Mukilteo Property Outlook For 2013


By John Allman ( Contact me here

Being a realtor in this neck of the woods is rather hard I must say. Yesterday I sat down and compiled a set of real estate statistics for the city of Mukilteo going back two years. I usually look at these statistics on a monthly basis but yesterday was the first time I compiled those into a spreadsheet to look at the market over time. My goal is to go back as far as I can in order to get a good insight to how the Mukilteo market is performing currently as compared to previous years but I thought I would start just by comparing the last 2 years, which will show fairly clearly the decline of the local market in terms of sales volumes and pricing trends.

And then it hit me..

What finally prompted me to actually get going on this was the shockingly low number of closings in Mukilteo in the month of January 2009. When I pulled up the closings for the month, I was surprised to see that they were less than half of any prior month for as far back as I could remember. One normally expects January to be somewhat slow but even as compared to the last two Januarys, the number of closings was extremely low.

In January of 2009, we had 4 closings in all of the Mukilteo 98275 area code (click here for raw transaction data). This is an area with a population of more than 20,000, where we currently have 135 active listings. Yes folks, that means we currently have an absorption rate of approximately 34 months – that’s nearly 3 years worth of inventory at the current rate of closed sales. The good news is that the number of listings isn’t all that much higher than it was a year ago, but the rate of sales slowed almost to a standstill.

From a Seller’s POV

Another way to look at this, is to look at a seller’s chance of sale. Sellers in Mukilteo had a 3% chance of selling their homes in January 2009. During the brisk real estate market, the chance of making a sale was more in the 30% – 40% range! This is similar to what happened in KLCC properties in Kuala Lumpur back in 2011 (source: KLCC Condominiums Encyclopedia), and yet somehow that is how different things are now.

I attribute this state of affairs to continued weakness in housing locally (as illustrated by this article in the PI on Friday, calling the Seattle area out as having the largest drop in sales in the US), combined with December’s snowstorms and overall lack of confidence on the part of consumers–as well as a relatively seasonal market for real estate in Mukilteo even under the best of circumstances.


However, we folks here at North Sound Property News thinks it’s important to remember that “this too shall pass.” As Crellin points out, we began our decline only last year. The markets that were ahead of us, such as California, have already begun to rebound, and the National Association of Realtors also reported an increase in sales nationally of 7% year over year in December. My thought is that we probably have another year or so of low levels of sales and declining prices before we reach a level where real estate as an asset class makes financial sense in a more conservative environment. That’s barring massive layoffs and widespread financial disaster. When the cash flow picture becomes more favorable, investors are likely to begin leading the way back into the market. I know of quite a few investors currently in “wait and see mode.” The upshot of this in my opinion is that further price declines in the coming year are highly likely.

In the shorter term, the big question is whether we will see any sort of bounce in terms of volume in Mukilteo’s real estate market moving into spring. Typically, that is the pattern we would see. Currently we have 16 properties pending in the area, although there have been no closings in February so far. So it does seem as though a spring “bounce” back to last year’s level could be underway. But in terms of closed sales, things are still pretty weak–and in the end closed sales are what matter.

Here is a chart illustrating how the Mukilteo market is currently performing in terms of closed sales as compared to the previous 2 years. Sales in January 2009 are less than 1/10th of where they were in January 2007 at the top of the market, and less than half of last year after the financial crisis had begun to impact us locally.

Market Houses Sold

In terms of pricing, the Mukilteo market is a fairly low volume yet diverse market, so it can be somewhat difficult to identify a clear trend when looking at median sales price. It tends to bounce around quite a bit depending on whether a given month sees more high-end sales, or more sales in the lower end of the market. However, looking at the sales price per square foot does show us that buyers are getting more house for the same money compared to back in 2007 although renting remains expensive.

The last item I will look at in this post is Original List Price to Final Sale price. This metric tells us how much sellers are having to revise pricing to bring a sale. Typically, I feel this number is a better indicator of how flexible sellers are on pricing than comparing list price that the time of sale to final sale price (which is the metric used by most Realtors). That List price at time of sale vs. final sale price typically hovers in the 95% range, meaning that sellers on average will only accept about 5% off their list price in order to sell. However, when you look at Original List Price and compare it to Final Sale price, you will see that over the last year sellers in Mukilteo are discounting 8-10% off of their original list price order to sell.

So what is the underlying message? The underlying message to sellers is that it’s very difficult to bring a sale right now, and the best thing you can do from the outset is to make sure your home is priced the best in its class. There is just too much competition in the market to get away with over-pricing. Buyers will simply look elsewhere.

For buyers, I think the message is that pricing is somewhat more negotiable than it has been in previous years. If you can get into the ballpark with a seller, you have a better chance than you did in the past of being able to come to terms you both can agree to. Once upon a time, list prices were firm, but today many more sellers are willing to entertain “best offers” than would have been the case two years ago.

The Serious Buyers Conundrum


By Steven Bell, Associate Editor. Read Steven’s biography

One of the most frustrating things about home selling, especially  if you’re doing it FSBO is when you spend so much time on potential buyers who turn to be Looky Lou’s – you know, the types who act like they’re so ready to buy your house or a unit when really, they are just looking around. That’s just total waste of time and a great way to bring your hopes down; just when you thought you’re finally done with the selling process and you’re ready to get paid, they vanish in thin air.

This is frustrating enough for the pros, we can all imagine how much more frustrating it is for the regular home owner who just wants nothing but to get his house sold and move on to his new one.

Thankfully, the experts in the trade have had one too many Looky Lou’s to work and deal with that they have developed not only the perfect, most fool-proof way to deal with them without wasting their time, but also to spot the real and serious buyers with the very first look.

Spot Serious Buyers

Here are some tips on how to spot serious buyers and differentiate them easily from the Looky Lou’s:

  • Serious buyers, though not all, often come armed with the right paraphernalia. One good indicator of a serious buyer is either or both a real estate agent to represent/show them around and a mortgage pre-approval. Other mortgage-related papers are a good indicator as well. They can only mean that these people have done mostly their fair share of homework and ready to go.
  • They can tell you how much they are willing to pay for down payment. They are so ready to get the house that they could write you their down payment check right then and there if they want to. Serious home buyers, like I said earlier, did their fair share of preparation and they would not waste gas and money on looking around just for the sake of looking around.
  • They ask detailed questions. People who are just looking around could not really and exactly picture out living in the house because, well, the thought of moving in is not their next priority. Sure it is on the list but definitely not urgent. Meanwhile, the serious ones are asking all the detailed questions that almost always pertain to scenarios of themselves actually living in the house. If they ask about the size of the house, of the repairs done, of how many bedrooms there are, and have there been cases of flooding, etc, they are likely to be interested.
  • They talk about closing the deal and about writing an offer (if they haven’t made one yet). The written offer is always the best indicator of a serious buyer. It tells you that they’re down right and ready to close the deal and all that they’re waiting for is for you to sign on your end of the paper.

Don’t treat the Looky Lou’s any differently though; just don’t get your hopes too high with them. Your Mukilteo apartment may not be as exotic as, say, a unit at Hampshire Park, but it deserves all the respect that it gets.

NEXT: How to spot serious sellers, naturally.

Rupert The Dog’s Guide To Condo Buying


By John Allman, editor. Read John’s biography here

In Steven’s previous blog post, I received some feedback last week from a few readers asking some tips that will help them to find the right condominiums in Malaysia for the whole family which includes their pets. Luckily, our resident online expert, Mr. Joey Lim is here to give some very useful tips.

Perhaps the only thing more challenging than finding a family home is finding a home that is as accommodating to humans as it is to pets. Family pets, especially dogs and cats, need room to move around and to accommodate their other needs.

And it can only be ever more challenging if you’re looking to live in a condo with your pet! The urban living might be convenient for you but it might be a little challenging to make it convenient for your pets as well.

Frankly, it would not be as difficult if your pet was as undemanding as an aquarium fish or maybe even a small reptile. But if you have something like a bird, or a dog, a medium-sized reptile, or maybe even a rabbit, the compact vertical space of the condominium not to mention the regulations of such a living space, looking for the right condominium units in the city of Kuala Lumpur complex definitely would not be easy.

Tips that will help you find the right condo home for you and your pet!

If you are in that situation, here are some tips that will help you find the right condo home not just for you but also for your pet:

  • Always go for the ones that allow pets. Because pets can be rowdy and dirty, many condo complexes ban pets within the residence. Fortunately for you, there still are some condo units around that allow pets inside the complexes. It would even be better if they have their own pet facilities like kennels or pet day care. Find these condos and check for their pet policies and see which ones suit you and your pet’s needs.
  • Find a condo unit that has spare space for your pet. Most units are designed without any extra space where you can put your dog or cat beds and aquariums for your fish and reptiles. It would be inconvenient for you and your dog both if you live in a condo unit that could hardly accommodate your own things and your pet’s space needs.
  • If you have a dog, find a condo complex that has a park or a dog park in the neighborhood. Your dog would definitely need all that open space of the park for exercise and the limited not to mention restricted grounds of the condominium complex will definitely not be enough.
  • A gated and secure condo complex that is not directly in front of a major and busy highway would also be the best choice for you and your pet. This type of location is very ideal to keep your pets safe. See, in case your pets accidentally get away from your condo unit, some perimeter fencing with security personnel presence could stop your dog from getting away before it gets to the main roads.

Condominium units in Malaysia, especially the high rise ones (Orchard Residences and Le Nouvel come to mind), located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur like the ones from  may be the best and most idea living space for you but it may not exactly be the best ones for your pets. If you can’t find the perfect, pet-friendly place, you might actually be better off with a town home a little outside of the city where you and your pet can have all the space you need for convenient, comfortable living.

Selling a House in a Bad Neighborhood


By John Allman, editor of NorthSoundPropertyNews. Click here for biodata

One of the worst conditions of selling a house here in North Sound is if it sits in a bad neighborhood. Whether it is one that is infested with gangsters and lawless elements, or it suffers a bad reputation over lack of utilities or at least getting one is difficult, or the location is a little too far out even for the suburb-seeking homeowner, these bad scenarios will make selling a home extremely difficult.

What could make it even worse is if tons of other neighbors are selling their homes too. For one, it gives the impression of a diaspora – a massive exit by residents trying to flee away from something in that neighborhood. Two, the competition is really high so it makes the selling part extra difficult.

So, what are you to do when you are trying to sell your house in a bad neighborhood in the seedier side of North Sound? Here are some tips:


Security should always be the top priority, and I can’t agree more. If security is the main concern, you might want to install some extra security and safety gadgets in your house.

MSN Real Estate listed five mistakes to avoid when choosing a neighborhood– read it here for more.

A security alarm, some surveillance cameras, and maybe even a higher fence and a sturdier gate. This way, your prospective buyer will know that your house is more secure especially from the thugs living in your area. Additional exterior lighting will also be a good addition to your house if it is within your budget.


If your neighborhood has had a history of flooding, make sure your house does not show any signs of the past flood/s. If you’re in Malaysia you can use this site ( to read the reviews of the property to find out more about its history for your own benefit. Any markings on the walls that indicate that it has been flooded badly will only cause alarm on the end of the buyer. You might need to divulge the information about your home getting flooded in the past but at least your house should not show any wear, tear or damage from it lest they’d run away from your house as soon as they can.


If many other homes in the neighborhood are being sold, you may be obliged to tell her about the situation in the neighborhood – in some bits – but you’re not obliged to actually tell her the very reason for your moving out. It would also help if your home stands out from the rest of the neighbors’. Want to know what we at NorthSound Property News think? Step up a notch on curb appeal and home staging and give them a good reason to pick your house and not one of the other homes in the area. Healthy competition is always good.


If your house is too far out for utilities to come too easily, it would be very convenient and comforting for your prospective buyers to know if you’ve put out some implements to compensate for the problem. Does your house have backup water supply? Do you have solar energy installed? Do you have power generators or satellite connections for communication purposes? These things might help you keep a good price on your home and sell it more quickly.

The thing about selling a house in a bad neighborhood is that you might have to sell your house a little too cheaply than your ideal price. The neighborhood situation is hardly within your control and unfortunately your house would suffer from it. Try the tips above to keep the impact at a bare minimum but keep your expectations real too.