It’s Heating Season, Are You Ready?

On Friday I finally “broke down” and turned my furnace on for the first time this season. I refuse to be cold at home, even if it is a drafty old house! There are always a couple of things that I like to take care ideally before the start of the heating season;

Have my furnace serviced

Change the filter and mark my calendar for the next filter change. Households with pets should be doing this monthly during the heating season.

Make sure that the thermostat is working properly and is set to turn off and on for my schedule.

This is also a perfect time to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

 

Stay Warm!

March and April 2012 in Review

March and April 2012 in Review

 

To say that the local real estate market has heated up would be an understatement.  This week alone, I have written 4 offers, sadly only 1 of them came together for my buyer clients, the other 3 were lost in multiple offer bid up situations. What year is this again?!! Yes, it feels all too familiar. What is very different this time around is that most buyers are not expecting this type of the market. They enter the “ring” expecting to be calling the shots, but soon discover that in many cases, it is now a Sellers’ market.

What is causing this disparity? The cause is the simple economic principle of “supply and demand”.  We have unusually low inventory and what appears to be an army of buyers that can now see the bottom of market and low interest rates and want get in before rates and prices increase. Why the low inventory? I think that it is based on the fact that many would be sellers are unable to sell because of negative equity. In the normal cycle of a market, many that bought 5-7 years ago are ready to sell and buy another house, but they can’t!

It is the best market we have seen for sellers since 2007! Who do you know that has been thinking of selling?

Feels Like Spring!

Longer days, more leaves and birds returning to the trees. Feels like Spring!

Except in the Seattle real estate market, where listings are scarce. Historically this is the beginning of the Spring market and housing inventory numbers begin to grow. Not so in many Seattle neighborhoods where Buyers are complaining of poor selection and we are seeing multiple offers on well-priced and prepared homes.

If inventory begins to grow, then 2012 is off to a promising start for Buyers. Mortgage rates continue to drop and have remained under 4% for nearly two months. Job growth has been increasing for most of 2011, with unemployment dropping to 8.4%.

As more people are getting jobs, consumer confidence has also been increasing. On top of that, homes in King County reached record affordability at the end of last year according to the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, which started tracking the numbers in 1994.

The tri-county area (King, Snohomish & Pierce) prices will remain low as we work our way through the distressed properties and bank-owned real estate. It is important to remember that real estate is extremely “local” these days (more than ever). While the media may print numbers showing slow sales, high foreclosure numbers and declining prices, it is important to take a look at your neighborhood specifically. Certain neighborhoods are not feeling the same impacts as the greater tri-county areas.

It should be another interesting year in housing. If you have any questions or would just like to chat about the market, please feel free to reach out. I would enjoy the opportunity to talk with you.

 

Around the House

2011 – 2012 Cost vs. Value Report

Remodeling Magazine and the REALTORS® magazine have just released the annual Cost vs. Value Report, listing average remodeling costs and projecting the return on your investment if the house were to be sold.

According to the report, projects have become more affordable to complete with construction costs down. Although home values also made a drop this year, for homeowners thinking about selling in several years, now is a great time to take advantage of reduced construction costs.

If you have questions, or would like the full report, please give me a call.

Here are a few examples of remodeling projects in Seattle, their cost, and their potential cost recouped in the event of selling the house:

midrange 
remodel
job 
cost
resale value cost recouped
deck addition (wood) $12,331 $9,857 79.9%
family room addition $92,946 $69,616 74.9%
major kitchen remodel $62,502 $48,398 77.4%
minor kitchen remodel $20,633 $18,436 89.4%
master suite addition $119,980 $86,184 71.8%
window replacement (vinyl) $12,473 $9,793 78.5%
window replacement (wood) $13,679 $10,915 79.8%

Market Snapshot

January 2011 – January 2012 
Single Family Home in Sales in King County

  Active Pending Closed Median $
2011 1,670 460 282 $390,000
2012 1,128 468 310 $350,000
% change -32.46% -1.74% +10.3% -20.13%

Statistics provided by Northwest Multiple Listing Service

To receive monthly reports on real estate activity in YOUR neighborhood, sign up for Market Snapshot on my website:seattleandbeyondrealestate.com. This is a FREE, NO-OBLIGATION service just for my clients.

 

A market report

News from NW Multiple Listing Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 6, 2012

Housing market “healing itself,” numbers are “astoundingly good”

NWMLS KIRKLAND, WA. (Feb. 6, 2012) – Pending sales may not appear to be much higher than 2011 (up 13.7 percent in January), but the numbers are “astoundingly good,” considering such factors as harsh weather and the tax credits that boosted sales at this time a year ago, said Ken Anderson, president and designated broker at Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Olympia.

The latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show pending sales in January outgained the same month a year ago by 739 transactions. Brokers reported 6,132 mutually accepted offers in January to start the year with a 13.7 increase over the January 2011 figure of 5,393 pending sales.

“Given that we lost a week with some of the worst weather in 16 years, the numbers are astoundingly good,” remarked Anderson, a director for Northwest MLS. “This is the first January in four that we can make a reasonable year-over-year comparison,” he added, noting numbers are no longer skewed by the artificial stimulus of various tax credits and incentives that date to 2009. “The improvement in the numbers show that the market is healing itself and standing on its own.” Anderson commented.

Declining inventory, extremely low interest rates, and positive job growth are contributing to rising optimism among industry professionals, but Northwest MLS directors say distressed properties continue to be a drag on the market’s recovery.

Inventory is down almost 20 percent from a year ago. Brokers added 6,666 new listings to inventory during January, with single family homes making up about 85 percent of those additions. At month end, MLS members reported 26,226 total active listings; a year ago, there were 32,647 active listings.

Despite the smaller selection, the price choices overall are wide ranging, from a low of $13,000 for a manufactured home in Sultan to an asking price of $26.8 million for a waterfront home on Mercer Island.

Snohomish County reported the sharpest drop in inventory, with the selection at about two-thirds of the year-ago levels (a decline of 32.6 percent). Several of the 29 MLS map areas within King County also reported declines of 30 percent or more in the total number of active listings.

“The ongoing reduction of available inventory is still impacting the market,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate and a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “We have plenty of qualified buyers who are ready to buy if they could just find a home,” he noted.

The lower number of new listings coming on the market is due to a combination of factors, said J. Lennox Scott, CEO and chairman of John L. Scott Real Estate. Among them, he mentioned underwater sellers (who owe more on their homes than the current value), sellers with equity holding off for higher prices, and the lack of new construction/condominiums. “The low number of new listings combined with the increase in sales activity is creating the shortage of homes for sale in specific areas and price ranges,” Scott reported.

Northwest MLS reported 3,469 closed sales last month, up nearly 8.2 percent from a year ago when members reported 3,207 completed transactions.

“A sellers’ market has returned in the areas close to the job centers of Seattle and Bellevue, up to the one million dollar price point,” Scott noted, adding, “We are also seeing the same situation in the more affordable price ranges in the surrounding market areas, caused by a shortage of inventory and healthy-to-strong sales activity.”

Echoing that sentiment was Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson, who said, “Inventory in many price points and locations is dropping and what buyers are finding are overpriced or under staged homes.” Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo, also foresees upward pressure on prices as choices become narrower.

For now, however, prices are showing mixed signs –stabilizing in some areas while declining or increasing in other areas.

The median price for last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $214,990, down about 11.7 percent from a year ago when the median selling price was $243,500. The price changes ranged from year-over-year increases reported in five counties (Ferry, Grant, Kittitas, Mason, and Pacific) to declines of up to 40 percent (in Clallam and Grays Harbor counties).

“Price increases are muted by short sales and foreclosures that are causing low appraisal values,” observed Scott.

MLS directors Jacobi and Wilson agreed.

“We are simultaneously seeing the continued rise in pending and closed sales,” Jacobi stated. “Usually pent up demand and rising sales means that prices will be going up. But, unfortunately, that isn’t the case thanks to the high level of distressed properties that continue to drag down the entire market,” he explained.

“What is tempering our real estate recovery in Kitsap and much of Puget Sound are the short sales and REO properties that are on the market and the way the banks are dealing with their sales process,” said Wilson, while pointing to several encouraging signs.

All the pieces are in place for a more normal market in much of Kitsap, Wilson said. “With pending sales up 17 percent in Kitsap, buyers are taking advantage of the values this market is offering and the extremely low interest rates. If this trend continues we should begin seeing price appreciation as we progress into the year,” he remarked.

Improving numbers show the artificial stimulus of the tax credits was not the key to the recovering market, suggested Anderson. “Instead, today’s affordability has buyers in all price segments returning – and feeling more confident about the future.”

Northwest MLS director Darin Stenvers believes “the perfect storm is brewing.” He said the pent-up need for homes in good condition is creating shorter market times and sales close to the original asking price. “It is a great time for sellers who have been waiting,” said Stenvers, the office managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Bellingham.

“The market is almost done with the needed correction,” Stenvers stated, adding, “Distressed homes and REOs are not going away fast but have slowed and should soon level off.” He also foresees a loosening of overly restrictive lending guidelines.

Reflecting on a real estate career that dates to 1990, Wilson said, “I remember at the height of the market people would say ‘I wish I would have bought some waterfront back in 2001…or I wish I would have picked up a couple of rentals a few years ago’.” For these people, “the clock has been rolled back and you now have an opportunity to purchase real estate near the bottom of the market,” he suggested.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 22,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary – Jan. 2011

Single
Family
Homes
+ Condos
LISTINGS
PENDING
SALES
CLOSED SALES

New
Listings Total
Active # Pending
Sales # Closings Avg.
Price Median
Price
King
2503
7360
2418
1429
$360,082
$280,000

Snohomish
1103
3162
1150
593
$233,984
$210,000

Pierce
1043
4142
1061
551
$198,220
$174,950

Kitsap
375
1420
292
131
$231,175
$177,900

Mason
100
581
63
40
$188,199
$160,400

Skagit
123
831
122
66
$199,380
$170,750

Grays Harbor
124
725
67
21
$92,221
$77,900

Lewis
82
612
41
36
$145,730
$137,000

Cowlitz
105
472
68
49
$131,226
$140,000

Grant
72
472
47
46
$172,544
$154,638

Thurston
262
1321
245
156
$238,041
$205,783

San Juan
36
336
20
14
$372,579
$297,000

Island
117
743
84
46
$231,548
$198,000

Kittitas
50
398
41
30
$228,958
$180,500

Jefferson
59
427
30
23
$225,361
$215,000

Okanogan
26
336
18
8
$204,344
$153,000

Whatcom
241
1260
178
118
$233,943
$220,500

Clark
47
210
46
38
$152,650
$153,750

Pacific
45
342
14
15
$109,480
$119,000

Ferry
1
55
1
2
$176,000
$176,000

Clallam
29
342
28
16
$161,350
$131,000

Others
123
679
98
41
$205,860
$179,500

MLS TOTAL
6,666
26,226
6,132
3,469
$273,324
$214,990

4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)
(Totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

2000
3706
4778
5903
5116
5490
5079
4928
5432
4569
4675
4126
3166

2001
4334
5056
5722
5399
5631
5568
5434
5544
4040
4387
4155
3430

2002
4293
4735
5569
5436
6131
5212
5525
6215
5394
5777
4966
4153

2003
4746
5290
6889
6837
7148
7202
7673
7135
6698
6552
4904
4454

2004
4521
6284
8073
7910
7888
8186
7583
7464
6984
6761
6228
5195

2005
5426
6833
8801
8420
8610
8896
8207
8784
7561
7157
6188
4837

2006
5275
6032
8174
7651
8411
8094
7121
7692
6216
6403
5292
4346

2007
4869
6239
7192
6974
7311
6876
6371
5580
4153
4447
3896
2975

2008 3291
4167
4520
4624
4526
4765
4580
4584
4445
3346 2841 2432
2009 3250 3407 4262 5372 5498 5963 5551 5764 5825 5702 3829 3440
2010 4381 5211 6821 7368 4058 4239 4306 4520 4350 4376 3938 3474
2011 4272 4767 6049 5732 5963 5868 5657 5944 5299 5384 4814 4197
2012 4921

Current Statistical Reports

4 Questions to Ask Your Realtor before You Work Together

Selling your home is a huge transaction, involving a lot of money, and you need the best and most reliable help that you can get to complete it successfully.  Here are five questions to ask your Realtor:

How Do You Use Social Media?
In today’s marketplace, any Realtor that does not keep up with the tools available should not be your Realtor.  Look up their Facebook page to see what they say about their other listings.  Pick a Realtor that frequently is active I the social media circles.
What is your Marketing Plan?
Every Realtor should be able to give you a good plan to put your home in front of as many buyers as possible.  The plan should include email, especially to other brokers who have clients in the area.  It should include social media and it should include contact with the Realtor’s sphere of influence.
How Do You Help Me Set The Price?
No matter how painful, the realtor cannot set the market price, nor can they convince someone else to overpay for you home.  A rational approach includes a realistic view of the competition in your neighborhood and the actual closing prices paid for similar homes in the last few months.
What Can I Do To make My Home More Saleable?
There are many things that will affect the potential buyer when they first see your home.  A good Realtor will help you decide where to put those simple fixes that can improve your chances of a positive response.  Remember, there are no second “first looks” and that the very beginning of the tour is the most important.  If you have a choice between fixing the front door and a corner of basement – fix the door.
Not Mentioned! - Open Houses and Newspaper Ads
Open houses are good for the Realtor because they find new clients who are looking for something else.  They don’t really sell the opened homes, however.  And newspaper ads are simply not read.  There is a reason why the old media are dying.

About The Author: Hughes Real Estate Group is a Boise real estate agent servicing buyers and sellers in Idaho. If you’re looking for a great home in Idaho, you can visit Kevin’s website where you can search real estate including Boise homes, Meridian homes , Nampa homes , and Eagle homes.