2018 Windermere Eastside Kick-off

Every year over 500 brokers from Windermere offices across the Eastside gather to prepare for the new year at the annual Windermere Eastside Kick-Off Event at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Last week, several speakers shared their insights and advice to prepare our agents to better serve their clients for the 2018 housing market.

Looking Ahead: What to Expect From the 2018 Housing Market

 

Matthew Gardner, Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, shared his forecast for the 2018 housing market. Low inventory seems to be a problem stretching all the way to Ohio with many people living in their homes twice as long as past generations. Lack of skilled labor, available land and high material costs continue to make new construction an expensive option. Read more about his forecast.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Breaking Through The Noise

 

Micheal Fanning Kick Off 2018Senior Vice President Windermere Services and Ninja Instructor, Michael Fanning, brought his insights on breaking thought the mediocrity of the market place. Finding ways to bring those extra touches and using technology to your advantage can set you apart in a sea of daily distraction. Employing techniques from the Ninja Installation Train Program, Michael reminds agents that the hard things never get easier, you just get better and an average mindset will always result in a missed opportunity.

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.” – Robby Novak

Understanding Your Client’s Story

 

Tori Dabasinskas Eastside Kick Off

Licensed marriage and family therapist, Tori Dabasinskas, shared her communication strategies to help our agents better connect with their clients. Addressing techniques for authentic listening, creating more meaningful connections and responding with emotion as well as logic, Tori emphasized taking time to truly understand the “story” of each individual client. With personal empathy and active appreciation, our agents can better anticipate the needs of their clients and what can be done to better serve them.

“The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.” – Dr. Brené Brown

Law Of Attraction

 

Richard Bennion Kick OFF 2018

Executive Vice President of HomeStreet Bank, Richard Bennion, reminded our agents that every client has a story. Their hopes, dreams and challenges are opportunities to listen, be attentive and show those clients their importance. Becoming an expert who is professional, authentic, self-aware and highly competent will attract people and help build your business’ sphere of influence. Taking a long-term approach in building client relationships will result in a strong business over time.

“Always take your job seriously, never yourself.” ― David Brooks

Growth, Support and The Power of Windermere

 

Brooks Burton Kick Off 2018

Brooks Burton, Chief Operating Officer for Windermere Services Company, opened the Kick-Off by sharing some exciting changes agents can look forward to in 2018. They included refreshed branding, offering more social media resources, improving technology and more resources based on agent feedback. Brooks also touched on the success of the Windermere Foundation which has raised over $35 million for local organizations since its inception in 1989 as well as how funds are allocated among those organizations.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

Strategy and Determination

 

David Wasielewski Kick Off 2018

David Wasielewski, the Managing Partner of Northwest Din Tai Fung Partners, spoke about bringing the popular Chinese restaurant brand to the Seattle area. David shared that as a previous marketing veteran at Intel Corporation he had no restaurant experience prior to starting his own business. David’s approach to success? Strategy, action, and pacing himself. He flew to California for many weekends to work at another Chinese restaurant owned by Din Tai Fung’s owners without pay to prove his interest and dedication to his mission. Fast forward to today and he owns four restaurants in the Seattle region and his first Bellevue Square location has won the highest gross sales award from Kemper Development Company in each of the five years he has operated.

“Strategy is pattern is a stream of decisions” – Henry Mintzberg

Getting in the Right Mindset: Pursuing Excellence

 

Tracie Ruiz Conforto Kick OFF

Tracie Ruiz Conforto, Olympic Medalist and Synchronized Swimmer of the Century, inspired us to find and pursue our passions, just as she did with swimming at the age of nine. She advised agents on three ways to achieve excellence – find your passion, use your competition to improve your skills, and surround yourself with a team who will support you. Tracie showed us that anything is possible when you combine passion, discipline, competition, and teamwork.

“Pursuing excellence means investing more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.” – Winston Churchill

The Windermere Eastside Kick-off was an inspiring and motivational event. Our brokers are more prepared than ever to provide valuable service for their clients and face the year ahead. We are excited to put this knowledge to good use as we help you navigate your real estate journey in 2018!

This post originally appeared on the Windermere Eastside Blog.

The Gardner Report – Fourth Quarter 2017

Economic Overview

The Washington State economy added 104,600 new jobs over the past 12 months. This impressive growth rate of 3.1% is well above the national rate of 1.4%. Interestingly, the slowdown we saw through most of the second half of the year reversed in the fall, and we actually saw more robust employment growth.

Growth continues to be broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than aerospace due to a slowdown at Boeing.

With job creation, the state unemployment rate stands at 4.5%, essentially indicating that the state is close to full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report show unemployment rates below where they were a year ago.

I expect continued economic expansion in Washington State in 2018; however, we are likely to see a modest slowdown, which is to be expected at this stage in the business cycle.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 22,325 home sales during the final quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.7% over the same period in 2016.
  • Jefferson County saw sales rise the fastest relative to fourth quarter of 2016, with an impressive increase of 22.8%. Six other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. A lack of listings impacted King and Skagit Counties, where sales fell.
  • Housing inventory was down by 16.2% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, and down by 17.3% from last quarter. This isn’t terribly surprising since we typically see a slowdown as we enter the winter months. Pending home sales rose by 4.1% over the third quarter of 2017, suggesting that closings in the first quarter of 2018 should be robust.
  • The takeaway from this data is that listings remain at very low levels and, unfortunately, I don’t expect to see substantial increases in 2018. The region is likely to remain somewhat starved for inventory for the foreseeable future.

Annual change in home sales

Home Prices

  • Because of low inventory in the fall of 2017, price growth was well above long-term averages across Western Washington. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12% to $466,726.
  • Economic vitality in the region is leading to a demand for housing that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of newly constructed homes—something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. This means home prices will rise at above-average rates in 2018.
  • Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County, where home prices were 18.8% higher than a year ago. Eleven additional counties experienced double-digit price growth as well.
  • Mortgage rates in the fourth quarter rose very modestly, but remained below the four percent barrier. Although I anticipate rates will rise in 2018, the pace will be modest. My current forecast predicts an average 30-year rate of 4.4% in 2018—still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the fourth quarter dropped by eight days, compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 21 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain static relative to the same period a year ago.
  • Last quarter, it took an average of 50 days to sell a home. This is down from 58 days in the fourth quarter of 2016, but up by 7 days from the third quarter of 2017.
  • As mentioned earlier in this report, I expect inventory levels to rise modestly, which should lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. That said, with homes selling in less than two months on average, the market is nowhere near balanced.

Average Days On Market

Conclusions

Market SpeedometerThis speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the fourth quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as third quarter. Price growth remains robust even as sales activity slowed. 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for housing.

 

 

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

 

 

 

 

 

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Local Market Update – January 2018

2017 closed out the year with historically low inventory and record-breaking price gains. A strong local economy and brisk population growth has helped fuel a steep discrepancy between supply and demand. As long as this imbalance remains, 2018 is on track to remain a very strong seller’s market.

Eastside

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Defying the usual winter slow-down in home prices, December broke new records on the Eastside. The median price of a single-family home soared 17 percent over a year ago to $938,240 – an all-time high for the region. Appreciation in higher-end areas, like West Bellevue and Mercer Island, topped 20 percent. Homeowners, especially those considering downsizing, may want to take advantage of the sharp increase in equity.

King County

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King County recorded the lowest inventory since records began in 2000, and demand just keeps rising. As a result, the price of a single-family home jumped 15.5 percent over the same time last year to $635,000. Those looking buy a condo as a more affordable option were out of luck. The median price tag of $402,000 is a relative bargain when compared to a single-family home, but there are only about 200 condos on the market, another record low.

Seattle

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While below the high point last summer, the median price of a home in Seattle jumped 14 percent year over year to $725,000. Supply and demand is again the culprit. There are just two weeks of available inventory on the market. Not only are homes here selling quickly, but fewer people are putting their homes up for sale. Most economists are predicting a moderate slowdown in cost increases here in 2018, with prices still rising but not as sharply as they did in 2017.

Snohomish County

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Prices in Snohomish County continue to rise at a rapid pace. The median price of a single-family home here grew 12.5 percent from a year ago to $449,950. With less than a month of available inventory, prices are projected to remain high.

2018 Coalition Legislative Breakfast

Legislative Breakfast

Last week people gathered from all over the county to talk about the big issues facing our area. I was proud to be there to support Realtors and the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce.

One of the biggest challenges of our region is getting condo reform passed. The current regulatory environment for condominium construction in our state places significant liability on builders, making it prohibitively costly to bring this housing to market at an affordable price point. This is greatly impacting our inventory and affordable housing.

We addressed a lot of topics including education, transportation, and economic development (click here to learn more). I look forward to Hill Day next week when we’ll talk to our legislators about more important issues affecting homeownership because to me, there is nothing more important than encouraging homeownership and protecting those rights.

2018 Housing Forecast: Where are we headed?

Graph

What lies ahead for the local housing market in 2018? We sat down with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner to get his thoughts. Here are some highlights:

Home prices will continue to increase, but at a slower pace

The strong local economy, high demand and very low inventory will continue to boost home values in 2018, according to Gardner. However, he believes that the double-digit growth of 2017 will moderate, and predicts home prices in King County will rise by 8.5% in the new year.

Mortgage interest rates will rise slightly.

Gardner admits that interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The rise that many economists have predicted the past few years has yet to materialize. His forecast for 2018 sees interest rates increasing modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

More Millennials will enter the housing market.

Despite the relatively high cost of homes in our region, Gardner expects more Millennials to buy homes in 2018. They are getting older and more established in their careers, enabling them to save more money for a down payment. Many are also having children and are looking for a place to raise their family.

The tax reform bill will have a limited effect on our housing market.

The recent changes to the income tax structure will have an impact on homeowners, but Gardner does not believe that impact will be significant here.

    • The mortgage interest rate deduction will be capped at $750,000 – down from $1,000,000. But according to Gardner, just 4% of the mortgages in King County exceeded $750,000 in 2017. Most buyers of more expensive homes have been making larger down payments, or buying homes for cash.
    • Since the $1,000,000 mortgage deduction cap is grandfathered in for those who have already purchased a home, some homeowners may opt to stay put rather than move. That could result in fewer homes being placed on the market.
    • The tax bill eliminates the deduction for interest on home equity loans. This is bound to slow down the trend of homeowners choosing to remodel their home rather than trying to find a new home our inventory-deprived market.

Bottom Line

The increase in home prices may moderate, but inventory will still be very tight. 2018 is on track to be a strong seller’s market.

This post originally appeared on Windermereeastside.com.

Preparing Your Home for the Winter

During the winter, it is tempting to curl up and hibernate in bed for the next few months. However, you shouldn’t put off these important home maintenance duties.

Clean and check the gutters: While you are on the roof hanging holiday lights, make sure your gutters are clear of leaves, secured to the house, and in good condition. If you do find problem spots, seal, secure, and make note to fix these in the spring. You want to divert water away from your home.

Insulate external water sources: In cold climates pipes can freeze, which can then lead to cracked pipes and flooding. Bring hoses and sprinklers inside for the winter and use insulation to wrap external faucets. Insulating interior pipes can help prevent disaster. If you don’t have insulation, you can keep a faucet dripping during particularly cold days, so water is flowing through the pipes.

Check your water heater: One way to save money during the winter months is to wrap your water heater, so it doesn’t have to use as much energy to keep the water hot in a tank. You should check on your heater to make sure it isn’t leaking and in good repair regularly.

Interior insulation: Keep the heat in and the cold out with increased insulation in your attic and basement. This is an investment, and best done before the winter hits, but can make a big difference in how warm your house feels and how high your heating bill goes.

Check for cracks and leaks: Do you feel a draft? Check the sealing on your windows and doors. You can add weather stripping and silicon to seal these leaks. Foundations can leak as your home settles, so you should also check your basement for water coming through the walls, pipes, and older windows. You will want to seal these appropriately to minimize damage from flooding or mold.

Weatherize your windows: Your windows can be a great source of heat leakage depending on their age and condition. If you have older windows, you can use a clear film to help insulate them during the winter. If you don’t want to film the windows you can install extra thick drapes or curtains to help keep the interior of your home warm.

Check your heating system: What is one thing gas fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and central air heating systems all have in common? They all need to be cleaned and maintained. Check and clean your indoor heating system thoroughly. If you use an old-fashioned wood stove, make sure there are no leaks and that all soot buildup or nests are removed. If a furnace is what you have remember to change the filters as recommended or clean out your reusable filters.

Check your chimney with care: Nothing is as cozy as sitting by the fireplace during the winter, but use with care! Have your chimney checked by a professional to ensure that it’s in good condition and clear of critters or nests. You can also use a creosote log at the start of the season to help break down any old residue.

Invest in home security: The holidays are prime times for burglars looking to score some extra gifts so make sure your home is safe and secure at all times. Check your locks to make sure these are secure and consider a home security system with visible cameras to act as a deterrent. Keep evidence of big gifts hidden from view too. And make sure you discreetly get rid of any large boxes that might alert a prowler that you have new big-ticket items in your home.

Deck the halls and be merry: Decorate your home and prepare for guests. If you have a Christmas tree, keep it from drying out (and creating a fire hazard) by watering regularly. Keep decorative candles and menorahs away from children and flammable materials. You may want to consider battery powered candles, these can be a safe alternative to traditional candles.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe holiday!

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Local Market Update – December 2017

It looks like we’re skipping the normal holiday slowdown this season with brokers reporting crowded open houses and competitive bidding in many areas. However, since sellers who list their homes at this time of the year are usually motivated to move soon, the holidays are still a good time to buy. Some of the best pricing is historically found between December and February.

Eastside

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The rate of appreciation for homes on the Eastside continues to be as robust – or more so – as in Seattle. Both local and international buyers attribute the appeal of the area to larger lot sizes, newer construction, and highly-rated school districts. Inventory here is extremely low, and homes are selling quickly. The median price for a single-family home on the Eastside reached $851,000 in November, a 12 percent increase over the same time last year.

King County

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The number of new listings in King County is down 19 percent as compared to a year ago. With demand still strong, the median home price in King County rose 15 percent over last year to $630,750. Condo inventory, long an option for more affordable housing, is at a record low as developers opt for building apartments to avoid the legal and financial risks that come with building condos.

Seattle

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Seattle is one of the fastest growing American cities, and demand doesn’t look to be slowing any time soon. Combine that with a very limited supply and it’s no surprise that for over a year home prices here have been rising faster than anywhere in the country. Last month, the median price for a single-family home in Seattle was $741,000, soaring 21 percent from the previous year.

Snohomish County

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Buyers priced out of the King County market are taking this advice: drive until you qualify. Many are ending up buying in Snohomish County. The number of homes for sale was down more than 24 percent here in November and there is currently less than one month of inventory available. The median price of a single-family home was $445,000, up 11 percent year-over-year.

The Butterfly Effect at The Interfaith Shelter

Lynn Holiday Collage

As members of The Butterfly Effect we try to make every month feel like a holiday for those in need through our projects, but the Holiday season is a particularly special time for us and our chosen charity. This month we adopted kids at the Interfaith Shelter in Everett and planned a fun and heartwarming day full of festivities. We brought them gifts, decorated holiday cookies, made holiday cards, and arranged a visit from Santa. Hopefully it brightened their day as much as it did ours!

What Can We Expect From The 2018 Housing Market?

crystal-ball-2307393_1280

It’s the time of the year when our Chief Economist Matthew Gardner looks deep into his crystal ball to see what’s on the horizon for the upcoming year. As we are all aware, 2017 has been a stellar year for housing across the country, but can we expect that to continue in 2018?

Here are his thoughts:

Millennial Home Buyers

Last year, I predicted that the big story for 2017 would be millennial home buyers and it appears I was a little too bullish. To date, first-time buyers have made up 34% of all home purchases this year – still below the 40% that is expected in a normalized market.  Although they are buying, it is not across all regions of the country, but rather in less expensive markets such as North Dakota, Ohio, and Maryland.

For the coming year, I believe the number of millennial buyers will expand further and be one of the biggest influencers in the U.S. housing market. I also believe that they will begin buying in more expensive markets. That’s because millennials are getting older and further into their careers, enabling them to save more money and raise their credit profiles.

Existing Home Sales

As far as existing home sales are concerned, in 2018 we should expect a reasonable increase of 3.7% – or 5.62 million housing units. In many areas, demand will continue to exceed supply, but a slight increase in inventory will help take some heat off the market. Because of this, home prices are likely to rise but by a more modest 4.4%.

New Home Sales

New home sales in 2018 should rise by around 8% to 655,000 units, with prices increasing by 4.1%. While housing starts – and therefore sales – will rise next year, they will still remain well below the long-term average due to escalating land, labor, materials, and regulatory costs. I do hold out hope that home builders will be able to help meet the high demand we’re expecting from first-time buyers, but in many markets it’s very difficult for them to do so due to rising construction costs.

Interest Rates

Interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The anticipated rise that many of us have been predicting for several years has yet to materialize. As it stands right now, my forecast for 2018 is for interest rates to rise modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage – still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

Tax Reform

Something that has the potential to have a major impact on housing are the current proposals relative to tax reform. As I write this, we know that both the House and Senate propose doubling the standard deduction, and the House plans to lower the mortgage interest deduction from $1,000,000 to $500,000. If passed, the mortgage deduction would no longer have value for home owners who would likely opt to take the standard deduction.

If either of the current proposals is adopted into law, the potential reduction in mortgage-related tax savings means the after-tax cost of home ownership will increase for most home owners. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills also end tax benefits for interest on second homes, and this could have a devastating effect in areas with higher concentrations of second homes.

The capping of the deduction for state and local property taxes (SALT) at $10,000 will also negatively impact states with high property taxes, such as California, Connecticut, and New York. Furthermore, proposed changes to the capital gains exemption on profits from the sale of a home (requiring five years of continuous residence as compared to the current two) could impact approximately 750,000 home sellers a year and slow the growth of home ownership.

Something else to consider is that all of the aforementioned changes will only affect new home purchases, which I fear might become a deterrent for current home owners to sell. Given the severe shortage of homes for sale in a number of markets across the country, this could serve to exacerbate an already-persistent problem.

Housing Bubble

I continue to be concerned about housing affordability. Home prices have been rising across much of the country at unsustainable rates, and although I still contend that we are not in “bubble” territory, it does represent a substantial impediment to the long-term health of the housing market. But if home price growth begins to taper, as I predict it will in 2018, that should provide some relief in many markets where there are concerns about a housing bubble.

In summary, along with slowing home price growth, there should be a modest improvement in the number of homes for sale in 2018, and the total home sales will be higher than 2017. First-time buyers will continue to play a substantial role in the nation’s housing market, but their influence may be limited depending on where the government lands on tax reform.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Windermere’s Winter Drive Collects over 3,000 Items for Homeless Youth

As part of Windermere’s #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, 37 Windermere offices* in King and Snohomish Counties collected new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for Windermere’s “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. The recipient of these donations was YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit that provides critical services and support to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area.

Over 3,000 items were collected during the four-week drive, which included some 737 pairs of socks, 391 hats, 467 pairs of gloves/mittens, 111 scarves, and an assortment of other accessories and cash donations. Two agents out of the Mill Creek, WA office even made 32 scarves by hand for the Winter Drive. We are thankful for these generous donations which will go a long way towards helping keep homeless youth warmer this winter season.

The folks at YouthCare were all very thankful to receive the delivery of eight bins full of donated items. And to make the day even more exciting, Blitz, the Seahawks mascot, was on site to oversee the delivery of the items to YouthCare!

Brittny Nielsen, Communications and New Media Specialist said, “We were thrilled to see our friends from Windermere and Gentle Giant dropping off a semi-truck full of donations for homeless youth this season. Having Blitz from the Seahawks show up to help us celebrate was icing on the cake! This crucial donation from Windermere brightens the holidays for youth in need. We’re so grateful!”

               

All of us at Windermere are very grateful to Gentle Giant Moving Company, who partnered with us on this drive, and generously donated their time and trucks to pick up all of the donated items from our offices and deliver them to YouthCare.

Thank you to our participating offices, the Seahawks, and all those who donated, for making Windermere’s Winter Drive a success!

*Participating Windermere offices

BellevueBellevue CommonsBellevue SouthBellevue WestBurienChelanIssaquahKirkland CentralKirkland Yarrow BayLynnwoodMaple ValleyMercer IslandMill CreekMonroeProperty Management – BellevueProperty Management – EdmondsProperty Management – SouthRedmondSeattle-BallardSeattle-Capitol HillSeattle-EastlakeSeattle-Green LakeSeattle-GreenwoodSeattle-LakeviewSeattle-Madison ParkSeattle-MagnoliaSeattle-Mount BakerSeattle-NorthgateSeattle-NorthwestSeattle-Queen AnneSeattle-Sand PointSeattle-Wall StreetSeattle-WedgwoodSeattle-West SeattleServices-MarketingSnohomishWoodinville

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.