How Strong Is the 2017 Seattle Area Spring Housing Market?

Filed in How's the Market by on February 6, 2017 0 Comments

I’ve been in real estate in the Eastside and Seattle area for going on 17 years now and so far 2017 is about as hot as I’ve ever seen the housing market. Record low inventory is spurring competition for the homes that are available, while interest rates are still very low at just over 4 percent as of early February 2017.  Here’s a rundown of what I’m seeing out there and some facts from our MLS (the Northwest Multiple Listing Service):

  • In December 2016 both King and Snohomish counties had less than one month of inventory on hand, meaning that if homes continued to sell at the same pace and no new listings were added, supply would run out entirely in less than a month.  A balanced market is generally seen as having between three to six months of housing inventory on hand.
  • King County median prices for houses and condos rose 12.2% year-to-year, from $450,000 in December 2015 to $505,000 in December 2016.
  • In December 2016 the median price of a single family home (not condo) in King County was $550,000.
  • Condo prices in King County rose more than 12% year-to-year, from $279,975 in December 2015 to $314,000 in December 2016.

Link to the full report at NWReporter.

I’m seeing a lot of demand for well-presented homes and plenty of competition in all price ranges, not just the traditionally competitive first-time buyer market.

The bottom line:

Sellers: If you’ve been putting off selling but would like to and have the option to do so, 2017 might be your year. Normally I tell people that later in spring, i.e. April, gives the market a chance to heat up more compared to February, for example, but this year we’re coming off of a surprisingly hot December and I can tell you that February is raging.

Buyers: Don’t be discouraged, it’s not like it’s impossible to find a great home in these conditions, it just is very helpful to have a good handle on how to approach it. In my opinion it’s crucial to work with someone who can represent you to your best advantage in a multiple offer situation and to understand what that entails. As always, one of the most important arrows in your quiver is being able to assess to your own satisfaction what the actual market value of a property is. (There is no set rule, i.e. “always offer ‘x’ percentage more than list price”, as I often hear from buyers and sometimes even agents.) Every home is different, if the Zestimate is accurate I regard that as pretty much an entirely random event, and the listing agent and seller may have under-priced the home, over-priced it, or priced it correctly. Being able to determine that independently and structure an offer around your estimation of actual market value allows you to proceed confidently. And yes, it also requires taking into account changing market conditions – the early spring market is a transitional market in which often (like now) I see buyers trying to ‘catch up’ to an upward-moving price trend, the same way that in weaker markets sellers sometimes find themselves reducing list prices as they chase the market down.

The bottom line: Be as prepared and informed as possible, and sellers, please note that typically our Seattle/Eastside market slows down slightly starting in June, with August usually being the slowest month. National home sale data is often crunched for two to three months before being released, which is why every summer during the slowest time of the year we see news articles raving about the “hot” market and people get the impression that July is the prime month in which to list a home. Instead, in my opinion it’s better to shoot for March through May if at all possible, and we then tend to get another perk around October.  Obviously this refers to our typical seasonal pattern and is not set in stone.

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About the Author ()

Irene Nash has been representing Seattle and Eastside home sellers and buyers in real estate since 1999. She and her husband Mike specialize in straightforward communication and providing top-notch staging and photography for every home listing.

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