Monthly Newsletter – January 2019

Happy 2019! As we head into the New Year, it’s a great time to look ahead to what the real estate market has in store. Just last week, I had the pleasure of hosting an Economic Forecast Event with Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, and soaked up his knowledge and predictions. Below are his general predictions for the at-large real estate market across the nation. Please review and let me know if you have any questions.

Beyond the national forecast, at the event Matthew reported specifically on the Greater Seattle market, including both King and Snohomish counties. I received his Power Point presentation and I am happy to share his slides, should you request them.

A few take-a-ways to note are:

  • Seattle remains strong economically and our job market is thriving.
  • Interest rates are still historically low and will rise, but not beyond 6%.
  • It is still a seller’s market in our area, but price escalations are softening, creating more balance and sustainability. We are NOT experiencing a bubble.
  • 25% of homeowners in our region have 50% equity in their homes.
  • An economic recession is upon us in 2020. This one should be much like the 1991 recession; short and not based in housing.
  • Be careful how you process the media’s take on the market as they often use extreme month-over-month numbers vs. richer long-term data.
  • Prices are expected to rise 5-7% in 2019, which is more normal, but above the long-term average, yet lower than the recent double-digit year-over-year gains we’ve seen since 2012.

 

It is always my goal to help empower my clients with information to help them make informed decisions regarding their real estate.  Let me know if you’d like that Power Point. I’m happy to share and help you dissect the information. Here’s to a great 2019!

 

 

2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

Posted on Windermere.com in Market News by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

 

The U.S. Economy

 

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing.  Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

 

The U.S. Housing Market

 

Existing Home Sales
This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market.  In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

 

Existing Home Prices
We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017.  In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

 

New Home Sales
In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

 

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

 

Mortgage Rates
In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

 

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling.  We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

 

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

 

Conclusions
There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating.  In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

 

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

 

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

 

Originally published on Inman News.

 

 

At Windermere we help people buy and sell homes, but we also help build community. I’m proud to support the Windermere Foundation with every home I help sell or buy. 2018 concluded with another great year of fundraising and giving for the Windermere Foundation, thanks to the continued support of agents, franchise owners, staff, and the community. Nearly $2.5 million was raised in 2018, bringing our grand total to over $38 million raised since the Foundation’s inception in 1989! This money goes right back into our community, helping low-income and homeless families. Read the full blog post here.

 

 

 

This past Christmas, my office adopted 22 foster boys, ranging in age from 13-18 years old, and living in group homes managed by Pioneer Human Services. These group homes serve boys who are struggling with emotional, behavioral and/or psychiatric problems that prevent placement in a traditional foster care setting. We purchased gifts, using wish lists from the boys, to help provide a joyful Christmas morning for these teenage boys who might otherwise be overlooked.

The office also raised money for grocery gift cards for families in need (also referred by Pioneer Human Services). This year we distributed $2,068 in grocery gift cards to 15 local families.

We are also thrilled to report that through our partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, this season Windermere raised a total of $31,900 for YouthCare, an organization that provides critical services for homeless youth. This brings our three-year total to $98,700 towards our #tacklehomelessness campaign! Thank you to the Seahawks and to YouthCare for helping us support homeless youth in our community. We’ll be back next year to raise even more!


Posted on February 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Monthly Newsletter, Uncategorized |

Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning

Whether you hire an outside professional for help, or tackle the project yourself, now is a great time to get a jump on spring cleaning. Many people wait for warmer temps to start cleaning, but I think most everyone can agree that those weekends would be better spent outdoors, soaking up that sun. So, take some inspiration from the list below to get you started now on freshening up your home for spring.

 

It will only take a few hours to check everything off this list, and you’ll feel so much better enjoying the last few weeks of winter, knowing that when the warmer weather finally comes, you can get outside and really enjoy it!

 

Rotate your mattress. Most mattresses need to be rotated regularly in order to even out the overall wear and prolong the lifespan of your bed. However, keep in mind that Sleep Number and Tempur-Pedic mattresses typically should not be rotated. Always check with your manufacturer for their recommendations on your specific mattress. If you own an older mattress with no pillowtop, it should probably be flipped as well as rotated.

 

Clean your mattress. Strip the mattress of all linens and covers. Start by vacuuming the mattress with the upholstery attachment, paying close attention to crevices and seams. Next, sprinkle baking soda (up to a one-pound box) all over the surface of your mattress. Let this sit for at least an hour, but 24 hours is best. Then go back over your mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment again. If you have a steam cleaner, break it out and go over your whole mattress. The steam will reach further into the mattress than your vacuum is able to, and kills dust mites. *It is generally not recommended to clean memory foam with a steam cleaner.

 

Organize & clean the laundry room. Clean the outside of your washer and dryer; scrape any dried detergent from crevices. Next, clean the inside of the washing machine. Most newer models have a self-cleaning cycle. If you have an older machine that does not have a self-cleaning cycle, run a cycle with hot water and a quart of white vinegar. After it is finished, clean the detergent dispensers, using a vinegar and water solution and a scrubber. If you have a front-loader, be sure to clean the rubber seal on the door. This area is prone to mold growth, so use an all-purpose cleaner or maybe even bleach to get under and around the seal.

 

Next, organize a bit. Throw away products you never use, replace damaged sorting bins, and don’t forget to clean out the dryer vent to prevent a fire.

 

Deep clean the fridge. Twice a year (or more), you should give your fridge a front-to-back, top-down scrubbing. Start by taking everything out and throw away anything that has expired. Next, remove all the shelves and drawers. Put them to soak in a solution of two tablespoons baking soda and one-quart hot water. While they are soaking, wipe down the interior of the fridge with the same solution. Then scrub, rinse and dry the shelves and drawers.

 

Next, dry the drip pan. Remove the base grill, and pull out the drip pan. If it’s full of water, mop it with paper towels and wash the pan with soapy water. If your drop pan is fixed in place, wrap a cloth around the head of a long-handled brush and use to clean the pan.

 

Don’t forget the coils. In order to keep your refrigerator running efficiently, unplug it, pull it away from the wall, and use a coil brush or your vacuum’s crevice attachment to clean the condenser coils. This should be done at least twice a year, unless you have pets in the home, and then you should do this three to four times a year.

 

Clean out spice cabinet. Throw away all expired spices and seasonings. Not only do these lose taste, they actually harbor mold and bacteria.

 

Clean out expired medications & vitamins If you have unused medications, please take them to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.

 

Vacuum, wash, or steam window curtains

 

Wash window blinds

 

Add color to your table. Treat yourself to fresh flowers while waiting for the spring blooms outside.

 

And if you’re ready to get some deep cleaning done, check out this blog for the Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist.


Posted on February 4, 2019 at 8:45 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Just for Fun |

Q4 2018 – South King County Quarterly Market Trends

2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 89%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.7 months, 30% more than 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

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 January 16, 2019 at 4:07 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Matthew Gardner Economic Reports |

Q4 2018 – Eastside Quarterly Market Trends

2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 8% and since 2012 has increased 87%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 2 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

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


Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:06 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Matthew Gardner Economic Reports |

Q4 2018 – Seattle Metro Quarterly Market Trends

2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 93%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.5 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

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


Posted on January 16, 2019 at 4:06 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Market Trends and Statistics |

Q4 2018 – North King County Quarterly Market Trends

2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 92%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.5 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

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 January 16, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Market Trends and Statistics |

Q4 2018 – North Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends

2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 88%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.6 months, higher than 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

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 January 16, 2019 at 4:04 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Market Trends and Statistics |

Q4 2018 – South Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends

2018 was a year of change and growth. The market shifted from an extreme seller’s market, but still had strong gains. Year-over-year, median price is up 9% and since 2012 has increased 85%! Over the last 19 years, the average year-over-year price increase has been 6%. This puts into perspective the growth we have experienced, resulting in well-established equity levels. In 2018, inventory averaged 1.5 months, double that of 2017. This caused the month-over-month price gains to slow, and we experienced a price correction over the second half of the year. We expect to see more average levels of price appreciation in 2019 as the market continues to balance out.

After six years of expansion resulting in an extreme seller’s market, in 2018 we encountered a market shift in the late spring. Inventory increased, interest rates took a jump, and demand took a step back to re-evaluate the new playing field. This resulted in a tempering of month-over-month price appreciation, and has established some long-awaited balance. This balance has brought opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Buyers have more selection and are negotiating terms like inspection items and concessions. Sellers are sitting on 6+ years of equity growth, and are now able to sell their home and make a move without fearing where they will land next. Interest rates are still well below the 30-year average, currently hovering just under 5%. We are seeing demand start to re-engage now that the new normal has settled in.

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 January 15, 2019 at 8:19 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Market Trends and Statistics |

5 Alternatives to a New Year’s Resolution

The pressure to come up with resolutions and improvements always mounts near the end of the year, but everyone knows that statistically speaking, most of us won’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions much past February. So rather than give in to societal pressure, guilt, and feelings of hopelessness, I propose a shift in perspective this year.

Rather than viewing the New Year as catalyst for sweeping lifestyle and character changes, let’s instead take this opportunity to renew our sense of purpose and determination. Here are five ideas to make some positive changes in a different way this year.

  1. Express Gratitude

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” -William Arthur Ward. You will be amazed at the ways your life will begin to change simply by expressing gratitude regularly. It will help you maintain a fresh perspective day in and day out, and will help to keep stress at bay. Make a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life, big and small. Take some time to really lean in to this list and reflect on each one. Especially focus on why you are thankful for each of those things.

  1. Create a list of things to look forward to

This goes hand-in-hand with gratitude. What are you looking forward to this year? A vacation, a family member getting married, a new restaurant opening, a new novel or a new season of your favorite show. By focusing on the good things coming your way, it will be easier to keep a positive and hope-filled attitude.

  1. Pick a word for the year

Before the year starts, take some time to look at the big picture of the coming year. Find the theme of what you would like to accomplish or focus on and choose a theme word to guide you. This will give you clarity and focus. Maybe your word for the year is Intentional. Simplify. Peace. Discipline. Fun. When you have your theme word for the year, share it on oneword365.com

  1. Schedule a quarterly retreat

Life happens, and trying to balance work, family, social life, friends, and other commitments often results in very little time for you. Take some time before the new year starts and schedule yourself a quarterly one-day (or weekend!) retreat to focus on YOU. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.

  1. Try a 30-day challenge

A 30-day challenge consists of setting a small goal that can be achieved in 30 days, as well as a small, specific action that you will take each day to achieve that goal. For example:

Declutter: every day for 30 days, choose 3 items to donate, sell, give away or throw away.

Random acts of kindness: every day for 30 days, perform a random act of kindness such as: leaving change in a vending machine; buying the coffee of the person behind you at Starbucks; send a thank you email to a coworker who deserves more recognition. Spreading kindness will always come back to you.

 

 

Happy New Year!


Posted on November 29, 2018 at 12:15 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Just for Fun | Tagged , , , ,

Where to Celebrate NYE

New Year’s Eve 2018 is almost upon us, and if you are still looking for something to do, read on! There are lots of options in the greater Seattle area, whether you are looking for the biggest blow-out bash or an earlier, family-friendly event.

  1. New Year’s Eve Celebration at Seattle Center

There are actually two parties that will converge at midnight for the iconic Seattle fireworks show.

The Armory Stage will host rock band SWAY from 8pm until midnight. And at the International Fountain, you can dance the night away with live electronic music and video projection show (starts at 10pm). Tickets are required for both parties, however the big fireworks show is free to enjoy.

  1. SPECTRA: New Year’s Eve Under the Arches

The Pacific Science Center transforms on NYE with fire sculptures, drinks and live music. There will be special entertainment throughout the night, as well as the standard Science Center exhibits. At midnight, head outside for the Space Needle fireworks. Purchase tickets in advance.

  1. New Year’s Eve pARTy at Chihuly Gardens and Glass

Watch the Seattle Center fireworks from under the glass of Chihuly Gardens. The evening includes appetizers, desserts, live music and a midnight toast. Purchase tickets in advance.

  1. INDULGENCE New Year’s Eve Bash at MoPOP

Another Seattle Center option, the Museum of Popular Culture offers four 21+ parties in one. With live music on three performance stages, comedians, party favors, special VIP areas, more than 20 bars, and a special singles-only cocktail hour, this is one of the largest parties of the year. Museum access is included in the price of the party, purchase tickets in advance.

  1. Tacoma’s First Night

First Night is an all-ages, family-friendly celebration in Downtown Tacoma’s Theater District. The affordable admission price includes museums, music, art, drama, dance, and a whole day and night of activities. The cost of entry increases as the festival gets closer, so buy early to save!

  1. Nighttime Party for Families at Imagine Children’s Museum

The perfect NYE celebration if you have older kids, this pajama party features comedians, balloon makers, pizza, snacks, and educational, hands-on activities throughout the night. The fun culminates at 9pm with a ball drop.

  1. New Year’s Eve with Ivar’s Salmon House

Ivar’s on Northlake will host live music, tasty food and view of the fireworks without the crowds. Advanced reservations are required, and will range in price depending on your selections.

  1. Slamming’ Jammin’ New Year’s Eve Party

Ring in the new year with the latest in R&B, Old School, Jazz and Hip Hop music. This is a 21+, semi-formal event, and hotel packages are available with your ticket purchase.

  1. Resolution New Year’s Eve Party at WAMU Theater

A Seattle tradition for almost a decade, this 18+ party always brings a mixed crowd together for a night of dancing. This is one of the biggest EDM parties of the year.

  1. New Year’s at KidsQuest Bellevue

Celebrate the coming new year all day at KidsQuest! There are activities every hour from 10am to 4pm, including Bubble Wrap Stomp, New Year’s Hats, Storytime, glittery tattoos, and more. Admission is free with membership or museum admission.


Posted on November 29, 2018 at 12:13 pm
Cori Whitaker | Posted in Just for Fun | Tagged , , , , , ,