King County Had Almost Half of 2015’s 30 Most Competitive Neighborhoods in America

We probably don’t need to tell you that 2015 was a crazy year in real estate, especially in our area. Bidding wars and listings lasting mere days on the market is something we’ve all grown accustomed to. But it turns out we’re not alone. Curbed recently published an article that focused on the 30 most competitive neighborhoods in America. What’s the most mind blowing thing about this list? Of the 30 neighborhoods listed, 13 of them are in King County.

2015-competitive-markets

The Eastside was well represented on this list with Bellevue and Redmond making huge claims. Overlake was was the second-most competitive market in the entire nation! Honorable mentions were Grass Lawn (#7), Newport Hills (#14), Idylwood (#28), and Newport (#30).

It’s hard to say exactly what 2016 has in store, but our very own Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, has a few ideas (such as expecting that housing in Seattle will continue to appreciate in value, but at a slightly lower rate than 2015).

Read more on Seattle Curbed.

Posted on January 7, 2016 at 5:26 pm
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News | Tagged , , ,

The Five Real Estate Trends Shaping Real Estate in 2016

We're nearing the end of the year and everyone is sharing their predictions and hopes for real estate in 2016. According to Realtor.com, here are the top five trends that will be shaping real estate next year. The economy, rental market, and housing market are all changing in the Seattle area and its Eastside. These trends are definitely something you want to pay attention to as we jump into 2016.

Five Real Estate Trends in Real Estate in 2016

1. We'll Return to Normal

Something that we in the Seattle area are eagerly anticipating! The year ahead will see healthy growth in home sales and prices, but at a slower pace than in 2015 according to Realtor.com. "Distress sales will no longer be playing an outsized role, new construction is returning to more traditional levels, and prices rise at more normal rates consistent with a more balanced market."

2. The Best Year to Sell

We all knew that millennials would make a huge impact in 2015, and they did. Millennials emerged as a dominant force in 2015 and represented almost 2 million sales. That's more than one-third of the total! "This pattern will continue in 2016 as their large numbers combined with improving financial conditions will enable" them to jump into the market again. Financially recovering Gen Xers and older boomers who are thinking about retirement are also going to affect the market. According to the article, since "most of these people are already homeowners, they'll play a double role, boosting the market as both sellers and buyers."

For more information, read the full list on Realtor.com.

Posted on December 29, 2015 at 10:01 am
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News

There’s No Need To Panic About Rising Interest Rates

This article originally appeared on Inman.com 

 

After seven years of some of the lowest interest rates in recorded history, the Federal Reserve has decided to raise the key Fed Funds Rate by 0.25 percent, which is causing some to be concerned that it will lead to a jump in mortgage rates and negatively impact the US housing market.

So, the question everyone wants to know is, do we need to worry about interest rates leaping?

While I expect there to be some volatility in rates for a while, I don’t believe the real estate market will implode in a rapidly rising interest rate environment. So, yes, interest rates are going to rise modestly, but no, I don’t think we need to be overly worried about it.

To qualify this statement, we need to understand that mortgage rates do not run in “lock-step” with the Fed Funds Rate. Although the Fed Funds Rate is a bellwether for the greater economic environment, there have been times when these two rates have moved in opposite directions, such as we saw in 2004/2005.

It’s also important to understand that while interest rates for revolving credit, such as credit cards and home equity loans, are tied to the Fed Funds Rate, non-revolving loans – like mortgages – are not. Mortgage rates are tied to bond yields – specifically the 10-year treasury.

So what do I think will happen?

I believe interest rates will rise above 4 percent, but we will not see a sharp spike in rates. The Fed has stated that any upward movement in the Fed Funds Rate will be slow and steady, and will reflect the greater economy. And I believe that mortgage rates will follow suit.  Additionally, mortgage rates have already moved higher in anticipation of an increase in the Fed Funds Rate.

That said, it is worth noting that any weakness in the global economy can actually have a downward effect on interest rates. This is referred to a “flight to quality”. In essence, investors seek safe haven during times of economic uncertainty. If markets outside the U.S. continue to underperform, there will likely be increasing demand for bonds which will drive up their price and drive down interest rates. Between China, the Eurozone, war in the Middle East, and a massive drop in oil prices, it's certainly possible that the price of mortgage backed securities could rise, leading U.S. mortgage rates lower.

Interest rates could not realistically stay at their current levels forever. But an increase should not be a great cause for concern. Yes, an increase makes mortgages more expensive, but not to a point where they will have a negative effect on home values. That said, the rate of home price growth will undoubtedly slow in the coming year, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A little perspective might help: the average rate for a 30-year loan in the 1970’s was nine percent. It was 13 percent in the 1980’s and eight percent in the 1990’s. And yet people still managed to buy and sell homes throughout those years. With that in mind, the rate increases we’re likely to see in 2016 are nothing to fret over.

The increase in the Fed Funds Rate should be taken as a sign that our economy is expanding and is a preemptive move to limit anticipated inflation. While interest rates have risen from their all-time low, they are still remarkably favorable. And will remain so through 2016.

 

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. 

Posted on December 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News

We Can Help With Sales Over List Price

MultipleOffers_header_Dec3

Sales Over List Price

Did you know that 44 percent of home sales involve sales over list price and often multiple offer situations? In fact, buyers working with a Windermere Real Estate broker are 18.4 percent more likely to win the in these situations.* Our brokers work tirelessly to make sure that not only do you have the best representation in the pool of offers, but that yours stands out to the seller.

Multiple offers graph Change in market share in multiple offers vs. non-multiple offers.

Here's Why Our Windermere Brokers Are Most Successful…

Windermere Real Estate brokers help position their buyer's offer to have the greatest appeal to the seller. They also receive extensive training on how to create the most competitive offer and negotiate successfully in for a sale over list price. Our brokers regularly receive the highest real estate education to stay ahead of real estate strategies, regulations, and everything else that helps make your offer the winning one. Additionally, at the end of the day, it's about reputation. Brokers are more confident in completing a transaction with a broker from Windermere than they are with any other real estate company.** If you're thinking about purchasing a home on the Eastside, make sure you have a Windermere Real Estate agent on your side. Our local real estate market has its fair share of sales over list price and multiple offer situations, and you want to make sure you're represented by the best.


*Based on single family home sales in King County from January 1-October 31, 2015 that closed above list price. New construction and short sales were excluded. **Based on a 2015 independent study of NWMLS brokers who closed six or more transactions in the previous year.

Posted on December 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News

Thinking of Buying a Home? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are surely getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in real estate. Let’s look at whether or not now is actually a good time for you to buy a home.

There are 3 questions you should ask before purchasing in today’s market:

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with finances. A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money:

2. Where are home values headed?

When looking at future housing values, Home Price Expectation Survey provides a fair assessment. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

So what does that really mean for you and your family?

Read the rest of the article on Keeping Current Matters.

Posted on September 24, 2015 at 1:43 pm
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News | Tagged , , ,

Homeownership Has Declined, But It Won’t Be Forever

Below is an article from Windermere's Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. He shares his views of the declining homeownership, and why he believes it won't be a lasting trend.

In addition to talking about housing bubbles, another topic that is becoming popular among housing scaremongers is the ongoing decline in the U.S. homeownership rate. Remarks range from the direct, “American homeownership is at its lowest level in more than two decades,” to the downright inflammatory, “Rental surge to drop homeownership rate to 61.3% by 2030”. When I read statements like this it always drives me to dig into the data to see what is really going on.

The data that everyone uses to track homeownership is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, which publishes quarterly stats on ownership rates dating back to 1965. As you can see in the chart below, the rate remained remarkably stable between 1965, when it registered at 62.9%, and 1994, when it was 63.8%. For the purposes of this discussion, I have highlighted three presidential terms: two under President Clinton and President George W. Bush’s first term.

The “boom times” for housing essentially started after the election of President Clinton, who went to remarkable lengths to encourage homeownership. Readers may remember the 1994 National Homeownership Strategy when the President directed HUD to come up with a viable plan to increase homeownership. And it worked; during the Clinton administration, homeownership rose from 64.2% to 67.1%.

During his first term, President Bush continued the practice of encouraging homeownership, as it dovetailed with his Ownership Society goals. His, and President Clinton’s efforts, led to the highest home ownership rates on record, peaking at just over 69% (about 5% higher than record-keeping averages). But as we all know now, it also led to the burst of the biggest housing bubble in our nation’s history. Yes, ownership rates skyrocketed, but the market was artificially inflated and unsustainable. Home ownership rates have since dropped to 63.7%, but this is only marginally below the long-term average of 64.3. Hardly calamitous as some are suggesting.

That said, I do think that that the rate could fall a little further. Now, before you start blaming the Millennial generation, stop, because they are not the ones leading this charge. (As a side note, I do feel rather sorry for this group, as they appear to be taking the brunt of any and all economic woes at the moment.) If we look at homeownership rates by age, between 1994 and today, the decline in homeowners under the age of 35 is 2.5%. A palpable drop, but slight when compared to 35-44 year olds who have seen their numbers drop by 6% – from 64.4% to 58.4%. Why? Because this group took the largest hit following the housing crash, and many lost their homes to foreclosure.

Circling back to Millennials, it’s true that this group is more subdued relative to homeownership – and there’s good reason for it. Millennials comprise a smaller share of married couples and a higher share of in-city dwellers versus suburbs. But their lack of growth may well be offset by middle-aged families who are thinking about getting back into homeownership again. According to RealtyTrac, while Millennials have gotten a lot of attention lately as the generation whose below-normal homeownership rates are changing the landscape of the U.S. real estate market, the boomerang buyers — who are primarily Generation Xers or Baby Boomers — represent a massive wave of potential pent-up demand that could shape the housing market in the short term even more dramatically.

Data from Transunion supports this theory, suggesting that there are about 700,000 consumers who will become eligible to re-enter the housing market in 2015, and up to an additional 2.2 million potential buyers will requalify over the next five years. It’s likely that these so called “boomerang buyers” will become homeowners again, which will do its part to offset the Millennial drop, and raise the homeownership rate back up to its historic averages.

So, have homeownership rates declined? Yes, but as the data and this analysis show, taking a simple “peak-to-trough” view of homeownership figures does not necessarily provide accurate results. Regardless of how many scaremongers declare otherwise.

Visit the Windermere blog for the original article.

Posted on July 23, 2015 at 2:13 pm
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News | Tagged , ,

No Housing Bubble In Sight – For Now

Windermere's chief economist, Matthew Gardner, recently shared some insight on what we're currently seeing in our local housing market. Here is his commentary, originally posted on Windermere.com.

Exactly 10-years ago this month, Alan Greenspan was asked if he had any concerns regarding the housing market. At that time, he emphasized that he saw no sign of a nationwide housing bubble, but he did have concerns over "froth" in the market and pointed to a big increase in the purchase of investment properties — particularly in second homes. As a result, he said, there are "a lot of local bubbles" around the country, but not at a national level.

As we are all very much aware, he, along with many other esteemed economists, was incorrect in his prediction that there was no national housing bubble in sight.

So here we are, a decade later, and some are starting to suggest that we are on the verge of another “bubble” bursting due to an overheated housing market. I’m often asked if there is any truth to this, and my response is no, I don’t believe there is a national bubble on the horizon. And here are the reasons why:

     1. The flippers have left the building – in as much as it causes me untold angst to see the resurgence of reality TV programs espousing the wonders of house flipping, the country has seen a marked slowdown in this type of business. Why? Well one reason is that the number of foreclosed homes continues to drop. Foreclosures are the preferred property type for flippers, as margins can be significantly higher.

     2. Lending standards remain very stringent – Banks actually did learn a lesson from the collapse of the housing market and remain wary, and because of this, qualifying for a mortgage remains difficult. For example, in April of this year, the average FICO score required for an approved conventional home loan was 756 with a 19 percent down payment. The average FICO score for someone who was denied a loan (with an average down payment of 17 percent) was very high at 699.

     3. Home prices are up, but not to pre-bubble levels – here I looked at data provided by S&P Case Shiller index which is a useful resource because it calculates the increase/decrease in value of the same house over time, rather than just the make-up of sales during a specific time period. At the national level, the bursting of the housing bubble led to a 27 percent drop in the index. The index has risen back up but is still 9 percent below the prior peak.

     4. Interest rates are going to (eventually) start to rise – and this will take some of the heat out of the market. Now, there are some who will say that any increase in mortgage rates will negatively impact the housing market, but I don’t agree. Although it is true that an increase in rates does decrease buying power, the naysayers are ignoring the fact that we are in a growing economy. The growth in employment, and the subsequent drop in the unemployment rate, will lead to wage growth, and increasing incomes will take some of the sting out of any rate increase.

Given all of these points, I do not see the risk of a national “housing bubble” anywhere in the foreseeable future; however, I do think we are seeing localized “froth” in some markets.

View the original post by Matthew Gardner on the Windermere blog.

Posted on June 18, 2015 at 1:06 pm
Oscar J. Diaz | Category: Housing Market News | Tagged , , ,