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.
Home prices on the Eastside continued to climb. The Eastside extended its lead as the most expensive market in King County, posting a median home price of $675,000 in December. A strong technology sector here has helped boost demand for a very limited supply of properties. Competition among buyers is fierce at every price point, including luxury homes. Multiple offers are the norm, and cash sales are common. For buyers, a savvy broker can make the difference between an accepted offer or another disappointment.
King County achieved two milestones in December. The number of homes on the market hit a historic low – the smallest number of active listings since at least 1993. And the median price for a single-family home hit an all-time high of $508,000, surpassing the previous high of $481,000 set in 2007. Those wanting to buy in King County can find more affordable options by heading south. The median home price in Southwest King County was $305,000. The median price in Southeast King County was $349,950.
The hot market in Seattle just keeps getting hotter. High demand has sent prices soaring. The median home price in December hit a new peak of $600,000, an increase of 20 percent over a year ago. Homes here sell within days of coming on the market, often for substantially more than the list price. In December, a 1600 square foot bungalow in the popular Ballard neighborhood sold in eight days for $750,000 – $75,000 over the asking price. With just a few weeks of inventory available, home prices and competition are projected to stay strong.
Snohomish County remains an affordable option when compared to the soaring cost of buying a home in King County. The median price of a single-family home sold in Snohomish County in December was $358,000. While that is an increase of 8 percent over a year ago, the price is about a third less than the median-priced home in King County. However, Snohomish County is facing the same shortage of inventory as the rest of the Puget Sound area, so home prices are expected to continue their rise.