The local real estate market—already the hottest in the country—set yet another price record in April. The number of homes for sale dropped 27 percent compared to a year ago, the lowest amount of inventory ever recorded for a spring month. The historically low supply of homes is making competition among buyers fierce. Sellers are in the enviable position of being able to structure sales agreements to include concessions such as rent-backs and longer closing time so they can take the time to find their next home.
The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside reached an all-time high of $880,000 in April, a 21 percent jump over last April. That represents an increase of $150,000 over a year ago, the largest dollar increase on record. With our strong economy and growing population, brokers are not predicting a slowdown any time soon.
Seattle set a record for home prices for the third straight month. The median price of a single-family home rose 13 percent over the same time last year to $722,250. Like the rest of King County, lack of inventory was the driver. In one of the city’s hottest markets, Ballard, there are just 19 single-family homes on the market.
Inventory in King County just keeps getting tighter. There are just 1,900 homes on the market here. That compares to nearly 8,000 in April 2011. As buyers bid up existing homes, prices have escalated sharply. The median price of a single-family home jumped 16 percent from the same time last year to $625,000.
Home prices in Snohomish County are rising at their fastest pace in four years. The median price of a single-family home soared 17 percent from a year ago to $440,000. While that increase is substantial, prices here are still 30 percent less than in King County.
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.
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.
While homes prices were up by double-digits compared to a year ago, the market frenzy that has affected most of this year is showing some signs of moderating. With the exception of the Eastside, prices for most of the region were down from their peak. Home sales generally outpaced the same period a year ago, but a shortage of inventory continues to tip the advantage in favor of sellers.
Bucking the trend of moderating prices, the Eastside saw the median home price soar 14 percent over last year to a new record high of $769,000. That eclipses the previous peak of $760,000 in May of this year. Very tight inventory in this highly desirable market was reflected in flat sales growth compared to a year ago.
Home prices are still on the rise compared to a year ago, but there is some indication that prices are moderating. Combine that with an increase in inventory and we may be seeing some relief for buyers. Time will tell whether this is a momentary breather, or if we’re slowly moving to a more balanced market.
Home to the highest concentration of luxury homes in the state, the Eastside continues to be the highest priced region of King County. Median home prices here were up 10 percent over last July to $750,400. That is down from the May peak of $760,000, and virtually unchanged from June. Buyers looking in this desirable market may be seeing the start of easing home prices.
After five months in a row of record-setting prices, King County saw the median price of a single-family home drop slightly from the high of $570,500 in June to $555,000 in July. However, July’s median price was up 14 percent over a year ago. An increase in inventory, accompanied by a slight slowdown in sales, may indicate that the market is settling down from the frenzied pace we’ve experienced so far this year.
Seattle also saw a small decrease in home prices, with the median price of a single-family home dropping from its record $666,500 in June to $650,000 in July. The July number still represents a hefty 13 percent increase year-over-year. Some buyers are looking to the areas of North King County that include Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore for a more affordable alternative. Prices there soared 18 percent over last year, but the median price of $505,000 is significantly less than Seattle.
The median home price in Snohomish County topped $400,000 for the first time, setting a record for the third straight month. Prices were up nearly 12 percent over the same time a year ago to $405,000. With prices here about 25 percent less than King County, buyers looking for lower housing costs continue to fuel an environment where multiple offers are common.
House hunters looking for relief from soaring rents continued to snap up homes at a record pace in May. By one analysis, 80 percent of the homes coming on the market in King and Snohomish counties sold within the first 30 days – many within the first week. With a severe lack of inventory in prime buying season, sellers are getting record prices for homes.
The Eastside, already the most expensive area in King County, saw home prices set a new record in May. Median home prices on the Eastside were up by over $100,000 compared to last year, reaching an all-time high of $760,000. With just a month of inventory available, most new listings here drew multiple offers. Even with soaring prices, buyers should plan to act quickly and count on navigating multiple offers.
With 20 percent fewer homes on the market here than last year, competition among buyers remained fierce. Tight supply and high demand sent prices surging. For the fourth straight month, King County set a new record, with the median price of a single family home sold in May jumping 16 percent over last year to $560,000. The market is in dire need of new homes to ease the inventory crunch.
Seattle has the 4th fastest growing population in the country. That growth has fueled demand. Seattle trails only Portland on the list of markets with thefastest-growing home prices. A single family home here cost $641,250 in May, an increase of 14 percent over the same time last year. While slightly higher than the median price last month, that figure is down from the peak in February.
Since the close-in neighborhoods in Seattle and Bellevue have priced out most first-time buyers, they continued to look to Snohomish County as a more affordable option. The median price of a single-family home increased 11 percent over last year to $389,950. That price is slightly above the pre-recession peak in 2007. However, at 30 percent less than the median price in King County, it’s a relative bargain.
The supply of homes for sale in April was up over March, indicating that more sellers are deciding to list their homes. But with less than a month of inventory available in the area, it’s still a seller’s market. While prices were up over last year, the increases aren’t as lofty as they were in the first quarter of this year. Buyers looking for affordable housing continue to push their search outside the more expensive urban cores.
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At $730,000, the median price of a home on the Eastside was up 11 percent over last year. That figure was down slightly from February and March, suggesting that prices may be moderating. Competition for homes has not moderated. Brokers continue to report homes on the Eastside selling very quickly and often for over asking price.
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After breaking records for home prices in February and March, King County reached a new record-high in April. The median price of a single-family home was $540,000, a 12 percent increase over the same time last year. The more affordable areas in the south and north ends of the county saw the greatest increases, with home prices climbing almost 20 percent in these outlying areas.
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Seattle continues to have the tightest inventory of homes in King County. An influx of young, well-paid technology workers has fueled demand for homes close to the city. The median price of a single-family home increased 15 percent over a year ago to $637,250. But like the Eastside, that number was down slightly from February and March.
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Snohomish County posted more moderate price gains than King County. The price of a single-family home increased just 4 percent over last year to $375,000, down from a median of $385,000 last month. With prices here a third less than in King County, some buyers are willing to trade a longer commute for a more affordable home.
Historically low inventory levels, how we got here, and what to expect in the coming year
The housing market is performing remarkably well, with the exception of incredibly low inventory levels in many areas throughout the country. Why is this happening? Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, explains why and offers his predictions for what we can expect in the future.
1) Sale prices are at all-time highs.
Home prices in King County hit new highs last month. The median price of a single family home sold in King County in February was $514,975, a whopping 20% increase over a year ago. The median price in Seattle was up 24% to $644,950. The Eastside’s median price was up 20% to $739,975. You may be surprised at how much your home is worth today.
2) Competition among buyers is driving prices even higher.
Despite increasing prices, there is intense competition among buyers because inventory is at all-time lows. That means multiple offer and bidding wars, increasing the likelihood that your home will sell above your asking price.
3) Homes are selling fast.
With such limited inventory, homes in King County are selling rapidly – sometimes in days. If you list your house now, chances are you’ll get a buyer quickly.
4) You can make the sale work to your needs.
With competition for homes so fierce, you have the freedom to make the deal that works best for you. Many buyers are paying cash. They’ll also make concessions. Do you want stay in the home a few months after the sale? Want a large earnest money payment? You’re in the driver’s seat, and many buyers are willing to do what it takes to get the home they want.
It’s a seller’s market.
Are you ready to take advantage of it?
2015 closed out the year with home prices hitting new highs, and inventory hitting new lows. The market is tough for buyers who are competing for a dwindling number of homes, but it’s also the greatest seller’s market in recent memory.
What’s in store for 2016? Here is what Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner forecasts.