All posts by terrasano

Housing market rebounds from February freeze

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (April 5, 2019) – Both pending sales and new listing activity around Western
Washington surged during March as buyers, sellers, and brokers emerged from February’s record
snowfall.

Brokers added 10,516 new listings of single family homes and condos to the Northwest Multiple Listing
Service inventory last month, the highest monthly volume since August 2018. Compared to the same
month a year ago, new listings across the 23 counties in the report were down slightly (79 fewer units).
MLS members also reported 10,261 pending sales during the same timeframe, the highest number of
mutually accepted offers since July, and nearly matching the year-ago total of 10,311.

“After the housing adjustment in 2018, this year’s spring market is back to frenzied in the more affordable
and mid-price ranges,” remarked J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. Noting
March is the start of the prime-time selling season, he expects this year “will be no exception.” He also
commented on improved affordability from last fall’s price adjustments in the close-in job centers of
Seattle and the Eastside. “This improved affordability, along with lower interest rates and very strong job
growth, all point us in the right direction for red-hot acceleration again this year,” Scott stated.

Year-over-year prices area-wide were up 3.5 percent, rising from $401,761 to $415,950, with most
counties reporting gains. King County was an exception. Prices there were flat (down 0.4 percent),
slipping from the year-ago median of $625,000 to last month’s figure of $622,500, but rising from
February’s price of $604,000.

Compared to February, prices rose 2.2 percent system-wide. The four-county Puget Sound region had
larger month-to-month increases, led by Kitsap County, up 5.9 percent from February. Prices in
Snohomish County jumped nearly 5.5 percent, while King County’s median prices rose more than 3
percent when comparing February to March.

Commenting on the uptick in new listings and new sales, broker Dean Rebhuhn pointed to lower
mortgage interest rates and a growing selection of properties as drivers of activity. “Well-priced
properties are selling. Buyers who are getting fully underwritten loan commitments are winning the prize
– the home,” stated Rebhuhn, the owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville.

At month end, there were 12,017 active listings of single family homes and condos in the Northwest MLS
database. That represents an increase of more than 36 percent from a year ago when there were only 8,825
active listings. Inventory more than doubled in King County compared to a year ago, rising from 2,060
active listings to 4,263 at the end of March. Nine counties reported less inventory than 12 months ago.

Even with improving inventory, there is less than two months of supply overall and in seven counties,
including Pierce (1.2 months), Snohomish (1.3 months), Kitsap (1.4 months) and King (nearly 1.9
months).

How You Can Navigate the Property Market to Find an Accessible Home

Source: Natalie Jones

Buying a home should be an adventure, not a nightmare. Still,
it can be daunting process nonetheless, especially when you’re
looking for something accessible. Thankfully, there are plenty
of ways to help you find the house you need.

Know What You Need

You know better than anyone about what you require from an
accessible home. Check the doorways in every room to make sure
they are wide enough, and remember that hallways need to offer
enough space to be easily navigable. Things like door handles
and faucets can be switched out, but it is nice if they are
already in lever form.

You also want to look for any possible
repair issues. Make sure the floors, especially near the
bathroom, are even, as warping indicates water damage. Plus,
you want an even surface to prevent falls.

Further, there should be no cracks in the walls, as this can mean the home is
poorly constructed. The most important thing, though, is to be
sure you can move through the home comfortably.

Research the Area

Once you have a list of items you need, you can begin to
research a neighborhood. When you buy a home, you are also
getting the surrounding area. If you can go visit in person,
speak to potential neighbors. Ask what they love about the area
but also what needs to be improved.

Examine the paths around
the home, and see if the sidewalk is in good repair. Lastly,
you want to be certain that crime levels for the neighborhood
are low so you can feel safe in your home.

Look at the Community

Just like with the neighborhood, you want to be confident that
the town itself fits your needs. Similarly, look at the
sidewalks throughout the town. Are they even and well-
maintained?

The aisles in shops should be wide enough for you
to easily get through. As well, consider the landscape. You may
not want to live in an area that has rolling hills or steep
inclines.

Is there a hospital close by? Do you need to be near
a school? What about proximity to work? Is there a local
organization that provides help or information to disabled
individuals? If so, they may have insights into the community.
These things impact whether you should make a bid on a home.

Use Your Resources

Finding the house itself can seem daunting. Thankfully, you
have a few options at your disposal. The first is to deal
directly with a realtor. You can give them a full list of your
needs, and they can work with you to give you options.

Additionally, there are websites you can use to expand your
investigation. While many sites have search functions to narrow
down your hunt, there are other pages dedicated to accessible
housing.

You don’t need to feel like you are at a dead end;
these websites deal only with houses that can work for you.

Prepare for the Move Itself

Some exhausting aspects of moving itself are organizing,
packing, and then hauling your goods to a new home. Save
yourself some stress by hiring professional packers. They are
trained in the art of wrapping and packing, and can protect
your things. It will save you time, both from the packing
itself, but also with shopping for supplies.

Just be certain that you do your research and compare companies.

Most importantly, get accurate quotes before you make a decision.
Depending on how far you are moving, you may want to read up on
different companies. A mover can make things easier, but
confirm that they are reputable and fully licensed.

Don’t let the stress overwhelm you. Get the help you need, and
further your chances at success with thorough research. You can
find the home perfect for you and your family.

Homebuyers Resuming Search Amid Improving Inventory, Attractive Terms

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 7, 2019) – Homebuyers around Washington state are making their
way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and
more approachable sellers, according to officials with Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Northwest MLS statistics for January show year-over-year improvement in the volume of new listings
and total inventory, along with moderating selling prices. Although fewer pending sales (mutually
accepted offers) were reported than a year ago (down about 3.3 percent), January was the smallest year-
over-year decline since May 2018 when the drop was about 2.7 percent.

Commenting on the MLS statistics summarizing last month’s activity, broker Gary O’Leyar said
January’s post-holiday real estate activity doesn’t normally pick up until later in the month, but this year
the uptick began early. “January started as a bit of a surprise. Open house activity was very robust, and we
saw multiple offers in numerous instances again,” reported O’Leyar, the owner of Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices Signature Properties in Seattle.

Brokers tallied 7,564 pending sales during January, a decline from a year-ago when they recorded 7,820
transactions.

Seven counties had increases in pending sales of single family homes and condos compared with 12
months ago, including King (up nearly 7.5 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.8 percent).

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of
Washington, commented on pending sales. The mixed results, including “healthy growth” in King and
Snohomish counties, “corresponds well to upward movement in mortgage applications late in December,
a leading indicator for the month to follow,” he noted, adding, “One should expect to see increased sales
activity in the coming months throughout the region if mortgage applications continue to stabilize or
increase.”

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said buyers “came out of the
woodwork” after the holidays, eager to take advantage of better housing conditions. “Areas close to the
job centers are seeing improved affordability from spring 2018,” he said, attributing it to lower interest
rates, strong job growth, and adjusted pricing.

Scott said buyers are also attracted by expanded inventory resulting from the addition of new listings and
a higher number of unsold inventory, although he noted “inventory levels are still considered a shortage.”
Prospective buyers who sat out the second half of 2018 or were pushed to the sidelines during last year’s
heated market are finding better buying conditions, agreed Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere
Real Estate/East. “Interest rates are near a nine month low and buyers have a stronger platform for
negotiating, which have helped drive a 9 percent increase in pending sales of single family homes in King
County,” Wasser stated.

Attentive Home Buyers Can Find “Good Values and Receptive Sellers”

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (January 7, 2019) – December brought few surprises for real estate brokers in
Western Washington with holidays, fluctuating interest rates, and volatility in consumer confidence
contributing to slower activity. Several leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service described 2018
as a transition year for residential real estate.

New data from the MLS show inventory in its 23-county market area dipped below two months of supply
for the first time since July. A year-over-year comparison of the number of new listings, pending sales,
and closed sales show drops overall, while prices rose from the same month a year ago.

Member-brokers added 3,631 new listings of single family homes and condominiums during December
(10.4 percent fewer than a year ago), boosting total active listings to 12,275, up from the year-ago volume
of 8,553. Pending sales were down about 8.4 percent from twelve months ago (5,677 versus 6,198), and
the volume of closed sales dropped nearly 16.6 percent (6,374 versus 7,642).

For 2018, members of Northwest MLS reported completing 92,555 transactions, which compares with
99,345 closed sales during 2017 for a drop of about 6.8 percent. The median price on last year’s closed
sales of single family homes and condominiums combined was $402,000, up $32,000 (8.64 percent) from
2017.

Commenting on inventory, declines in closed sales and the drop in month’s supply, MLS director Dick
Beeson said, “There’s lots of speculation as to the reasons why. One thing for sure: this situation can
make for a deliciously deceptive market for either buyers or sellers.” The veteran Realtor said buyers who
are paying attention will find very good values and receptive sellers.

“Timing the interest rate market is beyond the capability of most everyone. Therefore, buyers should act
now, act deliberately, act decisively, and act in conjunction with an experienced real estate professional,”
advised Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor.
Brokers said many of last month’s buyers took advantage of the shifting market.

“Buyers in December were reaping the benefits of market-weary sellers who were willing to give up part
of their bloated home equity to make a deal and move on,” reported John Deely, principal managing
broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of
Washington, noted last month was a very different December from a year ago. “While active listings are
up significantly (43.5 percent) from a year ago, interest rates have also gone up by over 80 basis points,
meaning the typical mortgage repayment has increased by about 10 percent for those looking to buy. That
limits spending power and stops buyers from bidding up for the house they want rather than the house
they can afford.”

Organization & Decluttering Tips for the New Year

 

Source: Mark Friedrich, Penrith Home Loans

Organization and Decluttering Tips for the New Year

When you stop to look around your home after the holidays, does it seem as though you’ll never find a place for all the new toys and gadgets? Or perhaps your home is just long overdue for some reorganizing. Fear not! With some simple tips for decluttering and rearranging, you’ll set the tone for the whole year and keep your belongings exactly where they should be.

Declutter First

You’ll need to clear out the clutter before you can move on to getting organized. Let’s start here:
Icon Sort your belongings into Keep, Donate, and Toss piles, which will start the ball rolling as you begin your home’s transformation.
Icon If you got a new one for a holiday gift, get rid of the old one. Clothing with stains or holes should be replaced with updated versions. Sort through your bookshelves to make room for new books, plus, your local library or school will be grateful for a donation.
Icon Be sure to deal with your Toss and Donate piles on the same day you made them — if you leave piles sitting around, it might feel even more cluttered than before you started!
Icon Don’t overwhelm yourself, however: this is not a one-day job. Be realistic about what you can get done. Break it up by room or by area. Living and dining room one day, kitchen and laundry room the next, and then on to the bedrooms.

Organize Next

A place for everything, and everything in its place. That’s important to remember as you move on to organizing: If you can’t find or make a home for it, then it doesn’t belong in your home.

Boxes, baskets, jars, shelves; plastic, wicker, wire, glass: There are so many options for neatening your possessions and ensuring they’re readily accessible. Whatever you choose, here are some basics for keeping them organized and functional:

Icon Put like with like. This seems like a no-brainer, until you realize you have 12 tubes of toothpaste.
Icon Favorites up front. Things you use the most need to be the easiest to get to.
Icon Label everything. If you’re not using clear containers, this is an especially crucial step, but even if you are, you can’t go wrong by labeling them. That way no one in your home will have an excuse for not putting things where they belong.
Icon Break down storage spaces into even smaller units. Drawer dividers separate socks from underwear; under-sink shelves allow you to see how much toilet paper you have left and your cleaning supplies; a table or shelf in your entryway with (labeled!) baskets and bowls will ensure keys, purses, backpacks, and mail can all be found quickly and easily.

If at first you don't succeed, use a hack.

Well, some of these aren’t really hacks, but they are ways to maximize your storage, minimize your clutter, and help you get more organized so you can tackle other projects in your life (like decluttering your desk, or getting the kids to pick up after themselves …).
Icon Look up — and down. Under the bed, over the door, on the side of a cabinet, on the landing: These are all places where a box, hook, shelf, or storage unit can be stashed.
Icon Store neatly. If you have an attic, basement, or garage, be sure you’re (neatly!) storing items there that you use infrequently but need to keep, such as holiday decorations or party supplies.
Icon Think vertically. Cookie sheets don’t have to lie flat. Shelving doesn’t have to stop at eye level. Repurpose a hanging shoe organizer for seasonal clothes like sweaters and tank tops. Or an over-the-door organizer for toiletries, freeing up your linen closet shelves for … you got it! Linens!
Icon Repurpose. A magazine holder full of pot lids. A spice rack full of beauty supplies. An old dresser drawer with wheels attached slipped under the bed. When you think creatively, you can switch storage meant for one item to a completely different purpose.

Pro Tips: Roll towels to take up less space in the cabinet and make an attractive display. Pack all the parts of a bedding set inside one of the pillowcases.

For Special Consideration: Your Home Office

If you maintain an office in your home, these tips can help you keep that area organized as well:

  • Go paperless whenever possible.
  • Color code your files.
  • Label the wires leading from your computer, printer, speakers, etc.
  • Clear your desk of office supplies. Store them all in drawers or in a storage system similar to what you’ve just done in the rest of your home.
  • Set up a bulletin board that holds the day’s priorities.
  • Set aside 10 minutes at the end of the day to reorganize and prep for the next day.

Your productivity will go up as your stacks of clutter go down!

Of course, the most important part of this whole process is to stick to it. If you get it out, put it back. If you open it, close it. If it’s dirty, wash it. If it’s damaged, fix it. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”

Whether you’re ready to move or update your current space, I can help you find the home financing to turn your dream house into your actual home. Contact me today to get started!
Mark Friedrich Photo Mark Friedrich
NMLS ID 1266389
Penrith Home Loans/M2
9502 19th Avenue SE, Suite A
Seattle, WA 98208
425-357-9390
EMAIL ME
Visit my websiteFacebookTwitter
Penrith Home Loans/M2 Logo

This letter is for information purposes only and is not an advertisement to extend customer credit as defined by Section 12 CFR 1026.2 Regulation Z. Program rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time.

Mark Friedrich, NMLS ID 1266389
Penrith Home Loans/M2 WA-CL 713524, OR-ML 5271
9502 19th Avenue SE, Suite A Seattle, WA 98208

 

How To Age In Place Safely In Your Home

 

Source: Michael Longsdon

Every year, about half of all Americans over 65 suffer a fall. These can be harmless, but they can also cause lasting injuries and even death. As you grow older, it is important to take proactive steps to prevent accidents by making changes to your environment that minimize the risk of falling and enhance your ability to age in place.

Falling risks increased in certain areas

More than half of all senior falling injuries occur inside the home. The bathroom, kitchen, hallway, stairs, and bedroom pose the most risk for a multitude of reasons.

Bathroom and kitchen

According to the AARP, the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house for seniors. The kitchen is a close second. This is because water and soap make surfaces slippery, getting in and out of a shower or bath also involves balance, which can tend to deteriorate with age.

The vast majority of injuries in the bathroom could be avoided with the installation of grab bars next to all showers, baths and toilets. You should also place a non-slip rubber mat on the surface or your bath or shower to avoid slipping accidents and always use a bath mat to absorb excess water on the floor. Kitchens should likewise be outfitted with non-slip mats at the sink and fridge, where spills are most likely to occur.

Hallways and stairs

While individual rooms in the house tend to be well-lit, hallways and stairwells can sometimes be neglected as they are rarely used during the night. This means that an older person who, say, needs to use the toilet in the middle of the night, will not be able to see where they are going and are likely to slip and fall.

You should also clear hallways of any potential tripping hazards. This includes carpets and throw rugs, which are one of the most common causes of indoor falls. At the very least, buy some non-slip rug pads, which adhere to the bottom of your rugs to keep it from curling upward and tripping someone over. Stairs may be made safer by installing a gate at the top and increasing the amount of ambient lighting available. Reflective stips may also add to visibility.

Bedroom

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for a variety of reasons including your general physical and mental health, but it can also reduce the risk of falls. You are more likely to injure yourself if you are tired throughout the day and are not paying attention to where you step. Additional falling risks in the bedroom stem from standing up too soon or rising from an unstable surface, such as a sagging mattress.

Many people assume that older people need less sleep, but this is simply untrue. While changes in sleep architecture are normal as we age, sleep deprivation is not. Senior sleep needs are the same as that of a middle-aged adult, but the difference is that they might have a harder time getting the recommended number of hours. If you are not sleeping well, you need to figure out why and tackle the problem right away. Start by ensuring your mattress allows for quality, restful sleep. Mattresses for seniors need to maintain neutral spine alignment and have enough contouring to relieve pressure points. Refer to this guide to learn more about how to choose the best mattress for your specific needs.

Exercise

Start making small changes to your lifestyle as well. For instance, improving your strength and balance through exercise – yoga is a great option – will also greatly help you avoid injury. A combination of environmental and lifestyle changes is the best guarantee for a safe and comfortable old age and it is never too soon to get started.

These small changes will help you age in place by decreasing your risk of injury and increasing your ability to live independently.

Slower Market Means Homebuyers Have “Newfound ability to negotiate”

SOURCE: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (November 6, 2018) – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory
reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers added the fewest new
listings since February, according to a new report. MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and
transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving
conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to
choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,”
said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.
“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales
system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real
Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it
encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of
8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7
percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Real estate veteran Mike Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, commented on the
current “win-win” conditions. “We’re entering that time of year when historically the market slows a bit
as we head into the holidays. Buyers continue to see an improving market compared to last year with the
inventory increasingly to 2.4 months of supply in King County, compared to the year-ago figure of less
than a month (0.98),” he stated.

Area-wide there is nearly 2.3 months of inventory, slipping from more than 2.5 months in September, and
improving on the year-ago figure of about 1.5 months of supply.

The year-over-year gains in supply, while notable, are still “way off from a balanced market that provides
five to six months of inventory,” Grady remarked, adding, “Contrary to recent media reports, the sky is
not falling,” he emphasized, pointing to rising prices and strong jobs reports as factors for a positive
outlook. (The State Employment Security Department reported Washington gained 4,500 jobs in
September.)

“Home prices in King County are up nearly 8.6 percent year over year, so we’re still experiencing
significant appreciation,” Grady stated. Given continued reports of hiring by companies in the Puget
Sound region and recent increases in inventory, he expects homebuyers will continue entering the market,
adding, “And sellers can still expect to get good prices — all this without the frenzy. A win-win,” he
proclaimed.

Balance “Finally returning” to Housing Market as Buyers Welcome More Choices, Moderating Prices

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (October 4, 2018) – Housing inventory continued to improve during September
while the pace of sales slowed in many counties served by Northwest Multiple Listing Service. “Balance is
finally returning to the market, and with it, slowing home price growth,” stated OB Jacobi, president of
Windermere Real Estate.

A new report from Northwest MLS shows double-digit increases in inventory in several of the 23 counties it
serves, led by a 78 percent year-over-year gain in King County. Despite improving selection in the central
Puget Sound region, a dozen counties reported drops in the number of active listings compared to last year.

System-wide, the month ended with 2.56 months of supply of single family homes and condos, well below
the 4-to-6 months analysts use as an indicator of a balanced market between sellers and buyers. The current
level is the highest since February 2015 when member-brokers reported 3.56 months of inventory. In King
County, supply exceeded two months for the first time since January 2015.

Condo inventory remains sparse, with only 0.34 months of supply area wide, despite improving inventory (up
nearly 70 percent from a year ago). The shortage is expected to ease as construction progresses on several
recently-announced high-rise projects.

Brokers added 10,458 new listings of single family homes and condos to the MLS database during
September, slightly more than the year-ago figure of 10,120. At month end, buyers could choose from 19,526
listings, a 22.9 percent improvement from twelve months ago when selection totaled 15,888 listings.

Commenting on the wider selection, Mike Grady said buyers “are at long last now seeing properties that stay
on the market longer.” Listings that are priced appropriately, “and not based on the feverish market we saw
just a few months ago are still selling quickly, and home prices are still showing 8 percent appreciation year-
over-year – more than double the rate of inflation,” added Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker
Bain.

With improving inventory, some brokers suggest the market may be showing signs of pausing, if not
softening. A market shift may be under way, but they believe activity will stay strong.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, encouraged would-be buyers to “put extra
focus on October,” which he described as the last great month for new listings until March 2019. “Over the
winter, new monthly resale listings will lower by approximately 50 percent compared to summer months.” He
also noted interest rates, currently in the upper 4 percent, are projected to rise in the coming months.

“This is a more traditional yearly market cycle taking the place of the unusually overheated real estate market
of the past several years,” said John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

A Decade Low in Housing Affordability Won’t Kill the Real Estate Boom

Source: Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, Stansberry Research

I’ve spent years urging anyone who would listen to buy a house…

Folks didn’t want to hear that story back in 2011, when I first began pounding the table. Investors were scared. Nobody wanted to buy.

That’s why housing was such a great deal, though. It was dirt-cheap and hitting all-time levels of affordability.

Plenty has changed since then…

U.S. home prices have steadily climbed, and housing affordability has fallen as a result.

Today, housing affordability is at a decade low. But as I’ll show, that doesn’t mean the boom is dead.

Let me explain…

The idea of housing affordability is simple. When someone buys a home, he doesn’t worry so much about the purchase price… He worries about the monthly payment. If he can afford the payment, he can afford the house.

The monthly payment includes a few numbers… namely the home’s price and the interest rate. Compare that with the person’s income, and you know how affordable (or not) a home would be.

Importantly, these numbers are similar for a lot of folks. So the National Association of Realtors uses median home prices, median income, and mortgage rates to build an overall measure of housing affordability in America.

This indicator tells us if housing is cheap, expensive, or somewhere in between.

Again, things have changed since I first began urging readers to buy real estate. Housing affordability is now at a 10-year low. Take a look…

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A high affordability number indicates housing is cheap… signaling a great time to buy. A low number indicates an expensive market, where folks will have to stretch to buy.

You can see that housing is getting less affordable. It recently fell to affordability levels not seen since 2008. But that doesn’t tell the full story.

Despite a decade low for affordability, we’re now right at the long-term average. Check it out…

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It’s true that the easy money in real estate might be behind us. But affordability hasn’t completely dried up.

We are clearly in the late innings of this boom. The great deals are getting harder to find, but certain markets still have plenty of value remaining.

I’ve personally put a large chunk of my net worth into Florida real estate. I’ve sold some of those properties for big profits… but I’ve been able to find new deals too.

So while affordability is down, I remain bullish on U.S. housing. We’re still near the long-term average for affordability in U.S. housing. And folks can still make money in U.S. real estate.

If you’re looking to put money to work, buying a house is still a solid deal today.