Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – July 2012

Bob

           Menu

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

Contact Me


Bob's Bugle Real Estate Newsletter July 2012REAL ESTATE NEWS & INFORMATION

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter July 2012

July 16, 2012

*Sales Volume & Home Prices Around Washington State Rising Amid Inventory Shortages in Many Areas*

KIRKLAND, WA, July 5, 2012June may have been cooler and wetter than normal, but weather did not seem to deter home buyers and sellers around western Washington. “Close-in Seattle neighborhoods have been experiencing the most intense buyer activity since 2006,” one broker remarked.

Figures just released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service show 8,577 sellers accepted offers on their homes and condominiums last month. That volume of pending sales across 21 counties was 13.8 percent higher than the same month a year ago, according to the MLS report.

Closed sales also reflected signs of a recovering market, with upticks in both volume and prices. Through the first six months of 2012 closings are up 14.4 percent (29,777 versus mid-year 2011 figure of 26,034 closed sales).

MLS members reported 6,214 closed sales of single family homes and condominiums during June, an improvement of 11.7 percent from twelve months ago, and the highest total since September 2007.

Prices on last month’s completed sales increased more than 5.8 percent from a year ago, with the median price area-wide rising from $240,950 to $265,000. Single-family home prices (excluding condos) jumped 7.3 percent, while the median selling price on condominiums fell 1.7 percent from a year ago.

Northwest MLS directors credited several factors for contributing to brisk activity, with many of them mentioning inventory shortages. “Consumers bothered by the lack of inventory are ready to make sure they do not miss out on the shift in the market,” stated MLS board member Darin Stenvers, office managing broker at a real estate brokerage in Bellingham, WA.

Frank Wilson, another MLS director, believes a unique aspect of this market is “artificially low interest rates” and said waiting to buy a home “could result in a double financial impact.”

“With inventory at such a low level, we are seeing buyers make multiple offers on well-priced homes as they come onto the market,” reported George Moorhead, branch manager at a real estate firm in Bothell, Washington. This lack of inventory is providing price support in many areas, and, he added, “giving sellers, who were originally on the fence, the confidence to market their home – something that has been lacking since 2008.”

Moorhead said buyers may not fully realize the favorable conditions. For example, he said the recent Fed action to purchase $270 billion more in long-term bonds resulted in more favorable mortgage rates to help offset rising values. As one client told him, “that knocking at our door was opportunity, and we almost missed it!”

Inventory compared to a year ago is smaller by 10,326 listings. At month end, Northwest MLS inventory stood at 26,545 listings. That compares to 36,871 active listings for the same month a year ago, a drop of 28 percent. The sharpest drops occurred in Snohomish County (down 48 percent), King County (down nearly 42 percent) and Pierce County (down 31 percent).

MLS data indicate there is less than a two-month supply of homes in both Snohomish and King Counties, well below the figure of 5-to-6 months that many analysts use as a gauge of a balanced market.

MLS director Diedre Haines, regional managing broker for a regional real estate brokerage franchise in Snohomish County, said bank owned (REO) property listings are nearly nonexistent compared to a year ago and “buyers are losing interest in making offers on short sale listings” due to the extended time it takes for such transactions to close. She said nearly every sale is a multiple offer situation, “driving the price higher than the list price.”

A “critical shortage of listings” is causing multiple offers and escalating prices in all price ranges, especially under $500,000,” according to MLS director Mike Skahen, the broker who described buyer activity as the most intense he has seen since 2006. “It is not unusual for more than 50 buyers to come through open houses and it’s become common now to hold listings open on both Saturday and Sunday,” added Skahen, the owner/designated broker at a real estate firm in Seattle, WA.

Skahen noted – with some amusement — a recent housing market report on the front page of a national newspaper. It gave Ballard a positive ranking and featured a 1930s brick Tudor in that community that drew 10 offers and sold for 10 percent over the asking price. The publication referred to the home as being near a “historic maritime village,” which Skahen said made him smile.

Joe Spencer, area director for a real estate brokerage in the Northwest Region, cited two factors for continued low inventory. “Low interest rates are prompting existing owners to refinance, while the negative equity position of another 20-to-30 percent of homeowners makes them unable or unwilling to sell,” yet, he observed, the market continues to improve.

A “fear factor” is also contributing to the crimped inventory, suggests Haines, the broker from Snohomish County where inventory is nearly half of the year-ago levels. “Sellers who are interested in selling are reluctant to list their homes due to a fear of having few choices for replacement regardless of whether they are moving up or downsizing,” she remarked.

Several current conditions are advantageous to buyers, according to Northwest MLS brokers.

“Buyers have more buying power on their side, thus they feel more confident making offers on homes in a higher price bracket and in better condition than they could months ago,” Stenvers stated.

MLS figures indicate prices may have bottomed out, particularly in areas close to job centers. In King County, for example, 23 of the 29 map areas Northwest MLS tracks had year-over-year price gains – and 13 of those areas experienced double-digit increases.

“Prices have been stabilizing in most markets and increasing rapidly in others, so buyers need to know the statistics for where they are buying to avoid costly mistakes,” said Stenvers.

Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson, the branch managing broker at a real estate firm in Kitsap County, agrees. In Kitsap County, prices are up about 5 percent from a year ago. “This does not mean, however, that sellers should increase their prices by 5 percent,” he cautioned, noting prices in some areas are lagging.

Sellers can ensure getting a fair price by following some proven tips, Wilson advised. They include reviewing a comparative market analysis (CMA) with their broker and having it updated every 30 days. Buyers also need to “set the pride of their home aside” and” look at the home and its value through the eyes of a buyer.”

Especially important is that sellers “price and stage their home correctly right out of the gate,” Wilson emphasized, noting most activity and interest in a home typically occurs within the first week to 10 days after a home is listed.

Buyers need to be realistic during the market recovery, according to MLS brokers.

“Buyers are expressing frustrations with not getting a home with offers they thought would be acceptable to a seller,” Stenvers reported, adding “These buyers are misinformed and think all sellers are struggling and that is simply not true.”

Stenvers said the lack of the “shadow inventory” that was long predicted has not yet materialized and has led to a faster recovery for the conventional seller.

Haines agreed: “We have not seen the materialization of what has been called ‘shadow inventory’ of bank owned properties,” she commented, adding, “Moreover we don’t expect to see it anytime soon.”

A recent Bloomberg news report stated “the so-called shadow inventory of homes that are seriously delinquent, in the foreclosure process or owned by banks and not listed for sale tumbled in April to the lowest level in more than three years.”

The MLS directors who commented on the latest market report also acknowledged some challenges, including:

  • Problems with low appraisals. “It appears the appraisers have not yet caught on to what is actually happening in the marketplace,” said Diedre Haines.
  • Artificially low interest rates, as noted by Frank Wilson. “Usually when we see real estate markets recovering, the economy is also improving, which means interest rates are usually adjusted upwards to stave off inflation. Today’s interest rates are being held down due to world economic conditions as well as political reasons,” he stated. This will not last forever, he believes, explaining when interest rates move up by as little as one half of one percent (.5%) the monthly payment will go up by about 6 percent. “Waiting to buy a home could result in a double financial impact. A home price increase combined with an interest rate bump will add a significant cost to your monthly payment,” he stated.
  • Buyer hesitancy and changing expectations. “What we find interesting today is the move away from a home being just an investment, but rather a long-term look at a specific neighborhood and how it complements a lifestyle,” remarked George Moorhead, noting buyers are looking more at costs for utilities, maintenance, and taxes. “Everyone we have interviewed still feels real estate is one of the best investments one can make, but they also realize it too has a downside. Therefore, you just cannot throw caution to the wind anymore,” he commented.
  • Homes in less than move-in condition. “Many of the properties that are currently on the market in the $200,000 to $250,000 price range are in need of repair,” Haines reported. “The sellers have little room monetarily for making those repairs, most of which are required by the lenders to be completed prior to closing. This is leaving buyers in a position of having to decide if they want to invest money in a home that they do not yet own.”
  • Newly built homes. “New homes construction is beginning to develop in some markets but is needed in all markets to benefit buyers and sellers and to create a healthy housing environment,” said Darin Stenvers.

Although the housing recovery is a slow process, Stenvers expects it will continue the rest of the year and through 2013. “Being an election year should help with stable interest rates and allow for growth in the job markets; this too should continue for the next 16-to-25 months,” he believes.

I am a Short Sale specialist for Seller’s needing to list their home for sale or Buyer’s wanting to obtain a Great deal by Buying a Short Sale home!

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 July 2012

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for June 2012

Single

Family

Homes

+ Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

New

Listings

Total

Active

# Pending

Sales

# Closings

Avg.

Price

Median

Price

King

3,358

6,500

3,534

2,670

428476

$348,000

Snohomish

1,252

2,359

1,448

1,025

269474

$249,000

Pierce

1,276

3,789

1,314

843

217652

$198,000

Kitsap

469

1,535

437

299

304086

$250,000

Mason

161

805

72

69

176309

$168,000

Skagit

231

963

158

109

235706

$206,500

Grays Harbor

159

877

87

66

118070

$112,450

Lewis

145

711

64

58

159161

$156,250

Cowlitz

130

590

109

49

135811

$130,000

Grant

114

597

75

38

161704

$152,000

Thurston

443

1,363

378

307

237738

$226,000

San Juan

58

468

22

22

450141

$380,000

Island

214

946

149

98

283160

$239,975

Kittitas

129

542

61

44

223996

$182,000

Jefferson

101

559

54

43

260729

$250,000

Okanogan

74

433

41

31

171452

$160,000

Whatcom

392

1,593

326

271

275750

$250,000

Clark

78

235

74

31

176779

$170,000

Pacific

66

456

35

26

124750

$117,000

Ferry

10

72

1

0

0

$0

Clallam

83

460

49

37

176342

$161,500

Others

161

692

89

78

211744

$181,450

MLS TOTAL

9,104

26,545

8,577

6,214

322810

$255,000

 

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

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter July 2012

 

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

3346

2841

2432

2009

3250

3407

4262

5372

5498

5963

5551

5764

5825

5702

3829

3440

2010

4381

5211

6821

7368

4058

4239

4306

4520

4350

4376

3938

3474

2011

4272

4767

6049

5732

5963

5868

5657

5944

5299

5384

4814

4197

2012

4921

6069

7386

701572956733      

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

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter July 2012, copyright 2012. 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.

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

Past Issues – Bob’s Bugle

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 use the navigation bar at the LEFT of the page or CLICK on one of the “City“, “County” or “State” Link pages above to locate Snohomish County Washington real estate. These will quickly take you to the specific information that your Snohomish County real estate search requires.

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.