The Risk of Relying on Home Value Zestimates

Earlier this month the Seattle Times reported on a recent Zillow Zestimate for a home in Belfair on the Kitsap Peninsula. The Mason County assessor’s value of the home was $283,000. The home recently sold for $225,000 (below market value because the home was headed for foreclosure). A Zillow Zestimate published the home’s value at $1.8 million  –  700% higher than the county assessor’s office, several real estate companies and just about any local Realtor® who knows and understands the local market. This is an example of how algorithms can go wrong.

flickr/Robert Couse-Baker

The Zillow real estate website is both loved and hated by buyers, sellers,  appraisers and real estate professionals. This recent error in valuation is a classic example why Zillow’s Zestimates should be taken with a grain of salt. Zillow is a popular real estate data company that provides real estate data on millions of homes throughout the United  States. Zestimates are created using algorithms, publicly available sales and market data. Zillow has no real estate brokers  –  no one from Zillow has ever visited the homes or neighborhoods for which their estimates of value are provided. Continue reading

Posted on March 15, 2018 at 9:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: home property values, real estate | Tagged , , , ,

Time to Sell an Investment Property?

flickr/Mark Moz

Interest in rentals remains strong, but there’s been a noticeable slight decline in area rents this year. Even in high demand urban areas, rents have dipped slightly. With thousands of new apartments recently completed or nearing completion, and hundreds more under construction, rental supply may have begun to outpace demand.

If you own a rental property there will be more competition the next time you negotiate a lease renewal. Hundreds of new apartments are available offering modern finishes, new appliances, high tech features and a long list of community amenities and services. Tenants may not be as quick to accept a rent increase or lease renewal when, for the same money, or attractive lease-signing incentives, they can move into newer digs.

If you’ve owned your investment property for a while, this may be the time to sell and maximize your return on investment. Available inventory for sale is at historic lows and buyer demand is at an all time high – the perfect storm if you’re a seller. Properties sell quickly, often with multiple offers. Renting or selling, your property needs to be in good condition, but any minor cosmetic investment will translate to a major return when you sell.

 

Need market information?  I’ve lived and worked in downtown Bellevue for over 30 years  –  there isn’t much I don’t know and love about the city. A Realtor® and condo specialist for over two decades, I combine my knowledge of the city with years of condo experience to advise and guide clients through the process of buying or selling a home.

Posted on February 6, 2018 at 5:38 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, real estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Where Are the Bellevue Condominiums?

An article in the Puget Sound Business Journal this week compared the available local condominium inventory to New York City. Granted, NYC is a much larger and more expensive market, but currently NYC has 388 condos for sale priced less than $500,00. At the time the article was written there were only five condos available for sale in Seattle priced under $500,000. Here on the greater  Eastside there are less than 100 condos available for sale  –  not nearly enough to satisfy demand.

We are fortunate to live in a region where the economy is thriving, employers are hiring, housing is relatively affordable (compared to some other major metropolitan areas) and its a beautiful place to live with a temperate climate and year-round recreation options. Recent U.S. Census Bureau reports show that nearly 250 people move to the Seattle/Bellevue metropolitan area every week (for all the reasons just mentioned). Its also a great place to retire because of the mild climate, vibrant arts, entertainment and social scene and world class health care services, so people aren’t leaving in great numbers either. Because retirees stay in the area and because job opportunities bring hundreds of people a day to the area, it doesn’t appear there will be much change or relief to the tight inventory or escalating housing prices in the near future. Continue reading

Posted on November 15, 2017 at 9:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, home property values, real estate | Tagged , , , , ,

How Smart is Your Home?

I was recently approached for an on-the-street survey conducted by a major local tech company regarding smart houses, asking if I would value "smart house" features for comfort, convenience, energy conservation and security.

The growth of "smart homes" has exploded worldwide. According to a recent article in Realtor® Magazine, approximately 100 million households will be "smart" by the end of the year and that number is expected to grow to 300 million in the next ten years. Obviously tech companies are banking on this trend, as the market for products regulating home automation, appliances, energy use, security and data analytics is growing. The big question is consumer need and acceptance . . .

  • will a smart home factor in a buyer's decision to purchase one home over another 
  • with prices still relatively high and the technology still fairly complicated, will the average homeowner embrace the technology
  • is this just a passing fad, or could the technology eventually take off (solar panels took years) and demonstrate a return-on-investment

Consumers are increasingly tech savvy and showing more interest in smart home technology. While these products are growing in popularity (thermostats, alarms, cameras, auto-locking doors, etc.) and can be easily controlled from a phone or tablet, how many buyers will be more likely to buy a home if smart products are installed? Is smart home technology an upgrade the average homeowner would consider instead of making cosmetic updates?  It will be interesting to see how long it takes for smart home technology to be the new norm.  

Posted on November 20, 2015 at 6:43 PM
Robin Myers | Category: home property values, home technology, lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , ,

Seattle vs. San Francisco – Affordability vs. Lifestyle

Both San Francisco and Seattle have an abundance of tech jobs. Anyone in the tech industry casting a wide net in their job search could expect to find job opportunities in both cities. While both locations would provide career growth opportunities and a stimulating lifestyle, where would you move and how would make that choice?

San Francisco is a fabulous city and salaries in the Bay area can easily be 20% higher, or more, than the Seattle marketplace, but many tech workers are choosing Seattle over the Bay area and Silicon Valley higher paying jobs. No question the cost of living here is on the rise, but the Seattle area has a significanty lower cost of living when it comes to renting or purchasing housing, parking, dining out, entertainment, groceries, etc. Locating where the employment base is, and where living is more affordable, could explain why Google expanded its campus in Kirkland and Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Dropbox have located offices here.

Friends who recently left San Francisco and moved back to the Eastside were renting a small studio in downtown San Francisco for $3,000/month + $300/month for parking. While the opportunity to return to the Eastside was key in their relocation decision, the difference in living expenses was also attractive. Renting a luxury one bedroom condo on the Eastside at $2,000/month, parking included, definitely made up for any difference in salary. While home prices and rents have increased in Seattle and on the Eastside, our prices still pale in comparison to San Francisco.

A higher paying job is enticing, and San Francisco is definitely a desirable place to live, but when adding up the list of basic items that can be as much as 30 percent cheaper here than in San Francisco, maybe the city on the bay is better as a great place to spend a weekend.

Posted on November 18, 2015 at 6:04 PM
Robin Myers | Category: home property values, lifestyle, neighborhoods | Tagged , , , , ,

Condos Fill Affordability Niche in Bellevue

Housing prices keep going up and available inventory keeps shrinking . . . this combination continues to drive prices upward with no immediate relief in sight. With Eastside home values appreciating on average 10%+ per year, finding an affordable home can be challenging.

While the suburbs are popular with some buyers, the demand for urban living is on the rise. Buyers are seeking communities walk-able to workplaces, nightlife, arts and entertainment, transportation, schools ad parks. Downtown Bellevue checks off all those boxes which is what makes it an increasingly high demand place to live. While "affordable" may not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking about downtown Bellevue real estate, there are many condo communities in or within a block or two of downtown with homes priced under $500,000. So far this year 166 condos have sold in the 98004 zip code; 45% of those sold for under $500,000. There are less than 80 condos currently on the market in the downtown marketplace (about half of normal); nearly 20% are priced under $500,000. Expanding the search to condo and townhome communities within a mile of downtown significantly increases the choices and still keeps the commute to work, restaurants, shopping and events at less than five minutes.

Whether you're a first time buyer, relocating here for a new job, downsizing from a larger home or giving up the "burbs" for city living, its possible to find the right fit for your lifestyle without braking the bank.

Posted on August 19, 2015 at 6:57 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominiums, home property values | Tagged , , , , ,

Walkable Neighborhoods Increase Property Values

Walkable neighborhoods continue to grow in popularity with buyers placing high value on access to workplaces, entertainment, shopping and dining without having to rely on a car. A home's walkability is not only increasingly in demand, its also a factor in raising home values. Recent data shows that mixed-use transit oriented neighborhoods improve property values and over the years walkable communities have held and increased their value, even in turbulent real estate markets. Respondents in a recent NAR (National Association of Realtors®) survey confirmed that buyers prefer to live in a neighborhood with a mix of homes and businesses. Communities where people can live close to work, buy groceries and socialize  –  all without needing a car  –  are the magnets that attract many of today's professionals, families and downsizing buyers. 

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 8:51 PM
Robin Myers | Category: home property values, lifestyle, neighborhoods | Tagged , ,