Local Market Update – August 2018

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.

Eastside

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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

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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

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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

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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.

The Gardner Report – Second Quarter 2018

Gardner Report Q2 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 83,900 new jobs over the past 12 months, representing an annual growth rate of 2.5%. This is a slowdown from the last quarter, but employment growth remains well above the national rate of 1.6%. Employment gains continue to be robust in the private sector, which was up by 2.8%. The public sector (government) grew by a more modest 1.1%.

The strongest growth sectors were Retail Trade and Construction, which both rose by 4.8%. Significant growth was also seen in the Education & Health Services and Information sectors, which rose by 3.9% and 3.4%, respectively.

The State’s unemployment rate was 4.7%, down from 4.8% a year ago. Washington State will continue adding jobs for the balance of the year and I anticipate total job growth for 2018 will be around 80,000, representing a total employment growth rate of 2.4%.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 23,209 home sales during the second quarter of 2018. This is a drop of 2.3% compared to the same period a year ago.

  • Clallam County saw sales rise the fastest relative to the same period a year ago, with an increase of 12.6%. Jefferson County also saw significant gains in sales at 11.1%.

  • The number of homes for sale last quarter was down by a nominal 0.3% when compared to the second quarter of 2017, but up by 66% when compared to the first quarter of this year. Much has been mentioned regarding the growth in listings, but it was not region-wide. King County saw a massive 31.7% increase in inventory, though all but three of the other counties covered in this report saw the number of listings drop compared to a year ago.

  • The takeaway from this data is that while some counties are seeing growth in listings — which will translate into sales down the road — the market is still out of balance.

Q2 Annual Change In Home Sales

Home Prices

  • HomePrice Change Map Q2As inventory is still fairly scarce, growth in home prices continues to trend well above the long-term average. Prices in Western Washington rose 12.2% over last year to $526,398.

  • Home prices continue to trend higher across Western Washington, but the pace of growth has started to slow. This should please would-be buyers. The spring market came late but inventory growth in the expensive King County market will give buyers more choices and likely lead to a slowing down of price growth as bidding wars continue to taper.

  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Mason County, which was up 17.4%. Eleven other counties experienced double-digit price growth.

  • Mortgage rates, which had been rising significantly since the start of the year, have levelled off over the past month. I believe rising rates are likely the reason that inventory levels are rising, as would-be sellers believe that this could be the right time to cash out. That said, the slowing in rate increases has led buyers to believe that rates will not jump soon, which gives them a little more breathing room. I do not expect to see any possible slowdown in demand until mortgage rates breach the 5% mark.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped by seven days compared to the same quarter of 2017.

  • King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 13 days to sell. Every county in the region other than Clallam saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop when compared to the same period a year ago.

  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of this year. This is down from 48 days in the second quarter of 2017 and down by 20 days when compared to the first quarter of 2018.

  • Although we did see some inventory increases when compared to the first quarter of the year, we are essentially at the same level of homes on the market as a year ago. The market has yet to reach equilibrium and I certainly do not expect to reach that point until sometime in 2019.

Average Days On Market, Q2 2018

Conclusions

Market Speedometer

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. For the second quarter of 2018, I have moved the needle very slightly towards buyers, but it remains firmly a seller’s market. This shift is a function of price growth tapering very slightly, as well as the expectation that we should see more homes come on the market as we move through the balance of the year.

 

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.

Economists Predict: Recession Coming

Recession Coming

The local economy is booming, and nationally we are experiencing the second-longest bull market in history. That’s great news, but it can’t last forever. The economy runs in cycles and we’re long overdue for our overheated market to cool down a bit. According to a survey of top economists by Zillow, almost half of experts said they expect the next recession to begin some time in 2020.

Experts Say Recession Could Hit by Early 2020

Recession Prediction Chart

A Recession Means a Slow-Down, Not a Crisis

A recession means the economy has slowed down. It does not mean we are experiencing another housing crisis. The housing crash of 2008 caused the last recession. However, that crash was primarily due to faulty lending practices that encouraged people to purchase homes they could not afford. Current lending practices make that unlikely to occur today.

Housing Won’t Be the Problem 

According to economists, monetary and trade policy are the most likely triggers for the next recession, not housing.

“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”  – Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American

The last recession that was caused by the housing crash was an anomaly. During the previous five recessions home values actually appreciated. If the US experiences a recession you can expect a slow-down of home price increases, not a housing crisis.

Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling, it’s important to have the most current information about the market. Our skilled Windermere Brokers can provide you with statistics and economic forecasts, as well as answers to any questions you may have.

Commute vs. Home Price Trade-Off: How Far Are You Willing To Drive?

Would you be willing to swap a longer commute time for a lower monthly mortgage payment? With prices of homes near city centers skyrocketing, many buyers are rethinking their priorities and choosing to “keep driving until they can afford it.”

Housing Search Trade-Off: Price vs. Commute Time

We examined active listing on the Northwest Multiple Listing Service and their drive-time proximity to downtown Seattle. Looking at homes within a 30-minute radius from downtown, the median home price was $1,612,500. Homes located within a 31 to 60-minute commute from downtown had a median price of $890,000–that’s 45 percent less. This means if you are willing to commute over an hour, the price of the average home in the area would be $1 million less than if you lived close to the city.

Search for Homes by Commute Time on Windermere.com

The Drive Time Search function on Windermere.com and our Windermere brokers’ websites allows you to customize the search criteria with your work address, time of day that you commute, and maximum amount of time you want to spend driving to and from work. The results will exclusively show homes for sale within your preferred drive time. 
Search By Drive Time
Are you ready to look for a home?
One of our qualified Windermere brokers can help you choose the right area, narrow down your criteria, and create a strategy for getting you the home you want at a price you can afford.