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Existing-home sales rose 4.3 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million, marking the third gain for home sales in the last four months, the National Association of REALTORS® reports.
“The uptrend in home sales is in line with all of the underlying fundamentals – pent-up household formation, record-low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices, sustained job creation and rising rents,” NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says.
While sales ticked up, inventories of for-sale homes also continued to show improvement, NAR reported. At the end of January, total housing inventory fell 0.4 percent to 2.31 million existing homes for sale, which represents a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
“The broad inventory condition can be described as moving into a rough balance, not favoring buyers or sellers,” Yun says. “Foreclosure sales are moving swiftly with ready home buyers and investors competing in nearly all markets. A government proposal to turn bank-owned properties into rentals on a large scale does not appear to be needed at this time.”
Unsold listed inventory has steadily dropped since reaching a peak of 4.04 million in July 2007. It now is 20.6 percent below where it was a year ago, NAR reports.
Housing Affordability Improves
As home prices have fallen and mortgage rates at all-time record lows, housing affordability is at some of its highest levels on record.
“Word has been spreading about the record high housing affordability conditions and our members are reporting an increase in foot traffic compared with a year ago,” says NAR President Moe Veissi. “With other favorable market factors, these are hopeful indicators leading into the spring home-buying season. We’re cautiously optimistic that an uptrend will continue this year.”
The national median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $154,700, which is down 2 percent year-over-year.
Distressed sales, which tend to sell at steep discounts, continue to hamper home prices nationwide. Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 35 percent of all January home sales, which is up slightly from 32 percent in December.
Still, “home buyers over the past three years have had some of the lowest default rates in history,” Yun said. “Entering the market at a low point and buying at discounted prices have greatly helped in that success.”
Breakdown by Housing Type
Here’s a closer look at how home sales fared by housing type in January:
Single-family home sales: increased 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.05 million in January from 3.90 million in December. They are 2.3 percent above the 3.96 million-unit pace a year ago. Median price: $154,400 in January, down 2.6 percent from January 2011.
Existing condominium and co-op sales: rose 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 520,000 in January from 480,000 in December. They are 10.3 percent lower than the 580,000-unit level in January 2011. Median price: $156,600 in January, up 2 percent from a year ago.
Home Sales by Region
The following is a breakdown of existing-home sales in January by region:
- Northeast: increased3.4 percent to an annual pace of 600,000 in January and are 7.1 percent above a year ago. Median price: $225,700, which is 4.2 percent below January 2011.
- Midwest: increased 1 percent in December to a level of 980,000 and are 3.2 percent higher than January 2011. Median price: $122,000, down 3.9 percent from a year ago.
- South: rose 3.5 percent to an annual level of 1.76 million in January but are unchanged from a year ago. Median price: $134,800, which is 0.3 percent below January 2011.
- West: increased 8.8 percent to an annual pace of 1.23 million in January but are 3.1 percent below a spike in January 2011. Median price: $187,100, down 1.8 percent from a year ago.
Contract Delays, Cancellations Remain High
Twenty-one percent of NAR members in January reported delays in contracts, and 33 percent said contracts fell through, according to NAR. The number of contract cancellations remains mostly unchanged from December.
The increase in the past year of contract cancellations or delays has been blamed on more lenders declining mortgage applications from stricter underwriting standards and low appraisals coming in under the agreed upon contract price.
More Americans are signing contracts to buy existing homes than at any time in nearly two years, boosting the housing industry’s slow recovery, according to the National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales.
The measure is up 2 percent to 97 in January after slipping 1.9 percent in December. The index of deals for previously owned homes is up 8 percent compared with the 89.8 level from January 2011.
Last month saw the highest point on the index since April 2010, when consumers drawn by a home-buyer tax credit pushed the figure to 111.3. That was the last time the measure exceeded 100 – the benchmark for industry health.
The index showed year-over-year increases in every region – a 9.8 percent increase in the Northeast, a 10.8 percent rise in the Midwest, a 10.5 percent boost in the South and a smaller 0.7 percent uptick in the West.
Contracts are usually signed a month or two before a deal closes and the home purchase is finalized, making the pending-sales index a leading indicator for where the market is headed. The Realtors group said last week that existing home sales in January were up more than 4 percent to an annual rate of 4.57 million.
Housing experts such as Lawrence Yun, the Realtor group’s chief economist, credit the sliding unemployment rate – which fell in January to its lowest point in three years – as well as a downward trend in home prices and a supply of homes that is at a nearly seven-year low.
“Movements in the index have been uneven, reflecting the head winds of tight credit, but job gains, high affordability and rising rents are hopefully pushing the market into what appears to be a sustained housing recovery,” Yun said in a statement.
As you start to gather up your belongings and pack them away for your move, many sellers question which items they should leave out for buyer appeal.
Often the wrong items are left on display; things like family photos, personal keepsakes, and treasured belongings. All of these items should be safely packed away which very often creates open space (a plus for buyers) on shelves, refrigerator doors, and desktops.
Buyers often make a decision within just seconds of seeing your home about whether or not they want to buy it. So picture your home through the eyes of your potential buyers. What do you see in about 10 seconds?
When you walk up do you see children’s toys scattered across the front lawn. Do you see overgrown shrubs and weeds? Do you see chipped paint on the front door, a screen that’s torn? Do you spot oil spills on the driveway?
Even answering yes to just one or two of those questions can be damaging and that’s before your potential buyer has entered your home. Sometimes, those seconds are all the buyers need to decide to simply do a “drive by” and not even stop to go inside.
Of course, the goal is to get the buyers inside. To get them to spend time, feel like your home could be their home. But even though that goal is so widespread and common among sellers, somehow the decisions some sellers make are almost completely polar to the goals.
Let’s look at five tips that can make your home appealing to buyers.
Check all the screens and molding around your windows and doors. This isn’t at the top of a seller’s list but it ought to be. Even slightly torn screens send a careless message to buyers. It gives an unconscious uneasiness that there’s been, at the very least, lack of care for this home.
Something simple like fixing a screen is often overlooked by a seller because it is so simple, yet, just seconds of seeing the ripped screen can cause a negative impact for buyers.
Add artwork to long hall ways. You don’t have to buy artwork that costs thousands of dollars but, if your home has long hall ways, it’s nice to break up the monotony with some tasteful artwork. Use contrasting shades and hues to coordinate with the flooring. When you’re shopping for the artwork or borrowing it from a friend or your real estate agent or homestager, bring swatches of the carpet or flooring and wall paint to match the artwork colors.
Make the kitchen a focal point. Whether they cook or not, the kitchen is of primary interest to many buyers. Winning over buyers with an appealing kitchen can often convince them that they must have the home. Make sure your appliances are clean, sparkling, and working. Return on investment in the kitchen is usually high and worth every penny, and more, you put into it.
Put the “ah” in the bedroom. The bedroom needs to look like a bedroom. Sounds funny, but many people use their bedroom for other things such as an office or storage. Boxes or newspapers are scattered or stacked in a corner. There’s no “ah” or sense of relaxation with that kind of room. So even if that’s how you’ve been living, understand that’s not how you should show a home.
If there isn’t much space, clear the clutter out. Remove excess furniture. It doesn’t matter if you use it. You can walk to another room to get what you need if it means you sell the home faster because it now looks more inviting and spacious.
Making your home more appealing is about seeing your home through the eyes of your potential buyers. When it comes time to go over the offers, you’ll be glad you did.
The Sixteenth Annual Spring Boat Show is coming soon! The Cap Sante Boat Haven will be full of boats and boating enthusiasts from March 23-25. Admission and parking are FREE! At least 75 boats, both new and pre-owned, ranging up to 65 feet will be available for viewing. Be sure to look for the big white tent – it is filled with electronics, rigging, and marine services – everything you need in one spot. Put on your most comfortable boating shoes and be prepared to spend the full day – or the entire weekend – at the Anacortes Spring Boat Show!
Come out and support Meals on Wheels on March 2, 2012 at the Anacortes Senior Center. Two seatings are available – 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Tickets are just $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 & under and can be purchased by calling 360-293-7473.
Meals on Wheels provides over 120 nutritious meals each weekday to Anacortes seniors. Please join us in supporting this great cause!
Pending home sales are on an upward trend, which has been uneven but meaningful since reaching a cyclical low last April, and are well above a year ago, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 2.0 percent to 97.0 in January from a downwardly revised 95.1 in December and is 8.0 percent higher than January 2011 when it was 89.8. The data reflects contracts but not closings. [continue reading]
By Pete Bakel
WASHINGTON, DC – The 2012 outlook is improving modestly from a disappointing 2011. Economic growth picked up in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 2.8 percent and is expected to come in at 2.3 percent for 2012, up from 1.6 percent growth for all of last year, according to Fannie Mae’s (FNMA/OTC) Economic & Strategic Research Group. However, the year-end growth rate was due largely to a positive swing in business inventory growth, which is not indicative of underlying consumer demand or the overall health of the economy. Nevertheless, consumer spending improved modestly and manufacturing and services activity expanded at a strong pace. Importantly, labor market conditions continued to improve with nonfarm payroll job growth increasing nearly 250,000 across many industries, including construction. The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3 percent, down from 8.5 percent the month prior, as the large increase in employment outweighed a growing number of people joining the work force – indicating a genuine improvement in the labor market. If we continue to see this level of positive data, the Group notes, the labor market may become an upside determinant for an improved outlook.
Housing also showed signs of improvement late last year with existing home sales rising in December for the third consecutive month. Indicators point to some good pickup in construction of apartment buildings and modest pickup in single-family construction in some locations. Overall, housing is expected to add to gross domestic product (GDP) for the first time in seven years, albeit by a very modest amount. Near-term improvement in housing sales is expected to be quite modest due to the current very low level of sales and continued expected declines in home prices, which remain a challenge to the housing market.
“Risks to the forecast are more balanced between the upside and downside since our January forecast,” said Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan. “The economy appears to be more resilient than in previous months, and should be less vulnerable to shocks, including any spillover from the European sovereign debt crisis. However, economic growth will remain constrained by various headwinds, such as a potential spike in oil prices due to tension in the Middle East; an expected decline in net exports from the global slowdown; and an expected increase in fiscal drag, including the fading of federal spending from the stimulus and a decline in defense spending for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
For more information visit www.fanniemae.com.
The 2012 Anacortes Spring Wine Festival is the place to be on Saturday, April 14, 2012! This fun and lively event is from 12:00-4:30 p.m. at the Port Warehouse Event Center on the corner of 1st and Commercial Ave. Over 20 wineries and 6 restaurants will be featured.
New this year
The Spring Wine Festival is proud to bring you our own local Cheese Monger, Samish Bay Cheese! They will be bringing a variety of their finest crafted organic cheeses to be available for purchase to take home and enjoy with a case or two of the many Vintners premium, artisan wines available at our onsite wine kiosk! All wines will be available at a discounted cost to festival attendees.
$40 Saturday advance includes wine tasting, keepsake glass, food tastes, and entertainment
$20 advance Saturday—designated driver ticket includes food and entertainment
$45/$25 at the door
Tickets are available now at the Anacortes chamber office.
For Accommodations click here
– ask about Spring Wine Festival Specials