Friday, February 28, 2020

Wall Street Takes Profits, Mortgage Rates Dive Lower!

This has been a brutal week for stocks with the Dow Jones shedding more than 4000 points since Monday. Investors are taking profits and covering margin calls, but enough money flew towards mortgage securities to show a significant improvement over the course of the week. I wouldn't be surprised if loan officers all across the fruited plain have sore fingers from clicking the "rate lock" button all day today.

If you are a buyer your purchasing power improved this week and that means either more house or a lower payment, maybe even BOTH! My two cents is that the stock market was a bit over valued , and adding the Corona virus fears was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Once the Corona situation settles down the market will return to a robust improvement. The basic economic indicators are very solid and that should lead to a recovery in the markets by the middle of Q2. If I'm right then mortgage rates may start to creep up again around late May or June.

I don't expect to see any dramatic mortgage rate increases at all in 2020, but even a slight upward tick can drop a buyer's purchasing power by several thousand dollars. Sellers still hold the advantage in the local market under $500,000 so buyers need all the help they can get. Wall Street just handed buyers a an early Christmas present.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Spring Activity can be a Harbinger for Summer

The first teases of spring are in the air round these parts. Yesterday the temp climbed up into the mid 50s and the sun was ablaze in a clear blue sky all day. My listings all got extra action this week under all that sunshine. That is sometimes a sign of what is to come when the "real spring" arrives later in March.

The early question is whether or not we will see a rush of listings to fill the demand of a hungry market. Analysts seem to think 2020 will be a solid if not modest marketplace for Clark County, WA. New construction continues to add inventory but most of that is in the middle market with pricing between $450-$600k.

Buyers in that sub $450k market typically have to buy a smallish new house or a larger resale home. The resale market has been tight with fewer listings than buyers and that makes things a bit nerve racking for the buyer in that starter price range. Buyers in the middle to upper end of the price range can relax a bit as inventory exceeds demand at the moment. It isn't that there is a glut at the top, just a slight advantage for the buyers. Once you breech the seven figure market buyers tend to be a bit picky regardless of market conditions. 

If March and April bring an above average boost to the inventory we might settle in for a neutral summer. If owners continue to hold on to their homes it could be a long summer for those beleaguered buyers. Only time will tell, but March is just around the corner and if the 3rd month is warm and springlike, we could see the rush early this year.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Non-Local Firms Listing Properties

There has been a disturbing trend with out of area brokerages listing local properties. Although a brokerage anywhere in Washington State can list a property anywhere in the state, this business is very local. Many of these so-called discount brokerages are listing properties and not putting them on the proper local multiple listing service. A broker in Seattle is likely a member of the NWMLS that serves a large portion of Washington but does NOT serve as the local MLS for SW Washington and Vancouver. This area uses the RMLS. If a local house in Vancouver, WA is listed on NWMLS and NOT the RMLS it will not get the proper exposure in the local marketplace. In fact it is safe to say that 90% of the local Realtors® will not see it. 

This is a gross disservice to the seller who is likely to get far less attention than their home deserves. Furthermore this area is uniquely different than other areas in Washington state. I have seen homes horribly priced that sold for tens of thousands less than they should have fetched because a Realtor® based 150 miles away didn't price it right. That seller may have saved $5,000 on the commission but they left $30,000 on the proverbial table.

Real estate is a highly localized business and sellers are well advised to hire someone local. Sellers ought to make sure their home is at least listed on the local MLS. In the Clark County, Vancouver area we use the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) which has its SW Washington office in Downtown Vancouver.

Some of the worst offenders of this out of area listing debacles, are large national internet companies who are simply interested in churning commissions and not giving the seller the best opportunity to receive the highest and best offer on their property.

The old adage that you get what you pay for is alive and well in the 21st Century. Sellers often step over the proverbial quarter to pick up a nickel. With real estate that is not a 20 cent mistake, it can be a twenty thousand dollar mistake. Seller beware, a good Realtor® does not come cheaply, but that Realtor® will represent your best interest and help you have a much better outcome.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Downtown Condo Market Feeling the Squeeze

Downtown condos are becoming a scarce commodity. 2019 saw a steady tightening of the condo market in the urban core of Vancouver. Now as of this writing, there is only ONE urban condo listed in Downtown Vancouver. There are roughly 500 condo units in Vancouver's Esther Short neighborhood (Downtown & Waterfront) and just ONE is listed. One can visit my Urban Living in the 'Couv' site and track the activity over the last 12 months to see that this time last year there were dozens listed.

Downtown Vancouver is on a serious upswing. There is a positive transformation happening and many people, young and old, are looking to be a part of the sustainable lifestyle of urban living.

There is a robust level of new construction in the Downtown/Waterfront area but most of it is apartments. Thousands of new units are under construction. These new units will bring fresh residents to Downtown and many will decide to stake a claim and buy a condo.

At the moment there is one building going up on the waterfront that will offer condominiums for sale, the 12 story Kirkland Tower which is slated to have 40 units in the upper reaches of pricing. Gramor Development has plans for a 14 story condo tower with 80-82 units. That is still in the early planning stages however. It seems Vancouver is on the brink of a serious shortage of condo units downtown.

Buyers are flocking to downtown but there is nothing to buy. Now is a great time to list your urban condo in Vancouver, WA. As a specialist in the urban condo market, I have never seen it this tight. Call me if you have a condo Downtown and are thinking about selling.