This winter’s real estate market is looking more like a typical spring market. Sales were up, competition was fierce and prices continued to rise.
Lack of inventory still presents a huge issue. At the end of January there were only 1,055 single-family homes on the market in all of King County, 33% fewer than a year ago. If that wasn’t tight enough, Snohomish County had only 298 single-family homes for sale, 63% fewer than a year ago. Condos remain a bright spot for buyers frustrated by the frenzied market. January saw a nearly 50% increase in the number of condos for sale in King County. However, the increase in inventory didn’t translate into a drop in price. The median condo price was flat for the county, up 10% in Seattle and up 7% on the Eastside. Those looking for a relative bargain should consider Southwest and Southeast King County where the median condo prices were $254,275 and $269,900 respectively.
The large imbalance between supply and demand sent prices higher. Home prices here are climbing at the second-fastest rate in the nation. The median price of a single-family home in King County was $725,000, a 15% jump from a year ago. Seattle home prices increased 10% to $791,471. Inventory on the Eastside was down 58%, sending the median home price soaring 29% to $1.15 million. Snohomish County saw prices rise 18% to $599,990, well surpassing its previous high of $575,000.
While low interest rates take some of the sting out of rising prices, multiple offers over asking price have become the norm and are expected to continue. The easing of COVID restrictions may add yet more competition. Both King and Snohomish counties have moved into Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington plan, which allows open houses to resume with up to 10 people socially distanced.
All signs point to this strong seller’s market continuing for some time. The person who represents you as a buyer can make the difference in owning a home or not. Brokers are advising buyers to create a plan that prioritizes their wish list and sets realistic expectations in this hyper-competitive market.
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 regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.