Montana Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you in making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

According to the Labor Department, Montana added 4,700 new non-agricultural jobs in 2018, representing an annual growth rate of 1.5%. For perspective, the U.S growth rate is running at about 1.7%. State employment growth was a little frenetic last year, with monthly employment dropping in three of twelve months. I do not see this as a trend but I don’t expect to see any rapid rise in employment in 2019 either. My current forecast suggests that the state will see non-farm employment rise by 1.2% in 2019 (or an additional 5,800 new jobs). In December, the state unemployment rate was a healthy 3.7%, down from 4.1% a year ago.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • 1,187 homes sold during the final quarter of 2018, a drop of 13.7% over the same period in 2017.
     
  • Total sales activity rose in two of the counties analyzed in this report. The largest annual increase was in Lake County, which jumped almost 40%, from 22 home sales to 30. Sales fell in the seven remaining counties. The greatest decline was in Broadwater County, where sales were down 50% (though this only represented a drop of 11 units).
     
  • The number of homes for sale remains well below where I would like it to be, with an average of 1,530 active listings in the counties contained in this report.
     
  • Inventory levels continue to hold sales back and are not sufficient to meet demand. I am optimistic that the spring market will bring some relief to buyers by giving them more choice, but this is not a certainty.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • The average home price in the region continued to rise in fourth quarter, with a modest year-over-year increase of 1.2% to $411,783.
     
  • In addition to Ravalli County, three additional counties experienced double-digit price increases compared to a year ago. Average home prices dropped in four counties, with the largest decline in Broadwater County, but this is a very small market with few transactions so it’s prone to extreme swings.
     
  • Price appreciation was strongest in Ravalli County, where home prices rose by a substantial 35.8%.
     
  • The takeaway from this data is that although demand may be fairly buoyant, housing affordability may be becoming an obstacle.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped 45 days compared to the final quarter of 2017.
     
  • Homes sold fastest in Lake County and slowest in Madison County. In five counties — Missoula, Ravalli, Lake, Lewis & Clark, and Jefferson — days on market dropped compared to the final quarter of 2017.
     
  • During the fourth quarter of 2018, it took an average of 99 days to sell a home in the region.
     
  • The takeaway here is that, in most markets, demand continues to exceed supply.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

For the final quarter of 2018, I have moved the needle very slightly toward buyers, although it 76 clearly remains a sellers’ market. Even with the lack of available homes for sale, price growth has tapered, and this will help buyers. Housing affordability remains a concern in some markets, so I will be watching this closely as we move through 2019.

 

 

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Big Island of Hawaii Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of the Big Island real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Hawaii’s economy offered a mixed bag of growth in the fourth quarter of 2018. Employment declined 1.4% but the unemployment rate was a healthy 2.3%. Year-over-year, the economy has shed 9,300 jobs, and annual job gains have been negative for the past three months.
 

On the Big Island, employment growth dropped 2.6% and has been negative for the past five months. That said, there are 85,800 persons employed. The unemployment rate was 2.9%, up from 2.0% a year ago. The market has seen a drop in its civilian workforce since last summer, which may be artificially keeping the unemployment rate low, and there are over 3,000 job openings on the Big Island. At the present time, I am not overly concerned by the contraction in employment.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • In the fourth quarter of 2018, 742 homes sold, a drop of 10.4% compared to the last quarter of 2017.
     
  • The only market that saw growth in sales was North Hilo, which rose by a very significant 25%. But this is a small market and prone to rapid sales and velocity swings. There was a significant decline in sales in Hamakua but it too is a relatively small market.
     
  • Interestingly, this decrease in sales came as inventory levels rose 4.8%. It is possible that this is due to the 2018 volcanic eruption. I will be looking at the data as we move through 2019 to see if this is the case or if there are other reasons for the contraction.
     
  • Inventory growth continues to give buyers more choice and they continue to be far more selective — and patient — in making an offer on a home. That said, well-positioned and well-priced homes are still selling relatively quickly.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • The average home price in the region dropped 8% year-over-year to $527,997.
     
  • Affordability is clearly becoming an issue, but the drop in interest rates at the end of 2018 may stimulate buyers. I will be watching the numbers in the first and second quarters closely to see if we experience a turnaround in price growth.
     
  • Appreciation was strongest in the North Hilo market, where prices rose by 79% — again, a function of it being a very small area with limited sales. Four areas saw prices rise between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the final quarter of 2018, and five markets saw average sale prices drop.
     
  • Because of affordability issues in many Big Island market areas, I anticipate we will see home prices rise in 2019, but the rate of growth will be modest.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home on the Big Island rose two days compared to the final quarter of 2017.
     
  • The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in six markets: South Hilo, Kau, North and South Kohala, and North and South Kona. The rest of the markets in this report saw days on market rise.
     
  • In the fourth quarter of 2018, it took an average of 105 days to sell a home. The fastest moving market was in North Kohala and the slowest was Hamakua.
     
  • Housing demand is still there, but buyers are clearly taking a breather. I anticipate we will see more activity and rising sales as we move through 2019.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

For the fourth quarter of 2018, I have placed the needle close to the middle. Although we saw a drop in sales and prices versus the fourth quarter of 2017, prices rose when comparing the whole of 2017 with 2018. I will be closely watching listing activity to see if we get any major bumps as we move through the first half of the year. I remain positive about the longer-term outlook for home prices on the Big Island.

 

 

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Are You Better Off Paying Your Mortgage Earlier or Investing Your Money?

Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Unsplash

Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments.

For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere.

The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.

 

Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier

  • You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution.

If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest.

If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier.

Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run.

  • Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment.
     
  • Enforced discipline: It takes real commitment to invest your money wisely each month instead of spending it elsewhere.

 

Your monthly mortgage payments are a form of enforced discipline since you know you can’t afford to miss them. It’s far easier to set a higher monthly payment towards your mortgage and stick to it than making regular investments on your own.

Besides, once your home is completely paid off, you can dedicate a larger portion of your income towards investments, your children or grandchildren's education, or simply cut down on your working hours.

 

Advantages of investing your money

  • A greater return on your investment: The biggest reason why you should invest your money instead comes down to a simple, green truth: there’s more money to be made in investments. 

Suppose that instead of dedicating an additional $200 towards your monthly mortgage payment, you decide to invest it in a conservative index fund which tracks S&P 500’s index. You start your investment today with $200 and add an additional $200 each month for the next 30 years. By the end of the term, if the index fund had a modest yield of 5% per year, you will have earned $91,739 in interest, and the total value of your investment would be $163,939.

If you think that 5% per year is a little too optimistic, all we have to do is see the S&P 500 performance between December 2002 and December 2012, which averaged an annual yield of 7.10%.

  • A greater level of diversification: Real estate has historically been one of the safest vehicles of investment available, but it’s still subject to market forces and changes in government policies. The forces that affect the stock and bonds markets are not always the same that affect real estate, because the former are subject to their issuer’s economic performance, while property values could change due to local events. 

By putting your extra money towards investments, you are diversifying your investment portfolio and spreading out your risk. If you are relying exclusively on the value of your home, you are in essence putting all your eggs in one basket.

  • Greater liquidity: Homes are a great investment, but it takes time to sell a home even in the best of circumstances. So if you need emergency funds now, it’s a lot easier to sell stocks and bonds than a home.

 

Misael Lizarraga is a real estate writer with a passion for teaching real estate concepts to first time buyers and investors. He runs realestatecontentguy.com and is a contributing writer for several leading real estate blogs in North America.

Oregon and Southwest Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of the Oregon and Southwest Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better- informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Oregon added 30,800 new jobs in 2018, representing an annual growth rate of 1.6%. Though the job growth rate norm for the past 20 years has been 2% or more, this slowdown does not concern me. It’s to be expected at this stage in the economic cycle.
 

The Southwest Washington market (Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, and Klickitat counties) added 6,680 new jobs over the past 12 months, which represents an annual growth rate of 3.1%.
 

Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in December, matching the level at the end of 2017. In Southwest Washington, the unemployment rate was 5.2%, down from 5.3% at the end of last year.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • Fourth quarter home sales dropped 13.5% compared to the same period last year, with a total of 13,264 transactions occurring.
     
  • Sales rose the most in Coos County, which saw a 9.2% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. There was also a solid increase in Crook and Benton counties. Home sales fell most in Jefferson, Tillamook, and Skamania counties.
     
  • Year-over-year sales rose in four counties, remained static in one, and dropped in the other 21 counties contained in this report.
     
  • The drop in sales activity can primarily be attributed to rising interest rates and an increase in the number of homes for sale which is allowing buyers to take more time during their home search.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • The average home price in the region rose 5.2% year over year to $374,827 but dropped 4% compared to the third quarter of 2018. This is not necessarily a concern since we normally see a drop during the final quarter of the year.
     
  • Clatsop County led the market with the strongest annual price growth. Homes there sold for 28.8% more than a year ago. This is likely because it’s a very small market and prone to significant swings.
     
  • All but three counties experienced price growth compared to a year ago, with nine of them experiencing double-digit increases.
     
  • The takeaway is that price growth continues to slow as some markets reach an affordability ceiling.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the region dropped five days compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 but was up ten days compared to the third quarter of 2018.
     
  • The average time it took to sell a home last quarter was 75 days.
     
  • Fifteen counties saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop or remain static compared to a year ago. Eleven counties saw market time rise.
     
  • Homes sold the fastest in Washington (35 days), Yamhill (41 days), and Multnomah (42 days) counties.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Although slowing, the region’s economy is still strong, and I believe this will continue to drive demand for housing. That said, and as I mentioned in the third quarter Gardner Report, there is clearly a shift starting to occur as listings rise and sales growth slows. I do not believe this is a cause for concern, rather an ongoing move toward a more balanced market.

For the fourth quarter, I have moved the needle further toward buyers, but the market still favors home sellers.

 

 

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Idaho Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of select counties of the Idaho real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Job growth in Idaho slowed in the fall of 2018 but the state added 13,200 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 1.8%.

 

In November, the state unemployment rate was 2.6%, down from 3% a year ago. The state remains at full employment, which explains why we are seeing a slowdown in employment growth. I fully anticipate that the state will return to above-average growth in 2019 and continue its trend of adding jobs at well above the national pace.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • 5,308 homes were sold during the fourth quarter of 2018, representing a drop of 3% compared to the final quarter of 2017.
     
  • In Northern Idaho, sales rose fastest in Bonner County, where they were up a substantial 28.3% over the fourth quarter of 2017. There was a more modest increase in Shoshone County and a drop in sales in Kootenai County. In Southern Idaho, we saw modest sales growth in Valley and Blaine counties, modest declines were seen in Canyon and Ada counties, and there was a significant decline in sales in the small Payette County.
     
  • Year-over-year sales growth was positive in two of three of the Northern Idaho markets, but only two of five counties in Southern Idaho saw sales increase relative to the same period a year ago.
     
  • The slowdown in sales is likely due to persistently low levels of inventory, as well as the bump in interest rates in December. I believe that sales activity will pick back up this spring.
     

 

HOME PRICES

  • The average home price in the region rose 14.9% year over year to $335,233.
     
  • In Northern Idaho, Shoshone County led the market with the strongest annual price growth. Bonner and Kootenai counties also saw solid, double-digit growth. In Southern Idaho, small Payette County saw prices rise a very significant 34.2%, but this is an anomaly.
     
  • There were price increases in all but one county compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. The outlier was Valley County, which saw sales prices drop by 9.9%. But Valley is a relatively small market and can be prone to significant swings.
     
  • I contend that limited inventory continues to drive up home prices at above-average rates. I am hopeful we will see listings increase in the spring of 2019 and this should take some of the heat out of the market.
     

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • It took an average of 73 days to sell a home in Northern Idaho and 117 days in the southern part of the state covered by this report.
     
  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the region dropped eight days compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 but was up by ten days from the third quarter of 2017.
     
  • In Northern Idaho, it took less time to sell a home in Shoshone County, but market time rose in the other two counties covered by this report. In Southern Idaho, market time dropped across the board.
     
  • Homes again sold the fastest in Canyon and Ada counties, where it took an average of 32 and 34 days, respectively.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Job growth has slowed in Idaho, but all indicators point to 2019 being another solid year of economic and, therefore, job growth. And as we all know, employment growth leads to demand for housing. Although we have seen slowing sales, I believe this is mainly due to low levels of inventory as well as rapidly rising home prices.

I expect to see the number of homes for sale rise in the spring of 2019 and for home price growth to soften, but only modestly. However, until that happens, it remains a sellers’ market, so I have moved the needle just a little more toward home sellers.

 

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Open Your Home With the Right Tone and a Welcome Mat

Right before the guests ring the doorbell or give the front door an old-fashioned knock, they step on your welcome mat. This mat serves two purposes: catching debris and adding style. Here are some ideas for how to give this entry detail a refresh.

 

Welcome Mat 1: Caela McKeever, original photo on Houzz

 

Say Hello

A lettered mat can help you say exactly what you want to say when someone comes to your door. Obviously, nothing says hello more than the word “hello.”

The simple greeting might also draw visitors’ eyes to the ground and remind them to take off their shoes before they step inside.

 

Coordinate Colors

If you have a colorful front door, use that as doormat inspiration. If your door lacks color, maybe it’s time to paint it.

Door paint: Scarlet Ribbons, Dulux

 

Welcome Mat 2: Zack | de Vito Architecture + Construction

 

The whole mat doesn’t need to match the door. This striped mat draws on other colors found on the home’s exterior.

 

Welcome Mat 3: Rustic Porch, original photo

 

Think Outside the Rectangle

Many front doors feature rectangular doormats, but other options exist. The semicircle mat in the photo works nicely with the rustic rockers, porch swing, and shutters.

 

Welcome Mat 4: Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc.

 

Roll Out a Rug

A big, bold rug in front of the door adds color and life to this home’s entry, designed by Garrison Hullinger.

A large porch rug can also make the space feel like another room of the house. If you add a few chairs, people can stop, relax, and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, more rug means more chances for it to pick up any water or dirt from the shoes of incoming guests.

 

Welcome Mat 5: Seattle Staged to Sell and Design LLC

 

Keep It Natural

If the entry is already bursting with details, such as eye-catching hardware and light fixtures, a neutral mat will help keep the attention on them. Natural doesn’t have to mean boring.

 

Welcome Mat 6: Grandin Road, original photo on Houzz

 

Personalize the Space

This contemporary monogrammed mat is hard to miss. “Don’t be afraid to choose a doormat with personality, says Kate Beebe of Grandin Road. “Work some wit and whimsy into your entrance, and choose something that will put a smile on your guests’ faces.”

She also recommends picking a mat that covers at least three-quarters of the entrance’s width and allows the door to open easily.

 

Change With the Seasons

While you are changing the front porch decor, swap a plain doormat for a festive option.After the holidays, clean off your seasonal doormat and store it until the following year.

 

Make It Feel Like Home

Doormat options are pretty much endless, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that works for you.

Central Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of the Central Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9% — well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.

 

The counties within Central Washington have added 12,257 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing a very significant growth rate of 5.7%. A majority of that increase was in Yakima County, where total employment rose by 7.4% (or 8,500 jobs). The local unemployment rate rose when compared to a year ago from 5.7% to 5.9%. However, this increase can be attributed to a significant increase in the labor force.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • In the fourth quarter of this year, home sales throughout Central Washington rose by 2.8% to a total of 1,363 but sales were 1.7% lower than the third quarter of 2018.

  • Sales rose most in Douglas County, which had a very impressive increase of 50.5% over the fourth quarter of 2017. Yakima and Kittitas counties saw sales activity slow, but I do not see it as a pervasive trend or cause for concern.

  • The number of pending home sales was up 4.1% compared to the third quarter, indicating that closings will likely rise in the first quarter of 2019. 

  • Listing activity rose by 1.4% when compared to the final quarter of 2017. This should offer some relief to would-be home buyers. I will be interested to see how much listing activity rises as we move into the spring selling market. I believe we will see more homes for sale as we start to trend toward a balanced market in the Central Washington area.
     

 

HOME PRICES

  • Year-over-year, the average home price in the region rose 12.9% to $317,064. Price growth continues to trend well above the long-term average, but I am hopeful that increasing supply in the spring will start to cool home-price appreciation.

  • Kittitas and Yakima counties were the only areas where the average sale prices rose by single digits, suggesting that even with increasing inventory it remains a solidly sellers’ market.

  • Prices rose in all counties contained in this report compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Okanogan County stood out with a very substantial increase of 28.1%.

  • Home-price growth continues to trend at above-average rates due to supply constraints, but I hope increasing listing activity will start to take some heat off the market.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped four days compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

  • The average time it took to sell a home in the region was 71 days, up 16 days compared to the third quarter of 2018. This is to be expected in the traditionally slower winter months.

  • Three markets contained in this report— Okanogan, Chelan, and Douglas — saw days-on-market drop from the same quarter in 2017. Homes in Kittitas and Yakima counties took the same time to sell as a year ago.

  • Homes sold fastest in Douglas County, where it took an average of 43 days to sell a home. The greatest drop in the time it took to sell a home was in Chelan County, where it took 11 fewer days than in the final quarter of 2017.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

For the final quarter of 2018, I have held the needle at the same position as third quarter. Although we did see an increase in the number of homes for Chelan County sale, price growth is still well above the long-term average and the market clearly continues to favor Kittitas County home sellers.



 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Utah Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of select counties of the Utah real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Utah added 43,700 non-agricultural jobs over the past 12 months, representing a growth rate of 2.9%. For perspective, the U.S growth rate is 1.7%. Monthly employment growth in Utah has started to slow, but I attribute this to the fact that the region is essentially at full employment and it is typical to see job growth slow, especially at this stage of the business cycle. In November, the state unemployment rate was 3.2%, matching the level seen a year ago.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • 7,989 homes sold during the fourth quarter of 2018, representing a drop of 9.1% from the same period in 2017, and down 16.7% from the third quarter.

  • Total sales activity dropped in all counties contained in this report except Morgan County, which saw sales at the same level as a year ago.

  • The number of homes for sale in fourth quarter rose by a significant 16.1% compared to the same period a year ago. This increase in choice for buyers is likely the reason home sales slowed. As a result, buyers have more options and are taking their time when making the decision to buy a new home.

  • I think we’ll see the number of homes for sale rise in the spring, which should be a pleasant relief for buyers who are tired of the lack of choices.

  • A greater supply of listings will likely allow sales to grow in 2019.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • The average home price in the region continued to rise in the fourth quarter, with a year-over-year increase of 8.1% to $368,885.

  • In addition to Wasatch County, three counties saw double-digit price increases when compared to a year ago. Home prices dropped in Morgan County but it’s important to remember that small counties are subject to significant swings in value.

  • Appreciation was strongest in Wasatch County, where prices rose by a substantial 19.1%. Although this sounds extreme, it is a very small market and subject to major swings.

  • The takeaway from this data is that home prices continue to grow at above-average rates but I believe we will see a trend toward the longer-term average as we move through 2019.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in Utah rose three days compared to the final quarter of 2017.

  • Homes sold fastest in Davis and Salt Lake counties and slowest in Summit County. All counties, other than Salt Lake (-1), saw days-on- market rise when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

  • During the fourth quarter of this year, it took an average of 53 days to sell a home in the region.

  • The regional economy continues to perform very well, and this will continue to drive housing demand. That said, rising inventory levels will give buyers more choice and less urgency, which will lead to market time rising.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

For the fourth quarter of 2018, I have moved the needle very slightly toward buyers, though it clearly remains a sellers’ market. 2019 is very likely to be another good year for home sellers, but I expect to see home-price growth start to moderate.

 

 

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Eastern Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

The following analysis of the Eastern Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9%—well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.


Eastern Washington added 4,984 jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 1.1%. Although the region added jobs at a fairly healthy clip, the unemployment rate matched that seen a year ago at 5%.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • Home sales throughout Eastern Washington slowed in the final quarter of the year, with total sales down 8.7% over the same quarter in 2017 to 3,211 units.

  • Sales rose fastest in the small Lincoln County area, which increased by a significant 42.1%. For perspective, that translates to only eight additional sales. Walla Walla County was again a laggard, with a drop of 21.8%. But it, too, is a small market that can be prone to significant swings.

  • Year-over-year, home sales rose in just two counties, with the balance of the market seeing some fairly significant drops.

  • Interestingly, the number of homes for sale dropped by 15.2% from the fourth quarter of 2017. Many Pacific Northwest markets saw significant increases in inventory levels last fall, but that was not the case in Eastern Washington. That said, I anticipate we will see more homes for sale as we move into the spring selling season.

 

HOME PRICES

  • Year-over-year, the average home price in Eastern Washington rose 9.5% to $264,231. However, price growth slowed somewhat between third and fourth quarter, reporting a 2.6% drop in the average sales price.

  • Low inventory in the region continues to be a significant hurdle to many home buyers. I had hoped more homes would come onto the market in the fall, but that was not the case. The spring market should provide more choice for buyers.

  • All the counties in this report saw prices rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Whitman County took over the number one spot, with an annual price increase of 28.9%.

  • The takeaway here is that home-price growth has cooled a little but remains well above the long-term average.

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average time it took to sell a home in Eastern Washington in the fourth quarter of 2018 was 63 days.

  • The average amount of time it took to sell a home in Eastern Washington dropped nine days compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.

  • Every county other that Lincoln (+2days) saw the time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same quarter in 2017.

  • Notably, it took 17 more days to sell a home in the fourth quarter than it did in the third quarter of last year, but I attribute that to seasonality.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The number of homes for sale dropped off in recent months and housing markets throughout Eastern Washington remain very tight. The overall trend continues to favor home sellers, so I am moving the needle slightly more in their favor.

 

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governor's Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

More Than a Yard: Finding the Right Home for Your Pooch

For many house hunters, a dream home isn’t complete without being a good fit for the family dog. Some might see the fenced in yard, and consider the box checked. However, if you are looking for your next home, you may want to look a little deeper to be sure the fit is right before signing on the dotted line. 

It’s worth taking a little extra time to consider your pooch in a little more depth. Here is a quick checklist of considerations to be sure you find the right fit for your canine companion:

 

What’s in a Yard?

 

A fenced yard is, of course, ideal for many dog owners. It gives you the ability for off-leash play, a must for meeting the exercise needs of active breeds such as Border Collies or Labradors. But not all yards are the same. Here’s a quick checklist of what to look for:

  • Check the fencing to be sure it is secure. Factor in any repair costs into the cost of the home since they will need to be addressed right away. 
  • Are there flower beds with potentially toxic plants that will need to be moved outside of the fenced area? Examples include many spring bulb favorites such as daffodils, tulips, and crocus, as well as some bushes such as azaleas. 
  • Is there a nice shady spot so your pooch can find shelter from the heat on a hot summer day? 
  • Is there access to water for an outdoor bath? 
  • Will delivery people be able to access your main entrance when the dog is outside without entering the fenced part of your yard? It is easy to overlook, but this can become a major annoyance if you do a lot of online shopping. 

 

Indoor Space Considerations

 

It won’t always be a beautiful sunny day, even in your dream home. Make sure your new home will have enough space for a little indoor play on rainy days and during colder winter months. A long hallway can make a great runway for a game of fetch when getting outside just isn’t practical. 

Likewise, consider the needs of aging or injured dogs. Does the layout of the home require going up and down stairs to get to the most used areas of the home? This can be a major problem for some special needs dogs, and a deal breaker for some pet owners. 

Finally, most dog trainers recommend that every dog has a little space to call their own during times of stress. This may be as simple as a corner of the living room with a comfy dog bed or crate. If you have a puppy, however, a space that can be puppy-proofed and cordoned off (with appropriate flooring for potential accidents during potty training) is in order. 

 

Go for a Walk

 

It may be impractical to include a dog walk for every home you look at while searching for your dream house. However, once you are down to a short list, it is time to actually take your dog on what is likely to be the daily walk route. Make sure this is a walk you would feel comfortable making every day, or even letting the kids take. 

Be on the lookout for hazards: A dangerous intersection, a portion of the walk that requires walking in the road, or a neighbor who lets their dog run right up to the curb with invisible fencing (a recipe for territorial fights with leashed dogs passing by). A drive through is unlikely to reveal these walk spoiling annoyances. In addition, look for evidence of good lighting for evening or early morning walks. 

 

Nearby Canine Amenities

 

If you are moving to a new part of town or relocating to a new state altogether, it is worth doing some research to find out where the pet services are located. Depending on the services you tend to use, it can make a big difference in your quality of life to be able to take advantage of nearby conveniences. 

Think about what services you are likely to use most, and check on Google Maps to locate:

  • Veterinarians
  • Dog boutiques (particularly important if you buy specialty food)
  • Grooming services
  • Doggy daycare and boarding
  • Pet sitting and dog walking services
  • Dog-friendly restaurants (BringFido.comis a great research tool for this)
  • Dog parks and dog-friendly paths for long walks

 

Flooring

 

Although luxurious hardwood flooring adds a great deal of ambiance to a home, it will have the opposite effect if it gets scratched up from the nails of a rambunctious canine. Large and even medium sized dogs can easily create unsightly scars in hardwood floors that can only be fixed by a professional who will need to sand away the wood then stain and refinish it. It’s a costly fix! 

Modern carpets can generally hold up to doggy traffic. However, think about where you will be coming in and out of the house with your pooch to be sure you have a place to wipe muddy paws first on rainy days. A mudroom or garage entrance can easily stow a few extra towels for the job. 

Tile and high-quality laminate flooring are the most durable as both will resist scratching and are easy to clean. 

 

Consider Pet-Friendly Condos and Planned Communities

 

If you have a truly pampered pooch, one way to go the extra mile is to ask your realtor about dog-friendly communities in your area. Many condominium complexes, for example, have pet services right on site. Pet grooming, pet-sitting, dog walking services, and even a fenced in dog park and/or pool is available in some areas. 

Work with a Knowledgeable Realtor

 

Make sure to let your agent know upfront that you have a canine member of your family to consider during the house hunt. If there are certain “musts” such as a fenced yard, or proximity to veterinary services, be sure to put that on the table upfront to help your realtor find a home that works for you and your furry friend. 

 

Sharon is the lead author at wileypup.com. She received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech and has worked as a professional dog trainer for over 10 years.