2019 was a return to normalcy in the real estate market. After a volatile 2018 which encountered a sharp mid-year shift from an extreme seller’s market, 2019 had a more normal pace of seasonality and selection. After four to five years of multiple offers, week-long market times, waived inspections, and huge price escalations, we’ve now experienced a balancing out in price appreciation and in some areas, a correction.
Affordability and inventory have driven demand. A healthy increase in homes coming to market compared to two years ago has provided more selection and afforded buyers time to decern their choices. In-city prices found an affordability cap as buyers were forced to move north or south to find the payment they could afford. Close-in, in-city neighborhoods saw a bit of a price correction due to demand slipping for this reason. Overall, it’s been a welcome change to help buyers and sellers operate in a more balanced environment.
It’s important to understand that each market area has its own unique circumstances. Above and throughout this review, I divided the Greater Seattle area into 6 different market areas in order to illustrate this.
This chart is a study of the comparison of new listings to sold listings, which indicates demand. Over the last 12 months in each market area, sold listings have outpaced new listings. While some areas experienced more new listings from the same 12 months the year prior and some less, in each area the sold listings moved at a higher level than the previous 12 months. This is encouraging, as it shows that demand for our area is still very high.
This is driven by having one of the leading national job markets and continued low interest rates. One of the factors that affected the 2018 market shift was higher interest rates. The majority of 2018 rates were in the 4’s and almost reached 5% in late fall. In 2019, we started at 4.5%, and currently sit around 3.7% according to Y charts. In fact, since June we have remained under 4%. This has helped curbed affordability issues, brought first-time buyers out in force, and helped buyers that are also sellers move equity with low debt service. Believe it or not, experts are predicting rates will remain low throughout 2020. This is a key factor for consumers to pay attention to if they plan to jump into the market.
Above is a look at the new normal for market times and list-to-sale-price ratios. On average, it simply takes longer to sell your house now compared to the constricted, extreme seller’s markets of 2016-2018. The expectation of your home selling in the first weekend needs to be tempered, as the playing field of inventory has equaled due to more new listings coming to the market.
There is a phenomenon of Baby Boomers cashing out their equity and downsizing or moving out of the area. This is providing great move-up inventory for Gen X and Millennials to absorb. That absorption is then providing a nice selection of first-time-homebuyer houses. Bear in mind however, that the lower price points are where we are seeing the strongest demand, shortest market times, and stronger price appreciation. It’s a pretty awesome cycle to witness!
Sellers have had to negotiate a bit more, whether on the initial offering or during the inspection period. List-to-sale price ratios indicate that buyers and sellers are engaging in the dance of negotiations as prices return to a more normal level of price appreciation. Sellers on average are still getting very close to their list price. Since these are the averages, you must realize that there are still sellers that are escalating.
Homes that come to market with a well-thought-out pricing strategy, in great condition, and expertly merchandised are the ones we see breaking the average. Also, the influx of first-timers has helped drive demand in the lower price points, curtailing days on market and tighter list-to-sale price ratios in that section of the market.
When analyzing price appreciation, it is important to use a large data pull. For example, the chart above takes the last 12 months of prices and compares them to the previous 12 months. This provides a much more holistic observation of price growth versus a smaller data pull, such as month over month. Take note that the media often uses month-over-month data to paint a more dramatic story.
As mentioned above, the close-in, in-city markets have experienced a correction. It is clearly more expensive to live where you have a shorter commute to major job centers. Also, on the Eastside where the prices are the highest, they enjoy close proximity to some of the area’s biggest employers and arguably some of the best school districts in the area. The more out-lying communities found in south King and all of Snohomish County continue to see steady appreciation due to still-manageable commute times and affordability. The north Snohomish County market has been a hotbed for first-timers and Baby Boomers moving out of the area due to retirement and commutes not being a factor.
Note that this data pull is a complete year-over-year look at December 2018 to November 2019 compared to December 2017 to November 2018. Bear in mind that the first half of 2018 was an extreme seller’s market with sparse inventory and crazy escalations. This is where prices found their peak, and as we move away from those unique months and head into 2020, I believe that we will see the decrease in appreciation equal out and possibly have some subtle growth.
The chart above is a study of the months of inventory. This illustrates how quickly we would sell out of homes based on demand if nothing new came to market. We are calling the 2019 market a more normal market, but in reality, it was still measured as a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory). It just hasn’t been so extreme, which has created a mentality that needs to be adjusted.
Just like the pricing study above, the data from the first half of 2018 included some markets that had only weeks of inventory versus months. That feels wildly different and takes some getting used to. Some may argue that the new normal of measuring a seller’s market is now 0-2 months, and that 2-4 months is a balanced market. Perspective is driving that viewpoint, as we have an entire portion of consumers that have known nothing besides historically low interest rates and low inventory levels. The vantage point of what is actually normal is finding its footing.
Right now, all six markets sit at a lower inventory level than the average of the year. This is due to seasonality. Many sellers prefer to come to market when the days are longer and we are outside of the holidays. I predict that the low interest rates and the turn of the new year will encourage strong buyer demand. New Year’s resolution goal setting always brings demand. With that said, the sellers that come to market earlier in the year prior to the spring rush will enjoy a large audience hungry for inventory to gobble up.
Overall, 2019 has been a very positive year in real estate. The majority of the sales have been propped up on incredibly favorable equity positions on behalf of sellers and historically low interest rates for buyers. If a person has owned their home for 3 or more years and hasn’t cashed equity out, they are in a positive equity position. For those that have been in their homes for 10 or more years, they are knocking it out of the park!
Below you can watch a short video from Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, and hear what he thinks we have in store for 2020 on the national level. As we head into the New Year, please reach out should you have a curiosity about how your local real estate market relates to your financial and lifestyle goals. It is always my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions through thorough research and a high level of communication.
Here’s to a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2020!
It’s that time of year when Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner dusts off his crystal ball and peers into the future to give us his predictions for the 2020 economy and housing market.
This Christmas, my office adopted 23 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 $3,538 in grocery gift cards to 12 local families.
We are also thrilled to report that we were able to deliver a full car load of warm winter donations to Mary’s Place from all of your generous donations during our Thanksgiving pie giveaway and Santa photo events.
I am pleased to present the third-quarter 2019 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.
As winter approaches, it’s time to make sure your home is ready for the harsh weather ahead. To avoid costly repairs later, take some time now preparing your home to withstand another cold season. Here are 30 important tasks to protect and prepare your investment. View the full list here.
Have you been keeping track of the Seahawks home game defensive tackles? We have. Every one means another $100 donated to Mary’s Place. After the last home game win against Tampa Bay, our total raised to date is $118,100. Every play matters in the fight against homelessness! Follow along on social media with #tacklehomelessness. Go Hawks!
Last month, I did an analysis on the new phenomenon of a dual market. A dual market is when you have different market conditions within the same overarching real estate market. This duality presents amazing opportunities for sellers who are also buyers, depending on where they want to go. I reported on two dual markets, the move-up market and the move-out market. Another dual market that deserves to be shared is the condo market compared to single-family residential.
In September, single-family residential homes in Seattle Metro had an absorption rate of 43% while condos were at 27%. Months of inventory based on pending sales for single-family residential was only 1.9 months of available inventory, and condos, 3.5 months! That is the difference of a seller’s market for single-family residential to a balanced market for condos. After many solid years of strong appreciation, folks that are looking to cash out the equity on their single-family residential homes and move to a condo have the opportunity to move their investment with a sizable down payment and upgrade to a lifestyle that is often stair-free with less maintenance.
The median price for a condo in Seattle Metro in September was $455,000 and for a single-family residential home, $750,000. The median price for a condo in south Snohomish County is September was $343,000 and for a single-family residential home, $569,000. It is common for folks to sell their long-time family home and downsize into a condo and pay all cash. The buildup of equity over the years and paying down their loans allow for large cash-outs and easier all-cash purchases.
If one is getting a loan though, it is important to highlight today’s interest rates. They are a point lower than they were a year ago, affording buyers 10% more buying power. For example, a one-point-lower rate on a purchase at $500K will now afford a buyer the purchase of a home at $550K with the same monthly payment. Couple that with price appreciation tempering and you have a perfect downsizing market, which often includes condo purchases!
If you are curious about moving from a single-family home to a condo and the opportunity this dual market presents, please reach out. It is my goal to help keep my clients educated and empowered to make strong decisions. This is especially rewarding when it leads to their next chapter in life, which are amazing transitions to be a part of.
Did you know that giving thanks on a daily basis can reduce your trips to the doctor, increase your overall happiness, improve personal relationships, and lead to more exercise? Sounds like a magic pill to me, and it’s free! Harvard Medical School recently released a study that speaks to the benefits of practicing gratitude. With Thanksgiving approaching, challenge yourself to write down your gratitudes daily, and see how it goes.
It’s true! A listing agent’s goal is to get their listing sold to a qualified buyer who will close. However, a good listing agent also realizes that once a home is under contract, they now have to sell the house to the appraiser if the buyer is getting a loan. You see, a buyer cannot complete their financing if the appraisal does not come in at the same value or higher than the agreed-upon contract price. A good strategy, especially if the price escalates above the list price, is for the listing agent to prepare an appraisal packet and meet the appraiser or share it with them via email. This gives the listing agent the opportunity to share their research and the story of the demand surrounding the property. This is some extra effort, but so worth it to ensure success for the seller!
We all know that nothing lasts forever, but when everything is working fine it is easy to forget that all of the systems and appliances in your home have a finite lifespan. Keep this information in mind, whether you are buying or selling a home, budgeting for improvements, or deciding between repairing and replacing.
Here’s a brief look at some of the components of your home and their average lifespans (courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders)
ROOFING, SIDING, WINDOWS & DECKS. You can expect slate or tile roofs to last around 50 years, wood shingles 25-30, metal will get you about 25 years, while asphalts typically last about 20 years. The lifespan for siding can vary quite a bit. Brick will last 100 years or more, aluminum about 80 years and stucco will probably last you 25 years. Wood siding can last anywhere from 10 to 100 years depending on the climate you live in and how it is maintained. Both aluminum and vinyl windows will last 15 to 20 years, while unclad wood windows can have a life of 30 years or more. Cedar decks will average 15-25 years as long as they are properly treated and cleaned, and a high quality composite deck will last 30 years with minimal maintenance.
FLOORING. The natural flooring materials such as wood, marble, slate or granite will all last 100 years or more, while tile has an average life of 70-100 years. Vinyl can last up to 50 years, while laminate and linoleum will get you up to 25 years. Expect your carpet to last 8-10 years, depending on use.
KITCHEN & BATH. Laminate countertops can have a life of 20 years or more, but it will vary depending on use. Wood, tile and stone should last a lifetime, and cultured marble will typically see a lifespan of 20 years. You can expect your stainless steel sink to last you about 30 years, while an enamel-coated sink will give you five to 10 years. Slate, granite, soapstone and copper will be around for 100 years or more. Bathroom faucets should give you about 20 years, and toilets will average a 50-year lifespan, although some of the parts will need replacing.
APPLIANCES. The lifespan of appliances will vary widely depending on the appliance, the brand, model, and use. Use these average lifespan numbers as a rough guide for when it may make more sense to replace rather than repair. Gas ranges tend to have the longest lifespan of your major appliances, giving around 15 years of use. Electric ranges on the other hand, are closer to 13 years, which is also the expected lifespan for standard refrigerators and clothes dryers. Your garbage disposal should give you about 10 years of use, while the dishwasher and microwave will be around nine years. You can expect your electric furnace to last about 15 years, 18 for gas and 20 for oil-burning. Central air systems will live 10 to 15 years on average.
Check out the NAHB website for more information.
Windermere Community Service Day is coming! This tradition was established in 1984 to offer agents and staff a chance to volunteer an entire workday to give back to the neighborhoods in which they live and work.
On June 7th, my office will spend the day with the Snohomish Garden Club working on the Martha Perry Veggie Garden, constructing trellises, staking beds, planting, weeding, labeling and sprucing everything up.
Last year, the Snohomish Garden Club provided 8,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Snohomish and Maltby Food Banks. The land for the garden is generously donated by the Bailey Family Farm.
Two full truckloads of paper were safely shredded and recycled.
We love providing this service for our clients, friends and neighbors, but what we’re really excited about is how you all gave back to the community. Your donations provided 534 pounds of food and $1,129 to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Thank you!
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!
I am pleased to present the first-quarter 2019 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.
We are collecting vegetable seeds and starts for the Martha Perry Garden, where volunteers grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce every year for local food banks.
My office will be spending a volunteer day in the garden for our annual Community Service Day in June. In addition to our labor, we will gift them all of the vegetable seeds and starts collected between now and then.
All seeds should be no more than a year old, although fresh seeds are preferred.
Basil, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots*, Cauliflower, Chard, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Herbs, Marigolds, Peppers, Radishes, Summer Squash, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Zucchini
Starts of cucumbers, winter & summer squash, cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc) are especially welcome
Drop seeds off at my office through June 6th
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd #110, Lynnwood
Mon-Friday: 8am-5pm & Sat-Sun: 9am-3pm
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!
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.
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.
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!