For BuyersFor SellersReal EstateReal Estate OpinionSeattle real estateUncategorized January 27, 2011

Seattle Eastside Real Estate: The Glass is Half Full, Not Half Empty

It’s time to accept the reality of the market in Seattle and on Seattle’s eastside. More than likely, it’s going to be the way it is for a few more years, with single digit appreciation after that.

It’s a more realistic market. It doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s still challenging to sell a home, but it’s not impossible. Homes are selling everyday. There have been many successful sales and there will continue to be successful real estate sales in 2011.  On Seattle’s eastside, 7310 homes sold last year.  Short sales and foreclosures will still happen. Which, unfortunately, means there will be people who are suffering through these tougher, more realistic times.  But the majority of sales on the eastside are not short or distressed sales.

If you are thinking of selling your home, it won’t happen overnight, but it can, and does,  happen.

  • 2010:  9,594 homes and condos were pending (received an offer from a buyer).  There were 7310 firm sales.
  • 2009:  8,842 homes were pending.
  • 2008:  7419 homes were pending.

Right now in the Seattle area real estate market, most homes are selling in 3-6 months. This is the now the “normal” market time to sell a home. Some homes will sell very quickly depending on the local competition and the price and condition of the home, others will languish and maybe never sell.  This will be the typical pattern we’ll see in Seattle area real estate sales for the near future.

Don’t put your home on the market unless you’re clear on the pricing, clear on what the market will bear. This is not a market where you can “try” a price and then come down.  If you beat the competition to start, you’ll probably make more money in the long run.  Too often, sellers have “tried” a higher price and ended up selling their home for far less.

Is it moving, making a lifestyle change, or the money that’s more important to you right now? If it’s the move that’s more important because you need more space, downsizing, relocating, etc., then plan to move and do it right. Get your home gleaming and ready for the market with a value added sticker price. Your home will need to outshine the competition with a pristine look and a “beat the competition” price.   If you price your home right where all your competition is, your home may not stand out.

If more money than the current market will bear is more important, then maybe this isn’t the right time to sell. However, plan on staying put for 5 or even 7 years to realize some significant appreciation in your home’s value.  But remember, if there’s only 3% appreciation over 5 years, that’s 15% more.  Let’s say you have a home that is worth $500,000 in this market, in 5 years at 3% appreciation,  it will be worth $515,000.  A 5% increase is $25,000 to $525,000. The increase is nothing to sneeze at, but with 5-7 more years of wear and tear, there’s something that needs to be done with most every house.  Any future appreciation should factor in some costs for maintenance and updating.

For those buying, home ownership has gone back to what it always has been, shelter, a place to hang your hat that you enjoy. It’s a lifestyle choice, not a banking machine or something where you can make a “killing.”  If you decide to buy, and some of you won’t, then evaluate your home for how it fits your lifestyle.  Pick a place to live that matches your wallet and that you enjoy.  Pick a place with good access to amenities: schools, shopping, parks, economic centers and easy access to commuting services.  When you sell your home in the future, the home will be in a better position, literally and figuratively, to capture any appreciation.  The homes located close to conveniences will become increasingly more desirable in this decade.

The glass is “half full” in Seattle area real estate. The media will continue to talk about the “bad” real estate market, but the fact is, the people who need or want to move are still going forward with their plans.  Home sellers will not see the appreciation of the past, but home buyers should be able to purchase a good value and a great home.  Remember if you’re a seller who’ll be buying another home, you’ll have a great chance of making a great deal on your home purchase.

It wasn’t “perfect’ for buyers back when we all thought the real estate market was great. Many of today’s sellers need to think back to when they bought their home.  Buyers often competed for the same home with other buyers and paid full or over full price.  Now it’s not perfect for sellers.

Sellers have to be ready to meet the market. Buyers will be looking for the best value out there. That won’t change any time soon. This is our new “normal” market.

This is the “State of Real Estate.”  Our glass is “half full” rather than “half empty.” We’re still doing better than most areas here in the Seattle area.