Homes for Under a Million

The Seattle real estate market continues to be one of the hot topics in the nation.  As prices rise and inventory remains low, many first-time home buyers are in bidding wars for their dream home (or close to their dream home). Queen Anne has become Seattle’s first neighborhood to have a median home price of $1 million dollars and Capitol Hill is not far behind at $890,000. Condominium sales are also struggling with inventory, down 24 percent from a year ago. The median sales price for condos last month was $328,675, which is an increase of 9.6 percent from a year ago. Some think there is no chance of finding a home under a million dollars, but here are some for you to consider!

3030 80th Ave SE, Mercer Island

Available for $499,950

20012 27th Dr SE, Bothell

Available for $700,000

2721 1st Ave, Belltown

Available for $309,000

3116 164th St SW, Lynnwood

Available for $255,000

Ewing and Clark is Seattle’s oldest real estate company. Our agents are experts in the market and have been for many years. Contact us today and we can make the home buying process feel like a breeze.

Seattle Rents: High, But Not Highest In Washington State

It’s not a news flash that the real estate scene in Seattle has exploded in recent years. The Emerald City has gone from a town most people outside the state only associated with coffee and flannel, to the tech capital of the US (save for our friends in Silicon Valley). As home to some of the biggest tech names in the world and a booming job market to match, it’s fair to say there’s might not be enough housing to meet demand. Or, at least to meet demand AND your budget.

High rises, apartment buildings and condos are going up all over the city, and soon, our beloved skyline will be dotted with more and more buildings and towers, making the Seattle of just 10 years-ago look almost unfamiliar.

Seattle has recently made headlines as one of the most expensive places to live, get this, in the world. That’s right, recent data has placed Seattle’s rent rates at 5th highest in the nation and, supposedly 9th highest in the world! However, San Francisco and New York still dwarf us, tying for number one most expensive, world-wide.

Those of us who are Seattle Natives know that the average rental rate in Seattle has increased fairly dramatically in the last few years, but it’s interesting to note that, while Seattle’s rents have been on the rise, they don’t quite top the list of highest rents in the state.

According to recent data from Apartment List, Seattle ranks at number 5 in the state for highest rents, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at about $1,650.

Surprisingly, Mercer Island tops the list of cities in Washington for highest rents. A one-bedroom on Mercer Island goes for an average of a whopping $1,890 per month. No one said Island living was cheap, I suppose.

Filling in the gaps between number 1 and number 5 on the list are Bellevue at number 2 with an average of $1,860 per month for a one-bedroom (not a whole lot lower than their neighboring Island), Redmond at number 3 with an average of about $1,690 monthly rent for a one bedroom and Kirkland at number 4 with an average monthly rent of $1,660 for a one-bedroom.

Seattle and the Eastside are not the only places in Washington with rising rent rates. Tacoma tops the list nation-wide for fastest growing rent with a year-over-year growth rate of 7.7 percent. Seattle comes close, but not close enough to that figure with year-over-year rental rate growth at 5.3 percent.

Staggering growth aside, Tacoma is still a bargain in the rental market compared to Seattle, with a one-bedroom in Tacoma going for an average of $1,000 per month. For those of you keeping score, that’s a savings of $650 compared to Seattle.

But, proving that some things really don’t change, the cheapest places to live in the Evergreen State are still East of the Cascade Mountains. You can get a one-bedroom for only $600 per month in Walla Walla and it’s not much pricier in the State’s second largest city, Spokane, at around $630 per month.

What a difference a mountain range makes…

Sell Your Home This Spring With These Seven Tips

Spring has sprung in beautiful Seattle, and if you’re looking to sell your home, there may be no better time to do so. Think about it, what a lovely time to showcase your home and really put its best foot forward, so to speak? Here are some tips to get your home looking picture perfect for a Springtime sale.

  1. Spring Cleaning
    Nothing says Spring more than a good old fashioned Spring cleaning, and that may be just what your home needs (probably, even if you’re not going to sell it) to get it in tip top shape. Go through those boxes of STILL unpacked home goods, linens and clothes that have sat in a closet or attic since move-in day and get rid of whatever you don’t need or use anymore (trust me, charitable organizations are just as grateful for the donation this time of year as they are in winter).  Get the windows washed, floors scrubbed and everything looking clean and clutter-free. Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of a much easier move after you sell, if there’s less stuff to pack!
  2. Get Your Garden On
    Spring is an excellent time to make your yard look its absolute best. Slip on some gardener’s gloves and pull a few weeds, plant new flowers, prune trees and bushes and make sure any leftover leaves from winter are raked up and the grass is mowed. Potential buyers are definitely going to check out your yard, and just like a delicious meal, presentation is everything. Do your best to seed patchy grass, lay down beauty bark or simply add rock edging to flower beds. Adding more colorful flowers can make a big difference in how appealing your home looks too. It’s the little touches that can make a big difference.

  3. Create A Patio Worth ‘Sitting A Spell’ On
    Once the yard is looking good, it’s time to turn your attention to any outdoor living space your home offers. Simple improvements like clean, well-kept patio furniture with bright and colorful pillows and a few nicely potted plants can create a lovely and inviting outdoor space as well as help to evoke images of enjoying the Summertime there, in a home-buyer’s mind. That’s the kind of image that may just get you an offer. Also, it’s a good idea to stage the patio area with a pitcher and glasses of a refreshing beverage on the patio table when showing the home, especially on a nice sunny day.
  4. De-Gunk the Driveway
    A very simple yet often overlooked way to add extra curb appeal and freshen your homes appearance is with a good power wash to the driveway and any sidewalks outside. Moss, oil stains and other undesirable things can collect on paved surfaces outside of your home and make it look neglected or just plain grungy. A nice power wash should do the trick and rid those surfaces of any ‘blemishes’, instantly boosting the overall ‘put-together’ look of your home.
  5. Let There Be Light
    We are blessed this time of year with much more abundant sunlight than just about any other time of year (save for summer, of course). Why not take advantage of it by opening your house up to more light? Weather permitting, open windows and patio doors to let in plenty of light, fresh air, and maybe even the oh-so-Springy scent of freshly cut grass and flowers.  Use light the way ladies use lipstick for a night out, as an easy finishing touch that adds immense appeal, quickly and easily.
  6. Make Sure Things Are Up to Snuff
    Hiring an inspector to give your place the old once over is usually a good idea, no matter how well maintained it may be. If you have even a tiny inclination that something may need to be fixed before it hits the market, you should have a pro take a peek. Plus, getting things fixed and in great condition can significantly drive up the selling price of your home, which is generally a good thing. Your realtor (or a potential realtor) should be able to help you find a professional in your area to conduct an inspection.

7. All The Home’s A Stage
Staging can play a BIG part in attracting a buyer. Just as garden improvements and      landscaping are hugely important for the outside of your home, staging is key for the inside of your home. Regardless of whether you’re currently living in the home, or moved into your new abode, you want to create a space that’s warm, inviting and, well, homey. People need to be able to picture themselves living their daily lives there, so making it feel like home is important. Add a vase of fresh flowers to the dining table, a basket of fresh apples to the kitchen counter, have art on the walls (but not too much, and try to minimize the presence of personal or family photos) and fun throw pillows/blankets on the couches. You can even add the scent of fresh laundry or freshly baked cookies (a scented candle should do the trick) to get an extra edge, as our sense of smell is most directly tied to memory and scents like that can ‘take you home’ in an instant.

With these tips, the task of readying your home for sale should be a little bit easier. Remember to take it easy though. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew and do it all in one weekend. Home buying and selling can take time, and you should take the time needed to get all your ducks in a row before you put that sign out in the yard. Preparing your home for the market can be a breeze if you just take it one step at a time to get your home looking it’s best, and, with any luck, it will be someone else’s home in no time!

Dramatic Growth In Seattle-Area Luxury Homes Market

Luxury home available on Mercer Island

Luxury Mercer Island home available for $10,998,000

It’s no secret that Seattle’s housing market is one of the strongest in the nation, but what is a little surprising is the growth in the luxury homes sector. According to a recent story by the Puget Sound Business Journal, 537 homes sold for more than $1 million in just four Bellevue ZIP codes alone over the past year, 108 more than 2014 and an increase of 25 percent. 60 homes sold for over $3 million in those areas, up 43 percent over last year.

In Seattle as a whole, 901 homes have sold for $1 million or more so far in 2015, compared to 689 in 2014, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Of those sales, more than a quarter (241) occurred in the Central Seattle area comprising the neighborhoods south of the ship canal, north of I-90, and east of downtown. Most were clustered on North Capitol Hill and in the neighborhoods bordering Lake Washington, such as Madison Park, Washington Park, and Leschi. The most expensive sale of the year (so far) was a 9,820-square-foot estate on McGilvra Boulevard in Washington Park that fetched $5.75 million, followed by a lakefront Cape Cod-style home in Washington Park, which sold for $5.195 million. The PSBJ article states that sales of homes priced $1 million or higher in Ballard and Green Lake are up a whopping 200 percent.

The Seattle area’s growing job market is cited as one of the main drivers of the luxury home sales market, as is strong interest from international buyers, especially from China. With tech companies flocking to Seattle and Eastside job centers, they bring with them highly paid executives who may seek out luxury homes. The PSBJ article states that “Luxury homes are bellwethers of a thriving economy and growing job market. They are the ultimate proof of a prosperous and strong residential real estate sector.”

If you’re interested in Seattle’s luxury homes market, please contact one of our residential agents today.

Seattle Condos Appreciating Faster Than Homes

Madison Tower cropped

Featured condo – 1000 1st Ave., Unit 2202, Seattle, 98104

Condominium property values were some of the hardest hit after the housing crash, with the typical condo in the U.S. losing a third of its value. But according to a recent Zillow survey, condos are finally making a long-awaited comeback and are appreciating more quickly than single-family homes in many U.S. markets, including Seattle’s.

According to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), the median sales price for a condo in Seattle in October was $368,000, up 23 percent over the year, compared to an 8 percent price increase for single-family homes. Condos in many neighborhoods within the city saw much higher rates of appreciation. Prices increased by 55 percent in Southeast Seattle (Columbia City, Rainier Valley, Seward Park), and by 45 percent in both Beacon Hill and the Ballard/Green Lake/Phinney Ridge area. Prices for condos in Seattle’s most expensive market, comprising Downtown and Belltown, rose by 34 percent over the year to a median of $539,000, and Queen Anne condo prices are the highest in a decade.

The condo market may be especially attractive to first-time home buyers, who are largely being priced out of Seattle’s expensive single-family market. Condos are often more affordable and lower maintenance, and many offer the urban lifestyle that young professionals are increasingly attracted to. Seattle’s condo market is also suffering from a lack of inventory with only 1.18 months’ worth of supply available (compared to the 4-6 months’ worth that is generally considered a ‘balanced’ market) which could be another factor helping drive price increases. Currently, there are 107 condos on the market in Downtown Seattle, ranging from $209,900 for a 447-square-foot unit at Vine and Western, to $9,990,000 for the 6,758-square-foot full-floor penthouse at the Madison Tower.

Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell wrote in the survey summary that, “Over the past few years, buying a condo hasn’t always been considered an investment on par with buying a single-family home. Clearly, the most recent data indicate that notion may be due for a second look.”

If you are curious how much your condo might be worth, please do not hesitate to contact one of our real estate agents!

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!

Only 2% of Seattle Renters Plan To Buy Within Year

371 ProspectSeattle is home to one of the nation’s highest homeownership confidence rates, according to Zillow’s recently released Housing Confidence Index (ZHCI), but our region’s soaring home prices could be causing renters to think twice about entering the home-buying market. According to a Zillow report, only two percent of renters in Seattle are planning to purchase a home in the next year, which is far below the national average of 11.4 percent and the lowest rate among the top 20 metro areas. Miami led all metros with 21 percent of renters planning to buy in the upcoming year, despite a healthy 8.9 percent year-over-year home value increase.

The Seattle Times cited another statistic from Zillow stating that even among renters making $90,000+ per year, 48 percent said they were not planning to buy in the next five years. In the most recent census data available (from 2013), the biggest growth in the rental market was from those making $100,000+ per year. Though some of Seattle renters’ hesitation may largely have to do with discouragement over the high prices and bidding wars that have become the new normal, many are consciously choosing renting for the flexibility it allows. With the plethora of luxury apartment buildings sprouting all over Seattle, many offering amenities akin to those at high-end hotels, renting, and avoiding the obligations of home ownership, is looking more and more appealing to many.

But just because renters are staying out of the fray doesn’t mean no one’s buying, in fact, quite the opposite. Even with almost a third fewer listings this August than August 2014, pending sales and closed sales in King County were both up this August compared to a year ago, according to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. After a slight dip in home prices in July, the median price for a single-family home in King County bounced back to just a hair under $500,000 at $499,950 in August. The Seattle area’s market also rose from 10th to 2nd on Zillow’s Housing Confidence Index.

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

Commercial Lease Rates Hitting New Heights In Seattle

seattle sunsetThe Highway 99 Blues Club, established in 2004 and located in the basement of a hundred-year-old brick building, is possibly one of the best blues clubs in Seattle. As reported by The Seattle Times, in June, the business was notified that their rent would be increasing. Somewhat normal and understandable considering the immense growth Seattle overall is experiencing, especially downtown. However, their rent isn’t going up just $500, or even $1,000. Starting in January 2016, the blues club, if they intended on staying, would be responsible for paying $14, 959 a month. That’s an increase of 225 percent (or $10,359 more a month) and how the business sees it, an eviction notice.

The commercial real estate market in Seattle is reaching new heights, quite literally and figuratively speaking, so much so that downtown tenants, like the Highway 99 Blues club, are being squeezed out due to astronomical rent increases. This gentrification of downtown Seattle is well supported, as companies haven’t a problem finding tenants to fill local office space in exchange for a pretty penny. In fact, not only are rents 7.5 percent higher (an average of $36.76 a square foot) than last year, but in June of this year “the vacancy rate was 11.4 percent, down nearly by half from its high of 21 percent five years ago,” according to the Seattle Times.

This rise in lease rates in Seattle, Bellevue, and surrounding areas has been greater than any other metro area in the US, and that includes tech hotspots like San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, and New York, according to the New York based market research firm Reis. Still, Seattle is cheaper than Manhattan, San Francisco, and London, and currently offers a thriving and exponentially growing technology and health industry. In fact, many San Francisco-based businesses are on the hunt for Seattle offices, including cloud-computing giant, Salesforce.com.

It’s been reported that three-quarters of newly occupied office space in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties is located in downtown Seattle. Last year a top floor office space went for $30 a square foot, this year a lower floor office space in the same building is asking $36 a square foot. That’s a 20 percent rent increase. Demand for land is what is moving these prices, as business owners are paying huge premiums and signing large lease transactions in order secure a spot to set up shop.

Adding to the difficultly in securing an already existing office in downtown Seattle or nearby areas, many companies are signing pre-leases on buildings that are still under construction. Some of these companies being:

–          Amazon just leased 817,000-square-feet of Troy Block, which is part of two-building project in South Lake Union.

–          Holland America Line just leased Martin Selig’s new 185,000 square foot building in Lower Queen Anne, set to open next year.

–          Tableau Software is set to lease a new 2016 210,000-square-foot building north of Gas Works Park.

–          And Juno Therapeutics leased 287,000 square foot building which is under construction at 400 Dexter Ave. N in South Lake Union.

It certainly seems “Seattle is a landlords market,” Stuart Williams, managing director of commercial real-estate brokerage JLL told The Seattle Times. This isn’t a playground for the mom and pop smaller tenant. This game is only available for big time tenants ready to pay up, commit to long term leases and wait patiently for their space in the ever changing Seattle metropolis.

Millennials Are Buying Homes After All

broadview homewwThe National Association of Realtors 2015 report on generational trends showed that millennials make up the largest share of homebuyers, sitting at 32 percent. According to a recent TD Bank Survey of 1,002 adults, millennials who are currently between the ages 25 and 34 will be looking to purchase their first home over the next two years. Alas, putting to rest their reputation as the transient renter generation.

As the older tier of Gen Y rounds into their early 30s, many of whom didn’t experience the housing crisis firsthand, they view home buying with innovative eyes. Millennials see the potential in the “fixer upper” home and aren’t ruling them out as viable housing options. Just as likely to roll up their sleeves as the generations before them, millennials like the idea of tailoring their home to their needs.  Despite being laden with college loans and debt, and maybe because of that, Gen Y-ers are also less romantic about the process – purchasing before marriage, owning for shorter amount of time and flipping with success. There is as much risk as there is reward, and this robust generation isn’t questioning if the rewards exists.

Beyond changing the home owner relationship, this generation is also changing the home buying process. “We’re on our phones all the time, and this generation does not like to pick up the phone,” Player Murray, managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices York Simpson Underwood Realty told US News. “They don’t want to bother with a conversation if it can be texted.” And because it’s predicted that millennials will (soon) rise as the generation buying the largest number of homes this year, their preference in how the process works, matter – big time. Nela Richardson, chief economist for the real estate company Redfin, agrees that “because of their size, whatever they decide to do will have an impact on the housing market,” and really, with smart phones and searching apps like Redfin and Zillow, Richardson is on to something.

This tech-savvy generation is spearheading change in many industries and real estate has been no exception. As Gen Y-ers overtake baby boomers in the home buying game, there is a ripple effect. Being that only 3 percent of agents are under 30, and 81 percent of real estate agents are over the age of 45, according to a NAR survey of its members, the tables have turned and the consumer isn’t being served by its own age group.

It’s not that Gen Y-ers aren’t buying homes, they are, just on their terms. They know what they want, which is not a phone call, but rather a text or app that will give them the freedom to research on their time. They do their homework – they aren’t looking for an access point to the information, as that is already at their fingertips, what they are looking for is a person to interpret the information and not leave anything out. Surprises aren’t fun for this generation, but home improvement projects are!