Your Monday Real Estate Market Update

Every week we keep track of how many homes are for sale around Bellingham and Whatcom County and how many of those homes have pending offers on them. Pending is the time frame between when an offer has been mutual accepted between the buyer’s and the seller’s of the home and when the title actually transfers hands. This give the buyer’s time to get the financing, do inspection, review the title reports and more.

As of Friday, May 29th, the pending ratio in Bellingham was 50%. Click the links to view a report of how many homes are for sale in each area by price range and how many of them are pending showing just how active certain sectors of the market are.

The pending ratio for Birch Bay was 37%

The pending ratio for Ferndale was 45%

The pending ratio for Lynden was 44%

The pending ratio for Sudden Valley was 56%

If you are thinking of selling your home or property, Johnson Team Real Estate would love to help! We are here to help you will all your real estate needs! You can reach us toll free at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com

Latest Mortgage Rates

Thinking of buying, selling, or refinancing?

Locking in at a low rate today could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home loan.

The mortgage rates are a must know! Interest rates are the rates at which money can be borrowed for a set period of time. The higher the rate, the more money a borrower must pay in the form of interest on the loan. 

When mortgage rates are lower, this makes the purchasing of a home more affordable. Although the cost of mortgages is closely tied to the interest rate, the price at which homes are sold does not always appear in direct correlation.

Thank you Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank Home Loan Center for the rates. If you have any mortgage questions you can reach her at 360-650-5365!

Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season

With stay-at-home orders starting to gradually lift throughout parts of the country, data indicates homebuyers are jumping back into the market. After many families put their plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we once called the busy spring real estate season is shifting into the summer.

In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate.Joel KanEconomist at The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) notes:

Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.

Additionally, according to Google Trends, which scores search terms online, searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th to 92 points last week. As we can see, more potential homebuyers are looking for homes virtually.

What’s the Opportunity for Buyers?

Another reason buyers are coming back to the market, even with forced unemployment and stay-at-home orders, is historically low mortgage rates. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac indicates:

For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic…As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago.

With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer.

What’s the Opportunity for Sellers?

Finding a home to buy, however, is still a challenge, as this spring sellers removed many listings from the market. Though more people are now putting their houses up for sale this month as compared to last month, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.

According to last week’s Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from realtor.com:

Weekly Housing Inventory showed continued tightening. New Listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers grappled with uncertainty and hesitated bringing homes to market. Total Listings dropped 20% YoY, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower YoY, asking prices moved up 1.5% YoY.

If you’re thinking of selling your house this summer, now may be your best opportunity. With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, this season may be the time for your house to stand out from the crowd. Trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind. Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of their list.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, many buyers may be eager to find a home just like yours. Let’s connect today to make sure you can get your house in on the action this summer.

Johnson Team Real Estate would love to help! We are here to help you will all your real estate needs! You can reach us toll free at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com

Buying or Selling a Home? You Need an Expert Kind of Guide

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate through the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.We are, however, in anything but a normal market right now. We are amid one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever seen.

The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the journey consumers take to purchase or sell a home. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’ According to Lexico, a Sherpa is a member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering. Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.They are much more than just guides.This is much more than a normal real estate market.

Today, the average guide just won’t do. You need a Sherpa. You need an expert who understands how COVID-19 is impacting the thoughts and actions of the consumer (ex: virtual showings, proper safety protocols, e-signing documents). You need someone who can simply and effectively explain the changes in today’s process to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, especially in these challenging times.

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who understands how the pandemic is reshaping the real estate processes is crucial right now. Feel better about having a trusted advisor who will help you feel confident and informed at every turn. Let’s connect today to guarantee your journey is a safe and successful one.

If you have any questions, give The Johnson Team a call at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Interest Rates Hover Near Historic All-Time Lows

Some Highlights
  • Mortgage interest rates have dropped considerably this spring and are hovering at a historically low level.
  • Locking in at a low rate today could save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home loan.
  • Let’s connect to determine the best way to position yourself for a move in today’s market.

If you’re considering buying a home this year and want to take advantage of these low mortgage rates. Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

Whatcom County Real Estate Market Update

Every week we keep track of how many homes are for sale around Bellingham and Whatcom County and how many of those homes have pending offers on them. Pending is the time frame between when an offer has been mutual accepted between the buyer’s and the seller’s of the home and when the title actually transfers hands. This give the buyer’s time to get the financing, do inspection, review the title reports and more.

As of Friday, May 22nd, the pending ratio in Bellingham was 52%. Click the links to view a report of how many homes are for sale in each area by price range and how many of them are pending showing just how active certain sectors of the market are.

The Birch Bay pending ratio was 40%

The Ferndale pending ratio was 42%

The Lynden pending ratio was 45%

The Sudden Valley pending ratio was 47%

If you are thinking of selling your home or property, Johnson Team Real Estate would love to help! We are here to help you will all your real estate needs! You can reach us toll free at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com

PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT AND FRAUD

As a result of the pandemic, fraudsters are taking full advantage of all of the personal data they have been collecting through various breaches over the last few years. The use of individuals personal information varies from traditional misuse with things like fraudulent credit cards and phishing attempts, to more evolved methods like unemployment fraud and online account openings. Here is one place for you to support, guide, and protect yourself. 

Finding out you are a victim of identity theft and someone has used your personal information can feel extremely invasive no matter how much you have prepared or how much awareness you have of the issue.

Here are some of the most common questions and answers with resources to guide you along the way. 

What steps can I take to proactively protect myself from these scams?

Contact the credit and consumer report agencies and put security alerts, freezes, or flags on your information. Be sure to claim your stimulus payment from the government if you have not yet received it.

  • Credit bureaus: Each credit bureau allows you to place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit report. Each credit bureaus contact information can be found at https://identitytheft.gov/CreditBureauContacts
    • There are three options available depending on what your needs are each of which are free to set up. You can choose credit freeze, fraud alert, or extended fraud alert.
    • Fraud alert: This option is available to anyone and will require lenders to verify your identity before extending credit. It lasts for one year. You only need to notify one of the three credit bureaus and they are required to notify the other two.
    • Credit freeze: This option is available to anyone and stops all access to your credit report unless you remove it. You must contact all three credit bureaus to complete a credit freeze. (Note: Your credit report is used for a variety of things from credit cards to cell phone providers. If you plan to set up a new credit account or service, you may need to remove the freeze prior to applying.)
    • Extended fraud alert: This option is available if someone stole your identity and lasts seven years. You must notify all three credit bureaus that you were a victim of identity theft and request for an extended alert to be put in place.
  • Request a copy of your free credit report annually at http://www.annualcreditreport.com/
    • Review your credit reports for unfamiliar items. If you see something you don’t recognize, you will want to reach out to the creditor to determine what they are reporting. If it is fraudulent, follow the steps below in the “What to do if I am notified or determine I am a victim of identity theft or that my information has been misused?” section.
  • ChexSystems: Place a Consumer Reported Identity Theft Security Alert here. There are two options available.
    • Security alert: This will notify customers of ChexSystems (banks and credit unions, for example) that you have a security alert each time they submit a consumer account request with your information and will last one year.
    • Seven year security alert: This requires a completed form to be signed and notarized then sent to ChexSystems. It works the same as a security alert, however, extends out seven years.
  • Set up online credentials with the Employment Security Department (ESD)
    • You can set up your account with ESD at https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/SAWUserRegistrations/SignUp. (Pro tip: Use Chrome. IE doesn’t work).  Each employee can create and verify their account with ESD without starting an unemployment claim or taking any other action. The process for setting up the account is surprisingly simple.  Apparently only one account can be created per SSN, so if a fraudster tries to create a new account with someone’s SSN who is already registered for an account, the fraudster would be rejected during the account creation process (e.g. before they get to the point where they can submit a fraudulent claim) and have to work with ESD to try and convince them that they are actually the person in question.

How do I know if I am a victim?

Typically, you will receive a letter notifying you that a new account was opened or an inquiry was made with your information. Contact the company that sent you a letter and notify them it is fraud. In rare circumstances, you may receive a call from a lender or agency asking if you submitted a request to them. 

Tell the caller that you did not request the product or service, however, do not disclose personal information to someone reaching out to you over the phone. 

Ask the individual to identify themselves and the institution they are calling from, and say you will call them back. Find the contact information for the institution that contacted you and call them directly. You can then ask to speak to “____ from the ____ department/branch” that contacted you. This will help ensure that you don’t fall for a well calculated phishing attempt or social engineering to get more of your personal information. This method works well for customers as well. If we have identified or suspect fraud and the customer is uncomfortable verifying themselves, ask them to call the branch and ask for you. This will help give them peace of mind that you are who you say you are.

What do I do if I am notified or determine I am a victim of identity theft or that my information has been misused?

Visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/ to create a personal recovery plan and notify your bank. Also reach out to the party that notified you to confirm it is fraud. This may include the Employment Security Department and your employer.

  • The FTC has created a great interactive tool that starts by identifying your concern and what has been compromised, and the how to report and what to do next. There are also printable checklists, sample letters, terms, definitions, and much more. Even if you are not a victim, this is a great resource to build your understanding around identity theft and how to respond.
  • If you receive a notification from the Employment Security Department regarding an unemployment claim you will need to notify them the claim is fraudulent. You should also reach out to our HR department. They are available to help you through the process.
  • Don’t forget to notify your bank!
    • For Peoples Bank customers, we have a red flag reporting process that walks branch staff through various steps to help secure our customer’s accounts. It includes setting up a password and adding account remarks, along with directing customers to www.consumer.gov/idtheft for educational materials and resources.
    • Other financial institutions have similar processes to protect your accounts. Keep in mind you will want to notify any institution you hold accounts with, including retirement and investment accounts.

What types of fraud and scams are happening right now?

There are a variety of fraud and scam methods being used right now and they are evolving daily. 

Be mindful of customer requests for wires or cashier’s checks for things that could be related to one of these scams. If the request doesn’t make sense, something is probably wrong.

Here is a list of the most common ones:

  • Unemployment Fraud: Fraudsters are submitting fraudulent claims to the Employment Security Department. They are then redirecting the funds to prepaid debit cards or individuals that are being used as mules.
  • Medical supplies/treatments/testing for COVID-19: Law enforcement is currently shutting down and prosecuting numerous fraud rings using COVID-19 as a means to profit with fake remedies or supplies.
  • All of the traditional scams (romance, craigslist, job postings, etc.), plus some with a COVID-19 spin: Individuals are helping people they have online relationships that say they are having trouble due to COVID-19.
  • Identity theft: Using an individual’s personal information to fraudulently open credit and bank accounts.

Thank you Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank Home Loan Center for the helpful information and guidance. If you have any questions you can reach her at 360-650-5365!

Tempted By Today’s Mortgage Rates

Buying a home is a substantial economic driver today, and when new construction picks back up again, it will be an even stronger recovery force throughout the country. If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, you can have a significant impact on your local neighborhoods and safely make the move you’ve been waiting for.

Whether you are in the market to buy, sell, or refinance it is good to know the most current mortgage rates.

Thank you Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank Home Loan Center for the rates. If you have any mortgage questions you can reach her at 360-650-5365!

Housing Market Positioned to Bring Back the Economy

All eyes are on the American economy. As it goes, so does the world economy. With states beginning to reopen, the question becomes: which sectors of the economy will drive its recovery? There seems to be a growing consensus that the housing market is positioned to be that driving force, the tailwind that is necessary. Some may question that assertion as they look back on the last recession in 2008 when housing was the anchor to the economy – holding it back from sailing forward. But even then, the overall economy did not begin to recover until the real estate market started to regain its strength. This time, the housing market was in great shape when this virus hit. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American, recently explained:

Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path. While housing led the recession in 2008-2009, this time it may be poised to bring us out of it.

Fleming is not the only economist who believes this. Last week, Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, (@DrFrankNothaft) tweeted:

For the first 6 decades after WWII, the housing sector led the rest of the economy out of each recession. Expect it to do so this time as well.

And, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in an economic update last week explained:

As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt…Based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.

Bottom Line

Every time a home is sold it has a tremendous financial impact on local economies. As the real estate market continues its recovery, it will act as a strong tailwind to the overall national economy.

If you have real estate questions we are here to help you! Give us a call today at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com

#1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership: Family Wealth

While growing up, we were taught by our parents and grandparents that owning a home is a financially savvy move. They explained how a mortgage is like a forced savings plan. When you pay rent, that money is lost forever. When you make a mortgage payment, much of that money accumulates as equity in the home. So, what exactly is equity? The equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on the mortgage. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and every month a portion of what you pay reduces the amount you owe. That reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity. A recent study by CoreLogic explained that homeowners gained substantial equity over the last twelve months, and are essentially sitting on large sums of cash in their homes. In the study, Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic explained:

“The CoreLogic Home Price Index recorded a quickening of home price gains during the fourth quarter of 2019, helping to boost home equity wealth. The average family with a mortgage had a $7,300 gain in home equity during the past year, and a total of $177,000 in home equity wealth.”

For most families, their home is their largest financial asset. This increase in equity drives the net worth, or family wealth, of the homeowner. Renters are not earning that benefit. Instead, they’re building the net worth of their landlord.

Bottom Line

Home price growth will moderate during the pandemic. But once a cure is available, most experts agree that home values will again begin to appreciate at levels similar to what we’ve seen over the last several years. In the long run, our family elders will be proven correct: owning a home is a savvy financial move.

If you’re considering making a financially savvy move in your future, let’s connect to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to homeownership. Give The Johnson Team a call today at (888) 713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.