Clients often ask me, “Is this the right time to sell?” or “What is going to happen to interest rates in the next year?” Here is Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner answering these questions, providing his data-driven economic forecast, and more!
2020 Economic Forecast
Washington’s Real Estate Excise Tax Change
Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) is a tax on the real estate sale and the seller typically pays for it. Starting January of 2020, Washington state’s Real Estate Excise Tax is changing to a graduated system. This new system may impact you if you decide to sell your property in the new year. Find out more from Matthew Gardner in this helpful video.
Local Market Info
Curious about how our local real estate market is doing here in Kitsap County? You can see the latest market data through our up-to-date trend graphs. Additionally, you’re welcome to look at my active listings and my office’s listings to get an idea of what’s on the market here on Bainbridge Island and across Kitsap County.
If you still have questions or want to discuss your real estate goals, let’s set up a time to talk. I’m happy to provide any information or assistance you may need.
Partnering with the Seahawks to Tackle Homelessness
We’re proud to be the Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks and we’ve partnered with them for a 4th year to help address homelessness through our #TackleHomelessness Campaign. For every Seahawks defensive tackle during a home game, Windermere donates $100 to Mary’s Place, which provides shelter, resources, and meals to families on their journey out of homelessness. As of Oct. 21st, we’ve raised $113,100.
The Fall Real Estate Market Cool Down
- In the last 9 months, single-family homes have sold for an average of $1,019,444. That’s a 1.6% increase from the same time period in 2018, showing how our robust regional economy positively impacts prices.
- Local agents have sold 288 residential homes through Sept. and 116 of them were sold during the summer. The market did heat up, but when comparing this time period to last year, that’s a 10% drop in homes sold.
- The 3rd quarter absorption rate (the rate at which available homes are sold each month) was 42.1% for single-family homes, a 13.2% decrease when compared to last year’s 3rd quarter.
- As of Sept. 30th, there were 80 active listings. Compared to Sept. of 2018, that’s an 11% decrease. But the number of homes sold in Sept. went up by 3% year-over-year and the number of pending sales increased by 6.5%.
A Look at Condominium and Land Sales
In the condominium market, 78 units have been sold so far this year. When we compare that to 2018, it’s a 21% decrease in units sold. However, September’s average sold price was $629,000, which is a 23.3% increase year-over-year.
Regarding land sales, the average sold price in September was $241,000, a 56.2% drop from September of 2018. But 12 lots were sold during the 3rd quarter this year while only 3 lots were sold during that quarter last year. Land still tends to sell quickly if there aren’t any major issues.
Why a Local Realtor Makes a World of Difference
Sunny Skies For Our Summer Bainbridge Market
This summer, our Bainbridge market has really picked up in the last couple of months. Inventory is getting snatched up quickly and there are often still multiple offers, though that’s not as frequent as it was in the past.
- Local agents have sold 183 single-family homes so far this year.
- Of those, 133 were sold in the 2nd quarter, up 3.9% year-over-year.
- In the last 6 months, single-family homes have sold for an average of $1,017,667 up 2% year-over-year.
- June’s absorption rate (the rate at which available homes are sold each month) for all properties was 42.7%, down 26.7% year-over-year, indicating a change toward a balanced market.
- As of July 1st, there were 112 active listings. This is the most we’ve had in the past 5 years at this time. We also have the fewest pending sales (currently 48), so there’s more inventory and fewer sales. Let’s see if this trend continues with consistency toward a market shift.
Buyers are often more selective so understanding their expectations and Bainbridge’s current pricing is important. Many buyers are looking for homes that are in pristine condition. That’s why it benefits you to work with an experienced agent who can guide you through the process.
The Latest on Condominium and Land Sales
While the condominium market has softened, we’re still seeing significant sales with 50 units sold so far this year. June’s average sold price was $491,000. When it comes to land, if it isn’t encumbered by easement issues or similar challenges, then it tends to sell quickly. The average sold price for land in June was $247,000, which is a 51.5% decrease year-over-year. However, my colleagues and I are seeing more activity on vacant land; in June alone, 3 lots were sold and 11 went into pending status.
Moving Toward a Balanced Market
Windermere’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner anticipates that we will begin to move toward a balanced market. In the past two decades, prices have either been skyrocketing or crashing. “Many [home buyers and home sellers] have never seen a normal market,” Gardner explains. “From a home seller’s perspective, they still have very heady expectations as to what their homes are worth…that needs to be tapered down a little bit. From the home buyer’s perspective, they’re seeing more choice now than they’ve seen in several years.” Despite what some media outlets say when analyzing shorter term averages, it is still a seller’s market and Gardner expects that “home price growth will continue but at a more modest pace.”
If you can dream it, we can find it.
Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling, I’m here to assist you. I can provide you with a wealth of information, from market trends and pricing to local schools and resources.
When you’re ready, I’m just a click away.
2016 Economic & Housing Forecast
The National Economic Forecast
1.The U.S. will continue to expand with real GDP growth of 2.3% in 2016.
Although a positive number, the forecasted rate of growth suggests that we will be modestly underperforming in 2016. On a positive note, oil prices are likely to remain well below long-term averages, which puts more money into consumers’ pockets in terms of disposable incomes. However, I believe that consumers are likely to continue to save rather than spend which will constrain growth. That said, there is certainly no recession on the horizon – at least not yet – and a strong dollar will act as a bit of an anchor.
2.Employment will continue to expand but the rate of growth will slow. Look for an increase of 1.6% in 2016.
We are rapidly approaching full employment (generally considered to be when the unemployment rate drops below 5 percent). As such, growth in employment has to be driven more by population growth rather than a return to employment. 2015 saw an average of around 210,000 jobs created per month and I believe that this is likely to slow to an average monthly gain of 190,000 new jobs.
3.The U.S. unemployment rate will continue to drop and end 2016 at 4.8%.
As mentioned above, we are heading toward full employment and, as such, the national unemployment rate cannot trend much lower. That said, the less acknowledged U-6 rate (which includes those working part-time and those marginally attached to the workforce) will remain elevated at around 8%, signifying that there is still some slack in the economy and room for the rate to drop a little further.
4.Inflation will remain in check with the Consumer Price Index at 1.9%.
The Federal Reserve has begun the long-awaited tightening of monetary policy and we will likely see the Fed Funds Rate continue to move higher over the next two years. Inflation has yet to respond to the low unemployment rate, but it will.
The core rate of inflation should remain in check and the overall rate could stay below long-term averages as a function of stubbornly low energy costs. Should we see a shift in OPEC’s position relative to oil supply, the overall rate of inflation could rise more rapidly. Oil prices, therefore, will remain in focus during 2016.
The National Housing Market Forecast
5.Mortgage rates will rise, but we will still end 2016 with the average 30-year fixed rate below 5%.
I am taking the Fed at its word when it says that monetary tightening in 2016 will be gradual and heavily data dependent. Accordingly, I expect only a modest uptick in long-term rates in 2016. Furthermore, as long as the Federal Reserve continues to reinvest the dividends that it is receiving from their bond holdings – which is highly likely – the yield on the key 10-year treasury will remain low and hold mortgage rates in check. This is only likely to change after the general election, therefore suggesting that rates will remain very attractive relative to their long-term averages.
6.Credit Quality – which had been remarkably stringent – will relax a little.
Access to credit, specifically mortgage instruments, has not been easy for many would-be homebuyers but that is set to change. I believe that we will see some improvement, specifically for borrowers with “near-prime” credit. This will be of some assistance to first-time buyers; however, credit quality will still be higher than it needs to be.
7.Existing home sales will rise modestly to an annual rate of 5.53 million units with existing home prices up by 4.7%.
I anticipate that we will see some improvement in overall transactional velocities in 2016, but unfortunately, demand will still exceed supply. Prices will continue to rise, but at a more constrained pace than seen over the past few years. This will be a function of modestly rising interest rates as well as slightly improving levels of inventory. I anticipate that we will see more listings come online as more households return to positions of positive equity in their homes.
8.New home sales will jump and be one of the biggest stories for 2016. Look for a 23% increase in sales and prices rising by 3.4%.
I believe that builders will start to build to the entry-level buyer, filling a huge void. Additionally, I see the total number of new home starts increase quite dramatically in 2016 as banks start to ease lending and builders start to believe that the downward trend in homeownership has come to an end. This will help to absorb some of the pent-up demand currently in the market.
9.Foreclosures will continue to trend down to “pre-bubble” averages.
Any story regarding foreclosures will be a non-story as the rate will continue to trend down toward historic averages. However, we will see the occasional uptick as banks work their way through their existing inventory of foreclosed homes. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.
10.The Millennials will start to enter the market.
There are several substantial reasons to expect an increase in Millennial buyers. Firstly, early Millennials are getting older and starting to settle down, and even with modestly higher mortgage rates, rents are likely to continue to trend upward, and this will pull many into homeownership.
Secondly, more favorable mortgage insurance premiums, additional supply from downsizing boomers, and growing confidence in the housing market will lead to palpable growth in demand from this important – and substantial – demographic.
To conclude, it appears to me that 2016 will be a year of few surprises – at least until the general election! Because it is an election year, I do not expect to see any significant governmental moves that would have major impacts on the U.S. economy or the housing market.