Chinese Buyers Big Players In Seattle Real Estate – And Getting Bigger

bellevue homePeople from China bought more than $2 billion in residential real estate in the Puget Sound area in 2013, and it doesn’t appear that that number will be decreasing anytime soon, according to a new report by the Puget Sound Business Journal. Chinese buyers are lured here by our clean air and good schools, and by the fact that they are able to buy a large home here for the same price that a small condo would cost in Beijing or Shanghai.

Tere Foster, a residential agent with Windermere, told the PSBJ that while many Chinese buyers buy homes here to use as their residence, many also buy them simply as part of an investment portfolio and let them sit vacant. Chinese investor groups have also been getting in on the commercial market in the past several years, having bought the First Congregational Church property in Bellevue for $30 million, and another Bellevue development site for $31 million. Many transactions, for sales of both residential and commercial properties, are being conducted in all cash, making closings much quicker than those involving financing, an obvious incentive for sellers.

Local brokerages are fully embracing the influx from East Asia, hiring Mandarin-speaking agents and forming divisions specifically to serve Chinese buyers. PSBJ cites a statistic from the National Association of Realtors that says there are more than 2 million millionaires in China, 47 percent of whom plan to move out of China within the next five years, meaning that the flow from China to Seattle has most likely just begun.

Insurance Tips For First TIme Home Buyers

Searching for a home can be a job in and of itself, and home insurance often gets lost in translation of the to-do list for first time home buyers. There are so many factors to consider in the home search,  such as choosing the right mortgage company, and real estate agent. Finding the right home insurance, and factoring it into your home buying budget should also be a top priority. Our friends over at Zillow have put together great guidelines and insider insurance tips for first time home buyers. Here are some of the key take-aways: 1910 NW 100th St-6

Do your research, and shop around for the best rate between insurance carriers. You might be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars just by comparing a few different companies.

Your credit score matters – not just for your mortgage rate, but also for your insurance. Insurance companies utilize your credit report to determine the level of risk you’d be as a new policyholder. If you’re shopping for a home, you’re probably already making moves to improve your credit, but its important to know that your credit is also important in achieving an affordable insurance rate.

Consult with your current auto insurance or boat insurance company to discuss bundling options. You can often save on your premium by utilizing the same company for home and auto insurance.

Invest in substantial coverage plans. While you don’t want to overspend, home owner’s insurance is also something you don’t want to hold back on.  Be sure your policy covers your home from weather risks common to your area, and be sure your dwellings coverage is substantial enough to cover the structure of your home incase of serious damage or destruction. If you’re looking for a new home, and would like some inside knowledge on the Seattle real estate scene, contact your local real estate agent today.

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.

Home Value Appreciation Slowing Locally And Nationally

housingZillow is reporting that markets across the country, including Seattle’s, are seeing a sustained slowdown in home price appreciation that will likely continue into 2015. At the end of the third quarter this year, annual appreciation for homes in Seattle stood at 6.9 percent, whereas the change in the third quarter of 2013 from the previous year was 12.9 percent. Zillow is forecasting that in the third quarter of 2015 appreciation in Seattle will be down to 5 percent.

Nationally, home values grew by 6.5 percent over the past year, which is down from the peak annual appreciation of 8.1 percent in April of this year. To give some context, U.S. home values are still 10.1 percent below their peak in April 2007 at the height of the bubble. In further evidence of a softening national market, there are 18.6 percent more homes on the market in the U.S. than there were a year ago, though Seattle is still seeing very low inventory.

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

Seattle Condo Prices Still Below Market Peak

Seattle condo prices are taking their time to bounce back from the housing bubble in comparison to single family home prices. With condo prices down, the market has presented a unique opportunity for renters who haven’t been able to save for a down-payment to purchase a single family home. In some of the suburbs around Seattle, condo listing prices are still well below recovery prices, and low prices paired with low interest rates means more and more renters have the opportunity to be new homeowners. pioneer square

According to the Seattle Times, out of the 30 suburbs throughout King County listed by the NWMLS, all but 3 (Bellevue, Kirkland, and downtown Seattle) have not seen the median home price surpass the 2007 market peak. In 19 of the 36 markets listed in King and Snohomish County, median home prices are still 20% below the market peak. Seattle has seen the cost in rent and single family homes continuously rise, while condo prices have stayed consistent, or even dropped in some areas. While there are a number of reasons that a condo market can suffer during a market recession, many singles, small families and people looking to downsize are turning to condos for an affordable option towards homeownership. If you’re interested in learning more about the Seattle condo market, contact your local real estate agent today.

City Council Votes To Enact Mandatory Developer Fees

towersThe Seattle City Council voted 7-2 Monday to make real estate developer fees that would go toward building affordable housing mandatory; until now, developer fees have been voluntary. As reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Affordable Housing Linkage Fee Program will require commercial and residential developers to pay a fee of anywhere from $5 to $22 per square foot of rentable space in the building, or make 3 to 5 percent of the building’s units available to those who make 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. According to KIRO, that works out to no more than $1,200 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Linkage fees will apply to developments mainly in commercial areas and multi-family residential zones, and will range from $16-$22 per square foot in Downtown and South Lake Union to as low as $5-$7 per square foot in the Rainier Valley and North Seattle (see the map of where fees would be applied here). The money generated by the fees would be used to build housing for people making 60 to 80 percent of the median income, which works out to $45,000 to $65,000 for a family of four, according to The Seattle Times. The fees would not apply to buildings in single-family neighborhoods.

Before the city council vote, a group of 13 land-use lawyers sent a letter to the council opposing the mandatory fees, saying they were illegal under current state law.

If you are interested in learning about housing in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

‘Best September In At Least 10 Years’ For King Co. Home Prices

housesAfter a sluggish summer for home price gains in King County, the median price for a single-family home rose to $460,000 in September, almost 10 percent higher than a year ago and 5.3 percent higher than August’s median price, according to an article in Tuesday’s Seattle Times. The Times says that those numbers, pulled from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, point to the best September for home prices in at least 10 years.

The city of Seattle performed the best of all the sub-markets in King County in September, with the median price having risen to $517,000, 12 percent higher than September 2013. While the median price on the Eastside was higher than Seattle’s at $605,000, yearly appreciation was slower at only 6.3 percent. Southwest King County, which includes Burien, Tukwila, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, Federal Way, and West Kent, continues to be the most affordable sub-market with a median price of $267,250, though that is still up 6.7 percent from September 2013.

Despite the price increase over the past year, the number of closed sales has actually decreased in every sub-market in King County except Seattle, which still only saw one more sale in September 2014 (643) than in September 2013 (642). North King County saw the biggest decrease in closed sales, having dropped 17 percent from September 2013. Agents quoted in the article say this could be the result of buyers’ fatigue after months of low inventory sparking bidding wars and extreme price increases.

For more information on Seattle-area real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Seattle Home-Price Growth Slowdown Continues

housingHome prices in the Seattle area (King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties) rose by 0.6 percent from June to July, but for the fifth straight month year-over-year appreciation slowed, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Index released yesterday.

Annual appreciation of existing single-family homes in July was 7.1 percent (its lowest since October 2012), down from 8 percent from June. The Case-Shiller report called this part of a “broad-based easing of home price gains” nationally, as 19 of the 20 cities in the index recorded slower gains than they recorded in June. As a comparison, between June 2013 and July  2013 prices grew by almost 2 percent, and annual appreciation was at 12.5 percent. Despite this slowdown, MyNorthwest is reporting that data from housing tracker RealtyTrac shows that Seattle was ranked fifth in the nation for home appreciation in August, behind only Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, and Pittsburgh.

If you would like more information on Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

Seattle Among Country’s Best Sellers’ Markets

for-sale-signWe’ve seen the Seattle residential real estate market explode over the past several months, with bidding wars galore and homes selling for thousands over their asking prices. While price gains began to slow toward the end of summer, Zillow is reporting that the Seattle-area market remains one of the best sellers’ markets in the country, in large part due to low housing inventory.

Inventory of single-family homes in King County is up slightly from a year ago, rising from 1.91 months of inventory in July 2013 to 2.08 months’ worth in August 2014. Inventory in Seattle alone was actually down from a year ago, dropping from 1.47 months to 1.36 months, which is far below the six months’ worth of supply that generally constitutes a healthy market.

Zillow says that rising prices are not the only indicator of a market favoring sellers. They also factor in how long homes stay on the market, how many price cuts occur, and how close the final selling price is to the last asking price. The top five sellers’ markets in the Seattle area are Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline, Seattle proper, Issaquah, and Snoqualmie.

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

Preparing for Homeownership Expenses

With bidding wars, and low inventory causing housing prices to continually rise in the Seattle marketplace, unexpected financial burdens can arise. Purchasing a home is an exciting time, especially for first time home buyers, so to avoid any unplanned surprises, it is wise to prepare and save for the unexpected. There are expenses you know to prepare for such as standard mortgage, tax and insurance calculations that come with closing, but other costs build up after it is all said and done such as decorating, seasonal updates to the home, roofing expenses, and landscaping. While it may be easy enough to come up with a budget for weekly or monthly expenses, looking at the bigger picture and figuring out the larger projects to spread out throughout the year will help you get a better idea for an estimated budget for home improvement expenses. Ongoing expenses like utilities, and garbage/recycling can also be more expensive when you own a home, so be prepared for a significant increase when comparing to what you’d paid previously as a renter. broadview homeww

Renters do not typically have to pay for services such as hiring a plumber, fixing a garbage disposal, or updating a patio deck. These expenses add up quickly, so make sure you have saved enough to provide a nice cushion for first year homeowner expenses. We suggest you continue to save and put money aside every month for ongoing expenses that may arise with owning a new home, that way you’ll always be somewhat prepared for the unexpected. If you’re interested in Seattle Real Estate, contact your local real estate expert today!