Oct. 11, 2018

September 2018 NWMLS Report - Balance “finally returning” to housing market as buyers welcome more choices, moderating prices

KIRKLAND, Washington (October 4, 2018) – Housing inventory continued to improve during September while the pace of sales slowed in many counties served by Northwest Multiple Listing Service. “Balance is finally returning to the market, and with it, slowing home price growth,” stated OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.

A new report from Northwest MLS shows double-digit increases in inventory in several of the 23 counties it serves, led by a 78 percent year-over-year gain in King County. Despite improving selection in the central Puget Sound region, a dozen counties reported drops in the number of active listings compared to last year.

System-wide, the month ended with 2.56 months of supply of single family homes and condos, well below the 4-to-6 months analysts use as an indicator of a balanced market between sellers and buyers. The current level is the highest since February 2015 when member-brokers reported 3.56 months of inventory. In King County, supply exceeded two months for the first time since January 2015. 

Condo inventory remains sparse, with only 0.34 months of supply area wide, despite improving inventory (up nearly 70 percent from a year ago). The shortage is expected to ease as construction progresses on several recently-announced high-rise projects. 

Brokers added 10,458 new listings of single family homes and condos to the MLS database during September, slightly more than the year-ago figure of 10,120. At month end, buyers could choose from 19,526 listings, a 22.9 percent improvement from twelve months ago when selection totaled 15,888 listings. 

Commenting on the wider selection, Mike Grady said buyers “are at long last now seeing properties that stay on the market longer.” Listings that are priced appropriately, “and not based on the feverish market we saw just a few months ago are still selling quickly, and home prices are still showing 8 percent appreciation year-over-year – more than double the rate of inflation,” added Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. 

With improving inventory, some brokers suggest the market may be showing signs of pausing, if not softening. A market shift may be under way, but they believe activity will stay strong. 

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, encouraged would-be buyers to “put extra focus on October,” which he described as the last great month for new listings until March 2019. “Over the winter, new monthly resale listings will lower by approximately 50 percent compared to summer months.” He also noted interest rates, currently in the upper 4 percent, are projected to rise in the coming months.

“This is a more traditional yearly market cycle taking the place of the unusually overheated real estate market of the past several years,” said John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

“Given there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight related to the region’s job growth, with employees moving here and not enough units being built to accommodate them, we believe this market normalization will continue,” stated Grady. (For every six new jobs created in the Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue region, there was only one single-family permit issued, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.)

Northwest MLS director Robert Wasser reported the recent re-balancing of the market “has led to fewer listings with offer review dates and pre-inspections,” which he said is a positive for buyers hoping to retain their contingencies. His analysis of MLS statistics indicated the median marketing time in King County has risen to 14 days. Also, prices for closed sales are at 100 percent of their list price for a third straight month.

“In the South Sound the market has shifted into neutral and is idling at the moment,” commented Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor. Noting inventory has improved in both Pierce and Thurston counties “but nowhere near what King County has experienced,” Beeson said buyers can see more homes available for sale for the first time in three years. “Buyers are taking deep breaths as they survey this new territory.” 

Beeson thinks the “new normal” at two-plus months of inventory is “healthy and long anticipated.” He also believes the steep curve of ever-increasing prices and scarcity of properties has crested.

Ken Anderson, another Realtor in South Puget Sound, noted the bigger selection for buyers is good timing with interest rates on the rise. “We are finding buyers eager to get into homes this fall to take advantage of the still incredibly low borrowing rates.” Sellers need to be mindful of softening sales, he suggested, adding
“they’ll have to keep a sharp eye on this trend and have a pricing strategy to match.”

Anderson, the president/owner and designated broker at Coldwell Banker Evergreen in Olympia, said sales remain robust, describing last month as the “second best September on record for closed sales.” Even though pending sales “softened a bit” he said they remain high by historical standards and says “we remain solidly in a seller’s market” but are trending toward balance. “This is welcomed as prices here have risen much faster than our market’s long-term trend line.”

Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) were down nearly 14 percent area-wide, with about half the counties in the MLS report showing double-digit declines. Members notched 8,913 pending sales last month, a slippage of 1,435 sales when compared to the same month a year ago.

Closed sales also reflected slower activity. Members reported 7,630 completed transactions during September, down 18.6 percent from the year-ago volume of 9,371. Through nine months, this year’s closings are down 4.4 percent compared to 2017.

Prices across the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS report are up about 5 percent from a year ago, with ten counties reporting double-digit gains. The median price for last month’s completed sales of single family homes and condos system-wide was $400,000, up from the year-ago median price of $381,000. Last month’s price was down $15,000 (-3.6 percent) from August and $25,000 (-5.9 percent) from the year’s peak (so far), which occurred in June when the median price was $425,000. 

For the four-county Puget Sound region, the median price for September’s completed transactions was $455,000, up about 5.8 percent from a year ago.

Despite slower sales, Northwest MLS spokespeople remain upbeat.

“The housing market close to the job centers has gone from a historic extreme-frenzy market in the spring down a few levels of hotness to a strong level of pending sales activity for new listings,” said Scott.

“Rising interest rates and slowing home prices are affecting the psychology of the region’s housing market, and causing some to speculate that we’re heading towards another housing crash, but that’s definitely not the case,” commented Jacobi. Noting it’s been more than 15 years since this area experienced a “normal” market, Jacobi suggested “people have just forgotten what it looks like. As long as the local economy remains strong, there’s little cause for concern about the shift we’re experiencing.”

He believes “there’s little cause for concern about the shift we’re experiencing,” so long as the local economy remains strong. 

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.

 

Aug. 1, 2018

Solution Partners NW is the New Onsite Team at Providence Point!

Solution Partners NW is thrilled to be the new onsite real estate team at Providence Point! Providence Point is a 55+ community located in Issaquah, Washington. This well-established active adult neighborhood is composed of seven distinctive villages offering different architectural styles and character. It has 1,008 attached and condominium homes. Providence Point provides residents with a full range of amenities including four community centers and various outdoor amenities to keep homeowners busy socially and active physically.

The Solution Partners NW sales office, opening on August 8, 2018, is conveniently located onsite in the Town Hall on Providence Point Drive. Real Estate brokers are available daily to help you find a new home. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and we are available weekends and evenings by appointment.

If you are interested in purchasing or selling a home in Providence Point please contact us at 425-460-4423 or email us at info@solutionpartnersnw.com.  We look forward to working with you!

June 22, 2018

Eye on the Market

Summer 2018 is heating up with a new supply of inventory entering the market.  According to the latest figures published by the Northwest Mutiple Listing Service, an impressive 14,524 new listings were added in the month of May. This is the highest number of new listings since May 2008.

This news offers relief for buyers who have been growing weary of multiple offer situations, rising home prices and losing out on homes they wanted. 

Real estate brokers have noticed the new surge of inventory has made selling homes a bit more challenging. There have been recent price reductions and it is taking a little longer to sell a home. A home that use to sell in a week, might take 3 weeks to a month now. This requires more marketing, more open houses and more competitive pricing.

Homes are still selling, but buyers are being a bit more discerning and taking their time to shop, because now they can! The market is still as strong as ever but it is a bit more balanced, which is a good thing.

May 7, 2018

Are you feeling isolated at your Big Box Franchise/real estate firm?

 

Did you join a real estate “team” where you are a supportive arm to the team leader?

  •                 All Sales get credited to the Lead Agent?
  •                 You earn 50% or less of commission and then pay a firm split?
  •                 You/your team pays for office space, Transaction assistance, NAR fees and a high cap?

A number of us did the same thing and then realized that model is not working for us as individuals and in the long term we would have no personal business!

How do YOU grow a personal business, get credit/NWMLS data for your work, keep 70% of commissions and have a low CAP ($14,900) while retaining similar services of a Big Box Firm?

The answer is simple, you stop relying on the franchise or the team concept.  Real Estate is an individual business with a group of supporting members to assist your business.  You cannot rely on a Team Leader to support you long term – this is your business and it requires personal effort!

Check us out at Solution Partners NW where our brokers have sold over 12,000 homes with a sales volume over 2.2 Trillion dollars.  Our firm is not a household name.  We don’t advertise because that requires higher splits.  Why charge our brokers a higher cap to grow bigger when our brokers are making well over the average broker income by staying small, steadfast, and focused on our broker success.  

In addition to our offerings, we supply you with a full time marketing director who does all your marketing creation and maintenance to promote YOU and YOUR BUSINESS. This includes posting on your business social media sites, creating and printing your listing materials, providing design services, ordering marketing pieces for you and so much more.  We want every broker to feel like they own their own business and have their own marketing director AT NO CHARGE.   This is all under the umbrella/protection of Solution Partners NW where the Designated Broker will provide one-on-one personal training.  You can even shadow train with her.

No NARS dues, No franchise fees, No office space charges, No team splits.

What is the harm in meeting for 30 minutes to discover a different model?  Why!  Why not?

Nothing ventured - Nothing gained.

Contact Nancy Hill for more information at 253-653-6323 or email at N.Hill@SolutionPartnersNW.com

Posted in Real Estate, SPNW News
May 3, 2018

Some Advice on Closing Costs

 

It is a good idea to factor in the closing costs when buying a home, so you can properly plan and manage your finances.  In most cases you can expect to pay 2-5% of the purchase price in closing costs, not including the down payment.

Closing costs can include the following:

  • Down Payments can vary, most are in the range of 5% - 20% of the purchase price depending on your qualifications and loan choice.
  • Earnest Money Deposit is the money put down when a contract is written and usually it goes into an escrow account.  If the property closes this money generally goes toward your closing costs but can be non-refundable after a certain period if the buyer backs out of the purchase. 
  • Lender fees include charges for loan processing, underwriting and preparation.
  • Third-party fees include charges for insurance, title insurance, title search, appraisal fees and other inspections such as termite.
  • Government fees include deed recording and state mortgage taxes.
  • Escrow and interest fees include homeowner's insurance, loan interest, Real Estate taxes, home warranties, prepaid interest and occasionally private mortgage insurance.
  • Property taxes

Please do not hesitate to contact us at 425-460-4423 when you are ready to take the next step or if you have any questions. We look forward to assisting you!

 

Posted in Buyer Tips, Real Estate
May 3, 2018

Welcome Melissa Spear to the SPNW!

 

"Deciding to join Solution Partners NW has been one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.  I was lucky enough to work with both Nancy Hill and Kim Stites during my tenure at Quadrant Homes. Throughout the years, I continued to see both of them within the construction arena. 

Over the years, a deep mutual respect was created.  Hanging my license with a smaller, boutique company has allowed a much more hands on training with thoughtfulness and care.
One of the biggest draws for me is their Marketing Department. Having Jansy Peternell, the Marketing Director, create bio’s, personal websites, business cards, flyers, postings and Facebook business pages, Boosting my Listings on Facebook for FREE because I’m part of the team, is a huge help and relief.  Utilizing a professional Marketing Director to guide and coach me on the most current, high impact marketing tactics gives me that extra confidence for success as well.
 
Nancy Hill and everyone on the SPNW team, has taken me under their wing, while supporting and encouraging me every step of the way on my new career path.  I look forward to learning as much as I can from each incredible person on our team at Solution Partners NW."
Posted in SPNW News
March 22, 2018

10 Tips to Increase Your Homes Value

1. Make sure your kitchen looks clean and reasonably updated.

For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones.

If you’ve got a slightly larger budget, you can give the cabinets themselves a makeover. Rather than install an entire new cabinet system, look in to refacing your cabinet doors, painting them or updating the hardware. Your cabinets will look like new!

If you’re handy, you can order your own replacement cabinet doors and door fronts from retailers like Lowe’s Home Improvement or The Home Depot and install them yourself.

2. Give appliances a facelift. If your kitchen appliances don’t match, order new doors or face panels for them. 

Many dishwasher panels are white on one side and black on the other. So you can check to see if all you have to do is flip yours around. A more cohesive-looking kitchen makes a big difference in the buyer’s mind — and in the home’s resale price.

3. Buff up the bath. Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. A home owner can easily install a new toilet seat or pedestal sink and it can change the look of a bathroom.  

Replacing old vinyl is not too difficult as well. You can typically install new vinyl right over the old vinyl and it can give your bathroom a fresh look.

If your tub and shower are looking dingy, consider re-grouting the tile and replacing any chipped tiles. A more complete cover-up is a prefabricated tub and shower surround. These one-piece units may require professional installation but can still be cheaper than paying to re-tile walls and refinish a worn tub.

4. Step up your storage. Old houses, particularly, are notorious for their lack of closet space. If you have cramped storage areas, you can add do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms, pantries and entry closets.

In the end, your closets will be more functional while you’re living in the house and will make your home look more customized to potential buyers when you’re ready to sell. 

5. Add a room in a week or less.  If you have a three bedroom house with a den, you could add a closet to that room, and now you have four bedroom house, which will add value. The drywall and closet system installation would probably cost you less than $1,500.

6. Mind the mechanics. It's often a good idea hire an electrician and plumber for a couple of hours to look over your electrical services, wrap or fix loose wires, fix any faulty outlets, and check for and fix any water leaks. This will let the buyer know you have done your due diligence to prepare the home for market.

7. Clean your carpet. Carpeting is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your rugs are in good shape and are neutral colors.

If your carpet is showing serious wear, cover it with inexpensive, strategically placed area rugs. Unless the carpet is in really bad condition, most real estate brokers would not recommend replacing the carpet.  

8. Let there be light. If you have boring recessed lights in your dining and living rooms, consider replacing one of the room’s lights with an eye-catching chandelier. Home stores offer a wide range of inexpensive, but nice-looking, ceiling fixtures these days. If you have a ceiling fan and light, you can also buy replacement fan blades (leaving the fan body in place) to update the fixture’s look.

9. Repaint or replace your front door. Repainting your front door or replacing it with a new door with a window can add more light and make it more appealing. New hardware would also be a good idea.  It is an inexpensive update that can add value to your home.

10. Consider curb appeal. Mow the lawn, add a few well-placed shrubs, sweep the walkway and add some potted plants. Consider hiring a landscaper to install some new sod, plant a few evergreen shrubs and give your front yard a good cleanup. These kinds of changes can instantly change people’s perception of your home and, therefore, increase its value.

Feb. 13, 2018

February 2018 NWMLS News Release: Home Buyers Still Competing for Sparse Inventory in Western Washington, Driving Up Prices

Home Buyers Still Competing for Sparse Inventory in Western Washington, Driving Up Prices - Especially for Sought-After Condominiums

Latest Press Release


KIRKLAND, Washington (February 5, 2018) - "The Seattle area real estate market hasn't skipped a beat with pent-up demand from buyers is stronger than ever," remarked broker John Deely in reacting to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report on January activity shows a slight year-over-year gain in pending sales, a double-digit increase in prices, and continued shortages of inventory.

Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle and a board member at Northwest MLS, noted a shift in the ratio of pending sales to new listings in King County.

Member brokers added 6,805 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to the system-wide database last month for a gain of about 4.6 percent from a year ago. During the same period, they reported 7,820 pending sales. In King County, the number of new listings outgained pending sales for the first time since September:

 

King County (SFH+Condos) Jan-18 Dec-17 Nov-17 Oct-17 Sep-17
New Listings 2326 1165 2102 3088 3856
Pending Sales 2282 1850 2831 3533 3514
Difference 45 -685 -729 -445 342

  
"Sellers that have put their properties on the market early this year have less competition and are seeing multiple offers. Open houses are experiencing heavy traffic with hundreds of potential buyers attending," reported Deely.

For the MLS overall, last month's 7,820 pending sales marked a slight increase compared to January 2017 when members reported 7,724 mutually accepted offers, a gain in of 1.24 percent. Not all areas reported increases. Of 23 counties served by Northwest MLS, eight counties, including three in the Puget Sound region (King, Kitsap and Snohomish), reported fewer pending sales than a year ago. In King County, where acute inventory shortages exist in many neighborhoods, pending sales dropped 7.5 percent and closings dropped 18.5 percent.

"The decline in sales last month can't be blamed on the holidays, weather or football. It's simply due to the ongoing shortage of housing that continues to plague markets throughout Western Washington," said OB Jacobi, the president of Windermere Real Estate.

With January's additions, the number of total active listings at month end stood at 8,037 homes and condos, down nearly 17.6 percent from a year ago when the selection totaled 9,750 listings. Measured by months of supply, there was only about 1.5 months overall, well below the 4-to-6 month level many industry experts use as a gauge of a balanced market.

Condo inventory is especially tight in Snohomish County (0.8 months of supply) and King County (0.92 months). System-wide there is under a month's supply (0.93 months). For the four-county Puget Sound region, there were only 427 active condo listings at month end, down almost 31 percent from a year ago.

Despite the sparse selection, brokers expect inventory to improve.

"I actually believe 2018 will bring us moderately more listings, which should help offset the growing demand that continues to result from the area's strong economy," remarked Jacobi.

"The month of March can't come soon enough for home buyers," said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. "In March, the number of new listings will bump up substantially from the low number of new listings typical for winter months. Better selection will start in March as we enter the spring housing season," Scott predicts.

In the meantime, Scott reported "a multiple-offer everything, virtually sold out market" in all price ranges close to job centers and in the more affordable and mid-price ranges in surrounding counties. "Sellers are receiving premium pricing and home buyers are pouncing on each new listing," he added.

George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties, agreed. "January still saw aggressive buyers as they jockeyed for homes in some of the hottest areas in Seattle and the Eastside," he commented.

Prices continue to rise in all but a few counties, even as the volume of closed sales fell about 9.3 percent. For January's 5,325 closed sales, the median price was $363,500, a jump of about 11 percent from the year-ago figure of $327,500. Twelve counties reported double-digit spikes.

Within the four-county Puget Sound region, King County had the largest year-over-year gain. Prices for homes and condos combined shot up 20.3 percent in that county, rising from $475,000 to $571,250. Pierce County reported a jump of 15 percent, followed by Snohomish County at about 12.2 percent and Kitsap County at nearly 3.5 percent.

The depleted supply of condos meant premium prices. Area-wide the median price for last month's completed transactions rose nearly 18.6 percent, from $269,900 to $320,000. Snohomish County's condo prices surged nearly 25.5 percent, followed by King County at nearly 22.6 percent.

Some brokers expect the hefty price gains to ease.

"As interest rates rise, the rate of price increases will slow down," predicts Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor. Despite this expectation, he believes sparse supply and the area's appeal both nationally and internationally will mean ongoing competition and multiple offer situations.

"What it costs to rent small spaces astounds me," he remarked citing recent reports that put Tacoma and Olympia on lists of top cities for increased rents during 2017. "Investors, because rents are high, compete daily with home buyers, and they often win the deal in the lower priced homes. Because they are buying all cash, they consistently beat out buyers who have to get loans."

Builders are trying to respond to the pent-up demand, according to Moorhead. Seattle and the Eastside are seeing a growing number of infill homes in the core areas, some on lots as small as 3,000 square feet, he said. Builders are doing smaller releases and setting offer review dates, and then determine price ranges for the next phase.

"What used to be an affordable way to build homes has now become more mainstream for both smaller and larger builders," Moorhead stated, adding, "Historically, infill homes did not get the same return as homes built in large community plats, but now they're realizing similar price points."

The luxury market is also off to a quick start in 2018. "Close to job centers, the luxury market is gaining positive momentum due to the wealth effect of the stock market, the strength of the U.S. economy, and homebuyers from the Pacific Rim, especially China," noted Lennox Scott.

Northwest MLS figures show sales of homes selling for $2 million or more are far outpacing year-ago activity. Last month, member-brokers reported selling 55 residences at this price threshold. That's up 66 percent from the same month a year ago when brokers sold 33 such homes.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 28,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

 

Jan. 22, 2018

Eye on the Market - February 2018

 

According to CW Title, a recently released report on real estate activity nationwide shows the Seattle metro area with 19 of 25 most competitive markets in the country. The study took into account price appreciation, days on the market, how many sales were above list price, and other factors. That stunning result supports why many in the market for a home are currently experience; our region is hot, and competition is fierce.

The latest statistics from the Northwest MLS show closed-sales prices for single-family homes are again up year-over-year in King County by 15.45 percent, in Snohomish County by 12.50 percent and in Pierce County by 12.25 percent.

Inventory remains the biggest concern for our region's housing-market health. Brokers are reporting brisk traffic at open houses, and properly priced listings are moving fast. Some are speculating that the Seahawks missing the playoffs this year might have allowed prospective buyers a bit more time on the weekends to visit homes. While that may be true in many cases, the fact is that there are plenty of qualified buyers scouring the market and more entering every day.

It's a great time to live and work in our area, and to invest in real estate here. There is no shortage of buyers, and for those who've been sitting on the fence about selling a home, now is a great time to enter the market and maximize their return.

Dec. 14, 2017

What to expect after the closing of your property