Your Queen Anne Market Report for December 2019

First off, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family!

Now let’s leap into what has happened on the Hill since my last report:

Sales during the Holidays and into January usually slow, but this year, at least in November, sales in King County are up 7% over this time last year according to the NWMLS. This is surprising news and confirms what my colleagues and I have been observing in our local market. In Ballard, Wallingford, Fremont, Crown Hill and most of the other near north end neighborhoods with average prices under $1Million, the competition among buyers is fierce. A very nice Craftsman bungalow in Wallingford that I looked at for a buyer last month had 8 offers on it listed at $985,000! Another home in Magnolia priced at $1.05M has had 8 pre-inspections before they are looking at offers. Much of what is causing this is traditional low inventory this time of year and amazingly low interest rates both which I expect to continue into the spring market. In looking at the data, it seems that homes listed over $1.2M are not experiencing this sales rapidity but are selling with an average on market of around 54 days. Currently, we have  16 active listings for sale on the Hill and the average sold price has been consistently right around $1.2M for a 2500 square foot home. Average price/square foot for the last 30 days has risen slightly to $525.00 November 2019 QA Pendings and solds for more details. Also, below is the 2020 real estate projection from Windermere’s economist Matthew Gardener. I encourage you to view his 4 minute video.

Finally, the home on the Hill that sold for most over list price was 3017 10thAvenue West, listed for $875,000 and sold for $913,700. Certainly not the overage we were used to seeing in the recent fast markets, but it was a major fixer in a Queen Anne Park and had been in very rough shape for years, so I am sure the neighbors are thrilled!

And that’s the way Steve sees it…

Have a magical Holiday season!

Posted on December 12, 2019 at 6:15 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

4 Reasons to Get Excited About Selling Your House in Fall or Winter

By Suzie Wilson

Looking to list your home this fall or winter? If you’re feeling anxious about doing so, you should know that these can be the perfect seasons to sell your home and can even help it sell for more profit. You just need a few fall and winter home selling tips to maximize your listing.

Winter Plants and Holiday Decor Can Boost Curb Appeal

Just because it’s fall or winter doesn’t mean your yard has to look drab. In fact, you can easily add a winter garden to your property, in order to spruce things up and attract potential buyers. Some beautiful shrubs that can withstand the colder seasons include witch hazel, Japanese pieris, and holly. If you have flower beds, you can always add these cold weather plants, or you can use containers to add pops of color to your front porch. While adding some winter plants will draw potential buyers to your listing, you may also want to add some touches to help visitors feel at home. Fall and winter offer plenty of opportunities to deck out your outdoor spaces with holiday decor. Just keep decorations simple and sleek, so your home will appeal to more potential buyers.

Special Touches Can Help Make Staging Homes Easier 

Staging your home’s interior can be fairly simple in the fall and winter months as well. You’ll want to start by clearing out any excess clutter to make the inside of your home look as spacious as possible. Next, take a look at any leftover pieces of furniture or decor. Update any older items with modern touches that will help shoppers feel cozy. Those modern changes can be as simple as adding a throw rug to set spaces apart or repainting your walls in more neutral colors to create the illusion of space. Lighting is key during the darker months as well, so use a mixture of lamps and fixtures to create the perfect ambiance in each room.

Fall and Winter Open Houses Can Be Fairly Simple to Pull Off

Just like the inside of your home, preparing for open houses typically involves the same basic steps throughout the year. Since open houses are meant to attract a lot of people to your property, though, you will need to work with your realtor to create a marketing plan and to time your open house just right for prospective buyers. In fall and winter, you may need to add some extra steps to keep those visitors comfortable and safe as they explore their potential new home. If your area gets a lot of snow, be sure to shovel driveways and any other walkways. It’s also a good idea to keep all areas well-lit and warm to give your listing that cozy feeling buyers crave in a property. Good smells can add to that coziness and attract offers on your property.

Homes Listed in Fall and Winter Can Give Sellers Some Advantages

Most people would tell you that spring and summer are the best times to list a home, but that all depends on what your goals are as a seller. Selling in the winter can actually have some perks for savvy sellers, so as long as you are willing to put in the extra work to help your listing stand out, it may be best to list it during the off-season. For one, when you list your home after the peak selling season, you will be competing with far fewer properties. Fewer properties can help attract higher offers on your home, but you are also more likely to get those offers from serious buyers. So when you look at all of these benefits, this may be the best season to list your home!

Selling a home in the fall or winter shouldn’t stress you out. This can be the perfect time to sell a home, and you may even net some higher offers. There are so many cozy and warm touches you can add to help attract those fall and winter home buyers. So if you need to list your home in the off-season, don’t despair and use the tips above to help your listing sell faster!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Posted on November 20, 2019 at 8:33 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Homeowner, Selling | Tagged , , , , ,

Queen Anne Market Report for November 2019

Are you being besieged by offers to purchase your home? I must get 4-6 postcards and letters a month to do just that. It makes me wonder if a national seminar rolled through the NW teaching people how-to low-ball owners on the value of their homes and then try to re-sell them for a profit. Speaking of that, I was on the Zillow site yesterday looking at a Zestimate of a home and noticed that Zillow is now buying homes and re-selling them! Though not in Washington yet, they are in 26 US markets. As a test, I called them on a rental home I have in Palm Springs to get an offer to purchase. That is in progress and I will let you know how that turns out in my next newsletter. I suspect their model is to purchase homes below market, add a fee due from the seller and then attempt to re-sell them in a very short time frame. One of the appeals, of course, is that there are no realtor commissions and no bank loans. The huge downside in all of this for the owner is that the home is not presented to the market at large and therefore, the owner runs the risk of selling it for less, or far less, than its real market value.  I think we all agree that “Zestimates” are not exactly reliable estimates of your home’s value so why should rely on Zillow to give you a reasonable offer? I have always maintained that an experienced real estate agent is well worth the commissions paid in getting you the highest, feasible price on your home through the extensive exposure the agent can garner. Time after time, I have seen that even after commissions are paid, the seller still has a higher net than selling without testing the market place.

As far as the Queen Anne market goes now, 80% of the homes listed since my last report have gone into escrow or have closed. That is very respectable number. 36% of those sold homes had to reduce their original list price to get into escrow, so list prices generally have been declining. BTW, the home that sold for most over list price was 506 Galer, listed for $989,000 and sold for $1,030,000, not much of a difference and reflects the fact that on the Hill, prices are not being run up over list like they once were. Of course, one reason for that is that most of the homes on the Hill are listed for over $1M. Homes priced for less in other neighborhoods are still seeing more activity. Please see the attachment for the data for the last 30 days on the Hill.

Finally, for the last 20 years, I have spent the winter months from November until March in Palm Springs where I have a home. I have had a California real estate license for over 12 years, but have not affiliated with a brokerage until now. I am happy to tell you that I will be selling homes there this winter and if you, or someone you know, would like to purchase a home there and get out of the grey, wet winter weather, please let me know. Prices are much lower than Seattle BTW. Same phone number and email address as always. In March, I will return to Seattle to once again be listing and selling homes on the Hill. I am always available during the winter months to assist you and have a realtor partner in Seattle, so don’t hesitate to call. And that’s the way Steve sees it.

View Full Report Here.

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 8:13 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

Q3 Market Report for Seattle

Posted on October 25, 2019 at 7:24 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Market News, Matthew Gardner Report | Tagged , , , , ,

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.

We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’

A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.

They are much more than just guides.

This is much more than a normal real estate market.

The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

Posted on October 24, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Buying, Homebuyer, Homeowner, Selling | Tagged ,

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.

When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.

In a recent survey, Bank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:

  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better

Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:

  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
  • 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
  • 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
  • 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home

Homeowners seem to be very happy.

Renters Tell a Different Story…

According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:

  • 52% regret not being able to build equity
  • 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
  • 50% regret that the rent is so high
  • 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space

These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.

Bottom Line

There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.

Posted on October 15, 2019 at 7:49 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Buying, Homeowner | Tagged , , , , ,

A Beautiful Pitch

It was a beautiful week really. I found myself in a beautiful office in a beautiful city on a beautiful day. I was sitting in front of a beautiful new client. It was a beautiful thing. My purpose that beautiful day was to make my “pitch”. We started with the glad handing. Then we moved to the client-based needs assessment. I espoused my resume, assessed potential outside threats, and finally monetized my message to close. It was all going along swimmingly, but I had one more little trick to pull out of my hat.

The Special
As we were wrapping it up, I started to show her something that I had just finished working on. It’s brand new, still a little buggy, an no one else had seen it yet. But I thought what the hell. As I revealed my new invention, her surprise became her interest and that became her approval. It really was what sealed the deal. In my pregame prep I saw myself walking out of that pitch having made the impression that I was the new messiah of my topic (or at a minimum, just stronger than my cologne). But in the end what really worked was much simpler and egoless than all of that: I have something that she can only get from me. That’s why it’s special. And she has something I need from her: access to a whole new market and the marketing muscle that goes with it.

The Schmalue Proposition
Most pitchers pitch the same way. They talk about “value”. Adding value, creating value, and of course, the value they create. There’s really nothing wrong with Value Schmalue approach. In fact, it really does play in Peoria. But there is one problem with the value-based focus: if you confront a pitcher and ask them to actually explain what all of this “value” stuff is they’re talking about they rarely (never) can. And that can be a problem for a pitcher. Especially with a smart client.

There’s a higher calling here; one that’s greater than the cliché of “value”. It’s the notion of “mutual satisfaction”. The idea that both you and the customer are better off together than not. The agreement that you both bring something of benefit to each other. It’s really no different than any other kind of relationship: when two people can come together in a transaction and find mutual satisfaction, magic occurs. You know what I’m talking about, you may just not see it quite this way. Mutual satisfaction is a point of view, an aspiration, and even an intention that each of us should embrace in all of our human interactions, but especially when pitching.

The Prep
Most pitchers prep the same way: write it down, practice in the mirror, talk to the dog. There’s nothing wrong with these practice methods, but what you’re pitching matters too. You have to have an idea of something you can provide that someone else can’t and how that fits your customer’s needs. This is strategy stuff and it’s a big deal. You may be the best pitcher ever – the kind that can sell ice to Eskimos. But you’ll pitch more effectively if you’re pitching a way to stay warm in the arctic without wearing a piece of stinky animal fur and drinking whale oil martinis. It’s kind of crazy how few salespeople really take the time to learn these things, and yet this is the world customers live in every day. Knowing what options exist for customer and knowing where you fit in the mix of choices should be the center of your pitch.

The Simple
I know this seems like such a simple thing. Even trite. But simple is beautiful and simple can make you rich. Perhaps this is a good time for you to stop and think. Think about what you do. Think about what you sell. Think about who you really are. Think about what makes you unique, special and different. Think about what makes people want to buy from you. Is it your looks perhaps? You charming personality? Or maybe the way you bake that one kind of cookie that no one else can. Marketers call this a “unique Selling Proposition (USP). Whatever it is, you should know this about yourself. Because you just never know when you’ll be in a beautiful town in front of a beautiful client staring at a beautiful opportunity. All you know for sure is that you don’t want to screw it up.

Author | Joe Still

Posted on October 3, 2019 at 9:11 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Guest Blog | Tagged , , , , , ,

Your Queen Anne Market Report for September

You probably have felt it in the air over the last 90 days-home prices are coming down. Ah the good old days when a home would come onto the market and be sold in less than a week with multiple offers. Not happening now. Our Windermere economist is indicating that, on average, home prices are down 7-10% over this time last year.

No need to panic, because mortgage rates are low and will probably fall a little more over the next month, so that keeps buyers in the market. There is no one reason for this transition in prices. Perhaps prices just got too high for buyers to qualify or feel comfortable with their monthly mortgage payment? Perhaps the bulk of buyers have already purchased and are not being replaced at the same crazy rate that they were over the preceding seven years? Perhaps there are so many new rental apartments now with managers offering major incentives to prospective tenants that that has lessened demand, not to mention that as rents become much less than mortgage payments, folks may decide to stay in their apartments. Perhaps they are locked into a one year lease with ten more months to go? And we cannot forget the unusually higher volume of homes that came on the market in late April and  continued through June which contributed to the price decline.

Despite the above, I am still very bullish on the future of Queen Anne popularity and pricing. If we follow the usual annual cycle, I expect this market to continue at basically this value level until next Spring when we will be off to the races again from March-June(or longer)!

Don’t forget: WS Excise taxes are going up starting January 2020 and really impact homes closing for $1.5M or more. Please see the attachment for details.

There were very few homes that sold over their list prices in August, but there was one standout: 1407 Bigelow was listed at $1.495M and sold for $1.7M.

And that’s the way Steve sees it…Click here to view report, and Click here to view the current Excise Tax rates.

Make it another great month!



Posted on September 12, 2019 at 10:14 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Buying, Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

Windermere Teams Up with the Seahawks to #TackleHomelessness

Windermere is proud to partner with the Seattle Seahawks for the fourth season to help #TackleHomelessness. For every Seahawks home game defensive tackle, Windermere will donate $100 to Mary’s Place, whose mission is to help families on their journey out of homelessness. To date we’ve raised nearly $100,000 through our #TackleHomelessness campaign and we’re looking forward to raising even more for our friends at Mary’s Place!

Posted on September 5, 2019 at 8:58 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Windermere Community | Tagged , , , , ,

The Two Of Us

Author: Joe Still

As we pass through the tunnel of time, we inevitably come to our change moments.  A breakup.  A death. A public embarrassment.  It’s these unexpected incidents that push us to the times when we find ourselves standing egoless at the alter of our own humility.  These are the moments when we step back, examine, and make difficult decisions.  When they’ve happened for me, I’ve left knowing that the story of my life is a book of pages written about moments, memories, and decisions.  While all three are interdependent, it’s our decisions that have the most influence over our story.  So I made a decision today to unpack the notion of decisions – their speed, their battle, and offer a few tips that might just help you deal with yours.  Decisions are a huge topic that I could parse a million ways and write volumes.  But it’s Sunday, it’s summer, and you probably have better things to do.

So today let’s begin by juxtaposing two aspects of decisions you may have never considered: the speed and the battle.

The Speed of Decision
Some people make decisions slowly; it’s just how they are.  Let me say that one more time for you hurry it up types in the room:  it’s just how they are.  You’re not going to change them, and they usually can’t change it even if they wanted to.  Think about software for a minute:  you can’t do number calculations with Word and you can’t edit photos in Excel.  But maybe you want to break the glass ceiling.  Maybe you think you’re the one who can change it all and get them to do what you think they should.  So you start.  And you really, really, really try.  But it doesn’t work so well.  So you try harder, because you know you’re right.  Eventually your relationship just becomes a lot of fighting and hurt feelings.  You curse and you swear at them and you might even talk about them behind their back.  You might even threaten to leave them if they don’t conform to your desires.  But still, they don’t change.  Word is for words and Excel is for numbers.  They’re really good at what they do, but it’s who they are, and they can’t be and do something they’re not.  The truth is, if you’re trying to get a slow decision maker to make a quick decision it probably isn’t going to work.  Lean into it as hard as you can, but in the end you’ll probably just end up fighting, being frustrated, and maybe even breaking up.  I know it’s happened to me and maybe it has to you too.  But when I was in one of my own serendipitous moments, I realized something that changed everything.  And that was the battle.

The Battle
Making a decision, especially a quick one, is really a kind of battle we have inside ourselves.  It’s the battle of our two selves: our mental self and our emotional self.  You’ve fought the battle, we all have, but what you may not have noticed is that the mental self decides much faster than the emotional one.  Give your mental self some sound advice, back it up with some simple data, add a dose of common sense, and in a matter of seconds – poof.  The jury of your mental self has deliberated and rendered its verdict.  You have your answer and you know what to do next.

But you don’t.

Examples of this are all around us.  You’re fat and you now you should eat less, but you don’t.  You really should jump on the bike, but the idea of exercise tires you.  Quitting smoking?  You can a list all of the obvious reasons, but also come up with just as many to keep lighting up those delicious little seducers. And that toxic relationship you’re in?  You know you should run fast and far, but there you are and there you stay.  You have all of the information, all of the data, and all of the reasons you could possibly ever need.  You know what you need to do.

But still, you don’t.

Weird, right?  Maybe this has happened to you, and maybe you’ve found yourself in a conversation with a trusted friend who asks you “why” but all you can say is, “I don’t know”.  Well, here’s the deal and it’s actually pretty simple:  it’s not your mental self that does the deciding, it’s your emotional one, and the reason you haven’t done what you know you should do is that your emotional self isn’t there yet.  It’s still processing, or making excuses, or it just hasn’t felt enough pain yet (which is usually the case).  If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a moment with a trusted friend who calls you on your shit, your emotional self usually replies by rolling out the excuses and justifiers.  “Just one more.”  “I’ll start tomorrow.”  “Maybe it’s not really that bad.”  This works for a while, but it usually just taps the brakes on the inevitable.  Eventually the hangover of self-hate comes.  And then the cycle begins again.

The Giddyup
If all of this “two self” stuff has you feeling a bit schizophrenic, you’re probably not (at least not because of this), but you should find peace is knowing that this is just what goes on in humans and we all deal with it in varying degrees.  If you feel stuck, my suggestion would be to start with something called the “Law of Results” which simply states that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.  And of course, there’s its corollary, the “Definition of Crazy”.  But whichever manash you prefer, if you want something different, you must first be open to a new strategy.

Let’s finish this up with a few thoughts on how to get your emotional self on the giddyup.

1. Get Support
If you’re reading this right now chances are very, very good that you’re human.  And as humans we need each other.  Get support.  Pick people you trust and listen to what they say.  Your mental self probably already knows most of it, but sometimes we just need to hear what we already know from someone else.

2. Imagine
Imagination is the realm of change agents in our world from Ghandi to Lennon and Jobs to Bezos.  Imagination has created everything around you right now – all of it.  But imagination is akin to a muscle.  It doesn’t just “exist”.  You have to exercise it.  Work it out.  Make it hurt a little.  Imagine what your life will be like in your future if actually make the decision you need to make.   And then imagine what it will be like if you don’t.

3.  Embrace your Pain
Most of us run away from pain.  We shouldn’t.  Pain is the domain of the emotional self and harnessed correctly, it’s the only mechanism we can use to affect change.  As I’ve told audiences over and over (and over and over and over), we humans will do more to avoid pain than seek pleasure.  If you want to kick your emotional self in the ass so that you can actually make the decision you know you need to make, go deep and associate a lot of pain to your current situation.  If you hate yourself enough, you’ll do something about it.  I know it sounds weird, but it really does work.

4. Limit Your Data
Slow decision makers often dive deep into the pool of data.  Data matters, but not as a form of camouflage.  Approach data with a Goldilocks mentality: not too much, not too little, just right.  Learn to limit your data set.  It will eliminate the procrastination excuse.  And that alone is a huge victory.

5. Look Up
For thousands of years humans have looked up for guidance in their most personal and difficult moments.  I did some research on this.  Apparently 84% of us have some kind of religion, Deity, or belief in a universal consciousness that’s bigger than we are.  I can tell you for myself that it’s helped me move beyond my own moments of self-doubt, anxiety, fear, and stuckness.  If this isn’t for you that’s fine, but it might be worth a try.  The barriers to membership are low, there are no annual fees, and no pesky passwords to remember.  It works for me and it might work for you too.  I highly recommend it.



Posted on August 26, 2019 at 11:13 pm
Stephen Hicks | Posted in Living | Tagged , ,