Home Prices Hit New Records: Take Advantage Of Your Equity

The Great Recession took its toll on housing prices, with home values declining throughout the country.  Since then, prices have rebounded. While many areas of the U.S. are not back to pre-crash levels, home values in Washington State have increased significantly.

Homeowners here have the second highest appreciation rate in the country.

The economists at CoreLogic recently released a special report entitled Evaluating the Housing Market Since the Great Recession. In the five-year period from 2012 to 2017, home prices in Washington have appreciated 57 percent. The national average was 37.4 percent.
The map below was created to show the 5-year appreciation from December 2012 to December 2017 by state.

Take advantage of your increased home equity.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, now is an excellent time to take advantage of your sharp increase in equity. Today’s market very strongly favors sellers, so you can expect to get the best possible price for your property. It’s also not uncommon today for the buyer to accommodate your needs as you look for another home.

How Tax Reform Affects Homeowners…What You Need to Know!

House on a US tax form schedule A
New tax legislation was signed into law at the end of 2017, and it included some significant changes for homeowners. These changes took effect in 2018 and do not influence your 2017 taxes.  Here’s a brief overview of this year’s tax changes and how they may affect you.  
 
The amount of mortgage interest you can deduct has decreased.
 
Under the old law taxpayers could deduct the interest they paid on a mortgage of up to $1 million. The new law reduces the mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $750,000.
These changes do not affect mortgages taken out before December 15, 2017.
 
The home equity loan deduction has been changed.
 
The IRS states that despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted December 22, suspends the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. The deduction would be suspended from 2018 until 2026.
 
The property tax deduction is capped at $10,000.
 
Previously taxpayers could deduct all the state, local and foreign real estate taxes they paid with no cap on the amount. The new law limits the deduction for all state and local taxes – including income, sales, real estate, and personal property taxes – to $10,000.
 
The casualty loss deduction has been repealed.
 
Previously, homeowners could deduct unreimbursed casualty, disaster and theft losses on their property. That deduction has been repealed, with an exception for losses on property located in a federally declared disaster area – an important victory!
 
The capital gains exclusion remains unchanged.
 
Homeowners can continue to exclude up to $500,000 for joint filers or $250,000 for single filers for capital gains when selling their primary residence as long as they have lived in the home for two of the past five years. An earlier proposal would have increased that requirement to five out of the last eight years and phase out the exclusion for high-income households, but it was struck down.
 
   
How does tax reform affect your plans for buying or selling a home?
 
The changes in real estate related taxes may change your strategy. Contact one of our agents to go over your options and answer any questions you may have.

2018 Housing Forecast: Where are we headed?

2018 Housing Forecast
What lies ahead for the local housing market in 2018? We sat down with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner to get his thoughts. Here are some highlights:

Home prices will continue to increase, but at a slower pace

The strong local economy, high demand and very low inventory will continue to boost home values in 2018, according to Gardner. However, he believes that the double-digit growth of 2017 will moderate, and predicts home prices in King County will rise by 8.5% in the new year.

Mortgage interest rates will rise slightly.

Gardner admits that interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The rise that many economists have predicted the past few years has yet to materialize. His forecast for 2018 sees interest rates increasing modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

More Millennials will enter the housing market.

Despite the relatively high cost of homes in our region, Gardner expects more Millennials to buy homes in 2018. They are getting older and more established in their careers, enabling them to save more money for a down payment. Many are also having children and are looking for a place to raise their family.

The tax reform bill will have a limited effect on our housing market.

The recent changes to the income tax structure will have an impact on homeowners, but Gardner does not believe that impact will be significant here.

    • The mortgage interest rate deduction will be capped at $750,000 – down from $1,000,000. But according to Gardner, just 4% of the mortgages in King County exceeded $750,000 in 2017. Most buyers of more expensive homes have been making larger down payments, or buying homes for cash.
    • Since the $1,000,000 mortgage deduction cap is grandfathered in for those who have already purchased a home, some homeowners may opt to stay put rather than move. That could result in fewer homes being placed on the market.
    • The tax bill eliminates the deduction for interest on home equity loans. This is bound to slow down the trend of homeowners choosing to remodel their home rather than trying to find a new home our inventory-deprived market.

Bottom Line

The increase in home prices may moderate, but inventory will still be very tight. 2018 is on track to be a strong seller’s market.

Seattle Area Popular With Residents & Outsiders

It seems like a tale as old as time. Many people are wanting to move to Seattle, but no one else really wants to leave. This leads to our favorite real estate headline for the last several years: inventory is low, prices are rising.

Seattle-based Zillow recently analyzed searches on their website and compared the location of its users with the cities in which they are searching. They used this information to create a chart of the most desirable cities based on their popularity with outsiders and current residents.

Image via Zillow

Unsurprisingly, Seattle ranked high in the category “Residents Want To Stay, Outsiders Want In” with about 70 percent of current residents continuing to search here.

What does this mean for the Eastside?

It isn’t just our breathtaking scenery and active lifestyles making the Seattle area’s population grow by nearly 1,000 residents per week over the last several years. Our strong economy and plentiful technology jobs are enticing newcomers. Some areas on the Eastside even have higher home prices and carry some pretty stiff competition.

If you are ready to buy or sell your home, make sure you get in touch with a Windermere Real Estate broker on the Eastside. Our expertise can help you purchase your dream home, or sell your current home at top dollar.

View the full study from Zillow or read the report from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The Perfect Storm for Home Sellers

perfect-storm-header2

Thinking of listing your home? Sellers today stand to benefit from a perfect storm of market conditions that are delivering the greatest possible return on investment.

  • Record-Low Inventory: Fewer than 1,600 single-family homes were on the market in King County last month, an all-time low.
  • Record High Prices: Prices are at historic highs, and are rising faster than anywhere else in the country.


So, why not just wait and see if prices go even higher?

Just like with the stock market, it’s impossible to time the housing market. However, experts have predicted price increases to slow this year, and prices here are already showing signs of moderating.

In addition, interest rates are expected to go up this year. A majority of the members of the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting board predict there will be three more increases coming in 2017. These increases will cause mortgage rates to rise, which means buyers will only qualify for less expensive homes. This reduced purchasing power starts slowing buyer demand.

It’s the perfect time to list your home. Are ready to get started?

A Windermere Real Estate broker can prepare a valuation of your home based on current market conditions, walk you through the process, and answer any questions you may have. Contact your broker today to get started.