If you've been keeping your eye on the Seattle real estate market, you're likely well aware that the inventory of available homes has been extremely tight for the last several months – creating a market that heavily favors sellers – and providing a profitable climate for owners currently listing their homes for sale. So if you've been sitting on the fence about selling your home – or have been contemplating making a move – here are four reasons why you may want to sell sooner rather than later.
This article published in CNN Money discusses the four trends on a national level – but I think they are all applicable to the current market in Seattle. So if you've been on the fence, maybe it's time you hop over it?
Coffee improving equity?
Starbucks is a brand synonymous with Seattle. And new data published by Zillow indicates how Starbuck's addicts hefty spending at the coffee chain might help homewoners in a suprising way – improving your home's equity.
According to the Zillow study, homes that are located near a Starbucks coffee shop appreciate at a faster rate than homes not located near the coffee giant. Zillow reports that since 1997, homes located near a Starbucks appreciated 96% – whereas homes located farther away appreciated at a much lower rate – only 65%.
In my opinion, the Starbucks study is quite interesting – but would I ever encourage a buyer to purchase a home simply because it is located near a Starbucks – or believe the home is a good investment because of its proximity to the coffee chain? Likely not. I take the study's findings with a grain of salt – but it is interesting nonetheless – and at the least, the added equity can help offset a homeowner's expensive latte habit…
Here's the link to the report in the Huffington Post:
Ever hear of the old saying, "Your first impression is your last impression"?
Curb appeal is one factor that can really make or break your experience as a home seller. When your home is listed for sale on the multpile listing sevice ("MLS"), a front exterior shot of your home is usually the first primary photo that is seen online by buyers and agents (if an exterior photo is not used for the primary photo – many agents will assume that the exterior of the home is less than appealing). And when buyers arrive at the front door for a tour with their agent – or for an open house – an attractive exterior appearance is crucial for making a strong first impression (if a home doesn't look promising on the outside – many buyers will decide to just 'drive-by' and will never even make it inside for a tour).
The better your home's curb appeal = the better your home's first impression on potential buyers. If buyers are welcomed by a well-kept landscaped yard, a freshly painted exterior, clean windows, and an attractive front door – they will walk in with the assumption that the homeowner takes good care of the home. On the other hand, if potential buyers are welcomed by an overgrown front lawn, weeds sprouting from the driveway, chipped paint, and a shabby exterior – they will walk in with the assumption that the homeowner has failed to maintain the rest of the home, just like the exterior.
Houzz recently posted an article, with some basic tips for freshening up your home's curb appeal. And if you're seriously considering selling your home soon – ask your agent if he/she has any suggestions on how to improve your home's exterior to make it even more appealing to potential buyers….
The Houzz article can be found here:
Ah, summer in Seattle: Greenlake’s weekend walking traffic is at its peak, finding an outdoor table at an after-work happy hour is near impossible, Seattleites are proudly donning shorts once the temperature hits 60°…..and Seattle’s real estate market is in full swing.
If you’re considering listing your house for sale this summer, there’s no time like the present to start getting your home camera ready. So whether you’re preparing your home to put on the market – or you just have spring cleaning fever – here’s an article with some tips on how to give your home a fresh makeover – and all of these improvements can be done for $500 or less.
The Huffington Post recently compiled a list of the most popular Pinterest home trends of 2014 – along with predicting a few other decorating ideas, which might be all the rage on Pinterest in 2015.
If you're a Pinterest fanatic – or want some fresh inspiration for decorating your home this year – this article is a must read:
Newly published data indicates that Seattle rental prices are expected to increase in 2015 – and for anyone currently renting or searching for a rental in Seattle, these numbers might not come as much of a surprise.¹
Seattle rents have risen 21.5% in the past five years; with a reported increase of 8.6% in 2014 alone – and new data from Zillow forecasts that rental prices should continue to rise in 2015.
Due to the rapid increase in rent prices, on average, Seattle renters are now paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing – which is a particularly discouraging number, considering that means over 30% of a Seattle renter’s monthly income is being spent on housing expenses, but without the benefit of building any equity.
In contrast, buying a home has become much more affordable in recent years, particularly when it comes to mortgage costs: on average, homeowners pay about 15% of their monthly income to mortgage costs, including interest. And homeowners can thank the continued trend of low interest rates for the reduced mortgage costs – interest rates are still near all-time lows, with rates right around 3.66% at the end of January 2015.
A Trip Back to the 1980’s: Put on your Wayfarers & Pay High Interest Rates
For many Millennials who grew up in the 1980’s – the low interest rates of today are in stark contrast to what their parents had to pay in the 80’s to own a home. Due to the high interest rates during the 1980’s, the cost of renting was far less expensive than the cost of homeownership. In the 80’s, Seattle renters spent about 23% of their monthly income on rent. Whereas homeowners paid over 40% of their monthly income on mortgage costs, due to the astoundingly high interest rates – which hovered between 10%-15% throughout much of the 1980’s.
Seeing these figures, reminded me of a recent conversation I was having with my Mom about the current real estate market – and the low interest rates that Seattle homebuyers are trying to use to their advantage. During our conversation, my Mom recalled what a difficult & long process it was for my parents to sell our family home in the early 1980’s – as interest rates were sky high and few buyers were able to afford to the cost of home ownership.
Putting into perspective the high interest rates of the 80’s and the cost of homeownership back then – buying a home today seems like a screaming deal in comparison. And with Seattle rental rates expected to continue to rise in 2015, buying a home seems more practical than ever.
So What’s a Renter (Buyer?) to Do?
The current lack of available inventory in Seattle’s real estate market, combined with increasing demand from interested buyers, can make finding the right house, in a location you like, and at a price you can afford no easy feat. And the competition can be discouraging to many first-time buyers or people who’d like to buy – but just don’t think they can.
However, several loan programs were introduced at the beginning of this year that allow for lower down payments – which can help make buying a home a more feasible goal for some potential buyers. And while bidding wars are still occurring in the most popular neighborhoods at certain price points, buying a home in the current market is not an impossible feat. Depending on the location and price of the home you are interested in – it might take a lot of diligent searching and several offers before you can get the right home under contract. Yet, when taking into account today’s interest rates and the forecast of continued rent increases – if you are in a position to buy and can afford it – it might well be worth the effort.
If you are serious about buying, start by talking to a lender and getting pre-approved for a home loan – so you can start your home search confident about your finances and what you can afford. Secondly, enlist the help of a real estate professional that you trust to help you with your search and purchase. As much as you might know about the market and all the research you can do on your own on the internet – at the end of the day, having a skilled broker who will go to bat for you as a buyer can make a world of difference in getting you the house you want – particularly in Seattle's competitive market.
¹ The Puget Sound Business Journal articles, which provide the statistics discussed in this blog entry can be found here:
Zillow: Seattle Rents Jump 21 percent in 5 Years, Could Spark Home-Buying Binge
Seattle Renters Paid 8.6% More This Year; Higher Rents Expected in 2015