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Local Market Update – August 2016

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Home prices are still on the rise compared to a year ago, but there is some indication that prices are moderating. Combine that with an increase in inventory and we may be seeing some relief for buyers. Time will tell whether this is a momentary breather, or if we’re slowly moving to a more balanced market. Eastside Click image for full report. Home to the highest concentration of luxury homes in the state, the Eastside continues to be the highest priced region of King County. Median home prices here were up 10 percent over last July to $750,400. That is down from the May peak of $760,000, and virtually unchanged from June. Buyers looking in this desirable market may be seeing the start of easing home prices. King County Click image for full report. After five months in a row of record-setting prices, King County saw the median price of a single-family home drop slightly from the high of $570,500 in June to $555,000 in July. However, July’s median price was up 14 percent over a year ago. An increase in inventory, accompanied by a slight slowdown in sales, may indicate that the market is settling down from the frenzied pace we’ve experienced so far this year. Seattle Click image for full report. Seattle also saw a small decrease in home prices, with the median price of a single-family home dropping from its record $666,500 in June to $650,000 in July. The July number still represents a hefty 13 percent increase year-over-year. Some buyers are looking to the areas of North King County that include Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore for a more affordable alternative. Prices there soared 18 percent over last year, but the median price of $505,000 is significantly less than Seattle. Snohomish County Click image for full report. The median home price in Snohomish County topped $400,000 for the first time, setting a record for the third straight month. Prices were up nearly 12 percent over the same time a year ago to $405,000. With prices here about 25 percent less than King County, buyers looking for lower housing costs continue to fuel an environment where multiple offers are common.

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Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

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Economic Overview Washington State continues to see strong employment growth, outpacing national numbers with an annual rate of more than 3%. Interestingly enough, despite these substantial job gains, the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 5.8%. However, I’m not overly concerned about this because it’s largely due to a growing labor force rather than a declining job market. This means that those who are unemployed who had previously stopped looking for work are now resurrecting their job searches because they have confidence in the economy. I expect to see a modest drop in the unemployment rate through the balance of the year, and believe we will continue to outperform the nation as a whole with above-average job gains. Home Sales Activity There were 22,721 home sales during the second quarter of 2016, up by 4.4% from the same period in 2015. We finally saw a much-needed increase in listings, which rose by 30.1% between first and second quarter. This increase in the number of homes for sale led to an increase in sales, which rose by 4.4% when compared to the same period in 2015. Island County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with sales up by 22.1%. This is a small county which is subject to wild swings, so I take the data at face value. That said, the larger Thurston County saw sales up by an equally impressive 19.7%. Most interesting is that King County saw sales fall modestly compared to the same time period in 2015. Price—and supply—are clearly an issue in the most populous county in our state. Overall listing activity was down by 21.8% compared to the second quarter of 2015, but the good news is that the supply side deficit is actually getting a little less than we have seen over the past few years. The total number of homes for sale was 30.1% higher than seen at the end of the first quarter. While much of this can be attributed to seasonality, it is still nice to see! The region is experiencing positive job growth, and with it, migration to Washington State is running at a very brisk pace. Given these factors—in addition to our lack of new home construction—it is not surprising to see demand substantially usurping supply. As I look forward, I believe inventory levels will continue to rise modestly, but it will remain a […]

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Our Historic Population Growth

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Residents of the greater Seattle area have all been feeling the pressures of population growth over the last several months. Not only are we seeing increased activity in the housing market, but plenty are moving to our area to take advantage of the economy, new technology jobs, quality of life, and more. A new study from The Puget Sound Regional Council reported by Geek Wire states that Seattle and the surrounding counties have added 86,320 new residents between April 2015 and 2016. This marks our largest population gain this century. When you average that out, we’re looking at about 236 new people calling Seattle home every single day. King County saw the biggest growth at 2.5 percent with 52,300 people. If we continue with numbers at that rate, the Puget Sound area will likely pass the 4 million resident mark by the time you read this. As Geek Wire reports, we can largely attribute this growth to the expansion of the region’s tech booms and major employers such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing. The success of these companies has helped to spark a growth in the startup environment as well. Additionally, dozens of big companies have decided to set up their engineering centers here. Geek Wire continues their analysis of the report and our population growth by reminding us that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen expansion like this. “The region’s population has grown by more than 80,000 people in one year five times since the 1960s.” They quote the report stating, “these rapid population changes have occured over two to three years before settling back to a steadier rate of change.” Looks like we may be seeing this continued growth for another year or two. Read the full story from Geek Wire.

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Local Market Update – July 2016

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Despite an uptick in inventory, home prices hit new records in June yet again. A national study showed that home prices are rising faster in Washington than any other state. While lower interest rates provide some relief for buyers, sellers are the real winners. The increase in inventory indicates that more homeowners are starting to take advantage of this historic seller’s market. Eastside After setting a new record last month, the Eastside saw home prices drop slightly from the May peak of $760,000 to $746,500 in June. That number was an increase of 11 percent over a year ago. Despite the small price adjustment, the Eastside continues to have the highest median home prices in King County. King County This is the fifth month in a row that the price for a single-family home in King County has set a new record. This latest peak was $573,552, up 15 percent from last June. Inventory increased slightly, but homes were snapped up quickly. One analysis shows fewer multiple offers, but indicated that 80 percent of new listings were selling within the first 30 days. Seattle The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was a record $666,500 in June, up 16 percent over the past year and a jump of 74 percent in the last five years. Those hoping to save money by renting aren’t seeing much relief. A recent report ranked Seattle with the second highest rent growth in the country. Snohomish County Despite an increase in inventory, home prices in Snohomish County continued to rise. Buyers seeking an alternative to King County’s high prices are pushing their home search north resulting in increased completion for homes and adding to price escalation. The price here hit a new record of $395,000 in June, up 9.7 percent from a year ago.

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What We Know (and Don’t Know) About the Impact of Brexit

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This article from Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner discusses what Brexit means for the U.S. economy and housing market.  The decision of the British public to leave the European Union is a historic one for many reasons, not least of which was the almost uniform belief that there was absolutely no way that the public would vote to dissolve a partnership that had been in existence since the UK became a member nation back in 1973. However, rightly or not, the people decided that it was time to leave. As both an economist, and native of the UK, I’ve been bombarded with questions from people about what impact Brexit will have on the global economy and U.S. housing market. I’ll start with the economy. Since last Thursday’s announcement, there have been exceptional ripples around the global economy that were felt here in the U.S. too. This isn’t all that surprising given that the vast majority of us believed that the UK would vote to remain in the EU; however, I believe things will start to settle down as soon as the smoke clears. The only problem is that the smoke remains remarkably dense. The British government does not appear to be in any hurry to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which allows a member country to leave the conglomerate. Additionally, nobody appears able to provide any definitive data as to what the effect of the UK leaving will really have on the European or global economies. As a result, you have those who suggest that it will lead to a “modest” recession in the UK, as well as extremists who are forecasting a return of the 4-horsemen of the apocalypse. But in reality, no one really knows, and it is that type of uncertainty that feeds on itself and can cause wild fluctuations in the market. It’s important to understand that last Thursday’s vote does not confirm an actual exit from the European Union. There is a prolonged process of leaving that is set out in the EU Treaty which requires a “cooling off” period. And during this time, even confident political leaders, such as Boris Johnson who championed the exit campaign, might be tempted by reforms that would see Great Britain actually remaining in the EU. The EU itself has been shaken by the vote, and there are already signs that many of its leaders are talking about […]

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Homebuilder Sentiment Rises in June

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As Americans are starting to feel more optimistic about purchasing homes, homebuilders are feeling hopeful about their sales. This is a welcome relief after a weak start to the spring home-selling season. During that time both parties were concerned about their prospects in the housing market. A recent article from The Seattle Times discusses the causes and importance of this positive change in sentiment among both groups. How can we determine a rise in sentiment among home buyers and homebuilders? People have always understood the benefits of home ownership, so while the desire and demand have been constant, many factors deterred potential homeowners from investing in real estate. Lately we’ve seen that steady job gains and low mortgage rates are encouraging those people to buy new homes with less risk. That drives home construction and helps support the economy. This is where homebuilders come in (feeling optimistic). Though new homes represent a small fraction of the housing market, they have an outsized impact on the economy. According to data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue. While we could just assume that new, steady jobs boost morale, the NAHB/Wells Fargo have an index that actually quantifies builder sentiment. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor. As of last Thursday, the reading was at 60, which is the highest it’s been since January. Although the housing market has yet to recover from the consequences of the downturn a decade ago, rising sentiments prove that we are making progress. According to Robert Dietz, the NAHB’s chief economist, the latest builder survey results indicate that the housing market “should continue to move forward in the second half of 2016.” That makes us feel pretty optimistic, too. Read the full article at The Seattle Times.

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Support Your Local Food Banks During the Summer

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Did you know that June is fresh fruits and vegetables month? That’s great if you can afford them. However, they are a luxury for people who struggle to provide even just the basic necessities for their families. Many families rely on their local food banks as a regular supplemental food source. And of those families, 84 percent of households with children report purchasing the cheapest food available, knowing it wasn’t the healthiest option, in order to provide enough food for their family. And summertime is probably when food banks need your help the most. That’s because children are on break from school and their families have to provide the meals that they normally would get through school meal programs. Six out of seven low-income kids who eat a free or reduced-price school lunch do not get free meals during the summer because they don’t participate in summer meal programs. So what can you do to help? Does this mean you should go out and buy a bunch of fruits and vegetables to donate to your local food bank? Or maybe donate some extra produce from your home garden? No. The best way that you can help families in need is to donate money to your local food banks. Food banks have agreements or partnerships with distributors/suppliers so that they are able to stretch your donation dollars to purchase more items, usually in bulk. For example, a one-dollar donation—to a food bank hub like Feeding America—can provide 11 meals to families in need. And 68 percent of the foods distributed are healthy foods that align with the USDA Dietary Guidelines. At Windermere Real Estate, our offices support local food banks through grants from the Windermere Foundation. Here are just a few of the food banks that we have supported over the past year: Idaho Foodbank,Columbia Pacific Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank, Marysville Community Food Bank, The People’s Pantry, Republic, and Maple Valley Food Bank & Emergency Services. If you’d like to help, consider making a donation to the Windermere Foundation or donating directly to your local food bank or food pantry. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation. This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

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Local Market Update – June 2016

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House hunters looking for relief from soaring rents continued to snap up homes at a record pace in May. By one analysis, 80 percent of the homes coming on the market in King and Snohomish counties sold within the first 30 days – many within the first week. With a severe lack of inventory in prime buying season, sellers are getting record prices for homes. Eastside The Eastside, already the most expensive area in King County, saw home prices set a new record in May. Median home prices on the Eastside were up by over $100,000 compared to last year, reaching an all-time high of $760,000. With just a month of inventory available, most new listings here drew multiple offers. Even with soaring prices, buyers should plan to act quickly and count on navigating multiple offers. King County With 20 percent fewer homes on the market here than last year, competition among buyers remained fierce. Tight supply and high demand sent prices surging. For the fourth straight month, King County set a new record, with the median price of a single family home sold in May jumping 16 percent over last year to $560,000. The market is in dire need of new homes to ease the inventory crunch. Seattle Seattle has the 4th fastest growing population in the country. That growth has fueled demand. Seattle trails only Portland on the list of markets with the fastest-growing home prices. A single family home here cost $641,250 in May, an increase of 14 percent over the same time last year. While slightly higher than the median price last month, that figure is down from the peak in February. Snohomish County Since the close-in neighborhoods in Seattle and Bellevue have priced out most first-time buyers, they continued to look to Snohomish County as a more affordable option. The median price of a single-family home increased 11 percent over last year to $389,950. That price is slightly above the pre-recession peak in 2007. However, at 30 percent less than the median price in King County, it’s a relative bargain.

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What is the Case-Shiller Home Price Report?

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This post and video originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices is a monthly report that analyzes housing data in major metropolitan areas across the U.S. Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner explains what this report is and why we use it to assess the strength of the housing market.

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