In today’s whirlwind real estate market, houses are selling at astonishing speed – from sea to shining sea. Four years ago, the average house spent 39 days on the market. Two years ago, homes were on the market for about 24 days. Today, that number has dropped to just 17 short days. If you’re looking to sell your house quickly and on the best possible terms, today’s market can’t be beat. DM me to discuss how to secure a speedy, top-dollar sale for your house.
I wanted to reach out to you today as I have been receiving many texts, calls and emails on how this outbreak maybe affecting the busy real estate season. This is a difficult time for all of us and the months ahead will bring uncertainty and challenges, of that, there is no doubt. This morning the owners of our five RE/MAX Elite offices had an online meeting with all of us to share the recent changes that the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) is advising based on social distancing, lowering the group threshold to 50 and best practices to protect our clients, ourselves and the public. We shared thoughts and ideas to keep working and helping our clients with their real estate needs but also to take action to keep everyone safe.
At the time the virus started to rear its ugly head there was a housing shortage. Meaning there were not enough homes for all the buyers that were currently looking. In the last month I have listed 3 homes with each one receiving multiple offers. The last home was two weeks ago, received double digit offers and a listing price that soared the final purchase to over $66,000 from listing price. That fact has not changed. We still are at low levels of inventory and in the last week I have seen homes come on the market and then sell in 3-5 days. I have three closing this week and while I know they are thankful, they are through the process, others are now very concerned what it may mean to them.
With that said in the last few days these are the most pressing questions I have been receiving regarding real estate. I hope I can shed a bit of light for you on what I know to be true currently.
What are interest rates, should I refinance?
Am I going to close on time?
Are open houses still going to be happening?
Should I wait to list or buy?
Sorry, this is long I will highlight the above question and try to answer the best I can with the information that is continually coming in.
Should I refinance now? I love how so many past clients and friends reach out to me with this question! While I am not a lender, I do try to read all the information coming in and what my preferred lenders are saying. When I am speaking to them I ask what they are seeing and what effects they are feeling. One of my preferred lenders, Duane Martin, at Caliber Home Loans indicated last week that they are inundated by those requesting refinancing. He mentioned that there may be a cap on refi’s right now and they may run out into 60 days to get completed. With so many wanting to refinance this is going to put a large strain on the lenders, title/escrow, appraisers and lending institutions. Home sales and purchase must be the priority.
So, to help answer questions, home mortgage interest rates did dip to a historically low rate and some were able to take advantage of this. They have since come back up to normal rates. This may change. They could go down again, rise or go higher. What you may be hearing more of right now are the interest rates for consumer debt being lowered. Another one of my lender colleagues, Jeff Tisdale from VIP Mortgage out of Tempe, AZ area states “The Fed Funds rate does NOT directly reflect in mortgage rates. The Fed rate impacts shorter term rates like credit cards, HELOCs, car loans, etc. Mortgage rates generally parallel the 10-year treasury bond. HOWEVER, there was a liquidity and volume issue due to the massive amounts of refinance volume, so rates spiked last week. We won’t know how this will affect mortgage rates until tomorrow and the coming days, weeks, etc. The industry can only take on so much at one time. Nobody truly knows what will happen, but I would expect continued volatility in the near future.
What is true is we are in uncharted territory and nobody knows what the short- or long-term effects of this will be.” Jeff goes on to say for anyone interested in refinancing or purchasing to get their application in with ALL supporting documents. The mortgage industry is beyond capacity right now and the complete files will get worked on first. The clients that need to be chased down for paperwork will suffer and wait.
Am I going to close on time? Our team has several clients that are scheduled to close the end of the month. Will we close on time? That is our goal. I am telling all of my clients that we are working behind the scenes to keep up with, and make sure, we work together quickly with Escrow/title your lender, insurance, mortgagor and all the other moving parts involved with a real estate transaction This is our goal! If we make sure all is in order beforehand and you are quick and diligent about getting any last-minute documentation requested into them we should. If, however, the county shuts down and there is no one to complete the transfer and recording process this very likely will delay homes closings.
There is that wish again for a crystal ball!
Are open houses still going to be happening? Well that changed very quickly. As of this morning they were advising to not have open houses but you could do one with limiting people through a few at a time, taking safety precautions and letting your seller decide based on if the home was vacant or occupied. After speaking with a seller this morning and coming up with a plan for them and their needs it has since changed. The NWMLS stated this afternoon they are disabling the Open House and Broker feature until the end of the month. What does this mean? Essentially no open houses. The consumer real estate sites are fed from the NWMLS. All the information on open houses regarding days, times, information and updates feed to sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, Redfin etc. If you go looking on Saturday morning for the open houses for the weekend you are not going to find any. I suppose there may be a rebel out there who puts up an open house sign in hopes that you are wandering aimlessly around and see their sign and say “Wow let’s go” but I doubt it.
Should I wait to list or buy? Of course, we have a huge concern for our clients many of whom we have been working with for months!
For sellers to get them to the point of selling its not always easy! If you have not sold a home you may not realize the time, energy, cost and all the prep work that goes into doing so. I have 2 sellers right now that I have been working with since September and one since August! We were going to be listing in April/May. So now what? We have some buyers and sellers that are moving on to their next adventure in life. Some are moving across country for jobs or family. Some are downsizing and some are looking for a different home to fit their family’s needs. There is so much thought that goes into buying or selling a home and our job is to direct them while keeping them moving forward to their goal. This service we provide to our clients prior to ever being compensated. Our advice, suggestions, referrals for contractors, lenders, timelines and helping them coordinate for their new home takes great thought, planning, experience and counseling. We want our clients to know that we will continue to do all we can to direct and guide them. If they have a job they have to be at here in Washington, or another state, then we move forward and help them buy or list their home when planned. If they are moving because they have a new home being built, and do not want 2 mortgages, or need to move to take care of a family member we move forward as planned the best way we can. For each client it’s going to be a different scenario.
When you’re selling a home exposure is key. The more potential buyers see your home and feel themselves living in it the more likely you will get an offer. If we are limited on showings, open houses, Brokers opens, advertising then it will affect the entire experience and days on market will be longer. That is a determination that each needs to make based on their future goals. If, by chance, your kids are now home with you and that idea of decluttering and packing while they were at school has now turned into home-schooling then well, we may have to re-adjust your goal.
For our buyers you may be looking on line but you need to see the home and feel how you would flow in it and make sure it meets your needs. This is very difficult to do without physically viewing and we want you to know that Britt and I will be available for private showings at this time, and as the needs arise, if the home allows it.
It will be okay and together we can do it! We need to go with the flow but flow we must. I feel the worst thing we can do is just freeze and not move forward. Yes, we may be hitting the pause button for a bit but, we must move forward.
Please remember during this time of uncertainty, I want you to know that we are thinking of you and will do whatever we can to support our clients and their goals. Yes, this outbreak is very scary, but we can’t let it dismantle our economy. Small businesses will suffer and there will be effects down the road that will affect us all. We need to be caring and do all we can to support/shop local.
Please don’t live in fear. Be smart, stay safe, stay healthy and keep in touch.
I would be happy to go into this deeper with anyone that has questions.
Feel free to reach out!
Jen Murrweiss and Britt Maltos
Welcome to 2020 and happy New Year! I hope it will be an amazing year for you and all of us! The infographic you see below is for Washington in a whole. If you would like to see local stats I am also providing you with the stats for Snohomish County and King County.
The below snapshot from the NWMLS is for 23 counties in the Puget Sound region. For the Snohomish county area and the record we broke on median home price please click here.!
Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2019 is starting out, and will be, an amazing year for you and yours.
I am reaching out to you today to share some VERY exciting news. It has been wonderful to help so many families find homes, investment properties, save homes for those that needed it with my short sale and foreclosure knowledge and help others sell as they transition into something more comfortable for their changing lifestyle. I have been blessed by many of you referring me to your friends, family and colleagues. Thank you!
Life IS ever changing and because of the ever-changing nature of the real estate market, it’s imperative that my clients have the most up-to-date information available. My philosophy is that the market waits for nobody, and that’s why I pledge to go beyond the standard level of service even after your home has closed. I always want my clients to feel free, and comfortable, to contact me with questions, referrals for home repairs, or to just say hi!
With change in mind I am excited to announce that I have officially brought on an amazing, buyer’s specialist to assist me in providing the quality of service I want to give my clients and they deserve. Please help me in welcoming Britt Maltos to my team!
I am excited to partner with a Realtor who, like myself, is from Washington. I feel it gives us so much more knowledge of the neighborhoods we are helping families in. Britt grew up in Ballard and lives in Edmonds with her husband and kids. I grew up in Lynnwood and then the north Seattle area. My first apartment was in Ballard before moving to Redmond for many years and finally settling in the Everett/Snohomish area with my family.
I like to say we’re your local homegrown Real Estate team!
When you have Real Estate needs you want someone who knows the prospective area inside and out, someone who will not only find you the best property for your needs, but the best neighborhood as well. A team that can direct you to which loan product works best for you and knows of many that will save you money along the way. A team that now gives CASH back to our local community heroes (firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, teachers, healthcare, and military) when they buy or sell a home with us. A team that is qualified to help seniors with downsizing or lifestyle changes and providing a senior discount (new)!
That’s where we come in: We can provide you with information that will inform your real estate decisions. So, rest assured that as long as you’re in the market, we are committed to be your neighborhood specialists and more.
Even if you are not considering buying or selling a home now, if any of your friends, family or colleagues express an interest and would appreciate the level of service we provide please, feel free, to give out our contact information. We would be happy to chat with them and promise to take great care of them.
Thank you, It is so rewarding to help families make their real estate dreams come true.
Look at House Market Key Indicators
If the real estate market is your barometer, there are several key indicators to investigate:
Supply and demand plays a role. When there are not many homes for sale (low inventory), this often means home prices are higher, and the market becomes more competitive for buyers. This is the case in 2018. However, inventory levels have been steadily increasing June-August this year, and actually surpassed August 2017 levels. If inventory levels continue to increase, that’s a good sign for buyers for the remainder of 2018.
Home Pricing History
Inventory of homes for sale will affect pricing. More homes for sale will typically drive down prices, where as low inventory of homes for sale typically means there is higher buyer demand, and it will usually push prices up. This is the case in 2018 where most markets are experiencing low inventory and higher prices. The existing home price increase in August 2018 marks the 78th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains according to the National Association of Realtors. Some early estimates for 2019 show that home prices will continue to increase around 3% in most markets. Great if you’re selling a house, but challenging if you’re buying. It makes buying in 2018 look even better.
Number of Days Home is On the Market
House prices typically drop the longer a home stays on the market. When this happens, it’s a good sign the market is cooling off or correcting. This year, in most markets, homes have sold relatively fast. This means potential buyers need to have their ducks in a row so they can act fast on the home they want.
According to Realtor.com, it’s the perfect time to buy a house because fall and winter tend to be better for home buyers, and this year is no exception. Housing inventory is on the rise, and that may mean lower prices and more bargaining power for buyers. That, combined with sellers who are anxious to get the sale done before the holidays, makes fall and winter a great time to buy.
The interest rate is a big topic of conversation this year, and probably one you’ve kept top of mind when asking, “Should I buy a house in 2018?” The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates a couple of times this year. Two or three more rate hikes are being predicted, which may mean a more expensive mortgage for you. In September, the rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 4.88 percent, which is the highest level for the 30-year mortgage since 2011, according to Bankrate. But, you need to understand this is still well below the average over the past 45 years outlined below with FreddieMac data since 1972.
Trying to time your home-buying decision to take advantage of low interest rates or a buyer’s real estate market are smart home-buying strategies, but the real question is: Is it the right time for you, personally, to buy a house or maybe it would be better to rent?
Renting vs Buying a House
Some of you may not be a current home owner and are probably asking yourself, “Should I buy a house in 2018 or rent?” In order to figure out whether it would be better to rent or buy a house, consider these factors in addition to the current interest rate and real estate market:
How is Your Credit?
The interest rate can be as low as it’s ever going to go, but if your credit score is shaky, you’re not going to be able to take advantage of that. People with lower credit scores pay higher interest rates, and the amount can add hundreds to your monthly mortgage payment. Improving your score, no matter what the market is doing currently, is the smarter way to go.
If you haven’t checked your credit lately, you might want to take a look at it. Last year, credit reporting companies announced they were changing the way they handle negative information, resulting in many people seeing a spike of up to 40 points on their credit score. This overhaul was caused by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which found problems with the reporting of collections and tax liens and as a result, that data has been removed from millions of credit reports.
However, particularly for home buyers, a tax lien or civil judgement can still interfere with your ability to get a loan. LexisNexis Risk Solutions found that people who have a tax lien or judgement are five and a half times more likely to go into pre-foreclosure or foreclosure, so mortgage lenders may well pull a LexisNexis report to find out, even if it no longer appears on your credit report.
FICO scores (credit scores) range from 300 to 850. If yours is 700 or above, you’ll qualify for a better interest rate on a loan, so that’s the score you’re shooting for.
If your score is less than 650, here are some ways to improve it:
- Pay down your credit card bills to show only 10 percent of your limit. If your card’s limit is $1000, your balance should be no more than $100. Doing this will increase your score almost immediately.
- Make all of your payments on time. One late payment can drop your score up to 100 points, but on-time payments will raise it.
- Check your credit report for errors. If negative information exists and you don’t recognize the account or the charge, dispute it.
- Never close a credit account. Even if you don’t use it, keep it open. Closing an account can negatively impact your score.
- If you have an account in default, request a “pay for deletion.” It’s an agreement made with your creditors that you’ll pay a debt in full or an agreed-upon amount in exchange for them deleting the negative information on your credit report. Simply paying off your debt will not raise your score unless the creditor deletes it from your record.
How is Your Income?
Most financial experts agree that your housing costs should be no more than 30 percent of your income. Can you find an affordable home based on what you’re earning now? Also look at your debt-to-income ratio. If you’ve got a high amount of debt and a relatively low income, it will be more difficult to get a home loan. Pay down your debt before applying.
However, there has never been a better time to increase your income by finding a new job. Unemployment is at an 18-year low, which means it’s a job seeker’s market out there. Take a look at the average salary range for your position in your area to gauge how your employer stacks up.
Do You Have Enough for a Down Payment?
Experts recommend putting down 20 percent or more. Why? There are a few reasons. If you put less than 20 percent down, you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance, which, on a $300,000 loan, will cost you an extra $250 each month. Another reason to make a larger down payment is to protect yourself in the event that you have to move shortly after you purchase the home, if you get a new job in another city or if your spouse is transferred, for example. With a small or nonexistent down payment, you might find yourself underwater, owing more than you can sell the home for, if real estate prices have fluctuated.
Do You Have Enough for Closing Costs?
In addition to the down payment, you’ll need money for closing costs. According to Motley Fool, you can expect to pay around 2 to 5 percent of the value of the property. So on that same loan of $300,000, you’ll pay in the neighborhood of $6,000 for closing.
And, if you’re still asking yourself, “Should I buy a house in 2018,” don’t forget to consider having enough cash on hand to cover your mortgage if you or your spouse loses a job, and have enough in savings for repairs if something goes wrong or breaks.
Bottom line, do your homework. Review these items and get to know your personal situation so you are prepared to discuss everything with a real estate and mortgage professional when your ready, whether it’s in 2018 or not.
Interested in doing a deeper dive? Here are some additional resources:
8 Advantages to Buying a House
First Time Home Buyer Tips
Wondering How to Get a Mortgage and Stop Paying Rent?
Financial Considerations When Buying a Home
Rent or Buy: The Great Debate
Ready to speak with a specialist, committed to heroes like you? Sign up and speak with one of our real estate or mortgage specialists in your area to learn more about how they can help you through the home-buying process and maximize your hero savings. Our heroes save, on average, more than $2,400 if they use our local specialists to purchase their home. There’s no obligation, and we guarantee the most hero savings among all national programs.
December is known for being on the cold side and a sign of a slowing Real Estate market as everyone starts to enjoy the holidays. Not this year however! December was smoking hot. A new record of 16 days inventory pushed buyers to snatch up everything they could and quickly.
-2% December 2017 vs. December 2016
781 available homes currently on market -347 vs. last month.
-4% December 2017 vs. December 2016
1255 units -336 vs. last month
+12%!!! December 2017 vs. 2016
1516 units +101 than last month
Days on Market
Snohomish County Active to pending 34 days vs. 39 a year ago. Up 4 days from last month (normal with the holidays).
Median home price in Snohomish County 448,000 +12% last year. Up $4,000 from last month.
Area price % based on last Quarter
All percentages are up and also include new construction
Bothell + 20%, Edmonds/Lynnwood +15%. Everett/Mukilteo +10%
Snohomish/Monroe+ 17%. Lake Stevens/Granite Falls + 15%. Marysville +13%
King County Median home prices are $611,000 + 15% over last year and up $27k from last month.
Woodinville area Median price is $678!!
Of the more than 3,100 counties across the U.S., none saw a bigger net increase than Pierce and Snohomish in movers from other counties. Is this a reflection of people being priced out of King County?