Bothell Real Estate Recap – May 2007

Please see the Bothell Housing Market category for the most recent info on the local real estate market.

Bothell, Washington Real Estate Market Area, according to the NWMLSBothell, Washington Real Estate Market Area, according to the NWMLSBothell, Washington Real Estate Market Area, according to the NWMLSBothell, Washington Real Estate Market Area, according to the NWMLSBothell, Washington Real Estate Market Area, according to the NWMLSHere’s a recap of what happened in the Bothell, Washington real estate market during May 2007. The area this information pertains to is known to real estate professionals as market area 610, and is shown on the map to the left (provided courtesy of the NWMLS). Though slightly cut-off, this area’s southwestern border is Hwy 522 (east to west) and 68th Ave NE in Kenmore (north to south). Click the map to enlarge.

Summary:

Single-family resale homes more houses sold for slightly more money in May, bouncing back after a slight dip in April. If you’re planning to sell your home, you need to allow no less than 90 days. The average market time in our area last month was 76 days, a slight drop from April’s 78 day average. Higher inventory levels indicate continuation of a buyer’s market for these properties.

Resale condos – prices continue to climb. It’s a great time to be selling if you own a condo – indicators point to it being a seller’s market for this property type. Take that equity and upgrade to a larger, detached home!

New single-family homes There are fewer of these homes on the market than in April, and they seem to be selling quicker. The median price climbed slightly and average price dipped slightly. Seller’s market continues for this housing type.

New condos –  More new condos are being sold this year than last year, though prices dipped last month. Not a bad time to consider investing in a new condo as a rental.

Resale single-family and condominium homes: (“Resale” means not newly built.)

  • A total of 308 homes were put up for sale last month – 44 of these were condos. This brought the total number of resale homes available in May to 903.
  • 215 of these homes sold – 33 were condos.

The median selling price* of resale single-family homes was $479,975 in May, up 5.7% ($25,975) from April’s $454,000 median. The average sale price of these homes was $512,154, up 4.2% ($20,615) from April’s $491,539 average.

The median selling price* of resale condos was $257,500 in May, up 1.6% ($4,050) from April’s $253,450 median. On average these condos sold for $261,913, down 5.6% ($15,478) from April’s $277,391 average.

* “Median” means half the homes sold for more than this amount and half sold for less than this amount.

  • Resale single-family homes sold in May were on the market an average of 76 days – 28 days longer than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, resale single-family home sales are nearly exactly what they were at this time last year. (From Jan. 1 through the end of May 2006, 721 homes had sold; as of the same time last month, 723 have sold.) 
  • Resale condos sold in May were on the market an average of 40 days – 4 days longer than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, resale condo sales are 69.9% greater than last year at this time.

New single-family and condominium homes: 

  • A total of 83 new homes were listed for sale last month – 5 of these were condos. This brought the total number of new homes for sale in May to 392.
  • 82 of these homes sold – 3 were condos.

The median selling price of new single-family homes was $530,000 in May, up 4.5% ($22,803) from April’s $507,197 median. The average sale price of these homes was $555,974, down 2.1% ($12,139) from April’s $568,113 average.

The median selling price of new condos was $269,990 in May, down 2.4% ($6,510) from April’s $276,500 median. The average price of these condos was $218,663, down 26.8% ($80,150) from April’s $298,813 average.

  • New single-family homes sold in May were on the market an average of 120 days – 44 days longer than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, new single-family home sales are up 14.6% compared to last year.
  • New condos sold in May were on the market an average of 27 days – 53 days less than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, new condo sales are up 18.2% compared to last year.

Could this data be presented in a way that’s more visually appealing and/or understandable? Do you have questions about how to interpret what’s been presented? Please let me know by leaving a response below, giving me a call at (206) 465-3698, and/or sending an e-mail to jay (dot) matthews (at) century21 (dot) com.  I’m also happy to provide the same data for specific neighborhoods outside the Bothell area.  

This data was taken from reports published by the NWMLS.

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Bothell Real Estate Recap, April 2007

Please see the Bothell Housing Market category for the most recent info on the local real estate market.

Bothell, Washington Real Estate Market Area, according to the NWMLSHere’s a recap of what happened in the Bothell, Washington real estate market in April 2007. The area this information pertains to is shown on the map to the left as area 610, provided courtesy of the NWMLS. Though slightly cut-off, this area’s southwestern border is Hwy 522 (east to west) and 68th Ave NE in Kenmore (north to south). Click the map to enlarge.

Resale single-family and condominium homes: (“Resale” means not newly built.)

  • A total of 357 homes were put up for sale last month – 47 of these were condos. This brought the total number of resale homes available in April to 847.
  • 162 of these homes sold – 25 were condos.

The median selling price* of resale single-family homes was $454,000 in April, down 6% ($29,176) from March’s $483,176 median. The average sale price of these homes was $491,539, down 0.4% from March’s $493,400 average.

The median selling price* of resale condos was $253,450 in April, up 7% ($16,500) from March’s $236,950 median. The average condo sold for $277,391, up 14.8% ($35,667) from March’s $241,724 average.

* “Median” means half the homes sold for more than this amount and half sold for less than this amount.

  • Resale single-family homes sold in April were on the market an average of 78 days – 34 days longer than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, resale single-family home sales down 4.9% from the same time last year.
  • Resale condos sold in April were on the market an average of 50 days – 34 days longer than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, resale condo sales are 78.6% greater than last year at this time.

New single-family and condominium homes: 

  • A total of 99 new homes were put up for sale last month – only 1 of these was a condo. This brought the total number of new homes for sale in April to 410.
  • 53 of these homes sold – 3 were condos.

The median selling price of new single-family homes was $507,197 in April, down 4.3% ($22,593) from March’s $529,790 median price. The average sale price of these homes was $568,113, up 5.6% ($30,098) from March’s $538,015 average.

The median selling price of new condos was$276,500 in April. The average price of these homes was $298,813. No new condos were sold in the Bothell Market Area in March.

  • New single-family homes sold in April were on the market an average of 118 days – 60 days longer than a year before.
  • Year-to-date, new single-family home sales are up 2% from the same time last year.
  • New condos sold in April were on the market an average of 24 days. No new condos were sold during April last year.
  • Year-to-date, 10 new condos have been sold in the Bothell Market Area. 4 new condos had sold by the same time last year.

Could this data be presented in a way that’s more visually appealing and/or understandable? Do you have questions about how to interpret what’s been presented? Please let me know by leaving a response below, giving me a call at (206) 465-3698, and/or sending an e-mail to jay (dot) matthews (at) century21 (dot) com.  I’m also happy to provide the same data for specific neighborhoods outside the Bothell area.  

This data was taken from reports published by the NWMLS.

Mortgage Rate Outlook April 2-6

Rates are likely to riseIt’s likely rates will rise this week. If you’re currently shopping for a home, ask your mortgage professional if they recommend locking your current interest rate. If you’d like personal recommendations on trustworthy, ethical mortgage pros, drop me an e-mail or give me a call (see “Contact Jay” on the bottom right panel).

Last Friday, the PCE Index was released. It showed the highest spike in consumer expenditures since last August – the rising cost of fuel most likely played a large part. This indicates inflation is on the rise. If consumers spend as much or more in April on commodities like food, electricity, and gas, it’s likely the Federal Reserve will raise the prime rate in May in an attempt to slow inflation. (To learn more about the PCE, see the post Mortgage Rate Update and Fed Primer below.)

Another factor that will play a part in the possible rise of both short and shorter-term mortgage rates is the release of the Jobs report this Friday. If this shows a sizable number of jobs were created last month, the case for hiking rates will be made even stronger.

New jobs are of course a good thing – but as the economy picks up speed, count on interest rates increasing in response.

Source Info:

“The Mortgage Market This Week” from The Bond Rate Monitor, 4/2/07

(Thanks to Chris Benfield at Century 21 Mortgage for providing the source material.)

Some Perspective on the Housing Bubble

Don’t click or it’ll pop!This morning I came across an article on the financial troubles facing publicly-traded companies that build new homes. It inspired me to talk a little about the housing “bubble” and hopefully convey some perspective on what’s happening with real estate both nationally and locally.

Written by Oxford-educated financial analyst Judith Levy, the article cited rising foreclosures “particularly among sub-prime borrowers…and a corresponding tightening of credit standards among [mortgage] lenders” as the reasons for the rise in unsold inventory and decline in new home sales nationwide.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this scenario effect more than just these companies’ bottom lines – some consumers also suffer. When new homes don’t sell quickly, downward pressure is put on resale home prices as builders offer deep discounts to get their homes sold. This means the average seller gets less money for their home. Buyers fare better however – they pay less for a home and can sometimes negotiate concessions like seller-paid closing costs.  

Looking at the national real estate market, things aren’t pretty in some areas. Las Vegas, parts of Southern California and Florida have been among the hardest hit by negative price changes. Many who bought homes in these areas over the last 4 years or so are having trouble selling for what they paid. It’s generally agreed that the two main contributing factors to this “bubble” were/are easy money and rampant speculation. 

Around 2003, it became much easier for those with marginal credit and income to get a mortgage. Unfortunately many of these mortgages had a short-term fixed “teaser” rate which changed to an adjustable rate 1-3 years later. (Imagine a mortgage payment of $1200-1500 the first 1-3 years in your new home, followed by payments that jumped to $1700-2000 or more as rates increased. Frightening, eh?) It’s now obvious to many that this money was irresponsibly (or even unethically) lended.

Speculation is also to blame. It’s my impression that many so called “investors” with little or no property investment experience and perhaps at the prodding of unscrupulous real estate agents made some (very) bad decisions. The statement, “there’s no way this property will ever go down in value – get it now, make a bundle on appreciation, then sell it” was likely said in many ways on occasions too numerous to count.

Late last year I had a listing appointment with a seller in West Seattle who purchased a home in May 2006 for 270k. She paid a contractor to completely renovate it and put it on the market 4 months later for $465k. 2 different agents, an attempt to sell it herself, and price drops totaling more than $100k haven’t accomplished much – it’s still on the market! When I entered the picture she was interviewing her second round of agents. She didn’t like what she heard when I told her what it was likely to sell for, and listed with someone else. It was my impression that she financed the renovations and continues to borrow to make the monthly mortgage payment.  She’s an unfortunate example of a speculator who got burned – badly.

What does all this mean for the Seattle-area market, and specifically for the Bothell micro-market? According to the article Getting Real About Real Estate in Fortune magazine’s 2007 Investor Guide, not much. In fact, it predicted 3 of the 5 strongest western markets during 2007 and 2008 would be right here in the Northwest – Tacoma, Seattle/Bellevue, and Portland (in that order). And as for whether new home sales are slumping in the Bothell market area, the answer is a resounding no. Quadrant Homes, the state’s largest builder, reported stronger-than-expected sales last month, and the stats support their claim – February’s new home sales were up 9% over the same time last year in our immediate area. As Quadrant Homes president Peter Orser noted in the comments section of this post, housing affordability poses a much bigger challenge to our market then any “bubble.”

More Jobs, Shorter Commutes for Bothell?

In an article printed by the Everett Herald yesterday, Eric Fetters reported a sharp decrease in Snohomish county’s available industrial space.

Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield reports a 9% industrial vacancy rate locally – 3% less than last year and 8% less than in 2004. Businesses contributing to the decrease include moving and storage company PODS, as well as print news industry’s Sound Publishing in Everett. 

Conversely, the vacancy rate for office space remains high – in the neighborhood of 18%. Gary Bullington at Cushman & Wakefield expects this rate to decrease in the near future, however. With office space in Seattle and Bellevue becoming increasingly hard to find, businesses are moving north along the I-5 corridor to Snohomish county. Bullington expects Bothell to benefit from this influx first – something commercial developers knew awhile ago, evidenced by the abundance of new office buildings currently under construction. 

The bottom line for Bothell and the rest of Snohomish County? As more industrial and commercial space is leased, the availability of local jobs increases and commute times for local residents decrease. 

Mortgage Rate Update and Fed Primer

Mortgage Rate Trends, 2000-2007Good news for anyone shopping for a new home – at its meeting last week, the Federal Reserve decided to leave interest rates unchanged.

The chart to the left shows mortgage rate trends since 2000. The second (below) shows rate fluctuations this month. (Click to enlarge.)

The Federal Reserve’s primary function is “to influence the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals.” The Fed accomplishes this is by raising interest rates, lowering them, or leaving them unchanged. When rates are increased, the amount money available nationally is reduced, which in turn slows inflation. (Inflation is a side-effect of a strong economy.) When rates are cut, more money is made available which in turn stimulates the economy. 

Short-Term Mortgage Outlook March 2007 rate trend

This Friday the Personal Consumption Expenditure Index (or PCE) will be released. This monthly report compiles nation-wide data on the average increase in prices for all domestic personal consumption for the prior two months. “Domestic personal consumption” includes things like the food we buy, the energy we use to heat our homes, and the gas we put in our cars. Many analysts believe the Fed relies heavily on this report to gauge inflation, with any decision to raise or cut rates being intimately tied to it.

If the index shows the average American spent less on personal consumption over the last two months, and this trend continues until the Fed meets again on May 9th, it may resolve that inflation is in check and lower interest rates accordingly.

Source Info:

“The Mortgage Market This Week” from The Bond Rate Monitor, 3/26/07

The Federal Reserve’s website

Freddie Mac’s website

(Thanks to Chris Benfield at Century 21 Mortgage for providing a portion of the source material.)

Bothell Places: Caffe Ladro

Caffe Ladro in BothellNot only does Caffe Ladro serve great tasting coffee in an inviting atmosphere, they do it with social conscience and plenty of smiles.

When I first moved to the area from Eastern Washington about 10 years ago, I frequented Ladro’s location on 15th Ave East in Seattle. It was my favorite place to study, read, and people watch – good coffee, clean tables, and friendly service. Supporting a locally-owned small business that offers only 100% fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffees also made me feel good. When I moved to Bothell about 3 years ago I was happy to see a Caffe Ladro location 3 blocks north of Main Street, and resolved to visit at my first opportunity. 

Well, life gets busy. “Would like to’s” get pushed aside as the “have to’s” pile up.

On the way home from showing houses yesterday, I saw the yellow Caffe Ladro sign and decided I’d finally stop in. Ladro interiorAs I walked in the din of clanking coffee cups and chatting neighbors filled my ears. The walls were lined with black and white portraits set against rich, warm paint tones and lit by Tiffany-style chandeliers. As I went to the counter to order I was greeted with a genuine smile. While waiting it struck me that there aren’t many cafes with atmosphere as comfortable and inviting as Ladro’s.

After finishing a tasty spinach & feta croissant, I looked closer at the black & white portraits on the walls. Seattle area photographer Davis Freeman “specializes in unique fine art portraits that truly capture the spirit of family.” I enjoyed the photos on display, and would offer that while not so much “capturing the spirit of family,” several definitely succeed at capturing the spirit of the individual in a compelling and emotionally-charged way. Click here to view some of his work.

At another spot on the wall I saw a poster for an evening of acoustic open mic performances and live painting, to be hosted by Ladro on Friday April 6th. Visit the Community Events page for complete details.

Selena and HannahAs I finished my last sip, I thanked barista Selena and cashier Hannah and headed for the door. I’m grateful Caffe Ladro is still as great as I remembered.

Caffe Ladro is located at 18610 Bothell Way NE in Bothell, WA. There’s free wi-fi inside and a drive-thru outside. Click here for a map and directions. 

Hours: 5:30 AM to 11:00 PM daily.  Phone: 425-415-1202

G-Sales on the Community Events Page

Some seek thrills by jumping out of airplanes or climbing mountains. But for my mother, aunt, and sister, nothing beats the rush of searching for buried treasure at weekend garage sales. I pity the person who spots a piece of Noritake China, a vintage record, or a retired Beanie-Baby at the same time any of them do.

Do you live in the Bothell area and want to tell local readers about your upcoming garage sale? Visit About Bothell’s Community Events page!

(And I promise to keep my family away…)

Passport No Longer Needed for Border Crossing

Update 7/31/07 I.D. Requirements at the Canadian Border

Follow this link for an informative and easy to read summary of what’s needed and by when: Canada for Visitors.

*** *** *** 

In Thursday’s edition of the Herald, the AP’s David Ammons wrote an article about a new driver’s license that would also establish proof of U.S. citizenship to expedite U.S./Canadian border crossings. In a landslide 43-3 vote the state Senate signed off on the new license, which was formally approved by the Dept. of Homeland Security yesterday. The initiative was fueled by legislator’s concerns over how trade and tourism with Canada could be negatively impacted by the expense and delay involved with getting a passport, especially with the 2010 Winter Olympics in BC fast approaching. Gordon Campbell, Premier (Governor) of BC has announced a parallel program will be adopted by his government, though a target date has not yet been announced.

The new license, available January 2008, will cost about $40 – $60 less than a passport – will require an in-person interview to obtain and won’t require the 6-8 week wait passports do. It will also incorporate technology that allows for easy scanning, which will hopefully reduce wait times at crossing points. In June 2009, these new licenses or a passport will become required for all cross-border travel – land, sea, and air. Currently passports are required only for cross-border travel by air or sea.

I like the idea of spending less and waiting less when traveling to and from Canada. I’m also happy that legislators are looking out for small businesses – the cafes, restaurants, and retail shops near crossing points that depend on tourist traffic for revenue. 

But at what cost to my privacy will this needed balance come? As I was reading the article, red flags started going up. What’s being implemented is a federal license. It will be scannable and will establish my US citizenship, WA state residency, and give touch-of-a-button access to any number of federal databanks all at once. In addition, a high-frequency radio chip will be embedded in them. I’m not a tech wiz, but can’t high freq. chips be used to track movement? To be honest, this all makes me a little nervous.

Visiting Technorati this morning to see what others were reporting on the topic, I came across an informative post in the American Patriot Journal. I also found a lengthy post on concerns over federally controlled ID’s (link no longer available). Though the latter has a conspiracy theory flavor, it certainly contained some good information.

These new ID’s are strictly optional at this point – or are they? Even with the program’s apparent benefits, I’m less than happy about lawmakers putting me in a position where I’m forced to choose between expedited travel at the cost of privacy or higher costs and longer waits.

Blake Lewis Puts Bothell on the Map

Bothell’s Blake Lewis, as seen on American IdolI’m not normally an American Idol fan – in fact, outside of catching a few minutes of the morning news before heading out the door, I rarely watch TV. But when I heard that Bothell’s very own Blake Lewis is among Idol’s 12 remaining contestants, my interested was sparked.

A little time spent researching Lewis on the web turned up no shortage of info on the 25 year-old Bothellite. According to this article, Lewis has been writing songs, singing them, and winning local beat boxing competitions at various venues in the metro area for the last 7 years. Some of his favorite places to perform include the Nectar Lounge , SeaMonster Lounge, and Lo-Fi Performance Gallery. And after Idol is said and done, there’s a chance Lewis could be spotted enjoying a meal at his favorite restaurant, La Casa del Mojito on Lake City Way. blake-lewis-billboard-3-25-07-004.jpg

Lewis graduated from Kenmore’s Inglemoor High in 1999. Apparently he stopped working “square” jobs in August of 2006 (which included serving at the Outback Steakhouse in Canyon Park) so he could pursue his music interests full-time. A month later he turned out for the Idol auditions at KeyArena – braving rain, long lines, and Simon Cowell’s icy gaze. 

Blake’s parents seem very supportive – in watching the last part of Blake’s audition (below), I thought his father was going to burst into tears out of sheer pride. I imagine his mother two younger sisters, and younger brother is excited about Blake’s current fame and future potential as well. After all – if Blake wins he gets a national record deal, right?