The shifting Seattle real estate market has grabbed headline after headline in recent months, with the Seattle Times making proclamations earlier this week that suggest Seattle’s home prices are dropping faster than any other metro area in the nation. Contrary to headlines, however, trendlines point to a much different outcome, indicating slowing—not lowering—home price growth, amidst rising inventory and typical seasonal trends for the region. So, what does this mean for homebuyers in the Emerald City?
While it's true that home prices have continued to rise throughout the Seattle-Metro area, there are also some new and interesting statistics to go along with rising median prices. Realogics Sotheby's International Realty recently released their second-quarter market trends report for 2018 and we wanted to share a few statistics that jumped out at us.
Winter in real estate is notorious for lower inventory, and often lower prices, but it may just be one of the better times of year to buy. Most real estate news during the winter is akin to lowering median prices, a slow in construction, and a dip in overall housing inventory. However, even with all of these things popping up in news headlines across the nation; Seattle's housing market continues to come out on top.
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In an effort to expand homeownership among lower-income buyers, President Barack Obama cut mortgage-insurance premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in an announcement according to Bloomberg News.
“Lowering the annual mortgage insurance fee from 1.35% down to .85% will be a significant boom for both first-time homebuyers and current homeowners that want to refinance their FHA loans,” says Keith Lashley, Mortgage Banker with Caliber Home Loans and Preferred Lender for Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. “Prospective homebuyers are urged to take advantage of the lowest interest rates in over a year. Factoring in the rising median home prices and positive economic trends, I’d say this is about the most confident time to buy in recent memory.”
Lashley breaks down the changes like this. Mortgage insurance on a $400,000 loan currently costs a homeowner $450 per month but will drop down to $283 per month under the reduced premium providing a $166 per month savings to homeowners financed through FHA.
Under the new premium structure FHA estimates that 250,000 additional first-time homebuyers will be able to enter the market due to the reduce premium and over 2 million borrowers will save an average of $900 annually over the next three years if they purchase or refinance homes.
2015 is quickly shaping up to be a blockbuster year in real estate according to Lashley. He says homebuyers can take advantage of incredibly low interest rates, less restrictive FHA underwriting guidelines and now lower mortgage insurance to leverage their purchasing power all at the same time. He also warns that an increase of more homebuyers could make the marketplace even more competitive for buyers.
These favorable factors coupled with fast rising rents are not lost on first time homebuyers as Millennials and other modest income buyers are projected to move into the home buying market in record numbers this year. Other macro factors such as increased employment, low inflation and low relative home prices are further enticements for new home buyers to act in the first quarter of the New Year.