Tag Archives: Seattle

Downsizing Doesn’t Have to Be Daunting

This article comes from the materials I hand out and discuss at my “Tips for Selling Your Home Class.” If you’d like to learn more or attend a class, the next class is Friday, June 7th at the Greenwood Senior Center. Contact me for more information or to attend.

Need help with organizing and decluttering? A recommendation for a painter or a roofer? Most real estate brokers have a list of vendors who can help you with these activities. Additionally, some brokers, like myself, have taken classes in staging, and have materials that can help such as lists of places to donate or sell items. Just tell your broker what you need.​

Thinking of moving to a smaller space or even a tiny home? While it is true that by liberating ourselves of extra space can open the door to lower costs (mortgage, utilities, property taxes, and repairs), for many the thought of having to downsize their belongings in order to fit in more closed-quarters is prohibitive. If you have been thinking about downsizing, here are some ways you can get the ball rolling without it seeming overwhelming:​

Lifestyle Analysis – First review how your life is going to change after you downsize. If you are retiring, there may be many work-related items that no longer need to clutter your closet! Suits, jackets, shoes, purses, etc., that served you in a professional capacity may be the first to go into the donate or sell piles. If you are moving to a warmer climate, perhaps you should rethink your winter wardrobe. Moving to a condo and don’t plan on utilizing your green thumb? Consider your garden and lawn tools and supplies. Entire categories of things can be the first to go. ​

Space Analysis – Think about the space and functionality of the rooms you are moving to. If you don’t have a guestroom at your new place, then perhaps you don’t shouldn’t bring that entire room of items. If you are downsizing your kitchen to half of what you have now, then half of what you currently have will need to find another home. Think about your largest furniture pieces as well. Do you have room for a pool table? Also consider scale of furniture – sectionals and large dining room tables may be just too large proportionally for the rooms you will have. ​

Functionality Analysis – How many pans do you really cook with on a regular basis? How many mixing bowls do you really need at once? How many pairs of socks? So often we keep something around because we perceive that we need it, but you likely only use a few items in your home on a regular basis. When was the last time you made pasta from scratch or used all your towels? Downsizing means choosing, so choose wisely!​

Memorabilia Analysis – This is a tough one because it means choosing among things that are cherished. Yearbooks, photos, letters, keepsakes, children’s artwork, etc., all fall into this category. As we get older, this problem becomes more pronounced as we inherit and become stewards of other people’s items. One idea is to digitize items – as files on a computer you still have the items but they take up less physical space. ​

This category of items is just too painful for some people to have to go through and make choices for fear of making a mistake. If this sounds like you, then perhaps your best bet is to get a storage unit and put those items in there. I do recommend that you let someone else know about the unit in the event something happens to you so that these items stay in the family.  ​

Real Estate is a Long-Term Investment

Seattle 10 Year Appreciation

Home prices in the Puget Sound region have decreased over the past year. But I don’t see this as a cause for concern. There are more buyers in the market, interest rates are coming down, and we are seeing multiple offers again. I do expect that prices will rise this year, but not at the pace we’ve seen previously. Real estate is a long-term investment, so even if they’re down over the past year, in Seattle they are up 92% over the past 10 years.

Understanding Days on Market

One clue to understanding what type of real estate market we’re in is “Days on Market.” When homes are selling quickly, it tends to be a sellers’ market, and when slowing, a buyers’ market. But when we look at the numbers, it sometimes can be a confusing story.

Most of the time when we look at Days on Market, we’re using Average Days on Market. And when we do this, we see this number has increased substantially from the past few years.

This increase reflects the fact that homes that were not priced properly stayed on the market for a substantial amount of time.

However, if we look at Median Days on Market, it’s a different story. Looking for this perspective, we see that half of homes sold in a very short period whereas half sold in many more days.

What this tells us is that pricing your home properly is a critical step in getting the home sold quickly. It is imperative that you do not overprice your home, as it will sit on the market. Your real estate professional will advice you on a pricing strategy and I highly recommend that you follow that person’s advice.

For more information including a complimentary pricing analysis for your home, please reach out to me at 206-790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

Seattle Real Estate Market Update

Seattle prices continue to decline slightly for single-family homes, with a 4.6% decrease from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. However, it’s important to note that we hit the peak of our market in spring 2018, so prices were near their highest point last March. Condos are where we’re seeing the biggest changes, with a significant amount of inventory on the market and a 9.6% decrease in prices. With our increased inventory we’re seeing that the number of days it’s taking a property to sell has increased substantially. But for properties priced properly, they are selling quickly, often on the first day it comes on the market and often with multiple offers. Yes, multiple offers are back, and not just 2 or 3 offers, but more than 10 on many properties.

What does this mean for you? If you’re a homeowner considering selling your property, do NOT overprice. Price is the number one determinant of buyers coming to see your home and placing offers. Overpriced homes will sit on the market.  And as we’re now in spring, the busiest time of the year for our real estate market, do not wait to list your home.

Buyers, this is a great time for you. With the increase in inventory, you have many more choices. Interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in the past 12 months, so your money will go further right now. It’s definitely the time to buy.

Let’s talk about your real estate needs. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email me.

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.

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.

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.




On-Line Security

I recently have had several credit cards compromised. On one, there were fraudulent charges. On another, someone called in to the credit card company and was able to be approved as an additional authorized user and was sent a credit card. This last one has scared me. The person who called in knew enough about me to convince the person at the bank that they were me. They knew my social security number (or at least last 4 digits) and my birthday.

So much information is online – someone could probably figure out my best friend’s name (from Facebook), where I was born (by searching public records), what high school I went to (again from Facebook), my mother’s maiden name (also in public records), and a host of other words I would use in security questions.

Here’s what I’m doing to protect myself.

  • Changing my user name and password on all websites
  • Making up a new BFF
  • Talking to the credit bureaus about protecting my ID
  • Making sure my privacy settings on Facebook and other social media sites are at the highest level possible
  • Purchasing a new wallet with RFID protection

If you have other ideas of things I or others can do, please let me know.

When you go to buy a home, your credit is critically important, don’t let it get messed up by people affecting your accounts. If you’d like further information, please call me a (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.