Have you noticed that simply being by the water induces a sense of calm and well-being over you? Is this all placebo or is there actually some science going on here? People say living next to a lake, river, sea or ocean actually improves their happiness – and according to Dr. W. Christopher Winter, author of The Sleep Solution, living by water can increase creativity and help you sleep more soundly which is intriguing – but not enough evidence to pick up everything and move towards the water!

However, biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols actually decided to explore this phenomena even further, and wrote a book called Blue Mind discussing the effects a body of water can have on a person’s overall mental health. In his studies, Nichols states water actually “lowers stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts. Aquatic therapists are increasingly looking to the water to help treat and manage PTSD, addiction, anxiety disorders, autism and more.” And if the research leading Nichols to this conclusion isn’t convincing enough, Hawaii is ranked the #1 happiest and healthiest state in America according to the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Coincidence? I think not!

So, this calming aura, or the “water effect”, does seem to be real, but does it sound like it could help you? Well it certainly sounds like the perfect cure for the chaos of today – with people constantly driven towards technology, working more hours, working more hours from home, and forgoing that vacation you planned 6 months ago… I mean no wonder we’re feeling a bit more stressed and anxious! So maybe it’s time to change your mentality, bring the water to you, and have that new vacation-like lifestyle you’ve been day dreaming about for years!

What are some of the lifestyle changes that specifically come with living near water?

  1. Walk or bike along the lake whenever you want for safer, more beautiful trips, with better places to stop along the way – especially in Seattle which offers a plethora of walking/biking paths stretching for miles. What better way to spend an afternoon and get some exercise?
  2. Sailing, boating and other water sports are now at your fingertips. If walking and biking aren’t enough to keep us entertained well now you have the opportunity for boating, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Even if you don’t your own boat many shops along the lake offer paddle boats or canoe rentals for a small fee! Plus, if you buy a home now, you get a $2,000 credit to Urban Surf (electric surfboard anyone?).
  3. If nothing else, you can’t beat the natural beauty. This may be dipping back into the mental health benefits, but water truly is one of the most beautiful natural features on earth bringing along with it aquatic plants, birds, fish and water dwelling mammals, which for nature lovers, is quite a picturesque scene. Can you imagine working a few hours on your rooftop deck with your laptop out and this as your backdrop? Feel more relaxed just thinking about it? Well stop thinking about it and do something!

Still have some reservations about living one the water? Let me guess… is it the price? Well that’s why living by the water is key – you get basically all the added benefits, without all the extra upkeep, and for a much better price!

Take for example our Baymont project with Isola Homes. These beauties are located just off the shores of lake Washington with great access to all the lake amenities including the giant Montlake Community Center (which is great for land activities but is also a favorite launch point for kayakers and paddle boarders). Plus are aren’t multi-million-dollar homes like all other water-front properties in Seattle! Even better – they are brand new!

Want to tour these homes or are looking for something similar? Contact us now!

Seattle Real Estate During Covid-19

In Seattle, it feels as though life has begun to inch back to normalcy, or at the very least, we are adapting. However, the road to recovery follows a different timeline from city to city, so we’re still looking for that nation-wide trend of “moving in the right direction”. Until then, the future is slightly uncertain, even for cities like ours who may be fairing better as an individual, because as a country, we are only as strong as our weakest link – especially during a health crisis of this magnitude. But for right now, let’s take a look as to why Seattle has been so resilient and how this has impacted the real estate market.

In the early months of the pandemic, impacts of COVID-19 were widespread, and the economic fallout was compounded by state-wide “stay-home” orders initiated by local governors. However, the drop in economic activity during this time was a surprise to no one, and economists predicted the initial stagnancy would give way to normal circulation towards the second half of the year. Fortunately, so far this has shown to be true in regards to Seattle’s real estate market.

The initial stages of COVID-19 did result in less pending sales. This was due to various operational difficulties, as well as a decrease in inventory as potential sellers became (understandably) hesitant to let strangers and possible carriers into their home. But, even just entering the summer months, these operational restrictions and “seller reservations” came to pass, and windermere’s chief economist Matthew Gardner anticipated the “usually robust spring market” simply transitioned towards July/August. However, that bustling spring activity may have actually shifted to June/July, as we’ve seen a relatively competitive market over the early summer months due to a mix of explanations, including bad weather and a serious case of cabin fever!

Continuing To Monitor The Market

Buyers are still out there! If anything, the momentary decrease in sellers has resulted in an even more competitive market (being that there were more homes available for sale this time last year). With inventory approaching less than a month’s worth supply and with historically low interest rates, competition among buyers has been intense – increasing the frequency of bidding wars and all-cash offers. In Laura Smith’s words (Co-Owner of Windermere) “right now buyers want in, and inventory numbers favor sellers. Prices, as a result, have stayed strong”, and pending sales continue to increase every week since April. So as long as the buyer demand continues to follow this upward trend, we shouldn’t see any major changes in price in the near future – but things are heating up in Seattle so we’ll see what the warm weather does to the buyer activity.

  • Interesting fact: The median sale price has gone down, but don’t let that fool you. This is just because smaller, lower priced homes have been selling more often, not that average home prices are dropping.

Why/how has the market remained so strong?

There are numerous theories out there, such as the psychological effects a shutdown can have on a creating potential buyer, or that home “window shoppers” simply had more time on their hands to look for product – but these remain mostly speculation. Other, more concrete reasons for the resilient housing market can be found in examples like the historically low mortgage rates rolled out by lenders in early April and Seattle’s predominantly tech-based economy (one of the few industries to be positively impacted by this health crisis). This means Seattle’s main buyer pool never really went away, and in addition, incentives were added to sweeten the deal making buying a home a very attractive investment during this time.

FINAL THOUGHTS: We are fortunate to have a tech-based economy that would respond strongly to COVID-19, as well as local elected officials who were willing to take the necessary precautions to mitigate the effects. This does not mean that Seattle was not impacted, we’ve seen our fair share of cases – but this pandemic hasn’t rocked us to our core like other cities in the country. And surprisingly, in the world of real estate, despite initial predictions, there’s evidence that although the total sales in the spring market were less robust than previous years, it may have been more competitive in general, with buyer demand greatly surpassing the available inventory. As more restrictions continue to be lifted and people’s guards continue to drop, more homes are bound to come onto the market and it doesn’t look like buyers are going anywhere. Although, the next test will be how we continue to respond to this health crisis as a country. Seattle has proven it’s own resilience, but all progress could be halted if other states don’t take proper precautions. Let’s see what things look like after the summer!

Are you ready for summer in Seattle?

Feeling a little drained after the past few months? Understandable considering all of the chaos that has ensued in the wake of COVID. Some sellers saw the uncertainty in what this chaos held for the future housing market and decided to wait for a safer economic climate before listing their home. The irony is most of those sellers are kicking themselves in the foot as the market has been more competitive than ever (at least in Seattle).

The general sentiment, even from expert economists, was that we would see a major slowdown in almost all activity across the board, and that this might give way to normal circulation throughout the second half of the year. But in real estate, that drop wasn’t quite as significant as predicted – and a result, right now it’s better to be a seller than a buyer, Why?

  1. Home buyer demand

Yes, the initial lockdowns did momentarily halt transactions as people transitioned into quarantine and agents adapted to the new process of real estate. However, this only made people more eager to return to the market as restrictions lifted – hoping to make up for lost time. This is especially true in tech heavy cities where the buyer pool was basically unaffected. As Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, says, “there’s very significant demand”, adding that suburbs and cheaper homes are also seeing a spike in sales as new buyers take advantage of the low interest rates and others look to escape inner-city living.

  1. Home Inventory Numbers

Despite the buyer frenzy amidst the real estate market, there is an all-time low shortage of inventory numbers.

According to NAR chief economist, Lawrence Yun, “there was insufficient supply last year [and] this year during the pandemic, the shortage has intensified.” But that more recent drop in inventory wasn’t the biggest surprise. For one, sellers are less likely to open their doors to the public during a health crisis, and two, new construction projects were on hold due to operational restrictions. But on top of all this, Matthew Gardner also says as a generation, people are just living in their homes longer than normal (up to 13 years), which results in less homes for sale.

 

  1. Stable Home Prices

Homes prices are determined by supply and demand. So, with demand at all-time highs and inventory at all-time lows, sellers are almost guaranteed top dollar for their homes.

In a recent NAR article, single-family homes have reported an increase in price in almost every market during the first quarter of 2020, with the national median price increasing 7.7%. Let’s just say sellers have been pleasantly surprised considering people were expecting the exact opposite to happen. In fact, the year over year growth rate is actually higher now than before the pandemic.

  1. Mortgage Interest Rates

This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone, but historically low mortgage interest rates are a great way to get more buyers onto the market. With mortgages typically following a 30-year timeline, buyers save a pretty penny as thousands of dollars are no longer accruing interest. For any type of buyer, owning a home just became a lot more attractive of an investment!

  1. Builders are hungry

This benefit is more dependent on the location of your home, however, if you are living in the right area, you may want to consider working with a builder or developer. What they offer that standard real estate agents don’t is a streamlined commission free process. That means you still get market value for your home but also have the potential of saving thousands of dollars in repairs, cleaning, photography, staging and any other upkeep required to list your home – let alone the 6% commission that goes to the buying and selling agent.

Plus, nowadays builders are usually environmentally conscious and build quality and healthy product that communities can be proud of. If you’re in cities like Seattle, selling your home to a developer also directly contributes to affordable housing. So, there are long-lasting positive impacts for you and those around you.

If you are curious to see what your options would be working with a developer, contact us here

  1. The economy’s road to recovery

To everyone’s dismay unemployment rates reached all-time highs in March, but recently, these rates have begun to decrease, which some hope is a sign that more buyers will continue to flood the market.

Moving forward, increased infection rates may once again cause unemployment numbers to rise – but for now, this is a state by state/city by city situation, and we’re hopeful national trends continue in the right direction.

  1. Standard of Living

“People are looking at their existing home and saying, ‘If I have to work from home, then maybe my house just doesn’t work,’” Gardner says.

In other words, working remotely has allowed (or forced) people spend more time at home – this, in turn, has created a brand-new fleet of buyers whose current homes just aren’t up to COVID standards. After doubling your dining table as a “work-desk” for three months, your short commute to the office suddenly seems expendable in exchange for some extra square feet. “Home offices, more privacy, outdoor spaces, and just more room are becoming more important to homeowners” says Jed Kliman (managing broker at Windermere Real Estate in Seattle).

This doesn’t seem to be something that will change in the near future, and more and more people are coming to the same realization every day – ‘my house just isn’t cutting it’.

But despite the influx in buyers, sellers shouldn’t be complacent. You’ll still want to make the transaction as easy and painless for buyers as possible. Due to social distancing, some of the closing processes have changed in order to keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible. As a result, some things take longer than usual to finish, but there are things you can do as a seller to expedite the process (for example: doing your own pre-inspection so that information is ready to go for any interested parties).

This, in addition to states reopening, will hopefully speed up transactions and make for more seamless sales, but depending on how this also effects infection rates, we could see this change quickly. For now, it seems like a great time to sell in Seattle.