What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.
The U.S. Economy
Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.
Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing. Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.
The U.S. Housing Market
Existing Home Sales
This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market. In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.
Existing Home Prices
We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017. In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.
New Home Sales
In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.
That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.
In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.
In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or leveling. We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.
I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.
There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating. In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.
That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.
Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.
Originally published on Inman News.
Winters in many parts of Western Washington can easily see temperatures that dip down below freezing. For many gardening homeowners, this can be troublesome when precious plants are concerned. Covering your plants with sheets may not be enough to save a plant from succumbing to freezing temperatures. Check out these ways to bring your plants inside for winter:
Take Inventory of Plants
Unless you have planted exotic plants that are definitely not going to survive cold temperatures, there are probably more than a few plants within your yard that should be okay. Healthy native plants are used to the climate of your area and should be able to withstand the winter temperatures without any issue. Those plants that are better suited for a higher growing zone will need to be cared for in order to best survive the season. Consider every plant within your yard and access their health, maturity, and location in order to choose which plants to bring indoors.
Exotic plants love the sun and should be placed near southern facing windows that aren’t drafty or cold. Create a spot within your home that is far from drafts or cold breezes from open doors. Spread plastic sheeting to protect flooring and create a little greenhouse group of plants that will still receive plenty of sunlight. Refrain from placing plants too close together in order to allow for equal access to sunlight and air flow.
Many potted plants can easily be moved indoors without having to transplant them. Easily place potted plants in a group to ride out the winter season. In-ground plants within your landscape will need to be transplanted to a container in order to bring them indoors. Make sure that you consider the size of the plant and use a container that is big enough around for the root ball of the plant. Using a container that is much too large for a plant is better than one that is too small and could damage the plant’s root system.
Keep the Fan On
Many indoor plants enjoy being near a window but will also need adequate air circulation to prevent soggy soil conditions. It is a good idea to keep the ceiling fan on in the room, at a low speed, in order to keep the air moving within the room. Don’t place plants too close to heating vents in order to keep them from becoming too hot and overheated. Plants that produce browning leaves will need to be moved to a room with a humidifier in order to keep them in good condition as well.
Keep Pets Away
Many indoor plants can become curious items for an indoor pet. Make sure to keep pets away from plants in order to keep both safe. Some tropical plants are toxic for animals and some pets can prove damaging to plants. Create a barrier between plants and animals so that both are kept safe during the winter season.
Water & Dust
Keeping your plants watered indoors may look different than what it receives in an outdoor environment. Make sure to consider the plant before watering in order to keep it in soil that it prefers. Many winter climates will not see a lot of added water so choosing to water your indoor plants at a minimum will help mimic those conditions that it would receive outside.
Also, check the plants for accumulating dust that can easily be found after a few weeks indoors. Dust off plants on a regular basis in order to keep them healthy and able to absorb important nutrients. Use a wet cloth to gently wipe down leaves in order to keep dust free from indoor plants.
There are many things to consider when choosing to bring plants indoors for winter. Make sure to choose plants carefully and monitor their progress as the winter season wears on. Consider all of these tips for bringing your plants inside for winter in order to keep them from freezing outdoors.
Kelly Holland is a gardening and landscape design writer who loves experimenting in her kitchen. Her quirky nature loves a bright color palette so naturally, her coveted garden is covered in a rainbow of fruits, vegetable, and flowers.
Remember what it felt like the last time you realized you had a hole in your ? Or even worse when your feet weren’t supported by the you’d had for way too long and your feet hurt?
It breaks my heart to think there are kiddos that wake up everyday and put shoes and/or socks on just like I described above. Feel the same way?
I have an opportunity for you to help make a big impact on one of our local communities this holiday season!
@windermerewhatcom is supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County and buying socks and shoes for Lynden Kiddos in need on December 12th and December 13th. I can’t wait to help a kiddo shop!
We’ll have our Kicks for Kids box in the Lynden Windermere lobby until December 11th. You can drop by a pair of new there or at any Windermere Whactcom Office and say they are for me. All socks will go to the Boys & Girls Club.
Thank you for helping me support this great cause!
Getting ready to put your home on the market or just want to give it a fresh look? You probably have heard that professional photos and video increase the chances of your home being seen online!
However, you’ve got to clean up your home a bit before we can get to the good stuff. It’s a daunting task, but decluttering and cleaning up will help attract the most buyers. Once you’ve said bye-bye to that clutter and have made your home look spruced up, you can go back in and add some decor that will accent what you already have and catch the eye of a potential buyer.
Here are some decor ideas that are current with today’s style and will add a touch of ‘wow factor’ to your Realtor’s marketing techniques.
Holiday Craft Fairs & Events…
November 2 – 3:
- Sarah’s What Knots Fall/Winter Bazaar!
8am – 4pm 585 W Hemmi Rd, Bellingham
- Holiday Bake Sale & Bazaar
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. -401 Grover Street, Lynden, WA
Lunch at noon, Friday $6
November 3rd –
- Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair
9am – 4pm 1400 Larabee Ave, Bellingham
- Daughters of Norway 19th Annual: Scandinavian Fair
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 4260 Mitchel Way, Bellingham, WA
- Assistance League: Yule Boutique
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. – 2408 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham, WA
- 6th Annual Craft Bazaar & Bake Sale
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. 1688 W. Bakerview Rd. Bellingham, WA
- Community Fall Craft Fair
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 2750 McLeod Rd. Bellingham, WA
- Trinkets & Treasures Holiday Craft Market
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 5830 Golden Eagle Dr., Ferndale, WA
- Lynden High School Craft Fair
9am – 4pm
- South Fork Winterfest
10am – 4pm Van Zandt Community Hall
- Wilson’s Holiday Home
5-8pm. Wilson’s Furniture
- Bellingham Covenant Church: Annual Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 1530 E. Bakerview, Bellingham, WA
- Share the Spirit Bazaar
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. 495 E. Bakerview Rd. Bellingham, WA
Beverages & Cinnamon Rolls 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Lunch 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- 4th Annual Kendall Holiday Bazaar
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. 7547 Kendall Rd., Kendall, WA
- Holiday Bazaar
11am – 4pm Blodel Donovan Park
November 15th – 17th
- Home for the Holidays
Nov. 15: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Nov. 16: 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Nov. 17: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Ferndale Events Center, 5715 Barrett Rd, Ferndale, WA
November 16th – December 24th
- Allied Arts: Festival of the Arts
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving Day, and closing at 3 p.m on Christmas Eve)
1530 Cornwall, Ave., Bellingham, WA
- Christmas in the Woods Open House
9am – 4pm Bellingham Garden Spot Nursery
- Holiday Bazaar 2018
9am – 3pm Hillcrest Church
- Home for the Holidays
9:30am – 5pm. Ferndale Events Center
- Kendall Community Holiday Bazaar
9 a.m. – 3 p.m. 7547 Kendall Rd., Kendall, WA
- Fairhaven WinterFest Art Walk
3 p.m. – 8 p.m. 1000 Harris Ave, Bellingham, WA
- Santa Pictures at Tracie’s Office (1894 Main St. Ferndale)
12 – 3pm Open House Style 1894 Main St. Ferndale
- Pioneer Meadows Montessori: Holiday Craft Market
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 2377 Douglas Rd. Ferndale, WA
- Christmas Bazaar
9am – 4pm. Blaine Senior Center
- Ebenezer Christian School’s Annual Wreath & Bake Sale
10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 1816 18th St., Lynden, WA
December 7-8, 8-10, 14-16, and 21-23
- Pacific Arts Market
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 1125 E. Sunset Dr. Ste. 115, Bellingham, WA
Whatcom County Real Estate Market Snapshot
As compared to Q2 average sale price dropped Year Over Year just under a percent but the average sales price in the 3rd quarter is up about $11,000 from quarter 2. List to sale time is right about the same and so is average price per square foot.
It’s always impressive to me to notice the different in total sales from the second to the third quarter- almost triple the amount of homes sell in the 3rd quarter than the 2nd!
Inventory is up about 60 homes from Q2 and, surprisingly, down almost 16% from Q3 last year.
Want the full report from Matthew Gardner? Download it here!
Have you ever struggled with what color to paint the exterior of your home?! Guess what? You aren’t the only one! I’ve been getting asked for suggestions on how to start this process a lot lately- so here you go! Here’s my system for outside and maybe, just maybe I will have a special guest tell us how to approach the inside walls of a home.
How to select paint colors for the EXTERIOR of your home:
- Make a list of new construction neighborhoods around town (not sure? I can pull you a list of new construction in Bellingham), grab the person who you have to agree on this decision with, and a pumpkin spice latte (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and hop in the car!
- Drive through these neighborhoods and point out the ones you like the colors of. Find a few you agree on and then take a few photos of them (make sure you write on your list the address of the homes you are taking photos of – and the color next to it… I’ll come back to this later). Keep in mind your style of home. If you need 3 paint colors (house, trim and an accent color) look for other homes that are using the same number of colors. Many homes in the Bellingham area are craftsman style with shingles and natural wood posts. You may have to consider stain colors for any wood elements as well.
- Bring those photos home and PRINT THEM. I know, weird to think you’d print a photo in this day and age. If its been a while since you’ve printed one and you get stuck on this step, just upload to your closest @walgreens and pick up in an hour!
- Take those printed photos outside, stand on your street and hold them up so you can see the colors and your home in the same line of sight. Order them by your favorites.
- Now, go for a walk. Walk both ways down your street and make sure that that color won’t be a total eye sore with the surrounding homes. If for some reason #1 doesn’t quite work with the neighbors, then consider #2!
- Alright, now you have decided on a color and possibly a trim color-so you might be thinking how do I know what color it actually is?! Guess what-there’s an app for that! Most major paint brands (for sure Sherwin Williams, Behr and Benjamin Moore) have an app that you can use to take a photo of a color and it will identify the hue and pick the closest shade in that brand. It’s not the smartest idea to use the app to take a photo of the printed color- so go back to your list and drive to the home you wrote the color you chose next to and get as close as you can to the house without being a weirdo and use the app to identify the color! If you took your picture from new construction, you may also be able to contact the builder to get the exact color codes for the paint.
Before you paint, if you’re part of a home owner’s association, have your association review your paint colors to make sure there are no conflicts with your HOA rules.
Happy House Painting!
On Thursday, August 16th we invited our clients and friends on a 2-hour cruise around the bay. We had delicious food, good drinks and even spotted some whales! We loved getting to see everyone who has believed in us and helped us grow the past 2 years. Click on the button below to view all the photos taken by Dawn Matthes Photography. You will need to enter your email address in order to view the photos. No password is needed.
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase once or twice, and may wonder what inspires us brokers to say the word three times. The word is repeated three times for emphasis, and it is the NUMBER ONE rule in real estate, though it is often the most overlooked. In a nutshell, location, location, location means if you were to compare two identical homes one is worth more in value due to location. .
The Epitome of Location, Location, Location: You can buy the RIGHT HOME in the WRONG LOCATION. You can change the structure, remodel it or alter the home’s layout but, ordinarily, you cannot move it. It’s attached to the land. The best locations are those in prime spots, but “prime” is subject to opinion by each buyer… what is important to each person is different, right?!
Here are a few factors that affect location to consider:
- Top-rated school districts
- Recreation and nature
- Scenic views
- Entertainment and shopping
- Conforming areas (is the home in an area with other similar homes)
- Public Transportation, Healthcare and Jobs
- The home’s orientation to its location on the block
What’s most important to you when you consider location for your home? I’d love to hear!
It is no secret that the real estate market in Whatcom County is red hot! If you’re wondering what the market looks like now in comparison to a year ago, take a look at the image below. The ongoing trend remains that inventory is low. If you’re thinking of selling your home, now might just be the perfect time to do it!
Key statistics from the Q2 Market Snapshot:
- Average sale price: $415,000 (+13.7% over last year)
- List to sale time: 36 days
- Average price per square foot: $222
- Total Q2 sales: 343 (down 5.5%)
- Number of homes for sale: 619 (down 15.2%)