Bob’s Bugle – Real Estate Newsletter – October 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

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

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter October 2013

October 11, 2013

*Regions Housing Activity Slowing w/ Government Shutdown & Healthcare Concerns*

KIRKLAND, WA, October 4, 2013 – September tested the housing market’s resilience around Western Washington with fluctuating mortgage rates, record-setting rains, and persistent inventory shortages in some areas. By month’s end, however, both pending and closed sales outgained the same period a year ago, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Prices also increased compared to 12 months ago, but fell slightly from the previous month. Year-to-date figures through nine months show prices for homes and condominiums that have sold in the 21 counties served by the MLS are up 12 percent from a year ago.

With uncertainty about the duration of the government shutdown, brokers say the positive momentum could stall.

Asked about the shutdown, Northwest MLS director OB Jacobi said, “Nobody has a crystal ball, but in some instances, lenders will face challenges verifying information from various federal agencies, like the IRS, which impacts their ability to approve and close home loans.”

Noting all except one government agency (USDA) involved in housing finance remain open, Jacobi, the president of Windermere Real Estate, explained the shutdown affects various functions that are part of the financing process. “On a macro level, we don’t expect this to have a significant impact on the housing market,” he stated, while cautioning, “This will largely depend upon the length of the shutdown and its effect on consumer confidence.”

The shutdown was preceded by four weeks of falling mortgage rates, which brokers credit with boosting September sales. Improving inventory also help spur activity. Brokers reported September’s inventory was up 2.1 percent compared to a year ago, marking this year’s first year-over-year gain for that measure.    

Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at real estate franchise in Tacoma, Washington, described the South Sound market as “still speeding along, just not as high and mighty as it was.” Noting inventory has now matched or surpassed year-ago levels and closed sales are up more than 21 percent, he said it’s been an “amazing run-up” for both indicators. He expects the 4th quarter to be near normal levels, but adds, “A lot depends on several unknowns,” mentioning monetary policies, job formation, a shrinking number of first-time home buyers, and the government shutdown.

Traffic at open houses and at builder sites, although challenged by the wettest September in recent memory, “has remained steady and buyer interest remains high,” according to Beeson.

In neighborhoods close to job centers, brokers are reporting brisk activity.

Northwest MLS director John Deely said the Seattle market shows no signs of slowing down and house-hunters seem undaunted by soggy weather. “Buyers continue to flood open houses and multiple offers rain down on competitively priced properties,” he commented.

Deely, the principal managing broker at another real estate franchise in Seattle, WA, said one newly listed home had 25 potential buyers show up at a midweek brokers open house to get a first glimpse at it. “Multiple offers are still prevalent,” he said, citing an example of one appropriately priced listing receiving 11 offers, and ultimately drew a bid of more than 20 percent above list price. Other new listings in Seattle are experiencing similar activity, according to Deely. “Buyers with all cash have decreased and financed offers now outpace cash offers,” he stated.

MLS figures show mixed activity across its service area:

  • September’s volume of new listings increased nearly 17 percent compared to a year ago, pushing the total number of active listings slightly ahead of 12 months ago (up 2.1 percent). However, of the 21 counties the MLS serves, 11 reported having fewer listings than a year ago.
  • Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) rose 4.6 percent area-wide; 14 counties had double-digit gains, while three counties reported declines.
  • Closed sales for September increased 21.2 percent year-over-year, rising from 5,536 to 6,711.
  • While selling prices area-wide are up 8.7 percent from a year ago, prices were below year-ago figures in five counties. Conversely, seven counties notched double-digit gains. The area-wide median price for last month’s closed sales was $278,000, up 8.7 percent from the year-ago figure of $255,745, but $5,000 less (down about 1.8 percent) from August.
  • Prices on closed sales of single family homes (excluding condos) rose 8.2 percent, while condo prices surged 12.3 percent.

MLS figures show King County has less than two months of supply (1.95 months). Snohomish County is slightly better at 2.32 months. System-wide, there is 3.32 months of supply, well below the level of 4-to-6-months that is generally accepted as an indication of a balanced market.

In Kitsap County, where there is a more balanced market (4.3 months of supply, up from 3.4 months in August), the pace of sales and price appreciation are both moderating. Well-priced properties are still drawing considerable activity.

“As is typical at this time of year, September’s pace slows a bit compared to August as families focus on back to school and all the activities that go along with that,” observed Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at a real estate office in Poulsbo, WA.

“We continue to see buyers who are negotiating against several other buyers on a house they like,” said Wilson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. He noted well priced homes are drawing offers in the first few weeks of being listed, while listings that are getting no showings most likely mean they’re at least 5 percent high on pricing. “Homes that are priced correctly will receive showings and offers,” he emphasized.

Northwest MLS director George Moorhead, the branch manager at a real estate brokerage in Bothell, Washington, said market activity “waned just a bit” towards the end of August and during September, a pattern he said is normal with students going back to school and last-minute vacations. He expects interest rates will climb to 5 percent by summer 2014, and says the big message is “If you want to capitalize on the current lower interest rates, don’t delay any longer.”

Other comments on the government shutdown
Wilson said the government shutdown is a concern in Kitsap County, which has several military installations. “It may affect our market in several ways, some of which may be unintended consequences.”  He noted USDA loans (for residences in qualifying rural areas) will not be funded. Also, veterans who need certificates of eligibility may need more time to get them from the VA and the overall confusion may make buyers think twice before moving forward with a purchase.

Another consequence of the shutdown could affect furloughed employees. Wilson said for those in the process of buying a home, the lender may need to slow down the loan, thereby affecting closing dates and interest rate locks.

“On some level everyone – buyers, sellers, brokers, lenders, appraisers, inspectors — are uncertain what the government shutdown will mean to the market,” Beeson stated. With the IRS closed down, funding of any new loans will not occur, and that will slow and even halt the closing process, he explained. He is hopeful the resolution is “only one vote away,” but recognized that vote might not occur until November 5, 2013 (Election Day).

Moorhead believes the government shutdown will be short lived and pose only a temporary hardship on buyers and sellers. He suggests buyers can sidestep unnecessary challenges by avoiding FHA, VA or USDA loans as delays could be encountered with a protracted shutdown.

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 October 2013

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary for September 2013

Single

Family

Homes

+ Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING

SALES

CLOSED SALES

MONTHS

SUPPLY

New

Listings

Total

Active

# Pending

Sales

#

Closings

Avg.

Price

Median

Price

 
King
3,457
6,275
3,218
2,802
$466,946
$384,925
1.95
Snohomish
1,277
2,666
1,150
1,032
$310,582
$284,950
2.32
Pierce
1,258
3,810
1,231
996
$246,379
$220,000
3.10
Kitsap
403
1,524
352
300
$300,149
$245,277
4.33
Mason
110
796
88
71
$197,550
$165,000
9.05
Skagit
198
862
174
128
$252,621
$234,950
4.95
Grays Hbr
132
820
103
77
$132,807
$133,000
7.96
Lewis
117
747
91
71
$136,838
$142,500
8.21
Cowlitz
111
482
138
94
$174,589
$156,000
3.49
Grant
75
515
74
72
$168,771
$146,750
6.96
Thurston
392
1,320
354
282
$243,359
$228,497
3.73
San Juan
32
430
26
14
$473,307
$423,000
16.54
Island
144
827
152
129
$296,638
$270,000
5.44
Kittitas
78
489
64
63
$248,812
$213,000
7.64
Jefferson
62
481
55
57
$285,600
$255,000
8.75
Okanogan
67
503
28
36
$207,750
$162,250
17.96
Whatcom
311
1,602
303
259
$301,552
$269,000
5.29
Clark
57
208
37
47
$301,371
$235,000
5.62
Pacific
42
459
41
37
$153,774
$147,000
11.20
Ferry
4
69
2
4
$171,250
$170,000
34.50
Clallam
65
442
59
57
$201,445
$186,800
7.49
Others
137
687
99
83
$291,646
$195,000
6.94
MLS TOTAL
8,529
26,014
7,839
6,711
$349,649
$278,000
3.32

 

 

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

Bob’s Bugle Real Estate Newsletter October 2013

 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
2000370647785903511654905079492854324569467541263166
2001433450565722539956315568543455444040438741553430
2002429347355569543661315212552562155394577749664153
2003474652906889683771487202767371356698655249044454
2004452162848073791078888186758374646984676162285195
2005542668338801842086108896820787847561715761884837
2006527560328174765184118094712176926216640352924346
2007486962397192697473116876637155804153444738962975
2008329141674520462445264765458045844445334628412432
2009325034074262537254985963555157645825570238293440
2010438152116821736840584239430645204350437639383474
2011427247676049573259635868565759445299538448144197
2012492160697386701572956733648963415871645351884181
2013554860957400746277437374726469165951  

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 October 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.

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