Jeff Williams and Mark Pinto were recently interviewed by Kate Martin of the Tacoma News Tribune to explore the current trends for the over million dollar housing market in Pierce County. As the listing agents for three of the over million dollar listings that are currently pending sale in Pierce County, they shared insight about buyers for these luxury properties and their experience in the luxury market.
In recent months, dozens of million-dollar abodes have sold or are in the process of closing. If the pace keeps up, sales of homes worth a million dollars or more could eclipse the record of 86 sales set in 2007.
Where are these buyers coming from? Many fly in from other parts of the country, said Jeff Williams, a real estate broker for South Sound Property Group, part of Windermere Professional Partners. He works with fellow broker Mark Pinto.
“They could be coming for a job or lifestyle change,” Williams said. “It could be a second home for people who live in California.”
One historic home in Tacoma’s North End is listed by Williams and Pinto at nearly $1.3 million. Its sweeping views of Commencement Bay, and the Olympic and Cascade mountains drew 25 showings in three weeks — a pace unheard of just a few years ago, Williams said. The final sale price was not available.
Williams and Pinto work together to sell luxury and historic properties in Tacoma, Lakewood and Gig Harbor. They said the luxury or “trophy home” market has heated up in the county in the past six months to a year.
“I think it speaks to the confidence that people have in the market and the broader economy,” Pinto said. “They probably have been sitting on the sidelines in a house that they like, but they want to buy up to that aspirational house.”
Redfin recently conducted a study looking at more than 7 million home sales over the course of the past four years to determine what impact, if any, seasonality had on the sales process. Not surprisingly, the study confirmed that listing your home for sale in the springtime was likely to result in a quicker sale and a higher sale price (see full study here). What was surprising to some is that listing your home in the wintertime was a close second.
“Among spring listings, 18.7 percent of homes fetched above asking, with winter listings not far behind at 17.5 percent. While 48.0 percent of homes listed in spring sold within 30 days, 46.2 percent of homes in winter did the same.”
The study goes on to say:
“Buyers [in the winter] often need to move, so they’re much less likely to make a low-ball offer and they’ll often want to close quickly — two things that can make the sale much smoother.”
That’s why we encourage our clients to have their houses ready to go on the market in late January or early February. However, given the persistent shortage of housing inventory in the North End, we are telling our clients to list now if it makes sense for their schedule. If you’re thinking about listing your home for sale in the next 6 months, keep in mind that most of your competition will choose to list their homes in the spring. Listing your home this winter could position you more favorably with motivated buyers who don’t have a lot of good inventory from which to choose.
Mark Pinto is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma specializing in the purchase and sale of historic and luxury homes. Click here to e-mail Mark or feel free to give him a call at (253) 318-0923.
Diana Olick of CNBC recently wrote an article that sums up the reason for frustration for many home buyers and sellers in the South Sound region. Olick notes,
“Housing demand is rising rapidly, but a key cog in the wheel to homeownership is in deep trouble. The people most needed to close the deal are disappearing. Appraisers, the men and women who value homes and whom mortgage lenders depend upon, are shrinking in numbers.That is causing growing delays in closings, costing buyers and sellers money and in some cases even scuttling deals.
The share of on-time closings has dropped from 77 percent last April to 64 percent today for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to Campbell/Inside Mortgage Finance. Appraisal-related issues in these delays jumped by 50 percent in that time.” (Read the full article here)
Our advice to our buyers and sellers is to factor in a minimum of 2-3 additional weeks time from what we would consider a normal 30 day closing. It’s important to note that it’s become an even bigger problem for specialty properties such as waterfront, luxury and historic homes and for properties located in outlying areas such as southern Pierce and Thurston counties. With lenders being forced to pay premiums for appraisals, we’re hopeful it will lead to more qualified appraisers being attracted to enter the field. However, that transformation will not happen quickly enough to satisfy those of us that counsel home buyers and sellers every day.
Tacoma was recently featured in a report by KIRO-7 news' Kevin McCarty. McCarty notes,
"Tacoma has always been a beer town… and these days business is booming". "Several independent craft beer makers are reviving the city’s historic brewery district. Craft breweries large and small are popping up in and around the city's historic brewery district along Pacific avenue in roughly the same area that once housed three large brewers a century ago. Heidelberg, Columbia and the original Pacific breweries once operated very close to an area now seeing an explosion of beer makers. From 19th street to south 55, large independent breweries are up and running or in the works with several small micro-brewers also dotting the area. Recently Gig Harbor based Seven Seas has announced they'll open a large scale operation after converting an old warehouse near S. 21st and Jefferson streets."
For those of us that love beer and Tacoma… this is certainly a "win-win."
Tacoma recently ranked as number 10 on Trulia’s top 10 housing markets to watch in 2016, a list that also included cities like Grand Rapids, MI, Charleston, SC and Austin, TX (see the full report here). Trulia’s rankings were based on a number of different criteria including strong job growth, low vacancy rates and high affordability. I think high affordability was probably key to Tacoma’s inclusion on the list. Though some of our buyer clients that are new to the Tacoma housing market have commented that prices here are high compared to where they’re coming from, the Tacoma housing market clearly remains a great value proposition when compared to Seattle where the median home price is more than twice as high. As the tech industry continues to grow in Seattle, Tacoma will continue to represent a very attractive alternative to call home. Not surprisingly, we’re seeing more and more folks from Seattle making the move to T-Town. I think it’s that demand in particular that led to our inclusion on Trulia’s list of hot market’s to watch in the coming year. To be clear though, Tacoma’s appeal isn’t just about being within commuting distance of Seattle. For those of us lucky enough to live and work in Tacoma, it actually represents a preferable alternative. A vibrant, livable small city with a big metropolitan hub nearby to visit when the mood strikes.