Despite a bump in new listings the supply of homes still can’t keep up with the demand. The result? Multiple offers, escalation clauses, and record-breaking prices. If you’re considering selling your home, you’d be hard pressed to find a more lucrative market than what we have today.
March marked the first post-COVID/pre-COVID comparison, and the results were dramatic.
The drop in the number of listings was profound. In King County there were 54% fewer single-family homes on the market at the end of March than the same time a year ago. The Eastside had 68% fewer listings. There were just 216 homes for sale on the Eastside, which stretches from Issaquah to Woodinville. Extensive new investments there, including Amazon’s plan to add 25,000 jobs in Bellevue, will only increase demand for housing. North King County, which includes Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park had just 26 homes for sale. In Seattle, the 498 listings there represents a drop of 18% from a year ago. Despite the comparatively greater number of listings, Seattle still has only two weeks of available inventory. The situation was even more dire in Snohomish County. With the number of homes for sale down 68%, the county has just one week of inventory.
So why is inventory so low? The pandemic certainly has played a part. People now working from home have bought up properties with more space in more desirable locations. Nervousness and uncertainty about COVID compelled many would-be sellers to postpone putting their home on the market. Downsizers who may have moved into assisted living or nursing homes are staying in place instead. But there are other factors as well.
For more than a decade, less new construction has been built relative to historical averages, particularly in the suburbs. Interest rates have also been a factor. Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner noted, “I think a lot of the urgency from buyers is due to rising mortgage rates and the fear that rates are very unlikely to drop again as we move through the year, which is a safe assumption to make.” Homeowners who refinanced when rates were at record lows are staying in their homes longer, keeping more inventory off the market. And those same low interest rates have compelled many homeowners who bought a new home not to sell their previous one, but to keep it as a rental property.
While the number of listings tanked, the number of sales skyrocketed. That’s the recipe for soaring home prices. Housing prices here have been growing at the second-fastest rate in the nation for a full year. Nearly every area of King County saw double-digit price increases, with the exception of Seattle. In King County the median price for a single-family home in March was a record-high $825,000, up 15% from a year ago and an increase of 10% from February. The median home price topped $1 million for every city on the Eastside, where the overall median price surged 30% to $1,350,000, the highest median price ever recorded for the area. Seattle homes prices were also record-breaking, rising 4% to $825,000. Snohomish County prices set yet another all-time high as the median home price jumped 22% to $640,000.
The appeal of our area just keeps growing. For the second time, Washington took the No. 1 spot in the U.S. News Best States ranking – the first state to earn the top ranking twice in a row. The bottom line: the local real estate market is extremely competitive, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Successfully navigating today’s market takes a strong plan. Your broker can work with you to determine the best strategies for your individual situation.
The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.