The real estate market for 2006: The real estate market finished at an historically high pace last year; 2005’s average local price appreciation was over 1% per month. The market is starting to cool its rate of appreciation as we begin 2006 due to slightly rising interest rates, part of the market demand having been met, and concerns about high prices among both the media and buyers. That is a very healthy sign actually, and one that I have predicted. The huge increases could not realistically continue forever. Our area’s ongoing real estate drivers are still here and are doing a good job of keeping us out of “real estate price bubble” territory. Those drivers include: an ongoing net inflow of people, lack of easily accessible buildable land, very high desirability and livability of the Seattle area, and ongoing economic recovery with continued job growth. The result is that the inventory is still decent (though there is still demand for more), but multi-offer and quick-buy situations have been steadily dwindling.

The market dynamics between buyer and seller are becoming more balanced than the ongoing seller’s market we have had recently. High end homes have also been tending to sit on the market longer and need to have realistic price expectations on both sides of the transaction, with average days on market rising over the past few months. Current indicators point to another solid year for both sellers and buyers. The rate of appreciation should be in line with more normal single digit percentage price increases. Desirable realistically priced homes continue to sell well, and overpriced homes are sitting longer on the market.

Waterfront market recap: For our local Puget Sound and Lake Washington area waterfront homes market during the period October 1st through December 31, 2005:

Houses: Median sale price $1,650,000; Price range $331,000 – $7,000,000; Number sold 36; Average sale/listing price percentage 93%; Average days on market 156.

Condos: Median sale price $299,889; Price range $68,500 – $1,350,000; Number sold 38; Average sale/listing price percentage 98%; Average days on market 65.

Floating homes: Median sale price $632,000; Price range $425,000 – $1,303,000; Number sold 4; Average sale/listing price percentage 104%; Average days on market 21.

King County market: Median home prices for the general real estate market in King County recently rose to near $393,000, with the average price above that. The condominium market continues to outperform in terms of demand, although the price increases have still been lower than regular residential homes in general. The high end condo market has really taken off, with both an increase in supply and demand for excellent view properties in areas such as downtown Seattle. Condos have become big draws for first time home buyers, empty nesters, retirees, investors, and people with renewed interest in urban living or second homes, all fueling the demand. Outlying counties such as Kitsap have recently been experiencing the highest gains in Washington state, attributed to rising interest in second homes, growing economic bases, increasing numbers of retirees, increases in the number of telecommuters and long distance commuters, and interest in lower priced housing as compared to more expensive central counties such as King.

How homes are bought and sold today: A national NAR survey taken among a huge sample of all recent home purchasers showed that:

  • Properties sold through real estate professionals earn sellers a 16% higher price, on average, than for the same homes sold through FSBOs (For Sale By Owner properties). 90% of buyers use a real estate professional and FSBOs have been on a continuing decline since peaking in 1997. The majority of FSBOs that actually fully complete a sale are between parties who knew each other in advance or buyers who went direct
    to builders.
  • A record 77% of buyers now use real estate Internet sites as part of their search.
  • The typical buyer walked through 9 properties, searched for 8 weeks, and moved 12 miles from their prior residence.
  • The typical seller had their home on the market for 4 weeks, had lived in it for 6 years, moved 15 miles, and previously owned 3 homes including the one just sold.

Luxury home sellers: When selling a waterfront home, it is important to understand many key aspects of potential buyers. We at Windermere have recently completed our annual study of local luxury home buyers. Detailed results include their occupations, backgrounds, housing preferences, and especially the most effective contact / selling methods for this niche group. This terrific information is available to all of my listings in formulating a targeted and successful marketing strategy.

Local news: The orcas have finally received endangered species status protections, and the Seattle City Council has endorsed wide ranging plans to help improve salmon populations. On the regulatory front, Seattle has tentatively approved the expansion of stream/wetland development buffers, and incentives (not requirements) for daylighting
of covered creeks is being considered for the permit process. State ferries have had a number of security measures implemented, and a system-wide ferry toll increase is predicted for May.

Shoreline Property Owners & Contractors Association: A new organization is now ramping up called SPOCA. It is primarily led by contractors looking to change the waterfront building permit processes by reducing “inconsistent or indefensible” restrictions; they are reaching out to homeowners with shared interests and concerns. You can learn more at www.spoca.org.

Awards: I was recently named 5 Star Real Estate Agent and Winner of Best In Client Satisfaction by Seattle Magazine. An independent research firm surveyed local recent home buyers and evaluated every agent on nine criteria: customer service, communication, finding the right home, integrity, negotiation, marketing the home,
market knowledge, closing preparation, and overall satisfaction. Before finalizing the top picks, a blue-ribbon industry panel evaluated every nominated real estate professional, and I made the final cut. I look forward to the opportunity to personally show you why I earned these awards. I set myself apart, and the results speak for themselves in obtaining the h
ighest price for my sellers and the most personalized experience for my buyers. You can read client testimonials on WaterHavens.com.

Accreditations: I have also added to my accreditations over the past year. Already an Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR) and Project Management Professional (PMP), I am now fully certified as an Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS) and Certified Relocation Specialist. This education and experience is important for representing the sellers and buyers of luxury homes, plus I have the tools available for meeting the needs of people relocating to and from the Seattle area. I am continually expanding my repertoire, techniques, and knowledge to best serve the needs of my waterfront and waterview seller and buyer clients.

Share the blog: If you found this blog informative, please pass it along to your neighbors and friends.

I look forward to helping you purchase the WaterHaven of your dreams, or helping you sell a wonderful WaterHaven. My experience will get you the best price in the shortest time using the most cutting edge and specialized techniques that truly raise the bar in highest quality services.

Enjoy a WaterHaven! Our waterfront is the best in the world.

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