2020 started off as any ordinary year. We had made our New Years resolutions (& broken at least one!). We had pondered our goals and travels for the next year. Real estate was no different. The previous year had been strong, a slight sellers advantage due to low inventory and low interest rates. A slight seasonal dip with the promise of a strong spring market. Then WHAM! COVID took us all by surprise. The initial lock downs created havoc everywhere; work, school & home. In the real estate world, sales cancelled or stalled, open houses went away, potential buyers and sellers spooked. But after a short month or so the market changed. Buyers, eager for deals came out. People were now able to work remotely & needed space. Commute time was no longer as big an issue. The result was an exodus from the urban areas to the suburbs and beyond. Multiple offers, waived inspections, and other buyer concessions became not just normal but ‘required’ if you wanted the deal. This market change has lasted throughout the holiday season into January as buyers had no travel plans and little else to distract them. And no change is expected in the near future. According to a recent press release by the 23 county NWMLS, house & condo prices increased by 12.2% to $488,000 from December 2019 to December 2020. Single family homes set the pace with a 12.9% jump with condo’s far behind at 1.8%. This is no surprise as houses with more space are suddenly more in favor than their smaller counterparts. See below for more detail on your area, or reach out and we can chat more specifically about your area or home style.
year over Year change
23 County MLS
Source NWMLS – info deemed reliable but not guaranteed
Renters, Investors, First Time buyers – Read This!
An unexpected outcome of owners and renters fleeing urban areas in search of more space has emerged in the recent dropping of condominium prices. As quickly as houses in the suburbs and exurbs have shot up in price, the condominiums they have left have dropped in price. Even 30 to 45 days ago,
Ok, lets admit, 2020 has been a weird year. It started out like any other year; year end planning was done, trips were planned, goals were set. Then BOOM!
First came political wrestling, then COVID & shut downs, then George Floyd and the subsequent unrest, then more COVID, then fires just a little too close, then the election, then a Supreme Court judge dying, then more election upheaval and now more COVID & lock downs. Definitely a year of change and depending on how you are wired, either chaos or full of blessings.
As we enter the end of this tumultuous year, I encourage you to count your blessings and share them with those close to you at Thanksgiving. Here are some of mine:
My God & my country -I hope you love your God & our country as much as I do
My family – Starting with my wife Katherine & my 91 year old parents to our 4 kids & two grand kids, to brothers / sisters / nieces and nephews, I feel blessed to be part of their lives and grateful
Our friends – Both near and far; close or barely know each other; client, business associate or competitor, Katherine and I cherish each and every one of you. You are the reason we move forward in spite of the year, worry a bit and smile alot ! 🙂
So as we all celebrate Thanksgiving, from a safe distance of course, lets all reflect for a moment and let those who are important to us know it!
Quite regularly I get a call from someone I know that goes something like this…”I am looking at buying a house in _______ (name your state) and I meet this agent at an open house. We looked a few houses and we wrote an offer. Now they are asking me to do this and I don’t understand”. or … “they are not doing a good job, what do I do?’ or ??? You get the point. Something is not going right in a real estate transaction. Since I am not a party to the transaction and bound by the Realtor Code of Ethics to not interfere in other agents business, I usually can only console them and tell them it will all work out. I can ask a few questions, give a recommendation or two for them to take back to the agent.
But what I really want to ask them is why did they not call me and have me make a referral? Using both Coldwell Bankers internal Agent Referral platform and my numerous contacts, I could have found an agent with a good track record that fit the level of service they were looking for. I always call the agent and ‘interview’ them, see if it’s a good fit because hey, my reputation is on the line. But more importantly, when something comes up, I now have a right (actually an obligation) to pick up the phone and get some answers. I am a party to the transaction, I can ask to see a contract on their behalf. I can make a suggestion.
So, for those still reading, the main take-away here is even when you are buying somewhere else, call me and I can point you in the correct direction and / or make a direct referral. It will cost you nothing and give me the power to help you if needed.
Katherine and I are usually quiet when it comes to the causes we support. But Coldwell Banker’s recent corporate partnership with St Jude’s is one we want to shout about. St Jude’s is on our list of organizations we support yearly and now, with each home purchase or sale, we have committed to an additional donation. You can help by buying or selling with Kurt and rest easy with the knowledge that your trust in Kurt will also help a great cause.
After taking a COVID induced break this spring, the local real estate market has heated up and in September it seems to have gone over the top. As reported in earlier market updates, buyers have come out in droves and sellers have hunkered down. This created the ‘perfect storm’ for both price appreciation and market time. Buyers came out looking for deals and were armed with more buying power due to low interest rates. Looking for more space, they are paying more and reducing contingencies. Those few sellers who dare to sell, are getting more for their home.
As shown below, all local areas have seen double digit 12 month price increases and continue to show low time on market. As I look at these stats weekly, I will report that a good share of the gain has come since the lows reached in April and May 2020 due to COVID uncertainty.
What the future holds is anyone’s guess, but if you are a buyer, statistically, it will only get worse. Demographics show a wave of house hungry younger folks reaching the average first home purchase age and new home builders were just beginning to meet the annual demand before COVID. The shortfall that started in 2008 – 2009 will continue to move prices up. Sellers, on the other hand, have a bright future. Those fortunate enough to not need to buy a replacement home, or moving to more affordable digs, will benefit from sustained price increases for the near future.
Thinking of Buying or Selling?? Reach out and we can schedule a chat about your specific needs.
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Sellers added the most inventory since May 2019 to the 23 county NWMLS system in July, but buyers continued to show up & buy. This pent up buyer demand has lead to continued tight inventory in most markets. Major population centers in King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties have little more than 3 weeks supply. Prices on the other hand, are rising, with residential prices (single family & condo) prices up 12.8%. Median prices in King county continue to lead the way, up 7.2% YOY (Year over Year) to $670,000.
As one would expect, COVID-19 induced remote work practices are beginning to show, with median price increases in outlying counties such Lewis, Grays Harbor, Okanogan & Cowlitz being around 20% or more. Workers are no longer constrained to being close to work & coupled with more buying power due to record low interest rates, rural areas are expected to continue to be in demand.
Sellers are cautioned to not overprice, todays buyers are armed with too much information & are too savy to over pay. I still see numerous price reductions, sometimes from over pricing, sometimes from poor presentation, that ultimately hurt the seller. Buyers on the other hand, are urged to act quickly if they see something they like. Todays buyer, now accustomed to virtual tours & remote signings, are actin quicker than ever.
Historically low interest rates and changing lifestyles are contributing to the lowest number of homes for sale in the 23 counties that the NWMLS covers. With only 1.16 months supply of homes to buy at the end of June, buyers are once again faced with bidding wars and other market conditions that are generally in the sellers favor. As always, properly priced and properly presented homes are selling quick.
As one would expect, this imbalance in supply & demand is leading to rising prices. Pierce County lead the way in the Central Puget Sound region with a 8.2% year over year increase, with Snohomish County registering 6.7% & King County coming in at 5.9%. This is as expected as buyers are being pushed out to more affordable areas. Also trends which were emerging Pre COVID, like buyers seeking more space & / or less urban areas, seem to be accelerating in pace as workers & employers are finding that ‘work from home’ solutions, put in place for COVID, work long term as well.
The silver lining for buyers is record low interest rates, at an all time low of 3.07% (FreddieMac 30year fixed), has increased their purchasing power. For sellers, this translates into buyers paying more for their home, making this ‘a particularily good time to think about selling’.
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