This week’s relevant links: Week of April 15th-19th, 2013

“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets”.

Will Rogers


70% of lenders believe housing recovery is real

A new survey of bank risk professionals shows the originations space warming to the idea of expanding home lending

Q1 Consumer Outlook Survey showing Consumer Confidence in Real Estate

Prudential Real Estate, recently released results of its first quarter Consumer Outlook Survey showing that Americans’ sentiment toward real estate is growing increasingly favorable.

Renovate or relocate? 5 key questions to ask

A Seattle couple says “We essentially got the house that we would have ended up with 18 months later, but for a third of the cost”

FHFA Extends HARP by 2 Years, Through 2015

The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been extended for two years beyond its scheduled expiration on December 31

U.S. Land Gets More Expensive

“The world has just woken up and said, ‘We need land!’ ”

Bigger Loans Mean Tougher Requirements

Jumbo loans often come in three sizes: small, medium and large. The bigger the loan size, the tougher the lending requirements

Metro Areas Where Residents Most Likely to Feel Safe

There is wide variation among the largest metro areas in residents’ self-reported security. Portland #13 and Seattle #25

Housing Inventory Picked Up in March

Housing inventories picked up modestly in March, offering some hope to home buyers who are grousing about slim pickings

U.S. Economic Confidence Remains Steady

Americans’ confidence in the economy showed no change last week as the U.S. stock market’s rally slowed

U.S. Consumer Spending Continues Upward Trend in March

U.S. self-reported daily consumer spending increased to $89 in March from $83 in February and $80 in January. This upward trend in consumer spending has occurred despite the end of the payroll tax holiday and the start of the federal sequestration budget cuts

Teaching Empathy: The Ancient Way Is Now Cutting-Edge

emotional intelligence plays a role in a person’s success

Facebook Home and a mobile first solution for real estate

Ambitious because they envision a world in which every personal interaction we have digitally is piped through Facebook’s platform (shudder) and unique because they had the foresight and courage to re-imagine themselves as more than just a “website”

Covered by homeowners insurance? Don’t be so sure

You’ve no doubt noticed that premiums have gotten pretty pricey. Rates have climbed 69% over the past decade to an average of $1,000 a year.

Americans See Best Quality Jobs Market in U.S. in Five Years

Twenty-six percent of Americans say now is a good time to find a quality job — the highest since March 2008

First look: Inside a $135 million home

CNNMoney gets a first look at one of the the most expensive homes for sale in the U.S.; a 25-acre Dallas estat

Mortgage Rates in the U.S. Decline for a Second Week

Mortgage rates in the U.S. fell for a second week, reducing borrowing costs as more homeowners seek to refinance into less expensive loans.

U.S. City Wellbeing Tracking

Explore results by U.S. metropolitan area for overall wellbeing, diabetes, obesity, frequent exercise, frequent produce consumption, city optimism, and the uninsured

Reverse Mortgages: Sometimes, Remorse

Let’s face it, the reverse mortgage is not for everyone

The Future of Home Values – Taking a Closer Look at Price-to-Income Fundamentals

Home values have been increasing steadily across the nation since they hit a bottom in October 2011. Since October, they are up 6.5 percent. Just over the past year, home values have appreciated by 5.8 percent. This rate of appreciation is higher than the historical average of around 3 percent

Support FHA’s Efforts to Expand Responsible Lending

Today, the FHA is the dominant source of mortgage financing for borrowers with low down payments and those without high incomes or inherited wealth

Housing inventory, buyer demand are market drivers

JPMorgan Chase ($49.31 0%) expects home prices to rise 7% in 2013. That level of continued confidence is driven by tighter-than-normal inventory, robust demand, high affordability levels, and a stronger economy

Why Positivity is So Essential in the Workplace

a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset can not only affect our attitudes toward work, but the outcomes which follow

How to sell more homes this Spring

Here’s the deal: home inventory is low, mortgage rates are still amazing and consumer confidence is looking up. Mix ‘em altogether and you have a sizzling hot seller’s market.

Americans outlook on housing defies overall economic pessimism

Consumers surveyed for Fannie Mae’s recent housing market update remain skeptical about the U.S. economy, while maintaining a sense of optimism about the overall housing recovery

7 Ways That Generosity Can Lead To Success

the most productive, high-achieving people are also the people who are the most giving and altruistic

Signs the Housing Recovery Has Moved Into Your Neighborhood

Just because all the talking heads are saying “housing is back!” doesn’t mean everyone is buying it. There’s a high degree of skepticism surrounding the housing recovery,

American Dream of … Renting? Survey Finds Shifting Attitudes Toward Homeownership

The MacArthur Foundation found that even though a majority of Americans still aspire to own their own home one day, they’re shifting their ideas of what it means to achieve the American dream

The Cleveland Indians, Sports Agents and the Art of Negotiation

“That is the key to a good negotiation — the effort and the preparation, not just the supposed outcome,”

Millennials: Not Destined to be Life-Long Renters

“Millennials have witnessed the housing boom and bust, but still believe home ownership is a good investment,”

Info Graphic:

Full Study:

RealtyTrac: Foreclosure Activity Falls to Lowest Level Since 2007

foreclosure activity fell to a six-year low, according to RealtyTrac’s foreclosure market report for the first quarter and March

Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners Honored with Multiple Awards at Cartus Broker Network International Conference

Cartus Broker Network is the nation’s leading network of more than 811 market-leading real estate firms representing approximately 3,000 offices and more than 109,000 agents. Cartus provides trusted guidance to organizations of all types and sizes that require global relocation solutions. Cartus serves 64 percent of the Fortune

Nine low-tech ways to manage your time more wisely

As entrepreneurs, we’re always busy. But where does it end? When you get more successful, do you think your schedule will magically get less busy and fill up with fewer obligations? Think again. Instead, you’ll have to get more done in less time. And unless you have a system, it may prove difficult.

For more opinions on today’s real estate issues, visit CBBain’s “In The Know” blog at

“Links” are edited each week by John Deely 


Normal Home Market

How’s the market? Using “Surprising” Stats to Jump Ahead in 2012

Normal Home MarketIt’s official–the brokers in my office consider me a “stats” guy. This moniker has always bothered me a bit, because I don’t consider myself a numbers person at all. Far from it, I was likely that annoying kid in math class trying to look over your shoulder during the test on dividing fractions.

No, I’m not purely a numbers lover…but I do love the stories that numbers can tell. And lucky for me, most people like stories.

At some point in 2012, someone is going to ask you “how’s the market?” What will you say? “Better!” “Great!” “Improving!” “Terrible!” All of which might be accurate…but none of which have the power to validate you as an expert.

What if you instead said something like “Improving…you know, it surprises a lot of people to hear that this was the best December for local home sales since 2006”.

I have started many, many conversations (stories) in my career with “It surprises people…” then dropping something, well, surprising on them. Here are a few more examples of current stats that could qualify:

“4th quarter sales in Washington were the best they’ve been in some time…in fact, in the last dozen years or so, only the 4 ‘boom years’ have been better.”

“…while some neighborhoods still have serious issues with foreclosures, this might surprise you—there are only 5 bank-owned properties for sale in all of West Bellevue right now.”

“It surprises most people to hear that foreclosure filings in Bellevue are down over 75% this past year! That’s really good news if you’re in the market…are you?” (Always gotta close).

All of these statements could have been drawn from easy-to-access reports from the NWMLS, foreclosure websites and the internal reports from CBBain, such as the one shown here.


Of course, not all stories are happy ones, with warm fuzzy endings like the examples above. But here’s a New Years resolution that might help you ring in a few more sales in 2012; when you find an interesting stat, think  to yourself–is there a story to tell? Once you begin to think of stats as stories–and not math—you open up a whole new way to convince people you’re the exact type of knowledgeable, engaged and informed broker they need. Even if you flunked that test on fractions.

Seattle Bellevue Housing Up

Demand for Puget Sound Homes Increases

Recently I was contacted by KING 5 News regarding a story they had been ‘pitched’ from another real estate company. Apparently, this other company had sold 10 homes with multiple-offers recently, and felt that this was a sign that the market was definitely heating up. Was I surprised?

Wellll…no, not at all. Tracking the real-time consumer demand for homes has always been a pet focus of mine. It just seemed to me that when the dynamics of a neighborhood, town or regional market are shifting, being one of the first to figure out what’s happening provided my client, whether buyer or seller, with a substantial advantage. Negotiate hard, or maybe not at all? It all depends on what’s happening with demand.

That’s why I have spent years at CBBain spreading the ‘Gospel of Demand’.

KING5 reporter Natasha Ryan was patient enough to let me give her my standard 5 minute sermon on demand. “In Seattle, there are less than two single-family homes on the market for every home currently in escrow and waiting to close. This means the supply of homes for sale, especially in Seattle-Bellevue urban-core neighborhoods, is wickedly low”. I went on to tell her rents in these areas are also increasing, and rentals are becoming increasingly hard to find. In fact, a check of West Bellevue single family rentals in the NWMLS and on Craigslist in West Bellevue a few days ago yielded not a single home for rent under $4,000 a month. None. Nada.

Natasha seemed a little shocked…what does this mean?

I was almost afraid to say it…the “R” word. Recovery.

This down cycle has been so different from others, so difficult to gauge, that it probably has a lot of solid real estate professionals more than a little gun shy on making predictions. But the signs of recovery are here. In the last several weeks, my branch in Bellevue has participated in the sale of over 15 homes priced north of a million-dollars, many of them way north. I’m getting phone calls from buyers absolutely distraught because they were beat-out by another offer, asking what they can do to reverse the decision (they usually believe the solution is offering more money…ironic, as that would have gotten them the home in the first place, right?). It’s as though no one can believe that things in real estate could be improving.

But they are. Demand for homes is very strong in our Seattle-Bellevue urban core, the places where recovery usually begins. When a great home in these areas comes to market, the worst strategy is waiting for price reductions. It won’t last that long. (See the Real Estate Minute video).

So it’s time to admit it…we live in a desirable, highly attractive area on the West Coast. Demand is out-stripping supply. Things are changing.

And I believe. Demand never lies.



Washington Foreclosure Crisis? It depends where you look.

A recent article appearing in the Seattle Times, “Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Win Right to Mediation” contained this statement regarding Washington State’s foreclosures;

The move by state lawmakers to require mediation comes as the foreclosure crisis in Washington continues. In the first three months of the year, more than 5,600 homes were seized and more than 7,000 were headed to foreclosure auction, according to RealtyTrac.

Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Well, as I have noted before, this type of broad statement is not particularly useful unless given local context. While there’s no denying that foreclosures are still highly impacting the Washington market, in some areas the story can be told in a more positive (and locally accurate) way. For example, here is what’s happening in the city where I work, Bellevue;

Bellevue Foreclosures March 2011

Notice of Trustee sale filings have remained relatively flat for the last 5 months. On a daily average basis, Back to Bank sales (REO) dropped 27.5 percent. Notices of Trustee Sale fell 13% over the prior month, and 44% over the prior year. As you can see in the graph, relative to the Seattle Times statement that “more than 7,000” houses are heading to auction, a total of only 130 notices have been received by Bellevue homeowners through March 2011 (Jan. 46, Feb. 45, Mar. 39. Source:

It surprises most people when I tell them that at the beginning of April, there were just 7 bank-owned properties available for sale in all West Bellevue. That’s right, seven. Want to look for a bank-owned home in Central Seattle? Also, just 7 choices. Mercer Island? Only 2 bank owned homes on the market.

Of course, if the numbers quoted in the Seattle Times article are accurate, this also means that other areas and neighborhoods in Washington are still experiencing the full misery of foreclosures. However, as most Puget Sound real estate cycles begin and end in the urban-core areas of Seattle and Bellevue, the improvement occurring in those markets can certainly be perceived is good news.

This is another validation of our industry’s mantra “All real estate is local”. So, try not to make assumptions about the neighborhoods you’re interested in, especially if those assumptions are based on what’s happening statewide…be sure to check out what’s happening locally!

Pierce County, WA home sales trends-Do the Math


Housing Market Trends Puget Sound Region

Last week an article appeared in The News Tribune titled “Home Sales on Decline in Pierce County”.  Although a cursory look at statistics would suggest that to be true, an understanding of the Real Estate market in Pierce County demonstrates the headline to be far from true.

Mr. Boone stated that sales were off 4.3% compared to last year.  The reality is that nearly 28% of that year’s pending sales were reported in the first quarter of 2010.  The previous 5 year normal was 24% of annual sales are reported in the first quarter.  The cause of the increase was a consequence of the tax credits, which literally borrowed buyers from later in the year; buyers who hastened their decision to buy and as a result there were more sales earlier in the year than is typical.  The consequential 4.3% reduction was miniscule when viewed through an annual sales perspective and in light of the tax credits.

If the sales activity in 2011 follows a more normal path and the new sales reported in 2011 through March is equal to the typical 24% of the total year’s sales, we are postured for the best year since 2006!  

Take a look at the math… There were 3125 single-family pending home sales reported by the NWMLS in the first 3 months of 2011.  If that represents 24% of the anticipated sales for 2011 it would suggest that over 13,000 homes will sell in 2011… That’s an increase of over 10% in sales activity compared to 2010 – Now that’s a measurable change and with no false support by tax credits!
The Good News:  Pierce County is postured for the best Real Estate market since 2006.

For answers to all your real estate needs, consult the experts at Coldwell Banker Bain.


Bob Call
is the Principal Managing Broker for the South Sound Region. Bob’s office is in the Tacoma Branch of CB Bain on Bridgeport Way.