KIRKLAND, Washington (December 6, 2018) – With more plentiful inventory, recently announced increases in lending limits, and moderating prices, prospective home buyers are finding more options around Western Washington, according to industry experts from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
“Moderating interest rates over the past few weeks could provide a window of opportunity for buyers this month, even if the Fed is widely expected to raise them again in December,” said Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain.
“We are continuing to see a balancing of the market,” Grady stated, citing moderating prices and increasing inventory as contributing factors in comments about the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
House hunters have a much bigger selection than a year ago. Northwest MLS figures for the 23 counties in its report show the year-over-year volume of inventory rose from 11,193 homes and condos to 15,830. The increase in active listings represents a gain of more than 41 percent. Members added 6,399 new listings to inventory last month, up from 6,098 for the same month a year ago.
King County registered the biggest gains, with active inventory surging 135 percent from a year ago. The number of single family homes more than doubled from a year ago, rising from 1,879 to 4,020, while the condo selection more than tripled, jumping from 355 active listings twelve months ago to last month’s total of 1,221. Eight counties reported fewer listings than a year ago.
“Months of inventory is still slim compared to historical norms,” Grady emphasized. Using this metric, both King County and the Northwest MLS market area overall have 2.3 months of supply. While supply is improving, it’s still well below the 4-to-6 month level industry analysts use as a gauge of a balanced market.
The surge in supply is not yet reflected in sales during this typically slower holiday season. Pending sales for November were down 10.4 percent from a year ago. Thirteen of the 23 counties in the report registered drops in pending sales versus a year ago. Compared with October, mutually accepted offers fell 17.5 percent. That was less than the falloff in 2017, when the volume of pending sales from October to November shrunk by 21.5 percent.
Closed sales declined about 15.3 percent from twelve months ago, with 13 counties reporting double-digit drops. Year-over-year prices still rose (up 4.2 percent overall). Ten counties had double-digit appreciation in their median sales price for single family homes and condos (combined).
Condo activity was also mixed. The number of active listings more than doubled area-wide, and more than tripled in King County. Pending and closed sales were weaker than a year ago. Prices rose slightly (1.5 percent), from $330,000 to $335,000. The median price in King County, which accounted for 55 percent of last month’s closings, rose 5.2 percent, from $384,990 a year ago to $405,000.
“This massive increase in the number of homes for sale in King County last month means we are officially on our way back to a more balanced market,” remarked OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “This is good news for buyers who just a year ago were in fierce competitions for very limited inventory,” he added.
“Buyers who were forced to look at outlying areas in Pierce or Snohomish counties are now coming back to core communities in King County,” reported George Moorhead, designated broker and owner of Bentley Properties. He said many such buyers are aggressively looking for their next home during the November to January timeframe, knowing they may be able to get concessions that were unavailable the past two years and also that “sellers tend to be more negotiable.”
“This resurgence seems to be gaining momentum,” Moorhead noted, dismissing reports of “our real estate market teetering on a collapse.” Such reports “could not be further from the truth,” he stated.
Moorhead also called the bump up in lending limits for certain types of loans, announced in late November, as long overdue and “great news for buyers of homes in the most popular communities.”
Loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2019 are increasing for both conforming and jumbo loans. The Federal Housing Financing Agency [FHFA] announced the loan limit will rise from $453,100 to $484,350; the new ceiling for jumbo loans in high cost areas — including King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties – will be $726,525.
Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson said the combination of stabilizing factors, including more inventory and only slightly increased interest rates, coupled with “more receptive and savvy sellers” are resulting in a “more reasoned approach to buying and selling.” As inventory grows, he believes price increases will be “slower and smaller.”
Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor, suggested South Sound buyers should get ready for steady, sustained price increases, pointing to the wide gap between King County’s median price for a single family home and Pierce County’s.
A comparison of median prices for single family homes in the tri-county region illustrates his point. Since January, the median price in King County is up about 2.5 percent. In Snohomish County, it has climbed about 4.4 percent. But in Pierce County, the median price of a single family home has jumped more than 10 percent since January.
Median prices by county (single family homes only)
|King County Total||$628,388||$643,913||2.47%|
|Snohomish County Total||$450,000||$470,000||4.44%|
|Pierce County Total||$312,925||$344,950||10.23%|
The Kitsap County market is also different than Seattle, according to Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and a branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo.
“Kitsap still has a good deal of pent-up demand, although our listing inventory is beginning to grow,” he stated. Even with a gain in the number of active listings of nearly 16 percent compared with a year ago, the current supply of 624 homes and condos is well below the 1,400 to 1,600 listings that typifies a “normal” market, according to Wilson.
“We still only have about 1.8 months of supply, we continue to see good traffic at our open houses and multiple offers on newly listed homes, and a correctly priced home will still sell in less than 30 days,” reported Wilson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.
Another MLS director, John Deely, said recent increases in listings have led to changes in the Seattle market. “Most notably, buyers are taking more time and not feeling rushed to make quick decisions,” he stated. “Most of the contingencies allowing buyers to perform their due diligence, including financing and inspection, have returned to the purchase and sale agreements,” explained Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.
Deely reported multiple offers on properly priced properties still occur but the escalating prices driven by multiple offers and cash buyers paying crazy “got to have it prices” are giving way to a “more normal and sane market.”
Northwest MLS representatives expect the tilt toward a more balanced market to continue:
- “I expect this trend (to a more balance market) to continue into 2019, which will cause appreciation to slow somewhat, while giving buyers more options,” stated Jacobi. “This does not mean the real estate sky is falling, rather it’s a much-needed shift towards a more sustainable, balanced market,” he emphasized.
- J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO at John L. Scott Real Estate, expects slightly higher unsold inventory between now and February “for the first time in years, instead of a market that’s virtually sold out.” Describing 2018 as a “transition year” from an extreme frenzy market to a “strong” housing market, he predicts the holiday backlog of buyers will start searching in January. “We will experience a strong/surge housing market in the spring, which will taper off to a strong market for the remainder of 2019.”
- Wilson forecasts a sellers’ market to start off 2019, and perhaps into the first part of the year. He suggests more areas of Kitsap County, such as Port Orchard, will experience positive effects of the new fast ferry, continuing what is already occurring in Port Orchard and Kingston.
- Moorhead said builders will still bank on continued job growth “even though huge concessions are being offered for completed homes as the yearend nears.” He predicts rising interest rates will have a modest impact on buyers entering or re-entering the market.
The Mortgage Banker Association, Freddie Mac and Realtor.com all expect mortgage interest rates to rise soon to a range of 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.
As I continue my Real Estate journey blog; I want to share my blog and adventures from my time in Beijing. My family and I moved to Beijing February 28th, 2011. Ty (my son) just turned 5, Monique (my daughter) was 12, turning 13 in May. Here is my post from December 4th 2010. We were getting ready for our family adventure.
Things are moving along, getting organized and sorted. The most difficult part of this trip so far is …will I need this? will I want this? can we replace this over there? How many pie plates do I take? Do I take Bundt cake pans? how many serving platters? tea pots?
So, one thing is clear now anything with a motor in it for the kitchen must stay behind. So my kitchen aide, cuisenart, electric roasting pan, braun handmixer etc all need to stay behind. The power difference will burn out the motors. I cant bare hurting my equipment that way…they do have feelings you know! We are taking both of the kids’s loft beds and anything in their bedrooms they want. We are buying each bed 2 new sets of sheets to go to Beijing with. I love my sheets, and hate scratchy ones.
We have agreed to hire Windemere Realty Property Management out of Northgate to manage our house while we are away. We are taking our round kitchen table and the 4 captain chairs. We are for sure taking my king size pillow top mattress & box spring (not sure about our bedroom furniture) it could be tooo big. Still wondering if I buy airtight plastic containers and ship my flour, sugar, baking supplies and spices.
Tobi and Marcel have found new homes and will hopefully be relocated this next week, to allow me to move more freely and pack, clean, and do many “goodwill” runs. I do have some things I am selling…if you need something…email me and ask!
We are in holding pattern at this moment due to Q’s college diploma. The diploma was never issued in 1999 when he walked across the stage and graduated. We found this out last tuesday. The diploma will now be issued on December 18th, 2010 (which will be his “official” graduation date). We need his diploma to obtain work visas and traveling paperwork. The diploma will be scanned and sent to the relocation people on the 22nd. Then the clock starts ticking again! What new hiccup will happen next week? We will wait and see!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor
Constructing or remodeling a home is a complex, expensive endeavor. Ideally, everything goes as planned, and when the dust clears, the homeowner can settle in and enjoy the new home — and never think about the building process again.
But what happens when, nine months after the owner moves in, the floor develops a crack, the dishwasher begins to leak or the shower water won’t run hot? Or when these things happen three years later? It’s time to refer to an all-important piece of the contract: the warranty.
What Is a Warranty?
The purpose of a warranty is to protect both the homeowner and the builder — homeowners from shoddy work with no recourse; builders from being liable for projects for the rest of their lives.
A warranty may be included in a contract, or it may not be since it’s not required. There is no standard length of time for one. Rather, a warranty is a negotiable portion of the overall agreement (contract) between a homeowner and a contractor.
The laws that relate to warranties are somewhat vague and vary by state, so the advantage of having one as part of the contract is that everything can be clearly spelled out. However, by agreeing to a particular warranty without understanding its finer points, owners may inadvertently limit the protections they would have otherwise had under the law.
“A warranty describes the problems and remedies for which the builder will be responsible after completion of the project, as well as the duration of the warranty and the mechanism for addressing disputes,” says David Jaffe, vice president of legal advocacy at the National Association of Home Builders.
At least in the ideal case.
The Law Governing Warranties
Before homeowners agree to a particular warranty as part of their contract, it’s important to understand what protections they already have under the law. In the U.S., we have a legal concept of an implied warranty — which is a warranty that does not have to be spelled out in the contract but is simply understood to exist thanks to the law. There are two important implied warranties when it comes to home construction.
The first is the implied warranty of good workmanship, which is the reasonable expectation that a home will be built in a workmanlike manner. The second is the implied warranty of habitability, which is the reasonable expectation that the home will be safe to inhabit.
The implied warranties, however, have limits in the form of statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, which essentially are time clocks that determine for how long a homeowner may sue a contractor.
Statutes of limitation in each state dictate how long an owner can invoke various types of legal claims — for example, a breach of contract claim.
Statutes of repose apply specifically to construction projects and set the time for which builders and designers are liable for their product. These also vary by state. In California, the statute of repose is four years for most defects, but 10 years for latent defects (those that aren’t observable right away, such as a faulty foundation). In Georgia, the statute of repose is eight years for all claims related to the design or construction of the building.
Finally, most states also have a right to repair law, which means that before homeowners can sue a contractor, they need to notify the contractor of the problem and give him or her a chance to come to see it and repair it.
To find out what the laws are in your state, simply do an online search for “statute of repose” and “right to repair” in your state.
The One-Year Warranty
The key thing to understand about warranties is that many builders offer their own warranty in lieu of the implied warranty. Additionally, many contracts specify that homeowners are giving up their rights to the implied warranty by agreeing to the builder’s express warranty. Also, builders will “often try to shorten statutes of limitation and statutes of repose. Some states allow you to do that. Others don’t,” says Anthony Lehman, an Atlanta attorney who advises homeowners.
Though there is no industry-wide standard, many residential contractors have adopted a one-year warranty for their contracts. The practice likely trickled down from commercial construction, where a callback warranty is typical. A callback warranty means that within one year, a building owner has the right to call back the contractor and expect him or her to repair work, Lehman says.
The downside for homeowners who agree to a one-year warranty is that they likely trade away their right to the implied warranty, and they may also agree to limit the time they have to discover a defect and sue. Obviously, this is a plus for builders because it limits their risk.
But there is no real reason a homeowner has to accept a one-year warranty simply because that’s the builder’s first offer. “It’s a negotiated point, and people can negotiate warranties that are broader — and they often do,” says Robert C. Procter, outside general counsel for the Wisconsin Builders Association. “If you don’t ask for more, you won’t get more.”
Pros and Cons of a Builder’s Warranty
Though a one-year warranty may seem like a poor deal for a homeowner, a contract with details spelled out does provide an upside: some degree of clarity in the process. Ideally, a warranty includes not only the time period that the warranty covers, but also the standards by which various materials will be evaluated, and the steps to follow when a problem arises.
In a minority of states, the legislature has codified what a warranty is and how long it lasts for a variety of materials, Jaffe says. They are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. If you live in one of these states, you can refer to the state-set standards.
If you do not, one option is to refer to the NAHB’s publication Residential Construction Performance Guidelines. “It’s broken down by categories within the home: foundations, exterior, interior, roofing, plumbing,” Jaffe says. “If there’s an issue that comes up, you look in this publication, and it tells you what the observation is — what’s the problem.” The guide then spells out what the corrective measure — if any — should be.
If you decide to use this guide as the standards by which problems will be judged, be sure you read it first and are comfortable with its terms. Sometimes having the terms spelled out is simpler than relying on the implied warranty because the implied warranty is so vague.
“The implied warranty doesn’t have a fixed time; it’s a reasonable period of time,” says Jaffe, of the NAHB. “If you’re a homeowner, and you call your builder up in year five and say, ‘There’s a crack here, and I think you should come out and fix it because it’s a defect,’ well, at that point, it may or may not be related to something that the builder did or didn’t do. Is it a defect? Who is going to make that determination? What is the fix? Who is responsible for it?”
Relying on the implied warranty means that these sorts of questions would need to be resolved in court if the parties aren’t willing to, or can’t, come to an agreement on their own. Open for debate is whether an item is a warranty item, and for how long it’s covered. Having these issues determined in court can be an expensive, time-consuming headache for everyone involved.
Still, some attorneys say owners might be better off with the implied warranty than giving up their rights for a limited one provided by the builder. “You build a house, and you expect it to be there for a long time. The buildings in Europe have been there a long time. The pyramids have been there a long time. The question is how long is it reasonable for you to expect it to last,” says Susan Linden McGreevy, an attorney in Kansas City, Kansas, who specializes in commercial real estate work. “If it has to get before a jury, the contractor has lost already. What I mean is, the jury will always find in favor of a homeowner — unless they’re a real flake.”
Going Beyond Warranties
Despite all this talk of legalities, there is an important caveat: Many good builders will continue to be helpful even after their express warranty has passed. Anne Higuera, co-owner of Ventana Construction in Seattle, provides a one-year warranty to her clients. Nonetheless, Ventana has made repairs and fixes even years after the one-year warranty expired. Higuera says the company does so because the builders want good relationships with their customers, and because they feel as though it’s the right thing to do. “Warranty issues come up very rarely if you do things well in the first place,” Higuera says. “Just finding a contractor who does the right thing on the front end helps you avoid issues with warranty.”
More Ways to Protect Yourself
So what should homeowners do if a builder is offering only a one-year warranty? One option is to negotiate for a longer period of time. “You might want to say, ‘I’ll take a one-year warranty for everything except latent defects,’” McGreevey says. (Reminder: Those are the kind that take a long time to discover, such as foundation problems.)
Another option owners have is to ask builders about insurance products. Many builders offer products with an extended warranty — as long as 10 years — that is backed by insurance companies. These are typically paid for by the builder, with the cost passed on to the homeowner.
Third, homeowners would be wise to consult an attorney to make sure that they’re not giving up rights unknowingly. Given that owners are spending thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars on construction, paying for five to 10 hours of an attorney’s time (at $300 per hour, $1,500 to $3,000) to ensure that the contract is sound is probably a good investment. “Would you buy a car for $50,000 and not read any of the financing information?” says Lehman, the Atlanta attorney. “And then people do that for a home construction project.”
Finally, the most important thing is for both contractors and owners to screen each other carefully. “Ninety-eight percent of the homeowner-builder relationships, when there’s a disagreement, most parties reach a reasonable conclusion, even if they’re not 100 percent happy,” says Procter, the Wisconsin attorney. “The contracts matter more when someone is not being reasonable.”
By Erin Carlyle, Houzz.com
What does it take to blend your new home with your lifestyle? Buying a home with your Needs and Wants in balance. Often, differentiating between your Needs and Wants is difficult and daunting. By sorting your priorities into two categories will help you manage expectations and eliminate homes that will not make your heart sing.
Your Needs are must haves requirements that you simply cannot live without. For example, I had to have a yard that I could manage on my own while taking care of my toddler. This was as important to me as the quality of the school district. Your Wants are items such as appliance brand or type of flooring. For example, I wanted a gourmet kitchen that I could cook and entertain in. The reality was I could not afford exactly what I wanted, but what made my heart pitter patter was the size of space, the double oven, and the kitchen sink window looking out at my backyard and seeing my kids easily. My Wants were out of my budget. I desired to have the space that I could modify easily when the time came along. What are your Needs and Wants? Write them down – keep in mind this list is a “living list”, as we start, as well as, continue to tour homes, some of the items that began as a Needs, might actually be a Wants (desire), and are not “the deal breaker”. Purchasing a home is a long term investment, so spend time communicating, writing down, addressing your Needs and your Wants. Both of these are necessary to buy the “Just Right Home”.
Needs = static, example: # of bedrooms, square feet in living space, # of bathrooms. Wants = dynamic, they are easier to add to your home after the purchase, example: hardwood flooring vs carpet or laminate, pendant lamps vs recessed lights. Think about the added time, commitment, and money it will take to add your Wants. It could be that a few of your Wants should be Needs.
Your checklist is an important part of ensuring one home versus another home is the home for you. Have your checklist handy whenever you are out looking, driving around, perusing the internet. This will keep you on your desired path to owning the home you dream of. Think carefully, be present and mindful of your Needs and Wants: you will be living in this home for a while.
The checklist below is a great conversation starter for both the you the buyer and myself as your real estate advocate. I will refer to this list often while we are working together.
Remember: This is a living checklist, it can and will evolve the more we explore homes and neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest!
What an exciting time!
The Needs & Wants Checklist
|example: to be close to husbands work||example: Redmond, Kirkland|
(condo, townhome, single family)
Age of Home
(1960’s mid century, 1980’s, etc)
Living Area Square Footage
|style of bathroom
(en-suite, continental, jack & jill)
(Territorial, Mountains, Water, CityScape)
(Salt Water, Lake, River, Pond)
Community green space?)
I have been with Windermere Real Estate Company almost 2 complete months now. I have learned so much about myself, the Seattle North & Northeast Metro Market. I have also gained new friends, a new understanding for advocacy for my new and seasoned clients.
My favorite learning has been the 32 hours of Ninja Sales Training. It wasn’t (to me) a normal – Go Get’em – Sales training; it was how can you (meaning me) be a better listener, more proactive, and more connected to the people around you. I am Theresa first, Mom & Wife second, and Real Estate Broker all around. I have always wanted to be that person who knew who to connect who to, to make a difference. I became that person in Beijing. I loved helping people live & learn how to get what they wanted by connecting them to people who were the experts. I am working toward that with being in Real Estate with Windermere.
My goal as a Real Estate Broker is to be that person who questions on the what’s, and listens for the passions, pleasures, as well as pains. I will assist to the fullest possibility to find that home that will make a difference, fill the passion, compliment the pleasure, and dwindle the pain. I will ask the questions to help my clients find what matters most in their new home, new community, new environment.
These questions and skills are life long endeavors, any type of sales from Deli Counters, to Waitressing, selling coffee for Starbucks, and selling myself as a caterer, private chef, and event planner. I have done them all with compassion, understanding, asking the what’s, and being true to myself and my clients. I needed the reminder that Real Estate is a intimidating business and nothing to be taken lightly; it IS still very personal and needs to be handled with the people’s hearts & minds as the focus. The house will come when the client feels safe, trust, honesty, as well as, see the transparency in the actions. This is my take on being a Windermere Real Estate Broker.
As the weeks, months, and years go on this Blog: Live with an Adventurous Heart, Laugh with your Inner Child, Love Openly, – I will add my life experiences, my family’s dealings, real estate information, and of course my heart & soul of my character. This blog is going to share past experiences, weekly thoughts, and future aspirations & ideas. Stick around or drop in occasionally – I will be here! If you want to contact me please email me at TheresaAhdieh@windermere.com . Looking forward to sharing my Life’s Adventures with you and yours!