19015 64th Ave W, Lynnwood WA 98036
600 3rd Ave S, Edmonds WA 98020
18510 44th Ave W, Lynnwood WA 98037
802 E Mukilteo Blvd, Everett WA 98203
6705 Puget Park Drive, Snohomish WA 98296
750 S Home St, Seattle WA 98108
12718 1st Ave NE, Seattle WA 98125
1800 S Main St, Seattle WA 98144
999 164th Ave NE, Bellevue WA 98008
7031 148th Ave NE, Redmond WA 98052
801 228th Ave SE, Sammamish WA 98074
7/6 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (at the Airport Fly In)
7/12 Early Man
7/19 Peter Rabbit
Frances Anderson Center Field
Thornton Sullivan Park, Camp Patterson Field
7/20 Early Man
8/17 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Jennings Park, Lioins Centennial Pavilion
7/14 Despicable Me 3
7/28 Cars 3
8/4 Wonder Woman
8/11 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Willis Tucker Park
7/26 The Greatest Showman
8/16 Beauty and the Beast
7/10 Despicable Me 3
7/17 Boss Baby
7/24 The Lego Ninjago Movie
7/31 Goodbye Christopher Robin
8/7 Paddington 2
8/14 The Greatest Showman
Carillon Point Plaza
7/7 Despicable Me 3
7/21 The Wedding Singer
8/18 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
6/28 The Goonies
7/5 Wonder Woman
7/25 The Greatest Showman
8/2 10 Things I Hate About You
8/8 Thor: Ragnarok
8/22 Black Panther
8/29 The Princess Bride
Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre
7/20 A League of Their Own
7/14 Best of the Children’s International Film Festival
Shilshole Bay Marina
Seattle Center Mural Amphitheatre
7/28 The Princess Bride
8/4 Get Out
8/11 Little Shop of Horrors
8/18 I am Not Your Negro
8/25 Wonder Woman
South Lake Union Discovery Center
6/16 The Goonies
7/21 Jurassic Park
8/25 Black Panther
7/21 Wonder Woman
7/28 The Secret Life of Pets
8/4 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
8/11 A Wrinkle in Time
8/25 Black Panther
*Check websites for start times, pre-movie activities and to make sure your favorite movie hasn’t been canceled or changed!
I often hear that potential buyers think they need to have perfect credit to qualify for a home purchase. Check this out! 53% of buyers had a score between 600-749 according to Elle Mae. If you’re curious about what it takes to be a buyer in today’s market, please reach out and I can help.
Have you had dreams of owning a home or know someone that does? Jumping into the market as a first-time home buyer can be intimidating, especially within the wild ride of the Greater Seattle market; but there is hope! In an effort to illustrate the reality for first-time buyers in today’s market, my office got together and identified several sets of buyers who recently found success in today’s market and asked them to share their stories. We think this is timely because it is the time of year that we see a surge in inventory, which gives buyers more selection and opportunity. We have two stories to share below, but before we dive into those let’s defy some first-time home buyer myths.
First, many people think it is necessary to have a 20% down payment saved in order to make their first purchase. That is simply not true. While a 20% down payment can help make you more competitive and naturally lowers your monthly payment, it is not the only option. There are loan programs with down payments as low as 3%. Nationally, in March the average down payment for all loans was 10%. For first-timers it was 6% and repeat buyers it was 14%.
Second, expectations around credit scores can use some clarification as well. In March, the average credit score for all loans was 722. For Conventional loans it was 742 and for FHA it was 677. If your credit needs some work, contact me and I can put you in touch with one of my preferred lenders that can help with credit repair. There is hope, as these numbers are just the average. You’d be surprised that you don’t have to have perfect credit to get the process started.
Lastly, the cost to be a renter is high, and the return on your investment is nothing. Recently, Rent.com did a survey of landlords and 88% said they planned to raise their rents in the next 12 months. In the same survey, 53% said they’d rather place a new tenant with a higher rent versus renegotiate and renew with a current tenant. This sounds expensive and unstable. Owning leads to building wealth and putting down permanent roots.
Now that we’ve gained some clarity on what it takes to qualify in today’s market, let’s jump into these two honest, yet heartwarming local first-time home buyer stories.
Three Teenagers, One Bathroom, No More
This happy family of five just moved in to this house earlier this month. Two hard working parents, Brandy and Juan, with three teenagers were renting a 3-bedroom, 1-bath rambler in Edmonds and needed more space. It was time to make a move, and they had saved up a 3% down payment for a new home. Their budget was $400,000.
The first step in the home buying process was sitting down with their agent for the initial buyer consultation. This is where they discussed market conditions, desired features such as bedrooms, bathrooms and garage, and their budget. This lead them to explore which locations had the inventory that met their needs in order to stay within their budget. They had to marry these three key points – we like to call this the Triangle of Buyer Clarity. They then identified a few workable locations that had inventory which supported their desired features and their budget and went for it. This upfront research and partnership with their agent lead to Brandy and Juan finding success rather quickly, saving them money in an appreciating market, and a whole lot of strife.
They did this and ultimately bought a great house in Marysville which fit their budget, afforded them the features they desired, and still provided a manageable commute into Lynnwood. Their mortgage payment is higher than their rental rate, but relative to the size of their new home and their investment. Not to mention, they are now on the equity-building train and don’t have to worry about a landlord displacing them. Their monthly mortgage payment is fixed with an awesome low interest rate, and they are super happy to have more than one bathroom for their teenagers.
From North Seattle to West Seattle
First, how cool is this house? Super cool! That’s just how Paul and Ange feel about their newly purchased home in the Highland Park neighborhood of West Seattle. They just closed in early April and have already attended two neighborhood BBQ’s, received gifts from their new neighbors, discovered new parks and restaurants and, wait for it…shortened their commute.
Paul described his new neighborhood, Highland Park, as “magical.” Previously, Paul and Ange were renting in Wedgwood for six years and loved it there. So much that they could not imagine living anywhere else. When they started their home search in late 2017, they kept to strict search criteria of North Seattle because that is what they knew and it was comfortable. After making two offers and not prevailing because they were getting beat out on price, West Seattle was suggested to them as a more affordable option by their agent. The price corner of the Triangle of Buyer Clarity was making itself known as a challenge in North Seattle, so it was time to reconvene. They sat down with their agent and evaluated the market conditions in West Seattle compared to North Seattle and applied them to their feature list and budget, and voila: West Seattle was calling their names. You see, they wanted a more turn-key home, and the homes they were encountering in their price range in North Seattle needed a lot of work.
They went out on a limb and traveled over the bridge to start looking at homes. They quickly saw the difference – the homes they were interested in were not, as Paul said, “scary”! The anticipated repairs they would have to make to the homes they were able to afford in North Seattle were daunting and unexciting. They felt much more at ease with the features that the West Seattle homes provided within their price range. They just needed to get comfortable with the idea of moving to a different community.
When they found the house featured above, the leap of faith to West Seattle started to take shape. They prepped a strong offer, did their due diligence, and believe it or not, secured the home in a multiple offer situation at $805,000, which was not the highest price! They listened to their agent and wrote an offer with very strong terms as well as a very well-researched price. Their agent kept in close contact with the listing agent and the Sellers chose their offer due to all of these factors.
Since moving in almost two months ago, they find themselves in a state of excitement and discovery every day. The community has been welcoming and conversations with neighbors and the random stranger at the grocery store come easily. Paul has observed a strong sense of curiosity within his new community as people are new to the area and are encouraged to build relationships and make discoveries.
In the end, Paul and Ange remained within their price range, bought a home with all the features they wanted, but made what seemed to be at the time, a compromise on location. That compromise ended up being, as they put it, magical! They have never looked back to Wegdwood with regret, only excitement over what their new neighborhood might bring.
The point of these two stories is to debunk the sentiment we hear from time to time, that first-time home buyers cannot find success in our market. With a well-laid-out plan strategically constructed by the agent and client, we are seeing many happy stories for first-timers. The end result is putting these new homeowners on the path to building wealth, growing thriving communities, and making their house their home.
If you or someone you know has dreamed about buying their first home, please reach out. It is my goal to help identify the opportunities that are available, the strategies that find success, and to educate along the way.
We are so fortunate here at Windermere to have Matthew Gardner help keep us informed on our economy and the real estate market. Each quarter Matthew compiles in-depth research on counties from across Western Washington. Click here to download Matthew’s full Q1 report.
When you shop at a local Farmers Market, you’re buying outstanding freshness, quality and flavor. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown provides peace of mind for your family. Plus, you’re supporting a sustainable regional food system that helps small family farms stay in business; protects land from development, and provides the community with fresh, healthy food. Find one near you!
Why we are NOT heading for a housing bubble
Double-digit price appreciation has taken place for over 3 years now, so prices are up. Way up. In fact, in just the last year we have seen prices rise 14% year-over-year. When talking with people about our real estate market, the conversation often involves the question, “are we headed toward a bubble?” I get asked this question often, and I can understand why. With the Great Recession not too far back in our rear-view mirror, the fear that surrounds the bottom dropping out in our home values is real. The large price gains might seem familiar to the gains of the previous up market of 2004-2007, but the environment is much different, and that is why we are not headed toward a housing collapse.
Lending Requirements & Down Payments
Previous lending practices allowed people to get into homes with high debt-to-income ratios, low credit scores, risky loan programs, and undocumented incomes. They called this sub-prime lending. This led to the housing bubble bursting 10 years ago – because people received mortgages they were not equipped to handle. Borrowers were not properly qualified for their monthly payments, and with minimal down payments they had no skin in the game. There were also a ton of adjustable rate mortgages and interest-only loans, which created negative equity positions. In July 2007, the sub-prime loan products disappeared and literally became history overnight. This eliminated a large part of the buyer pool creating over supply, not to mention the foreclosures that followed due to these ill-equipped homeowners walking away. The combination of these two factors caused prices to plummet.
Conversely, in March of this year, the average credit score for an approved conventional loan according to Ellie Mae was 752. Banks are scrutinizing their borrowers much more thoroughly than in the past. Credit scores are only the start; solid documentation of employment, assets, and debt are all passed through strict underwriting standards before closing. During the days of sub-prime lending, banks were funding loans with scores as low as 560! This, coupled with many zero-down loan programs and the risky terms mentioned above, left many new homeowners with little to no equity. When you have little or no equity it is very easy to bail.
In addition to heartier credit scores, down payments have increased significantly. According to Attom Data Solutions the average down payment is 18%. To put this in perspective, the median price in Seattle Metro in the first quarter of 2018 was $775,000. 18% of that is $139,500! There is a marked difference in the connection to one’s investment with such a large amount on the line versus the common 0% down loans of the sub-prime era. When people have high equity levels they are not likely to abandon their home or miss payments.
Our Thriving Local Economy, Job Creation & Californians
According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, it is forecasted that there will be 46,000 more jobs in the Seattle Metro area in 2018. This has created high numbers of residual migration into our area from other states. In 2016 there were 50,000 people that moved here, and 47,000 in 2017. Many of these new Washingtonians are former Californians, specifically from the Bay Area. Unbelievably, our prices are attractive to this group, as they can take a similar tech job here and make the same income with a lower cost of living. If untethered and up for a move, it’s a no-brainer.
The most influential factor that has led the run on prices has been low inventory levels coupled with high housing demand. It’s simply the concept of supply and demand. The growth of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook in our area has created increased demand, especially for homes closer to job centers resulting in shorter commutes. When you have increased demand and not enough homes to absorb the buyers, prices go up. Over the last three years we have easily seen a 10%+ increase in prices year-over-year. That is above the norm, and will slow down once inventory increases. That slowdown will be welcomed and it will not be a collapse in values or a bubble bursting.
Interest rates are increasing, and it is predicted they will reach close to 4.95% by the end of the year. This will naturally curtail price growth because it will not be as cheap to borrow money, which will cause buyers to temper their pricing ceilings. Bear in mind, that an interest rate of 4.95% is still historically low, we’ve just been incredibly fortunate to be able to secure long term loans with minimal debt service. The average interest rate over the last 30 years is 7%.
I understand that the recent increase in home prices has been big and that it might remind you of the previous up market before the crash. I hope that digging into the topics above has shed some light on how it is different. I always welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about these hot topics and discern how they relate to you. As always, it is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions. Please let me know if I can answer any questions or help you or anyone you know with their real estate needs.
Now that the 2017 tax deadline has come and gone it is time to think about how the new tax reform of 2018 might affect you next year. A few notable items are the limited mortgage interest rate deduction capped at $750,000, limited property tax deduction capped at $10,000 and moving expenses can only be written off by members of the armed services. Read the full article here and take notes, so you are prepared for next year’s tax season.
Thanks to your continued support, the Windermere Foundation collected over $330,000 in donations in the first quarter of 2018. Fifty-eight percent of the donations came from individual contributions and fundraisers, while 42 percent came from donations through Windermere agent sales transactions. This brings our grand total to $35,869,961 raised since 1989. We are very close to reaching the $36-million mark! These funds go towards supporting low-income and homeless families right here in our local community.
Thanks again for all you do to support the Windermere Foundation. Together, we are able to make a difference for those in need in our local communities.
It’s not too late! If you’re thinking about planting some fresh veggies but haven’t started yet, you still have time to get things in the ground for a late summer/early fall harvest. On average, the Puget Sound’s frost-free growing season is mid-March through mid-November, so with a little knowledge of when and how to start things, you can still see a bountiful harvest this year.
Some plants can be direct seeded into your garden, while others should be started indoors before being transplanted to your garden space. Deciding what to grow is the fun part! Plant what you like to eat, keeping in mind that some plants do better in our area than others.
Broccoli is arguably one of the most productive veggies you can grow in this area, although it can be vulnerable to root maggots and aphids. Giant Italian Parsley is easy to grow, highly productive, and expensive in the grocery store. Leeks are another that can be costly to buy in the store but trouble-free to grow in your own small space. Chard, Kale, Lettuce and Arugula are all full of vitamins and great for Northwest gardens. Carrots, Snap Peas, Snap Beans, Tomatoes and Basil all taste amazing fresh from the garden and grow relatively well in this area.
Check out the great resources at Garden.org for a full list of when to plant all these vegetables and more. They have detailed timelines for both spring and fall gardening; as well as information on transplanting seedlings vs. direct-sowing seeds.
*The amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision.
With rising rental rates, historically low interest rates, and home prices on the rise, the advantage of buying vs. renting is becoming clearer each month.
In fact, Seattle has seen some of the sharpest rent hikes in the country over the last year! Snohomish County has seen a huge increase in apartment growth and rising rental rates as well. There are several factors to consider that will lead you to make the best decision for your lifestyle and your financial bottom line. Zillow Research has determined the break-even point for renting vs. buying in our metro area. In other words, the amount of time you need to own your home in order for owning to be a superior financial decision. Currently in Seattle the break-even point is 1.6 years – that is quick! What is so great about every month that ticks away thereafter is that your nest egg is building in value.
I am happy to help you or someone you know assess your options; please contact me anytime.
These assumptions are based on a home buyer purchasing a home with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage and a 20 percent down payment; and a renter earning five percent annually on investments in the stock market.
- South Snohomish County •
Arlington Farmers Market
Legion Park: 200 N. Olympic Ave
Saturdays. 10am-3pm | July 7 — Sept 29
Bothell Farmers Market
Country Village: 23718 Both-Evrt Hwy
Fridays 12pm-6pm | June 1—Sept 28
Bothell South County Community Market
Park Ridge Church: 3805 Maltby Road, Bothell
Wednesdays 4pm-8pm | June 6—Sept 26
Edmonds Garden Market
Historical Museum: Between 5th & Bell Street
Saturdays 9am-2pm | May 5—June 9
Edmonds Summer Market
Downtown: 5th St from the fountain
Saturdays 9am-3pm | June 16—Oct 6
Everett Farmers Markets
Boxcar Park: 615 13th Street
Sundays 11am-4pm | May 13—Oct 14
Everett Transit Center: 2333 32nd St
Wednesdays 4pm-8pm | May 23—Sept 26
Marysville Farmers Market
1035 State Ave
Saturdays 10am-2pm | June 23—Sept 1
Mill Creek Farmer’s Market
15720 Main St.
May 25-August 31
Mukilteo Farmers Market
Lighthouse Park: 609 Front Street
Wednesdays 3pm-7pm | June 7—Sept 27
Snohomish Farmers Market
The intersection of Cedar Ave & Pearl St.
Thursdays 3pm-7pm | May 3—Sept 27
- The Eastside •
Bellevue Farmers Market
First Presbyterian: 1717 Bellevue Way NE
Thursdays. 3pm-7pm | May 17—Oct 11
Bothell Farmers Market
Country Village: 23718 Both-Evrt Hwy
Fridays 12pm-6pm | June 1—Sept 28
Issaquah Farmers Market
Pickering Barn: 1730 10th Ave NW
Saturdays 9am-2pm | May 5—Sept 29
Juanita Friday Market
Juanita Beach Park: 9703 NE Juanita Dr
Fridays. 3pm-7pm | June 1—Sept 28
Mercer Island Farmers Market
Mercerdale Park: 7700 SE 32nd St
Sundays 10am-3pm | June 3—Oct 7
Redmond Saturday Market
Redmond Town Center: 7730 Leary Way NE
Saturdays 9am-3pm | May 5—Oct 27
Sammamish Farmers Market
City Hall Plaza: 801 228th Ave SE
Wednesdays 4pm-8pm | May 9—Sept 26
Woodinville Farmers Market
DeYoung Park: 13680 NE 175th St
Saturdays 9am-3pm | May 5—Sept 29
- Seattle Area •
Ballard Farmers Market
Ballard Ave NW
Sundays. 10am-3pm | Year round
Capitol Hill Broadway Farmers Market
Seattle Central Comm College: Broadway & Pine
Sundays 11am-3pm | Year round
Columbia City Farmers Market
37th Ave S & S Edmunds St
Wednesdays 3pm-7pm | May 9—Oct 10
Fremont Sunday Market
Corner of 3410 Evanston Ave N
Sundays 10am-4pm | Year round
Lake City Farmers Market
125th St and 28th Ave NE
Thursdays 3pm-7pm | June 7—Oct 4
Lake Forest Park Farmers Market
Third Place Commons: 17171 Bothell Way NE
Sundays 10am-3pm | May 13—Oct 21
Madrona Farmers Market
1126 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Fridays 3pm-7pm | May 18—Oct 12
Magnolia Farmers Market
Magnolia Village: 33rd Ave W & W McGraw
Saturdays. 10am-2pm | June 2—Oct 20
Phinney Farmers Market
Phinney Neighborhood Center: Phinney Ave N
Fridays 3:30pm-7:30pm | June 1—Sept 28
Pike Place Farmers Market
Pike Place & Pine St
Saturdays 9am-5pm | June 2—Nov 24
Queen Anne Farmers Market
W Crockett Street & Queen Anne Ave N
Thursdays 3pm-7:30pm | June 7—Oct 11
Shoreline Farmers Market
15300 Westminster Ave N
Saturdays 10am-3pm | June 9—Oct 6
University District Farmers Market
University Way NE “the Ave”
Saturdays 9am-2pm | Year round
Wallingford Farmers Market
Meridian Park: Meridian Ave N & N 50th St
Wednesdays 3pm-7pm | May 16—Sept 26
West Seattle Farmers Market
California Ave SW & SW Alaska St
Sundays 10am-2pm | Year round
It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 47% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was matched by a 48% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 101%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.7 months of inventory – the lowest level yet. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 12% year-over-year.
South King County real estate has been a hot spot due to reasonable commute times and overall affordability compared to “in-city” real estate. In fact, the median price in March was 78% higher in Seattle Metro. Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.
This is only a snapshot of the trends in south King County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.
It is the time of year when our market starts to take off. Spring is here and we are starting to see seasonal increases in inventory. In fact, there was a 54% increase in new listings in March compared to February. That increase was topped by a 58% rise in pending sales, illustrating very strong demand for housing in your area. Last month, the average list-to-sale price ratio (the amount the sale price topped the list price) was 103%, indicating that multiple offers were the norm. We ended the quarter with 0.7 months of inventory – the lowest level yet. More inventory would be absorbed by happy buyers looking for more selection and would help temper price growth, which is up 14% year-over-year.
Eastside real estate has a very high premium due to close-in commute times and desirable neighborhoods. In fact, the median price in March was $927,000! Sellers are enjoying amazing returns due to this phenomenon, and buyers are securing mortgages with minor debt service due to low interest rates. This is a very strong seller’s market, but buyers who are securing a home are already enjoying appreciation in equity.
This is only a snapshot of the trends on the Eastside area; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.