Category Archives: selling a home

2018 is NOT another 2008

People are asking if 2018 will be another 2008 for the real estate market. I emphatically answer NO! Here is why I don’t believe we’re headed for a major turn in the market.

There are many more protections for buyers/homeowners in the mortgage market. A large part of the 2008 crash was related to mortgages being given to people who could not afford those homes. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau instituted a rule that protects consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending by requiring lenders to ensure prospective buyers have the ability to repay their mortgage.

Additionally, housing starts are significantly below the need for 1.5 million units per year (top chart below). 2007 was the last year we met that goal. On the other hand, the homeownership rate is rebounding and is at its highest rate in three years (bottom chart below). These two statistics combined tell us that demand continues to outweigh supply. Our market will remain strong as long as we have the demand.

We are, however, seeing an adjustment in the market, please see last week’s post for that update.

For more information on the market or on buying or selling a home, please give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

 

Shift in the Market?

We are seeing a shift in the market, but it’s not a cause for alarm. This shift is a balancing. We have reached the point where prices have hit the top and now they’re settling down. A recent article from CityLab.com explains it well:

“Housing prices are cooking. Across the nation, the price of homes is rising faster than the rate of inflation—in some places by a factor of three. That’s true of high-cost cities such as Seattle and San Francisco and lower-cost cities such as Charlotte and Tampa alike. And the overheated market for homes is costing the middle class the American dream.

Nationwide, the price for homes is approaching the zenith seen in 2006, just before the market fell into a foreclosure crisis and the economy sank into the Great Recession. . . 

But there are key differences between the housing peak in 2006 and the housing peak today. This surge in housing prices is not necessarily evidence for a bubble—much less any indication that a bubble is about to burst.

Late in July, the S&P CoreLogic Case–Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index tracked a 6.4 percent annual gain in home prices for May 2018. This index has recorded year-over-year increases of at least 5 percent every month since August 2016—a sign of the strength of the recovery. . . . in Seattle, which saw a year-over-year price increase of 13.6 percent for May, home prices are already well above the 2006 high-water mark.

But since most workers aren’t earning 6 percent raises year after year, eventually this party has to come to an end. (Indeed, for four-fifths of privately employed workers, wages are actually falling.) Housing prices will stabilize or soften because they have nowhere else to go. The prevailing trend is unsustainable. “If something can’t go on forever, sooner or later it will end,” says David Blitzer, managing director for S&P Dow Jones Indices. With mortgage rates and prices rising, sales in both new homes and existing homes are starting to slow. ‘Either buyers have gone for the summer, because it’s too hot to look at housing, or they’re pausing to see what’s going on,’ Blitzer says. ‘If the pause continues, you’ll see sales go down.'”

And this is what we’re now seeing in Seattle. Most homes are not selling in 7 days and significantly above list price right now. I’m seeing a significant increase in price reductions and less multiple offer situations as well.

What does this mean for you? If you’re a buyer, this is all good news. It means you may be able to get into the market without a bidding war and having to look at homes significantly below your price point.

If you’re a seller, it’s not a time to panic. This shift is actually creating a healthier market. You probably will get less for your home than if you listed 6 months ago. But you probably will still have significant profits if you sell as prices are at record highs. We still have a significant shortage of housing so even with the increased inventory, demand still outweighs supply. Inventory levels are still under 2 months which means it’s a seller’s market – a balanced market would be 4-6 months, and a buyer’s market would be greater than 6 months.

As I’ve said often, there’s no crystal ball in real estate. In my predictions for 2018, I said price increases would slow down. In fact, year over year prices are still up about 11%. I also predicted interest rates would hit 5% before year-end; we have already hit this number which is reducing buying power for buyers.

If you’re thinking of buying, this is the time to get pre-approved and start your buying process. If you’re a seller, I’d be moving quickly to get your home on the market while prices are still at the peak. Please call me at 206-790-0081 or email me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com for a complimentary market analysis for your home.

Views, Garages, and Pools

When you’re looking to buy or sell a house, there are many features of the property that can affect value. Only an appraiser can fully put a value on items such as views or garages but here are my thoughts.

For sellers, you may think that a unique feature such as a sauna or swimming pool adds value, but that’s not always the case here in the Seattle area. If your home is in California, a pool does increase value. But most people in Seattle don’t want a pool, so having a pool might actually decrease the price you get for your home. Pools significantly increase the operating cost of the home and just aren’t used that much with our climate.

Garages, on the other hand, can add a lot of value. Trying to park in many of our neighborhoods is a challenge so off-street parking is a plus, and a garage to protect your car is a major benefit. Depending on your location and property, a garage can add around $50,000 to your home’s value. However, once you go beyond the 2-car garage, the additional value goes down – not that many people want 3, 4, or even 6 car garages (I saw one of those this weekend).

How do you quantify a view? It’s hard. In a condominium building, you could compare 2 units that are exactly the same, on the same floor, that sell at the same time, with one facing the Sound and the other not having a view. Those sales prices would give you an idea of the value of a view. But it’s rare we can make that comparison and with single family homes it’s even harder. Appraisers have formulas but there isn’t really a science to the calculations. How do trees or other homes affect the view?

Special features may add value but they may also take away value such as in the case of a pool. The best way to find out what the features of your home offer is to talk with a real estate broker or a home appraiser. Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com if you’d like to talk about your home’s features.

Marketing Plans

This morning I’ve been working on marketing plans for two different sellers, so I thought I’d share with you what goes into a plan.

First, no two plans are identical. Price range, location, timing, features of the home – all of this comes into consideration.

It all starts with pricing. I will do a market analysis to determine a recommended price range for your home. I don’t rely on automated values, but look at actual listings and sales, market activity, and market conditions. If we don’t price your home properly, no matter how great the marketing materials, it probably won’t sell. With our current market, you definitely don’t want to overprice your home.

The first thing I look at is if your home meets the criteria for Coldwell Banker Global Luxury. This is based on zip code and condition/features of the home. If your home qualifies, it will be included in Coldwell Banker’s luxury marketing materials.

Are staging and landscaping necessary for your home? We want your home to show at its best. All homes I list will have high definition professional photography, and then depending on many factors, some form of video. That video might be a video tour, a live walk-through video, a 3-D Matterport video, and/or a neighborhood video. Most listings will have drone photos as well.

The photos and video will be used for all the online marketing, including the listing itself and its syndication, social media, and websites. Photos will also be used for print marketing such as home flyers/brochures and mailings to neighbors and targeted buyers.

Most listings will have 3-4 open houses during the first week on market. I also network to my local sphere of real estate brokers.

Want to know what a marketing plan for your home might look like? Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email to chat.

Building Community. One Home at a Time.

You may have seen my tagline before – Building Community. One Home at a Time – and have wondered what does that actually mean.

My job or more specifically, my purpose in life through my job, is to help people with their housing needs, while enhancing and improving the quality of our community. I began my professional career in 1985 as a social worker with a similar purpose, and have incorporated that value into my real estate business. At the core of who I am I have 4 values:

  1. integrity and honesty
  2. social responsibility, charitable giving, and volunteerism
  3. service to the customer above all else
  4. excellence in reputation

I am implement these values in a host of ways. My dedication to each of my clients means that I focus on helping you achieve your goals and advise you on what’s in your best interest, not my best interest. My clients have given me stellar reviews because of my drive, commitment, and focus on helping them with their housing needs, all with the highest level of integrity and ethics.

I also strive to make a difference in our community. I volunteer with numerous organizations and every closed sale results in a charitable contribution.

My reputation is important to me, and I hope that as a result of your past experience working with me or with the impression I have given you, that you would trust me to help you, your family, your friends, and your colleagues with their real estate needs. I appreciate your sharing my contact information with others and letting me know how I can help.

There are many ways to learn more and to reach out to me:

Most Homes Sell At or Above List Price

Hot off the press, here are some highlights of the May housing market:

  • The median sales price for a single family home in Seattle in May was $802,000. For condos it was $529,500. Combined, we saw a 17.3% increase in the median sales price from May 2017.
  • Inventory improved in May and for the first time in a long time, we have more than 1 months supply of housing (1.1 at the end of May). There’s still a long way to go to get this to the 4-6 months necessary for a balanced market.

The most impressive statistic for May is this one – 84% of properties sold at or above list price! (26% sold at list, 58% above.) That tells us that it is likely that 6 out of 10 listings received multiple offers.

If you’re a seller, it’s the time to sell. If inventory continues to increase, we may start seeing smaller increases in sales prices and less competition. If you’re a buyer,  let’s get you into a home.

Give me a call/text at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com and let’s talk about your real estate needs.

How Many Offers Does it Take?!

It’s a tough market out there for buyers. With demand for housing seriously outweighing supply, buyers are competing on most listings, and losing out on many.

The most offers I’ve had to write for a client was 2 years ago, when it took 8. I’ve heard of buyers who have submitted in the double digits.

Right now I have 2 sets of buyers who are on the offer roller coaster. One set has submitted 4. The other 2 (and we’re waiting to hear on the 2nd). It’s frustrating. You find a house you love and want to buy, but end up competing with 26 other offers (yes, last week buyer set 1 was one of 27 offers). You move on, but then you go through it again. What to do? Here are some tips I offer to buyers:

  • Know the numbers. You know what your maximum you can spend is. But also know the market numbers. If homes are selling 10-20% above list price, you should be looking at properties listed 10-20% below your maximum.
  • Have your financing lined up, and make sure your lender has taken you all the way through underwriting (except for a property address). Have a local lender who is available on the weekends.
  • Look at homes that have been on the market for more than 10 days. These are less likely to receive multiple offers. In this case, you might be able to look at homes at or slightly above your maximum as you might be able to get an offer accepted below list price.
  • Think about what you can compromise on. Could you go a few miles farther out? Is having a garage more important than getting a house? Don’t restrict yourself to fenced yards, you could put a fence in yourself.

For more ideas on how to compete or to talk about the real estate market, please call/text me at 206-790-0081 or email me.

April Inventory Report

Spring is here and there are more homes coming on the market!!! While we did see an increase in listings in April over April 2017, we still have a severe shortage of properties for sale. If you’re considering selling, now is the time to talk. Give me a call/text at 206-790-0081 or email and find out what your home is worth today.

Moving Tips

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to be putting together a handout on moving tips. There are so many steps to moving besides packing the boxes, from changes of address to preparing your new home for your pets.

This week I’m going to share the experience of a friend who moved recently. Don’t pack your important documents in a box – instead carry them with you!

This friend finished her move on a Saturday and then realized she was missing some boxes. She looked everywhere including driving back to her old place and could not find those boxes anywhere. The missing boxes included copies of her tax returns and boxes of checks, among other things. She was freaking out because if someone took her boxes, they might be able to steal her identity. Important documents such as credit cards, checks, financial records, passports, wills, etc. should be carried with you for the move, not placed in the truck.

My friend got lucky, someone found her boxes and put them in a safe place. She got them back unopened, after having a sleepless Saturday night.

Moral of the Story: Important documents such as credit cards, checks, financial records, passports, wills, etc. should be carried with you for the move, not placed in the truck. Also, inventory your boxes so you know how many went into the truck and how many came out.

Do you have a moving tip or story to share? Email it to Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com and it might make the Moving Tips Handout or show up on the Blog.

 

Tri-County Market Report

March statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service were released last week and showed that we are continuing to see substantial price increases.

Prices overall are up about 13.2 percent from a year ago, and even more so in the four-county Puget Sound region. Among these four counties, Kitsap had the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, but King County homes are still the priciest. The median price for last month’s sales of single family homes and condos combined in King County is $625,000, up 17.9 percent from a year ago. For single family homes, excluding condos, the median price for last month’s sales was $689,950. Year-over-year prices are up more than 18 percent in Pierce County and about 14.3 percent in Snohomish County.

We have returned to an extremely intense market for each new listing due to extremely strong job growth and eager buyers who want to purchase before interest rates go higher. We are witnessing high levels of sales activity intensity for each new listing coming on the market.

Until we see more inventory on the market, expect home prices to continue to increase. For more information on the market, contact me at 206-790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.