Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Our state appears to be pretty much firing on all cylinders with annual employment growth well above 100,000 and the unemployment rate trending down toward 5%. A ll in all, it’s difficult to f ind something to worry about at the moment.

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • 21,478 home sales were reported during the second quarter of 2015, up by a substantial 17.6% when compared to the second quarter of 2014.
  • Sales slowed in the volatile San Juan County but this is no cause for concern as it reflects a drop of just 26 units.
  • The growth in sales was most pronounced in Grays Harbor County—a turnaround from the last report—and all but two counties saw double-digit percentage increases from the same period last year.
  • A bigger concern is the continued decline in listing activity which is down by almost 20

 

HOME PRICES

  • Prices in the region rose by an average of 8.2% year-over-year, and are 7.8% higher than seen in the first quarter of 2015.
  • When compared to the second quarter of 2014, Kitsap County showed the fastest price growth with an increase of 15.9%. Doubledigit percentage gains were also seen in six other counties.
  • For the second consecutive quarter, Island County was the only market where year-overyear home prices fell—but the difference was very minimal.
  • I still anticipate price growth continuing to increase through the balance of the year as inventory constraints persist.

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by seven days when compared to the second quarter of 2014.
  • It took an average of 84 days to sell a home in the second quarter of this year—down from 102 in the first quarter.
  • There were just three markets where the length of time it took to sell a home did rise, but the increase was minimal and ranged from one to five days.
  • Unsurprisingly, the average time it took to sell a house in King County dropped below one month to 27 days.

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. I have moved the needle a little farther in favor of seller. In as much as we have seen some improvement in the number of homes for sale over the past few months, the stock of homes for sale is still woefully low, and demand far exceeds supply.

I anticipate that we will continue to see price appreciation continue through this year at above average rates. The big question remains as to when we will see any significant increase in mortgage rates. Given current events in Europe, our mortgage markets will be looking east for direction, rather than concentrating on domestic economic data. As such, I don’t expect a rapid interest rate growth in the near-term.

In summary, the region’s housing market remains tight with little sign that we will see any significant increase in much-needed listings. This, combined with rising home prices, has some concerned that we could be heading towards another housing bubble, but the real estate market and economic climate of today are very different to those that led to the bubble in 2007. Nobody can predict what’s going to happen with 100% certainty, but given the current state of things, I don’t believe there is a risk of history repeating itself in the foreseeable future.

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

 

Windermere Foundation Quarterly Report Q2 2015

The year seems to be flying by… can you believe we are already more than halfway through 2015? And what a year it has been for the Windermere Foundation. Thanks to your continued support, we have raised more than $738,000 this year to support organizations that help low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S. Overall, that brings the total amount we have raised to date to $29.5 million!

This past quarter, donations from real estate sales/transactions made up 40 percent of the total revenue, with the other 60 percent coming from personal donations made by Windermere agents, owners, staff, and our community partners. We are getting close to our $30 million end-of-year goal for 2015, but we still need your help to get us there!

Over the past year, the Windermere Foundation has been able to provide grants to organizations, such as Multi-Communities (M.I.C.), which provides services to families surviving domestic violence, and Mary’s Place, a drop-in day shelter for women with children.

 

“I wanted to extend my sincere appreciation for the funding assistance. Funding included the Community Garden of Peace Project I for young mothers ages 14-18, as well as the Community Peace Project II, in addition to rental assistance for abused moms and their children, food cards, and financial assistance for toys, books, and other gifts during the holidays. Thanks to Windermere, we were able to provide services and other assistance directly to families, in addition to helping us work towards expanding our outreach and services to multiple youth and family services organizations throughout Seattle—a gift that just keeps on giving! Thus far, we have helped 17 families.”

--Bettie J. Williams-Watson, Founder/Executive Director, Multi-Communities (M.I.C.)

 

“Wow! You are just love. You fill our hearts and our shelter with healing and hope! Thank for being the grace and goodness we need to survive until we get our forever homes. We love Windermere!”

-- Marty Hartman, Executive Director, Mary’s Place 

 

These are just a couple of organizations that have received assistance through the Windermere Foundation. If you’d like to help us reach our fundraising goal of $30 million by end of year, please click on the Donate button.

Thank you to everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation. Your generosity is truly making a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities.

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation

Windermere Foundation Quarterly Report Q2 2015

The year seems to be flying by… can you believe we are already more than halfway through 2015? And what a year it has been for the Windermere Foundation. Thanks to your continued support, we have raised more than $738,000 this year to support organizations that help low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S. Overall, that brings the total amount we have raised to date to $29.5 million!

This past quarter, donations from real estate sales/transactions made up 40 percent of the total revenue, with the other 60 percent coming from personal donations made by Windermere agents, owners, staff, and our community partners. We are getting close to our $30 million end-of-year goal for 2015, but we still need your help to get us there!

Over the past year, the Windermere Foundation has been able to provide grants to organizations, such as Multi-Communities (M.I.C.), which provides services to families surviving domestic violence, and Mary’s Place, a drop-in day shelter for women with children.

 

“I wanted to extend my sincere appreciation for the funding assistance. Funding included the Community Garden of Peace Project I for young mothers ages 14-18, as well as the Community Peace Project II, in addition to rental assistance for abused moms and their children, food cards, and financial assistance for toys, books, and other gifts during the holidays. Thanks to Windermere, we were able to provide services and other assistance directly to families, in addition to helping us work towards expanding our outreach and services to multiple youth and family services organizations throughout Seattle—a gift that just keeps on giving! Thus far, we have helped 17 families.”

--Bettie J. Williams-Watson, Founder/Executive Director, Multi-Communities (M.I.C.)

 

“Wow! You are just love. You fill our hearts and our shelter with healing and hope! Thank for being the grace and goodness we need to survive until we get our forever homes. We love Windermere!”

-- Marty Hartman, Executive Director, Mary’s Place 

 

These are just a couple of organizations that have received assistance through the Windermere Foundation. If you’d like to help us reach our fundraising goal of $30 million by end of year, please click on the Donate button.

Thank you to everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation. Your generosity is truly making a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities.

To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation

6 Powerful Reasons to Consider a Short Sale Instead of Foreclosure

If you are unable to make your mortgage payments, you may be considering what to do next. One option is a short sale. Another option is foreclosure. There are many benefits to choosing a short sale over foreclosure.

Before you make a decision, make sure you know the facts. Our partner, Lambros Politis, Lead Counsel and debt settlement specialist at Ark Law Group, points out six powerful reasons to consider a short sale instead of foreclosure:

Selling your home can be a tough choice. It’s an emotion-packed decision that affects your whole family. Often homeowners feel that selling short is a catastrophe – even when it’s almost impossible to make their mortgage payments.

short sale can be the first step to a financial freedom. The relief from getting out from under an unaffordable mortgage can be exhilarating. It really is the beginning of a new life.

Foreclosure is a far worse alternative to a short sale. If you keep hoping something will change – you’ll get a windfall or a huge raise – and it doesn’t happen, at some point you’ll have to stop paying your mortgage. When you go into default, your bank will foreclose. And that’s very bad news.

If your mortgage payments are too much for you to handle and you’re at risk of losing your home, I want you to consider these reasons for choosing a short sale.

1.In a short sale, all debts will be settled or re-negotiated.

With a foreclosure, your home will almost certainly sell for less than what you owe. Your mortgage lender then might have the right to sue you for the rest of the debt or garnish your wages to get the money you still owe. The nightmare isn’t always over just because you lost your property.

Washington State allows non-judicial foreclosure on a lien. If your lender chooses non-judicial foreclosure, they can’t collect any remaining balance from you after they auction off your home. However, if you have other liens against your property – a second mortgage, a HELOC, or other debts secured by your home – those lenders still have the right to sue you, garnish your income or take money out of your bank account.

With a short sale, we will work with your mortgage holder to get a deficiency waiver, so the balance of your debt is forgiven. We will also work with any other lender to remove their lien from the property. This has to happen or the short sale can’t proceed. Our negotiator will also try to get a better deal for you, if the lender won’t forgive the debt – such as a reduced payment plan.

As a rule, we’re able to get full settlements for 90% to 95% of our clients while negotiating a short sale.

2.Foreclosure has a bigger impact on your credit than a short sale.

If you stop making payments on your home, that’s a big deal to lenders. That’s why a foreclosure is noted in your credit report for seven years. Even if you recover financially, have a down payment saved and great income, you’re very unlikely to be able to buy a new home for at least a few years.

A short sale is also kept in your credit record for seven years – and will also lower your credit score. Following a short sale, the waiting period before you can qualify for a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan is much shorter than if you go through foreclosure. And without delinquent payments, your credit score will be higher. If you’re hoping to get an FHA loan, you may qualify for consideration even sooner.

3.Foreclosure is public information.

There is some stigma to foreclosure. If the bank plans to auction off your home, they’ll put notices on your door and in your yard. Your neighbors will know you aren’t able to make your mortgage payments.

From the outside, a short sale looks like any other real estate transaction. No one needs to know. You’re in good company. As recently as March 2015, 10% of all home sales were short sales.

4.With a short sale, you may qualify for generous government cash incentives to help with relocation.

If you meet HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) requirements you may get up to $10,000 when your short sale closes. While it’s called “relocation assistance,” you can use the money for anything. To qualify, you need to be using this home as your primary residence.

Even if you don’t qualify for HAFA relocation assistance, you have other options. If you have a Fannie Mae loan, you may qualify for up to $3,000 in assistance at closing. FHA and VA lenders may offer $1,500.

Not all lenders participate in these programs. We find that our clients get this assistance in about 70% of the sales we help with.

5.You don’t have to go it alone.

When you work with a team of professionals, you know that you have smart people on your side, working to get you everything you’re eligible for. You don’t have to talk to your lender yourself – we’ll take care of it. Nothing falls through the cracks. You don’t have to be the expert. All your questions are answered.

In the end, it’s always better to know you did everything possible to get the best outcome.

6.After a short sale, you can start fresh.

This is what people tell me is the biggest benefit of a short sale. It comes back to what I said at the beginning. A foreclosure only gets rid of your mortgage payment. Other lenders will still need to be paid.

We work very hard to resolve ALL your debts when we negotiate your short sale. You can let go of that stress and move forward with the rest of your life.

 

Richard Eastern is a Windermere broker in Bellevue, WA and co-founder of Washington Property Solutions, a short sales negotiating company. Since 2003 he has helped more than 900 homeowners sell their homes. A Bellevue native and a University of Washington grad, Richard is an avid sports fan and a devoted Little League and basketball coach. You can learn more about Richard here or at www.washortsales.com.

 

#YourStoryIsOurStory

 

Life happens fast. New job, new baby, a new adventure. Whatever that next step is, your agent’s job is to help you find a home that fits. A place to create new memories, tell old stories – start the next chapter.

YOUR STORY IS OUR STORY

We want to hear your stories. Like the moment you and your agent found your perfect home, the way you felt when you were handed the keys, or when your home sold and you knew you could finally move onto whatever life has in store for you next. You and your real estate agent are on a journey together, and we would love to hear about what makes that work.

Over the next year, we will be collecting videos, photos, essays, and more. Tag your tweets, Instagram photos, and vine videos with #YourStoryIsOurStory, or upload your photos with captions directly to the gallery page.  If you would like to share a video, or post to our blog, contact us in the comments. We aren’t looking for agent testimonials or reviews; rather, we want to hear about your unique buying or selling journey and how your agent helped you get there.

Throughout the year we will be posting some of our favorite #YourStoryIsOurStory videos, photos, and blog posts. Please take a minute to share your experiences, and follow #YourStoryIsOurStory on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest pages.

 

The Price is Right

 

Anyone who has ever bought or sold a home has probably realized that proper pricing is one of the most crucial yet intangible components of a successful transaction. Pricing isn’t always a matter of logic, mathematics or what the seller “needs” to net but a combination of these and many other factors which can vary greatly from day to day.

One fact that never varies is that the eventual selling price is always what the buyer is willing to pay and what the seller is willing to accept. Once the sale is recorded, that price becomes a comparable that all other similar properties will be measured against for about 6 months, give or take. Recent sales prices are also a valuable resource to help start the pricing strategy process.

Market time is extremely important to consider as well. Properties sold within the average market time for your area are considered “well priced” while those taking much longer to sell warrant a serious re-evaluation. If “condition” factors, i.e., décor, color scheme or other fixable situations need re-doing, DO THEM! The price may not be the problem, just the presentation! However, factors out of the control of the seller such as excess road noise, less than desirable view, etc., may necessitate a price reduction even if similar properties nearby without these issues have sold for more. After all, no matter what the seller’s opinion of his or her home’s price is, there can be no sale until a buyer willing to pay a price acceptable to the seller materializes!

Originally posted on Anna Novikoff's blog

 

July Maintenance Guide

This article originally appeared on Porch.com

Written by Anne Reagan

 

Your summer plans should include keeping up with these home and yard maintenance projects.

 

The month of July can be a busy one for homeowners. Summer vacation, celebrations, a change in the family schedule and increased heat can create fun but active weekends. If you live in an area with increased summer storms or floods, you’ll want to make sure your home and family are prepped for emergencies. For example, you can dedicate one weekend to creating a whole-home inventory. To keep your summer home costs down, maintain your air conditioning units and practice smart water conservation in the yard. July can be a great month to tackle larger home improvement projects, especially on the exterior. Projects like roofing, siding, painting, patio, deck, and landscaping might require hiring a professional. Be sure to read our articles about how to make smart hiring decisions and how to budget for your project.

 

Get everyone involved in home maintenance

With longer daylight hours and, for some, a change in the daily routine, it’s a great idea to get the kids involved in home improvement or home maintenance so they can learn problem-solving skills as well as learn how things work. Even simple projects like setting up a sprinkler system, repairing the fence, washing windows or weeding can teach kids valuable skills. Keep small hands away from sharp tools by purchasing inexpensive child versions of adult tools and encourage them to wear special safety glasses (or simply use swimming goggles). Kids love getting their hands dirty and contributing to family activities!

 

Best July weekend projects

  • practice water conservation by watering by hand and adding mulch.
  • service your air conditioning unit before technicians get too busy
  • check your exterior siding and repair, replace or repaint as necessary.
  • keep mosquitos away by emptying stagnant pools of water
  • set up or build a compost area in your yard so you can use this “black gold” for fall planting
  • make organic fertilizer, plant fall annuals and sow fall vegetable seeds
  • organize your closets and donate winter clothes
  • pack a summer emergency car kit

 

Grilling and BBQ safety tips

July is a hot time for outdoor grilling but it’s also the peak month for grill and barbecue fires. Here are some tips for keeping your grill area safe this summer:

  • always use your grill outside and away from the house
  • open the lid before igniting
  • never leave your grill unattended
  • clear a 3-foot area around the grill and place it away from heavily trafficked areas, especially where children play
  • keep your grill clean and remove grease build-ups
  • always place cooled coals in a metal, lidded container

 

Tip of the month: Sort and organize school work

School is out and your children’s precious memories and school projects should be saved or recycled.

  • keep the best projects in a clear plastic container that can be labeled year after year
  • display precious artwork or achievements on the wall
  • donate used backpacks and clothing
  • thoroughly clean lunch boxes prior to storing them
  • organize your family’s “command center” (here are some tips)

 

http://www.windermere.com/uploads/ckeditor_assets/2/pictures/2224/content_porch-logo.png Porch.com is the free home network that connects homeowners and renters with the right home service professionals.

Homeownership Has Declined, But It Won’t Be Forever

This article originally appeared on Inman.com

 

In addition to talking about housing bubbles, another topic that is becoming popular among housing scaremongers is the ongoing decline in the U.S. homeownership rate. Remarks range from the direct, “American homeownership is at its lowest level in more than two decades,” to the downright inflammatory, “Rental surge to drop homeownership rate to 61.3% by 2030”. When I read statements like this it always drives me to dig into the data to see what is really going on.

 

The data that everyone uses to track homeownership is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, which publishes quarterly stats on ownership rates dating back to 1965. As you can see in the chart below, the rate remained remarkably stable between 1965, when it registered at 62.9%, and 1994, when it was 63.8%. For the purposes of this discussion, I have highlighted three presidential terms: two under President Clinton and President George W. Bush’s first term.

 

 

The “boom times” for housing essentially started after the election of President Clinton, who went to remarkable lengths to encourage homeownership. Readers may remember the 1994 National Homeownership Strategy when the President directed HUD to come up with a viable plan to increase homeownership. And it worked; during the Clinton administration, homeownership rose from 64.2% to 67.1%.

 

During his first term, President Bush continued the practice of encouraging homeownership, as it dovetailed with his Ownership Society goals. His, and President Clinton’s efforts, led to the highest home ownership rates on record, peaking at just over 69% (about 5% higher than record-keeping averages). But as we all know now, it also led to the burst of the biggest housing bubble in our nation’s history. Yes, ownership rates skyrocketed, but the market was artificially inflated and unsustainable. Home ownership rates have since dropped to 63.7%, but this is only marginally below the long-term average of 64.3. Hardly calamitous as some are suggesting.

 

That said, I do think that that the rate could fall a little further. Now, before you start blaming the Millennial generation, stop, because they are not the ones leading this charge. (As a side note, I do feel rather sorry for this group, as they appear to be taking the brunt of any and all economic woes at the moment.) If we look at homeownership rates by age, between 1994 and today, the decline in homeowners under the age of 35 is 2.5%. A palpable drop, but slight when compared to 35-44 year olds who have seen their numbers drop by 6% - from 64.4% to 58.4%. Why? Because this group took the largest hit following the housing crash, and many lost their homes to foreclosure.

 

Circling back to Millennials, it’s true that this group is more subdued relative to homeownership – and there’s good reason for it. Millennials comprise a smaller share of married couples and a higher share of in-city dwellers versus suburbs. But their lack of growth may well be offset by middle-aged families who are thinking about getting back into homeownership again. According to RealtyTrac, while Millennials have gotten a lot of attention lately as the generation whose below-normal homeownership rates are changing the landscape of the U.S. real estate market, the boomerang buyers — who are primarily Generation Xers or Baby Boomers — represent a massive wave of potential pent-up demand that could shape the housing market in the short term even more dramatically.

 

Data from Transunion supports this theory, suggesting that there are about 700,000 consumers who will become eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2015, and up to an additional 2.2 million potential buyers will requalify over the next five years. It’s likely that these so called “boomerang buyers” will become homeowners again, which will do its part to offset the Millennial drop, and raise the homeownership rate back up to its historic averages.

 

So, have homeownership rates declined? Yes, but as the data and this analysis show, taking a simple “peak-to-trough” view of homeownership figures does not necessarily provide accurate results. Regardless of how many scaremongers declare otherwise. 

Front Door Refresh

 

Make a bold statement with a “new” front door – color is mandatory. Something as simple as painting your front door can change the whole look of your home and its curb appeal. Be that house on the block that people have to double-take when they drive by.

 

Be Bright: We suppose it depends what you personally find “cheerful.” To us, this means yellows, pinks, blues, and oranges. Because what cute yellow door wouldn’t be inviting? It’s not just about the look; it’s about the feel too. These colors scream WELCOME!

 

Be Mysterious: If cheerful colors aren’t your thing, opt for a more mysterious look. Think deep purples, ruby red, forest green; majestic, sophisticated, colors of royalty.

 

The Details: Feeling daring? Dress up your door too. Just like jewelry, door knockers and designer hardware can add that extra special something.

 

Not sure what color you’d like best? Check out the Doors We Love on Pinterest!

 

Set the Stage for a Fantastic Fourth of July Party!

#WinderPup staying cool in the shade

#WinderPup staying cool in the shade

 

 

Grab the sparklers, clean up the grill, and don your red, white and blue! A fourth of July theme barbecue is the perfect way to ring in summer and celebrate. Here are some fun tips for a fun and safe holiday shindig:

 

Get the décor right: We love a good theme party, and nothing screams Independence Day more than red, white and blue; you can find decorative plates just about anywhere these days. Make your own fancy decorations. Go above and beyond with holiday lights and a decorative place setting. Just make sure your flag flies right.

 

 

 

Make the menu: Keep the theme with your food with a festive fruit salad and decorated cupcakes.  While everything cannot fit within the color theme, mixing traditional BBQ goodies with some fancy appetizers will add interest. And don’t forget the libations; whip up some fun red and blue adult beverages. *

 

 

 

 

 

Fire up the grill: Get your grill ready with a good scrub down and set up a grill station with all your tools; grill brush, utensils, seasonings, and plates so you don’t have to run to and from the kitchen and risk charring the burgers. Make sure to keep the grill safe with this easy guide.

 

Fun for the kids: Everyone loves a good game of horseshoes. Set up a game area with some fun lawn sports, including lawn twister, Jenga, and bean bag toss. We have more ideas where those came from, find them on our “outdoor entertaining“ Pinterest board.

 

Plan for the pets: Pet’s don’t typically enjoy Fourth of July as much as their humans with the loud noises and intense heat. Keep your furry friends safe by creating a comfortable and cool place for them to lounge indoors, that way they can retreat from the heat and the crowds.  Make sure they get plenty of water in the intense summer heat.

 

We hope you have a fun and safe holiday weekend. You can find more fun Fourth of July tips on our PInterest board

 

*Photo courtesy of Windermere Camano Island