Eastern Washington Real Estate Market Update
The following analysis of the Eastern Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.
The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9%—well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.
Eastern Washington added 4,984 jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 1.1%. Although the region added jobs at a fairly healthy clip, the unemployment rate matched that seen a year ago at 5%.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- Home sales throughout Eastern Washington slowed in the final quarter of the year, with total sales down 8.7% over the same quarter in 2017 to 3,211 units.
- Sales rose fastest in the small Lincoln County area, which increased by a significant 42.1%. For perspective, that translates to only eight additional sales. Walla Walla County was again a laggard, with a drop of 21.8%. But it, too, is a small market that can be prone to significant swings.
- Year-over-year, home sales rose in just two counties, with the balance of the market seeing some fairly significant drops.
- Interestingly, the number of homes for sale dropped by 15.2% from the fourth quarter of 2017. Many Pacific Northwest markets saw significant increases in inventory levels last fall, but that was not the case in Eastern Washington. That said, I anticipate we will see more homes for sale as we move into the spring selling season.
- Year-over-year, the average home price in Eastern Washington rose 9.5% to $264,231. However, price growth slowed somewhat between third and fourth quarter, reporting a 2.6% drop in the average sales price.
- Low inventory in the region continues to be a significant hurdle to many home buyers. I had hoped more homes would come onto the market in the fall, but that was not the case. The spring market should provide more choice for buyers.
- All the counties in this report saw prices rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Whitman County took over the number one spot, with an annual price increase of 28.9%.
- The takeaway here is that home-price growth has cooled a little but remains well above the long-term average.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average time it took to sell a home in Eastern Washington in the fourth quarter of 2018 was 63 days.
- The average amount of time it took to sell a home in Eastern Washington dropped nine days compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
- Every county other that Lincoln (+2days) saw the time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same quarter in 2017.
- Notably, it took 17 more days to sell a home in the fourth quarter than it did in the third quarter of last year, but I attribute that to seasonality.
The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
The number of homes for sale dropped off in recent months and housing markets throughout Eastern Washington remain very tight. The overall trend continues to favor home sellers, so I am moving the needle slightly more in their favor.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.
Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.
WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?
The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.
If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.
I only ask because I don’t think I am. I honestly don’t think I can do purple in my house even if it DID win color of the year…. What do you think?
Pantone has done it again: their 2018 color of the year is bold, beautiful, and nothing like the other color predictions we’ve seen for next year. The company says their pick, Ultra Violet 18-3838, is a “dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade” and “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future” — and the design industry agrees.
“There’s a hint of fantasy in this color — something almost unreal and fabulist about it, after all, real ultra violet rays are beyond human comprehension – the naked eye can’t see them!” says Editor in Chief of House Beautiful, Sophie Donelson. “I like the magic, optimism, and fearlessness it invokes. At home, I’d use it to envelope yourself, royals style – how about a least a mohair throw, it’s not quiet a velvet cape, but it’ll do!” We bet a plush velvet bench will do the trick, as seen in this dining area.
David Kaihoi used a violet hue throughout this East Village apartment
Nancy Fire, creative director of HGTV HOME, Design Works International, and Studio NYC Design, says she’s already thinking about how she can use it in her design work. “Ultra Violet works well as an accent pillow, wallpaper geometric combined with grey, and, of course, a regal paint color that plays well with grey, loden green, and many neutrals,” Fire says.
We think using this bold color as a statement, not to fill an entire room, is key if you usually stick with neutrals and safe shades — and Abbe Fenimore from Studio Ten 25 agrees. “When used in small doses as an accent color it can be really rich and feminine. I love it paired with pinks, greens, and metallics, especially gold and brass. You really only need a little bit of it to make a statement!” Fenimore says.
This Maryland bedroom designed by Mona Hajj uses this purple canopy to create a dreamy focal point.
However, not everyone was on board when they first saw the shade. “I’m not a big fan of the color purple in general,” says Jessica McClendon from Glamour Nest. “However, this color is perfect for those who want to try something a little bit adventurous. It’s definitely no Rose Quartz or Serenity, as it is better suited to be more of an accent color.” So if you are a fan of purple, and a risk-taker, this color is calling your name—-Lauren Smith
As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.
A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.
On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.
On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.
After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.
You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.
The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
THE HAPPY MEDIUM
Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.
Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:
1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.
Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.
Change the locks
Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.
Steam clean the carpets
It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.
Call an exterminator
Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.
Clean out the kitchen
If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.