Homebuyer Tips for Winning a Home in a Seller’s Market

Homebuyer Tips for Winning a Home in a Seller’s Market

We’ve said it so many times, but it is so true: these are unprecedented times! In relation to the real estate market, there are many factors that are contributing to this environment. First and foremost, we are living through a global pandemic. Our daily lives have changed and they will probably never be quite like they were before. Besides this major upheaval in life as we know it, we have the lowest interest rates ever in history (this won’t last forever), formidable equity levels, and we are at the corner of a generational shift. These factors are fueling demand in the real estate market despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to light. In fact, the pandemic has influenced some very big lifestyle moves due to having time to reflect on goals and the new normal of working remotely.

Low interest rates, Baby Boomers retiring, Millennials stepping up to the home-ownership plate, Gen X settling into their forever homes, and commute times becoming less important are the ingredients in the proverbial pot that is being stirred in the 2020 real estate market. The demand is high! Couple that with a reduction in new listings over the last year and it is competitive. Sellers are in such a favorable position and buyers are devising solid plans to win a home with the lowest debt service in history.

Before I share some tips on how to win a home in today’s market, let’s look at the numbers. 2020 started off with abnormally low inventory levels following 2019 when we were headed toward more balance in the marketplace. Then COVID hit and the market briefly stalled. There were 8 weeks in King County and 4 weeks in Snohomish County from the onset of COVID where the market performed under 80% of the pending sales rate in 2019. We adjusted rather quickly as the influence of the demand mentioned above found its way with masks on and hand sanitizer at the ready.

Now that we have established that the demand is strong, debt service is low, and that lifestyle moves are leading the way, how do you make it happen if you want to participate?

Partner with a Broker Who Will Get the Job Done 
A broker that has a process is key! It starts with an initial buyer consultation. I liken the buyer consultation to the seat belt you would wear on a roller coaster. The buyer consultation aims to unearth a buyer’s goals, research the areas they are interested in, address financing, and illustrate the challenges of the environment, so one can be successful. Time is money, and this consultation brings clarity, efficiency, and trust. This upfront education coupled with a high level of communication and availability is paramount. The depth of the relationship will lead to success and is the ingredient that enables a buyer to throw up their hands and take the thrilling plunge on the roller coaster. It is hard to do that without a seat belt!

Get Your Finances in Order 
Aligning with a trusted real estate professional is key, but so is aligning with a reputable and responsive mortgage lender. Getting pre-approved is the minimum, but getting pre-underwritten is a game-changer. Finding a lender that is willing to put in the work up-front to vet credit, income, savings, debt, and all other financial indicators will lead to being pre-underwritten, which listing agents and sellers appreciate! Also, be aware that you do not always need to have a huge down payment to make a purchase work. Employment, assets, credit, and what you have saved all work into your ability to acquire a loan. I have seen plenty of people secure a home with 3-5% down. Education and awareness create clarity, and investing into understanding your financial footing equals empowered and more efficient decisions. Note that I mentioned “responsive”. This is a 24/7 market, and lenders who don’t work evenings and weekends can get in the way of a buyer securing a home. If you need a shortlist of lenders that fit this description, please contact me.

Be Willing to Take Calculated Risks
Buyer due diligence is key to making a sound investment. Even though timelines are tight and buyers must act swiftly, it is not time to just throw caution to the wind. Having some funds set aside to perform a pre-inspection will help a buyer make a purchase with both eyes open and be competitive. Also, going back to getting pre-underwritten, this could empower a buyer to waive financing and beat out all-cash buyers.

Strategizing Down Payment Funds
Many buyers are moving big chunks of equity from their previous home to the one they are buying. Equity levels are deep and prevailing buyers are commonly reserving some of their equity to offset appraisal risk for a seller. The market is appreciating so rapidly that a buyer holding back down payment funds and shifting them to an appraisal safety net has been one of the most successful strategies to help a buyer win a home. The best part is the safety net only seldomly has to be used. This plays into the calculated risk category and also highlights the importance of a good lender and broker to help navigate such decisions.

The Triangle of Buyer Clarity
Buyers must be realistic with their expectations. The triangle of buyer clarity rests on the three corners of Location, Price, and Condition. If a buyer continues to run into walls when making offers it typically has to do with the need to adjust one of the corners of the triangle. Buying a home take compromise, especially with such low inventory. By staying connected to the big picture of building wealth with low debt service, gaining a home that will work with your goals may require an adjustment of location, price, or level of condition. Focusing on the triangle of buyer clarity and talking it through during the buying process leads to clarity and success. A rule of thumb to bear in mind is that when a home starts to check 75% of your boxes, it should be considered.

The 2020 real estate market has provided a ton of opportunity during a very challenging time. It’s been a bright light in the economy. If you are curious about how the current market relates to your housing and financial goals, please reach out. It is always my goal to help keep my clients informed so they are empowered to make strong decisions. Be well!

We are proud to be the official real estate company of the Seattle Seahawks! The best part of this partnership is our #TackleHomelessness campaign. For every home-game tackle the Hawks make, the Windermere Foundation donates $100 to Mary’s Place which provides safe, inclusive shelter and services supporting women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.
Go Hawks!

 


Posted on September 28, 2020 at 10:17 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

Monthly Newsletter: March 2020 – COVID-19 & the Real Estate Market: Real Time Numbers from the Front Lines

Things are changing rapidly these days, and if I had a dollar for how many times I have said “one day-at-a-time” over the last two weeks, I’d have a nice stack of cash. There are lots of questions swirling about simple everyday life and big life decisions like buying and selling real estate. I’m a believer in studying the numbers and sharing that data. It has always been my practice in my business to provide my clients with the information they need to help empower their decisions. With that said, I did a real-time pull of numbers on 3/18/20 in order to gain some understanding of the current trends amongst the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

I pulled three different market areas: Lake Stevens (North Snohomish County), Lynnwood (South Snohomish County) and Shoreline (North King County). I felt this would give a good representation of some different geographical markets and would avoid making any sweeping observations.

 

Below is an accounting of all of the active listings on the market in each of these cities along with all of the sales that went under contract from 3/11/20 to 3/18/20 (pulled around 1:30 pm PST) and the percentage relationship between those numbers. As you can see, we have had quite a bit of sales activity over the last week. Schools shut down through April 24th on 3/12/20 and restaurants and bars closed for dine-in business on 3/16/20, and homes continued to sell. We are certain that the historically low interest rates are fueling this demand. As of 3/17/20, the rate for a conventional, conforming loan was right around 3.5 – 3.65%.

Below you can see a chart that reports the average days on market for the homes that are currently active and the homes that went under contract over the last week. The average days on market for the homes that were absorbed over the last week were markedly shorter, indicating that the homes that sold were newer to the market, well-presented, and appropriately priced. The longer market times for the actives indicate possible overpricing, as the average days on market for the month of February were 27 for Lake Stevens, 53 for Lynnwood, and 50 for Shoreline. This also shows a trend for March average days on market to be shorter than February.

The last set of data that I pulled below is the average prices of the active listings and the average prices of the homes that went under contract last week. These percentage differences are in line with a similar comparison from February. In February, the percentage difference in the average active list price to the sold price was -22% in Lake Stevens, -9% in Lynnwood, and -29% in Shoreline. Since the under-contract sales have not published a closed sale price yet, we cannot take into consideration if there were any escalations above the list price. With the shorter-than-normal days on market and the stories I am hearing on the front lines of multiple offers, I believe we will have some escalations reported once these transactions close. I am sure there will be some concessions reported as well.

You may be wondering if this is still a good time to buy or sell, and the answer to that is different for each person. What I can say with certainty is that I am committed to bringing current facts and statistics to our conversations, and answering your questions as best I can. I hope you found the above figures to be encouraging, I did! Real estate is a cyclical business, and although the current economic shifts may be unsettling, we have weathered these cycles before. At this moment, record-low interest rates and low inventory are creating continued demand for homes, and from the figures reported, homes are going under contract. This is what I know today, and I felt it was worth sharing.

 

Below is a video from Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner that was released on Monday, 3/16/20 assessing the fate of the Greater Seattle real estate market during this time. Please contact me with your questions and concerns, I am here to help keep you informed!

Be well!

   

At this time, we are still planning to hold our annual Shred Event and Food Drive on April 18th. We will update you if anything changes due to crowd requirements and your safety.

 

This event will be vitally necessary to help stock our local food bank, which is struggling to meet demands. We also know that since many of you are staying home for extended periods of time, you will be cleaning and organizing, and will need the shredding services come April. We hope to meet these needs and bring our community together in a safe way.

 

Celebrate Earth Day with us! We are partnering with Confidential Data Disposal for our 9th year; providing you with a safe, eco-friendly way to reduce your paper trail and help prevent identity theft.

Saturday, April 18th, 10AM to 2PM
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood
Bring your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site. Limit 20 file boxes per visitor.

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.

Hope to see you there!

**This is a Paper-Only event. No x-rays, electronics, recyclables, or any other materials

 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the power of mindset. It is proven that what you focus on, expands. Setting aside time every day to focus on gratitude has been hugely beneficial in my business as well as my personal life, and I am finding this discipline to be even more important in today’s uncertain world. We are surrounded with scary news, unprecedented government announcements, and a whole lot of uncertainty. We are in uncharted territory, but the one thing we do have control over, is our own mindset.

 

Here are a few practical ideas to foster positivity in your life.

 

Daily Gratitudes. Carve out just a few minutes every day to write down two or three things you are grateful for. Make this part of your morning routine to help center yourself before the day begins, or part of your evening routine to help calm your mind before bed.

 

Savor small moments. No matter what situation you find yourself in, there are still many small moments to be enjoyed. The smell of coffee in the morning, or the quiet house in the evening when the children are all asleep. A hot shower or a luxurious lotion. Don’t rush through these. Stop and take a moment to really enjoy.

 

Look to the past. Humans are resilient. You have weathered uncertain times before, perhaps during the Great Recession, 9/11, or a major natural disaster. You made it through those, and you are stronger and better for the experience. Take a moment to look back at all you have been through as a reminder of your own resilience.

 

Follow social media accounts that provide good news only. There is quite a bit of doom and gloom out there right now. In addition to watching some funny YouTube videos or some heart-warming animal stories on Facebook, make sure you are plugged in and following some accounts that are all good, all the time. Some good ones on Facebook are

@GoodNewsGMA

@TanksGoodNews

@GoodNewsMove

 

If you’re on Instagram, be sure to check out

@Good

@UpWorthy

@TanksGoodNews

@GoodNews_Movement

 

Take social media breaks. This will be important. Not only because social media can be a hotbed of misinformation, but it can also provide an overload of general information. Many people are beginning to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of news, suggested kids activities, and overall noise happening on all social channels right now. Take some time every day to be intentional about closing these apps, putting your phone or laptop away, and focusing your attention on something else. #DigitalDetox

 

Above all, be deliberate with integrating positivity into your daily life, knowing that together, we will get through this.

If you have ideas of how to stay positive, please share them with me!


Posted on March 20, 2020 at 12:48 am
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

Celebrating New Year’s Eve off the Beaten Path

Celebrating New Year’s Eve off the Beaten Path

Because big parties with crowds, expensive cocktails, and massive fireworks shows aren’t the only way to ring in the new year.

The holiday season is in full swing, and the year (and the decade!) is almost over. If a big party is not your scene, you’re not alone. Some of the most fun and meaningful moments in life are a little more intimate and shared with people we love. Below, I’ve rounded up a few ideas for ringing in the new year that are a little off the beaten path.

Staying In
Dinner Party
Invite your favorite people to share a meal. Plan an elaborate menu, and go all-out fancy. It’s the end of a decade, after all. Not much of a cook? Plan a potluck instead. Challenge everyone to make something they wouldn’t normally cook. Or assign teams and host a cook-off competition. There are lots of possibilities, but the end result of spending the evening with those you love, reflecting on the past and planning for the future is always a win.

Game Night
Gather the gang for drinks, snacks, and some good-natured smack talk. Game nights provide an easy way to laugh, play, and get out of your comfort zone, together. To avoid a game night fail, make sure you think about these three questions: 1) How many people can comfortably fit in your space 2) How many people can play the games you want to play 3) What kind of group do you want to have?
There are tons of great games you can play together, but here are some ideas, broken down by category. May the best player win!

Wine Tasting
Invite a local wine expert and a few friends to a special NYE tasting. Or, choose a type of wine and a price-point, and have everyone bring a bottle. Whether you are supplying the wine, or leaving it up to your guests, you’ll need to make sure you have enough wine glasses and a couple of good corkscrews, as well as plenty of food to soak it all up. Here are some great tips and ideas for hosting a great tasting.
If wine isn’t your thing, you could host a tasting event with beer, chocolate, or a different food item you love!

Pajama Party
If you’d rather have a low-key, casual evening at home, throw a pajama party! Cocktails, appetizers, and jammies were definitely meant to be together! You could make it a girls night in, a sleepover, a movie marathon, a family affair… so many possibilities! To make the evening feel extra special, have a signature cocktail for the evening. Perhaps something with champagne? Plan lots of snacks, gather all the throw blankets and pillows you can find, and get cozy.

Out & About
Overnight Hotel Stay
Take a mini vacay! It could be a fun getaway for the family, a renewing solo adventure, or the ultimate date night. During the day you can do some shopping, go see a movie, take advantage of the hotel pool, or relax in the spa. Ring in the new year with a meal in the hotel restaurant, or order room service for a special treat.

Attend a Religious service
Also called a Watchnight Service or Mass, the late-night New Year’s Eve religious service is a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection, renewal and preparing for the year ahead.

Volunteer
Spend the day volunteering your time for a worthwhile cause that is important to you. Perhaps there is a homeless shelter in your city who is looking for help serving dinner. Or a nursing home nearby, full of people who could use a friendly visitor. Make it a family day, or ask a few friends to join you. Spending time serving others can be one of the most rewarding ways to close out the year.

Karaoke!
For a casual, fun-filled evening with friends, ring in the new year with singing, drinks, laughter, and fun. If you like the idea of karaoke, but you’re too shy to sing in front of strangers, rent a private karaoke room so only you and your closest friends can laugh at each other.

No matter how you decide to close out the year, choosing to spend your time with people you love will ensure that you have a holiday worth remembering.

Cheers!


Posted on December 16, 2019 at 8:08 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

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 |

Back to School Basics

 

The first day of school has snuck up on us again! Most local school districts will start just after Labor Day, so if you haven’t already, now is the time to start getting ready. Take advantage of these last weeks of summer to start settling into a new routine 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.

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 schedule, too!

Re-set eating habits. When school starts, your student needs 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.

Inventory wardrobes. Before going school shopping, take some time to go through what you already have, donate things they’ve outgrown, and make a list of what is needed.

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 discuss it with your child so they know exactly what to expect. If they will be walking or biking, try to find a neighborhood buddy they can stick with, and be sure to practice the route with them.

Sync your calendars. If you don’t already have one, create a shared family calendar to track everyone’s activities and commitments. Add all the important school dates before the year starts, so important things like parent-teacher night aren’t missed, and everyone is on the same page.

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.

Set goals. Research shows that setting and tracking goals leads to success. Before school starts, talk to your child about some things they would like to accomplish this year. Write down their goal(s), post it somewhere visible in the house, and check in periodically with them to see how they are doing.

Implement a weekly family meeting. This will come in handy as the year goes on and schedules become fuller. Put it on the calendar and make it a priority: just a few minutes every week to sit down together, review the schedule for the coming week, and check in with each child about homework, projects, and goals. This is also a good time to clean out and organize backpacks and binders.


Posted on August 2, 2019 at 11:42 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

Monthly Newsletter – July 2019

Price appreciation has been a hot topic for some time, but over the last year, prices have started to balance out and it takes some explaining. As you can see from the map above provided by the National Association of Realtors, price appreciation over the long haul has been robust. The map above points out price appreciation since 2005, which was prior to the economic downturn. This demonstrates that if a homeowner was able to retain their home through the downturn of 2007-2012, that they came out on the other side well-positioned. Real estate is typically a long game, and that is one of the key points we will cover here.

First, let’s review price growth after the down turn. Since 2014, price appreciation has been out of the ordinary! The average (normal) price appreciation is 3-4% year-over-year. For clarity, “year-over-year” is defined by the last 12 months averaged over the previous 12 months. This is a larger data pull and tells a deeper story than just taking one month and comparing it over that same month the year prior like the media typically does.

Over these last five years, we have seen double-digit year-over-year appreciation, specifically from 2015-2018. In fact, 2018 started out with 14% price gains over 2017. This was due to rapid job growth, tight inventory, and low interest rates. It was the perfect storm to rapidly drive up prices. In the second half of 2018, interest rates started to rise, inventory had huge gains, and affordability became an increasing issue. This stalled out demand and prices came off their spring peak. The second half of 2018 brought on a price correction and started to lead a path toward more normal appreciation levels.

In the beginning of 2019, we saw year-over-year price gains average from 8-9%. As we finished out the second quarter of 2019, the year-over-year price growth continued to balance out toward typical, historical levels. We are at a place in the year-over-year data where the crazed price appreciation is no longer within 12 months, and we are tracking from the correction that happened in the second half of 2018, reflective of more normal inventory levels.

The majority of the large gains in 2018 happened in the first half of the year. Since May of 2018, inventory has grown, meaning we have seen more homes come to market, providing buyers more selection which tempers price growth. This has evened out price growth to more sustainable levels and aided in affordability. Coupled with the recent drop in interest rate (.75% since November 2018) the market has provided more ease for buyers to make purchases and for buyers that are sellers to make transitions without having to move twice. It is still a seller’s market with inventory levels under 3-months, but we are starting to move toward more balance. This is a good thing!

What does all of this mean?  Quite a bit, but I’ll touch on some key points.

  • Many homeowners are in very favorable equity positions, especially those who bought prior to 2016 (back to that long-game point).
  • The days of owning your home for 1-3 years and turning a profit with a quick sale are a blip in history from 2015-2017.
  • Buyers simply have more selection, so the homes that are in good condition, show-ready, and priced appropriately are seeing fantastic results such as quick market times, favorable terms, and full-price or sometimes over-list-price offers.
  • Overpricing is becoming more common as home sellers wrap their heads around the new normal of price appreciation. Attention to market trajectory and aligning with a trusted professional can help avoid this pitfall.
  • The more affordable areas have seen higher gains recently as the core areas balance out from hitting affordability ceilings.
  • Historically low interest rates (lowest in three years!) continue to drive demand and should be as important to watch for a seller as they are for a buyer.

Below are some national price appreciation predictions from CoreLogic and various economists. It is predicted that we will continue to have price appreciation, but for it to be more subtle. The fear of equity loss on a national level from these experts is minimal. It is understandable that when price gains become more subtle that it may seem like the sky is falling, but it is important to keep the long game in perspective.

Real estate is a complicated investment to navigate, but one that can provide amazing opportunity. It also relates to big life choices; whoever said moving was easy? That is why aligning with a trusted professional is key to help make these life-changing transitions. If you are curious about the value of your home in today’s market or have thought about a move or even a first-time purchase, please reach out. It is our mission to help keep our clients informed and empower strong, life-changing decisions.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

We’re halfway through the Windermere Foundation’s 30-year anniversary and there’s no sign of donations slowing down. In the second quarter of this year, the Windermere Foundation collected $556,937, bringing our year-to-date total to $865,029, and our grand total to $38,871,157 raised since 1989. These donations are used to support non-profit organizations and programs that help low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

 

Every Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account from which we make donations to help those in need in our local communities. These funds come from each real estate transaction that we close, as well as individual donations from agents, staff, and the community.

Thank you for your support! Together, we are able to make a real difference for those in need in our local communities.

 


 

 

All of us at Windermere are very excited to kick-off our fourth season as the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks!

 

Once again, our #tacklehomelessness campaign is front-and-center, with the Windermere Foundation donating $100 for every Seahawks home-game defensive tackle to Mary’s Place, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services supporting women, children, and families on their journey out of homelessness. We are looking forward to raising even more money – and awareness – for this important cause. 

 

Our partnership with the Seahawks and Mary’s Place 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.

Check out the Seahawks schedule here, the preseason is just a couple of weeks away!


Posted on August 2, 2019 at 11:40 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |

South King County Quarterly Market Trends – Q2 2019

2019 provided a very healthy and more balanced spring market! Median price is up 5% complete year-over-year and up 2% from last June. Prices have started to find their balance as more inventory has come to market compared to the scarcity of years past. While buyers have had more choices over the last year, it is still a seller’s market with just 1.3 months of inventory based on pending sales, resulting in an average of 28 days on market and 99% list-to-sale price ratio in June. Low interest rates continue to drive demand, however sellers who overprice or don’t address condition issues will linger on the market.

Our real estate market continues to be driven by low interest rates, positive job creation, and upbeat consumer sentiment. Currently, interest rates sit around 4% which is still an historical low, affording buyers the ability to make moves and reduce their debt service. Price appreciation has started to temper to more normal rates, compared to the double-digit appreciation we experienced over the last 3 years due to more sellers coming to market. This has created more balance and greater opportunity for buyers. The generational shift we are experiencing as Baby Boomers move towards retirement and Millennials enter into their prime earning years is an exciting exchange happening in the market place right now.

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 August 2, 2019 at 11:39 pm
Kristine Stevens | Posted in Uncategorized |