Does it make more sense to rent or own?

The current break-even horizon* in the Seattle metro area is 1.6 years!

*The amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision.

With rising rental rates, historically low interest rates, and home prices on the rise, the advantage of buying vs. renting is becoming clearer each month.

In fact, Seattle has seen some of the sharpest rent hikes in the country over the last year! Snohomish County has seen a huge increase in apartment growth and rising rental rates as well. There are several factors to consider that will lead you to make the best decision for your lifestyle and your financial bottom line. Zillow Research has determined the break-even point for renting vs. buying in our metro area. In other words, the amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision. Currently in Seattle the break-even point is 1.6 years – that is quick! What is so great about every month that ticks away thereafter is that your nest egg is building in value.

I am happy to help you or someone you know assess your options; please contact me anytime.

These assumptions are based on a home buyer purchasing a home with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and a 20 percent down payment; and a renter earning five percent annually on investments in the stock market.

Posted on April 30, 2018 at 4:34 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , ,

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update – First Quarter 2018

 

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy added 96,900 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9%—still solidly above the national rate of 1.5%. Most of the employment gains were in the private sector, which rose by 3.4%. The public sector saw a more modest increase of 1.6%.

The strongest growth was in the Education & Health Services and Retail sectors, which added 17,300 and 16,700 jobs, respectively. The Construction sector added 10,900 new positions over the past 12 months.

Even with solid increases in jobs, the state unemployment rate held steady at 4.7%—a figure that has not moved since September of last year.

I expect the Washington State economy to continue adding jobs in 2018, but not at the same rate as last year given that we are nearing full employment. That said, we will still outperform the nation as a whole when it comes to job creation.

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 14,961 home sales during the first quarter of 2018. This is a drop of 5.4% over the same period in 2017.
  • Clallam County saw sales rise the fastest relative to the first quarter of 2017, with an increase of 16.5%. In most of the other markets, the lack of available homes for sale slowed the number of closings during this period.
  • Listing inventory in the quarter was down by 17.6% when compared to the first quarter of 2017, but pending home sales rose by 2.6% over the same period, suggesting that closings in the second quarter should be fairly robust.
  • The takeaway from this data is that the lack of supply continues to put a damper on sales. I also believe that the rise in interest rates in the finalquarter of 2017 likely pulled sales forward, leading to a drop in sales in the first quarter of 2018.

 

HOME PRICES

  • With ongoing limited inventory, it’s not surprising that the growth in home prices continues to trend well above the long-term average. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.4% to $468,312.
  • Economic vitality in the region is leading to robust housing demand that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of new construction homes— something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. As a result, home prices will continue to rise at above-average rates in the coming year.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County at 27.5%. Ten additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • Mortgage rates continued to rise during first quarter, and are expected to increase modestly in the coming months. By the end of the year, interest rates will likely land around 4.9%, which should take some of the steam out of price growth. This is actually a good thing and should help address the challenges we face with housing affordability—especially in markets near the major job centers.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by seven days when compared to the same quarter of 2017.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 24 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain essentially static relative to the same period a year ago.
  • In looking at the entire region, it took an average of 61 days to sell a home in the first quarter of this year. This is down from 68 days in the firstquarter of 2017 but up by eleven days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • Anyone expecting to see a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale in 2018 will likely be disappointed. New construction permit activity—a leading indicator—remains well below historic levels and this will continue to put increasing pressure on the resale home market.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2018, I have left the needle at the same point as fourth quarter of last year. Price growth remains strong even as sales activity slowed. All things being equal, 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for sellers but, unfortunately, not for buyers who will still see stiff competition for the limited number of available homes for sale.

 

 

Mr. 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 more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

Posted on April 25, 2018 at 1:22 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Matthew Gardner Economic Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

North King County Quarterly Market Trends

It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 55% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was followed by a 41% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 106%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.6 months of inventory based on pending sales. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 14% year-over-year.

North King County real estate has a very high premium due to close-in commute times and desirable neighborhoods. In fact, the median price in March was $808,000, up 4% from the month prior! Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north King County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 3:28 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

South Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends

It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 47% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was matched by a 48% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 103%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.5 months of inventory – the lowest level yet. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 15% year-over-year.

South Snohomish County real estate has been a hot spot due to reasonable commute times and overall affordability compared to “in-city” real estate. In fact, the median price in March was 47% higher in Seattle Metro. Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in south Snohomish County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 3:26 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

North Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends

It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 54% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was matched by a 50% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio was 100%, and average days on market was 35 days. We ended the quarter with 0.7 months of inventory – the lowest level yet. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 12% year-over-year.

North Snohomish County is one of the most affordable markets in the area. In fact, the median price in March was 28% higher in south Snohomish County. Buyers are migrating to the area, especially if they don’t have to commute into the city. Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north Snohomish County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 3:25 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , , ,

Seattle Metro Quarterly Market Trends

It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 69% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was followed by a 48% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 105%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.6 months of inventory based on pending sales. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 16% year-over-year.

Seattle Metro real estate has a very high premium due to close-in commute times and vibrant neighborhoods. In fact, the median price in March was $800,000, up 5% from the month prior! Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in the Seattle Metro area; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , ,

Eastside Quarterly Market Trends

It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 54% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was topped by a 58% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 103%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.7 months of inventory – the lowest level yet. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 14% year-over-year.

Eastside real estate has a very high premium due to close-in commute times and desirable neighborhoods. In fact, the median price in March was $927,000! Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.

This is only a snapshot of the trends on the Eastside area; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 3:21 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , , , ,

South King County Market Trends

It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 47% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was matched by a 48% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 101%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.7 months of inventory – the lowest level yet. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 12% year-over-year.

South King County real estate has been a hot spot due to reasonable commute times and overall affordability compared to “in-city” real estate. In fact, the median price in March was 78% higher in Seattle Metro. Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in south King County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , , , , ,

Commute Times, Price Premiums: The Value of Location, Location, Location

Flickr Photo/SounderBruce (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://flic.kr/p/MzGznr

Commute Times, Price Premiums: The Value of Location, Location, Location

It is the time of year when I like to re-cap the price premiums in our area based on commute times. The price divide continued in 2017 between key market areas in the Greater Seattle area based on proximity to major job centers. These pricing premiums have cemented the drive-to-qualify market. Seattle proper has always been more expensive than its neighboring suburbs, but the most current prices illustrate the extreme value of a shorter commute.

In 2017, the average sales price for a single-family residential home in the Seattle Metro area was $801,000, up 14% from the year prior! In south Snohomish County (Everett to the King County line) the average sales price for a single-family residential home in 2017 was $543,000, up 12% from the year prior, however 48% less expensive than Seattle Metro.

Further, if you jump across Lake Washington to the Eastside, the average sales price in 2017 for a single-family residential home was $1,049,000, up 16% from the year prior and 31% more expensive than Seattle Metro! The Eastside has the infrastructure to support their own job centers, making it a second “Seattle”, with the benefit of newer and larger housing stock, which reflects the pricing. Many folks are living and working on the Eastside, or using the 520 toll bridge to jump over to Seattle.

In 2017, closed transactions were up 4% in south Snohomish County despite fewer new listings coming to market, which I think was driven by its affordability compared to Seattle and the Eastside. Snohomish County offers lower prices, larger houses and yards, new construction, lower taxes, strong school district options and longer, yet manageable commute times. Newer transit centers and telecommuting have also opened up doors to King County’s little brother to the north.

Another hot button that has continued to influence pricing is the future expansion of Light Rail and the locations of the planned stations. We have seen home values in these areas sell at a premium as consumers anticipate the shorter commute times the rail will bring. These neighborhoods are experiencing zoning changes now and the additional expansion is being phased in over the course of the next 15 years. There will be more multi-family and commercial development in these areas, creating more density to serve the public using these commuting services. This has created great appeal for homeowners that want to get in on the ease of nearby public transportation, and developers eager to be part of the infrastructure growth. Stations at Northgate, 145th & 185th in Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood are all slated to open over the next 3-6 years.

No matter which neighborhood you are interested in learning about, in either King or Snohomish County, I am happy to provide a 2017 re-cap of that market. I work in both counties and understand each of their nuances. 2017 was another eventful year in real estate and we are looking for that to continue in 2018. With these strong market prices, we hope to see an increase in inventory levels, providing more options for buyers and allowing price growth to temper to sustainable levels. Check out the article below that touches on Matthew Gardner’s, Windermere’s Chief Economist, 2018 predictions for the national housing market. I attended his local forecast this week and if you’d like a copy of his presentation, outlining what he thinks is in store for our area, please email me. I’d be happy to forward it along and explain his findings. Here’s to a successful 2018!

Posted on February 1, 2018 at 2:24 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Monthly Newsletter | Tagged , , , , ,

Quarterly Report – Seattle Metro

Price growth was particularly strong in 2017! Median was up 15% and average price up 14% over 2016. Median price in 2017 landed at $710,000 and the average at $801,000. The average amount of days it took to sell a house in 2017 was 18 days, which is 10% faster than 2016. The average list-to-sale price ratio over the last year was 103%, with the spring months as high as 106%! In 2017, inventory growth continued to be a challenge, with a 3% decrease in new listings compared to 2016. Even with inventory limitations there were 4% more sales! This phenomenon illustrates strong buyer demand and a need for more listings.

Median Price up 15%, Average Price up 14% Year-Over-Year

Demand for Seattle Metro area real estate has grown due to close proximity to job centers. Over the last year, Seattle Metro was 40% more expensive than south Snohomish County and 75% over south King County. Historically low interest rates continue to drive the market as well, they have helped offset the increase in prices. Sellers are enjoying great returns due to this phenomenon and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service.

This is only a snapshot of the trends in the Seattle Metro area; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.

 

Posted on January 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics | Tagged , ,