Monthly Newsletter – March 2019: Consulting Your Trusted Advisor vs Following the Media

 

Spring is in the air! The bulbs are starting to poke out of the ground and we recently hit 70 degrees in the Greater Seattle area. This is the time of year, due to weather and the end of the school year approaching, that the local real estate market starts to take off with activity. Not only is the sun thawing out gardens and backyard patios, helping to ready homes for market, but interest rates are continuing to fall, providing a heyday for buyers and sellers.

Spring is the time of year we see more homes come to market providing more selection for buyers. This is what we call our peak season. This spring, however, is especially meaningful due to the recent decrease in interest rates. Seasonality naturally brings more activity, but 2019 has started out with a downward trajectory in regards to interest rates, which has been a welcome shift after watching rates increase by almost an entire point over the course of 2018.

According to Ycharts.com, as of March 14th the US 30-year mortgage rate is at 4.31%, compared to 4.41% the week prior and 4.46% last year. This is quite a bit lower than the long term average of 8.07%. Additionally, rates are now over half a point lower than they were just four months ago, which gives buyers 5% more buying power. Meaning they can increase their price range by 5% and keep the same mortgage payment.

We are beginning to see a ton of activity at open houses, market times are starting to shrink, and multiple offers are popping up again. Demand is on the rise, with first-time home buyers out in full-force along with move-up and down-size buyers all going after the same inventory. Price appreciation will start to happen again month-over-month as the tulips start to open and veggie gardens start sprouting.

This assessment is not only factual and researched, it is anecdotal. You see, statistics are only reported monthly from the NWMLS, so the stories from the streets tell the real story of where we have been, what’s happening now, and where we are headed in the real estate market. My daily engagement with the market, either helping buyers or sellers, researching values, showing properties, negotiating contracts, and working on inspections and appraisals helps me to be informed of the trends before they are even reported.

Around the third of each month, the NWMLS distributes a press release to the media reporting the previous month’s statistics. The media grabs the numbers that are most exciting to them to craft a story around. They create headlines to entice readership, which in turn sells advertising. The problem is that these news stories often only tell part of the story.

A classic example of cherry picked statistics used to create a headline came earlier this month.  The Seattle Times reported in a sub-headline that Snohomish County home prices were falling at their fastest rate in seven years. This is simply not the whole truth. This is a common tactic of the media often only using month-over-month numbers (comparing the current month to the same month a year ago) versus a complete year-over-year analysis. Real estate is a long-term investment, and month-over-month numbers tend to provide more of a snapshot rather than a longer-term analysis of data and what influenced it.

We need to look at the data from all angles. Where were we a year ago, what has happened over the course of the last year in comparison to the previous year, and what happened this month compared to last month? Real-time experiences matter too, as the market changes weekly and even daily. Interactions throughout the month help me understand what opportunities the current environment will provide before the ink even dries on the media release. All of this helps us understand where we have come from and where we are headed. Couple that with front-line, daily experiences, and your trusted advisor can help you determine how all of this relates to your bottom line much more effectively than an article in the newspaper.

Another important factor to consider is that the bulk of the statistics reported in that monthly NWMLS press release are based on closed sales. While closed sales are very important, we must also closely track pending sales activity (homes currently under contract). Closed sales show where we have been and pending sales indicate where we are headed. February was a misleading month because of Snowmageddon. It halted new inventory reaching the market and kept buyers at home. The second half of February once the roads were cleared, had buyers lined up. Many of those buyers are anxiously waiting for that seasonal surge in inventory as we head into spring. This is indicated by conversations being had at open houses and one-on-one encounters with clients. Buyers want to take advantage of these surprisingly low interest rates now and sellers are enjoying the audience they are providing.

Unfortunately, the media is the initial source of information, and sometimes the only source a consumer considers when making such big decisions. I can’t tell you how often I encounter people that are grossly misled by alarming headlines and bite-sized bits of media when it comes to their largest asset, or the consideration of entering into home ownership.

Supply and demand illustrates where we are at in the market, and factors such as interest rates, the local and global economy, and simple things like weather and consumer mindset drive the market. Consumer mindset is influenced by the media. Take it a step further and make sure you are aligned with a professional who is committed to tracking all of this and can help explain how it all relates to you. Everyone has their own goals and their own concerns; it is the analysis of a well-researched trusted advisor that can help you navigate these meaningful financial decisions. It is my goal to provide my clients with the most up-to-date information to help empower strong decisions. If you are curious how this all relates to you, please reach out. I’d be happy to discuss and help educate.

 

 

Growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding. It might seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but once you get started, you’ll find it isn’t very hard. Gardening is a learning experience, though. You’ll find that some things work better than others, and every planting season gives you another opportunity to make some tweaks and try again.

The first thing you need to decide is where to plant. For most veggies, this should be the sunniest spot you have. And of course, the second big question is what to plant. Go for the things you love to eat, as well as plants that will thrive in the amount of sun you have.

Our climate in the Pacific Northwest requires some crops to be started indoors in the winter and transplanted outside in the spring. But it’s not too late to get started. There are lots of plants that you can sow directly into the garden in early spring. Here are a few:

There are also many crops that can be planted in the summer for a fall harvest. Click here for a complete timeline of planting vegetables in the Seattle area.

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Earth Day with us! Bring all your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site by Confidential Data Disposal. Limit 20 file boxes per customer.

We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors Food Bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.

Saturday, April 20th, 10am – 2pm.
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood 98036

*This is a shredding-only event. Only paper will be accepted – no electronics or recyclables.

 

Posted on April 15, 2019 at 12:28 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Monthly Newsletter

Monthly Newsletter – February 2019

Most recently, we have experienced an uptick in market activity. In fact, in King and Snohomish counties we saw a 53% increase in pending sales from December to January. While it is seasonally normal to see activity increase at the first of the year, it was 16% higher than the previous January. This increase is being driven by multiple factors, such as our thriving economy and job market, price acceleration softening, and the recent decrease in interest rates.

Currently, rates are as low as 4.5% for a 30-year fixed conventional mortgage – 0.75 points down from the fourth quarter of 2018. In fact, the interest rate in November was the highest we’ve seen in five years!  The current rate level is the lowest we have seen in a year. This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point increase in interest rate, a buyer loses ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate increases by a point during their search, in order to keep the same monthly payment, the buyer would need to decrease their purchase price to $450,000. Conversely, for every decrease in interest rate, a buyer can increase their purchase price and keep the same monthly mortgage payment.

Why is this important to pay attention to? Affordability! If you take the scenario I just described and apply it to the link above, you can see that the folks who choose to jump into the market this year will enjoy an interest cost savings when securing their mortgage. This lasts the entire life of the loan and can have a huge impact on the monthly cash flow of a household. This cost savings is also coupled with a slow-down in home-price appreciation. Complete year-over-year, prices are up around 8% in both King and Snohomish counties, but note that from 2017 to 2018 we saw a 14% increase. Price appreciation is adjusting to more normal levels and is predicted to increase 4-6% in 2019 over 2018.

As we head into spring market, the time of year we see the most inventory become available, the interest rates will have a positive influence on both buyers and sellers. Naturally, buyers will enjoy the cost savings, but sellers will enjoy a larger buyer pool looking at their homes due to the demand the lower rates are creating. Further, would-be sellers who are also buyers that secured a rate as low as 3.75% via a purchase or re-finance in 2015-2017, will consider giving up that lower rate for the right move-up house now that rates are not as big of a jump up as they were during the second half of 2018.

This recent decrease in rate is making the move-up market come alive. What is great about this, is that it opens up inventory for the first-time buyer and helps complete the market cycle. First-time buyers are abundant right now as the Millennial generation is gaining in age and making big life transitions such as buying real estate. According to Nerd Wallet, 49% of all Millennials have a home purchase in their 5-year plan.

Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, rates should increase into the 5’s in 2019. While still staying well below the 30-year average of 6.85%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the 30-year average – it is reasonable to think that rates closer to that must be in our future at some point.

So what does this mean for you? If you have considered making a move, or even your first purchase, today’s rates are a huge plus in helping make that transition more affordable. If you are a seller, bear in mind that today’s interest rate market is creating strong buyer demand, providing a healthy buyer pool for your home. As a homeowner who has no intention to make a move, now might be the time to consider a refinance. What is so exciting about these refinances, is that it is not only possible to reduce your monthly payment, but also your term, depending on which rate you would be coming down from.

If you would like additional information on how today’s interest rates pertain to your housing goals, please contact me. I would be happy to educate you on homes that are available, do a market analysis on your current home, and/or put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional to help you crunch numbers. Real estate success is rooted in being accurately informed, and it is my goal to help empower you to make sound decisions for you and your family.

Celebrate Earth Day with us! Bring all your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site by Confidential Data Disposal. Limit 20 file boxes per customer.

We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors Food Bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.

Saturday, April 20th, 10am – 2pm.
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood 98036

*This is a shredding-only event. Only paper will be accepted – no electronics or recyclables.

I am pleased to present the fourth-quarter 2018 edition of the Gardner Report, which provides insights into select counties of the Western Washington housing market. This analysis is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. I hope that this information will 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.

Click to view the full report

Posted on March 3, 2019 at 7:41 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Matthew Gardner Economic Reports, Monthly Newsletter

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 | Category: Monthly Newsletter, Uncategorized

What the Same House Sold for 3 Years Later!

Price Appreciation Case Studies in North King & South Snohomish Counties


17836 1st Ave NE, Shoreline  •  4 bedroom  •  2,917 sq ft

   


Sold in November 2014
$560,000

Sold in January 2018
$800,000

$240,000 INCREASE IN HOME VALUE: 42.85%


18407 62nd Pl W, Lynnwood  •  3 bedroom  •  1,305 sq ft

    

Sold in September 2014

$315,000

Sold in July 2017

$450,000

$135,000 INCREASE IN HOME VALUE: 42.85%


Since 2014, home values have grown by over 10% each year, resulting in a resounding 35% or more return in pricing. Above are some examples of actual homes sold in late 2017 to early 2018 that also sold in 2014, and that were not remodeled or significantly improved in between sales. These examples show the growth in home values that we have experienced over the last three years due to our thriving local economy. I pulled these examples to show you actual pound-for-pound market data versus the statistical percentages I often quote in these market updates. I thought these examples were pretty telling and quite exciting.

This phenomenon has been driven by a lack of available housing inventory and super high demand due to the robust job market in our area influenced by companies like Amazon. In 2017, there were 1,000 people moving into our area each week! According to census data, that trend is supposed to continue.

The large price gains might seem familiar to the gains of the previous up market of 2004-2007 that resulted in a bubble, but this environment is much different, which is why we are not headed toward a housing collapse. Previous lending practices allowed people to get into homes with risky debt-to-income ratios, low credit scores, and undocumented incomes. A large part of why the housing bubble burst 10 years ago was due to people getting into mortgages they were not equipped to handle, which lend to the eventual fall of sub-prime lending and the bubble bursting. Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist speaks to this topic in this video.

It is supply and demand that is creating these huge gains in prices. An increase in inventory would be healthy and would temper price growth. Many folks who have been waiting for their current home values to return in order to make big moves involving their retirement, upgrading homes, investing, or even buying a second home are well poised to enter the market. If you are one of those people, I hope these examples provide insight on the increase in home values and how they might pertain to your goals.

Potential buyers might shy away from the market due to affordability. While it is expensive to buy a home in the Greater Seattle area, the people that have become homeowners over the last three years have built some amazing wealth. Interest rates remain low, helping to absorb the cost of a home in our area. Last month, I wrote a Love Letter to Buyers which helped layout the advantages of participating in today’s market and how to be successful. If you or any one you know is considering making a purchase, it is worth the read.

As we head into the active spring and summer months, if you’d like me to provide you a complimentary Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) on your home, so you have a better understanding of your home’s value, I’d be happy to do that. This would be an important component in charting your 2018 financial goals, and what a great time of year to gather that information! It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.


Celebrate Earth Day with us! Bring all your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site by Confidential Data Disposal. Limit 20 file boxes per customer.

We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors Food Bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.

Saturday, April 21st, 10am – 2pm.
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood 98036

*This is a shredding-only event. Only paper will be accepted – no electronics or recyclables.

 


 

Spring Gardening Tips to Help Get Your Yard Flourish-Ready 

It is approaching that time of year when April showers will start to bring May flowers, so no better time to get outside to start prepping the garden. First, one must get their hands dirty cleaning out the beds, tending the soil and trimming back plants to prepare for new plantings and fresh growth. For a complete list of Spring gardening tips, click here.

 

Posted on March 29, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics, Monthly Newsletter | Tagged , , , , ,

A Love Letter to Buyers

I hope your Valentine’s Day was a sweet one, but it got me thinking. I am often sharing with you the advantages of this market for home sellers, which is unbelievably positive. With that said, I thought I’d take some time to give the potential buyers in our marketplace some love, hope, and of course, data!

Dear Greater Seattle Home Buyer,

Let’s just be up front: buying a home in today’s market is not easy. Quite frankly, it can be a wild roller coaster ride with twists and turns; but remember, folks pay a lot of money and stand in long lines for roller coaster rides. Imagine the excited pit in your stomach as the cart clicks up to the highest point before you plunge down a steep drop, and the thrill of raising your hands up because you trust that you are going to be okay. These emotions also accurately reflect the feelings of today’s home buyer – it can be a wild ride! Let’s also note that many roller coaster riders return to the back of the line right after getting off. Home ownership is also a good exercise to repeat and is often the investment that leads to the most built wealth in one’s life.

So how does one ensure that they are not the Nervous Nelly who stands in line for over an hour, finally makes it to the front to be strapped in to the cart, but who then chooses to bow out? The one that sits on the sidelines watching others throw up their hands with a thrill in their eye; the one with that tinge of regret as their friends rejoin them back on hallowed ground to recount their adventure. Wow, this is getting dramatic! Here are a few tips to follow that will ensure that one can find success securing a home in today’s market and get on the equity building train.

Waiting is Even More Expensive
In 2017, the year-over-year median price gains across our region were strong. In fact, here is a little break down.

North Snohomish County: $371,000 up 13%
South Snohomish County: $508,000 up 14%
North King County: $715,000 up 14%
Seattle Metro: $710,000 up 15%
South King County: $405,000 up 13%
Eastside: $865,000 up 15%
The appreciation is for real and as each month ticks by, prices are going up. That is why it is incredibly important to have a plan and realistic expectations. In referring to the chart above, it is plain to see the affordability of each area. Buyers have had to get creative and honest with themselves regarding the city or neighborhood in which they land. Commute times are one of the biggest indicators of home cost. It is paramount to line your budget up with a realistic commute time and then dig in. Too often I’ve seen buyers tightly grip to the idea of an in-city commute, only to have it end up being a more suburban choice in the end. The months wasted trying to perform in a market that didn’t match their budget ended up costing them at least 1% a month, based on last year’s appreciation. Getting real saves time, money, and heartache.Interest Rates are a’Rising
This aspect is actually one to pay very close attention to. We have been amazingly spoiled with historically low interest rates over the last five years. In fact, there is an entire generation of buyers who only know rates that have hovered from 3.5 – 4.5% – that is close to 3 points under the 30-year average! A good rule of thumb regarding interest rates, is that for each 1-point increase a buyer loses 10% of their buying power. That means that if you have a $500,000 budget and the rate goes up by a point, that you are now shopping for a $450,000 house if you want the same payment. Note, that shift does not take appreciation into consideration. Today’s rates have helped buyers bear the home prices in our area. It is predicted that rates will rise in 2018 by .5 to 1%.Rents are High and Don’t Build Wealth
Seattle is now the 5th most expensive city to rent in the country according to the US Census Bureau. With rising rental rates, still historically low interest rates, and home prices on the rise, the advantage of buying versus renting has become clear for folks who have a down payment saved, good debt-to-income ratios and strong credit. Currently, the breakeven horizon (the amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision vs. renting) in the Greater Seattle area is 1.6 years according to Zillow research.

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 the roller coaster ride. When you go to the Dr. they start with your intake, check your vitals, ask questions, etc. 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. 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 short list of lenders that fit this description, please contact me.

‘Tis the Season – Inventory is Coming
Have hope! This is the time of year where we see inventory climb month over month. There will be more selection, but bear in mind it is also the time of year that the appreciation push happens. If you are feeling 75-80% in love with a home, it is one to act on. You’re never going to “get it all”, so a willingness to focus on priorities will pay off, because waiting will have an expense.

If you or someone you know is considering a purchase in today’s market, please contact me. It is my pleasure to take the time to educate, devise a plan, and help buyers find success in a challenging, yet advantageous market.

Posted on February 21, 2018 at 4:11 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Market Trends and Statistics, Monthly Newsletter | Tagged , , ,

Holiday Giving Recap

This past Christmas, my office adopted 26 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). Our in-office donations totaled $1,430, and together with a $1,000 match from the Windermere Foundation and a 5% bulk bonus from Safeway, we were able to distribute $2,557.50 in grocery gift cards to 10 local families.

We are also thrilled to report that through our partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, this season we raised a total of $31,800 for YouthCare, an organization that provides critical services for homeless youth. Last year’s season raised $35,000, for a two-year total of $66,800 towards our #tacklehomelessness campaign!

Posted on February 1, 2018 at 2:28 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Just for Fun, Monthly Newsletter

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 , , , , ,

Matthew Gardner’s 2018 Housing Forecast

In a nutshell, here is Matthew Gardner’s 2018 Housing Forecast. If you want to read his forecast in more detail, click here: http://bit.ly/2Cx1oSG

Posted on January 10, 2018 at 12:36 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Matthew Gardner Economic Reports, Monthly Newsletter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Does Median Price Buy you in Each Area Around Puget Sound?

Recently the Seattle Times published an article about Seattle being the hottest real estate market in the country. This phenomenon has been taking place for over a year and experts don’t see this slowing down. According to the Case-Schiller Index, over the last 5 years since the market started to recover from the downturn, there has been an 80% increase in prices! I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the median price in each of our market areas to illustrate the price differentiation and affordability. If you are curious how this increase relates to your home, please contact me. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.

North Snohomish County

Sale Price:  $380,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/2
Square Footage:  1,551
Year over Year Appreciation:  13%

South Snohomish County

Sale Price:  $500,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms: 3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,784
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%

 

North King County

Sale Price:  $715,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,980
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%

Seattle Metro

Sale Price:  $725,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,780
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%

Eastside

Sale Price:  $855,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  4/2.5
Square Footage:  2,170
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%

South King County

Sale Price:  $400,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/3.75
Square Footage:  2,400
Year over Year Appreciation:  13%


 

Posted on November 30, 2017 at 7:49 pm
Cori Whitaker | Category: Monthly Newsletter | Tagged , , , ,

Demystifying the Zillow Zestimate – Real Estate Update – Cori Whitaker

Knowing the value of your home is helpful in many ways. It can help determine one’s net worth, help decide if a home sale or purchase is a financially feasible move, determine the ability to get a loan – and it’s just nice to know where your largest investment stands. Consumers have the option to access several websites such as Zillow® to search the AVM or Zestimate® on their property.

A Zestimate is an AVM (Automated Valuation Model). The product of an automated valuation technology comes from analysis of public record data and computer decision logic combined to provide a calculated estimate of a probable selling price of a residential property. An AVM generally uses a combination of two types of evaluation, a hedonic model and a repeat sales index. The results of each are weighted, analyzed and then reported as a final estimate of value based on a requested date.

Often when I am talking with potential sellers, their Zestimate (or other AVMs) come up in the overall conversation, and I understand why. This is information that is relatively easy to access and gives the seller a starting point on the value of their home. Where an AVM can become problematic is when a consumer thinks it’s accurate. Even worse, when a consumer makes a major financial decision solely based on this information. According to Zillow, less than half of all Zestimates in the Seattle metro area are even within 5.4% of the actual value, and they only give themselves a 2-star (fair) rating on their accuracy. In fact, they publish an accuracy report that you can access here.

In August, the average home price in the Seattle Metro area was $824,000. With less than half of all Zestimates within 5% of the actual value, that is a beginning margin of error of $41,200! Further, they claim that 72.3% of their Zestimates are within 10% of the actual value, which is a marked difference – up to $82,400. AVMs are incomplete because the basis of their formula is tax records, which in my experience are often inaccurate. Also, and most importantly, an AVM does not take into consideration the condition of the home, the neighborhood and other environmental impacts such as school district, road noise and unsightly neighboring homes, to name a few.

An accurate accounting of the value of a home in today’s market requires actually physically touring the home and the surrounding homes that compare, as well as considering current market conditions such as supply and demand and seasonality. An algorithm cannot accomplish this, but a real estate broker can.

So why does the Zestimate exist? Zillow is a publicly traded company (ZG) and their website is the vehicle to create profit. The Zestimate drives consumers to the website who are often dipping their toe in the pool to see what their home might be worth, or searching available homes for sale. When a consumer is searching on the website they are surrounded by real estate broker and mortgage broker ads on every page. These real estate brokers and mortgage brokers are paying for that advertising space, which is how Zillow makes its money and why there is a Zestimate. The Zestimate is not a public service, it is a widget to bring eyes to their advertising space which in turn, sells more ads.

Another important item to note is that Zillow does NOT have all available real estate inventory in the Greater Seattle area on their website. In May, they cut off access to manually input listings, leaving some real estate firms unable to get their listings on the site any longer. Some firms just plainly chose not to syndicate to them. It is estimated that Zillow has between 70%-80% of the total available inventory on their site. In an inventory-tight market like the one we are in now, it is important for consumers to understand that if Zillow is the only source they are searching with, they may be missing out. Brokerage firm websites, such as Windermere.com have a direct IDX feed from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service which refreshes every 15 minutes, insuring the accuracy and completeness of all listing data.

The best use of Zillow is to think of the site as one of the many tools in your real estate evaluation and search toolbox. Zillow provides a great starting point and contains a ton of information to whet your palate when embarking on a real estate endeavor. Nothing beats the evaluation and discernment of a knowledgeable and experienced real estate broker to help you determine accuracy, which will lead to the empowerment of clarity.

If you are curious about the value of your home in today’s market, please contact me. I can provide an annual real estate review of all of your real estate holdings, and can even dive deep into a complete comparative market analysis if you would find that helpful. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.

 

Zillow® and Zestimate® are trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

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Equifax Data Breach

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in the data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit agencies.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases, driver’s licenses numbers and even credit card numbers.

There are steps you can take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if your information was exposed and set up protections. Click here to access the entire press release from the Federal Trade Commission that includes step by step instructions to help you navigate the website.

 

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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.

___________________________________

 

 

Ray & Lynn Trzynka

 

 


Milari Olexa

 

 


Alyssa Irwin

 

 


Mike & Chris Russell

 

 


The Everetts

 

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To these buyers that closed recently:


Gilbert & Patricia Holzmeyer

 

 


Jacob & Shannon Foran

 

 


Ann O’Connor

 

 


Mike & Chris Russell

 

 


Chris & Sarah Larson

 

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Active Listings:


1820 NW 195th St, Shoreline 98177
2 Bedrooms/1.75 Baths, 1592 Sq Ft.
Listed at $589,950

 

 

16736 76th Ave W, Edmonds 98026
4 Bedrooms/3.25 Baths, 3808 Sq Ft.
Listed at $798,950

 

 

8809 Olympic View Dr, Edmonds 98026
4 Bedrooms/2.75 Baths, 3956 Sq Ft.
Listed at $1,289,950

 

 

Listings currently under contract:

Pending
7010 177th St SW, Edmonds 98026
4 Bedrooms/3 Baths, 2684 Sq Ft.
Listed at $635,000

Pending
23834 113th Place W, Woodway 98020
5 Bedrooms/2.5 Baths, 3000 Sq Ft.
Listed at $869,950

Pending
9222 183rd Place SW, Edmonds 98020
4 Bedrooms/2.5 Baths, 3084 Sq Ft.
Listed at $659,850

Pending
410 Dayton St, Edmonds 98020
Bed & Breakfast
Commercial listing & business opportunity
Listed at $750,000

Thank you for trusting me to help your friends and family!

Posted on October 1, 2017 at 10:17 am
Cori Whitaker | Category: Monthly Newsletter | Tagged , , , , ,