There is an unmistakable beauty to the waters of our Puget Sound. That unmatched feeling one gets from seeing the sun glisten off the salt water, the white caps be whipped up by a winter storm, or seeing our children play on the beach.
While “new” waterfront property hasn’t been made for thousands of years in our area, fortunately around the Puget Sound there are still places where you can find your slice of heaven through purchasing a waterfront home or piece of land. But for those considering moving or building close to the water, there are some very important considerations to be aware of. At the most they could be a barrier to purchasing, and at a minimum they are factors that can influence what property is the best fit for your family’s lifestyle and plans.
Let’s further explore the top tips any real estate agent should highlight with you when researching and purchasing your waterfront dream:
- Tidelands – While most of us know that the moon somehow magically makes our world’s oceans move up and down, and we may not fully understand the physics behind it, we should certainly the impact of tides on a piece of waterfront property. When it comes to real estate, there are essentially two classes of tidelands and their designation impacts ownership rights. Depending where in Puget Sound you are looking, the state could own tidelands up to “mean low tide”, impacting who physically owns the beach in front of your new home. An important step before buying is to research the specific Revised Code of Washington (RCW) tied to the location of the property in order to fully understand specific ownership of the tidelands.
- Bulkheads – If there is an existing bulkhead on a property, you must be aware of the health of the structure, as an old or poorly maintained bulkhead could lead to erosion and flooding of your yard or even home. Check if the bulkhead is made of wood (rotting), or concrete, and peek at what the neighbors bulkheads look like for clues to the overall health of the area’s infrastructure. Ultimately, a real estate agent should point you to an expert to learn more about the restrictions of restoring or building a bulkhead. If there isn’t a bulkhead in place yet, such as in high bluff or no bank waterfront, permitting to add a structure could take up to two years, and construction itself could be challenging and costly.
- Geotech Survey – When considering buying a high bluff waterfront property with beautiful, unobstructed views, it is recommended to hire a Geotech specialist to conduct a thorough survey on the health of the bluff itself. Well worth the nominal cost of the survey, Geotechs can provide specific data and forecasts on the possibility of a slide, sluffing, or other land movement that can dramatically impact your home and property. Additionally this type of report can recommend specific actions that can be taken to strengthen the bluff – something as a buyer you may request of the seller to close the deal.
- Septic Systems – As much of the remaining unbuilt waterfront property is located in rural areas not connected to a city sewer system but rather on a septic system, there can be restrictions around the size of home you can build. Soils must go through a percolation test (commonly known as a “perc test”) to determine the water absorption rate of soil, and hence the ability to host a septic system. Older cabins or homes on the waterfront may have unpermitted “bootleg” septic systems that while functional (or not!) need to be inspected before any purchase. New permits for installing a septic system are often available, with modern engineers able to provide sketches and planning for a range of alternatives that will meet the needs of often more restrictive regulations tied to waterfront locations.
- Boat Storage, Buoys, or Marinas – If you are going to live on the water, odds are that owning a boat to enjoy fishing, crabbing, or just exploring the Puget Sound is in your plans. As part of your decision process, be sure to consider and research options for boat storage including access to a marina nearby, the placing or use of buoys off the beach from your home, and even any community covenants regarding the storage of your boat in your yard or on your property. Like being stuck up a creek without a paddle, you want to have a plan for storing your boat when not in use!
- Rocky or Sandy Beach – Around the Puget Sound we have all types of beaches. From sandy, to small pebbles, all the way to big boulders covered in barnacles. When thinking about your future waterfront property, consider what you envision for your daily use of the beach. What is important to you and your family? Finding sand dollars, harvesting shellfish, or oysters…turning over boulders to find beach crabs, or even relaxing with the sand between your toes. There is something for everyone in the Puget Sound!
- Government Regulations – To protect the beauty, flora, and fauna of the Puget Sound’s shorelines, there are various state, county, or city regulations in place to ensure we have this precious resource for generations to come. That said, these types of regulations can have large impacts on your waterfront home so you should be aware of any specific to your property before purchase. Examples include around construction scale and type, septic systems (as outlined above), presence of archeological significant materials such as native burial grounds, potential of flooding and flood zones, and impacts on native species such as salmon. Some of these regulations may require additional insurance considerations or extra cost in building, so be sure to investigate and have your real estate broker connect you with further resources.
- Community Style – Lastly, and perhaps not specific to the actual piece of waterfront you have your eye on, but just as impactful to your enjoyment, is the type of community in which it is located. Each waterfront community has its own identity, and some may even change throughout the year depending on different use throughout the seasons. Some communities may have heavy boat traffic, or summertime parties (and noise), while others be known as sanctuaries for peace and quiet. Recognize what you are seeking, and consider matching your lifestyle with those of the community in which you buy to ensure everyone enjoys the beauty and adventure waterfront living can offer us all!
Waterfront living is a unique and special part of our region. With great daily rewards, and responsibilities, there is something for everyone to be found in the waters and the beaches of Puget Sound. Ask the right questions and talk to the experts when needed to ensure you find a slice of heaven for you and your family.
Windermere Stanwood-Camano Real Estate Brokers are deeply connected to the issues that face local home-buyers and sellers. In this series of blogs, The Broker’s Perspective, Windermere Stanwood-Camano Brokers provide insight into current Real Estate market trends and topics.
This week we take a look at the popular topic of “Should I move or remodel?” Nancy McClure, a broker from our Camano Island office gives us her perspective on this hot topic.
Original Windermere blog; Should I Move Or Remodel?
Windermere Broker Nancy McClure gives us her perspective –
What are the most important factors to consider when trying to make the decision to move or remodel?
Most decisions with Real Estate ultimately come down to decisions based on Cost or Location. If you are located in Seattle and accept a job in Spokane, most likely you will move instead of remodeling, basing the decision on your location.
If you love the neighborhood you live in, but would like an updated home, remodeling or moving is generally considered based upon the cost.
If you are looking at remodeling with the intent to move, the remodeling decisions are usually based upon remodeling costs vs. possible returns.
What home renovation projects deliver the best return on investment?
Paint! Something this small can make a big difference and does not cost a ton. When you start tearing things apart and renovating large parts of the home, it can be challenging to recoup your investment dollar for dollar. However, this is probably not the case with a “fixer – upper” that is purchased at a lower price point. Fixer upper homes generally have more flexibility on larger renovation projects based on the fact that these homes are purchased with the intent to remodel and sell. In the case of a fixer-upper, here are a few things that can add good value to the home,
Remodeling the kitchen and bathroom – Kitchen remodels can change the entire feel of a home. If the kitchen is outdated there is a good chance the bathroom is too!
Adding a bedroom – This can be done by finishing basements and attics or putting a closet in a spare room and can definitely raise the value of the home.
Replacing doors and windows, installing new heating or cooling systems – Energy efficient homes are in demand.
Adding a deck or putting on a new roof – These are just a sample of some exterior projects that will give you an immediately improved look and a higher home value.
Other projects that may add value include replacing siding, adding a garage or carport, repairing front porch, landscaping and resurfacing the driveway.
Could your renovations possibly decrease the sale price of your home?
It sure could. When making the decision to remodel with the intent to sell the home it is important to choose timeless, classic details. Choosing a color that is not popular, or a layout that is not functional could definitely be detrimental. Contractors, Interior Designers, and Real Estate professionals can help you with the most sought after details in homes today.
Do we have good resources in our local Stanwood – Camano area such as custom builders, licensed contractors, and interior designers?
We do. Both of the Windermere offices have information on local resources. Also, our brokers are deeply connected to the community, so many have personal connections with contractors, builders and much more. Stop by and we’ll give you a referral, or two!
Any parting tips you may want to leave us with?
If you end up selling, don’t forget curb appeal! Homes that have great curb appeal tend to sell quicker and generally for a better price.
Remodeling a home isn’t quite as easy as HGTV makes it look! Start with a good support network, know when to hire a professional, do your research and don’t forget to ask your contractors for references before hiring them! And then go have some fun!
Every month, Windermere Stanwood-Camano publishes a snapshot of the local real estate market. Our Brokers use this data to help determine listing prices, realistic offers, and tailored advice for their clients. We also like to make this information public, to help you with your real estate journey. Market Stats are provided courtesy of Marla Heagle.
February 2019 Stanwood – Camano Area Market Stats
If you have any questions about our local statistics, please contact our office and we will put you in touch with an experienced professional broker from one our offices.
Terry’s Corner office 360-387-4663
Stanwood office 360-629-8233
To read in-depth statistics from January 2019, click on the links below.
There are a number of things that can trigger the decision to remodel or move to a new home. Perhaps you have outgrown your current space, you might be tired of struggling with ancient plumbing or wiring systems, or maybe your home just feels out of date. The question is: Should you stay or should you go? Choosing whether to remodel or move involves looking at a number of factors. Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Five reasons to move:
1. Your current location just isn’t working.
Unruly neighbors, a miserable commute, or a less-than-desirable school district—these are factors you cannot change. If your current location is detracting from your overall quality of life, it’s time to consider moving. If you’re just ready for a change, that’s a good reason, too. Some people are simply tired of their old homes and want to move on.
2. Your home is already one of the nicest in the neighborhood.
Regardless of the improvements you might make, location largely limits the amount of money you can get for your home when you sell. A general rule of thumb for remodeling is to make sure that you don’t over-improve your home for the neighborhood. If your property is already the most valuable house on the block, additional upgrades usually won’t pay off in return on investment at selling time.
3. There is a good chance you will move soon anyway.
If your likelihood of moving in the next two years is high, remodeling probably isn’t your best choice. There’s no reason to go through the hassle and expense of remodeling and not be able to enjoy it. It may be better to move now to get the house you want.
4. You need to make too many improvements to meet your needs.
This is particularly an issue with growing families. What was cozy for a young couple may be totally inadequate when you add small children. Increasing the space to make your home workable may cost more than moving to another house. In addition, lot size, building codes, and neighborhood covenants may restrict what you can do. Once you’ve outlined the remodeling upgrades that you’d like, a real estate agent can help you determine what kind of home you could buy for the same investment.
5. You don’t like remodeling.
Remodeling is disruptive. It may be the inconvenience of loosing the use of a bathroom for a week, or it can mean moving out altogether for a couple of months. Remodeling also requires making a lot of decisions. You have to be able to visualize new walls and floor plans, decide how large you want windows to be, and where to situate doors. Then there is choosing from hundreds of flooring, countertop, and fixture options. Some people love this. If you’re not one of them, it is probably easier to buy a house that has the features you want already in place.
Five reasons to remodel:
1. You love your neighborhood.
You can walk to the park, you have lots of close friends nearby, and the guy at the espresso stand knows you by name. There are features of a neighborhood, whether it’s tree-lined streets or annual community celebrations, that you just can’t re-create somewhere else. If you love where you live, that’s a good reason to stay.
2. You like your current home’s floor plan.
The general layout of your home either works for you or it doesn’t. If you enjoy the configuration and overall feeling of your current home, there’s a good chance it can be turned into a dream home. The combination of special features you really value, such as morning sun or a special view, may be hard to replicate in a new home.
3. You’ve got a great yard.
Yards in older neighborhoods often have features you cannot find in newer developments, including large lots, mature trees, and established landscaping. Even if you find a new home with a large lot, it takes considerable time and expense to create a fully landscaped yard.
4. You can get exactly the home you want.
Remodeling allows you to create a home tailored exactly to your lifestyle. You have control over the look and feel of everything, from the color of the walls to the finish on the cabinets. Consider also that most people who buy a new home spend up to 30 percent of the value of their new house fixing it up the way they want.
5. It may make better financial sense.
In some cases, remodeling might be cheaper than selling. A contractor can give you an estimate of what it would cost to make the improvements you’re considering. A real estate agent can give you prices of comparable homes with those same features. But remember that while remodeling projects add to the value of your home, most don’t fully recover their costs when you sell.
Remodel or move checklist:
Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to move or remodel.
1. How much money can you afford to spend?
2. How long do you plan to live in your current home?
3. How do you feel about your current location?
4. Do you like the general floor plan of your current house?
5. Will the remodeling you’re considering offer a good return on investment?
6. Can you get more house for the money in another location that you like?
7. Are you willing to live in your house during a remodeling project?
8. If not, do you have the resources to live elsewhere while you’re remodeling?
If you have questions about whether remodeling or selling is a wise investment, or are looking for an agent in your area, we have professionals that can help you. Contact us today!
Originally published March 6, 2019 at 4:22 pm Seattletimes.com
For months, there’s been one question in Seattle-area real estate: How low can prices go? We may have found our answer.
King County home prices had dropped $116,000 since last spring, falling to a two-year low in January.
But in February, home prices bounced back as the median sale rose by $45,000 from the month prior, according to new data released Wednesday. It was the first time in eight months that prices actually went up, on a month-over-month basis.
And it was no small increase, either: In dollar terms, it’s the biggest one-month jump since records have been kept.
One month of data does not necessarily guarantee a new trend. But there’s evidence the market could be picking up speed as buyers start slowly coming out of the woodwork: Sales increased 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, a small amount but nevertheless the first increase since April 2018, back when Seattle was still the hottest market in the country. Brokers and buyers are reporting more traffic in open houses and the slow return of bidding wars.
And while prices usually grow in February coming out of the winter doldrums, this year’s bump was triple the average increase from the previous five years. It’s an ominous sign for buyers, given that prices almost always rise the most in spring, which is just around the corner.
King County’s median single-family house sold for $655,000 in February, up 7.4 percent from a month prior but still comfortably below record highs reached last spring, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
“Everything has picked back up,” said Grant Burton, a Seattle-based Redfin agent. He’s working on two buyer offers right now, and has four pending sales — all featuring bidding wars, which had all-but disappeared in the second half of last year.
“When we noticed the cool-down last spring, buyers were fatigued, they were burnt out on the crazy market and not having enough time to do their due diligence,” Burton said. But then things went in the opposite direction — homes sitting unsold longer, prices being negotiated down — for long enough that buyers have started to feel comfortable enough to come back.
“It helps that there’s more inventory, and having more time (to decide on a house) has been a little bit easier for buyers to digest. And I think maybe people were trying to take advantage of not as many buyers to compete with,” he said.
Still not red hot
The market isn’t back to red-hot by any means. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose a bit less than 1 percent. And the number of homes sitting unsold still doubled in that span. Brokers say instead of bidding wars with 10 buyers driving up prices way above the list price — which was common for years — now there might be two or three bidders on sought-after homes, willing to go slightly above list price.
House Sales by Sub-market
Paul Lundin and his wife are closing on a $1.5 million Ballard home now after losing three previous bidding wars. They wound up having to go $80,000 over list price and waive all their contingencies — such as the clause that allows buyers to back out of a home purchase if an inspection turns up new problems — to beat out other bidders.
“We ended up overpaying or at least paying more than we wanted to,” Lundin said. “I certainly would have liked to land something in December (before the market picked up), but it just is what it is.”
Lundin said it’s clear the competition among buyers has increased compared to when they started looking around last fall.
“It was going pretty fast, very contentious,” he said. “If you go to open houses on a weekend, there are people streaming out all day.”
A closer look at the numbers
In Seattle, the median home price hit $730,000, up from $711,000 the previous month but still down from a year ago.
The biggest gains came in Southeast King County, where prices grew from $450,000 to $473,000 in the last month – led by gains of $100,000 in Renton.
But the turnaround hasn’t started on the Eastside. There, prices fell to $900,000 — down from a month ago and a year prior.
Also helping nudge buyers back into the market: mortgage interest rates, which had grown last fall, have fallen back down in the last few months.
Despite a shift in single-family home values, condo prices continue to fall — down 8.4 percent from a year ago across King County, the biggest decline in seven years. The median condo across the county sold for $380,000, down from a record high of $466,000 last spring. The number of condos sitting unsold more than tripled in the past year while sales continued to decline.
The cool-down also continues in Snohomish County, where the cost of the median single-family house fell 2.1 percent from a year prior — the county’s first annual drop since 2012. The median Snohomish house sold for $475,000, down from last spring’s peak of $511,000.
Pierce and Kitsap counties, which have been mostly immune from the recent slowdown as buyers seek out cheaper alternatives, continue to see prices grow.
In Pierce, the median house sold for $355,000 — up 9.2 percent in the past year, and matching the record highs reached last spring. In Kitsap, prices grew 3.7 percent, to $341,000.
Source, Seattle Times Newspaper March 6th, 2019
From Tacoma to Spokane, the housing market is hottest where homes are the cheapest,
and downright cool in expensive areas like Seattle and Bellevue. (Source Seattle Times Newspaper February 26th, 2019).
As the Seattle-area real estate market has slowed over the past year, it’s clear things have gotten better for buyers of the region’s priciest homes. But people looking for anything resembling affordable housing haven’t had the same luck.
The monthly Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday, showed prices fell another 0.6 percent on a month-over-month basis in the Seattle metro area in December, although for the first time in five months it did not lead the country in declines. San Francisco did so with a 1.4 percent drop.
On a year-over-year basis, prices in Greater Seattle grew 5.1 percent, the smallest since prices were bottoming out in 2012, and similar to the national average.
But those numbers for the full metro area – which spans Tacoma to Everett – mask significant differences in the market depending on whether you’re looking at a Bellevue estate or a Puyallup starter home.
The report divides the metro area evenly into three price ranges: roughly those homes under $390,000, those over $620,000 and ones in between.
The most expensive homes, which are generally found in Seattle, the Eastside and upscale homes in farther-out communities, have seen their prices increase 3 percent in the past year, or roughly the same as inflation.
But prices grew 9 percent in that span for the cheapest group of homes, mainly in Pierce County, northern Snohomish County and some smaller homes in more close-in areas.
As for the middle price group — which includes plenty of homes in South King County and southern Snohomish County — home values grew 5 percent.
Demand has grown fastest for cheaper houses because they have become so rare in the region, which is now one of the most expensive places in the country to buy a home.
Six years ago, the cost of a median house in Seattle was roughly equivalent to today’s cost of the typical house in Tacoma. Those priced out of more expensive parts of the region have increasingly moved further north and south, driving up prices in the outer parts of the region.
The current median price of a single-family house is $610,000 in King County, $455,000 in Snohomish County and $330,000 in Pierce County. Compared to a year ago, prices are down slightly in King County, flat in Snohomish County and up in Pierce County.
The number of homes sitting unsold has roughly doubled in the past year in expensive areas like Seattle and the Eastside and has grown only slightly in the lowest cost parts of the region. The priciest parts of the metro area have had the highest share of price cuts and the biggest drop in overall home sales.
Homes are now even selling quicker in Spokane than in Seattle, for the first time in six years. That’s at least partially, again, because of people being priced out of the Emerald City; the biggest group of out-of-town home shoppers looking in Spokane are from Seattle. That median home price in Spokane? $205,000.
The federal government on Tuesday released its quarterly home price report, which includes 245 metro areas, not just big ones. Spokane had the fourth-biggest price gain in the country, with prices growing 13 percent in the past year. Yakima was sixth, Olympia-Lacey was 15th and Kennewick-Richland was 19th, all with prices growing more than 10 percent a year. Bremerton was 24th and Bellingham 30th.
Source, Seattle Times Newspaper February 26th, 2019
Every month, Windermere Stanwood-Camano publishes a snapshot of the local real estate market. Our Brokers use this data to help determine listing prices, realistic offers, and tailored advice for their clients. We also like to make this information public, to help you with your real estate journey. Here are Marla Heagle’s key takeaways from January 2019.
Continued Evidence of a Balanced Real Estate
Market in Our Local Area
As we dive into 2019 in Stanwood and Camano Island, we are continuing to see signs of a balanced real estate market. These three points were taken from Matthew Gardner’s economic forecast last month, and are ringing true in our local market:
1. Single Family home prices will rise in 2019, but the rate of growth is trending lower.
|Area||2019 Price Forecast|
In January 2019 compared to January 2018, we have seen year over year price growth of .5% on Camano island and 2% in Stanwood. As the year continues, that number is likely to increase.
2. Regional economic growth will still drive housing demand.
3. The big story for 2019 will be the ongoing move towards a balanced market.
We have seen this move towards a balanced market in our January numbers for Stanwood and Camano Island. As we reported last month, Camano Island had 2.6 months supply of inventory (MSI) at year end and at the end of January it rose to 3.4 months. Stanwood had 3.7 MSI at year end and is now 5.1. A true balanced market.
To read in-depth statistics from January 2019, click on the links below.
To read in-depth statistics from December 2018, click on the links below.
Homebuyers Resuming Search Amid Improving Inventory, Attractive Terms
KIRKLAND, Washington (February 2019) – Homebuyers around Washington state are making their way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and more approachable sellers, according to officials with Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
Northwest MLS statistics for January show year-over-year improvement in the volume of new listings and total inventory, along with moderating selling prices. Although fewer pending sales (mutually accepted offers) were reported than a year ago (down about 3.3 percent), January was the smallest year-over-year decline since May 2018 when the drop was about 2.7 percent.
Commenting on the MLS statistics summarizing last month’s activity, broker Gary O’Leyar said January’s post-holiday real estate activity doesn’t normally pick up until later in the month, but this year the uptick began early. “January started as a bit of a surprise. Open house activity was very robust, and we saw multiple offers in numerous instances again,” reported O’Leyar, the owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties in Seattle.
Brokers tallied 7,564 pending sales during January, a decline from a year-ago when they recorded 7,820 transactions.
Seven counties had increases in pending sales of single family homes and condos compared with 12 months ago, including King (up nearly 7.5 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.8 percent).
James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, commented on pending sales. The mixed results, including “healthy growth” in King and Snohomish counties, “corresponds well to upward movement in mortgage applications late in December, a leading indicator for the month to follow,” he noted, adding, “One should expect to see increased sales activity in the coming months throughout the region if mortgage applications continue to stabilize or increase.”
J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said buyers “came out of the woodwork” after the holidays, eager to take advantage of better housing conditions. “Areas close to the job centers are seeing improved affordability from spring 2018,” he said, attributing it to lower interest rates, strong job growth, and adjusted pricing.
Scott said buyers are also attracted by expanded inventory resulting from the addition of new listings and a higher number of unsold inventory, although he noted “inventory levels are still considered a shortage.”
Prospective buyers who sat out the second half of 2018 or were pushed to the sidelines during last year’s heated market are finding better buying conditions, agreed Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere Real Estate/East. “Interest rates are near a nine month low and buyers have a stronger platform for negotiating, which have helped drive a 9 percent increase in pending sales of single family homes in King County,” Wasser stated.
MLS members added 7,090 new listings of single family homes and condos during January, up from the year-ago figure of 6,805 and nearly doubling December’s total of 3,631. At month end there were 11,687 active listings in the database, up more than 45 percent from the year-ago total of 8,037. Listing inventory more than doubled in both King and Snohomish counties.
Sixteen counties, including all four in the Puget Sound region, reported more inventory than a year ago. Even with sizable gains, supply is still tight at 2.4 months system-wide. (In general, four to six months typically indicates a balanced market.)
“The rise in inventory is largely due to investors who are selling because they believe the market has peaked and they want to unload their properties before interest rates rise too far,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.
“New listing inventory in King County is bringing more homebuyers to the market. We are enjoying increased open house traffic, including during the Super Bowl weekend,” remarked Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville. He also commented on the early arrival of the spring market, crediting jobs and immigration as factors. “Properly priced homes are selling!” he exclaimed.
Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, expects activity to pick up heading into spring, as is customary. “I have absolutely no concerns about 2019 being a strong year, with prices rising 4-to-6 percent and units up 10-to-12 percent. There is no reason for sellers not to move on with their lives and list their homes,” he remarked.
Northwest MLS figures show an area-wide price gain of just over 5 percent on January’s 4,865 closed sales of single family homes and condos. Only six of the 23 counties in the report had year-over-year price drops. Among them was King County where prices slipped about one percentage point, from $571,250 to $565,000.
Prices on single family homes (excluding condos) rose 5.4 percent from the same month a year ago. In the four-county Puget Sound region, prices increased in Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, but decreased about 2.9 percent in King County, dropping from $628,388 to $610,000. Prices for single family homes in Kitsap County, where there is only about 1.7 months of supply, surged nearly 14.7 percent when compared to a year ago.
“The minor decline in King County home prices in January doesn’t mean the housing market is tanking; it’s primarily because of the significant increase in the number of homes for sale,” suggested Jacobi. “We may see prices take minor dips periodically in the coming year, but for the most part they are expected to continue rising, just at a far more modest rate than in recent years,” he added.
“Median prices on closed sales continue to remain stable in January with continued strong upward growth in outlying counties,” stated Young. “Pierce, Kitsap, and Thurston counties outpaced King and Snohomish counties in price growth, consistent with the past few months. This trend indicates that many first-time buyers and middle-income families are continuing to look to the outer regions of the area for value. Strong price growth in Lewis and Whatcom counties also support this general trend of outward migration along the I-5 corridor,” he added.
Mike Larson, president/designated broker at ALLEN Realtors in Lakewood (Pierce County) concurred, describing the slowdown in activity during the second half of 2018 as a “much-needed correction.” Sellers in King and Snohomish counties “got caught up in the craziness so many buyers turned to Pierce County for their affordability solution,” something he expects will continue this year.
Condo prices rose slightly, about 1.6 percent, as inventory more than doubled from a year ago. The median price for the 645 condos that closed last month area-wide was $325,000. In King County, where more than half the sales occurred, the median price was $383,500, up slightly from the year-ago figure of $380,000.
Several brokers expressed optimism for a busy spring.
“Buyers are signaling a more aggressive spring market with an uptick in search activity and high application rates with mortgage companies,” said George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. He also noted would-be owners are commenting on having more options to consider and “are feeling the real estate market is less volatile.” He also reported sellers are similarly encouraged by having more options, “and not having to race around with the fear of making a housing mistake.”
“We’ve clearly been in a transitioning market, but given the ongoing demand for real estate in the Greater Seattle area, we may have adjusted to a ‘new market reality’ wherein inventory is up and prices have re-aligned, but there is still strong demand for housing. I would expect to see a robust regional real estate market going forward into spring,” stated O’Leyar.
The director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research was more guarded in his expectations. “Increasing inventory and moderate price growth in urban counties (and growth in outer regions of the Puget Sound) point to several problems relating to how potential homebuyers see things moving forward,” said James Young. He referenced figures from the National Association of Homebuilders National Trends Report indicating a shrinking pool of buyers.
“The picture for first-time buyer affordability in the longer term for the region is not bright for potential homeowners unless changes in the housing supply framework throughout the area are addressed soon.”
Larson also expressed concerns around affordability, “particularly for entry-level buyers as well as move-down buyers who also want to sell. The middle rungs on the housing ladder are slowly disappearing,” he remarked. Options like condos could help fill that void, he suggested, but believes they won’t be built “until the state legislature reforms the condo liability laws.”
Affordability is a “crucial issue” for 72 percent of millennial renters, according to a survey by Apartment List.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.
Source, Northwest Multiple Listing Service
If you are a homeowner, you probably know all-too-well how costly home repairs can be. And, thanks to Murphy’s Law, appliance break-downs seem to happen at the worst possible time—like when you are selling your home. For this reason, it is in the best interest of all home sellers to consider purchasing a home warranty.
A home warranty offers many advantages to the home seller, the least of which is a peace of mind that your major home appliances are covered in the event of a break down. Most home warranties cover both parts and labor of your home’s most vital systems and major appliances. This protects the home seller from potentially large, unexpected repair bills and also allows the buyer to purchase the home with more confidence. Additionally, a home warranty is usually for the term of at least one year, so any unforeseen repairs/replacements are also covered well after the home has been sold. A home warranty also provides a competitive edge over those homes without warranties because it communicates confidence to buyers. This can add up to a faster selling period, resulting in a more convenient process for all involved.
A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, so the last thing you want as a home seller or buyer, are unexpected home repairs/replacements. Major appliance replacement can cost you several thousand dollars, and during the process of a home sale/purchase, your budget doesn’t often allow for costly expenses. A home warranty is designed to protect you from these types of expenditures. Furthermore, it is convenient for home sellers because a home warranty offers after-sale liability. While an inspection may find many faults that are covered by a home warranty, it cannot account for latent problems that are beyond an inspection’s scope, or problems that occur down the road. In most cases, a home warranty will cover these expenses, alleviating potential financial burdens for the seller once they have sold the home.
When considering a home warranty, it’s important to ask the right questions. Warranties vary from one company to the next and there are also many different types of coverages available. Your Realtor should be able to help you with this process. First and foremost, you should identify which components of the home will be covered by the warranty. It’s also important to attain annual costs and the charge for service calls. You will want to ask what the total dollar limit is on the warranty and what the limits are for the individual items that are covered. Many home sellers purchase home warranties, which are then passed along to the homebuyer when they move into the home. As a homebuyer, you may want to look into whether or not the coverage can be renewed once the warranty has expired.
According to American Home Shield, one of the largest home warranty companies in the nation, the average home warranty customer uses their warranty plan 2.3 times. Furthermore, the number of home warranties is increasing with every year because homeowners are becoming more informed of their benefits. Eventually home warranties will become commonplace, as buyers and sellers realize the advantages they offer. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that a home warranty is a very simple, cost-effective way to purchase a peace of mind for both homebuyers and sellers alike.
Every month, Windermere Stanwood-Camano publishes a snapshot of the local real estate market. Our Brokers use this data to help determine listing prices, realistic offers, and tailored advice for their clients. We also like to make this information public, to help you with your real estate journey. Here are Marla Heagle’s key takeaways from December 2018.
Are Camano Island and Stanwood
Heading for a Balanced Housing Market?
How do we determine if we are in a seller’s, buyer’s, or balanced housing market? It comes down to something called Months Supply of Inventory (MSI). MSI quantifies how many months it would take the market in its current condition to absorb all the active listings. So, we’re easily able to see if the market is favoring buyers or sellers. Generally, a balanced market will have somewhere between four and six months of supply. If supply is less than four months, sellers have gained asking power. If it’s above six months, buyers have gained negotiating power.
MSI is calculated by dividing the current month’s inventory figure by a rolling 12-month calculation of pending sales.
Here’s a glimpse at our local MSI.
At the end of December 2018:
- Camano Island had 2.6 MSI, which is a seller’s market.
- Stanwood had 3.7 MSI, which is a seller’s market heading towards a balanced market.
Let’s look at the difference 10 years ago, at the end of December 2008:
- Camano Island had 29.1 MSI, which was a buyer’s market.
- Stanwood had 10.9 MSI, which was also a buyer’s market.
If new homes stop entering the market today, MSI equals how many months would it take to sell all the homes currently available for sale. It would take 2.6 months on Camano Island today but would have taken 29.1 months 10 years ago. Times have changed.
The chart below shows the Stanwood/Camano Island combined MSI over the past 10 years.
Steve Harney, Founder of Keeping Current Matters, said this in a recent blog post:
“Returning to a normal market is a good thing. However, after the zaniness of the last eleven years, it might feel strange. If you are going 85 miles per hour on a road with a 60 MPH speed limit and you see a police car ahead, you’re going to slow down quickly. But, after going 85 MPH, 60 MPH will feel like you’re crawling. It is the normal speed limit, yet, it will feel strange.
That’s what is about to happen in real estate. The housing market is not falling apart. We are just returning to a more normal market which, in the long run, will be much healthier for you whether you are a buyer or a seller.”
To read in-depth statistics from last month, click on the links below.