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April 2011
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June 2011

May 2011

Seattle Foreclosure Auctions

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Last week, I attended a foreclosure auction at the parking garage near an office building in Bellevue. Unlike most condo auctions where you will see a crowd of a couple hundred people showing up, there were only around 50 people attending this auction. Half of them were realtors just like myself trying to get an better understanding of how foreclosure auctions work. The other half were individual investors, aspring investors, and professional group investors assisting their clients in the bidding.

For those of you who are interested in a foreclosure auction, this is how it works. When a bank forecloses on a property, they will hire a trustee (individual or company) to facilitate the foreclosure process. In King County, Trustee sales take place at two locations. One of them is in Bellevue and the other one is at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. They are required to be held in a public place so that members of the public can have access to view the auction. Auctions are held every Friday at 10am and 2pm. You can find a list of foreclosure homes on the USA-Foreclosure website. On this particular day that the auction was held, there were over 200 homes on the list. Three auctioneers were calling out in alphabetical order by the foreclosure owners' names, followed by address and then the minimum bid. 

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Seattle Rated Best City to Buy

At the risk of getting flamed for sharing positive news about the Seattle market, I figured I'd share a recent story on CNN about two economists analyzing forecasted future home prices and rental prices to see whether a city is better to rent or buy.

How much better buying will be depends on location. Of the 23 cities Beracha and Johnson looked at, Seattle is the best place to buy right now. When renters invest in portfolios that include stocks, the appreciation rate required over the next eight years there is 4.84% and the area's historical average is 6.06%.

Here's the article and here's the Seattle detail page.


Seattle Condo Market Update: April 2011

April numbers are in and in a word, things appear "unchanged."  After a nice 30% boost in sales from Feb to March, sales in April were almost identical to March.  Prices were up ever so slightly, and total listings were almost identical.  So people are still buying (though not more or less than before) and people are still selling (also no more or less than before) and they're doing it at almost the same prices.

My advice is if you need a place to live and find a great unit, there's not a lot of risk in buying now since prices are pretty stable.  However, if you're on the fence, waiting and seeing won't incur too much opportunity cost.  

It's similar advice for sellers.  Go ahead if you're ready to unload but if you hold, don't hold your breath for the market to return much higher prices.

Call it the period of condo zen....

Want to see a lot of similar bars on a chart?  Check out the pretty pics below.

Condo Listing month on month

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New Seattle Condos and Price Protection Programs

Shield As we all know, one of the biggest reasons the Seattle condo market has been struggling to get into a higher gear is buyer concerns around seeing prices drop after they purchase a unit.  In an effort to overcome this problem, some more innovative condo developers have been experimenting with price protection programs.

So how exactly do these programs work?  Well, it’s not quite as simple as a low-price guarantee you’re used to seeing at some electronics stores or other retailers.  Part of the reason is every unit is a little different so if you buy a really nice water view unit and the unit across the hallway facing another building sells for 20% below the original list price, it may be unique to that unit or the original pricing for that unit may not have been as realistic as the list price you paid.

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Multiple Offers in 2011. Seriously?

Multiple Offers

A couple of days ago, I was putting in an offer for a buyer client on a new condo in Belltown and learned that the developer received another offer while we were in legal review of some of the purchase and sales agreement addendum.

So believe it or not, we were in a multiple offer situation and had to add an escalation clause to win the condo.  At the time, I was a bit incredulous since the last time I was in multiple offer situation was back in 2007 when the condo market was still doing well. 

In this case, I knew that the condo wouldn't stay long on the market. It was priced competitively; there is a limited selection of this particular type of condo; and it's priced under $400,000 (from what I've seen, the largest pool of buyers on the market is looking at this price range). What surprised me was that the condo had been on the market for more than 3 months with no offer and this competing offer only came in just around the same time as us.  Where was this competing buyer during the last 3 months?

Apparently I'm not the only one seeing this.  During the last 30 days, a few of my colleagues have also mentioned that they were in similar situations, either getting multiple offers for their listings or in a multiple offers situations when representing the buyers.  Are we seeing a glimpse of a buyer come back? Who knows?  It may not necessary mean that it will have a significant impact on prices right now but if this kind of thing continues and happens broadly, we know prices are more likely to stay stable for a while.

Back to 2007?  Hardly. But we may be starting to see some more balance of power between buyers and sellers, at least for the best units in the sub $400K range.

-Wendy, Seattle Condo Realtor