The latest NWMLS press release came out last week. I’m grateful because now I know the current party line when it comes to answering the questions we all get, “How’s the market doing?” and “What’s going to happen in 6 months?”

Just being slightly facetious here. I love getting asked those questions and I hope they never stop coming.

So in any event, here’s the press release.

The one piece of news that jumped off the page was this little box of data:

Median prices by county (single-family homes only)

I do think we’re in a new market today. It’s not changing. It’s changed. The better question is, “Changed to what?” Of that I’m not sure. There are too many factors to consider that I, unfortunately, cannot control, like tariffs, material costs, wage costs, the City of Seattle, Amazon, etc.

What I do know is inventory is up to a scorching 2.3 months of supply.  I believe we’re not going to continue to see the bi-monthly, or tri-monthly, price increases we’ve enjoyed over periods in the recent past.

Finally, I also know homes sell in good markets, in bad markets and in transitional markets. So, at a micro level, if somebody asks you how the market is doing, ask them how their market is?  How is their work situation, credit and other qualifying factors? They might argue their individual market is OK, and, for me, that’s alright.

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Recently, someone (not in our market, FYI) mentioned to me the week following Christmas is one of the busiest of the year for home buying. I immediately started to think back to past years, and while I do remember more traffic on the week after than the week before, I guess I didn’t notice a huge difference. That being said, I have always thought this is when the savvy shoppers are out in the market looking for year-end deals.

After some research, I was able to find some national analysis on the subject. A few years back Realtor.com posted a trend report showing December 28th as one of the biggest traffic days of the year. In a more recent story, Realtor states typically, “views per property are 21 percent lower in December than they are during the rest of the year”. However, the rest of the story goes on to talk about why this year could break the mold.

I also found this report from ATTOM Data Solutions. They looked at discounts based on closing date of a sale over a four-year period. Their conclusion was 7 of the 10 best days for real estate closings (from a buyers’ perspective) were in December, with closings on the 26th receiving the best deals. Given a 30-day closing period, this means people were probably out shopping in November right around Thanksgiving to hit those closing dates.

All of this to say, it’s clear the last week of the year is an important one. Buyers know builders have inventory to move and are less likely to face competition with their offers. The people we talk to are going to be highly-motivated. Whether we’re working on closings or meeting with new potential customers, it’s probably going to be busier than 2017.

All of the design trends reports for 2019 have been coming out and they are fascinating. While many feel like they’re spot-on, others feel like they’re trying to make “fetch” happen. I’ve been collecting these as I see them and I figured why not just spend a little time posting an opinion or twelve.

Overall Themes – Natural and Relaxed
2019 will be moving toward fresh, natural materials such as stone, copper, concrete, quartz and granite. These elements add an organic and serene ambiance to a space. This is in strong contrast to some of the tech-centric décor of 2018.

Benjamin Moore’s Color of the YearMetropolitan AF-690
I can’t complain much here. It’s a nice gray, but also grays have been in for a while. Some designers, like Jeff Andrews of Andrews Design, are opting for stark white and warm neutrals instead. (On a related note, I visited Tahoe over the summer and his Lake Tahoe project is definitely on point. I’m crushing on it!)

Sherwin Williams’s Color of the Year – Cavern Clay SW 7701
Love it. As I mentioned, earth tones are coming back big and this one hits the nail on the head.

Appliances – Not Stainless
I understand where the author in the article above is going. Stainless has been the standard for two decades. However, I still don’t think it’s a sin to go silver. The black matte finishes and fun colors are very cool, though, and offer a great opportunity to stand out and put your own personality into your kitchen.

FloorsNew Products and Creative Applications
Newer materials are growing in popularity as are American-made products. Textured materials will continue to be a very big deal. There are more options to get creative in 2019, with unique patterns and unconventional widths providing the opportunity to show a lot of individuality. Wood and stone-look floors are even more in demand. Contemporary, coastal and farmhouse will be the most sought-after flooring styles next year. Fortunate for us, flooring trends don’t change nearly as often as fashion. Right now we have more options than ever before, and new advancements in technology will continue to ensure we haven’t seen the best options yet.

FixturesBright Metallic, Hammered Finishes and (Yes, Even) Brass
We will see some gold, but there is a shift from bright, reflective gold. Black and darker matte fixtures contrasted with white and bold colors in ceramic sinks are new and trending. What about an 18K Gold toilet? Yes, they really do exist, but we’re going to move on.

LightingIndustrial, Vintage, Unique
Industrial styles and vintage light bulbs will continue to trend.  We’ll see some very unique lighting styles with personalized forms and more ability to adjust strength and color of the light. Geometric shapes will be big.

FurnitureSmaller in Natural Tones and Metals
Natural materials and metals again! “Handmade with a story behind it” will continue to be popular. Check out Fyrn for some cool, modern concepts.  The surge in popularity of mid-century modern has created some interesting hybrids. Wood furniture pieces in solid teak and reclaimed wood will be particularly satisfying.  Oh, and cocktail tables and carts are still in.

Art and DecorMore Etsy, Less Pinterest
I still love to have a few mason jars and terrariums here or there, but it’s time for the real artists to have their day again. In the Northwest there’s no shortage of glass blowers, potters or painters, so go out there and purchase some great pieces from local artists who truly know what they’re doing. Many even offer classes if you still prefer the DIY approach.

That’s year 2019 in a nutshell. Let us know if you’re seeing anything we missed and have fun planning those options packages and model homes.

Last week’s NWMLS press release was filled with some great quotes. Let’s run down a few:

  • J. Lennox Scott states, “We’ve gone from being virtually sold out in many areas close to the job centers to healthier inventory levels.”
  • “Contrary to recent media reports, the sky is not falling,” says Mike Grady, President/COO of Coldwell Banker Bain.
  • George Moorhead of Bentley Properties stated there is a, “significant uptick in buyer activity during the past three weeks” as buyers “test the waters.”
  • Moorhead’s answer when asked about chance of a housing bubble is, “Absolutely not.” He continues, “When you look at the big picture, inventory is still below what we call a balanced market, the economy is performing above average, and home appreciation is still increasing.”

Basically, we’ve seen prices level out and some inventory is spending more time on the market. Buyers have the ability to make choices again and Sellers are re-adjusting to life as it once was. Inventory and prices are both up year-over-year, but there are ongoing concerns about affordable inventory and the rise of interest rates. Overall, it was a positive report heading into the holiday season.

Speaking of the Holiday Season, I would like to take this moment to say I am thankful for the Grace bestowed upon my family and me, and I wish that same grace be bestowed upon you this holiday season. So, from my family and the entire family here at TeamBuilder Worldwide Headquarters (HQ1), we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and continued blessings for this year and for many more to come.

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Amazon finally made the announcement the country has been waiting to hear. HQ2 will be split between two locations, New York and Virginia. For the cities in the running to be chosen, I’m sure it was a tough pill to swallow after working so hard to lure the business. Around here, I think it’s a relief to hear the final decision. Not only do our current Seattle Amazon workers have a clearer picture of what their own future holds, but also Seattle remains the larger focus of Amazon’s attention and hiring here should continue.

It has also become evident Amazon used this process to gain a ridiculous amount of data about the 238 prospective locations for basically nothing. Information about residents’ lifestyles, education, infrastructure, local governments, tax structures, etc. was handed over in the hopes for a piece of the pie. It’s a very smart move, which will certainly guide how they do business in the future. The above article also states, “An Amazon representative said the company will not use any data from cities to target customers for products or advertisements.” Color me a little skeptical on that one.

If you’ve ever been backstage in a theater, you’re probably familiar with, “The Green Room.” This is the place where performers can go to wait before they go on. For some this is a place of rest and meditation, but for most it’s just a place to sit and feel powerless and anxious with anticipation.

Right now, many Amazon and T-Mobile employees are stuck in The Green Room. A combined workforce numbering in the tens of thousands is waiting to hear what their work situation may look like with the announcements of the location(s) of Amazon HQ2 and the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Many are unsure whether they’re headed to New York, DC, Virginia or Kansas City, and they are understandably hesitant to move ahead with anything with long-term ramifications. We’ve heard it time and time again as these well-qualified buyers sit on the fence and watch their dream home slip through their fingers.

However, once the curtain goes up and the news is finally out, all of this pent-up anticipation will spill out on to the stage. We will be awash in the beautiful sounds of keys jingling and movers moving. I’m sure it will be a great show and I’m ready to buy the t-shirt.

Maybe you caught this interesting stat when this story was first written about a month ago, but it’s worth mentioning. In Seattle, one in ten homes are now single-room residences. In fact, “The number of one-room units, which now stands at about 37,000, has gone up nearly 80 percent since the start of the decade,” according to the story.

With the rise of these “Micro Units”, many companies have seen the increased demand for more efficiency in homes. In other words, all of our junk has to go somewhere, and robots can fix anything, right?

Enter Bumblebee Spaces. Bumblebee has been showing-off their new products at a Seattle apartment as of late. Their solution is to put all of your stuff on the ceiling when it’s not in use. Everything from the bed to the closet are tucked up out of sight and controlled from a central control panel. The software can even keep track of where you stored your belongings thanks to an elaborate system of cameras, like the Amazon Go store.

We’re going to come to appreciate systems like this more and more as the space crunch continues. What looks like overkill now will likely be commonplace in just a few short years. The future is knocking, but your end table may be blocking the door.

Read this.

Now, read between the lines.

The market has shifted and we don’t know for how long.  Now is the time to sharpen up. Your pricing should be perfect for right now, not the two-month projection. Your onsite presentation should be flawless and the homes should look immaculate. The sales team should be an elite strike force, well-trained and armed with all the tools and knowledge to make a sale. And, finally, you are probably going to have to start putting more emphasis on marketing again to nudge some additional traffic your direction.

Don’t panic! The market is fine. Inventory is still low and it will be for a bit.  Interest rates are going to climb a bit. Prices need to be reset a bit. Just hold on to your…horses.  It’s going to be OK.

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No, that’s not a passive-aggressive comment about your new haircut. Today, I thought I would add to what Ray and La’Cee started last week with their sales tools/techniques sections by focusing on identifying personality types.

Understanding personality types is key to effective communication with others, especially in the sales field. Because of this, we need to understand what makes us tick and how to interact with others who may do things a little differently. There are many different systems out there (Myers-Briggs, AVA, MMPI, DISC, etc.) and it’s worth trying more than one to compare and contrast.

Here’s an interesting one I found the other day to get you started. Once you take the test, read through the other personality summaries to see how to best relate to others from a sales point-of-view. Try thinking back to interactions you’ve had and how a different approach may have changed the outcome. Once you know the personality types, you’ll recognize the characteristics much faster and be able to craft a more personal, effective presentation.

Just try not to use your powers for evil.