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!

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 Housing: What To Expect In 2015

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In Seattle’s housing market, where the supply of homes over the past year never exceeded two months’ worth of inventory, a whole new generation of home buyers could be poised to make an even bigger dent in the pool of available homes in 2015. Millenials – people born after 1980 – have been putting off home purchases due to factors such as high student debt, stagnant wages resulting from the recession, and a desire to not be tied to a permanent home, but they could be a bigger force in the housing market in 2015, according to a new report in The Seattle Times. With the median rent in King County now standing at $1,750 per month, home ownership is beginning to look more appealing to many in their late 20’s and early 30’s who have thus far been exclusively renters.

Rental Market

Rents in the Seattle area (King and Snohomish counties) grew at a staggering rate of more than 8 percent in 2014 and are projected to continue to rise in 2015. An estimated 12,273 new apartment units slated to go on the market next year are expected to increase competition for renters and help ease price hikes somewhat, but the glut of new units likely won’t provide much relief for those with budgets at the lower end of the spectrum. For example, in Ballard, where many of these new buildings are going up, apartments built after 2010 are renting for an average of $1,731 per month – not exactly affordable for many single renters. Overall, Seattle remains the 8th most expensive place to rent in the country, with a median rent of $1,580 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Home Prices

Seattle median home prices continue to rise on a yearly basis, having grown 11 percent in 2014, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, but most are predicting slower, yet steady growth for 2015. The median price for a single-family home in Seattle in November this year was $357,000. In King County as a whole, the median price was $440,000 in December, just slightly lower than the 2007 peak of $455,000. Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, told The Seattle Times that he expects to see continued moderation of price gains over the next year, compared with the double-digit growth the market saw in 2013 and early 2014. OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said in a statement that he expects price growth of 4-6 percent in 2015.

Tis the Season: Top Reasons to Buy During the Holidays

Although sales are historically down during the last few months of every year, there are certainly some noteworthy perks to the home search during the holiday season. Here are a few reasons a new home should be on your wish list for Santa this year. 812 W Galer

Did you know home prices are generally listed lower in December, than they are throughout the rest of the year? There are several reasons for home affordability increasing this month, and low mortgage rates is another factor in your favor. Mortgage rates are around or just under 4%, and according to Zillow estimates, are expected to jump to 5% by this time next year. If you wait just one more year to purchase the same home, your monthly mortgage payment could increase significantly. This isn’t to say that you should buy a home now if you’re not ready; buying a home is a huge commitment, and  knowing when you’re ready and able to purchase is essential. It is also worth noting that if Seller’s are listing their home during the holidays, they are usually very serious about selling their home. Maybe they recently received a new job and need to relocate before the end of the year. Their lack of time is your gain – and you can also lower your tax bill for the year if you close on your new home by Dec 31st. For more information on homes for sale in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Housing Prices See First Growth In 4 Months in February

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Bucking the national trend that saw home prices stay relatively flat from January to February, The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle-area market saw prices rise ever so slightly in February, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city Index. In the biggest monthly gain since July 2013, the average price of a home in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties rose by a whopping, wait for it…0.6 percent. While that may seem like a small number, annual gains tell a different story, showing prices rising 12.8 percent over the previous 12 months. However, we have 17.3 more percentage points to go to catch up with the market’s peak in July 2007.

Along with Seattle, Portland and San Diego round out the top three cities with the strongest price gains in February. Surprisingly, San Francisco appeared to show slowing monthly price growth, though its prices were up 23 percent from same time last year.

Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, stated in the article that although the national housing market is showing signs of slowing in recent months, it is just a snapshot of a market that is slowly returning to normal. Nationally, prices rose by 12.9 percent from February 2013 to February 2014. The National Association of Realtors also reported that the number of pending home sales rose in March for the first time in nine months.

Tips For First-Time Home Buyers

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The process of buying your first home can be extremely daunting, and although buyers may feel overwhelmed with information, in a market where first-timers are often outbid by buyers with cash on hand, doing your research and being as prepared as possible are key.

First of all, figure out how much you can afford. Meet with a lender to review your finances and establish a realistic price range. You don’t want to begin looking at homes and fall in love with one only to realize the monthly payment is too high.

Shop around for a mortgage. If you would compare prices on groceries, it only makes sense to do the same for a purchase as significant as a home. Look up who has the lowest mortgage rates online first, then call lenders and ask for a written list of their fees so you make sure to get both the lowest rate and the lowest fees.

See if you quality for down-payment assistance. There are several of these programs offering services in King County. See here for more info.

Get preapproved for a loan. This will make your offer more attractive to sellers, as there is less likelihood your loan won’t be approved while you’re in escrow. Find out from your mortgage lender what kind of paperwork you need to submit to get preapproved. These often include W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. Get your credit report and make sure there aren’t any abnormalities that need to be addressed.

Get referrals from your family and friends to find a great real estate agent. Interview them to make sure you feel comfortable with them and to assess how knowledgeable they are. Don’t forget that if a particular agent isn’t meeting your needs, you don’t have an obligation to continue using them.

When do you find a home that you’re ready to make an offer on, take the market into account – if it’s a sellers’ market and the home is priced well, you’ll probably want to make an offer either at the asking price or possibly even a little above. If the seller knows they will get multiple offers, you want yours to stand out.

Just like everyone else who you employ in your home search, you are free to use a home inspector of your choice. Get recommendations from friends and family to make sure you’re getting a trustworthy inspector, not just one who is working to help the agent close the deal.

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