Home Buying in Seattle>Question Details

BT, Home Buyer in Seattle, WA

Confused first-time home buyer seeking truthful advice from Real Estates experts in a neutral position…please help solving my dilemma!

Asked by BT, Seattle, WA Thu May 17, 2012

I'm a 1st time homebuyer who's been house hunting for 3months in N. Seattle. My personal experience seems to indicate that the housing market is blooming. Many new listings that go on the mkt would quickly become “pending,” sometimes even within a few days(before I even get to schedule a visit, and I religiously check Zillow/Redfin everyday!) When I found a house I was interested in, there was a flood of offers that bid up the final price 15% more. Realtors say I should get my hands on a house ASAP before the 2006 prices return. All of this makes me anxious&hasty abt making a decision soon. But I also wonder if the 2nd subprime crisis is near if FHA loans make up 30%of the mortgage financing today. I have near-perfect score credit, full-time job, pre-qual letter, and the plan to put 20% down for the traditional financing. I don't wanna hurry into a situation and get screwed over in the future but I also don't wanna miss on a wave of opportunities (time to buy?) either. Any advice? Thx!

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HI YZ,

Because you say "before I schedule a visit", I am wondering if you are trying to buy a house on your own. I recommend you connect with a very knowledgeable, experienced real estate broker, preferably a Realtor who has subscribed to a code of ethics, who will do an Initial Consultation with you. Your agent can set up a system with you that helps you know about houses quickly and get into them quickly.

The market in King County has been brisk this spring, but the "absorption" rate always peaks in the spring and the inventory peaks mid-summer. To see what I mean, go to my web site, http://www.karenmcknight.com and click on Market Graphs.

I think you have some piecemeal information on the current lending environment. The government expanded criteria for getting an FHA loan to keep the housing market moving. FHA loans are now getting more expensive to encourage private capital to come back into mortgage lending.

We do have a few more years of "distressed" inventory to sell and that will dampen prices for a few more years, but supply and demand is the overriding factor and we have local, great companies who are hiring.

Due to the percentage of household income now going into housing (low interest rates plus low prices), homes are the most affordable they have ever been, so it is truly a great time to buy. You have time to find the right property for you.

I have a second web site, http://www.buyandsellseattlerealestate.com where you can set up a search and click on the Market Insider tab for great demographics and statistics on each particular neighborhood you searcn.

Good luck in your process.

Warm Regards,
Karen
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon May 21, 2012
I would first say that if you've been hunting for 3 months with all of the homes available out there then you would probably be best served to find a Realtor that you feel comfortable with and who is experienced in that particular market.
Your agent will be able to help you narrow down your choices based on what is most important to you. That way when you are ready to physically view homes you will already have them narrowed down to those that will be the best fit within your budget. It sounds like you are already on top of the financing part which is always critically important.

A Realtor will also have greater access to homes that may not yet be listed. Your agent will likely know of any available properties well before they ever make it to an external site where you seem to be looking.

So find a good agent who knows your desired area and let them help you navigate the home buying process. Best of luck to you in in finding a fantastic home!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
my the time a listing hits zillow or other sites, it's days old. get with an agent and have them connect you with a program that sends you listings as they hit the market.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
Market here not changing drastically today. It however is "listing season" here as well and more buyers are out here looking to be situated for September school opening. Many experts believe buying at this time here can cost an extra $10,000+++. Might want to consider waiting until the turmoil dies down a bit and then strike! Interest rates should make up for any negative market correction, if that should happen again(not seeing that truthfully). Best of Luck, Allan
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue May 22, 2012
No one can predict the future. The main reason to buy a home is because it's a good personal decision for you at this time in your life and you want your very own space. It's just a bonus that prices are very low now (although they are going up) now and rates are at record lows. If you buy a home now and prices tank in the future, you can't blame yourself. Real estate ebbs and flows. Historically prices increase over the long term so if you plan on owning a home for the next 5-10 years you should be fine.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
No one knows whether 2006 prices will come back. Note that the recent increase in median price is partially due to fewer distressed homes selling, not entirely due to increases in price.

http://www.trulia.com/blog/kary_l_krismer/2012/05/king_count…

I wouldn't rush, but I wouldn't necessarily quit looking. You do, however, have to look quickly, as you've been discovering. Nicer properties disappear in one day in this market. Even some not so nice houses disappear that quickly.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
You are worried too much about predicting the market. It is the same as buying stocks in a way....listen to the market but don't try to predict it. Go off of what you know. You know what you can afford each month, you know how long you want to stay in the home or own it for, you know you can lock in a really low interest rate. You know that prices are lower than they have been in about 8 or more years.., Look at expenses to get in, get out, compare to renting and then go for it.... at the end of the day it is just a house...you need a place to live. You will never predict any market so why try?
Web Reference: http://www.arronrenfrew.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
An article I wrote will give you all some idea of whats happening. This is the hottest market I have seen in my 34 years of real estate. I published an article over a year ago that predicted we would sooon see the hottest market ever.

The News is continually improving. Below are five articles;

2013

Now that the real estate market is turning up in the stronger US Cities Banks think of their properties very differently than they did a year ago. Now in some areas the foreclosed properties are going up in value.

And the Bankers know that most of the US will improve over time to a healthy economy. They also know that big investors all over the world have been waiting for the first signs of recovery in the US. And they are here, buying. Articles below.

Does it seem odd that all of the reporting on the terrible threat of foreclosures glutting the market never mentioned how that ‘glut’ would be absorbed. The US is the behemoth economy on earth, is the safest place to invest, and the property values have dropped 30 to 50%.

I guess the media gurus thought the investors would not notice. Could those media people be biased? Politically biased? Surly they would not report in a biased way. In a way that would erode consumer confidence and extend the recession?

Banks typically sell their foreclosed properties to the public through real estate companies just slightly below the market value so the property will sell in a reasonable time. So Bank Owned( foreclosed, REO) can be a good deal but not always. More at Your-Road-Home.com

Best of Luck, stephen webber
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
Just out of curiosity, what attracts so many out of state agents to a question like this? It started out with just local agents, but then lately it's been almost all out of state. Does it get wider distribution somehow after so many responses?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 24, 2012
Opinions are free here in America. It is called freedom of speech.
Flag Fri May 25, 2012
There is a shortage on inventory in some market which from your description appears to be the case in Seattle. We sold a bank-owned home in 3 days with 22 offers which a PG&E tower practically in the back yard! Demand is also fueled by investors who are getting very good rent for these properties.

The investor who purchased this home with our help was able to rent the property for $2,200 per month.
Given the purchase price of a home at 350,000 that's an amazing return on investment.

If you are not sure you might be paying too much for a property, find out how much you can rent it for in a few years! Depending on your planning horizon, the number might make sense to you.

And as usual, you should consult your tax adviser to see what the After Tax returns will be if you held this home as an investment long term.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 24, 2012
HI There, you are abselutely right, it is a time to buy now. The inventory is very low, and there is a possiblity prices hit higher. The interest rates are very low.

If you like I can find a good knowledgeable realtor for you. I and that realtor can work together in order you get the best deal. But remember any house you buy, you have to inspect the house with a Certified Home Inspector.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
YZ, all markets are different but there is a shortage of inventory in most as banks continue to explore options to foreclosure.
One thing you don't have to worry about is a return to 2006 prices any time soon. Those prices were artificially inflated by "funny money" loans. Future home values will be determined more by increases in employment and the corresponding increases in salaries.
Buying a home is the most important decision you will make in your financial future and your decision should be based on what's best for you and your family, not someone else's crystal ball about what they think the future of the market is.
Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
The market is heating up on the West Coast as the tech industries begin to hire back. So, yes, you need to pay attention. But, I agee with my colleagues: a savvy buyer's agent in your area will be able to help you identify the properties in a timely manner. Get pre qualified with a mortgage broker before you begin to hunt. That way, if you find your dream home, you can act quickly. Good Luck and happy house hunting!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
If you wait around for just the right time, you might be waiting forever. You should find a local agent who will work for you to find exactly what it is you are looking for. He will have access to listings as soon as they hit the MLS as oppossed to a day or two of waiting until they get uploaded to other sites or there could be another agent who is about to list a home that knows your agent has a client that is looking for what he has to list, will let you in on it first. So, I suggest finding an agent you trust and that understands your needs then, let the agent help you take the worry out of it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
Many areas have or are changing for the better. I don't think 2006 prices are going to be here anytime soon. Nice properties that are priced right will sell in a matter of days in my area. If you find one that you must have then go in with a strong offer but I wouldn't over pay for a property for fear of 2006 prices.

Also, if you're planning on putting an offer in I would get pre approved rather than just pre qualified. Make sure that your Loan Officer has taken your application and financial statements so you can show the sellers that you're ready to move forward right away.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
Hi, You should connect with a local agent that checks the local MLS a few times a day for new listings. This way they can guide you accordingly and help you get into the homes sooner rather then later. Actually FHA is responsible for more then 30% of loand these days. All you need to focus on now is the amazing mortgage rates and healthy inventory in your area.

Chris
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
Get a buyers AGENT/ RELTOR ASAP.

They will tell you 24 to 48 hours before TRULIA or other IDX feed public web sites get the informaiton about new listings.

Good Luck

Tom
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 23, 2012
Are you going through several agents or do you have one that is dedicated to finding you a home? You mentioned redfin, are you using a redfin agent? That might be the problem... Those agents give up a portion of their commission to the buyer. There is one agent doing the showing and another agent writing the offer. By the time all that is done with the home is already sold. Find an agent that can show you the home AND write the offer themselves.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 22, 2012
It's understandable to feel anxious about this market - it does require quick response in order to have the chance at a home, when so many others are trying to buy too. Have confidence that not everyone will have the strength of offer that you do. Do you have an agent representing you? For any house you have an interest in, your agent should provide you with comps - recent solds and pendings of similar size and location. This will help you determine what the market rate is, which may not be where the house is priced. Schedule a showing right when it comes on the market and if you like it, make an offer. Escrow will take a minimum of 30 days, and seller disclosures, reports, an appraisal and inspections should give you ample time to confirm your decision. Waiting may give you more time or properties to consider. But the unknown there? Will prices or interest rates go up? That makes many anxious as well.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 22, 2012
I feel your pain, but why? You appear well qualified but put down that certain homes come on (well priced) and are snapped up in no time. 2006 prices may be a stretch but maybe you are not listening to the right Realtor (the one who cares that you are pleased with your new home). To many just want the commission. IMHO if you work with a seasoned agent the only one you need to trust is you! When you find the correct home for you, nail it!Its like learning to swim. You cant watching from shore...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 22, 2012
Hello YZ,
I agree with what Karen said below. The spring market this year 2012 is brisk - however, there will be more inventory coming. Be sure you are working with a seasoned REALTOR as Karen suggested. Prices are stabalizing and it is a great time to be in the marketplace. Try to remain patient and I am certain the right home will be yours within the next 6-8 months. Best of luck. Kim Meyer
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 22, 2012
I always believe you need to dig deep inside and understand your true motivations for wanting to buy a home. That reason will help direct you to determining if now is right for YOU. Timing the market is not something you should be trying to do- none of us has the crystal ball! A home and an investment are two different things entirely and intended "holding period" for the property should be considered. Best wishes!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 22, 2012
The market in the Raleigh, NC area has definitely picked up in 2012. I'm certain sales are up throughout the country as well. I would take your time, though, to make sure you make a sound decision. Buying a home is a huge investment and if you take your time and do your homework there will be a home out there for you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
The market has definitely changed in the last few months. With considerably fewer homes on the market than years prior and a flood of good, solid buyers who want to capitalize on these low interest rates, the market has definitely turned into a seller's market.
You're right, well priced homes are going quickly because there's such low inventory. It's great you're so prepared but I understand how it's scary to have to make such a big decision so quickly. Trust yourself - you'll know the right house for you when you visit it. Make sure your agent knows your timeline and can get you in a house within the first day or two it's listed. You really need to be able to be one of the first ones to write an offer if you want to get it now, and don't bother low balling unless it's obviously overpriced, but if you do lowball, have your agent submit comps that support that offer price. Also, don't be afraid to ask your agent to call the listing agent to ask if there are things they'd like written into the offer- other terms about possession, inspection windows, etc, that would make the seller and agent want to work with your offer. These days, a good agent and one with a good reputation is key. Good luck to you!
Claire Newman
Windermere Mt Baker
cnewman@windermere.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun May 20, 2012
1. Buy now.

2. Buy for your own use.

3. Do not buy anticipating you will be able to sell for a huge markup in a few years.

4. Plan for the worst case scenario, i.e., when you net less than you paid. Consider this a fee for use.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 19, 2012
Aaron, rather than not having enough trust, maybe "yz" is expecting too much of his/her agent. Agents don't know what will happen on prices in the future. Some make guesses and sometimes they are right. They're more likely to be right the more months in a row prices move in the same direction.

People seem to have this desire to believe agents have the expertise such that they can predict prices, and it's only a matter of whether or not the agent is lying to them about what they see. In reality, the expectation is misplaced. Agents have no training to predict prices. There are clock hour courses on a lot of silly topics, but I've yet to see one on predicting the future! ;-)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 19, 2012
Deep breath.

You never know.

From a societal point of view, thank you for putting 20% down. Personally, I wouldn't put 20% down; I'd rather have the bank's money at risk than my own - especially at these interest rates.

But to answer your question . . . let me ask another question: so what if values went down a zillion percent? How would that really affect you?

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2012
I answered this question earlier but something you said in your question kept resonating with me...."seeking truthful advice from Real Estates experts in a neutral position" ... After thinking about it for a while...I suspect you do not have the level of trust with your agent that in my opinion is essential when buying a home. Something to think about!!
Web Reference: http://www.arron.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2012
Hello,
The main thing to consider is to maybe have an agent get you the information on a property through the NWMLS that information is first hand and up to date. Look for a company that lets you sign into their web site that sends you notification as soon as they are posted. Johnlscott.com/rigom will give you access to the search site and you can post properties on the clipboard so they can be reviewed with your agent. Any questions can be answered and appointments made very quickly.
Call me with any other questions.
Rigo
425-299-8582
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 18, 2012
Ardell's answer made me realize my answer wasn't clear.

I wouldn't necessarily rush into buying a home, but if you do want to buy a home now, then you do need to do things quickly! You don't have the luxury of waiting for the weekend to view a property that comes on the market on Wednesday. You need to see it on Wednesday.

If you don't like to rush like that, and there are a lot of reasons not to like that, then it's probably better to wait for a less hectic market. I wouldn't necessarily worry that the current market conditions will indicate significantly higher prices in the future, and slower market conditions might allow you to find a better house even if the price is slightly higher.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
Most of my clients see a property the first or second day on market. Why is it taking you more than a few days to see new listings? I'm heading over to West Seattle, from Kirkland, to see two properties. Both are on market for less than 48 hours.

It's not unreasonable to jump up and see new listings on the first or second day.

As to multiple offers, two of my recent transactions were buyers who lost in the multiple offer by not overbidding the value, but the winner backed out and my clients ended up with the house. This happened twice in the last 30 days. So I would say don't be afraid to put your hat in the ring. You may just get a call if the highest bidder backs out.

What price range are you in? I'm getting a home ready for market at $449,950 in Maple Leaf. Watch for it. :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
I think your best bet at getting non-biased real estate advice is to seek them from real estate brokers outside your immediate area. While out of the area agents won't know the local color of the market, we also have no vested interest to grind.

As for your question about the direction of housing prices, here's what you should consider. During the last boom, prices shot up due to easy financing from a variety of different sources: loan-securitization, lower lending standards at Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, and risk-tolerate investors on a global level.

When all that money flowed away in the housing crash, many home buyers stayed on the sidelines to rebuild their credit and cash positions. Economists call that deleveraging; lay people call that being sensible consumers.

Now that we've gone 3-4 years past the depths of the housing crisis, many buyers have money again. Often, they have enough to not even need money from the tight credit market. While there's talk of shadow inventory, we just haven't seen enough hit the market. So, with low supplies and lot of cash buyers, prices are going up.

Meanwhile, interest rates are diving and rents are rising, making homes ever more affordable. Couple that with slightly easing credit, you're seeing the tip of another huge wave of financed homebuyers, ready to top the bids of the cash buyers and each other.

So, look for a good property that you can afford and push hard to get it. Lock in low rates and wait for other buyers to jump off the fence into the frenzy in the next year.
Web Reference: http://www.archershomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
It sounds like you are already getting pretty good advice & now you have a lot more here. You do not say in any of this whether or not you have hired a buyers agent. If not, you should right away. The market is hot right now because of the time of year & interest rates still going down. You should hurry to look at houses ASAP when they come on the market, then make a decision what they are worth to you. The last thing you want to do is miss the house of your dreams because you did not look at it in time or over pay for a home because of multiple offers. This is what your agent will help you decide. With a good agent on your side, you will not be confused.

I would suggest, that as a buyer, you Google every agent that responds to your question here on Trulia, learn as much as you can about who they are online, read their client testimonials, so you know what their clients are saying about them, and then give us each a call and just ask us why we think you should work with us instead of another agent. This will take you a little while to do, but will be time well spent, as choosing the right agent is the first step towards choosing the right home. Then, pick the best fit for you and let them go to work for you with the skill and knowledge that they have. I hope to hear from you soon. 206-841-9976

Good luck, Jirius Isaac
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
There has been such a limited inventory of homes in for sale in Seattle that multiple offers are very common in some neighborhoods and many new listings are under contract within days of coming on the market. With the historically low interest rates available buyers that may have been on the fence are coming forward to make for a competitive market.

With all that said you need to determine if home ownership is right for you at this time and it sounds like you have done your research and prepared so that puts you in a good position. With the competitive market going in with a pre-approval letter from your lender is a necessity and working with your broker to structure the strongest offer will put you in a better position to compete. The stronger the offer and the fewer the contingencies the more appealing your offer is likely to be to the seller. You may also consider pre-inspecting in order to waive that contingency on the Purchase and Sale Agreement and shortening the response times from the defaults on the contract. I also believe that a personal letter to the sellers is always a positive thing to include.

I wish you good fortune and good luck with the process and your decision!

With kind regards,
Jill
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
If you burrow beneath all the hype and headlines, you'll find one simple fact; housing affordability is at the lowest point since the 1970's. Interest rates are the lowest they've been in my lifetime. This real estate market is a gift, and this rare combination of circumstances may not be repeated. Now IS the time to buy.

As the economy improves, the Fed may be forced to raise interest rates. There is no guarantee that Bernanke will keep the rates low through 2014, as he has promised. A lot can change between now and 2014. Higher interest rates mean you can afford less home, and your payments will be higher. Home price is not everything. Interest rates are probably more important than the price you pay for the house.

The reality is; home prices are rising. It's the economics of supply & demand. We're experiencing seller resistance to listing. Many sellers are reluctant to list right now, hoping to realize some price appreciation before they sell. The lack of inventory is driving-up prices. Waiting to buy a home may not be a good strategy. You could miss out on the best values.

Start by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Then, you should make a strong offer when you find the house you like. A good Realtor can make all the difference in negotiations, so interview several agents and choose the most experienced agent.

Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
I agree with Dave's answer. Realizing that when you are in a sellers market, property will move fast, and pricing will increase. Right now, with regulations being heavy on underwriters to scrutinize the appraisal, it is difficult for me to believe pricing will return to 2006 levels of an inflated market. But, do not underestimate the fact that pricing will continue to tick up. So as to not drive yourself crazy, maybe you should only look for property the day before you have time to see it in person, make your selections, and ask your Realtor to make the appointments. Be ready to listen to gut instinct and when you feel right about the property, do not hesitate to write that offer!! Be real in your offer, do not look for "a deal". You are already getting the best deal in recent history with interest rates being so low along with good pricing of Real Estate.
Enjoy!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
I advise patience--we have a divided market with a shortage of well-maintained homes. When a well-priced, well-maintained property hits the market it is getting bid up. The "good news" of certain homes selling at a premium is not yet making news because the overall market is still weighed down by foreclosed homes and short sales.

A strategy I advise buyers--look for homes with flaws you can live with or correct. Unlike you, most buyers are financing 96% of the purchase and have no extra cash. Thus turnkey homes are getting the most attention. If you find a home in need of a little updating you may be in position to negotiate a bargain that others are avoiding. Your agent will be able to help with this strategy.

Casey
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
I know the current situation can be overwhelming but yes, it is time to buy. With historically low interest rates and homes values, everyone is looking for a home now. We are experiencing low inventory too so that isn’t helping the situation for buyers either. You are doing everything right and with a pre-approval letter on hand, you just need to be ready to pull the trigger. We are seeing a lot of multiple offer situations and my new listing received five full priced offers in days. You just never know, so don’t let multiple offer situations discourage you from making an offer. As soon as you see something you are interested, please encourage your Realtor to write up the contract for you ASAP! Be prepared to submit your VERY BEST OFFER. Just step and take a breather but I wouldn’t miss this opportunity to buy at an amazing time! We are all here for you whenever you need to vent. :)


Best,

Christy Kim
Your Favorite Realtor
Real Estate Broker/Investment Properties Specialist
Certified Short Sale Negotiator
eXp Realty, LLC
206.235.3427 (Mobile)
christy.kim@seattlepowersearch.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
YZ

It sounds like you are searching on your own and I suggest you choose a buyer's agent to
represent you. They can help with positioning your offer so you have the best chance of
success as well as network with other agents for their upcoming listings. Although this
won't prevent you from being in a multiple offer situation it will increase your odds of
winning.
Mary
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
I would get yourself completely pre approved and continue to search the way you are ...be prepared to place a strong offer (with as few contingencies as possible, a good earnest money deposit and a relativelyt short closing timeframe like 30 days or less ) on the property that you find appealing as soon as you are ready
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 17, 2012
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