Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – March 2013

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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

Contact Me


Bob's Bugle Real Estate Newsletter March 2013REAL ESTATE NEWS & INFORMATION

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter March 2013

March 13, 2013

*Western Washington Housing Indicators Aligned “For a Spring Market to Remember”*

KIRKLAND, WA, March 5, 2013 Real estate brokers around Washington state agree today’s market is far different than two years ago, with one industry veteran summing it up by saying key indicators “are in perfect alignment for a spring market to remember.” The MLS reported 4,289 closed sales during January, surpassing the year ago total by 820 transactions. Last month’s completed sales of single family homes and condominiums had a median selling price of $239,300. That’s up 11.3 percent from the year-ago figure of $214,990.

On the plus side, closed sales during February jumped more than 9 percent from a year ago and median sales prices are up 13 percent according to new figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Last month’s pending sales across the 21 counties served by Northwest MLS also increased, but only slightly (1.7 percent) due in part to depleted inventory.

“In my 37 years working in the real estate industry, I have never seen inventory this low,” remarked Diedre Haines, a managing broker for a large real estate franchise office in Snohomish County and a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.

The number of active listings system-wide is down 29 percent from a year ago, with three counties reporting even more contraction: Snohomish County (-47.7 percent); King County (-45.3 percent); and Clark County (-44.7 percent).

Compounding the shortage is the fact that about one-fourth of the MLS inventory is classified as “distressed,” meaning they are short sales or bank-owned. Such homes are sometimes in need of significant repairs or have prolonged transaction times, which may make them less desirable.

“The market is struggling to provide enough inventory for anxious buyers seeking to take advantage of low interest rates,” reported Dick Beeson, principal and managing broker for a real estate brokerage in Tacoma, WA. Also, he lamented, considering 25 percent of the selection is distressed, “It leaves some buyers with tough choices.”

Northwest MLS brokers added 7,497 new listings to inventory during February, for a slight increase from a year ago when they added 7,390 single family homes and condominiums to the database.

With the additions during February, the selection at month-end totaled 18,114 active listings. That compares to 25,510 offerings at the same time a year ago for a 29 percent decline.

“Low supply and high demand continue to drive our market,” stated Northwest MLS director John Deely. He said multiple offers are the “rule rather than the exception” for new listings in core urban areas that are priced well. Deely, the principal and managing broker at a real estate brokerage in Seattle, Washington, noted a new listing in North Seattle recently drew 12 offers and the property was bid almost 10 percent above its listing price.

OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate Company, noted the month’s supply of homes in King County has dipped to about 1.2 months, well below the six-month threshold that many in the industry consider to be “normal.” Jacobi, who is also on the MLS board of directors, noted supply is at its lowest level since May 2005 during the peak of the housing boom. “The impact of low inventory levels is stiff competition among buyers, often resulting in homes selling for well over asking price,” he remarked. Also, he added, the imbalance also leads to rising median prices.

Area-wide, the median sales price of single family homes and condominiums that sold last month was $247,500. That represents a 3.4 percent gain over the previous month (January) and a 13 percent increase from a year ago. Ten counties reported double-digit year-over-year increases.

For single family homes (excluding condos) the median price was $255,000, up about 11.4 percent from the year-ago figure of $229,000. Homes in King County commanded a median price of $365,000, rising from $308,125 for a year-over-year gain of about 18.5 percent.

Condo prices jumped 22.7 percent area wide (from $150,000 to $184,000) and more than 31 percent in King County, which accounted for nearly two-thirds of the transactions. Condos that sold last month in King County had a median selling price of $210,000; a year ago it was $159,950.

“We have plenty of buyers and desperately need more sellers,” proclaimed Mike Gain, CEO and president of of a large franchise real estate brokerage in Western Washing State. He said open houses are “packed with buyers,” with most of them being serious and ready to buy. Gain also reported inventory in the lowest price ranges is disappearing in all areas. “The recovery in housing is firmly under way,” he stated.

Echoing those comments was Mike Grady, president of a real estate brokerage franchise in Washington State. “The seller’s market remains strong as demand continues to outweigh supply at unprecedented levels,” he commented. He thinks homeowners may be staying on the sidelines because they are unaware of the potential equity they’re holding. “This trepidation is understandable,” Grady acknowledged, but stressed now is “a great time for homeowners to assess the current value of their homes,” adding “We’re in a far different market than 24 months ago.”

MLS director Deely reported sellers are prioritizing cash offers ahead of those with financing, while many buyers are trying to improve their position by eliminating or minimizing contingencies. For example, he said buyers are conducting pre-inspections “so they can remove their inspection contingencies with a modicum of due diligence.”

Haines said there are fears of an “artificial bubble” being created. “Many of the sales that are occurring are cash buyers, tenants already living in the homes they are buying, investors and investor groups purchasing in bulk,” she explained. Also, she reported, “We are beginning to see an increase in for sale by owner transactions.” Consequently, she noted, many sales are not in the NWMLS database which can skew the numbers of actual sales, a situation that is occurring in other markets as well as here.

Another Northwest MLS director, George Moorhead, said buyers are being very cautious and price sensitive, noting, “We are not seeing the same energy level as we saw in 2012.” Like other MLS officials, Moorhead, the managing broker at a real estate brokerage in Bothell, WA, points to inventory (“it’s holding everyone back”) and other factors as restraints on activity.

Previous recessions were brought back with first-time buyers leading the way, Moorhead stated, noting today’s purchasers include move-up buyers who are keeping their homes as rentals. When combined with would-be sellers who are under water and can’t qualify for a short sale or lack savings to cover a loss at closing, inventory lags. According to Moorhead, these scenarios are contributing to “a void which we have not experienced in the past.”

Brokers are downplaying any immediate fallout from the federal government’s budget sequestration on the local housing market:

  • “The cutback with FHA insured loans will have limited impact on buyers,” predicts Moorhead.
  • Mike Gain believes cuts at HUD may cause FHA loans to become more difficult but if that really comes to pass people will adjust. “They always do.” He expects other conventional mortgage products will surface. “We always find ways to satisfy our customers’ wants and needs. Closing times may be a bit longer but I expect FHA will continue to be a viable method of financing. The HUD cuts to staff working with distressed property will make that process more difficult. Really a shame since these are the folks who really need the most help and the process has never been easy for them,” he remarked.
  • “I think it is too soon to say how the sequester will impact our Puget Sound markets,” said Haines.
  • Beeson said “Sequester may hurt some markets nationally but I think the Northwest is somewhat insulated from the fray. The cuts in FHA employees would be the biggest problem and could cause issues for borrowers.”

Referring to sentiments in Warren Buffet’s annual letter to shareholders, broker Gary O’Leyar said he shares Buffet’s optimism for real estate.

“We’ve had the gas crisis, we’ve had the fiscal cliff crisis, we’ve had the meltdown of banks and the resulting loss of confidence on Wall Street, yet look at the facts,” O’Leyar said. “The real estate market has not only survived, but it has shown marked improvement.” He believes if one source of lending such as HUD/FHA loses funding, another sector will rise up to pick up the slack. “I’m already seeing smaller regional savings & loans, community banks, and credit unions stepping up to aggressively offer home mortgages, which I see as a very positive trend. I’m siding with Warren Buffet whose actions have shown he is very bullish on real estate,” O’Leyar declared.

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 March 2013

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for February 2013

Single

Family

Homes

+ Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

MONTHS

SUPPLY

New

Listings

Total

Active

# Pending

Sales

#

Closings

Avg.

Price

Median

Price

 
King

2866

3854

3138

1688

$402,626

$332,577

1.23

Snohomish

1036

1529

1236

673

$283,942

$260,000

1.24

Pierce

1216

2841

1352

714

$218,558

$195,725

2.10

Kitsap

393

1213

369

201

$259,198

$219,000

3.29

Mason

116

600

72

44

$135,994

$105,794

8.33

Skagit

182

654

142

90

$244,897

$223,500

4.61

Grays Hrbor

119

684

84

35

$116,629

$90,750

8.14

Lewis

109

553

84

38

$165,429

$160,000

6.58

Cowlitz

99

408

103

56

$152,089

$143,500

3.96

Grant

105

437

58

33

$184,922

$159,900

7.53

Thurston

336

1034

352

200

$215,056

$219,500

2.94

San Juan

38

271

13

21

$399,067

$305,000

20.85

Island

139

585

126

69

$286,449

$240,000

4.64

Kittitas

44

317

56

27

$202,550

$179,000

5.66

Jefferson

51

331

42

21

$207,033

$186,900

7.88

Okanogan

44

332

22

10

$175,090

$144,750

15.09

Whatcom

355

1160

256

143

$249,326

$233,500

4.53

Clark

52

131

76

35

$207,094

$220,000

1.72

Pacific

32

310

30

18

$134,128

$132,000

10.33

Ferry

3

69

4

0

0

$0

17.25

Clallam

65

324

47

25

$229,732

$210,000

6.89

Others

97

477

92

64

$220,919

$156,250

5.18

MLS TOTAL

7,497

18,114

7,754

4,205

$304,354

$247,500

2.37

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

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter March 2013

 

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

701572956733648963415871645351884181
201355486095          

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 March 2013, copyright 2013. 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.