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.

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying & Selling!

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Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey; you need an experienced Real Estate Professional to lead you to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional in your corner haven’t changed, but rather have been strengthened, due to the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam. 

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true Real Estate Professional is an expert in their market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you acquire your dream? 

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. However, after looking at the list of parties that you need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll realize the value in selecting a Real Estate Professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to, during the process. 

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $245,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has their finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic. Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring a Real Estate Professional?

4 Reasons to Buy Your Dream Home This Winter

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As the temperature in many areas of the country starts to cool down, you might think that the housing market will do the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are 4 reasons you should consider buying your dream home this winter instead of waiting for spring!

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 6.3% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.2% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Projected to Increase

Your monthly housing cost is as much related to the price you pay for your home as it is to the mortgage interest rate you secure.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage are currently at 4.08%. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home.

3. Either Way You’re Paying a Mortgage

There are some renters who have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing cost to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

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Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie MacFannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

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Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Winter Is Coming… 5 Reasons to Sell Now!

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People across the country are beginning to think about what their life will look like next year. It happens every fall; we ponder whether we should relocate to a different part of the country to find better year-round weather, or perhaps move across the state for better job opportunities. Homeowners in this situation must consider whether they should sell their house now or wait.

If you are one of these potential sellers, here are five important reasons to sell now instead of in the dead of winter.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Realtors’ Confidence Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains very strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing and able to purchase… and are in the market right now!

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

According to NAR’s latest Existing Home Sales Report, the supply of homes for sale is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal housing market (which is 4.5-months).

This means, in most areas, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers in that market. This is good news for home prices. However, additional inventory is about to come to market.

There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years because of a negative equity situation. Homeowners are now seeing a return to positive equity as real estate values have increased over the last two years. Many of these homes will be coming to the market soon.

Also, as builders regain confidence in the market, new construction of single-family homes is projected to continue to increase, reaching historic levels in 2017. Last month’s new home sales numbers show that many buyers who have not been able to find their dream homes within the existing inventory have turned to new construction to fulfill their needs.

The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until all this other inventory of homes comes to market before you sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Fannie Mae announced that they anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker & simpler. 

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year, according to CoreLogic. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

According to Freddie Mac’s latest report, you can also lock-in your 30-year housing expense with an interest rate around 3.57% right now. Interest rates are projected to increase moderately over the next 12 months. Even a small increase in rate will have a big impact on your housing cost.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to the questions above. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.  

That is what is truly important.

Thinking of Selling? Don’t Overlook an Outdated Kitchen, Buyers Won’t

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If you are planning on listing your home for sale, make sure that you don’t overlook the condition of your kitchen. A recent article on realtor.com listed “7 Signs Your Kitchen Is Way Overdue for a Renovation,” in which they warned:

“Dated kitchens—just like bathrooms—are a major barrier for resale. Buyers want modern amenities and styling, and most aren’t interested in renovating post-purchase.”

Kitchen remodels can be pricey, with many complete remodels costing $20,000 or more. But not every kitchen needs a full remodel. There are many smaller projects that will help buyers see themselves trying their favorite Pinterest recipe in your home!

Here are a couple of project ideas that, if you’re handy or know someone who is, could end up boosting your home’s value without breaking the bank:

  • Are the cabinets in good shape but need an update? A new coat of paint and some updated hardware will instantly freshen up the space and drastically change the feel of the room all for under $300.
  • A new backsplash to match the freshly painted cabinets updates the space and adds some style while staying under $200, depending on the size of the room.
  • If the kitchen seems dark, consider adding LED under cabinet lighting for around $40.
  • If replacing the counter tops in the kitchen isn’t within your budget, consider using a top coat to cover the current counter tops.

If you decide to complete a full remodel of your outdated kitchen, you can expect a 67% return on a $30,000 upgrade (the national median cost). The benefits of a kitchen remodel aren’t purely financial, according to Houselogic:

“Eighty-two percent of homeowners said their updated kitchen gave them a greater desire to be at home, and 95% were happy or satisfied with the result.”

Bottom Line

Kitchens and bathrooms are often make or break for buyers when touring a home or searching through photo galleries online. Consult a local real estate professional who can help you identify which small projects could pay off big!

NWMLS Market Report October 2016 – Home sales and prices still climbing around Puget Sound, but brokers expect slowdown.

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KIRKLAND, Washington (Nov. 4, 2016) – Home sales around Western Washington outgained new listings again in October, fueling competition for scarce inventory and pushing prices higher. Some seasonal slowdown is still expected – and the Nov. 8 elections may be in play as well, according to brokers at Northwest Multiple Listing Service who commented on last month’s activity.

MLS members reported 9,950 pending sales during October, but they added only 7,591 new listings, the lowest number since January. A year-over-year comparison of pending sales shows there were 633 more mutually accepted offers last month than twelve months ago for a gain of 6.8 percent.

Closed sales improved even more, rising from the year-ago total of 7,769 completed transactions to last month’s volume of 8,554 (up 10.1 percent).

“While the stock market remains somewhat skittish regarding the upcoming presidential election, this feeling clearly has not transferred to the housing market,” remarked OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “Unfortunately for buyers who were hoping to have more homes to choose from this fall, listings in October fell to levels we haven’t seen since the 1990s – and at this point, we probably won’t see any sizable increase in inventory until the spring at the earliest,” he added.

Active listings dropped more than 13 percent compared to a year ago, with further shrinkage expected. At month end there were 15,690 single family homes and condominiums offered for sale in the MLS system, which encompasses 23 counties. That’s 2,378 fewer than the year-ago total of 18,068, and 2,446 fewer than September. All but two counties (Clallam and Ferry) reported year-over-year decreases in inventory.

Overall, there was only 1.8 months of supply. King County had slightly more than one month (1.1), with several areas within that county reporting less than a month’s supply. In Snohomish County, where inventory plunged more than 20 percent from a year ago, there was with 1.3 months.

“The further we move into November, the more we’ll start feeling the typical seasonal drop when new listings coming on the market decline by 50 percent on a monthly basis compared to spring and summer months,” suggested J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. Buyers are still out there, he emphasized. “We’re heading into winter with a repeat of last year’s conditions: low inventory, a backlog of buyers, and historically low interest rates.” On the heels of the “best October on record” Scott predicts “a strong winter market where the inventory remains tight throughout the season.”

Not surprisingly given the large MLS territory, which includes both rural and urban areas, activity is stronger in some sub-markets than others. Prices also reflect a wide spectrum. Of the four counties comprising the Puget Sound region (King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish), only Kitsap had an uptick in new listings compared to a year ago, but that county’s robust pending sales (up 20.7 percent) helped deplete its total inventory versus twelve months ago (down about 7 percent).

“The market in Kitsap is still very active,” according to Frank Wilson, the branch managing broker and Kitsap district manager for John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. He noted Kitsap typically lags the Seattle market by 6-to-9 months. Wilson expects a slowing in Kitsap County, at which time the upward pressure on pricing will begin to ease. “For now, the median price is up almost 13 percent from a year ago,” added Wilson, a board member at Northwest MLS.

In South Sound, prices rose at a more moderate rate, around 9.6 percent in Pierce County and just over 6.8 percent in Thurston County. “Homes priced under $400,000 are looked at hard by buyers on ‘day one’ and often draw multiple offers,” said Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma. Above that figure, things slow down markedly, he noted, adding that’s true in other areas, but the starting numbers and wait times might vary.

Beeson also cautioned sellers to be realistic in pricing, even in the current imbalanced market when sellers may have the upper hand. “Price cures all ills. No amount of marketing a property will cure the ill caused by too high a price,” said the veteran broker, citing data on expired listings that eventually came back on the market but oftentimes sold at a reduced price.

System-wide, prices for single family homes and condos (combined) rose nearly 8.2 percent from a year ago, increasing from $318,000 to $344,000. In the four-county Puget Sound region, King County claimed the largest increase and the highest prices. Year-over-year prices jumped 14.5 percent, from $432,750 to $495,500.

Single family home prices (excluding condos) increased 9.2 percent from a year ago; in King County the gain was nearly 14.6 percent, climbing from $480,000 to $550,000. That countywide median price is higher than September (which was $538,000) but lower than the year-to-date peak of $573,522 in June.

Condo prices increased $20,000 from a year ago (more than 7.3 percent), climbing from $265,500 to $285,000. The median price on closed sales of condos in King County was $320,000, about 10 percent higher than a year ago. Inventory area-wide fell more than 21 percent, leaving only 1.1 months of supply.

While prices continue to appreciate, Wilson said the “appraisal situation” is tempering activity. “We’ve spent the last 20 years improving the closing process, making it faster and more efficient. With the reduced number of appraisers in the marketplace now, we are seeing 2-to-4 weeks being adding to closing times, and costs doubling or tripling.”

Along with appraisal delays and seasonal adjustments, another industry leader mentioned reports indicating real estate markets nationwide are experiencing an “election cycle slowdown” due to the uncertainty surrounding next week’s elections. “People may be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach before buying or selling,” said Mike Grady, president and COO at Coldwell Banker Bain. However, he added, “We believe that regardless of who wins, there will be no major impact on the Puget Sound region’s economy.”

Grady cited solid local economic indicators and the Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to hold off on increasing interest rates as signals for a good time for home buyers and sellers to make a move. “It actually could be a great window of opportunity,” he stated.

MLS director George Moorhead also commented on jitters associated with Election Day. “We are hearing concerns from buyers relocating from other countries and how policies may change job security,” he stated.

On an encouraging note for buyers, Moorhead said there has been more flexibility involving new construction incentives and upgrades, notably among larger national builders wanting to close out inventory. He believes it’s been at least 18 months since such offers were available to buyers.

“New construction projects are still going forward and are only hampered by the lack of available land for larger development sites,” reported Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. Both national and mid-sized local builders are completing smaller 4-to-6 lot plats, even though they prefer plats of at least 12 lots, according to Moorhead.

Asked about activity from foreign investors who might be shifting attention from British Columbia to markets in Washington because of tax hikes and other measures being imposed there, and recent reports of plunging sales, brokers with Northwest MLS had varied reactions:
 Moorhead said they’re seeing an increase in foreign money, but it’s more in the commercial arena. He also noted they are a hearing of foreign buyers looking not just in Puget Sound, but also in California, Texas and other states.
 Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, described it as “a great example of what happens when you impose a restriction (excessive taxes or restraints) onto a free market. Although the circumstances are not exactly the same, rent control in a free trade market could have similar detrimental results.”
 Grady’s response was: “It’s not at all surprising that pending sales in Vancouver (B.C.) dropped comparing month-to-month, after the huge surge that happened in the final month before the new fees commenced.”
 Beeson was upbeat. “This move [by the British Columbia government] to put an additional tax burden on foreign investors should bring smiles to Washington brokers, particularly in the Greater Seattle and Eastside markets. It’s only a matter of time until these investors find a welcome mat out just a few miles south of Vancouver and property prices worth writing home about.”

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.

Retirement prompts sale of Bothell two story home. Multiple offers received and a happy outcome achieved!

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Deciding to sell a home can be stressful and then finding the right agent to guide you through the process can be equally as stressful. Tony came recommended to us by close friends who had just sold their property through Tony. The first time Tony came to our home he was completely prepared with a comprehensive portfolio of homes and properties both listed and sold in our area. He gave us a full rundown of how to maximize our home to sell both quickly and for the best price. He put together a beautiful video presentation of our home which made the home look warm and inviting. Throughout the entire process Tony was extremely professional; he kept us constantly updated on the status of the sale and yet very respectful of our privacy at the same time. Tony held an open house the first weekend on the market and by the following Tuesday we had multiple offers well over the asking price. We put our trust in Tony and never regretted the decision. I would use Tony’s services again in a heartbeat and will recommend him to friends and family.

Thank You Tony,
Steven and Helene Camara

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The Gardner Report – Third Quarter 2016 – Western Washington Real Estate Market Report

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The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
Annual employment growth in Washington State slowed somewhat in the third quarter of this year, but still remains well above the long-term average. Additionally, the jobs that are being created are primarily quality, high-paying positions, which is important for the health of our economy. Unemployment in the state remains at levels that are somewhat higher than I would like to see, but this continues to be impacted by a growing labor force and modestly slowing job growth. I still expect to see the rate drop a little further as we move through the final quarter of the year.

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 24,277 home sales during the third quarter of 2016—up by an impressive 7.9% from the same period in 2015, and 6.8% above the total number of sales seen in the second quarter of this year.
  • Skagit County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with transactions up by 25.6%. There were also impressive increases in home sales in Thurston, San Juan, Pierce, and Grays Harbor Counties. Sales fell slightly in Jefferson and Kittitas Counties.
  • Overall listing activity remains low with the total number of homes for sale at the end of the quarter 11.2% below that seen a year ago. That said, I’m happy to report that listings have been slowly trending higher in 2016.
  • I’ve been thinking about how sales can continue to rise while inventory remains so low. I believe this is due to an uptick in first-time buyers. These buyers have no home to sell, so they don’t add to the number of listings; however, they do cause sales to increase when they buy. This is a good trend to see!

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HOME PRICES

  • As demand continues to exceed supply, we are continuing to see upward pressure on home prices. In the third quarter, average prices rose by a substantial 10.2% and are 3.2% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
  • The current rate at which homes are appreciating cannot continue, and I anticipate that we will see a “cooling” start to take place in 2017.
  • When compared to the third quarter of 2015, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County. In total, there were nine counties where annual price growth exceeded 10% and prices were higher across the entire region when compared to a year ago.
  • Although supply levels are slowly starting to creep higher, we are still solidly in a seller’s market. Rising inventory levels should start to do a better job of meeting demand next year, which when combined with modestly higher mortgage interest rates, will see the region move closer toward becoming a balanced market.

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DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by twenty-two days when compared to the third quarter of 2015.
  • All the counties that comprise this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop.
  • In the third quarter of 2016, it took an average of 52 days to sell a home. This is down from the 74 days it took in the third quarter of 2015, and down from the 67 days it took in the second quarter of this year.
  • King and Snohomish Counties remain the only two markets where it took less than a month to sell a home. Even though King County saw days on market rise slightly from 18 to 20, it remains the hottest market in the region.

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CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. For the third quarter of 2016, I am moving the needle very slightly toward the buyers. This is entirely due to the recent increase in inventory levels that I believe will continue through the rest of the year.

That said, the region remains steadfastly a seller’s market.

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.