Tag Archives: real estate

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.

Just Listed on Phinney Ridge

Just one block from Green Lake and three from the restaurants and shops of Phinney Ridge, this home offers all that you’re looking for.

  • 4 bedrooms, including a master on the main floor and 2 ¼ bathrooms
  • Master bedroom has large walk-in closet designed by California Closets and includes a washer/dryer hook-up
  • 2,370 square foot home on a 4,960 square foot lot
  • 10-year-old roof
  • Seismic retrofitted
  • New sewer line in 2013
  • Rainwater collection system
  • Beautiful gardens
  • Large 2-car garage with a 3rd off street parking spot, all accessed from the alley
  • Copper plumbing
  • Most windows are double pane
  • Basement is largely unfinished but offers good ceiling height and the potential for a rec or media room

Offers will be reviewed upon receipt and the sellers have already conducted a home inspection.

Upcoming Open Houses
Sunday, August 5: 1:00pm-4:00pm
Monday, August 6: 11:30am-1:30pm & 5:00pm-7:00pm
Wednesday, August 8: 11:30am-1:30pm & 5:00pm-7:00pm

(If the home has not sold by August. 10, open houses will be held on Saturday and/or Sunday, August 11 and 12.)

Or call for a private showing.

For more information, download a flyer or check it out here.

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.

Just Sold

One of the things I love most about my job is helping first-time home buyers find their dream home. Last week Sarah and Mike closed on their dream house, a rambler in Shoreline with mid-century features in the living room and an incredible backyard.

We looked at countless condos, townhomes, and single family homes. They lost out on 3 other offers. One of the things I do when I’m out with buyers is watch their non-verbal responses to a property. When Sarah and Mike walked into this one, I saw a response I hadn’t seen previously – of joy and relaxation – and I knew we had found the home for them.

This home did not have an offer review date and had only been on the market for 3 days. Time to move quickly. We wrote an offer above list price with an inspection contingency (which was great because they had already paid for a couple pre-inspections where they didn’t get the house). The lender quickly sent me a pre-approval letter. And voila, Sarah and Mike got the house.

Congratulations to the new homeowners! May you have years and years of joy in your new home.

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.

The American Dream

As we begin this week where we celebrate America’s birthday, I thought I’d write about Home Ownership being part of the American Dream. For as long as I can remember, I have heard that phrase. But what does it mean.

From a CNN piece from last year: “While it has no official definition, the American Dream has always been the notion that citizens of the United States can better their lot in life through hard work.
That encompasses the idea that hard-working kids of hard-working parents would have a better life than the previous generation, and homeownership has generally been considered part of that.”

From 2006 to 2017 the national home ownership rate dropped from 69 to 64 percent. CNN states, “In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 72% of renters said they would like to buy a house at some point. About two-thirds of renters in the same survey (65%) said they currently rent as a result of circumstances, compared with 32% who said they rent as a matter of choice. When asked about the specific reasons why they rent, a majority of renters, especially nonwhites, cited financial reasons.”

Here are historical home ownership rates from the US Census Bureau. As you can see, it appears the number is increasing in 2018, but the rate is still below that of the 1990’s.

If you’re currently a renter and would like to become a homeowner, let’s talk. There are loan programs available for people with limited cash down as well as downpayment assistance programs for those with lower incomes.

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:

6th Time is the Charm

I met Steven and Lauren back in January at an open house. They were looking to buy their first home. Steven is an architect, so they wanted to buy a home that needed some work, to create their dream spaces.

By the end of March Steven and Lauren had their financing lined up. Not only were they pre-approved, their lender had put them through underwriting. With 20% down and strong financing, they were the ideal buyer.

But we’re in a competitive market, so getting a house is more than just having all your ducks in a row.

Their first offer was on a beautiful Columbia City home in need of some updates. The sellers received 8 offers and it sold for 25% above list price and beyond Steven and Lauren’s maximum budget. Their 2nd offer was on an incredible mid-century modern in Beacon Hill that was in need of a studs down remodel; Steven and Lauren weren’t willing to pay list price because of the amount of work needed, and they didn’t get that home either.

Next up was a view property in Seward Park, also in need of extensive remodeling. That one sold for $100,000 over list price. They moved on to a home near Alki Beach that also needed extensive work; that one went had 27 offers and went for 33% above list price.

As you can imagine Steven and Lauren were becoming pretty frustrated at this point. All they wanted was a place to call home. Their first anniversary was a little over a week away and they decided that for a present for themselves, they were going to get a house. They toured another 25 homes or so, and found 5 they really liked. They ranked them by offer review dates and decided to do an offer a day until they got one. Offer #5, also in West Seattle, wasn’t accepted either.

It’s now May 21st and their anniversary is just days away. Offer #6 is submitted, and yes, they got a house! Persistence paid off. They took some risks, waiving both their financing and inspection contingencies, and that made a difference. That, and they stretched to their maximum. The sale closed last week and they got their  anniversary present and dream house.

In 2018 I’m donating $500 to the non-profit of the client’s choice in honor of their closed transaction. Steven and Lauren chose for their $500 to go to Habitat for Humanity Seattle/King County. Their purchase of a new home will help another family get into their own home.

Congratulations Steven and Lauren (and Roxy, their dog), you’re going to love living in West Seattle near the Junction.

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.

Interest Rates are Rising

If you’re thinking of buying a property, you should move forward with your plans now. According to one lender I work with, last week she saw an increase in interest rates every day. While most of us have been predicting that rates would hit 5% by the end of year, we have already reached (and exceeded) that percentage.

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. A month ago your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. At 5% that payment would be $3,006, or $169/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $675,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 7% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $750,000 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.