Market turnaround? King County home prices take biggest one-month jump ever.

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.

Original article from Seattle Times

Source, Seattle Times Newspaper March 6th, 2019

Posted on March 15, 2019 at 3:40 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends

Seattle Area Home Price Cool-Down, Outlying Areas Price Increase?

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.

Seattle Area Home Prices: up and down

Source Seattle Times Newspaper February 26, 2019

 

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.

Original article from Seattle Times

Source, Seattle Times Newspaper February 26th, 2019

Posted on March 2, 2019 at 1:51 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends

Latest NWMLS News for the Northwest

Homebuyers Resuming Search Amid Improving Inventory, Attractive Terms

Latest Press Release from Northwest Multiple Listing Service

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

Posted on February 16, 2019 at 7:00 am
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends

Investing In a Green Home Will Pay Dividends In 2019

As we step forward into 2019, eco-friendly “green homes” are more popular than ever. Upgrading your home’s sustainability improves quality of life for those residing in it, but it is also a savvy long-term investment. As green homes become more popular, properties boasting sustainable features have become increasingly desirable targets for homebuyers. Whether designing a new home from scratch or preparing your current home for sale, accentuating a house with environmentally-friendly features can pay big dividends for everyone.

While the added value depends on the location of the home, its age, and whether it’s certified or not, three separate studies all found that newly constructed, Energy Star, or LEED-certified homes typically sell for about nine percent more than comparable, non-certified new homes. Plus, one of those studies discovered that existing homes retrofitted with green technologies, and certified as such, can command a whopping 30-percent sales-price boost.

There are dozens of eco-friendly features that can provide extra value for you as a seller. To name a few:

 

Cool roof

Cool roofs keep the houses they’re covering as much as 50 to 60 degrees cooler by reflecting the heat of the sun away from the interior, allowing the occupants to stay cooler and save on air-conditioning costs. The most common form is metal roofing. Other options include roof membranes and reflective asphalt shingles.

 

Fuel cells

Fuel cells may soon offer an all-new source of electricity that would allow you to completely disconnect your home from all other sources of electricity. About the size of a dishwasher, a fuel cell connects to your home’s natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity. One unit would pack more than enough energy to power your whole home.

For many years, fuel cells have been far too expensive or unreliable. But as technology has improved, so too has reliability. Companies like Home Power Solutions and Redbox Power Systems have increased the reliability of these fuel sources while reducing their size. Much like we’ve seen computers and cell phones shrink in size while improving reliability and power, fuel cells continue to be refined.

 

Wind turbine

A wind turbine (essentially a propeller spinning atop an 80- to 100-foot pole) collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity for your home. And according to the Department of Energy, a small version can slash your electrical bill by 50 to 90 percent.

But before you get too excited, you need to know that the zoning laws in most urban areas don’t allow wind turbines. They’re too tall. The best prospects for this technology are homes located on at least an acre of land, well outside the city limits.

 

Green roof

Another way to keep the interior of your house cooler—and save on air-conditioning costs—is to replace your traditional roof with a layer of vegetation (typically hardy groundcovers). This is more expensive than a cool roof and requires regular maintenance, but young, environmentally conscious homeowners are very attracted to the concept.

 

Hybrid heating

Combining a heat pump with a standard furnace to create what’s known as a “hybrid heating system” can save you somewhere between 15 and 35 percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Unlike a gas or oil furnace, a heat pump doesn’t use any fuel. Instead, the coils inside the unit absorb whatever heat exists naturally in the outside air, and distributes it via the same ductwork used by your furnace. When the outside air temperature gets too cold for the heat pump to work, the system switches over to your traditional furnace.

 

Geothermal heating

Geothermal heating units are like heat pumps, except instead of absorbing heat from the outside air, they absorb the heat in the soil next to your house via coils buried in the ground. The coils can be buried horizontally or, if you don’t have a wide enough yard, they can be buried vertically. While the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of a hybrid, air-sourced system, the cost savings on your energy bills can cover the installation costs in five to 10 years.

 

Solar power

Solar panels capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity. Similarly to wind turbines, your geographical location may determine the feasibility of these installments. Even on cloudy days, however, solar panels typically produce 10-25% of their maximum energy output. For decades, you may have seen these panels sitting on sunny rooftops all across America. But it’s only recently that this energy-saving option has become truly affordable.

In 2010, installing a solar system on a typical mid-sized house would have set the homeowner back $30,000. But as of December 2018, the average cost after tax credits for solar panel installation was just $13,188! Plus, some companies are now offering to rent solar panels to homeowners (the company retains ownership of the panels and sells the homeowner access to the power at roughly 10 to 15 percent less than they would pay their local utility).

 

Solar water heaters

Rooftop solar panels can also be used to heat your home’s water. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average homeowner who makes this switch should see their water bills shrink by 50 to 80 percent.

 

Tax credits/rebates

Many of the innovative solutions summarized above come with big price tags attached. However, federal, state and local rebates/tax credits can often slash those expenses by as much as 50 percent. So before ruling any of these ideas out, take some time to see which incentives you may qualify for at dsireusa.org and the “tax incentives” pages at Energy.Gov

Regardless of which option you choose, these technologies will help to conserve valuable resources and reduce your monthly utility expenses. Just as importantly, they will also add resale value that you can leverage whenever you decide it’s time to sell and move on to a new home.

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 3:07 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling

2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

 

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing. Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

 

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market. In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices

We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017. In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales

In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates

In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling. We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

 

Conclusions

There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating. In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to hear more about the market forecast join us and Matthew Gardner Jan. 25 at 6 PM at the Camano Center on Camano Island. Space is limited, reserve your seat here!

Posted on December 30, 2018 at 12:08 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Community, Housing Trends, News, Selling

Real Estate Forecast 2019

Nationally Recognized Economist, Matthew Gardner, Secured as Keynote Speaker for Community Forum in January

 

Windermere Real Estate Camano Island & Stanwood has secured nationally-recognized, expert chief economist, Matthew Gardner, as keynote speaker for Real Estate Forecast 2019, a community forum scheduled for Friday, January 25, 2019 at the Camano Center. The forum, which will take a macro and micro look at economy, housing, and the economic forecast, is open to the public at no cost. Reservations are required. Doors will open at 6PM; the presentation will begin at 6:30 PM.

“This past year, our office has been inundated with questions about the economy and whether or not it’s still a good time to buy or sell,” said Marla Heagle, owner/broker of Windermere Real Estate Camano Island & Stanwood. “We encourage our neighbors to attend the forum to get a broader understanding of the current and anticipated state of the real estate market, locally and beyond. We are privileged to have a recognized expert in Mr. Gardner at this year’s event who will, undoubtedly, shine new light on the topic for us all.”

As the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner offers more than three decades of professional experience analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market. As this year’s keynote speaker, Gardner will provide insight into the real estate landscape through a macro lense, looking at it on a global, national, and then regional scale, followed by a more micro concentration of our local market. Attendees will garner real-time knowledge of current market trends in relation to the economy, and how these factors could impact overall buying and selling behaviors in the coming year.

Doors will open at the Camano Center at 6PM for a cocktail and heavy appetizer hour, followed by a 45-minute presentation by Gardner. Attendees will have an opportunity, immediately following the presentation, for an extended Q&A session lasting until 9PM. The Camano Center is located at 606 Arrowhead Road on Camano Island. Reservations are required. Call (360) 387-4663 to reserve your seat, or click the link below.

RESERVE YOUR SEAT

 

Posted on December 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Housing Trends, Press Releases, We Are Stanwood Camano

Real Estate in the Age of Technology

Are Real Estate Agents Still Relevant in the Age of Tech?

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 an article from Forbes about Real Estate agents being relevant in the “Age of Tech.” Nancy McClure, a broker from our Terry’s Corner Camano Island office, gives us her perspective on this article.


More Than Just the Home Search

It’s true that buyers today are doing most of the legwork when it comes to actually finding listings. But according to Nick Bailey, president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, that initial search is only a small portion of the overall home buying process.

“Historically, buyers and sellers needed data,” Bailey said. “They needed to know what’s on the market, the price and property specifics. Today, consumers need access to see properties and then help analyzing the data and negotiating through a process that is the most complex it’s ever been.”

In fact, according to New York broker Jed Lewin, the “real work” doesn’t even begin until a property is under contract—when things like negotiating, inspections and, in Lewin’s case, dealing with co-op boards come into play.

Still, having buyers already knowledgeable about the market can make the process easier—for both parties.

“Online listings completely changed the way that people interact with their home search, and has led to buyers and sellers being much more sophisticated about the market, which is a great thing,” Lewin said. “People conducting their own searches means that buyers are better informed and therefore more realistic about what their budget will allow, and sellers are more attuned to what their properties are worth.”

At the end of the day though, buyers generally still need assistance navigating the process. Throw in today’s red-hot market and historically low inventory levels, and having an agent’s expertise might be more important than ever.

“It’s clear that while home-buyers are embracing technology, most still require the guidance of an agent to help save them time, keep them organized, and successfully take them through the closing process to get the best deal,” said Daniel Maloney, head of sales at Owners.com. “Technology will continue to revolutionize the real estate market, but consumers still value and rely on their real estate agent.”

At the end of the day, and despite all the tech that’s out there, that’s what it all comes down to: what the agent can offer above and beyond the confines of the web.

“While the internet is replete with information, it’s the agent’s knowledge that makes the difference between mediocrity and extraordinary,” Bailey said. “The irony is that the digital revolution has helped scale the importance of human knowledge and shared experiences. Technology is constantly evolving and so, too, must the agent and the real estate company.”

Read the entire article here. 


Windermere Broker Nancy McClure gives her perspective.

Nancy McClure, Broker, Realtor

Looking at our local Stanwood-Camano market, do you find that when a buyer comes to you they have already done their research online or via mobile technology?  And are they only using your services to show homes they have already picked out online?

Buyers usually come in with a list of homes they have found online, but we sit down together and most often end up changing the list. Buyers may not know what they want based on their online search. Many times when we first meet with the buyer to discuss their needs they realize that they need something more, or different than what they had initially envisioned. Good agents have a knack for reading between the lines and pulling out more of what they are looking for vs. what they are expressing. Although the initial online search provides a great starting place, narrowing down a buyer’s search is really a person to person individual process.

When and if a buyer comes to you with a list of homes that they have found online, do you find the information to be accurate and complete?  

Not always. Some sites tend to be behind; when this happens, the list a buyer brings in to me can be outdated. The local market is still moving fast. Homes can go pending and sold so quickly that a list that was done on Monday can sometimes be outdated by Friday.

Although a lot of information about these properties can be found online, one of the most important things when buying or selling a home is having a knowledgeable local agent. For example, in our area, beach rights, beach access, wells (community and private), and septic systems all have an effect on the value and usefulness of a property. An out of area or “online” brokerage generally will not be able to represent, and more importantly, protect the buyer’s interests the way a knowledgeable local agent can.

There is no secret that Windermere Stanwood-Camano has the market share in the Stanwood-Camano area. Does the online technology provided by Windermere allow home shoppers to search all of the listings in the area easily, including listings from other Real Estate companies?

As this article suggests, buyers have access to a multitude of online real estate searches. Windermere provides complete and up-to-date search capabilities with all of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s information. This means that a buyer can go to any Windermere “home search” web page (agents & brokerage websites) and search through all the currently listed homes regardless of what company listed the home. All Windermere agents are equipped with the same technology access and provide this information to potential home buyers and sellers as part of our comprehensive service.

Posted on November 27, 2018 at 12:18 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Housing Trends

We Are Stanwood Camano Giving Tree

Windermere Stanwood and Camano Island Prepares “We Are Stanwood Camano Giving Tree” to Support Neighbors in Need During Holiday Season

 

CAMANO ISLAND, WA (November 16, 2018) – Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Windermere Real Estate has put up its “We Are Stanwood Camano Giving Tree” at its Terry’s Corner office located on Camano Island to benefit local people who need a little bit of help this year. Strung throughout the Christmas tree, anonymous tags noting an individual’s age, gender and interests will be hung for people to choose from and fulfill with an appropriate gift. All donated items are to be turned into the Windermere office by December 15 so that Santa’s Elves (ie. Windermere brokers) can wrap and deliver the gifts before Christmas arrives.

“This is a project that all of us at Windermere look forward to each year,” said Marla Heagle, owner/broker of Windermere Real Estate Stanwood Camano Island. “Our tree is loaded with names of people right here in our community who just need a little help. We’re encouraging the community to stop by our office, grab a tag, and take advantage of this weekend’s Black Friday sales to fulfill someone’s Christmas wish. It’s a small way to give back and elevate your spirit during this season of gratitude.”

The individual’s profiles that fill each tree tag were submitted by the faculty of local schools. It’s a process that affords families with the anonymity, but also the holiday joy, they deserve to experience this time of year.

Donated items will be accepted at the Windermere office on Terry’s Corner between Friday, November 23rd and Friday, December 15. All donations (ie. toys, books, stuffed animals, etc.) must be brand new at the time of drop off. The Terry’s Corner office is located at 818 North Sunrise Boulevard on Camano Island. Office hours for drop off are between 9AM and 5PM Monday through Saturday, and 10AM to 5PM on Sundays.

About Windermere Real Estate Stanwood and Camano Island
With an extensive network of over 50 agents serving Island, Skagit and Snohomish County, Windermere Real Estate Stanwood and Camano Island provides decades of combined experience and local knowledge. The Camano Island Windermere office was started in 1991 and purchased, along with the Stanwood office, in 2005 by Randy and Marla Heagle. The Heagles work hard every day to bring value and positive change to the Stanwood and Camano Island community.

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Posted on November 19, 2018 at 9:52 am
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Community, Housing Trends, Press Releases, We Are Stanwood Camano

Newfound Ability to Negotiate for Buyers?

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 a recent press release from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.  Michael Ofstad, a broker from our Terry’s Corner office, gives us his thoughts on this topic.


Slower Market Means Homebuyers Have “Newfound Ability to Negotiate”

 

Washington (November 6, 2018) – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers added the fewest new listings since February, according to a new report. MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,” said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.

“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of 8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7 percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Continue Reading the entire Press Release from NWMLS


Windermere Broker, Michael Ofstad, give his perspective

Do you see buyers having more options and negotiating power in our local Stanwood-Camano market?

Yes.  In the Stanwood-Camano market, there are certainly more options, from two different forces at work.  There are fewer buyers during this time of year.  People suspend their search in consideration of the holidays, and also the thought of moving in the wet, cold winter and halfway through the school year.  And secondly, there is an uptick in inventory, and therefore more choices available.  This leaves room for traditional negotiations, instead of a lack of inventory holding all the power.  In our local market, it’s a great time to buy.

What can buyers and sellers really expect when entering the local real estate market today?

In this local real estate market, buyers and sellers can expect an active, robust and competitive market that is leaning towards being more balanced – although it is still a healthy seller’s market.  We have seen some price reductions in our area, although not as drastic as other areas, which is simply a market correction happening before our very eyes.  There is a bigger market correction going on across the country, and we are fortunate to be in an area where these trends are on the mild side, for both buyers who don’t want to lose equity and people who desire a long-term stable investment market.   The best result of this mild correction, in my opinions, is a large reduction in stress among buyers, sellers, and the industry as a whole.

NWMLS gives us some great statistics in this article, but we still see home prices up in varying degrees in each area when compared to 2017 home prices.  Can buyers look forward to affordable inventory anytime soon?

The beauty of this area’s market is that over the long term, as more people discover opportunity and a beautiful place to live, here in the Northwest, this whole area is a good investment now.  The term affordable is usually associated with the concept of a reduction in value, where I think the focus might be the appreciation factor, gaining wealth in the long term.

 

 

Posted on November 14, 2018 at 12:47 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends

Broker’s Perspective: Buyers Beware of Haunted Houses

Windermere Stanwood-Camano 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 market trends and topics.

This week we take a look at excerpts from the Windermere Corporate Blog about Haunted Houses. Tina Stoner, a broker from our Terry’s Corner office, gives us her thoughts on this topic.

 

Don’t Get Spooked! These Are a Buyer’s Warning Signs of a Haunted House

 

By: John Trupin, Windermere Blog

 

Here are some ways to identify – and avoid – ending up with a haunted house.

Something doesn’t feel right. When it comes to finding a home, we talk a lot about how a home feels. People generally feel it in their gut when they have found “the one”. If you feel like something is off, but you just can’t put your finger on it, you probably want to investigate a little further.

Follow the history of the home. Hit the interwebs and do a little online investigation to find out if the home has any skeletons in its closets (literally). Did anyone die in the house? Was it built on an ancient burial gravesite? Both of these could be DEAD giveaways for paranormal activity. Public records can be helpful for basic information, or you can check out this handy website: www.diedinhouse.com. If you don’t mind the house’s sordid past, use it as leverage to knock some zeros off the asking price.

Meet the neighbors. It’s always a good idea to get to know the neighborhood before moving in. Learn about the schools, check out the local shops and amenities, and take a good look at who your neighbors will be.  If you walk next door and the equivalent of the Adams family is staring you in the face, it might be a good time to look at other options.

Follow the paperwork. When selling a home, homeowners are required to fill out a “Self Disclosure Form” to reveal any known issues. In some states, this includes revealing if the home has any paranormal activity. In fact, if a home is known to be haunted, it can be deemed a “stigmatized home” which can impact the sale. But keep in mind, self-disclosure of paranormal activity is hard to qualify and prove, so buyers beware.

 


Tina Stoner, Broker & Realtor at Terry’s Corner Windermere

Tina’s Perspective

Is it common for buyers to ask about haunted homes?

If there is something that prompts a client to ask – a feeling of being uneasy, unusual noises, rumors of hauntings – they may ask about a home being haunted. Under regular circumstances, it is not very often that a buyer asks about a home being haunted.

 

Have you had any personal experience with a home that might have been haunted?

I have had one experience; my client and I were viewing a home and the home gave us an uneasy feeling. We both noticed what we thought to be a shadow that had no explanation and there was a feeling that something wasn’t right with the home. Who knows what we saw and felt in the home but we left promptly.

 

In this fast-paced seller’s market with lower numbers of homes on the market, do you find buyers un-swayed when considering a home that has reports of paranormal activity?

Not necessarily, but I think it really depends on the home. The home mentioned in the last question, I believe, was a foreclosure at the time.  It was on the market for over a year and sold several times after that as well. It was purchased then sold again immediately repeatedly and nobody actually moved into the home for quite some time. In 2017, the home sold for over twice the sales price that it sold for in 2016 – seemingly in this seller’s market whoever bought this home was not swayed by any stigmas or rumors, but every home is different.

 

Every State has it’s own Real Estate Law; what do buyers in Washington State need to be aware of? Do sellers need to disclose a possible haunted home?

There is no law requiring disclosure of possible paranormal activity in a home in Washington State. Seller’s Form 17 gives the seller the legally required information that must be disclosed. Form 17 is the statutory state minimum disclosure a seller must make and any other disclosures are not required by law. A few other States require “emotional” and “psychologically impacted” disclosures, Washington does not.

Did you know that our very own Stanwood Hotel claims to be haunted, the Stanwood Hotel website gives you a little insight and some descriptions on their thought to be friendly spirits right here.

 

 Original Windermere Blog Post can be found here.

 

Posted on October 27, 2018 at 9:39 pm
Windermere Stanwood Camano | Category: Buying, Housing Trends, Selling