Washington State Home Sales Soar Past Previous Highs

sold-sign2015 may have been an interesting year for many reasons, but in the world of Washington real estate, it sure felt like the good old days.

Not since the way-back-when of 2007 had so many homes and condominiums sold in the Evergreen State. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, 2015 saw a whopping 88,331 homes changed hands last year, about  14% more sales than in the previous year. Those who have done the math say that works out to about 75,975 single family homes and 12,356 condominiums, valued at  approximately $34 billion, about 23% more than the dollar volume sold the year before. Those impressive figures make 2015 one of the best years for Washington State real estate in recent memory.

The last time this state saw real estate figures like that was in 2007, before the bubble burst and sent the country into what is not-so-affectionately known as The Great Recession. Even in 2007, the figures only added up to about 82,197 sales valued at $32.3 billion, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Furthermore, despite a ‘lower inventory’, so to speak, prices and number of sales continue to grow. In King County, the median home price was $480,000 and more than 26,600 homes sold. Compare that to a median price of  $440,000 and 26,600 homes sold, in 2014 and you’ll notice a jump of close to 10%. Snohomish and Pierce counties can top those figures with growth figures for both median home price and number of homes sold over last year at nearly 16.80% ($355,000, up from $326,360 with 11,303 homes sold) and 17.39% ($249,950, up from 230,000 with more than 13,200 homes sold) respectively.

Overall, region-wide, the growth was about 8.8% from 2014, with a median price for single family homes and condominiums at about  $310,000, up from $285,000  last year.

Numbers like this are a positive and encouraging sign for the state of the  real estate market and the country’s economy as a whole. Let’s just hope nothing comes along and tries to ‘burst our bubble’ this time.

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.



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.

Seattle Roosevelt Neighborhood Will See Higher Buildings

Last month, I wrote about the Roosevelt neighborhood potentially seeing a commercial rezone. On Monday, the full Seattle City Council approved six-story building heights in the Roosevelt commercial area. According to the Seattle Times article, it spans about 40 blocks of the commercial core. The 85-feet high buildings are designed to add density. However, the buildings around Roosevelt High School are restricted to a 40-foot height restriction, so as to preserve views of the school. Final projects are still subject to the design review board. For more information, please visit the Seattle Times article.

Seattle Residential Real Estate: Pay Attention to the Neighbor

Seattle Real estate backyard cottageIn a buyer’s market, there’s many various factors that can affect the price; one of them is who lives by your home. A recent Seattle Time article reports that a bad neighbor can cause more than just a nuisance; it can also drive down the sales price, up to a 10% reduction! However, it is difficult to quantify, as one man’s bad neighbor may be another man’s best friend.

If you’re looking for a way to handle a bad neighbor, there are a few options available. Some include contacting the King County Dispute Resolution Center, joining forces with other neighbors, mitigating the problem, and more. The full list is located at this Seattle Times article. Read through and maybe you can get some ideas on how to have a healthy, harmonious living situation, even with a bad neighbor.


Seattle Apartment Construction Improving Seattle Housing Market

Due to the influx of apartment construction, 2011 will be the first year since 2007 where housing construction will help the economy grow. There has been a surge in apartment construction, as signaled by the cranes in Ballard and South Lake Union, as well as an increase in permits, signaling future construction in Seattle.

For every new home that is built, it creates three jobs and adds $90,000 in taxes. For more details, read the Seattle Times article.

Seattle Property Crime Decreases!

According to a recent FBI report, property crime in the Seattle area dropped this past year. Property crime includes burglary, larceny, and vehicle theft. It decreased by 3.7 percent. This trend follows the general trend of crime across the country. For more info, check out the Seattle Times article.

ZGF Architects Reveal Visuals of Proposed Stadium Place Towers in Seattle

ZFG Architects have revealed visuals of the proposed Stadium Place Towers, set to be built in the north parking lot of Century Link Field, south of Pioneer Square in Seattle. If constructed, the Seattle property would be the largest transit-oriented property on the West Coast. However, not everyone likes the dramatic design for the Seattle apartments. Take a look at the visuals and voice your opinion on the Seattle Times article’s comment page.

Winter is Coming – Winterize Your Seattle Home

With snow in the forecast for the mountains and with the potential of hitting the lowlands on Friday, people in the Puget Sound area are getting ready for winter. With this list, Seattle residents can easily winterize their homes. Here are some tips:

  1. Clean the gutters – This easy step can prevent water from backing up and seeping into your house. Plus, it gives you a chance to check for leaks and on your pipes.
  2. Find and seal obvious leaks – Find the leaks by walking inside the Seattle house with incense, especially in the standard drafty areas. . Make sure to buy door sweeps and caulk leaks and drafty spots. If you have brick, use a masonry sealer.
  3. Check your insulation – Look for any loose insulation in your house and try to look where you can add additional insulation.
  4. Check the furnace – It helps to have an HVAC professional come out to clean the ducts and inspect your furnace, something that should be done annually. Make sure to stock up on furnace filters, as well.
  5. Put up storm windows – Installing storm windows can have a major impact on how warm your house is. If it’s too expensive, you can also opt to buy a window insulator kit or have curtains. Any additional layer helps.
  6. Reverse the fan – By turning the fan blades so it spins counter-clockwise, it ensures that heat is directed downward to you.
  7. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – Daylight Savings is a good time to make sure your detectors work. Also, make sure a carbon monoxide detector is near your furnace.
  8. Prepare for any snow in your house by purchasing the right supplies – Make sure you have a snow shovel, road salt, and chains on hand for when and if it snows.
  9. Prepare your landscaping – Trim tree branches that hang close to your home or to electrical wires. Also, protect the plants that are sensitive to heat.
  10. Prevent plumbing from freezing – Know what the water main in, if you need to do an emergency shut off. Drain your garden hoses and don’t forget to insulate your exposed pipes. Styrofoam cups are great for that.

Downtown Seattle Condo Market Heating Up!

The downtown Seattle condo real estate market is heating up. Recently, downtown Seattle’s tallest condominium tower, Olive 8, reported that it is now 2/3rds sold. Also, the Escala finally reached the 50% sold milestone, giving the condo approval to qualify for Fannie Mae. This opens up the supply of buyers who can receive financing to live in the Escala.

The downtown Seattle condo real estate market has improved in the past few years. The current trend is the stabilization of prices, due to fewer listings and more sales. This, combined with record low rates have made buyers more confident, especially in the downtown Seattle condo market. Condos, like the Olive 8 and the Escala, are especially  attractive to buyers, as they provide a lot of value, in terms of amenities. Olive 8 condo owners can enjoy access to the Hyatt’s services, while Escala residents have access to a private elevator vestibule. These value-adding amenities combined with the strong market are causing the units to sell quick.

With the condo buildings filling up, I can only expect the retail commercial spaces to do the same. Here’s an vacant retail/warehouse space near the Olive 8 condos. There’s a few other Seattle properties for lease here as well.