Whidbey Island Real Estate Information
Updates, news and information about Whidbey Island Real Estate.
This article is written by one of our experienced agents, Gil Daigle.
I got a flu shot last week. Because it was a workday, I was wearing my nametag, which advertises me as a Realtor®. The nurse who was giving me the shot started to talk about real estate. The conversation started out like all of these conversations do with the nurse asking me “How’s the market?” I gave my stock answer that it could be better and then went on to say what a great time it is to buy real estate. I talked about the depressed prices and the low interest rates. When I was finished, he told me a story.
A Remarkable Story
Last November he and his wife started to invest in real estate. Between November 2011 and April 2012 they purchased four condominiums in Kirkland for $300,000 cash. He went on to tell me that all four are rented and they generate $4,000 a month. After condominium fees and other expenses, the monthly net is $2,500. A very quick and basic calculation indicates this is a 10% return on his investment per year. You might be asking yourself “so what?” The simple answer is where else can you get 10% interest on an investment that will increase in value.
What Other Investments Are Available?
I searched the Internet and discovered the best interest rate you can get for a certificate of deposit is 1.1%. The big catch is you must deposit $25,000. The stock market might be the answer. Unfortunately, the average gain of the Dow Jones Industrial average since 2000 is only 2.57% with the big catch being its wild fluctuations. In 2003, the Dow gained 25.32%; however, in 2008 it lost 33.84%.
Do we all have $300,000 cash on hand to invest? I’m guessing the answer to that is no. However, interest rates are very low even on investment properties. Check with your banker for rate information. Talk to me about the availabilities of property. Whatever your circumstances it make good sense to think about investing in real estate.
If you are a renter, take the plunge and buy. If you have a good credit rating, there are multitudes of financing opportunities available. Talk to your banker and see what works for you. Then talk to me, I’m sure I can find you something you will like.
We Are In A Unique Period of History.
We are in a unique period of history. Since World War I interest rates have been this low only once, between 1933 and 1950. Remembering your U.S. History that was the Great Depression and World War II. Currently the US economy is down and the government is doing everything it can to bring about a recovery. These real estate conditions will not last. Get your piece of the American Dream while is it at its most affordable!
Top 10 ‘Turnaround’ Housing Markets
Western states continue to dominate, showing some of the fastest paces of recovery in the nation’s housing markets. With inventories falling, national median list prices increased 2.54 percent year-over-year during the third quarter, Realtor.com reports. Whidbey Island is experiencing some of the same tendencies with decreased inventories.
The site released its rankings of the top 10 turnaround towns, based on third quarter housing data of median list price increases, inventory levels, and employment rates.
- Oakland, CA
- Sacramento, CA
- San Jose, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
- Bakersfield, CA
- Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA
- Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
- Fresno, CA
- Miami, FL
What is exciting about this is that with the Seattle/Bellevue market improving, it has a ripple effect and will help the real estate market here on Whidbey Island.
Get a Great Agent - Oddly enough, I happen to know one, so can help you with this step. Call me for the inside scoop! However, if you DO want to shop around, keep in mind that you need a real estate agent who is highly visible if you truly want to sell your home. I would encourage that you ensure that your agent is a Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors.
Marketing is not just done with signs, classified advertising and open houses anymore. Nowadays you need someone well-versed in social media, listing syndication, and internet marketing. In fact, if you have a Facebook page, you can even post your home for sale to your profile to gain as much exposure as possible. Combine those technical details with THE most informed agent in your town, and you are sure to have a winning combination.
Do your research and ASK why you should choose to be represented by the agent you interview – and make sure you like the answer.
Know Your Pricing & Price to Sell - Your real estate agent should be able to advise you on this, but if you are in a hurry, don’t be afraid to ask a little less. Listing at 10% below your “wish” price could get more offers in record time and actually increase your sale price to what you would have originally hoped to list at. You’ll also waste less time having to negotiate counter offers from buyers who think they can “talk you down.” Also, when considering offers, remember to take the one most likely to lead to a sale (your real estate agent should advise you on this, as well).
Curb Appeal - Make your home beautiful on the outside and on the inside. It is much easier to sell a home quickly if it looks well-maintained and CLEAN. Do not scrimp on gardening or maintenance at this time. Your home for sale needs to be in tip-top shape!
Today’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS) compiled by Freddie Mac showed a slight decrease or stay in mortgage rates. If you are in the market to buy a home, now is an excellent time to lock in a great rate for purchasing a home.
Continued low interest rates create more opportunities for home buyers who can qualify.
- A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage currently averages 3.55% (with an average 0.7 point) in comparison to last week’s 3.59% and the 4.12% fixed rate mortgage offered at this time last year.
- The 15-year fixed rate mortgage remained the same, at an average 2.86% (with 0.6 point), versus the 2011 15-year fixed rate of 3.33%.
- The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage was down slightly, as well, averaging 2.75% (with 0.7 point) instead of last week’s 2.78% and last year’s 2.96%.
- The 1-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage dropped a bit, too, coming in at 2.61% (including an average 0.4 point), rather than 2.63% one week ago and the 2.84% seen in 2011.
Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac Vice President and Chief Economist explained, “Mortgage rates were little changed over the holiday week amid mixed economic data releases. Although consumer spending rose 0.4% in July, representing the largest gain in five months, the core price index was unchanged suggesting little threat of inflation. Consumer confidence picked up slightly in August according to the University of Michigan, but remained below this year’s peak in May. And the manufacturing industry contracted for the third consecutive month in August.”
So, taking all that into consideration, now may be the perfect time for you to sell or buy a home
You may have noticed more “for sale” signs around Whidbey Island of late and that is a sign of change – of positive change – according to Fannie Mae! The housing market is showing definite signs of improvement which is good news, regardless of whether you are a buyer or seller.
The Fannie Mae Economic & Strategic Research Group reports a “modest growth” trend through the rest of 2012. Despite an uncertain job market and lowered consumer spending in the first quarter, the group is still forecasting a 2% increase in the gross domestic product growth projection, which is excellent for real estate and for you, if you are interested in buying or selling a home!
Fannie Mae’s Chief Economist Doug Duncan reported that, “Despite signs of deteriorating momentum for economic activity, housing continues to be a bright spot as news from the housing market has been relatively upbeat, presenting a rare upside boost to the economy.” The report went on to state that home sales have increased 9% in the last year and that single family homes are selling for 20% more than they did in 2011.
Combining those statistics with the National Housing Survey released last month, which showed greater confidence in homeowners about the real estate market, means that a turn-around is in progress. In fact, those polled showed a 6 percentage point increase in their desire to buy, an all-time high as compared to normal poll statistics gathered over the last two years. Visit Fannie Mae online to access the survey results and see other recent reports on the housing market.
Selling a home can be quite challenging at times, causing sellers to question what they can do to make the sale occur more quickly. Service providers such as home stagers, organizers, and professional clutter eliminators can all offer assistance, but many sellers are also considering the art of feng shui, through consulting services or as a do-it-yourself technique. Feng shui offers some universal principles that can benefit in selling a home, whether you subscribe to tenants from the form or compass school, or prefer the eight mansion Bagua theory, so utilize the ones that work best in your home. The overall goal is to create “positive chi” or energy flow in each room of your home.
This quote from A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style, by Tim Gunn, can help you understand how something as seemingly insignificant as a closet can affect you and your potential buyer. “Closets are where we hide things: skeletons, forbidden loves, terrible birthday gifts we couldn’t return. It is for this reason that deciding what to wear while staring into those murky depths can be not just daunting, but emotionally exhausting as well.” Using feng shui techniques, you can clear the clutter, along with the negative memories and energy, creating a home that will sell more easily. On that note, let’s move to 5 real tips that will give you positive emotional energy while readying your home for sale.
- #1 Open the windows and doors. Let a breeze blow through your home to clear the negative energy and refresh you as you begin your work.
- #2 Step outdoors onto your walkway, the entrance of your home. What do you see first when you walk into your home? Clear any cobwebs and dust and make sure nothing is blocking the entrance. If you have to step over something, remove it.
- #3 Add energy with greenery. Whether an indoor or outdoor plant, make sure your home feels vibrant through adding plant energy. You can do this through exterior landscaping, by adding fresh flowers to the entry, or with the addition of indoor plants.
- #4 Add positive energy through art and movement through proper mirror placement. There are tons of books that can guide you through this step, however, remember that the goal is to reflect positivity and not overwhelm or create clutter in your home for sale.
- #5 Clear the clutter. Cull what you don’t need and create a “spa feel” throughout your home in all rooms. Counters should be free of objects and papers, furniture should be placed to allow for ease of movement. Any obstacles to interior door entrances should be moved.
While these tips may not offer a “cure all” to getting your home sold, they can definitely point you in the right direction. Stop by the library and get a few books on feng shui to increase your knowledge. As you do, take care to notice your landscaping and apply some shine and good chi to your Home for Sale sign, too.
Each day technology becomes even more impressive as new tools, products and apps are rolled out that truly have a place in your daily life. It can be exciting and exhausting to try to find the ones that will benefit you. As a homebuyer, it can be overwhelming to narrow down all the choices. With that in mind, I’ve made my real estate website tech and mobile friendly in the hope that you will find the results you need in your search, however, when it comes to buying a home, these apps may of benefit to you as well.
Many of these apps are even offered free of charge, although they may request your location information in order to produce the results you desire. If you want more specific information or ideas on specialized apps for your tech devices, please give me a call so we can brainstorm on how I can help meet your real estate needs. In the meantime, though, check these out!
Not sure where you want to live?
- Nabewise Get to know neighborhoods in-depth, complete with pictures, reviews and ratings ond rankings on the things you care most about.
- GreatSchools Get to know local school options and read reviews by staff and parents of children attending the schools. Schools are also scored based on scores and ratings.
- Yelp Find the best restaurants, shopping, and entertainment in the area you are researching directly from the people who live there. A true “insider’s view.”
Trying to keep track of everything?
- Evernote Keep track of your buying process, including the information on homes you have seen, complete with your personal notes!
Want to compare?
- House Hunter This tool allows you to set priorities on your wants and needs and match them to homes you are considering with the feature list and also has a mortgage calculator built in.
- Trulia – Easy to use and even includes a help button! Depending on your mobile device, you can check and compare listings and even search by feature using your voice.
Looking for actual numbers?
- Zillow Zestimates and make me move allow you to get an idea of what homes cost on any street and even permit you to make offers to home owners who do not have their property for sale.
- Realtor.com Get stats on new homes, sold homes, and homes for sale easily and quickly, including price changes in any neighborhood.
Every week, we field a number of questions from our VA buyers regarding VA loan questions. VA is an outstanding loan program and we would like to make this information available to all of our readers. Here are some of the top questions we respond to.
Q: How do I deal with bad credit?
A: Bad credit is a common challenge. In order to qualify for VA financing, military home buyers must have at least a 620 credit score. This minimum can be a stretch for those with a past bankruptcy or foreclosure. We work closely with credit-challenged military buyers. Rather than dismissing applicants with low credit scores we partner with the potential borrowers to help point them in the right direction to repair their credit rating and position themselves to qualify for the loan.
Q: What if my spouse has bad credit?
A: All VA loan borrowers and co-borrowers will be under close scrutiny by a lender. Credit scores for both applicants have to measure up to the 620 minimum. It may be advisable for a potential buyer to obtain a loan without a co-borrower, provided the solo borrower can afford the mortgage payments and meet all criteria.
Q: What can I buy with a VA loan?
A: VA loans can only be used to finance primary residences (up to a 4-plex if the veteran lives in one unit). Vacant land and commercial properties are ineligible. It is possible to finance new construction with a VA loan, but only through certain lenders.
Q: What are current VA loan rates?
A: It’s not uncommon for VA loan interest rates to be lower than conventional loan rates. But as with any loan, the interest rate on a VA loan will shift with the market. Borrowers can get a sense of VA rates during the pre approval process.
There are many local lenders and qualified real estate professionals here on Whidbey Island that can help with the VA process. If you or someone you know has questions that aren’t answered here, there are many available resources available locally. We are proud to serve our military and our veterans.
After four years of a downward trend in real estate sales on Whidbey Island, the real estate market seems to finally be stabilizing. After reviewing the first quarter statistics for 2012, it is evident that the number of housing sales is pretty consistent with the sales from the first quarter of 2011, especially on the north end of Whidbey Island. Prices though, are still softening a little, but the lower end priced homes are selling with less amount of days on the market. That is a good sign, meaning that first time buyers are entering the market, which must happen so that move up buyers can then purchase.
As we begin the second quarter of the year, sales pending has increased slightly. Talking with local agents, it seems that consumer confidence is improving and that there are more and more people considering buying instead of renting homes. That is very good news, since the housing industry affects so many people in our communities.
All in all, I am cautiously optimistic about the real estate market for Whidbey Island. I hope that you are also. I really believe the worst is behind us. Wishing you a fantastic future and looking forward to keeping you informed of our local real estate news here on beautiful Whidbey Island.
Owning a home on Whidbey Island is more than a financial investment. Owning a home is a place for making memories, a place to invite friends, a place that you can call your own. Raising a family in your own home creates so many fantastic memories and experiences. Playing ball in the front yard. Having friends over for a bar-b-que and just relaxing and laughing after a day of mowing the lawns or working in the garden. Taking time after work to sit on the front porch and visit with your spouse and children. What great memories can be made living in your own Whidbey Island home or where ever you may live. Home ownership is still the part of the Great American Dream.