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Open Thread Answers: Seattle Neighborhoods & Real Estate Trends

On Friday, we opened it up to you guys to ask a real estate expert anything and everything you want. We'll do it again this Friday but in the meantime, real estate agent Christian Nossum and residential mortgage advisor Dan Keller have some answers for you...

Are we really looking at an inventory shortage across Seattle right now? How long can we expect it to last?
Yes, we are really looking at a housing inventory shortage here in Seattle. We currently have 31% less homes for sale in Seattle than we did in March, 2012.

I think the main reason why is that no one wants to sell their house at the bottom of the market. When the market crashed and prices were falling, sellers rushed to sell their house to minimize their loses, and because of that the housing inventory increased. Now that people feel like prices have bottomed out and the Seattle real estate market has picked up again, sellers are being patient and not listing their house for sale until prices rise up more. That's why inventory levels are so low.

Seasonally, there are more homes for sale in Seattle in the spring and summer months, so we should be on the cusp of seeing more and more homes coming on the market.

Can you flip a house in Seattle? How long do you have to hold onto it to make a profit and what neighborhoods are best for flippers?

Yes, you can flip a house in Seattle. For more on how to do so, and to figure out if you have the cojones to do one, check out the article I wrote last week on flipping houses in Seattle.

Most flippers hold on to a property for the minimum amount of time to get the most profit. The longer it takes you to do the rehab, the more your holding costs are. Also, keep in mind the saying, "You make money when you buy, not when you sell." If you get a good enough deal, you have a better chance of making a profit.
It's kinda hard not to find a good neighborhood in Seattle to flip a house in right now. With the low inventory of homes, the supply and demand numbers are way off. There are lots of buyers usually vying for properties as soon as they hit the market currently.

I keep coming across homes that include a Fannie Mae HomePath Mortgage. Can you tell me what the pros and cons of going down that road are?

To answer this question, I've brought in local mortgage broker, Dan Keller, since this is right up his alley. Here's his take on HomePath Mortgages: