Your Queen Anne Market Report for June 2020

We’re almost back from the lag in activity that occurred in April. Prices are resuming their upward rise. Demand is very high and the Fed just declared that interest rates will remain low through 2022. To do that, the Fed is buying enormous amounts of Treasury bonds and mortgage -backed securities, among other things, to keep the economy flush with liquidity and the rates low. If we did not have the Fed, we would all be in serious economic trouble.

 

There is nothing unusual with Queen Anne real estate except we have a lower than normal listing inventory, especially for the Spring time of year when many of our homes go on the market. Out of curiosity, I took a look back through the Queen Anne MLS data for the period from March 1-June 1 of last year to see how that compares to this year. During that period in 2019, we had 66 sales with an average time on market of 37 days and an average sale price of $1.426M. For the same period this year, we had 37 sales with an average market time of only 11 days and an average sales price of $1.525M. Of those 37 sales, 27 are pending sales in the last three weeks so I think that shows demand has recovered since April. Whenever you have significantly more pendings than actives, you have a strong seller’s market. I look forward to this price increasing trend to continue (although not at the same rate as years passed) and so does our Windermere economist Matthew Gardner. Please take a minute to listen to his latest post regarding prices(see below).

 

It certainly is more challenging selling homes amidst the restrictions and precautions we have to take now with the Covid-19 virus, but buyers want to buy and are not hesitant to view homes even with masks, gloves and booties. I have noticed that a very popular price point for homes runs between $850K-$1.35M. Then there are fewer sales until you hit $2M-$2.4M which is also quite active with market times under 10 days! Once again, demand is there. We are so lucky in Seattle to have buyers for $1M+ homes that are still employed. That is certainly not the case in most of the country at the moment. BTW, we currently have 31 homes for sale on the Hill.

In this report, I have included two attachments: the usual one with the specifics of the previous 30 day period for Queen Anne home sales and a graph of King County sales since the first of the year that indicates we are nearly back to where we were before Covid-19 hit. A cause to celebrate I think!

 

And that’s the way Steve sees it…

Make it another great month and stay safe!

Posted on June 11, 2020 at 9:05 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

A Guide to Mortgage Assistance During COVID-19

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

For some homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high level of concern about paying their mortgage. Fortunately, there are options to aid struggling homeowners from governments, financial institutions, and loan providers. The following information is intended to provide clarity on which financial relief options are available to you during this time.

 

What are my mortgage relief options?

Newly placed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

 

  1. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days following March 18, 2020. The CARES Act prohibits lenders and/or servicers from beginning a non-judicial foreclosure, or finalizing a foreclosure sale, against you within this time period. While 60 days has passed since this was put into place, it is still important to be aware of in the event that any of these actions were taken against you.
  2. You have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also apply for a 180-day extension beyond the forbearance period. This does not require submitting additional documentation beyond your claim, nor will you incur additional fees, penalties or interest beyond what has already been scheduled.

 

Forbearance is…

  • With forbearance, mortgage servicers and lenders allow you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a period of time while you get back on your feet financially.
  • Different types of loans beget different forbearance options, understanding the differences and which options apply to your loan is key to navigating the forbearance landscape.
  • Once your income is back to a normal level, contact your loan servicer and resume your payments.

 

Forbearance is not…

  • Forbearance is not a means to forgive or erase your payments. Any missed or reduced payments still require payment in the future.

 

Which relief options do I qualify for?

The first step in discovering your mortgage assistance qualifications is to contact your mortgage provider. If you are unsure of how to get in touch with them, look at your mortgage statement for contact information or see what contact options are available online.

After you have successfully made contact, find out if your mortgage is federally backed. To be eligible for assistance under the CARES act, your mortgage must either be backed federally, or by one of the entities in the list below. These links show the agencies’ current advise and related loan information:

 

For non-federally backed loans, contact your lender or servicer to learn more about their forbearance repayment options.

 

Today’s financial landscape can be stressful for homeowners, especially those that are struggling to keep up financially. Fortunately, these entities, institutions, and servicers have provided options to help lessen the burden. Knowing which options apply to you and your household will help you navigate through hardship as your finances recover.

Posted on June 11, 2020 at 8:59 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

SEATTLE POISED FOR FASTER RECOVERY THAN MANY OTHER CITIES

Thanks to our diversified economy, strong tech sector and attractive, startup-friendly environment, the Seattle area is well-positioned for and capable of a nimble recovery.

Several recent studies analyzing our housing market, population density, and educational attainment (and jobs that require higher education) indicate that Seattle is primed for a recovery that may be quicker and shorter than other major metropolitan areas across the country.

ATTOM Data Solutions, a provider of real estate and property data, put together a special report comparing regions across the country and identifying the housing markets more and less vulnerable to COVID-19 impacts. Their research puts King County within the 50 least at-risk counties. Furthermore, their data shows the West Coast as a whole to be incredibly resilient, with only one West Coast county (in California) appearing in the top 50 most vulnerable markets.

Looking at population density and education, Moody’s Analytics assessed the 100 top metro areas in the country and identified the U.S. cities in the best and worst positions for post-pandemic recovery. Their research notes that the cities best prepared to bounce back have low population densities and high levels of educational attainment. Seattle ranked in the top five metros poised for a quick recovery.

While the recent economic contraction has been profound and carried many unseen ramifications, our region’s tech sector has remained strong. Dominating much of our local economy, tech’s presence here may help buffer our area’s economy from worse dips taking place elsewhere.

It is true that some sectors of our regional economy — particularly hospitality (restaurants and bars), leisure (hotels), tourism and travel — have been hit harder. Those businesses and employees feel the impacts more strongly and may experience a harder and more drawn-out recovery. The direct hits to these sectors — with shuttered businesses and job losses — will resonate through the economy at large. As noted by Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner in a recent “Mondays with Matthew” post looking at how COVID-19 has affected employment, it’s likely that many workers in these sectors are renters, so their misfortunes are likely to impact the region’s rental market. As businesses are forced to close, many may struggle to find new employment until the economy is open and fully operational again.

Loss of tax revenue from the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors (especially from cruise ships, many of which will not be docking in Seattle for the foreseeable future), is already impacting state and local budgets, potentially causing painful future spending cuts over the next few years, as noted in The Seattle Times.

While our economy — city, state, and national — has shrunk dramatically in the second quarter of this year, economists still anticipate recovery beginning as soon as businesses reopen, and stay-at-home orders are lifted. Gains will advance slowly, but will continually increase through the remainder of the year. As Matthew Gardner predicts, the second half of 2020 should be significantly better than the first.

Posted on May 27, 2020 at 10:57 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

Your Queen Anne Market Report for May 2020

What a roller coaster time we are in! Major events seem to be happening daily. In every spring market I have been in for years, May is usually the hottest month of the year ie., the most sales and multiple offers driving prices up. We were going gangbusters in February and before March 24 and then we hit a bump in the road. 30 QA homes have been listed since then, but only 9 of them have sold; however, 15 more homes closed since March 24, but they were listed before the shelter in place, indicative of a slowdown. I think we are very lucky that these numbers are not a lot lower as they are in most areas of the country. My observation is that most Queen Anne buyers have solid jobs in the Tech industry, so without those companies(especially Amazon) we would see much lower numbers and declining prices. I am not seeing a large number of multiple offers driving prices above list BTW. At the moment, we have 33 homes for sale on the Hill and that number has increased in the last two weeks, a good sign. Please see the attachments if you are interested in specific home sales during this period.

I have to mention a little about financing. Since many borrowers have lost their jobs or may be laid off soon, banks have tightened up their criteria for lending. For instance, loans over $741,000(jumbo loans) are more challenging to obtain. Wells Fargo is no longer offering them unless you have investments with them. Loans below that number are government secured so they are still obtainable. The gold standard for a buyer credit score is now 760+ allowing you to get the best rate. In addition, banks are now calling employers a few days before closing to verify the continued employment prospects for the borrower. I have heard of several cases where the bank refused to fund the loan two days before closing which is very disappointing for everyone. Since most sales involve financing, this adds an extra wrinkle in the process and gives more emphasis to the adage “It’s never over until it closes”.

I’m going out on a limb here and predicting that we will not see significant reductions in home values. We had very strong sales before Covid-19 hit, and I think that will resume as we move through the next few months. Below is a video to our Windermere economist discussing his take on that subject.  

Incidentally, the home that sold for most over list in the last 30 days was 3423 13th West, listed for $965,000 and sold for $1.045M. It was a renovated smaller home with 3 bedrooms, two baths and large backyard.

And that’s the way Steve sees it…

Be careful and safe!

Posted on May 13, 2020 at 7:40 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

Prepare Your Home Before Opening It Up to an Aging Loved One

According to the Institute on Aging, the majority of older adults in need of long-term care rely on their family and friends. Moving a loved one into your home is a great way to ensure they’re receiving all the care and support they need, and it cuts the cost of housing. So, make sure your home is ready for your loved one by following the steps below.

Give Your Senior His or Her Own Space

Once a decision is made to move your loved one into your home, make sure he has plenty of room to make himself at home. If that means you’ll be giving up an office or craft room, clean every bit of you out of there. Everyone deserves their own space, and you don’t want him to feel as if he’s invading your personal space.

While you clear his space of your belongings, take the opportunity to declutter your entire home. Getting rid of junk and unnecessary items will open up your home and make it more accessible for seniors. The time it takes to clean the home will be cut back, too. Less stuff equals less dusting, and a cleaner home prevents sickness in seniors caused by bad bacteria.

Feel free to periodically remove junk and unwanted furniture or belongings from your home and your loved one’s room since seniors sometimes are resistant to tossing stuff, but always talk to him about it first. Create a space your roommate can make his own, and declutter your home to improve on many aspects of life for everyone living there. Before the move, schedule a deep clean after the junk removal company drops by.

If you don’t have room in your home for another bedroom but have a garage that’s mostly unused, you could always transform that space into a habitable area for your senior loved one. However, this is certainly an expensive endeavor, so it’s important to set aside some room in your budget to pull it all together. On average, you’ll spend around $13,141 to convert a garage into a livable space, but that number can jump to as high as $50,000 if you want to change it into a full-blown apartment or guest house.

Senior Proof Your Home

Ensure the rest of your home is just as accessible and friendly to make your loved one feel at home and reduce the risk of injury. Depending on your senior’s mobility and specific needs, there are changes and updates big and small you can make to improve their time in your home.

From DIY senior-proofing to extensive redesigns, here are some changes you can make:

  • Install ramps where any steps are located throughout the home (an entryway ramp will typically run you $1,000 to $2,800 for installation)
  • Repair any uneven surfaces outside and inside
  • Install rails and grab bars near ramps, stairs, and bathrooms
  • Swap out slick flooring for a non-slip alternative
  • Install lighting in dark hallways
  • Secure rugs and mats
  • Add a seat to your shower or install a step-in tub
  • Lower cabinets throughout home
  • Replace door knobs with levers
  • Invest in arthritic-friendly utensils

Make as many modifications as you can to cut back on costs, but bring in the professionals for things outside your comfort zone. A handyman can tackle most of what you need and might be able to offer other suggestions as well.

Costs to update your home to a senior-friendly version can quickly add up. So, if you find that more needs to be done to keep your loved one safe at home, start looking online for additional funding through grants and programs that will lessen the financial burden of any major renovations. The well-being of your loved one is worth it.

Be Present and Prepare Yourself Mentally

It’s important to remember how living together can change your relationship. You will be sharing your home, and your loved one will feel at first as though they have given up their own.

As your loved one continues aging, they will need more support from you at all hours of the day, so know that a routine can come in handy but will change periodically. The best way to prepare your home is by preparing for what’s to come. No one knows for sure what will happen, but you could develop a connection with your loved one that you never had before.

Image via Pixabay

Posted on May 4, 2020 at 10:49 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , ,

The Best Advice Does Not Mean Perfect Advice

USA, Texas, Austin

The angst caused by the coronavirus has most people on edge regarding both their health and financial situations. It’s at times like these when we want exact information about anything we’re doing – even the correct protocol for grocery shopping. That information brings knowledge, and this gives us a sense of relief and comfort.

 

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home today, the same need for information is very real. But, because it’s such a big step in our lives, that desire for clear information is even greater in the homebuying or selling process. Given the current level of overall anxiety, we want that advice to be truly perfect. The challenge is, no one can give you “perfect” advice. Experts can, however, give you the best advice possible.

Let’s say you need an attorney, so you seek out an expert in the type of law required for your case. When you go to her office, she won’t immediately tell you how the case is going to end or how the judge or jury will rule. If she could, that would be perfect advice. What a good attorney can do, however, is discuss with you the most effective strategies you can take. She may recommend one or two approaches she believes will be best for your case.

She’ll then leave you to make the decision on which option you want to pursue. Once you decide, she can help you put a plan together based on the facts at hand. She’ll help you achieve the best possible resolution and make whatever modifications in the strategy are necessary to guarantee that outcome. That’s an example of the best advice possible.

The role of a real estate professional is just like the role of the lawyer. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen throughout the transaction – especially in this market.

An agent can, however, give you the best advice possible based on the information and situation at hand, guiding you through the process to help you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. An agent will get you the best offer available. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect to make sure you get the best advice possible.

SOURCE: Keeping Current Matters

Posted on April 28, 2020 at 10:38 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Are You A Homeowner Seeking Forbearance On Your Mortgage? Watch Out For These Red Flags.

Homeowners have access to assistance with their mortgage if they’ve encountered financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

These are the questions to ask if you apply for mortgage assistance

Homeowners are asking for breaks on their mortgage payments in droves, as millions of Americans face the prospect of unemployment or reduced income because of the coronanvirus pandemic. But requesting forbearance on your mortgage isn’t foolproof.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act stimulus package requires servicers to provide forbearance — a temporary postponement of payments — to any homeowner with a federally-backed mortgage. Americans with other mortgages may also be able to receive forbearance at their servicers’ discretion.

Requests for forbearance have poured in. Forbearance requests grew by 1,896% between March 16 and March 30, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, a trade group that represents the mortgage industry. And before that, forbearance requests had increased some 1,270% between March 2 and March 16.

As consumers have rushed to call their servicer in search of assistance, call centers have been overwhelmed, leading to longer wait times to speak with a representative.

“If you are eligible for this and you need the help, take full advantage of the program,” said Rick Sharga, a mortgage industry veteran and founder of CJ Patrick Company, a real-estate consulting firm. “But similarly, if you don’t need the help, and if you can pay your mortgage, don’t try and game the system and make it harder for people who really do need the benefits to access.”

For those who have yet to get a forbearance agreement in place, here’s what you need to know:

‘Forbearance is not forgiveness’

To be clear, mortgage borrowers will still need to pay off their loan eventually if they receive forbearance.

“Forbearance is not forgiveness,” said Karan Kaul, a research associate at the Urban Institute, a left-of-center nonprofit policy group. “You still owe the money that you were paying, it’s just that there’s a temporary pause on making your monthly payments.”

‘Forbearance is not forgiveness. You still owe the money that you were paying, it’s just that there’s a temporary pause on making your monthly payments.’

— Karan Kaul, a research associate at the Urban Institute

Under a forbearance agreement, a borrower can pause payments entirely or make reduced payments on their mortgage. Homeowners with federally-backed mortgages are eligible for up to 180 days of forbearance initially under the CARES Act. At that point, if they’re still facing financial difficulty, they can request an extension of up to another 180 days of forbearance.

The provisions in the stimulus package stipulate that during the forbearance period, mortgage servicers cannot make negative reports about the borrower in question to credit bureaus, including the three main ones, Experian EXPGY, -1.44% , Equifax EFX, -2.08% and TransUnion TRU, -3.34% . Borrowers also will not owe any late fees or penalties if they are granted forbearance.

You need to know who your servicer is

Struggling homeowners won’t automatically receive forbearance. You need to request it from your servicer.

Mortgage servicers are the companies who receive your monthly payments. A homeowner’s mortgage servicer isn’t necessarily the same as their lender — many lenders sell the servicing rights for mortgages to other companies.

The first step to figure out who your servicer is would be to check your mortgage statement. If for some reason the information isn’t there, you can look it up by searching the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems website. Alternatively, you can check with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, if your loan is backed by one of them.

How do you know if you qualify?

To qualify for forbearance, a borrower must have a mortgage backed by one of the following federal agencies:

• Fannie Mae

• Freddie Mac

• The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Borrowers should avoid calling their servicers to find out if they’re eligible, Sharga said.

“Find out what you can before you try and reach your mortgage servicer, because they are overwhelmed with call volume right now,” Sharga said.

Fannie Mae FNMA, -3.01% and Freddie Mac FMCC, -4.13% both have websites where you can check whether your loan is backed by one of them. You can access those websites here and here. Almost half of all mortgages in the U.S. are backed by Fannie and Freddie.

To find out if your loan is backed by the FHA, check the original closing documents or your most recent mortgage statement. If you pay for FHA Insurance, then that agency is backing your loan. Alternatively, your closing documents should include a HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) statement and a 13-digit HUD number.

Because the VA and USDA loan programs target specific borrowers, those borrowers should already know if they have loans backed by those agencies. In the event you are still unsure, you can call your servicer.

Those who aren’t eligible aren’t necessarily out of luck, though. Servicers for non-federally-backed mortgages may still be willing to provide forbearance to borrowers facing financial trouble right now.

Also see:More than half of renters say they lost jobs due to coronavirus: ‘They could face housing situations that spiral out of control’

Be prepared to answer some questions

You don’t need to provide documentation to prove your financial hardship at this time, but your servicer may have some questions to determine how much assistance they will offer you.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests being prepared to answer the following:

• Why you can’t make your payments?

• Is the problem you are facing temporary or permanent?

• What is the current state of your income, expenses and other assets, including money in the bank?

• Are you a service member with permanent change of station orders?

“Consumers should indicate they have had a hardship due to COVID-19 and ask about their forbearance options with the company servicing the mortgage loan,” said Chris Diamond, director of financial products at online mortgage lender Better.com. “They should ask how long of a forbearance they can qualify for as well as what their options are at the end of that forbearance period.”

Get your forbearance agreement in writing

The CFPB stresses that any borrower who has received a reprieve on mortgage payments should get their agreement in writing.

“Once you’re able to secure forbearance or another mortgage relief option, ask your servicer to provide written documentation that confirms the details of your agreement and that you’re clear on what the terms are,” the agency said on its website.

Having the agreement in writing will protect you if there are errors in your mortgage statement or your credit report.

Watch out for balloon payments

After a borrower has secured a forbearance agreement from their servicer, they should discuss repayment options.

“You don’t want a surprise like finding out that six months of deferred loan payments are all due immediately upon the end of the forbearance,” Sharga said. “Most people simply won’t have six months’ worth of mortgage payments available.”

Some borrowers have expressed concerns after being offered a balloon payment option like the one Sharga described. With a balloon payment, a borrower would pay back the entire amount owed for the forbearance period at once.

While a lender may offer a balloon payment as an option, there is no mandate that a borrower must repay in this manner, Kaul said.

Read more:America’s housing market is showing the first signs of trouble from the coronavirus pandemic

Homeowners can and should aim to negotiate the best possible repayment options for them. “All those terms are negotiable,” Sharga said. “Be diligent, be steadfast and try and stand your ground.”

Beyond a balloon payment, servicers may offer to extend the term of the mortgage and tack on the missed payments at the end, so a 30-year mortgage would be extended by 4 months if that’s how much forbearance a borrower received.

There is no mandate that a borrower must repay what they owe in missed payments in one balloon payment after forbearance.

Alternatively, a borrower may also be offered the option to amortize the balance they owe over the life of the loan. This means they would repay a portion of the balance owed in addition to their usual monthly payments.

A borrower can request information on who owns their mortgage note, since the owner might be able to provide more relief options. Servicers must respond to these requests within 10 business days, said Andrea Bopp Stark, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

“If the servicer does not respond, the borrower should send another letter and seek legal assistance,” Bopp Stark said. “The servicer could be held liable for actual damages and up to $2,000 statutory damages for a failure to respond.”

If you’re still in financial trouble after forbearance, consider a loan modification

It’s too soon to tell whether 12 months of forbearance will be enough assistance for those who are among the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in recent weeks.

“The most beneficial option if the borrower might be out of work or impacted for an extended period is to request to modify the loan at the end of forbearance,” Diamond said.

Unlike forbearance, a loan modification involves a permanent change to the details of the mortgage. This can include adjusting the interest rate, extending the duration of the loan or deferring the amount owed until the end of the loan as a separate lien.

A servicer will determine whether or not a borrower qualifies for the modification.

SOURCE: MarketWatch

 

Posted on April 28, 2020 at 7:34 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

6 HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS TO TACKLE IF YOU’RE STUCK AT HOME PRACTICING SOCIAL DISTANCING

From the simplest updates to sensational additions, these projects can keep you busy, enhance your curb appeal, and give you more ways to enjoy your home when warmer weather arrives.

1. Install a new mailbox

The simplest and easiest update of all, installing a new (or updating an old) mailbox can add a pop of personality and amp up your curb appeal, where first impressions really count!

Consider painting your mailbox a new color, planting flowers around the base, or installing a smart mailbox to protect your deliveries.

2. Update your address display

Another quick and easy project, updating your address can add flair to your front door. This article from realtor.com offers plenty of crafty and creative ways to display your house numbers.

If you have an HOA, it’s a good idea to check with them first to know what (if any) limitations you might have.

3. Add a new railing to your porch

If your front porch is looking a little ho-hum or drab, a new railing can make a world of difference. For a natural feel, consider a classic wood-tone railing for a natural feel, or add a pop of visual interest with a colored railing. If you’re looking for more, check out the Chippendale railing (it’s currently a hot trend on HGTV).

4. Stain your deck

if your deck is looking a little shabby, one easy improvement is to stain it—to either change the color or just accentuate the wood grain. Staining is also good for your deck, and many builders recommend staining or sealing once a year.

If you don’t yet have a deck, building one could be a great new project to tackle before summer arrives. Plus, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report, a new wooden deck will net you a 69% return on investment when you decide to sell.

5. Build a fire pit

Backyard fire pits are perfect for adding a cozy ambiance to your yard, and are certain to be a highlight of a weekend gathering (especially when you bust out those marshmallows).

This guide from realtor.com is a great resource if you want to DIY your new fire pit.

6. Upgrade your garden

Now’s the time to start planning your planting! Consider skipping the typical tulips or daisies, and investigate other greenery. Adding edible plants is a smart way to save money and indulge in the farm-to-table dining trend. Or you can build a butterfly garden, which is good for the environment. (Plus, what’s more beautiful than seeing butterflies flit around your yard?)

This article was first published on realtor.com by Jillian Pretzel.

Posted on April 23, 2020 at 12:18 am
Stephen Hicks | Category: Homeowner, Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update

Every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market.

Update #1 – 3/23/2020

Update #2 – 3/30/2020

This week he discusses what it really means for the economy and housing to be in a COVID-19 induced recession (hint: it’s not all bad news).

Update #3 – 4/6/2020

In the latest episode of “Mondays with Matthew”, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner dives into part one of his two-part series analyzing the mortgage market. Today’s focus is on the substantial impact COVID-19 has had on jumbo mortgages. Check back next week when he’ll discuss conventional mortgages and provide his latest interest rate forecast.

Update #4 – 4/13/2020

This week on “Mondays with Matthew” Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner discusses the impact of COVID-19 on 30-year-mortgages and gives an updated 2020 interest rate forecast.

Update #5 – 4/13/2020

This week on “Mondays with Matthew” Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner analyzes the past two decades of the new home construction market and then discusses his predictions for this segment of the market going forward.

 

Posted on April 21, 2020 at 10:11 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News, Monday's with Matthew | Tagged , , , , ,

THE GARDNER REPORT – FIRST QUARTER 2020

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please reach out.

A MESSAGE FROM MATTHEW GARDNER

Needless to say, any discussion about the U.S. economy, state economy, or housing markets in the first quarter of this year is almost meaningless given events surrounding the COVID-19 virus.

Although you will see below data regarding housing activity in the region, many markets came close to halting transactions in March and many remain in some level of paralysis. As such, drawing conclusions from the data is almost a futile effort. I would say, though, it is my belief that the national and state housing markets were in good shape before the virus hit and will be in good shape again, once we come out on the other side. In a similar fashion, I anticipate the national and regional economies will start to thaw, and that many of the jobs lost will return with relative speed. Of course, all of these statements are wholly dependent on the country seeing a peak in new infections in the relatively near future. I stand by my contention that the housing market will survive the current economic crisis and it is likely we will resume a more normalized pattern of home sales in the second half of the year.

HOME SALES

  • There were 13,378 home sales during the first quarter of 2020, a drop of only 0.2% from the same period in 2019, but 27% lower than in the final quarter of 2019.
  • The number of homes for sale was 32% lower than a year ago and was also 32% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • When compared to the first quarter of 2019 sales rose in eight counties and dropped in seven. The greatest growth was in Cowlitz and Lewis counties. The largest declines were in Island and Snohomish counties.
  • Pending sales — a good gauge of future closings — rose 0.7% compared to the final quarter of 2019. We can be assured that closed sales in the second quarter of this year will be lower due to COVID-19.

HOME PRICES

  • Home-price growth in Western Washington rose compared to a year ago, with average prices up 8.7%. The average sale price in Western Washington was $524,392, and prices were 0.4% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except San Juan, which is prone to significant swings in average sale prices because of its size.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Clallam County, where home prices were up 21.7%. Double-digit price increases were also seen in Kitsap, Skagit, Mason, Thurston, and Snohomish counties.
  • Affordability issues remain and, even given the current uncertain environment, I believe it is highly unlikely we will see any form of downward price pressures once the region reopens.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter of this year dropped seven days compared to the first quarter of 2019.
  • Pierce County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 29 days to sell. All but two counties — San Juan and Clallam — saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 54 days to sell a home in the first quarter of the year — up 8 days compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.
  • Market time remains below the long-term average across the region. This is likely to change, albeit temporarily, in the second quarter due to COVID-19.

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Given the current economic environment, I have decided to freeze the needle in place until we see a restart in the economy. Once we have resumed “normal” economic activity, there will be a period of adjustment with regard to housing. Therefore, it is appropriate to wait until later in the year to offer my opinions about any quantitative impact the pandemic will have on the housing market.

Posted on April 19, 2020 at 7:29 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News, Matthew Gardner Report | Tagged , , , , ,