Archive for the 'Market Conditions' Category

I have a hunch that we saw the bottom of the Seattle real estate market (at least the Seattle urban areas) last month in March

Sunny outlook for Seattle Real Estate

Sunny outlook for Seattle Real Estate

While driving yesterday morning to my monthly meeting at my Realty Executives - BRIO office in Bellevue, I was thinking about all the recent activity I have been seeing in the Seattle real estate market via my client searches on the NWMLS.  I have been seeing an increase in homes going pending, and then actually closing.  I saw two earlier today, and one was a property one of my clients made an offer on last month.  Unfortunately there were 3 other competing offers, and my client's was not the winning one since (I think) he wanted an extended closing date. I have a hunch that we saw the bottom of the Seattle real estate market (at least the Seattle urban areas) last month in March.  I had the same hunch in 2007 that we had hit the high point in May/June of that summer.  The NWMLS sales data shows August of 2007 so I was close, and I may be off a month or two this time, but I have several reasons why I think March was it:
  • The First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit is now in effect through late December.  This helps stimulate the "Move-up" home buyers chain reaction.  The first time Seattle home buyers can now buy a house, that means the sellers of that house are now free to buy another, usually larger house and so on.
  • There are still many, really good programs to help first time home buyers buy their first home.
  • The interest rates are very low.  While the rates are low, there are stricter guidelines to be met to obtain them such as more money down, and higher credit scores.  However, these are really just returning to prudent lending practices that were in place long before the recent free wheeling credit spree.
  • Jumbo loans are becoming more available and with better rates.  Jumbo loans started becoming harder to get, and almost impossible at first, when the Jumbo Loan contraction happened happened in August 2007.  We are only just now starting to see improvement for home buyers needing Jumbo loans, which in the Seattle real estate market means a large percent of the Seattle home buyers.
  • There seems to be a faint sense of returning confidence in the stock market and recent news services have been reporting an improving level of optimism in the country.
So, there you have it, I think we have seen the low point in the Seattle real estate market in March, at least for the urban/metro areas.  The outer areas will still take some time.  The closer in Seattle neighborhoods are more resilient to real estate market downturns because of their central, higher demand locations so they will be the first to recover as home buyers realize that there are homes out there that they can now afford...in some cases really good deals, at least for a while!

Spoken by Deborah Burns | Discussion: 3 Comments »

Seattle Real Estate Values for 3rd Quarter 2008 Released by Zillow

Yesterday Zillow released its' Seattle Real Estate Trends for the third quarter (July, August, September) of 2008 and posted that Seattle home values decreased -7.53% compared to the third quarter of 2007.  As a point of comparison, Zillow reported that home values Nationally decreased -9.7% for the same quarter.
 
I clicked through the links: Seattle Real Estate Trends, to Click for Seattle values and, on the left under Seattle, the Excel icon  , I found 5 tabs at the bottom of the page. There was a "Summary", "Metro Area & County", "City", "Neighborhood", and "Glossary".  I found the information shown under City and Neighborhood to be the most interesting as the values data that Zillow has compiled is broken down to what most Seattle home buyers and Seattle home sellers will find the most interesting; their particular neighborhood or city. 
 
These numbers are "Year over Year" of the "% change for the Zillow Home Value Index or "Zindex" over the last year (12 months)".  In other words, Zillows "Zestimate", the median value for homes for in that area, and the percent less value compared to last years' Zestimate median value.
 
Now, these Zillow numbers are not just the actual sales based numbers like the numbers calculated by the NWMLS, although actual sales data is used by Zillow as a part of calculating Zestimates, so they are a model for comparing value.  This makes the numbers a good tool for understanding value and comparing value, but are not the only way to measure an individual homes' value.
 
A snapshot of Year over Year % for a few areas/neighborhoods of current interest to me (as well as current and recent clients) are:        
 
 
Beacon Hill     -8.0%
Clyde Hill     -4.4%
Columbia City     -12.7%
Magnolia     -8.3%  (Magnolia is shown twice)
Magnolia     -6.5%
Mercer Island     -6.3%
Montlake     -7.0%
Normandy Park     -5.8%
Queen Anne     -4.7%
West Seattle     -7.4%
 
Just follow through the links to find the City or neighborhood that interests you, and check out the numbers...they are very interesting!

Spoken by Deborah Burns | Discussion: 2 Comments »

Is Now a Good Time to Sell My Seattle Home?

An acquaintance who knows I am a Seattle Real Estate Agent, asked me this question the other day because she was thinking about selling her Seattle home.

My BRIO For Sale sign

Well...it depends.

It depends on the individual situation.  For some, selling now is the right course of action.  For others, waiting a few years might be the right course of action for them.

If you are relocating far away, if you no longer want to be a landlord, if you can no longer afford your mortgage, if you are experiencing some tragic life changes (job loss, illness, divorce or death), if you are experiencing joyous life changes (growing family, another new home, career advancement) or some other motivating reason to sell now.  Then, yes, selling your Seattle area home is (maybe) the right course of action for you.  People's situations are very unique, so their answer is very unique.

If one of the above reasons in not one of yours, and you are just thinking of making a change to something new, downsizing to something smaller (without a pressing need), want to move closer to work,  want to test the market to see if you can get a particular price, and if you are not motivated to do what it takes to sell your house in a buyers market, then this is not the market for you.  You may want to wait (if you can) for a few years.  The Seattle area inventory is high right now and you may not get the best price for your house.  Of course, no one can say how the market will be in a few years, either up or down.

Here is a snapshot of the Seattle area real estate market for June 2008 compared to June 2007: 

ACTIVE listings (houses & condos) for the month of June, 2008, King County had 15,831 active listings, June 2007 was 12,282, UP 28.9%,  that means more houses competing for buyers this year. 

PENDING listings (houses & condos) for the month of June, 2008, King County had 2,549  pending listings, June 2007 was 3,766, DOWN 32.32%, that means a third fewer buyers making accepted offers on houses this year. 

SOLD listings (houses & condos) for the month of June, 2008, King County had 2,148 sold listings, June 2007 was 3,634, DOWN 40.89%, that means more than a third fewer buyers are buying homes.  

The absorption rate for June 2008 is 7.3 months of inventory to sell at the current rate of sales, and for June 2007, it was 3.3 months of iinventory.  A big change in the Seattle real estate market.  Those absorption numbers are just a snapshot for June 2008 and 2007, and they do not show how sales are trending.

0 to 3 months is a sellers market

4 to 6 months is a balanced market 

7 plus months is a buyers market 

The absorption rate can be very different depending on the city, or neighborhood.  That's why "location, location, location" is an important consideration when buying and selling your Seattle area homeAbsorption rate can also be analyzed by criteria such as price range, or type.  

My answer to the person who asked me the question was "no".  It is not a good time for her to sell her home since she was only thinking about making a change for change sake, and was not  a motivated seller.  I suggested that since she was looking for change, that she update the kitchen and/or baths.  She will get to enjoy the changes, and the updates will put her home in better shape to sell in a few years or so. 

So there really is no short, easy answer to the question:  Is Now a Good Time to Sell My Seattle Home?  The answer for you should be based on your unique situation.

Spoken by Deborah Burns | Discussion: No Comments »

Normandy Park Real Estate and My Chat with Another Real Estate Agent About Current Market Conditions….

Sold Normandy Park listingYesterday while I was working on my computer, I received a call from a Normandy Park real estate agent. He called me to ask questions about a listing I had for a Normandy Park home that recently sold.

He has a listing with a similar home in the same neighborhood of Normandy Park that was listed about the same time as mine, and was asking about the selling price of my clients home. Last fall, with the Subprime Meltdown, the Normandy Park housing market really froze up and there were very few sales last fall. The market still has not loosened up much for the traditional heavier spring market, and prices are coming down since inventory is still high. The agent was trying to help his seller clients understand that they were going to need to lower their listing price to be competitive in todays current market conditions.

The agent and I discussed the current market conditions for Normandy Park real estate, the homes for sale in Normandy Park, and their listing prices. While we were talking I pulled up one of my mls searches for Normandy Park so I could verify the numbers we were talking about. I personally think that the home prices peaked in Normandy Park last May (2007), and that the prices are now adjusting downward a bit. While this is not good news for Normandy Park sellers, it is good news for buyers interested in buying a Normandy Park home. I am very happy that my sellers' home sold, it was an unusual transaction, but it did sell during a challenging time.

Spoken by Deborah Burns | Discussion: No Comments »