Seattle Real Estate Market Update: Balance

Balance is the word I would use to describe our 2018 Seattle real estate market.  Here’s a quick update/forecast on the housing market in Seattle.  _MG_8918_20Balanced
Seattle Market
Well, we have reached our peak Seattle home prices as of approximately March 2018.  Sometimes in real estate, the data is more of a tailwind than a headwind.  The trend for the last six + months is sellers are having to take 5-10% less for their homes and it is taking twice as long to get offers in place.  We can contribute some of this to the S&P 500 (down 20%) and Big Tech stocks (down 30-50%) plus another 3 or 4 more interest rate hikes in 2019.  Another expected Fed Interest Rate hike is forecasted for December 19th.  Unfortunately we aren’t seeing inflation accelerate as much as we’d like since corporate profits are slower than expected.
We also look to new construction trends.  When the Big Recession hit, it was harder for banks to loan money.  New construction of homes and condos virtually were at a standstill for long enough to affect the lack of inventory we have experienced for the last few years.  Basically new construction hadn’t kept up with the demand once we got the demand back.  So new homes and condos couldn’t be built fast enough…until now.  Now there are arguably too many which weakens the rental market.  The Seattle rental market for a two bedroom decreased 5.7% from a year ago.  It was $2,650 now it is $2,500 per month for the same two bedroom.  Whenever we see rental markets flatline, it typically means sellers reevaluate their cost to sell.
 
What’s the Bottom Line?
Pricing becomes under pressure when there is more inventory, like we see today.  If we continue this trend, we will have the inventory of homes like we saw in 2012 in several months.  Inventory is up 4% from year to date.  In 2017 we saw 24.7% homes on market.  Today it is 47.2%.
It’s too late to sell for top dollar in Seattle.  However our downturns generally last 2 to 5 years before it gets worse.  Keep in mind Seattle saw such a generous appreciation of home values since 2008 (when Amazon landed in Sea-town) that it has set a new standard for the median Seattle home.  Still if you are a seller, look to sell within the next couple of years.
Buying in Seattle ?
If you can withstand a 20% + correction over the next 5 to 7 years, then buy.  In other words, if you want to buy a home because you’re not a flipper, then by all means buy a piece of real estate.  It’s all about your EXIT PLAN.  If you plan on being in your home for 7 years (maybe 5 years in Seattle’s market) then it’s a good time to buy without worrying about the stock market, taxes breaks, and especially market ups and downs.  But what about interest rates you say. Higher interest rates do affect your borrowing/purchasing power.  But interest rates change, purchase price does not.  You can always refinance.  Keep in mind, however, the average income only increases roughly 2% a year.  So if interest rates increase significantly, then the harder it takes to recoup your cost of home ownership/purchasing.  Everyone’s situation is unique.  It’s best to have a personal conversation with a trusted financial planner, realtor, and lender to understand what’s best for you.
The Amazon Question – will it hurt Seattle’s market?
The short answer is no.  HQ2/3 will not change the landscape of Seattle’s real estate market.  Seattle is still numero uno for Amazon’s headquarters. It took Amazon ten years to gain the 45,000 to 50,000 “Amazon” population in Seattle.  We will certainly not see any developments that will rock our real estate world as quick as people think, if at all.  Amazon helped bring our Seattle home median values up 84%… 55% in the broader Seattle area (think Everett).  The numbers constantly change but in 2010 the median home value was $373,000 now we are around $690,000 +/-.  This is the new reality; Seattle is forever on the map as a major contender for high paying tech jobs, aerospace, and innovators alike from around the world.
And Finally
We are in the business to personally guide you.  Let’s talk about your scenarios and options.  Maybe it’s time to remodel or upgrade an existing Seattle area house to list in 2019?  Maybe you’re ready to buy more investment properties.
Perhaps you have specific questions – a unique home? an estate sale? Seattle neighborhood specific home values? Buying to add to your portfolio?  Let us know so we can work together on your goals.  We are your source for Seattle real estate expert advice.
You can reach us a number of ways.  Call/Text Molly Cartwright at 206-841-6800 or Courtney Cooper at 206-850-8841 email:  molly or courtney @cooperjacobs.com

Seattle Real Estate: Interest Rates, Affordability, And What’s Next

Looking At Seattle Homes For Sale, Interest rates, and Affordability – Should You Buy Now?  Or Wait?

The fact is that interest rates on 30-year, 20-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages are some of the lowest in history.  We don’t know how they will increase over the next two years.

In discussions with friends about their plans to purchase a home I often hear them say that they would like to purchase in a year or two.  This is great news for everyone.  However, I usually try to educate them on the current advantages of low mortgage interest rates. – Cooper Jacobs Real Estate

Taking advantage of a 4% or lower loan rate can save prospective homebuyers thousands, if not over $100,000 in the amount of interest paid on the life of a loan.[1] Currently, interest rates on a 30-year fixed loan are setting at 4.02%.  That is the lowest since June 2013.[2] With the economy on track for a solid 3.5% annual growth and inflation rising, investors are beginning to dump bonds for stocks.[3] This, in turn forces financial institutions to raise the interest rates on loan products to keep a profit.

Seattle homes

The economy is no doubt on an upward trajectory.  Baring another economic disaster, the economy will continually improve and force interest rates up.  Can we predict whether interest rates will be significantly higher in 2016?  The answer is no.  However, we can say with confidence that they will be higher and when it comes to your money every dollar matters.

Current homeowners are taking advantage of these low interest rates by refinancing.  They understand the significant savings to be had by leaving their 30-year fixed rate mortgage for a new 20-year or 15-year fixed loan instead.  In fact, 44% of people who refinanced in the third quarter “ditched their existing 30-year fixed rate loan in favor of a shorter-termed 15-year or 20-year loan.  It’s the second quickest exodus from the 30-year fixed rate mortgage in recorded history…”[4]

So, instead of putting off the home buying process for another year or more, people should begin to get their feet wet.

  • Build a relationship with a local Seattle Realtor
  • Ask your Realtor for their trusted resources such as a referral for a lender.
  • Find out what kind of loan options you can qualify for and what is available.

By taking advantage of these resources you can be prepared to pull the trigger when you find a home that you love.  It should also be noted that using a Realtor that is from your neighborhood is a service that will cost you, as a potential home buyer, nothing out of pocket.  So, let a professional help you do the searching and narrow down the choices for you.  In the end, it is all about making things smooth and easy while saving money.


[1] Lisa Ward, “The Steep Cost of Not Refinancing,” The Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2014.

[2] Average 30 Year Fixed Mortgage rates, http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/data/30-year-mortgage-rates.aspx

[3] The Detroit News, “U.S. 30-Year Mortgage Rate up to 4.02%,” http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/personal-finance/2014/11/10/mortgage-rates-rise/18779027/

[4] Dan Green, Today’s Low Mortgage Rates Push Borrowers Away From 30- Year Loans, http://themortgagereports.com/16858/freddie-mac-refinance-report-transition-15-year-30-year-mortgage-loan

Cooper Jacobs Real Estate  realestate@cooperjacobs.com