We knew Seattle area home prices were growing – and quickly – but just how much and how fast? Enough that we surpassed Portland, Dallas, and other major metro areas to top the country for home price growth for the seventh straight month. According to the monthly Case-Shiller home price index, single-family home prices across the Seattle metro area in March increased 12.3 percent from a year prior – the fastest growth in more than three years.
This rapid increase stems from the fact that there are more interested buyers than homes for sale. This imbalance means bidding wars are not only common, but they should be expected. New data shows about 90 percent of houses for sale in Seattle over the last two months wound up in bidding wars. Compare that to three years ago when 71 percent of homes attracted multiple offers and the beginning of the decade when less than half did. Additionally, this fierce competition has spread outside of the city of Seattle to affect the entire metro area. It has been reported that home prices have set records in places an hour’s drive from Seattle in every direction.
What does all of this mean for buyers?
It is taking qualified buyers six months to a year to purchase a home because they keep losing in multiple offer situations, some of which have been won by offers of more than $100,000 above asking price. Eager buyers are waiving contingencies and inspections, submitting more cash offers, and submitting escalating bids on houses sight unseen.
If you are looking to buy a home, it is more important than ever for you to have a knowledgeable, experienced agent by your side to help you navigate our hot market. I would appreciate the opportunity to help you rise above the competition to find and secure your dream home.
Source: The Seattle Times
Today’s buyers use a lot of resources in their home search – and 92% count on a real estate agent to help them purchase their home.
How People Buy Homes Today
If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, reach out to me to help you successfully navigate the Seattle housing market.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere Eastside blog.
There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction, and there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.
How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:
#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time
Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct, and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.
#2 Get pre-approved
Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.
#3 Know what you want
You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants. A good place to start is the “HUD Wish List,” which is available online for free at http://www.hud.gov/buying/wishlist.pdf
#4 Account for hidden costs
In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:
- Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
- Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
- Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
- Learn whether there are any homeowner or development dues associated with the property.
#5 Get an inspection
Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.
#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location
When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.
#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale
Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.
#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)
Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.
#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)
Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.
#4 Use quality photos
The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.
The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.
The National Association of REALTORS® recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Here are a few items about buyers that I thought you’d find interesting.
• The top reason buyers purchase a home is they want a place of their own.
• Buyers chose homes fairly close to their last residence. In our region, buyers purchase a home within a 13 mile radius of their last residence.
If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let’s talk! I will help you successfully navigate the Seattle housing market.
Architects are often referred to as optimists. They envision a city’s future and plan for it. That kind of optimism is incredibly important for the Seattle area real estate market as the city works to accommodate widespread growth. According to New York architect Vishaan Chakrabarti, who recently spoke at the Downtown Seattle Association’s annual breakfast meeting, Seattle’s conditions are perfect for becoming a futuristic city.
What is a futuristic city?
Chakrabarti describes this type of city as dense, walkable, and mixed. It uses less land and has fewer old-school office parks. It encourages people to live in more compact circumstances and has a more dense way of living that is largely rail-based. It fosters relationships and innovation. It calls for massive investment in infrastructure to support cities via transportation nodes, safety, parks, cultural activities, and affordable housing.
Based on this description it seems as if Seattle is already well on its way to becoming a futuristic city. For example, an article from Curbed reported the Housing and Livability Agenda (HALA) will rezone Seattle neighborhoods to be taller near Light Rail stations and gradually return to conventional houses as the distance to the stations increases. This change is expected to affect the density of the entire region, including the Eastside.
However, considering the rate of growth in the region it has taken quite a while to get to this point. Other trends characteristic of a futuristic city, like compact housing (i.e. tiny houses), have been on Seattle’s radar for a while, but when they first appeared it seemed as if people sought them out due to preference or in the pursuit of personal fulfillment. Now we are looking to this city landscape with more urgency, and as a much-needed solution and way of sustaining our city.
Why does Seattle need to be a futuristic city?
According to Chakrabarti the answer to this question is the answer to most questions pertaining to Seattle’s rapid growth: Amazon.com. One year ago 245,000 people were employed in downtown Seattle. That number is now up to 265,000 and more than 25,000 of those people are Amazon employees. This is contributing to the reshaping of Seattle and surrounding areas in tangible ways – the record-number of cranes dotting our skyline, traffic congestion and longer commute times, and of course “razor thin” housing inventory.
What are the economic and social benefits?
Chakrabarti states, “As people live in denser circumstances, more innovation happens, more patent creation happens, and it is because people are running into each other, and there is serendipity as a consequence.” We are already the third most innovative state in the U.S. and third in patent activity so it would be interesting to discover how much more creation and innovation could result from a full transformation into a futuristic city.
There are also several social benefits to living in this type of urban development. Drinking and driving plummets, childhood obesity rates drop, and divorce rates go down as commute times are reduced.
There is no doubt that Seattle is growing up, and quickly. No matter what it becomes I will be happy to assist you with navigating the real estate market during the process.
Think you can’t afford to buy a house? There are a number of programs that can help make the dream of buying a home a reality.
- You don’t need to put 20% down. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have down payment requirements as low as 3%. If you’re a vet or active military, a VA loan requires no down payment.
- Your family can help with your down payment. Fannie Mae’s HomeReady Mortgage allows a down payment of just 3%, and income from grandparents, parents, relatives, and working children can be used to help qualify for the loan.
- You don’t need perfect credit. To qualify for an FHA loan, your credit score needs to be just 500 or higher. FHA loans allow a down payment as low as 3.5%, and that payment can come entirely from “gift funds.”
- BIG PLUS: There are a number of down payment assistance programs in Washington State to help you finance a home and arrange a payment you can afford.
Are you ready to start looking for a home? I can help you find programs that make buying a house more affordable. Give me a call at 206-390-9722 or email me today!
This blog post originally appeared on WindermereEastside.com.