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 , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , ,

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 , , , , , ,

Your Queen Anne Market Report for April 2020

Strange times. As I stated in last month’s newsletter, the real estate market was showing earlier than normal signs of a coming spring market that was going to be gangbusters. That was true until March 25 when non-essential services were ordered to stay at home. As a small personal example, I sold a home in Magnolia on March 12 that was listed for $975K. There were nine offers on it with nine pre-inspections. My clients and I were very fortunate to have been the winner at a sold price of $1.205M. We were also very lucky that we were able to fast track the closing to March 27th because since then, several lenders, led by Wells Fargo, have temporarily suspended granting “jumbo” loans(loans over $741K that are not government secured). These larger loans, if available, face tightening qualifications for buyers. Until that restriction is lifted, it is going to have a negative effect on Queen Anne listings since nearly all of the homes on the Hill are well over $1M. Out of curiosity, I just searched SFD on QA that have sold since being listed after March 24.There were two. Normally by now, we would be in a very active spring market with homes up to $1.5M flying off the shelves and being driven up in price. As an  example, of the 15 homes that have sold in the last 30 days since my last report, 8 have sold for more than list, but these all went into contract before March 25th. Incidentally, the winner in that group for this month was 3603 13thWest, listed for $1.295M and sold for $1.615M! Until the restrictions, the average sold price/square foot was steadily rising and reached $575.00.

My prediction for where the market will be, once we have people going back to work, is that the pent up demand for QA homes will be very strong and when we get listings coming on the market(that I suspect are currently being held off the market) we will have a gangbusters market once again. My best guess is that will start to happen in mid-June. I don’t see our economy getting back to strength until October or so. Because of low interest rates continuing as well as low inventory, I do not see prices coming down. I do see only vacant homes come onto the market until the all-clear is issued since most sellers will not want strangers in their home if they are still  living there. Actually , for the past year, about 65% of the homes coming on market have been vacant anyway(my observation looking at the data over the last year).

 

QA Pendings and Solds for April 2020 Report the active and sold data for the preceding 30 days as usual and have added a link to Bill Gates discussing the pandemic and what he sees needs to happen before we are in the clear.

 

And that’s the way Steve sees it…

Stay safe

Posted on April 16, 2020 at 12:14 am
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

A Senior’s Guide to Aging in Place Safely

For many seniors, finding a way to safely age in place — or stay at home for as long as possible — can be difficult. There may be health or mobility issues involved, or the home may not be a viable living space anymore due to the presence of stairs or because it’s too large. For those who don’t have long-term care planned, it can be a scary and stressful thing to consider not living at home anymore, so it’s important to find ways to modify your home that will make it safe and accessible.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can do this, especially if your home is one level. In some cases, you may need the help of a contractor who can come in and do an assessment of your home. While this is a pricier option, you may be eligible for assistance with funding. Look online for information specific to your state, or start here.

Go room to room

Assessing your home for safety issues is important, so take a look around with a discerning eye. Think about not only your present needs, but your future ones as well. If you have health issues at the moment, consider how they will affect you four or five years from now. Will you have trouble using the stairs? Will you be able to use the bathroom safely? Walk through your home and look for potential issues so that you can get a feeling for what needs to be done and how to create a budget.

Eliminate the potential for injuries

Eliminating the potential for injury is imperative. According to the National Council on Aging, roughly one in every four Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, and many of those falls occur in the home. The bathroom is one of the rooms with the most potential for injuries because slick surfaces and stepping in and out of the bathtub can lead to a serious fall. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make the bathroom safer, from adding grab bars and a shower seat to refinishing the tub with non-slip flooring. You could even remove the bathtub altogether and install a zero-entry shower.

Look for an accessible home

If staying in your house isn’t an option, it’s important to look in your area for accessible homes that you can afford. These are homes that already have a senior’s specific needs in mind, from open floor plans that allow a wheelchair to move about unrestricted, to wider doorways and lower countertops. Remember that in many cases, location is just as important as the home itself.

Use color and light to your advantage

Color and lighting can make a huge impact in your home, especially if you or your spouse have vision issues. You might paint the wall behind the toilet and sink a contrasting color than the rest of your bathroom, for instance, or add new lighting to pantries, closets, and hallways to help prevent stumbles and allow you to find things more easily.

Finding ways to make your home safer will not only benefit you now, but also for years to come. Aging in place is important to many seniors who don’t have a plan for long-term care or who want to spend their post-retirement years at home, but it’s imperative to make sure your house is up to par. Consider all your options and talk to your loved ones about your plans so you can garner their support. With a good plan and the right help, you can make sure that your golden years are everything you hoped they would be.

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 8:13 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Homeowner, Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , ,

Stay Home, Stay Healthy – The Impact on Real Estate

Posted on March 26, 2020 at 9:07 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The Life Expectancy of Your Home

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

Every component of your home has a lifespan. Common questions asked by homeowners include when to replace the flooring or how long to expect their siding to last. This information can help when budgeting for improvements or deciding between repairing and replacing when the time comes. We’re all familiar with the cliché: They just don’t build things like they used to. And while this may be true when it comes to brick siding or slate roofing, lifespans of other household components have increased in recent years. Here are the life expectancies of the most common household items (courtesy of NAHB):

 

Appliances: Among major appliances, gas ranges have a longer life expectancy than things like dishwashers and microwaves.

Appliance

Life Expectancy

 Oil-burning Furnace  20 years
 Heat Pump  16 years
 Gas Range  15 years
 Electric range / Refrigerator / Dryer  13 years
 Electric / Gas Water Heater  10 years
 Garbage disposal  10 years
 Dishwasher / Microwave / Mini Fridge   9 years

 

Kitchen & Bath: When choosing your countertops, factor in the life expectancies of different materials.

Kitchen / Bath Item

Life Expectancy

 Wood / Tile / Natural Stone Countertops  Lifetime
 Toilets (parts will require maintenance)  50+ years
 Stainless steel sink  30+ years
 Bathroom faucet  20+ years
 Cultured marble countertops  20 years
 Kitchen faucet  15 years

 

Flooring: If you’re looking for longevity, wood floors are the way to go. Certain rooms in your home will be better suited for carpeting, but you can expect they’ll need replacing within a decade.

Flooring Material

Life Expectancy

 Wood / Bamboo  Lifetime
 Brick Pavers / Granite / Marble / Slate  100+ years
 Linoleum  25 years
 Carpet  8 – 10 years

 

Siding & Roofing: When choosing roofing and siding for your home, climate and maintenance level factor into the life expectancy of the material. However, brick siding and slate roofing are known to be dependable for decades.

Siding / Roofing Material 

Life Expectancy

 Brick Siding  100+ years
 Aluminum Siding  80 years
 Slate / Tile Roofing  50+ years
 Wood Shingles  30 years
 Wood Siding  10 – 100 years (depending on climate)

 

Are extended warranties warranted?

Extended warranties, also known as service contracts or service agreements, are sold for all types of household items from appliances to electronics. They cover service calls and repairs for a specified time beyond the manufacturer’s standard warranty.

You will have to consider whether the cost is worth it to you. For some, it brings a much-needed peace of mind when making such a large purchase. Also consider if the cost outweighs the value of the item. In some cases it may be less expensive to replace a broken appliance than to pay for insurance or a warranty.

Posted on March 12, 2020 at 10:35 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Homeowner | Tagged , , , , , ,

Your Queen Anne Market Report for March 2020

“As the economic storm clouds on the horizon in early 2019 cleared up, we saw buyers return in droves, taking advantage of ultra-low mortgage rates,” said Zillow economist Jeff Tucker. “Our first look at 2020 data suggests that we could see the most competitive home shopping season in years, as buyers are already competing over near-record-low numbers of homes for sale. That is likely to mean more multiple-offer situations, and that buyers will have a harder time finding the perfect fit for their families. The good news for buyers is that low mortgage rates are helping to make home ownership more affordable, and home builders are responding to the hot housing market by starting construction on more homes than at any time since 2007.”-Zillow

I could not agree more and I liked the way the above was concisely written so I thought I would pass it along. So far this year, what I am seeing on the Hill is much more demand than last year at this time. While January and February are always low inventory months, this year the demand is much greater and as a result, I think this spring is going to be gangbusters again as I said in last month’s newsletter. Homes priced under $1M sell especially fast. As an example, 1916 11th West, a busy section of 11th going down to 15th West, listed for $900K, sold in less than a week. It had 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, unfinished basement, no yard and the back of the home was next to a new condominium project. It was so close that if you wanted to borrow some mustard from the neighbor, you wouldn’t even have to leave your home to do it.

Insanely low interest rates are a major part of this demand as they are at their lowest in 50 years. This is mainly due to the stock market suffering from corona virus fears and investment money flowing into 10-year Treasuries for safety. I see these low interest rates staying around probably through the rest of the year. Mortgage brokers are swamped with requests for re-financing which is what happens when rates go this low. Also, first time buyers are getting into the market now with larger numbers because rents are not going down and at a certain point, they can buy a home for not much more per month than the rent they are currently paying (if they have the down payment). In short, I am predicting that this spring will be crazier than last spring, so great for sellers (and buyers if they can get into contract on a home).

I have posted a video below that shows you a short video on the current Seattle market from our Windermere economist, Matthew Gardener. He addresses the virus outbreak and his prediction on how it will affect our market. 

The winner of last month’s home that went most over list price is 2900 1st North, a beautiful Craftsman, listed for $1.395M and selling for $1.685M! The demand is back in force!

Read the full report by clicking here.

And that’s the way Steve sees it…

Make it a great month and stay healthy!

Posted on March 11, 2020 at 10:35 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

Your Queen Anne Market Report for February 2020

Well we have gone from only 5 active listings last month to 15 currently. Looking at the last 30 days of sales on the Hill, it looks like we are going to have another great spring market due to how quickly new listings coming on the market have gone into escrow. We have had 10 sales in the last 30 days with an average market time of only 8 days. This certainly demonstrates that demand is alive and well for Queen Anne homes. The low inventory is the only factor that is keeping the sales from going even higher. The most popular price ranges for these sales is under $1.5M and especially active is anything listed under $1M. This makes sense of course because there are more buyers in this range than in price ranges over $1.5M. You can look at the data in the attachment if you like.

The national and local economy is very strong which is also underpinning this activity. Interest rates have been declining for the last six weeks or so due to all the money going into safe haven 10 year Treasury bonds. The more money that flows into those bonds, the lower their yields and consequently mortgage rates which stand around 3.5% (for a conforming loan amount for buyers with at least a 760 credit score and sufficient income). As long as tariffs are an issue and the corona virus, I see rates staying at this level. With rents skyrocketing and with mortgage rates this low, more younger buyers are moving into the market place instead of renting. The problem is usually lack of down payment, so I have started to see some banks offering zero down loans again. I do hope we have learned from our mistakes in 2007! Frankly, looking at the big picture, as long as unemployment stays low(3.6%), inflation remains under control(1.6%) and interest rates stay low, business and employment will continue to be profitable and consumers will continue to spend money which accounts for about 67% of our national GDP. As a small example of how optimistic I am about this spring, the home that sold for the most over list price in the last 30 days was 112 West McGraw, listed for $1.15M and selling for $1.345M! This is very positive considering it was in the dead of winter and on a very busy street!

As an side, I want you to know that this year, I will be offering a $2,000 credit towards staging, plus a custom movie and colorized floor plans in addition to professional high resolution photos for any new listings. I am trying to give you as much value as possible to help you sell your home for maximum dollar.

And that’s the way Steve sees it…
Make it a great month!

Click here to view the full report

Posted on February 17, 2020 at 11:40 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Market News | Tagged , , , , , ,

Working with a Local Real Estate Professional Makes All the Difference

Some Highlights:

  • Choosing the right real estate professional is one of the most impactful decisions you can make in your home buying or selling process.
  • A real estate professional can explain current market conditions and break down what they will mean to you and your family.
  • If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2020, make sure to work with someone like me who has the experience to answer all of your questions about pricing, contracts, and negotiations.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Posted on February 11, 2020 at 7:24 pm
Stephen Hicks | Category: Homebuyer, Selling | Tagged , , , , ,