Brooks & Heinze Seattle Real Estate Team – February 2019 Newsletter

February 8, 2019


Seattle Market Update

There is a clear lack of consumer confidence evident in the real estate market. January is always a little slow but we saw slower activity in the market than usual last month.

Seattle Area home prices are still dropping but for most Seattleites that still means homes are out of reach. The median income of homebuyers in the Seattle metro area has reached $114,000 or about 40% higher than the region’s actual median household income of $82,000.

The 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 4.46 percent for the week ending Jan. 31, up from 4.45 percent the previous week. A year ago, mortgage rates stood at 4.22 percent.

There is hope that the softening of house price appreciation along with increasing inventory of homes on the market, as well as historically low mortgage rates will give a boost to the spring homebuying season. However, signs of a slowdown in the global economy and lack of affordability for locals might dampen these hopes.

Seattle Rental Market

Seattle has added lots of new, modern and expensive apartment buildings to address the influx of newcomers to the Emerald City. Perhaps too many units were added. Currently, 1 in 10 units across the city are sitting empty. Landlords have responded by lowering rents slightly and offering more perks to get tenants in the door. For more detailed information click here. Unfortunately, affordable apartments are still hard to find.

The rental market is cooling the most in the priciest parts of the region. On the Eastside, rents dipped 2.5 percent, in the last quarter, while rents remained virtually unchanged in South King County and Snohomish County. Rents dropped at least 3 percent in the past quarter in Belltown, South Lake Union, Fremont/Wallingford, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish/Issaquah and Edmonds.

Did you know?

A recent report by AARP found that 90 percent of retirees want to stay in their homes as they age. Aging in place — rather than packing up and moving to a specialized retirement community — is the newest housing trend for older Americans.

We’d love to hear from you

Any questions, comments, or feedback? Contact us any time.

Thank you,



Brooks & Heinze Team
at Skyline Properties, Inc.
Kerstin Brooks: 206.276.5827
Krisanne Heinze: 206.920.2541

Houses for Pennies on the Dollar? Really?

February 19, 2010

 Many buyers have heard that Seattle real estate is more affordable than ever. Yes, prices have dropped quite substantially but when I hear people saying or I read articles about “Houses for Pennies on the Dollar” I get a little perturbed.

 We have had a few people contact us with unrealistic expectations about what they can buy. We have had buyers asking us to find them large, updated homes with water views in nice neighborhoods like Greenlake, Richmond Beach, Queen Anne, etc. under $200,000. You’d be hard pressed to find a tiny tear down for that price in these neighborhoods. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are bargains to be had but one must be realistic. Foreclosures and Short Sales can be a good value but they often require work and patience.

Buyers want to look at bank foreclosures, but they don’t want to do any work if it needs repair. They expect all homes should sell at the bank foreclosure prices regardless of whether they need work or not.

The homes that need a lot of work are the ones that sell for bargain prices. So, if you want a steal be prepared to have to do some work.

Many buyers feel the foreclosures set the prices in the neighborhood even though they may be missing a bathroom, have a structural issue and need tens of thousands of dollars in updates. Buyers are quite often dissatisfied with the condition of the distressed properties, but they don’t want to look at a regular home that is all fixed up because it is not a perceived bargain (when they can be).

You could take two similar homes next door to each other, one being a foreclosure and needing $35,000 in repairs and another being a normal sale and in excellent condition. The bank foreclosure might be priced $35,000 below the normal home, but when the buyer sees it they’re turned off.  But then they’re also turned off by the price of the normal home because they feel it should be priced the same as the foreclosure fixer.

In short, there are bargains but be realistic. Either buy an updated home in good condition and get a fair price or get a fabulous bargain for a home that needs a lot of help and needs to be nursed back to health. Buying at a 20-30% discount compared to just a few years ago is a great deal and realistic. Homes for pennies to the dollar? Not in Seattle.

There are some great loan programs available for buying distressed and foreclosed homes that need repairs, such as the 203k FHA rehab loans & conventional construction loans.

For more information on these loan programs contact Michele Catoire at the Legacy Group in Bellevue, WA by email  at or by phone at (425) 818-5885.

 Michele Catoire

Happy bargain hunting!

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Team
Skyline Properties, Inc.
Cell:  206.276.5827

Get "moving" first time home buyers, time is running out!!!

August 1, 2009

Time is running out for first time home buyers to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit.

We are in the month of August now, and time is slipping away to take advantage of the $8000 first time home buyer’s tax credit.

There is a deadline looming for this opportunity. Your home purchase must be CLOSED by November 30, 2009 to qualify for the tax credit.

Most properties take up to a month or two months to close (longer for most short sales). A buyer should try to purchase a home before October 1, so that he/she can close before November 30th.

This means there are only a couple of months left to find a suitable property and get an accepted offer!

So, get “moving” first time home buyers.

There are a lot of great properties for sale here in Seattle, and interest rates are low! Don’t delay, buy a house TODAY!

For questions regarding homeownership and the first-time homebuyer credit please contact The Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team in Seattle.

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Team at Skyline Properties, Inc.
Phone: 206.276.5827

Your buying opportunities are endless !

October 31, 2008

Buy now – don’t wait.

A lot of buyers are saying they want to buy but they are waiting until prices hit rock bottom. First, it is really hard to tell when the market has hit bottom. It does not matter if we are talking about gold, stocks or homes here. Trying to time the bottom is almost impossible.

Is it likely that prices will go down further? Yes, it is is. In fact, I do not believe that we have seen the bottom yet. However, I do not forsee any more drastic drops.

You should buy now because prices are low and financing rates are low. It is important to keep in mind that purchase price alone does not determine the cost of investment but the combination of purchase price and mortgage interest rate determine the true cost. For a more detailed explanation and some compelling examples take a look at my blog entry from Oct. 22, 2008.

If you are a cash buyer, feel free to wait what you perceive to be the bottom of the market. However, if you are like most buyers who need to get a loan to finance a home purchase, don’t wait to buy. Interest rates are great at the moment but everyone in the lending industry I have talked to says they will soon go up. Higher rates will affect your buying power or may even make it impossible for you to qualify alltogether. Just talk to some of your relatives or friends who bought in the eighties – the rate was 17.48% in January of 1982 (source Freddie Mac homepage). Now rates are going to jump that high overnight or perhaps ever again but I just wanted to make the point that you need to look at the cost of financing, as well as the purchase price.

Just for fun, take a look at the mortgage rate changes between 1971 – 2008.

So, don’t delay. Buy today. We would be happy to help you take advantage of this great buyer’s market. The opportunities are amazing.

Kerstin G. Brooks, ABR, Realtor

Brooks & Heinze Team at Skyline Properties, Inc.

Cell: 206.276.5827


Web: www.

Know how interest rates affect your buying power and payments

October 23, 2008

Know how interest rates affect your payment. The interest rate on a loan is used to calculate your monthly payment. The higher the interest rate, the higher your monthly payment. The lower the interest rate, the lower your monthly payment. Simple? Yes, but abstract until you see it applied to your loan.

When interest rates rise, it lessens the buying power of potential buyers because it increases monthly payments which are used to decide how much money the lender will let the buyer borrow.

Following is an example to illustrate how your buying power is reduced or how your monthly payments are affected as rates change: At a 6% fixed rate, with 30 years of payments, one would have to pay approximately $600.00/month for every $100,000 borrowed. At a 7% rate, one would have to pay about $665.00/month on every $100,000 borrowed. So, in this example, for a $350,000 home your monthly payment would increase by $227.50)/month (from $2100/month to $2327.50) if the interest rate rose 1%.

Home Price Interest Rate Monthly Payment
$300,000.00 6% $2,100.00
$300,000.00 7% $2327.50

Let’s do a second example. At a 6% fixed rate, with 30 years of payments, your monthly payments for a $500,000 would be $3000/month and at a rate of 7% would be $3325 (a $325/month increase in payments).

Home Price Interest Rate Monthly Payments
$500,000.00 6% $3,000.00
$500,000.00 7% $3,325.00

Obviously, an increase in rates can have several negative affects on the market. With less buying power, buyers may find that they can no longer afford now what they could have afforded a couple of months ago. This can decrease the number of financially qualified buyers. Less buyers in the market equals less demand for homes, causing a downward pressure on prices in some of our local Seattle communities. You may wonder than if you should wait until prices drop before you buy – the answer is no (see example below).

Let’s look at it from a slightly different perspective why waiting for prices to drop is the wrong approach. Example: You decide to wait to buy your home until prices drop 10% percent. The risk in waiting could be higher interest rates and higher mortgage payments as seen in the example above. So if the price of a home happens to drop ten percent from $500,000 to $450,000, but interest rates rise 1% point from 6% to 7%, your payments are still about $3000 a month. Only a $7.50 change in monthly payments.

Home Price Interest Rate Monthly Payments
$500,000.00 6% $3,000.00
$450,000.00 7% $2,992.50 (-$7.50)

One more tidbit of caution. When rates rise, they usually rise fast (much faster than the change of appreciation).

Disclaimer: The above rates I used are not actual rates here in Seattle — they’re just used as an example to show the effect of rate changes on monthly payments. Rates do vary depending on your credit score, how much you are borrowing, and market conditions. Please consult a mortgage professional to get a better idea of what your monthly payments would be and to see what you can afford. We would be happy to refer you to our team lender for further information.

If you have more questions, about this topic, please feel free to contact us at 206.276.5827 or at

For the folks who prefer this information in a visual/audio format, please watch a brief video summary about this on YouTube.

Kerstin G. Brooks, ABR, Realtor
Brooks & Heinze Team at RE/MAX NW Realtors
Phone: 206.276.5827

How to sell a house in a slow market

September 27, 2008

So, how do you sell a house in this market where nothing seems to sell?

Well, first you should decide if you really need or want to sell:

If you need to sell because of a relocation, financial hardship, divorce, death in the family, etc. there are a few things that you need to do to get that home sold.

First select the right agent who will actively, and aggressively market your home. Interview a couple of agent. Have them explain to you how they will market your home and what they will do to get your home sold.

Do not go on the market high thinking that you can drop the price later if your home does not sell. List at a salable price. You want to be the best value on the market right now – this is not the time to price your home at the same price as competitive homes like was done during a strong market – this is the time to price your home lower than competing homes. Buyers have so many choices right now and unless you are the best value you are not even on their radar.

Your house needs to shine and make a good impression. It needs to stick out of the crowd. Don’t overspend on fancy upgrades but really make the home shine with a fresh coat of paint, clean flooring, clean windows and ‘tidy up’ every room. Bring light into your home (leave lights in your house on even during the day, and borrow some extra lamps from friends for more light). Add a little life with a few house plants.

Make showings easy. Do not restrict showing times or ask for a lot of notice before showings. If it is a pain for buyers to view your home they will go on to the next house.

If you get an offer you don’t like, do not reject it. And do not get offended no matter how far apart you think you and the buyer are. Negotiate; keep the dialogue going. Remember, your house is only worth as much as an able, willing buyer will pay for it. Do not give your home away but realize that the buyer is in the driver seat.

If you are looking to sell to move up, this is a great time to do it. Yes, you will get a little less for your current home than a few years ago but you will be able to save on your move up house.

For more detailed advice and help with selling your home in the Greater Seattle area, please contact the Brooks & Heinze Team at Remax NW Realtors.

Kerstin G. Brooks, ABR, Realtor
Brooks & Heinze Team
Remax NW Realtors

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