Home prices are growing faster in our region than anywhere else in the country. After a brief slowdown last month, home prices in February jumped to new record highs. The reason? The lowest number of homes for sale on record. The surge in prices came well ahead of the normal seasonal spring uptick, adding even greater urgency among buyers competing for already severely limited inventory. It remains to be seen if the predicted hike in interest rates will help moderate the market. For now, sellers are calling the shots.
The Eastside, always the most expensive area in King County, set a new price record in February. The median price for homes sold in February soared 12 percent to $832,000. That’s nearly $100,000 more than the same time last year. With less than one month of available inventory, this seller’s market is expected to continue for quite some time.
A recent trend of slowing price growth reversed itself in February. The number of homes for sale in King County was at its lowest point since 2000, when records first started being tracked. That is down 25 percent from a year ago. The deep shortage of inventory resulted in a sharp increase in prices. The median price of a single-family home was up 9 percent over last year to $560,000.
The median price of a single-family home in the city increased 5 percent over a year ago to $675,000, another all-time high. Prices here have nearly doubled over the last five years. While areas of King County outside of Seattle are more affordable, prices there are growing even faster. The median price of homes in North, Southwest and Southeast King County all increased by double-digits in February.
After a softening of price increases over the past few months, Snohomish County saw record high prices in February. The median price of a single-family home jumped 15 percent as compared to a year ago to $412,500. With less than one month of supply in the county, brokers expect prices to remain strong.
Architects are often referred to as optimists. They envision a city’s future and plan for it. That kind of optimism is incredibly important for the Seattle area real estate market as the city works to accommodate widespread growth. According to New York architect Vishaan Chakrabarti, who recently spoke at the Downtown Seattle Association’s annual breakfast meeting, Seattle’s conditions are perfect for becoming a futuristic city.
What is a futuristic city?
Chakrabarti describes this type of city as dense, walkable, and mixed. It uses less land and has fewer old-school office parks. It encourages people to live in more compact circumstances and has a more dense way of living that is largely rail-based. It fosters relationships and innovation. It calls for massive investment in infrastructure to support cities via transportation nodes, safety, parks, cultural activities, and affordable housing.
Based on this description it seems as if Seattle is already well on its way to becoming a futuristic city. For example, an article from Curbed reported the Housing and Livability Agenda (HALA) will rezone Seattle neighborhoods to be taller near Light Rail stations and gradually return to conventional houses as the distance to the stations increases. This change is expected to affect the density of the entire region, including the Eastside.
However, considering the rate of growth in the region it has taken quite a while to get to this point. Other trends characteristic of a futuristic city, like compact housing (i.e. tiny houses), have been on Seattle’s radar for a while, but when they first appeared it seemed as if people sought them out due to preference or in the pursuit of personal fulfillment. Now we are looking to this city landscape with more urgency, and as a much-needed solution and way of sustaining our city.
Why does Seattle need to be a futuristic city?
According to Chakrabarti the answer to this question is the answer to most questions pertaining to Seattle’s rapid growth: Amazon.com. One year ago 245,000 people were employed in downtown Seattle. That number is now up to 265,000 and more than 25,000 of those people are Amazon employees. This is contributing to the reshaping of Seattle and surrounding areas in tangible ways – the record-number of cranes dotting our skyline, traffic congestion and longer commute times, and of course “razor thin” housing inventory.
What are the economic and social benefits?
Chakrabarti states, “As people live in denser circumstances, more innovation happens, more patent creation happens, and it is because people are running into each other, and there is serendipity as a consequence.” We are already the third most innovative state in the U.S. and third in patent activity so it would be interesting to discover how much more creation and innovation could result from a full transformation into a futuristic city.
There are also several social benefits to living in this type of urban development. Drinking and driving plummets, childhood obesity rates drop, and divorce rates go down as commute times are reduced.
There is no doubt that Seattle is growing up, and quickly. No matter what it becomes I will be happy to assist you with navigating the real estate market during the process.
The local real estate market remains very hot with extremely low inventory and prices that are rising faster than anywhere else in the country. However, that rate of price growth appears to be cooling from last year, dropping to its slowest pace in three years. Predictions of more interest rate hikes may further limit price increases. Those considering to sell their home may want to take advantage now of this perfect storm of record-low inventory and record-high prices.
Those looking to buy a home on the Eastside continue to face rising prices and strong competition for limited inventory. With less than a month’s supply of homes, properties here are getting snapped up as soon as they come on the market, and often sell for well over asking price. The median price for homes sold in January climbed 14 percent compared to a year ago to $793,000.
Buyers scrambling to beat increasing interest rates have depleted an already record-low supply of homes. Fewer than 1,600 single-family homes were on the market in King County in January, beating December’s all-time low. The median price of a single family home was up 7 percent over last year to $525,000, but that is the cheapest home prices have been in 11 months. Time will tell whether that price moderation is an anomaly or the continuation of a trend.
After months of robust increases, Seattle home prices slowed down in January. The median price of a single-family home in the city inched up 3 percent over a year ago to $635,000. Some areas of the city even saw small price drops. That should spell good news for buyers, yet razor thin inventory continues to make it a solid seller’s market.
After months of double-digit price increases, Snohomish County may be starting to experience the same market softening as King County. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 8 percent as compared to a year ago to $410,000. Tight inventory continues to be a problem. There are 40 percent fewer homes on the market here than the same time last year.
What exactly is making home prices in Seattle and the surrounding area?
The problem is no one is selling their homes. The Seattle Times states only “0.4 percent of all homes in the Seattle region were on the market at any given time last year” which is a stark indication of how competitive the real estate market has been. Even though the Seattle area has the 15th-largest housing market in the country, there are 36 markets with more homes for sale – and they are smaller markets, too.
This means our inventory is three times worse than the national market according to the same Seattle Times article. Furthermore, only one market in the U.S. has a tighter housing market right now: the San Francisco Bay Area.
Last month, the number of homes for sale in King County hit an all-time low with only 1,600 houses on the market. With the market heavily favoring sellers, home values in the Seattle area “have soared about 60 percent” in the last five years. However, due to the tight housing market many homeowners are reluctant to take advantage of the increase in home values for fear of trying to purchase another pricey home in the area.
When looking at prices, we see an additional worry for homeowners (and potential buyers). Because supply keeps shrinking, demand continues to rise along with new jobs and a growing population. Renters are facing steep apartment prices and the $1 million home has become normal. The Seattle Times states Seattle only has about 260 homes under $1 million. This is causing frustration and strong competition for first-time homebuyers.
What does this mean for the Eastside?
We are going to continue seeing high prices for the near future as explained by Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. As buyers are pushed out of the competition in Seattle, they will begin looking to the Eastside and the surrounding areas.
No matter how you look at it, this is an exciting time for real estate in our region. If you are thinking it is time for your to purchase your first home or sell your home to take advantage of the market, make sure you get in touch with me. I can walk you through the steps you need to take and educate you on the best moves to make in the housing market.
For more information, read the full article from The Seattle Times.
A record low number of houses for sale in December indicates that 2017 will continue to be a very competitive market for buyers. The good news: those who decide to take the plunge and list their home can count on getting a premium price for their property. Brokers reported that about three-fourths of the homes sold in December involved bidding wars.
Strong demand driven by a booming tech economy and great schools continue to strain the already low inventory on the Eastside. It’s not unusual for a well-priced new listing to receive dozens of offers and to sell for well over asking price. With supply failing to meet demand, the median price for homes sold in December soared 19 percent to a new record high of $803,500.
King County had only about 1,600 single-family homes on the market in December, an all-time low. With the healthy regional economy, demand remains very strong. Prices, however, appear to be moderating somewhat. The median price for a single-family home sold in December was $550,000, up 8 percent over a year ago, but unchanged from October and November. A traditional uptick in inventory this spring may help keep price increases more modest this year compared to the double-digit increases seen in 2015.
According to the Case-Shiller home price index, home prices are rising faster in the Seattle metro area than in any other major region in the country. One issue is space. The city’s existing density means that virtually no new single-family homes are being built in Seattle. As new residents flood in, more people are competing for the already tight inventory. As a result, home prices are up. The median cost of a single-family home rose 6 percent from a year ago to $635,000.
While home prices in Snohomish County are well below those of King County, the gap is closing as prices here are increasing at a faster pace than neighboring counties. The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County rose 12 percent as compared to a year ago to $400,000. Like King County, inventory is very slim, indicating a market heavily favoring sellers.
2016 was another stellar year for the Seattle housing market, in which a surplus of buyers and a deficit of sellers drove home prices higher across the board. So, can we expect to see more of the same in 2017? Here are some of my thoughts on the Seattle/King County housing market for the coming year:
- Our market has benefited greatly from very healthy job growth, driven in no small part by our thriving technology companies. Economic vitality is the backbone of housing demand, so we should continue to see healthy employment growth in 2017; however, not quite as robust as 2016. Migration to Seattle from other states will also continue in the coming year, putting further pressure on our housing market.
- Are we building too many apartments? The answer to this question is “maybe”. I believe we are fast approaching oversupply of apartments; however, this glut will only be seen in select sub-markets, such as South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. Developers have been adding apartments downtown at frantic rates with many projects garnering very impressive rents. In the coming year, look for rental rate growth to slow and for concessions to come back into play as we add several thousand more apartments to downtown Seattle.
- The Millennials are here! And they are ready to buy. 2016 saw a significant increase in the number of Millennial buyers in Seattle, and I expect to see even more in 2017. The only problem will be whether Millennials will be able to find – or afford – anything to buy.
- Home prices will continue to rise. But price growth will taper somewhat. The market has been on a tear since bottoming out in 2012, with median home prices up by a remarkable 79% from the 2012 low, and 14% above the pre-recession peak seen in 2007. Given the fact that interest rates are now likely to rise at a faster rate than previously forecasted, I believe price appreciation will slow somewhat, but values will still increase at rates that are well above the national average. Look for home prices to increase by an average of 7.5 – 8.5% in 2017.
- More homes for sale? I am optimistic that inventory levels around Seattle will increase, but it still won’t be enough to meet continued high demand.
- This is my biggest concern for the Seattle housing market. Home prices – specifically in areas with ready access to our job centers – are pulling way ahead of incomes, placing them out of reach for much of our population. This forces many buyers to move farther away from our job centers, putting additional stress on our limited infrastructure. We need to have an open discussion regarding zoning, as well as whether our state’s Growth Management Act is helping or hindering matters.
- New Home Starts/Sales. As much as I would love to say that we can expect a substantial increase in new homes in 2017, I am afraid this is not the case. Historically high land prices, combined with ever increasing construction and labor costs, slow housing development, as the price of the end product is increasingly expensive. This applies to single family development as well as condominiums. We should see a couple of towers break ground in 2017, but that’s about all. Vertical construction is still prohibitively expensive and developers are concerned that there will not be sufficient demand for such an expensive end product.
- Are we setting ourselves up for another housing crash? The simple answer to this question is no. While home price appreciation remains above the long-term average, and will continue to be so in 2017, credit requirements, down payments, and a growing economy will all act as protectors from a housing crash in Seattle.
This blog originally appeared on Windermere Seattle Spaces and Places.
Buyers spooked by a spike in mortgage interest rates gave rise to the busiest November for homes sales in over a decade. Prices rose accordingly. Case-Shiller ranked the area as the housing market with the fastest rising prices in the country. Sellers can expect to get a premium for their homes as we move into 2017, but they need to consider how an expected further increase in interest rates may impact the market.
There hasn’t been a stronger seller’s market on the Eastside in recent memory. Record-setting home sales, combined with record-low inventory, has resulted in a significant imbalance of supply and demand. It’s no surprise that home prices surged upward. The median price of a single-family home sold on the Eastside was $759,400, an increase of 13 percent over last November.
Home sales in King County soared nearly 30 percent over a year ago. With frenzied demand gobbling up inventory, most homes received multiple offers. Median home prices here were up 10 percent over the same time last year to $550,000. Brokers expect the market will continue to be extremely active through the winter.
A severe inventory shortage continues to make multiple offers the norm in Seattle. Even the uptick in mortgage interest rates has done little to moderate demand. The median home price here increased to $615,000 in November. If it’s any consolation for buyers facing sticker shock, that was just a 3 percent increase over the same time last year.
Snohomish County experienced the same boost in buying and bust in inventory as the rest of the region. Prices climbed at an even faster rate than in King County. Compared to a year ago, the median price of a single-family home was up over 14 percent to $400,000.
According to Veros Real Estate Solutions, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue market is projected to be the fourth hottest real estate market in the U.S. in 2017. The company projects home prices to appreciate 10.2 percent in our region next year, far outpacing the rest of the country.
If you’re thinking about selling, the timing couldn’t be better. With inventory at historic lows, prices at or near record highs, and multiple offers the norm, it’s an exceptional time to get top dollar for your home.
Are you ready to sell your home?
Get in touch with me today to receive a valuation of your home based on current market conditions. I can walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Home sales outgained new listings again in October, further squeezing already tight inventory and pushing prices higher. Since new listings traditionally decrease in the fall, that inventory shortage is expected to last until spring. Sellers willing to put their home on the market now can expect plenty of interested buyers, and a highly favorable chance of getting the best possible price for their home.
Home prices on the Eastside took a big leap in October, fueled by record low inventory. The median price of a single-family home sold that month was $768,000, a jump of 15 percent over the same time last year, and the fastest price growth in several months. With the market so strongly favoring sellers, brokers are hopeful more consumers will opt to list their homes.
The amount of inventory in King County fell to levels not seen since the 1990s with just one month of available inventory. With supply falling well behind demand, prices jumped significantly. The median price of a single-family home sold in October jumped 15 percent over a year ago to $550,000.
There is no place where the supply of homes is tighter than Seattle, particularly in areas close to the city center. Just three weeks of inventory has kept this market in solid multiple-offer territory. Prices in October increased accordingly. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle rose 13 percent to $625,000.
Inventory in Snohomish County dropped more than 20 percent from a year ago. With just over a month of available inventory, prices climbed. The median price of a single-family home was up 6 percent over last year to $386,599. Even with that increase, buyers continue to be drawn to the area by home prices that average 30 percent less than King County.
Annual employment growth in Washington State slowed somewhat in the third quarter of this year, but still remains well above the long-term average. Additionally, the jobs that are being created are primarily quality, high-paying positions, which is important for the health of our economy. Unemployment in the state remains at levels that are somewhat higher than I would like to see, but this continues to be impacted by a growing labor force and modestly slowing job growth. I still expect to see the rate drop a little further as we move through the final quarter of the year.
Home Sales Activity
- There were 24,277 home sales during the third quarter of 2016—up by an impressive 7.9% from the same period in 2015, and 6.8% above the total number of sales seen in the second quarter of this year.
- Skagit County saw sales grow at the fastest rate over the past 12 months, with transactions up by 25.6%. There were also impressive increases in home sales in Thurston, San Juan, Pierce, and Grays Harbor Counties. Sales fell slightly in Jefferson and Kittitas Counties.
- Overall listing activity remains low with the total number of homes for sale at the end of the quarter 11.2% below that seen a year ago. That said, I’m happy to report that listings have been slowly trending higher in 2016.
- I’ve been thinking about how sales can continue to rise while inventory remains so low. I believe this is due to an uptick in first-time buyers. These buyers have no home to sell, so they don’t add to the number of listings; however, they do cause sales to increase when they buy. This is a good trend to see!
- As demand continues to exceed supply, we are continuing to see upward pressure on home prices. In the third quarter, average prices rose by a substantial 10.2% and are 3.2% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
- The current rate at which homes are appreciating cannot continue, and I anticipate that we will see a “cooling” start to take place in 2017.
- When compared to the third quarter of 2015, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County. In total, there were nine counties where annual price growth exceeded 10% and prices were higher across the entire region when compared to a year ago.
- Although supply levels are slowly starting to creep higher, we are still solidly in a seller’s market. Rising inventory levels should start to do a better job of meeting demand next year, which when combined with modestly higher mortgage interest rates, will see the region move closer toward becoming a balanced market.
Days on Market
- The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by twenty-two days when compared to the third quarter of 2015.
- All the counties that comprise this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop.
- In the third quarter of 2016, it took an average of 52 days to sell a home. This is down from the 74 days it took in the third quarter of 2015, and down from the 67 days it took in the second quarter of this year.
- King and Snohomish Counties remain the only two markets where it took less than a month to sell a home. Even though King County saw days on market rise slightly from 18 to 20, it remains the hottest market in the region.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. For the third quarter of 2016, I am moving the needle very slightly toward the buyers. This is entirely due to the recent increase in inventory levels that I believe will continue through the rest of the year. That said, the region remains steadfastly a seller’s market.
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
This blog originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.