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

Has the Seattle Housing Market Gone Nuts? Yes! But why?

April 4, 2014

The market sure has heated up. Prices are going up and multiple buyers are competing for the few houses available.

So what’s going on?

– Seattle Unemployment is Low:

In February the Seattle area’s unemployment rate hit its lowest level since September 2008 at 5.1%. 

– Consumer Confidence is High:

Confidence is now at a new post-Financial Crisis high.

– Mortgage Rates are Still Attractive:

Current interest rates are roughly on par with where they were in August 2011 and still two points below the 6.41% average rate during the height of the housing bubble through 2006

– Limited Supply of Homes Available for Sale:

There is about a 1.8 month supply of homes for sale in King County. A 4-6 month supply is needed for a balanced market between home buyers and sellers. We are NOT in a balanced market – we have a strong seller’s market.

For much more detailed information, specific statistics and sources – see below:

Seattle-Area Unemployment at Late 2008 Levels

Let’s have a look at the jobs data for February and how the Seattle area’s unemployment rate and approximate labor participation rate alongside the national numbers.

In February the Seattle area’s unemployment rate hit its lowest level since September 2008 at 5.1%. The national unemployment rate is still a bit higher at 6.7%, also roughly on-par with late 2008 levels.

The Seattle-area labor participation inched up in February to 70.0%. The national labor force participation rate was steady at 63.0%.

For reference, in 2006 when everyone imagined the economy to be in great health, the local unemployment rate averaged 4.3% and the labor participation rate averaged 69.5%.

Here’s a look at the local and national unemployment rates:



Consumer Confidence at now post-Financial Crisis High

The Latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index based on data collected through March 14 is at 82.3 and was 4.0 above the February reading of 78.3. This measure of confidence is now at a new post-Financial Crisis high.

At 81.0, the Present Situation Index increased 0.7% between February and March, and is up 34% from a year earlier. The Present Situation Index is currently up 301% from its December 2009 low point, and sits at its highest level since April 2008. The Expectations Index rose even further in March, increasing 9.2% from February.


Mortgage rates still two point below average rate during the height of housing bubble through 2006

As of last week, the 30-year mortgage rate sits at 4.40%, down slightly from the high of 4.58% set back in August, but up more than a point from the low set in May of last year. Current interest rates are roughly on par with where they were in August 2011 and still two points below the 6.41% average rate during the height of the housing bubble through 2006 (source: Federal Reserve).

 Limited Inventory fuels Price Hikes / Multiple Offers

According to the statistics on the NWMLS (Northwest Multiple Listing Service – all real estate agents are members of this service), there is about a 1.8 month supply in King County and a 2.2 months of supply in Snohomish County.

In general, four-to-six months is the supply needed for a balanced market between home buyers and sellers. We are NOT in a balanced market – we have a strong seller’s market.

There are just about as many pending sales as last year this time but it appears, the only thing holding back more sales is the lack of inventory. It is not unusual to see homes get multiple offers, sometimes as many as 40+ in nice neighborhoods and most popular price ranges.

Happy House Hunting!  Contact us today if you are looking to buy a home or condo in the Greater Seattle Area.

Happy House Selling! Contact us today if you are looking to sell your home or condo in the Greater Seattle Area.  


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

How to get Preapproved for a Home Loan

November 7, 2013

One of the first steps you will do when you think about buying a home is talk with a mortgage broker to get preapproved for a home loan. As a real estate agent, I am often the first contact for home buyers and I am often asked how to get preapproved for a home loan. Your real estate agent can refer you to a trusted lender but you can choose your own lender. Most mortgage brokers will ask you for the following information to get your preapproval started.

You will need to do or provide the following: 

  1. Complete a credit card authorization to pull credit
  2. Most recent 2 months bank statements
  3. Most recent quarterly statement of mutual funds,  stocks, etc., if you will be using these funds for down payment or closing costs
  4. Most recent 30 days’ pay stubs, showing year to date income
  5. Last 2 years W2’s and tax returns, all pages and schedules
  6. Copy of Driver License
  7. Contact information for homeowner’s insurance agent
  8. Depending on your unique situation, your lender may ask for additional documentation

If you have any questions or would like a referral to a mortgage broker in the Greater Seattle Area, please contact us.

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team

Competition is Fierce – Hot Seattle Housing Market

July 10, 2013

Multiple offers – Rising Property Prices – Rising Interest Rates – Low Inventory – Preinspections – Cash Offers, …. this is what my clients are dealing with everyday now. Yes the market is hot. It’s exciting and exhausting. The video below, recently aired on King 5, describes what buyers are going through well.


Working with an experienced agent who knows how to make your offer competitive is key in this market. To learn more about what sellers like to see in an offer, feel free to contact the Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team.

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team
Skyline Properties, Inc.

Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team – First Quarter Newsletter 2013

March 2, 2013

As we are well into 2013, we are thankful for all of our past clients, current clients and the opportunities we have living in this wonderful area.  Now to the market update…

State of the Market and Home Values:

After years of grave losses, home values finally started to increase in the latter part of 2012 (March/April 2012 was the bottom).  Gains could be seen in most of the Greater Seattle area. If you are curious about the value of your home, feel free to contact us. We are happy to prepare a free market analysis for you.  This last year also saw the return of multiple offers on some homes, especially homes that did not fall into the category of short sales or fixers. Buyers are having to compete for homes due to low inventory and increased buyer confidence.  Cash investors entered the market in a big way, as well as many first time buyers who see the value in homeownership and real estate. The low inventory of homes for sale can be largely attributed  to the large number of “underwater” homeowners who are discouraged to sell because they owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth.  Predicting real estate values for the future is difficult but there appears to be a consensus among industry professionals that home prices will continue to rise. If prices continue to go up, more current home owners who have held off selling due to negative equity might list their home and offer more inventory and choices to home buyers.

We are optimistic that the housing market recovery will continue moderately in 2013.

Tips for Selling in 2013:

Be realistic – Yes, there has been a lot of news of recovery, rising prices and multiple offers. It’s all true but the reality is that values are still off considerably from what they used to be. If you price your home right from day one, you will get fair market value. We can help you price your home competitively so you are not giving anything away and get what the market dictates based on comparable sales and current market trends. We will market your property to make sure it gets the attention it needs to sell but proper marketing will never overcome an inflated price.

Be prepared – You might want to do a preinspection. This gives you an opportunity to find out what issues will likely come up when a buyer has your home inspected. You can also get bids and shop around for contractors at your leisure rather than under time constraints when under contract.  This allows you to address any issues before going on the market.

Declutter,  dress up and stow away – Simple home improvements and decluttering can make your home shine and attract the right attention.  Repainting and a thorough cleaning, inside and out (roof, gutter, windows, carpets, floors, etc. ) will help make the marketing materials shine and attract traffic. It will also make a lasting impression on touring buyers.  Replace any broken light bulbs and consider using higher wattage light bulbs, especially in the winter months to make your home look brighter.  Big remodels generally do not pay back, especially if the buyer does not share your taste of finishes. Defects such as drippy faucets, leaks, etc. should most definitely be addressed.  Unattended defects might deter potential buyers or may make them more likely to haggle on price.  Start packing any items you do not need on a daily basis and declutter.  Open and organized spaces make your home look bigger and more appealing.  Lock up or stow away any valuables and medications.

Timing  – The best time to sell is when consumer confidence is on the upswing, interest rates are low, unemployment is decreasing and there are more buyers in your local market than there are sellers .  Spring is usually a favored time for sellers to put their house on the market because of longer daylight hours and healthier looking yards, as well as a convenient time for families with school aged children. However, with inventory at an all time low right now and currently increasing buyer confidence, sellers have an edge with buyers competing for a few good homes.  It is a good time to sell now.

Tips for Buying in 2013:

Jump – If you have been wanting to buy but you have sat on the sidelines because you have been afraid to commit, wait no more. The bottom of the market has passed (which was March/April 2012). Prices and interest rates are still low which makes this a good time to buy.

Be prepared – Decide if homeownership is right for you and take the time to run the numbers. Real estate is a long term investment and if you think you will live in your home less than five years, you should think twice about buying. Buying and selling have associated costs. We can run the numbers for you. If you have decided that buying is for you, get preapproved for a loan before you start the house hunt. Have your mortgage broker run your credit and then fix any blips or inaccuracies to make sure your credit score reflects your true rating. Better scores qualify you for better rates and better rates mean lower payments. Your income, credit and down payment amount will also determine the types of loan programs you are eligible for.  You should understand what your options and payments will be before you commit. Ask us for a referral to a qualified mortgage broker.  Also, sellers will not entertain offer from buyers who cannot show that they actually have the funds in hand or qualify for financing.

Carefully consider the neighborhood – there are a number of online resources that let you check crime statistics and the national sex offender list. Check out the commute and public transportation options for different areas and research schools. Visit the neighborhoods at different hours of the day and ask residents in the area what they like and dislike about their neighborhood.

Ask lots of questions and actively engage in the process  – Most sellers will put on the lipstick when they put their house on the market. They clean and paint the house, use airfreshners, cover things up with throw rugs, etc. – you get the picture. When you are looking at homes, take the time to look at details, ask to see the seller disclosure form that will show defects the seller is aware of and ask questions if you see things that seem out of place. No house is perfect but you want to know what you are getting yourself into. Turn on the stove, run the faucets, look in the closets, be aware of stains and blotches and so on. Of course, you should hire a licensed home inspector once you have decided to buy a specific home but you can weed out a lot of homes that are not in acceptable selling condition by paying attention yourself.

Attend our free homebuyer seminar – Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a move up buyer, you will learn valuable information at these free home buyer seminars. The class will cover the State of the Market, Important Steps of the Homebuying Process, Pros and Cons of Buying vs. Renting, and Financing Options. There will also be time for questions in the end to make sure individual interests and questions are answered.  Call or email Kerstin at 206.276.5827 / .

New Listings

We have a new listing in Edmonds (Yost Park) neighborhood for $449,950.  It is 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2-story with basement.  It has beautiful territorial views, a wine cellar, updated fixtures, spacious at about 2600 SQF and it is on a cul-de-sac, just minutes from downtown Edmonds.  Our first open house will be on Saturday, March 2nd, from 1-4pm and Sunday, March 3rd from 1-4pm.  Please let us know if you want more information.

Kerstin Brooks & Krisanne Heinze
Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team
Skyline Properties, Inc.


Jumbo Mortgage Loans – Don’t Let the Downpayment Fool You!

December 22, 2011

This is a guest blog entry by Jeff McGinnis:

Jumbo mortgage loans are back, but don’t let the down payment requirement fool you. They still have reserve requirements and other fun surprises that can create issues. Learn what they are and how to avoid them.

As a professional mortgage banker since 1997 in the Seattle and Bellevue, WA area, I’ve had the unique experience of watching jumbo mortgage loans go through waves of popularity in the last 5-7 years. To say the least over the last 3 years jumbo mortgage loans have been the most difficult loans to find and put together compared to their FHA, VA, and conventional mortgage counterparts.

Defining a Jumbo Loan

The good news is they are back, they are reasonably priced, and the interest rates are good. Before I review the issues the reader needs to be aware of, let’s define a true jumbo mortgage. In the Seattle & Bellevue MSA, conventional & FHA mortgages will lend up to a loan amount of $506,000. There is a conforming jumbo loan that has a loan amount range of $417,001 – $506,000. So for this article’s purpose, I am referring to loan amounts of greater than $506,000.

Down Payments

In general jumbo loans require a 20% or more down payment. There are some jumbo programs that allow for as little as 10% down, but don’t let the down payment requirement fool you. Many times there is an additional requirement on jumbo loans called “reserve requirements”. This means that after closing, a borrower needs to have a certain number of payments in the bank after the down payment and closing costs are accounted for.

Reserve Requirements

The reserve requirement is defined as how much money is left over in the borrower’s bank account after closing. The amount of money needed for the requirement can range from 6-12 months of total monthly payments for the new mortgage. The requirements can increase depending if the borrower owns additional properties. For example: The borrower may have investment properties or second homes which would increase the amount of reserve requirement. The reserve requirements may increase even further if any of the properties are underwater.

Sometimes the bank or investor of the loan will require the reserves come from specific types of accounts. It’s important to know which accounts are eligible for the reserve requirements. Will the investor accept a 401k or other retirement accounts or will they require the funds to be in a liquid account like a checking or savings account? Sound confusing? It is. But with a little preparation and planning a borrower can head off these types of issues far in advance of making an offer on a property.

Jeff McGinnis
MLO – 279369 CL-142878
Direct: 206-283-5626 (LOAN)
Fax: 425-818-7601 Wallick & Volk Mortgage Bank – Home of the 21 Day Purchase Xpress
600 108th Ave NE, Suite 110
Bellevue, WA 98004

What do a great agent and massage therapist have in common?

November 4, 2011


Buying a home is one of the most exciting things you can do. I remember when I bought my first condo – I was thrilled. I was excited about making the leap from renter to homeowner. Home buying is a great financial commitment and an intensely emotional experience.  When your emotions are involved in a purchase, there’s a possibility that those emotions can get out of hand and stress can taint the experience.

Experienced Buyer’s Agent with Great Communication Skills


 Fabulous Massage Therapist


 Stress-free Home Buying

Selecting the right home for you and your family should be fun. Picking the right agent to work with and finding a way for you to stay grounded during the process are key ingredients.

Finding a home to buy is actually pretty easy with all the information so readily available online today. However, getting that home under contract, managing the inspection, jumping the hurdles of title and settlement are the “scary” parts where your agent really “earns” his/her fee.  A good and caring agent will be there to educate you and hold your hand step by step.  Good communication between you and your agent will make the process easier and less stressful for you.

Also, having some other way to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed or conflicted is very important. Massage is great for lowering tension and anxiety. It also helps with staying alert, being more aware and concentrating – all important when committing to a big investment like a home. When you are calm and your mind is at peace you are more likely to make sound decisions

 For a free, no-obligation home-buyer consultation, contact Kerstin G. Brooks of the Brooks & Heinze Team at 206.276.5827 or find the team online at .

 To schedule an appointment at Shift Massage, contact Kathy J. Rose at 206.399.8820 or find her online at .

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Real Estate
Cell: 206.276.5827

Special one-year Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension for Members of the Military, Foreign Service and Intelligence Service

May 17, 2010

Home Buyer Tax Credits Have Expired BUT service members who were on official extended duty outside of the United States for at least 90 days between Jan.1, 2009 and May 1, 2010, may qualify for a one-year extension.)

Special rules for eligibility also apply for members of the foreign service and the intelligence community.

Military, Foreign Service, Intelligence Community

Congress has acknowledged the unique circumstances affecting members of the military, the foreign service and the intelligence community by making the following exceptions that apply to both the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers and the $6,500 tax credit for repeat home buyers.

Exemption From Tax Credit Recapture Rules
•Typically, homes that are sold or that cease to be used as a principal residence within three years of the initial purchase are subject to recapture of the tax credit.
•However, qualified service members who sell or move from a tax credit home within three years of the initial purchase due to official extended duty are exempt from the recapture rule.
Extension of Tax Credit Deadlines
•The home buyer tax credit is available for qualified purchases with a binding sales contract in place on or before April 30, 2010 and closed by June 30, 2010.
•However, for qualified service members who are ordered on a period of official extended duty, these dates are extended for one year. For these home buyers, the tax credit applies to sales with a binding sales contract in place on or before April 30, 2011 and closed by June 30, 2011.
•A person who is forced to return to the U.S. for medical reasons before completing an assignment of at least 90 days of qualified official extended duty outside of the United States may qualify for the one-year extension.
•“Qualified service member” means a member of the uniformed services of the U.S military, a member of the Foreign Service of the U.S., or an employee of the intelligence community.
•“Official extended duty” means any period of extended duty outside of the United States for at least 90 days during the period beginning after December 31, 2008 and ending before May 1, 2010.

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Team

What is the Homebuyer Tax Credit and who qualifies for it

February 28, 2009

The stimulus plan that President Obama has signed into law as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contains an important tax credit for first-time home buyers: a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers only.

First-time buyers, for the purpose of this credit, are those who have not owned a home in three years. This new tax credit does not replace the 10% of purchase price, up to $7,500 tax credit passed as part of last year’s Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

So, there are two breaks for first-time homeowners in the tax code now. Which credit you can take depends on when you purchased your home.

If you’re a first-time home buyer and you purchased your home on or after April 8, 2008, and by Dec. 31, 2008, you may qualify for 10% of the purchase price, up to $7500 tax credit but you have to pay that back because it’s not really a credit, it’s more like a 15-year, interest-free loan from the IRS.

Visit the IRS website or consult your tax advisor for the details if you qualify for this credit (loan). The credit is 10 percent of the purchase of the home, with a maximum available credit of $7,500 for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing a joint return; $3,750 for married persons filing separate returns.

The full credit is available for homes costing $75,000 or more. Only purchases of a main home located in the United States qualify, and the home must have been purchased after April 8, 2008, and before December 31, 2008. For a home you construct, the purchase date is the date you first occupy the home.

The up to $8,000 tax credit is available for qualifying home purchases made from Jan. 1, 2009, until Dec. 1, 2009 (yes, Dec. 1 not Dec. 31). At least the credit is a true credit and does not need to be repaid, that is, if you don’t plan on moving within three years. The home must remain the buyer’s “main home” for at least 36 months after the purchase date, which means no selling or renting the home. This won’t work for an investment property. If the buyer sells or moves before 3 years have passed, they will need to pay back the credit.

There is also an income limitation and the credit starts phasing out if you have over $75,000 in gross adjusted income for single filers and up to $150,000 in adjusted gross income for joint (married) filers.

A tax credit is much more valuable than a deduction. A credit reduces dollar for dollar the amount of tax you owe. A deduction merely reduces the amount of your income that is taxable.

Please click on the following links to see a side by side comparison of the two tax-credits, repayment requirements, recapture requirements, income limits to qualify, property eligibility, amount of credit, etc.

Tax Credit Chart (Source: National Association of Realtors),,id=204671,00.html ( Website)

If you are still not sure which and if you qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit and if you qualify for the maximum amount of credit, contact the IRS or your tax advisor.

If you are a first-time homebuyer and still on the fence whether to buy this year or not, perhaps this new credit will get you to jump off the fence and dive into homeownership. When you combine the tax credit with historically low interest rates, a great selection of homes, desperate sellers and low home prices, shopping for a home gets exciting.

NOTE: This blog is not meant as tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for details about your particular situation. We are real estate agents, not tax advisors.

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Team
“Where People Come First”
Skyline Properties, Inc.

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