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NWMLS brokers report brisk activity, noting “too early to tell” if coronavirus will soften sales

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND,Washington (March 5, 2020)

“We’re entering prime time for the real estate market, and more listings are on the way,” stated industry veteran J. Lennox Scott, as he reviewed the latest statistical report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. MLS figures for February show year-over-year (YOY) gains in new listings, pending sales, closed sales, and prices. Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate,expects a bump-up in inventory during March and April, but said, “We remain virtually sold out in many areas in the more affordable and mid-price ranges.”

Northwest MLS representatives who commented on last month’s activity reported little impact so far from the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat.

“It’s still too early to tell if the broadening effects of the coronavirus will sideline buyers,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. “What we do know is that news of the virus led equity markets sharply lower and this caused mortgage rates to drop significantly. Therefore, the question is whether buyers will put their search on hold until the virus has abated, or if they will decide to move forward so they don’t miss out on near historic low mortgage rates,” he added.

David Maider, broker/owner at Windermere Real Estate/M2 in Everett, agreed with Gardner. “It remains to be seen if the coronavirus scare will have any impact at all on the local real estate market other than to lower interest rates,” he stated.

“While the news is full of COVID-19, the stock market correction, and an unexpected interest rate cut that didn’t impress Wall Street, the Puget Sound region’s real estate market continues to stand strong,” stated Mike Grady, president and COO at Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue. “Our agents aren’t yet seeing any impact on open house attendance due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We continue to be bullish on the Puget Sound economy and real estate market.”

“I haven’t noticed any decrease in open house activity or in sellers being reluctant to have buyers view their home,” reported NWMLS director Mike Larson, the designated broker at ALLEN Realtors in Lakewood. “Short term, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in investors turning to the bond market, which means lower interest rates and more buying power. Long-term, this virus could start to wear on overall consumer confidence, which is never good for real estate markets.”

“Historically low interest rates should help the housing market sustain strong momentum during the coronavirus outbreak,” according to Scott.

Member-brokers added 7,786 new listings to the MLS database during February. That was a jump of nearly25% from the same month a year ago when record snow hindered activity. Compared to January, last month’s inventory improved by 1,269 listings for a gain of nearly 19.5%.

February’s new listings (7,786) were the highest since October, but they fell short of matching demand. Brokers reported 8,355 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) for a YOY gain of more than 21%.

Inventory remained tight. At month end,there were 7,655 active listings in the 23 counties included in the MLS report. That was a 32% drop from the year ago total of 11,275. All but two counties (San Juan and Douglas) reported declines. Thurston County had the largest year-over-year drop, at 45.7%, followed by Snohomish (down 42%) and King (down 40.7%).

There is only 1.45 months of supply area-wide, according to Northwest MLS data. It is even more sparse in the four-county Puget Sound region where there is barely over a month’s supply (1.1 months). Snohomish and Thurston counties had the distinction of having the sparsest inventory, with both areas reporting less than a month (0.93)of supply.

“The Snohomish County housing market continued on a torrent pace during February,” said NWMLS director David Maider. Low inventory, a return to historically low interest rates, and plenty of buyer demand are stimulating the activity, according to Maider, owner/broker at Windermere Real Estate M2 in Everett. In many cases, sellers are receiving multiple offers exceeding the asking price, he added.

“The spring market has arrived,” exclaimed Dean Rebhuhn, owner at Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville. Multiple offers are normal in hot market areas, and many buyers are having pre-inspections before making offers to sellers, according to Rebhuhn. He said buyers are taking advantage of historically low interest rates and low down payment programs such as FHA with 3.5% down, zero down VA, and low down conventional mortgages.

Current listings are attracting brisk activity, stated John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle. “Almost every new listing has had tremendous showing activity and multiple offers,” he remarked.

Deely described open house activity as “above average.” More than 400 buyers previewed four listings in the past 10 days. A north King County property in the $600,000 price range that was on the market for a week with an offer review on Tuesday had eight offers at $100,000 over the asking price, according to Deely, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.

“Ultra-tight inventory is terrific news for sellers, but it creates challenges for buyers, especially move-up buyers who are selling and buying in the same market,” said Larson. “Buyers who need to sell before they buy a different home are experiencing the very real dilemma of either being a contingent buyer, which no seller will even remotely consider, or of possibly being temporarily homeless if their home sells quickly and they can’t find a replacement,” he explained, adding, “Having a broker who can help navigate that terrain is super important.

”Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at John L. Scott in Poulsbo, said buyers’ pent-up demand continues to grow despite “turmoil in the marketplace, stocks riding a roller coaster, falling mortgage interest rates and shrinking inventory.” He noted buyers in Kitsap County have little to choose from with YOY inventory being down about 30%. “At any given open house there is heavy traffic and most new listings that are correctly priced are receiving multiple offers,” Wilson remarked.

Due to the housing shortage in Kitsap County, Wilson said some buyers are turning to alternatives, such as buying land and moving a mobile home onto it or purchasing land with the intent to build a home. “New construction cannot go up fast enough and unless it is already permitted, there would be two years’ worth of studies and permitting before any nails are driven.

”Grady reported similar demand in other areas. “Agents in our Kent Station office recently reported putting homes on the market and receiving multiple offers within three days,” he reported. At a Bellevue listing, more than two dozen couples attended an open house this past weekend.

Brokers say the supply-demand imbalance is contributing to rising prices.

The Northwest MLS report shows the median price system-wide for the 5,265 homes and condos that sold in February rose 9.34% from a year ago, from $407,000 to $445,000. Thirteen counties reported double-digit increases, while four counties had price drops.

“Skagit County continues to outperform, along with other areas immediately outside the Greater Seattle area,”noted James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research. Prices in Skagit jumped nearly 27.8%. He also mentioned Kittitas, where prices surged 21.9%. “Price movements now are more like the spring season –it looks like the groundhog was right, spring came early!

”Young also described Kitsap and Thurston counties as outperformers in the Puget Sound region, noting prices rose 16.9% and 13.1%respectively. “This is consistent with recent activity in perimeter areas as home buyers seek value,” he suggested.

Grady said,“While we don’t have a crystal ball for these uncertain times, I continue to believe the indicators and information I’m hearing from agents on the ground support that our market will continue strong.” He believes 2020 will rival 2017 with similar short days on market, tight inventory and in many markets, a return to multiple offers.

Nationally, an editor with realtor.com reported the U.S. housing market is already feeling the effects of what could soon be declared a pandemic. “The already sluggish luxury real estate market has depended in recent years on an injection of Chinese buyers,”wrote Clare Trapasso in her report on coronavirus fears and possible impacts on real estate. She found that fewer Chinese buyers who account for a “significant chunk”of luxury buyers are touring properties in the U.S., thanks in part to the temporary travel ban enacted to prevent the spread of the virus.

“China has been the most important source of foreign demand for real estate,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors®. Wealthy Chinese buyers often purchase luxury properties, such as high-rise condos, in California and New York. “The upper-end market can expect to be softer as a result.

“Northwest Multiple Listing Service is a not-for-profit, member-owned organization that facilitates cooperation among its member real estate firms. With more than 2,300 member firm offices and 30,000 brokers across Washington state, NWMLS(www.nwmls.com)is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. While based in Kirkland, Washington, its service area spans 23 counties and it operates 20 local service centers. ###For more news, visit nwmls.com and select “News & Information,” (includes latest press release, statistics and Northwest REporter),plus the NWMLSMedia Kit.

Home buyers in Western Washington “hit the ground running” in January

Source: NWMLS

“All indicators point to a vigorous spring market,” suggested broker Dean Rebhuhn when reviewing just-released statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report covering 23 counties shows pending sales outgained new listings, record-low inventory that’s down 33% from a year ago, and double-digit price increases.

Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate(the largest regional real estate company in the Western U.S.), noted home buyers did not take very much time off during the holidays. “They hit the ground running as soon as the new year kicked off.”(Windermere has 140offices in the NWMLS market area.)

Rebhuhn, the owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville, said new jobs, low interest rates, and lifestyle changes continue to drive the market. “Hot spot markets are experiencing multiple offers,” he reported.

Northwest MLS brokers added 6,517 new listings during January, a year-over-year decline of more than 8%. Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) topped new listing activity by 871 units. Brokers reported 7,388 pending sales last month, a 2.3% decline from the same month a year ago.

“So now we have a three month trend where we’re seeing pending transactions exceeding new listings addedin all major counties in the Puget Sound region,”observed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “Inventory continues to decline slowly to barely more than a month’s on hand.

Our brokers are reporting it ‘feels like 2017,’ with multiple offers returning and review dates (where sellers identify a date to review all offers) being added to the mix because of the number of offers they are receiving,” he added.

At the end of January, the MLS database totaled only 7,791 active listings of single family homes and condos, well-below the year-ago figure of 11,687 (down 33.3%).

A check of records dating to 2005 shows the selection is at a new low level, shrinking below the previous low of 7,921 reported for February 2018.In fact, for the 15 year span from 2005-2019 (180 months), inventory has dipped below 10,000 listings during only eightof those months.

Measured by months of supply(the ratio of active listings to closed sales), there was 1.54 months of inventory system-wide at the end of January. The selection was even more meager around Puget Sound, ranging from 1.1 months in Pierce County to about 1.3 months in King County.

“The fever in the real estate market is over the lack of inventory and competition from high buyer demand, not the flu,”said NWMLS board member John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

Looking at the report for single family homes in King County(excluding condos), he noted the number of active listings is down nearly 44% from a year ago, while closed sales rose more than 7.1%.

Northwest MLS 2019 Real Estate Sales Statistics

Source: NWMLS (January16, 2020)

Members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported 92,503 closed sales during 2019, slightly fewer than the previous year, but the dollar volume surpassed 2018 by more than $1.8 billion for gain of over 3.8%.

Measured by dollars, last year’s sales of single family homes and condominiums were valued at just over $49billion. The sales activity reflects the work of around32,000brokers at more than2,400 member offices. The member-owned Northwest MLS serves 23 counties around the state.Collectively, these counties encompass more than 82% of the state’s population.

Of last year’s 92,503completed sales, 80,734were single family homes (87.3%of the total) and 11,769were condos (12.7%). Newly-built residences accounted for about 13%of the sales.

The area-wide median price for last year’s sales of single family homes and condominiums(combined)was $425,000, a gain of about 5.7%from the year-ago figure of $402,000. A comparison by county shows median sales prices ranged from $149,900in Ferry County to $619,000in King County.

Year-over-year prices for single family homes (excluding condominiums) increased about 6.1%system-wide, jumping from $410,000in 2018 to last year’s median price of $435,000. Condo prices were flat, rising less than one percent from the 2018 figure of $352,000 to last year’s median selling price of $355,000.

Inventory shortages persisted throughout 2019. Brokers added 110,940 new listings (down 5.3% from the 2018 total of 117,177), but that volume was outpaced by pending sales.

Member-brokers reported 114,410 mutually accepted offers during 2019, a slight gain (1.9%) over 2018 when they logged 112,267 pending sales.Last year, the area-wide supply, as measured by months of inventory, averaged 1.78months, about the same as 2018. Among the counties in the MLS service area, Thurston had the lowest level,averaging just 1.14months, followed by Pierce at 1.3 months.Five other counties reported averaging less than two months of supply. In general, industry analysts use a 4-to-6 month range as an indicator of a balanced market, favoring neither buyers nor sellers.

Sales of high-end single family homes outgained 2018by about 3.3%, with homes selling for more than $1 million rising from 6,101in 2018 to last year’s total of 6,299; of these 65 residences commanded $5 million or more. The highest priced home in the 2019 sales report, located in Hunts Point, sold for $37,500,000. Sales of luxury condos fell below 2018 totals, declining 11.4%. During 2019, a total of 2,951condos sold for $500,000 or more. The previous year, 3,332 condos sold for a half-million dollars or more. Of last year’s high-end condo sales, 391 buyers paid $1 million and up. The most expensive condo, at nearly $4.7 million,was in downtown Seattle.

What Will 2020 Bring for Borrowers?



Source: Peter DeVries, Loan Consultant – Loan Depot

Jan. 9, 2020    

  2019 was the best year for mortgage rates since 2011, but what will the new year bring for the mortgage industry?

As we’ve seen throughout the second half of last year, fixed mortgage rates averaged less than 4%. Most economists speculate that rates will remain just south of the 4% mark for the remainder of the year, however, several factors could impact how long today’s low rates will last.

Firstly, the latest crisis with Iran could serve as a catalyst for a drop in 2020 as instability among foreign relations typically drives down long-term interest rates. Secondly, during election years, the Fed is typically reluctant to make any major moves and choose to remain on the sidelines as it relates to hikes or cuts. As long as rates hold steady, consumers are likely to begin the highly anticipated spring buying season earlier.

However, even if rates tick north of 4% as this monumental year unfolds, it’s still extremely attractive when compared to nearly 4.5% rates in early 2019. Despite somewhat low inventory, 2020 will remain an opportune year for first-time buyers, especially considering the positive combination of low rates, newly expanded loan limits, and numerous low down payment options available.
 
  More borrowers will qualify for loans as a result of the recent increase in loan limits. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced the increase of the 2020 conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In most parts of the country, the 2020 loan limit for one-unit properties will increase to $510,400 from $484,350. This will provide more buying power to homebuyers across the nation. High-cost area loan limits are also increasing.
 
  Check out FHFA’s full list of the new loan limits for each county nationwide.  
  Mortgage rates have been edging lower for nearly 2 weeks and are now at their lowest in exactly 1 month. 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.72% for the week ending January 2, down two basis points from the prior week. By contrast, mortgage rates stood at 4.45% a year ago. 15-year fixed rates dropped by three basis point to 3.19%.

If you or your clients are in the market for a purchase or refinance, now may be a favorable time to apply and save on interest over time. Don’t forget to ask me about loanDepot’s mello smartloan™ and how you or your clients will enjoy a faster, more secure, stress-free mortgage process. Source: http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/  
  If you have any questions, contact me anytime! I can help your clients explore the best mortgage options for either a purchase or refinance.  
Peter DeVries NMLS# 1156114
Loan Consultant
619 Commercial Ave Unit 24
Anacortes, WA 98221-1730
Office: (360) 706-6104
Cell: (360) 791-8064
My Website
Email Me
     
Rates, terms and availability of programs are subject to change without notice. loanDepot.com, LLC is a sister company to mellohome, a licensed Texas real estate brokerage. loanDepot.com, LLC. All rights reserved. NMLS #174457 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). For more licensing, please visit www.loanDepot.com/licensing.
 
This message was sent from loanDepot.com, LLC to bo@signatureservice.com as a result of an existing business relationship. It was sent from: loanDepot.com, LLC, 619 Commercial Ave Unit 24 `, Anacortes, WA 98221-1730.

Eager home buyers were plentiful in December but their choices were meager

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (January 6, 2020) – “The buyers are out there and are showing up at open
houses and making multiple offers on new listings,” was how one industry leader summarized
December’s housing activity involving members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in
Poulsbo, also said the severe shortage of inventory – “much lower than in years past” – will lead to
continued buyer frustration and escalating home values. He noted one of his colleagues added a new
listing the day after Christmas and it quickly drew 11 offers.


Newly-released figures from Northwest MLS show inventory at the end of December was down 31%
from the same month a year ago, with only 8,469 active listings compared to the year-ago total of 12,275.
The figures include single family homes and condominiums across the 23 counties in the MLS service
area.


Last month marked the sixth straight month of declining inventory, noted James Young, director of the
Washington Center for Real Estate Research. MLS figures show inventory peaked in June when the
database had 16,680 active listings ̶ about twice as many as December.


Inventory for single family homes and condos (combined) was down by more than 30% in seven
counties: Thurston (-54%), Pierce (-38.9%), King (-38.8%), Snohomish (-35.6%), Mason (-32%), Kitsap
(-30.6%), and Skagit (-30.5%). System-wide there is only about 1.2 months of supply.


The inventory of single family homes (excluding condos) is especially tight in several counties, notably
Thurston (-54%), King (-41.4%), Pierce (-40%), Snohomish (-36.1%), and Kitsap (-34.3%).


Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere Real Estate/East and NWMLS director, noted the sharp
drop in King County marked the first time since March 2018 that the supply of homes dropped below one
month. “Looking all the way back to 2012 when home values first began recovering, King County has
only logged six months with supply levels lower than where we currently stand,” he remarked.


“This market is unlike any market I’ve seen in the South Sound over the past 40 years. Too many buyers
chasing too few properties,” remarked Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in
Gig Harbor.


December’s volume of active listings included 3,777 new listings added during the month, but during the
same timeframe, 5,943 sellers accepted offers on their properties. That number of pending sales was up
about 4.7% from twelve months ago.


Brokers said December is typically a slow month for home sales with holidays and historically cold, wet
weather, but several MLS representatives commented on last month’s surge in activity:

Revolt Against the Elites

Source: Jim Rickards

You’re acquainted with recent demonstrations in Hong Kong. But this is not a local phenomenon. Protests bordering on riots are occurring in Barcelona, Paris, Santiago, Baghdad, Caracas and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the UK, Israel, Italy and the U.S. all have governments that are divided to the point of paralysis.

When you add it all up, it is reasonable to ask if we are watching the beginning of the end of the existing order.

This article offers a closer look at the situation in Santiago. But the larger point is that we are witnessing a global surge in urban protests against elites and governments that either deny human rights or block paths to economic progress or both.

Investors with gold, silver, land, hard assets, fine art and other tangibles are in the best position to survive the worst.

Comment from Bo Foster:

Real estate is a hard asset! No matter what one’s political views are, even with its own short term value fluctuations, long term, real estate is a lot more likely to survive economic upheavals.

Bo

Northwest MLS brokers say transition to fall creating opportunities for buyers

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (October 7, 2019)

Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported year-
over-year gains in pending sales, closed sales and prices, but its report summarizing September activity
also showed an 18% drop in inventory compared to a year ago.


“The transition into the fall housing market creates opportunities for homebuyers,” suggested J. Lennox
Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “Although there are fewer listings than what
buyers find during peak summer months, there is also less competition” for the available inventory, he
added.


While the intensity of sales activity is typically lower for new listings in the fall and winter, Scott noted
“It appears we are headed toward a more intense winter market than last year.” He said he expects the
number of unsold listings will continue to decrease once the winter “clean-up” of inventory begins.


At the end of September, MLS brokers reported 15,982 total active listings, down more than 18% from
the same month a year ago when the selection totaled 19,526 listings. Only three of the 23 counties served
by Northwest MLS – Clark, San Juan and Whatcom – had year-over-year gains in inventory, while 18
counties had double-digit drops. Thurston County reported the sharpest shrinkage, at nearly 35%.


“September’s housing market was a bit of a roller coaster, up in certain areas and down in others,”
commented OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.. Within the four-county Puget Sound
region, Pierce County prices rose more than 10% thanks to high demand and low inventory, he noted.
“Buyers continue to be drawn to the area thanks to more affordable housing costs, but this influx is also
driving up prices,” he remarked.


MLS data show the median price for last month’s home sales in Pierce County ($379,950) was $213,800
less than the median price in King County ($593,750). A comparison of single family prices (excluding
condos) reveals a $275,500 difference between the two counties.


“In King County, prices were down nearly 2.7% while pending sales rose nearly 10%. This tells us there
is no shortage of buyers in the Greater Seattle area,” stated Jacobi. He also said home prices normally
start to taper off this time of year, “so this isn’t a major cause for concern.” Within King County, prices
rose in four of the six sub-markets; only Seattle (down 3.2%) and Vashon (down almost 28%) reported
drops.


The median price for single family homes and condos that sold last month in King County was $593,750,
down from the year-ago figure of $610,000 and the first time it dipped below $600,000 since January.
Three other counties, Okanogan, Pacific, and Clallam, also reported year-over-year price drops. Joining
Pierce County with double-digit price increases from a year ago were eight other counties.


System-wide, prices were up 5%, rising from $400,000 a year ago to $420,000. The volume of closed
sales increased about 4.4% from a year ago (7,962 versus 7,630).