The Gardner Report – Second Quarter 2017

Economic Overview

The Washington State economy has been expanding at a rapid pace but we are seeing a slowdown as the state grows closer to full employment. Given the solid growth, I would expect to see income growth move markedly higher, though this has yet to materialize. I anticipate that we will see faster income growth in the second half of the year. I still believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017.

Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continue to see unemployment fall. The latest state-wide report now shows a rate of 4.5%—the lowest rate since data started to be collected in 1976.

I believe that growth in the state will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole and, with such robust expansion, I would not be surprised to see more people relocate here as they see Washington as a market that offers substantial opportunity.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 23,349 home sales during the second quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 1.1% from the same period in 2016.
  • Clallam County maintains its position as number one for sales growth over the past 12 months. Double-digit gains in sales were seen in just three other counties, which is a sharp drop from prior reports. I attribute this to inventory constraints rather than any tangible drop in demand. The only modest decline in sales last quarter was seen in Grays Harbor County.
  • The number of homes for sale, unfortunately, showed no improvement, with an average of just 9,279 listings in the quarter, a decline of 20.4% from the second quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 3.6% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that it is unlikely we will see a significant increase in the number of homes for sale for the rest of 2017.

Home Prices

  • Along with the expanding economy, home prices continue to rise at very robust rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose 14.9%. The region’s average sales price is now $470,187.
  • Price growth in Western Washington continues to impress as competition for the limited number of homes for sale remains very strong. With little easing in supply, we anticipate that prices will continue to rise at above long-term averages.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in San Juan County where sale prices were 29.2% higher than second quarter of 2016. Eight additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • The specter of rising interest rates failed to materialize last quarter, but this actually functioned to get more would-be buyers off the fence and into the market. This led to even more demand which translated into rising home prices.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by 18 days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County remains the tightest market; homes, on average, sold in a remarkable 15 days. Every county in this report saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop from the same period a year ago.
  • Last quarter, it took an average of 48 days to sell a home. This is down from the 66 days it took in the second quarter of 2016.
  • Given the marked lack of inventory, I would not be surprised to see the length of time it takes to sell a home drop further before the end of the year.

Conclusions

This 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 second quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. To define the Western Washington market as “tight” is somewhat of an understatement.

Inventory is short and buyers are plentiful.

Something must give, but unless we see builders delivering substantially more units than they have been, it will remain staunchly a sellers’ market for the balance of the year.

Furthermore, increasing mortgage rates have failed to materialize and, with employment and income growth on the rise, the regional housing market will continue to be very robust.

 

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 over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

 

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Seattle Area Popular With Residents & Outsiders

It seems like a tale as old as time. Many people are wanting to move to Seattle, but no one else really wants to leave. This leads to our favorite real estate headline for the last several years: inventory is low, prices are rising.

Seattle-based Zillow recently analyzed searches on their website and compared the location of its users with the cities in which they are searching. They used this information to create a chart of the most desirable cities based on their popularity with outsiders and current residents.

Image via Zillow

Unsurprisingly, Seattle ranked high in the category “Residents Want To Stay, Outsiders Want In” with about 70 percent of current residents continuing to search here.

What does this mean for the Eastside?

It isn’t just our breathtaking scenery and active lifestyles making the Seattle area’s population grow by nearly 1,000 residents per week over the last several years. Our strong economy and plentiful technology jobs are enticing newcomers. Some areas on the Eastside even have higher home prices and carry some pretty stiff competition.

If you are ready to buy or sell your home, make sure you get in touch with a Windermere Real Estate broker on the Eastside. Our expertise can help you purchase your dream home, or sell your current home at top dollar.

View the full study from Zillow or read the report from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

You’re Invited to the Windermere Cut Party!

Come join us at the Windermere Cut Party on Friday, May 5 as we kick off Windermere Cup weekend!

On Friday night, we’re holding a Cinco de Mayo party to celebrate another year of the annual Windermere Cup. We’ll be on the Montlake Cut with taco trucks including El Camion, Taqueria Tonita, and Tacos La Flaca.

Keeping you entertained all night will be live music from Brian DiJulio and the Lovejacks and Spike & the Impalers.

Mark your calendars and purchase your tickets! We’ll see you on the cut with tasty tacos, live music, lawn games, and a fantastic beer and margarita garden from 6-10pm next Friday, May 5th.

Don’t forget! You can come back down to the Montlake Cut the next day on May 6 for Seattle’s biggest free sporting event – The Windermere Cup. More info on WindermereCup.com.

Local Market Update – April 2017

While we finally saw an increase in new listings in March, there was an even greater jump in sales. Lack of supply continued to push prices to new record highs. For the fifth straight month, our region has experienced the sharpest home price increases of any major market in the country. While that may be tough news for buyers, here’s the other reality: rents in the city of Seattle have increased 57 percent in the last six years. Brokers are hoping that more sellers will jump into the market this spring to help meet buyer demand.

Eastside

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After setting a price record in February, the Eastside set yet another record in March. The median price for a single-family home sold in March jumped 18 percent to $870,000. The strong appreciation is reflected in this statistic: For the first three months of 2017, the number of homes sold priced at $1 million or more was up 60 percent compared to the same period a year ago. What was once considered a luxury price tag is now the new normal.

King County

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Home prices in King County are growing about twice as fast as the national average. The median price of a single-family home sold in March soared 13 percent over last year to $599,950, an all-time high. Even though new inventory was added, it was snapped up as soon as it came on the market. About 75 percent of homes sold within the first 30 days.

Seattle

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With just two weeks of inventory available, demand in Seattle remains as strong as ever. Packed open houses, multiple offers, and escalation clauses continue to be the norm. The pressure on inventory pushed prices here to yet another all-time high. The median price of a single-family home in the city increased 9 percent over a year ago to $700,000.

Snohomish County

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Snohomish County set a new price record for the second straight month, with the median price of a single-family home up 10 percent from a year ago to $425,000. Supply is very limited, with just over two weeks of available inventory. Buyers looking for some relief from King County’s hefty housing prices are adding to the competition for a limited supply of homes.

What Buyers Want Today

The National Association of REALTORS® recently released their 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Here are a few items about buyers that we thought you’d find interesting.

• The top reason buyers purchase a home is they want a place of their own.

• Buyers chose homes fairly close to their last residence. In our region, buyers purchase a home within a 13 mile radius of their last residence.

If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, reach out to a Windermere Real Estate broker to help you successfully navigate the Seattle housing market.