Local Market Update – May 2018

Another month, another record. Despite a slight uptick in inventory that showed the highest level of active listings since last August, both King and Snohomish counties saw home prices in April hit all-time highs. There is less than one month of inventory available in both counties, far below the four to six months of supply that is considered “balanced.” As long as the severe shortage of homes remains, improving supply is unlikely to reverse rising prices.

Eastside

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With the median price on the Eastside hovering at just under $1 million, you’d expect a softening of the market. Instead, sales were strong at every price point. The median price of $943,000 was a slight dip from the record of $950,000, but up 7 percent from last April. That does show some price moderation. According to Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner, mortgage rates are expected to increase modestly in the coming months, which he predicts should further moderate price growth.

King County

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After setting a record in March, the median price of a single-family home in King County hit a new high of $725,000 in April. Prices soared 16 percent over a year ago, an increase of $100,000.  The rising cost of both rental and home prices is taking its toll. According to a new study, 68 percent of King County residents rate the quality of life here as high but 35 percent said the cost of living is the worst problem in the county.

Seattle

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The median cost of a single-family home in Seattle was $819,000, unchanged from March but up 13 percent from a year ago. There doesn’t appear to be any price relief in the near future. The booming job market in Seattle continues to fuel housing demand that far exceeds supply. As a result, home prices are predicted to rise at above-average rates in the coming year.

Snohomish County

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In Snohomish County, the median price of a single-family home exceeded half a million dollars, setting a new record for the region. The typical home cost of $505,975 in April was up 15 percent over the same time last year. Despite record-setting prices, the area continues to draw buyers seeking to find more affordable housing options. Of the 100,000+ people who leave King County each year, the majority move to Snohomish County.

The Gardner Report – First Quarter 2018

 

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.

Economic Overview

The Washington State economy added 96,900 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9%—still solidly above the national rate of 1.5%. Most of the employment gains were in the private sector, which rose by 3.4%. The public sector saw a more modest increase of 1.6%.

The strongest growth was in the Education & Health Services and Retail sectors, which added 17,300 and 16,700 jobs, respectively. The Construction sector added 10,900 new positions over the past 12 months.

Even with solid increases in jobs, the state unemployment rate held steady at 4.7%—a figure that has not moved since September of last year.

I expect the Washington State economy to continue adding jobs in 2018, but not at the same rate as last year given that we are nearing full employment. That said, we will still outperform the nation as a whole when it comes to job creation.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 14,961 home sales during the first quarter of 2018. This is a drop of 5.4% over the same period in 2017.
  • Clallam County saw sales rise the fastest relative to the first quarter of 2017, with an increase of 16.5%. In most of the other markets, the lack of available homes for sale slowed the number of closings during this period.
  • Listing inventory in the quarter was down by 17.6% when compared to the first quarter of 2017, but pending home sales rose by 2.6% over the same period, suggesting that closings in the second quarter should be fairly robust.
  • The takeaway from this data is that the lack of supply continues to put a damper on sales. I also believe that the rise in interest rates in the final quarter of 2017 likely pulled sales forward, leading to a drop in sales in the first quarter of 2018.

Annual change in home sales

Home Prices

  • With ongoing limited inventory, it’s not surprising that the growth in home prices continues to trend well above the long-term average. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.4% to $468,312.
  • Economic vitality in the region is leading to robust housing demand that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of new construction homes— something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. As a result, home prices will continue to rise at above-average rates in the coming year.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County at 27.5%. Ten additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • Mortgage rates continued to rise during first quarter, and are expected to increase modestly in the coming months. By the end of the year, interest rates will likely land around 4.9%, which should take some of the steam out of price growth. This is actually a good thing and should help address the challenges we face with housing affordability—especially in markets near the major job centers.

Annual change in home sale prices Q1

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by seven days when compared to the same quarter of 2017.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 24 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain essentially static relative to the same period a year ago.
  • In looking at the entire region, it took an average of 61 days to sell a home in the first quarter of this year. This is down from 68 days in the first quarter of 2017 but up by eleven days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • Anyone expecting to see a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale in 2018 will likely be disappointed. New construction permit activity—a leading indicator—remains well below historic levels and this will continue to put increasing pressure on the resale home market.

Average Days On Market

Conclusions

Market SpeedometerThis speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2018, I have left the needle at the same point as fourth quarter of last year. Price growth remains strong even as sales activity slowed. All things being equal, 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for sellers but, unfortunately, not for buyers who will still see stiff competition for the limited number of available homes for sale.

 

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 article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

How Windermere Wins with Chinese Buyers

Chinese buyers continue to strongly influence our local market. 

According to a report by Chinese website Juwai, the Seattle/Eastside area is the #3 most popular choice in the U.S. for Chinese buyers behind Los Angeles and New York City.

Windermere specifically targets this lucrative market. 

  • Windermere properties are listed on the Chinese real estate website, Juwai, which has 2.6 million unique views per month from Chinese consumers who are searching purely for western properties.
  • Windermere properties are listed with Luxury Portfolio International, a prestigious real estate site with a fully-translated Mandarin language portal.
  • Windermere will have a prominent presence at the Luxury Property Show in Beijing, an invitation-only event hosting over 6,000 highly-targeted luxury home buyers in China.
  • Windermere targets local Chinese nationals and their families and colleagues through marketing in the Seattle Chinese Times. \

Windermere agents sell more luxury homes to Chinese buyers. 

Source: Sales in 2017 to Chinese buyers of residential homes in King County priced at $3 million or more. Created by Windermere Real Estate/East Inc. using NWMLS data, public records, and information from brokers. Information are estimates. Information was not verified or published by NWMLS.

Local Market Update – April 2018

Despite the typical seasonal surge in new listings, supply in our area continued to fall far short of demand in March. With just two weeks of available inventory in every market, competition for homes is intense. The result was another month of double-digit price increases as compared to a year ago. The region has now led the country in home price increases for 17 months in a row. The prediction for the spring market: HOT with no signs of cooling.

Eastside

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The median price of a single-family home was up 6 percent over last March to $926,000, down slightly from the record-setting price last month. Sales were brisk at every price, including the luxury market. Sales of homes priced at $2 million or more were up 23 percent in the first quarter of 2018 as compared to the previous year.

King County

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A booming economy combined with insufficient inventory propelled prices to an all-time high in March. The median price of a single-family home in King County jumped 15 percent to $689,950. Multiple offers remain the norm. Buyers here need to plan on moving very quickly and working with their agent on strategies to navigate bidding wars.

Seattle

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The median home price in Seattle set a new record of $819,500 in March, up a whopping 17 percent from a year ago. Homes are selling within days of being listed. Only 19 single-family homes are currently on the market in Ballard and just 24 in Queen Anne. South Seattle, traditionally the most affordable part of the city, has seen the greatest increase in prices.  Home values in these neighborhoods have nearly tripled since the recession ended, while home values in the rest of the city have doubled.

Snohomish County

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Once a less competitive market than King County, Snohomish County now has the lower amount of inventory of the two. The median price of a single-family home grew 12 percent over a year ago to $475,000. Prices here remain significantly lower than in King County and many buyers priced out of that market are trading a longer commute time for the opportunity of ownership.