Local Market Update – October 2018

It appears that balance is slowly returning to the local housing market. Home price growth slowed in September. Inventory continued to climb, but is still far short of the four to six months that indicate a normal market. Homes are staying on the market longer, giving buyers the breathing room to make the right choice for their situation.  With our region’s healthy job growth, and demand still exceeding supply, it’s likely to take some time to move to a fully balanced market.

Eastside

>>>Click image to view full report.

Home price increases moderated into the single-digits in September. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was up 4 percent from the same time last year to $890,0000 but down from a median price of $935,000 in August. Inventory increased significantly and price drops jumped. While the market is softening, the recent expanded presence of Google and Facebook on the Eastside means demand should stay strong.  In addition, the area’s excellent school system continues to be a large draw for buyers both locally and internationally.

King County

>>>Click image to view full report.

Inventory was up 68 percent year-over-year in King County due to a higher number of sellers listing their homes and fewer sales.  There is now more than two months of inventory in the county, a number we haven’t seen in nearly four years. Despite the increase, there is a long way to go to reach the four to six months of inventory that is considered balanced.  In September, the median price of a single-family home was $668,000; an increase of 7 percent from the same time last year and virtually unchanged from August.

Seattle

>>>Click image to view full report.

Inventory in Seattle surged in September from a year ago. Only San Jose, CA saw the number of homes for sale rise faster than Seattle last month. The median home price in September was $775,000. Up slightly from the $760,000 median price in August and a 7 percent increase from last year. The double-digit price growth of past years appear to be waning and overzealous sellers who listed their homes at unrealistically high prices have been forced to reduce them. Bidding wars have declined and the typical well-priced house is now selling right at asking price.

Snohomish County

>>>Click image to view full report.

While not nearly as dramatic as the case in King County, inventory in Snohomish County was up 40 percent. The area has just over two months of inventory with home prices moderating. The median price of a single-family home increased 8 percent over a year ago to $485,000. That’s down from the $492,000 median reached in August and $26,000 less than the peak of the market reached in spring.

How to Acquire the Right Appraisal for Your Home

Appraisals are designed to protect buyers, sellers, and lending institutions. They provide a reliable, independent valuation of a tract of land and the structure on it, whether it’s a house or a skyscraper. Below, you will find information about the appraisal process, what goes into them, their benefits and some tips on how to help make an appraisal go smoothly and efficiently.

Appraised value vs. market value

The appraised value of a property is what the bank thinks it’s worth, and that amount is determined by a professional, third-party appraiser. The appraiser’s valuation is based on a combination of comparative market sales and inspection of the property.

Market value, on the other hand, is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home or what homes of comparable value are selling for. A home’s appraised value and its market value are typically not the same. In fact, sometimes the appraised value is very different. An appraisal provides you with an invaluable reality check.

If you are in the process of setting the price of your home, you can gain some peace-of-mind by consulting an independent appraiser. Show him comparative values for your neighborhood, relevant documents, and give him a tour of your home, just as you would show it to a prospective buyer.

What information goes into an appraisal?

Professional appraisers consult a range of information sources, including multiple listing services, county tax assessor records, county courthouse records, and appraisal data records, in addition to talking to local real estate professionals.

They also conduct an inspection. Typically an appraiser’s inspection focuses on:

  • The condition of the property and home, inside and out
  • The home’s layout and features
  • Home updates
  • Overall quality of construction
  • Estimate of the home’s square footage (the gross living area “GLA”; garages and unfinished basements are estimated separately)
  • Permanent fixtures (for example, in-ground pools, as opposed to above-ground pools)

After considering all such information, the appraiser arrives at three different dollar amounts – one for the value of the land, one for the value of the structure, and one for their combined value. In many cases, the land will be worth more than the structure.

One thing to bear in mind is that an appraisal is not a substitute for a home inspection. An appraiser does a cursory assessment of a house and property. For a more detailed inspection, consult with a home inspector and/or a specialist in the area of concern.

Who pays and how long does it take?

The buyer usually pays for the appraisal unless they have negotiated otherwise. Depending on the lender, the appraisal may be paid in advance or incorporated into the application fee; some are due on delivery and some are billed at closing. Typical costs range from $275-$600, but this can vary from region to region.

An inspection usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the size and complexity of your property. In addition, the appraiser spends time pulling up county records for the values of the houses around you. A full report comes to your loan officer, a real estate agent or lender within about a week.

If you are the seller, you won’t get a copy of an appraisal ordered by a buyer. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, however, the buyer has the right to get a copy of the appraisal, but they must request it. Typically the requested appraisal is provided at closing.

What if the appraisal is too low?

If your appraisal comes in too low it can be a problem. Usually, the seller’s and the buyer’s real estate agents respond by looking for recent and pending sales of comparable homes. Sometimes this can influence the appraisal. If the final appraisal is well below what you have agreed to pay, you can renegotiate the contract or cancel it.

Where do you find a qualified appraiser?

Your bank or lending institution will find and hire an appraiser; Federal regulatory guidelines do not allow borrowers to order and provide an appraisal to a bank for lending purposes. If you want an appraisal for your own personal reasons and not to secure a mortgage or buy a homeowner’s insurance policy, you can do the hiring yourself. You can contact your lending institution and they can recommend qualified appraisers and you can choose one yourself or you can call your local Windermere Real Estate agent and they can make a recommendation for you. Once you have the name of some appraisers you can verify their status on the Federal Appraisal Subcommittee website.

Tips for hassle-free appraisals:

  • What can you do to make the appraisal process as smooth and efficient as possible? Make sure you provide your appraiser with the information he or she needs to get the job done. Get out your important documents and start checking off a list that includes the following:
  • A brief explanation of why you’re getting an appraisal
  • The date you’d like your appraisal to be completed
  • A copy of your deed, survey, purchase agreement, or other papers that pertain to the property
  • If you have a mortgage, your lender, the year you got your mortgage, the amount, the type of mortgage (FHA, VA, etc.), your interest rate, and any additional financing you have
  • A copy of your current real estate tax bill, statement of special assessments, balance owing and on what (for example, sewer, water)
  • Tell your appraiser if your property is listed for sale and if so, your asking price and listing agency
  • Any personal property that is included
  • If you’re selling an income-producing property, a breakdown of income and expenses for the last year or two and a copy of leases
  • A copy of the original house plans and specifications
  • A list of recent improvements and their costs
  • Any other information you feel may be relevant

By doing your homework, compiling the information your appraiser needs, and providing it at the beginning of the process, you can minimize unnecessary phone calls and delays and get the information you need quickly and satisfactorily!

This post originally appeared on the Windermere blog.

Local Market Update – September 2018

The number of homes for sale in August increased dramatically over the same time a year ago. This is the result of a moderate increase in new listings and a much slower pace of sales. Homes are staying on the market longer, giving buyers more choices and more time to make an informed decision.  While home prices are up compared to a year ago, the rate of increase was in the single digits rather than the double-digit surges of past months. It’s still a seller’s market, but sellers need to have realistic expectations about pricing their homes as the market softens.

Eastside

>>>Click image to view full report.

The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was up nearly 10 percent from the same time last year to $935,000. Home prices have declined each month from the all-time high of $977,759 set in June. Inventory increased 73 percent over last August. With supply soaring and home prices moderating, sellers need to work with their broker to price their home to meet the current market conditions. A year ago 47 percent of the homes on the Eastside sold for over list price. This August that number was down to 29 percent.

King County

>>>Click image to view full report.

King County experienced yet another flood of inventory with the number of homes for sale jumping 65 percent over the previous year. Despite the growth, the county has just 1.9 months of inventory and remains a seller-oriented market. The market has slowed but it remains fast-paced, with 62 percent of the properties here selling in fewer than 15 days.  While home prices were up 3 percent from a year ago, the median price of $669,000 represented the third straight month of declines from the record-high of $726,275 reached in May.

Seattle

>>>Click image to view full report.

After leading the nation in home price growth for nearly two years, Seattle is finally cooling off.  The median home price in August was $760,000, up just 4 percent from last year and down from the record $830,000 reached in May.  Inventory soared in August, but the city still has just two months of supply, far short of the four to six months that is considered balanced.  Bidding wars are becoming less common and price drops more common. Sellers must adjust their expectations to what appears to be a long waited moderating of the market.

Snohomish County

>>>Click image to view full report.

Mirroring the market slowdown in King County, Snohomish County also experienced a cooling off in August. The median price of a single-family home was $492,000, up 8 percent from a year ago but down from the record high of $511,000 two months prior. Inventory increased nearly 30 percent, but at just 1.6 months of supply the market remains very tight and sales are brisk. Sixty percent of homes here sold within 15 days.

What You Need to Know About the US Luxury Housing Market

Posted in Luxury by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate 

Photo courtesy of West Bellevue Partners | MLS # 1324889

Luxury homes sales across the U.S. continue to perform strongly, but I’m noticing some headwinds starting to appear that are worthy of a closer look.

It’s often thought that luxury real estate runs totally independent of the overall market, and while this is true in some respects, there are definitely correlations between high-end housing and the rest of the market.

The first similarity is that the luxury market has suffered from some the same inventory constraints that are almost endemic across all price points in the U.S. But, similar to the overall market, we are starting to see a rise in inventory, which should be good news for real estate agents and luxury home buyers alike.

Impact of rising inventory 

This increase in the number of luxury homes for sale has started to have a tapering effect on price growth, which again, is similar to what we’re seeing in the rest of the market. But as real estate professionals, we know full well that all housing is local and some markets are performing far better than others.

For example, luxury markets in Maui, Northern California, Colorado, and Sarasota, Florida, are all experiencing substantial price growth, while there are noticeable slowdowns in many parts of New York and New Jersey. Even Queens and Jersey City, which have continued to benefit from high demand, have seen price growth stall recently, indicating that those markets could be losing some steam.

Why the slowdown? 

The slowing of luxury sales in certain areas around the country piqued my interest, so I decided to explore why this is happening. The first thing I noticed is that cities with high property taxes are fairly prevalent on the list of slowing markets; this includes cities like Boston, Austin, New York City, and Chicago. It is likely that the federal tax changes limiting the deductibility of property taxes are the culprit for such slowdowns in these areas.

Something else that has undoubtedly impacted luxury home sales in markets, such as New York City and Seattle, is the significant decline in foreign buyers from countries like China and Canada. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of purchases by international buyers fell by 21 percent between 2017 and 2018, amounting to a drop of $32 billion – the largest decline on record.  Foreign buyers spent $121 billion on 266,754 properties, making up 8 percent of the buyers of existing (previously lived in) homes.

My research tells me that foreign home buyers are pulling back amid political uncertainty in the U.S. Ongoing concerns about a potential trade war, combined with rhetoric against foreigners, have done their part to dampen some of the enthusiasm to invest in U.S. housing. Also playing a role in this slowdown is the Chinese Central Government which has started placing tighter controls on the ability to spend money outside of mainland China. And finally, rising home prices and a strong U.S. dollar are likely two other key factors behind the tumbling interest in luxury real estate from overseas buyers.

So how do I see the luxury market performing in 2019?

Luxury real estate sales in markets like Boston, Clearwater, Austin, and Alexandria, Virginia will continue to slow down for the reasons stated earlier, but in other parts of the country, home buyers will provide the demand needed to keep the market plugging along at a healthy pace.

The changes affecting mortgage interest deductions and property taxes will also continue to impact the luxury market in certain areas, but this will, to a degree, be offset by other tax changes that favor high-income households and increase their disposable income. Something else that will help keep the luxury real estate market afloat in the coming year is jumbo mortgage interest rates which remain remarkably competitive compared to historic standards.

On a whole, high-end real estate sales have been strong over the past few years. While I am predicting somewhat of a slowdown next year given the headwinds discussed earlier, 2019 will be remembered as a year where balance started to return to the luxury housing market.

Mr. Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

This post originally appeared on the Windermere Blog.

What’s Really Happening in the Housing Market?

Our housing market is finally cooling a bit, from scorching hot to slightly-less-sweltering. While some alarmists are talking bubble or impending crisis, the statistics tell a different story. The market does appear to be shifting, and that’s good news! The steep price increases of the past few years are not sustainable, and also risk pricing buyers out of the market altogether.

Where The Market Is Today

  • Inventory is up, but still far short of demand. Despite a considerable increase in inventory, King County has just six weeks of supply. Four to six months of inventory is what is considered a balanced market, and we’re far short of that.
  • Homes are staying on the market a bit longer. New listings have increased in the past few months, but the increase in inventory is primarily due to homes staying on the market longer. With buyers accustomed to homes being snapped up in days, “longer” is a relative term. Homes in King County are taking an average of 15 days to sell.
  • Prices appear to be moderating. While home prices are up compared to a year ago, the rate of increase is in the single digits rather than the double-digit surges of past months. Prices are down 4 percent from the record high reached this spring.

What This Means For The Housing Market

  • The shift towards slower, consistent appreciation will result in a healthier market.    
  • Buyers have more choices and more time to make an informed decision.
  • It’s still a seller’s market, but sellers need to have realistic expectations about pricing their homes as the market softens.
  • More inventory is still needed to meet demand. 

Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling, it’s important to have the most current information about the market. Our Windermere brokers can provide you with statistics about today’s market and answer any questions you may have.