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LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – JULY 2019

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JULY 12, 2019 LOCAL ECONOMY The market in our region appears to be moderating. Inventory is up, prices are relatively stable and homes are taking a bit longer to sell. However, with less than two months of available inventory, supply is still far short of demand. Steady buyer activity, low interest rates and a thriving economy are making for a strong summer in the housing market. Eastside >>>Click image to view full report. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $950,000 in June, down 3% from the same time last year and up $21,000 from May. Many buyers are looking to take advantage of the Eastside jobs boom with Amazon announcing plans to build a 43-story tower in Bellevue and Google expecting to reach 1 million square feet of office space in Kirkland. King County >>>Click image to view full report. There was good news for buyers in June as a growing supply of homes helped boost inventory close to 2012 listing levels. The median price of a single-family home in King County was $695,000. That figure is a 3% drop from a year ago and virtually unchanged from May. 33% of homes sold above list price; another sign prices are moderating when compared to 52% of homes sold over list price this time last year. Seattle >>>Click image to view full report. Home inventory in Seattle inched slightly higher in June. However, with less than two months of supply, the city is still a solid seller’s market. Apple’s plan to turn Seattle into a key engineering hub can only add to demand. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $781,000, down 4% from a year ago and nearly unchanged from May. Snohomish County >>>Click image to view full report. After hovering around $500,000 since March, home prices in Snohomish County crept up in June. The median price of a single-family home was $515,500, as compared to $511,500 last June. Snohomish County continues to attract buyers priced out of the King County market, putting an additional strain on supply which stands a just 1.5 months of inventory.

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ARE YOU BETTER OFF PAYING YOUR MORTGAGE EARLIER OR INVESTING YOUR MONEY?

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Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Unsplash Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments. For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere. The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.   Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution. If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest. If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier. Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run. Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment. Enforced discipline: It takes […]

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Mortgage Rate Forecast

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  Geopolitical uncertainty is causing mortgage rates to drop. Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, explains why this is and what you can expect to see mortgage rates do in the coming year.     Over the past few months we’ve seen a fairly significant drop in mortgage rates that has been essentially driven by geopolitical uncertainty – mainly caused by the trade war with China and ongoing discussions over tariffs with Mexico.   Now, mortgage rates are based on yields on 10-Year treasuries, and the interest rate on bonds tends to drop during times of economic uncertainty.  When this occurs, mortgage rates also drop.   My current forecast model predicts that average 30-year mortgage rates will end 2019 at around 4.4%, and by the end of 2020 I expect to see the average 30-year rate just modestly higher at 4.6%.

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Refresh Your Home

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  The craving to move happens to every homeowner as they start to feel bogged down, or like they need a restart. That sense of newness doesn’t have to be dramatic, however. The great part about having a home of your own is you can make improvements and give your home a chance to evolve over time. You just need to help your home live up to its potential!  These are seven of our favorite improvements to help you make the most of your home.   1. Find Your Home’s Purpose Each home is as unique as its owners, so in order to fully utilize your home, consider how you view your home’s purpose. Some people like to entertain, others find it a calm space in the frenzy of daily life; some nurture their families and others nurture their creativity. Your home’s purpose can be any combination of these and more, but it helps to consider the function of your space in order to ultimately find its purpose. Knowing your home’s purpose will help guide you as you move room to room while you refresh the space.   2. Assemble a List   Create a list of haves/needs/wants. Answer questions like: what is it about the space that isn’t working; how could it work better to fulfill the purpose; where could I move some of my items to make them feel new again?   3. Make an “Inspiration Board”   An “inspiration board” is a great way to visualize your home’s decor. You can create a board online with a tool like Pinterest to organize ideas you love, you can also use the ‘Save’ feature on Instagram, or the old-fashioned way with a cork board and magazines. Doing this will allow you to see all the elements you like in one place so that you can then tie it all together into a room you love.   Photo Credit: @Krista4Coral on Instagram 4. Choose a New Palate Renew the lighting and color by shaking up your color palate. It’s easy to fall into the white/beige standby to keep our rooms neutral, but sometimes a color that provides a contrast to your décor will make the room pop. Add a new color to the palate, refresh a wall with an accent color that you already feature in your decor, or overhaul your curtains and throws with a brand new hue. What about the Pantone color […]

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Improve Your Curb Appeal with These Affordable Tips

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  You’ll never have a second chance at a first impression, so let’s make it count! When it comes to upping your home’s curb appeal, there are plenty of small changes you can make that have a big impact. And best of all, you don’t need to call in the pros or spend a fortune to get beautiful results. Below are some helpful and affordable tips.   A Well-Maintained Yard Mowing: The first step to a well-manicured lawn is to mow it regularly. The experts recommending mowing high because mowing it too short can damage the grass and allow weeds to set root. Weeds: To prevent weeds like crabgrass use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring. These herbicides manage the weeds by stopping the seeds from sprouting in your lawn. Broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be stopped by applying granular weed control products. Feeding: Lawns consume mostly nitrogen, so look for mixes of fast and slow release fertilizers; they will feed your lawn over time while keeping it lush and green. Watering: Nighttime watering can result in long spans of moisture on the blades, potentially exposing your grass to disease. Consider watering your lawn in the morning – the sun helps dry out the blades throughout the day. Flowers: You can quickly and affordably dress up your yard with colorful pre-made flower pots and containers. When placing your flower pots and containers remember that asymmetrical arrangements and staggering plants will provided the liveliest setting.   Dress up the Front Door and Porch Paint: A fresh coat of paint in a pop color can give your home a well-deserved facelift. Get some color inspiration from House Beautiful.  Replace Old Hardware: Clean off any dirty spots around the door knob, and use a metal polish on the fixtures. Change out house numbers for an updated feel, put up a wall-mounted mailbox, or add an overhead light fixture. Keep in mind that well thought through elements, instead of mix-and-match pieces, will add the most curb appeal. Create Perfect Symmetry: Symmetry is one of the simplest design techniques to master and is the most pleasing to the eye. Maintain symmetry by flanking your front door with two sidelights (just make sure that your hardware matches); find two urn planters or a unique visual detail to put on either side of your door.  

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LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – JUNE 2019

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JUNE 11, 2019 LOCAL ECONOMY The pace of the housing market gained momentum in May, bringing an uptick in open house traffic and offers. A drop in interest rates and increased inventory were great incentives for buyers. Despite the increase in supply there is less than two months of inventory available – half the national average and far short of what is considered balanced. Industry experts are predicting a strong market as we segue into summer. Eastside >>>Click image to view full report. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $928,800 in May, down 3% from the same time last year and virtually unchanged from April. With a booming economy that continues to grow, news of Amazon’s expansion in Bellevue, the latest Microsoft acquisition and plans for a $1.2 billion office park in Redmond, demand for housing on the Eastside is unlikely to decrease any time soon. King County >>>Click image to view full report. Home sale activity in King County was brisk in May. According to a Windermere analysis, 7 out of 10 properties sold last month had 15 or fewer days on the market. More than half of the homes sold at or above list price. The median price of a single-family home was $700,000. While down 4% from the same time last year, that price was up about $22,000 from the previous month. Home to the fastest growing economy in the country,  King County is expected to draw even more buyers to the area this year. Seattle >>>Click image to view full report. Seattle employment continues to grow faster than in most of the country.  This has made the city a top location for workers, particularly millennials.  Demand has put a strain on available homes, reducing the supply to just seven weeks of inventory available. May home prices in Seattle were lower than they were a year ago, but showed a healthy increase from the previous month. The median price of a single-family home was $784,925 in May, down 5% from a year ago and up $30,000 from April. Snohomish County >>>Click image to view full report. In May, the median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County was $499,950. That number remains unchanged from a year ago, and also unchanged from March and April. Despite a 44% increase in inventory, the supply of homes for sale in this area is even tighter than in King County.  Brokers report that […]

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LOCAL MARKET UPDATE – MAY 2019

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MAY 13, 2019 LOCAL ECONOMY April brought good news for homebuyers. Inventory increased, prices continued to moderate and mortgage rates remained low. While buyers have more choices, there is still less than two months of inventory on the market. Demand is expected to remain strong as we head into the prime spring real estate season. Eastside >>>Click image to view full report. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $927,500 in April, down 2% from the same time last year. The economy here remains robust, particularly in the tech sector. After snapping up substantial real estate in Bellevue earlier this year, Amazon announced in April it would lease two more towers. Buyer demand and scarce inventory are keeping the Eastside market competitive. King County >>>Click image to view full report. With the number of homes for sale in King County up 78% over last year, buyers have more choices and a bit more time to make a decision. However, there is still less than two months of inventory, half the national average. The median price of a single-family home in April was $690,000. That figure was down 5% from the same time last year, but up from the $677,725 median price in March. Seattle >>>Click image to view full report. With one of the strongest economies in the nation, demand here remains solid. While the number of homes for sale continued to rise, there is just five weeks of available inventory, far short of the four to six months that is considered balanced. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit $754,000 in April, down 8% from a year ago and up slightly from the prior month. Snohomish County >>>Click image to view full report. In Snohomish County, the median price of a single-family home fell by 1% from a year ago to $500,000, the same figure posted in March. A 57% increase in inventory combined with low interest rates have created a strong beginning to the spring market.

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Designing the Perfect Office to Work From Home In Style

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Photo by letsbemates.com.au Working from home is an aspiration for many of us, but to do so effectively takes effort. A disorganized space at home can be just as troublesome as a hectic office. The most disciplined telecommuters will tell you that you need a structured routine and organization to get into work mode. Having a designated workspace helps you set the tone for your day. Even if you live in a small space, you need to find a balance between home and office. People who work from home often have a difficult time separating work hours from their non-work hours because it’s so easy to continue working late into the night. However, maintaining a balance and shutting down the computer is important for your overall wellbeing. These five tips can help you create the perfect home office:   Natural Light – Study upon study tells us that natural light is needed to boost productivity and mood. Make sure to set your desk up as close to a window as you can. If being near a window isn’t an option, a natural light lamp is the next best thing. It helps balance your body clock and leaves you feeling rested and refreshed. To-Do List or Planner – Start each day off by making a to-do list outlining what you need to get done before the end of the workday. Make sure to set a realistic time frame in which all of that should be completed, so you can check each one off the list and feel immense accomplishment once you’ve completed them all. Storage – If you have a big enough space, put in a large bookshelf where you can organize everything (think storage boxes). It reduces clutter and looks stylish. Using your walls and cabinetry is the most efficient use of space. Calendar – Many people tend to rely on digital calendars these days because of their convenience. When all of your devices sync together and pop up with reminders, you never have to worry about missing an appointment. However, many people find that it helps to keep a paper calendar handy too so you can easily view your whole month at a glance. Space for Inspiration – It doesn’t matter what field you work in, having a source of inspiration in your workspace is essential. Whether it’s a photo of your family, your dream car, or that vacation you’ve been dying to take, having that inspiration right in front of you provides a constant reminder of why […]

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How Reliable Are Home Valuation Tools?

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  What’s your home worth?   It seems like a simple question, but finding that answer is more complicated than it might seem. Sites like Zillow, Redfin, Eppraisal, and others have built-in home valuation tools that make it seem easy, but how accurate are they? And which one do you believe if you get three different answers? Online valuation tools have become a key part of the home buying and selling process, but they’ve been proven to be highly unreliable in certain instances. One thing that is for certain is that these valuation tools have reinforced that real estate agents are as vital to the process of pricing a home as they ever were – and maybe even more so now.   There are limitations to every online valuation tool. Most are readily acknowledged by their providers, such as Zillow’s “Zestimate”, which clearly states that it offers a median error rate of 5%, with varying accuracy across the country. That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that amounts to a difference of about $35,000 for a $700,000 home. For Redfin and Trulia, there are similar ranges in results. When you dig deeper into these valuation tools, it’s no small wonder that there are discrepancies, as they rely on a range of different sources for information, some more reliable than others.   Redfin’s tool pulls information directly from multiple listing services (MLSs) all over the country. Others negotiate limited data sharing deals with those same services, but also rely on public records, as well as homeowners’ records. This can lead to gaps in coverage. These tools can serve as helpful pieces of the puzzle when buying or selling a home, but the acknowledged error rate is a reminder of the dangers of relying too heavily on them.   Home valuation tools can be a useful starting point in the real estate process, but nothing compares to the level of detail and knowledge a professional real estate agent offers when pricing a home. An algorithm can’t possibly know about a home’s unique characteristics or those of the surrounding neighborhood. They also can’t answer your questions about what improvements you can make to get top dollar or how buyer behaviors are shaping the market. All of this – and more – can only be delivered by a trusted professional whose number one priority is getting you the best price in a time […]

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Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

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  The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.   ECONOMIC OVERVIEW Washington State employment slowed to an annual growth rate of 1.7% — a level not seen since 2012 — and continues a trend of slowing that started in the summer of 2018. I was a little surprised to see such a significant drop in employment growth, but it may be due to the state re-benchmarking their data (which they do annually). As such, I am not overly concerned about the lower-than-expected numbers but will be watching to see if this trend continues as we move through the spring months. The state unemployment rate was 4.5%, marginally below the 4.6% level a year ago. My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 84,000 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.2%.   HOME SALES There were 13,292 home sales during the first quarter of 2019. Year-over-year, sales were down 12.3% and were 23.4% lower than the fourth quarter of 2018.​ It is quite likely that part of the slowdown can be attributed to the very poor weather in February. That said, anecdotal information from our brokers suggests that March was a very active month and I expect to see sales rise again through the spring selling season. Notably, pending home sales were only off by 3.5% from the first quarter of 2018.​ All counties contained in this report saw sales drop when compared to a year ago. The greatest drops were in the relatively small counties of San Juan, Clallam, Island, and Kitsap.​ The decline in interest rates during the first two months of the quarter nudged many home buyers off the fence. I believe this will cause a significant bump in sales activity in the second quarter numbers.     HOME PRICES In combination with the factors discussed earlier, the 40% increase in listings has caused home price growth to taper to a year-over-year increase of 3.3%. Home prices were higher in every county except Clallam. While the growth of prices is slowing, the strong local economy, combined […]

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