Local Spotlight: 2014 Housing Market near Joint-Base Lewis-McChord, Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia Areas

Tim Lucas
Military VA Loan editor

Joint Base Lewis McChord 2014 Housing Marketby Realtor® and U.S. Army Veteran Ed Kunkel, Jr.

2013 has proven to be a booming year for Real Estate, and the upward mobility is helping us gauge our trends for the New Year.  We have seen some exciting and consistent sales activity in the market, with an average saturation rate of less than 3 months for Tacoma area, market improvements in rural areas like Mason and Lewis Counties, and 4-6 months of average housing supply around Thurston County for most of 2013.

It’s difficult to predict what the future holds in any market, but we are seeing a modest trend in the right direction for stability in home values, coupled with a bigger challenge to meet the housing demand in all of Western Washington for 2014.

Buyer competition continues to be a challenge for our market, particularly for the price point of homes that are valued at $200,000 to $300,000 all over Western Washington.  This may be promising news for a seller, but keep in mind that our supply comes from many sources – New Construction, REO’s, Short Sales, and the non-distressed re-sales. 

Builders have already recognized the increasing market demand, and are doing their part to contribute with new developments and builder incentives for all trending price ranges.  Likewise, lien holders have had several years of practice now to streamline the process of selling distressed homes, and there will be more of an emphasis this year to improve on timeliness of closing out the books on these types of homes.  What does this all mean to you?  If you’re contemplating selling your home this year, this is what your competition is doing.  You need to be ready, have a plan, and follow your agent’s advice for your market.

If you’re a seller that is just waiting to see market values skyrocket the way they were during the boom several years ago, it’s not going to happen. That ship has sailed.  There were forces in effect which drove the market into frenzy that we no longer have – like stated income loans.  It’s much more difficult now to qualify for a home loan, and only the most fiscally viable candidates have the ability to get pre-approved for a loan.  This year will add even more challenge to the pre-approval process with the new Qualified Mortgage and Ability to Repay rules coming in to effect this month, and many in the industry are predicting a rise in interest rates.  From winter until spring, this may be a unique opportunity to market and sell your home before witnessing the listing bandwagon effect for the spring and summer months.

It’s all well and good to talk about trends and predictions that effect your decision to sell your home, but let’s not try to overlook the 900 pound gorilla in the room – what are you missing in life that your home is holding you back from?  Is it seeing the grand kids, or maybe doing some traveling?  Do you like the climate in another state or area?  Whatever the reason is, you only live once!  Your desires for “what’s next” should be part of your decision, not just a motivator to review the numbers.  Think about the important things that matter to you that you might be missing, and whether those things should hold you back from selling now.

Ed Kunkel, Jr. is a Managing Broker/Realtor® at Keller Williams Realty in Olympia, Washington. Visit Ed here. Ed’s Military History: Veteran – U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve; Highest rank, E5; 11 years combined military service.