Now is the time to buy a Seattle home


Or at least haggle according to Aubrey Cohen’s front page article in Friday’s Seattle P-I.  Would I buy a home right now in Seattle if I were in the market?  Quite possibly…especially if it’s a home that I desire and if it’s priced fairly.   The article states these factors for reasons home buyers interested in Seattle (I would include Bellevue/Redmond as well) should get into the market now:

  • Gas Prices.  Homes located near where jobs are will have stronger values.  Fewer people are going to want to commute thanks to how much it is to fill the tank.   
  • Mortgage interest rates are rising.   Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at WSU states "waiting for the prices to get to their absolute lowest point while interest rates are rising doesn’t mean that the purchasers are going to be saving much of anything on the monthly payments". 
  • High inventory.  There are a lot of homes to chose from at lower prices.

According to this article, home prices in Seattle are only down 2.7% from a year ago; King County is down 6.2%.  The further away from "the city" you look for homes, the more the values have been impacted.   

Here are some additional reasons (not in the article) to consider "getting into the market" as a home buyer. 

  • The Conforming-Jumbo and FHA jumbo loan limits are only effective through the end of this year.   On January 1, 2009, the conforming limit will roll back to $417,000 and FHA (for King County) will be $362,950.  (Unless Congress passes an extension to the loan limits, which they may do at a reduced amount.  The fact is, at this time, we only know that the current loan limits are valid until December 31, 2008).   If you want a "non-jumbo" rate and your loan amount is $417,001-$567,500…your time is limited.
  • Underwriting guidelines continue to get tougher with lenders and private mortgage insurance companies.   Plus, the possibility of having your area declared a declining market will make financing even more challenging.
  • If you’re sitting on the fence, you are not alone.  There are many home buyers who are getting preapproved waiting for prices to reach their "price point".  As prices lower, more and more will be hopping off the fence and jumping into the market which will also prevent in-city home prices from declining as much as other areas.
  • Sellers are contributing towards closing costs.  I’m seeing more offers with sellers contributing towards closing costs for the buyer.  Buyers can use the funds to buy down their rate are reduce their closing costs.

If you are considering buying a home within the next 6 months, I strongly encourage you to begin the preapproval process now.  The more time you have to prepare, the better position you’ll be in to make an offer.   Plus, I’ve heard that some in-city homes, when priced right, are having multiple offers–buyers should be armed with a preapproval letter to present a stronger offer. 

It’s also very important to work with an experienced real estate agent who will look out for your best interest (I do not recommend going directly to the listing agent for any home you wish to buy…they represent the sellers interest–not yours).   If you need a referral to a real estate agent in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties, contact me, I’m happy to help.

PS:  I help Washington State home buyers with preapprovals and mortgage planning, too!  (My husband thinks I should remind my readers of this point more often…and I like to keep him happy).

Just for grins, here is a lesson in how to haggle (if you work with a professional real estate agent, you can leave the haggling to them), compliments of Monty Python, The Life of Brian.

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