Olympia and Thurston County Washington
Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from national market statistics to greater Olympia area home value trends and Thurston County happenings. That’s because we care about the community we serve and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all or have a question or situation we can bring clarity to, and maybe it will end up being an article to help everyone!

Search our blog for helpful videos and articles.

Oct. 15, 2021

Home Characteristics Buyers Compromise On

This chart from the National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report of 2021 shows that compromise is a big part of successful home buying. Further, you can see that, across the generations, price is one of the biggest compromises buyers make. Other major compromises include the condition of the home, size of the home and distance from work.

Are you ready to commit to a plan of becoming a homeowner? Or perhaps you need someone who understands how to appeal to the market in selling your home. Reach out today!

Sept. 17, 2021

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing?

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

An important metric in today’s residential real estate market is the number of homes available for sale. The shortage of available housing inventory is the major reason for the double-digit price appreciation we’ve seen in each of the last two years. It’s the reason many would-be purchasers are frustrated with the bidding wars over the homes that are available. However, signs of relief are finally appearing.

 

According to data from realtor.com, active listings have increased over the last four months. They define active listings as:

“The active listing count tracks the number of for sale properties on the market, excluding pending listings where a pending status is available. This is a snapshot measure of how many active listings can be expected on any given day of the specified month.”

 

What normally happens throughout the year?

Historically, housing inventory increases throughout the summer months, starts to tail off in the fall, and then drops significantly over the winter. The graph below shows this trend along with the month active listings peaked in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

What happened last year?

Last year, the trend was different. Historical seasonality wasn’t repeated in 2020 since many homeowners held off on putting their houses up for sale because of the pandemic (see graph below). In 2020, active listings peaked in April, and then fell off dramatically for the remainder of the year.

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

What’s happening this year?

Due to the decline of active listings in 2020, 2021 began with record-low housing inventory counts. However, we’ve been building inventory over the last several months as more listings come to the market (see graph below)

Is the Number of Homes for Sale Finally Growing? | MyKCM

There are three main reasons we may see listings continue to increase throughout this fall and into the winter.

 

  1. Pent-up selling demand – Homeowners may be more comfortable putting their homes on the market as more and more Americans get vaccinated.
  2. New construction is starting to take off – Though new construction is not included in the realtor.com numbers, as more new homes are built, there will be more options for current homeowners to consider when they sell. The lack of options has slowed many potential sellers in the past.
  3. The end of forbearance will create some new listings – Most experts believe the end of the forbearance program will not lead to a wave of foreclosures for several reasons. The main reason is the level of equity homeowners currently have in their homes. Many homeowners will be able to sell their homes instead of going to foreclosure, which will lead to some additional listings on the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re in the market to buy a home, stick with it. There are new listings becoming available every day. If you’re thinking of selling your house, you may want to list your home before this additional competition comes to market.

Aug. 20, 2021

Additional Cash Down Can Win a Bidding War

OK, so you made a really high offer to compete for a home; perhaps even tens of thousands over the seller's asking price. Problem is, you don't have all the cash to make that purchase. You are relying upon a mortgage.

That means that the sale price must be acceptable to your lender, and that is determined by the appraiser. Even if you think the home is worth what you offered, what if the appraiser doesn't? What then? Answer: Cash.

By committing extra cash in your offer, above and beyond your minimum down payment and loan fees required, for the potential of a low appraisal, you send a message to the seller that you really are serious about giving them the price you offered, no matter what, and you might even be able to beat out competing offers bringing all cash to the table. Here's an example scenario:

  • Buyer offers $575,000 which means lender's appraiser must agree that $575,000 is the fair market value for the property to get the loan.
  • Appraiser turns in an appraisal to the lender that indicates a value of $525,000.
  • Lender will only give the buyer a loan for a percentage of the purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less. In this case that's the appraised value, which means a loan amount of $472,500.
  • To continue with the purchase at $575,000, the buyer must not only come up with the previously agreed percentage of the $525,000 (let's use 10% which is $52,500) but also the additional $50,000 to bridge the gap between the appraised value and agreed price, which would be a total of $102,500 down, in this scenario.

So to make the above example work in a purchase offer, the buyer would included a provision in the contract that commits in advance to bringing up to $50,000 additional down payment funds in the case of a low appraisal.

What happens if the appraisal is off by only $25,000? Then the buyer only has to come up with enough to bridge the gap, no more.

What happens if the buyer committed up to $50,000 additional down payment for a low appraisal in their offer, but the appraisal is off by $75,000? The seller could lower the price by $25,000 and the buyer come to the table with the additional $50,000 agreed to. However, the seller is in no way obligated to reduce their price and, if they won't, then we are back to the negotiating table. If no agreement can be made, the buyer should have the right to a refund of their earnest money, if their broker drafted a sufficient contingency in their favor.

Bottom Line

There are so many details and possible combinations of terms that can be included in a purchase offer, especially in a competitive market. Whether you are a buyer or seller, be sure you have an MVP Realty Group expert in your corner to advise you.

Posted in Buying
Aug. 2, 2021

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | MyKCM

Sometimes it can feel like everyone has advice when it comes to buying a home. While your friends and loved ones may have your best interests in mind, they may also be missing crucial information about today’s housing market that you need to make your best decision.

Before you decide whether you’re ready to buy a home, you should know how to answer these three questions.

1. What’s Going on with Home Prices?

Home prices are one factor that directly impacts how much it will cost to buy a home and how much you stand to gain as a homeowner when prices appreciate.

The graph below shows just how much experts are forecasting prices to rise this year:

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | MyKCM

price appreciation is great news for existing homeowners but can pose a significant challenge if you wait to buy. Using these forecasts, you can determine just how much waiting could cost you. If prices increase based on the average of all forecasts (12.46%), a median-priced home that cost $350,000 in January of 2021 will cost an additional $43,610 by the end of the year. What does this mean for you? Put simply, with home prices increasing, the longer you wait, the more it could cost you.

2. Are Today’s Low Mortgage Rates Going To Last?

Another significant factor that should inform your decision is mortgage interest rates. Today’s average rates remain close to record-lows. Much like prices, though, experts forecast rates will rise over the coming months, as the chart below shows:

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | MyKCMYour monthly mortgage payment can be significantly impacted by even the slightest increase in mortgage rates, which makes the overall cost of the home greater over time when you wait.

3. Why Is Homeownership Important to You?

The final question is a personal one. Before deciding, you’ll need to understand your motivation to buy a home and why homeownership is an important goal for you. The financial benefits of owning a home are often easier to account for than the many emotional ones.

The 2021 National Homeownership Market Survey shows that six of the nine reasons Americans value homeownership are because of how it impacts them on a personal, aspirational level. The survey says homeownership provides:

  • Stability
  • Safety
  • A Sense of Accomplishment
  • A Life Milestone
  • A Stake in the Community
  • Personal Pride

The National Housing & Financial Capability Survey from NeighborWorks America also highlights the emotional benefits of homeownership:

Key Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a Home | MyKCMthere’s a value to homeownership beyond the many great financial opportunities it provides. It gives homeowners a sense of pride, safety, security, and accomplishment – which impacts their lives and how they feel daily.

Bottom Line

Homeownership is life-changing, and buying a home can positively impact you in so many ways. With any decision this big, it helps to have a trusted advisor by your side each step of the way. If you’re ready to begin your journey toward homeownership, let’s connect to discuss your options and begin your journey.

June 30, 2021

What Do Experts See on the Horizon for the Second Half of the Year?

What Do Experts See on the Horizon for the Second Half of the Year? | MyKCM

As we move into the latter half of the year, questions about what’s to come are top of mind for buyers and sellers. Near record-low mortgage rates coupled with rising home price appreciation kicked off a robust housing market in the first half of 2021, but what does the forecast tell us about what’s on the horizon?

Mortgage Rates Will Likely Increase, but Remain Low

Many experts are projecting a rise in interest rates. The latest Quarterly Forecast from Freddie Mac states:

“We foercast that mortgage rates will continue to rise through the end of next year. We estimate the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2022.”

However, even as mortgage rates rise, the anticipated increase is expected to be modest at most, and still well below historical averages. Rates remaining low is good news for homebuyers who are looking to maximize their purchasing power. The same report from Freddie Mac goes on to say:

“While higher mortgage rates will help slow the pace of home sales and moderate house price growth, we expect overall housing market activity will remain robust. Our forecast has total home sales, the sum of new and existing home sales, at 7.1 million in 2021….”

Home Price Appreciation Will Continue, but Price Growth Will Likely Slow

Joe Seydl, Senior Markets Economist at J.P. Morgan, projects home prices to continue rising as well, indicating buyers interested in purchasing a home should do so sooner rather than later. Waiting for rates or home prices to fall may not be wise:

“Homebuyers—interest rates are still historically low, though they are inching up. Housing prices have spiked during the last six-to-nine months, but we don’t expect them to fall soon, and we believe they are more likely to keep rising. If you are looking to purchase a new home, conditions now may be better than 12 months hence.”

Other experts remain optimistic about home prices, too. The graph below highlights 2021 home price forecasts from multiple industry leaders:

What Do Experts See on the Horizon for the Second Half of the Year? | MyKCM

Inventory Remains a Challenge, but There’s Reason To Be Optimistic

Home prices are rising, but they should moderate as more housing inventory comes to market. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, notes there are signs that we may see the current inventory challenges lessen, slowing the fast-paced home price appreciation and creating more choices for buyers:

“We have seen more new listings this year compared with 2020 in 11 of the last 13 weeks. The influx of new sellers over the last couple of months has been especially helpful in slowing price gains.”

New home starts are also showing signs of improvement, which further bolsters hopes of more options coming to market. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), writes:

“As an indicator of the economic impact of housing, there are now 652,000 single-family homes under construction. This is 28% higher than a year ago.”

Finally, while it may not fundamentally change the market conditions we’re currently experiencing, another reason to be optimistic more homes might come to market: our improving economy. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:

“A growing economy in the summer months has multiple implications for the housing market. Growing consumer confidence, a stronger labor market, and higher wages bode well for housing demand. While a growing economy and improving public health conditions may also spur hesitant existing owners to list their homes for sale, it’s unlikely to significantly ease the super sellers’ market conditions.”

Bottom Line

As we look at the forecast for prices, interest rates, inventory, and home sales, experts remain optimistic about what’s on the horizon for the second half of 2021. Let’s connect today to discuss how we can navigate the market together in the coming months.

Posted in Market Updates
June 15, 2021

MVP Dear Home Scholarship Winner!

WINNER IS HERE!!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO CASSIE BLAKE!!

Winning Entry

Dear Home,

Thank you for being my safe place. When I am tired from a long day at school, I can turn to you for a warm, quiet place to complete my homework. When I am sweaty and exhausted from hours of ballet rehearsals, I can collapse inside your four walls. When a global pandemic rages outside, I am safe on your couch reading a book.

I have never spent as much time at home as I did last spring. At first, I enjoyed the break from everyday chaos that I had by relaxing at home. As the stay-at-home orders extended though, I became restless. You could say the relationship I had with my home was love-hate. I would jump from feelings of pure joy from the idea of getting to spend another day reading comfortably inside, to feelings of anxiousness due to consistently moving furniture around my room, in an attempt to ease my boredom.

But Home, the love I have for you will always outweigh any other feelings. I love that you protect me from the elements, intruders, and viruses. I love that I can slide and dance across the kitchen floor in crazy colorful socks, without judgment. I love that I can let go of stress and simply be myself when we are together.

It will be an adjustment, to say the least, to be leaving you in a few months. Seven hundred miles is not too far of a journey though, right? I will be sure to tell you all about my adventures in my new home in California. But do not worry, you will never be forgotten or replaced. Because of you, I've grown up content, joyful, and out of harm's way. I could not forget, nor could I thank you enough for being my safe space. I know that when I need a place of serenity and familiarity I can always come back to you.

For me, my family completes you. As long as I have holiday tunes playing over the kitchen speakers at Christmas, can join my parents and brother sampling sugar cookies in the winter, and savor family dinners on the back porch in the summer, Home, you will always be my refuge.

Much love,

Cassie -- from the room with the four purple walls, second door on the left.

 

PARTICIPANT RELEASE: This promotion is governed by the laws of Washington State. By accepting the Scholarship Award, winners agree to release MVP Realty Group and any/all agents, affiliates, employees, suppliers, and advertising, promotional, or judging agencies from any and all liability whatsoever for injuries, damages, or losses to persons and property which may be sustained in connection with the receipt, ownership, or use of the awarded funds.

Posted in MVP Events
June 9, 2021

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCM

Home price appreciation continues to accelerate. Today, prices are driven by the simple concept of supply and demand. Pricing of any item is determined by how many items are available compared to how many people want to buy that item. As a result, the strong year-over-year home price appreciation is simple to explain. The demand for housing is up while the supply of homes for sale hovers at historic lows.

Let’s use three maps to show how this theory continues to affect the residential real estate market.

Map #1 – State-by-state price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020:

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCM

the map shows, certain states (colored in red) have appreciated well above the national average of 12.6%.

 

Map #2 – The change in state-by-state inventory levels year-over-year reported by realtor.com:

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCM

Comparing the two maps shows a correlation between change in listing inventory and price appreciation in many states. The best examples are Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Though the correlation is not as easy to see in every state, the overall picture is one of causation.

The reason prices continue to accelerate is that housing inventory is still at all-time lows while demand remains high. However, this may be changing.

Is there relief around the corner?

The report by realtor.com also shows the monthly change in inventory for each state.

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand | MyKCM

As the map indicates, 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) saw increases in inventory over the last month. This may be evidence that homeowners who have been afraid to let buyers in their homes during the pandemic are now putting their houses on the market.

We’ll know for certain as we move through the rest of the year.

Bottom Line

Some are concerned by the rapid price appreciation we’ve experienced over the last year. The maps above show that the increases were warranted based on great demand and limited supply. Going forward, if the number of homes for sale better aligns with demand, price appreciation will moderate to more historical levels.

May 26, 2021

Buying a Home Is Still Affordable

Buying a Home Is Still Affordable | MyKCMThe last year has put emphasis on the importance of one’s home. As a result, some renters are making the jump into homeownership while some homeowners are re-evaluating their current house and considering a move to one that better fits their current lifestyle. Understanding how housing affordability works and the main market factors that impact it may help those who are ready to buy a home narrow down the optimal window of time in which to make a purchase.

 

There are three main factors that go into determining how affordable homes are for buyers:

  1. Mortgage Rates
  2. Mortgage Payments as a Percentage of Income
  3. Home Prices

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) produces a Housing Affordability Index. It takes these three factors into account and determines an overall affordability score for housing. According to NAR, the index:

 

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

 

Their methodology states:

 

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

 

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here’s a graph of the index going back to 1990:

Buying a Home Is Still Affordable | MyKCMThe blue bar represents today’s affordability. We can see that homes are more affordable now than they’ve been at any point since the housing crash when distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominated the market. Those properties were sold at large discounts not seen before in the housing market for almost one hundred years.

 

Why are homes so affordable today?

Although there are three factors that drive the overall equation, the one that’s playing the largest part in today’s homebuying affordability is historically low mortgage rates. Based on this primary factor, we can see that it’s more affordable to buy a home today than at any time in the last eight years.

 

If you’re considering purchasing your first home or moving up to the one you’ve always hoped for, it’s important to understand how affordability plays into the overall cost of your home. With that in mind, buying while mortgage rates are as low as they are now may save you quite a bit of money over the life of your home loan.

 

Bottom Line

If you feel ready to buy, purchasing a home this summer may save you a significant amount of money over time based on historical affordability trends. Let’s connect today to determine if now is the right time for you to make your move.

April 6, 2021

Final Notice to Protect your Mortgage

Final Notice Marketing

You've just closed on your home purchase or refinanced your mortgage and you are now receiving official-looking notices in the mail with your mortgage company name, balance, date warning you that you need to take action to protect your mortgage. What the heck! CEO and Designated Broker, Matthew Plummer, explains this popular marketing ploy. 

March 19, 2021

Eviction Moratorium Extended

Governor Inslee Extends Eviction Moratorium

 

In case you missed it in the news, Governor Inslee extended the eviction moratorium. It was set to expire on March 31st, but has been extended through June 30th.

 

What does this mean for you, as an owner? You cannot move a tenant out, even if they do not pay rent. You cannot change terms to your lease, like raising rent, etc. You cannot charge late fees or any other fees - including if a tenant moves out prior to their lease expiring. If a tenant does not pay rent, we can still communicate with them, as usual. We can provide a worksheet to help make a repayment plan. Just because they don't pay rent and we can't evict, doesn't relieve them of the debt.

 

The only ways (at the time of this posting) to move a tenant out of your property is 1) as the owner, you can give a 60-day notice to move back into the property as your PRIMARY residence or 2) you can give a 60-day notice that you intend to sell the home. If you find yourself in this situation, we can help you through that process. 

 

Many of our owners are wondering when they will be able to raise rents to keep up with the rise in their own expenses. We understand and we are watching the changes as they come and will keep you posted!

 

Links for more information:

https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-announces-extension-eviction-moratorium-expansion-vaccine-eligibility-long-term

https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-announces-extension-of-eviction-moratorium-expansion-of-vaccine-eligibility-long-term-635b34eb0ca

https://www.king5.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/eviction-moratorium-extended-through-june-30-washington-coronavirus/281-77606e0f-8164-4f34-9fa0-77657d38ff92

Posted in Rent