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!

New SHA Program Would Raise Rents For Many In Subsidized Housing

housesAn article published yesterday by The Seattle Times outlines a proposed new program from the Seattle Housing Authority that would introduce progressive rent increases for about 35 percent of households that are part of the subsidized housing system. The program, titled “Stepping Forward”, aims to cycle more people out of subsidized housing by putting residents on the path to a higher wage through job counseling, and would raise rents accordingly over a span of six to eight years.

Stepping Forward would apply to 4,600 “work-able” households, which is defined by SHA as one where at least one person between the ages of 24 and 61 has no disabilities that prevent them from working. Currently, residents in subsidized housing pay 30 percent of their income for rent, but under the new plan rent would be based on home size rather than income. For example, potential rent for a one-bedroom apartment would be $140 per month for the first year of the program, $310 per month for years two and three, $480 per month for years four and five, and $720 per month for years six and seven. Different rent amounts would apply to studios, two bedrooms, etc. For households with no work-able adults, rent would continue to be a percentage of income.

Five community meetings being held in September will give the public a chance to comment on the proposal. All meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the following dates:

- Today, September 16 at the Meadowbrook Community Center

- Wednesday, September 17 at the Yesler Community Center

- Monday, September 22 at the Rainier Community Center

- Tuesday, September 23 at the NewHolly Gathering Hall

- Monday, September 29 at the High Point Community Center

For more information on rentals or real estate in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

First Drop In Median Home Price In Six Months Came In August

housingAfter a blockbuster July when we saw the median price for a single-family home in Seattle rise to $543,500, topping the market’s 2007 peak, the median price in August came a little closer to earth, showing its first monthly decline in six months. The median price dropped 8 percent from July to August, and now stands at $499,950, according to The Seattle Times.

But despite slowing monthly growth, yearly appreciation for median home prices in Seattle still stands at a healthy 9.4 percent, the highest rate among the sub-markets in King County. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service says the biggest challenge currently facing buyers throughout Western Washington is inventory, as has been the case for the past several months. They report that although inventory has risen slightly since this time last year, the number of listings added in August was the lowest since April, and King County has the tightest inventory with only two months’ supply available.

The NWMLS uses the word “stability” to describe the market in Western Washington as a whole, and says we should continue to see “moderated growth” in the coming months. If you are interested in buying or selling a home in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

30 -Year Fixed Mortgage Rate in Washington Below National Rate

Borrowers were quoted just below 4% last week for 30-year fixed mortgage rates Nationally, which is down from 4.08%, where the rate had been previously hanging for weeks. According to Zillow, mortgage rates in Washington State stayed at 3.99% last week, but have since increased to 4.05% this week after the long weekend. Today other state mortgage rates have ranged from a low of 3.94% in South Dakota, to a high of 4.17% in Wyoming and West Virginia.

Photo Courtesy of Zillow Mortgage

Photo Courtesy of Zillow Mortgage

While the rate has risen, Zillow experts predict the rates will remain low this short work week, as breaks in our domestic economic data will be overshadowed by concerns over the European economy. News of a plausible European Central Bank plan to instill a stimulus program similar to the Federal Reserve’s is one reason the rates in the US remained low last week, and are predicted to remain in this range for weeks to come. If you’re interested in learning more about Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.

Apartment Developer Takes Over Central District Park Space

Yet another Seattle apartment building is in development, and this time it is taking over what could have been a small neighborhood park in the Central District. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Spectrum Development Solutions bought the property located at 1023 E Alder Street for just over $2.2 million, and plans to build an 84 unit apartment building on the land. The City Parks department had attempted to absolve the property for a pocket park, in a neighborhood which currently only has one small open space, Horiuchi Park. central district park

Spectrum has since received the nod of approval from Ed Murray to move forward with the building development, squashing further disputes between Spectrum and the City Parks Department. In an area that could use more open spaces, the Central District currently has 3 apartment projects planned by Spectrum in various phases of development, but this is certainly becoming commonplace around other urban areas of the city. More people are moving in, and new housing options are needed to accommodate population growth. One of the goals presented by the City is to have two acres of parks in this area by 2024, stay tuned for further updates. For more information on Seattle real estate, contact your local real estate agent today.