You Need a Professional on Your Team When Buying a Home

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to do it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in securing your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

A Record Number of Clients chose our Services in 2016. Here is why…

We were blessed to be involved in 51 transactions in 2016, helping individuals and families buy or sell homes across the Eastside, in Seattle and North/South from there. Here is what our clients told us was important in their decision to use our services.

Experience
28 years of full-time experience and transaction knowledge spanning well over 1000 homes closed. This gave our clients the assurance that we could handle anything that happened in their transaction and that we had strong familiarity with the Real Estate Market.

Relationships
With 21 years of Real Estate Experience in the Seattle area, our clients know we have strong relationships with other brokers. Since most of the time there is another broker on the other side of a transaction, we consider our broker relationships just as important as the clients we serve. Whether buying or selling, having a great reputation and a trusted view by the cooperating broker, makes the process as easy as possible.

Performance
Our Seller’s believe in our ability to perform as our numbers show it! – In 2016, our clients sold their homes for 6% more than the average broker (4.47% higher than the top 1%, which we are among) and did so in less than half the time!
Our Buyers appreciated our ability, in this competitive environment, to investigate what was important to the Seller and then help our clients craft a winning offer. They also appreciated our strong relationships with lenders, inspectors, title and escrow.

Working By Referral
– Our clients were referred by someone they trusted and this is the most important aspect of our business. Most brokers spend their time getting business from the general public. As a result, their business success rests on the next lead coming in, not their current client’s success. Instead, we focus 100% of our energies on taking exceptional care of our clients before, during and after the transaction. As a result, our clients tell their friends and this positive cycle begins anew.

Our mission statement sums it up…

To empower my client’s decision making process with data-driven information and provide perspective from 28 years of real estate experience. To handle the process as if my clients are my close friends. To work efficiently towards a pleasurable experience for all. To be a valuable resource for my clients and their continued referrals.

To all our clients who we have served over the last 3 decades… thank you for your continued trust and confidence! To those who are considering our services, we welcome the opportunity to serve you too! If you would like to read what our clients have to say about us, you can do so here.

Tony and Wendi Meier

Millionaire to Millennials: Buy a Home!!

Last week, CNBC ran an article quoting self-made millionaire David Bach explaining that not purchasing a home is “the single biggest mistake millennials are making”because buying real estate is “an escalator to wealth.”

Bach went on to explain:

“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none. The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”

In his bestselling book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” Bach does the math:

“As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing. Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Timesbestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show appearing more than 100 times, has been a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS, and has been profiled in many major publications, including The New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

Year-Over-Year Sales Increases Reach Double Digits in 5 Price Categories

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

Homes priced between $100-250K showed a 20.7% increase year-over-year. This is an impressive increase, showing that November was an excellent month for home sales in this price range.

But surprisingly, the 20.7% increase in sales in this range was not the highest percent change achieved, as sales of homes over $250,000 increased by double-digit percentages with sales in the $750,000- $1 million range showing the largest increase, up 43.2%!

As prices in many markets continue to accelerate, it is no surprise to see the percentage of homes in the higher price ranges increasing.

Here is the breakdown:

Homes under $100,000 were the only group to show negative appreciation of sales at -2.4%. This not only points to the lower inventory of homes available for sale in this price range but also speaks to the overall strength of the housing market.

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, perhaps it is time to sit down with your agent to see if it is priced appropriately to compete in today’s market.

Inadequate Inventory Driving Prices Up

The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR)revealed a direct correlation between a lack of inventory and rising prices.

We are all familiar with the concept of supply and demand. As the demand for an item increases the supply of that same item goes down, driving prices up.

Year-over-year inventory levels have dropped each of the last 18 months, as inventory now stands at a 4.0-month supply, well below the 6.0-month supply needed for a ‘normal’ market.

The median price of homes sold in November (the latest data available) was $234,900, up 6.8% from last year and marking the 57th consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun had this to say:

“Existing housing supply at the beginning of the year was inadequate and is now even worse heading into 2017. Rental units are also seeing this shortage. As a result, both home prices and rents continue to far outstrip incomes in much of the country.”

But there is good news about rising prices. More and more homeowners are recovering from a negative equity situation and learning that they are able to sell their homes and either move up to their dream home or downsize to a property that will better suit their needs. Look for these homes to come to market soon.

Bottom Line

Buyer demand continues to outpace the supply of homes for sale. Listing your home in the winter attracts serious buyers who are looking to close the transaction quickly.

Start 2017 Off Right… List Your House for Sale

As we are about to bring in the New Year, families across the country will be deciding if this is the year that they will sell their current house and move into their dream home. Many will decide that it is smarter to wait until the spring “buyer’s market” to list their house. In the past, that might have made sense. However, this winter is not like recent years.

The recent jump in mortgage rates has forced buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017, now may be the time.

NWMLS Market Report December 2016 – Home buyer frustration continues…

KIRKLAND, Washington (Jan. 5, 2017) – Like many other months of 2016, December was frustrating for buyers across Washington state as they encountered depleted inventory and rising prices. Post-election hikes in interest rates – with more on the horizon — added to would-be homeowners’ worries.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service statistics for December show year-over-year drops in new listings, but gains in pending sales, closed sales and prices. Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) in the four-county Puget Sound region reached their highest level since 2005.

“The data just keep telling the same story – low inventory and increasing prices,” remarked Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “As one of our brokers put it, ‘Sellers received an awesome Christmas gift in December, but buyers, only a lump of coal.'”

Brokers added 4,217 new listings to the inventory during December to bring the supply up to 10,571 listings. The volume of new listings surpassed the year-ago figure of 4,041, but supply still fell, dropping to only 1.4 months for the Northwest MLS market area covering 23 counties. Both King and Snohomish counties reported less than a month of inventory.

Robert Wasser, owner/broker at Prospera Real Estate in Seattle, said his analysis of the MLS data indicates the supply of single family homes for sale in King County just hit a post-recession low. “The only other time supply fell below one month was around this same time a year ago,” noted Wasser, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.

At month end, MLS figures show inventory (10,571 listings) was nearly 15.6 percent below year-ago levels (12,522 listings), with about 90 percent of the selection being single family homes.

Seventeen of the 23 counties in the MLS report had double-digit drops in active listings at the end of last month compared to December 2015.

Northwest MLS members reported 6,401 pending sales during December, up from 5,970 for the same month a year ago for a year-over-year gain of 7.2 percent.

“The housing market remains frenzy hot on a seasonal basis,” exclaimed J. Lennox Scott. Noting sales activity was substantially higher than the number of new listings, he said such conditions “continue to foster a competitive market where homebuyers are just waiting for the next new listing to come on the market.”

Commenting on strong sales in the Central Puget Sound region, Scott noted King County recorded the biggest year-over-year jump in pending sales of single family homes, surging nearly 11.3 percent, well ahead of Kitsap (up 4.5 percent), Pierce (up 4 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.2 percent).

“Buyers pursued homes aggressively all through November and December with little to no slowdown amid fears of rising interest rates and worsening inventory levels,” said MLS director George Moorhead. “Inventory levels have dropped to their lowest level, which makes buyer frenzy even more intense as prices approach double-digit appreciation,” he added. Moorhead, the designated broker at Bentley Properties, calculates buyers have lost $37,000 in buying power due to interest rate increases. He likens the situation to having two cars, “one going forward, and one going in reverse. The gap is widening too fast for some buyers.”

Closed sales also finished on a strong note with brokers reporting 7,575 completed transactions during December. That’s up more than 6.8 percent from a year ago when members notched 7,091 closed sales.

Prices area-wide also continued trending upward, rising nearly 9.2 percent from a year ago. The overall median price for single family homes and condominiums that sold during December was $343,950; a year ago it was $315,000.

King County prices jumped 12.2 percent, from $450,000 in December 2015 to $505,000 for last month’s sales. For single family homes (excluding condominiums) the median price for December’s sales was $550,000, unchanged from October and November. Prices peaked this year in King County in June, reaching $573,522.

Condo sales slowed compared to a year ago, due at least in part to a sharp drop in inventory (down more than 19 percent). Pending sales were essentially flat (up 0.73 percent). Closed sales for December slipped nearly 6 percent, while prices on last month’s completed sales of condos rose 9.8 percent. The median price on last month’s closed sales of condos was $280,000. Condo prices in King County jumped more than 12 percent, from $279,975 a year ago to last month’s sales price of $314,000.

“Looking ahead to 2017, the Seattle market will continue to perform well, even with the expected interest rate increase,” stated OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. The regional economy is in full stride, he noted, adding, “This will continue to create increased demand for housing across the board. Price growth should start to cool a little as inventory levels rise modestly, but overall, 2017 should be another banner year for the housing market.”

Consumers should expect prices to continue edging upward, suggested Moorhead. “NAR indicates we are 70,000 units short of meeting the housing needs in the Puget Sound area. Builders are just flat out running out of urban land to work with,” he said. Moorhead believes rising costs for construction labor are the driving force for price increases. Builder confidence continues to grow, reaching its highest levels since 2005, he noted, but added, “Naturally, some trepidation is heard as some feel this level of growth in the market is completely unsustainable.”

Grady believes the pattern of low inventory and increasing prices will continue. “We believe it is a predictor for what to expect throughout 2017,” he commented. “There’s simply not enough new construction to fill the needs of new employees being hired both locally and new to the state. The key is employment,” Grady continued, saying “There’s no reason to think that a new administration will cause employment to slow down; rather, it’s more likely we’ll see it increase in the Puget Sound region so we’re off to another strong start in 2017,” he stated.

Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, expects a higher number of new listings will start to show up in mid-February – “just in time for the spring housing market rush.”

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 the state.

You Need an Agent Who Will Put You First

When it comes to buying a home, whether you are a rookie homebuyer or have gone through the process many times, having a local real estate expert who is well versed in the neighborhood you are looking to move into, as well as the trends of that area, should be your goal.

One great example of an agent who is in your corner and is always looking out for your best interests is one of the main characters on ABC’s Modern Family, Phil Dunphy.

For those who aren’t familiar, the character Phil is a Realtor with a huge heart who always strives to do his best for his family and his clients.

In one recent episode, Phil even shared the oath that he created and holds himself accountable to:

“On my honor, I promise to aid in man’s quest for shelter, to recognize I’m not just in the business of houses — I’m in the business of dreams in the shape of houses. To disclose all illegal additions, shoddy construction, murders, and ghosts. And to put my clients’ needs before my own.” 

While this might seem silly, and it was definitely written with humor in mind, the themes of helping someone achieve the American Dream and putting a client’s needs above your own are not to be taken lightly. 

Bottom Line

When you make the decision to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, make sure you look for an agent who exemplifies these values and will help you through every step of the process.

Need for assisted living care prompts sale of Redmond home.

Earlier this year we had to sell my brothers’ home and move him to an assisted living facility.  We were very fortunate that my brother remembered the name Tony Meier.  He was a neighbor of my brothers’ and was employed by Windermere Real Estate.

From our first meeting with Tony we were impressed with his professionalism and knowledge.  He took time to explain the real estate trends in the area and what we could expect from his service.

He guided us through the staging and provided excellent reference for the various services we required to get the house ready for sale.  He remained in constant touch with updates and recommendations.  We listed the house and followed his lead in reviewing offers.  Six days later we chose the prospective buyer and began the paper work leading to closing.

During the entire selling process Tony was available to answer questions and make recommendations in dealing with the closing agencies.  We never felt that we were alone during these proceedings.

We unequivocally recommend Tony Meier and his staff for any real estate needs that you may have.

Thank you Tony and staff.  You made us feel stress free and comfortable with your positive and caring attitude.

George and Mary Dammeyer

NWMLS Market Report November 2016 – Real Estate Brokers Expect No Holiday Breather

KIRKLAND, Washington (Dec. 5, 2016) – Pending sales of homes hit an all-time high for the month of November according to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report covering 23 counties around Washington state also shows the number of new listings added during the month plunged to the lowest level in 11 months, prompting MLS leaders to predict a busy winter for residential real estate as buyers compete for the smallest inventory since March.

“Last year’s holiday season ended up being the best time to sell a home around King County as sellers took the winter months off, but buyers remained persistent. The supply of homes for sale hit a post-recession low, and so far, this year is mirroring last winter’s trends,” remarked Northwest MLS director Robert Wasser, owner/broker at Prospera Real Estate in Seattle.

Figures for November show a 13.2 percent drop in inventory of single family homes and condominiums, a 9.4 percent gain in pending sales, a 31.3 percent spike in closed sales, and an 11 percent increase in prices compared to the same month a year ago.

At month-end, there was only 1.69 months of supply system-wide, believed to be a new low. For the 4-county Puget Sound region there is only 1.22 months of supply, with King County having the lowest level at under a month (0.96).

Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) totaled 8,217, and eclipsed the number of new listings (5,779) by 2,438 units. That imbalance depleted total inventory, dropping the number of active listings to 13,303, down 13.2 percent from a year ago.

“November’s pending sales for the four-county area of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap were the highest since 2005. There were 44 percent more pendings than new listings,” noted J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, who described market activity as a mini power surge. “Every time interest rates increase 0.5 percent we see these surges because buyers become anxious about increasing rates – but on a historical basis rates are still amazing,” he remarked.

John Deely, vice chairman of the Northwest MLS board, said the Seattle residential real estate market is not taking time off for an end-of-year breather. “The seemingly inexhaustible supply of ready, willing and able buyers continues to purchase available inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand continues to fuel multiple offers and drive prices upward,” said Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle. Well-paying jobs in the tech sector are fueling demand, with “the increase in equity and tick up in interest rates enticing more sellers to the market.”

George Moorhead, another member of the MLS board, echoed those sentiments. “We have seen the market pick up significant speed since the mild slowing during the summer months.” He cited NAR reports that the Puget Sound area is 73,180 units short of demand, calling it a staggering number.

“Like the last two years we expect strong sales to continue through December, then taper off in January, only to pick back up mid-February with another flurry of aggressive buyers,” Moorhead continued. He also believes an uptick in interest rates will driver buyers into the market even harder, with inventory likely to plunge even lower.

The median price on last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums area-wide was $342,000, up 11 percent from the year-ago figure of $308,000. August was the only other month this year with year-over-year double-digit appreciation for prices area-wide.

Thirteen counties in the Northwest MLS service area reported double-digit price increases last month compared to 12 months ago. Prices in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties jumped between 14.4 and 15.3 percent, but the largest spikes were in Okanogan (up 41.4 percent) and Jefferson (up 39.5 percent) counties. Last month’s overall median price for single family homes and condos that sold was down about 2 percent from this year’s high of $350,000 for sales that closed in June, July and August.

Prices for single family homes (excluding condos) rose 10.9 percent from a year ago to $350,500. King County reported the highest median price for single family homes at $550,000 (up 10 percent year-over-year).

Condo prices reflected more modest price hikes, perhaps a reflection of depleted inventory (down 18 percent) that is dragging down sales. Pending sales fell nearly 1.9 percent from a year ago. Last month’s median selling price area-wide was $280,000, about 5.7 percent higher than a year ago. In King County, which accounted for more than six of every 10 condo sales, year-over-year prices jumped more than $30,000 — from $298,500 to $328,844 (up about 10.2 percent).

“Seattle continues to defy all forecasts and now has the distinction of being the hottest market with the fastest-rising prices in the nation,” said Mike Grady, commenting the latest home price index from S&P Case-Shiller. “We believe the market will continue to be extremely active through the winter and beyond, although the Fed’s expected interest rate hike may affect this somewhat and provide some relief to buyers.”

Even with the much-anticipated increase in interest rates, Grady said he does not expect much leveling off of home prices or activity. Expectations of an easing of mortgage underwriting stringencies by the new Administration will result in additional buyers entering the market, which Grady believes “will add fuel to the fire. We anticipate being very busy through 2017.”

Other brokers agreed.

“Overall, the market continues to be frenzy hot on a seasonality basis, as we’re seeing the same positive momentum in the Puget Sound real estate market as last year,” stated Scott, adding, “We’ll be entering 2017 with an extremely severe inventory shortage that is going to lead us into a huge price appreciation boost after the first of the year.”

“Looking ahead to 2017, the Seattle market will continue to perform well, even with the expected interest rate increase,” stated OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “The regional economy is in full stride and this will continue to create increased demand for housing across the board,” he added. He also said he expects price growth to cool somewhat as inventory levels rise modestly, but he believes “2017 should be another banner year for the housing market.”

“This market engenders confidence and high expectations by sellers as they continue to command center stage,” remarked Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.

“Inventory levels were supposed to increase by this time of year, yet stubbornly, would-be sellers remain on the sidelines, so buyers will continue to struggle to find a home and compete with other buyers through most, if not all of 2017,” added Beeson, a member of the MLS board of directors.

Beeson also commented on the “hottest market” label from Case-Shiller. “It sounds like an enviable position, but it brings its own set of problems and issues,” he noted. Lengthy times to obtain appraisals due to the limited number of appraisers, low appraisals, buyers being forced to pay cash for the difference between appraised value and the sales price, sellers refusing to make repairs on their property, lenders requiring repairs to be done prior to closing, and multiple offers were among concerns he listed.

Industry-watchers say conditions are ripe for sustained activity through the holidays, citing historically low interest rates, motivated sellers, fewer players (less competition), faster closings (fewer transactions to process) and the appeal of year-end tax deductions are motivators.

Gary O’Leyar, broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, described the current market as “one of the most extreme I’ve seen in 42 years of working in the Greater Seattle area.” Although there may be a public perception that brokers are “having a heyday” he said it’s actually one of the hardest markets he and fellow brokers have encountered. One listing may generate multiple offers, but at the end of the day there is only one sale. “Along with buyers who are so tested by this market are the brokers who partner with them to work through this rugged gauntlet to secure a successful sale,” he noted.

Beeson also commented on the current market challenges, saying “even in a hot market sellers and buyers need the guidance of an experienced broker to navigate the waters.” For sellers, he said, finding a buyer is like the tip of an iceberg – it’s easily seen. “However,” he explained, “helping a buyer find the right home and winning in a multiple-offer situation, helping sellers choose the right offer, helping both parties close the sale are all under the surface and require a knowledgeable, experienced broker to avoid crashing against a failed sale.”

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.