Now that the market has showed signs of recovery, some sellers may be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional. Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize their ability to negotiate will determine whether they can get the best deal for themselves and their family. Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:
- The buyer who wants the best deal possible
- The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
- The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
- The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
- The termite company if there are challenges
- The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
- The appraiser if there is a question of value
- The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
- The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
- The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling.
- Your bank in the case of a short sale
The percentage of sellers who have hired a real estate agent to sell their home has increased steadily over the last 20 years. With my years of experience in our local market, I would welcome the opportunity to show you the difference I can make in easing the process.
There have been some who have voiced doubt as to whether or not the younger generations still consider buying a home as being part of the “American Dream”. A recent study by Merrill Lynch puts that doubt to rest. According to their research, every living generation still maintains that owning a home is in fact important. Here are the numbers:
This should not surprise us as many studies have revealed the benefits enjoyed by the families who own their own home. One such study was done by the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University that addressed a major financial benefit to owning your own home: forced savings. The report explains:
“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”
The Merrill Lynch study proves this point with the following data on home equity (a form of savings):
There are many reasons that owning a home makes sense. The financial reasons are powerful. As one participant in the Merrill Lynch study put it:
“When I was younger, I always worried about that monthly mortgage payment. Now that I am retired, I have the peace of mind of knowing I own my home free and clear.”
A recent Bloomberg Business article reports that both Lowes & Home Depot experienced fourth quarter profits that beat revenue projections by the most in six quarters. So what does that mean to the housing market?
Lowe’s Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock said,
“Consumers are feeling better about their jobs, their wages and certainly feeling better about the value of their home, they are re-engaging in projects that they have put off.”
Sales to professional contractors have increased significantly as well, and were a driving factor in the quarter. Home Depot’s Chief Financial Officer Carol Tome calls this a “sign of health. If they are putting more items in their basket, it means they have work coming at them.”
Home Values Rising
In a quarterly consumer survey conducted by Lowe’s since 2007, the percentage of respondents who said that the value of their home is rising increased to its highest value ever, at 50%.
Whether Americans are finally adding that man-cave they’ve always wanted, or renovating a master suite, an increased confidence in the value of one’s home often sparks homeowners to invest in big-ticket projects.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the median price of an existing home (for all housing types) rose year-over-year for the 35th consecutive month.
Not all who are renovating are planning on staying in their home. The Demand Institute reports that “nearly half of American households plan to move at some point in the future.”
For those who are planning on listing their home this spring, spending the time and money needed to update that 1950’s bathroom or kitchen can fetch higher prices in today’s market.
By taking the first step of setting up a meeting with me, can give you insight into the small (or big) improvements your home could use to draw the highest price and return on investment this spring.
Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward”! Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.
Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.
Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.
That hasn’t happened this year.
Demand for housing has remained strong and is currently three times stronger than last year at this time.
The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2014 all fell in April, May or June.
Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.
If you are planning on selling your home in 2015, let’s set up a time to meet to evaluate the opportunities in your market.
Here are the latest market charts from the MLS.
Click on each image below for a larger version.
Active Listings vs. Sold Listings
Number of Pending Listings
Median Sales Price
For more information our the Seattle and Eastside Real Estate Market contact Tony and Wendi Meier here:
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KIRKLAND, Washington (March 5, 2015) – Favorable weather and restored confidence are propelling home buying activity around Western Washington to the highest level in nearly a decade, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service sources.
“The pent-up demand being unleashed has rocketed pending sales back to the levels of our record year in 2006,” said Ken Anderson, president/designated broker at Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Tumwater. Buyers have come off the sidelines, the former MLS director commented, adding “At the same time, homes for sale are near a 10-year low.”
Northwest MLS figures show pending sales system-wide surged 18.7 percent in February compared to the same month a year ago, rising from 7,247 mutually accepted offers to 8,599. Twenty of the 23 counties in the service area reported double-digit increases in pending sales.
Those numbers might be even higher given the ample supply of buyers, but inventory is far from ample.
“Listings are flying off the shelf faster than allergy medicine in this early spring market,” quipped MLS director Frank Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott, Inc. Poulsbo. He said the brisk activity is posing challenges for buyers. “They will probably make several offers before one is accepted and they just need to expect to be competing with others,” he cautioned.
Northwest MLS broker-members added more news listings to the database during February than 12 months ago (7,852 last month versus 7,234), but the higher sales volume kept inventory levels well below year-ago totals. The MLS reported 16,946 total active listings at month end. That compares to a total of 19,273 for the same month a year ago for a drop of about 12 percent.
John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain, also commented on the imbalanced market. “The early spring weather has brought a bumper crop of buyers to a market experiencing a drought of listings.” The MLS director said activity in Seattle continues to move “at the fastest pace in memory.” It is not uncommon for weekend open houses to draw upwards of 100 group visits and bidding competitions, he reported. “Multiple offers rule the day, with many bids at 20 percent over well-priced properties around Greater Seattle.”
For the 4,761 sales of single family homes and condominiums that closed during February, the median price was $280,000. That reflects a gain of about 6.5 percent from the year-ago sales price of $263,000. The volume of closed sales jumped about 13.5 percent from a year ago. Brokers reported 4,761 closed sales last month, which compares to 4,196 for the same month a year ago.
For single family homes, which accounted for 86 percent of all sales, the median price system-wide jumped about 7.4 percent, rising from $270,000 to $289,925.
A comparison of the four-county Puget Sound region shows single family homes in King County had the highest median price at $429,900 (up 6 percent from a year ago), followed by Snohomish County where February’s completed transactions commanded a median price of $330,00 for a year-over-year gain of nearly 4.8 percent. Kitsap’s median price was $238,903; in Pierce it was $233,000.
Condo prices increased 6.7 percent year-over-year, from $215,500 to $230,000. The total number of sales increased 6.7 percent.
“February was a very robust month,” observed Gary O’Leyar, a past chairman of the Northwest MLS board. “If there is any real estate market slowdown, we’re not seeing it,” he said, suggesting doubters look at King County’s Eastside corridor for new or newer high end homes in the $900,000-plus price range.
Northwest MLS figures show 68 homes sold for $900,000-plus in its Eastside segment during the first two months of 2015, outgaining the same period a year ago when brokers sold 36 such homes. “Be prepared to get in line to get into the new home pipeline,” O’Leyar advised.
The market for waterfront homes also appears to be gaining momentum.
“This is the year for waterfront homes in Kitsap,” reported Frank Wilson, noting they have been the last to recover price wise. “Values for waterfront homes were pretty flat in 2014 and they should start appreciating in 2015,” he said. “In the future, buyers will say ‘I wish I would have bought a waterfront home back when they were affordable.’ Today they are affordable.”
“Undeniably, our unusual spring-like weather has not only fueled and jump started an early allergy season, but the market as well,” suggested Diedre Haines, Coldwell Banker Bain’s principal managing broker for South Snohomish County. Characterizing the market as “exceedingly active,” she noted garden shops, home improvement stores, furniture stores and other retailers that sell home-related items are also experiencing high levels of activity.
Dick Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma and a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors, believes the market is adjusting to scarce inventory and the abundance in the buyer population in the form of multiple offers and frustrated buyers and sellers. “But buyers will not be dissuaded,” he believes, in part because they anticipate hikes in interest rates. “Sellers are frustrated because they can’t find replacement homes. Some won’t list their homes because of fear of not finding a suitable replacement,” Beeson believes. “This cycle will work its way out as spring brings more inventory, hopefully, and sellers give in and say they trust there will be a home for them somewhere,” Beeson stated.
Like Beeson, brokers around the Northwest MLS service area are clamoring for listings:
- “Hopefully, more potential sellers will seize this market window of opportunity as a good time to sell before the regional real estate market does finally start to level out and take a breath; which it will eventually.” — Gary O’Leyar, Berkshire Hathaway HomeService Signature Properties.
- “We desperately need inventory. Potential sellers of all shapes, sizes, price ranges and locations should be contacting their brokers and jumping off the proverbial fence.” — Diedre Haines, Coldwell Banker Bain.
- “Sellers haven’t experienced a market this favorable since those frothy days (of 10 years ago). With home prices now consistently on the rise, savvy sellers looking to trade up know this is the time to make that move.” — Ken Anderson, Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty.
“The housing market is on fire,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “Due to the backlog of buyers and shortage of homes available for sale, we are experiencing multiple offers on nearly every new listing. This is creating price appreciation where 90-plus percentage of the sales activity is taking place.”
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 23,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.
That headline might be a little aggressive. However, as the data on the 2015 housing market begins to roll in, we can definitely say one thing: If you are considering selling, IT IS TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME!
We realize that existing home sales stumbled in January compared to December. But, if we compare the current September-January time period to the same period a year ago, we can see that existing home sales have outpaced last year every month with the January sales numbers 200,000 homes greater than last January:
Pending home sales (houses going into a contract) as reported by the National Association of Realtors has also done much better in the last five months compared to a year earlier:
And, buyer demand is continuing to skyrocket:
At the same time, the amount of housing inventory coming to the market compared to last year is plummeting:
With demand increasing and supply dropping, this may be the perfect time to get the best price for your home. Call me today to see whether that is the case in our neighborhood.
For the last several years, home sellers had to compete with huge inventories of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). The great news is that the supply of these properties is falling like a rock in the vast majority of housing markets (only 11% of homes sold in January). Many homeowners are now thinking of selling as the impact of this substantially discounted competition has disappeared.
However, every seller of an existing residential property must realize that there is a new form of competition in the market: newly constructed homes.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers new home sales accounted for 16% of all homes sold in 2014. The graph below shows the top 5 reasons that a buyer would choose new construction over an existing home.
The top three should not come by surprise. With a new home comes the ability to customize the design of the home and the ability to avoid having to renovate or deal with existing problems.
The 10% of respondents who cited “Lack of Inventory of Existing Homes” could very well increase in 2015. Existing home inventory for sale currently sits at a 4.7 months supply, well below the six-months needed to be at a historically normal market.
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that there is currently a 5.4 months supply inventory of new construction available for purchase.
With a steady buyer demand currently in the market, if you are thinking of selling, perhaps you should do it now to avoid additional competition coming to the market.