One thing that has always impressed me about the Summits is the accessibility of Zillow's top leadership. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff always opens the Summits with his overview of the strides that Zillow has been making recently. Zillow is now just one brand of the Zillow Group, the nation's largest real estate online marketplace, with acquisitions of Postlets, Easy Street, Trulia, and most recently Naked Apartments. Zillow has invested heavily in mobile applications, and that has paid off handsomely, as 2/3 of all real estate searches are now made online. Zillow is the number one real estate website both nationally and locally, here in Seattle.
Zillow has also invested in television advertising, and partnerships with other impressive real estate media such as HGTV and Leju, the largest Chinese real estate website. So Zillow's marketing directs a lot of both national and foreign investment to its websites and to its premier agents. Zillow is fueled by leads from numerous national brokerages and over 400 Multiple Listing Services - but surprisingly, not the NWMLS which is located in its own home town.
The Summits provide a lot of opportunity for networking, for learning more about agent tools and resources, for hearing from other brokers, and for getting a Zillow update on the health of the national and local real estate markets.
Zillow's senior economist Dr. Skylar Olsen presented the following stats about the housing market: Nationally, the housing market is within 6.4% of peak housing values; in the three-county Seattle metro area, we are just 3% below the 2007 peak. Housing prices within Seattle proper saw a 13% increase in just the last 12 months. This is a very hot seller's market, with unusually low inventory - and Olsen listed several reasons for this phenomenon. She believes that new construction will help resolve the inventory imbalance, albeit slowly.
At the moment, homeowners in Seattle are spending 22% of their income on mortgage payments, while renters are spending 32% of their income on rent. One could argue that mortgages are more affordable than they have been for many years (but I am not convinced). 22% of all first-time homebuyers are using gifts of funds to come up with the necessary down payment to purchase a home. And lower-income, working class households are willing to live further out in an effort to find housing affordability. In Seattle, this may mean living over 20 miles from their job locations for 21% of all local commuters!
The median home price in Seattle now stands around $530,000.
According to Olsen, some of the best "buyers markets" in the Puget Sound are in locations like Spanaway, Orting, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.
Savvy real estate investors will want to pay attention to these trends. Thank you, Zillow, for sponsoring yesterday's Summit!