An Eye on Mortgage Rates

House buyers are are turning their jog into a run to get the home of their dreams, as competition in our low inventory market is being stiffened by rising mortgage rates. As an article in the Business Insider explains with easy-to-read graphs, the downward rates that we've experienced the last few years gave us an "historic home buying opportunity" that we can still benefit from today.

The article includes a graph that shows the steady increase in home prices. That rise, coupled with that of interest rates, is usually a red flag that housing affordability is going down. But not so, according to U.S. Chief Economist Joe LaVorgna. "Home prices are still about 27% below their last peak," he says, "and personal income is sharply up." So if mortgage rates continue to rise, as forecasters predict, home affordability will still be higher than it was before the industry started improving.

As the housing industry makes these adjustments, it is recognized as a leader in our economic improvement, and definitely worthy of your investment. I highly recommend taking advantage of our current market conditions if you have been considering a move and as always, welcome helping you assess the current market value of your home and getting the top dollar for it.

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 7:14 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

Home Values are Going Up!

Homeowners were happy to read the newspaper headline this week that said "Seattle home prices jump" as reported in the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index just released. The 3% rise from February to March and 10.6% for the year was the biggest since April 1990 — that's more than twenty years ago!

These figures indicate that the housing market is steadily recovering, and it's an ideal time to sell your home, especially if you've been putting it off. So many people are waiting for the "right time," and it really needs to be based on what's right for you. Are you aware of how much equity you've gained back in your home this year? The number is likely to be higher than you think, and that could make a big difference in your plans. Both record low inventory of homes on the market and record low mortgage rates are contributing to rising house prices which in turn are boosting up your home equity.

One more reason to consider selling now is that appraisers are putting higher values on homes again, as Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, says. Sales are not as likely to be derailed by low-ball appraisals as they were during the housing bust years.

If you'd like to learn about the value of your home in today's market, please call. I'm more than happy to do a complimentary market analysis, giving you a valuable piece of information to decide if now is the right time for you to sell!

Posted on May 30, 2013 at 9:42 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

The Housing Bubble Question

I wish you and your family a peaceful Memorial Day holiday, as we remember the sacrifices of all of our Armed Forces servicemen and women who have worked so hard to protect our great country.

As we celebrate the spirit of America, I'm happy to share good news from Matthew Gardner's report about Western Washington's First Quarter 2013 real estate market. "Steady improvement in our local economy" starts off the positive analysis.

In this just released report, Mr. Gardner recognizes that buyers are complaining not only about lack of choice, but also that intense bidding for homes that are on the market may be the precursor to another housing bubble. "Although I can sympathize with buyers," he says, " I do not believe that we are entering another bubble, but rather that the market has regained its confidence…I do not see this as a bubble in the making."

Windermere partners with Mr. Gardner to give us the most current local housing data and explain what the numbers mean. I appreciate the Gardner Report and how it helps me better serve my clients, and encourage you to read it too.

If you have any questions after clicking the link to read it, please call. I welcome talking about what impacts our home buying and selling decisions, and helping you move forward with yours!

 

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , , ,

Ready to Move?

Now the housing market has turned the corner, many people are asking if it’s the right time to move to a larger home that will better accommodate their growing family. There’s also a large population of empty nesters who’ve been hanging on, waiting for the right time to downsize. Wait no longer – our current market is begging for homes to go up for sale, and yours could be someone’s best find.

Since most people need to sell their current home before buying a new one, the first question that typically comes up is "Can I sell my house?" Our current low inventory of homes for sale definitely gives a nod to that question. The odds are high that your home will sell in a reasonable amount of time, provided it is fairly priced and well maintained.

According to a recent article in Money Magazine, there are three more questions to ask when considering a move. It’s also important to ask if the house you want to buy is for sale. Pick your favorite neighborhood, and I’d be happy to keep you posted of developments there. Homes are quickly moving in today’s market, so it’s important to have a daily, and sometimes hourly, check.

A third factor to look at when considering a move is how much renovation your home needs to sell. The looming fear around this typically involves hidden costs, and the possibility of going over budget. I am happy to provide resources to expedite the process, and complete the agreed upon project within the negotiated time frame, and price range.

The last question covered in the article is “What does your gut say?” As the saying goes, I do believe that home is where the heart is. I want every single client to feel right and excited about a move. One of the favorite parts of my work in real estate is seeing my clients’ face and sharing in their excitement when they get the keys to their new home. So if you are ready for a move and feel like now is the right time, it would be my privilege to answer all your questions and help you benefit from the extraordinary market we currently have!

 

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:05 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged ,

How to Stand Out in a Crowd

As multiple offers become the “norm” in today’s low inventory housing market, it’s more important than ever to be the “most attractive homebuyer,” as a recent article in Fox Business News explains. Plan ahead, do your homework, and know that cash is king. Putting 20 percent or more down will make a difference, especially if there are issues with the mortgage process or a lower-than-expected appraisal. If a buyer can contribute more cash to cover the difference between the appraisal and the offer price, he most likely will be the new homeowner.

Getting prequalified by your lender will also make you a more attractive homebuyer. With a preapproval letter in hand, you are in the same ballpark to compete with an all cash buyer. This market also favors buyers who come to the table with fewer contingencies. An offer contingent on selling your house will definitely make you a less appealing homebuyer, so let’s get your house sold first and then you’ll be ready to buy!

The critical lack of home inventory right now is making it a seller’s market. If you’ve been considering a move, now is a great time to do it. I’d be happy to provide you with information to help you benefit from our current situation, and stand out as the most attractive homebuyer.

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 7:17 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

MLS Forecasts “A Spring to Remember”

In the Multiple Listing Service report released last week, an industry veteran forecast that Western Washington is set up for “a spring market to remember.” Before the daffodils even began to pop up, our February numbers show that closed sales were up 9% from a year ago and median home prices increased 13%. Housing continues on its road to recovery.

These early spring numbers reflect the positive side of our current real estate market. OB Jacobi, president of Windermere, explains that while anxious buyers seeking to take advantage of low interest rates drove this activity, many were left empty handed. There are simply not enough “for sale” signs up to meet market demand. “The supply of homes for sale is at its lowest level since May 2005, during the peak of the housing boom,” OB explains. “The impact of low inventory levels is stiff competition among buyers, often resulting in homes selling for well over asking price.”

Now is the time to research your options, if you’ve been waiting for the right time to sell. This MLS report has the latest, helpful information about our area, plus I’d be happy to do a complimentary market analysis of your home and property. Current and accurate information is key to benefiting from this market, and perhaps making it a spring to remember at your house!

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 6:57 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

Realities of the Housing Market

At Windermere Real Estate, we’re fortunate to have Matthew Gardner, considered by many to be the foremost real estate analyst in the Pacific Northwest, offer his quarterly analysis of the Western Washington real estate market. His fourth quarter 2012 report just released confirms the positive momentum that we’re seeing in our area, and forecasts that 2013 will be another year in which our regional economy outperforms the nation as a whole. The Puget Sound region and our Eastside locale is the place to live!

This outlook, grounded in the fact that the home price growth rate in King County last year was 20.3%, accounts for the increased activity in our local market when the national budget sequester dominates our news.  Mr. Gardner shows the numbers that prove his statement “Home values have stabilized and a recovery in values is underway. The credit markets have thawed and getting a mortgage is easier now than it has been since the housing ‘bubble’ exploded.”

His report closed with the one caveat that we all know too well right now – there remains a low inventory of homes for sale, and an increase is needed to sustain the housing recovery. Seattle only had 1.9 months worth of homes on the market in January, at the current sales pace, while King County had 2.2 months worth of homes, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That's down from 4.2 months and 5.2 months, respectively, from a year earlier.

If you would like to learn the current value of your home and how you can benefit from this positive seller’s market, please call. I am committed to ensuring that your investment in your home pays off.

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 6:56 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

Waiting for spring?

Contrary to the belief that spring is the “selling season” in real estate, industry experts say don’t wait – and give five reasons to list your house today. The law of supply and demand and forecast of inching up interest rates have brought an early spring to real estate.

At a recent Windermere event, industry expert Steve Harney further explained. He shared that move up buyers, ages 35 to 44, are itching for a bigger and better home. Forecast to keep housing on its upward track this year, they are anxious to step up from their starter home. They are looking for a larger home with plenty of amenities that are located in good school districts, like our Northshore School District. Real estate experts credit a better economic climate and low interest rates for motivating their buying power. About 36% of all buyers in late 2012 were 35 to 44, up from 30% at the start of 2009.

Harney also noted another group of anxious buyers: People who wanted to sell, or maybe tried to sell over the last five years, who now have the financial means to expand their choices. The trend is to “upsize” rather than downsize. Families grow and need more room as adult children, grandkids, and extended families live under the same roof.

Now, before spring is in full bloom, is a great time to benefit from these buyers who are out and looking. I’d be happy to provide you with an analysis to help you get the most from these market conditions, if you're considering a move.

 

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 7:07 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

The Search for Homes is Heating Up

The best answer to the question "When should I sell?" is "Anytime you're ready, houses sell 12 months a year." But in today’s market, the answer recently quoted in Forbes supports what we're seeing: Now is the best time to sell that we’ve had in years.

Pending sales on the Eastside were the second highest ever in January, and up 17 percent from January 2012. These figure substantiate our active market, despite the fact that the number of homes for sale on the Eastside is down 50 percent year over year. Homes are quickly selling, as people are taking advantage of interest rates that remain low with an increase expected on the horizon, and house prices that continue to climb.

Trulia reports that online house hunting has also heated up, surpassing typical January search traffic by 5 percent in our state. Hawaii and Florida's house online searching last month was more than 10 percent above each state’s annual average.

These are all signals that if you’re considering putting your house on the market, now is the time to act. Real estate left winter hibernation to the animals this year — spring is arriving early!

Posted on February 12, 2013 at 6:58 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,

What are your real estate goals in 2013?

Windermere’s chief economist, Matthew Gardner, looked into his crystal ball, as he put it, and gave us good news about what’s in store for the housing market in 2013. One of the reasons why housing is looking so good, he explains, is that several buyer groups are expected to be more active in the market.

Gardner forecasts that there will be more entry level or first-time homebuyers; move-up buyers and move-down buyers will be seriously looking; and investors will be back. He even expects more “flippers,” those who buy to fix up and sell, to be active in the market.

Do you fit into any of these buyer groups? We’re seeing his forecast already happening here on the Eastside, and welcome helping you decide if now is the right time for you to benefit from this market. Read his article “2013: Another Good Year for Housing,” to learn more details about our housing market recovery.

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 6:47 am
Julie Billett | Category: Real Estate Market | Tagged , ,