RE/MAX National Housing Report for March 2019

March Sales Signal Slowest Start to Spring Homebuying Since 2014

Kicking off the spring homebuying season, March sales climbed almost 29% over February, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. But this remains the slowest start in five years, with March sales 8.6% lower than March 2018.

March was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines and the sixth straight month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 5.3% gain. Housing activity in the report’s 54 markets nationwide also saw the Median Sales price grow by 3.4% year-over-year – notably smaller than the year-over-year increases in February (5.5%) and January (4.6%).  However, the median sales price has risen by more than 3% year-over-year in 17 of the last 18 months.

From 2015 to 2018, the housing market’s spring sprang to life with an increase in sales from February to March averaging 37.0%. March 2019’s month-over-month increase of 28.8% was the smallest since 24.6% in 2014.

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Fast, Affordable Online Interior Design Options

It was only a matter of time before the internet would disrupt how the design trade has worked for decades.

In the past, interior designers ordered almost every piece of furniture or decor from trade vendors on behalf of their clients, and billed them an hourly rate plus charges for purchases—typically, wholesale plus a markup or retail minus a discount. Then, it would take the merchandise months to be fabricated and delivered.

Obviously, homeowners were exhilarated when other resources emerged, such as HGTV shows, hip housing magazines, and online idea sites such as Houzz and Pinterest, allowing them to take a more active role in home design. The latest iteration to shake up the process is online companies that employ staff designers or freelancers with the goal of simplifying the designer-homeowner partnership and allowing the act of home furnishing to became transparent, faster, and more affordable.

Read the full article on REALTOR® Magazine…

33709 40th Ct SW, Federal Way, WA 98023

$304,900

3 bedrooms; 1.75 bathrooms; 1750 square feet

Ideal for an Investor! This home has tons of potential & simply awaits a buyer w/cash or rehab loan. The master bedrm & 2nd flr deck feature Olympic Mtn Range views. Fully fenced w/gates on both sides, double gate in back & backs to a greenbelt/city retention system. Updates include a 10 yr old roof w/transferable warranty & newer gas water heater. Keep comfortable year-round w/gas heat & A/C. Insulated garage includes multiple circuits, lots of shelves & benches, a portable fireplace & freezer.

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Agents Report Sharp Declines in Bidding Wars

There will likely be less competition for home buyers this spring—a widely reported index from Redfin shows a significant decrease among real estate professionals reporting bidding wars in March, compared to a year ago. Only 16 percent of offers written by Redfin agents on behalf of their customers in the first three weeks of March faced a bidding war, down from 61 percent a year ago, according to the brokerage’s index.

San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, and Portland, Ore., are the most competitive housing markets this month, according to the report. However, even in these markets, only one in five buyers faced bidding wars; a year ago, real estate agents in these markets reported that 65 percent of their buyers’ offers faced multiple bids.

Read the full article on REALTOR® Magazine…

Washington State NWMLS Market Snapshot for March 2019

Both pending sales and new listing activity around Western Washington surged during March as buyers, sellers, and brokers emerged from February’s record snowfall.

Brokers added 10,516 new listings of single family homes and condos to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service inventory last month, the highest monthly volume since August 2018. Compared to the same month a year ago, new listings across the 23 counties in the report were down slightly (79 fewer units).

MLS members also reported 10,261 pending sales during the same timeframe, the highest number of mutually accepted offers since July, and nearly matching the year-ago total of 10,311.

Year-over-year prices area-wide were up 3.5 percent, rising from $401,761 to $415,950, with most counties reporting gains. King County was an exception. Prices there were flat (down 0.4 percent), slipping from the year-ago median of $625,000 to last month’s figure of $622,500, but rising from February’s price of $604,000.

Compared to February, prices rose 2.2 percent system-wide. The four-county Puget Sound region had larger month-to-month increases, led by Kitsap County, up 5.9 percent from February. Prices in Snohomish County jumped nearly 5.5 percent, while King County’s median prices rose more than 3 percent when comparing February to March.

At month end, there were 12,017 active listings of single family homes and condos in the Northwest MLS database. That represents an increase of more than 36 percent from a year ago when there were only 8,825 active listings. Inventory more than doubled in King County compared to a year ago, rising from 2,060 active listings to 4,263 at the end of March. Nine counties reported less inventory than 12 months ago.

Even with improving inventory, there is less than two months of supply overall and in seven counties, including Pierce (1.2 months), Snohomish (1.3 months), Kitsap (1.4 months) and King (nearly 1.9 months).

House hunting pet owners place high priority on spaces for pets

Real estate brokers are keenly aware of the priority home buyers and home owners give to their pets.

Recent Realtor.com research showed 89 percent of millennials who bought a home own a pet. Of this demographic, 79 percent of pet-owning buyers who closed on a property said they would pass up an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets.

A recent pet parent who purchased a home said she even picked her Realtor® for her pet-friendly attitude, having learned the broker she chose had worked with several volunteers at a local animal shelter.

“It’s heartwarming to find that people will put their pets’ needs first, even when it comes to one of the biggest financial decisions they will ever make,” says Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com. “This survey shows that we really do consider pets part of the family-and that their needs are a critical part of finding the perfect home.”

While dog owners typically desire homes with large yards, cat owners have different space considerations, ranging from where to place to litter box to find ways to satisfy the feline’s curiosity and craving for exercise and environmental enrichment.

Cat owners on the move face an “indoor/outdoor” dilemma, according to Cynthia Chomos, who teaches classes for real estate brokers on various topics including “feng shui for buying and selling” and “color appeal for a quicker sale.” A few years ago, she started applying those skills to her other passion: creating safe, enriching outdoor enclosures for cats, sometimes known as catios or cat patios.

“Cats, whether living mostly indoors or allowed outside, are naturally drawn to the stimulation of the outdoors, but responsible cat owners know a variety of outdoor hazards lurk, especially for free-roaming cats,” according to Chomos. Veterinarians can confirm the consequences of unprotected outdoor time can be traumatic and expensive.

Having a safe and stimulating environment for beloved pets is paramount, but home buyers who search for pet-specific amenities also care about aesthetics.

“You can have a beautiful house and a pet, too,” says Julia Szabo, pet columnist for the New York Post and author of Animal House Style: Designing A Home To Share With Your Pets.

Chomos, who founded Catio Spaces in 2014 and is a licensed contractor, agreed, stating, “Rather than looking like an unsightly cage, catios can resemble outdoor rooms. She builds custom catios around Puget Sound and offers downloadable plans for DIYers who prefer to construct their own or hire their own carpenter.

Cat enclosures and protected perches come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. (Editor’s note: a Google search uncovered more than 4 million results for the keyword catio!)  PETA describes catios as being akin to “a vacation beach house for your feline friends.”

Escape-proof materials and components are essential, according to those who build them. Additional elements often include shelves for vertical and horizontal movement, perches for lounging, toys for enrichment, cat safe plants, seating and space to decorate.

From small and simple to large and luxurious, the enclosures can be an attractive addition to a home while ensuring the health and wellbeing of cats – as well as cat owners, birds, and other wildlife. Large catios provide outdoor space for feline and human bonding while enjoying the benefits of nature.

As a pet lifestyle expert, Chomos helped found “Catio Tour Seattle,” a showcase of local catios, and collaborates with others to promote the benefits of catios. The annual catio tour, is organized by PAWS as part of its Safe Cats, Healthy Habitats project and sponsored by Catio Spaces, The Humane Society of the United States, Oskar & Klaus and Seattle Audubon. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, July 13.

Source: Seattle King County REALTORS® Northwest REporter

How Will the Housing Market Fare This Spring?

Real estate pros often anxiously await for the spring selling season, a time known for an uptick in home sales. But will spring be as hot for the housing market this year as it has been in the past?

Since the end of last year, home sales have slowed (a decline of 10 percent in December compared to a year prior), and properties have been sitting on the market for longer (46 days compared to 30 days a year ago).

Nevertheless, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that “multiple data show definitively improving conditions” heading into the spring selling and buying season.

Consumer sentiment about home buying is turning more upbeat, and there have been greater reports of foot traffic at open houses, according to recent NAR surveys. The number of openings of lock boxes—which real estate pros use to access a key prior to unlocking a home for a showing—is “measurably higher” in January and February compared to the second half of 2018, according to NAR SentriLock data.

Further, the number of consumers applying for a mortgage to purchase a home is on the rise. “After the weak conditions of late last year, mortgage applications have picked up notably in 2019 with more consumers evidently searching for a home compared to one year ago,” Yun writes in his latest real estate column at Forbes.com. Also, contract signings to purchase a home rose 4.6 percent in January—another healthy sign about the market Yun points to.

With mortgage rates staying low, Yun expects more home buyers and sellers this spring. So far this year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to under a 4.5 percent average. That means a typical home buyer could save nearly $100 per month due to the drop. In addition, wages are up 3.4 percent year-over-year on average, the hightest rate in a decade, .

“The slump is over” in the housing market, Yun notes. “Better times are ahead for home buyers.”

Source: REALTOR® Magazine