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 Kan, Economist 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.
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.
Image Source: Canva
Thanks to COVID-19, the new reality is that many open houses and home tours are being conducted virtually. For prospective home buyers, this new territory brings an added element to prepare for in the home buying process. Some of the questions that should be asked in a virtual home tour parallel those of in-person tours, but others are unique to today’s virtual world.
Could you zoom in?
- Sometimes it can be difficult to get a true glimpse at what you want to see in a room. Asking the agent to zoom in on specific features is commonplace in virtual home tours, and they understand this is part of the viewer experience. Don’t hesitate to ask multiple times. Getting a better look at everything you want to see will help you feel like you’ve gotten the most out of your virtual tour.
How many square feet are in this room?
- Virtual tours can slightly distort space, making it tough to gauge the size. The room-to-room square footage is information the agent is sure to have handy. Since you can’t be there in person, it will help you piece together the virtual visuals with the sense of physical space that we’re all accustomed to feeling in the places we live.
What color is that?
- In the smartphone era, and computer era at large, we have come to understand that digital representations of color are not always true to the eye. Ask the agent to confirm specific colors so you can plan accordingly. Have a color swatch on hand or look the colors up online as you go through the tour.
When were the appliances last updated?
- The importance of this question rings true in past, present, and future. Knowing the state of the home’s appliances, and the likelihood and timing of when they will need replacement, is vital information for both assessing the move-in readiness of the home and understanding what costs might lie ahead.
Has the seller provided an inspection?
- This is another example of a critical question, whether your home tour is virtual or physical. If the seller has already done an inspection, ask the agent to lead you to any areas of concern based on the inspector’s findings. If there is anything that has not yet been addressed by the seller, have your agent ask what their plan is for making the necessary repairs/updates.
When is the offer review date?
- Understanding the seller’s timeline for reviewing and accepting offers will help guide your decision-making process and allow you to strategize based on the timeline.
Whether your home tour is physical or virtual, getting the information you need to make an informed decision remains paramount. Although there is no substitute for physically being in the home you are looking to buy, keeping these questions in mind will position you well as you progress through the home buying journey.
Sellers, it continues to be an amazing year for you folks. Buyers are begging to see your houses and can't wait to pay top dollar with the least amount of contingencies in their offers. You are also doing a great job getting your houses ready. You are making the choice for Buyers to offer easy when you change out the old carpets and put on a fresh coat of paint. The clean landscaping and the staging you are allowing me to put in your homes is giving the Buyers to get a warm, cozy feeling. The pre-inspection and fixes you did based on that inspection helps the Buyer feel better about offering without and inspection.
And for those of you Sellers not willing to do some work or put money in to get the home ready, yet pricing it at top dollar, don't be surprised when it doesn't sell in three days like your neighbor's did. Buyers are starting to understand what market value is these days, and yours is below market value!
After losing out on a couple of homes, Buyers learn what they need to do to get the house they want.
Here's the thing, Buyers, the Eastside Seattle Market is VERY competitive. At first you want a screaming deal, but nothing you like is in the price range you have set. Next you want a good deal, but everything you see is overpriced or needs $100K in upgrades to make it livable. Finally, you will realize you should have paid full price for that house you thought was overpriced a few weeks ago because a similar house nearby is now $10K more expensive with a smaller yard.
I have a client who bought a condo in September for $350K. A similar condo is on the market today at $435K. Holy cow! She is thanking her lucky stars (and me) that she didn't wait to see if something better came along.
It's a jungle out there for you, Buyers, but I can help you understand the market. Allow me to give you the stats and information so you can be the best prepared Buyers out there. Call me soon since real estate economists say prices are going to continue to climb and interest rates will most likely go up as well by the end of the year.
And Sellers, I'll explain to you how to be the best listing on the block so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
~~It’s a tough go for Buyers right now in Seattle. The inventory is very low, and when they like a house so do 12 other Buyers. This market requires Buyers to pay for pre-inspections so they can waive it for the offer. One of my Buyers paid for 4 inspections before they finally got mutual acceptance on a home. I have heard of people doing many more than that even. People are waiving all kinds of contingencies that protect them like financing, appraisal, and title, and it’s insane when this is probably their largest investment.
Now a couple of my clients have informed me that they are tired and need to regain their strength before they attempt to tackle the market in the late Summer or early Fall. I don’t blame them, but I wonder if it will be any better at that time since everyone seems to want to take a break right now and start again when the market cools after Summer.
I also worry about interest rates that have been creeping into the low 4%’s within the last few weeks. That can make a difference for some as to whether they can afford a monthly payment.
AAAARGGHHH! It’s all so frustrating. So let’s look on the bright side of life in Seattle.
Literally, as I write this, it is so darn bright outside at 86 degrees in June. LOVE IT! Everyone is out enjoying the day in their slightly wrinkled summer clothes they just pulled out from the box under the bed.
I have lived here close to 20 years, but I grew up in Sacramento where my father wouldn’t even go bike riding until it hit 100 degrees. Luckily we had a pool to come home to or the American River a block away. I still love the heat and the sun. So why don’t I go back to my hometown? Well, let’s get back to the bright side of life here in Seattle: we actually have water. Not as much as we have had in the past but way more than California! See? Glass half full! (of a Mojito, preferably)
No place is more beautiful on a sunny day than Seattle. We can enjoy the large bodies of water all over the place or hike in the gorgeous mountains that have miles of trails to enjoy. I have an outdoor porch upstairs on my house and it is like sitting in a treehouse. In the Spring the flowers are in full bloom exploding with color. This morning, while many of the flowers have moved on, the yard is full of green, green, green. And the colors in the Fall? My favorite time around here because orange is my favorite color of all. Winter is a bit gray and naked in Seattle, but that just reminds us to bundle up on the porch with hot coffee.
So, I understand why people want to buy a house here. It is a great place to live, work, raise kids, be active, and relax all year round.
Hang in there, Buyers, the right house will come along soon and you will be glad you decided to be a homeowner in Seattle.
P.S. Seattle Sellers, call me, I have 10 Buyers for your house!
Is December a good time to list your house? Heck yes! I currently have five active buyers who want to buy yesterday and people aren’t listing their homes. Here, in the Seattle area, we have been having a shortage of listings for a few years now which have made it a Seller’s market. Great for Sellers! So why aren’t you people listing your homes if it is such a Seller’s market? I am hearing because people don’t think it’s a good time of year to list. Let me tell you why it is:
- My buyers are very serious buyers to be looking during the holidays. They are not just browsing, they are ready to buy!
- Because of the lack of inventory (even more so at this time of year), Sellers will have less competition and therefore more likely to sell fast with possible multiple offers.
- January starts the new season of shopping for homes for many buyers and, therefore, people have been waiting to list their home until after the holidays. That means more competition for the Seller.
- A lot of people will decorate their home for the holidays which will show well. A decorated home is beautiful.
- Buyers will see your decorated home and get emotional about what the holidays could be like for them next year.
- Buyers have more time to shop for houses as businesses slow down a bit while people go on vacation.
- Tax break for this year!
- January is a popular month to start a new job. People transferring from out of town don’t have time to wait to buy a house before the job begins.
- Sellers can be non-contingent Buyers for the Spring if they sell now.
Help me out, folks, and sell your home. My Buyers are ready!
~~I have found the secret to selling houses. This is going to blow my business out of the water! Is it pricing it perfectly? Beautiful staging? Marketing? No, no, and no. Here it is: it’s going on vacation.
Yep, that’s the secret. Who knew? Well, apparently I do. Recently, I had clients get an offer on the day they flew out to some tropical locale, and the other day I checked my phone as my family and I taxied to the gate at the Maui airport (another tropical locale… Oh! That may be part of the secret too!) and there was an offer for one of my listings.
Maybe that should be part of my marketing costs. Forget the flyers, “Here’s two tickets to the Bahamas, folks!” Or, more selfishly, I’ll list it and take off for Mexico where I can practice my twelve words of Spanish. How do you say SOLD! In Spanish? Vendido!
Is this the universe’s weird way of saying, “Slow down, relax, enjoy life,”? Well that doesn’t really make sense since I have to work while on vacation. However, working on vacation while gazing at the ocean and hearing the pounding waves certainly is more enjoyable than being in an enclosed office (while the Seattle rain pounds away outside).
I did not grow up going on vacations very often, but the few that we did take are the happiest memories of my childhood. I remember going to Santa Cruz and being out of my mind over the bunk beds, the piano, and the 134 stairs down to the beach from the tiny beach house my parent’s rented.
My family, which includes my hubby and two kids, do not vacation very often either. We happen to be in Maui for a wedding and probably would not have come here if not for our cousin’s big day. I am thinking, though, that this is going to have to change if I want my business to be successful. I have a listing coming up soon. Where should I go next? Shall I risk a non-tropical vacay and go visit my brother and best friend in Ohio? Maybe Disneyland. Either way I am sure it will lead to Vendido!