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,

Kerstin

 

Brooks & Heinze Team
at Skyline Properties, Inc.
Kerstin Brooks: 206.276.5827
Krisanne Heinze: 206.920.2541
Email: info@propertyinseattle.com
Web: www.propertyinseattle.com


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:

 employment2

employment1

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.

 confidence

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.  

kerstinweb

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Real Estate Team
Skyline Properties, Inc.
Cell: 206.276.5827
Web: http://www.propertyinseattle.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PropertyinSeattle


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
http://www.mcginnismortgage.com


Mortgage Interest Rate Myths

June 28, 2010

The following blog entry is a guest contribution by Virginia Lawson of Cobalt Mortgage in Kirkland, WA.

This may come as a shock to many borrowers, but it’s absolutely true. Mortgage interest rates are not set by the Federal Reserve and, contrary to popular belief, mortgage rates are not directly tied to the yields of US Treasury bills, bonds, or notes – including the 10-year Treasury Note. That’s right. Despite what you might hear in the media, mortgage interest rates are actually set by lending institutions, and are based solely on the performance of mortgage-backed securities.

For years now, the media and inexperienced loan officers everywhere have suggested that the 10-year Treasury Note, a government-backed security, is directly tied to mortgage interest rates, that the two are separated by a specific interval – which is simply not true. The graph on this page, which shows interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and the yield for the 10-year Treasury Note for 13 months, clearly demonstrates this fact.

At a quick glance, yes, it’s easy to see why the mistake is made. As you can see, for 11 out of the 13 months recorded in the graph, the yield of the 10-year Treasury Note and interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages did follow a somewhat similar long-term path, despite obvious short-term divergences. However, take a closer look at the drastic change that occurs from January through March 2008. What’s interesting about this graph is that, during this period, the Federal Reserve had cut interest rates six times, from September 2007, to March 2008, and yet mortgage rates were actually higher in March 2008 than they were a year before. Not only does this demonstrate that the yield of the 10-year Treasury Note is not pegged to mortgage interest rates, it also reveals that mortgage interest rates are not set by the Fed either.

Stop being misled. If you or someone you know is thinking about buying or refinancing a home, give us a call. We’ll give the facts you need to make a truly informed decision.


Virginia Lawson, Senior Mortgage Advisor
Cobalt Mortgage
Phone: (425) 605-3129
License: 510-LO-51808
http://www.virginialawson.com


Smart Homebuyers are focusing on taking advantage of favorable rates along with the Tax Credit

January 11, 2010

Smart home buyers are focusing on taking advantage of the present, very favorable rate situation along with the still available tax credit.

Rates are likely to go up:

Please note that the main reason interest rates are so low is because the government is buying mortgage backed securities, or you may have heard the term “toxic assets”, which are basically sub-prime loans or loans that required no proof of income, allowed low credit scores and were generally 0% down.

After you get a loan through your bank or mortgage broker, the loans are sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and then those 2 entities package them up to sell them to investors. After the sub-prime meltdown no investors wanted them and so to keep Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae afloat, we, as taxpayers, bought them for essentially the “list price” even though they were not worth anything.

Even now, because interest rates are so low, private investors are not interested in mortgage backed securities (even though most of the loans now have a stringent qualification process) and so we, as taxpayers, are still buying them (and probably over-paying the banks).

In December (on the 24th, while most of the country was spending time at home with their family for the holidays) the Treasury announced there was to be no limit on what the government spent to bail out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. The prior limit was 400 Billion. This is a good article to explain what that means (besides we are all getting ripped off and our children, children’s children and so on will suffer). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dean-baker/fannie-mae-and-freddie-ma_b_405117.html .

So, when the government decides to start stepping out of the big business welfare role, interest rates will go up and I presume that will happen in 2010 sometime. So, what happens when interest rates increase? Buyer’s qualify for less money and it impacts the housing market because buyers can afford less.

Tax Credit for First-time Buyers and Move-up Buyers scheduled to expire April 30, 2010.

In order to qualify for the credit, all home purchase contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010.

More about these tax credits can be learned in one of our prior posts from November 8, 2009 entitled “First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended” and “A New Tax Credit for Certain Existing Home Owners”.

A great way to learn more about the above topics or decide if becoming a homeowner is right for you, please contact us or attend one of our home buyer workshops:

UPCOMING HOME BUYER WORKSHOPS

Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: Northgate (Seattle) – 9709 3rd Ave NE #450, Seattle, WA 98115


Topics covered:
Loan Application Process, First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit, Market Conditions, Own vs. Rent Illustration, Home Buying Process, For Sale by Owner (FSBO), bank-owned, short-sale properties, Q & A. RSVP to Kerstin at 206.276.5827 or info@propertyinseattle.com


Krisanne Heinze & Kerstin G. Brooks

Brooks & Heinze Team



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 kerstinbrooks@earthlink.net.

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
http://www.propertyinseattle.com/
Phone: 206.276.5827
Email: kerstinbrooks@earthlink.net


Rising Mortgage Interest Rates and Buying Power

February 15, 2008

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: 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 $227.5/month if the interest rate rose 1%.

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 another example to illustrate 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. No change in monthly payments.

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

If you have more questions, about this topic, please feel free to contact us at 206.276.5827 or at kerstinbrooks@earthlink.net.

Kerstin G. Brooks, ABR, Realtor
Brooks & Heinze Team at RE/MAX NW Realtors
300 NE 97th St
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 206.276.5827
Email: kerstinbrooks@earthlink.net
Web: www.propertyinseattle.com


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