Seattle Homebuyer's Guide To 2021 Real Estate: 5 Trends To Focus On

The year 2020 was unusual to say the least. We were met with a slew of the unexpected. Nationwide lockdowns, social distancing, and mask mandates were just the beginning. What followed was a shock to the economy, with a particularly striking effect on the real estate market.

During COVID-19, many workers found themselves getting laid off or working from home. And business owners were limiting operations or stopping them completely. 

Together we’ll examine how these forces came into play following the pandemic, how they influenced the real estate market, and what Seattle-based buyers should consider going forward.

Let’s get started.

Interest Rates Are Low

It’s likely you’ve heard the term “Fed” thrown around regarding the economy. But if you haven’t, or just need a refresher, the term is short for the Federal Reserve System. They act as the centralized bank for the United States. And their collective power is able to influence the country’s interest rates. 

Interest rates are what a lender charges a borrower when they take out a loan. And if interest rates are high, it can slow the economy. That’s because borrowers will be more turned off to the idea of taking out a loan. 

You know what else can slow down the economy?

The immediate impact of a pandemic! The lockdowns, loss of jobs, closing of businesses, and social restrictions also played a pivotal role. In the immediate aftermath of COVID-19, the economy became sluggish. But remember...

Interest rates can stimulate the economy as well.

To combat the sluggishness, the Fed took action (ex: buying up bonds) to help keep interest rates low. With interest rates low, borrowers were more incentivized to take out loans. Those loans could be used to start new businesses or to start buying houses.

Personal Savings Are High

What’s even better than being able to take out a low-interest loan is being able to pay for something in cash. Especially if it’s for a down payment on a house. And, believe it or not, many Americans became better able to do so as a result of the pandemic.

But what about all the lost jobs and business shutdowns?

Unemployment and business closures were certainly a consequence of the pandemic. However, the vast majority of Americans remained employed and businesses still open. Much of which was made possible through working-from-home arrangements. 

And with people still making money, but having fewer places to spend it...

Personal savings started to boom. Discretionary income wasn’t being eaten up by dining out, seeing movies, or taking vacations. People weren’t buying clothes or cosmetics with social gatherings restricted, and professionalism needed only from the waist-up webcam meetings. Not to mention, with less driving, gas and car repairs were less of an issue.

The main point being…

Many Americans now were in a situation where interest rates were low and more money was in the bank. Together these heavily incentivized more expensive purchases. A primary one being real estate. 

This is amplified further by the fact that...

Working From Home Is Looking Like A New Normal

Working from home is looking more and more like a new normal. Initially started by the lockdowns, it's a workplace trend that doesn’t appear to be disappearing anytime soon. 

And Seattle is no exception…

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 47% of adults in the Seattle metro area had transitioned to telework. [5] 

Other Working from home statistics to consider:

  • Though it will vary by industry, employers anticipate that 40% of workers will operate from home by the end of 2021 based on a report from Willis Towers Watson. [1]
  • The staffing firm Lasalle Network polled over 300 CEOs, COOs, HR professionals, and Finance leaders regarding their outlooks on remote working.They found that 77% of respondents indicated that they planned on ushering in a hybrid model. One where some employees would return to the office, while others remained at home. [2] 
  • A Pew Research Center survey found that the majority of employed adults (54%) that felt they could perform their work responsibilities from home wanted to continue to do so after the pandemic was over. [3]

Coming from the employer perspective there’s a clear anticipation that remote work will continue. And from the employee perspective, a clear desire that it should. 

As a result, establishing a home office has become a priority for many living in Seattle. This may come in the form of remodeling an existing home, or buying a new home all together. And if you find yourself in either of these categories, it would be beneficial to speak to a financial advisor.

Because... 

With the triple threat of low interest rates, high personal savings, and the new norm of working from home, real estate has become more volatile. There’s been a rapid surge in demand. 

And because new houses aren’t built overnight...

Demand Is Still Outstripping Supply

Housing sales have soared in recent months. And because the supply of houses could not keep up with the high demand, prices for homes soared as well. 

In fact:

  • According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price for existing homes of all types was up 23.4% for June, 2021 compared to June, 2020. [4]
  • In the Seattle metro area, single-family homes saw an increase in price by 20.2% in April, 2021. The region’s highest-ever jump recorded over a 12-month period. [6]
  • It was also found that in June, 2021 89% of all homes sold were on the market for less than a month. [4]

Talk about a turnaround time!

And while there’s speculation that these trends will continue to level off, many experts are hesitant to say it'll happen anytime soon. 

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of NAR, said the following on the matter. “At a broad level, home prices are in no danger of a decline due to tight inventory conditions, but I do expect prices to appreciate at a slower pace by the end of the year.”

Taking in experienced voices is especially important in hectic marketplaces. And speaking with the right financial advisor can help you weather a storm. Or, better yet, keep you from entering one in the first place. 

Because rushing in might bite you, even though...

Buyers Are Making Quick, Expensive Decisions

No one knows exactly what the future holds. But we can look to the past and present moment for some guidance.

And right now they’re showing a seller’s market. 

With deals closing in a matter of weeks, buyers are forced to make hasty choices. These choices are also expensive as sellers are able to list their scarcer homes at much higher prices. This can be problematic if you haven't done your due diligence. You first need to understand what type of home you can afford.

Don’t be tempted into rushing a major financial commitment. 

Speak with an advisor first. And if you have your eyes on a dream house, make it an immediate priority. Houses are closing fast, and you’ll want guidance sooner rather than later. Wait and it could cost you a piece of land. But if you jump the gun...

It could cost you peace of mind.

The Bottom Line

Purchasing a home is often a significant financial decision. And one that can benefit from a second opinion. This is especially true in the wake of COVID-19. 

During this time we’ve seen a decrease in interest rates and an increase in personal savings. This coupled with working-from-home norms has resulted in a high demand for real estate.

The demand has remained ahead of the supply, which has created a seller’s market in Seattle. One where houses are sold at high prices at very quick turnaround times. This can make buyers jumpy, and rush into buying. And they can be comforted by a recency bias that claims things will trend towards the same. 

But if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that trends can change.

Past patterns and expert speculation serve their purpose. But it’s also important to speak directly with an advisor who understands your specific situation. Particularly if that decision involves buying real estate in the current marketplace. 

Whether you’re buying your first home, a second home, or simply upgrading or downsizing, we can help. We’ve undergone somewhat of a boom helping clients analyze and evaluate real estate transactions ourselves. Reach out to Crafted Finance at 650-336-0598 for further guidance or fill out a contact card here, and we’ll reach out to you. 

References

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/11/one-year-into-covid-working-from-home-is-here-to-stay.html
  2. https://www.thelasallenetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/LaSalle-Network-Office-Re-Entry-Index.pdf
  3. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/12/09/how-the-coronavirus-outbreak-has-and-hasnt-changed-the-way-americans-work/
  4. https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-expand-1-4-in-june
  5. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/nearly-half-of-seattle-area-adults-working-from-home-because-of-pandemic/
  6. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/even-as-the-nation-breaks-home-price-records-seattle-prices-climb-faster/



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