To Buy or Not to Buy?

It’s the start of spring and generally the time when the housing market — like everything else around the South Sound — starts to warm back up.

But is the housing market going to be as red hot as it was last spring and summer? Only time will tell, but the market still looks like it will be healthy with interest rates still low. If you are buying or selling in the South Sound you want to be on top of your game.

Shawn Viguerie

Courtesy 253 Realty

According to Shawn Viguerie, owner of 253 Realty in Tacoma, it’s best to be armed and ready — with a pre-approved loan before you start shopping — and, if you are selling, you want to price your home right.

“Interest rates are low, but are rising,” Viguerie said. “For some first-time homebuyers, this may pose an affordability issue. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the upward trend in interest rates will change anytime soon, so now is the time to buy.”

According to a Redfin analysis on nationwide home prices at the tail end of last year, home prices were up 1.2 percent, to a median sale price of $289,800. The good news about that for buyers is that in December 2018, that was the smallest overall home price increase since 2012, over the course of a year.

December may have felt like a foot on the brake, but the housing market was going over the speed limit, according to Daryl Fairweather, Redfin chief economist. “Home prices have been growing faster than wages since 2012, and that can’t go on forever. Now that price growth has slowed down, and more homes are sitting on the market, buyers will have the upper hand in 2019.”

While the nationwide market may have slowed, local markets continue to be competitive. In Tacoma, for example, 32.8 percent of homes sold above list price in recent months, making the city one of the most competitive markets in the country.

Seattle is experiencing a boost in inventory, with the number of homes for sale last month 117.8 percent higher than in December 2017. Accordingly, the number of homes sold dropped by 22 percent.

But even with the overall decrease in price growth across the United States, there is still plenty of uncertainty about the future of the housing market.

Last year, if you were in the market buying or selling, you were probably aware of a lot of bidding wars among buyers — and a lot of properties getting snatched up as soon as they hit the market. As things cooled down a bit, there seemed to be more room for negotiation among buyers and sellers — and those “for sale” signs seemed to stay up longer.

“For sellers, make sure your home is priced right. Your asking price is often your home’s first impression, and if you want to realize the most money you can for your home, it is imperative that you make a good first impression,” Viguerie said.

If you are in the market to buy, get approved before you start shopping so you’re ready to capture the home of your dreams.

“Be ready. If you’re not, your ‘perfect home’ may be snatched up by someone else. Start by getting approved for a loan, and team up with an agent that is willing to do what it takes to make sure you do not miss out,” Viguerie said.

Maybe you are in the market for a fixer-upper. Before you start envisioning a home you’ll transform into something HGTV-worthy, do your homework. “First, you’ll want to decide how much of a fixer you are willing to take on. Second, you’ll want to make sure that home qualifies for the financing type you choose,” said Viguerie. “Next is the fun part: Go out and find that home; just be sure to get a home inspection to make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew.”

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