Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – August 2010

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Bob Chapman
Managing Broker

Windermere Real Estate
Lake Stevens, Inc.

9327 4th St. NE, Ste #3
Lake Stevens, WA 98258
USA
Ph: (425) 268-2940
Fax: (425) 335-1838

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Bob's Bugle Real Estate Newsletter August 2010REAL ESTATE NEWS & INFORMATION

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter August 2010

August 23, 2010

*Housing Market for Buyer’s is the Best in Years*

KIRKLAND, WA, August 5, 2010Housing activity during July held few surprises for members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service, although some brokers wonder why more buyers aren’t taking advantage of historic low interest rates. Both pending sales and median prices on closed sales showed slight improvement from the previous month, according to the latest report from NWMLS.

“It’s a housing trifecta,” declared Meribeth Hutchings, a director for Northwest Multiple Listing Service and Designated Broker for Windermere Real Estate/Lake Stevens, Lake Stevens, Washington, when asked to comment on activity for the month of July.

The combination of the lowest interest rates on record, plenty of inventory and low prices offer an unprecedented opportunity for buyers, Hutchings explained. The broker/owner of Windermere Real Estate/Lake Stevens Inc. said homes have never been this affordable in her 28 years in the business.

Brokers reported 5,571 pending sales across the 21 counties in the Northwest MLS service area. That’s up slightly from June when they reported 5,547 pending sales, but down about 23 percent from twelve months ago when there were 7,279 pending sales.

The MLS report showed year-over-year increases in inventory, a double-digit decline in closed sales and a small drop in prices:

  • At month end, there were 44,770 properties for sale system-wide, a gain of 5.8 percent from twelve months ago. The inventory includes 10,850 new listings added during July (9,308 single family homes and 1,542 condominiums).
  • Brokers reported 4,491 closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) during July. That’s down 18.7 percent from the same month a year ago when members tallied 5,527 closed sales.
  • The median price for last month’s closed sales was $274,990, down 1.4 percent from the year-ago figure of $279,000. Prices rose in nine counties.
  • Last month’s median price, compared to June, is up about 3.8 percent overall.

“The tax credit pulled some first-time buyers from the second half of the year into the first half,” surmised NWMLS director Pat Grimm, a managing broker with a Windermere Real Estate office in Seattle, WA. The National Association of REALTORS® echoed his comment.  In a statement accompanying its report on nationwide pending sales for June, NAR said it expected near-term home sales to be noticeably lower in contrast to the spring surge when buyers rushed to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit. 

Dick Beeson, NWMLS director and broker/owner of a Windermere Real Estate franchise in Tacoma, Washington, suggested the market has adjusted to a “non-stimulus environment.”  The lack of a tax credit has caused some buyers to postpone their purchase, he said, but added, “Many others are continuing to take advantage of superlative interest rates and bargain prices.”

Hutchings said business was “typical” for July, “usually a slow month because of vacations.” Nevertheless, she noted, despite the expiration of the tax credit, sales volumes for her office were comparable to a year ago.

Another MLS director, Frank Wilson, a managing broker in Poulsbo, WA, said the current market is being driven by people who “have to.”  These include buyers who “have to buy” and sellers who “have to sell,” with a good deal of buyers and sellers still sitting on the sidelines waiting.  He noted homes in Kitsap County priced in the $200,000 to $299,000 range are selling quite quickly, thanks in part to very favorable loan programs.

On another positive note, Grimm said the influx of first-time buyers taking advantage of the tax credit has pulled move-up buyers into the market. “We’re seeing increased sales in the higher-end market,” he remarked, adding there’s been a “reality check” on pricing at the higher end, marked by price drops and a corresponding uptick in activity. As an example, he said a home in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood sold for $1.045 million in just four days. “The seller had priced the home well and it sold within four percent of the asking price,” Grimm stated.

Commenting on the inventory and pace of sales, Bobbie Petrone Chipman, a managing broker in Puyallup, Washington and a member of the NWMLS board of directors, emphasized that sellers “must focus on the condition, amenities and pricing of their properties in order to obtain a sale in this very strong buyer’s market.”  She also suggested buyers who procrastinate while waiting for a better time to purchase may risk looking back in hindsight bemoaning the opportunity that passed them by.

Brokers also report some encouraging activity for newly built homes.  “We see sales occurring in new construction where large builders have reset their prices to 2004 levels.  Sales are brisk among first-time buyers in this market. These buyers know we are bouncing along the bottom in prices and have reach historic low interest rates,” Beeson reported.

The “Monthly Monitor” newsletter from Bothell-based New Home Trends, Inc. also said new home sales activity is trending up in the Puget Sound region. “The number of new construction home sales written in the last twelve months exceeds the previous year by 28.1 percent. The Puget Sound area continues to show a demand for new housing,” the report concludes.

Industry officials believe interest rates, jobs and consumer confidence are critical to building momentum.

“Consumer confidence is ebbing and that makes major purchases even more difficult to initiate or even contemplate,” observed Beeson. “If the job picture improves even slightly later this year, we will see an uncharacteristic uptick in sales in the final quarter,” he stated.

NAR, in its prepared statement, also addressed the employment picture.  “There could be couple of additional months of slow home-sales activity before picking up later this year, providing the economy continues to add jobs. We’ve turned the corner on home prices and they should remain fairly stable over the balance of the year, but we really need to see stronger job creation to have a meaningful recovery in the housing markets,” according NAR.

MLS director Matt Deasy, a managing broker with Windermere Real Estate in Bellevue, WA, suggested some would-be buyers may not fully understand the advantages of today’s low interest rates. 

Citing examples from Windermere’s affiliated mortgage company, Deasy said a buyer saves $374 a month on a $300,000 loan compared to three years ago.  The principal and interest on a $300,000 mortgage at today’s rate of 4.375 percent would be $1,498. Three years ago, when the rate averaged 6.375 percent, the P&I payment would have been $1,872. 

On a $400,000 loan, the savings would be almost $500 per month ($2,495 less $1,997 = $498). For the past 30 years, the average rate is approximately 9 percent, which puts the payment on a $300,000 loan at $2,414 – a difference of $916 per month. 

“Buyers are motivated when they see these comparisons,” Deasy remarked.  He also believes there’s a pent-up demand based on the number of pre-approvals for loans in the mortgage company’s pipeline.  He expects many of these potential buyers “will pull the trigger” once rates or prices start edging up. 

Bystanders are still waiting for a piece of the puzzle to fall in place, according to Wilson.  For some, he said the missing piece might be jobs, the economy, confidence in the future or direction of the stock market.

Washington fared “4th best state” for building a nest egg and has the country’s most promising real estate market in the near term, according to an index created by U.S. News that considered each state’s housing market, unemployment rate, per capita income, and taxes.  Citing data by Moody’s Analytics, the report indicated home prices in the state are expected to surge by “a whopping 6.6 percent per year” between 2010 and 2013.

Check out my website(s): www.washingtonrealestatepage.com or www.washingtonlandandhomes.com

Referrals are a “very” important part of my business. Please let me know of anyone that you know who may be considering Buying or Selling real estate – or please give them my name and contact information!

Thank You!

Bob Chapman

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter August 2010

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for July 2010

July 2010

Single

Family

Homes

+ Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

New

Listings

Total

Active

#Pending

Sales

# Closings

 

Average

Price

Median

Price

King

4,148

14,490

2,133

1,782

$460,821

$375,000

Snohomish

1,545

5,908

870

727

$305,793

$270,000

Pierce

1,614

6,467

1,019

686

$240,245

$219,970

Kitsap

487

2,126

284

218

$313,193

$265,000

Mason

177

965

61

45

$219,441

$190,000

Skagit

283

1,395

123

93

$246,714

$219,000

GraysHarbor

227

1,048

75

60

$134,830

$138,250

Lewis

159

903

39

37

$167,714

$162,000

Cowlitz

149

697

72

70

$177,438

$162,500

Grant

133

708

45

53

$174,228

$165,000

Thurston

555

2,116

289

249

$251,643

$234,900

San Juan

45

525

16

13

$428,769

$325,000

Island

220

1,229

107

84

$322,197

$304,000

Kittitas

112

651

41

30

$286,215

$242,000

Jefferson

151

719

27

29

$296,833

$300,000

Okanogan

56

479

15

17

$192,944

$169,000

Whatcom

477

2,251

236

187

$295,916

$256,950

Clark

52

317

39

33

$235,332

$216,000

Pacific

57

510

26

20

$134,805

$130,000

Ferry

10

59

1

3

$200,000

$165,000

Clallam

98

562

22

23

$184,416

$165,000

Others

95

645

31

32

$189,275

$182,450

MLS TOTAL

10,850

44,770

5,571

4,491

$342,422

$274,990

 

4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)
(Totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter August 2010

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

2000

3706

4778

5903

5116

5490

5079

4928

5432

4569

4675

4126

3166

2001

4334

5056

5722

5399

5631

5568

5434

5544

4040

4387

4155

3430

2002

4293

4735

5569

5436

6131

5212

5525

6215

5394

5777

4966

4153

2003

4746

5290

6889

6837

7148

7202

7673

7135

6698

6552

4904

4454

2004

4521

6284

8073

7910

7888

8186

7583

7464

6984

6761

6228

5195

2005

5426

6833

8801

8420

8610

8896

8207

8784

7561

7157

6188

4837

2006

5275

6032

8174

7651

8411

8094

7121

7692

6216

6403

5292

4346

2007

4869

6239

7192

6974

7311

6876

6371

5580

4153

4447

3896

2975

2008

3291

4167

4520

4624

4526

4765

4580

4584

4445

334628412432
2009325034074262537254985963555157645825570238293440
20104381521168217368405842394306     

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member brokers, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 24,000 brokers and agents. The organization, based in Kirkland, currently serves 21 counties in Western and Central Washington.  Ferry and Clallam counties are now included in the monthly statistical reports.

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter August 2010, copyright 2010. All material contained herein is owned and protected. Any attempts to reproduce this information without the express written consent from the owner will be prosecuted.

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Let a trained professional Windermere agent, Bob Chapman, assist you in your Snohomish County real estate home or vacant land buying or selling transaction.

This Snohomish County real estate website page also has a home loan or mortgage calculator..

Please visit the links pages in the navigation bar. There you will find links to: Snohomish County & Washington State School Districts information which includes the official websites of School Districts in Snohomish County and Washington State; The official Washington State government website, Snohomish County & City government websites and Valuable Real Estate Informational and Resource links.