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


Under water? Can’t afford your mortgage payments anymore? Short Sale as Foreclosure Avoidance Tool best for some Homeowners

February 28, 2010

According to yesterday’s issue of the Puget Sound Business Journal, about 16 percent of all residential properties with mortgages were in negative equity at the end of the year in Washington State.

Negative equity means the homeowner owes more on the home than the home is worth.  This  can occur because of a decline in real estate value and/or  an increase in mortgage debt.

In Washington state, there were 3,288 foreclosure filings  in November of 2009, with one in every 835 housing units receiving a foreclosure notice — a 15 percent increase from November 2008.

Today, the Seattle PI reported more bad news about the Labor Market.  According to the PI, it was the second straight week that claims rose unexpectedly.  High unemployment remains one of the biggest obstacles to a sustained economic recovery.

In short, the economy is still shaky and more and more homeowners are struggling to make their mortgage payments and feel stuck because they know they cannot sell their home at a price that will cover their mortgage.  Depressed, scared and uninformed about their options, many wait until the bank forecloses and evicts them from their home.

For some homeowners, a short sale may be the option they are looking for. A real estate agent may be able to sell their home in a short sale which means the bank allows them to sell their home at market value and forgives some of their mortgage debt to make the sale possible.

Each situation is different and there are no guarantees. If anyone says they can guarantee a successful short sale or charges you upfront, nonrefundable fees to negotiate a short sale for you — run!

Generally, a short sale is better for a homeowner than a foreclosure. The ramifications of a short sale on your credit history are much less severe than with a foreclosure. If you are looking to apply for an apartment and you have a foreclosure and bank eviction on your history, you may have a hard time finding a rental. Bad credit will also affect your insurance rates, employment opportunities, etc.

Your eligibility for a new home loan will be affected more gravely with a foreclosure on your record. Underwriting and qualifying guidelines for mortgages change all the time but with a short sale on your record you may qualify for a new loan in a couple of years, whereas a foreclosure may keep you from buying a new home for 6-7+ years.

If you are in the Greater Seattle Area and want to talk to an agent about selling your home as a Short Sale, please contact the Brooks & Heinze Team for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Kerstin G. Brooks
Brooks & Heinze Team
Skyline Properties, Inc.
Ph: 206.276.5827
Email: info@propertyinseattle.com


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