New listing in Redmond. Updated mid-entry home in Sunrise on English Hill

15527 187th Ave NE Woodinville-1

Listed for $570,000

Complete details here

Well cared for and updated mid-entry home in Sunrise on English Hill. The light filled floorplan features 2,160 s.f., 3 bedrooms, 2.75 baths on a sunny 7,755 s.f. lot! Recent updates included windows, elegant wood floors, white millwork and doors, remodeled kitchen and baths.

Formal living room with vaulted ceiling, fireplace & big windows overlooking the front yard. Formal dining room with vaulted ceiling, sunny skylights and a slider to the deck – perfect for BBQing or entertaining. Generous kitchen with ample cabinets, granite counters, newer appliances and a nook area too!

The spacious master suite has a vaulted ceiling, walk-in closet and a slider to the deck. You will find an attached 3/4 bath with an oversized, multi-jet shower, double vanity and a sunny skylight. Two additional bedrooms upstairs are very spacious. Nicely updated bath in hall with granite, new tub/enclosure and a skylight.

On the lower level: Huge family room with slider to rear yard. The family room is large enough to add a 4th bedroom and still have a big space! Updated full bath for guests. Oversized laundry room with ample storage cabinets.

The private yard is ideal for the sun seeker! Big, entertainment sized deck with SW exposure, lower covered patio, gazebo, ample gardens beds and a lawn for play. Attached two car garage with storage options.

The English Hill HOA has acres of open space, walking trails & basketball court for your enjoyment. Outstanding Northshore schools – Sunrise Elementary, Timbercrest Jr High and Woodinville High.

The Presidential Election and Its Impact on Housing

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Every four years people question what effect the Presidential election might have on the national housing market. Let’s take a look at what is currently taking place. The New York Times ran an article earlier this week where they explained:

“A growing body of research shows that during presidential election years — particularly ones like this when there is such uncertainty about the nation’s future — industry becomes almost paralyzed. A look at the last several dozen election cycles shows that during the final year of a presidential term, big corporate investments are routinely postponed, and big deals are put on the back burner.

The research is even more persuasive on the final year of an eight-year presidential term, when a new candidate inevitably will become president.”

We are seeing this take form in the latest economic numbers. However, will this lead to a slowdown in the housing market? Not according to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the National Association of Realtors.

The Impact on Housing Throughout 2016

Let’s look at what has happened and what is projected to happen by these three major entities.

National Association of Realtors

“In spite of deficient supply levels, stock market volatility and the paltry economic growth seen so far this year, the housing market did show resilience and had its best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007.”

Freddie Mac

“Recent data darkened the growth outlook for the first quarter of 2016. However, despite the disappointing economic reports, we still forecast housing to maintain its momentum in 2016.”

Fannie Mae

“Consumers and businesses showed caution at the end of the first quarter…(but) Home sales are expected to pick up heading into the spring season amid the backdrop of declining mortgage rates, rising pending home sales and purchase mortgage applications, and continued easing of lending standards on residential mortgage loans.”

Bottom Line

Even during this election year, the desire to achieve the American Dream is greater than the fear of uncertainty of the next presidency.

Are Foreclosures Increasing or Decreasing?

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Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the size of the foreclosure inventory in the nation. There has been some speculation that distressed property inventories are about to skyrocket. Today, we want to reveal what is actually taking place in this segment of the housing market.

CoreLogic, in their most recent National Foreclosure Report, reported that foreclosure inventory has decreased by 23.2% since this time last year. The report also showed that foreclosure inventory has decreased in 49 of the 50 states and that 45 states have posted a year-over-year, double-digit decline (see chart below).

foreclosure map

Other findings in the report:

  • The Seriously Delinquent Rate (homeowners more than 90 days behind in their mortgage payment) is 3.1% which is the lowest level since November 2007
  • The Foreclosure Rate is 1.1% which is also the lowest level since November 2007
  • This was the 53rd consecutive month that showed a decline in the Foreclosure Rate

Bottom Line

Though foreclosures do remain in the market, the number is dramatically decreasing. The fact that mortgage delinquency rates are also decreasing means the worst of the foreclosure crisis is in the rear-view mirror.

In a Seller’s Market: Is it Time to Downsize?

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A study by Edelman Berland reveals that 33% of homeowners who are contemplating selling their house in the near future are planning to scale down. Let’s look at a few reasons why this might make sense for many homeowners, as the majority of the country is currently experiencing a seller’s market.

In a recent blog, Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, highlighted the advantages of selling your current house and downsizing into a smaller home that better serves your current needs. Ramsey explains three potential financial advantages to downsizing:

  1. A smaller home means less space, but it also means less time, stress and money spent on upkeep.
  2. Let’s assume you save $500 a month on your mortgage payment. In 30 years, you could have an additional $1–1.6 million in the bank to get you through your golden years.
  3. Use the proceeds from selling your current home to pay cash for a smaller one. Just imagine what you could do with no mortgage holding you down! If you can’t pay cash, aim for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and put at least 10–20% down on your new home. Apply the $500 you saved from downsizing to your new monthly payment. At 3% interest, you could pay off a $200,000 mortgage in less than 10.5 years, saving almost $16,000 in the process.

Realtor.com also addressed downsizing in a recent article. They suggest that you ask yourself some questions before deciding if downsizing is right for you and your family. Here are two of their questions followed by their answers (in italics) and some additional information that could help. 

Q: What kind of lifestyle do I want after I downsize?

A: “For some folks, it’s a matter of living a simpler life focused on family. Some might want to cross off travel destinations on their bucket lists. Some might want a low-maintenance community with high-end upgrades and social events. Decide what you want to achieve from your move first, and you’ll be able to better narrow down your housing options.”

Comments: Many homeowners are taking the profit from the sale of their current home and splitting it in order to put down payments on a smaller home in their current location, as well as a vacation/retirement home where they plan to live when they retire.

This allows them to lock in the home price and mortgage interest rate at today’s values. This makes sense financially as both home prices and interest rates are projected to rise.

Q: Have I built up enough equity in my current home to make a profit?

A: “For most homeowners, the answer is yes. This is if they’ve held on to their properties long enough to have positive equity that will be sizable enough to put a large down payment on their next home.”

Comments: A study by Fannie Mae revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have significant equity (> 20%) in their current home. In actuality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 72.6% have greater than 20% equity. That equity could enable you to build the life you’ve always dreamt about. 

Bottom Line

If you are debating downsizing your home and want to evaluate the options you currently have, let’s meet up so I can help guide you through the process.

Mortgage Rates Remain at Historic Lows

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The latest report from Freddie Mac shows that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.61% last week, slightly down from the week before (3.66%), and nearly 20 points lower than a year ago (3.80%).

This is great news for homebuyers who are dealing with rising prices due to a low inventory of homes for sale in many areas of the country. Freddie Mac expressed their optimism for the rates to remain low throughout the spring in a recent blog post:

“We expect mortgage interest rates to stay well under 4% as we head into the heart of the spring homebuying season. We’re predicting it to be the best one in 10 years, which should provide even greater opportunities for first-time homebuyers.”

Below is a chart of the weekly average rates in 2016, according to Freddie Mac.

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Rates have again fallen to historic lows yet many experts still expect them to increase in 2016. One thing we know for sure is that, according to Freddie Mac, current rates are the best they have been since last April.

Sean Becketti, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac recently explained:

“Since the start of February, mortgage rates have varied within a narrow range providing an extended period for house hunters to take advantage of historically low rates.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of buying your first home or moving up to your ultimate dream home, now is a great time to get a sensational rate on your mortgage.

Where is Housing Headed for the Rest of 2016?

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With the overall economy just inching along, some experts are questioning whether the housing market can continue its momentum throughout the rest of the year. People are beginning to ask questions such as:

*Will disappointing economic news adversely impact housing?
*Is affordability a major concern in today’s real estate market?
*Are we approaching a new housing bubble?
*Are mortgage standards too tight? Or have they loosened too much?

Freddie Mac, in their April Economic Outlook, addresses the disappointing economic news and what impact they think it will have on housing:

“Recent data darkened the growth outlook for the first quarter of 2016. However, despite the disappointing economic reports, we still forecast housing to maintain its momentum in 2016.

We’ve revised down our forecast for economic growth to reflect the recent data for the first quarter, but our outlook for the balance of the year remains modestly optimistic for the economy.”

What about real estate?
Freddie Mac was much more optimistic about housing…

“We maintain our positive view on housing. In fact, the declines in long-term interest rates that accompanied much of the recent news should increase mortgage market activity.”

They went on to conclude:

“We expect housing to be an engine of growth. Construction activity will pick up as we enter the spring and summer months, and rising home values will bolster consumers and help support renewed confidence in the remaining months of this year.”

Sales Up In Nearly Every Price Range

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The National Association of Realtors’ most recent Existing Home Sales Report revealed that home sales were up rather dramatically over last year in five of the six price ranges they measure.

Only those homes priced under $100,000 showed a decline (-4.6%). The decline in this price range points to the lower inventory of distressed properties available for sale and speaks to the strength of the market.

Every other category showed a minimum increase of at least 4.6%, with sales in the $250,000- $500,000 range up 15.2%!

Sales up 2

What does that mean to you if you are selling?

Houses are definitely selling. If your house has been on the market for any length of time and has not yet sold, let’s meet up to see if it is priced appropriately to compete in today’s market.

Two story home tucked away on a quiet cul-de-sac in Bothell’s Bridlewood neighborhood

10407 NE 152nd Pl - Bothell-3

Listed for $575,000

Complete details at the property website here

Fabulous home in desirable Bridlewood Community in South Bothell. The home is 2,130 s.f. and features 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths in an ideal cul-de-sac location. Rich hardwoods welcome you in along with new carpeting throughout the home!

The formal living room has a vaulted ceiling, fireplace and large windows overlooking the front gardens. The dining room is a light-filled space with chair rail and windows overlooking the rear yard. Generous kitchen with abundant cabinets, ample tile counters, and all appliances included. The nook is a great place for a morning’s cup of coffee and is wrapped in windows overlooking the yard. Relaxing family room off the kitchen and nook with gas fireplace and slider to the deck. Nicely appointed powder room for your guests with chair rail and new tile floor.

Generous master suite with large south facing windows. Five piece master bath with big skylight, double vanity, tile counter, toilet closet, soaking tub, separate shower and a walk-in closet too! Three spacious guest rooms with serene views. Full bath with oversized oak vanity, is drenched in light.

The private rear yard includes – Entertainment sized deck, beautiful trees, paver patio, lawn for play, gardening areas and partial fencing. Attached 2 car garage with storage options. Outstanding Northshore Schools.

The ultimate gardener’s paradise! Two story home on gorgeous, flat lot near Tolt Pipeline trail in Woodinville

20015 NE 148th St - Woodinville-1

Listed at $475,000

Complete details at the property website.

Beautifully maintained and updated two story home in the desirable Bear Creek area of Woodinville. The open floorplan boasts 2,008 s.f. and features 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The home is ideally positioned on a flat 37,263 s.f. lot with lush trees and a seasonal stream. Recent updates include – high quality roof, new carpet, flooring and an updated kitchen.

The formal living room has an efficient wood pellet stove and bay windows overlooking the covered front porch. The dining area has French doors to the deck and yard – perfect for entertaining or BBQing. Updated kitchen with abundant cabinets, ample slab granite counters, new stainless appliances, breakfast bar and pantry closet too! There are two large bedrooms and a nicely appointed full bath for your guests. The main floor laundry room has new flooring and includes the washer & dryer.

A big family room upstairs with wood stove and built-in storage. The generous master bedroom with dormered windows and wainscoting includes – a walk-in closet with built-in dresser drawers and a full bath with a double vanity.

The lush yard features a deck, large lawn areas for play, lush garden beds, fire pit, seasonal stream, all with the beautiful backdrop of majestic trees. Attached 2 car garage with storage options. Plenty of room for an RV. Close access to the Tolt pipeline trail and salmon watching at Bear Creek. Outstanding Northshore Schools!

NWMLS Market Report: April 2016 – Inventory improves; market still favors sellers

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KIRKLAND, Washington (May 5, 2016) – Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported strong gains in the volume of new listings its members added during April (up 13.6 percent from March), but inventory remained well below the supply needed for a more balanced market. MLS leaders say the lopsided market is prompting some anxious buyers to take ill-advised risks.

Prices showed some signs of moderating with a 5.5 percent year-over-year increase across the MLS 23-county market area. That’s the lowest YOY gain since December 2014 when it was 5.45 percent.

In its latest statistics with summaries of April activity, the MLS reported 11,407 pending sales during the month, about the same as a year ago when brokers reported 11,384 mutually accepted offers.

For the four-county Puget Sound region, pending sales totaled 8,332, making last month the third strongest April in the past 16 years. Compared with prior Aprils, last month’s volume was surpassed only in 2015 and 2005.

“Our market is near historically low levels of absorption. This has things weighted in sellers’ favor,” remarked Ken Anderson, president/owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty and a former Northwest MLS director. “Successful buyers are working closely with their brokers to study the market, choose great lenders, and make smart choices in composing compelling but not careless offers,” he added.

Area-wide, members added 11,939 new listings to the MLS database during April, a modest improvement from a year ago when they logged in 11,495 homes and condos. With last month’s additions, total inventory at the end of April included 14,235 active listings, a sharp drop (down 21.5 percent) from twelve months ago when the selection included 18,132 residences.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, Inc. described April as “another grand slam month for housing,” adding, “The market is more intense than a year ago. We are still seeing 80 percent of the homes coming on the market sell within the first 30 days.”

Scott said “virtually all new listings are selling, many with multiple offers in all the market areas in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties in the price ranges where 90 percent of the sales activity is happening.” Heavy open house traffic and multiple offer situations are keeping brokers extremely busy, he added.

“Low inventory and low interest rates are still putting upward pressure on prices, but hopefully last month’s bump in new listings is the start of a longer term trend, and will lead us towards a more balanced market,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. Saying the number of homes for sale is still well below where it needs to be, he expressed happiness “that the long awaited spring market finally sprung.”

Across the 23-county market area, there is 1.85 months of supply, a slight improvement from March when there was 1.79 months of supply, but down from the year-ago level of 2.36 months of supply. King County continues to have the scarcest inventory, with only about 1.1 months of supply.

“It’s this lack of inventory (both new construction and resale) that’s causing prices to escalate so quickly,” agreed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. He notes almost all multi-family developments in past few years are apartments, rather than condominiums, which he believes is due to construction defect litigation. “Multi-family developers are now making the business decision not to create condominiums and thus avoid such litigation,” he stated, while suggesting a need for legislative reform.

Commenting on low inventory and high demand, Grady remarked, “We must ask when will apartment projects that were (or are being built) to condominium standards be converted to condos?”

Brokers say the shrinking supply of condos is likely contributing to fewer sales and escalating prices. Inventory is down nearly 28 percent from a year ago, pending sales fell 5.8 percent, and prices for condos jumped 14 percent, rising from $250,000 to $285,000. In King County, where more than 62 percent of the sales occurred and supply is at 0.86 months, year-over-year prices surged nearly 19 percent, rising from $272,000 to $323,500.

For single family homes only (excluding condos), inventory dropped about 21 percent, pending sales were about even with twelve months ago (up 1.2 percent), and year-over-year prices rose about 4.7 percent, from $320,000 to $335,000. King County’s single family home prices shot up 12.5 percent, to $540,000.

Brokers believe the frenzied market is altering some buyers’ behavior – and not all of it is prudent, they suggest.

Anderson, a former MLS director whose office is in Olympia, said “buyers are back in a big way.” In choosing to buy now, they’re showing a good deal of confidence, he believes.

Diedre Haines, a former chairman of the Northwest MLS board of directors, reports there are growing signs “of buyers’ fatigue, and game-playing at its finest.” Pre-inspections are being conducted as the “new normal,” and/or buyers are waiving many of their rights with regard to inspections, title reviews, neighborhood reviews, and financing contingences, according to Haines, Coldwell Banker Bain’s principal managing broker for South Snohomish County.

“In my opinion, this is risky behavior for both buyers and sellers,” Haines commented, adding, “Buyers need to perform their due diligence investigations, and sellers should be cautioned about the wisdom, or lack thereof, in thinking these waivers strengthen the offer, are good for them, or that they create a ‘no hassle’ quick-close transaction.” She urged parties to a transaction to think through the potential consequences of taking such risks.

“Buyers are severely limited in the negotiating process and are paying prices for properties they wouldn’t have a few years ago,” said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma. He likened the market to a fine violin that’s playing the tune of sellers.

Beeson, one of the current directors of Northwest MLS, noted the number of bank-owned properties sold in King County dropped from a high of almost 14 percent of all homes sold in 2011 to under 3 percent so far this year. His analysis also indicates the percentage of all-cash sales has remained fairly constant — near 15 percent — during the same period.

“Buyers are being forced to make large down payments or pay all cash at the same or higher rates than previously because of tighter loan requirements and seller requirements that buyers pay the difference between the appraised value of a home and the purchase price.” He said this is becoming an expectation in King County and has filtered its way south into Pierce and Thurston counties.

Director George Moorhead said both buyers and sellers are feeling the pinch with a lack of inventory. This is “increasing the level of concessions on offers regardless of the warnings given by brokers,” he reported. He also noted an increasing number of cash offers are occurring as buyers turn to family members for short-term loans and assistance with down payments.

“Sellers are still holding off as they too cannot find the home to upgrade or downsize. Even though many sellers are willing to sell, then rent until the right home comes up, many are still wary they would be buying in a bubble and fear the loss of value,” stated Moorhead, the designated broker at Bentley Properties in Bothell.

MLS vice chairman John Deely pointed to “tech transplants from California where urban housing is much more expensive” as fueling bidding wars. “Even though this relocating buyer is sometimes paying 20 to 30 percent over list price in our market, the size, quality and location are superior to what they owned or could have bought in the California market. These buyers are bringing cash . . .and cash offers still dominate the successful winners in the multiple offer competition,” stated Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.

Deely also expressed concern around buyer concessions. “Buyers are forgoing the protective investigations of properties and waiving the escape-type contingencies to strengthen their offers, he noted. “Waiving financing is of particular risk when combined with bidding wars as we have seen an increase in low appraisals.”

Looking ahead, Anderson said given the lack of new home construction and the huge pent-up demand, the seller’s market will likely continue for some time. “This means prices will rise higher than normal – which means today’s buyers will be happy they purchased when they did.”

Pricing is more important than ever, Deely emphasized. “Some sellers are missing the mark as they aggressively price their properties and they end up languishing on the market. Sellers with above average time on the market are cause for concern – and in most cases will ensure an offer at less than list price.”

Scott agreed. “We will continue to see price appreciation and a shortage of supply through the summer. To win a home, buyers need to have all the bases covered.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of nearly 2,100 member offices includes more than 25,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.