Real Estate in Phase 2

As we transition into Phase 2 in our region, we have been allowed to expand our activities to best serve our clients in the safest way possible.

 

 

  • Our office has re-opened: 9am-3pm daily.
  • All in-person activities are by-appointment only. This includes showing homes and meeting at the office.
  • Real Estate Brokers and industry partners (inspectors, photographers, appraisers, etc) are required to wear a cloth face mask at all times. Clients and customers are strongly encouraged to wear face masks as well.
  • Three people are allowed on-site to view properties.
  • Open houses or any such public viewing of homes are not allowed.

Posted on June 24, 2020 at 5:57 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update |

What is Happening with Home Prices?

What is Happening with Home Prices?

It is without question we are living in one of the most unique times in all of our lives. Who would have thought we’d experience living life during a global pandemic? Beyond staying safe, adjusting daily habits, and navigating a changing economy, I’ve kept a very close eye on the housing market. With Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner as one of my guides, I am happy to report that housing has been a bright light in the economy during a very challenging time.

May unemployment numbers settled around 13%, an improvement over April, but still far from the 5% we started out with at the beginning of 2020. We are also embarking on our second quarter of retraction in GDP which is the textbook definition of a recession. Many experts are predicting a V-shaped recovery and I’d venture to say that we are currently at the bottom of the V. 

With stay-at-home orders being lifted or eased depending on what part of the country you live in, we are starting to see jobs come back.  Conversely, we are also seeing some industries thrive, but we will also witness some businesses be required to pivot to remain relevant or go away altogether. For example, tech is thriving and aerospace is not. The reorganization and re-prioritizing that is occurring will be impactful to many, some positive and some challenging.

In our region of the country, we entered into this pandemic with a thriving economy and a strong housing market. In January it was predicted that we would see a year-over-year price appreciation of around 5%. This health crisis will slow that level of appreciation, but we are not expecting losses.

Spring is typically our busiest time in the market with many sellers coming to market and buyers shopping in order to land in their new home by summer and the start of the fall school season. COVID-19 and the associated limitations in our daily activities along with employment disruption created a slowdown in our typical spring market. The largest impact has been the amount of available inventory to choose from. Amazingly, the housing market has continued to hum along with many buyers still eager to purchase. Inventory is down 40% year-over-year and buyer demand is strong, creating a frenzy in some price ranges and neighborhoods.

According to Joel Kan, Economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association mortgage applications are on the rise and up 5% from the same time last year. Summer is looking to be the re-invented spring market as our country starts to re-open. Interest rates are the lowest they have ever been, which is encouraging buyers to act and creating a good-sized audience for sellers.

Below is a video where Matthew speaks to his predicted trajectory for home prices as we travel through the second half of 2020 and beyond. Also, note below the latest statistic for both King and Snohomish Counties for the month of May.

 

 

It is always my goal to report real-time numbers from the front lines and do my best to explain what is happening.  I choose to look at the numbers in tight snippets week-by-week and also dig deep on year-over-year numbers. Right now, we are reporting growth from March and starting to return to the same amount of activity that we saw at the same time last year. We must keep a close eye on unemployment figures and mortgage forbearance reporting, both of which are improving but still have a ways to go.

It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions by studying the stats and reporting my day-to-day observations. Please reach out if you or someone you know has questions or concerns. These are unprecedented times and knowledge is one of your most powerful tools. I am honored to be your trusted advisor.

 

 

 

 Congrats Class of 2020!

The class of 2020 deserves a huge congratulations! The milestone of finishing elementary school, junior high, high school or college is always worth noting, but this class is extra-special!! They have navigated distance learning and missed out on the proper celebrations, but they’ve shown resilience and finished strong. The world is proud of you and so am I!

 

 

A heartfelt thank you to all the teachers, administrators and staff that helped guide all the students this school year!  Distance learning is not for the faint of heart and the teachers are amongst the heroes during this challenging time!


Posted on June 10, 2020 at 10:56 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update, Monthly Newsletter |

Will COVID-19 Impact Where People Want to Live?

Will COVID-19 Impact Where People Want to Live?

 

Recently, Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist released a video about the effects COVID-19 is having and/or could have on consumer tendencies in real estate. There seems to be quite the paradigm shift happening due to health reasons, appreciating simpler schedules, and the new phenomenon of many people working from home. Along with Matthew, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Keeping Current Matters are reporting similar indicators due to COVID 19.

 

The Flight to the Suburbs: Many buyers are listing more open space and less density as one of their top features when looking for a new home. The larger yards and separation from neighbors found in the suburbs versus urban areas are appealing for health reasons, due to the need to socially distance. Higher density buildings and townhouses found in-city were more appealing due to shorter commute times, but the newfound option to work from home has encouraged some buyers to venture out and consider commute times as less of a factor when choosing where they want to live.

Many high-tech employers such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook have extended the work-from-home option until the end of 2020 despite the phasing to get businesses re-opened. Companies like Twitter told some employees they could work from home indefinitely. This will have some buyers in these types of jobs capitalizing on suburban living, which is typically less expensive than in-city living and includes larger homes and yards. Look at the weekly stats for both King and Snohomish counties below. This compares the number of pending sales per week this year versus the same week last year, and the more suburban and affordable area of Snohomish County is thriving!

 

 

Return of the McMansion: Millennials had already begun looking at the suburbs as they embarked on crossing the threshold of big life events such as getting married and starting a family. Now, with more people working from home and desiring more space, the larger square footage homes are becoming more appealing.

This affords more flex spaces for at-home offices, especially if more than one adult is working from home. Space to enjoy hobbies and passions such as an in-home yoga or craft studio or in-home gym are predicted to be popular. Further, private outdoor spaces are a hit, such as fire pits, play areas for children, and outdoor entertaining space which encourages recreation and distancing.

 

Second-Home Market Boom: With air travel severely reduced, the desire to have a second home within driving distance has increased. Many people’s commitments have simplified and their dreams have shifted to accommodate more down-time closer to home. The change of scenery a lake, beach, or mountain property provides along with space to distance is quickly becoming in-demand. The use of homes like this versus large travel budgets could make a comeback, especially if future rental income is considered. Overall, we have seen an increased value put on local access to nature to decompress and down-shift.

Single-Family Residential Rentals vs. Apartment Rentals: Again this comes back to density versus open space. Renters also desire more room, and some are also working from home, so they may opt for a single-family home over an apartment building with shared space. There could also be a push for college students to prefer renting a single-family home instead of living in a dorm, increasing the rental value of such investment properties in college towns.

Check out the video below to hear Matthew’s entire take on all of these possible changes in how and where we want to live based on COVID 19 and the life lessons were are learning as we navigate this new way of life. What I can tell you is that the real estate market is moving! Activity has seen a large uptick since the first of May, and in many areas and price points we are lacking available inventory to meet the buyer demand.

If you are curious how these new trends and the state of current real estate market relates to your personal needs and dreams, please reach out. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower storing decisions, especially during these unique times. Be well!

 

 

I am excited to share some updates from the Martha Perry Veggie Garden in Snohomish, WA! We have already purchased the vegetable starts to help support the Snohomish Garden Club, and have begun planting for the harvest. My office is working in socially distant groups, broken up by nine groups working over three weeks to get this acre of produce in the ground. By using starts instead of seeds we will be able to provide the harvest sooner and for longer throughout the season.

This is all possible thanks to your generosity! Our office raised $8,000 in under two weeks to benefit local food banks through our Neighbors in Need Program powered by the Windermere Foundation. A portion of that money was earmarked for this garden project and replaced our annual Community Service Day project that was done for the last four years in a large group of 50 people. This will provide local food banks with thousands of pounds of fresh produce throughout the summer and early fall and will be especially meaningful during this challenging time. Check out some of our first groups getting to work, making it possible for those in need to enjoy fresh produce instead of only non-perishable foods via the local food banks.

 


Posted on June 10, 2020 at 10:55 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update |

Monthly Newsletter – December 2019: Year In Review

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.

 

Holiday Giving!

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.

Happy Holidays!


Posted on December 20, 2019 at 9:37 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update, Monthly Newsletter |

Monthly Newsletter: November 2019 – Quarterly Economic Update

 

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.

Read the full report here.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 


Posted on December 16, 2019 at 8:10 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update |

Quarterly Reports: Q1 2019 South King County

Q1: January 1 – March 31, 2019

 

SOUTH KING COUNTY: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.9 months in September of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.2 months this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 2,306 new listings and 2,096 pending sales – demand tracked with supply quite well! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.8 months in the first quarter compared to 1.5 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 7% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 12% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

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


Posted on April 15, 2019 at 10:48 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update, Quarterly Market Updates, South King County |

Quarterly Reports: Q1 2019 North Snohomish County

Q1: January 1 – March 31, 2019

 

NORTH SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.5 months in September of 2018 and found ourselves at 0.9 month this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 934 new listings and 921 pending sales – demand tracked quite well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.9 months in the first quarter compared to 1.4 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 9% complete year-over-year, which is higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 12% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

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


Posted on April 15, 2019 at 10:47 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update, North Snohomish County, Quarterly Market Updates |

Quarterly Reports: Q1 2019 Eastside

Q1: January 1 – March 31, 2019

 

EASTSIDE: Months of inventory has reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 3.6 months in December of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.5 months this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 2,304 new listings and 1,703 pending sales – demand tracked well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.9 months in the first quarter compared to 2 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 6% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 14% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

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


Posted on April 15, 2019 at 10:46 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Eastside, Market Update, Quarterly Market Updates |

Quarterly Reports: Q1 2019 Seattle Metro Market

Q1: January 1 – March 31, 2019

 

SEATTLE METRO: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.5 months in November of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.2 month this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 2,456 new listings and 1,892 pending sales – demand tracked quite well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.7 months in the first quarter compared to 1.5 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 5% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 16% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

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


Posted on April 15, 2019 at 10:45 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update, Seattle Metro |

Quarterly Reports: Q1 2019 North King County

Q1: January 1 – March 31, 2019

 

NORTH KING COUNTY: Months of inventory was reduced as we finished out the first quarter of 2019. Months of inventory is the amount of months it would take to sell out of homes if no new listings came to market. This illustrates the balance between supply and demand. We peaked at 2.5 months in November of 2018 and found ourselves at 1.2 month this March.

The first quarter of 2019 saw 1,667 new listings and 1,325 pending sales – demand tracked well with supply! It remains a seller’s market (0-3 months of inventory), but not as constricted of a market as last year, which saw an average of 0.7 months in the first quarter compared to 1.4 months this year. As we head into spring, we should see continued growth in new listings and demand will be strong, fueled by low interest rates and positive jobs reports.

 

The second half of 2018 had a large influx of homes that came to market, and an interest rate jump which created a gap between supply and demand. Buyers enjoyed some negotiations and credits in the fall and winter due to more selection, but as interest rates reduced in the first quarter, we saw demand increase. This is helping to absorb inventory and reduce the average days on market it takes to sell a home. Median price is up 6% complete year-over-year, which is still higher than the 4% norm, but much less than the unsustainable 14% gains from 2017 to 2018. This balancing out in the market has been a positive phenomenon as affordability has been a challenge for many. Both sellers and buyers are finding great opportunities in the current market.

 

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


Posted on April 15, 2019 at 10:44 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Market Update, North King County |