The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has not yet dampened demand in the housing market. Traffic at open houses remains heavy. Buyers who had waited last year for a drop in prices have now seen several months of home prices increases. With demand far outstripping supply and record low interest rates, the market heading into spring looks hotter than ever.
Buyers that may have been in wait-and-see mode at the end of 2019 jumped off the fence in February. Pending sales (offers accepted but not yet closed) jumped 27%, snapping up already-tight inventory. 55% of homes on the market sold in 15 days or less. The median home price jumped 9% over a year ago to $985,000, an increase of $58,000 from the prior month. Development on the Eastside continues to surge and includes the recent groundbreaking for a 600-foot tower in Bellevue and a proposed 11-acre mixed-use project.
The tight housing market here got even tighter. There were 40% fewer homes on the market in King County in February than there were in January. The median home price rose 3% over the prior year to $675,000, up from $630,525 in January. With mortgage rates and the local unemployment rate both hitting record lows, demand isn’t likely to drop any time soon.
With just six weeks of available inventory, competition for homes in Seattle remains fierce. Multiple offers were the norm, and 34% of homes purchased in February sold for over the listing price. The median price for a single-family home in February was $730,500, unchanged from a year ago and up from $719,950 in January.
The numbers in Snohomish County tell the story. There were 42% fewer listings in February than a year ago, and 42% more pending sales. With inventory at under a month of supply, there just aren’t enough homes to meet demand. That scarcity translated into higher prices, with the median price of a single-family home rising 8% over a year ago to $515,000.
This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
Employment in Washington State continues to soften; it is currently at an annual growth rate of 1.7%. I believe that is a temporary slowdown and we will see the pace of employment growth improve as we move further into the new year. It’s clear that businesses are continuing to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. This is, of course, in addition to the issues that Boeing currently faces regarding the 737 MAX.
In the fourth quarter of 2019 the state unemployment rate was 4.4%, marginally lower than the 4.5% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2020 will rise 2.2%, with a total of 76,300 new jobs created.
- There were 18,322 home sales registered during the final quarter of 2019, representing an impressive increase of 4.7% from the same period in 2018.
- Readers may remember that listing activity spiked in the summer of 2018 but could not be sustained, with the average number of listings continuing to fall. Year-over-year, the number of homes for sale in Western Washington dropped 31.7%.
- Compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, sales rose in nine counties and dropped in six. The greatest growth was in Whatcom County. San Juan County had significant declines, but this is a very small market which makes it prone to extreme swings.
- Pending home sales — a barometer for future closings — dropped 31% between the third and fourth quarters of 2019, suggesting that we may well see a dip in the number of closed sales in the first quarter of 2020.
- Home price growth in Western Washington spiked during fourth quarter, with average prices 8.3% higher than a year ago. The average sale price in Western Washington was $526,564, 0.7% higher than in the third quarter of 2019.
- It’s worth noting that above-average price growth is happening in markets some distance from the primary job centers. I strongly feel this is due to affordability issues, which are forcing buyers farther out.
- Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in San Juan County, where home prices were up 41.7%. Six additional counties also saw double-digit price increases.
- Home prices were higher in every county contained in this report. I expect this trend to continue in 2020, but we may see a softening in the pace of growth in some of the more expensive urban areas.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped four days compared to the third quarter of 2019.
- For the second quarter in a row, Thurston County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 29 days to sell. In nine counties, the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in four counties and two were unchanged.
- Across the entire region, it took an average of 47 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter. This was up nine days over the third quarter of this year.
- Market time remains below the long-term average across the region, a trend that will likely continue until we see more inventory come to market — possibly as we move through the spring.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
The housing market ended the year on a high note, with transactions and prices picking up steam. I believe the uncertainty of 2018 (when we saw significant inventory enter the market) has passed and home buyers are back in the market. Unfortunately, buyers’ desire for more inventory is not being met and I do not see any significant increase in listing activity on the horizon. As such, I have moved the needle more in favor of home sellers.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
A steady influx of buyers continued to strain already tight inventory throughout the area in October. Home sales were up, as were prices in much of the region. With our thriving economy and highly desirable quality of life drawing ever more people here, the supply of homes isn’t close to meeting demand. Homeowners thinking about putting their property on the market can expect strong buyer interest.
As the Eastside continues to rack up “best places” awards, it’s no surprise that the area is booming. Development is on the rise, fueled primarily by the tech sector. The appeal of the Eastside has kept home prices here the highest of any segment of King County. The median single-family home price in October was stable as compared to the same time last year, rising 1% to $900,000.
King County’s 1.74 months of available inventory is far below the national average of four months. Despite the slim selection, demand in October was strong. The number of closed sales was up 5% and the number of pending sales (offers accepted but not yet closed) was up 11%. The median price of a single-family home was down 2% over a year ago to $660,000. However, some areas around the more reasonably-priced south end of the county saw double-digit price increases.
Seattle home prices took their largest year-over-year jump in 12 months. The median price of a single-family home sold in October was up 3% from a year ago to $775,000, a $25,000 increase from September of this year. Seattle was recently named the third fastest-growing city in America. Real estate investment is surging. A growing population and booming economy continue to keep demand for housing –and home prices—strong.
Both the number of home sales and home prices were on the rise in Snohomish County in October. Overall homes sales increased 7%, and the median price of a single-family home rose 5% over a year ago to $495,000. Supply remains very low, with just six weeks of available inventory.
This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com
While fall usually brings a decrease in sales activity, the opposite was true in September. The number of listings on the market dropped by double digits and home sales rose. With interest rates near historic lows and employment levels at historic highs, the housing market is expected to stay strong throughout the fall and winter.
Long the most affluent area of King County, the Eastside continues to record the highest home prices in the region. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $928,500 in September, an increase of 4% from a year ago and a decrease of less than 1% from August. The Eastside construction boom continues, indicating that developers remain confident in the strength of the local economy.
The number of homes on the market in King County fell by almost 20% in September when compared to a year ago. However, last fall saw an increase in inventory that was unusual for the time of year. The median price of a single-family home was $660,000, down just 1% from the same time last year. Cities in King County, outside of Seattle, all saw price increases. Sales were up 7% indicating no shortage of buyers.
Prices remained relatively stable, with the median price of a single-family home in September dipping 3% over a year ago to $750,000. As tech companies continue to recruit top talent to the area, Seattle’s population keeps booming and demand for housing remains high. While home sales traditionally dip in the fall, the city saw sales increase by 12% in September as compared to last year. Rising rents may push more buyers into the market.
Buyers continue to be drawn to Snohomish County thanks to a strong economy and housing costs that are considerably more affordable than King County. That influx of buyers is also driving up prices. The median price of a single-family home in September was $492,500, up from $484,995 the same time last year. At $167,500 less than the median price in King County, it’s a relative bargain.
This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. I hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Washington State employment jumped back up to an annual growth rate of 2.4% following a disappointing slowdown earlier in the spring. As stated in the first quarter Gardner Report, the dismal numbers earlier this year were a function of the state re-benchmarking its data (which they do annually).
The state unemployment rate was 4.7%, marginally up from 4.5% a year ago. My current economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.6%, with a total of 87,500 new jobs created.
Home Sales Activity
- There were 22,281 home sales during the second quarter of 2019, representing a drop of 4.8% from the same period in 2018. On a more positive note, sales jumped 67.6% compared to the first quarterof this year.
- Since the middle of last year, there has been a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale, which is likely the reason sales have slowed. More choice means buyers can be more selective and take their time when choosing a home to buy.
- Compared to the second quarter of 2018, there were fewer sales in all counties except Whatcom and Lewis. The greatest declines were in Clallam, San Juan, and Jefferson counties.
- Listings rose 19% compared to the second quarter of 2018, but there are still a number of very tight markets where inventory levels are lower than a year ago. Generally, these are the smaller — and more affordable — markets, which suggests that affordability remains an issue.
Year-over-year price growth in Western Washington continues to taper. The average home price during second quarter was $540,781, which is 2.8% higher than a year ago. When compared to first quarter of this year, prices were up 12%.
- Home prices were higher in every county except King, which is unsurprising given the cost of homes in that area. Even though King County is home to the majority of jobs in the region, housing is out of reach for many and I anticipate that this will continue to act as a drag on price growth.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Lewis County, where home prices were up 15.9%. Double-digit price increases were also seen in Mason, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, and Skagit counties.
- The region’s economy remains robust, which should be a positive influence on price growth. That said, affordability issues are pervasive and will act as a headwind through the balance of the year, especially in those markets that are close to job centers. This will likely force some buyers to look further afield when searching for a new home.
Days on Market
- The average number of days it took to sell a home matched the second quarter of 2018.
- Snohomish County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 21 days to sell. There were five counties where the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in eight counties and two were unchanged.
- Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of 2019. This was the same as a year ago but is down 20 days compared to the first quarter of 2019.
- As stated above, days-on-market dropped as we moved through the spring, but all markets are not equal. I suggest that this is not too much of an issue and that well-priced homes will continue to attract attention and sell fairly rapidly.
Despite a real estate slowdown gripping the nation, this year’s housing market is expected to be busier than realtor.com® economists originally predicted late last year. That means more home sales—and higher prices—are on the way.
The anticipated uptick in activity is due to lower mortgage rates, which make homes more affordable for buyers. The economic team expected rates to climb to 5.5% in 2019, but instead they have hovered around 4%. (They were 4.17% on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages as of April 18, according to Freddie Mac data.) Economists say rates are now likely to rise a little to 4.5%, still well below what buyers were dreading.
However, it’ll be nothing like the feeding frenzy of recent years.
“It’s still going to be a lukewarm year for the housing market,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com. “We’re going to see higher prices and slightly higher home sales than we expected. But home sales are still going to decline slightly as a result of the housing slowdown. There’s a gap between what sellers are looking for and buyers are hoping to pay.”
While a single percentage point difference may not seem that significant, it can add more than $100 to the monthly loan payment on a median-priced home of $300,000. (This assumes buyers put 20% down.) That can translate into tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year loan.
The downside for buyers—and upside for sellers—is that prices are expected to rise more than Hale’s team originally forecast, going up 2.9% in 2019 instead of 2.2%. That’s because the swelling ranks of buyers motivated by those lower mortgage rates will increase demand—and therefore prices.
Meanwhile, realtor.com’s economists predict the number of home sales will almost hold steady, dipping just 0.3%. They originally believed the number of sales would fall by 2%.
The market has slowed down from previous years because sellers, seeing an end to the good days of high prices, rushed to put their homes on the market. But this happened at the same time that many buyers backed off because of those same high prices. The glut in supply led to lower price growth and fewer home sales.
But as always, local conditions will be the main factor for real estate in your market, Hale says.
“In some markets there’s still not enough housing available, so buyers are likely to find a competitive market,” she says. “But in some markets prices are so high that buyers are choosing to be patient and sit on the sidelines.”
This post originally appeared on Realtor.com.