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Local Market Update – October 2016

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At a time of year when sales traditionally slow down, September saw particularly strong sales growth. Home prices rose yet again compared to the same time last year, but they remain below the peak of several months ago. And inventory, while still low, is at its highest level in two years. The local real estate market continues to be one of the hottest in the country, but there are signs that prices may be rising more slowly than they did in the first half of the year. Eastside Home prices on the Eastside remain very strong. The September median price of $750,000 was a healthy 10 percent increase over last September. Inventory remains very low with just over a month supply of homes. Demand in this sought-after market continues to overwhelm the number of properties available for sale. King County Home prices are typically lower in the fall, and that was the case in King County for September. The median price of homes sold in September was $538,000, down from the market peak earlier this summer. That number reflects a 10 percent increase over a year ago, which represents a significantly higher appreciation rate than the national average. Seattle Inventory in Seattle remains very tight, but is up slightly from a year ago. While multiple offers are still common – particularly for entry-priced homes — some agents are reporting fewer offers than in the past. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $630,000 in September, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year. Snohomish County Home prices in Snohomish County climbed 11 percent in September as compared to a year ago. The median price of a home was $395,000, just below the all-time high of $405,000 set in July. The area continues to see an influx of buyers trying to find a more cost-effective option to the comparatively high housing prices in King County.

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Will Seattle Be Part of the Next Big Tech Corridor?

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Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. are two nearly identical cities in the Pacific Northwest. We’re both eco-conscious, have similar weather patterns, and are creating exceptional technologically-based economies. Vancouver has more in common with Seattle than it does with any of its other Canadian cities even though they are separated by an international border and 140 miles of roads. Leaders on both sides of the Canadian-U.S. border are taking advantage of the connections. According to The New York Times, Microsoft – currently in need of global engineering talent – is expanding their Vancouver offices, “partly because of Canada’s smoother immigration process.” Alternatively, “Vancouver wants to bring more American technology companies to the city in hopes of spinning out future entrepreneurs” who could expand its smaller base of tech companies. At the Cascadia Conference in Vancouver last month, officials and executives from both cities discussed both future plans and those currently in place to deepen the technological ties between the two. There were conversations over more globalization and education, research collaboration between the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington, and even ways to maneuver and improve the traffic between Seattle and Vancouver. All of this technological innovation on our coast bodes well for housing in the Puget Sound region. Our area has so many strengths economically, geographically, and socially, so it is no wonder that our growing technological companies are ready to expand and add more. Some details of this growth are still being discussed and planned. However, it seems as though both Seattle and Vancouver are poised to take over as the leading tech center for the west coast in the near future. Find out more information on the growing tech corridor between Seattle and Vancouver in the original article from The New York Times.

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Millennials and the American Dream

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Contrary to some predictions, Millennials are making owning a home a priority. While they’re buying their first home a bit later than prior generations, they’re embracing the long-term value that home ownership brings. 1) Millennials are dominating the first-time homebuyer category today. The median age of first-time homebuyers is 31, according to a National Association of Realtors study. 2) The vast majority of Millennials think owning a home is important. According to a Merrill Lynch study, 81% of Millennials agree that “homeownership is an important part of the American Dream.” Percent who agree that “Homeownership is an important part of the American Dream” 3) Most Millennials consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons. In a survey by Fannie Mae, Millennials who own a home prefer owning over renting for these reasons: A strong local economy, rising rents and low interest rates have all helped Millennials reach the tipping point and take the plunge into the American Dream of home ownership. I can help first-time buyers find the best home for their needs. Reach out with any questions you have, or forward this to a first-time homebuyer you know!

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Local Market Update – September 2016

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While homes prices were up by double-digits compared to a year ago, the market frenzy that has affected most of this year is showing some signs of moderating. With the exception of the Eastside, prices for most of the region were down from their peak. Home sales generally outpaced the same period a year ago, but a shortage of inventory continues to tip the advantage in favor of sellers. Eastside Click image to view full report. Bucking the trend of moderating prices, the Eastside saw the median home price soar 14 percent over last year to a new record high of $769,000. That eclipses the previous peak of $760,000 in May of this year. Very tight inventory in this highly desirable market was reflected in flat sales growth compared to a year ago. King County Click image to view full report. King County saw home prices moderating for the second month in a row. The median price of homes sold in August was $550,000. That represents an increase of 10 percent over last year, but a drop from the high of $570,500 in June. Seattle Click image to view full report. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $625,000 in August. While down from the record high of $666,500 in June, that represents a healthy 9 percent increase over the same time last year. Demand continues to exceed the supply of inventory, particularly for entry-level homes. Snohomish County Click image to view full report. Snohomish County’s August median home price of $400,000 was just shy of the record-high of $405,000 set in July. The median price here is $150,000 less than King County, making Snohomish County a more affordable option for buyers willing to trade a longer commute time for lower housing costs.

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How the American Home has Evolved

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Owning a home has been an American tradition from the start. But the home itself has changed dramatically over the years. For example, you may be surprised to learn how much the size of the average American home has increased since the turn of the 20th century—especially when you compare it to the size of the average family during the same time period. In the year 1900, the average American family was relatively large with 4.6 members, but the average home featured just 1,000 square feet of usable floor space. By 1979, family size had shrunk to 3.11 members, but the floor space they shared had expanded to 1,660 square feet. And by 2007, the average family size was even smaller still—just 2.6 members—while the average home size had increased by the largest amount yet—this time to 2,521 square feet. To accommodate those larger homes, property lots have also had to expand in size. In the 1930s and ‘40s, Bungalow homes were usually built on lots measuring 60 by 100 feet (for a total of 6,000 square feet). However, by 1976, the average size of a single-family property lot had expanded to more than 10,000 square feet. In 1990, it expanded again (to 14,680 square feet). Today, the average property lot in America is a staggering 17,590 square feet. Exterior building materials Until the 1960s, the building materials used on the exterior of most homes were limited to brick, wood, or wood shingles. However, by the early 1960s, many Americans chose to cover their homes with a more affordable material that was also maintenance-free: aluminum and vinyl siding. Today, many homeowners are using low-maintenance siding materials made of cement fiber. Interior building materials The primary building material for interior ceilings and walls for much of the 20th century was plaster applied over wood lathe. Modern day sheetrock didn’t become popular until the 1950s. In the 1960s, wood paneling and textured walls became prevalent, largely for their quick and easy application. In the 1970s and ‘80s, “popcorn ceilings” became a common way to hide imperfections in ceilings. Today’s style again favors smooth walls and ceilings, which can result in a lot of work removing paneling and textures in older homes. Throughout the early 1900s, the floors throughout most homes were almost always bare wood. Linoleum tile became a popular choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms in the 1940s. However, by the 1960s […]

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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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