EASTSIDE 2020 GROWTH FORECAST

Another banner year for the region has brought tremendous prosperity across a breadth of industries, a wealth of new jobs, flourishing tourism, and the welcoming of several large businesses into our cities. 

So, how is the Eastside poised to begin a new decade? Will this growth continue? To find out, 425 Business ditched the crystal ball and talked to Eastside movers and shakers across myriad industries to find out what they believe the year ahead holds.

Residential Real Estate

The Eastside residential real estate market is going to experience significant growth in the next few years. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other tech giants are rapidly expanding their footprint to the Eastside. Thousands of tech workers relocating to this area, along with new hires for supporting businesses (such as retail and restaurants), will greatly increase the demand for housing. This year, almost half of the buyers who walked through my open houses were relatively new in town. 

Condos under $750,000 and single-family homes under $1.5 million will sell very quickly if they are in good condition and priced right. Also, homes with easy access to public transit and future light rail stations will become more and more desirable. Areas in and near downtown Bellevue and downtown Kirkland will still be the hottest submarkets because they are job centers with superb amenities.

– Mei Yang, global real estate adviser and broker at Realogics Sotheby’s International Reality

Commercial Real Estate

(The current) cycle exhibits some significantly different conditions from those that precipitated the “thrift crisis” of the ’80s; the dot-com bust of the ’90s; or, certainly, the “Great Recession” of the last decade. Interest rates are lower, equity is plentiful, and expectations for return on equity across all asset classes are significantly less expensive. 

Federal taxes and punitive regulations are generally lower (unfortunately, we can’t say that about state and local), and corporate earnings are remarkably strong (yes, with a few notable exceptions) despite tariffs and turmoil. Perhaps most important is the fact that employers across all sectors are scrambling to attract workers and have tens of thousands more openings to be filled. 

My belief is that real estate economics is pretty simple — it’s all about employment. If you have healthy job creation, everything works. It attracts more residents who need housing, businesses that need more lawyers and accountants, kiddos who need teachers, demand for groceries, and so on. Conversely, if employment flattens or falls, the economy constricts. 

Bottom line: If you can tell me when Eastside employers are going to quit hiring or start laying off, I’ll tell you when commercial real estate on the Eastside is going to suffer. Until then, land prices and rents on existing buildings will continue to rise, and developers will race to provide the office, apartment, and retail space to support the growth. 

– Robert Wallace, CEO of Wallace Properties

Transportation

Bellevue has a ton of local transportation improvements on tap for 2020 that will make travel safer and easier for thousands of residents. But we’re also excited about the work we’re doing with our regional partners. It has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of people in the coming years and will be a big boon for transportation options on the Eastside. 

Bellevue and Kirkland are working with King County Metro on a new RapidRide K Line that will connect the Eastgate Park & Ride in Bellevue to the Totem Lake Transit Center in Kirkland starting in 2025. And King County Parks is working with several Eastside cities on Eastrail, a regional pedestrian and bicycle path. 

On the roads side, the state Department of Transportation will break ground in 2020 on the I-405 Renton to Bellevue Widening and Express Toll Lanes project. It will add capacity, boost transit options, and improve safety on one of the most congested stretches of highway in the state.

– Andrew Singelakis, transportation director for the City of Bellevue

Healthcare

Next year, I see healthcare in general (and EvergreenHealth) placing an increased emphasis on access — both in the traditional sense and through innovative alternatives. The ever-permeating digital age provides care for patients through new approaches with even greater creativity and efficiency. We also will have the increased benefit of effective solutions, possible through new sources of data analysis and other breakthroughs. 

As always, we’ll collectively prepare for the needs of an expanding senior population, offering valuable services to help them sustain their well-being and healthy, active lifestyles. 

Finally, we are committed to collaborating with our schools and others, supporting care for students with behavioral health issues.

– Jeffrey J. Tomlin, CEO of EvergreenHealth

Tourism

Bellevue and the Eastside’s tourism and hospitality industry is positioned for continued growth. Demand is projected to increase due to the growing corporate presence on the Eastside, a strong consumer economy, healthy airline capacity, and popularity in the Pacific Northwest as a destination. In recent years, the Puget Sound region has seen significant hotel supply increases, which have caused property rates and occupancy to level out, but we are hopeful that this additional demand will offset the recent inventory surge. 

As a whole, travel growth in large technology markets like San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Vancouver have recently slowed, compared with previous years. With that said, many business travelers now book rooms and visitor experiences outside of the large city centers — which positions areas like Bellevue and the Eastside well for 2020 and beyond.

– Brad Jones, executive director of Visit Bellevue Washington

Technology

(Next year) is the year that cybersecurity will turn inside-out. Malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks are all significantly on the rise, and (historically) 61 percent of data breach victims have been small businesses. These businesses can no longer rely on legacy tools like antivirus and networks that only protect them at the office. 

Security must go mobile and leave traditional technologies behind. It’s also time to eliminate SMS-based authentication in favor of hardware keys that support Universal Two Factor authentication.

– Riley Eller, chief technology officer at Rubica

Legal

We expect the rapid growth of technology companies of all sizes based on the Eastside or expanding their operations to the Eastside to continue, many of which will be focused on intelligent connectivity, including 5G, AI, IoT, and Quantum computing. With that, we expect to see more regulatory attention on consumer privacy and data usage. 

This regulatory attention will increase the demand for legal service providers, especially those who have a stake in the Eastside community and a desire for more personal interaction with their clients.

– Barry Stulberg, counsel, and Carly Chan, associate, Davis Wright Tremaine’s Bellevue Office

Finance

Eastside residents and business owners should have a plan in place for when times are good and when times are bad, regardless of the Federal Reserve’s actions. The Fed cut rates by 25 basis points, to 1.5 percent (from) 1.75 percent. This means that the Fed is helping prolong the economic expansion. The Fed is not expected to reduce rates further in the coming year, barring a recession. However, consumer confidence fell for a third straight month (as of Nov. 1), and consumers have not shown signs of slowing down. 

Fed rate cuts to prop up an otherwise-slowing global economy generally mean that they are prolonging the inevitable — a recession. However, the bigger effect is to Americans saving for later. Because of low interest rates, American consumers are forced to take on more risk than necessary to make their money work for them. It would be prudent to include in one’s portfolio insurance and real estate to complement their investment portfolio.

Because of the technology industry and the various Silicon Valley companies coming into the Seattle-Eastside area, our economy will not be as affected as other economies when we experience a recession.

Clients at local technology companies have indicated that hiring has slowed down, and jobs that were eliminated aren’t being replaced with new workers. This can mean they are bracing for a possible recession or slowdown in the economy.

Consumer confidence is still not at a level where they are pulling back from spending; this explains why housing is still strong in the area and consumers are stretching their budget to buy into a hot real estate market.

Restaurants in the area are feeling the effects of a low interest rate environment, which generally follows inflation of raw materials and commodities. It is evident in the exorbitant prices we are experiencing when we go out to eat.

– Tony Sablan, wealth manager at Eagle Strategies LLC

This article was originally posted on 425 Business.


Posted on December 28, 2019 at 3:05 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Living, Market News | Tagged

2020 Economic & Housing Market Forecast

As we head toward the end of the year, it’s time to recap how the U.S. economy and housing markets performed this year and offer my predictions for 2020.

U.S. Economy

In general, the economy performed pretty much as I expected this year: job growth slowed but the unemployment rate still hovers around levels not seen since the late 1960s.

Following the significant drop in corporate tax rates in January 2018, economic growth experience a big jump. However, we haven’t been able to continue those gains and I doubt we’ll return to 2%+ growth next year. Due to this slowing, I expect GDP to come in at only +1.4% next year. Non-residential fixed investment has started to wane as companies try to anticipate where economic policy will move next year. Furthermore, many businesses remain concerned over ongoing trade issues with China.

In 2020, I expect payrolls to continue growing, but the rate of growth will slow as the country adds fewer than 1.7 million new jobs. Due to this hiring slow down, the unemployment rate will start to rise, but still end the year at a very respectable 4.1%.

Many economists, including me, spent much of 2019 worried about the specter of a looming recession in 2020. Thankfully, such fears have started to wane (at least for now).

Despite some concerning signs, the likelihood that we will enter a recession in 2020 has dropped to about 26%. If we manage to stave off a recession in 2020, the possibility of a slowdown in 2021 is around 74%. That said, I fully expect that any drop in growth will be mild and will not negatively affect the U.S. housing market.

Existing Homes

As I write this article, full-year data has yet to be released. However, I feel confident that 2019 will end with a slight rise in home sales. For 2020, I expect sales to rise around 2.9% to just over 5.5 million units.

Home prices next year will continue to rise as mortgage rates remain very competitive. Look for prices to increase 3.8% in 2020 as demand continues to exceed supply and more first-time buyers enter the market.

In the year ahead, I expect the share of first-time buyers to grow, making them a very significant component of the housing market.

New Homes

The new-home market has been pretty disappointing for most of the year due to significant obstacles preventing builders from building. Land prices, labor and material costs, and regulatory fees make it very hard for builders to produce affordable housing. As a result, many are still focused on the luxury market where there are profits to be made, despite high demand from entry-level buyers.

Builders are aware of this and are doing their best to deliver more affordable product. As such, I believe single-family housing starts will rise next year to 942,000 units—an increase of 6.8% over 2019 and the highest number since 2007.

As the market starts to deliver more units, sales will rise just over 5%, but the increase in sales will be due to lower priced housing. Accordingly, new home prices are set to rise just 2.5% next year.

Mortgage Rates

Next year will still be very positive from a home-financing perspective, with the average rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage averaging under 4%. That said, if there are significant improvements in trade issues with China, this forecast may change, but not significantly.

Conclusion

In this coming year, affordability issues will persist in many markets around the country, such as San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Jose; Seattle; and Bend, Oregon. The market will also continue to favor home sellers, but we will start to move more toward balance, resulting in another positive year overall for U.S. housing.

About Matthew Gardner:

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Posted on December 12, 2019 at 3:02 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News, Matthew Gardner Reports | Tagged

Eastside Market Report | October 2019 | Provided by Denni Shefrin

The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $935,000 in August, unchanged from a year ago and up slightly from $925,000 in July. New commercial and residential construction projects are in the works. Strong demand for downtown condos has prompted plans for yet another high-rise tower to break ground next year. Questions?

Get the full report by clicking here.

 


Posted on October 27, 2019 at 10:08 am
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , ,

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update Q3

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State employment has softened slightly to an annual growth rate of 2%, which is still a respectable number compared to other West Coast states and the country as a whole. In all, I expect that Washington will continue to add jobs at a reasonable rate though it is clear that businesses are starting to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. The state unemployment rate was 4.6%, marginally higher than the 4.4% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.2%, with a total of 88,400 new jobs created.

 

HOME SALES

  • There were 22,685 home sales during the third quarter of 2019, representing a slight increase of 0.8% from the same period in 2018 and essentially at the same level as in the second quarter.
  • Listing activity — which rose substantially from the middle of last year — appears to have settled down. This is likely to slow sales as there is less choice in the market.
  • Compared to the third quarter of 2018, sales rose in five counties, remained static in one, and dropped in nine. The greatest growth was in Skagit and Clallam counties. Jefferson, Kitsap, and Cowlitz counties experienced significant declines.
  • The average number of homes for sale rose 11% between the second and third quarters. However, inventory is 14% lower than in the same quarter of 2018. In fact, no county contained in this report had more homes for sale in the third quarter than a year ago.

 

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • Home price growth in Western Washington notched a little higher in the third quarter, with average prices 4.2% higher than a year ago. The average sales price in Western Washington was $523,016. It is worth noting, though, that prices were down 3.3% compared to the second quarter of this year.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except Island, though the decline there was very small.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County, where home prices were up 22%. San Juan, Jefferson, and Cowlitz counties also saw double-digit price increases.
  • Affordability issues are driving buyers further out which is resulting in above-average price growth in outlying markets. I expect home prices to continue appreciating as we move through 2020, but the pace of growth will continue to slow.

 

 

 

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped one day when compared to the third quarter of 2018.
  • Thurston County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 20 days to sell. There were six counties where the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in six counties, while two counties were unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 38 days to sell a home in the third quarter. This was down 3 days compared to the second quarter of this year.
  • Market time remains below the long-term average across the region and this trend is likely to continue until more inventory comes to market, which I do not expect will happen until next spring.

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am leaving the needle in the same position as the first and second quarters, as demand appears to still be strong.

The market continues to benefit from low mortgage rates. The average 30-year fixed rates is currently around 3.6% and is unlikely to rise significantly anytime soon. Even as borrowing costs remain very competitive, it’s clear buyers are not necessarily jumping at any home that comes on the market. Although it’s still a sellers’ market, buyers have become increasingly price-conscious which is reflected in slowing home price growth.

 

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Posted on October 25, 2019 at 11:30 am
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News, Matthew Gardner Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Eastside Market Report | August 2019 | Provided by Denni Shefrin

The real estate market continued to moderate in July. Inventory rose and home values softened, providing buyers with increased selection and more favorable pricing.

Get the full report here.


Posted on August 19, 2019 at 4:40 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , ,

Q2 Western Washington Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please contact me!

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State employment jumped back up to an annual growth rate of 2.4% following a disappointing slowdown earlier in the spring. As stated in the first quarter Gardner Report, the dismal numbers earlier this year were a function of the state re-benchmarking its data (which they do annually).

The state unemployment rate was 4.7%, marginally up from 4.5% a year ago. My current economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.6%, with a total of 87,500 new jobs created.

 

HOME SALES

  • There were 22,281 home sales during the second quarter of 2019, representing a drop of 4.8% from the same period in 2018. On a more positive note, sales jumped 67.6% compared to the first quarter of this year.
  • Since the middle of last year, there has been a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale, which is likely the reason sales have slowed. More choice means buyers can be more selective and take their time when choosing a home to buy.
  • Compared to the second quarter of 2018, there were fewer sales in all counties except Whatcom and Lewis. The greatest declines were in Clallam, San Juan, and Jefferson counties.
  • Listings rose 19% compared to the second quarter of 2018, but there are still a number of very tight markets where inventory levels are lower than a year ago. Generally, these are the smaller — and more affordable — markets, which suggests that affordability remains an issue.

 

HOME PRICES

  • Year-over-year price growth in Western Washington continues to taper. The average home price during second quarter was $540,781, which is 2.8% higher than a year ago. When compared to first quarter of this year, prices were up 12%.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except King, which is unsurprising given the cost of homes in that area. Even though King County is home to the majority of jobs in the region, housing is out of reach for many and I anticipate that this will continue to act as a drag on price growth.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Lewis County, where home prices were up 15.9%. Double-digit price increases were also seen in Mason, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, and Skagit counties.
  • The region’s economy remains robust, which should be a positive influence on price growth. That said, affordability issues are pervasive and will act as a headwind through the balance of the year, especially in those markets that are close to job centers. This will likely force some buyers to look further afield when searching for a new home.

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home matched the second quarter of 2018.
  • Snohomish County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 21 days to sell. There were five counties where the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in eight counties and two were unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of 2019. This was the same as a year ago but is down 20 days compared to the first quarter of 2019.
  • As stated above, days-on-market dropped as we moved through the spring, but all markets are not equal. I suggest that this is not too much of an issue and that well-priced homes will continue to attract attention and sell fairly rapidly.

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am leaving the needle in the same position as the first quarter as demand appears to still be strong.

The market has benefitted from a fairly significant drop in mortgage rates. With average 30-year fixed rates still below 4%, I expect buyers who have been sitting on the fence will become more active, especially given that they have more homes to choose from.

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.


Posted on July 25, 2019 at 12:52 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News, Matthew Gardner Reports | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Eastside Market Report | July 2019 | Provided by Denni Shefrin

The market in our region appears to be moderating. Inventory is up, prices are relatively stable and homes are taking a bit longer to sell. However, with less than two months of available inventory, supply is still far short of demand. Steady buyer activity, low interest rates and a thriving economy are making for a strong summer in the housing market.

Eastside

>>>Click image to view full report.

The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $950,000 in June, down 3% from the same time last year and up $21,000 from May. Many buyers are looking to take advantage of the Eastside jobs boom with Amazon announcing plans to build a 43-story tower in Bellevue and Google expecting to reach 1 million square feet of office space in Kirkland.

King County

>>>Click image to view full report.

There was good news for buyers in June as a growing supply of homes helped boost inventory close to 2012 listing levels. The median price of a single-family home in King County was $695,000. That figure is a 3% drop from a year ago and virtually unchanged from May. 33% of homes sold above list price; another sign prices are moderating when compared to 52% of homes sold over list price this time last year.

Seattle

>>>Click image to view full report.

Home inventory in Seattle inched slightly higher in June. However, with less than two months of supply, the city is still a solid seller’s market. Apple’s plan to turn Seattle into a key engineering hub can only add to demand. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $781,000, down 4% from a year ago and nearly unchanged from May.

Snohomish County

>>>Click image to view full report.

After hovering around $500,000 since March, home prices in Snohomish County crept up in June. The median price of a single-family home was $515,500, as compared to $511,500 last June. Snohomish County continues to attract buyers priced out of the King County market, putting an additional strain on supply which stands a just 1.5 months of inventory.


Posted on July 23, 2019 at 4:23 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , ,

Eastside Market Report | June 2019 | Provided by Denni Shefrin Copy Copy


The pace of the housing market gained momentum in May, bringing an uptick in open house traffic and offers. A drop in interest rates and increased inventory were great incentives for buyers. Despite the increase in supply there is less than two months of inventory available – half the national average and far short of what is considered balanced. Industry experts are predicting a strong market as we segue into summer.

Eastside

MarketUpdate_Eastside_May19.png

The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $928,800 in May, down 3% from the same time last year and virtually unchanged from April. With a booming economy that continues to grow, news of Amazon’s expansion in Bellevue, the latest Microsoft acquisition and plans for a $1.2 billion office park in Redmond, demand for housing on the Eastside is unlikely to decrease any time soon.

King County

MarketUpdate_KingCo_May19.png

Home sale activity in King County was brisk in May. According to a Windermere analysis, 7 out of 10 properties sold last month had 15 or fewer days on the market. More than half of the homes sold at or above list price. The median price of a single-family home was $700,000. While down 4% from the same time last year, that price was up about $22,000 from the previous month. Home to the fastest growing economy in the country,  King County is expected to draw even more buyers to the area this year.


Posted on June 19, 2019 at 3:10 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Housing Market in 2019

The last time we saw a balanced market was late 1990s, meaning many sellers and buyers have never seen a normal housing market.  Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner looks at more longer-term averages, what does he see for the future of the housing market?

 


Posted on May 23, 2019 at 5:23 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News, Matthew Gardner Reports | Tagged , , , , ,

Eastside Market Report | May 2019 | Provided by Denni Shefrin Copy

 


The spring home buying season started early this year. Open houses had increased attendance and bidding wars returned. After months of softening, home prices in most of the region jumped significantly from the prior month. With just one month of data, we’ll have to wait and see if this is the start of a longer upward trend.

 

 

 


Posted on May 19, 2019 at 3:04 pm
Denni Shefrin | Posted in Market News | Tagged , , ,