote in the survey summary that, “Over the past few years, buying a condo hasn’t always been considered an investment on par with buying a single-family home. Clearly, the most recent data indicate that notion may be due for a second look.”

If you are curious how much your condo might be worth, please do not hesitate to contact one of our real estate agents!

Late Summer Gains For Seattle Area Housing Market

neighborhoodThe S&P/Case-Shiller Index numbers for August were released yesterday, and after a July where we saw average home prices decrease by 0.1 percent in the Seattle Metro Area (King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties), prices bounced back and increased by 0.7 percent in August. On a yearly basis, prices in the area grew by 7.6 percent, coming in at number five on the list of cities with the highest yearly gains among the top 20 metro areas in the index.

Though prices in the Seattle are are still four percent below their peak, overall prices are showing steady growth and much of it is coming from a surprising sector of the housing market: condos. Zillow’s Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell said in a statement that in the national market “…a good portion of the overall home price growth we’re seeing, especially in cities, has been driven by strong growth in condominium values, which are currently appreciating more quickly than single-family homes.” He cited condos’ popularity with younger buyers, many of whom live more urban lifestyles, are looking for more affordable housing options than single-family homes. This appears to be true in the Seattle market, as according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, median condo prices in King County were up 19 percent this August over August 2014. The median price for a condo in Seattle was up 32 percent over the same time period to $248,500.

Overall, it appears that the U.S. market is leveling out. Zillow’s Gudell says that “Annual U.S. home value appreciation has stabilized and settled into a nice groove over the past few months, and this relative stability should continue into the foreseeable future.”

If you’re interested in speaking with a real estate expert about Seattle’s market, contact your local agent today.

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!

Only 2% of Seattle Renters Plan To Buy Within Year

371 ProspectSeattle is home to one of the nation’s highest homeownership confidence rates, according to Zillow’s recently released Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), but our region’s soaring home prices could be causing renters to think twice about entering the home-buying market. According to a Zillow report, only two percent of renters in Seattle are planning to purchase a home in the next year, which is far below the national average of 11.4 percent and the lowest rate among the top 20 metro areas. Miami led all metros with 21 percent of renters planning to buy in the upcoming year, despite a healthy 8.9 percent year-over-year home value increase.

The Seattle Times cited another statistic from Zillow stating that even among renters making $90,000+ per year, 48 percent said they were not planning to buy in the next five years. In the most recent census data available (from 2013), the biggest growth in the rental market was from those making $100,000+ per year. Though some of Seattle renters’ hesitation may largely have to do with discouragement over the high prices and bidding wars that have become the new normal, many are consciously choosing renting for the flexibility it allows. With the plethora of luxury apartment buildings sprouting all over Seattle, many offering amenities akin to those at high-end hotels, renting, and avoiding the obligations of home ownership, is looking more and more appealing to many.

But just because renters are staying out of the fray doesn’t mean no one’s buying, in fact, quite the opposite. Even with almost a third fewer listings this August than August 2014, pending sales and closed sales in King County were both up this August compared to a year ago, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. After a slight dip in home prices in July, the median price for a single-family home in King County bounced back to just a hair under $500,000 at $499,950 in August. The Seattle area’s market also rose from 10th to 2nd on Zillow’s Housing Confidence Index.

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

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!

Price Growth In Seattle Area Slows In May

1S&P/Case-Shiller released its monthly home price index this Tuesday, and the numbers show that home prices in the Seattle metro area have reached a minor lull in the traditionally busy buying season, with the index up just 1.4 percent in May from April. Average prices stayed the same from April to May, whereas prices grew by 0.6 percent from March to April. The weaker than expected gains still reflect a 7.4 percent increase from last year, on par with year-over-year gains in April. The median price in the Seattle area is still 6 percent below the 2007 peak.

David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee, said in a statement that first-time home buyers are partially to blame. “First-time buyers provide the demand and liquidity that supports trading up by current homeowners. Without a boost in first-timers, there is less housing market activity, fewer existing homes being put on the market, and more worry about inventory,” he said.

Though the Case-Shiller index showed an overall gain of 7.4 percent from last year the most notable jump was still in the most affordable homes. There was a 10.7 percent gain in homes sold under $296,017 and only a 6.7 percent gain in houses sold over $471,764.

Data from CoreLogic shows that only 2.18 percent of homes mortgaged in King and Snohomish counties are delinquent by 90 days or more. A sharp decline from last year’s 3.26 percent delinquency rate, and the July 2012 peak of 6.68 percent.  This decline has helped to ground home prices.

Though gains have slowed for the current month, it is anticipated that the stagnation will not continue in the coming months according to Stan Humphries, Zillow Chief Economist.

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

Nearly Half Of Seattle Homes Selling For Over Asking

Blue RidgeOnly four cities in the U.S. have a higher percentage of homes selling above their listing price than Seattle: San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. are seeing nearly 80 percent of homes selling above asking; Oakland, Calif. is not far behind at more than 70 percent; and Denver, Colo. is narrowly edging out Seattle with slightly more than 50 percent of homes going for more than list price. Seattle clocks in at just under 50 percent, according to Redfin Research. Despite home prices in Seattle being up 15 percent from this time last year, a recent report by the Puget Sound Business Journal showed that homes are not only selling for above asking, but FAR above asking. A home in Ravenna, where the buyers never personally set foot in the house before making an offer, sold for $1,175,000 – $200,000 more than its list price of $975,000. Similarly, a home in Magnolia listed for $699,000 ended up selling for $800,000. Underscoring the great lengths buyers are going to in order to purchase a home, even this home in Bellevue, which backs up to a 50-foot ravine instead of a backyard and was found to have cracks in its foundation, sold for $893,900 – 6 percent over asking.

Not only are homes selling for sky-high prices, but they’re selling in the blink of an eye. Seattle boasts the second lowest number of days on the market of any city in the U.S. at an average of nine days, according to Redfin. Only Denver is seeing its homes sell in a shorter period of time, at an average of just six days. With inventory down 27.5 percent over the year in Seattle and very high demand, it doesn’t look like this mad scramble for homes will let up in the near future.

If you have questions about buying or selling a home in Seattle, one of our agents would be happy to help you navigate this challenging market!

Median Home Price In King Co. Hits $500,000

1215 McGilvra NewThe median price of single-family home sold in King County has reached new heights this year. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, the median price in King County has risen to $500,000, a 10.3 percent increase over the last peak of $481,000 in July 2007. In Seattle, the median is significantly higher than that, having risen 15 percent over the year to $575,000. It’s been rumored that we are in a bubble, but Alan Pope, a real estate appraiser in Redmond, says he believes we aren’t in a bubble, but that “… the balloon is growing, and I can’t tell when it’s going to stop.” In fact, the housing market is just gaining traction from taking a hit during the past recession and isn’t too far above the prices they normally would be had we missed it.

The Seattle area’s healthy job market has caught the eye of the nation and beyond. As more people settle in to Seattle and surrounding cities, the housing market has become quite competitive. With a surge of buyers and very little increase in single-family residential development, there is a shortage of houses on the market. Between March and May of this year, Seattle only had a month’s supply of single-family homes and condominiums on the market, according to a Seattle Times analysis of NWMLS data. Inventory in June of this year was well below the average three months’ supply, and the number of residential listings in King County was 23 percent lower than last year.

Other counties are seeing similar patterns. In Snohomish County, the median price of single-family homes sold was $360,125, that’s 6 percent higher than last year. Pierce County prices are up an impressive 9.5 percent, sitting at $257,000.

In Seattle, homes for sale sit on the market for an average of just eight days, compared to the national average of 28 days. When a home goes on the market, Seattle house hunters are ready to play ball, even if that means paying well above the listing price. The only true fix to relive the pressure on the current housing market is to build new houses. The National Association of Home Builders reports that there were 3,481 permits issued for new single-family homes between January and May, down 4 percent over the year. That might be due to the lack of adequate plats to build on. Allison Butcher of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties told the Times that land is becoming increasingly hard to find in Seattle.

As for condominiums, we’re seeing a bit of a trickle-down effect, as the median price in King County was $287,000, up 7 percent over last year, and up 12 percent in Snohomish County, now sitting at $239,950. However, Pierce County is down about 7 percent, at $162,500. Listings for condos aren’t climbing as quickly as single-family homes, but they are taking some of the heat as buyers look for other more available options.

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