Rates and inventory bring opportunities for buyers

Tips for conscious home buying.

By Sandra Levin

Special to the Reporter

There’s good news for buyers in today’s real estate market: Low interest rates and additional inventory translate to more opportunities. However, as the brokers at John L. Scott Mercer Island have seen many times in the past, homes that are priced and presented well tend to go fast.

Inventory levels on Mercer Island are strong, and we’ve seen great turnout at open houses. Many of the buyers in the market currently are serious buyers, looking to make a move.

Another element benefiting homebuyers is interest rates – which are currently are less than 4 percent. The lower the rate, the more buying power consumers have when entering the market. However, buyers aren’t the only group impacted by interest rates. Home sellers often become buyers once their home sells, and current homeowners may look to refinance if the conditions are right.

According to Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics company, the unexpected and sharp drop in mortgage rates means there are now about 5.9 million borrowers who could see their rates drop by at least 75 basis points by refinancing their mortgages. That is an increase of 2 million in just the past month, making it the largest population of eligible candidates for refinancing in nearly three years.

It is recommended that homeowners who are exploring the possibility of refinancing connect with a mortgage professional to determine if it’s the right choice. Along a similar vein, when looking to purchase a home this summer before the school year starts, work with a real estate professional who will help get all the pieces in place to succeed.

“Buyers today have many ways to rate schools or school districts prior to taking a house tour,” said John L. Scott Mercer Island broker Jason Watabe. “It’s important for buyers to confirm their online research findings with their real estate broker, as they often have a wealth of valuable information. We are focused on learning years of history of the reputation of schools, and I believe that’s what buyers who are new in the area would like to add to their own data.”

John L. Scott Mercer Island broker Debbie Constantine said many clients with children look to Mercer Island schools as a way to invest in the future of their children.

“I find my clients with children would rather put their extra money into their mortgages on Mercer Island, than live in other areas, where they would also pay for private schools,” Constantine said. “Even if you do not have any children and it comes to selling your home, the high rating of our schools is a plus for resale.”

Though children in middle school and high school come together on Mercer Island, Constantine said if parents are particularly interested in a certain elementary school, they should verify with the Mercer Island School District to ensure their home would be within the boundaries and that the school hasn’t reached classroom limits.

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

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