Monthly Newsletter – May 2019

The generational shift that is happening in our country right now is having a strong influence on demand for real estate. As the Millennials gain a stronger foothold into their adulthood, Generation X settles in with family, Boomers move towards retirement and the Silent Generation find themselves making moves for health reasons, the desire to match their homes to the time in their life is creating strong demand in the real estate market.

 

In the month of April, the absorption rate based on pending sales was 81% in north King County and 91% in south Snohomish County. Historically low interest rates are helping to fuel this demand. In fact, rates are over half a point lower than they were six months ago.  The low rates are enabling people to make moves with less debt service to satisfy their changing needs for housing based on their age and lifestyle. Below you can see a chart from the National Association of Realtors outlining this motivation.

Recently, the National Association of Realtors did a survey of home buyers to help understand the generational influence on real estate. From July 2017 to June 2018 they gathered data which outlined the top motivators for each age group. Let’s take a look at what caused these groups to make moves.


Young Millennials (1990-1998)
This group accounted for 11% of all home buyers and were predominantly first-time home buyers. Motivated by the desire to start building wealth through owning real estate and purchasing as close to work as possible, this group enjoyed small ramblers, townhomes and condos. This group used financing to obtain their purchases and used savings or gift funds to amass their down payment. A common misconception from this group is that they need a large down payment in order to purchase. This group utilized loan programs with smaller, single-digit down payments to help get their foot in the door of becoming a home owner and building wealth.

Older Millennials (1980-1989)
This group accounted for 26% of all home buyers, the largest group! They have become more established in their careers and are getting married and having children, which is creating the need for a larger home. They tend to gravitate toward larger homes and are willing to move a bit further away from work to obtain the larger square footage. This group is moving into the suburbs and considering school districts and commute times. Some were able to move equity from their first home to the next, creating a larger down payment;  others bought for the first time to avoid high rents.

Generation X (1965-1979)
This group accounted for 24% of all home buyers, the second largest group. They are motivated to upgrade to the largest square footage of all, and take a multi-generational approach to their housing. Many with aging children and/or parents, it is not uncommon for this group to consider having room for adult children or older parents. Still in prime earning years, proximity to work is very important.  Positive equity positions have helped this group make these transitions.

Younger Boomers (1955-1964)
This group accounted for 18% of all home buyers. Job change and desire to be closer to friends and family motivated this group. Positive equity growth enabled some of this group to have sizable down payments. Another interesting fact about this group is that one in four were a single female, some of which were first-time home buyers.  In some cases divorce and death lead individuals to still take on home ownership to build wealth and avoid high rents.

Older Boomers (1946-1955)
This group accounted for 14% of all home buyers. The ability to move equity from one home to the next was a huge influence for this group, and enabled them to find that “forever home” with large down payments and in some cases with “all cash”. The house with less maintenance, more upgrades, possibly further away from job centers, but still close to family and friends.  Single level living is of high priority for this group along with turn-key finishes.

Silent Generation (1925-1945)
This group accounted for 7% of all home buyers and often centered themselves in senior living choices. Smaller homes or condos with stair free access in communities close to family and health services are a priority for this group. Through years of equity growth many of these purchases are “all cash” or only with the need for a very small mortgage.

Life changes motivate real estate decisions.  Career changes, marriage, divorce, family size, retirement, and the desire to be close to family and friends are just some of the reasons people decide to make moves. Fortunately, today’s low interest rates and the ability to transfer equity from one property to another is having a positive effect on demand for real estate. The recent balancing of the market due to more inventory has also made it a bit easier for first-time home buyers to purchase a home.

If you’re curious about the market and how your goals, current lifestyle, and financial position measure up, please contact me. I can help you analyze your ability to match your home to your life. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.

We are collecting vegetable seeds and starts for the Martha Perry Garden, where volunteers grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce every year for local food banks.

My office will be spending a volunteer day in the garden for our annual Community Service Day in June. In addition to our labor, we will gift them all of the vegetable seeds and starts collected between now and then.

All seeds should be no more than a year old, although fresh seeds are preferred.

Wish List:

Basil, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots*, Cauliflower, Chard, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Herbs, Marigolds, Peppers, Radishes, Summer Squash, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Zucchini

*High Demand!

Starts of cucumbers, winter & summer squash, cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc) are especially welcome

Thank you!!

 

Windermere Foundation Recognized at Puget Sound Business Journal Philanthropy Luncheon

The Windermere Foundation was recognized last week, along with 74 other generous companies, at the annual Puget Sound Business Journal’s Corporate Philanthropy luncheon. The Windermere Foundation moved up the list (and it’s a very impressive list, full of national and international companies!) from #22 to #17!

Check out WindermereFoundation.com for more info on our culture of giving back.

Posted on June 4, 2019 at 3:34 am
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter

Monthly Newsletter – 2019

I am pleased to present the first-quarter 2019 edition of the Gardner Report, which provides insights into select counties of the Western Washington housing market. This analysis is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. I hope that this information will assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Click to view the full report

 

When you shop at a local Farmers Market, you’re buying outstanding freshness, quality and flavor. Knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown provides peace of mind for your family. Plus, you’re supporting a sustainable regional food system that helps small family farms stay in business; protects land from development, and provides the community with fresh, healthy food. Find one near you!

We are collecting vegetable seeds and starts for the Martha Perry Garden, where volunteers grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce every year for local food banks.

My office will be spending a volunteer day in the garden for our annual Community Service Day in June. In addition to our labor, we will gift them all of the vegetable seeds and starts collected between now and then.

All seeds should be no more than a year old, although fresh seeds are preferred.
Wish List:

Basil, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots*, Cauliflower, Chard, Cucumbers, Green Beans, Herbs, Marigolds, Peppers, Radishes, Summer Squash, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Zucchini

*High Demand!

Starts of cucumbers, winter & summer squash, cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc) are especially welcome

Thank you!!

Thank you for another successful Shred Day!

Two full truckloads of paper were safely shredded and recycled.

We love providing this service for our clients, friends and neighbors, but what we’re really excited about is how you all gave back to the community. Your donations provided 534 pounds of food and $1,129 to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Thank you!

Posted on May 6, 2019 at 5:53 pm
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter

Monthly Newsletter – March 2019: Consulting Your Trusted Advisor vs Following the Media

Spring is in the air! The bulbs are starting to poke out of the ground and we recently hit 70 degrees in the Greater Seattle area. This is the time of year, due to weather and the end of the school year approaching, that the local real estate market starts to take off with activity. Not only is the sun thawing out gardens and backyard patios, helping to ready homes for market, but interest rates are continuing to fall, providing a heyday for buyers and sellers.

Spring is the time of year we see more homes come to market providing more selection for buyers. This is what we call our peak season. This spring, however, is especially meaningful due to the recent decrease in interest rates. Seasonality naturally brings more activity, but 2019 has started out with a downward trajectory in regards to interest rates, which has been a welcome shift after watching rates increase by almost an entire point over the course of 2018.

According to Ycharts.com, as of March 14th the US 30-year mortgage rate is at 4.31%, compared to 4.41% the week prior and 4.46% last year. This is quite a bit lower than the long term average of 8.07%. Additionally, rates are now over half a point lower than they were just four months ago, which gives buyers 5% more buying power. Meaning they can increase their price range by 5% and keep the same mortgage payment.

We are beginning to see a ton of activity at open houses, market times are starting to shrink, and multiple offers are popping up again. Demand is on the rise, with first-time home buyers out in full-force along with move-up and down-size buyers all going after the same inventory. Price appreciation will start to happen again month-over-month as the tulips start to open and veggie gardens start sprouting.

This assessment is not only factual and researched, it is anecdotal. You see, statistics are only reported monthly from the NWMLS, so the stories from the streets tell the real story of where we have been, what’s happening now, and where we are headed in the real estate market. My daily engagement with the market, either helping buyers or sellers, researching values, showing properties, negotiating contracts, and working on inspections and appraisals helps me to be informed of the trends before they are even reported.

Around the third of each month, the NWMLS distributes a press release to the media reporting the previous month’s statistics. The media grabs the numbers that are most exciting to them to craft a story around. They create headlines to entice readership, which in turn sells advertising. The problem is that these news stories often only tell part of the story.

A classic example of cherry picked statistics used to create a headline came earlier this month.  The Seattle Times reported in a sub-headline that Snohomish County home prices were falling at their fastest rate in seven years. This is simply not the whole truth. This is a common tactic of the media often only using month-over-month numbers (comparing the current month to the same month a year ago) versus a complete year-over-year analysis. Real estate is a long-term investment, and month-over-month numbers tend to provide more of a snapshot rather than a longer-term analysis of data and what influenced it.

We need to look at the data from all angles. Where were we a year ago, what has happened over the course of the last year in comparison to the previous year, and what happened this month compared to last month? Real-time experiences matter too, as the market changes weekly and even daily. Interactions throughout the month help me understand what opportunities the current environment will provide before the ink even dries on the media release. All of this helps us understand where we have come from and where we are headed. Couple that with front-line, daily experiences, and your trusted advisor can help you determine how all of this relates to your bottom line much more effectively than an article in the newspaper.

Another important factor to consider is that the bulk of the statistics reported in that monthly NWMLS press release are based on closed sales. While closed sales are very important, we must also closely track pending sales activity (homes currently under contract). Closed sales show where we have been and pending sales indicate where we are headed. February was a misleading month because of Snowmageddon. It halted new inventory reaching the market and kept buyers at home. The second half of February once the roads were cleared, had buyers lined up. Many of those buyers are anxiously waiting for that seasonal surge in inventory as we head into spring. This is indicated by conversations being had at open houses and one-on-one encounters with clients. Buyers want to take advantage of these surprisingly low interest rates now and sellers are enjoying the audience they are providing.

Unfortunately, the media is the initial source of information, and sometimes the only source a consumer considers when making such big decisions. I can’t tell you how often I encounter people that are grossly misled by alarming headlines and bite-sized bits of media when it comes to their largest asset, or the consideration of entering into home ownership.

Supply and demand illustrates where we are at in the market, and factors such as interest rates, the local and global economy, and simple things like weather and consumer mindset drive the market. Consumer mindset is influenced by the media. Take it a step further and make sure you are aligned with a professional who is committed to tracking all of this and can help explain how it all relates to you. Everyone has their own goals and their own concerns; it is the analysis of a well-researched trusted advisor that can help you navigate these meaningful financial decisions. It is my goal to provide my clients with the most up-to-date information to help empower strong decisions. If you are curious how this all relates to you, please reach out. I’d be happy to discuss and help educate.

Growing your own vegetables is both fun and rewarding. It might seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but once you get started, you’ll find it isn’t very hard. Gardening is a learning experience, though. You’ll find that some things work better than others, and every planting season gives you another opportunity to make some tweaks and try again.

The first thing you need to decide is where to plant. For most veggies, this should be the sunniest spot you have. And of course, the second big question is what to plant. Go for the things you love to eat, as well as plants that will thrive in the amount of sun you have.

Our climate in the Pacific Northwest requires some crops to be started indoors in the winter and transplanted outside in the spring. But it’s not too late to get started. There are lots of plants that you can sow directly into the garden in early spring. Here are a few:

There are also many crops that can be planted in the summer for a fall harvest. Click here for a complete timeline of planting vegetables in the Seattle area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Earth Day with us! Bring all your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site by Confidential Data Disposal. Limit 20 file boxes per customer.

We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors Food Bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.

Saturday, April 20th, 10am – 2pm.
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood 98036

*This is a shredding-only event. Only paper will be accepted – no electronics or recyclables.

 

Posted on April 15, 2019 at 10:52 pm
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter

December eNewsletter

What Does Median Price Buy You in Each Area?

Most recently, the Seattle Times published an article about Seattle being the hottest real estate market in the country. This phenomenon has been taking place for over a year and experts don’t see this slowing down. According to the Case-Schiller Index, over the last 5 years since the market started to recover from the downturn, there has been an 80% increase in prices! I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the median price in each of our market areas to illustrate the price differentiation and affordability. If you are curious how this increase relates to your home, please contact me. It is my goal to help keep me clients informed and empower strong decisions.
North Snohomish County
Sale Price:  $380,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/2
Square Footage:  1,551
Year over Year Appreciation:  13%
South Snohomish County
Sale Price:  $500,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms: 3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,784
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
North King County
Sale Price:  $715,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,980
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
Seattle Metro
Sale Price:  $725,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,780
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
Eastside
Sale Price:  $855,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  4/2.5
Square Footage:  2,170
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
South King County
Sale Price:  $400,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/3.75
Square Footage:  2,400
Year over Year Appreciation:  13%
Windermere Foundation Quarterly Update

I am excited to share the most recent update from the Windermere Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of Windermere agents and the community, the Windermere Foundation collected over $1,537,000 in donations through the third quarter of 2017. This is an increase of nine percent compared to this time last year! Individual contributions and fundraisers accounted for 62 percent of the donations, while 38 percent came from donations through Windermere agent commissions. So far, we have raised a total of $34,643,324 in donations since 1989.

Each Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account that they use to make donations to organizations in their communities. Year to date, a total of $1,179,202 has been disbursed to non-profit organizations dedicated to providing services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S. Check out my office’s specific contributions below!

Through the Windermere Foundation, my office had the privilege to donate $13,360 this year to YMCA Camp Orkila and Colman; sending 40 kids to summer camp that would not have otherwise had the opportunity. This past spring, we also spent a full day helping the Snohomish Garden Club provide thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local food banks, and this holiday season we will be able to provide approximately 24 foster boys a plentiful Christmas morning and give full holiday dinners to families receiving aid from Pioneer Human Services. These are all causes that are close to my heart, and I am so glad to partner with an office that strives to make a difference.If you would like to help give back to your community, you can do so through the Windermere Foundation here.

Happy Holidays!

Posted on November 30, 2017 at 10:43 pm
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter

November 2017 eNewsletter

What Does Median Price Buy you in Each Area?
Most recently, the Seattle Times published an article about Seattle being the hottest real estate market in the country. This phenomenon has been taking place for over a year and experts don’t see this slowing down. According to the Case-Schiller Index, over the last 5 years since the market started to recover from the downturn, there has been an 80% increase in prices! I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the median price in each of our market areas to illustrate the price differentiation and affordability. If you are curious how this increase relates to your home, please contact me. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.
North Snohomish County
Sale Price:  $380,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/2
Square Footage:  1,551
Year over Year Appreciation:  13%
South Snohomish County
Sale Price:  $500,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms: 3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,784
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
North King County
Sale Price:  $715,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,980
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
Seattle Metro
Sale Price:  $725,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/1.75
Square Footage:  1,780
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
Eastside
Sale Price:  $855,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  4/2.5
Square Footage:  2,170
Year over Year Appreciation:  14%
South King County
Sale Price:  $400,000
Bedrooms/Bathrooms:  3/3.75
Square Footage:  2,400
Year over Year Appreciation:  13%
Windermere Foundation Quarterly Update

I am excited to share the most recent update from the Windermere Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of Windermere agents and the community, the Windermere Foundation collected over $1,537,000 in donations through the third quarter of 2017. This is an increase of nine percent compared to this time last year! Individual contributions and fundraisers accounted for 62 percent of the donations, while 38 percent came from donations through Windermere agent commissions. So far, we have raised a total of $34,643,324 in donations since 1989.

Each Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account that they use to make donations to organizations in their communities. Year to date, a total of $1,179,202 has been disbursed to non-profit organizations dedicated to providing services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S. Check out my office’s specific contributions below!

Through the Windermere Foundation, my office had the privilege to donate $13,360 this year to YMCA Camp Orkila and Colman; sending 40 kids to summer camp that would not have otherwise had the opportunity. This past spring, we also spent a full day helping the Snohomish Garden Club provide thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local food banks, and this holiday season we will be able to provide approximately 24 foster boys a plentiful Christmas morning and give full holiday dinners to families receiving aid from Pioneer Human Services. These are all causes that are close to my heart, and I am so glad to partner with an office that strives to make a difference.

If you would like to help give back to your community, you can do so through the Windermere Foundation here.

Happy Holidays!

Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.
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Posted on November 11, 2017 at 1:21 am
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter, Local Market Analysis, Real Estate News

October 2017 eNewsletter

As a member of Windermere Real Estate, the leading real estate company in the Western U.S., I have access to a vast array of resources and services that are designed to help you make well-informed decisions regarding your real estate needs. This includes access to the most relevant housing and economic data from Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner.

Matthew has been a real estate economist for more than 25 years in both the U.S. and U.K. He specializes in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. His study and interpretation of this economic data and its impact on the real estate market, gives us unique insights into short-term and long-term housing trends that are important to consider when buying or selling a home.

Every quarter Matthew compiles a detailed report that analyzes the Western Washington real estate market.  Read the full Third Quarter Gardner Report here.  If this is something you’d like to personally receive every quarter, please contact me and I will add you to my distribution list. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed, empower strong decisions and create exceptional results.

Windermere is very proud to be the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks for the second year running! This Sunday we’ll be doing our part to #tacklehomelessness with the help of the Hawks. For every Seahawks defensive tackle against Houston, Windermere will donate $100 to YouthCare, an organization that provides critical services to homeless youth. So far this season we’ve already raised $6,000!

As a part of Windermere’s #tacklehomelessnesscampaign with the Seahawks, we are also collecting new hats, scarves, gloves and warm socks for YouthCare. Donations can be dropped off at my office through November. Each night in the greater Seattle area, nearly 1,000 young people are homeless, and this time of year can be especially harsh. Together we can make a difference.

Newest Color Trends for 2018

Now that fall has set in and the rain has come, it is time to move your home improvement projects inside. If interior painting is on your list, check out the latest color trends for 2018.  Also note, if you are in need of a contractor of any kind, please contact me. I have a vetted list of preferred contractors that can help you get the job done.

Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.
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Posted on October 11, 2017 at 9:20 am
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter, Real Estate News

September 2017 eNewsletter

Knowing the value of your home is helpful in many ways. It can help determine one’s net worth, help one decide if a home sale or purchase is a financially feasible move, determine the ability to get a loan – and it’s just nice to know where your largest investment stands. Consumers have the option to access several websites such as Zillow® to search the AVM or Zestimate® on their property.

A Zestimate is an AVM (Automated Valuation Model). The product of an automated valuation technology comes from analysis of public record data and computer decision logic combined to provide a calculated estimate of a probable selling price of a residential property. An AVM generally uses a combination of two types of evaluation, a hedonic model and a repeat sales index. The results of each are weighted, analyzed and then reported as a final estimate of value based on a requested date.

Often times when I am talking with potential sellers, their Zestimate (or other AVMs) come up in the overall conversation. I understand why, too. This is information that is relatively easy to access and gives the seller a starting point on the value of their home. Where an AVM can become dangerous is when a consumer thinks it’s accurate. Even worse, when a consumer makes a major financial decision solely based on this information. According to Zillow, less than half of all Zestimates in the Seattle metro area are even within 5.4% of the actual value, and they only give themselves a 2-star (fair) rating on their accuracy. In fact, they publish an accuracy report that you can access here.

In August, the average home price in the Seattle Metro area was $824,000. With less than half of all Zestimates within 5% of the actual value, that is a beginning margin of error of $41,200! Further, they claim that 72.3% of their Zestimates are within 10% of the actual value, which is a marked difference – up to $82,400. Where AVMs are incomplete is that the basis of their formula is tax records, which in my experience are often inaccurate. Also, and most importantly, an AVM does not take into consideration the condition of the home, the neighborhood and other environmental impacts such as school district, road noise and unsightly neighboring homes, to name a few.

At the end of the day, to give an accurate accounting of the value of a home in today’s market requires actually physically touring the home and the surrounding homes that compare. As well as considering current market conditions such as supply and demand and seasonality. An algorithm cannot accomplish this, but a real estate broker can.

So why does the Zestimate exist? Zillow is a publicly traded company (ZG) and their website is the vehicle to create profit. The Zestimate drives consumers to the website who are often dipping their toe in the pool to see what their home might be worth, or searching available homes for sale. When a consumer is searching on the website they are surrounded by real estate broker and mortgage broker ads on every page. These real estate brokers and mortgage brokers are paying for that advertising space, which is how Zillow makes its money and why there is a Zestimate. The Zestimate is not a public service, it is a widget to bring eyes to their advertising space which in turn, sells more ads.

Another important item to note is that Zillow does NOT have all available inventory in the Greater Seattle area on their website. In May, they cut off access to manually input listings, leaving some real estate firms unable to get their listings on the site any longer. Some firms just plainly chose not to syndicate to them. It is estimated that Zillow has between 70%-80% of the total available inventory on their site. In an inventory-tight market like the one we are in now, it is important for consumers to understand that if Zillow is the only source they are searching with, they may be missing out. Brokerage firm websites, such as Windermere.com have a direct IDX feed from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service which refreshes every 15 minutes, insuring the accuracy and completeness of all listing data.

The moral of the story is this: use Zillow as one of the many tools in your real estate evaluation and search toolbox. Zillow provides a great starting point and contains a ton of information to whet your palate when embarking on a real estate endeavor. However, we live in a time of information overload and we are overstimulated at best. Nothing beats the evaluation and discernment of a knowledgeable and experienced real estate broker to help you determine accuracy, which will lead to the empowerment of clarity.

If you are curious about the value of your home in today’s market, please contact me. I can provide an annual real estate review of all of your real estate holdings, and can even dive deep into a complete comparative market analysis if you would find that helpful. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.

Zillow® and Zestimate® are trademarks of Zillow, Inc.
Equifax Data Breach

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in the data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit agencies.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses and in some cases, driver’s licenses numbers and even credit card numbers.

There are steps you can take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if your information was exposed and set up protections. Click here to access the entire press release from the Federal Trade Commission that includes step by step instructions to help you navigate the website.

Nothing feels more like fall than pumpkin picking, hay rides and corn mazes. Get your latte in hand and head out to any one of these great, local farms to have some harvest fun and find that perfect jack-o-lantern to light up your porch.
Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.
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Posted on September 11, 2017 at 12:18 pm
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter, Real Estate News

August 2017 eNewsletter

I get asked this question often, and I can understand why. With the 2008 Great Recession not too far back in our rear-view mirror it is understandable that folks don’t want history to repeat itself, as that was a very painful time for many. Also, price appreciation has been rapid across the country, but especially in our region. The large price gains might seem familiar to the gains of the previous up market of 2004-2007, but the environment is much different, and that is why we are not headed toward a housing collapse.

Lending Requirements
As the graph shows, lending requirements are much more stringent now than what they were prior to the fall of the housing market.

Previous lending practices allowed people to get into homes with risky debt-to-income ratios, low credit scores and undocumented incomes. They called this sub-prime lending. A large part of why the housing bubble burst 10 years ago was due to people getting into mortgages they were not equipped to handle, which lend to the eventual fall of sub-prime lending. Currently, the average credit score over the last 12 months according to Ellie Mae was 724. During the days of sub-prime lending people were funding loans with scores as low as 560! This, coupled with many zero-down loan programs and the risky terms mentioned above left many new homeowners with little to no equity. When you have little or no equity it is very easy to just walk away.

The graph above shows the percentage of homes in our state with significant equity (20% or more) according to CoreLogic. Today many homeowners, especially in our region are making large down payments to begin with. Believe me, when reviewing multiple offers on a house, the size of down payment matters – hence many buyers landing homes are making large down payments. Unlike the market prior to the crash, when people have high equity levels they are not likely to abandon their home or miss payments.

Inventory Levels & Our Job Market
The biggest challenge in our market has been low inventory levels and high housing demand. It’s simply the concept of supply and demand. Our thriving job market has afforded folks already in our area the ability to make moves, and it is bringing people into our area from other parts of the country. Washington State’s net in-migration is 43% higher than it was 10 years ago. This has created increased demand, especially for homes closer to job centers resulting in shorter commutes. When you have increased demand and not enough homes to absorb the buyers, prices go up. Over the last three years we have easily seen a 10% increase in prices year-over-year. That is above the norm and should slow down as inventory increases. As inventory increases we anticipate a leveling out of appreciation rates to historical norms of 3-4% annually, but not decreasing home values like the 2008-2010 crash.

I understand that the recent increase in home prices has been big and that it might remind you of the previous up market before the crash. I hope that digging into the topics above has shed some light on how it is different. According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist and nationally sought after expert on all things real estate, buyers should not wait this market out, due to future price appreciation and today’s historically low interest rates. Check out his latest vlog (video blog) that addresses this topic.

As always, it is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions. Please let me know if I can answer any questions or help you or anyone you know with their real estate needs.

As a loyal 12, I am proud that Windermere is the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks. But I’m also proud of how this partnership is being used to help homeless youth in our community. For every Seahawks’ home game tackle, the Windermere Foundation donates $100 to YouthCare, which provides much-needed services to homeless youth.

Follow along as we #tacklehomelessness, cheer on the home team as only 12s can, and help make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Download the 2017 Seahawks schedule here

Preseason
Sun, Aug 3: at LA Chargers @ 5:00 PM
Fri, Aug 8: Minnesota @ 7:00 PM
Fri, Aug 25: Kansas City @ 5:00 PM
Thu, Aug 31: at Oakland @ 7:00 PM

Regular
Sun, Sep 10: at Green Bay @ 1:25 PM
Sun, Sep 17: San Francisco @ 1:25 PM
Sun, Sep 24: at Tennessee @ 1:05 PM
Sun, Oct 1: Indianapolis @ 5:30 PM
Sun, Oct 8: at LA Rams @ 1:05 PM
BYE
Sun, Oct 22: at NY Giants @ 1:25 PM
Sun, Oct 29: Houston @ 1:05 PM
Sun, Nov 5: Washington @ 1:05 PM
Thu, Nov 9: at Arizona @ 5:25 PM
Mon, Nov 20: Atlanta @ 5:30 PM
Sun, Nov 26: at San Francisco @ 1:05 PM
Sun, Dec 3: Philadelphia @ 5:30 PM
Sun, Dec 10: at Jacksonville @ 10:00 AM
Sun, Dec 17: LA Rams @ 1:05 PM
Sun, Dec 24: at Dallas @ 1:25 PM
Sun, Dec 31: Arizona @ 1:25 PM

Home games are in bold. All times PST. Due to flexible scheduling, the kickoff times of games in the latter part of the season are subject to change.

As summer comes to a close, it is a great time to make a list of home maintenance items that are best accomplished before the weather turns colder. Inspecting some of the major systems in your house such as heating, gutters, roof, windows and insulation to name a few, will insure not being left in the cold should something suddenly break come winter.  Click here for a complete list of end of summer maintenance items. Routine maintenance and professional awareness of the major systems in your home can help keep you ahead of sudden breaks, which lowers your stress level and saves you money. If you are ever in need of a contractor contact, please reach out! I have a list of reputable service providers on my preferred contractors list that I’d be happy to share.
Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.
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Posted on August 11, 2017 at 8:17 am
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter, Real Estate News

July 2017 eNewsletter

What you need to know about the Condo Market
Over the last two years, the affordability of Greater Seattle area real estate has become a rising concern. Many buyers have decided to move a bit more north or south of major job centers to find the price point that works for them, or have foregone a single family residence (SFR)and turned to a condominium (condo) as an alternative. Because of this, along with many more baby boomers moving to a more right-size home for their lifestyle, demand for condos have been on the rise.

The median price for a condo in King County in June was $385,000 compared to the median price of a SFR of $660,000, which is a 71% difference! In Snohomish County, the median price for a condo in June was $295,000 compared to the median price of a SFR of $450,000, which is a 53% difference! Condos are providing a substantial cost savings if the condo lifestyle works for a buyer.

The condo lifestyle can be wonderful! Imagine not having to do yard work and living space-efficiently. There are many condo buildings that cater to the more simplified life that baby boomers are craving, featuring secured parking, elevator access, high-end features, great walk scores and possible views.

Much like the SFR market, the condo market has experienced high demand resulting in low inventory. Our thriving job market and rising rents have drawn folks to condos as well. Many of the job transferees coming into the area due to the tech industry are younger, unattached and without children, making a condo a natural fit and in some cases, less expensive than rent. In fact, condo inventory currently sits at 0.5 months of inventory based on pending sales in King County, and 0.6 months in Snohomish County. Theoretically, this means that if no new condos came to market we would be sold out in two weeks. That is quick!

While inventory has decreased, sales have slightly increased! Pending sales have almost mirrored new listings over the last 12 months, resulting in 1% more sales in King County and 5% more in Snohomish County. There were 4% less new listing in King County year-over-year, yet Snohomish County posted a 6% increase in new listings. This is due to some new condo developments to the north and more and more re-sale owners regaining their equity position and making moves.

Prices are on the rise too! An important aspect to measure in regards to condos is price per square foot. In King County the price per square foot is up 15% complete year-over-year and up 12% in Snohomish County, which is a big jump. This is on top of double-digit price growth the year prior. The average cost per square foot in King County in June was $404 per square foot, and $240 in Snohomish County. This illustrates the affordability difference between both counties, which is why the increase in sales in Snohomish County is markedly up. Condos provide a more affordable option for buyers, and if one is looking to land in Snohomish County, condos can be the most affordable housing purchase option available, while still being close to job centers.

The good news for condo sellers is that days on market are down by 11% in King County, and 31% in Snohomish County. In June, the average days on market was 16 days in King County and 10 days in Snohomish County.  Also, in June the average list-to-sale price ratio in King County was 105% and 103% in Snohomish County.

So, what does all of this mean? The condo market is much like the SFR market in regards to demand, price appreciation and the affordability divide between King and Snohomish Counties. It is a great market for sellers to realize a positive return, and buyers who can’t afford or don’t want the maintenance of a SFR can find opportunity with a condo. If you or anyone you know would like more information on the Greater Seattle condo market, please contact me. It is my goal to help keep you informed and empower strong decisions.

Windermere Foundation Quarterly Update
Thanks to all of you, the Windermere Foundation collected over $903,500 in donations through the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 10 percent compared to this time last year! Individual contributions and fundraisers accounted for 62 percent of the donations, while 38 percent came from donations through Windermere agent commissions. So far, we have raised a total of $34,009,527 in donations since 1989.

Each Windermere office has its own Windermere Foundation fund account that they use to make donations to organizations in their communities. Year to date, a total of $979,486 has been disbursed to non-profit organizations dedicated to providing services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.

Click here to learn more about the Windermere Foundation.

The first day of school sneaks up so fast… summer is here and then gone in a flash! Use these helpful tips to start getting settled into a new routine for fall:

  • Talk to your child about their feelings and concerns about the new year.
  • Talk to your child about their day-to-day routine once school starts.
  • For small children, tour the school and show them where each of their classes will be, along with the cafeteria and restrooms.
  • Determine how your child will get to school, and practice the route.
  • Find a walking/bus buddy for younger children.
  • Arrange a carpool if needed.
  • Establish a time for homework and dinner.
  • Obtain an alarm clock for your child and discuss the best time for which to set it.
  • Establish a school-night bedtime, and stick to it.
  • Read the school handbook with your child and discuss any concerns.
  • Find out when parent-teacher night is and mark it on your calendar.
  • Find out the school lunch schedule and how much lunch costs.
  • Create a contact list of other parents who are able to pick up your child in case of an emergency. Be sure to share it with the school.
  • Arrange child care/or after school activities.
  • Set rules for activities such as TV/video games, tablets, playtime and the completion of long-term school projects.
  • Stay involved with your child, their school and their daily routine!
Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.
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Posted on July 11, 2017 at 11:15 am
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter, Real Estate News

June 2017 eNewsletter

Buyers: Keep Your Head Down, This May be Your Time
The first five months of 2017 have been a grind for buyers in our area. Inventory has been quite limited and demand has been off the charts. However, in the month of May we started to see things loosen up, with the highest rate of new listings coming to market in some time. Above are two market samplings from the Greater Seattle area: north King County and south Snohomish County which are reflective of our entire market.
South Snohomish County:
In May we saw just over 1,000 new listings come to market in south Snohomish County; the highest inventory push in one given month in over five years! In fact, it was a 46% increase over the previous month, and a 17% increase from the same month a year ago. This is good news for buyers, finally! One should note, however, that pending sales nearly mirrored the number of new listings, illustrating that demand is still very strong.
I think we will see that opportunities have loosened up for buyers in the list-to-sale price ratios that will post in June closings (May pendings). My prediction is that they will have tempered a bit from the 103% posting in May, purely based on buyers having more selection.
Demand surely met the new surge of inventory, but from what I am observing in the market, not all homes are getting multiple offers. When there are multiple offers, smaller groups of buyers may be vying for one house. We have even seen more price reductions in May with overzealous sellers not paying close attention these slight shifts in the market.
Don’t get me wrong, the good houses that are well-priced and looking good are seeing great price escalation and competition, but some are simply selling with a one-buyer audience. There are just more opportunities when there is more inventory, and this is good news for all of us as tempered price growth is needed after a 51% increase in median price over the last four years.
North King County:
In May, we saw just over 800 new listings come to market in north King County; the highest inventory push in one given month in over three years! In fact, it was a 33% increase over the previous month and a 9% increase from the same month a year ago. Pending sales also met demand here, but more buyers were able to land a home, which is good news. List-to-sale price ratios recorded at an average of 107% in this area, so definitely a needed tempering as we head into June.
When you are closer to jobs centers demand is higher, so the in-city market will continue to present a hustle for buyers, but more listings will equal a better chance of landing a house close to work. Prices in this area have increased 60% over the last four years.
Interest Rates: 
Currently, interest rates are a buyer’s dream come true! We started the year at 4.25%, bumped up to 4.375% in early spring, and we have inched down to 4% most recently. This reduction in rate is saving buyers thousands of dollars over the course of their mortgage on their monthly payments, somewhat offsetting the increase in prices since the first of the year. This is something to pay attention to, and could not come at a better time as it is coupled with more inventory. Inventory in June and July should continue to be strong as the long winter delayed folks getting to market, and many sellers are taking advantage of the prices.If you have thought about making a move or even your first purchase, now may be the time to not just dip your toe in the pool, but to jump in. It is summer and who doesn’t like a nice swim? Especially if that pool has more homes than we’ve seen in some time and cheap money. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about our market please contact me, as it is my goal to keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions.

Community Service Day 2017:
How Does Your Garden Grow?

Windermere’s Community Service Day was established in 1984 to offer agents and staff a chance to volunteer an entire workday to give back to the neighborhoods in which they live and work.

On June 9th, my office spent the day with the Snohomish Garden Club constructing trellises, staking beds, planting, weeding, labeling and sprucing everything up.

The Snohomish Garden Club provided 8,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Snohomish and Maltby Food Banks last year. The land for the garden is generously donated by the Bailey Family Farm.

For more information on these great organizations and how you can lend a hand, please visit:
SnohomishGardenClub.org
MaltbyFoodBank.org/wordpress
SnohomishFoodBank.org

Your go-to guide for things to do this summer around the beautiful Pacific Northwest! Click herefor a printable pdf of this list. And for locations and listings of outdoor movies this summer click here.

June

July

August

Happy Summer!

Do you want to be “In the Know” in your neighborhood? Sign up for a monthly overview of what’s happening in the zip code(s) of your choice. Neighborhood News is a great tool to stay informed about the home values and activity in your own backyard or to study a new market you may be interested in. Click here to sign up on my website.
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Posted on June 11, 2017 at 9:15 am
Jen Bowman | Category: eNewsletter, Real Estate News