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The region’s crazy real estate market is calmer — for now

January 7, 2020

with mortgage rates at less than 4%, real estate brokers say it’s a great time to go home shopping.

With mortgage rates at less than 4%, real estate brokers say it’s a great time to go home shopping.

By Janice Podsada for The Everett Herald | The Everett Herald

The region’s frenzied real estate market has calmed, but some potential home buyers haven’t gotten the memo.

“The average consumer thinks it’s crazy, crazy out there,” said Courtney McClasky, a broker with Keller Williams Everett.

The “crazy” market that sometimes saw a half-dozen or more would-be buyers bidding on one property is no longer the norm, she said.

But the perception lingers that that’s still the situation, prompting some potential buyers to pull out, McClasky said.

“The reality is we’re seeing far fewer offers, maybe one or two on a property,” she said. “It’s a great time to buy because interest rates are so low.”

Last year at this time, bankers and economists were predicting that interest rates would top 6% by the end of 2019.

That didn’t happen. In recent months, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage have hovered around 3.7% and are expected to remain below 4% for the first part of this year, McClasky said.

McClasky expects higher inventory levels to prevail this year, which means buyers should have a greater choice of more homes.

“I think we’re shifting gears into a more balanced market,” she said.

While a normal or ideal real estate market might offer a four- or five-month supply of homes for sale, the current supply is about two months, McClasky said.

(If there are 50 homes on the market, and 10 homes sell each month, that’s a five-month supply of homes for sale.)

Other brokers aren’t as optimistic and expect new listings will continue to be in short supply.

“People are moving here, home prices will continue to increase, inventory shortages will occur. That’s our future,” Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor, recently said.

The number of days on the market is trending upward, McClasky said, citing figures from recent Northwest Multiple Listing Service reports. The crazy days saw some properties under contract within a week or even a day or two of being listed.

Still, buyers should be ready to pounce, particularly if they spot an appealing property in the $350,000 to $500,000 price range, considered the mid range, she said.

“If there’s a bargain out there, others will find it, too, and they’ll be competing once again,” said Beeson, who is a member of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service board of directors.

Dori Archuleta, senior real estate loan officer at Peoples Bank on Colby Avenue in Everett, said rising rents are motivating renters to consider a home purchase.

In some cases, “the price of rent equals a mortgage payment,” Archuleta said.

“I had one client who was paying $2,400 a month for rent,” Archuleta said. “We were able to get her into a home for $2,000 a month.” More than half of properties sell within 30 days. Read more...