After 20 years in the real estate industry, Jerry Wilkins was recognized as Realtor of the Year for 2016 by the Thurston County Realtors Association.
Wilkins is a managing broker at Van Dorm Realty in west Olympia, but perhaps is best known for managing the Olympic Multiple Listing Service before it merged with Northwest Multiple Listing Service in 2007.
We sat down with Wilkins to ask him five questions about the Thurston County housing market.
Q: Give me the lay of the land: What’s it like out there?
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A: Most significant is that inventory is low. There are 540 single-family residential listings in the marketplace. When I was manager of the Olympic Multiple Listing Service we would normally have 1,700 to 1,800 per month. It never dawned on me that we would have less than 600 listings. It has put (upward) pressure on prices, it’s a sellers market, (and) if the house is priced well and in good condition it will sell quickly. We are going to see an increase in inventory. Sellers typically put their house on the market in February, March and April, in anticipation of a sale over the summer in time to start the new school year. But because homes are selling so quickly, we’ll probably see listings increase in March, April and May (to meet the same timeline). There are more buyers from Seattle, too. They buy a house here and then the moment they list (their home) in the Seattle area it sells. A house in Bellevue recently sold for $60,000 over list price in four hours.
Q: If I’m a buyer in this market, what do I need to know?
A: First, get preapproved. What does that mean? You go to a lender who will review your finances and then establish a price range for the home that you can afford. This has become problematic because of the lack of inventory, which means there is less for the first-time buyer to choose from. Thirty-year mortgage interest rates also are creeping up, which can cause house payments to be higher.
Q: If I’m a seller, what do I need to know?
A: The house needs to be in good condition. Even though it’s a sellers market, buyers still require the house to be in good condition. I recommend a home inspection prior to a listing. If I needed to sell my house in six to eight months, I would have a home inspector come in and have them do a total review of my property and identify all the things that need to be fixed. By the time I bring it to market, I’m ready.
Q: What kind of property do buyers want these days?
A: Young and old, they still want a single-story house with some property for a yard. And yet everything is selling: the two-story house on a postage-size lot, or three-story houses near Cabela’s. And why would builders commit to more land when their houses are selling? It’s hard to argue with them.
Q: Where is the market headed?
A: In the next 90 to 180 days, inventory will increase and prices will continue to appreciate. And buyers will continue to keep pressure on prices. Sales will be strong as more inventory becomes available through the remainder of the year.