Greater Seattle Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

Here's where I like to write my monthly real estate market updates, give tips and tricks for selling real estate and advice for purchasing a home in King County. It's always best to reach out to me early in your thought process, so I can formulate the best plan for you.  I'm ready when you are. -Elise Russo

Elise Russo in Seattle

March 27, 2020

Market Update: February 2020

In February, unknown to most of us, a silent killer was arriving here in Seattle, preparing to create mass boredom. I spent half of my adolescence in a dense redwood forest.  We had flash floods and rain that lasted for weeks.  Like most storms, there's a race to get everything you needed into the house and there's a calm in waiting for the big storm.  Then, it just hits, and everyone just stays indoors for weeks.  

As a kid, when I was indoors for what felt like years, I learned to make THE BEST most AMAZING tent/cardboard box forts with my dad.  I created games that practically got my sisters and I killed, completed Sudoku and solitaire puzzles in some serious record times, got all of my homework done without my mom having to ask 10 times.  But most of all, I liked to look up to watch and listen to the rain between the pages of my books.

I have my 30-day's of food, closed out my last transaction this week + delivered the keys just before Shelter in Place, created my gym fort, mastered a few solitaire puzzles.  Now, here I am actually doing my homework.  Just in time too, because I got a video this morning on my email from a guy I think is pretty cool, telling me to get to work.  

So here we go...

Seattle's Housing Market at a Glance

As I pushed through February, the worry about COVID-19 continued to grow.  I fielded a lot of questions, with the biggest one, is now the right time to buy?  The stock market was on a downward slide, and interest rates to purchase a home were just too good to refuse.  I have never received so many excited emails, texts and phone calls from lenders reminding me to refinance and reminding me to tell all of my clients the good news.

Year-Over-Year Change in Seattle's Real Estate Market February 2020

January's ShowingTime was released, and it showed that home viewings increased 20.2% year-over-year in showing traffic nationwide.  Knowing that there's an upswing in property showings would be a leading indicator for future home sales.  

The 2020 housing market looked to be off to a really strong start.  We all know now, things are going to be so, so much different once the storm lets up.

I always like to look at photos when someone describes something to me.  Below, is my makeshift gym.  I already had all of the equipment in storage, I just had to find a little nook to set it all up.  The other photo is my essential turkey soup starters.  Stay in doors and healthy everyone! 

For the Central Puget Sound:
King, Kitsap, Pierce 
and Snohomish Counties

  • Elise Russo's Makeshift Gym 2020Closed Sales decreased 10.6% for Residential homes but increased 5.4% for Condominium homes.
  • Pending Sales increased 35.4% for Residential homes and 61.8% for Condominium homes.
  • Inventory decreased 42.9% for Residential homes and 40.2% for Condominium homes.
  • The Median Sales Price increased 9.3% to $530,000 for Residential homes and 12.8% to $415,000 for Condominium homes.
  • Days on Market decreased 20.8% for Residential homes and 11.4% for Condominium homes.
  • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 50.0% for Residential homes and 46.7% for Condominium homes.

If you have a little time on your hands, you might like to check out one of my previous posts?  You can find them here: www.vivaseattle.com/blog

I'm Elise Russo, and I'm working hard to be your only Realtor.

Posted in Market Updates
March 20, 2020

Video Chat with Elise Russo

Hi Everyone!

I'm trying to observe our 1 meter social distancing rule.  I do however want you to know, I'm available for you in live video too.  I'm on most platforms, just text me to find my user name. See you soon!

Chat Topics:

  • What's going to happen with the real estate market after Carnivorous is done?
  • I'm concerned about how to find the best neighborhood, if I'm trapped at home.  What do I do?
  • How do I narrow down my search to show more of what I can afford?
  • Should I get qualified for a loan now or wait until later?
  • Are there going to be good deals if I wait?

My husband and I want to have coffee/tea/cocoa, happy hour or a picnic together over video chat!  Are you game?  If you are, set a time with me now :-)

Elise Russo and her husband Len Russo

Some of my favorite apps are: Facetime, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp and Zoom

Elise Russo is on Whatsapp

Elise Russo is on Zoom

Elise Russo is on FacetimeElise Russo is on Google Hangouts

Posted in Tips and Tricks
March 13, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and The Housing Market

I've been waiting on this video for a little while now.  Business has slowed down as far as showings.  Interest in purchasing a home is still alive.  Really, no one knows what's going to happen here in Seattle.  We have two different ways of looking at this, and it's through the eyes of the home buyer and the home seller. Matthew Gardner, Windermere's Chief Economics Officer offers his insights here:

Posted in Market Updates
March 6, 2020

10 Steps To Buy A Home In Washington

When you decide you're ready to make the leap and become a homeowner, there are about 10-steps to purchasing a home:

 

  1. Make Contact with Me (Elise Russo) Early - Well, you don't have to reach out to me early or even reach out to me ever.  I mean, I've known a few people that've just winged it.  What I saw was, them getting ripped off or into a neighborhood that's wasn't a good fit for them.
  2. Neighborhoods - In all seriousness, I've got resources to help you find the right neighborhood for you.  I read once, 74% of buyers loved their Realtor (even recommend them to friends and family) but most didn't use them again.  Oh my goodness!  I started to panic, I've been in the business since 1997, how come more people weren't calling me back to sell their homes?  My mind wheeled, did I drop the ball?  Ha!  I even called all of my past clients and asked if they're still loving their homes?  The ones that didn't call me back; I looked into public records to see if they still owned their home.  You know, I found nearly everyone used me as their Realtor again or were still in their homes, even today.  They love their neighborhoods, some even remodeled their homes to fit their needs.  I learned in those phone calls, you find the right neighborhood for you and then you create your forever home.  Finding neighbors you can see eye-to-eye with is priceless. I can't tell you how good it felt when I heard them thank me for helping them find those neighbors.  SOo people, let your freak fly high when you talk to me?  I want to be sure I place you with your kind of people!
  3. Pre Approval Letter and/or Proof of Funds - Note, unless you're paying cash, you can't qualify yourself.  You'll need to contact a qualified lender (parents can be qualified lenders; they'll need to show proof of funds).  Think about it this way, when you put your home onto the market to sell, you're not going to want to do a whorl wind deep cleaning for a lookie-loo.  You want to know, the people coming through your home are qualified to actually purchase it.  So, lets do an informational interview with a qualified lender:  You only want to pay X amount per month for your home?  She can tell you what your purchase price will be (with monthly taxes, HOA dues, insurance...).  You think your credit might not be good enough?  He can do an immediate credit check.  Credit Karma isn't what you'll need to rate your credit.  You're going to need a tri-merge FICO score.  The list goes on and on, let me give you a recommendation, so you can ask your questions - with no obligation to use that loan agent in the future.
  4. See Houses to Find "Home" - Once we have found your neighborhood and have your "Pre Approval Letter" or proof of funds, *eee* we can start seriously looking at homes!
  5. Pre Inspection - In a hot market, many sellers would like you to take a closer look, to make sure this is the home you really want, so they'll have a successful closing.  There's a good chance you'll need to budget for an inspector to help you do this.  This person is going to point out potential big ticket fixes, and you might decide to keep looking for the right home for you.  If you don't have an inspector, no worries, I'll recommend a good one.
  6. Win The Bid!! - Once you're comfortable with your choice for home, I'll write an offer and submit it into the running.  Before it's submitted and written, I'm going to do a bunch of research for you.  I'll pull public records, find out what's been selling in this neighborhood, look at census information and give you the tools you need to make an educated decision on value.  The asking price is only just this, an asking price.  Sometimes, it's just too low and sometimes it's way over priced.  After I'm done researching, you'll know the value and what you'd like to offer.
  7. Discovery - After we win the bid, you'll put a deposit of about 3% of the purchase price into an escrow account.  This money will later be used for your downpayment and closing costs.  The reason you need to deposit the 3%, is to show the seller you are serious about this purchase, and you need time to pull your money together and run maybe a few more inspections, before you close escrow.  
  8. Get through Escrow - If during this escrow/discovery period, you have questions, you have every right to get answers, and we will make requests.  Keep in mind, the seller also has every right to say no to your requests.  If you don't like what they have to say or you find something that doesn't sit well with you, we're going back you out of escrow, and we'll find the right home for you.  Oh!  Keep in mind, there are timelines for discovery, if you don't speak up during this process, you are at risk of loosing your deposit.  I have a really awesome transaction coordinator that will keep us on schedule.  Together, we will keep you informed of deadlines, so you are always aware, when you're at risk of loosing your deposit.
  9. Fund and Record - *Whew* Once you've made it through escrow, your loan will fund and/or you'll deposit the remainder of your purchase and closing cost money into escrow.  If this is a home you'll live in, and you're going to get a loan, the lender generally requires that you wait 3-days (in case you want to back out) before you close escrow.  If this is an investment or you're paying cash, you can close escrow right away.
  10. Move In! - When we get the (this home is on record in your name) thumbs up from the escrow agent, you're going to meet me at your new home, get the keys and write me a glowing review, because you know, I want more clients just like you :-)

~Elise Russo, your favorite Realtor (because I work hard to make your transaction a smooth one)

Posted in Tips and Tricks
Feb. 28, 2020

Cancelled: Be Social with Me in March

UPDATE:  Everything got cancelled 😢

 

I want you to know, I'd really like to meet you in person.  So, if you can find a way out to say hello, let me know?  I might be able to score you a ticket too.  If you know me at all, you know I LOVE yummy local food and staying active. 

Here's where I'll be this month:

Be social with Elise Russo in Seattle March 2020

Remember, I'm working hard to be your only Realtor.  Make contact with me when you're ready to buy or sell a home?  I'm ready when you are. ~Elise Russo

Posted in Tips and Tricks
Feb. 21, 2020

Get 50k to Fix-up Your Home to Sell

There aren't any second chances when it comes to first impressions.  When you're fixing up your home for the big sale, you want to gain the most amount of money for your investment.  Moving can put a strain on your finances, I totally understand that!

I believe so much in the power of impressions, I want you to know, when you list with me, I can provide you with concierge-level service that will allow you to make the upgrades, needed to sell your home for top dollar.

We can lend up to $50,000 dollars against your equity, with no upfront cost to you!  Together we will set your home up for the best possible selling success.

-Elise Russo, real estate broker with Windermere

 

Windermere will loan money for upgrades when you list with Elise Russo

ONE-ON-ONE CONSULTATION

We’ll walk through your home together and identify potential updates and repairs. With your timeline and needs in mind, I’ll help you decide on the improvements that will get the biggest return.

PERSONALIZED PLAN

Once we identify our top home improvement priorities, I’ll connect you with my preferred local service providers, assist with a work schedule and arrange access to your home.

HIGH IMPACT UPDATES

No matter how small they seem, even the simplest changes can make a big difference. These are the most valuable:

  • Landscaping
  • Interior and Exterior Painting
  • Floor Repair/Refinishing
  • Carpet Cleaning/Replacement
  • Decluttering
  • Window Washing
  • Professional Deep Cleaning
  • Fixture Repair or Replacement
  • Cosmetic Updates
  • Punch List Repairs
  • Plus dozens of other high-impact home improvements and services.

STAGING

When your home’s ready for its close-up, we’ll have it professionally staged, which can dramatically transform your home and boost your bottom line. In fact, forbes.com reports that staged homes statistically sell 87% faster than non-staged homes and for 17% more!

Sell your home for more money in less time with Elise Russo

Posted in Tips and Tricks
Feb. 14, 2020

Market Update: January 2020

Seattle's Housing Market at a Glance

Life is good for Sellers here in 2020.  Interest rates are the lowest we've seen in over a year, people are feeling safe in their current jobs, and more homes are being built to make up for any shortage.  Currently in Seattle, we're seeing multiple offers for homes under 500k.

Many entry level buyers can finally afford to purchase a home.  I seriously don't see entry level homes going down in value for the perceivable future.  Looking back on my life, I was super smart and waited for property values to come back up, before I bought.  Geez, I still don't regret purchasing at the higher end of the market. I live in Belltown, have killer views and room to work from home.  If you translated my current mortgage payment (that hasn't gone up for over 15 years) into rent, I'd only get me a hole in the wall, with a view of some other guy swimming around in his fishbowl apartment.

Year-Over-Year Change in Seattle's Real Estate Market January 2020

Still not convinced you're ready to purchase?  Go back and take a look at some of my previous market report blogs and look at what, Windermere and the National Association of Realtor's Chief Economists are saying, then decide for yourself.  Keep in mind, you can purchase a home for as little as 3% down + closing costs.  Let me know if you'd like to do an informational interview with one of my favorite mortgage lenders?  It will not cost you a dime, and you're not obligated to use them in the end.  You should know, I love my job; I'm not a robot, and I want you to have a good real estate investment experience.  When you're ready to make a move, I'm ready too!  Just reach out to me.

Before I show you how the real estate market's numbers are shifting, check out my photo of the month!  If you're looking to donate somewhere, I highly suggest The Pike Place Market Foundation: https://pikeplacemarketfoundation.org/what-we-do/themarketcommons/  I'm going to donate my body to Science when I no longer need it, and I'd like there to be designated places for my husband to come remember and cry for me.  SoO, I got Billie the Pig to make a hoof print in The Market floor, with my name on it :-)  They are a great organization.  I mean, did you know the Seattle Farmer's Market has a food bank, senior center, preschool and community kitchen?  Check them out.

Elise Russo at Seattle's Farmer's Market with Billie the Pig 2020 #billiethepig

For the Central Puget Sound: King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties

  • Closed Sales decreased 1.7% for Residential homes and 7.0% for Condominium homes.
  • Pending Sales increased 5.7% for Residential homes and 19.8% for Condominium homes.
  • Inventory decreased 44.5% for Residential homes and 35.0% for Condominium homes.
  • The Median Sales Price increased 11.1% to $499,900 for Residential homes and 10.3% to $375,000 for Condominium homes.
  • Days on Market decreased 12.8% for Residential homes but increased 2.1% for Condominium homes.
  • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 42.9% for Residential homes and 35.7% for Condominium homes.

If you have a little time on your hands, you might like to check out one of my previous posts?  You can find them here: www.vivaseattle.com/blog

Further Reading:

I'm Elise Russo, and I'm ready when you are!

Posted in Market Updates
Feb. 7, 2020

The New FICO Credit Scoring Rules

Finally!  There's going to be a new way for the FICO (Fair Isaac Company) to score your credit.  You know, that three digit number that says if you'll be purchase a home with a loan and dictates how good your interest rate will be?  Yep, the way this number is calculated is what's changing.  They're calling it the FICO 10 Suite. 

For most of us, this new system will give a nice credit boost, unless you are one of the ones who use personal loans for financial leverage.  The old way of scoring looked at payment history.  The new way of looking at credit will be based on the last 24-months of credit history, including timely payments and account balances.

The VP of product management at FICO said, 80-million people are going see a shift in their credit score.  Basically, half are going to get a credit boost of more than 20-points and the other half, well, it's going to suck to be you.  This new way of scoring will mainly target those who utilize personal loans.  

These changes are expected to take place this Summer 2020.  Here's what you can do win the FICO boost lottery:

  1. Lower your debt to credit limit.  ex. If your credit limit is 10,000, and your debt is 8,000, get this debt paid down somehow. 
  2. If you always have a balance on your credit card, pay it off.
  3. Make your payments on time, because they'll be reporting 24-months of your payment history.

Why are they targeting people with personal loans?  If you've read my past blogs, you know, we as a nation are borrowing way too much money.  We have seen household debt increase $92 BILLION dollars, just in the last part of 2019.  Our household debt is now, 13.95 TRILLION dollars.  #*&!, something's gotta give...  I mean, did you hear that?  13.95 TRILLION dollars.

In making these changes, FICO believes this will unleash precision and flexibility to increase predictive power for lenders.  In other words, they believe these changes will give lenders greater ability see the loans that might foreclose later down the line and avoid lending to them in the first place.  Not only do lenders want to know you'll pay your loan on time every month; they want to know you can pay that loan off too.

As always, remember, when the time comes, I hope you know, I'm working hard to be your only Realtor.  Your real estate financial plan will be more effective, the earlier you reach out to me.  For most people, purchasing real estate will be the largest financial decision you will ever make.  You do not want to mess it up!

-Elise Russo, your total real estate resource and favorite broker :-P

Further Reading: https://www.fico.com/en/newsroom/fico-introduces-new-fico-score-10-suite

Posted in Tips and Tricks
Jan. 31, 2020

Why Guest Houses are Awesome!

4-Reasons for Seattle's Real Estate Market

 

  • Affordable Housing for Renters

As you know, it's a tough market out there.  Through the years, my sister has upgraded her back pool house, by installing a kitchen and bathroom, making it into a guest house.  Many of our friends and a few family members have made their start in that cute little cottage with a view of the grape vineyard and a pool.  I've always admired her for sharing a piece of her little heaven to those who only had a few coins to spare.   

  •  More Choices for Home Buyers

There are so many kids refusing to leave the nest, having a guest house might give you a little more privacy.  I certainly enjoy my day-to-day space, even from out of town visitors.  Heck, when I bought my place here in Belltown (a neighborhood of Seattle), having an in-building guest suite was an absolute must!  Now, when friends come to visit, they can blast the heat all night long, and I don't have to feel like I'm having a hot flash, lol.

  • Energy Saving

Having a guest house that can be closed off when not in use could save you $$ in energy costs. Plus, you wouldn't have to exert personal energy telling those loud neighbors to keep it down with the noise!

  • Raises Your Property Value

When building a guest house, you raise your property value.  In fact, it's one of the easiest ways to raise your home's value.  It's even better than building directly on to your home.  With a little research and the right contractor, you are money ahead.

When you're ready to start thinking about purchasing a home, contact me early in the process?  I really like brainstorming about the many options that might work for you in the future.  Remember, when the time comes, I want to be your only Realtor!  -Elise Russo, your favorite Seattle real estate broker

P.S.  For more reading about "Additional Dwelling Units", check out, Sightline Institute for their research on the benefits of ADUs to our communities. You can read more about ADUs from Sightline on their website
Posted in Tips and Tricks
Jan. 24, 2020

According to Our Chief Economist

Every quarter our Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner gives his analysis of what's happening in the Seattle real estate market.  Let me know if you have any questions?  I'm around. -Elise Russo, your favorite Realtor ;-)

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Posted in Tips and Tricks