Home Price Growth In Seattle Area Appears To Be Slowing

housingThough it may not appear so, considering the seemingly sky-high prices for homes in the Seattle area, the growth in average price for existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties seems to have leveled out in late spring. The average price grew by just 1.4 percent from April to May, compared to a 2.3 percent increase from March to April, according to the S&P/Case Shiller 20-City Index released today.

Though price growth is slowing in the short term, average prices in May for single-family homes in the Seattle area were still up 9.3 percent from May 2013, and in many Seattle-area neighborhoods, median prices are nearing their pre-crash highs. In King County as a whole, the median price was $430,000 for the first six months of this year, just 5 percent below the 2007 peak. According to this article in The Seattle Times, the Seattle market is 13 percent below its 2007 peak.

In the same article, Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, says that all of these numbers point to a normalizing housing market, but that there is a wide variation among markets and submarkets, such as lower-priced homes appreciating at a higher rate than more expensive homes.

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



Pacific Place Sold For $271 Million

pac place1998 was a big year for downtown Seattle. Nordstrom completed its move across Pine Street to its shiny new flagship, and just down the street the Pacific Place shopping center opened, finally giving shoppers an alternative to the then-dingy Westlake Center. Can anyone even remember what occupied that block before Pacific Place rose five stories above Pine and Olive?

It appears that the shopping center still has plenty of earning potential, as it was just sold to D.C.-based real estate management company Madison Marquette (along with other unnamed investors) for $271 million, which is believed to be a record for this type of property in Seattle. Additionally, investors are donating $14 million from the sale to the United Way of King County.

According to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Pacific Place sees 6 million visitors annually and it is 90 percent leased. Many tenants have come and gone over the years, and it now houses such upscale retailers as Barney’s New York, Michael Kors, and Tiffany & Co, along with original tenants Williams Sonoma, Helly Hansen, Il Fornaio and what is now the AMC movie theater.

For more information on Seattle Real Estate, contact your local real estate agent today.



How to Get the Best Mortgage

If you have determined that you’re at a good point to start looking to buy a home in Seattle, you’ll likely need to begin researching how to get the best deal on your mortgage. While interest rates continue to remain low, finding the best mortgage option can still be cumbersome, but there are a few steps you can take to save you time and money. One of the biggest factors in determining if you will be approved for a loan, and what your interest rate will look like is your credit score. Reviewing your credit score at least once a year is highly recommended, so that you are aware of any issues or errors that could be improved to give you the extra few points you need to qualify for a better interest rate. Another factor that lenders take into account when you apply for a loan is your debt-to-income ratio. This is your income compared to how much money you owe, so if possible it might be a good time to decrease your debt or increase your income. If you can make larger payments on those credit cards, or pay off a loan, it could save you some money down the road.

Photo Courtesy of Istock Photo

Photo Courtesy of Istock Photo

While many real estate agencies can provide you with an affiliated lending bank, it is always wise to shop around for lenders, and ensure you’re getting the best rates available to you. Shopping for lenders can be as simple as requesting a quote online from several local companies, and comparing your findings. If you’re interested in learning more about your mortgage options, and ready to start the home buying process, contact your local real estate agent today.

Tips For Giving a Dated Room a Fresh Look

If you’re a new home owner looking to make your new home your own, or a longtime homeowner looking to spice up dated decor,  it can be hard to find the time and inspiration to spruce up your living space. You’ve probably created a few pinterest boards chalked full of fun ideas, but check out this list of easy changes you can implement to really update the look and feel of a room. It may seem like an obvious choice, but adding a new shade of paint to your walls can drastically change the appearance of your interiors. If you have outdated furniture, don’t hesitate to add a coat of paint or stain that could liven the otherwise boring end  table. If you don’t like it now, what is the harm in staining it, when the outcome could be something you love? kitchenin

Changing the light fixture in a room can really brighten the space, and create a completely new look and feel. You do not necessarily need to buy one big eccentric fixture, but you do need to make sure that all the fixtures within the same room compliment each other. There is nothing worse than an outdated room, that smells older than the decor within. Keep windows open when weather permits, to keep old odors smelling fresh, and keep your carpets vacuumed and clean. While you’re at it, give the whole room a good cleaning – decluttering can drastically change the look and functionality of a space, and prepare for new decor to enhance the room. Personalizing with small and unique to you touches, like hanging a photograph of a memorable trip, or adding new colorful couch pillows can create just the right amount of change you crave. If you’re interested in learning more about Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Tips For Young First Time Buyers

In many generations past, buying a small home in your 20s-30s was a milestone; people tended to stay put in the city they grew up in, not falling too far from the tree. Today’s generation of 20-30 somethings have certainly evolved, and don’t necessarily want to be tied down to any particular area. They want the freedom to travel for a few months at a time, or take that job across the country at a moment’s notice. They feel the weight of student debt piling up after graduation, and are not thinking about adding to it with a home purchase. Although it may feel like the majority of this group does not want to be tied down, there are many who have an interest in home ownership, and if you or someone you know falls into this category, here are some useful tips if you’re considering buying vs renting. renton home

Don’t assume you cannot afford to buy; many believe that since they likely do not have the funds for a 20% down payment, buying a home is not within reach. In today’s real estate world, there are so many options for financing if you have good credit, such as loan options for qualifying home buyers to put down as little as 5%. In a market like Seattle’s, where renting is likely as expensive (if not more) than buying, so do some research and explore your options before ruling anything out. It’s also important to find a good real estate agent. Times have changed, and while it is very easy to get on your computer and browse for homes online on your own, there are perks to having a professional with their ear to the floor guiding you along your search. Agents know the market better than anyone, and can be an excellent resource should any unforeseen issues arise along the way. Remember that this is not a race, it is a marathon; take your time to find the right home for you, as this is likely going to be one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime. Do your research, and do not feel rushed. Take the time to do your research and determine if and when buying is the right option for you. If you’re interested in learning more about Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today!

Attention Buyers: Tips To Win A Bidding War

Bidding wars are becoming commonplace in popular Seattle neighborhoods on homes that are reasonably priced – so how do you make your offer stand out from the rest? There are a few things you can do, once you’ve figured out with your broker a price that seems appropriate given what other homes have sold for in the area, and the asking price. You’ve likely been checking out listings online, so the price suggested should not come as a surprise. You can ask your agent about an “escalation clause”  with your offer, which is an option for buyers to increase their bid up to a certain defined dollar amount if another offer is on the table. This would then bump up your offer up to however much you’re willing to spend, but would also help cap your overspending, as the last thing any buyer wants to do is overpay for real estate. Wash park home11

The other big problem buyers are running into today is figuring out how to outbid cash buyers. Cash buyers are more attractive to sellers because there are fewer contingency hoops to jump through, and usually means a faster closing window. Cash buyers can close in as little as a week, whereas financing can take 30 days to close. If you know you’ll be financing your home, ask your real estate agent if they work with a mortgage consultant and establish that relationship before you place your offer, that way you’ll have head start on other finance buyers, and might even be able to close in a little over a week if you have a mortgage broker on hand to assist you in a pinch. If you’d like more information on buying a home in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today!

UW Planning 50-Story Tower In Prime Downtown Location

rainier tower

The Columbia Center tower could have some competition as the dominating presence in Seattle’s skyline in near future, as the University of Washington’s Board of Regents has approved plans for a 50-story office/apartment/retail/hotel complex that would share a block with the iconic Rainier Tower on the UW-owned Metropolitan Tract of land downtown, according to The Seattle Times.

UW is working with developer Wright Runstad & Co. to develop the complex, which would rise to 795 feet, making it the second tallest tower in the city behind the Columbia Center tower at 937 feet. The tower will house 30,000 square feet of street-level retail, 750,000 square feet of office space and at least 182 apartments, while a 15-story luxury hotel will sit beside it in a separate building. The unique shape of the tower, which consists of a wide base of 33,000 square feet and tapers to just 15,000 square feet at the top, was conceived so it wouldn’t block views of and from the Rainier Tower, which has occupied its precarious-looking pedestal since 1978. The complex will replace the Rainier Square retail mall.

The university has owned the 10.7-acre Metropolitan Tract, which comprises most of the blocks bordered by Union and Seneca streets and 3rd and 5th avenues (where its original campus was located before moving to its current location in 1895) for more than a century, and is hoping a new 80-year ground lease will increase its earnings from the tract to about $4 million per year, up from the $1.5 million it making from the current lease on the Rainier Square property.

While the university’s deadline for beginning construction on the complex is 2021, Wright Runstad is hoping to begin as soon as the second half of 2015.



Housing Prices See First Growth In 4 Months in February

housing market

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.

Great Tips For Spring Sellers

The flowers are starting to bud, and the sun is peaking through the clouds; Spring is in the air and For Sale signs are emerging around Seattle like crazy. How do you stay ahead of the game? As the housing market begins to heat up, sellers can take these extra steps to help stand out among the rest. At first glance, potential buyers are scrutinizing your property before they even step foot in the door, and having a clean entrance and yard can make a big difference for first impressions.  Adding a beautiful potted plant to the front porch, or staining the front deck could be relatively small projects that could add generous appeal to your home. laurelhurst11

Staging your home is another great way to entice buyers to choose your home. Hiring professionals to arrange your home to appeal to a broad array of buyers could be the difference between a buyer choosing your home, or choosing one just down the street. Removing personal belongings helps buyers envision themselves living on the property- not you. Also remember to give your home a good cleaning before showings; a clean home feels bigger and more inviting. For more information on Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Make Financially Sound Housing Decisions

When it comes to managing finances, many people tend to make simple mistakes along the way that could have been easily avoided. Here are some useful tips to make financially sound decisions when getting your housing finances in order. Utilizing a money management tool such as mint.com allows users to track their income, set budgets, goals and track what is coming in, and what is going out. Users can stay easily organized while saving for housing projects, and can avoid spending more than is within your budget. roanoke

Another big financial mistake people tend to make around this time of year is failing to claim all of the housing tax breaks which can save quite alot in the scheme of things. For a list of tax breaks for homeowners, check out this collection of useful tips from Zillow. Also taking into account the little things you spend money on everyday, like a Starbucks latte for $4 can really make an impact on your home purchase- cutting back to drinking coffee at home and buying your beloved Starbucks latte just once a week can save you hundreds of dollars a year, and inch you one step closer to making a larger down payment than you’d expect, and could save you thousands on your mortgage – the small decisions you make, will add up to a big scale change! For more information on Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.