Will Seattle Grow Up to Be a Futuristic City?

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Architects are often referred to as optimists. They envision a city’s future and plan for it. That kind of optimism is incredibly important for the Seattle area real estate market as the city works to accommodate widespread growth. According to New York architect Vishaan Chakrabarti, who recently spoke at the Downtown Seattle Association’s annual breakfast meeting, Seattle’s conditions are perfect for becoming a futuristic city.

What is a futuristic city?

Chakrabarti describes this type of city as dense, walkable, and mixed. It uses less land and has fewer old-school office parks. It encourages people to live in more compact circumstances and has a more dense way of living that is largely rail-based. It fosters relationships and innovation. It calls for massive investment in infrastructure to support cities via transportation nodes, safety, parks, cultural activities, and affordable housing.

Based on this description it seems as if Seattle is already well on its way to becoming a futuristic city. For example, an article from Curbed reported the Housing and Livability Agenda (HALA) will rezone Seattle neighborhoods to be taller near Light Rail stations and gradually return to conventional houses as the distance to the stations increases. This change is expected to affect the density of the entire region, including the Eastside.

However, considering the rate of growth in the region it has taken quite a while to get to this point. Other trends characteristic of a futuristic city, like compact housing (i.e. tiny houses), have been on Seattle’s radar for a while, but when they first appeared it seemed as if people sought them out due to preference or in the pursuit of personal fulfillment. Now we are looking to this city landscape with more urgency, and as a much-needed solution and way of sustaining our city.

Why does Seattle need to be a futuristic city?

According to Chakrabarti the answer to this question is the answer to most questions pertaining to Seattle’s rapid growth: Amazon.com. One year ago 245,000 people were employed in downtown Seattle. That number is now up to 265,000 and more than 25,000 of those people are Amazon employees. This is contributing to the reshaping of Seattle and surrounding areas in tangible ways – the record-number of cranes dotting our skyline, traffic congestion and longer commute times, and of course “razor thin” housing inventory.

What are the economic and social benefits?

Chakrabarti states, “As people live in denser circumstances, more innovation happens, more patent creation happens, and it is because people are running into each other, and there is serendipity as a consequence.” We are already the third most innovative state in the U.S. and third in patent activity so it would be interesting to discover how much more creation and innovation could result from a full transformation into a futuristic city.

There are also several social benefits to living in this type of urban development. Drinking and driving plummets, childhood obesity rates drop, and divorce rates go down as commute times are reduced.

There is no doubt that Seattle is growing up, and quickly. No matter what it becomes I will be happy to assist you with navigating the real estate market during the process.

New Bethlehem Project

Tuesday night meeting learning about NBP

Tuesday night meeting learning about NBP

One of the ways I give back to the community is by giving to charities that deal with homeless issues. I want all people to have a home and if I can’t sell them one or they can’t afford one, I am happy to be part of the community that reaches out to them to help them get back on their feet.

This month our Butterfly Effect group is working with one such charity in Kirkland called New Bethlehem Project. This is the first charity that serves homeless people during the day and gives them a safe place to work, play, and stay warm until the night shelter opens.

The center opened at the end of last year to provide homeless families with access to food, laundry, computers, and social services – all essential resources they may not usually have access to during the day. They also have long-term goals to alleviate the hardships homeless families face every day. New Bethlehem Project contributes towards extending operations of the overnight shelters on the Eastside and they want to build and operate a permanent, 24-hour a day, year round shelter.

Who does New Bethlehem Project serve? This is the best part. NBP serves all families without discrimination, as long as there are adults with children under 18 years old.

Read more about the amazing and important work this center does and reach out to me for information on how we can work together to continue helping homeless families in our area.

Local Market Update – March 2017

Home prices are growing faster in our region than anywhere else in the country. After a brief slowdown last month, home prices in February jumped to new record highs. The reason? The lowest number of homes for sale on record. The surge in prices came well ahead of the normal seasonal spring uptick, adding even greater urgency among buyers competing for already severely limited inventory. It remains to be seen if the predicted hike in interest rates will help moderate the market. For now, sellers are calling the shots.

Eastside

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The Eastside, always the most expensive area in King County, set a new price record in February. The median price for homes sold in February soared 12 percent to $832,000. That’s nearly $100,000 more than the same time last year. With less than one month of available inventory, this seller’s market is expected to continue for quite some time.

King County

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A recent trend of slowing price growth reversed itself in February. The number of homes for sale in King County was at its lowest point since 2000, when records first started being tracked. That is down 25 percent from a year ago. The deep shortage of inventory resulted in a sharp increase in prices. The median price of a single-family home was up 9 percent over last year to $560,000.

Seattle

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The median price of a single-family home in the city increased 5 percent over a year ago to $675,000, another all-time high. Prices here have nearly doubled over the last five years. While areas of King County outside of Seattle are more affordable, prices there are growing even faster. The median price of homes in North, Southwest and Southeast King County all increased by double-digits in February.

Snohomish County

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After a softening of price increases over the past few months, Snohomish County saw record high prices in February. The median price of a single-family home jumped 15 percent as compared to a year ago to $412,500. With less than one month of supply in the county, brokers expect prices to remain strong.

2016 Windermere Foundation Recipients

Every year, the Eastside Windermere Foundation, with representatives from each of the 12 Windermere Real Estate offices on the Eastside, comes together to select the grant recipients of the Eastside Windermere Foundation.

In 2016, we chose a record number of 19 organizations to receive grants created from the support of every Windermere Real Estate transaction from the Eastside. These grants will provide services and support for the community.

Below is a full list of the local organizations the Eastside Windermere Foundation was able to support this year.

Acres of Diamonds

Assistant League

Attain Housing

Backpack Meals

Bellevue LifeSpring

Birthday Dreams

Boys and Girls Clubs of Bellevue

Congregation for the Homeless/Valley Renewal Center

Eastside Academy

Eastside Baby Corner

Hopelink

Imagine Housing

Issaquah Community Services

Kindering

Lifewire

Mamma’s Hands

Royal Family Kids Camp

Treehouse

Youth Eastside Services

Valentine’s Day at the Gardens at Juanita Bay

V Day Blog Collage

Last month I posted about my Butterfly Effect group, which focuses on making a positive impact on our community and the world through small but meaningful acts of kindness. This month our main project was a special Valentine’s Day visit to the Gardens at Juanita Bay retirement home that allowed us to gather to spread love and joy to its residents.

Prior to the party we created handmade invitations for the seniors so they knew we were coming. Once there we provided a wonderful dessert table, flowers, socks, and a specially made Valentine’s Day card for each resident. We also had a piano player with two singers who led the residents in song. It was delightful to see guests’ happy faces.

The 48+ residents and The Butterfly Effect group raved about the event, even saying it was the best party they have had. We all agreed it was a very sweet day for one and all.

Local Market Update – February 2017

The local real estate market remains very hot with extremely low inventory and prices that are rising faster than anywhere else in the country. However, that rate of price growth appears to be cooling from last year, dropping to its slowest pace in three years. Predictions of more interest rate hikes may further limit price increases. Those considering to sell their home may want to take advantage now of this perfect storm of record-low inventory and record-high prices.

Eastside

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

Those looking to buy a home on the Eastside continue to face rising prices and strong competition for limited inventory. With less than a month’s supply of homes, properties here are getting snapped up as soon as they come on the market, and often sell for well over asking price. The median price for homes sold in January climbed 14 percent compared to a year ago to $793,000.

King County

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Click image to view full report.

Buyers scrambling to beat increasing interest rates have depleted an already record-low supply of homes. Fewer than 1,600 single-family homes were on the market in King County in January, beating December’s all-time low. The median price of a single family home was up 7 percent over last year to $525,000, but that is the cheapest home prices have been in 11 months. Time will tell whether that price moderation is an anomaly or the continuation of a trend.

Seattle

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Click image to view full report.

After months of robust increases, Seattle home prices slowed down in January. The median price of a single-family home in the city inched up 3 percent over a year ago to $635,000. Some areas of the city even saw small price drops. That should spell good news for buyers, yet razor thin inventory continues to make it a solid seller’s market.

Snohomish County

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

After months of double-digit price increases, Snohomish County may be starting to experience the same market softening as King County. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 8 percent as compared to a year ago to $410,000. Tight inventory continues to be a problem. There are 40 percent fewer homes on the market here than the same time last year.

Realtors Make A Difference at Hill Day

IMG_0163I am proud to serve on the board of the Seattle King County Realtors and as a State Representative and member of the Governmental Affairs Committee. We are constantly working to protect homeownership rights and create healthy communities. On January 19th I joined Realtors from all over Washington State for Hill Day to meet with our legislators to talk about issues facing Realtors and homeownership.

What did we talk to legislators about?

First, it is important to note we are facing one of the most tenuous sessions in history. Our lawmakers need to raise about one BILLION dollars for education – that means increased property taxes, transfer fees, and taxes are all on the table. We also discussed…

1. Opposing an increase in Service rate B&O tax. Governor Inslee proposed to increase the B&O tax rate on businesses from 1.5% to 2.5%, a whopping 66% increase.

2. Opposing a tax on income from Capital Gains. Governor Inslee has proposed a 7.9% tax on income from Capital Gains, including all real estate except single family dwellings. While most sources of retirement income would be exempt, real estate is not even though real estate is a major source of retirement or college savings for many families.

3. Supporting reforms to increase housing and land supplies. The lack of housing supply at all income levels is a significant problem throughout Washington. King County has the least affordable housing in the nation, which is contributing to the worsening homelessness issue.

4. Ensuring rural water supply for new homes. The Supreme Court’s recent Hirst decision regarding the Growth Management Act eliminates the use of small wells for new homes in many counties even though the water code and ecology’s water regulations allow for wells. Thousands of properties are unable to be built, creating financial disaster for property owners and adding to our housing shortage.

I am glad I could be part of this important event and excited to see how we can work together to further improve the lives of Washingtonians.

The Butterfly Effect

Lynn Final Banner

There are a lot of things that motivate me to be involved in our community, and one of the most important is my Butterfly Effect group. 

The Butterfly Effect is based in Kirkland, WA and was named after the concept that all small efforts have a ripple effect – essentially a simple act or kind gesture can remind people that we are thinking of them, they are important, and they also have the power to positively impact the world. I learned a long time ago that I get much more than I give by supporting these great charities and people who are doing good things in our community and world.

I want all of you to feel inspired as well, so each month I will share news of the good things we in The Butterfly Effect are doing in the community. Stay tuned and always feel free to reach out to me with questions about how you can get involved!

Local Market Update – January 2017

A record low number of houses for sale in December indicates that 2017 will continue to be a very competitive market for buyers. The good news: those who decide to take the plunge and list their home can count on getting a premium price for their property. Brokers reported that about three-fourths of the homes sold in December involved bidding wars.

Eastside

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

Strong demand driven by a booming tech economy and great schools continue to strain the already low inventory on the Eastside. It’s not unusual for a well-priced new listing to receive dozens of offers and to sell for well over asking price. With supply failing to meet demand, the median price for homes sold in December soared 19 percent to a new record high of $803,500.

King County

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

King County had only about 1,600 single-family homes on the market in December, an all-time low. With the healthy regional economy, demand remains very strong. Prices, however, appear to be moderating somewhat. The median price for a single-family home sold in December was $550,000, up 8 percent over a year ago, but unchanged from October and November. A traditional uptick in inventory this spring may help keep price increases more modest this year compared to the double-digit increases seen in 2015.

Seattle

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

According to the Case-Shiller home price index, home prices are rising faster in the Seattle metro area than in any other major region in the country. One issue is space. The city’s existing density means that virtually no new single-family homes are being built in Seattle. As new residents flood in, more people are competing for the already tight inventory. As a result, home prices are up. The median cost of a single-family home rose 6 percent from a year ago to $635,000.

Snohomish County

Click image to view full report.

Click image to view full report.

While home prices in Snohomish County are well below those of King County, the gap is closing as prices here are increasing at a faster pace than neighboring counties. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 12 percent as compared to a year ago to $400,000. Like King County, inventory is very slim, indicating a market heavily favoring sellers.

Top 5 Seattle-Area Superlatives From 2016

Happy New Year 2017 retro design with inspiring handwritten typography

2016 has been quite a year to live in the Pacific Northwest, especially if you spent some or most of it in the housing market. This year’s market was truly unique, record-breaking, and game-changing (see: Windermere’s W Collection). To close out the year here are a few of the most noteworthy Seattle-area superlatives related to real estate – and a few confirming just how lucky we are to live in this beautiful pocket of the world.

Nation’s Hottest Housing Market

Let’s get straight to the point – this year Seattle was named the hottest housing market in the nation! According to Geekwire home prices in our region rose 11 percent between September 2015 and 2016, putting us ahead of Portland for year-over-year growth.

We owe much of this recognition to our booming tech industry, which has been bringing people to the Seattle area in droves. “Droves” refers to the 86,320 residents (and counting) who moved to Greater Seattle between April 2015 and 2016, marking the region’s biggest population gain this century.

Many of these thousands of people who flocked here for tech jobs were probably also considering other tech hubs, but we were more alluring because tech salaries in the Seattle area are among the highest in the U.S. after cost of living adjustments. That means their salaries go much farther here than other tech towns, such as San Francisco, enabling them to have a better quality of life.

The Region’s Largest Property Sale

Of all of the multi-million dollar property sales in our region the largest was the 50-story Safeco Plaza in Seattle, which sold for $387 million. The buyer was a Munich-based company that had previously acquired an Amazon-occupied property in the thriving South Lake Union neighborhood.

Eastside’s Biggest Property Sale

The Seattle Times recently reported a pair of investors from the United States and China bought a major office complex in Bellevue for $202.2 million, making it the biggest transaction on the Eastside this year. The three-building, 480,000 sq. foot complex is fully leased and will be home to tenants such as BitTitan and CenturyLink.

Seattle No. 1 Choice for Foreign Investors

What’s one important thing buyers of both of these properties had in common? They were foreign investors. This year Seattle became the No. 1 choice for foreign investors after British Columbia enacted a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers in August, causing them to redirect their real estate searches to the Seattle area. To quantify this impact, as of November, Chinese money accounted for about 55 percent of all homes purchased by foreign investors in Washington.

Seattle No. 1 Place to Live If You Love Spending Time Outdoors

While this last ranking isn’t directly related to real estate, it’s definitely worth boasting about! Six Washington cities made Business Insider’s list of “25 beautiful US cities to live in if you love spending time outdoors.” Seattle topped the list and Bellevue came in at No. 5. Every day we are surrounded by the beauty of trees, mountains, and water with endless opportunities and ways to enjoy them.