Homes Sales Slower in February, Local Housing Inventory Still Low

The following was a media release on February 2014 Real Estate statistics from the NWMLS that was first published at BellevueBusinessJournal.com.

NWMLS logoNorthwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported 507 fewer pending sales during February than the same month in 2013, but members believe the 6.5 percent decline isn’t due to a shortage of buyers. “If we just had enough homes to sell we would easily be outpacing last year’s pending numbers,” said Mike Gain, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate. “Locally, we are literally starving for inventory,” he added.

MLS members reported 7,247 mutually accepted offers on single family homes and condominiums last month, which compares to 7,754 pending sales for the same month last year. Twelve of the 21 counties in the Northwest MLS service area reported drops, including King County where sales were off 10.4 percent. Within King County, the sharpest drops occurred in the southeast segment (down more than 23 percent) and on the Eastside (down more than 16 percent).

Another industry leader pointed not only to a “severe shortage of homes for sale” in the most sought-after price ranges, but also to the fan frenzy surrounding the Seahawks as a factor in the setback of sales.  Since the Super Bowl Championship game, he said listing activity has picked up, resulting in brisk sales activity for the new, but still limited inventory.

MLS brokers added 7,234 new listings to inventory last month, down from February 2013 when 7,497 properties were listed. The additions, which include single family homes and condos, brought February’s number of total active listings system-wide to 19,273 for a 6.4 percent improvement from a year ago.

Shortages of listings persist in several areas. In Kitsap County, for example, both selection and the number of pending sales fell by nearly 3 percent from a year ago. Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson said even though houses are not coming on the market quite as fast, he expects the pace to pick up. “As we swing into our spring market, more listings will be added,” he stated, but predicts the improvement in listings will be “tempered by an increase in buyers, too.”

Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott, Inc. in Poulsbo, reported buyers are still very active “because they are sure interest rates will be higher tomorrow than they are today.” He described today’s market as normal “where the relationship of inventory to buyers is balanced, appreciation is manageable, and there is sanity in the market place.”  This does not mean it cannot “get crazed at times,” he added.

The smaller selection is resulting in bidding wars for well-priced homes in some neighborhoods. Multiple offer situations are common in local markets with less than four months of inventory, according to Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma and a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. He noted traffic has been “very good” at open houses. “These are harbingers of a medium- to fast-paced spring and summer selling seasons,” he suggested.

Beeson also believes inventory gains in the tri-county area are a healthy sign for a more balanced market.

Another MLS director, George Moorhead of Bentley Properties in Bothell, is not alarmed by the scaled back sales. “Lower pending sales are not uncommon” after the holidays, he explained. He believes interest rates will “truly be the deciding factor” on the market’s direction. “If rates go up significantly, buyers back off, and when buyers back off, home prices soften,” he explained.

Moorhead said the message to potential buyers is “get your financials updated with your lender and be ready to lock in terms.” For sellers on the fence, he recommends “stepping forward,” saying “interest rates will rise this year.”

Statistics from Northwest MLS show supplies, as measured by months of inventory, improved slightly from a year ago, rising from 4.3 months to almost 4.6 months. The tightest selection is in King County, with less than 2.6 months of supply, and Snohomish County, with 3.2 months.

MLS figures show the volume of closed sales was about the same as a year ago. Members reported 4,196 completed transactions during February, nearly matching the year-ago total of 4,205 closings.

Prices on last month’s closed sales rose about 6.3 percent from a year ago and 3.1 percent from January, but the gains were not system wide. Nine counties reported year-over-year increases. Area-wide the median price was $263,000; a year ago it was $247,500.

For single family homes (excluding condos), the median price was $270,000, for a gain of nearly 5.9 percent from the year-ago price of $255,000. Prices in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties shot up more than 11 percent from a year ago. Homes in King County had a median selling price of $405,400.

Condo prices surged more than 17 percent. The median selling price on 608 sales that closed during February was $215,500. Twelve months ago the median price was $184,000.

Commenting on “intense multiple offer market conditions” in several communities within Seattle, one broker advised buyers to not give up. “There are several communities nearby or just outside the immediate in-city markets that have good value listings that deserve closer attention,” stated Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner of Prudential Signature Properties. “My advice to frustrated buyers is to broaden their search parameters and look beyond Seattle’s ‘white hot’ zones and you’ll find some great properties at good prices,” he added.

With increasing equity, many current homeowners are expected to come into the market. “This is the year of the move-up seller,” declared MLS director John Deely. He believes many people who currently own a home will move into a “nicer home, a bigger home, or a home in a different part of town.”

People who didn’t have enough equity in their house, or didn’t have enough confidence in the economy didn’t move the past few years,” said Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle. “We’re going to see these people start to come to the market this spring. This is going to be a phenomenal year – not just an average year – a phenomenal year,” he remarked.

Mike Gain, a past chairman of the MLS board, agreed now is “a perfect time for move up sellers and buyers.” He said normalcy is finally returning to residential real estate, and the Seattle area continues to be an attractive destination for relocating families and investors. “Homeownership is still very important to most people,” he noted, citing various research. “With rents continuing to rise, it makes buying a home today a very smart decision.”

“We are on a clear and healthy path of recovery and home values are expected to continue to rise,” Gain commented. With inventory at “dangerously low levels” and a high percentage of sales experiencing multiple offers, “we clearly have way more ready, willing and able buyers and not enough sellers,” he continued, adding, “Anyone who is even considering selling a home should do it now. We have plenty of buyers who are just waiting to find the right home to purchase.”

Buyers and sellers alike would benefit by asking their real estate broker what they need to do to be successful in today’s market, according to Frank Wilson, who is also the Kitsap district manager at John L. Scott. “Buyers should expect and be prepared to compete with other buyers, and sellers should expect to list their homes at or close to market value,” he explained.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 21,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.

Considering a Move to London or the UK? Make Sure to Work with a Good Property Company

A number of years ago, shortly after my daughter was born, it looked like we were going to be moving to the UK for my job. I was so very excited and for some strange reason, thought that it would be so cool if Jacqueline Nataliya Kennedy would grow up with an English accent.

I traveled to London with my boss at the time (flying business class is THE best way to go) and we started looking for rental flats (apartments) for my family and other staff, as well as more palatial homes that were listing for sale for his.  Despite the fact that I have many years experience in the real estate industry, we quickly learned that there was way too much to know to not get some local, professional help.Continue Reading

Who Are YOUR Go To People?

There have been a lot of changes in my life in the past year or or so, but there are going to be a whole lot more in the next year.  Some really cool stuff is going on.  I’m currently in the process of planning the 48 State Juicing Tour with JoeAbs.com – currently recruiting sponsors to help make the trip happen.  The best sponsors would be a blender company (think Vitamix, Blendtec or even the Ninja) and a green car company like Chevrolet,which could provide one of its many gas miser vehicles they’ve been coming out with …

I’ve als0 started being drawn back to southern California -but this time to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.  I’m being led to believe there may be an opportunity for me with a really cool tv show – which is kind of strange since my last ‘real’ job was working with HomeTeam.com and their nationally syndicated tv show called Home Team.  To get ready for this potential opportunity, I’ve been very focused on my new ‘Hollywood’ workouts and my nutritional intake.  But there are many other areas I need to take a look at – areas where I can certainly use an all-star coach.

Just like most companies have an all-star tech person, coach or contractor they can call when their server fails or they need some technical help such a recovery for exchange server. I need to continue to build my stable of professional coaches who are going to help me be very successful in “the business”.

One of my biggest challenges of all time is fashion – or what to wear.  I’ve never watched the show “What Not to Wear”, but I’m thinking I could probably be the constant subject matter for the entire series …  So I need a fashion coach, consultant or professional shopper – someone who will be kind, insistent and budget conscious.  It should probably be noted in advanced that my personality probably calls for more casual clothing than most ‘normal’ people.

Even though my workouts are going well and I’m fairly happy about my progress fitness-wise, I could still use some coaching.  I’m not thinking that I need an every day personal trainer, but I do think that I could use some advice from a Phase IV trained trainer – so I am looking for a Phase IV Trainer in Bellevue, Washington – to help me design an ongoing program for my ultimate health and fitness.  To go along with this new fitness coach, I also really, REALLY need to join the best gym in Bellevue.  Although I know there are some great ones out there like the Bellevue Club and David Barton at the Bravern, there may still be a better Bellevue gym out there – what is your favorite gym in Bellevue?

Although I am still growing hair for my 2nd hair harvest for Locks of Love, I would like to get it cut and styled by a talented hair stylist in or around Bellevue who is extremely good at working with long, curly hair (that does get a lot of exposure to chlorine in the swimming pool …).

It would also be super cool to have a writing coach who would be willing to read over the stuff that I’ve been writing.  I think it would help me a great deal to get a lot more writing done – which would help me greatly in my quest to achieve some of my largest goals.

There are probably a number of other coaches who could help me in the next stages of my life.  I’m looking for smart, fun professionals who are willing to share their expertise with me, while I help them get more exposure for their businesses.  I can write and send media releases, post news and banner ads on the Bellevue Business Journal and Eastside Entrepreneurs websites, give complimentary premium listings on the Eastside and Bellevue Business Directories – and a lot more.  I can be extremely helpful in generating new business and creating a buzz – especially in Bellevue and on the Eastside.

Do you have a coach who has helped you reach success in your chosen field?  I would love to hear you share about this person and how they have helped you.  If you do not yet have a coach, what kind of coach will be your first hire?

Professional Protection for Your New Home

Buying a new home brings up a lot of questions for you and your family. Obviously, you want to select a location, and a home, that is comfortable for yourself and your loved ones, and that you can envision yourself being happy in. However, purchasing a new home isn’t only about comfort or aesthetics, or even personal preference. The most important thing, in fact, when looking through homes and locations, is to make sure that the new environment you are putting your family in will provide adequate safety and protection for your loved ones. So, as you go through the real estate process, you may want to check out some advanced home security systems, and make sure that your eventual new home is equipped with the best equipment, some of which is discussed briefly below.Continue Reading

VIDEO: Looking for Seattle or Renton Fixer and a Lease Purchase in Bellevue or on the Eastside

This is a short video I recorded yesterday about a couple of different property types I am currently looking for.

I’m currently looking for a fixer property in Seattle or Renton for my friend Stacia Loo and Thach Real Estate Group.    Here is the type of property that she is looking for:

Type of property:
Single family Fixers
Single family homes with an extra lot
Properties not on the market (Preferable)
Sellers that need quick closing as is, cash offers,
Estate sales

Preferred Areas:
140,360,380,385,390

Price:
we would like to be in where the finish product is selling for less than 350K

we are open to other areas if the cash on cash return is at or above  40%

Personally I am staying closer to home here in Bellevue and looking for a house to buy in Bellevue or anywhere on the Eastside of Lake Washington.  Fixers are fine, but I am specifically looking for a property where the owner is offering some kind of financing or is willing to work out a mutually beneficial lease with an option to purchase.  At the top of my personal list of goals is to buy a horse property in Diamond S Ranch or Bridle Trails, but at this point I will consider all properties and opportunities.

Thanks for taking your valuable time to read / watch.  Please do let me know if you happen across any properties that fit what we are looking for.  Thank you!

Joe
425-213-4176

JoeConnector(at)gmail.com

Blogging the Bellevue Property with Many Childhood Memories

I’ve been wanting to blog about the new home at 100 Cedar Crest Lane in the Sibleywood neighborhood just south of downtown Bellevue – but at the same time I haven’t been able to get myself to actually do it.  Not sure what the exact (mental) problem is, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I lived at that address during my days at Enatai Elementary, Bellevue Junior High (now the site of Bellevue’s Downtown Park) and Bellevue High School.  A couple year’s after high school graduation, my parents divorced and ended up selling the house for somewhere just south of $100,000.

Almost 30 years (and at least a couple remodels) later, Jett McCandless of McCandless Homes paid a rumored $1 million for the property and shortly thereafter tore down the old structure and built an amazing palace.  It is almost 7,000 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 4.75 baths, an outdoor room with waterfall and BBQ and the finest finishings available.  I can tell you that I have some great memories of that property, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever picture this house on that lot …

The asking price of $2.998 mil is actually a sign of the times – much lower than the $3.750 the 7,865 sq ft Candless Home sold for across the street in May of 2008 to the attorney of a famous and now former Seattle Seahawk whose family was the first occupants of the home.

One of my favorite features is the awesome, open kitchen.

Could be a real steal for the right buyer.  The location cannot be beat and Jett McCandless builds very fine luxury homes.  You can see the listing here, but let me know if you’d like a tour (I live less than two blocks away).

Five – Million Dollar Plus Homes Sold in Bellevue During the Past 30 Days

According to statistics from the broker owned NWMLS, there have been five homes to sell for over a million dollars in Bellevue during the past 30 days.

The average sales price of these five properties was $1.164, with an average size home of 4,459 square feet (that’s a lot of room to clean ;-)

The average time on market was only 35 days on the market!  These sellers obviously priced their homes to sell – and it is great to see that there are buyers out for million dollar plus homes!

 

Four Homes in Medina Sold for Over $1 Million in Past 30 Days

According to data from the broker-owned Northwest Multiple Listing Service, there have been four homes sold in Medina during the past 30 days.  They all sold for over 1 million dollars with a range of $1.185 million paid for a 3,330 square foot home that was listed as both a house and a condo, to $2.65 million paid for a 4,750 square foot home on NE 8th Street.  Although the average number of days on market is 46, that number was heavily skewed by the 125 days the highest priced home was on the market.  Two of the houses sold in less than two weeks – and one in only three days!Continue Reading

Five Million Dollar-plus Homes Sold on Mercer Island in Past 30 Days

According to statistics from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, there have been 28 homes sold on Mercer Island in the past 30 days.   The prices paid varied from $501k paid for a 3 bedroom, 2.25 bath rambler to $1.61 million pad for a 6 bedroom, 6.25 bath, 6,710 square foot “mansion” complete with chef’s kitchen, theater and wine cellar.

It is interesting to note that five separate Mercer Island homes sold for more than a million dollars each – and that is just during the past 30 days.  I’ll be taking a look at this same statistic in the coming months and we’ll look to see how this changes.

 

381 Single Family Residences Available for Sale in Bellevue Today – I Can Help You Find and Negotiate For YOUR Dream Home!

As of this morning, there are 381 single family residences listed for sale in Bellevue.  They range in price from $184,900 to $7.9 million.

The average asking price is a whopping  $973,826 and the average time on market is 95 days.

I’ll try to add to this post later in the day – I’m off to take my daughter to school and then write up an offer!

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