The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Agent.
The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9% — well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.
My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will still be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 83,480 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.4%.
- There were 17,353 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2018. Year-over-year sales growth started to slow in the third quarter and this trend continued through the end of the year. Sales were down 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
- The slowdown in home sales was mainly a function of increasing listing activity, which was up 38.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 (continuing a trend that started earlier in the year). Almost all of the increases in listings were in King and Snohomish Counties.
- There were more modest increases in Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Skagit, and Island Counties. Listing activity was down across the balance of the region.
- Only two counties—Mason and Lewis—saw sales rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, with the balance of the region seeing lower levels of sales activity.
- We saw the traditional drop in listings in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, but I fully anticipate that we will see another jump in listings when the spring market hits. The big question will be to what degree listings will rise.
- With greater choice, home price growth in Western Washington continued to slow in fourth quarter, with a year-over-year increase of 5% to $486,667. Notably, prices were down 3.3% compared to the third quarter of 2018.
- Home prices, although higher than a year ago, continue to slow. As mentioned earlier, we have seen significant increases in inventory and this will slow down price gains. I maintain my belief that this is a good thing, as the pace at which home prices were rising was unsustainable.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Skagit County, where home prices were up 13.7%. Three other counties experienced double-digit price increases.
- Price growth has been moderating for the past two quarters and I believe that we have reached a price ceiling in many markets. I would not be surprised to see further drops in prices across the region in the first half of 2019, but they should start to resume their upward trend in the second half of the year.
DAYS ON MARKET
The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped three days compared to the same quarter of 2017.
Thurston County joined King County as the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 35 days to sell. There were eight counties that saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in five counties and was unchanged in two.
Across the entire region, it took an average of 51 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter of 2018. This is down from 54 days in the fourth quarter of 2017 but up by 12 days when compared to the third quarter of 2018.
I suggested in the third quarter Gardner Report that we should be prepared for days on market to increase, and that has proven to be accurate. I expect this trend will continue, but this is typical of a regional market that is moving back to becoming balanced.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am continuing to move the needle toward buyers as price growth moderates and listing inventory continues to rise.
2019 will be the year that we get closer to having a more balanced housing market. Buyer and seller psychology will continue to be significant factors as home sellers remain optimistic about the value of their home, while buyers feel significantly less pressure to buy. Look for the first half of 2019 to be fairly slow as buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for price stability, but then I do expect to see a more buoyant second half of the year.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the Unversity of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
Link to original article here.
“Staying Put” by architect and writer Duo Dickinson is not your typical architect’s book about design. There’s no obscure language nor design-for-design’s-sake ideas. It is a practical, down-to-earth guide that walks anyone through the rational process of how to remodel your house to get the home you want, from how to think about your house and overcoming hurdles to a list of “Duo’s Do’s and Don’ts” for the homeowner. Along the way, there’s plenty of nice before-and-after photos to help explain the points. Do read the book. You’ll be glad you did.
Read on for eight of Dickinson’s brightest suggestions:
Consider the compass points. The tips and illustrated examples are wonderfully straightforward. For example, we see a house that gets overheated, the siding degrades and the front door bakes in the sun because it all faces south.
Dickinson’s common-sense advice: Rework the front of the house with a new wide porch that shades the front door and some smaller, yet well-sized windows to create a lot more curb appeal while reducing maintenance and energy consumption. It’s a triple win: more beauty and comfort with less cost.
Avoid gutters. Statements such as “gutters and leaders are devout to be avoided” may sound like heresy to many, but certainly are the truth. Proving his point, Dickinson illustrates how a properly-built roof overhang can shed all the water it must without the complications, such as ice dams, caused by gutters.
Embrace small moves. Dickinson provides a wealth of simple solutions illustrated with before-and-after photos. He shows how to use small moves for big dividends, such as taking out a wall between a kitchen and a hallway to make room for more kitchen storage.
Enhance curb appeal. The book offers solutions to common problems with a particular style, such as how to improve and enhance an entrance into a split-level home.
Open up to the outside. Dickinson provides some excellent examples of how we can use modern windows and doors to strengthen the connection between inside and outside. Our homes, says Dickinson, no longer need be “later-day caves.”
Find your home. Learning more about the style of the house you have will help you avoid obstacles in remodeling and recognize the best opportunities for improving your particular home.
Open up the inside. Snippets of advice sprinkled throughout the book are like refreshing raindrops that clear the cobwebs away. One such snippet: “If you walk through a room to get to a room, something is wrong.” You know — it’s when that new great room gets added onto a modest house, and the result is some kind of dyslexic creature that’s really two houses rather than one.
So rather than even building an addition, Dickinson suggests you make the most of what you already have. In this example, widening the opening between rooms strengthens this room’s connection with the rest of the home, increasing its utility and spaciousness.
Work with what you’ve got (before): Keeping the kitchen size the same while vaulting the ceiling dramatically increases the overall spaciousness of the room, as you’ll see in the next photo.
Work with what you’ve got (after): Walls, doors, appliances, and even the skylight and kitchen sink were all left where they were. This all avoided costly plumbing, electrical and mechanical work and rework.
Working with what you’ve got (plans): Dickinson has included before-and-after floor plans for many of the examples. These plans help provide that much more context, allowing the reader to better understand what they may be able to do with the home they already have.
Read the original article here.
The 2017 Great NW Glass Quest winner, Ben Meuer on Saturday February 18th! Congratulations Ben! I have one more glass float and will be hiding my clue ball late Thursday night for this weekends participants! Come out next weekend!
Fall is here! (and today is Halloween (Happy Halloween!!) With all the classic signs like the end of the baseball season and an amazing World Series, All Hallows Eve (Halloween) and Daylight Savings Time on November 5th! Due to the weather change all of those inside projects seem to be coming out as well. Cooking, baking, cleaning, sewing and crafts! The chill in the air reminds us that winter is close and me of one of my father’s favorite traditional dishes; Chicken and Dumplings which I made for the very first time in years! It warms your body through and through from the inside out! Then on with dessert and the Gooey Pumpkin Cake which I am making one of my families traditions! Mmmm, mmmm!! It is a wonderful thing to have and remember family traditions. It is exciting and a pleasure to start my own family traditions. Personally, I have been doing quite of bit of organizing home for winter and the holidays, decorating, cleaning and sewing. I used to sew and be around sewing everyday! Another first; it was so fun making a terrific gift for my husband and our Wedding Anniversary and a Princess Costume for my youngest daughter for Halloween! I have never seen anyone so happy! I have also been helping quite a few clients organize and ready their homes that want to list now. Historically not the best selling or listing period but with everything else out of the ordinary this year, seems like a great time! With lots of new inventory coming on the market, also comes a lots of new buyers. We could be gearing up for a busy fall and winter selling time and start to the New Year 2012. As we are starting the final and fourth quarter of the year we are all hoping to end on a big, bright note. Pending and Sold sales are up on Camano but even more so in Snohomish County and Stanwood! We will push our way through the falling maple leaves, rain, wind and weather to keep all of our listings looking as good as we can and try to find all of our buyers what they are looking for. The interest rates continue to fall, as do prices so it a very good time to purchase!!
New Technology is great but it seems to be advancing so fast that the average person can’t keep up!! What good is all this “good” stuff if we don’t have the training, time or energy to learn what it’s all about?! We don’t really! Relax! We just need to do our best to keep up with what our own particular needs and environment request! Some of us need to know more than others and some of don’t need to know any at all. That is, we don’t all have to know the latest and the greatest but just those things that can keep “our” everyday business, life and families up-to-date and current with the technological world. The more I learn the more I see how it can benefit almost anyone in any profession. It does seem a little overwhelming with everything from: I-phone, X Box, Wii, W 7, QR codes, GPS, Blackberry, Droid, Web, Blog, Bluetooth, MP3 and things I can’t even imagine or comprehend! Windermere just updated all the personal agent websites last week! A majority of us don’t like change and the websites are a little more difficult than they were presented to be but we are figuring them out! Of course, at first we like to whine and complain a little but in the long run, these new sites are going to be great! Next Windermere will change their main Home Page and search Website to be more user friendly and combine some of the most popular attributes from other sites that clients are demanding. The best of all worlds! Before the end of the year our franchise Windermere/CIR for Camano Island and Stanwood will hopefully be reorganized with a type of “cloud” web sharing for our agents which will be another change! A lot of changes coming before the end of the year to get up and running for a great start to 2012! It seems like a lot of things all at once but we just have to take them as they come, do what we can, learn as much as we can in the time we have, move on and keep going. In addition to last week’s blog of staying positive, it is much easier to embrace the new ideas, technology and changes coming our way. Real Estate has and is changing as well. We can now be at home or any hot spot on our computers and look at every entire property For Sale in any State or City, we can use our I-phones, Blackberry’s or Droids and the QR codes to go to any listed property and shop for exactly what we want. We can drive around and use our GPS on our phones or handhelds and know where all the listings are located, then use the QR codes again to get either agent information and/or home information. We can get our I-Pads or Notebooks to go “On Line” as well and get all the information we are looking for from almost anywhere. Another reason why we as agents need to keep up with as much technology as possible to keep up with our technologically driven clients and the world!
Positively Positive! We should all want to be happy, energetic people with optimistic attitudes! Everyone likes to be around people that are smiling, laughing and enjoying just being healthy and living life. How do feel when your are around someone that has that positive energy? You don’t have to be a comedian or the center of the conversation but ‘genuinely” and “sincerely” positive! What happens to us, our physical health and those around us when we are concentrating on the negative? Stressing on the everyday, unchangeable events that our less than our expectations? It is a very well known fact that negativity and stress severely toll on your health and well-being. Everything in our lives hinges on staying positive or at least on the upside of our attitudes. We obviously can’t change things that have passed, so putting undue stress on ourselves for past concerns is unnecessary. What is currently happening we have a little more control over but only slightly few more options to put a good spin on the outcome. Our futures are what we really have the most influence on currently and by keeping ourselves at least a little upbeat and happy about our good health, family, friends and the possibility of the good to come will give us a fighting chance to make it happen. We have got to take the glass as half full and not half empty.
It is exactly the same situation, as in the glass (and not always a good one) but how we view it and act about it changes everything! It is very difficult sometimes and I have not always been the shining star by example. It also doesn’t mean being an “ostrich” or “oblivious” to what is going on in the world and our own lives but just facing it in a way that will give us the most advantage.
We could say that we “only” have 40 Pending sales on Camano or we could say we have 250% more Pending sales currently on Camano than last year! We could speak of the down economy or slow sales or we could say that the current interest rates are at an all time low! We might stress about property values and home prices being lower than ever or what “awesome” values there are right now for buyers and investors! It is OK to not be happy all the time but it is not OK to be not happy all the time. I take it from experience, I have been there and I don’t like the other side so I am going to try to be Positively Positive!!
Persistent Perseverance! The act of persisting, tenacity, The state or quality of being persistent; persistency, Continuance of an effect after the cause is removed; Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness, continued steady belief or efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty; persistence. These are the two dictionary definitions of the first two words. In life, work, school, love these could be two of the most important words! Sort of like “Try, try again”, we have all heard this and this very historic statement culminates in persistence! As in “Where there is a will, there is a way” and “Survival of the fittest”, these two even older phrases could be summed up in the one word of perseverance! Put them together and you have an unstoppable, undeniable will and spirit to overcome all obstacles and roadblocks. “Hang in there”, “don’t give up”, “never say die”, are all very highly used sayings of encouragement and support. As one of my clients and I found out this week! We had started our listing nearly one year ago on October 22, 2010. I scrutinized the price and the Sold Comparables and came up with a great list price(or so I thought). I had done the usual and more advertising with the office tour, Brokers Open House, Public Open House, NWMLS, Windermere website listing, Google, Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com and more. We had wonderful showings and quite interested buyers but no offers. We started to lower the price. We did two large price reductions after the first six months. We had a few more showings but they were slowing tremendously. Most of the other comparables had already sold. We were experiencing one showing every 3-4 weeks. Finally, coming up on nearly a year we were due to expire at the end of September 2011. I thought I had no chance to convince my client to continue the listing. They called that day and surprisingly wanted to keep the listing going for a few more months. The very next week; an offer!!! This just goes to show me that even in the overall down economy, the Stanwood and Camano Island Real Estate markets are still healthy. Clients are buying and homes are selling. There are currently 38 Pending Sales on Camano alone. We are still getting new inventory and new buyers! It doesn’t matter how long a property has been on the market, don’t discount it. Don’t wait until the home you wants is Pending with another buyer. A property is worth how much a buyer is willing to pay! We can do it!!
REALLY??!! October??!! Yikes!! To me this all means the end of summer and start of the real Fall/Winter Holiday season. Although one of my most favorite times of the year, the slow and moderate Spring/Summer we had makes the transition a little less than historically exciting. Not the summer has been lazy by any means but now it is time to pick up the pace with ourselves and our families and gear up to get involved with all the exciting events and year-end. We have already noticed the change in scenery; the maple leaves falling, the chill in the night air and the gorgeous, cool sunrises over the Cascades. The fall colors of lemon, mustard, pumpkin, burnt sienna, hunter, oak and mahogany are all my favorites! Of course, first we have Halloween this month with decorating, baking, making costumes and the culmination of the “Big Night”!! The children’s treasure trove usually last until they can restock at Christmas! The smells of those outdoors fires, fall stews, hot ovens, pumpkin pie spice, apple cider, cobblers and wood burning fireplaces bring childhood memories as well as more recent. Then after Halloween, gratefully, Thanksgiving has not become as commercial as the previous and post holidays to it, so it brings a family togetherness and a time to relax, enjoy, prepare and actually plan the big doings of December. I love Thanksgiving for that very reason; it has stayed less retail and I can enjoy cozy weekends watching movies, playing board games and just spending time with my family! No sooner do you get that Turkey out of the oven it seems as if overnight, “tis the season,” so to speak with the countdown to Christmas!! With kids it’s kind of hard not to get caught up in it all; more decorating, baking, parties, shopping, friends and family!! Christmas Day and the week following is the last breather prior to another New Year! Hopefully it will be a good year to come! As for the Real Estate market in Stanwood and Camano Island as well as the rest of the country, this all means the start of our fourth and final quarter for the year. For our own sakes and the down economy, we need to continue and increase our Pending sales and finish out the sales year strong. We need to set up and prepare those coming listings for the start of the New Year as well! We have been on an upward trend in the third quarter and if we can continue strong, we should have a year-end result better than that of 2010! Continued low-interest rates and low home prices give hope to the finish of a great year!
Time flies! Isn’t that what we all say? It sure does! This weekend I celebrated my 30th High School Reunion! It certainly does not seem like that long. Where does it go? Most of us, as children don’t focus on work or a talent or the future paths we need to prepare for. Most kids just go to school, socialize, play and don’t think about much of anything until we reach high school. Most of us procrastinate; say we will do it tomorrow, etc. As we get older, week after week goes by and one day we turn around and 30 years have gone by. What have we done? What do we have to show for our work, our efforts for the past years? Do we have a plan? Do we have goals? Do we have time to do the things we want or need to get done? Time management may be one our most important skill sets. Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Being that “Type A” personality, I always want to work smarter and get more done. I feel like I am constantly working and never spending the time I want with my growing and aging family. I get a little frustrated with myself when it feels like I am constantly working and not getting any of my personal goals accomplished. As with life, families, personal, we especially need to time manage work. We need to work more efficiently in the fast paced world. Take assessment of those actions that we do each day and analyze if those actions are productive and contributing to our goals for the days, weeks, and months. There is no waiting as we need to make urgent, deliberate decisions to affect our work lives to give us more personal lives. Time is not waiting for us. We as Real Estate agents are also trying to communicate the urgency to our clients about their Real Estate decisions. We have clients every day that we feel or know like a particular property and then say things like “I need to think about it”, or “It has been on the market for a long time, I can wait”. Uncannily it seems every time we hear this, suddenly there are two or more others interested in the same property and it sells! Indecision and procrastination changes our clients and our choices, our direction. None of us knows what will happen a few months from now, next year or the year after. With the home prices low and the interest rates low, we need to communicate to our clients that it is a good time to buy. A property is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Of course, we all understand that the market has been in a huge decline but we hope that we are at the bottom of the downward trend and in a “leveling” out period before we start our recovery. We hope our fourth quarter for 2011 will be a good end to this year and in 2012 start our incline to a healthy housing market. Another reason to urge our clients to continue to purchase and not wait is to stimulate that recovery. Without continued sales there can be no turn around. We can’t wait! We can’t afford to think about it! We need to seize the day! We need to buy now! With our local expert Brokers, if you want to purchase any property, we can find it for you. Come in today and let us show you the inventory! Talk to our preferred lenders and see how and what you can do! Carpe Domus?
It never ceases to amaze me what a small world it is and how much smaller it gets all the time! Obviously with the increase in technology, the cyber world and “air space” is most definitely smaller, quicker and easier! But our actual physical connection to people and places is also seemingly smaller. Is it really or is that only what adults say? Do children in today’s world feel it too? Is it only because I am bigger, older? In any case, our lives are connected in ways we don’t even realize or always see. Any person, at any time either walking next to you or past you could have known someone you’ve known or may know currently. There may be a previous or future connection with someone within arm’s reach. As in my favorite movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” you will never know how many lives you will affect everyday and what would happen if you never touched them. So a man drove past the office with a new landscape business and came by to introduce himself. He starts saying how he got a wonderful owner contract on a property on the Island and on and on. Come to find out that the previous owner is a very good friend of mine! Another client called my phone number from a sign and came by later to chat about Real Estate and remembered that he chatted with my husband over the phone a few weeks previous! What are the odds that he would call my number from a random sign? A conversation while a couple was waiting in a line hundreds of miles away brings them to Camano; they stop by the office just to get a recommendation and information on a Bed and Breakfast. The conversation in the line was with a Camano Island resident who said how wonderful she loved her new home up here and that they should definitely visit. The resident I sold a home to several months earlier!! Real Estate activities and Pending sales have and continue to stay up now at 44 from 50 last week for Camano Island!! Those missing 6 Pending, went to closed sales which is still nearly one a day!! Strange, fascinating and such coincidental meetings and connections! I love my job! I meet so many interesting and unique people and most have become not only clients but friends for years. The continued stream of buyers in the current market continues not only on Camano but as well in Snohomish! With more and more people coming to the area, I am anxious to see what new connections will come and who I will meet next!! We will only be having our Club Friday for the next three weeks. This week the 23rd, I will be open without a sponsor due to some other engagements and next week, September 30th with a double Open House between Windermere and the Country Club Fire Station 4033 Local Fire Fighters!! We will end our season with Greenworks of Washington on October 7th. Come in Friday or any day of the week to see who you might meet!!