Market Reviews – Second Quarter 2016

Our Eastside Market Review and West Bellevue Market Review are both now available for the second quarter of 2016.

Eastside Market Review

Read the full report online by clicking the image below.

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West Bellevue Market Review

Read the full report online by clicking the image below.

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Eastside Market Review – Q1 2016

Windermere Real Estate recently released their Eastside Market Review. This comprehensive report breaks down the statistics of every market and neighborhood on the Eastside. Find out what’s available and see the housing market stats for your area here!

If you’d like a personalized and printed copy, just let me know!

You can read the full report by clicking on the image below:

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4 Reasons to Sell Your Home Now

Blank Real Estate Sign New Home

1) Sale prices are at all-time highs.

Home prices in King County hit new highs last month. The median price of a single family home sold in King County in February was $514,975, a whopping 20% increase over a year ago. The median price in Seattle was up 24% to $644,950. The Eastside’s median price was up 20% to $739,975. You may be surprised at how much your home is worth today.

Home prices high

2) Competition among buyers is driving prices even higher.

Despite increasing prices, there is intense competition among buyers because inventory is at all-time lows. That means multiple offer and bidding wars, increasing the likelihood that your home will sell above your asking price.

3) Homes are selling fast.

With such limited inventory, homes in King County are selling rapidly – sometimes in days. If you list your house now, chances are you’ll get a buyer quickly.

4) You can make the sale work to your needs.

With competition for homes so fierce, you have the freedom to make the deal that works best for you. Many buyers are paying cash. They’ll also make concessions. Do you want to stay in the home a few months after the sale? Want a large earnest money payment? You’re in the driver’s seat, and many buyers are willing to do what it takes to get the home they want.

It’s a seller’s market.
Are you ready to take advantage of it?

The Tax Benefits Every Homeowner Should Know About

This article originally appeared in Times of San Diego 

The housing market on the West Coast is predominantly very strong and more and more people are becoming homeowners. While there are many intangible benefits to owning a home, such as pride of ownership and setting down roots in the neighborhood, the tangible benefits are just as great. In addition to benefitting from possible appreciation, there are many tax deductions available that help reduce your annual income taxes.

Tax breaks are available for any type of home — single-family residence, town house, mobile home, or condominium. However, to take full tax advantage of owning a home, property owners need to understand the expenses they can deduct, and learn some tips to get the most tax advantages out of home ownership.

Mortgage Interest

A house payment is comprised of two parts: principal and interest. The principal goes toward reducing the amount you owe on your loan and is not deductible. However, the interest you pay is deductible as an itemized expense on your tax return. You can generally deduct interest on the first $1 million of your mortgage. You can also deduct interest on the first $100,000 of a home equity loan.

Property Taxes

Another big part of most monthly loan payments is taxes, which go into an escrow account for payment when the taxes are due. This amount should be included on the annual statement homeowners get from their lenders, along with their loan interest information. These taxes will be an annual deduction as long as the home is owned.

Home Improvements

If using a home equity loan or other loan secured by a home to finance home improvements, these loans will qualify for the same mortgage interest deductions as the main mortgage. Only the interest associated with the first $100,000 is deductible.Making improvements on a home can help you reduce your taxes in two possible ways:

  • Tracking home improvements can help when the time comes to sell. If a home sells for more than it was purchased for, that extra money is considered taxable income. You are allowed to add capital improvements to the cost/tax basis of your home. If a home sells for more than it was purchased for plus any capital improvements, that extra money is considered taxable income. Keep in mind that most taxpayers are exempted from paying taxes on the first $250,000 (for single filers) and $500,000 (for joint filers) of gains.

Home Office Deduction

If a homeowner works from home, they can take a deduction for the room or space used as an office. This includes working from a garage, as well as a typical office space.

This deduction can include expenses like mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, and repairs, and is calculated based on “the percentage of your home devoted to your business activities,” according to the IRS.

Home Energy Tax Credits

For homeowners looking to make their home a little greener, the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit can help offset the cost of energy efficiency improvements.  People who install solar panels most commonly take advantage of this credit. Homeowners can save up to 30 percent of the total cost of installing certain renewable energy sources in their home. Even better, this is a credit, which means it directly lowers a homeowner’s tax bill.

Of course, every homeowner’s financial situation is different, so please consult with a tax professional regarding your individual tax liability.

Chad Basinger is a real estate agent in San Diego with Windermere Homes & Estates. He has held his CPA license since 1994, has his CFP Certificate, and has been a licensed Realtor since 2007.

The Gardner Report – Fourth Quarter 2015

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy has added almost 370,000 jobs since the lowest point of the recession at the start of 2010. Additionally, total employment is 176,000 jobs higher than seen at the 2008 peak. With a vast majority of our metropolitan areas having fully recovered from the job losses seen during the recession, I expect to see somewhat more modest job growth in the coming year. That being said, our economy will continue to expand, which will be a benefit to our region’s housing market.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 16,895 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2015, up by 4.6% from the same period in 2014. Sales activity is starting to slow somewhat but this is due to inventory constraints.
  • The growth in sales was most pronounced in Cowlitz and Lewis Counties and double-digit growth was also seen in Thurston County. Sales declines were seen in Grays Harbor County and Skagit County, but only minimally.
  • The number of home sales grew in all but two counties, with the average number of sales up by almost 6% from the same period in 2014.
  • I am not surprised to see some decline in sales start to appear. Listing activity was down by 28% compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, and there were no counties where there were more homes for sale in Q4-2015 versus Q4-2014.

 

HOME PRICES

  • Prices in the region rose by an average of 9.3% on a year-over-year basis but were
  • 0.4% lower than seen in the third quarter of 2015.
  • Unsurprisingly, no counties saw a drop in average home prices compared to fourth quarter last year.
  • When compared to the fourth quarter of 2014, San Juan County again saw the fastest price growth with an increase of 37.6%. However, this county is notorious for extreme swings given the huge variations in prices in the San Juan Islands. Double-digit percentage gains were also seen in five other counties.
  • As long as inventory constraints persist, it is likely that price growth will continue.
  • That said, modest increases in interest rates, in combination with declining affordability conditions in several markets, will likely slow price appreciation.

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by nine days when compared to the third quarter of 2014.
  • It took an average of 78 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter of this year—down from the 91 days it took to sell a home in fourth quarter of last year.
  • There were just two markets where the length of time it took to sell a home did rise, but the increases were minimal. Jefferson County saw an increase of eight days while Mason County rose by two days.
  • King County remains the only market where it takes less than a month to sell a home.

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. For the fourth quarter of 2015, I have left the needle at the same position as the previous quarter. In as much as the market is still very heavily in favor of sellers, I fear that some markets are reaching price points that will test affordability. Furthermore, while inventory levels are likely to see some growth in 2016, it will not be enough to satisfy demand, adding further upward pressure to prices.

 

Overall, 2015 was a stellar year with sales volumes and home prices moving higher across the board. In 2016, I believe we’ll see some growth in sales activity, as well as continued price growth – just at more modest levels than last year. Interest rates are going to rise moderately through the year, but still remain very competitive when compared to historic averages. In other words, any increase in interest rates should not be a major obstacle for home buyers.

Looking forward, I believe 2016 will be a year of few surprises. Because it is an election year, I do not expect to see any significant governmental moves that would have a major impact on the U.S. economy or the housing market.

 

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 over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

2016 Economic & Housing Forecast

The National Economic Forecast

1. The U.S. will continue to expand with real GDP growth of 2.3% in 2016.

Although a positive number, the forecasted rate of growth suggests that we will be modestly underperforming in 2016.  On a positive note, oil prices are likely to remain well below long-term averages, which puts more money into consumers’ pockets in terms of disposable incomes.  However, I believe that consumers are likely to continue to save rather than spend which will constrain growth.  That said, there is certainly no recession on the horizon – at least not yet – and a strong dollar will act as a bit of an anchor.

2. Employment will continue to expand but the rate of growth will slow. Look for an increase of 1.6% in 2016.

We are rapidly approaching full employment (generally considered to be when the unemployment rate drops below 5 percent).  As such, growth in employment has to be driven more by population growth rather than a return to employment. 2015 saw an average of around 210,000 jobs created per month and I believe that this is likely to slow to an average monthly gain of 190,000 new jobs.

3. The U.S. unemployment rate will continue to drop and end 2016 at 4.8%.

As mentioned above, we are heading toward full employment and, as such, the national unemployment rate cannot trend much lower.  That said, the less acknowledged U-6 rate (which includes those working part-time and those marginally attached to the workforce) will remain elevated at around 8%, signifying that there is still some slack in the economy and room for the rate to drop a little further.

4. Inflation will remain in check with the Consumer Price Index at 1.9%.

The Federal Reserve has begun the long-awaited tightening of monetary policy and we will likely see the Fed Funds Rate continue to move higher over the next two years. Inflation has yet to respond to the low unemployment rate, but it will.

The core rate of inflation should remain in check and the overall rate could stay below long-term averages as a function of stubbornly low energy costs. Should we see a shift in OPEC’s position relative to oil supply, the overall rate of inflation could rise more rapidly.  Oil prices, therefore, will remain in focus during 2016.

The National Housing Market Forecast

5. Mortgage rates will rise, but we will still end 2016 with the average 30-year fixed rate below 5%.

I am taking the Fed at its word when it says that monetary tightening in 2016 will be gradual and heavily data dependent. Accordingly, I expect only a modest uptick in long-term rates in 2016. Furthermore, as long as the Federal Reserve continues to reinvest the dividends that it is receiving from their bond holdings – which is highly likely – the yield on the key 10-year treasury will remain low and hold mortgage rates in check. This is only likely to change after the general election, therefore suggesting that rates will remain very attractive relative to their long-term averages.

6. Credit Quality – which had been remarkably stringent – will relax a little.

Access to credit, specifically mortgage instruments, has not been easy for many would-be homebuyers but that is set to change. I believe that we will see some improvement, specifically for borrowers with “near-prime” credit. This will be of some assistance to first-time buyers; however, credit quality will still be higher than it needs to be.

7. Existing home sales will rise modestly to an annual rate of 5.53 million units with existing home prices up by 4.7%.

I anticipate that we will see some improvement in overall transactional velocities in 2016, but unfortunately, demand will still exceed supply. Prices will continue to rise, but at a more constrained pace than seen over the past few years. This will be a function of modestly rising interest rates as well as slightly improving levels of inventory. I anticipate that we will see more listings come online as more households return to positions of positive equity in their homes.

8. New home sales will jump and be one of the biggest stories for 2016.  Look for a 23% increase in sales and prices rising by 3.4%.

I believe that builders will start to build to the entry-level buyer, filling a huge void.  Additionally, I see the total number of new home starts increase quite dramatically in 2016 as banks start to ease lending and builders start to believe that the downward trend in homeownership has come to an end.  This will help to absorb some of the pent-up demand currently in the market.

9. Foreclosures will continue to trend down to “pre-bubble” averages.

Any story regarding foreclosures will be a non-story as the rate will continue to trend down toward historic averages. However, we will see the occasional uptick as banks work their way through their existing inventory of foreclosed homes. Move along.  There’s nothing to see here.

10. The Millennials will start to enter the market.

There are several substantial reasons to expect an increase in Millennial buyers. Firstly, early Millennials are getting older and starting to settle down, and even with modestly higher mortgage rates, rents are likely to continue to trend upward, and this will pull many into homeownership.

Secondly, more favorable mortgage insurance premiums, additional supply from downsizing boomers, and growing confidence in the housing market will lead to palpable growth in demand from this important – and substantial – demographic.

To conclude, it appears to me that 2016 will be a year of few surprises – at least until the general election! Because it is an election year, I do not expect to see any significant governmental moves that would have major impacts on the U.S. economy or the housing market.

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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 over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. 

Eastside Market Review – Q3 2015