Seattle Tops Nation with the Hottest Housing Market

Seattle Tops Nation with the Hottest Housing Market

Examining the S&P Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, the home prices in the Seattle Region have risen by 11 percent between September 2015 and 2015, surpassing Portland which has had a 10.9 percent increase during this time period. Here is what you need to know about the causes and effects of Seattle’s booming housing market.

Watch Environmental History Unfold as the Elwha River Surges Back to Life

Watch Environmental History Unfold as the Elwha River Surges Back to Life

Situated right on the Elwha River, this gorgeous Elwha Retreat Property has expansive views of Hurricane Ridge, the Elwha River & Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada. Here, you can watch from your own front row seats as the salmon swim upstream and repopulate this magnificent river undergoing a historic river restoration following the Elwha River Dam removal that began in 2011. 

Market Watch Q3 - Downtown Seattle Condos

Market Watch Q3 - Downtown Seattle Condos

The in-city housing market in our Emerald City has a split personality. Buy or rent, the message is the same – it’s going to cost more and more to live here. This fact is reigniting the debate between renting and homeownership and developers are listening.

Puget Sound Business Journal Says Nearly 22% of Seattle's Renters are Qualified to Buy a Home

Puget Sound Business Journal Says Nearly 22% of Seattle's Renters are Qualified to Buy a Home

Seattle’s rent is currently growing faster than any other city in the U.S., this according to the Seattle Times as June 2015 vs. June 2016 rent comparisons revealed a staggering 9.7% increase. What’s more, “rents are soaring so fast that June’s 1.1% monthly price gain in the Seattle area beat out the growth that Chicago and Washington, D.C., have seen in an entire year.”

Introducing The Market Report Year in Review

Introducing The Market Report Year in Review

I am proud to present the Market Report: Puget Sound Real Estate Trends & 2015 Year in Review, a comprehensive look at the 2015 real estate market in an exploration of seven key counties of Western Washington: King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce, Jefferson and Island counties, as well as 29 neighborhoods for our current and prospective clients. 

Realogics Sotheby's International Realty Announces New Winslow Way Location on Bainbridge Island

Realogics Sotheby's International Realty Announces New Winslow Way Location on Bainbridge Island

I am SO EXCITED to announce the signing of a long term lease for approximately half of the Old Hardware Store building at 240 Winslow Way East on Bainbridge Island. After sitting vacant for the past four years, the nearly 70-year old building was acquired in January 2016 by The Old Hardware Store, LLC managed by local businessman Joseph Lacko.

Palace Magazine Adds Seattle Metro Area to List of Top Markets Sought by Asian Homebuyers

Palace Magazine Adds Seattle Metro Area to List of Top Markets Sought by Asian Homebuyers

As yet another acknowledgement that the Seattle metro area has joined the league of global cities attracting Asian investment, immigration and homeownership, Palace Magazine recently published a special report on American cities that included the Emerald City with significant contributions by Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty

Evergreen Dreaming: Californians Flock to Washington State

According to recent Census data, California sends more new residents to King County than any other state in the US, as noted in a recent Seattle Times article. The trend makes a lot of sense considering that the two states share a time zone, a love for the ocean and a propensity for employing high-tech workers, as recently highlighted by The Wall Street Journal and the Puget Sound Business Journal,which described that the average home costs nearly $600,000 less in Seattle compared to Silicon Valley. A delegation of RSIR brokers and owners recently visited the Bay Area to explore these trends firsthand.

Thousands of Californians moving from the Golden State to the Evergreen State. For the year ending July 2015, nearly 22-percent of the 16,999 new residents in Washington came from California, according to State of Washington Department of Licensing:

“Many inbound Californians recognize that Washington offers a bounty of opportunity with a much lower cost of living,” said Dean Jones, President & CEO of RSIR. “I joke that we’re the Evergreen State not just because of the lush forest and landscapes but because we have no state income tax. Washington’s a good place to get wealthy and stay wealthy, whereas California has the highest combined tax rates in the US and top earners can pay up to 13-percent state income.”

Jones says one of the trends is for affluent Californians to buy a principal residence in Washington State and keep their current home in California as a second home. By becoming a Washington resident and living in the Puget Sound region for the majority of the year, passive income earners can avoid paying state income tax in California and invest those savings in building equity in two homes instead of paying the government.

Californians remain a targeted consumer group for RSIR, as have immigrating Asian home buyers, who comprise the second largest relocating demographic in Washington.

Signs of a Housing Bubble? Not According to the Daily Journal of Commerce

In an article released by the Daily Journal of Commerce, Matthew Gardner describes his confidence that we are not currently in a housing bubble, ten years after Alan Greenspan first said he had no concerns regarding the housing market just before the recession hit.

city-people-bubble-soap

Where does Gardner's confidence come from? He breaks down his top four reasons why there is no "national bubble on the horizon":

  1. The flippers have left the building - "Data supplied by RealtyTrac suggests that the percentage of homes that were bought with the intent to 'flip' has dropped from a peak of 6.7 percent at the beginning of 2014 to 4 percent today . . . signifying a more normalized market."
  2. Lending standards remain very stringent - "there are several components of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that provide substantial safeguards when it comes to irresponsible lending practices, such as requiring lenders - through the qualified mortgage rule - to ensure a borrower's ability to repay."
  3. Home prices are up, but not to pre-bubble levels - at the national level, the bursting of the housing bubble led to a 27 percent drop in the index. The index has risen but is still 9 percent below the prior peak."
  4. Interest rates are (eventually) going to rise and cool the market - "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."

FHA to Cut Mortgage Insurance Premiums, Caliber Home Loans Predict Boom of Homebuyers in 2015

CapitolIn an effort to expand homeownership among lower-income buyers, President Barack Obama cut mortgage-insurance premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in an announcement according to Bloomberg News.

“Lowering the annual mortgage insurance fee from 1.35% down to .85% will be a significant boom for both first-time homebuyers and current homeowners that want to refinance their FHA loans,” says Keith Lashley, Mortgage Banker with Caliber Home Loans and Preferred Lender for Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty.  “Prospective homebuyers are urged to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in over a year.  Factoring in the rising median home prices and positive economic trends, I’d say this is about the most confident time to buy in recent memory.”

Lashley breaks down the changes like this.  Mortgage insurance on a $400,000 loan currently costs a homeowner $450 per month but will drop down to $283 per month under the reduced premium providing a $166 per month savings to homeowners financed through FHA.

Under the new premium structure FHA estimates that 250,000 additional first-time homebuyers will be able to enter the market due to the reduce premium and over 2 million  borrowers will save an average of $900 annually over the next three years if they purchase or refinance homes.

2015 is quickly shaping up to be a blockbuster year in real estate according to Lashley.  He says homebuyers can take advantage of incredibly low interest rates, less restrictive FHA underwriting guidelines and now lower mortgage insurance to leverage their purchasing power all at the same time. He also warns that an increase of more homebuyers could make the marketplace even more competitive for buyers.

These favorable factors coupled with fast rising rents are not lost on first time homebuyers as Millennials and other modest income buyers are projected to move into the home buying market in record numbers this year.  Other macro factors such as increased employment, low inflation and low relative home prices are further enticements for new home buyers to act in the first quarter of the New Year.