Seattle Economic Indicators Feed

The Standoff Continues as Sellers Refuse to Roll

Here's a good article in the Seattle Times describing "sticky pricing" and the fact that Seattle sellers are largely refusing to make giant price reductions -- even as most buyers refuse to pay 2007 prices. 

As most SCR readers know, I happen to believe that we are more likely to be in a balanced market by the end of this year than an all-out buyers' market.  In fact, it seems to me that the biggest factor will be if the rest of the country's economic jitters drag Seattle down since the local fundamentals (job growth, interstate immigration, foreign investment / weak dollar, baby boomer downsizing, etc.) bode well for demand keeping up with the supply.

Of course, I suppose I'd be retired in the south of France if predicting prices were easy and can see why others feel prices will drop further.  There certainly is no shortgage of lively discussion -- if you didn't see it, check out a recent SCR reader exchange here.   

-Wendy


The White House and Your House

WhitehouseThe mortgage and economy seem to be front and center for the Presidential candidates these days. Here are some tidbits I found from the frontrunners' websites regarding the mortgage situation and what they'd do about it.

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Democrats:

  • Barack Obama: Combat Mortgage Fraud and Subprime Loans; Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures; Create a Credit Card Rating System to Improve Disclosure; Establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to Protect Consumers.  (If you're fired up for Obama, there's a unity march in downtown Seattle this Saturday.)
  • Hillary Clinton: Foreclosure Moratorium; Freeze Interest Rates; Require Accountability.

Republicans:

  • John McCain: Cut Taxes; Cut Spending.
  • Mit Romney: Cut Taxes; Cut Spending; Government Guarantees For Larger Loans;  More Disclosure and Counseling for Consumers.

I'm curious what readers think about these candidates' plans? In my opinion, the government's job is to help consumers make decisions with as much info as possible but people who get irresponsible loans for flipping shouldn't really get bailed out.

-Wendy


Have you refinanced yet?

If you haven't already refinanced and you got your mortgage a couple of years ago, you probably should consider calling your lender.

According to this story in the Seattle Times, some bankers are reporting refinancing activity up 50%.  Bottom line: if you're not already paying in the 5's or if your loan is really big, you may want to give your lender a call and see what they can do for you.  It may be the easiest way to save a couple hundred bucks a month or increase your equity for the same monthly payment.

p.s. If I were a betting person, I might wait till next week since I suspect our man Ben Bernanke (below) will cut rates again this week.

Seattlecondoblog


Belltown Recovery?

It's still very early but I noticed there was a slight uptick in activity in the core Belltown resale market in December. 

In November, there were only two 2BR units in the $400-600K range in Belltown that went from Active to Contingent. In December, there were four units that went from Active to Contingent status (note: Decembers are historically a slower month than Novembers).

Perhaps this is an early indicator that some buyers, who seemed to be price inelastic over the last few months, are starting to pull the trigger once again. 

Stay tuned.

-Wendy


Seattle Condo Market Update

Numbers from the Northwest Multiple Listing are showing a total of 1,531 active listings on the market at the end of September. Compared to the end of the 2nd quarter, months of inventory on the market has increased from 3.5 to 4.2 months. While median prices continue to exceed the same time last year, the market has definitely glided to a slower pace with longer days on market than 2006.

Sep_07_statistics_blog

Overall in Seattle for the month of September, we are seeing a 21.08% drop in pending sales versus the same time last year. We are most likely going to continue to see slower sales throughout the fourth quarter with the slower season, existing high inventory and buyers biding their time and hoping for prices to drop.

Even though pending sales have dropped, most sellers are refusing to slash their prices by more than a few percent resulting in median prices for the month of September in Seattle still showing a positive growth of 7.57% compared to a year ago.

Check out the lively discussion on my recent post discussing the buyer and seller standoff here.

-Wendy


Market Update

Buyer_seller_condo_duel The Seattle PI wrote a nice summary of the general local market conditions.  Some good county-wide data in there.  I thought I'd share what I'm sensing in the downtown condo market.

I'm seeing many buyers - especially first time homeowners - waiting on the sidelines out of concern that prices will fall soon after they buy.  At the same time, many of my selling clients are only adjusting prices by a few percent (if at all) or deciding to lease their properties to an increasing pool of renters before putting their units on the market in 2008. 

So who is left in the market today?

Continue reading "Market Update" »


Fed cut rates!

Great news for homebuyers. The Fed cut rates by 1/2%!

"The Fed announced a cut of .50% to the Fed Funds Rate and an additional .50% reduction to the discount rate.  In the statement the Fed indicated they are concerned about the recent problems in the credit markets stating "Today's action is intended to forestall some of the adverse effects on the broader economy that might otherwise arise from the disruption in financial markets".  Unlike the last meeting, it appears that the Fed is willing to take action to support the challenged housing market."

Read more: Stocks spikes after Fed surprise with half point cut

-About Wendy


Seattle Condo Market Update

August 2007 statistics came in from the Northwest Multiple Listing service. Last month's numbers show a reduction in closed sales compared to the same time last year. Pending sales went down for Queen Anne/Lake Union/Magnolia area by 34.21% compared to same time last year. Capitol Hill/Central/Madison Park are also experiencing a drop in pending sales by 19.31%. Belltown/downtown bucked the trend, showing an increase in pending sales by 11.29%.

Aug_07_9

Overall, in Seattle, pending sales went down by 7.25%. One of the big reasons is probably buyer hesitation as a result of the sub-prime mortgage news. Many home buyers are choosing to wait to play it safe and hoping prices will drop. So far, major price reductions don't seem to be happening too much, at least not in a big way. Looking at the median price for Aug 2007 compared to July 2007, prices are still holding up even though demand has decreased for the month of August. 

Continue reading "Seattle Condo Market Update" »