Can We Expect to See More Entry Level Affordable Housing In the Future?

This week Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, discusses housing affordability and what we can expect moving forward. On average median housing prices nationwide are have increased by 23.5% above the 2008/2009 recession. While there has been some impact on values due to COVID-19, high demand from buyers in a market with limited inventory will continue to increase prices. What’s the solution? There’s high demand for entry level housing, but there’s no easy answer as to how to create affordability.

Posted on June 29, 2020 at 2:50 PM
Robin Myers | Category: affordable housing, condominium speciaist, economy, real estate, Windermere Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

Available Homes for Sale Significantly Below Last Year

The number of homes available for sale declined in April and May for obvious reasons – there were health and economic concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since late May local home sales have been ahead of the same period last year. Buyer demand remains high but what is different about this year compared to last year is there are fewer homes for sale. The graph below, provided by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service for the Seattle Times, shows that new pending sales are well above the same period last year but new listings of homes for sale are 20% below the same period last year.

With barely a one month supply of inventory in many areas, homes are selling quickly. Multiple offers are more common, and many homes are selling above the list price. Buyers are finding more competition for the weekly supply of newly listed houses and condominiums coming on the market.

What’s driving this demand? Interest rates are at record lows making mortgages more affordable. Potential buyers can afford a larger home. And, after three months of quarantine, owners and renters whose homes offered adequate space when working off-site are seeking larger homes with more indoor space, a dedicated home office area and more outdoor live/play space. Buyers are ready to buy, but sellers don’t appear to be as motivated right now.

Posted on June 24, 2020 at 2:45 PM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, condominiums, real estate, selling a home | 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 , , , , , , , , , ,

The Impact of COVID-19 on 30 Year Mortgage Rates

Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides his insight on mortgage interest rates, how those rates are set and what we might expect in the coming weeks and months with regard to conforming and jumbo loan financing.

 

Posted on April 14, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, home financing, mortgage interest rates, real estate, refinancing a home | Tagged , , , , , ,

February NWMLS Real Estate Market Snapshot

February statistics are in. Home prices, compared to February 2019, are up 9%. There’s less than a six week supply of available homes which is down 33% over the same time last year. Mortgage interest rates are historically low. Now is the time to maximize your home buying power. Open house traffic has been amazing. If you’re ready to sell, buyers are in the market and looking for homes. Amazon’s projected growth in downtown Bellevue over the next several years already has employees searching for homes in an effort to stay ahead of the competition.

Questions about the Eastside condo market? I’ve specialized in condos for most of my career. I have unique market knowledge, insight and experience to help you understand the market and help you meet your personal and financial goals.

Posted on March 11, 2020 at 9:30 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, condominiums, Downtown Bellevue, first time buyers, home property values, real estate, selling a home | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Wire Fraud – Use Caution When Wiring Funds

flickr/Ben Taylor

In every real estate transaction emails are sent between the buyer and their real estate broker, lender, escrow and title companies. Unfortunately these emails have created an opportunity for wire fraud scammers causing some real estate buyers to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here’s how it works . . . scammers hack into the email account of the buyer, buyer’s real estate broker, lender, title or escrow officer. The scammer, who now has access to the email addresses of all parties involved in the transaction, creates a new email account almost identical to the lender, broker, escrow company, etc. It could be just one letter off, but unless you look very carefully the email could look official and carry the proper company logo and signature block. The scammer sends an email to the buyer, using the newly created fraudulent account, providing instructions to wire funds for the closing on an upcoming home purchase. The email looks authentic, and the buyer is expecting to receive instructions for wiring their funds, so there is little reason to doubt the authenticity of the email. The buyers contact their bank to arrange for the wire but can discover too late they may have responded to a fake email address and funds have been wired to an unidentified recipient’s account. The funds are often quickly routed two or three more times, making the path of the funds impossible to trace or retrieve.

Real estate buyers and sellers have become targets for wire fraud. Sadly this is a national and global problem and the Seattle area has not escaped this scam. Local authorities and the FBI have been involved in these investigations, but the success rate for locating the scammer or retrieving funds is low. Some escrow/title companies have gone “old school”, requesting clients deliver cashier’s checks to the office in person. Wire instructions are still used but instructions are now snail mailed to the buyer to eliminate the email piracy of their contact information. Buyers should always call their broker, lender, title or escrow before wire transferring funds to confirm the amount, account information and instructions. A buyer or seller can also designate that no wire transfers are permitted in the transaction, only a cashier’s check.

Unfortunately the real estate industry is one of those that has become a target for scammers. Sending funds via a wire transfer is quick and easy, and while physically obtaining and delivering a cashier’s check to escrow may be inconvenient, that extra few minutes of time can nearly guarantee another buyer won’t be out thousands and thousands of dollars when they should be celebrating the purchase of their new home.

 

 

 

Posted on March 3, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Robin Myers | Category: buying a home, condominium speciaist, real estate, wire fraud | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Walkability to Amenities May Command a Higher Home Price

flickr/Peter Blanchard

The National Association of Realtors® recently published an article with data from a Redfin study addressing the impact walkability to neighborhood amenities has on home values. Homes within walking distance of workplaces, shopping, parks, schools, etc. rank high on buyer wish lists but will command higher prices.

Homes with in-city locations are often condominiums (stack flats) or attached townhomes. Buyers willing to consider moving to close-in but less walkable, more car dependent neighborhoods, may find more affordable options as well as more single family house choices.

West coast urban markets have seen the premium walkability has on home values. In 2019 the premium for walkability in the Seattle marketplace increased the average price by 15.7% or $86,331. In San Diego urban/walkable homes averaged 10.5% more or $60,225 and in Los Angeles the premium for walkability was 5.8% or $34,583.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on February 24, 2020 at 12:17 PM
Robin Myers | Category: condominium speciaist, condominiums, property values, real estate, urban living, walkability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Senior Property Tax Exemption Program

photo courtesy CreditDebitPro.com

It’s that time of year when we start collecting receipts, mortgage interest and property tax statements, all in readiness to work on taxes or at least deliver your box of receipts and statements to your accountant.

Did you know . . . anyone 61 years or older who owns their own home may be eligible for Washington State’s senior property tax exemption. The maximum annual income for this program has been significantly increased to $58,423 which will allow many more people to be eligible for property tax relief.

For more information, to find out if you or a family member qualifies fore a reduction in property taxes, or to apply, visit the King County website at https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor/tax relief/seniorexemptions .aspx or call 206-296-3920. Anyone who is eligible should take advantage of this tax exemption law.

 

 

 

Posted on February 19, 2020 at 11:06 AM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condominium speciaist, condominiums, property tax exemptions, real estate, tax payer assistance | Tagged , , , , , ,

Affordable Housing in Bellevue?

You might be surprised to find there are many affordable housing options close to downtown Bellevue. Apartments in the city are expensive and it’s likely the rent will increase each time the lease renews. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Bellevue is $3,250 or more per month (plus utilities). That’s a lot of money for housing with no return on investment.

Last year more than 100 one and two bedroom condos in or near downtown Bellevue that sold with median sales prices* under $475,000 (98004 & 98005 zip codes). Some of these homes were in communities walk-able to downtown, others were less than a 10 minute drive to Bellevue’s workplaces, shopping, dining, arts and entertainment events, parks and sought after Bellevue schools.

With a budget of $550,000, a lot of money but considered affordable in the Eastside real estate marketplace, if you were buying a condo what could you expect to pay for your monthly housing expense?

  • A 2 bedroom condo priced at $550,000 with a 5% down payment ($27,500) would have a monthly mortgage expense (PITI) of about $2,850/month
  • There are great loan programs available with 3%, 5% and 10% down, but if the down payment is less than 20% the lender will require PMI which will could add $300-$400/month to your mortgage payment. (Consult your lender for more information.)
  • Budget $395-$495/month for homeowner’s dues, but that will include the water/sewer utility, garbage/recycle service, master insurance policy and sometimes even basic cable.

With a 5% down payment on a $550,000 purchase the monthly PITI + PMI would be approximately $3,240  –  about the same as renting a 2 bedroom apartment downtown, except you would get the benefit of a tax deduction for some of the closing costs and the deduction for mortgage interest and real estate taxes every year.

Before you renew your lease, talk with your lender and Realtor®. This might be the right time to purchase a home and avoid the next rent increase. You would own your home, shelter income and start building equity and wealth. You may even reduce your commute.

 

 

* median sales price  –  half the homes sold for more, half sold for less

Posted on January 28, 2020 at 2:45 PM
Robin Myers | Category: Bellevue, condo financing, condominiums, first time buyers, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,