Tag Archives: Sales

Brokers report some good news for home buyers, but still expect Puget Sound’s “frantic market” to continue

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (May 7, 2018) – Home buyers may be cheered by an uptick in inventory, but the
improving supply is unlikely to reverse rising prices, suggest industry leaders from Northwest Multiple
Listing Service.

Commenting on just-released figures for April, which showed the highest level of active listings since
August, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate said, “For the first time in a long time we had
good news for buyers.” Noting supply is still lower than year-ago levels (down 5.6 percent), it jumped 14
percent from March, which Jacobi said “is a pretty significant increase even for this time of year.”

Northwest MLS brokers added 11,271 new listings to inventory during April, a gain of 6.3 percent when
compared to March, and up nearly 5.9 percent versus a year ago. April’s pending sales (mutually accepted
offers) totaled 10,574, improving on the same month a year ago and the previous month.

At month end, the active listings selection included 10,079 single family homes and condos, eclipsing the
total of 8,825 listings at the end of March. The condo segment grew 10.9 percent from March.

Of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS service area, only six of them reported year-over-year gains in
inventory compared to a year ago. King County was the only one in the Puget Sound region to notch a gain,
up 13.6 percent from a year ago.

Commenting on the uptick, Mike Grady, president and COO, Coldwell Banker Bain, remarked “We are
still WAY below a balanced market of five months of inventory, and this is even with interest rates ticking
slightly upward.”

Area-wide there is 1.3 months of supply, with 4-to-6 months used as a gauge of a balanced market. Three
counties – King, Kitsap, and Snohomish — reported less than a month of supply. The condo component
remains very tight with slightly more than three weeks (0.87 months) of supply.

Prices are still climbing at double-digit rates in most counties. Year-over-year prices for single family
homes and condos combined jumped about 15.3 percent overall, from $360,000 to $415,000. Within the
four-county Puget Sound region, King County notched the biggest gain at nearly 18.2 percent. Prices there
rose $100,000 from a year ago, from $550,000 to $650,000.

“There’s little reason to think we’ll be seeing a change in this frantic market anytime soon,” commented
Grady, citing double-digit appreciation in many of the most populous counties, expansion plans by Alaska
Airlines and Amazon, and other positive economic news as reasons for that expectation.

Existing-Home Sales Slightly Stir in September

Source: RISMedia

Existing-home sales slightly stirred in September, posting higher than in August but lower than one year prior, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports.

Existing-home sales totaled 5.39 million, a 0.7 percent increase from August but a 1.5 percent decrease from one year prior. Inventory increased 1.6 percent to 1.90 million, 6.4 percent below one year prior.

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “REALTORS® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings—especially at the lower end of the market—and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.”

Inventory is currently at a 4.2-month supply. Existing homes averaged 34 days on market in September, five days less than one year prior. All told, 48 percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than one month.

“Existing-home sales picked up momentum slightly in September compared to August, but were lower on a year-over-year basis for the first time since July 2016,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com®. “Inventories also continue to plunge, creating challenges for buyers across the country. On the bright side, we’re starting to see home price growth slow down, with sale prices up only 4.2 percent from a year ago.”

The metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market in September, according to data from realtor.com, were San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (30 days); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (32 days); Salt Lake City, Utah (35 days); and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (both 36 days).

The median existing-home price for all types of houses (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $245,100, a 4.2 percent increase from one year prior. The median price for a single-family existing home was $246,800, while the median price for an existing condo was $231,300.

“A continuation of last month’s alleviating price growth, which was the slowest since last December (4.5 percent), would improve affordability conditions and be good news for the would-be buyers who have been held back by higher prices this year,” Yun says.

Single-family existing-home sales came in at 4.79 million in September, a 1.1 percent increase from 4.74 million in August, but a 1.2 percent decrease from 4.85 million one year prior. Existing-condo and -co-op sales came in at 600,000, a 1.6 percent decrease from August and a 3.2 percent decrease from one year prior.

Twenty percent of existing-home sales in September were all-cash, with 15 percent by individual investors. Four percent were distressed.

The Midwest and West saw positive activity in September, with existing-home sales rising 1.6 percent to 1.30 million in the Midwest, with a median price of $195,800, and 3.3 percent to 1.24 million in the West, with a median price of $362,700. Existing-home sales in the South fell, 0.9 percent to 2.13 million, with a median price of $215,100. Existing-home sales in the Northeast were unmoved at 720,000, with a median price of $274,100.

“Home sales in the South continue to be hampered by post-hurricane weakness, while the Midwest and West regions show pretty strong pick-up in sales from August. It should be noted that the fires in California are not yet reflected in the data, so we’re likely to see more weakness on the horizon,” Hale says.

“Sales activity likely would have been somewhat stronger if not for the fact that parts of Texas and South Florida—hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—saw temporary, but notable declines,” says Yun.

First-time homebuyers comprised 29 percent of existing-home sales in September, a decrease from 31 percent in August.

“Nearly two-thirds of renters currently believe now is a good time to buy a home, but weakening affordability and few choices in their price range have made it really difficult for more aspiring first-time buyers to reach the market,” Yun says.

Adds Hale, “Interestingly, the softening in prices has not yet affected home listing prices. According to realtor.com data, the number of homes for sale are down 9 percent from a year ago, while listing prices – which continue to soar – are up 10 percent.  The discrepancy between list price and sales price increases suggests that some buyers may have reached a limit on the price increases they can afford.”

NAR President Bill Brown is concerned first-time homebuyers, and homeowners in general, will be adversely impacted by proposed tax reform.

“There’s no way around the fact that any proposal that marginalizes the mortgage interest deduction and eliminates state and local tax deductions essentially disincentives homeownership and is a potential tax hike on millions of middle-class homeowners,” says Brown. “Reforming the tax code is a worthy goal, but it should not lead to the middle class, who primarily build wealth through owning a home, footing the bill. Instead, Congress should be looking at ways to ensure more creditworthy prospective buyers are able to achieve homeownership and enjoy its personal and wealth-building benefits.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

REALTORS®: Home Staging Cuts Time on Market

Source: RISMedia


Home staging offers a distinct advantage for sellers: a speedy sale.

Sixty-two percent of sellers’ agents believe staging a home cuts down the time it spends on-market, with the majority believing it “greatly” reduces the window, according to the new 2017 Profile of Home Staging from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Seventy-seven percent of buyers’ agents believe staging a home helps buyers envision themselves living in it, and 40 percent believe it prompts buyers who first saw the home online to visit it in person.

2017 Home Staging Report (PRNewsfoto/National Association of Realtors)

2017 Home Staging Report (PRNewsfoto/National Association of Realtors)

Staging can also have a positive effect on home value. Thirty-one percent of buyers’ agents and 29 percent of sellers’ agents believe it adds anywhere from 1 to 5 percent, while 13 percent of buyers’ agents believe 6 to 10 percent and 21 percent of sellers’ agents believe 8 to 10 percent. The cost of staging is often fronted by the seller or sellers’ agent.

Buyers’ agents caution, however, that staging is only beneficial if the home is staged to appeal to general, not specific, preferences. Most buyers’ and sellers’ agents believe the living room is a key space to stage, as well as the kitchen, the master bedroom and the yard. They also believe decluttering, depersonalizing and a deep clean—beyond staging—are essential for a show-ready home.

Thirty-eight percent of sellers’ agents stage all of their listings before placing them on the market, while 14 percent only stage listings that require it. A near-even 37 percent do not stage their listings at all.

“REALTORS® know how important it is for buyers to be able to picture themselves living in a home and, according to NAR’s most recent report, staging a home makes that process much easier for potential buyers,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “While all real estate is local, and many factors play into what a home is worth and how much buyers are willing to pay for it, staging can be the extra step sellers take to help sell their home more quickly and for a higher dollar value.”

Stop Believing These 6 Home Appraisal Myths

Source: Pemco Ltd.

The home appraisal is the one real estate-related process that can provoke a variety of emotions, ranging from positive to negative. While many are aware of what an appraisal is and its purpose, that awareness doesn’t always translate to a clear understanding of what is factored into the appraisal process. At the end of the day, an appraisal is an opinion derived from housing and neighborhood data.

PEMCO Valuations has managed over 132,000 appraisals nationwide since 2004 and based on feedback from some of our appraisers, we’ve decided it was time to shed some light on home appraisal myths.

Myth # 1: Home Appraisal = Home Inspection

This is probably the biggest myth and it’s understandable: home inspections and home appraisals are both used to determine a property’s condition as safeguards for the buyer and buyer’s lender. Appraisers and inspectors both inspect the property, but the similarities end here. The home inspector’s job is to poke and prod to uncover any and everything that’s problematic or potentially problematic. The appraiser’s job is to find the objective market value based on the condition of the home.

Myth # 2: The bigger the list of amenities, the higher the valuation

An investment of $100,000 in upgrades doesn’t equal to a $100,000 bump in appraisal value, especially when the amenities don’t exist in surrounding homes because appraiser simply doesn’t have nearby sales data to decide on the value of the amenities. This also applies to décor and staging, these are subjective and doesn’t get factored into the valuation. Their value judgement will come from quantifiable aspects: square footage, room count and other measurable data.

Myth # 3: More square footage means the higher the valuation

The value of the home is determined as if something like the surrounding homes were built on the appraised home lot. This means there’s no guarantee that a super-sized house on an average-sized lot in a modest neighborhood will appraiser for much more than neighboring homes.

Myth # 4: Amenities are the same

For instance, take two houses with similar square footage. Both have the same additions: a mother-in-law suite or home gym. One home has a two-car garage, the other has a garage that was converted into the mother-in-law suite or home gym. Removing one amenity (the garage) and replacing it with another amenity (the mother-in-law suite or home gym), isn’t an apple to apple comparison. Buyers look for homes with a garage for a reason, to use it as a garage, which the appraiser might assign a higher value to.

Myth # 5: Appraiser will match what the buyer will pay

Appraisals are not the result of exact science, it’s an opinion of the value of the home. This has nothing to do with what the buyer will pay or what the seller should accept. Buyers can not hire appraisers and therefore speak to them about valuation opinions on a house they are purchasing. This would undermine appraiser independence. The Dodd-Frank Act addresses appraiser independence, requiring arm length transactions between appraisers, lenders and buyers.

Myth # 6: The appraiser works for the buyer

Often, the appraiser works for an Appraisal Management Company (AMC) and the lender orders appraisals from these companies. Regardless if the seller and buyer have agreed on price, the appraisal would have to reflect the fair market value and cannot be influenced by any party.

Homeowners Value Properties 2 Percent Higher Than Appraisers

Source: RISMedia

Home values assigned by appraisers were 1.93 percent lower than what homeowners estimated in June, according to the Quicken Loans’ national Home Price Perception Index (HPPI). The difference between value perceptions from appraisers and owners has slightly widened since May, when appraised values were 1.89 percent lower than expected.

Home valuations across the country rose in June, as reported by the Quicken Loans Home Value Index (HVI). The average home appraisal increased 0.84 percent since May and enjoyed a 4.47 percent boost since June 2015.

The June HPPI shows appraised values are 1.93 percent lower nationally than what homeowners estimated. While this isn’t a large discrepancy, the gap between expected and actual appraisal values grew slightly since May. The perception of home value varies widely across the country. Appraisals show home values higher than owner expectations by as much as 3 percent in Denver but, in contrast, were more than 3 percent lower in Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia.

“Perception is everything. It can make or break a home sale or mortgage refinance,” says Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters. “That’s why it’s so important for homeowners to realize how they perceive their home’s value could vary widely from how an appraiser views it. If the estimate is lower by just a few percentage points, the buyer could need to bring as much as another several thousand dollars to the table to avoid having to restructure the loan.”

Continuing the slow upward march, appraised values rose by 0.84 percent from May to June – as measured by the national HVI. Home values are making stronger annual gains, rising 4.47 percent since June 2015. The regional data shows equally robust growth. Each of the four regions measured displayed modest monthly gains and more meaningful year-over-year growth. The West remains the leader with a 5.84 percent annual increase in appraised value. The Northeast posted the smallest increase with a rise of 2.07 since last year.

“Nationally, home value increases are well within the healthy range,” says Walters. “Although, the variances across the country can influence owners’ perception. Owners in the West, where appraised values are rising more quickly, tend to underestimate their home’s value. The opposite is true for those in the Northeast, with appraised values showing slower growth.

For more information, visit www.QuickenLoans.com/Indexes.

8 Outdoor Trends That Attract Buyers

Source: RISMedia (Jeff Caldwell)

If you’re considering putting your home on the market, don’t neglect your outdoor space while making improvements indoors as well. Your home’s exterior and the backyard are important in drawing the eyes of potential buyers and making your home as appealing as possible. Here are some modern trends in outdoor living that will entice today’s buyers.

Outdoor Structures

Outdoor structures make the backyard, and even the front yard in some homes, more functional. An outdoor structure can be something simple — like a storage shed — that makes the space more functional. Or, it can be an outdoor shelter — like a gazebo or pergola — that provides more outdoor living space. These outdoor structures boost the function, and therefore increase your home’s value.

Privacy in Outdoor Spaces

The outdoor living space is considered more than just a backyard for the modern buyer. Today, the outdoor space is an extension of the home. People are moving indoor furniture outdoors, adding fireplaces and even installing televisions. Yet when they are relaxing outside, individuals want a measure of privacy. No one wants to be gawked at when enjoying a drink and watching the game after a long day at work.

What does this mean as you are upgrading your outdoor space? If possible, add some privacy to the space to create a room that is an extension of the home. Put up walls around the pergola or choose an enclosed gazebo to do this easily.

Outdoor Kitchen

More and more meals are being cooked outdoors, and the modern outdoor kitchen includes more than just a grill and a picnic table. An outdoor sink, range and even oven can make your home more inviting. Of course, you will need to weigh the costs of this upgrade against the potential benefits; but if you have a great outdoor entertaining space, consider adding an outdoor kitchen to attract potential buyers.

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting appeals to buyers for a number of reasons: First, it improves the function of the space, making it easier to enjoy an outdoor living space even after dark. A well-lit deck lends itself well to summer barbecues and parties that continue after midnight.

Outdoor lighting also helps attract buyers by making the home more visible when they drive by the property, even if they drive by after dark. Good outdoor lighting will make the home inviting at all times of day. Also, it helps improve the security of the property, which may be important to select buyers.

Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Most home sellers know they should improve and upgrade their garden areas, but do so carefully. A lush, yet high-maintenance garden may detract from your home’s ability to sell. Many of today’s buyers are busy and do not have the time it takes to tend a garden.

When upgrading your landscaping, go as low-maintenance as possible, while still ensuring that the home is attractive. Perennials that grow well in your area can add a splash of color, but do not need to be replanted year after year. Mulch or rock can keep weeds at bay while giving the space a finished look. Automatic watering systems help ensure the plants have enough moisture to thrive, without requiring the owner to keep track of watering schedules. Don’t forget to add stone walkways and decorative items to improve the aesthetics of the space, without adding maintenance efforts.

Natural Wood and Stone

Natural wood and stone features on the home — even if they are made from faux materials like vinyl — attract the modern buyer. This design trend can make an outdated home look modern on the exterior, causing more buyers to stop and schedule a showing. It can also boost the appeal of a modern home by helping it to stand out from a crowded marketplace.

Fire Pits or Fireplaces

If you have a modest budget, but want to add an outdoor feature that will increase your home’s potential value, consider adding a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. You can even do this as a DIY project if you have the time. A fire pit provides a comfortable, logical place for outdoor entertaining or simply enjoying s’mores together as a family.

Permanent Seating

Many homeowners pull out all the stops when it comes to building decks, patios and outdoor entertaining spaces, but forget the most important part — seating. While you can add seating through outdoor furnishings, this will not add value to the property in the opinion of a buyer. Consider a permanent, built-in seating option, like a bench built into the deck or a picnic table that stays with the property.

Remember, today’s buyers still have plenty of houses to choose from. As you prepare yours for the market, be sure to think like a buyer and add features that will make the home as appealing as possible. As you make these improvements, remember to put some attention into your outdoor spaces!

Jeff Caldwell is Brand Manager of Superior Shelter, a subsidiary of Superior Recreational Products. The company designs and creates custom outdoor shelters — including steel pergolas, gazebos and more — to solve your outdoor design needs. It works with landscapers and architects around the world.

Pent-up Demand Triggering Record Pace of Home Sales Around Western Washington

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (May 5, 2015) – Northwest Multiple Listing Service members notched a record high level of pending sales during April, surpassing the year-ago volume by nearly 1,800 transactions. Both closed sales and prices also surged last month as the spring market kicked into high gear.

Buyer confidence and buyer ability to purchase are fueling activity, suggested Ken Anderson, the managing broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympia Realty. “Long building pent-up demand is being unleashed,” he commented.

MLS members reported an 18.7 percent year-over-year increase in pending sales, with the volume of mutually accepted offers rising from 9,590 transactions to 11,384. For the four-county Puget Sound region members logged 8,671 pending sales to top the 8,000 mark for only the second time in the past 16 years.

Closed sales and prices also accelerated, according to Northwest MLS statistics. Across the 23 counties covered by the report there were 7,696 closed sales. That total represents a 24.3 percent increase from the year-ago volume of 6,190 closings. Within the four-county region, Pierce County experienced a jump of nearly 38 percent in closed sales compared to a year ago, followed by Snohomish County with a 35 percent increase, prompting one MLS director to comment, “That is super amazing.”

“We are still very clearly in the midst of a seller’s market and unless we see a significant increase in listings, it will remain that way for the foreseeable future,” remarked OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. Jacobi and other brokers reiterated the dire need for listings.
Members added 11,495 new listings to inventory during April, but brisk sales kept supply tight and well below the level of a year ago. At the end of April, the MLS reported 18,132 listings of single family homes and condominiums in its database, a drop of more than 15 percent from the year-ago total of 21,390.

Compared to March, inventory at the end of April improved by 6.6 percent, but pending sales jumped 13.7 percent from the previous month.

“We’re in desperate need of inventory so I hope to see an increase in listings as we move further into the late spring/early summer,” stated Jacobi.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, noted the record sales activity is lowering the months of supply of inventory and continuing the upward movement of pricing.
Northwest MLS figures show less than 2.4 months of supply at the end of April, down from the March figure of 2.5 months and down from a year ago when there was about 3.5 months of supply. Inventory is especially tight in King County, with 1.3 months of supply, and Snohomish County, with about 1.5 months. Many industry analysts use a range of four-to-six months as an indicator of a balanced market.

Local Housing Market Continues Steady Growth in Sales and Prices

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (Sept. 4, 2014) – “Stability” seemed to characterize the direction of Western Washington’s housing market during August, according to new figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Both the volume of sales and prices rose slightly from a year ago, although both indicators slipped somewhat from July. MLS members also reported a modest year-over-year increase in inventory, but the number of new listings added to the selection during August was the smallest since April.

“What we are seeing now with the market is a moderated growth in appreciation, a normalizing of sales volume, and continued health overall,” declared MLS director George Moorhead, the owner and designated broker at Bentley Properties in Bothell. “It is not a call for alarm,” Moorhead emphasized, describing it as “just a balancing and adjusting of a healthy market.”

MLS members reported 9,342 pending sales across the 21 counties served by the Kirkland-based organization. That marks a 3.1 percent gain over the year-ago total of 9,065 mutually accepted offers. Eleven counties reported increases in pending sales during August compared to the same month a year ago.

Commenting on inventory, MLS board member Dick Beeson said the pace of activity in the South Sound has slowed, “and that means buyers have to keep a keen eye out for good bargains in areas they have been scouting.” Beeson, a principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma who oversees offices in four counties, said sellers are more in the driver’s seat than they were earlier in the year. “It’s not a mad-rush sellers’ market,” he reported, but added, “buyers are realizing they must act in a timely manner to compete.”

At month-end buyers could choose from 27,060 active listings – about 2.4 percent more than the inventory of a year ago when there were 26,433 properties in the MLS system. The total at the end of August included 10,054 new listings that were added during the month, down slightly from the year-ago figure of 10,172. Last month’s total number of new listings was the smallest total since April.

System-wide, there is just under 3.5 months of supply, but that average varies widely among the counties served by Northwest MLS. King County, with only about two months of supply, has the tightest inventory. Four-to-six months of supply is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

“We continue to have a shortage of homes for sale in King County – one of the best housing markets in the nation,” noted J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He credited “fantastic job growth, foreign buyers and very favorable interest rates” as factors in creating a backlog of buyers.

Regional Brokers Report Rising Sales Prices & Lower Inventory

Source: NWMLS


Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported rising prices
on fewer sales during March compared to a year ago, citing inventory shortages as the main reason.

Members of the MLS reported 9,183 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) during the month, about
300 fewer than the same period a year ago for a 3.2 percent drop. Compared to February, pending sales
surged 26.7 percent in March, or by 1,936 transactions.

“The only thing holding back sales is the lack of inventory,” said John Deely, a member of the Northwest
MLS board of directors. He said one recent listing priced at a fair market value drew more than 40 offers.
“The depth of buyer demand appears to have no bottom in the most popular price ranges,” added Deely,
the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.

Closed sales were about the same as twelve months ago – 5,753 completed transactions last month, which
compares to the year-ago total of 5,745 closed sales.

The median price on last month’s sales of single family homes and condominiums that sold across the 21
counties in the MLS report increased 6 percent, rising from the year-ago figure of $258,500 to last
month’s price of $274,000.

Adequate supply to meet demand is a continuing concern, according to Northwest MLS representatives
who commented on the latest numbers. Many industry leaders expect the imbalance to persist.

“Once again we entered the year with a low inventory of homes for sale, and we believe the shortage will
persist through this year and into 2015 in price ranges where 90 percent of sales activity is occurring,”
said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

At month end, the Northwest MLS reported 19,736 active listings of single family homes and condos
across its service area. That’s up about 6.7 percent from twelve months ago.

The MLS said there is about 3.6 months of supply, which is down from the end of February when the
service reported about 4.6 months of supply. King County has only about 1.8 months of supply, while
Snohomish County was slighter better with 2.2 months of supply.