Affordability, questions and how to seek out answers

Aubrey Cohen, of the Seattle PI, tackled recently the affordability of homes in King County, comparing two conflicting  reports. The Center for Housing Policy(CHP) published the report Paycheck to Paycheck, which lists Seattle as the 13th most expensive housing market in the nation. On the flip side, Washington Center for Real Estate Research, (WCRER) published a Housing Market Snapshot for First Quarter 2009 which paints a more positive image for home affordability in King County.

Cohen responded to his own article with a blog post, where he discusses the differences between the reports, as well as data particulars, as pointed out by his readers and his own investigation. When looking at the affordability of homes in King County, as reported by HCP and WCRER, it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges because of the report data variables. In addition, WCRER is a local entity comparing a smaller market; while the CHP compiled national data from multiple markets, which is a larger, more difficult project.

Cohen’s article and blog post present much information to contemplate. Many questions may come to mind as you think about the current affordability of homes in King County. Is now the best time to buy, if I’m a first time home buyer? If I’m looking to sell, should I wait? Or, should I sell now so I can afford the home I want purchase?

It may help to look at where mortgage rates are currently. Freddie Mac reported earlier in the week that for the 9th straight week, interest rates have been below 5%. That’s for 30 year fixed and 15 year fixed mortgages. A year ago, mortgage rates were at 6.01%.  Chances are  high that current mortgage rates will not be around for long term.

A realistic view of your whole financial picture is also helpful when contemplating a real estate transaction. MSNBC’s article 5 Costs of Buying a Home You Didn’t Consider alerts first time home buyers of the concrete costs of a home purchase, like loan fees, a down payment and inspection feeds. It also discusses how your credit score can effect the costs of a home purchase  and how home maintainence is important to factor in when looking narrowing down your mortgage target range.

Attending a home buyer seminar may help answer questions you have about the affordability of homes in King County, as compared to your life situation. Real estate agents Diane Rae Jones and Donna Cowles will be conducting another Home Buyer Seminar on Monday, May 18th, 6 pm, at the Windermere Mercer Island office. The office is located at 2737 77th Ave. SE Mercer Island, WA 98040 .

Affordability isn’t a cut and dry issue when it comes to home purchases. Meeting one on one with an agent is also a good strategy whenever you are contemplating a real estate transaction. Agents have many tools that can help answer your questions, and they can help you create an action plan to prepare to list your home. If you’d like to meet with an agent, we’d be happy to help you; please call the Windermere Mercer Island office at 206-232-0446.

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