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The Gardner Report – Second Quarter 2017

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  ECONOMIC OVERVIEW The Washington State economy has been expanding at a rapid pace but we are seeing a slowdown as the state grows closer to full employment. Given the solid growth, I would expect to see income growth move markedly higher, though this has yet to materialize. I anticipate that we will see faster income growth in the second half of the year. I still believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continue to see unemployment fall. The latest state-wide report now shows a rate of 4.5%—the lowest rate since data started to be collected in 1976. I believe that growth in the state will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole and, with such robust expansion, I would not be surprised to see more people relocate here as they see Washington as a market that offers substantial opportunity.   HOME SALES ACTIVITY There were 23,349 home sales during the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 1.1% from the same period in 2016. Clallam County maintains its position as number one for sales growth over the past 12 months. Double-digit gains in sales were seen in just three other counties, which is a sharp drop from prior reports. I attribute this to inventory constraints rather than any tangible drop in demand. The only modest decline in sales last quarter was seen in Grays Harbor County. The number of homes for sale, unfortunately, showed no improvement, with an average of just 9,279 listings in the quarter, a decline of 20.4% from the second quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 3.6% relative to the same quarter a year ago. The key takeaway from this data is that it is unlikely we will see a significant increase in the number of homes for sale for the rest of 2017.   HOME PRICES Along with the expanding economy, home prices continue to rise at very robust rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.9%. The region’s average sales price is now $470,187. Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages. When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced […]

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Local Market Update – July 2017

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It was another month of record-setting home prices in June as the area yet again took the prize for the hottest real estate market in the country. In a bright spot for buyers, the number of new listings added in June was the highest total for any single month since May 2008. While inventory is still low, the pace of sales is slowing and the number of multiple offers are down, suggesting that we may soon see a slight reprieve from the last year of rapid-fire growth. Eastside The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside soared 19 percent from a year ago to a new record-high of $885,000. Despite that increase, multiple offers—while down—are still common. With most buyers presenting offers on multiple properties before purchasing a home, working with a broker to create a strong strategic plan, clear negotiating parameters, and a streamlined offer are critical for success. King County The median price of a single-family home in King County climbed 14 percent over a year ago to a new record of $653,000. Inventory remains extremely tight, and homes are selling very quickly. According to a broker analysis, 80-to-90 percent of sellers in the Puget Sound area are accepting offers on their homes within 30 days of listing. In hot neighborhoods, that number can be just a few days. Seattle Seattle home prices are rising at the fastest rate in nation. U.S. Census data shows Seattle is gaining about 1,100 residents week. With supply unable to keep up with soaring demand, prices just keep climbing. The median price for a single-family home in Seattle jumped 13 percent over a year ago to $750,000. The increase in the number of $1 million-plus homes in the city was among the highest in the country. Snohomish County Buyers looking to get more home for their dollar continue to make the move north to Snohomish County. Demand is so high that new construction homes are selling before they’re built, with many new homes not even hitting the market. The median price of a single-family home sold in June increased 14 percent over the same time last year to $450,000, unchanged from last month’s record high.

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At Home in the Outdoors

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More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider: DECK Decks are still the most popular outdoor living spaces, not only because they work so well for entertaining and relaxing, but also because they have the highest return on investment (see the Tips column for data). Surprisingly, wood decks (made of cedar or pine) are actually the better financial investment, because building with Trex or other popular composite products costs considerably more, yet doesn’t increase the home’s value by as much. Expanding and reconfiguring your current deck is another option that’s popular today. The contractor will typically remove the old face boards, extend the underlying structure, and then put down the new decking. This is also an opportunity to add built-in furniture, privacy screens, even plumbing and electricity. PATIO Running a close second to decks – in both popularity and investment return – are patios. With a patio, you can relax and entertain at ground level, which can afford more privacy in urban areas, and allows you to be more engaged with the surrounding plants and landscaping. Typically made of brick, concrete, or stone, a patio also comes with far fewer maintenance and repair issues than a deck. Plus, patios are generally easier and less disruptive to construct – which is why they’re often about 30 percent less expensive to have professionally built. GAZEBO For those who want even more privacy, as well as shelter from the sun and protection from mosquitoes and other pests, there’s the gazebo. Available with walls or as an open-air design, with screening or not, these modestly sized, affordable backyard structures can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit (for assembly by a do-it-yourselfer or a professional). Popular in the Midwest for decades, gazebos have made their way west as homeowners here have discovered how nice and easy they are for creating a shaded spot for reading, relaxing, and backyard gatherings. OUTDOOR KITCHEN People tend to gather naturally in the kitchen. And when the kitchen […]

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Local Market Update – June 2017

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The hottest real estate market in the country just keeps getting hotter. Despite a large number of new listings, home prices in the Puget Sound area continued to set records in May. According to a Seattle Times article, “For the first time since the 2007 housing bubble, every county in the central Puget Sound region has set a new median home price record.” Brokers hope this news will help entice more sellers to put their homes on the market. Eastside While down just slightly from its record high last month, the median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was up 15 percent from a year ago to $875,000. With just three weeks of inventory, those looking to buy a home can continue to count on a highly competitive market. It is key for buyers to work with a broker on a buying strategy, and to be willing to act quickly to make an offer. King County King County is starved for inventory. The number of homes for sale in the county dropped 20 percent from a year ago. The good news: The number of new listings year-over-year grew for the first time in 2017. The bad news: They’re getting snapped up as soon as they come on the market. The median price of a single-family home in King County jumped 13 percent over a year ago to a new record of $632,000. Seattle Seattle is the fastest growing city in the country, and that demand is driving prices ever higher. That demand combined with razor-thin inventory has resulted in Seattle topping the nation in bidding wars. As a result, it’s no surprise that home prices here set yet another record in May. The median price for a single-family home in Seattle soared 14 percent over a year ago to $729,000. Snohomish County A steady stream of buyers being priced out of King County have set their sights north in hopes of finding a more affordable house payment. While home prices here are indeed less, that gap has been slowly closing. The median price of a single-family home jumped 15 percent over the same time last year to $450,000, an all-time record.

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How People Buy Homes Today

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Today’s buyers use a lot of resources in their home search – and 92% count on a real estate agent to help them purchase their home. How People Buy Homes Today If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let’s get in touch! I can help you successfully navigate the greater Seattle housing market.

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Local Market Update – May 2017

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The local real estate market—already the hottest in the country—set yet another price record in April. The number of homes for sale dropped 27 percent compared to a year ago, the lowest amount of inventory ever recorded for a spring month. The historically low supply of homes is making competition among buyers fierce. Sellers are in the enviable position of being able to structure sales agreements to include concessions such as rent-backs and longer closing time so they can take the time to find their next home. Eastside The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside reached an all-time high of $880,000 in April, a 21 percent jump over last April. That represents an increase of $150,000 over a year ago, the largest dollar increase on record. With our strong economy and growing population, brokers are not predicting a slowdown any time soon. King County Inventory in King County just keeps getting tighter. There are just 1,900 homes on the market here. That compares to nearly 8,000 in April 2011. As buyers bid up existing homes, prices have escalated sharply. The median price of a single-family home jumped 16 percent from the same time last year to $625,000. Seattle Seattle set a record for home prices for the third straight month. The median price of a single-family home rose 13 percent over the same time last year to $722,250. Like the rest of King County, lack of inventory was the driver. In one of the city’s hottest markets, Ballard, there are just 19 single-family homes on the market. Snohomish County Home prices in Snohomish County are rising at their fastest pace in four years. The median price of a single-family home soared 17 percent from a year ago to $440,000. While that increase is substantial, prices here are still 30 percent less than in King County.

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The Gardner Report – First Quarter 2017

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Economic Overview I’m happy to report that Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. While the rate of growth is tapering, this is because many markets are getting close to “full employment”, during which time growth naturally slows. That said, I believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continues to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year. Home Sales There were 15,652 home sales during the first quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 9.5% from the same period in 2016, but 20.7% below the total number of sales in the final quarter of 2016. With an increase of 45.5%, sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months. There were double-digit gains seen in an additional 10 counties, suggesting that demand remains very robust. The only modest decline in sales was seen in Grays Harbor County. The number of homes for sale showed no improvement at all, with an average of just 6,893 homes for sale in the quarter, a decline of 33% from the previous quarter and 25% from the first quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 2% relative to the same quarter a year ago. The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will offer little relief to would-be home buyers as the housing supply remains severely constrained. Home Prices With demand continuing to exceed supply, home prices continued to rise at above-average rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351. Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages. When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County, which rose by 19.6%. Double-digit price growth was seen in an additional 10 counties. The only market where the average price fell was in the ever-volatile San Juan County. It is clear that rising interest rates have not taken much of a sheen off the market. […]

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What Sellers Want Today

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The National Association of REALTORS® recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Here are a few items about sellers that I thought you’d find interesting. • The primary reason sellers choose to move is to find a larger home, or to be closer to family and friends. • The vast majority of sellers move to a new home in the same state. If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, let’s get in touch! I will help you successfully navigate the Seattle-area housing market.

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Local Market Update – April 2017

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While we finally saw an increase in new listings in March, there was an even greater jump in sales. Lack of supply continued to push prices to new record highs. For the fifth straight month, our region has experienced the sharpest home price increases of any major market in the country. While that may be tough news for buyers, here’s the other reality: rents in the city of Seattle have increased 57 percent in the last six years. Brokers are hoping that more sellers will jump into the market this spring to help meet buyer demand. Eastside After setting a price record in February, the Eastside set yet another record in March. The median price for a single-family home sold in March jumped 18 percent to $870,000. The strong appreciation is reflected in this statistic: For the first three months of 2017, the number of homes sold priced at $1 million or more was up 60 percent compared to the same period a year ago. What was once considered a luxury price tag is now the new normal. King County Home prices in King County are growing about twice as fast as the national average. The median price of a single-family home sold in March soared 13 percent over last year to $599,950, an all-time high. Even though new inventory was added, it was snapped up as soon as it came on the market. About 75 percent of homes sold within the first 30 days. Seattle With just two weeks of inventory available, demand in Seattle remains as strong as ever. Packed open houses, multiple offers, and escalation clauses continue to be the norm. The pressure on inventory pushed prices here to yet another all-time high. The median price of a single-family home in the city increased 9 percent over a year ago to $700,000. Snohomish County Snohomish County set a new price record for the second straight month, with the median price of a single-family home up 10 percent from a year ago to $425,000. Supply is very limited, with just over two weeks of available inventory. Buyers looking for some relief from King County’s hefty housing prices are adding to the competition for a limited supply of homes.

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