Most active price range for Gig Harbor homes

January 2014 Gig Harbor Home Prices

As of today, the Gig Harbor Home Sales “Market Snapshot” shows that out of a total of 41 home sales in the past 30 days, 22 sold between $250,000 and $300,000.

It looks like that price range will remain active as there are currently 32 pending sales and 45 active listings in that same range.

Overall pending sales total 143. Total active listings are 318. This does include condos, but does NOT include the Key Peninsula.

If you ever want a breakdown of the activity in different price ranges, email me at sue@suerand.com or text “Gig Harbor Home Prices” to 253-732-0534.

Gig Harbor Home Prices

How much do Gig Harbor homes cost?

GIG HARBOR HOME SALES

The good news….. the number of homes sold in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula in 2013 increased over 30% from 2012. The chart below (proudly created in Seahawks colors) shows that in each month of 2013, there were more sales than in the same month in 2012. In homes that were priced well, it was not uncommon to see multiple offers. Bank-owned homes and short sales were less of factor than in the last few years, buyers took advantage of the low prices and interest rates, and investors paid cash for rental properties.

GH Home sales

The not-so-great news….the median price (half the homes sold for more, half for less) fluctuated a lot in 2013 and at year-end, was down from 2012. We saw some sharp increases in March and August, but steep declines in January, June, and September through November. As of December 31, 2013, median price was $285,000. The number of homes sold also declined in the fall months.

Gig Harbor Median Sales price

Why? The decline of sales in the fall months may have been due to Congress and the debt ceiling fiasco as well as concerns over the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act – there was not a lot of consumer confidence during that time. Buyers were hesitant to make lifestyle changes until those issues were resolved. And we had fewer homes on the market.

Some homeowners are holding on to their homes hoping to gain back some of the equity that was lost over the past few years, reducing our inventory. This is typically the time of year when sellers start thinking about putting their homes on the market, so expect to see more homes become available in the next few months.

Although our inventory is still low, there are still some good opportunities for buyers. Interest rates are anticipated to rise over the course of the year, but are currently still historically low.

If you have plans to sell your home this year – the buyers are out there – and right now there’s not a lot of competition for homes – especially those that are priced well and in good condition.

Summer in Gig Harbor

Those of us who live in Gig Harbor will tell you that we put up with a few months of drizzle because the summers are SO worth it! Temperatures rarely get into the 90’s, humidity is low, and the evenings cool off nicely.
And then there’s the recreation…feasting on freshly caught crab, being surprised by what actually comes up in those crabpots, hiking at Mt. Rainier, attending the free concerts in the park… this is what summer is all about in Gig Harbor!

Gig Harbor Home Prices

The real estate market for the month of May in Gig Harbor was very active. Compared to May of 2012, the number of homes that went under contract were up 42.4%, and number of homes sold was up 42.2%.

And more expensive homes are selling – our median price (comparing the month of May 2012 to the month of May 2013) was up 25.1%. Last May it was $271,000, this May it was $339,000.

Year to date, the number of homes sold is up 29.4% over 2012, and the median price has increased 8.2%from $282,000 to $305,000.

The low inventory (a 4.6 supply currently) has driven up prices, and is causing buyers to react quickly when new homes become available or have price reductions. Maybe too quickly. This causes some contracts to fall apart due to buyer’s remorse, though – so it’s always a good idea to think it through before you sign that contract!

Get your lending ducks in a row and be prepared to move quickly – just not too quickly.

Single Women Buying Homes

Speaking of Single
Women Buying Homes…

Female
mortgage applicants are less likely to have their loans approved than
male mortgage applicants, according to recent research by the
Woodstock Institute, which examined women’s access to mortgages
following the collapse of the housing bubble. Similarly,
female-headed joint applications are much less likely to be
originated than are male-headed joint applications, the study finds.”

From
The Residential Specialist magazine (May/June 2013)

Single Women Are Buying Homes

As I was reviewing my business over the
past year, I noticed a trend. Single women are buying houses.
Whether they have never been married, or are newly divorced or
widowed, it’s important to single women that they own their own home.

Buying a home is a big deal, and for
some of these single women it can be almost overwhelming. I know – I
did it myself several years ago. So as I work with these single
women who are buying houses, I like to play “20 Questions”,
which really turns into more like 100 questions, but 20 is a good
starting point.

  1. How much can you afford?

    This is the biggie. Keep in mind all
    the things you spend money on – hairstyling, manicures,
    medications, entertainment, gifts, decorating, clothing, auto and
    travel expenses, etc. and add them to your other bills such as
    utilities, taxes, insurances, cell phone, credit cards, cable TV and
    internet. You’ll need to budget for repairs and maintenance as
    well. Another factor to consider is interest rate. For every 1%
    increase in interest rates, your buying power diminishes by 10%. In
    other words, your payment will be about the same on a $300,000 house
    at 3% as it will for a $270,000 house at 4%. My suggestion is to
    get a referral from a friend or Realtor for a trusted lender who
    will take the time to discuss the details of your loan with you.

  2. Is the home and are the
    appliances energy efficient?

  3. Does the property require a
    lawn care or landscaping service?

  4. Are there Homeowner’s dues?

  5. Will you need to do any major
    repairs or remodeling?

  6. How much space do you need?

    Another
    important question…divorced and widowed women generally are used
    to having larger homes than they may now need, but struggle
    with the thought of over-downsizing.

  7. Do you
    have children, grandchildren or elderly parents who will be living
    with you – or visiting often?

  8. Do you
    work from home?

  9. Do you
    have hobbies that require additional space?

  10. Do you
    have a lot of furniture and “stuff” that you’ll be moving into
    the house?

  11. Do you
    like to entertain?

  12. How much
    maintenance do you want to do?

    Maybe your
    husband did a lot of the exterior work and you’re just not sure
    what’s all involved. Lawn-mowing, weed-eating, trimming shrubs,
    painting, gutter-cleaning…factor in either your time and energy to
    do it, or the cost of hiring it out. If you buy a condo, they’ll
    take care of most of these items for you, but you’ll be paying for
    it in your monthly dues.

  13. Do you
    have pets?
    (Will Fido tear up the lovely gardens?)

  14. Will you
    feel comfortable and safe here?

    Only you know
    how private, peaceful and quiet your home should be for your
    enjoyment. And it’s always a good idea to check out local
    crime statistics or talk to neighbors before buying a home.

  15. Do you
    like to take walks in the neighborhood?

  16. How do
    the nearby homes and businesses look?

  17. Is the
    property fenced, well-lit and have a security system?

  18. Is it
    convenient to work, friends, and family?

  19. Is it in
    a good school district?

  20. How do
    the Homeowner’s regulations (if any) fit your lifestyle?

You can see how
these 20 questions are just a tip of the iceberg. Depending on your
situation and experience, the questions will vary. It’s a big
decision – and one you don’t want to make without some level of
guidance.

I’m proud of my
great team of lenders, inspectors, title and escrow agents,
attorneys, lawn-care and pest-control providers, electricians,
plumbers, painters, etc. who help my clients settle in their new home
with a high level of confidence that they’ve made a good decision.

I’m also proud of
all those single women who are out there buying homes – you go
girls!

Homes are Selling in Gig Harbor!

Our Gig Harbor real estate market is booming! We only have one problem – a shortage of homes for sale.
Over the past 10 days, 27 Gig Harbor homes (including condos) have sold and 62 have gone pending. That’s a lot of activity for our little area.
In those same 10 days, 61 homes were listed for sale. 5 of which were re-lists. So if you do the math, you’ll see that 89 homes came off the market, while only 61 came on.
If you’re even remotely considering selling your home, this sure looks like a great time to do it. Homes are selling in Gig Harbor!

Short Sale vs Foreclosure Myths

Short Sale vs Foreclosure – 10 Common Myths Busted

It’s likely you’ve heard the term “short sale” thrown around quite a bit. But what, exactly, is a short sale?

A short sale is when a bank agrees to accept less than the total amount owed on a mortgage to avoid having to foreclose on the property. This is not a new practice; banks have been doing short sales for years. Only recently, due to the current state of the housing market and economy, has this process become a part of the public consciousness.

To be eligible for a short sale you first have to qualify!

To qualify for a short sale:

  • Your house must be worth less than you owe on it.
  • You must be able to prove that you are the victim of a true financial hardship, such as a decrease in wages, job loss, or medical condition that has altered your ability to make the same income as when the loan was originated. Divorce, estate situations, etc… also qualify.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a short sale is, there are some huge misconceptions when it comes to a short sale vs. a foreclosure. We take the most common myths surrounding both short sales and foreclosures and give a brief explanation. LET’S BUST SOME MYTHS!!

1.) If you let your home go to foreclosure you are done with the situation and you can walk away with a clean slate. The reality is that this couldn’t be any farther from the truth in most situations. You could end up with an IRS tax liability and still owing the bank money. Let me explain. Please keep in mind that if your property does go into foreclosure you may be liable for the difference of what is owed on the property versus what is sells for at auction, in the form of a deficiency balance! Please note this is state specific and in most states you will be liable for the shortfall, but in some states the bank may not always be able to pursue the debt. Check your state law as it varies widely from state to state.

Here is an example of how a deficiency balance works

If you owe $200,000 on the property and it sells at auction for $150,000, you could be liable for the $50,000 difference if your state law allows it.

Not only could you be liable for the difference to the bank, but in some situations you could also be liable to the IRS! Although there are exemptions (mostly for principle residences) under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, there are times when you could be taxed on both a short sale and a foreclosure, even in a principle residence situation. Since the tax code on this is a little complicated and I am not a CPA, I advise always talking to a CPA when in this situation as you are weighing your options. Hard to believe? Well, believe it or not, the IRS counts the difference between the sale and the charged off debt as a “gain” on your taxes. That’s right-you lost money and it’s counted as a gain! (I didn’t make that rule, that’s a wonderful brainchild of the IRS). Banks and the IRS can go as far as attaching your wages. Not to mention if you let your home go to foreclosure you will have that on your credit, as well.

Guess What? A short sale can alleviate your liability to the bank, in most situations. There are also exceptions to this, but in most cases banks are releasing homeowners from the deficiency balance on a short sale.

2.) There are no options to avoid foreclosure. Now more than ever, there are options to avoid foreclosure. Besides a short sale, loan modifications along with deed in lieu are also examples of the many options. In most cases (but not all) a short sale is the best option. Either way, there are more options today than there have ever been to avoid foreclosure.

3.) Banks do not want to participate in a short sale, or, it is too hard to qualify for a short sale. Banks would rather perform a short sale than a foreclosure any day. A foreclosure takes a long time and creates a huge expense for the banks; a short sale saves both time and money. Banks have more foreclosure inventory than ever before, and certainly do not want any more. Banks more than ever welcome short sales. Qualifying for a short sale is easier than you think, you need to have a true financial hardship, or a change in your finances and your house has to be worth less than what you owe on it. Not only do consumers, but banks also now have government incentive to participate in short sales.

4.) Short sales are not that common. At this present time, short sales range from 10-50 % of sales in various markets and it is predicted that in 2012 we will have more short sales than any other year, to date. Due to economic changes in the last few years, this is something that is affecting millions of Americans. Short sales are in every market, and are not just limited to any particular income class. This has affected everyone from all facets of life. A short sale should be looked at as a helpful tool, not a negative stigma. That is why the government is offering programs that actually pay consumers to participate in short sales. It is not just affecting one community; it is affecting communities and consumers across the nation.

5.) The short sale process is too difficult and they often get denied. Though the short sale process is time consuming; it is not as difficult as the media would have you believe. The problem is that most short sales are denied because of a misunderstanding of the process. It is true that if the short sale process is not followed correctly there is a good chance of getting denied. An experienced agent knows how to avoid this. Short sales require a lot of experience, and a special skill set. If you are looking to go the option of a short sale make sure your agent is skilled and experienced in this area.

6.) Short sales will cost me money out of pocket. A short sale should not cost you any out of pocket money. In fact, you could get between $3000-up to $30,000 to participate in a short sale. In many ways, a short sale may put you in a better financial position than prior to the short sale. Almost every short sale program now has some type of financial incentive for the home owner, as long as it is a principle residence, and we are even seeing relocation money being paid on some investment/second homes. As a seller of a property you should never have to pay for any short sale cost upfront to any professional service. Realtors charge a commission that is paid for by the bank. In most communities there are also non-profits and HUD counselors who can help you with foreclosure prevention options for free. The only potential cost you could incur is if the bank would not release you from a deficiency balance in the short sale, which is happening less and less now.

7.) If I am behind on my payments, I can perform a short sale any time. The farther you get behind on your payments, the harder it is to get a short sale approved. The closer a property gets to a foreclosure the harder it is to convince the bank to perform a short sale. As they get closer to a foreclosure sale more money is spent, thus deterring them from doing a short sale. If you think you need to perform a short sale, time is of the essence; the sooner you start the process, the better. Waiting too long can trigger the ramifications of a foreclosure, losing the ability to do a short sale as a viable option.

8.) I have already been sent a foreclosure notice so I can’t perform a short sale. For the most part just because you received a foreclosure notice or notice of default it does not mean that you do not have time to perform a short sale. The timeline and specifics do vary from state to state, but having done short sales all over the country, I have seen banks postpone a foreclosure to work a short sale option as close as 30 days prior to the scheduled foreclosure auction, but the longer you wait the less chance you have. If you have received a legal foreclosure notice, please reach out to a professional right away. The longer you wait, and the closer you get to foreclosure, the fewer options you have. If you have received a notice to foreclose this means the bank is filing paperwork and starting the process to take legal action to repossess the house. You still have time at this point to prevent foreclosure, but do not hesitate! The closer you get to the foreclosure date the harder it becomes to negotiate with the bank for whichever option you choose.

9.) I was denied for a loan modification, so I know I will get denied for a short sale. Short sales and loan modifications are handled by two separate departments at the bank. These processes are totally different in approval and denial. If you got denied for a modification you can still apply for a short sale; in some cases you can get a short sale approved faster than a loan modification, as some loan modifications are denied because they cannot reduce the loan low enough based on the consumers income.

10.) If I go through a short sale I cannot buy another house for a long time. The time to buy another house depends on your entire credit picture and can vary from 12-24 months. There are even a few FHA programs that allow for a purchase sooner than that. I have worked with clients who went through a short sale and bought another house in less than 12 months.

These are just a few of the common myths surrounding short sales and foreclosure. With the options available today, no homeowner should ever have to go through foreclosure, and hopefully this information can help a few more homeowners think twice before walking away from their home not realizing the possible long term ramifications a foreclosure can have.

by Brandon Brittingham on May 9, 2012
Brandon Brittingham is considered a leading national resource on foreclosure prevention and short sales. Brandon has been involved in over 400 short sales, and is the co-author of the SSC (Short Sale Certified) designation. Brandon has trained over 2000 real estate agents nationwide on short sales and how to help homeowners prevent foreclosure. He has worked with several major lenders to help them develop processes to streamline their short sale and loan modification processes, and has been a Regional Top producer in his area for the last three years and was recently acknowledged by Realty Alliance for being in the top 5% of realtors in North America.

Why to Buy a Home NOW

5 Reasons to Buy a Home Now Instead of the Spring by THE KCM CREW on NOVEMBER 28, 2012 · www.KeepingCurrentmatters.com

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five major reasons purchasers should consider buying:

Supply Is Shrinking

With inventory declining in many regions, finding a home of your dreams may become more difficult going forward. There are buyers in more and more markets surprised that there is no longer a large assortment of houses to choose from. The best homes in the best locations sell first. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy.

Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Prices were expected to bounce along the bottom this winter. However, many pricing indices (examples: CoreLogic, FHFA, LPS, Case Shiller) are reporting that prices are continuing to rise.

Rents Are Skyrocketing

Rents historically increase by 3.2% on an annual basis. A study issued earlier this year projects rent increases of 4% for the next two years. Trulia recently reported that rents this year have actually shot up by 5.4%.

Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association has projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be 4.4% by the end of 2013. That is an increase of approximately one full point over current rates.

Buy Low, Sell High

We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’. It’s time to buy.

Wednesday Afternoons in Gig Harbor

Every Wednesday afternoon I volunteer at the Chamber of Commerce office downtown. Some weeks, it’s not easy to fit it into my schedule, but I’m always so glad that I do. The enthusiasm is contagious – visitors are excited to learn about the fun things to do in Gig Harbor, and they all rave about how beautiful it is here, especially when Mt. Rainier is “out”. I encourage them to read the history markers as they stroll the downtown streets and get an idea of how our little town came to be. And then maybe visit the new state of the art Harbor History Museum. They tell me how fun it is to just get some ice cream, go down to the public park/marina and watch the boaters, kayakers and paddleboarders. Then when the ice cream is gone…. they head to the book stores, art and jewelry galleries, boutiques and gift shops. Have a little lunch at one of the fabulous restaurants, stop by a wine bar, find the perfect happy hour – all of this within walking distance of their car (which they’ve parked for free). These are simple things that I think we residents tend to take for granted at times. And that’s exactly why I will continue to spend Wednesday afternoons at the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce office. To catch the enthusiasm, get re-energized and continue appreciate all that Gig Harbor has to offer!