Local Market Update – March 2019

The spring home buying season started early this year. Open houses had increased attendance and bidding wars returned. After months of softening, home prices in most of the region jumped significantly from the prior month. With just one month of data, we’ll have to wait and see if this is the start of a longer upward trend.

Eastside

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The Eastside was one area of King County that continued to see prices moderate. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $900,000 in February, a drop of 5 percent from a year ago and down slightly from last month. However, supply here isn’t nearly enough to meet demand, a fact that most likely won’t change any time soon. Amazon’s latest expansion in Bellevue is expected to bring a significant wave of new employees to the city.

King County

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The median single-family home in King County sold for $655,000 in February. While up slightly less than 1 percent year-over-year, it was an increase of $45,000 over January.  Southeast King County, which includes Kent, Renton and Auburn, saw the greatest gains with prices rising 4.5 percent over the previous year. While inventory has grown, it is less than half of the four to six months that is considered balanced.

Seattle

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More inventory and low interest rates helped bring buyers back into the market. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit $730,000 in February, down 6 percent from a year ago, but up $18,500 from January. With just six weeks of available supply, Seattle continues to have the tightest inventory in the county. Seattle’s record development boom shows little signs of easing, so we can expect strong demand to continue.

Snohomish County

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The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County reached $474,947 in February. Although that is a 2 percent decrease from last year, it is $5,000 more than January. As buyers push outside of King County to search for more reasonably priced homes, Snohomish County continues to struggle to find enough inventory to meet growing demand.

Windermere Foundation: Celebrating 30 Years of Giving

Giving back has always been a big part of who we are at Windermere. In the early days of our company, it was pretty simple; we would see a need and help any way we could. But as we grew, we realized we could accomplish much more if we had a common purpose. That’s how the Windermere Foundation was born.

A big idea

We started with an idea that would give every Windermere agent the ability to make a difference. Housing is our business, so helping homeless families seemed like a natural fit. We later expanded that to include low-income families, with an emphasis on helping children.

Every time a home is sold

For the past 30 years, a portion of every Windermere agent’s commission has been donated to the Windermere Foundation. Having 100% participation gives us a common purpose and sends a powerful message about our commitment to the community.

Who we help

Last year alone we provided funding to more than 500 organizations throughout the Western U.S. Homeless shelters, food banks, schools, hospitals, community centers, parks; the list goes on. The main thing that they all have in common is a deep devotion to helping our neighbors in need.

How we help

Our agents have proven time and time again how committed they are to making their communities a better place to live. Their generosity funds backpacks full of food so school kids don’t go hungry on the weekends. They help keep families in their homes by covering housing costs. And their donations make sure the homeless are getting their most basic needs met, and the dignity that goes with it.

Thank you

If at any point during the past 30 years you’ve bought or sold a home using a Windermere agent, you are a part of the Windermere Foundation too, and you’ve helped make a positive difference in your community. And for that, we thank you on behalf of everyone at Windermere.

If you would like to learn more about the Windermere Foundation, please visit windermerefoundation.com.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog. 

Home Seller Profits Hit 12-Year High

2018 was a milestone year.  According to the ATTOM Data Solutions 2018 U.S. Home Sales Report, home seller profits hit a12-year high – the highest level since 2006.

Our Market Ranked #3 in the Country

The Seattle/Bellevue/Tacoma area ranked #3 in seller return on investment for the entire country.  The remaining cities in the top five were all located in California.

While the local market has softened some since the beginning of the year, it’s still a great time to sell. Sales are up and there aren’t enough homes on the market to meet demand. Buyer interest is projected to be high throughout 2019.

Are you thinking about selling your home? Our brokers can provide you with a market analysis of homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood, and a plan for how you can get the best possible price for your property. Contact your Windermere realtor to get started! 

Are You Better Off Paying Your Mortgage Earlier or Investing Your Money?

Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments.

For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere.

The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.

Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier

  • You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution.

If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest.

If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier.

Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run.

  • Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment.
  • Enforced discipline: It takes real commitment to invest your money wisely each month instead of spending it elsewhere.

Your monthly mortgage payments are a form of enforced discipline since you know you can’t afford to miss them. It’s far easier to set a higher monthly payment towards your mortgage and stick to it than making regular investments on your own.

Besides, once your home is completely paid off, you can dedicate a larger portion of your income towards investments, your children or grandchildren’s education, or simply cut down on your working hours.

Advantages of investing your money

  • A greater return on your investment: The biggest reason why you should invest your money instead comes down to a simple, green truth: there’s more money to be made in investments.

Suppose that instead of dedicating an additional $200 towards your monthly mortgage payment, you decide to invest it in a conservative index fund which tracks S&P 500’s index. You start your investment today with $200 and add an additional $200 each month for the next 30 years. By the end of the term, if the index fund had a modest yield of 5% per year, you will have earned $91,739 in interest, and the total value of your investment would be $163,939.

If you think that 5% per year is a little too optimistic, all we have to do is see the S&P 500 performance between December 2002 and December 2012, which averaged an annual yield of 7.10%.

  • A greater level of diversification: Real estate has historically been one of the safest vehicles of investment available, but it’s still subject to market forces and changes in government policies. The forces that affect the stock and bonds markets are not always the same that affect real estate, because the former are subject to their issuer’s economic performance, while property values could change due to local events.

By putting your extra money towards investments, you are diversifying your investment portfolio and spreading out your risk. If you are relying exclusively on the value of your home, you are in essence putting all your eggs in one basket.

  • Greater liquidity: Homes are a great investment, but it takes time to sell a home even in the best of circumstances. So if you need emergency funds now, it’s a lot easier to sell stocks and bonds than a home.

Misael Lizarraga is a real estate writer with a passion for teaching real estate concepts to first time buyers and investors. He runs realestatecontentguy.com and is a contributing writer for several leading real estate blogs in North America.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog. 

Local Market Update – February 2019

January brought more good news for homebuyers. Prices were down, inventory was up and interest rates hovered near a nine-month low. Those factors drove more buyers into the market and resulted in an uptick in sales for the month. We’ll see how this transitioning market evolves as we head into the prime Spring home buying season.

Eastside

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The most expensive region in King County saw prices soften in January. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside dropped 3 percent over last January to $910,000. It’s an excellent time for buyers to leverage the cooling market and negotiate terms that work best for their needs. Last January, 39 percent of the homes in this area sold for over asking price. This January, that figure dropped to 12 percent. With its favorable business climate and high rankings for both economic growth and technology capabilities, demand on the Eastside is projected to remain strong.

King County

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January marked the first time home prices in King County decreased year-over-year in seven years. The median price of a single-family home was $610,0000, a drop of 3 percent over the prior year. Inventory more than doubled. Unlike recent months, this was due primarily to more people putting their homes on the market, as opposed to homes taking longer to sell. Despite the surge in listings there is just two months of available inventory, far short of what is needed to meet demand.

Seattle

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The median price of  a single-family home in the city was $711,500 in January, a decrease of 6 percent year-over-year. Despite a 107 percent increase in homes for sale compared to a year ago, Seattle continues to have the tightest inventory in King County with less than two months of supply. A booming economy that shows no signs of slowing continues to draw more people to the city. The area will have to significantly add more inventory to meet that growing demand.

Snohomish County

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The median price of a single-family home in January inched up 1 percent from last year to $455,000. That price is down from the median of $470,000 recorded in December.  Snohomish County also saw a surge in inventory with the number of homes on the market double of what it was last year at this time.