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!
New Year’s Eve 2018 is almost upon us, and if you are still looking for something to do, read on! There are lots of options in the greater Seattle area, whether you are looking for the biggest blow-out bash or an earlier, family-friendly event.
There are actually two parties that will converge at midnight for the iconic Seattle fireworks show.
The Armory Stage will host rock band SWAY from 8pm until midnight. And at the International Fountain, you can dance the night away with live electronic music and video projection show (starts at 10pm). Tickets are required for both parties, however the big fireworks show is free to enjoy.
The Pacific Science Center transforms on NYE with fire sculptures, drinks and live music. There will be special entertainment throughout the night, as well as the standard Science Center exhibits. At midnight, head outside for the Space Needle fireworks. Purchase tickets in advance.
Watch the Seattle Center fireworks from under the glass of Chihuly Gardens. The evening includes appetizers, desserts, live music and a midnight toast. Purchase tickets in advance.
Another Seattle Center option, the Museum of Popular Culture offers four 21+ parties in one. With live music on three performance stages, comedians, party favors, special VIP areas, more than 20 bars, and a special singles-only cocktail hour, this is one of the largest parties of the year. Museum access is included in the price of the party, purchase tickets in advance.
- Tacoma’s First Night
First Night is an all-ages, family-friendly celebration in Downtown Tacoma’s Theater District. The affordable admission price includes museums, music, art, drama, dance, and a whole day and night of activities. The cost of entry increases as the festival gets closer, so buy early to save!
The perfect NYE celebration if you have older kids, this pajama party features comedians, balloon makers, pizza, snacks, and educational, hands-on activities throughout the night. The fun culminates at 9pm with a ball drop.
- New Year’s Eve with Ivar’s Salmon House
Ivar’s on Northlake will host live music, tasty food and view of the fireworks without the crowds. Advanced reservations are required, and will range in price depending on your selections.
Ring in the new year with the latest in R&B, Old School, Jazz and Hip Hop music. This is a 21+, semi-formal event, and hotel packages are available with your ticket purchase.
- Resolution New Year’s Eve Party at WAMU Theater
A Seattle tradition for almost a decade, this 18+ party always brings a mixed crowd together for a night of dancing. This is one of the biggest EDM parties of the year.
Celebrate the coming new year all day at KidsQuest! There are activities every hour from 10am to 4pm, including Bubble Wrap Stomp, New Year’s Hats, Storytime, glittery tattoos, and more. Admission is free with membership or museum admission.
♦ Buttonwood Farm
14500 NE 116th St, Redmond
100% organic you-cut or white-glove delivery service, saws provided, hot chocolate and cookies
♦ Carnation Tree Farm
31523 NE 40th St, Carnation
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, garlands, mistletoe, Santa visits, Christmas decorations, trees baled, saws provided, hay rides
♦ Cedar Falls Tree Farm
15200 Cedar Falls Rd SE, North Bend
You-cut trees, wreaths, trees bagged & tied, saws provided, free hot cider, picnic area, porta-potties
♦ Christmas Creek Tree Farm
15515 468th Ave SE, North Bend
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, trees baled, refreshments, hay rides, Santa on weekends, picnic areas
♦ Coates Christmas Trees
17225 SE Green Valley Road, Auburn
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, boughs, garlands, mistleto, Santa, trees bagged and tied
♦ Country Tree Farm
18225 116th Ave SE, Renton
You-cut trees, wreaths, holly, refreshments, Santa
♦ Crown Tree Farm
13005 424th Ave SE, North Bend
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths and boughs, decorations, saws provided, trees bagged, free tree trimmings
♦ Crystal Creek Tree Farm
23604 SE 192nd St, Maple Valley
You-cut trees, saws provided, trees baled, cider, porta-potties
♦ Enchanted Winds Tree Farm
8021 Issaquah-Hobart Rd, Issaquah
You-cut trees, wreaths, swags, boughs, holly, gifts, decorations, crafts, trees baled, tree stands, hay wagon, trailer rides, fire pit, hot beverages
♦ Hunter Farms Fresh Cut Trees
7744 35th Ave NE, Seattle
Precut trees, mistletoe, holly, wreaths, flocking, restrooms, trees baled, fire retarding
♦ Keith and Scott Tree Farm
42999 SE 120th St, North Bend
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, boughs, trees tied, baled and trimmed, saws provided, bonfires, refreshments, restrooms
♦ McMurtrey’s Red-wood Christmas Tree Farm
13925 Redmond-Woodinville Rd, Redmond
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, saws provided, wreaths, beverages, restrooms, wagon rides, tree stands
♦ Serres Farm
20306 NE 50th St, Redmond
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, saws provided, wreaths, free hot chocolate, restrooms
♦ Snow Valley Christmas Tree Farm
17651 W Snoqualmie River Rd NE, Duvall
You-cut trees, pre-cut trees, wreaths, Santa appearances, decorations, free hot beverages, gift shop, porta-potties
♦ Wintergreen Tree Farm
13606 S Machias Rd, Snohomish
Precut trees, you choose and you cut trees, wreaths, boughs, garlands, decorations, Christmas festival, bonfires, free hot cider, gift shop, restrooms
Remember to always call the farm before you go to confirm their supply, hours, if they are allowing choose-and-cut or just pre-cut trees, and which attractions or winter activities are available. All of these things can change quickly during the short Christmas season due to weather, demand, and the farmers business conditions!
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.
Times, dates & activities may change, please use the links provided for details.
31929 SE 44th St, Fall City
Pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay rides, fresh eggs, gift shop, pony rides, picnic area, farm animals
1148 Central Ave N, Kent
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm fun yard, hay rides, produce stand, concessions
Fall City Farms
3636 Neal Road, Fall City
Pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay rides, fresh honey, pre-picked produce, farm animals, snacks and refreshments.
Fox Hollow Family Farm
12031 Issaquah Hobart Rd SE, Issaquah
Pumpkins for sale, hay bale maze, bouncy house, face painting, haunted house, pony rides, petting zoo, farm animals, concessions
229 W Snoqualmie River Rd NE, Carnation
Pumpkins, horse-drawn covered wagon rides, hay rides, hay bale maze
10819 Carnation-Duvall Rd NE, Carnation
Pumpkins, produce, picnic area, playground
Mosby Farm Pumpkin Patch
12747-b South East Green Valley Rd, Auburn
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, snacks and refreshment stand, picnic area
The Nursery at Mt Si
42328 SE 108th St, North Bend
Pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay rides
32610 NE 32nd St, Carnation
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, animal barnyard, pony rides, steam train, hay jump
20306 NE 50th St, Redmond
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, duck races, animal train
Thomasson Family Farm
38223 236th Ave SE, Enumclaw
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, kids korral, tractor train rides, pumpkin sling shot
Tonnemaker Valley Farm, Woodinville Farm Stand
16215 140th Pl NE, Woodinville
You-pick pumpkin patch, you-pick flowers, produce stand, on-site pepper roasting on Saturdays
Biringer’s Black Crow Pumpkins & Corn Maze
2431 Highway 530 NE, Arlington
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, straw or hay bale maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, farm market, picnic area
Bob’s Corn & Pumpkin Farm
10917 Elliott Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, bonfire & picnic area, hay rides, pony rides, playground, concessions
630 Sunnyside Blvd SE, Lake Stevens
Pumpkin patch, train rides, corn maze, haunted corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, farm animals, farm market
13817 Short School Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, face painting, farm animals, snacks & refreshment stand
The Farm at Swans Trail
7301 Rivershore Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, pick your own apples, pig & duck races, petting zoo, putt-putt golf and more
Fairbank Animal Farm & Pumpkin Patch
15308 52nd Ave W, Edmonds
Pumpkins, petting zoo, farm animals, picnic area
Fosters Pumpkin Farm
5818 State Route 530 NE, Arlington
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay bale maze, corn cannon, pre-picked produce, face painting, farm animals, snacks and refreshment stand, picnic area
8705 Marsh Rd, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted corn maze, tractor-pulled hay rides, jumping pillow and more
Thomas Family Farm
9010 Marsh Road, Snohomish
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, monster truck rides, haunted house, gem mining, Zombie Safari Paintball Hayride, beer garden, putt-putt golf and more
Double R Farms
5820 44th St E, Puyallup
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay rides, farm animals, pumpkin sling shot
25001 Sumner-Buckley Hwy, Buckley
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, haunted woods, farm animals, hay ride, trout fishing, play ground
6502 52nd St E, Puyallup
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay ride, pumpkin sling shot, concessions
12920 162nd Ave E, Orting
Pumpkin patch, corn maze, play area
9622 SR 162 E, Puyallup
Pumpkin patch, farm animals, face painting, pumpkin sling shot, concessions
Once again, our #tacklehomelessness campaign is front-and-center, with the Windermere Foundation donating $100 for every Seahawks home-game tackle during the 2018 season to YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that has been providing services and support to homeless youth for more than 40 years. Over the last two years, the Seahawks helped us raise over $66,000 through our #tacklehomelessness campaign, and this year we are looking forward to raising even more money – and awareness – for this important cause.
Our partnership with the Seahawks and YouthCare fits perfectly with the mission of the Windermere Foundation which is to support low-income and homeless families in the communities where we have offices. Through the #tacklehomelessness campaign, we hope to be able to do even more.
Thanks to the generosity of Windermere agents, staff, franchise owners, and the community, the Windermere Foundation has proudly donated a total of $920,351 so far this year to non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families. This brings the total amount of money that the Windermere Foundation has raised since 1989 to over $36 million. We could not accomplish these numbers without the unwavering loyalty and support of clients like you – thank you!
Each Windermere office has its own Foundation fund account that we use to help organizations in our own local community. This past year, my office had the privilege to: provide 26 foster boys a plentiful Christmas morning; give full holiday dinners plus additional groceries to families receiving aid from Pioneer Human Services; spend a full day helping the Snohomish Garden Club plant thousands of pounds of fresh produce for local food banks; and send 40 kids to YMCA Camps Orkila and Colman who would not have otherwise had the opportunity.
Thank you for choosing Windermere and making all of this possible. Your impact is meaningful, and together we are changing lives.
The first day of school sneaks up so fast… summer is here and then gone in a flash! Use these helpful tips to start getting settled into a new routine for fall, before life gets hectic.
Start talking about it. New teacher, new classmates, new schedules can all create some anxieties with kids. Start talking about school a few weeks before the first day. Talk about practical things like what the new schedule will be like, but also make sure to address their feelings and concerns about the upcoming year.
Go back to school shopping early. The store aisles are currently packed with school supplies. Take advantage of your summer schedule to shop while the store isn’t as busy and the supplies haven’t been picked through. Don’t forget to buy extras for homework time or the winter re-stock that inevitably happens in January.
Determine how your child will get to and from school and practice the route.
Ease back into the scheduled days. When you and your kids are used to lazy mornings and staying up late, shifting to the early morning school bus rush can be incredibly difficult. To ease the transition, start 7-10 days before school starts, and shift bedtimes and wake-up times gradually. Every day, start their bedtime routine 10-15 minutes earlier and wake them up 10-15 minutes earlier until they’re back on track. And don’t forget to readjust your bedtime schedules, too!
Re-set eating habits. When school starts, your student’s eating patterns need to maintain a high level of energy throughout the day. Implementing a routine for breakfast, lunch and snacks is just as important as their sleeping patterns. Begin this transition 7-10 days before school starts as well.
Sync your calendars. Add the school calendar to your personal/family calendar, so important dates like parent-teacher night aren’t missed.
Set rules for after school. After-school time and activities such as TV, video games, play time, and the completion of homework should be well-thought out in advance. Talk about the rules (and consequences) for these before school starts.
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.
What the Same House Sold for 3 Years Later!
Price Appreciation Case Studies in South Snohomish & North King Counties
18407 62nd Pl W, Lynnwood • 3 bedroom • 1,305 sq ft
Sold in September 2014
Sold in July 2017
$135,000 INCREASE IN HOME VALUE: 42.85%
17836 1st Ave NE, Shoreline • 4 bedroom • 2,917 sq ft
Sold in November 2014
Sold in January 2018
$240,000 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.