With typical low inventory in November, we saw an uptick in the number of homes going into contract. In fact, for King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties combined, accepted offers increased 9.2% over November 2018. (And in just King County, that increase was about 12%.)
Median sales prices increased as well. In King County the median sales price for a single family home was $650,000, up about 1.6% from November of last year.
What this tells us is that buyers are out there – that is demand is high. Record low interest rates are partially driving this demand. And inventory of homes for sale typically drops in November and December, so there’s a shortage of homes to meet demand. The housing market is virtually sold out in the more affordable and mid-price ranges where 75 percent of sales activity occurs in each market area.
If you’re a current homeowner on the fence about selling, now is a great time to get in the market. The buyers out in December and January are serious buyers who want to get into a home soon.
30 days ago the owners of my Shoreline mid-century listing drove away from their house to their new lives in South California. Today their home sale closed, and they area moving forward with the next phase of their life.
Let me share their story. Pat & Charlie approached me last spring as they were considering a move. Pat was about to become a grandmother and she wanted to be closer to her daughter and future granddaughter. But Charlie had a good job in Seattle, they had lived in their Shoreline home for many years, and she was overwhelmed about the prospect of packing up and moving. We talked, I provided a complimentary market analysis of the home, and it was left that they needed to figure out what they wanted to do.
Fast forward to September and I get an urgent message from Pat – “need to talk with you today.” Charlie had received a job offer in Southern California, it was a great fit, but he’d need to start in 2 weeks, and they had no idea how they’d have the house ready.
Now it was my turn to show them what I do as a full-service real estate broker. Within days, we had a plan. I referred them to the service providers they needed: power washing/yard work; housecleaning; movers who could help with packing as well; and stagers. Charlie got some updates done in the house – among them new flooring and radiant heat – before he had to hit the road for his new job. Pat handled the rest, called me when she needed help or support, and 2 weeks later, the movers arrived. In the days that followed, I oversaw the listing preparation – house cleaning, yard clean-up, staging, photography, and home video. The result was that on October 24th, I brought their beautiful home on the market for $590,000.
Within hours of coming on the market, there was a handful of showings including I received phone calls from brokers with clients wanting to submit offers. Pat and Charlie wanted to wait and see what the weekend open houses looked like before accepting an offer – good move on their part – more than 70 groups of buyers toured the house during 2 open houses that weekend. And Monday morning we had multiple offers and they accepted one.
The final price was substantially higher than the list price – $650,000. It sold in 4 days on the market and closed 3 weeks later. This wouldn’t have happened if Pat and Charlie had not worked hard on their home preparation, and more importantly, had not trusted me with the sale of their home. Thank you for believing in me and on moving forward with your lives. (And welcome to your very beautiful granddaughter.)
For more information on buying or selling a home, including a complimentary market analysis, please give me a call at 206-790-0081 or email me at Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.
The Washington State Legislature is changing the way real estate excise taxes (REET) are calculated. This change may affect the amount of excise tax you pay depending on the sale price of your property. For sellers whose homes sell for less than $1.5 million, you will see a slight decrease in the amount of tax paid. For homes over $1.5 million or more, you will see an increase in taxes paid, and this may be a substantial increase.
Currently, the state excise tax is 1.28 percent. Local municipalities add their excise tax on top of the state tax, with most cities in our area adding 0.50 percent, to total 1.78 percent. Effective January 1, 2020, Washington state will begin calculating real estate excise taxes based on a tiered system:
Sales under $500,000: 1.1% tax rate (down from 1.28%)
Sales from $500,000 to $1.5 million: 1.28% tax rate (unchanged and 1.1% marginal rate on first $500k)
Sales from $1.5 million to $3 million: 2.75% tax rate (115% increase, but marginal rate increase means first $500k @1.1%, then $500k to $1.5M @ 1.28%)
Sales over $3 million: 3.0% tax rate (134% increase, marginal rates in effect)
If you are thinking of buying or selling soon, now would be a great time to contact us and find out how this new legislation will affect your transaction. Whether buying or selling, knowing the effect of this excise tax could save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. The following graph shows you a comparison of taxes in 2019 (the gray) and after January 1st (the blue).
For more information on the real estate excise tax or on selling your home, please call me at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.
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.
Appraisals are one of the most confusing aspects of buying or selling real estate. When a buyer and seller agree on a sales price, it can be frustrating to hear that the appraisal came in with a value too low. It’s not enough for the buyer and seller to agree to the price, the appraisal is the lender’s way to ensure they are not loaning money over the actual market value of the property.
The appraised value is reached by a licensed professional who looks at the real estate market in which the target property is located. They start with the target property and then look for recent sales in the area of comparable properties. These comparable properties will be located within a short distance of the target home. They should also be of comparable size and often fall within the same housing development.
Once these homes are identified, the appraiser will adjust for the specific differences. For instance, does the target home have an upgraded kitchen or swimming pool? They add or subtract value based on such things as location, view, lot size, upgrades, additions, condition, and many other factors. They can then arrive at a valuation for the target home.
Once the appraisal has been completed, the lender is notified of the value. At this point, the loan amount is either confirmed or declined. If the appraisal comes in too low, the buyer and seller can choose to make up the difference in the sales price, lower the sales price, or cancel the transaction.
An experienced real estate broker will help you manage the appraisal process. By learning about recent sales in your area ahead of time, you can price your home appropriately up front; then the appraisal should come back as expected.
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 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.
If you’re thinking of selling your home, I’ve got a class for you. I’ll be offering it twice in June.
Class description: Are you considering selling your home? If yes, this class will help you understand the current real estate market as well as learning what type of preparation is necessary and tips on downsizing. Jamie Flaxman is a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Bain and is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist.
Tuesday, June 18 at Aegis at Callahan House in Shoreline, from 12:00-1:00, lunch included. Contact Jason Baker at (206) 452-0285 to reserve a spot or contact me at (206) 790-0081 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Do you have a group where you’d like this class presented? Let me know. Or if you’re unable to attend either of these dates but would like to learn more about the selling process, give me a call/email to discuss your needs.
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.