Get the Facts on the Bellingham Real Estate Market!

As I talk to people about real estate, I am increasingly told they feel things are cooling off.  When I ask why, the common replies are the frequency of price reduction signs, flipped sales, increased market times & listings going beyond the “offer review date”.  To get a better perspective of the “State of the Market”, let’s take a look at the following statistics for our local market.

 

Whatcom County has a 2.83 month supply of inventory.  Remember that a healthy real estate market has 4 to 6 months.  There are currently a total of 910 active residential & condos listings.

The average sale price of single family and condo sales closed in Whatcom County has increased almost $16,000 with the median price increasing $44,900 over the past 12 months A local lender’s interest rate as of 10.19.2017 for a 30 year fixed rate loan with 5% down is 3.875%. That same loan with the same lender was 3.75% 8.03.2017.  Rates are expected to rise in the coming months to more than 4%.

So let’s drill down further to see some specifics:

-A 5 bedroom, 3 bath, 1576 sq ft fixer built in 1900  on Jaeger St just closed with a full price offer @ $375,000.  It was such a fixer the agent didn’t even include interior photos of the home in the listing.

-Today there are 18 homes / condos that have pended after 5 or less days on the market.  The average market time for all pendings is 35 days. In the last 30 days, there have been 28 homes / condos in Bellingham that have closed within 5 days or less of the home being listed.  Of the 106 homes / condos that sold in Bellingham over the past 30 days, 29 sold in excess of their list price & 16 sold at the list price

-I recently talked to an agent who told me she has written offers recently for 5 different buyers & lost out on all five because there were multiple offers.

So to bring this all together:

There are certainly homes that languish on the market – there always has been & always will be.

Inventory is short to the extreme with no end in sight

Prices will continue to rise.  There is no reason to believe, in my opinion, that demand will slack off.  In fact as the Seattle market continues to heat up, buyers will be forced to look up & down the I-5 corridor to find affordable housing.  I just sold a home to a 1st time buyer in Ferndale.  He commutes to Seattle every day to work.  We will see more of that.

Interest rates are still good  but are increasing.

Here’s a great visual to break down inventory numbers over the past several years:

Market Snap Shot Oct. 17

If you or your friends have questions about real estate, Mike & I would be happy to help.  As many of you know, we have been licensed for years, are committed to helping our clients make good decisions & are not afraid to put in our time – we usually are the 1st ones at the office & the last ones to leave. If that’s the kind of commitment you want for yourselves or want to refer to your friends, please pass our names on.  We are the guys that turn the lights on in the morning & off in the evening.

 

Financial Planning: 4 Reasons to Buy a House Today

Financial Planning: 4 Reasons to Buy a House Today | MyKCM

 

Homeownership will always be a part of the American Dream. There are advantages to owning your own home (educational, health, social) that far transcend any economic impact. However, we want to look at several of the financial advantages of homeownership in today’s post.

1. Buying is Cheaper Than Renting

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States. The report reveals that:

“Interest rates have remained low, and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation…Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1% for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.”

2. Homeownership “Forces” You to Save

According to SavingAdvice.com, homeownership is a great way to save. Their advice is quite simple:

“Homeownership is a “forced” savings account because you own the home, you have no choice – that monthly housing cost has got to be paid no matter what…Homeownership can be an outstanding way to force yourself to be more frugal in the rest of your spending so that you can save and build equity in your home.”

3. Homeownership Offers Several Tax Deductions

According to the Tax Policy Center’s Briefing Book -“A citizen’s guide to the fascinating (though often complex) elements of the federal Tax System” – there are several tax advantages to homeownership. Here are three:

  1. Homeowners who itemize deductions may reduce their taxable income by deducting any interest paid on a home mortgage.
  2. Homeowners who itemize deductions may also reduce their taxable income by deducting property taxes they pay on their homes.
  3. Taxpayers who sell assets must generally pay capital gains tax on any profits made on the sale.

4. Experts Expect Home Price Appreciation to Continue

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists about where they believe prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate 3.22% per year on average and to grow by 17.3% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey.

Bottom Line

Some are afraid that home values may have already peaked. However, we believe that purchasing a home now will prove to be a sound financial decision for years to come. As Warren Buffet said, “When others are greedy, be fearful. When others are fearful, be greedy.” If you have any questions about the market or buying or selling a home, please contact us at (360) 303-2734 or email us at info@johnsonteamrealestate.com.

Your Tax Return: Bring it Home

Your Tax Return: Bring it Home | MyKCM

This time of year, many people eagerly check their mailboxes looking for their tax return check from the IRS. But, what do most people plan to do with the money? GO Banking Rates recently surveyed Americans and asked the question – “What do you plan on doing with your tax refund?”

The results of the survey were interesting. Here is what they plan to do with their money:

  • 41% – Put it into savings
  • 38% – Pay off debt
  • 11% – Go on a vacation
  • 5% – Make a major purchase (car, home, etc.)
  • 5% – Splurge on a purchase

Upon seeing the research, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) wondered if this could help with a constant challenge cited by many people who wish to purchase a home – saving for the down payment.

In a recent post in NAR’s Economists’ Outlook Blog, they explained:

“With a sizable tax refund, the average American would have a decent down payment depending on which region or market you live in.”

They went on to add:

“[A]pproximately 5 percent of all respondents indicated they would make a major purchase which does not seem like a lot. However, there is a bigger group 41 percent who see saving the tax return is best and that group could be potential homebuyers if they are not already.”

In other words, putting that money toward purchasing a home is a form of savings.

Bottom Line

When one considers that first-time home buyers in 2016 had an average down payment of 6%, a decent tax return could go a long way toward the necessary funds needed for a down payment on a house. Or perhaps, the down payment needed by a son or daughter to make their homeownership dream a reality. How are you going to spend your return? If you are thinking of putting it towards real estate Johnson Team Real Estate is here to help! Call us today at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com .

Thinking of Selling? Now Is The Time To Act

Thinking of Selling? Now Is the Time to Act | MyKCM

If you thought about selling your house this year, now may be the time to do it. The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, revealed in a recent article that:

“The biggest challenge to buyers this spring will be simply finding a home to buy and getting it successfully under contract. That’s because the supply of homes for sale is at an all-time low, and yet demand is strong and getting stronger.”

Smoke goes on to say:

“We started the year with the lowest inventory of homes available for sale that we’ve ever seen on realtor.com. While we did see inventory grow 2% in February, total inventory was down 11% over last year.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas. Give us a call at (360) 303-2734 or email is at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com.

The Importance of Using a Professional to Sell Your Home

The Importance of Using a Professional to Sell Your Home | MyKCM

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price for it with the least amount of hassles along the way. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is actually getting their homes sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the percentage of buyers who used the internet in their home search increased to 94%.

However, the report also revealed that 96% of buyers who used the internet when searching for homes purchased their homes through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their homes directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the home they will buy (50%), to negotiate the terms of the sale (47%) & price (36%), or to help understand the process (61%).

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots.” This is obvious, as the percentage of overall buyers who have used agents to buy their homes has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process. Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at info@johnsonteamrealestate.com.

15,014 Homes Sold Yesterday… Did Yours?

15,014 Homes Sold Yesterday… Did Yours? | MyKCM

There are some homeowners that have been waiting for months to get a price they hoped for when they originally listed their house for sale. The only thing they might want to consider is… If it hasn’t sold yet, maybe it’s not priced properly.

After all, 15,014 houses sold yesterday, 15,014 will sell today and 15,014 will sell tomorrow.

15,014!

That is the average number of homes that sell each and every day in this country, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR)  latest Existing Home Sales Report. NAR reported that sales are at an annual rate of 5.48 million. Divide that number by 365 (days in a year) and we can see that, on average, over 15,014 homes sell every day.

The report from NAR also revealed that there is currently only a 3.8-month supply of inventory available for sale, (6-months inventory is considered ‘historically normal’).

This means that there are not enough homes available for sale to satisfy the buyers who are out in the market now in record numbers.

Bottom Line

We realize that you want to get the fair market value for your home. However, if it hasn’t sold in today’s active real estate market, perhaps you should reconsider your current asking price. Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at info@johnsonteamrealestate.com.

Why Millennials Choose to Buy

Why Millennials Choose to Buy [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • “The majority of millennials said they consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons — including control of living space, flexibility in future decisions, privacy and security, and living in a nice home.”
  • At 93%, the top reason Millennials choose to buy is to have control over their living space.
  • Many Millennials who rent a home or apartment prior to buying their own homes dream of the day that they will be able to paint the walls whatever color they’d like, or renovate an outdated part of their living space.

Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at info@johnsonteamrealestate.com.

Again… You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy NOW!

Again… You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy NOW! | MyKCM

A survey by Ipsos found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is required to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. There are two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

1. Down Payment

The survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 40% of consumers think a 20% down payment is always required. In actuality, there are many loans written with a down payment of 3% or less.

Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

2. FICO® Scores 

The survey also revealed that 62% of respondents believe they need excellent credit to buy a home, with 43% thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO® scores of approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.

The average conventional loan closed in February had a credit score of 752, while FHA mortgages closed with a score of 686. The average across all loans closed in February was 720. The chart below shows the distribution of FICO® Scores for all loans approved in February.

Again… You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy NOW! | MyKCM

Bottom Line

If you are a prospective buyer who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to act now, but are not sure if you are ‘able’ to, let’s sit down to help you understand your true options.  Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at info@johnsonteamrealestate.com today!

What’s Happening in the Bellingham Real Estate Market?

We are constantly amazed at the intensity of the current market.  Home owners are often selling their homes in a matter of hours, with multiple offers and at prices in excess of the list price.  The flip side is Buyers who have made numerous offers, but always seem to fall a little bit short and are feeling, “What in the heck do I have to do to buy a house?”

Market Snap Shot april 17

It’s clear in looking at the chart, that the disconnect is a shortage of homes relative to the number of active buyers.  You’ll see that in Bellingham in 2017 (as of last week) there are 95 homes available to purchase & 119 pending.  Compare this to the years 2010 to 2016.  During this period, there were plenty of homes (choices) & not that many buyers competing against each other.

So the question for Buyers & Sellers becomes, as we move into Spring & Summer, will more inventory become available as it historically has or will it remain a tight market?

Our Crystal Ball tells us that while there will be more inventory, the inventory will be snapped up quickly by Buyers who are hungry to buy at current prices & interest rates.  The shortage of inventory is compounded in Bellingham, at least, by the unavailability of building lots, by sellers who are unwilling to put their homes on the market without knowing where they are going to move to or by Sellers who are unwilling to give up their current mortgage of 3.35% for a new 30 year fixed @ 4.25%.  If rates continue to increase, the inventory valve will tighten even more.

I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but the net result is inventory grid lock.

If you or your friends have questions about how to successfully navigate through this maze, give us a call. We’d be happy to share our thoughts & expertise with you. Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at Info@JohnsonTeamRealEstate.com today!

Consumer Confidence in Economy & Housing is Soaring

Consumer Confidence in Economy & Housing is Soaring | MyKCM

The success of the housing market is strongly tied to the consumer’s confidence in the overall economy. For that reason, we believe 2017 will be a great year for real estate. Here is just a touch of the news coverage on the subject.

HousingWire:

“Consumers’ faith in the housing market is stronger than it’s ever been before, according to a newly released survey from Fannie Mae.”

Bloomberg:

“Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in a decade on more-upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate.”

Yahoo Finance:

“Confidence continues to rise among America’s consumers…the latest consumer sentiment numbers from the University of Michigan showed that in March confidence rose again.”

MarketWatch:

“U.S. consumers are the most confident in the U.S. economy in 15 years, buoyed by the strongest job market since before the Great Recession. The survey of consumer confidence rose…according to the Conference Board, the private company that publishes the index. That’s the highest level since July 2001.”

Ivy Zelman, in her recent Z Report, probably best capsulized the reports:

“The results were incredibly strong and…offer one of the most positive consumer takes on housing since the recovery started.”

2017 looks to be a great year for real estate. Contact us with any questions you may have. Phone: (360) 303-2734 or email info@johnsonteamrealestate.com.