All posts by Kassi Simonsen

Whatcom County & a Complete NWMLS Market Snapshot of September 2019

Earlier this month, the entire Northwest Multiple Listing Service provided us with a detailed snapshot of the housing market. I have provided that report below but wanted to first compare the data given to what we saw specifically in Whatcom County last month and what we can expect heading into the 4th quarter of 2019.

According to the NWMLS, there was just over 2 months of available inventory in the entire database, where in Whatcom County the months supply was 2.5, up 8.7% from this time last year. Lynden has been gradually increasing inventory levels since last September and has climbed up to 2.8 months, 47.4% jump year over year! In a balanced market, we generally see 4 to 6 months of inventory, so demand continues to out way supply considerably.

Adversely to the entire MLS, the median sales price of homes in Whatcom County this September was right around $380,000 and Lynden was slightly lower at $375,000. Closing prices in all three areas are climbing with over 5% increases year over year.

Of the 8,000 residential and condominium properties sold in the entire MLS, 4% of that was in Whatcom County with 314 total closed sales in the month of September.

Why it’s Smart to Buy During the Holidays!

Hello! Happy Tuesday and the 1st day of October! We think that it’s now officially acceptable to embrace the fall season. Go hang the autumn decor, sip on all things pumpkin spice, and don’t forget to turn those heaters on cause it’s getting chilly outside!

This time of year tends to be hectic for many people as calendars fill up with family get togethers, company parties, and all kinds of necessary end of year tasks. The majority of people are busy and have put their goals of buying a home on the back burner. If you are serious about getting into a new home before the new year, it couldn’t be a better time to hunker down and get looking!

The competition will continue to drop as the holidays near, so your chances of getting into a multiple offer situation is significantly less. Also, those that are keeping their house on the market or even just now listing it are likely highly motivated to sell before the new year! Keep a look out for competitively priced inventory and frequent price drops as sellers get more anxious to find a buyer.

We want to make sure you are ready to move forward quickly, so here is some professional advice we recommend taking to best prepare for buying a home. It may have been a few years since you purchased property or maybe this is your first time. Things have changed a bit and it pays to be aware of these changes. Since the recession and the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, banks have become more stringent in their lending standards which has an effect on people buying a home. Here are some things you can do now to prepare:

  • Get a copy of your credit report – go to annualcreditreport.com and download a free report from each of the three credit agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review and make sure everything is accurate. If there are discrepancies, get them cleaned up.
  • Determine your down payment source – will you be using proceeds from your current home for your down payment? A savings account? Borrowing money from a family member? Receiving a gift from a family member? Different paperwork is involved with each which your lender would be happy to go over with you.
  • Meet with a lender – a quality lender has your best interest in mind and wants to help get you set up with a loan program that fits into your budget. Sitting down with a lender gets you honest and professional feedback in regards to your debt to income ratio, credit history, and a comfortable price range.

We want to help facilitate this next step in your life, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call for further information on a property of interest or if you’d like us to set up a specific search. Our goal is to get you in that new home without the stress that can come up when making such a large purchase. Enjoy your holiday season and remember we are just a phone call away!

Affordability is not the issue…

A recent study performed by Corelogic found that an increasing 40% of people labeled affordability as the #1 obstacle to becoming a homeowner. Yes, property values are rising, but the actual price of a home isn’t the only factor to consider. Purchasing power is a significant piece as well.

What many people are failing to consider is that mortgage rates have dropped considerably over the year making buyer’s purchasing power very strong. Mark Fleming also noted, “If the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage declines just a fraction more, consumer house-buying power would reach its highest level in almost 20 years.”

In the most recent Freddie Mac survey, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 3.49% during the week ending September 5, the lowest weekly average since October 2016. The average rate in August was 3.62%, the ninth consecutive month of falling mortgage rates!

Taking this all into consideration, this fall is actually a great time to get back in the housing market. Give us a call if you have questions about this information or the housing market in general!

The Time to Sell May Be Sooner Than You Think!

Congratulations! You’ve officially closed on your new forever home and can’t imagine ever wanting to move. Then, life happens and two years in, you’re playing with the idea of selling. We understand that changes or obstacles might mean putting your home on the market sooner than planned! Whatever the situation, the question that may come to mind is, “How soon can I sell this house?”

image and info courtesy of Realtor.com

A general rule of thumb that we relay to our clients is to wait at least five years before playing with the idea of selling. Five years is the typical amount of time it takes to break even on your initial investment. However, if your situation requires an early sell, it’s not the end of the world. An article written this past week on Realtor.com has come up with three quality exceptions to the five year rule:

  1. Your property value goes way up! Occasionally, the market gets hot and property values jump quickly. The current market is a good example of this as home values in Whatcom County have been on a steep and steady incline for a few years now! If you bought a couple years ago and notice your property value rising drastically, we would suggest first figuring out where it is you plan to go next. Moving to a lower-cost community would be beneficial, but you may not be able to get a nicer place in the same area without also paying a higher mortgage. Also, keep in mind that selling a property that you’ve owned for less than two years generates a capital gains tax. Take a look around and run the numbers before taking the plunge!
  2. The neighborhood is going downhill. If you notice a clear downward trend in the quality of the area and homes surrounding you, it might be wise to get ahead of it. Neighborhood characteristics are usually a major attraction or potential deterrent for a buyer, so a declining one could greatly reduce the value of your home. Factors to consider about your neighborhood include it’s distance from noise, factories, malls, new construction projects, or anything that disrupts the quality of life. Ask yourself if any changes are devaluing your home and if yes, get out of there.
  3. You just really hate living there! Although making a profit on the sale is important, that is not the only factor to consider. Your happiness is just as significant if not MORE important than the former. Before pulling the plug, you might consider turning the house into an investment property so that you can stop living there, allow someone else to pay your mortgage and continue to grow your net worth. Sounds like a win, win!

We encourage you to ask the hard questions and explore your options. If you’re unsure what the best decision to make is, we are here to listen and offer professional advice on the matter!

Celebrate Labor Day the Right Way!

The summer season doesn’t technically end for a few more weeks, but since school is officially back in session, it sure feels like fall is here already! This beautiful weather we have had this week says differently, so why not take advantage and get the most out of this last bit of sunshine?!

If you’re in Whatcom County for this long Labor Day weekend, there is a full events calendar provided by Whatcom Talk showcasing all the great local happenings. You can check that out right HERE, but if you’re looking for a few ideas, we’ve got you covered:

  • The Western Washington women’s volleyball team is starting up their preseason games and will be battling against British Columbia this Saturday, August 31 at 1 PM in Carver Gym. Come check out the newly remodeled facility and cheer on your local Vikings!
  • Stock up on seasonal produce from local farmers and artisans at the Ferndale Farmer’s Market. You can find the vendors every Friday from 2-6 PM in the Ferndale Grocery Outlet parking lot through mid-October!
  • Take a drive out to Historical Fairhaven to hear a performance by the Atlantics in the Village Green on Sunday afternoon. The Atlantics will be performing jazz and blues music from 2-5 PM and all ages are welcome! Free to attend.

Whatever you end up doing this weekend, enjoy the holiday! Relax and celebrate all the contributions and achievements American workers have made to allow our country to prosper the way it is today.

Now’s the Time to Buy; Here’s Why!

A common question we are getting from our clients lately is whether or not we see a recession coming that will affect the housing market? Well, if you take a look back at the last 5 recessions we’ve gone through here in the U.S., only two of those have lead to a housing collapse.

Last 5 Recessions:

1980 – prices increased 6.1%

1981 – prices increased 3.5%

1991 – prices decreased 1.9%

2001 – prices increased 6.6%

2008 – prices decreased 19.7%

Many economists believe that an economic slowdown is on the horizon, but that does NOT mean a depreciation in home prices is coming as well. Actually, the latest projections from the Home Price Expectation Survey show an annual appreciation in line with historic norms. Don’t fall victim to the belief that prices will drop any time soon.

Along with the steady market conditions, mortgage rates are down nearly a FULL percentage point since this time last year, according to data from Freddie Mac. Actually, rates have declined to the lowest levels in several years and it’s the perfect time to lock in your mortgage! If you’re still on the fence, give us a call with your questions and we’re happy to discuss the details of how much your mortgage rate will affects monthly house payments.

Housing Market Snapshot

Over the past couple months, the local housing market continues to show signs of a strong seller’s market but at a slower pace than we saw throughout 2018.

In July, the average sales price of a home in Whatcom County was $439,277 with a median price of $394,250. Year over year, prices of residential housing has increased 7.2%.

Although inventory is still drastically lower than what would reflect a balanced market, there has been a steady increase from last October! Last month there were 612 residential properties on the market, 2% below what was for sale in July last year and 10% below inventory levels in July 2017.

Another statistic worth noting is the average days on market for residential properties in the area. The average home in Whatcom County is listed and sold in 40 days. There has been a gradual decline in market time since 2014 when homes were taking double the amount of time to sell!

We understand, this market can be intimidating without someone standing alongside you helping to guide the way! The home you’ve been looking for is out there, and we would love to put our local knowledge and expertise to work for you. Give me and my team a call if buying or selling a home in Whatcom County is your goal. Let’s get you where you want to go!

The Most Detrimental Mistake Potential Buyers Make!

After being in the real estate industry for such a long period of time, we’ve heard various reasons from clients as to why now isn’t a good time for them to buy. One of the most common excuses we hear from people is that they are waiting for prices to go down… don’t fall victim to this strategy!

We understand the thought behind this decision, and it makes sense theoretically. However, there are other factors at play that make the waiting game not very beneficial at all. One important factor being fluctuation in interest rates. What if prices drop but interest rates increase? Take a look at the table below to find out if you really will be saving money by waiting.

Image courtesy of Caliber Home Loans

The example above shows that even if prices were to drop 5% in 6 months and even 10% in a year, rates are projected to rise in the near future. Conclusively, if prices drop 5-10% with rates increasing, there will be little to no savings in your monthly mortgage payment.

It is our duty to ensure our clients are educated when it comes to buying a home, and we don’t want you to be mistaken when it comes to potential market changes. Currently, mortgage rates have reaches the lowest levels in over two years, and we encourage you to consider locking that rate in if you’ve been on the fence about buying a home!

We also recommend meeting with a reputable loan company such as Caliber Home Loans to discuss your qualifying options! One of their managing loan officers, Casey Porter works here at our office part time, and we couldn’t commend him enough for the care he shows our clients from the beginning stages to getting the keys to their new home. Let’s set up a meeting with Casey, and get you closer to finding the home you’ve been waiting for!

Give us a call if you’d like more information about this, and find more on Casey Porter HERE.

Summer in Whatcom County

Rain in July?! Sure this is a good thing for the plants and crops, but we’re ready for the sun to come back. Summers here in Whatcom County are full of events and celebrations bringing the community together with parades, fairs, good food, and even better company. Here are just a few of the annual happenings going on in the area!

Image courtesy of Mount Baker Experience

Downtown Sounds: Wednesday, July 10-August 7th, 5:30PM-9:00PM

Bellingham’s favorite music festival is celebrating its 15th Anniversary Make it a priority to attend at least one of the free outdoor concerts this year going on Downtown Bellingham every Wednesday evening this summer until the beginning of August. There will be entertainment from popular bands, food vendors, local beer and wine garden, and the family friendly game zone featuring spike ball, corn hole, giant Jenga, and more. Find more info on the 2019 lineup at their Facebook events page or visit www.downtownbellingham.com/events.

Image courtesy of My Ferndale News

Picnic at Pioneer Park: Friday, July 26-28th

Also known as Old Settlers Weekend, this Picnic is a celebration of the rich local history that has become another summer highlight for many residents. The annual event takes place at Pioneer Park in Ferndale featuring live music, the Grand Parade, a Classic Car Show, local food and craft vendors, and even a softball tournament! Come by and admire the history of early settlers and a great sense of community!

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Northwest Washington Fair: Monday, August 12-17th, 9:00am-10:00pm

Carnival rides, music, animals, rodeo, demo derby, and fair food! What more could you ask for in the best 6 days of summer here in Whatcom County? The Northwest Washington Fair has highlighted the agriculture of the Whatcom County area for over 100 years featuring dairy and beef cattle, horses, and other livestock. Besides the annual Demo Derby and Lynden Rodeo, this year’s grandstand entertainment includes Larry the Cable Guy, Mark Chesnutt, and Cheap Trick. Head to www.nwwafair.com to purchase tickets to an event or to find deals on admission and carnival wristbands!

Celebrate the 4th of July on Front Street!

Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July Truck Show and Block Party is going on this Thursday right here on Front Street in Lynden. Celebrate the holiday with friends and family while enjoying the variety of events going on starting at 11 in the morning!

To kick things off, the annual Truck Show will go from 11-2 and spectators can vote for their favorite truck. There will be a People’s Choice and a Young-People’s Choice award presented after the show.

During the truck show, there will be a Beer Garden outside of Overflow Taps, live music with J.P. Falcon Band and DJ Sean Taylor, delicious BBQ by JT’s Smokin BBQ, and fun for the kids including face painting and an ice cream truck.

We’ll see you there!