VAREP’s Third Annual Policy Conference

SharwoodLincolnEarlier this month I had the privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C. with the Veteran’s Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) for the third annual policy conference. The conference gave me a chance to speak to Congress on behalf of Veterans to convince them to improve the VA loan because, while it is the best loan available to a Veteran, it hasn’t changed much since it was established in 1944. Additionally, our organization has made it so that in the near future, loan officers will be required to ask potential borrowers about their military service. This is significant because, to date, over 60 percent of Veterans were never asked, which led to many of them not being aware of their VA benefits and/or taking advantage of the loan.

As a former United States Marine and a Veteran of Foreign Wars, I have a deeply personal connection to the VAREP. I have the honor of being the president of The VAREP Seattle chapter, so I am incredibly proud of these accomplishments and the progress we’ve made in empowering Veterans to live their best lives upon returning home from service. For those of you who are less familiar with the organization, here’s some insight into what we do.

VAREP is a 501-C3 non-profit and a national organization that seeks to empower industry professionals such as realtors, lenders, title/escrow, etc., with the knowledge to serve and help Veterans while guiding them through the home buying process. This is important because as more servicemen and women come home, we need to recognize that one of the best ways to welcome them back is by making sure they receive the benefits that they earned through their valiant service to our country. Those benefits include VA loans, which enable Veterans who haven’t had the advantage of building credit or savings to more easily purchase a home. They are one of many ways VAREP makes a huge difference in the lives of Veterans.

If you’re interested in learning more about VAREP or the VA home loan, contact me or visit our website.

SharwoodVAREP

Posted on June 20, 2016 at 4:28 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Home Buying, Veterans in Real Estate

Seattle Times Market Digest – June 2016

The Seattle Times has just released the June 2016 issue of the Seattle Market Digest that is full of current market information for our area. These areas include the Labor Market, Retail Market, Regional Development, Travel Market, Economy, and of course, the Real Estate Market.

The review features highlights of each with promising rankings for Washington and Seattle:

  • Labor Market: Seattle is the third-best city for job seekers
  • Retail Market: Third Place Books and sister restaurant open in Seattle
  • Regional Development: Swedish gets green light for Cherry Hill campus expansion
  • Travel: A direct path into the heart of China's tech industry
  • Economy: Boeing sells 100 planes worth $11.3B to Vietnam's VietJet

The Digest features a few statistics and articles on the Real Estate Market, including …

Million-dollar home count triples across Seattle area in 4 years

Seattle No. 11 on readiness for 'tech revolution'

Rumor has it, Valve leasing space in new Bellevue tower

To read the market digest in its entirety, click here.


VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on June 8, 2016 at 4:46 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Seattle Market Digest, Veterans in Real Estate

Seattle No. 3 in 25 Best Cities for Jobs

Most people consider a change in their job the main reason for relocating. Other factors may pay a critical role, but usually it's how you're able to pay for the move that helps seal the deal.

According to Glassdoor's latest job review list, and a ranking by 24/7 Wall St., Seattle placed No. 3 on their report of the 25 Best Cities for Jobs. Glassdoor measured four aspects of U.S. metro areas: job opportunities, affordability, job satisfaction, and work-life balance. Ahead of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA metro were the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA.

Here's the breakdown we saw for our metro:

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

  • Job openings as of April: 103,124
  • Median salary: $85,000
  • Population: 3,733,580
  • Net migration 2010-2015: +176,382
  • Unemployment rate: 5.0%

High paying jobs certainly helped cities rank on this list, although those higher paying jobs don't necessarily make it easier for everyone to afford housing. Those cities with less expensive housing available also ranked well (our latest statistics can explain how our home prices may have bumped us out of the top spot). Population growth and country-wide migration also played a part in the ranking.

Read more and check out the full list from King5.com.


VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on June 2, 2016 at 9:07 am
Steve Harwood | Category: Local News, Veterans in Real Estate

We’re In “Silicon Seattle” Now

In a recently published article by the Wall Street Journal, we were labeled "Silicon Seattle" due to our booming technology scene, and of course, high home prices that are making it difficult for home buyers to purchase their dream home.

Our record high home prices combined with record low inventory and frequent bidding wars have turned the Seattle area into the new San Francisco, according to the online article. "Seattle still lags behind San Francisco, where the median home value is $781,600, but buyers in both cities—many in the tech industry—are competing for a limited pool of properties."

For comparison, home-sale prices in the metro Seattle area rose 9.5% from 2014 to 2015, putting the median home value at $385,300, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s below the limit for government-backed loans for the area, which currently is $540,500. But Seattle buyers who want a dream home in a desirable neighborhood will probably need a jumbo mortgage.

Make sure you read the full article from the Wall Street Journal for more information on how a jumbo mortgage, creative bargaining, and even a pre-inspection can help you land your dream home.


VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on April 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Home Buying, Local News, Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

3 Reasons We’re Not in a Housing Bubble

Home prices are rising three to four times faster than wages while credit conditions are loosening, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS®. However, you don't need to be wary of a housing bubble on the horizon. Here's why:

"Even though the credit conditions appear to be easing somewhat, the move is from overly stringent conditions to not-so-overly-stringent conditions," Yun writes. "It is a far-fetched view to imply the current mortgage approval process in any way resembles the loosey-goosey, easy subprime mortgage access conditions of a decade ago."

Indeed, mortgage credit scores are nowhere near where they were during the housing bubble. Today, scores are at about 740 to 750 compared to 710 to 720 during the housing crisis, according to Fannie Mae data.

And even though housing prices are rising above wages, our low mortgage rates have been a silver lining.

Yun says you can squash those bubble fears by just looking at the housing supply. Existing-home sales and new-home sales combined were at 8.4 million back then. In 2015, combined home sales were 5.76 million — about one-third lower, Yun notes. It's mainly the limited supply of homes that's behind the latest home price increases, not the chaotic spending of money that buyers can't pay back.

Windermere's Chief Economist Matthew Gardner has been talking about this extensively over the last few months, especially as it relates to our own Seattle real estate market.

You can view the full article for more information from Realtor Magazine Online.


VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on March 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Housing Market Statistics, Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Large Bellevue Development On The Way

Construction is a common scene in Bellevue these last several months. Plenty of growth has been seen through our region as inventory continues to decrease. Just last week, a homebuilder in our area was approved to build a 176-unit town home project for the property where grocer Haggen used to operate next to the Crossroads shopping center. There will also be retail space in the project.

This is a large project that is definitely going to change the pace of Bellevue's growth and should help with our lowered inventory. The Crossroads neighborhood in East Bellevue saw inventory plummet 57 percent between the end of 2014 and 2015, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). Demand is well outpacing supply.

Based on these numbers, the NWMLS calculates that East Bellevue has less than half a month's supply of homes for sale. That's among the lowest in King County, and far below the four- to six-month supply that Realtors say represents a market that is balanced between buyers and sellers. Last year ended with a 1.7-month supply of houses for sale across the four-county metro region.

I'm excited to see what these new town homes mean for East Bellevue and how the increase in units affects our already labored inventory. 2016 seems to already be full of good news for our local real estate market!

For more information, make sure you read the full article from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

 

Posted on January 28, 2016 at 6:37 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Housing Market Statistics, Local News, Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Gold Star Mothers and Hugs from Home

John KennyI was recently asked by a World War II veteran to participate at an event at my local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post in Redmond, WA. To be perfectly honest I usually shy away from this type of thing because the said WWII Vet, John Kenny, seen right, usually makes a big deal in front of everyone that I’m an Iraq vet. Like most veterans, I want the veteran’s cause to get attention but don’t really want any myself. However, when a member of the Greatest Generation asked you to be somewhere, you show up. This is especially true when that person fought with the U.S Army in the island campaigns of World War II and was wounded multiple times.

There were two reasons for my being asked to attend. First, I was to briefly describe to the attendees my good friend Ed Marini is currently deployed with the Marine Special Forces overseas. We were all, in part, gathered to send Ed and his comrades care packages so that they might enjoy some “creature comforts” from home. This allows us folks back home the opportunity to show our appreciation and hopefully lets our troops overseas know that they have not been forgotten.

Unknown-1The second reason for my being invited was to escort a Gold Star Mother to pack box number 17,000 that the Redmond VFW has sent to forward deployed troops. Monica McNeal, pictured left, lost her son Eric in February 2010 when he was killed in combat in Afghanistan. To hear her speak was incredibly moving and brought painful reality and insight to the personal toll that war takes on our families. Everything she said hit home, but I was especially struck by the fact that she said after 6 years she was just now able to say Eric’s name out loud. Lastly, I was extremely impressed how Monica is able to continue to work with and serve veterans, despite the obvious pain it must cause her to do so.

These types of experiences are eye opening to me since I’ve now seen the deployments from both angles, as a serviceman deploying and as a patriot/friend/family member waiting at home. I can tell you firsthand that for the ones that are lucky enough to make it back, the transition out of the military is much harder than anything that he or she had to deal with while serving. This may seem counterintuitive, but regardless of the dire hardships abroad, the deployed soldier/sailor/Marine/airman has a sense of duty and purpose that is nearly impossible to replicate upon re-entry to civilian life. Veteran suicides are still three times the national average, and I would encourage anyone looking to donate time, money or resources to consider the veterans.

Unknown

 

 


VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , ,

Seattle is the Detroit of the 21st Century

In a recent article by The Stranger, Seattle was hailed the Detroit of the 21st century. As explained in the article, there are four technological ages, and each has as its center a city. What makes that city central is its defining company. The first age (1880 to 1920) was all about Pittsburgh and US Steel. The next age (1920 and 1960), Detroit and Ford. After that (1960 to 2000), Silicon Valley and Intel. The present and fourth technological age is ruled by Seattle and Amazon.

According to Pacific Standard, what makes Amazon stand out is its cloud services. That's the company's "Model T" that's putting them on the map. Their report goes on to say that the technology world and the world we're living in belongs to Jeff Bezos.

Amazon currently employs more than Microsoft and Google combined and many are based in Seattle. According to The Stranger, Seattle "owes much of its current growth to the seemingly unstoppable growth of Amazon."

We've all been watching the Seattle area grow substantially over the last several months. It's exciting to see that a local company like Amazon is propelling our area to the center of the technology industry. Now is definitely the time to invest and become a homeowner in our area.

For the full article, visit The Stranger.

Posted on December 18, 2015 at 11:01 am
Steve Harwood | Category: Local News, Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

Sell Your Home For A Profit In King County

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, people who sold their home in King County in October reaped an average 48 percent gain over their original purchase price, a new report shows.

That profit point puts King near the top of the 127 U.S. counties analyzed by RealtyTrac, a California-based housing data provider.

Only six other counties surpassed King County in the average increase between what homeowners bought and sold their homes for.

“The Seattle housing market remains remarkably tight and very competitive. Buyers are still fighting over any new listing which is well priced and this has led to rapid price escalation,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, covering the Seattle market.

Are you thinking about selling soon?

December and January are the quiet months before the spring real estate frenzy. And with an anticipated hot 2016, this is the perfect time to start your prepping and planning for getting your home on the market. Set up a meeting with me and I can help you plan and get ready to sell!

For more information, make sure you read the full list from Puget Sound Business Journal.

VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on December 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm
Steve Harwood | Category: Home Selling, Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

Seattle Times Market Digest – November 2015

The Seattle Times has just released the November 2015 issue of the Seattle Market Digest that is full of current market information for our area. These areas include the Labor Market, Retail Market, Regional Development, Travel Market, Economy, and of course, the Real Estate Market.

The review begins by featuring highlights of each with promising rankings for Washington and Seattle:

  • Labor Market: State's latest jobs numbers are mixed
  • Retail Market: REI rebels against Black Friday
  • Regional Development: Macy's sells top floors of downtown store
  • Travel: Sea-Tac on track to set passenger record
  • Economy: Investors take notice of Seattle startups

The Digest features a few statistics and articles on the Real Estate Market, including …

Seattle area’s strong home-price gains outpace nation’s in August

Local home prices slow their climb, still outrun U.S. average

Former military house in Seattle’s Discovery Park goes on market

This report goes into further detail, CLICK HERE to read the Digest in its entirety.

VA Loan

Are you ready to buy a home and qualify for the VA loan? Let me help you out! As a local real estate broker in Bellevue, WA and a Veteran of foreign wars, I am committed to help you find the home you deserve through the VA loan.

Posted on November 5, 2015 at 11:59 am
Steve Harwood | Category: Seattle Market Digest, Veterans in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,