Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are Seattle Home Prices Still Falling? Maybe NOT!

According to the Seattle Times, home prices are falling across the U.S. and even the prices of homes in Seattle are dropping. We all know that there is a large number of foreclosures taking place in the real estate market, which may or may not affect prices of homes in certain areas. Please click on the Seattle Times link to learn more about the falling prices in Seattle. But one thing to point out is the "Seattle" real estate market includes King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties for the purposes of the Seattle Times article. There are signs that the real estate market is strengthening in the Seattle city limits. For example, while both Madrona and Laurelhurst neighborhoods have small sample sets, some of the home sales numbers are looking up when comparing 2011 and 2010. In both of these neighborhoods, the price per square foot for houses sold in the 1st quarter 2011 was higher than for the same time period in 2010 - click Madrona real estate and Laurelhurst real estate to read more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Zoning Changes in SoDo Allows for New Residential Buildings

New residential buildings may be coming to SoDo as Seattle City Council recently voted to change current zoning allowing for buildings up to 24 stories high, according to a Seattle Times article. The vote came as a result of wanting to increase residency, but still be able to maintain the characteristics that make the area so unique. Some of these places already are flourishing with great restaurants and shopping centers, so it’s no wonder the city is making an effort to draw new residents. The proposal for the change is over a year old and had a lot of community support. However, if the city wants to draw more residents to the International District, especially families with kids, more improvements need to be made. For example, the city should plan for more parks or open spaces. Crime rates in the International District are an issue as well. Not to say other Seattle neighborhoods like Belltown don’t face high crime rates, but SPD has already increased patrol to address the problem. When it comes to the International District, police reported that the area does not have a higher than average crime rate. In September of last year, KOMO covered a story on the International District and the negative perception of the area as opposed to the actual amount of crime. I can understand how this could be true. At any rate, it’s going to take more than a few new buildings to attract people to the area. If the area is revitalized, it can easily become a desirable place for Seattleites to find new Seattle real estate opportunities.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Business-and-Occupation Tax Will Lead to Mortgage Tax

A new issue has arisen in Olympia concerning the taxation of mortgage loans. Activists are lobbying to apply the business and occupation tax on interest earned by income lenders on mortgage loans. There was a good editorial in the Seattle Times about this home mortgage tax. Basically, if this tax is imposed, it’s a near certainty mortgage rates will climb to cover the costs. (Not like the banks are just going to eat the cost to do mortgages in Washington State). While there are signs that the home market is recovering in Seattle, this tax seems to be a very dangerous proposal. Loans are harder for home buyers to get as it is – now these activists want to make it even harder? If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in Seattle this year, next year, or in your lifetime – you should tell your legislature that this is not a good idea.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seattle Real Estate Selling Fast if Priced Right

Ewing and Clark brought this Seward Park house on the market last week and within two days it was pending. This is not unusual. Real estate in Seattle is selling, especially if it is priced reasonably from the beginning. Seattle's Mount Baker neighborhood is a great example of this. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), in the last 6 months 31 homes have sold in the Mt Baker neighborhood. Of those almost 1/3 of the homes (9) went pending in less than 10 days. Of the 9 Mount Baker homes that sold in less than 10 days, 6 of them sold for the original list price or higher. Of the 22 Mt Baker homes that sold in more than 10 days, only 2 sold for the original list price or higher. Both of those homes sold relatively quickly as well - going pending within 30 days.

While these statistics are a good example of what is going on in the Seattle real estate market, it should be pointed out that there are other well priced homes available for purchase - even if they are on the market for more than 10 days. For example, this (click link) Mount Baker home is priced nearly $40,000 less than what the house a few doors down just sold for two months ago. Both homes are nicely finished with the same amount of bedrooms. In fact, the house still currently for sale has more bathrooms than the house that sold.

So if you a buyer looking for a home to purchase, you should get your ducks in a row to be ready for the next great house that is listed, get to know the market so you know a great house when you see it, and do not forget the homes that are already on the market - there are fantastic homes already available.

Statistics not compiled or published by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Foreclosure in The Highlands Seattle / Shoreline

A week ago Sunday, the Seattle Times wrote and article about a foreclosure in The Highlands. The article titled, The Highlands Can't Keep Out Foreclosures, is buried at the bottom of the first article about the proxy fight at Fisher. While the article points out the foreclosure, it also discusses what The Highlands has to offer: large lots, view of Puget Sound, privacy, and access to community trails, tennis courts, playfields, beach, pool, etc. And while sales essential stopped (no sales in 2009), since then sales have picked up. With just over 100 homes in The Highlands, 10% have sold or under contract since the beginning of 2010.

The Seattle Times article extensively quotes Jane Powers, real estate broker from Ewing & Clark. Jane has three listings in The Highlands including this fantastic home listed for nearly $5 million. Currently there are 12 homes available for sale in The Highlands. To quote Jane and the article:

A dozen homes in The Highlands are for sale now, Powers says — a lot by historic standards, but down from 18 a couple years ago.

Why so many? "There were some financial situations, like everywhere else," Powers says. But folks also were selling for all the usual reasons — death, divorce, relocation, downsizing.

With inventory high, this might be the time to buy in one of Seattle's great neighborhoods.