Category Archives: home ownership

A Look Back

As you may have heard, some parts of the Puget Sound have seen home prices drop over the past year. Real estate is a long-term investment, so even if there’s been a price drop, you likely still have a great return on your investment.

This table shows the median sales price in Seattle over the last 10 years. As property values increase, so does the equity of your home. That means if you’re thinking of selling, your investment could pay out!

Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email if you’d like to learn more or would like to know how much your home has appreciated.

Low Mortgage Rates = Buying Power

Mortgage rates are at their lowest since late 2016, last week nationwide around 3.6%. This is driving homeowners and buyers to their mortgage lenders, for both refinances and new home purchases.

As the chart below shows, just a one-half percent difference in your interest rate makes a huge difference in your monthly payment. For example, when purchasing an $800,000 home with 20% down, a half-point difference is $181/monthly, $2,172/annually, or $65,160 over the course of a 30-year loan.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a homebuyer, this is the time to get into the real estate market. With interest rates this low, you may be able to purchase more than you think.

If you’re a homeowner and considering a move, whether downsizing or to a new neighborhood or larger home, this is the time to do so. With interest rates so low, you’ll likely be able to afford more than you think.

If you’re a homeowner with no plans of selling in the next couple years and your interest rate is in the upper 4’s or higher, it might be worth talking to a lender about refinancing.

I have several excellent lenders that can help you determine what would be best in your situation, a refinance or a move. I would love to sit down and talk with you about your needs. Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email me to schedule a time to chat.

Seattle Q2 Market Update

Several things stand out when looking at market statistics for the 2nd quarter of 2019.

  • There are a lot more condos and single family homes for sale.
  • For both condos and single family homes, prices are still down from the peak of 2018.
  • Days on Market is down for condos and relatively stable for single family homes.

It is important to note that we hit the peak of the market in May/June 2018. We have had a market adjustment since then, primarily driven by increased inventory. However, for single family homes, we have around 2 months of inventory, meaning we are still in a market that favors the seller.

This increased inventory is great news for buyers who have more choice in finding a home. We have seen some return to multiple offers but not at the pace we saw over the past few years.

With condos, in June we had just over 3 months inventory. The condo market is being driven by more condo projects under construction and being announced, meaning that the inventory level for condos should continue to rise. The increase in the number of available condos is great for buyers and home affordability—condos usually allow for buyers to get into the market at a lower price than for single family homes. In fact, my first purchase of a residential property to live in was a condo as that was what I could afford back in 1995.

The best news for both buyers and sellers is that we’re at a 12 month low for interest rates which are under 4%.

For more information on buying or selling, please reach out to me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com or (206) 790-0081.

The Impact of Bedrooms on Price

In my experience I have found that most buyers are looking for a 3 or 4 bedroom home. They usually want 4 and often end up with 3. At the same time in working with sellers, I have found that a large proportion of the homes I list are 3 bedrooms. Does the number of bedrooms make a difference in the price you pay or receive?

YES!

I looked at sales of single family homes throughout the city of Seattle for the past 30 days and here’s what I found.

The 333 three-bedroom homes sold on average for $793,070 while the 192 four-bedroom homes sold for just over $1.1 million. I have to tell you while I expected there to be a difference, I did not expect to see a $300,000 difference.

For sellers, having or adding a 4th bedroom makes a huge difference. I listed a Phinney Ridge home last summer that was a 3 bedroom home. However, it had a fully finished room in the basement with large windows and heat. What it didn’t have was a closet. My clients spent a little money to create a closet, and now we had a 4 bedroom home. The room was staged as a guest room and looked great. (In most jurisdictions, the criteria to call a room a bedroom are: large window or exterior door for egress, a heat source, and a closet.)

If you’ve got a finished room that meets not all of the criteria for a bedroom, it might be worth a little money to make it a legal bedroom. Closets and heat are usually pretty easy to address. However, egress is not, so if there’s not a large window or the window is too high, this might not work for you.

For more information or to discuss the real estate market, give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

The First Thing You Should Do When You Buy a New Home

You’ve signed the closing documents and taken possession of your new home. Your real estate broker hands you the keys and you’re excited to move on in. But there’s one thing you should do as soon as you get those keys, and it’s not moving in. 

The first thing you should do is have the locks rekeyed!

You don’t know who still has keys to the property. The seller might have extras, the neighbor might have had a key for an emergency. Former roommates or adult children who have moved away may still have keys too. Contractors may have had access to a key as well. There have been countless people through the house while it was on the market, and while unlikely, a key could have been misplaced, stolen, or copied.

Rekeying is inexpensive and the best thing you can do to protect your investment, your personal property, and yourself. Even if you purchase a condo, you should have the front door rekeyed. With condos, you might have to have permission of the Homeowners Association and they may have a vendor they want you to use.

In rekeying, a locksmith comes to your home and changes out the barrels in your locks. They work onsite and will make as many new keys as you like. I have found that in the Seattle area, rekeying typically costs $100-$150 and includes 4-6 locks and includes a couple of keys.

Be careful and take this simple step to protect your home and yourself. For more information, contact me at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Increasing Net Worth Through Real Estate

The majority of American households own a primary residence, but did you know that homeowners have, in general, more net worth than their renter counterparts?

The National Association of REALTORS® tracks the relationship between renting, homeownership, and net worth. Every three years the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances to collect the data which is then analyzed.  In the most recent survey completed in 2016, the data showed that the median homeowners’ net worth ($231,000) was more than ti44mes that of the median renter ($5,200).

Equity in a home (the difference between what is owed on the mortgage and what the home may sell for in today’s market) is one of the biggest drivers of net worth.  When a renter pays rent, no equity is created for the renter – that goes straight to the landlord’s pocket! But when someone has purchased a home that monthly payment usually goes to paying down the loan, creating equity. The homeowner also receives the benefit of property appreciation – and if they don’t refinance, the principal and interest payment stays the same (assuming a fixed rate loan) whereas a renter may be faced with annual rent increases.

Of course, there are pros and cons to either renting or purchasing a home, and these should be considered before jumping into a home purchase. Appreciation and rental rates change from area to area and even neighborhood to neighborhood!

I would be happy to show you the possibilities. Please give me a call: (206) 790-0081 or send an email to Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Is It Time to Move? 6 Telltale Signs

Most people dread the thought of moving, yet those same people love it when they move. Why? Most likely it’s emotional attachment and nostalgia for a beloved home. It’s understandable but yet a home that just doesn’t fit your needs any longer can make even the most loved home uncomfortable. Are you wondering if it’s time to move? Here are 6 telltale signs that you should consider putting the “for sale” sign up in your front yard.

1. Your Home is Too Small – One of the most common signs is that you’ve outgrown your home.

2. Your Home is Too Large – Life changes! Empty nesters often find the home too large and it’s maintenance too much when they finally have time to travel and relax.

3. Your Home is Too Expensive – Are you spending all your extra cash making repairs or do you want major upgrades to suit your lifestyle? Are property taxes getting too high?

4. The Neighborhood is Losing Value – Neighborhoods do change over time, if yours is declining consider a move.

5. Changing the Weather – Have you finally tired of shoveling snow? A move to a warmer state could be the right move.

6. Change is Good – The last great reason to move is to try something new. Different style or location, if the home isn’t making you happy any longer, time to move.

Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com to discuss your real estate needs.

Help with Property Tax Bills

Homeowners in many Washington Counties, including King and Snohomish, will be receiving their property tax bills around Valentine’s Day. Your reaction may be, “Whoa, this is high, how am I ever going to pay this bill!”

If you are 60 years or older or are unable to work due to a disability and have a household income of less than $45,000/year, there are programs to help you reduce your property tax burden. For more information or to find out if you qualify, call the Property Tax Exemption Program for your county: King County: (206) 263-2324 Snohomish County: (425) 388-3540

Or perhaps you’ve been thinking that it might be time to move, whether to a new community, a smaller home or condo, or even assisted living. I am available to help you figure out what the next steps might be. I can help you understand what your home is worth, and if it would make sense for you financially to sell. I can also help you with the “where do I move to if I sell” concern.

For further information or to discuss your real estate needs, please give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

How Much Is My Home Worth

While we may have seen some lower prices in 2018, the following chart shows that we have had significant appreciation in the housing market in Seattle, King County, and Snohomish County since 2006. In King County prices have appreciated approximately 70%, Seattle 80%, and Snohomish County 51%. If you’d like to know appreciation rates for your community or would like a market analysis of your home, please reach out to me at 206-790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

The Danger of Waiting

Affordability is one of the major factors driving our real estate market. We saw an increase in interest rates in 2018 from around 4.15% in January to a high of nearly 5% in November and with the year ending around 4.55%. We expect that interest rates could reach 5.75% in 2019. What does this mean if you are considering buying a home (or selling and buying a new home)?

As interest rates increase, your buying power decreases. Let’s say your lender has qualified you for a home purchase of $700,000 with 20% down. Today your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. If rates rise as expected in 2019, the payment later this year at 5.5% would be $3,180, or $343/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $625,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 5% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $735,000 by year end. By waiting, you are likely to decrease the amount you can pay for a home.

If you’re considering buying a property this year, the time to move is now. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com so we can talk about your plans and needs. (The chart above shows you various principal and interest payments at different interest rates. However, you should talk with a lender to verify the accuracy of these numbers. I have several wonderful lenders who would be happy to speak with you.)