A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods

 

Northwest Seattle housing market remains as hot as the recent weather (sponsored story)

May 14th, 2013 by Doree

By John Madrid, Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate (sponsored story)

There are no signs that the current trends of low inventory, rising prices, short sales times and multiple offers will be abating anytime soon.

For NW Seattle (including Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney Ridge and Wallingford) there continues to be only about a one-month supply of single-family home inventory. This tight inventory can be attributed to continued low interest rates, robust Puget Sound area hiring and a generally improved economy, including significant gains in the stock market. Whether the market will become more “balanced” (defined as a three- to six-month supply of homes) will hinge on many more listings hitting the market over the coming months.

Of NW Seattle homes closed in April, the average sale price was almost 103 percent of the most recent list price. This indicates continued multiple offer situations.

Prospective buyers also should think in terms of at least a minimum of three- to five-year+ home ownership horizon and preferably maintain the option to hold onto their home through future downturns in the market. Home seller costs (excise tax, title/escrow fees, sale commissions) of approximately 9 percent of the sales price should also be factored into any decision to purchase.

April 2013-graph1-resized

April 2013-graph2-resized

April 2013-graph3-resized

More stats on other Seattle neighborhoods can be found here.

John Madrid is a Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate – University Village and is a 2005-2012 Seattle Magazine “Five Star” Agent. His clients include both home buyers and sellers. He can be reached at 206-498-1880, john@live206.com or www.live206.com.

Statistics are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed. All information should be verified to the users own satisfaction.

Comments OffTags: ,

Rain, Rain Ain’t Keeping Home Buyers Away

March 18th, 2013 by Doree

(This is a sponsored story written by John Madrid, Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate).

It continues to be a seller’s market in Northwest Seattle, including Ballard, Fremont, Greenwood, Phinney and Wallingford neighborhoods, where there is a little over one-month supply of single-family home inventory. If you are a fortunate home seller, expect to see a lot of open house traffic, buyer “love letters” and possibly multiple offers if your home is located in a popular neighborhood and is competitively priced.

March2013-months-of-inventory-resized

And what to do if you are a home buyer? First, get your financial ducks in a row by getting pre-approved by a local lender who is available in the evenings and on weekends.

Second, try to get out to see homes before the weekend, which will give you more time to line-up pre-inspections if offers aren’t being reviewed for a few days.

Third, reduce the number of contingencies within your comfort level.

Finally, write that love letter even if it’s just a short paragraph in addition to a summary of your offer’s terms. Don’t go overboard, but in this market it just may help you stand out from the pack.

March2013-sold-prices-resized

More info on other Seattle neighborhoods can be found at http://www.live206.com/seattle-area-market-update-c21537.html

John Madrid is a Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate – University Village and is a 2005-2012 Seattle Magazine “Five Star” Agent. His clients include both home buyers and sellers. He can be reached at 206-498-1880, john@live206.com or www.live206.com.

Statistics are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed. All information should be verified to the user’s own satisfaction.

Comments OffTags: ,

Where are all the homes for sale?

February 19th, 2013 by Doree

(This is a sponsored story written by John Madrid, Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate).

“A house, a house, my kingdom for a house.” If you are in the market for a new home you can probably empathize with Shakespeare’s King Richard III. Single-family homes, townhomes, and even condos are all in short supply throughout most of the city.

For Northwest Seattle (including Ballard, Fremont, Green Lake, Phinney and Wallingford) there is now less than a one-month supply of single-family home inventory, which is definitely favoring home sellers, with the result that homes are really hard to come by. We will continue to see more pre-inspections, multiple offers, and bidding wars on the fewer listings hitting the market.

Feb 2013-graph1-resized

Why the shortage of homes for sale? First, some home owners simply can’t sell since they have negative equity (they owe more than their home would sell for). Second, some home owners can’t find a new home to upsize or downsize into that would allow them to put their existing home on the market. Third is that some home owners are either unaware of the improved market for sellers or they are content to stay in their current home rather than over-extend themselves. Fourth, some owners are betting on continued prices gains over the coming months and years. A final factor has been the significant slowdown in new construction, up until last year, that typically helps alleviate the demand for more housing stock.

In addition to a reduced supply, demand has picked up with the influx of new hires (Amazon, Microsoft, etc). There is also a general belief that home prices and interest rates have only one direction to move and that is up. Many renters have concluded that, with big jumps in rent, buying a home may be the wiser long-term investment, especially if they are able to lock in these historically low interest rates.

Home prices will continue to rise until there is more of a supply/demand equilibrium. If you are looking for a home, there are a couple of potential silver linings over the coming weeks and months. First is that we are entering the historically seasonal high point for new inventory. Second, interest rates aren’t expected to move significantly upward until the end of the year at the earliest.

Feb 2013-graph2-resized

Feb 2013-graph3-resized

More stats on other Seattle neighborhoods can be found at http://www.live206.com/seattle-area-market-update-c21537.html

Tip: The fewer contingences (i.e. finance, inspection) a home buyer has, the more attractive they are to a home seller, especially in multiple offer situations. Believe it or not, buyer “love letters” to sellers can swing things into a buyer’s favor – just don’t overdo it.

John Madrid is a Managing Broker with John L. Scott Real Estate – University Village and is a 2005-2012 Seattle Magazine “Five Star” Agent. His clients include both home buyers and sellers. He can be reached at 206-498-1880, john@live206.com or www.live206.com.

Statistics are deemed reliable but are not guaranteed. All information should be verified to the user’s own satisfaction.

CommentsTags:

Phinney-Greenwood real estate: record low inventory

January 11th, 2013 by Doree

By Mark Ashmun, real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Bain

In writing a blog post about December’s real estate numbers, I feel obliged to provide a brief summary of the year as a whole. Rising prices, low inventory, multiple offers, low interest rates and (did I mention?) low inventory. That about sums it up. Okay, now let’s get specific.

The following info is from the NWMLS for Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods combined (henceforth referred to in this column as Phinneywood).

In the fourth quarter of 2011 (October-December) the average sold price for a single-family home was $363,000. The same quarter in 2012 saw that figure increase to $453,000. That is a change of +24.8 percent. As a homeowner, I’d say that deserves a “woohoo.”

These gains are driven by the record low inventory I mentioned earlier. In December of 2011 there were 30 active listings in Phinneywood compared to only 13 in 2012. That amounts to 56.7 percent fewer homes on the market. Combine this with low unemployment, super low interest rates (3.5 percent with no points at the time of this writing) and the result is a whole lot of qualified buyers with very little to choose from.

Have you noticed a “For Sale” sign go up on your street followed by a “Sold” sign in less than a week? The stats back this up. The average CDOM (cumulative days on market) in December 2011 was 38. December 2012, that number fell to just 18 – a change of -52.6 percent. Another amazing stat along these lines is that pending sales outnumbered new listings in ALL of the last three months of 2012.

If you’ve talked to a real estate professional over the past year you probably have heard that multiple offers are back. It has not been unheard of for a home to come on the market on a Wednesday, have 200 plus people through and have 10 or more offers by Sunday night. With that being said, I encourage homeowners to have a professional CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) done before listing in order to accurately price their home. Some homeowners, seeing the lack of inventory, are jumping into the market with unrealistic expectations. Today’s buyers are savvy (particularly those who are represented by an experienced agent) and for the most part, patient. When a home is overpriced it will sit, regardless of the lack of available homes.

And of course, what real estate column would be complete without a multi-colored graph? I chose green and blue because frankly, I’m tired of green and red. I decided to run a seven-year picture of Phinneywood showing the numbers of pending listings versus active listings (a key stat for understanding market velocity). I found it illustrates very well the market metamorphosis in regards to inventory over the last seven years.

Jan2013-MarkAshmun-graphic-resized

Lastly, I wanted to add a couple of pertinent links.

My email is markashmun@cbbain.com. If you are interested in having a professional CMA done for your home, regardless of if you are considering listing, I would be glad to oblige. Really, it’s what I do. If you are interested in receiving a monthly email from me with your neighborhood’s stats, simply drop me a line. You can also check out my Facebook page. It contains local/national news, market updates, and a bit of my Seattle photography.

CommentsTags:

Real estate column: It’s a sellers’ market, watch out for low appraisals

December 6th, 2012 by Doree

By Jamie Flaxman, Realtor with Coldwell Banker Bain

You probably keep hearing the Seattle housing market is hot. Well, it is hot.

“Real estate brokers expected some seasonal slowing during November, but last month’s falloff was less than what some industry veterans anticipated. Members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported 6,522 pending sales last month – the highest total for November in six years.” (NWMLS press release, 12/5/12)

Among the highlights of the November data for the Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods:

  • Eighteen single-family homes (SFHs) and four condos came on the market during November. Twenty-three homes and four condos went into contract. Sixteen homes and six condos closed.
  • There is less than one month of inventory of SFHs available and 1.3 months of inventory for condos. Generally six months of inventory is a stable housing market, but in Greenwood and Phinney the inventory is much lower. Lower means we have a sellers’ market, higher a buyers’ market.
  • As an example of low inventory, in November 2011 there were 37 homes for sale and 20 condos; November 2012 only 15 homes and five condos. This shows that the market was not moving a year ago, but now homes and condos are selling extremely fast

Another sign the market has improved – in November there was only one short sale on the market for SFHs and one for condos. As for bank-owned (foreclosures), just two SFHs and no condos.

Here’s a graph for Phinney and Greenwood, SFHs and condos combined, showing the number of homes for sale, pending (moved into contract), and sold.

Phinney and Greenwood are currently a sellers’ market (as is most of Seattle and the Eastside). Because there are significantly more buyers out there than sellers, sellers control the market. A good proportion of SFHs and condos are selling above list price. The average condo sales price in November 2012 was $185,000, a 17 percent increase from the prior month. The average single-family home price in November 2012 was $451,000, down a little from October, but up 16 percent from a year ago.

Because there are many homes with multiple offers and accepted contracts higher than list price, we are now seeing appraisals coming in under the contract price. Lenders will require that the seller lower the purchase price to the appraisal and/or the seller will need to obtain a second appraisal, at a higher value. (Generally the buyer pays for the appraisal; this second appraisal would be paid for by the seller.)

If you’re a seller, the most important thing you can do is choose a listing agent who knows the market. Listen to the listing agent when he/she recommends a price. The listing agent will have done research on comparable homes to yours, focusing on recent sales, to come up with a price recommendation.

One of the most important things you can do as a buyer is to choose a local lender. The big banks and online lenders, particularly in a busy market, may send out a non-local appraiser. You live in Phinney and the appraiser is from Tacoma – market conditions and home values are quite different and the Tacoma appraiser may not understand the Seattle market. The second thing you should do is make sure your Realtor is also researching the comparable sales, and before selecting a Realtor, make sure that person is comfortable going to bat for you with the appraiser.

It is absolutely the right time to sell a home. With low interest rates and the market improving, buyers are out there looking and waiting to find the right home. You should be able to sell your home quickly and for market value.

The last item I want to mention is a new analysis from Coldwell Banker, which allows you to compare your home’s value to values in three different cities. You can also look at the national rankings which compare four-bedroom homes in 2,479 geographic areas. Seattle ranks 2,323, meaning that there are only 253 surveyed areas that are more expensive (including Mercer Island and Bellevue).

Jamie Flaxman is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Bain. She can be reached at jamieflaxman@cbbain.com, or 206-790-0081.

CommentsTags: , ,

Seattle is slipping into a seller’s market

November 8th, 2012 by Doree

By Sharon O’Mahony, RE/MAX Broker

As the leaves turn and days grow shorter, usually the housing market starts to wind down and shows signs of lapsing into long winter’s nap. Usually… but not this year.

This past October proved that the market here in Seattle is definitely coming back. At one recent broker’s open house on a Wednesday morning, I had 12 people waiting at the front door to get in to see a new “fixer” listing in Ravenna. I was not late. These were just eager buyers hungry to see the latest inventory.

First-time buyers are out in great numbers and so are investors with cash looking to flip homes again. With inventory rates at 1.5 months here in our area, things are moving quickly. Most homes that are priced well are getting offers in one week or less. Multiple offers, pre-inspections and letters written by the buyers to the seller are also back as buyers try to up their chances of being the winning bid.

Recently I showed my buyer a home in Shoreline that had come on the market that morning and by 5 p.m. was already sold. The seller didn’t wait to review offers – they just took the first offer they received. As an agent, this drove home the fact that I have to be extra vigilant these days about searching for new listings and getting my buyers out to see properties ASAP. This gives new meaning to “house hunting.” I feel like more of a vulture sometimes.

Don’t be fooled by the low prices you see on many new listings – this is not usually the price you will end up paying. Many sellers are pricing their homes under market value and waiting a week before they will review offers to ensure that as many buyers see the property as possible – and hopefully to start a bidding war. It seems to be working. I have seen several homes in Green Lake go for almost $100,000 over asking price… for nothing special. I find it curious. I think people need to calm down and not panic. We are not running out of houses. I promise.

The good news for those who did wait to buy, interest rates are at historic lows, around 3.5 percent for a conventional fixed 30-year mortgage, so you now have more buying power. The challenge that buyers still have is coming up with the down-payment money. I am seeing a rising trend in parents gifting the down payment to their children in order to help them get their foot into the market. In most cases the kids have good jobs but are saddled with so much college debt that they haven’t been able to save for a down-payment. Thanks, Mom and Dad! It is a great option if you can swing it. An early inheritance you can watch them enjoy and cook you dinner in.

With rents up the incentive to buy is great if you can afford the down payment. The median price of a home in the Green Lake/Phinney Ridge area is $457,000 for October. This same time last year the median price was $399,995.

Not all areas are seeing this kind of bump in the median price but our in-city market here in Seattle is healthier than some of the outlying areas due to the influx of bio-tech jobs – Amazon, The Gates Foundation and Boeing continuing to bring new workers to our area. The majority of homes that are being sold are priced in the most competitive range between $300,000-400,000 with 446 sold in the past 11 months. Inventory is about 25-35 percent lower this October than it was last Fall. When you combine the lower inventory with the 1.5 month supply available, you can see why we are in a seller’s market again.

Given the pent-up demand we have for houses currently, I predict that this coming Spring is going to be very robust for our area as we get a much needed increase in inventory back into the mix to satisfy the demand. Happy hunting!

CommentsTags: ,

Low housing inventory equals multiple offers and higher prices

October 4th, 2012 by Doree

By Vince Decker, Phinney Ridge real estate broker at Historic Homes in Seattle and Preview Properties, Inc.

For the sake of this article, I examined single-family homes within the following boundaries: North 50th Street, 3rd Avenue NW, Aurora Avenue North and Holman Road NW/ North 105th Street.

The data is clear. In our Phinneywood area, inventory is low; only 24 homes are available. Homes sell quickly when they are in good condition and priced correctly, often with multiple offers and escalated prices. Although the number of closed homes in September is small (indicative of back-to-school time), there are 38 homes pending on their way to close. Homes are selling faster the farther south they are in our neighborhood. The Phinneywood area continues to be a home buyer favorite. With interest rates at historic lows, market activity is brisk.

Phinneywood-area homes sold in September

Address                  Beds  Bath    SF fin/unf.   Garage    Days   List/Sell Price

532 N 80th St       1         1           1, 700            1 car         11      $249,950/$255,000
235 NW 53rd        3         1.5       1360/240    1 car         3       $409,000/$409,000
527 N 78th St.     3         1.5       1420/860     1 car         10    $459,950/$459,950
355 N 75th St       3         3          1890                2 car         3      $545,000/$570,000
536 N 70th St      4         2.5       2520               1 car         7      $569,000/$578,000
519 N 70th St      5         2.5       2520               1 car         4       $598,000/$640,000
549 N 71st St       3         3           2070              1 car          3      $639,800/$655,000
7016 Fremont    4         3           2350               1 car          7      $765,000/$775,000
6211 Dayton        4         2           2450               1 car          7      $839,000/$815,000
5903 Fremont    5         2.75    2410/200     1 car          7      $840,000/$861,000

If you are thinking about selling and want to make good choices, here are some helpful thoughts:

  • Bad ideas: expensive bathroom/kitchen remodels/additions, new garage, expensive landscaping.
  • Good ideas: green/organic materials, simple repairs, tidy the yard, replace ugly appliances.
  • Bad ideas: staging all the character out of your home, paying too much for real estate commission.
  • Good ideas: thorough clean up, store clutter, paint inside and out, and replace needed hardware.
  • Bad ideas: inability to disconnect from your home when selling, talking with buyers when they visit.
  • Good ideas: Only selling if there is a compelling reason to do so, having a plan and sticking to it.

CommentsTags:

Real estate column: Low inventory, low interest rates

September 12th, 2012 by Doree

Editor’s Note: This is the second monthly installment in PhinneyWood’s new real estate column. We already have agents lined up to write the next several months, but if you’d like to be added to the list for future columns, please email us at tips@phinneywood.com.

By John “Mack” McCoy, Lake & Company Real Estate (Green Lake office)

Real estate values. Remember those exciting sitcoms about people sitting around the kitchen table talking about “maintaining property values?” We neither.

Still – home prices are important to prospective home buyers, investors, and property owners. So what’s happening in Phinneywood?

It’s hard to buy a home in Phinneywood nowadays. There are about a dozen houses for sale, priced from $380,000 to $730,000; seven condos from $129,950 to $315,000.

There were 47 closed sales between June and August, 41 houses and 6 condos. The median house price was $522,200; the condos ranged from $90,000 to $282,500. Compared to the previous year, with 37 houses and 3 condos; median house price of $450,000; there’s been a bit of a jump.

Even more exciting than talking about Property Values is having a “thrill reel” featuring Interest Rates! They are lower than the rumble from Uncle Max’s floor-to-ceiling loudspeakers. And the “super bass” of low interest rates – currently at just over 3.5 percent, compared to 4.25 a year ago – increases buying power by almost 10 percent.

Citywide, values are up and inventory is down; the number of listings is barely half of what it was a year ago.

We’re not crystal-ball types, but we do predict that you’ll be able to get the entire season of PhinneyWood Real Estate Values and Interest Rates through Netflix. Meanwhile, keep those beautiful gardens up, and shop locally!

CommentsTags:

New PhinneyWood real estate column – Definitely a sellers’ market

August 2nd, 2012 by Doree

Editor’s Note: We are adding a monthly real estate column, written by area realtors. Our first column is by Brent Lumley, of the new Windermere office that will open soon at 315 N. 85th St. If you’d like to write future real estate columns for PhinneyWood, please email us.

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today in the Phinney/Greenwood neighborhood, we had almost five months of inventory. This means that if no new homes come on the market, it would take five months to sell everything currently for sale. Today, we have just over one month of inventory. Anything under three months is considered a Seller’s market; finally some good news on the housing front.

Here are the statistics to back that up. Number of sold homes in the neighborhood in the last three months is 121, average days on market 36, average list price $469,353, sales price $464,423, currently only 21 homes for sale.

Condos: only 25 sold in the last three months, average days on the market 128 (much longer), average list price $188,861, sales price $185,024 and 13 condos for sale today. As you can see, sellers are getting 99 percent of asking price.

A survey was taken to find out what home buyers want today. Almost 60 percent said they wanted a modest floor plan ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet. Builders predict that by 2015, the average size newly built home will be 2,152 square feet. (Interesting fact: in 1950 the average square feet per person in an American household was 290. Today, it is 924 square feet per person.)

The second most important item buyers wanted was organization and comfort. Here are the top 10 amenities buyers are looking for, according to the National Association of Home Builders:

• Walk-in closet in Master Bedroom
• Separate shower and tub in Master Bath
• Low E windows
• Programmable thermostat
• Linen closet
• Energy efficient appliances and lighting
• Great room
• Nine-foot+ ceilings on first floor
• Insulated front door
• Laundry room

The third item is a smaller price tag, which, of course, is pretty obvious. And the last is more improved energy efficiency. Homebuyers want to create a smaller footprint and save on energy bills.

Brent Lumley, Realtor, Windermere Real Estate
206-650-0222, lumley@windermere.com

CommentsTags: , ,

Update on new Greenwood Windermere office

October 4th, 2011 by Doree

Last week we told you that the Windermere Oak Tree office would be moving into Greenwood after renovating a building on North 85th Street. They’ve just sent us a sketch of what the new building will look like.

The new office at 315 N. 85th St., next Medicine Man pharmacy, will house 60 agents.

“We look forward to getting out of a shopping mall and into a true neighborhood,” Windermere Oak Tree Owner Matt Carroll said in a press release. “Our office has serviced the Greenwood/Phinney Ridge areas for twenty years, and we are excited about being located in the heart of that community.”

The renovation is adding 3,500 square feet to the existing building, for a total of 7,800 square feet on two floors. It is scheduled to open sometime in April 2012.

According to the press release, Carroll has lived in the Greenwood-Phinney area for more than 20 years. “My kids were raised in this neighborhood, so it feels like coming home,” he said.

CommentsTags: ,

Real estate up for grabs on 85th and Greenwood

December 7th, 2010 by Tyler Steele

By Tyler Steele, PhinneyWood Intern

One of the most visible intersections in the neighborhood has prime real estate up for lease on the corner of 85th and Greenwood — first the Greenwood Academy of Hair in June and now PAWS Cat City in December.

“I wonder what’ll end up here in the future,” pondered longtime resident Rachel Hutchinson as she peered through the window into the empty salon, still littered with leftover equipment from the move. “I will really miss them.”

On her daily trek, Hutchinson said this corner always reminded her that she was almost home.

Six months ago, PhinneyWood reported that the Greenwood Academy of Hair was moving to Shoreline and merging with a national chain, Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy.

“It’s a good, high profile location,” Limantzakis Properties owner Johnny Limantzakis said by phone. “Greenwood is a great, up-and-coming neighborhood. The properties are listed for lease and we’re looking for tenants.”

“The two largest vacancies are best suited for retail use,” he added. “With the right modifications, like a hood for cooking, a restaurant could work too.”

He said the corner lot is about 4,000 square feet, and right next door is around 1,000.

PAWS Cat City, another longtime fixture, announced last month that they would be moving to the University District at 5200 Roosevelt Way NE by the middle of on Dec. 26.

“It’s bitter sweet because we love Greenwood, but we’re excited to expand and increase our operations,” Supervisor Steph Renaud said as she held a brown and black tabby named Giselle. “We wanted to find a place in the neighborhood, but we just couldn’t find a place that worked.”

Still holding Giselle, who burrowed her face in fear of the camera flash, Renaud said, “We’re growing — so, we just needed more space.”

She pointed out the new location’s 500 additional square feet, which will help meet the expanding demand for the organization’s services.

“The kitten season has grown longer, and we also have more adult cats,” she said on her way from the lobby to the cat rooms. “By expanding and increasing partnerships with other locations, our goal is to help rescue more animals.”

After putting Giselle into her room, Renaud picked up Scooby, a friendly gray tabby who did not mind getting his picture taken.

“I live in the neighborhood, so I’ll miss this location,” she said with a sigh.

A third tenant of the building, the Northwest Neighborhood Service Center, is closing on Jan. 1, a victim of the city’s budget cuts. (The NSC had been considered for closure in the preliminary budget. The service center’s Coordinator Beth Pflug just confirmed to PhinneyWood today that the office is closing.)

“It’s very likely to see something happen to these locations in the next few months,” Limantzakis said. “We’re very active and we’re looking for a good fit for the neighborhood.”

CommentsTags: , , ,

‘Humpday’ house for sale

March 19th, 2010 by Doree

Now you can own a little piece of neighborhood filmmaking history. The Phinney Ridge house used for much of the filming of last year’s indie hit film “Humpday” is for sale. The distinctly blueberry-colored house on the corner of 2nd Ave. NW and NW 67th St. is listed at $459,950.

Veronica lives next door to the house and says the film crew was extremely good about making sure filming didn’t disturb the neighbors.

I thought there would be a lot of commotion and that I could just pull out a lawn chair and watch from the street, but it was pretty quiet. Except for some lights and a black drape they used outside the windows that face my house, I wouldn’t have known filming began.

Thanks to Mai Ling for the tip!

CommentsTags: ,