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 your Windermere Agent.
Washington State continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the nation and there is little to suggest that there will be any marked slowdown in the foreseeable future. Over the past year, the state has added 105,900 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 3.2%. This remains well above the national rate of 1.65%. Private sector employment gains continue to be robust, increasing at an annual rate of 3.7%. The strongest growth sectors were Construction (+7.4%), Information (+6.2%), and Professional & Business Services (+6.1%). The state’s unemployment rate was 4.5%, down from 4.8% a year ago.
All year I’ve been predicting that Washington State’s annual job growth would outperform the nation as a whole, and we now know with certainty that this is going to be the case. Furthermore, I am now able to predict that statewide job growth in 2019 will be equally strong, with an expected increase of 2.6%.
Home Sales Activity
There were 22,310 home sales during the third quarter of 2018. This is a significant drop of 12.7% compared to the third quarter of 2017.
The number of homes for sale last quarter was up 14.5% compared to the third quarter of 2017, continuing a trend that started earlier in the year. However, the increase in listings was only in Seattle’s tri-county area (King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties) while listing activity was down across the balance of the region.
Only two counties had a year-over-year increase in home sales, while the rest of Western Washington saw sales decrease.
The region has reached an inflection point. With the increase in the number of homes for sale, buyers now have more choices and time to make a decision about what home to buy.
As inventory levels start to rise, some of the heat has been taken off the market, which caused home prices in the Western Washington region to go up by a relatively modest 6.2% over last year to $503,039. Notably, prices are down by 4.4% when compared to the second quarter of this year.
Home prices, although higher than a year ago, continue to slow due to the significant increase in the number of homes for sale. This, in my opinion, is a very good thing.
When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Lewis County, where home prices were up 15.3%. Six other counties experienced double-digit price increases.
Slowing price growth was inevitable; we simply could not sustain the increases we’ve experienced in recent years. Lower rates of appreciation will continue until wage growth catches up.
Days on Market
The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by four days compared to the same quarter of 2017.
- Across the entire region, it took an average of 39 days to sell a home in the third quarter of this year. This is down from 43 days in the third quarter of 2017 and down 2 days when compared to the second quarter of 2018.
King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 19 days to sell. Every county in the region other than Skagit and King — which both saw the time on the market rise by 2 days — saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop when compared to the same period a year ago.
More choice in the market would normally suggest that the length of time it takes to sell a home should rise, but the data has yet to show that. That said, compared to last quarter, we are seeing some marked increases in days on market in several counties, which will be reflected in future reports.
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. I started to move the needle toward buyers last quarter and have moved it even further this quarter. Price growth continues to slow, but more significant is the rise in listings, which I expect to continue as we move toward the quieter winter period.
I believe that psychology will start to play a part in the housing market going forward. It has been more than 15 years since we’ve experienced a “balanced” market, so many home buyers and sellers have a hard time remembering what one looks like. Concerns over price drops are overrated and the length of time it’s taking to sell a home is simply trending back to where it used to be in the early 2000s.
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 more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
For the first time in years, the real estate market is finally starting to deliver good news for buyers. The region experienced its third straight month of significant growth in inventory. Homes are sitting on the market longer, prices are moderating, and multiple offers are becoming more rare. Despite the surge in homes for sale, it is still a seller’s market. Inventory would need to triple to reach what is considered a balanced market.
Inventory on the Eastside soared 47 percent over the same time last year. There was a slight increase in new listings, but the jump was mostly due to homes staying on the market longer. Price drops have become more common. With buyers having more choices, sellers need to work with their broker to make sure they price their home correctly the first time. After setting a new high of $977,759 in June, the median price of a single-family home dropped to $947,500 in July. While offering some hope that prices may have started to moderate, the median is still 10 percent higher than it was the same time a year ago.
King County saw the biggest increase in inventory in a decade, with the number of homes for sale jumping 48 percent over a year ago. However, at 1.5 months of supply that’s still well below the 4-6 months of inventory that is considered balanced. The median price of a single-family sold in July was $699,000. That represents an increase of 6 percent from a year ago, but is down 4 percent from the record high of $725,000 set in April. Perceptions that the market is cooling needs to be kept in perspective. Homes here took an average of 15 days to sell.
Seattle saw inventory shoot up 60 percent over a year ago, bringing the supply to its highest level in over three years. Even with the sharp increase, much more inventory is needed to meet the demand for homes in the city and sellers may well decide to jump into the market. According to a Zillow study, more than 97 percent of homes in Seattle are worth more now than the peak level before the housing market crashed. Median home prices are 29 percent above the bubble peak level with the median price in July landing at $805,000; up 7 percent from last July and down from the record $830,000 reached in May.
Snohomish County also had double-digit increases in inventory, though not nearly as great as King County. The number of homes for sale in July increased nearly 16 percent over the same time a year ago, but inventory continues to be very tight. The median price of a single-family home rose 9 percent year-to-year to $495,000. That figure is down from the record high of $511,500 set in June. A move towards a more moderated market is encouraging for buyers and an incentive for sellers to list their homes soon.
This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com Blog.
The local real estate market looks like it might finally be showing signs of softening, with inventory up and sales down. More sellers have opted to put their homes on the market. Inventory was up 47 percent in King County and price increases were in the single digits. Despite the increase in inventory and slowdown in sales, it’s still a solid seller’s market. Over half the properties purchased in June sold for more than list price.
A booming economy offered little price relief for buyers looking on the Eastside. In a recent study of economic strength by state, Washington ranked number one in the country. An additional report targeting cities ranks the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma market as the nation’s fourth strongest economy. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside rose 10 percent over a year ago to $977,759 setting another record. There is some good news for buyers. Inventory rose to its highest level in three years, with the number of homes for sale increasing 46 percent from the same time last year.
The number of homes on the market in King County soared 47 percent from a year ago, the biggest increase since the housing bubble burst. Despite the increase, there is just over one month of available inventory, far short of the four to six months that is considered a balanced market. The median price of a single-family home increased 9 percent over last June to $715,000. That’s down 2 percent from the $726,275 median in May. Home prices haven’t dropped from May to June in King County since the last recession.
Seattle trails only Bay Area cities when it comes to greatest profits for home sellers. That may help explain the surge in inventory in June. For example, the number of homes for sale in the popular Ballard/Green Lake area doubled from a year ago. Even though buyers are finally getting more choices, demand still exceeds supply. Homes sell faster in Seattle than in any other U.S. real estate market. That demand propelled the median price of a single-family home to $812,500; up 8 percent over last June and down from the record $830,000 set in May.
The largest jump in home prices in the region came in Snohomish County. While higher-priced markets in King County are seeing increases slowing slightly, the median price of a single-family home here jumped 14 percent to $511,500, a new high for the county. Buyers willing to “keep driving until they can afford it” are finding Snohomish County an appealing destination.
This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com Blog.