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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mortgage Rates Increase Following Central Bank Meetings

Over the past week, two key central bank meetings were the primary focus for investors. The outcomes of both the European Central Bank (ECB) and the U.S. Fed meetings were viewed as unfavorable for bonds. As a result, mortgage rates ended the week higher. 

As it had telegraphed to investors for a long time, the Fed raised the federal funds rate by 25 basis points on Wednesday. Less widely anticipated, Fed officials also raised their projections for the pace of rate hikes in 2017 due to quicker expected progress in achieving the Fed's goals for the labor market and inflation. In addition to raising rates, the Fed has stated that it expects to eventually tighten monetary policy by shrinking its investments in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The faster the Fed raises rates, the sooner it is expected that the Fed will reduce its holdings of MBS, which is negative for mortgage rates.

Ahead of the meeting on December 8, investors generally expected that the ECB would extend its bond purchase program for another six months at its current pace. The ECB exceeded this in one way by extending the program by nine months, meaning that it will now end in December 2017. In a more important area, however, the ECB disappointed investors. The ECB announced that the monthly purchases will decrease from 80 billion euros to 60 billion euros beginning in April. The reduction in the level of stimulus removed some expected future demand for bonds, causing mortgage rates to rise.

Wednesday's data on retail sales was one of the few recent reports on economic activity, which fell short of expectations. Excluding the volatile auto component, retail sales in November rose just 0.2% from October, well below the consensus for an increase of 0.4%, and the results for October were revised lower as well.

Looking ahead, The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a widely followed monthly inflation report, will come out on Thursday. CPI looks at the price change for goods and services that are sold to consumers. The Housing Starts report will be released on Friday, and Existing Home Sales will come out on December 21. In addition, a meeting of the Bank of Japan on December 20 could influence U.S. mortgage rates.

Information originally provided by:
HomeStreet Bank
The Sanders Young Team
NMLS ID #487525 and #438324
HomeStreet Bank
720 Lilly Road SE
Olympia, WA 98501
360-259-2266 Teri/360-250-3799 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Real estate brokers expect no holiday breather as sales stay strong and supplies remain low

KIRKLAND, Washington (Dec. 5, 2016) – Pending sales of homes hit an all-time high for the month of November according to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report covering 23 counties around Washington state also shows the number of new listings added during the month plunged to the lowest level in 11 months, prompting MLS leaders to predict a busy winter for residential real estate as buyers compete for the smallest inventory since March.

“Last year’s holiday season ended up being the best time to sell a home around King County as sellers took the winter months off, but buyers remained persistent. The supply of homes for sale hit a post-recession low, and so far, this year is mirroring last winter’s trends,” remarked Northwest MLS director Robert Wasser in Seattle.

Figures for November show a 13.2 percent drop in inventory of single family homes and condominiums, a 9.4 percent gain in pending sales, a 31.3 percent spike in closed sales, and an 11 percent increase in prices compared to the same month a year ago.

At month-end, there was only 1.69 months of supply system-wide, believed to be a new low. For the 4-county Puget Sound region there is only 1.22 months of supply, with King County having the lowest level at under a month (0.96).

Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) totaled 8,217, and eclipsed the number of new listings (5,779) by 2,438 units. That imbalance depleted total inventory, dropping the number of active listings to 13,303, down 13.2 percent from a year ago.

“November’s pending sales for the four-county area of King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap were the highest since 2005. There were 44 percent more pendings than new listings,” noted J. Lennox, who described market activity as a mini power surge. “Every time interest rates increase 0.5 percent we see these surges because buyers become anxious about increasing rates – but on a historical basis rates are still amazing,” he remarked.

 John Deely, vice chairman of the Northwest MLS board, said the Seattle residential real estate market is not taking time off for an end-of-year breather. “The seemingly inexhaustible supply of ready, willing and able buyers continues to purchase available inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand continues to fuel multiple offers and drive prices upward,” said Deely in Seattle. Well-paying jobs in the tech sector are fueling demand, with “the increase in equity and tick up in interest rates enticing more sellers to the market.”

George Moorhead, another member of the MLS board, echoed those sentiments. “We have seen the market pick up significant speed since the mild slowing during the summer months.” He cited NAR reports that the Puget Sound area is 73,180 units short of demand, calling it a staggering number.

“Like the last two years we expect strong sales to continue through December, then taper off in January, only to pick back up mid-February with another flurry of aggressive buyers,” Moorhead continued. He also believes an uptick in interest rates will driver buyers into the market even harder, with inventory likely to plunge even lower.

The median price on last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums area-wide was $342,000, up 11 percent from the year-ago figure of $308,000. August was the only other month this year with year-over-year double-digit appreciation for prices area-wide.

Thirteen counties in the Northwest MLS service area reported double-digit price increases last month compared to 12 months ago. Prices in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties jumped between 14.4 and 15.3 percent, but the largest spikes were in Okanogan (up 41.4 percent) and Jefferson (up 39.5 percent) counties. Last month’s overall median price for single family homes and condos that sold was down about 2 percent from this year’s high of $350,000 for sales that closed in June, July and August.

Prices for single family homes (excluding condos) rose 10.9 percent from a year ago to $350,500. King County reported the highest median price for single family homes at $550,000 (up 10 percent year-over-year).

Condo prices reflected more modest price hikes, perhaps a reflection of depleted inventory (down 18 percent) that is dragging down sales. Pending sales fell nearly 1.9 percent from a year ago. Last month’s median selling price area-wide was $280,000, about 5.7 percent higher than a year ago. In King County, which accounted for more than six of every 10 condo sales, year-over-year prices jumped more than $30,000 -- from $298,500 to $328,844 (up about 10.2 percent).

“Seattle continues to defy all forecasts and now has the distinction of being the hottest market with the fastest-rising prices in the nation,” said Mike Grady, commenting the latest home price index from S&P Case-Shiller. “We believe the market will continue to be extremely active through the winter and beyond, although the Fed’s expected interest rate hike may affect this somewhat and provide some relief to buyers.”

Even with the much-anticipated increase in interest rates, Grady said he does not expect much leveling off of home prices or activity. Expectations of an easing of mortgage underwriting stringencies by the new Administration will result in additional buyers entering the market, which Grady believes “will add fuel to the fire. We anticipate being very busy through 2017.”
Other brokers agreed.

“Overall, the market continues to be frenzy hot on a seasonality basis, as we’re seeing the same positive momentum in the Puget Sound real estate market as last year,” stated Scott, adding, “We’ll be entering 2017 with an extremely severe inventory shortage that is going to lead us into a huge price appreciation boost after the first of the year.”

“Looking ahead to 2017, the Seattle market will continue to perform well, even with the expected interest rate increase,” stated OB Jacobi. “The regional economy is in full stride and this will continue to create increased demand for housing across the board,” he added. He also said he expects price growth to cool somewhat as inventory levels rise modestly, but he believes “2017 should be another banner year for the housing market.”

“This market engenders confidence and high expectations by sellers as they continue to command center stage,” remarked Dick Beeson in Tacoma. “Inventory levels were supposed to increase by this time of year, yet stubbornly, would-be sellers remain on the sidelines, so buyers will continue to struggle to find a home and compete with other buyers through most, if not all of 2017,” added Beeson, a member of the MLS board of directors.

Beeson also commented on the “hottest market” label from Case-Shiller. “It sounds like an enviable position, but it brings its own set of problems and issues,” he noted. Lengthy times to obtain appraisals due to the limited number of appraisers, low appraisals, buyers being forced to pay cash for the difference between appraised value and the sales price, sellers refusing to make repairs on their property, lenders requiring repairs to be done prior to closing, and multiple offers were among concerns he listed.

Industry-watchers say conditions are ripe for sustained activity through the holidays, citing historically low interest rates, motivated sellers, fewer players (less competition), faster closings (fewer transactions to process) and the appeal of year-end tax deductions are motivators.

Gary O’Leyar described the current market as “one of the most extreme I’ve seen in 42 years of working in the Greater Seattle area.” Although there may be a public perception that brokers are “having a heyday” he said it’s actually one of the hardest markets he and fellow brokers have encountered. One listing may generate multiple offers, but at the end of the day there is only one sale. “Along with buyers who are so tested by this market are the brokers who partner with them to work through this rugged gauntlet to secure a successful sale,” he noted.

Beeson also commented on the current market challenges, saying “even in a hot market sellers and buyers need the guidance of an experienced broker to navigate the waters.” For sellers, he said, finding a buyer is like the tip of an iceberg – it’s easily seen. “However,” he explained, “helping a buyer find the right home and winning in a multiple-offer situation, helping sellers choose the right offer, helping both parties close the sale are all under the surface and require a knowledgeable, experienced broker to avoid crashing against a failed sale.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of nearly 2,100 member offices includes more than 25,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fire Safety

Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property. The fact is that many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home - and can save property and lives should disaster strike.
  • Check holiday lights for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines when joining multiple strands together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.
  • Candles add a welcome festive feeling, and should be placed in stable holders and located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave burning candles unattended, even for a short time.
  • Live Christmas trees should be kept in a water-filled stand and checked daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights on a dried-out tree.
  • All electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs as this creates a fire hazard.
  • Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year and cleaned if necessary to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
  • When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains, papers - anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could knock them over.
  • Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home's electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Most municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences.
  • Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.
  • Kitchen fires know no season. According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, 46% of reported home fires in 2015 were caused by cooking. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don't wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.
  • Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Visit for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.
Information originally provided by Pillar To Post  
The Sound Team

(360) 753-5025

Friday, November 4, 2016

Home sales and prices still climbing around Puget Sound, but brokers expect slowdown

KIRKLAND, Washington (Nov. 4, 2016) – Home sales around Western Washington outgained new listings again in October, fueling competition for scarce inventory and pushing prices higher. Some seasonal slowdown is still expected – and the Nov. 8 elections may be in play as well, according to brokers at Northwest Multiple Listing Service who commented on last month’s activity.

MLS members reported 9,950 pending sales during October, but they added only 7,591 new listings, the lowest number since January. A year-over-year comparison of pending sales shows there were 633 more mutually accepted offers last month than twelve months ago for a gain of 6.8 percent.

Closed sales improved even more, rising from the year-ago total of 7,769 completed transactions to last month’s volume of 8,554 (up 10.1 percent).

“While the stock market remains somewhat skittish regarding the upcoming presidential election, this feeling clearly has not transferred to the housing market, unfortunately for buyers who were hoping to have more homes to choose from this fall, listings in October fell to levels we haven’t seen since the 1990s – and at this point, we probably won’t see any sizable increase in inventory until the spring at the earliest,” he added.

Active listings dropped more than 13 percent compared to a year ago, with further shrinkage expected. At month end there were 15,690 single family homes and condominiums offered for sale in the MLS system, which encompasses 23 counties. That’s 2,378 fewer than the year-ago total of 18,068, and 2,446 fewer than September. All but two counties (Clallam and Ferry) reported year-over-year decreases in inventory.

 Overall, there was only 1.8 months of supply. King County had slightly more than one month (1.1), with several areas within that county reporting less than a month’s supply. In Snohomish County, where inventory plunged more than 20 percent from a year ago, there was with 1.3 months.

“The further we move into November, the more we’ll start feeling the typical seasonal drop when new listings coming on the market decline by 50 percent on a monthly basis compared to spring and summer months,” suggested J. Lennox. Buyers are still out there, he emphasized. “We’re heading into winter with a repeat of last year’s conditions: low inventory, a backlog of buyers, and historically low interest rates.” On the heels of the “best October on record” Scott predicts “a strong winter market where the inventory remains tight throughout the season.”

Not surprisingly given the large MLS territory, which includes both rural and urban areas, activity is stronger in some sub-markets than others. Prices also reflect a wide spectrum. Of the four counties comprising the Puget Sound region (King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish), only Kitsap had an uptick in new listings compared to a year ago, but that county’s robust pending sales (up 20.7 percent) helped deplete its total inventory versus twelve months ago (down about 7 percent).

“The market in Kitsap is still very active,” according to Frank Wilson in Poulsbo. He noted Kitsap typically lags the Seattle market by 6-to-9 months.

Wilson expects a slowing in Kitsap County, at which time the upward pressure on pricing will begin to ease. “For now, the median price is up almost 13 percent from a year ago,” added Wilson, a board member at Northwest MLS.

In South Sound, prices rose at a more moderate rate, around 9.6 percent in Pierce County and just over 6.8 percent in Thurston County. “Homes priced under $400,000 are looked at hard by buyers on ‘day one’ and often draw multiple offers,” said Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson in Tacoma. Above that figure, things slow down markedly, he noted, adding that’s true in other areas, but the starting numbers and wait times might vary.

Beeson also cautioned sellers to be realistic in pricing, even in the current imbalanced market when sellers may have the upper hand. “Price cures all ills. No amount of marketing a property will cure the ill caused by too high a price,” said the veteran broker, citing data on expired listings that eventually came back on the market but oftentimes sold at a reduced price.

System-wide, prices for single family homes and condos (combined) rose nearly 8.2 percent from a year ago, increasing from $318,000 to $344,000. In the four-county Puget Sound region, King County claimed the largest increase and the highest prices. Year-over-year prices jumped 14.5 percent, from $432,750 to $495,500.

Single family home prices (excluding condos) increased 9.2 percent from a year ago; in King County the gain was nearly 14.6 percent, climbing from $480,000 to $550,000. That countywide median price is higher than September (which was $538,000) but lower than the year-to-date peak of $573,522 in June.

Condo prices increased $20,000 from a year ago (more than 7.3 percent), climbing from $265,500 to $285,000. The median price on closed sales of condos in King County was $320,000, about 10 percent higher than a year ago. Inventory area-wide fell more than 21 percent, leaving only 1.1 months of supply.

While prices continue to appreciate, Wilson said the “appraisal situation” is tempering activity. “We’ve spent the last 20 years improving the closing process, making it faster and more efficient. With the reduced number of appraisers in the marketplace now, we are seeing 2-to-4 weeks being adding to closing times, and costs doubling or tripling.”

Along with appraisal delays and seasonal adjustments, another industry leader mentioned reports indicating real estate markets nationwide are experiencing an “election cycle slowdown” due to the uncertainty surrounding next week’s elections. “People may be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach before buying or selling,” said Mike Grady.  However, he added, “We believe that regardless of who wins, there will be no major impact on the Puget Sound region’s economy.”

Grady cited solid local economic indicators and the Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to hold off on increasing interest rates as signals for a good time for home buyers and sellers to make a move. “It actually could be a great window of opportunity,” he stated.

MLS director George Moorhead also commented on jitters associated with Election Day. “We are hearing concerns from buyers relocating from other countries and how policies may change job security,” he stated.

On an encouraging note for buyers, Moorhead said there has been more flexibility involving new construction incentives and upgrades, notably among larger national builders wanting to close out inventory. He believes it’s been at least 18 months since such offers were available to buyers.

“New construction projects are still going forward and are only hampered by the lack of available land for larger development sites,” reported Moorhead.  Both national and mid-sized local builders are completing smaller 4-to-6 lot plats, even though they prefer plats of at least 12 lots, according to Moorhead.

Asked about activity from foreign investors who might be shifting attention from British Columbia to markets in Washington because of tax hikes and other measures being imposed there, and recent reports of plunging sales, brokers with Northwest MLS had varied reactions:

 Moorhead said they’re seeing an increase in foreign money, but it’s more in the commercial arena. He also noted they are a hearing of foreign buyers looking not just in Puget Sound, but also in California, Texas and other states.
 Gary O’Leyar described it as “a great example of what happens when you impose a restriction (excessive taxes or restraints) onto a free market. Although the circumstances are not exactly the same, rent control in a free trade market could have similar detrimental results.”
 Grady’s response was: “It’s not at all surprising that pending sales in Vancouver (B.C.) dropped comparing month-to-month, after the huge surge that happened in the final month before the new fees commenced.”
 Beeson was upbeat. “This move [by the British Columbia government] to put an additional tax burden on foreign investors should bring smiles to Washington brokers, particularly in the Greater Seattle and Eastside markets. It's only a matter of time until these investors find a welcome mat out just a few miles south of Vancouver and property prices worth writing home about.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of nearly 2,100 member offices includes more than 25,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

No Change From Fed

Over the past week, shifting expectations for foreign central banks and headlines about the U.S. election were the main influence on mortgage rates. The U.S. economic data had little impact. Mortgage rates ended the week a little higher. 

As widely expected, the U.S. Fed made no policy changes on Wednesday, and its statement was very similar to the prior one. Investors still think there is roughly a 75% chance for a federal funds rate hike at the next meeting on December 14, nearly unchanged from before the release of the Fed statement. There was little market reaction to the Fed meeting. 

By contrast, recent news from Europe and Japan was negative for global bonds. Due to better than expected European economic data, concerns grew that the European Central Bank (ECB) may see less need to increase its monetary stimulus, particularly its bond purchases. In addition, an official of the Bank of Japan (BOJ) said that the BOJ may not increase its bond purchase program, disappointing some investors. Bond purchases from central banks around the world have helped push global bond yields lower in recent years, so indications that there may be less stimulus in the future caused yields to rise, including U.S. mortgage rates. 

One reason that the U.S. Fed is able to wait longer to tighten monetary policy is that inflation has risen very slowly so far this year and remains below the Fed's target. The recently released core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index, the inflation indicator favored by the Fed, was 1.7% higher than a year ago, matching expectations. Core PCE has remained close to current levels all year. According to the Fed statement, Fed officials expect that inflation will rise to their target of 2.0% "over the medium term." 

The U.S. election also has influenced mortgage rates. Generally, news that favors Trump has been positive for bonds and negative for stocks. News that favors Clinton has caused the opposite reaction. 

Looking ahead, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) Services index will be released on Thursday. The important monthly employment report will be released on Friday. As usual, this data on the number of jobs, the unemployment rate, and wage inflation will be the most highly anticipated economic data of the month. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, which measures job openings and labor turnover rates, will come out on November 8. The election also may continue to influence mortgage rates. 

This information provided by: The Sanders Young Team, NMLS ID #487525 and #438324
HomeStreet Bank
720 Lilly Road SE Olympia, WA 98501

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

VA Appraisals

Effective 10-31 VA has increased their appraisal fees to $800 SFR/ $900 Manufactured Home and increased their timeliness to 14 business days, up from 10.

Other AMC’s are also notifying me of an increase in appraisal fee, one of our best performing AMC’s is increasing the fee for a SFR in Thurston Co to $750, + $200 for 5 acres = $950 - effective Nov 1st.  

I am seeing turn times from 5 days to 45 days being quoted with an average turn time of 2 weeks depending on location and complexity of assignment.

Let me know if I can help you today.

Andrea C McGhee
Residential Mortgage Loan Originator
Goldwater Bank, N.A. - Mortgage Division
NMLS# 103092, Corporate NMLS# 452955
2620 RW Johnson Blvd SW Ste 104 Tumwater, WA 98512
Direct: 360.915.9609 | Cell: 360.451.2358  
Email: |
Read My Reviews on Zillow

Friday, October 14, 2016


The 2016 Legislative Session has changed what defines a "Flipper" in the Contractor Registration Act in Washington state.  Previously, it was:

"Anybody who modifies their home within the 12 months prior to selling"

The Contractor Registration Act in Washington state has since been revised to change the "contractor" definition to exclude:

"Any person that makes repairs by HIRING a licensed & bonded contractor".

Do you have questions?  Want to know if you're a flipper?  Call me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Western Washington housing market still strong, but some see signs of rebalancing

KIRKLAND, Washington (Oct. 5, 2016) – It’s still a seller’s market, but some leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service think the imbalance may be easing in some areas, pointing to a slower pace of sales and moderating prices. Others aren’t convinced, citing mixed indicators.

Northwest MLS statistics summarizing September activity show year-over-year gains in the volumes of new listings (up 14.5%), pending sales (up 9.3%), closed sales (up 9.5%), and prices (up nearly 9%). Inventory for single family homes and condominiums across the 23 counties in the report dropped about 8 percent from a year ago.

Commenting on September’s activity, Northwest MLS director George Moorhead reported “rumblings on both sides of the fence” by buyers and sellers. “Buyers are getting antsy to make a move before interest rates rise and they’re looking harder at homes that have been on the market longer than 30 days.”

Sellers are considering remodeling instead of buying as they cannot find a suitable new home, according to Moorhead. He noted builders also face challenges in their searches for new development sites near metro areas.

MLS members continue to scramble to replenish inventory. Compared to a year ago, they added 1,275 more new listings during September, ending the month with 10,047 total new listings. Like most months this year, however, September’s pending sales of single family homes and condos exceeded the number of new listings. Brokers reported 10,463 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) last month for a 9.3 percent improvement over a year ago.

September’s new listings marked the lowest monthly total since February – but it may be an expected seasonal slowdown.

 “We have one month until November when new listings coming on the market drop by 50 percent on a monthly basis compared to spring and summer months,” explained J. Lennox. With the decrease typically lasting until the end of February, “the best opportunity for homebuyers to find a home will be in the next 30 days.”

The current selection includes 18,136 active listings, down about 8 percent from the year-ago inventory. Only two counties -- King and Clallam – reported year-over-year gains in inventory during September.

Area-wide supply, as measured by months of inventory, improved slightly from August, rising from about 1.9 months to 2 months. Supply remained below two months in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Demand for homes around Puget Sound remains strong, with the market showing “no marked change throughout the summer months,” remarked MLS director Dick Beeson. Well-priced, well-conditioned homes continue to command attention and draw offers in record time, he noted.

September was “an interesting month for a few different reasons”.. Among factors he cited were the modest increase in the number of new listings in the tri-county region (King, Pierce, and Snohomish) and the slowing pace of sales and prices. “The good news is that all of this points towards a market that is slowly beginning to rebalance itself.”

MLS director Frank Wilson believes Kitsap County is moving into the fall cycle, evidenced in part by slowdowns in listings and sales when compared to mid-year activity. He also reported fewer people at open houses and fewer multiple offer situations. “We are still heavily weighted to a seller’s market, but a small shift might be telling – we’re seeing more price reductions than in the recent past,” said Wilson.

Sparse inventory in many close-in neighborhoods, a shortage of appraisers, and the likelihood of an interest rate hike before year-end are sources of concern, according to some MLS spokespersons.

“We continue to see a seller’s market expansion in peripheral counties, with absorption remaining high and prices continuing their relentless increases,” said Mike Grady. Additionally, he cited reports on healthy job creation and single-family building permits, and increases in investments in the local market by foreign buyers. “We don’t expect things to moderate significantly any time soon,” he remarked.

A shortage of real estate appraisers is concerning to Grady and other MLS officials. “We are hearing concerns from brokers that closing times are increasing because appraisals are more difficult to get completed in a timely manner given the frenzied pace of activity,” Grady stated, adding, how rush fees can also slow down the process for those not paying a premium for expedited service.

“With the current shortage of appraisers and the lengthened time and increased costs it takes to get an appraisal, this market is even more challenging,” said Wilson. “We’ve gone from reductions in closing time over the past 20 years to now lengthening the process because of changes to our industry and the requirements to be an appraiser.”

Beeson agreed, saying “Appraisals continue to plague brokers and sellers.” The number of certified appraisers statewide has diminished by half from 5,000 to around 2,500 since Dodd/Frank regulations took effect. Longer appraisal time isn’t the only challenge, he noted. “Appraisers are struggling to establish values based on the continued rise in sales prices. Many buyers are faced with the prospect of paying above appraised values if they want to secure a home,” according to Beeson, who noted this difference must be paid in cash so the mortgage amount doesn’t exceed the valuation.

Median sales prices system-wide jumped nearly 9 percent from a year ago, from $312,000 to $340,000. Compared to August, prices dropped by $10,000.

“It is normal for median home prices to fluctuate the second half of the year,” stated Lennox. He noted the median home price for single family homes that sold in King County dropped from $550,000 in August to $538,000 for September. Compared to 12 months ago, the countywide median rose 9.7 percent for single family homes and 16.4 percent for condos.
Condo prices area-wide rose 17.3 percent from a year ago, escalating from $260,000 to $305,000. Supplies are tight, with only 1.3 months of inventory. In King County, where last month’s median sales price was $355,000, there is only one month of supply. Similarly, Snohomish County has only a month of inventory; year-over-year prices there rose nearly 9.8 percent.

“We have had many conversations with sellers who wonder if they have missed the market as inventory levels slowly rise and the Feds signaling a desire to raise interest rates in December,” remarked Moorhead.

“The looming prospect of higher interest rates is fueling buyer interest and prompting many buyers to take the plunge now rather than wait for a reset in prices,” reported Beeson. “Knowledgeable brokers coach buyers that a 1% change in interest rates equates to a $200-plus increase in monthly payments on a $400,000 home and more than $160 a month on a $275,000 home. That means property values would have to decrease by over 12% to balance the increase in payment due to higher interest rates. That's not happening anytime soon,” he stated.

In a recent report on actions consumers can take in anticipation of rising interest rates, Bankrate, an aggregator of financial rate information, suggested “considering your home first.” On a $200,000 mortgage, half of one percentage point of interest means a difference of $20,000 or more over 30 years. “If you are on the fence about buying or refinancing, now is the time to act,” the author of the Bankrate report wrote.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of nearly 2,100 member offices includes more than 25,000 real estate professionals.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Utility Companies

Puget Sound Energy (Electric/Gas)
PO Box 97034
Bellevue, WA 98009
(425) 424-6537

The Water Company
H&R Waterworks, Inc.
Machine generated alternative text: (Water and Sewer)
PO Box 3
East Olympia, WA
(360) 357-3758

Machine generated alternative text: City of Lacey (Water/Sewer)
420 College St. SE
Lacey, WA 98503
(360) 491-5616

City of Olympia (Water/Sewer)
Machine generated alternative text: PO Box 7966
Olympia, WA 98507
(360) 753-8340

City of Tenino (Water/Sewer)
Machine generated alternative text: PO Box 4019 149 Hodgen St. S
Tenino, WA 98589
(360) 264-2368

Machine generated alternative text: City of Tumwater (Water/Sewer)
555 Israel Rd. SW
Tumwater, WA 98501
(360) 754-4133

City of Yelm (Water/Sewer)
901 Rhoton Rd. SE
Yelm, WA 98597
(360) 458-3244

Machine generated alternative text: WA Water Service Co.
PO Box 336
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
(877) 408-4060

LeMay Inc. (Garbage)
2910 Hogum Bay Rd. NE
Lacey, WA 98516
(360) 923-0111

1713 N. Pearl
Centralia, WA 98531
(360) 264-2368

Grays Harbor
4201 Olympic Hwy
Aberdeen, WA 98520
(360) 533-2507

Pierce County
4111 192nd St. E
Tacoma, WA 98446
(253) 875-5890 

Mason County PUD 3
PO Box 2148
Shelton, WA 98584
(360) 426-8255

PO Box 2148
Shelton, WA 98584
(360) 275-2833

PO Box 2148
Shelton, WA 98584
(360) 426-8255

Thurston PUD
912 Lakeridge Way, SW
Suite 301
Olympia, WA 98502

(360) 357-8703

Monday, September 19, 2016

Life After Bankruptcy: 7 Steps to Rebuilding Your Credit

McFerran Law, P.S.
Practicing Real Estate Law in Western Washington since 1986

September 19th, 2016

Life After Bankruptcy:
7 Steps to Rebuilding Your Credit

Declaring bankruptcy affects not just your finances and personal life, but your credit score as well.  Your credit score often diminishes during the financially trying times leading up to bankruptcy. Each missed credit card, auto loan, or mortgage payment will take a hit on your credit score.  If you elect to declare bankruptcy, your credit score will further decrease.  A bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, and there is a good chance your Fair Isaac Company score, more commonly known as your FICO rating, will be low following a bankruptcy.  With this being said, you do not have to wait 10 years to rebuild a positive credit score.  In just a few years following bankruptcy, your credit can improve drastically if these following steps are adhered to:

1.             Review your credit report—It is important to begin the process of rebuilding your credit by first gaining an understanding of where you stand.  You have the right to obtain one free credit report a year from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax on  Once you retain your copy, in addition to assessing your score, review the credit report for any errors.  Contact the credit reporting agencies to correct any inaccuracies that will negatively impact your score.

2.             Always pay your bills on time—Your payment history has a considerable impact on your credit score, making up 35% of the overall rating.  Accordingly, one of the easiest ways to bring up your credit score is to pay your bills on time.  It is helpful to put reminders on your calendar every month by the due date.  Additionally, many services allow you to set up an automatic payment system, which will ensure you do not forget.

3.             Cautiously apply for credit—Credit cards can play a critical role in rebuilding credit.  If you did not keep a credit card open during bankruptcy, you should apply for one after your bankruptcy has been discharged.  You may need to open a secured card, which requires you place a security deposit with the issuer.  Make sure you do not repeat past mistakes—pay off the full balance whenever possible and be careful not to amass any significant debt.

4.             Know your limits—For rebuilding credit, as well as ensuring a positive financial status, be aware of the limits on your credit cards and keep balances well below it.  Use all credit cards sparingly and pay the bill on time, every time.

5.             Be wary of credit repair services—You will likely receive mailings from companies promising to help repair your credit.  Investigate any such services before you use them, as they may charge hefty fees and attain few results.  You can rebuild your credit on your own at no cost.

6.             Obtain a loan—A year or two after your bankruptcy, you may want to consider applying for a car loan or line of credit.  Be sure the loan is affordable and that you can successfully pay it off.  You may receive higher interest rates.  Shop around and know that your rates will drop in the future with successful repayment of the loan.

7.             Do not close accounts—After declaring bankruptcy, you may be leery of credit cards and lines of credit.  Many individuals go so far as to close these lines of credit.  Taking this action can have a damaging effect on your credit.  Closing accounts reduces the amount of credit available to you, thereby diminishing your credit score.  Keep lines of credit open even if you do not use them.

Call us for a free bankruptcy consultation to see if you qualify for bankruptcy protection. Not only will we review your current financial circumstance, we will explain your options and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Bankruptcy is only one option. The number to call is 253-284-3838 to schedule an appointment at any of our offices in Tacoma, Kent, Seattle (Northgate), Everett and Silverdale.

Information received with permission by: 
Richard J. Welt
Attorney at Law
McFerran Law, P.S.
1833 No. 105th Street, Suite 101
Seattle, WA 98133

    3906 So. 74th St                  1833 No. 105th St, Ste. 101         25028 104th Ave SE
Tacoma, WA 98409                     Seattle, WA 98133                       Kent, WA 98031

2520 Colby Ave, Ste. 101                9633 Levin Rd, Suite 101        
            Everett, WA 98201                         Silverdale, WA 98383                      

McFerran Law is a debt relief agency as defined by federal bankruptcy law.