October 2019 Monthly Newsletter

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.

Download your FREE printable gratitude journal here.

 


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!


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:28 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Monthly Newsletter |

South Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2019

Increased pending activity is an indication of strong buyer demand which is very much being driven by historically low interest rates, a thriving job market, and an overall strong local economy. In fact, interest rates are an entire point lower than they were a year ago! This affords buyers a price point that is 10% higher over last year while maintaining the same monthly payment. A year ago, the monthly payment for a home at $550,000 is the same for a home at $605,000 today. Today’s rates coupled with tempered price appreciation provides increased affordability for buyers, which in turn is providing a healthy audience for sellers.  After many years of strong price increases, many sellers are moving their equity to the next lifestyle home they desire.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in south Snohomish County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:17 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Quarterly Market Updates |

North King County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2019

Increased pending activity is an indication of strong buyer demand which is very much being driven by historically low interest rates, a thriving job market, and an overall strong local economy. In fact, interest rates are an entire point lower than they were a year ago! This affords buyers a price point that is 10% higher over last year while maintaining the same monthly payment. A year ago, the monthly payment for a home at $750,000 is the same for a home at $825,000 today. Today’s rates coupled with tempered price appreciation provides increased affordability for buyers, which in turn is providing a healthy audience for sellers.  After many years of strong price increases, many sellers are moving their equity to the next lifestyle home they desire.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north King County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:16 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Quarterly Market Updates |

Eastside Quarterly Market Trends – Q2 2019

Increased pending activity is an indication of strong buyer demand which is very much being driven by historically low interest rates, a thriving job market, and an overall strong local economy. In fact, interest rates are an entire point lower than they were a year ago! This affords buyers a price point that is 10% higher over last year while maintaining the same monthly payment. A year ago, the monthly payment for a home at $900,000 is the same for a home at $990,000 today. Today’s rates coupled with tempered price appreciation provides increased affordability for buyers, which in turn is providing a healthy audience for sellers.  After many years of strong price increases, many sellers are moving their equity to the next lifestyle home they desire.

 

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


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:15 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Quarterly Market Updates |

Seattle Metro Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2019

Increased pending activity is an indication of strong buyer demand which is very much being driven by historically low interest rates, a thriving job market, and an overall strong local economy. In fact, interest rates are an entire point lower than they were a year ago! This affords buyers a price point that is 10% higher over last year while maintaining the same monthly payment. A year ago, the monthly payment for a home at $750,000 is the same for a home at $825,000 today. Today’s rates coupled with tempered price appreciation provides increased affordability for buyers, which in turn is providing a healthy audience for sellers.  After many years of strong price increases, many sellers are moving their equity to the next lifestyle home they desire.

 

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


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:14 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Quarterly Market Updates |

North Snohomish County Quarterly Market Trends – Q3 2019

Increased pending activity is an indication of strong buyer demand which is very much being driven by historically low interest rates, a thriving job market, and an overall strong local economy. In fact, interest rates are an entire point lower than they were a year ago! This affords buyers a price point that is 10% higher over last year while maintaining the same monthly payment. A year ago, the monthly payment for a home at $450,000 is the same for a home at $495,000 today. Today’s rates coupled with tempered price appreciation provides increased affordability for buyers, which in turn is providing a healthy audience for sellers.  After many years of strong price increases, many sellers are moving their equity to the next lifestyle home they desire.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in north Snohomish County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:13 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Quarterly Market Updates |

South King County Quarterly Market Trends – Q2 2019

Increased pending activity is an indication of strong buyer demand which is very much being driven by historically low interest rates, a thriving job market, and an overall strong local economy. In fact, interest rates are an entire point lower than they were a year ago! This affords buyers a price point that is 10% higher over last year while maintaining the same monthly payment. A year ago, the monthly payment for a home at $500,000 is the same for a home at $550,000 today. Today’s rates coupled with tempered price appreciation provides increased affordability for buyers, which in turn is providing a healthy audience for sellers.  After many years of strong price increases, many sellers are moving their equity to the next lifestyle home they desire.

 

This is only a snapshot of the trends in south King County; please contact me if you would like further explanation of how the latest trends relate to you.


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:11 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

Newsletter – August 2019: Don’t Miss the Boat on Current Interest Rates

Most recently, buyers have enjoyed more selection in the marketplace which has led to more open negotiations versus bidding wars. This is illustrated by an increase in average Days on Market and a decrease in the average Sold-to-List Price Ratios complete-year over year (the last 12 months over the previous 12 months). In King County, the average Days on Market increased from 22 days to 36 days complete-year over year, and the Sold-to-List Price Ratio decreased from 101% to 98%. In Snohomish County, the average Days on Market increased from 25 to 35 days complete-year over year, and the Sold-to-List Price Ratio decreased from 100% to 98%.

Buyers have had more selection to choose from which has tempered price growth complete-year over year. Median price remains even in King County and up 3% in Snohomish County. Multiple offers are not as commonplace as they were, but terms such as inspection contingencies and home sale contingencies are doable in some areas and price ranges. This balancing out has created some more normal terms for buyers, while sellers are getting close to full price on average and cashing out on the above-average appreciation we enjoyed from 2012 to 2018.

It is still a seller’s market, yet we are heading towards balance. The months of available inventory based on pending sales (the amount of time it would take to sell out of homes if no new homes came to market) currently sits at 1.7 months in King County and 1.5 months in Snohomish County. Zero to 3 months is a seller’s market, 3-6 months a balanced market, and 6+ months a buyer’s market. In 2017 to early 2018, inventory levels were commonly under one month, which was a very volatile and constricted environment within which to purchase a home. The direction towards balance is welcome and providing much more comfort when making a move.

The inventory levels are an amazingly beneficial phenomenon due to the fact that buyers are simultaneously enjoying the lowest interest rates we’ve had since 2016! Currently, the 30-year mortgage rate is hovering around 3.6% and the 15-year around 3.07% according to Freddie Mac. Not only are rates the lowest we’ve seen in 3 years, but they are an entire point lower than they were a in Q4 of 2018. When rates crested 4.5% last year, we saw a marked reduction in pending sales. This highlights the recent opportunities that have come alive for buyers to secure such low debt service and for sellers to have a larger audience. When rates rise, folks reassess and sometimes step aside, which is why this current opportunity should be taken advantage of.

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This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point decrease in interest rate, a buyer gains ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate decreases by a point during their search, they can up their price ceiling to $550,000 and keep the same monthly payment. This is huge, especially in the wake of intense price growth over the last 6-7 years, which priced many buyers out of the market. Buyers that took a break and stepped to the sidelines in the past may want to consider their opportunities now. This is the most favorable buyer environment (inside of a seller’s market) we’ve seen in some time!

 

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

Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! According to Freddie Mac, rates should increase closer to the 4’s as we round out 2019 and head into 2020. While still staying well below the 30-year average of 6.85%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the 30-year average – it is reasonable to think that higher rates must be in our future at some point.

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

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

 

I am pleased to present the second-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.

Click to view the full report

 

Summer is quickly coming to a close, and it’s time to think about prepping your yard for fall.  Here are a few quick tips to get you started, and a full article here.

Fertilizing

All summer long, plants and grass are using up nutrients in the soil. After months of growing, your soil’s reserves become depleted, which is why a fall fertilizer is great to restore nutrients and give your grass, shrubs, and perennials a boost to help them make it through winter. It is recommended to fertilize once every season.

Stop Pruning and Watering

Late summer and fall might seem like a good time to prune dead flowers and branches, but several experts recommend waiting until spring to prune anything. Pruning stimulates new growth, but with the frost coming, chances are this new growth won’t survive. Pruning also interferes with the plant when it is going dormant.

In late September, you should also stop watering your plants to help them go dormant as well.

>>Keep reading


Posted on October 4, 2019 at 11:58 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

How Long Things Last

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.


Posted on October 4, 2019 at 11:56 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

Monthly Newsletter – September 2019: Identifying Dual Markets and the Opportunities They Provide

2019 has been a year where we have continued to gain more balance in the real estate market. Inventory levels have increased, days on market are longer, negotiations have opened up, and the constricted multiple-offer market is no longer the norm. It has been comforting to see price appreciation temper and move towards more normal, historical levels. Today’s market certainly seems more sustainable and has provided some great opportunities for both buyers and sellers, especially for those that are both.

Recently, I did an analysis on new phenomenon that has presented itself. This is the presence 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.

Two dual markets that I have discovered are the move-up market and the move-out market. The move-up market is when you sell the home you are in and move up to an upgraded home in a higher price point. For example, in Edmonds, WA there are many people who are interested in selling their current home and upgrading to a view home. When I analyzed the statistics in both sections of the Edmonds market it appears that a dual market is presenting itself.

In August, all homes in Edmonds under $1M had an absorption rate of 88% while all homes over a $1M, 16%. Months of inventory based on pending sales under $1M was only one month of available inventory, and over $1M, six months! That is the difference of a seller’s market under $1M to a balanced market teetering on a buyer’s market over $1M. After many solid years of strong appreciation, folks that are looking to cash out the equity on their current home and move it into a view home have the opportunity to move their investment with a sizable down payment and upgrade to the lifestyle they have been dreaming about.

Let’s also not forget to mention today’s interest rates. They are a point lower than they were a year ago, affording buyer’s 10% more buying power. For example, a one-point lower rate on a home priced at $1.2M will now afford a buyer the purchase of a home at $1.32M with the same monthly payment. Couple that with price appreciation tempering and you have a move-up market heyday in the making!

The other dual market that is exciting to witness is the move-out market. This is prevalent for the Baby Boomers looking to cash out on the home that they enjoyed during their working years, typically near job centers, and relocate to an outlying area to retire. The chart below illustrates the market conditions and prices in the urban markets and compares them to the market conditions in some of the most popular retirement destinations in the state, such as Sequim, Island County, Okanogan County, and Chelan County.  Note, if there is a destination that is not listed and you would like the statistics, please reach out. I have access to many markets across the state and beyond.  Also, I am a part of an agent network that I can access to put you in touch with capable experts across or out of the state to help educate and serve your real estate needs with these markets.

 


The previous, hard-core seller’s market we experienced was quite the ride and built up some pretty major equity gains for homeowners across the board. It was exciting, but these more normal conditions are more pliable and comfortable. They allow for moves that don’t require physically moving twice, high price escalations, or constantly getting beat out by other buyers to succeed. Overall, there is just more breathing room. Are there homes that get multiple offers, yes! Homes that are expertly brought to market with thoughtful pricing and dialed-in preparation are having fun with their results. Opportunities abound for both buyers and sellers, and in a market with more options it is important to align with an agent that can help navigate all the choices.

If you are curious about the opportunities these dual markets present, 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. Stay tuned for next month’s newsletter, when I will feature opportunities in the condominium market and how this duality is starting to take shape.


Posted on October 4, 2019 at 11:43 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |