As January came to a close, the Federal Reserve chose to hold its key interest rate steady, noting the central bank will be “patient” when deciding on future rates. This new wait-and-see approach means that for the time-being, federal interest rates will remain stable, which can directly influence adjustable-rate mortgages and home equity lines of credit.
Though the Fed is in a wait-and-see mood, Karen Lindsay, managing broker and branch manager of John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Issaquah office, said there are benefits to buying now versus waiting, including potentially locking in a rate of 4.5 percent on their mortgage. Besides interest rate incentives, Lindsay noted buying now can make the overall process a less stressful experience, with greater home selection.
“Sellers – especially those who have been through the holidays on the market and haven’t yet sold – can be willing to negotiate a bit and it can be possible to buy a home with protective clauses in your contracts such as inspection, financing and title review,” Lindsay said. “If you’re a move-up buyer, you can find the home you want to move to before selling your current home. Some sellers are willing to accept a sale contingent on the sale of another property – so if your home doesn’t sell, you won’t be obligated to buy the new home, and you’ll receive a refund of your earnest money deposit.”
As the month of January progressed, Lindsay said brokers in John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Issaquah office saw more activity from those looking to buy or sell in the area.
“The first 10 days of January were pretty slow but then activity began to pick up,” Lindsay said. “The open houses mid-month had lots of traffic. We’ve had buyers making offers on homes and getting them accepted. Additionally, a couple of sellers’ agents reported multiple offers on several new listings within days of going on the market. All of these factors lay the framework for a strong spring market.”
Transportation in Seattle has been top-of-mind for many in the Seattle area in the past month, with the Alaskan Way Viaduct closing in January and preparations being made to open up the new state Route 99 tunnel. It’s one of many transportation projects in the works in Seattle and beyond.
“Access to light rail in neighborhoods within Seattle like Beacon Hill can give us an idea of what will come with further expansion on the Eastside,” Lindsay said. “Demand for housing in areas served by light rail went up as well as prices. Once it’s possible to leave your car behind and commute from the Eastside to Seattle for work, we’ll see demand for those neighborhoods close to the rail stations go up dramatically.”
Currently, the south Kirkland-Issaquah Link is in the voter approval stage. If approved, the light rail route would begin near the current south Kirkland park and ride and would end in downtown Issaquah. Already under construction is the East Link Extension, a 14-mile route that begins in the International District and travels through Mercer Island, Bellevue and eventually ends at the Redmond Technology Station.
“The light rail projects are pretty exciting for those currently living on the Eastside or others considering a move,” Lindsay said. “New housing is being built all around the future stations, both apartment and condominium. In Bellevue’s Spring District, the plans call for building an entirely new community, complete with housing and shops and restaurants in an area that was formerly industrial.”