Change to U.S.-backed condo loans comes as summer market wraps up

A monthly real estate snap shot by John L. Scott Real Estate.

  • Saturday, September 14, 2019 1:30am
  • Business

By Sandra Levin

Special to the Reporter

The local real estate market tends to be a bit quieter this time of year due to summer vacations, and we saw this seasonality during August on Mercer Island. Our office saw fewer sales, pending and new homes on the market, but homes in good condition that are priced right were still in demand.

The biggest thing we recommend to clients who are looking to find success in real estate – no matter the time of the year – is pricing right and preparing their home so it shows well. Looking ahead, we tend to see the second-strongest selling season of the year in September and October, so we think things will pick up a bit now that Labor Day has passed.

Besides the strong summer season, early fall can also show strong numbers. Potential buyers come back into the marketplace more seriously once summer vacations are finished and kids are back in school. Homeowners looking to sell before the cooler winter real estate market are also motivated to get their home on the market and ready for buyers who are out and looking for a home.

Though the local real estate market on Mercer Island didn’t offer up any major surprises in August, the real estate industry is abuzz with a change to laws surrounding low-down-payment loans for condominiums. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced in August that the U.S. will back more condominium loans, a change that is aimed at helping first-time buyers.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and others expressed support for the change, arguing in cities like Seattle, expanding opportunities for first-time buyers to purchase a condo is a welcomed change. John L. Scott Mercer Island broker Cindy Kott echoed the sentiments of NAR, saying condos tend to be more affordable and can provide good options for first-time buyers.

“This change in laws related to low-down-payment loans for condominiums have the potential to help first-time buyers in the Seattle area,” Kott said. “This provides buyers another option as they look to finance their purchase, as well as give a boost to the condo market by opening up more affordable housing options to buyers.”

According to a new analysis from Attom Data Solutions, homes within a close range of popular food stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have high home value rates and investment returns. However, Kott said it’s important to remember that home values can depend on a range of variables, and each home buyer is different when it comes to their priorities.

“Mercer Island is unique to most communities that have neighborhoods where the resale value is high based on trendy, walkable shopping and restaurants,” Kott said. “What I hear from buyers is they move to Mercer Island because of great schools, proximity to Seattle and the Eastside and an active community. We still have some great local gems, but those that enjoy a bigger city scene of trendy restaurants and shopping can easily reach both within 10-15 minutes in either direction of the island.”

Sandra Levin is an office Leader and business coach at John L. Scott Mercer Island.

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