Back by Demand!

Back by Demand!

Last month’s newsletter ended with some optimism given how real estate was working then. However, none of us would have guessed just how well the market would be working by now, even with the Covid-19 protocol in place.

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Covid-19 or not, our 2020 spring market was not to be denied! In King County, the available inventory in May 2019 was 4,511 units, for May 2020 that inventory only was down to 2,513 homes, a drop of 44%. But while inventory was down by nearly half by May 2020, the number of pending contracts was only down from 3,338 in May 2019 to 2,776 a year later – in the middle of the Coronavirus. This was only 18% less than the year prior

What is even more startling is that there are more buyers (represented by pending contracts) than there are homes for sale! The chart for Snohomish County is also included and the contrast between “Active” listings (1,015) and pending contracts for May 2020 (1,392) is even more startling. Our reaction to all of this was simply… “Wow!” How did this happen?

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced the State to essentially shut-down to prevent the continued spread of the virus, the real estate industry was pretty much forced to shut down as well. In just a few weeks, however, our Washington Association of Realtors worked out a viable protocol for real estate to continue.

This protocol was very restrictive, but once we learned how to navigate, we were able to begin doing real estate again. Both Jim and I remained cool to the idea of jeopardizing both buyers and sellers to potential infection though, so we pulled back and advised our clients accordingly – all were in agreement with our caution.

Available Homes vs Pending Contracts

What a ride it is turning out to be

Despite all that’s happened, life does go on, and soon we were watching real estate take off, and with the slight lifting of the restrictions going forward, we also re-engaged with our clients.

Pent-up demand may be what is now driving the market, but of one thing we are sure – buyers are not holding back. They are out in force, willing to compete for the available listings, and multiple offers are back in vogue. As you can see by the numbers, we need sellers. And what a great time to sell! Prices are again moving upward due to the lack of supply to meet the demand.

Greetings All

Greetings All

We are now several weeks into our “Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order” that Gov. Jay Inslee just extended to May 31, and we thought it appropriate – as well as timely – to share the highlights of the mandated protocol for showing homes, and some good news to go with it!

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To begin with, I feel it is most important to share that we are in agreement with the order, but we watch with despair and heartache as we hear of businesses that just cannot survive the shutdown. What a hard time of adjustment to an unprecedented pandemic. The main theme of our mandated protocol for real estate is that we limit in-person interactions to the greatest extent possible, and only engage in in-person real estate activities when required. This makes sense.

Some of the key points

• In-person activities must be by appointment only.  

• No more than two people, including the broker, may be inside the property at any one time.

• Those two persons must strictly follow social distancing guidelines established by the CDC by remaining at least six feet apart at all times.

The in-person real estate brokerage services that are now permissible during our “Stay Home…” order allow us to:

• Conduct listing presentations, take photos and create virtual tours for new listings.
• Facilitate the signing of contract documents.
• Preview and show listings by appointment only.
• Facilitate inspections, appraisals, buyer “walk-throughs,” and key delivery.
• Hire professional photographers.

We cannot hold Open Houses, but we can live stream or record a virtual open house. Additional steps we are doing for our upcoming listings to protect our sellers:

• Buyers must be pre-approved and provide the pre-approval prior to visiting one of our listings.
• One use, disposable booties are required to enter the home.
• A facemask must be worn during the showing.
• We will provide hand sanitizer at the entry.
• We will ask that buyers limit what they touch inside the home. 

Ready for Some Good News?

Real estate is still working! Once our Washington State Association of Realtors managed to work out a safe protocol with the Governor’s office and gain approval, our real estate market has been engaged and working.

We offer you a chart that reflects the growing health of the real estate market in our area under the approved guidelines of the “Stay Home” order.

The included chart is for the Eastside combined and shows the number of newly listed homes in the last 7 days, and the new pending contracts in that same period. The chart shows 10 data points from March 2, 2020 to May 4, 2020. Notice that the numbers on the chart peaked in mid-March just before the Coronavirus crisis began, tanked in early April when our “Stay Home” order went into effect and has now been growing nicely again since mid-April.

We are learning how to do real estate within the guidelines of the “Stay Home…” order, and have found that the market is receptive and stronger than expected.

Stay healthy!

Windermere Ready – Invest To Impress

Windermere Ready – Invest To Impress

Small upfront investments can yield a much bigger payoff when you sell your home. We’ll work together to best showcase your space and help buyer see themselves living in it.

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There’s no second chance for the perfect first impression.

We believe so strongly in the power of first impressions that we created the Windermere Market Ready program to provide you with concierge-level service that readies your home for sale. Together we will determine the repairs and upgrades that are most likely to appeal to today’s buyers who prefer stylish, turnkey spaces.

If needed, we can provide up to $50,000 to help mitigate any expenses incurred with no upfront cost to you. From decluttering and deep cleaning to scheduling major repairs or replacements, together we’ll set your home up for selling success.

The Details

ONE-ON-ONE CONSULTATION

We’ll walk through your home together and identify potential updates and repairs. With your timeline and needs in mind, we’ll help you decide on the improvements that will get you the biggest return.

PERSONALIZED PLAN

Once we identify our top home improvement priorities, we’ll connect you with our preferred local service providers, put together a work schedule, and arrange access to your home.

HIGH IMPACT UPDATES

No matter how small they seem, even the simplest changes can make a big difference. These are the most valuable:
• Landscaping
• Interior and Exterior painting
• Floor repair/refurnishing
• Carpet cleaning/replacement
• Decluttering
• Window washing
• Professional deep cleaning
• Fixture repair or replacement
• Cosmetic updates
• Punch list reports
Plus dozens of other high-impact home improvements and services.

STAGING

When your home’s ready for its close-up, we’ll have it professionally staged, which can dramatically transform your home and boost your bottom line. In fact, staged homes statistically sell 87% faster than non-staged homes and for 17% more. Call us when you are ready.

Editor’s Note:

Two months ago, our Windermere/East, Inc. company rolled out two products to help our Windermere clients achieve a higher level of success in tight markets. We reported on the first of those products, the Windermere Bridge loan, in our March newsletter. We would now like to report on the second product, the “Invest to Impress” package that includes a number of important and effective tools for success, and the resources to make it all happen.

Both products were rolled out before Covid-19. We have dedicated this newsletter to the “Invest to Impress” product, even though the market is pretty much on a “hold” mode for a few more weeks. We want you to be aware and ready when we get back to business.

Windermere Bridge  Loan – A Powerful Tool

Windermere Bridge Loan – A Powerful Tool

In a time of low inventory and high demand, the successful buyer must be armed with special tools for the job. We want to take this newsletter space this month to share a very powerful tool that Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. has just introduced. This tool is a bridge-loan that is designed to allow you to purchase before you buy so you aren’t left homeless in your pursuit of your step-up, or step-down home.

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The Windermere Bridge Loan. It’s fast. It’s easy. And it’s at our fingertips ready to help you get into your new home.

HERE ARE THE PARTICULARS:

You can buy before you sell with the Windermere Bridge Loan from Vintage Loans, LLC. This is an exclusive tool that we can use to help you buy real estate when you find it.

You can make a non-contingent offer, which makes your offer more attractive to sellers, and you don’t have to risk losing your new home while waiting for your own property to sell.

The amount you owe on your home, plus the bridge loan cannot be more than 75% percent of the value of your current home. The approval process by Vintage Loans, LLC takes only a few days.

The loan fee is just one percent of the loan amount, due upon disbursement of the loan. No payments are necessary on the loan before your home closes unless you choose to make a payment. The principal and interest are due when the home closes, or six months following disbursement, whichever comes first.

This bridge loan is available only through Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc.
Contact either Jim or Bill to inquire about how to put this to work for you.

Great News – so far…

The Coronavirus does NOT seem to be impacting the real estate market. It is early, much can happen in the weeks ahead, and all we can tell you at this moment in time is that the market does not appear to be affected by the virus.

My week over week market analysis on Monday morning, March 9th, revealed that the real estate market strength continues very strong. While new listings are coming on the market, they are being snapped up quickly. In the hot (core) areas, we are experiencing multiple offers on many new listings, and inventory levels below 3 weeks – that is hot!

Hot & Early

Hot & Early

With January behind us and February already half over, the real estate market strength for 2020 is proving to be hotter than expected and happening sooner than expected.

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Inventory Strength

There are three different stages of market strength as shown in the chart below. Stages are determined by dividing the number of homes on the market by the number of homes that have entered into contract in the previous month. If 90 homes are available and 30 have entered into contract in the past month, we call that a 3 month-inventory – it will require 3 months of selling 30 homes per month to consume all of the 90 homes that are currently available.

When is it a seller’s market? Anytime the inventory drops below 2 months, the sellers are gaining strength. When the inventory is below 2 months, the sellers are pretty much in control of the market, at 1 month the sellers are enjoying multiple offers and rising prices.

A balanced market is when the inventory levels are around 3 -4 months.

When is it a buyer’s market? Anytime the available inventory exceeds 3 months, the buyers are gaining strength. With 6 months of inventory, the buyers are in full control of the market.

Strength of real estate market as determined by months of inventory

As available inventory decreases, the Sellers gain control. When available inventory increases, the Buyers gain control. Typically, a balanced market prevails when the inventory levels are around three to four months of hone inventory.

Inventory Strength – Our Region

Months of inventory across the Puget Sound region is shown in the chart below. Of the 19 areas shown, with South Bellevue at the top, there are 16 already experiencing a very strong seller’s market, and 3 that are not quite as hot, but – given the price point of these areas – are still considered strong. And this is still soggy-wet February!

Months of Inventory

For Sellers

What an opportunity to take advantage of. If you are thinking of selling, this year could be the year to make it happen.

For Move-Up Sellers/Buyers

Since market strength tends to diminish as price points increase, you’ll typically sell in a stronger market than the one you’ll be entering as a buyer. Therefore, it’s recommended you secure your new home first.

For Buyers

Though it looks to be a tough market, we achieve success for buyers by working smart and being a top-notch team. We win bid-wars with trust and tireless professionalism – and not always the highest price.

Our Summary

Given this current market, we do expect this year to be interesting!