Mortgage Forbearance – Where are We Today?

This week Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist with Windermere Real Estate, provides updated news about the mortgage forbearance program. The program has provided a safety net for homeowners but isn’t likely to have any long term negative economic impact.

 

Posted on June 15, 2020 at 11:50 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, economy, housing market, real estate, Windermere | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Could COVID-19 Impact Future Condo and Apartment Design?

Recent real estate and design articles have speculated on the impact the coronavirus pandemic could have on future residential design. Features in the last decade have focused on spacious luxury owner amenities with indoor and outdoor common areas, lush gardens, fitness centers, media rooms, private dining rooms, pet spas and    co-working spaces. Will residential developers adjust future design plans to create safer and more comfortable common areas?

The new normal may mean fewer pieces of equipment in cardio and weight rooms and more space between mats in yoga studios. Expect more hand sanitizing stations and stricter cleaning protocols. Capacity limits or equipment reservations may be required to provide equitable use and a safe environment. Lobbies, owner lounges and other common gathering areas may adjust decor to provide more chairs and fewer sofas to create a comfortable yet safe area for residents and guests.

 

Home office space has become one of the “must have” features. Whether full or part time, more people are working from home increasing the need for dedicated office or study space. We’ve quickly learned dining room tables and kitchen islands aren’t the best backdrop for video meetings.

Spending more time indoors has made the need for a properly functioning HVAC system more evident. Buyers may be just as interested in knowing whether a new community design includes systems that introduce more fresh outdoor air, recycle air more frequently and perhaps sanitize.

Spending more time in our homes over the past several months has made us more aware of our space, how we use that space, how well it functions and what we may need/want for the future.

 

 

 

Posted on May 29, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: apartments, condominiums, home safety, home technology, safety | Tagged , , , , ,

How has COVID-19 Impacted Various Housing Categories

Matthew Gardner offers insight into how the coronavirus pandemic may impact urban housing, condos, single family housing, suburbs, second homes and short term rentals.

 

 

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, economy, neighborhoods, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Real Estate – What to Expect as We Return to “Normal”

flickr/Mark Moz

It’s not surprising to know home sales declined in mid-March as we sheltered at home. Moving into mid-April both buyer activity and pending sales began increasing, all while home prices remained strong. Nationally median home prices rose in every region of the US in April.

Locally buyer activity and home values also gained momentum. Short market times and multiple offers were more common by late April, especially in affordable price ranges. Even the high end market, hit harder by the health crisis and volatile stock market, began to recover with more expensive homes coming back into the market.

What can we expect for the local condo market this summer? Over the last 30 days 131 condos in the Eastside marketplace have sold. The average time on market was just 15 days with an average sales price of $620,420. The average sale price vs. list price was 100.08% with 78 of those 131 homes selling at or over the list price. Condos currently under contract with sales pending have been on the market an average of just 14 days. As reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors®, buyer mortgage loan applications are up for the fourth consecutive week  –  a strong indication buyers are back in the market and ready to take advantage of record low interest rates.

Recovery of the local economy will have an impact on the real estate market as we move toward summer. Based on buyer activity and mortgage applications, as we find our “new normal” it’s clear buyers are ready to step into home ownership. Available housing inventory is still lagging behind compared to the same time last year. It remains to be seen if there will be enough housing inventory to meet buyer demand this summer. Low inventory will certainly keep pressure on prices resulting in fewer discounts in the marketplace.

 

 

 

Posted on May 17, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, condominiums, home property values, housing market, real estate, selling a home | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Concerned about a Housing Bubble?

These are interesting and complex times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, brokers are following strict recommendations from public health officials and government agencies to ensure we are helping to reduce its impact. Ensuring that agents, office staff and clients are safe and healthy is the top priority.

Real estate is still happening  –  homes are still being listed for sale and buyers are still purchasing those homes, exhibiting a surprising high level of interest. Matthew Gardner provides good information and perspective on the current market and the health crisis vs. the housing crisis experienced in 2008.

Posted on April 28, 2020 at 10:59 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, economy, housing market, real estate, selling a home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Homeowner Association Issues Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the shelter-at-home order in Washington State, board or HOA meetings are currently prohibited. This may create complications for homeowner associations trying to conduct business that needs a majority vote regarding matters impacting the HOA and owners.

Homeowner/community associations are required to follow their governing documents when handling association matters. This includes owners and directors voting on association matters which is most often done in person. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order, the Governor of Washington has amended the Emergency Proclamation to address issues relating to homeowner/community associations.

  • Owners and directors in homeowner/community associations are permitted to vote on association matters by mail, electronic mail and proxy, even if the association’s governing documents do not permit them to do so.
  • Owners and directors in homeowner/community associations may attend meetings by conference phone call or other similar communication that allows all participants to hear each other at the same time, even if the governing documents do not permit them to do so.
  • The Emergency Proclamation prohibits homeowner associations from charging owners late fees and interest on delinquent assessments and from imposing fines on owners for violating their governing documents.

This proclamation expires at 11:59 PM May 17, 2020.

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 22, 2020 at 2:36 PM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, Homeowner Associations, real estate | Tagged , , , ,

Downtown Bellevue Condos – Year-to-Year Stats

flickr/Dafne Cholet

 

Demand for urban housing remains strong, and with Amazon’s projected growth in downtown Bellevue, along with other corporations’ expansion plans, high demand is expected to continue over the next few years. Before the coronavirus outbreak and Stay Home/Stay Healthy order that went into effect in mid-March, the local condo real estate market was off to a very strong start.

2019 DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE CONDO SALES
1/1/2019 thru 3/31/2019            4/1/2019 thru 4/16/2019
39 sales                                      16 sales

2020 DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE CONDO SALES
1/1/2020 thru 3/31/2020           4/1/2020 thru 4/16/2020
55 sales                                       13 sales

 

First quarter downtown Bellevue condo sales were up significantly compared to the same period last year. Moving into the second quarter, numbers for the first half of April are surprisingly similar year-to-date,  despite the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. It’s possible this April’s sales stats reflect contracts written in early March just prior to (and perhaps to secure a home) before the anticipated shelter in place order.

Though well below normal for this time of year, homes continue to be listed for sale, and buyers are writing offers on some of those homes. Many sellers and buyers, for health and safety reasons, have chosen to put plans on hold until the shelter at home order has been revised or lifted and there is a better  sense of what “normal” is going to look like. Like many businesses, it is expected the current strict restrictions on the real estate industry will be lifted gradually. What will the summer market look like? It’s tough to say, but based on activity during the first quarter, the high number of property and virtual tour views on websites over the past several weeks, and conversations with clients and potential buyers and sellers, summer may pick up right where the first quarter left off.

 

 

 

Posted on April 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, real estate, urban living | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Will Open Houses Become a Thing of the Past?

Earlier this month, as concern regarding the coronavirus grew, my company, Windermere Real Estate, followed by the NWMLS a few days later, made the decision to suspend all open houses in an effort to protect the health of buyers, sellers and brokers.

There will be little real estate business transacted during the State of Washington’s mandated “shelter-at-home” period. Escrow and title companies and lenders will continue to work, as much as legally permitted, to be sure sellers and buyers involved in transactions already under contract will close on time.

Even before the mandated “shelter-at-home”, many sellers requested no open houses and buyer traffic dropped significantly at homes (mostly vacant) where open houses were scheduled. What about open houses in the future? While I always include open houses in my marketing plan, at the seller’s option, it is one of the marketing activities that delivers the least return to, and honestly, most inconvenience to sellers. The majority of my real estate business focuses on condominiums, and its not unusual to find open houses restricted or prohibited by the HOA. Homeowners who purchase in a secure building do so because they want to live in a community offering safety and where public access is limited to owner controlled, owner invited guests. A public open house that allows dozens of strangers to access a building is an intrusion on the privacy and security of everyone who lives in the community.

With the advancement of technology, professional and drone photography, 3-D and 360 degree virtual tours, buyers can virtually walk through a property before scheduling a private appointment with their broker to see the home. Going forward we may see fewer open houses, especially in secure residential buildings. Open houses create a logistical challenge for the hosting broker, sellers, buyers and the concierge staff, and are an intrusion to the privacy of all homeowners in the building.

 

 

 

Posted on March 27, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, home safety, open house, real estate, selling a home, Windermere | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

A Bright Spot in Confusing Times


The past few weeks/days have created concern, uncertainty and chaos in everyone’s world. Like many people, I am working at home, keeping clients advised of what’s happening in the real estate market and in their neighborhoods (homes are continuing to come on the market and sell) and responding to questions, emails and phone calls.

We’ve had amazing weather this week. Since exercise and sunshine are both good for relieving stress, I’ve made it a point to take the dogs on a couple walks each day. They too enjoy getting outside to enjoy the fresh spring smells and roll in the grass (them, not me). It’s been a great reminder that we live in an incredibly beautiful place, that we should  take advantage of this amazing weather (especially for March) and that sunshine and walking are good for your soul. When will things return to normal, I can’t predict, but I do know the rain will return and we will be forced to spend more time indoors. There’s a lot going on in the world right now that is confusing and  scary and that we can’t control. Along with social distancing, using appropriate caution and staying in touch with family and friends, remember to step outside, take a deep breath, enjoy the sun, take a walk and clear your head.

Thursday is the first day of spring. Happy Spring!

Posted on March 19, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, family, neighborhoods, real estate, supporting communities | Tagged , , , , , ,

Are You Ready for a Condominium Lifestyle?

Condos are often the choice of empty nesters downsizing, or right-sizing, into a new lifestyle offering less maintenance, luxury amenities and a carefree lock-and-walk lifestyle. It can be an adjustment living with neighbors closer, sharing common areas and learning to cope with smaller spaces. Give ample thought to your lifestyle and how you will adjust to your new space. Is a separate office a necessity or can you create an office nook or multi-use area that serves as guest/office space? Will the kitchen and dining areas provide adequate day-to-day work/storage space but offer flexibility to expand to accommodate entertaining and family gatherings? Will the family pet adjust to an elevator ride to walk or find the pet relief area? Plan for lifestyle adjustments when making the move from a house to a condo. The two regrets I hear most often from people who have moved from a house to a condo are that they downsized too much (into too small a space) and they moved too many large furniture pieces from their former home.

I moved from a house to a townhome in downtown Bellevue a dozen years ago. I love the lifestyle. There were adjustments (still have unpacked boxes in storage) but I’ve never regretted the move. I  missed my garden the first summer and the privacy of a fenced yard (so did the dog). The next summer I found I enjoyed the creativity and freedom of container gardening. The courtyard is perfect for intimate dining and the dog has enough space to lounge on the patio. Inside spaces are perfect for everyday and expand just enough to accommodate larger gatherings. The year round access and walk-ability to EVERYTHING was the best discovery. Walking provides a connection to the city. I love the ease of walking to shopping, dining and events, watching the changes to the skyline, meeting neighbors for impromptu coffee, greeting other dog walkers and discovering new public courtyard spaces tucked throughout downtown. My fitness, and the dog’s, has improved and we now have a cute new wardrobe of functional wind and waterproof attire.

Make your everyday extraordinary. Find the home that fits your lifestyle and embrace your new urban lock-and-walk lifestyle.

 

 

 

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 9:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, downsizing, lifestyle, real estate, urban living, walkability | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,