Newsletter, November 2020 – Inventory, Equity & Experts: Laying Fact Over Fact to Find the Truth in the Housing Market.

 

 

 

It is important that we pay attention to the data when measuring the health of the housing market. There are a lot of feelings and media influences that can play into one’s opinion of the housing market. I choose to focus on three things: inventory, equity levels, and the experts. This has been and will continue to be my guide in order to be a valuable aid to my clients. To quote Peter Kann, former publisher of the WSJ, “truth is attainable by laying fact upon fact”.

 

Inventory levels nationally and in our region continue to be historically low. In fact, national inventory levels are at 2.7 months of inventory, and are the lowest they have been since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) started to report them in 1982. There are only approximately 1.2 million single-family homes for sale across the nation. In King County, inventory levels sat at 0.8 months in September and only 0.4 months in Snohomish County. A seller’s market is defined by 0-3 months of inventory, and finding our region with less than one month has us operating in an extreme seller’s market!

The combination of scarce inventory and the lowest interest rates in history has led to above-average price growth year-over-year. Nationally, the single-family median home price is up 15% this September compared to the previous September. In King County, it is up 13%, and in Snohomish County up 14%. It is also important to measure complete year-over-year data. Taking just one month of data and comparing it to the same month a year ago definitely tells a story, but by taking the average of the last 12 months and comparing it to the previous 12 months, you get a more accurate picture of overall growth. It is important to look at both in order to analyze long-term and real-time trends. We must also consider the sustainability of such extreme price growth.

The complete year-over-year price growth percentages temper compared to just looking at the month of September. In King County, the single-family median price is up 5% complete year-over-year and up 8% in Snohomish County. This takes into consideration the stall we saw in the market when the pandemic hit, along with the less extreme inventory environment we started 2020 with. Looking at the data one way gives us the big picture and looking at the most recent data tells the story of what is happening now in comparison to a snapshot one year ago. Pricing is still an art in a seller’s market and even though we are seeing historically low inventory levels, it is certainly possible to over-price and miss the mark for a great outcome.

The multi-family market which includes condominiums is also seeing price growth, but not as strong as single-family. There seems to be a trend with more people working from home and retiring who want to obtain larger interior spaces and room for outdoor enjoyment. The suburbs and smalls towns are gaining a ton of traction with commute-times being lower on the list of considerations. However, the surge of first-time buyers coming into the market due to Millennials coming of age and the historically low interest rates has the multi-family market in growth mode as well.

Nationally, multi-family (which includes condo) inventory sits at four months of inventory, which is a balanced market. In King County, there are two months of available inventory and in Snohomish County 0.7 months. King County’s condo market has seen a larger flood of available inventory, with folks transferring equity to single-family homes in the suburbs and exiting the city. Both counties’ condo markets are still experiencing year-over-year price growth, but due to density in certain areas, price analysis should be studied by the specific building and location. The ability to eliminate commutes by working from home has taken the shine off of condo price affordability as some buyers are opting to purchase a single-family home further out, resulting in a similar monthly payment.

Equity levels across our nation are formidable. 42% of homeowners own their home free-and-clear and 58% of homeowners have 60% equity or more! Unlike the Great Recession of 2008 that was centered on housing, we are experiencing quite the opposite. With unemployment still an important issue, some homeowners will utilize their positive equity position to help relieve financial pressure as they pivot to an alternative career path and/or geographic location. Housing will be a tool for some to navigate the economic uncertainty the pandemic has caused.

The experts I continue to follow are Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, and David Childers and Steve Harney from Keeping Current Matters. Along with following their well-researched and thoughtful insights I am committed to studying the local monthly, weekly, and daily statistics that represent our local real estate market.

Trends can vary from one neighborhood to the next or from one type of product to another. It is my mission to position myself as an expert in order to serve my clients, by digging deep into the local data, discerning, and reporting back the truth. The strategy of layering fact upon fact is my guide to help develop the most successful outcome possible for my clients.

As always, it is my goal to help keep my clients informed in order to empower strong decisions, especially during these unique times. Please reach out if you need some help, want to satisfy a curiosity, or have a friend in need of some solid real estate guidance. In the meantime, please check out the video below featuring Matthew’s latest update including three recent data points that tell a story about the housing market. Be well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the Official Real Estate company of the Seattle Seahawks, Windermere donates $100 to Mary’s Place for every home game Hawks tackle. During last Sunday’s game we raised another $4,200, bringing our total to $140,500.

Posted on November 3, 2020 at 11:44 am
Cori Whitaker | Category: Community Events & News, Monthly Newsletter

South King County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2020

 

The real estate market continued to positively perform in the third quarter, and is the bright light in the economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. The protocols in place that have helped protect the safety of the community have recently been expanded to allow small group open houses to help address the demand in the market.

Interest rates remain historically low, hovering around 3% and creating robust buyer demand and a competitive marketplace. Coupled with available inventory being down 55% complete year-over-year, the third quarter saw many home sales escalate in price due to multiple offers. This perfect storm of supply and demand has amped up price appreciation. With only 0.6 months of available inventory based on pending sales, the median price is up 11% complete year-over-year.

 

Inventory is down due to the high absorption rate which resulted in many sales. There was a delay in homes coming to market in the spring, but the summer months got us within 5% of the previous year’s number of new listings. The influence of interest rates, along with many people making big lifestyle moves due to working from home, Baby Boomers retiring, and the younger generations transitioning their work and family statuses have resulted in just 2% fewer sales complete year-over-year.

 

These are unprecedented times and the real estate market has provided lots of opportunities. Equity levels are high, allowing for exciting lifestyle moves, relocations, and some ease from other financial pressures. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your real estate goals and how they relate to your lifestyle and bottom line. Be well!

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 2:41 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics

North Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2020

 

The real estate market continued to positively perform in the third quarter, and is the bright light in the economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. The protocols in place that have helped protect the safety of the community have recently been expanded to allow small group open houses to help address the demand in the market.

Interest rates remain historically low, hovering around 3% and creating robust buyer demand and a competitive marketplace. Coupled with available inventory being down 55% complete year-over-year, the third quarter saw many home sales escalate in price due to multiple offers. This perfect storm of supply and demand has amped up price appreciation. With only 0.5 months of available inventory based on pending sales, the median price is up 8% complete year-over-year.

 

Inventory is down due to the high absorption rate. There was a delay in homes coming to market in the spring, but the summer months finally caught us up with the previous year’s number of new listings. The influence of interest rates, along with many people making big lifestyle moves due to working from home, Baby Boomers retiring, and the younger generations transitioning their work and family statuses have resulted in 6% more sales complete year-over-year.

 

These are unprecedented times and the real estate market has provided lots of opportunities. Equity levels are high, allowing for exciting lifestyle moves, relocations, and some ease from other financial pressures. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your real estate goals and how they relate to your lifestyle and bottom line. Be well!

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics

Seattle Metro Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2020

 

The real estate market continued to positively perform in the third quarter, and is the bright light in the economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. The protocols in place that have helped protect the safety of the community have recently been expanded to allow small group open houses to help address the demand in the market.

Interest rates remain historically low, hovering around 3% and creating robust buyer demand and a competitive marketplace. Coupled with available inventory being down 17% complete year-over-year, the third quarter saw many home sales escalate in price due to multiple offers. This perfect storm of supply and demand has maintained price appreciation. With only 1.1 months of available inventory based on pending sales, the median price is up 3% complete year-over-year.

 

Inventory is down due to the high absorption rate which resulted in many sales. There was a delay in homes coming to market in the spring, but the summer months got us equal with the previous year’s number of new listings. The influence of interest rates, along with many people making big lifestyle moves due to working from home, Baby Boomers retiring, and the younger generations transitioning their work and family statuses have resulted in 10% more sales complete year-over-year.

 

These are unprecedented times and the real estate market has provided lots of opportunities. Equity levels are high, allowing for exciting lifestyle moves, relocations, and some ease from other financial pressures. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your real estate goals and how they relate to your lifestyle and bottom line. Be well!

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics

Eastside Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2020

 

The real estate market continued to positively perform in the third quarter, and is the bright light in the economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. The protocols in place that have helped protect the safety of the community have recently been expanded to allow small group open houses to help address the demand in the market.

Interest rates remain historically low, hovering around 3% and creating robust buyer demand and a competitive marketplace. Coupled with available inventory being down 58% complete year-over-year, the third quarter saw many home sales escalate in price due to multiple offers. This perfect storm of supply and demand has amped up price appreciation. With only 0.6 months of available inventory based on pending sales, the median price is up 6% complete year-over-year.

 

Inventory is down due to the high absorption rate which resulted in many sales. There was a delay in homes coming to market in the spring, but the summer months got us within 12% of the previous year’s number of new listings. The influence of interest rates, along with many people making big lifestyle moves due to working from home, Baby Boomers retiring, and the younger generations transitioning their work and family statuses have resulted in only 4% fewer sales complete year-over-year.

 

These are unprecedented times and the real estate market has provided lots of opportunities. Equity levels are high, allowing for exciting lifestyle moves, relocations, and some ease from other financial pressures. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your real estate goals and how they relate to your lifestyle and bottom line. Be well!

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 2:40 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics

North King County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2020

 

The real estate market continued to positively perform in the third quarter, and is the bright light in the economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. The protocols in place that have helped protect the safety of the community have recently been expanded to allow small group open houses to help address the demand in the market.

Interest rates remain historically low, hovering around 3% and creating robust buyer demand and a competitive marketplace. Coupled with available inventory being down 45% complete year-over-year, the third quarter saw many home sales escalate in price due to multiple offers. This perfect storm of supply and demand has maintained price appreciation. With only 0.7 months of available inventory based on pending sales, the median price is up 3% complete year-over-year.

 

Inventory is down due to the high absorption rate which resulted in many sales. There was a delay in homes coming to market in the spring, but the summer months got us within 6% of the previous year’s number of new listings. The influence of interest rates, along with many people making big lifestyle moves due to working from home, Baby Boomers retiring, and the younger generations transitioning their work and family statuses have resulted in 6% more sales complete year-over-year.

 

These are unprecedented times and the real estate market has provided lots of opportunities. Equity levels are high, allowing for exciting lifestyle moves, relocations, and some ease from other financial pressures. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your real estate goals and how they relate to your lifestyle and bottom line. Be well!

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 2:39 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics

South Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2020

 

The real estate market continued to positively perform in the third quarter and is the bright light in the economy during the COVID-19 health crisis. The protocols in place that have helped protect the safety of the community have recently been expanded to allow small group open houses to help address the demand in the market.

Interest rates remain historically low hovering around 3% and creating robust buyer demand and a competitive marketplace. Coupled with available inventory being down 72% complete year-over-year, the third quarter saw many home sales escalate in price due to multiple offers. This perfect storm of supply and demand has amped up price appreciation. With only 0.4 months of available inventory based on pending sales, the median price is up 9% complete year-over-year.

 

Inventory is down due to the high absorption rate which resulted in many sales. There was a delay in homes coming to market in the spring, but the summer months got us within 10% of the previous year’s number of new listings. The influence of interest rates, along with many people making big lifestyle moves due to working from home, Baby Boomers retiring, and the younger generations transitioning their work and family statuses have resulted in only 3% fewer sales complete year-over-year.

 

These are unprecedented times and the real estate market has provided lots of opportunities. Equity levels are high, allowing for exciting lifestyle moves, relocations, and some ease from other financial pressures. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss your real estate goals and how they relate to your lifestyle and bottom line. Be well!

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 2:39 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics

Newsletter – October 2020: The Windermere Bridge Loan. Inventory levels got you down, but your equity is high. 

 

 

Homeowners across our region are enjoying very healthy equity levels due to an amazing upswing in the real estate market over the last five years. In fact, the median price in King County is up 49% over the last five years and up 51% in Snohomish County. This growth in equity has given homeowners the exciting option to sell their homes for a price that will bear a sizable down payment or the ability to “buy all-cash” on their next home. This has many people exploring their next chapters, such as moving up to a larger home or downsizing for retirement. The strong price appreciation is great news and provides many opportunities; however, we have also faced some challenges in how to make these transitions work without moving twice.

Our biggest challenge for homebuyers in the marketplace right now is inventory levels. It is also the reason so many home sellers are doing so well. Currently, King County sits at 0.9 months of inventory based on pending sales and 0.6 months in Snohomish County. Historically, buyers that are also sellers would commonly secure a new home with a home sale contingency on the sale of their current home. Meaning the seller of the new home they are buying would give them a month or so to get their current house sold in order to be able to buy theirs.

Well in this market, utilizing a home sale contingency is only rarely an option, especially on desirable homes. So, the million-dollar question is this: how does one who has gained so much equity, now itching to get that bigger house, different location, or perfect rambler for settling into retirement, make this transition without having to move twice? We need to get creative and have a strategy. The Windermere Bridge Loan program has been a powerful tool to help homebuyers transition their equity without having to sell their house first.

This is an amazing tool for homeowners that own their homes free-and-clear or have gained a large amount of equity over time. This is also a low-cost and faster alternative to a cash-out re-fi or securing a HELOC which enables one to pull the equity out of their current house prior to selling it in order to make a non-contingent offer.

The way it works is we take the market value of the house the homeowner current lives in, established by a comparative market analysis (CMA) that I complete and is approved by my Broker. We then take 75% of the CMA value and subtract any debt owed, and that is the maximum amount the homeowner can borrow for their next down payment. For example, if the market value is $700,000: 75% of $700,000 is $525,000. Say the homeowner owes a remaining $225,000 on their mortgage; the max amount they could borrow would be $525,000 – $225,000 = $300,000.  If that same homeowner didn’t have a mortgage then they could borrow up to $525,000 as that is 75% of the CMA value.

This tool enables people to make transitions without having to sell their home first, attempt a home-sale-contingent offer, or go through the lengthy and expensive process of a cash-out re-fi or securing a HELOC. What makes this tool so efficient, is that it doesn’t require an appraisal (like a re-fi or HELOC does), and these can easily be turned around in 5-7 business days. This tool provides the opportunity to quickly and inexpensively pull your equity out, be competitive, and eliminates the double move.

The fees associated with this program are a 1% loan fee on the loan amount (minimum fee of $1,000), a title report, credit report, recording fees for the deed, and interest that is incurred between the loan funding and being paid off once the subject home is sold. That interest is conveniently wrapped up in the closing costs when the client closes the sale of the collateral home, eliminating the need to make monthly interest payments. Clients who use this program are also required to list the home 30 days after the loan has funded.  This allows time for the client to prepare their home for sale after they have moved out. Lastly, only homes in Washington state are eligible to be the collateral property, but note this can be a tool for relocating out-of-state which we are seeing a lot of.

In a strategy that is somewhat mind-blowing, we can sometimes use these bridge loans and never have to actually fund them. For example, if we secure a property non-contingent with the bridge loan and immediately get the subject home on the market, we can often secure a sale with a simultaneous closing, and never have to fund the loan. This eliminates the loan fee, interest, and the need to carry two mortgages. All this requires is getting pre-approved for the bridge loan and preparing the home for sale prior to shopping, so one is prepared to act quickly and line up both closings.

If you are excited about equity levels and today’s low interest rates and have thought about making that move you’ve been waiting for, but have been fearful of how to do it all – I can help. The Windermere Bridge Loan, along with great attention to detail, hand-holding, and careful planning have helped many people make these exciting transitions. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions. Please contact me if you would like further information on how this might work for you or someone you know.

 

 

 

 

As the Official Real Estate company of the Seattle Seahawks, Windermere donates $100 to Mary’s Place for every home game Hawks tackle. During the last home game against the Cowboys we raised $5,300, bringing our total to $131,000.

This weekend we take on the Vikings at Century Link and together, we’ll continue to #TackleHomelessness.

 

Posted on October 6, 2020 at 4:36 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Community Events & News, Monthly Newsletter

Pumpkin Patches 2020

Nothing feels more like fall than pumpkin picking, hay rides and corn mazes. Get your latte in hand and head out to any one of these great, local farms to have some harvest fun and find that perfect jack-o-lantern to light up your porch.

Please be sure to verify and take note of each farm’s COVID-19 safety guidelines, as well as any potential weather-related (or COVID-related) closures or changes.

 

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

Biringer’s Black Crow Pumpkins & Corn Maze
2431 Highway 530 NE, Arlington

Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Farm
10917 Elliott Rd, Snohomish

Carleton Farm
630 Sunnyside Blvd SE, Lake Stevens

Craven Farm
13817 Short School Rd, Snohomish

The Farm at Swans Trail
7301 Rivershore Rd, Snohomish

Fairbank Animal Farm & Pumpkin Patch
15308 52nd Ave W, Edmonds
Closed for 2020 due to COVID-19

Fosters Pumpkin Farm
5818 State Route 530 NE, Arlington
Closed for 2020 due to COVID-19

Stocker Farms
8705 Marsh Rd, Snohomish

Thomas Family Farm
9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish

 

KING COUNTY

Carpinito Brothers
1148 Central Ave N, Kent

Fall City Farms
3636 Neal Road, Fall City

Fox Hollow Family Farm
12031 Issaquah Hobart Rd SE, Issaquah

Jubilee Farm
229 W Snoqualmie River Rd NE, Carnation

Oxbow Farm
10819 Carnation-Duvall Rd NE, Carnation

The Nursery at Mt Si
42328 SE 108th St, North Bend

Remlinger Farms
32610 NE 32nd St, Carnation

Serres Farm
20306 NE 50th St, Redmond

Thomasson Family Farm
38223 236th Ave SE, Enumclaw

Yakima Fruit Market
17321 Bothell Way NE, Bothell

 

PIERCE COUNTY

Double R Farms
5820 44th St E, Puyallup

Maris Farms
25001 Sumner-Buckley Hwy, Buckley

Picha’s Farm
6502 52nd St E, Puyallup

Scholz Farm
12920 162nd Ave E, Orting

Spooner Farms
9622 SR 162 E, Puyallup

Posted on September 28, 2020 at 2:55 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Community Events & News

Homebuyer Tips for Winning a Home in a Seller’s Market

 

We’ve said it so many times, but it is so true: these are unprecedented times! In relation to the real estate market, there are many factors that are contributing to this environment. First and foremost, we are living through a global pandemic. Our daily lives have changed and they will probably never be quite like they were before. Besides this major upheaval in life as we know it, we have the lowest interest rates ever in history (this won’t last forever), formidable equity levels, and we are at the corner of a generational shift. These factors are fueling demand in the real estate market despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to light. In fact, the pandemic has influenced some very big lifestyle moves due to having time to reflect on goals and the new normal of working remotely.

Low interest rates, Baby Boomers retiring, Millennials stepping up to the home-ownership plate, Gen X settling into their forever homes, and commute times becoming less important are the ingredients in the proverbial pot that is being stirred in the 2020 real estate market. The demand is high! Couple that with a reduction in new listings over the last year and it is competitive. Sellers are in such a favorable position and buyers are devising solid plans to win a home with the lowest debt service in history.

Before I share some tips on how to win a home in today’s market, let’s look at the numbers. 2020 started off with abnormally low inventory levels following 2019 when we were headed toward more balance in the marketplace. Then COVID hit and the market briefly stalled. There were 8 weeks in King County and 4 weeks in Snohomish County from the onset of COVID where the market performed under 80% of the pending sales rate in 2019. We adjusted rather quickly as the influence of the demand mentioned above found its way with masks on and hand sanitizer at the ready.

 

Now that we have established that the demand is strong, debt service is low, and that lifestyle moves are leading the way, how do you make it happen if you want to participate?

Partner with a Broker Who Will Get the Job Done 
A broker that has a process is key! It starts with an initial buyer consultation. I liken the buyer consultation to the seat belt you would wear on a roller coaster. The buyer consultation aims to unearth a buyer’s goals, research the areas they are interested in, address financing, and illustrate the challenges of the environment, so one can be successful. Time is money, and this consultation brings clarity, efficiency, and trust. This upfront education coupled with a high level of communication and availability is paramount. The depth of the relationship will lead to success and is the ingredient that enables a buyer to throw up their hands and take the thrilling plunge on the roller coaster. It is hard to do that without a seat belt!

Get Your Finances in Order 
Aligning with a trusted real estate professional is key, but so is aligning with a reputable and responsive mortgage lender. Getting pre-approved is the minimum, but getting pre-underwritten is a game-changer. Finding a lender that is willing to put in the work up-front to vet credit, income, savings, debt, and all other financial indicators will lead to being pre-underwritten, which listing agents and sellers appreciate! Also, be aware that you do not always need to have a huge down payment to make a purchase work. Employment, assets, credit, and what you have saved all work into your ability to acquire a loan. I have seen plenty of people secure a home with 3-5% down. Education and awareness create clarity, and investing into understanding your financial footing equals empowered and more efficient decisions. Note that I mentioned “responsive”. This is a 24/7 market, and lenders who don’t work evenings and weekends can get in the way of a buyer securing a home. If you need a shortlist of lenders that fit this description, please contact me.

Be Willing to Take Calculated Risks
Buyer due diligence is key to making a sound investment. Even though timelines are tight and buyers must act swiftly, it is not time to just throw caution to the wind. Having some funds set aside to perform a pre-inspection will help a buyer make a purchase with both eyes open and be competitive. Also, going back to getting pre-underwritten, this could empower a buyer to waive financing and beat out all-cash buyers.

Strategizing Down Payment Funds
Many buyers are moving big chunks of equity from their previous home to the one they are buying. Equity levels are deep and prevailing buyers are commonly reserving some of their equity to offset appraisal risk for a seller. The market is appreciating so rapidly that a buyer holding back down payment funds and shifting them to an appraisal safety net has been one of the most successful strategies to help a buyer win a home. The best part is the safety net only seldomly has to be used. This plays into the calculated risk category and also highlights the importance of a good lender and broker to help navigate such decisions.

The Triangle of Buyer Clarity
Buyers must be realistic with their expectations. The triangle of buyer clarity rests on the three corners of Location, Price, and Condition. If a buyer continues to run into walls when making offers it typically has to do with the need to adjust one of the corners of the triangle. Buying a home take compromise, especially with such low inventory. By staying connected to the big picture of building wealth with low debt service, gaining a home that will work with your goals may require an adjustment of location, price, or level of condition. Focusing on the triangle of buyer clarity and talking it through during the buying process leads to clarity and success. A rule of thumb to bear in mind is that when a home starts to check 75% of your boxes, it should be considered.

The 2020 real estate market has provided a ton of opportunity during a very challenging time. It’s been a bright light in the economy. If you are curious about how the current market relates to your housing and financial goals, please reach out. It is always my goal to help keep my clients informed so they are empowered to make strong decisions. Be well!

We are proud to be the official real estate company of the Seattle Seahawks! The best part of this partnership is our #TackleHomelessness campaign. For every home-game tackle the Hawks make, the Windermere Foundation donates $100 to Mary’s Place which provides safe, inclusive shelter and services supporting women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.
Go Hawks!

Posted on September 16, 2020 at 3:09 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Monthly Newsletter