May the 4th Be… Here Quickly!
Here we are again with another update on our Stay at Home Directive, which now has been extended until May 4th. It might seem like so far away, but the more we stay home (and the better we follow the rules), the sooner we will be able to resume our regular lifestyles!
I’m continuing with week 3 of looking at specific data from Bellingham, Ferndale and Lynden to observe the affects COVID-19 has on the current housing trends. You’ll find the updated charts below and my comments regarding them. However, before we get into the nitty gritty, watch the video below for some good news!
BACK TO THE DATA
As we are in an ever-changing climate (it seems day-to-day), I want to reiterate that the BEST time to list a home for sale, I believe, will be 1 week after the Stay Home Directive is lifted. As Economist Matthew Gardner has stated in his Monday Update this week, “We are currently in a Health Crisis, NOT a Housing Crisis.” Most things in our life right now, unless they were already in process or are essential, have been put on hold. When we are able to get back to “normal life” that will all start back up again. New listings will go active, and buyers will be ready as ever to find a new home! As I projected last week, the numbers have dwindled slightly, but not significantly as you’ll see below.
% PRICE DIFFERENCE
A MAJOR aspect that is different from the recession we are heading into and the 2008 Great Recession is that some banks and mortgage investors (servicers) are working with homeowners to provide mortgage relief. With the shutdown of so many businesses and services, job losses (hopefully they are temporary) have been abundant.
If you or someone you know would benefit from setting up a mortgage forbearance program or loan modification in order to alleviate the pressure of monthly payments right now, click on this link and have them contact their mortgage servicer today. The available programs that are offered will vary from one loan servicer to another, and are primarily available for loans that are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (click on the appropriate link to help research who owns your loan).
Make sure you consider the details and payback terms for your long-term financial health. Your ability to protect your largest asset (your home) while waiting this out will protect your equity! This is a milestone opportunity and will ensure a strong housing market moving forward.
SMALL BUSINESS HELP
We care about local small business and want to be able to help you thrive in any way we can! If you own a small business like I do, chances are this health crisis we are in has had an effect on your stress levels. Well, this information graciously provided by my tax advisor should help!
Recently, Congress passed the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security). This is designed to assist small businesses steadily throughout the VOVID-19 crisis and provide the ability to keep their employees. There are two major parts to the act: The Small Business Administration Emergency Injury Disaster Loans, administered by the SBA, and the Paycheck Protection Program, administered by private banks. Down below, I have included an infographic about applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which can be up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll costs, with the possibility of the loan being forgiven.
Here’s a helpful list of 10 FAQ’s from the US Chamber of Commerce about the loans of the CARES act
1. What loans are available to help small businesses during Coronavirus?
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA.
The Payroll Protection Loan.
2. How do I get these loans?
Apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan directly from the SBA here.
Payroll Protection Loans are government-backed but will come from private banks. You should inquire at your local bank about these loans.
3. How much can I borrow?
The EIDL from the SBA can be up to $2 million working capital for up to a 30-year term at 3.75% (2.75% for non-profits). Not everyone will qualify for that amount.
The Payroll Protection Loans can be for 2.5 months of average payroll or $10 million, whichever is less [note: employee health care plan costs can be included – see the attachment].
4. Do I need to repay these loans?
The EIDL from the SBA will be repaid. Payments can be deferred for one year after the origin of the loan.
All or some of the Payroll Protection Loan may be forgiven (converted into a grant). There are specific requirements about how you spend the loan and if you continue to employ your workers in order for it to be forgiven.
5. What about the $10,000 emergency grant I’ve heard about?
The SBA is offering to advance businesses a $10,000 grant that does not need to be paid back. That grant can be paid quickly – in as little as three days.
You can apply for that $10,000 grant as part of the EIDL process. If you are awarded the $10,000 emergency grant, you will not have to pay the grant amount back. You will still have to repay the rest of your SBA EIDL.
6. Can self-employed and freelancers apply?
Paycheck Protection Loans are available to 501(c)(3)s, self-employed, sole proprietors and independent contractors.
SBA EIDLs are available to small businesses and non-profits (including faith-based) with fewer than 500 employees, sole proprietors and independent contractors.
7. Can I apply for both loans?
Yes. You can apply for and receive both loans.
8. Do I need good credit to qualify for these loans?
The Payroll Protection Loan requires no collateral and no personal guarantee.
The EIDLs are given based on credit scores. No tax returns are required. You can borrow up to $200,000 without a personal guarantee.
9. What if I’ve already fired or laid off my employees? Do I still qualify for a Payroll Protection Loan?
Your loan may be forgiven if you bring back employees and restore wages generally within 30 days and maintain them through June 30.
10. My bank doesn’t seem to know anything about the Payroll Protection Loan. Now what?
Banks are currently working out the details. If your bank hasn’t heard about the loan yet, try a bank that is already an approved SBA lender [note: in the Bellingham area, these include Umpqua Bank, Wells Fargo, Chase, US Bank, KeyBank, and Bank of America]. They may be more familiar with the process.
For help in navigating the loan process and other aspects of this crisis, SCORE, a well-established small business mentoring program, is available to do remote mentoring. In addition, they will be conducting webinars and online workshops for dealing with the fallout from Coronavirus and the help available. You can learn more here.
|Please contact me with your questions and concerns, I am committed to help keep you informed!
SO MUCH CHANGE
It is hard to believe our lives could have changed much more in this last week than they did the week before, but it certainly happened, didn’t it?!
Here’s a Timeline of the last week’s significant events for reference:
- Sunday 3/22- President Trump approved our state’s disaster declaration
- Monday 3/23- Boeing suspended production at it’s Puget Sound facilities and Gov. Inslee directed a “Stay at Home Order”
- Tuesday 3/24- Summer Olympics in Tokyo Postponed
- Wednesday 3/25- “Stay at Home” began and all non-essential business closed and the $2 trillion Federal Aid Package was reached
If you are currently planning a move, and are active in the Real Estate Market, you likely heard that Real Estate Brokers (that’s me) are NOT considered essential. What does this mean for you, and my clients? I am only able to continue to advocate for and support my clients from my HOME OFFICE. This means a lot of video conferencing, phone calls and computer work. Homes that are currently under contract (pending) are able to move forward because financial (real estate loans) and government (recording the sale) sectors are able to continue to operate. But for the rest of you, this means we are unable to go see a home or list your home unless we already have it all prepared for market. In fact, the NWMLS is actually issuing fines for any broker who uses their app on their phone to open a key box and access a home!
BACK TO THE DATA
% PRICE DIFFERENCE
I will continue to monitor and stay on top of these changes for you, so we can continue to plan for your Real Estate goals. There will continue to be change, and it will be interesting to evaluate it each week as it is happening. I know I am trying to focus on all of the many “Silver Linings” that exist. Here’s a few tips from Windermere to help us all stay in a good state of mind during this time of uncertainty.
Please contact me with your questions and concerns, I am committed to help keep you informed!
There are so many things changing on just about a daily basis right now. People are asking a lot of questions about things ranging from everyday life, to big things like buying and selling real estate. Without looking at data, all I can tell you is what this all feels like, so I think this is a good time to pull some numbers and take a look at some data. As your trusted Real Estate Advisor, it is my goal to keep you informed and stay educated when it comes to your biggest asset, your home. Let’s take a look at these numbers to understand current trends amidst this COVID-19 outbreak.
I pulled three different Whatcom County market areas: Bellingham, Ferndale, and Lynden. I felt this would give a good representation of the different markets my clients live in and would avoid making any sweeping observations.
Schools shut down on 3/12/20 and bars and restaurants closed for traditional service on 3/16/20 and HOMES CONTINUED TO SELL. Below is an accounting of all of the active listings on the market in each of these areas along with all of the sales that went under contract from 3/13/20 to 3/20/20 (pulled around Noon PST) and the percentage relationship between those numbers. As you can see, we have had quite a bit of sales activity over the last week. We can be certain that the historically low interest rates are fueling this demand. As of 3/17/20, the rate for a conventional, conforming loan was right around 3.5 – 3.65%.
|All Active Listings||Under Contract Sales
Below is a chart that reports the Average Days On Market (ADOM) for the homes that are currently active and the homes that went under contract over the last week. “Days on Market” is how long the home was active on the market before the sellers accepted an offer. The ADOM for the homes that received offers over the last week were markedly shorter. What this tells us is that the homes that sold were newer to the market, well-presented, and appropriately priced. The longer market times for the actives indicate possible overpricing, as the average days on market for the month of February were 40 for Bellingham, 36 for Ferndale, and 36 for Lynden. This also shows a trend for March average days on market to be shorter than February.
Avg. Days on Market
Avg. Days on Market
|Difference in Days|
The last set of data that I pulled below is the average prices of the active listings and the average prices of the homes that went under contract last week. Since the under-contract sales have not published a closed sale price yet, we cannot take into consideration if there were any escalations above the list price. With the short ADOM and my personal experience on the front lines of multiple offers, I believe we will have some escalations reported once these sales close.
I am getting asked many times each day if this is still a good time to buy or sell. And I am continuing to conduct buyer and seller consultations. The answer to this question is different for each person. What I can say with certainty is that I am committed to bringing current facts and statistics to our conversations, and answering your questions as best I can. I hope you found the above figures to be encouraging, I did! Real estate has cyclical trends and although the current economic shifts may be unsettling, we have weathered these cycles before. At this moment, record-low interest rates and low inventory are creating continued demand for homes, and from the figures reported, homes are going under contract. This is what I know today, and I felt it was worth sharing.
Please contact me with your questions and concerns, I am committed to help keep you informed!
This means inventory continues to lessen thus increasing the ratio of supply and demand event more. I feel like I’ve been saying this is a problem for years now and it is hard to believe it could get any worse- but here we are!
Below you’ll find a link to a full analysis of the Western Washington real estate market- it 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 specific area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
The following analysis of the Western 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.
The following analysis of the Western 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.
Streamflow Restoration under Chapter 90.94 RCW WRIA 1 rulemaking – The “Hirst Decision”
Brief History-Here is how we got to this point
In 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court issued the “Hirst” decision which stated that Whatcom County failed to comply with the Growth Management Act requirements to protect water resources.
- The decision limited landowners’ ability to get a building permit for a new home when the proposed source of water was a permit-exempt well.
- 90.94 RCW (Streamflow Restoration) was passed in response to the Hirst Decision.
- Since a plan was not adopted by February 1, 2019, which was the deadline, 90.94 RCW requires Ecology to undertake a rulemaking. Below is a synopsis of the proposed language.
Hirst “Fix”—Proposed Language
- The basics of what they are proposing are as follows:
- The fee for a permit exempt well will remain the same – $500
- Rural homes with wells installed after January 19, 2018, are limited to 500 gallons per day for indoor domestic use and outdoor watering of a lawn and/or garden.
- Metering is going to be considered as an enforcement tool, not at present, but in the future.
Please note – The Hirst Fix, developed with Ecology’s input, set the withdrawal limit for new permit-exempt wells at 3,000 gallons per day, now they are saying it will be 500. The average household in the hotter months uses just under 3,000 GPD according to studies. ~Info from WCAR Government Affairs
What You Can Do
- There is still time for public comment before it closes on May 10, 2019. Below is information on how you can submit your comments.
What Comes Next
- Comments will be reviewed and considered for incorporation in the rule proposal with a planned release in November 2019.
- Public hearings will happen in early 2020 with a formal comment period on the language published in November of 2019.
- The law requires that the adoption of a final rule amendment happen no later than August 1, 2020.
How to Comment
To provide comments to this preliminary draft documents, go to https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Laws-rules-rulemaking/Rulemaking/WAC-173-501.
You can also mail your comments to
Department of Ecology Water Resources Program
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia WA 98504-7600
If you have questions, call or email
Kasey Cykler at 360.255.4386, firstname.lastname@example.org
Annie Sawabini, Rulemaking Lead, 360.407.6878, email@example.com
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.