The First Big Decline in Homes for Sale in King County Washington

Twelve days ago I wrote a post that King County properties for sale was rapidly heading up to the 2009 high.  Just last week we were within 300+ homes/condos of the 2009 peak, which stands at 13,861.  There 13,515 homes/condos for sale in King County that week.

This week we see the first big decline, with a drop of 570 properties.  The number is back below 13,000, at 12, 946.

Phew, I was just beginning to wonder if we were going to surpass 2009’s real estate totals in the Seattle area.  We may, as 2010  is still young, but it’s a breath of fresh air in the real estate market to see a drop in inventory (the number of homes and condos for sale).  Sales have been brisk as many buyers were anxious to buy a home in the Seattle area before the expiration of the 2010 tax credit, which could explain the decline in inventory.

The next few weeks will be interesting.  Normally the number of homes for sale does increase in the summer months in Seattle, but I’m wondering if a lot of sellers put their home on the market earlier this year to capture the activity with the 2010 home buyers’ credit.

Do you think the numbers will increase as we head into the summer?

Number of properties for sale in King County

King County Washington Properties for Sale, 5-3-10

Posted on May 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, For Buyers, For Sellers, King County Real Estate, King County, WA, Market Statistics, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion, Seattle real estate | Tagged , , , , ,

A Little Discrimination in the 2010 Home Buyer Tax Credit?

It’s very late in the game with the 2010 home buyer tax credit, the finish line is only days away.  My purpose in mentioning this issue now is so something like this doesn’t happen again.  The next time Congress enacts a piece of legislation such as this, there shouldn’t be any discrimination against people because they’re newly married.

My team is working with a home buyer who just discovered he and his wife are not eligible for the 2010 home buyer tax credit.  He qualifies for the repeat home buyer tax credit because he’s owned his home for more than 5 years. He married 3 years ago, so his wife does not meet the 5 year rule to qualify.  She, of course, is eligible for the first time home buyer tax credit, but he is not.

Here are some questions and answers about this very issue from the National Association Of Home Builders website’s frequently asked questions. In addition, I checked out H.R. 3548, the bill that included the tax credit, (it’s in Section 11), but it really tells you nothing.

For married taxpayers, the law tests the home ownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.  That is, both spouses must qualify as long-time residents, with at least five years of principal residency for each.

Does a married couple qualify for any home buyer tax credit in the following situation? Spouse A has lived in and owned the same principal residence for at least five years. Spouse B has lived in and owned the same principal residence for less than five years.
In this situation, the couple does not qualify for any home buyer tax credit. Because the couple is married, the law tests the ownership history of both spouses. Spouse A clearly does not qualify for the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit, so neither does Spouse B.

Ironically, if they weren’t married, they could qualify:

How can two unmarried buyers allocate the tax credit if one qualifies for the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the other qualifies for the $6,500 repeat home buyer credit?
The buyers can allocate the tax credit in any reasonable manner, provided neither claims a tax credit higher than the one they qualify for and the home purchase does not yield a total of more than $8,000 in tax credits. For example, the repeat home buyer could claim $6,500 and the first-time home buyer could claim $1,500. Alternatively, both buyers could claim a $4,000 tax credit.

The language is very much the same with regard to the first time buyer tax credit:

  1. How can two unmarried buyers allocate the tax credit if one qualifies for the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the other qualifies for the $6,500 repeat home buyer credit?
    The buyers can allocate the tax credit in any reasonable manner, provided neither claims a tax credit higher than the one they qualify for and the home purchase does not yield a total of more than $8,000 in tax credits. For example, the repeat home buyer could claim $6,500 and the first-time home buyer could claim $1,500. Alternatively, both buyers could claim a $4,000 tax credit.
  2. Does a married couple qualify for any home buyer tax credit in the following situation? Spouse A has lived in and owned the same principal residence for at least five years. Spouse B has lived in and owned the same principal residence for less than five years. In this situation, the couple does not qualify for any home buyer tax credit. Because the couple is married, the law tests the ownership history of both spouses. Spouse A clearly does not qualify for the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit, so neither does Spouse B.
  3. Spouse A does appear to qualify for the $6,500 repeat buyer credit, but because Spouse B has not owned and lived in the same principal residence for at least five years, neither of them can claim the repeat home buyer tax credit.

So, please tell elected officials not to discriminate against married, unmarried or newly married people.  Everyone should have had an equal opportunity for the home buyer tax credit.

What do you think?

Posted on April 22, 2010 at 4:36 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, For Buyers, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion | Tagged , ,

Seattle Eastside Real Estate Was "Normal" in February, 2010

King and Snohomish County WA Real Estate Activity

King and Snohomish County WA Real Estate, February, 2010

The truly “hot” Seattle real estate areas in February, 2010, those in red, are in the core neighborhoods of Seattle itself.  However, almost all of the map is in “yellow”, which means the average market time for a home to sell in other Seattle areas is between 3-6 months. This means we’ve had another month with a very balanced, “normal” Seattle real estate market.  A normal real estate market is when supply and demand balance out to be 3-6 months to get a home sold.  A balanced market is not a reflection of home values, but a reflection of the real estate sales activity.

On most of Seattle’s eastside, home prices are down, but sales have gone up dramatically, anywhere from 52% to 193%, depending on the neighborhood.   Prices are lower in most eastside areas, fewer homes have been on the market compared to last year, and more homes are selling.

Will the colors on the Seattle real estate map stay the same in the coming months? It’s hard to answer this question now, but I do know the number of homes coming up for sale is growing pretty quickly.  The increase in the number of Seattle-eastside homes and condos for sale could impact the total number of properties that sell and the market time to get a sale.  With the April 30th deadline for the home buyer tax credit, much will depend on how many homes are on the market and the interest rates.  Check my March eastside blog posts next month to find out what will happen.

What’s your prediction for Seattle-eastside real estate in the coming months?  Will “yellow,” representing a balanced real estate market between home buyers and sellers still be the predominant color on the map?


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What do the numbers on the map mean?

The map is divided into the numbered areas as defined by our Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS).  Downtown Bellevue is area 520 and East Bellevue is area 530, as an example.

What do the colors mean?

Red means it’s a sellers’ market, a sellers’ advantage.

Yellow means a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

Green means its a buyers’ market.

If you take each area as shown on the map and look to the area number on the side of the map, it will tell you how long it would take to sell every home currently for sale if no other home came up on the market in that area.

Posted on March 17, 2010 at 8:52 am
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Bellevue Real Estate, For Buyers, For Sellers, Issaquah Real Estate, King County Real Estate, Kirkland, Real Estate, Redmond, Sammamish, WA Real Estate, Seattle real estate, WA real estate, Woodinville, WA Real Estate | Tagged ,

What Were The Odds of Selling Your Seattle-Eastside Condo in February, 2010?

Seattle-Eastside Sales for Condos in Feb, 2010

Seattle-Eastside Condo Real Estate, Feb 2010

(The absorption rate, the percentage of condos selling, is the number of condos for sale in any given month divided by the actual number of condos sold that month.  So if the absorption rate or chance of selling is 10% that means out of 100 condos for sale, 10 received offers and sold.)

February, 2010               1333 condos for sale,    194 condos sold,           14% odds of selling.

January, 2010               1217 condos for sale,    (now 121) 141 condos sold,   (now 10%)  12% odds of selling.*

February, 2009               1195 condos for sale      85 condos sold,           7% odds of selling.

*Adjusted from previous month’s original numbers to reflect the actual number of condos sold and closed.  Some of the sales originally reported last month failed and did not close. Fifteen percent of condo sales originally reported in January failed to close.  Some of the reasons sales fail are the buyer and seller don’t agree on the building inspection, the condo does not appraise for the sales price or the buyer’s financing does not come through.

There’s been a 9% increase in the number of Seattle-Eastside condos for sale but the number of home sales jumped up dramatically.  There were 73 more condos sold on Seattle’s eastside in February than in January.  The sales numbers are still behind the peak of sales in September and October of 2009, but they’re inching closer to those numbers, which is a good sign.

More condos are coming up on the market as Seattle-eastside home sellers traditionally put their homes on the market in the spring.  The push to get a home or condo on the market is compounded by the 2010 home buyer tax credit deadline of April 30th.

There are 45 days left to use the home buyer tax credit into 2010.  If you’d like to move and take advantage of the tax credit, you need to get a move on!



Posted on March 16, 2010 at 4:51 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Bellevue Real Estate, For Buyers, For Sellers, Issaquah Real Estate, King County Real Estate, Kirkland, Market Statistics, Real Estate, Redmond, Sammamish, WA Real Estate, Seattle real estate, Woodinville, WA Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Should You Buy a Home on Seattle's Eastside Now or Wait?

Should you buy a home now on Seattle’s eastside now or wait until after the tax credit expires at the end of April?

People were talking on the Wall Street Journal site and on Zillow about this very issue.  Today people don’t just ask, “How’s the real estate market?”  They ask, “What do you think will happen to the real estate market after the tax credit?”

Here are some of the things people are wondering:

  • Do I buy now?
  • Do I wait?
  • Will I get a better deal now or if I wait?
  • Is it worth passing on the tax credit and waiting to see if prices come down after April 30th?
  • Is it better to buy now because there is a healthy number of homes for sale and good interest rates?
  • Will there be more homes to choose from later?
  • Will interest rates go up and cancel out any possible decline in prices?

I got my crystal ball out as did many others. Money Magazine made a strong case for buying now. Warren Buffett, on the other hand, thought the real estate market would pick up in 2011. Luke Mullins of US News and World Report presented the positive aspects of home ownership, even in today’s real estate market. Truthfully, no one knows what will happen and we can only speculate about what may happen with prices, the number of homes on the market and interest rates.  But all these variables should be considered when making a decision about whether to purchase a home now or later.

I believe there are good deals on a home now and will be after the tax credit, but it’s on a case by case basis.   Here’s why I say this:

Right now…

$6500-8000 home buyer tax credit available for most buyers.

Historically low interest rates.

Good selection of homes, many with very realistic home sellers and prices.

Having the tax credit of $6500-8000 and terrific interest rates,  increases buying power.  Typically, your loan payment is amortized over 15 or 30 years,  a lower interest rate means more dollars per month in your pocket.

Later…

Will prices drop after the tax credit goes away on April 30th?  No one really knows. There may be more homes on the market, which we typically see in the summer months in the Seattle area.  If so, the law of supply and demand will kick in.  More homes + less demand= lower prices.  But we really don’t know if this will happen.  We don’t know if there will be less demand. We can only guess.  We can only gamble on what may be.

However, there’s a good chance  interest rates will go up, which means purchasing power will go down. If rates go up 1%, then purchasing power goes down by about 10%.  This means if you could afford a home for $330,000, if rates do go up by 1%, you would then qualify for a home at $300,000.

The impact of interest rates on buying power

Buying a home will, obviously, be less expensive if prices drop (but we don’t know if they will),  and mortgage rates could also be a higher ( again, just a guess, but looking pretty certain), which could more than cancel out any savings in the price of the home.  Remember,  I’m not just talking about your initial investment, I’m talking about spreading the total cost out over the time you own your home.

The location factor:

Real estate is hyperlocal. There is no one size fits all real estate locales, individual buyers or individual sellers.   Some areas of the Seattle- eastside real estate market will remain stronger than others.  Within each city on the Eastside, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, it will vary.   The East of Market neighborhood in Kirkland may be vastly different than Kirkland’s Rose Hill real estate market.  We see that today with a difference in real estate sales performance in different areas on Seattle’s eastside.  So no one should make a “one size fits all” about the real estate market.  It will depend on how hot the area is, how many homes are on the market, and how hot the house may be. ( The Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle seems to remain hot through most real estate markets, as an example.)

Some neighborhoods will be full of homes for sale and the homes in these areas will need to be priced more competitively.  Other areas will have fewer homes to buy.  These areas will have stiff competition among the sellers to grab the buyers.  Buyers will be looking harder at the overall value each home brings them.

The home factor:

In every real estate market, you’ll find fabulous homes.   These homes will be perfect, priced right, and terrific values.  Homes that shine will be the ones to sell in any market.

The emotional factor…

For most people, it’s a huge personal decision when to buy and what home to buy.  If you find a great house and are able to get it for a reasonable price for the real estate market at the time, it may make sense to you to buy.  There are the financial aspects of buying a home and the emotional aspects.  You might find the home you can’t live without and it’ll be worth it to you to buy now rather later.  You may not find a home now and miss using the home buyer tax credit, but you may not want to buy a home now just to get the tax credit.

There are going to be great homes now and in the future.  There are also going to be great deals now and in the future.  The difference in today’s market is you’re dealing with a known quantity.  You have to decide what works for you.

What do you think will happen with the Seattle-eastside real estate market later this year?

Posted on March 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Financing, For Buyers, For Sellers, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion, Seattle real estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Is The Seattle Eastside Home Sales Race Soon to Be On?

Everyone who has wanted to sell on Seattle’s eastside in the last few years seems wants to sell in the next 60 days, including me.

I know some home sellers Angie Bondurant, my business partner, and I will be representing  have been madly getting their homes ready to sell.   I bet contractors on Seattle’s eastside are busier than they’ve been in a long time.  The contractor I use has gone from working on a rental home I plan to sell to a client’s home.  As home seller wanna-bes, we’re all in the same boat, scrambling to meet the looming deadline of April 30th.  We’re hoping to catch that home buyer who wants to get the benefit of the 2010 home buyer tax credit.  (By the way, I don’t think the market will fall apart after April 30th, 2010, but those thoughts will be for another post)

Right now, the number of homes and condos for sale in King County is doing it’s normal spring time creep up (yes, it’s spring here in Seattle).  So far, the number of properties for sale isn’t unusually high.

Number of homes and condos for sale in King county, WA
King County, WA Real Estate For Sale, 3-2-10

In some of the Seattle-eastside neighborhoods where I’ve sold a lot of homes and which I blog about, I’ve talked about the fact that there are fewer homes on the market. I think that may be changing and I am wondering if others are experiencing the same thing.

Are other Realtors seeing the same thing happening with their business?

Do you have more homes coming up for sale in the next 60 days?

Do you expect to sell more homes or condos in the next 60 days because of the tax credit?

Are home owners seeing more “For Sale” signs popping up in their neighborhoods?

Posted on March 2, 2010 at 7:20 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Bellevue Real Estate, For Buyers, For Sellers, Kirkland, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion, WA real estate | Tagged , , , , ,

A Great Picture of Seattle Real Estate in January, 2010

King and Snohomish County Real Estate 1-31-10

There’s a “normal” real estate market in the Seattle area.  What’s a normal real estate market?  It’s a real estate market in which the market is evenly balanced between both buyers and sellers, which is a good thing.

Much like December, Seattle in January was “yellow,” on the map.  “Yellow” means it would take 3-6 months to sell all of the available homes if no other homes come on the market.  This is a good balance of homes for sale.  Prices are still down and fewer homes are on the market than most of 2009, but more homes are selling.

Since it’s a normal real estate market,  the best homes will “pop,” selling quickly while the overpriced homes will sit on the market through a price reduction or two before they sell or not sell at all. Some homes have sold in less than a week because they are great ones that are priced right and shine above the competition.

I’m seeing the extension of the 2010 home buyer credit continue to do its job of jump starting real estate sales. The first part of 2010 should be pretty active for both home buyers and sellers.  After April 30th when the home buyer tax credit goes away, much will depend on how many homes are on the market and the interest rates.

What do the numbers on the map mean?

The map is divided into the numbered areas as defined by our Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS).  Downtown Bellevue is area 520 and East Bellevue is area 530, as an example.

What do the colors mean?

Red means it’s a sellers’ market, a sellers’ advantage.

Yellow means a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

Green means its a buyers’ market.

If you take each area as shown on the map and look to the area number on the side of the map, it will tell you how long it would take to sell every home currently for sale if no other home came up on the market in that area.

Posted on February 12, 2010 at 6:15 am
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Bellevue Real Estate, For Buyers, For Sellers, Issaquah Real Estate, King County Real Estate, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, WA Real Estate, Woodinville, WA Real Estate | Tagged ,

The Clock is Ticking on the Real Estate Trifecta

Who knows where the time goes? (“Who Knows Where the Time Goes”- written by Sandy Denny, but made famous by Judy Collins) Sometimes it seems like the past has gone in the blink of an eye.  Ironically, it feels exactly the opposite when we think of the future.  It’s human nature to think there’s all the time in the world, whereas the past seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.

We have the real estate trifecta here in the Seattle area right now and it could be gone in the blink of an eye. If you’re someone whose thinking of buying or selling, if you wait too long to act, the trifecta could be a thing of the past. The trifecta is a boon for both buyers and sellers.

So what’s today’s real estate trifecta?

  1. The home buyer tax credit.

Attention home shoppers!  The April 30th deadline for home buyers to find a home, be in contract, and receive the $6500 tax credit is coming fast, and it’s coming faster than you think. There’s less than 100 days to have an accepted offer on a home and obtain the home buyer tax credit.

home buyer tax credit

home buyer tax credit

Remember, the $8000 tax credit still exists for first time home buyers, but many people don’t realize almost all home buyers are eligible for a $6500 tax credit. This is an important deadline for home buyers and home sellers, not just the buyers.  Home buyers who are serious are out shopping and buying homes.

  1. Low interest rates.

The low interest rates, which are low,  won’t be here forever. Rates for a 30 year fixed mortgage dropped below 5% last week.

  1. Good number of homes for sale.

There’s a lower number of homes on the market in King County,  but there’s still a healthy amount of good homes to choose from. (Yes, home buyers,  there’s a number of great houses out there.)  It’s a more evenly balanced real estate market between buyers and sellers, which means some homes will sell right away if they are priced right and stand out from the competition and others will take longer to sell and will sell with more negotiation in price.

Number of King County Properties for Sale

Number of King County Properties for Sale, 1-18-10

So home buyers and home sellers get out there now and take advantage of the real estate trifecta.  April 30th is not far away.

Posted on January 25, 2010 at 1:49 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Financing, For Buyers, For Sellers, Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

What Were The Odds of Selling Your Seattle-Eastside Condo in December, 2009?

Seattle-Eastside Condo Real Estate Sales, Dec 2009

(The absorption rate, the percentage of condos selling, is the number of condos for sale in any given month divided by the actual number of condos sold that month.  So if the absorption rate or chance of selling is 10% that means out of 100 condos for sale, 10 received offers and sold.)

December. 2009           1174 condos for sale,    125 condos sold,          11% odds of selling.

November, 2009          1289 condos for sale     140 (now 126)condos sold,         11% (now 10%) odds of selling.

December, 2008           1150 condos for sale       70 condos sold            6% odds of selling.

*Adjusted from previous month’s original numbers to reflect the actual number of condos sold and closed.  Some of the sales originally reported last month failed and did not close. Thirteen percent of condo sales originally reported in October failed to close.

The number of condos for sale also dropped by 115 units, which is 9% decrease in the number of condos available for sale on Seattle’s eastside.   The eastside condo sales remained about the same as November.  The year finished out with sales happening, but not as many as September and October.  Those months were affected by the 2009 first time home buyer’s tax credit.

With the extension and expansion of the home buyer tax credit into 2010, there’s the added benefit of a tax credit, but only if you buy before the end of April, 2010.


Posted on January 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2009 stimulus package, 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Bellevue Real Estate, For Buyers, For Sellers, Issaquah Real Estate, King County Real Estate, Kirkland, Real Estate, Redmond, Sammamish, WA Real Estate, WA real estate, Windermere Real Estate, Woodinville, WA

2009 Ends With a More Balanced Real Estate Market Around Seattle

King-Snohomish County Real Estate December, 2009

December, 2009 Seattle real estate finished the year off on a more positive note.  With so much of the Seattle area real estate market showing “yellow,”  there was a solid return to a real estate market more evenly balanced between buyers and sellers.  This is more like the real estate market we saw in the 1990’s.

There was still a significant increase in real estate sales from December, 2008, with West Bellevue leading the way on Seattle’s eastside.  The number of West Bellevue home sales shot up by 279%!  Because home prices in West Bellevue tend to be among the most expensive on Seattle’s eastside and in the Seattle area in general, this signaled more of return to confidence in the real estate market.  Prices for high end homes have dropped to the point that buyers were more comfortable buying.  Since most of these sales had nothing to do with the first time home buyer credit, this signaled a strong change in buyer confidence and willingness to buy.

Prices tended to be more reasonable all over the Seattle area. Lower prices, low interest rates, and the first time home buyers’ tax credit did a lot to open up the real estate market.

The year ended with the lowest number of homes on the market for all of 2009.  The amount of properties for sale was similar to what was available in 2007.  This does not mean the market will return to 2007 real estate activity, but it is a good thing to see that there were, and are, less properties for sale in the Seattle area.

What’s in store for 2010?

I expect the extension and expansion of the 2010 home buyer credit to continue to spur real estate sales on. I also expect it to bring more home sellers into the market, so competition could increase again.  The number of properties for sale is a huge factor in pricing and market time.  The first part of 2010 should be pretty active for both home buyers and sellers.  After April 30th when the home buyer tax credit goes away, much will depend on how many homes are on the market and the interest rates.

As I’ve mentioned before, be prepared for any and everything with real estate sales in the coming months. There’s no “one size fits all.”  Home sales will depend on the price point, location, the home’s condition, the competition, and/or a combination of these things. Some homes will sell quickly and for a good price, others will still undergo significant price reductions to meet market expectations, and others will sell, but for less than one would expect.  This, actually, is what we expect to see in a normal, more balanced real estate market.

What do the numbers on the map mean?

The map is divided into the numbered areas as defined by our Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS).  Downtown Bellevue is area 520 and East Bellevue is area 530, as an example.

What do the colors mean?

Red means it’s a sellers’ market, a sellers’ advantage.

Yellow means a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

Green means its a buyers’ market.

If you take each area as shown on the map and look to the area number on the side of the map, it will tell you how long it would take to sell every home currently for sale if no other home came up on the market in that area.

Posted on January 13, 2010 at 12:19 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: 2009 stimulus package, 2010 Home buyer Tax Credit, Bellevue Real Estate, For Buyers, For Sellers, Issaquah Real Estate, King County Real Estate, Kirkland, Market Statistics, Real Estate, Sammamish, WA Real Estate, Seattle real estate, WA real estate, Windermere Real Estate, Woodinville, WA Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,