Tag Archives: interest rates

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.

Why You Should Buy a House (or Condo) NOW!

I’m not a fan of Fox News, but this story sums up why you should buy NOW!

Mortgage rates have steadily declined with the 30-year fixed-rate bottoming out to 3.82 percent, its lowest level since September 2017, according to the latest figures from Freddie Mac.

Interest rates are about a one percentage point less than it was this time last year … that’s a 10 percent savings on a 30-year mortgage a month.

Lower interest rates, coupled with more inventory in the market, makes the time to buy NOW.

If you’re considering buying a property, let’s talk; give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Market Update

The May housing market was hot. Not as hot as a year ago, but still at it’s strongest for 2019. In fact, in King County 70% of single-family homes sold in 15 days or less and 55% of single-family homes sold at or above list price.

With interest rates at the lowest they’ve been in over a year, at just under 4%, buyers are seeing that this is a great time to be in the market. One lender told me recently that she locked a client into a 30-year fixed loan at 3.75%.

You might have seen a news story recently that Tacoma is the hottest housing market in the Country. It’s not surprising that buyers are going further to find affordable properties – an analysis of NWMLS inventory at the end of May shows only 13.8% of the listings of single-family homes in King County had asking prices under $600,000. That compares to 25.6% in Snohomish County, 31.2% in Pierce County and 35.3% in Kitsap County.

King County prices for single-family homes show a 3.6% decline from a year ago, but are at the highest level ($699,998) since June 2018 when the median price was $715,000. Snohomish nearly matched last year, the highest for the year as well. 

For more information on the market or your particular city or neighborhood, please reach out to me at (206) 790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

It’s a Great Time for Buyers

If you’re considering whether it’s the right time to buy a property, the answer is definitely yes! There is a lot of inventory on the market right now, so that means that there is less competition among buyers. And interest rates have dropped substantially and are the lowest they’ve been in around a year, meaning your money will go further.

Whether it’s a condo, townhome, or house you’re considering, let’s talk about your buying needs. You can reach me at (206) 790-0081 or Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

What’s Going on With the Market

The greater Seattle real estate market continues to show signs of a healthier, balanced market. While prices were down in January, we began to see the return of multiple offer situations. A lot of homes that were sitting on the market for a long period of time (60+ days) went pending, which is a good sign, but also shows why our Days on Market increased significantly in January. For example, in Seattle 364 single family homes sold in January for an average of 53 days on market. Of those 364, 110 sold in 0-14 days, 44 15-29 days, 66 in 30-59 days, and 144 in 60+ days. 

What this is telling us is that homes that have been priced properly are still selling quickly and that homes that have been sitting on the market have either had price reductions or sellers have accepted lower offers in order to get their homes sold. We see this when we look at sales to list price ratio, which at 98.1% for Seattle in January, means that sellers are taking lower offers. Additionally, with so much of the older inventory selling, we are seeing less homes available on the market, and with inventory low, the market still favors the seller.

Pricing properly is the key to getting your hold sold quickly and when you work with me, I will be analyzing the market daily to determine the best price at which to list your property.

For buyers, interest rates seem to have settled down, and even gone down a little. The Fed has said they don’t plan on raising interest rates again for awhile. This, coupled with lower sales prices, means it’s a great time for you to get in the market. 

For additional information or for a complimentary market analysis of your home, please call or text: (206) 790-0081 or send an email to Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com

Year in Review and Predictions for 2019

There were three themes that drove the real estate market in 2018—Supply, Demand, and Affordability. Although these are always at play, the increased pressure from all three were intense in 2018 and will continue throughout 2019. Let’s look at what makes up each of these areas and how they will impact the market in 2019. Our market did cool down in 2018, but not to the extreme that you may have heard in the media. In fact, as we look at year over year statistics from 2017 to 2018, prices were up 8.1% in King County and 10.1% in Snohomish County.

The big change we saw was an increase in inventory, yet we are still solidly in a sellers’ market with inventory at 1.7 months in King County and 1.5 months in Snohomish. A sellers’ market has less than 4-6 month in inventory.

As we look at Supply, Demand, and Affordability with these statistics in mind, we see that affordability is the most significant factor at play.

Supply – There are only three ways we get new inventory – existing resale homes, new homes, and foreclosures. The number of years we are staying in our homes has reached an all-time high of 10 years which is one of the main contributors to the inventory shortage (plugging up the resale pipeline). However, another contributor – and this is a big one – is the continued lack of new construction. We also don’t have many foreclosures to add to our inventory levels. Therefore, all three inventory supply sources are drying up instead of flowing.

Demand – Our economy is humming along. Unemployment is at almost historic lows, GDP is up, Consumer Confidence is up and Millennials are ready to buy. Therefore, demand has been high and will continue to be so. If it wasn’t for the affordability issues we are experiencing, Millennials would be buying up a storm.

Affordability – High demand for housing is causing prices to soar out of a comfortable price range for buyers. The cost for builders to build (land, labor, materials, and regulatory demands) are all rising at a pace that makes new construction less affordable. Interest rates are on the rise. All of these factors affect affordability and home sales.

These three factors are in a push-pull relationship which was very evident this past year when home prices peaked in May. The market then quickly reacted with an adjustment in inventory. There was an initial surge of new listings concurrent with a moment in which buyers had had enough and affordability reached a tipping point. That surge caused buyers to step back and assess the situation instead of moving forward, which caused another moment in which sellers were ready to sell but buyers were no longer willing to pay the inflated prices. Buyers figured out quickly that the market had hit its peak and they did not want to buy at the peak of the market. This led to even more inventory coming on the market with demand pausing as supply surged. Now that surge is receding – sellers who couldn’t get the price they wanted are taking their properties off the market and savvy buyers are working with sellers, allowing both parties to make their next move.

What can we expect in 2019?:

Housing Inventory – I believe the inventory surge that we will begin the year with will be absorbed as sellers get realistic about their prices or take their homes off the market. We will then see the spring and summer return to a more reduced inventory market. I expect buyers to also hop back into the market, trying to capitalize on interest rates that are expected to rise throughout 2019.

Housing Starts/New Construction – Our builders have not been able to keep up with the demand for new construction. Historically, we have needed 1.5 million units each year. That has recently increased to 1.62 million units. However, we are only on target to build 1.25 million units this year and next which means we are continuing to add to our deficit. Local issues in many areas such as zoning and water rights are also capping new construction opportunity. The cost of building supplies, labor, land, and regulation are causing problems for our builders and I expect these problems to worsen in 2019.

Home Price Growth – In Western Washington, we saw year-over-year median sales price grow 9.1% to $409,752, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), and you can see from the charts on page 1 and this page how prices changed in King and Snohomish Counties as well as Seattle and Edmonds. Since I expect the pace of our market to downshift after the spring (with more balanced inventory than last year), I predict that median sales prices will continue to grow but at a smaller pace.

Interest Rates – The Federal Reserve has been trying to return the country to neutral for interest rates. The Fed raised interest rates in December but said they are not sure what they will do in 2019. I do expect that rates may rise as high as 5.75% by year-end. Rates had been as high as 4.94% last November for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, but the rate slid back and as of December it was at 4.63%.

There are several “wild card” issues in 2019 which could affect the real estate market in a way that cannot be foreseen. Issues such as immigration reform, political uncertainty, the national debt, global issues such as Brexit, possible trade wars, and even the true impact of the tax reform changes may cause shifts in the real estate market that are unpredictable. That being said, I am excited for what 2019 has in store!

For additional information and how these issues may affect you, please call or text: (206) 790-0081 or send an email to 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.)

Selling Your Home in the Winter

Many prospective sellers feel they should wait for spring to sell their home. They feel this way because of the seasonal downturn in the market and because homes don’t look as good without exterior flowers and plants and the general grayness of our part of the country. However, there are several good reasons to list your home during the winter. The most serious buyers will still be out there – those that need to buy because of job relocation or need different space. And inventory is at it’s lowest, giving buyers fewer choices, so your home will stand out more. Mortgage rates are increasing, so buyers may have greater buying power earlier in the year.

To sell your home in the winter, there are some key things to do. Keep your home warm and cozy – buyers need to be comfortable when they come in the house and the warmer it is, the more likely they’ll stay longer. Leave lights on and shades open to keep the home bright. Make sure the yard stays neat and the roof is clean. Stage the home and have professional photographs that show off the home at its best.

Thinking about listing your home this winter or spring. Give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email to discuss a complimentary market analysis and marketing plan for your home.

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.