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

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Spring Is in the Air: More Homes Going Up for Sale

The housing market is changing quite a bit from a year ago. The number of homes up for sale is growing, reversing an inventory shortage trend that has plagued many markets over the last few years. The higher inventories are also driving greater price cuts, according to realtor.com®’s February housing report.

About 73,000 more listings are for sale this year compared to last year. Inventories have increased 6 percent year over year, according to realtor.com®’s analysis. The largest jumps in For Sale signs are out West, led by San Jose, Calif. (up 125 percent year over year); Seattle (up 85 percent); San Francisco (up 53 percent); San Diego (up 39 percent); and Portland, Ore. (up 36 percent).

“This is the fifth consecutive month that we’ve seen housing inventory increase, especially in large markets,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “As is often the case in real estate, the important trends are going on at the local level. We see large markets continue to cool, but some markets still have some strength. Additionally, we still see fewer homes priced under $200,000 on the market, so entry-level buyers won’t see the same availability of options as high-end buyers.”

The median list price rose 7 percent year over year in February to $294,800. But prices are showing signs of cooling. Thirty-nine of the 50 largest housing markets saw an increase in price cuts in February. The largest percentage of price cuts were in Las Vegas (up 19 percent); San Jose (up 9 percent); Phoenix (up 7 percent); San Francisco (up 5 percent); and Dallas (up 4 percent).

 

REALTORS join forces to make housing a top legislative priority in WA

With the Washington state Legislature scheduled to start its 2019 session on January 14 and Realtor Hill Day slated for January 24, Realtors and other real estate-related organizations will be coalescing around the housing crisis and strategies for improving supply and affordability.

Among legislative priorities are:

  • Condominium liability reform, specifically, language that would 1) prohibit individual HOA officers/board members from being sued; 2) modify statutory “implied warranties” that condo buyers receive from builders; and 3) require purchasers who sue to establish a “performance” defect.
  • GMA reform, including a requirement for cities to enact minimum densities in urban areas, thereby making more efficient use of available urban lands designated for jobs and housing.
  • Housing Trust Fund legislation that may be proposed to allow use of a portion of the monies for building owner-occupied housing in addition to publicly-owned housing.
  • Other budget and financial issues affecting tax collections; education funding subsequent to the 2017 “McCleary Fix;” expenses resulting from compliance with the “Culverts case” that required the state to improve fish passage on almost all culverts under state roadways; B&O and REET related proposals to increase those taxes; and a new capital gains tax (depending on the final number of Democrats in the State Senate).

To help focus attention on the housing crisis and its “real world impacts,” a coalition of nonprofit organizations, builders, Realtors and others joined forces to launch a multi-media campaign.

Using the theme “Unlock the Door,” the campaign invites members of the public and Realtor members to share stories on how the housing affordability crisis has affected them, and their family, friends, and clients.

The effort, now underway, is in response to the struggle families across the state and in all income groups are facing in their search for homeownership opportunities. Organizers cite research from the Rundstad Department of Real Estate at the University of Washington which indicates  first-time buyers in King, Kittitas, Pierce and Snohomish counties face home prices that area nearly double what they can afford.

The campaign’s primary focus is on affordable home ownership opportunities, but it will also contain elements related to homelessness and low income housing.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Gilbert-Smith, volunteer member of Seattle King County REALTORS and Tacoma-Pierce County Association of REALTORS Government and Public Affairs Committees

Americans Shift Their Perceptions of the Housing Market

For the past five quarters, the majority of Americans said their housing markets were overheating. Now, in the fourth quarter, 75 percent of Americans say their local housing market is starting to cool, according to ValueInsured’s Q4 2018 Modern Homebuyer Survey. Homeowners in California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington are most likely to say their local market is starting to cool off.

The survey “revealed some concerning evidence about the changing psychology of the housing market,” says Robert Shiller, a housing economist. “We will be watching these numbers as they unfold over the future.”

Seventy-two percent of Americans and 78 percent of “urban residents” say home prices are still too high. Urban homeowners blame “flippers and speculative investors” and “wealthy transplants from more expensive housing markets” for inflating their local home prices to unsustainable levels, according to the report.

Some home buyers may hit the pause button to see what happens in the housing market. Fifty-nine percent of interested home buyers (which includes first-time and move-up buyers) say they plan to wait for a “meaningful correction” before they buy. Fourteen percent say they plan to not buy at all until a correction occurs.

Several markets are seeing home prices slow. ValueInsured’s report notes that the fastest drops in home prices have been happening in Seattle, and North Texas has seen some of its largest sales declines in seven years.

“Buyers have switched from ‘hoop jumpers’ to bargain-hunter mode,” says Joe Melendez, CEO and founder of ValueInsured.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine

Sold Out: These 10 U.S. Cities Have the Biggest Housing Shortages

top-10-markets-feeling-the-crunch

It’s a parched, scorching desert out there for many U.S. home buyers. For the past 28 months, the housing market has been defined not just by demand—which remains sky-high in many parts of the nation—but also by the shrinking number of available homes for sale. So what are the signposts of a tighter-than-tight marketplace? Buyers are jumping on realtor.com® listings within seconds of their initial postings. Wanna-be homeowners are burrowing themselves into ever-scarcer, ever-busier open houses and going a little mad trying to get in the first bid. Real estate agents are knocking on hundreds of doors just to squeeze out one more listing.

And who are the biggest losers in such a skintight, depleted market? First-time buyers with limited budgets, of course.

Read the article on realtor.com® and see where Seattle ranks…

Predictions Roll in: 2017 Housing Forecasts

Thoughts

We can expect a hot year for home sales in 2017, according to recent forecasts from the National Association of REALTORS®, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and more.

NAR is predicting existing-home sales to reach 6 million in 2017, higher than its 5.8 million forecast for this year. But other entities are even more bullish. MBA is predicting home sales to eclipse 6.5 million next year, while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are both predicting 6.2 million.

A huge wave of Generation Yers, who have delayed home buying, are emerging into their key buying years. They are predicted to keep home sales and condo sales strong well into 2020, according to economists.

The top markets for price appreciation likely will be in Seattle, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Denver, Colo.; and Boston, predicts Eric Fox, vice president of statistical and economic modeling at VeroForecast. These markets’ robust economies have growing populations but a tight supply of homes for sale on the market that will likely lead to some of the largest price increases across the country.

Meanwhile, new-home construction starts likely will tick up to about 1.5 million per year to 2024, predicts Forisk Research.

Home builders likely will continue to be more subdued, despite calls for more inventory.

“Home builders behavior likely is a continuing echo of their experience during the crash,” Pantheon Macro Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson told MarketWatch. “No one wants to be caught with excess inventory during a sudden downshift in demand. In this cycle, the pursuit of market share and volumes is less important than profitability and balance sheet resistance.”

Source: REALTORmag

10 Top Cities for Dog Lovers

Dog

A whopping 54.4 million households – or 44 percent – own at least one dog, according to the 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association survey. That trumps the 35 percent of cat-owning households.

Americans sure do love their pets. In fact, spending on pets has doubled from 2001 to 2015, up from $28.5 billion to $60.28 billion, according to the APPA.

In some cities, the number of dog owners, in particular, is growing. Realtor.com®’s research team sniffed out the 10 best cities for dogs, factoring in the percentage of households that own a dog as well as the number of dog parks and trails, dog-friendly restaurants, pet stores, and dog walkers.

Check out which cities go to the pooches and how Seattle ranks…