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. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
It appears as if the massive COVID-19 induced contraction in employment that Washington State — along with the rest of the nation — experienced this spring is behind us (at least for now). Statewide employment started to drop in March, but April was the real shock: total employment dropped almost 460,000 between March and April, a decline of 13.1%. However, this turned around remarkably quickly, with a solid increase of 52,500 jobs in May. Worthy of note is that, in May alone, Western Washington recovered 43,500 of the 320,000 jobs that were lost in the region the prior month. Although it is certainly too early to categorically state that we are out of the woods, the direction is positive and, assuming we respect the state’s mandates regarding social distancing and mask wearing, I remain hopeful that Washington will not have to re-enter any form of lockdown.
- There were 17,465 home sales during the second quarter of 2020, representing a drop of 22.2% from the same period in 2019, but 30.6% higher than in the first quarter of this year.
- The number of homes for sale was 37% lower than a year ago, but was up 32% compared to the first quarter of the year.
- Given COVID-19’s impacts, it’s not surprising that sales declined across the board. The greatest drops were in Whatcom and King counties. The smallest declines were in Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties.
- Pending sales — a good gauge of future closings — rose 35.7% compared to the first quarter of the year, suggesting that third quarter closings will grow as well.
- Home-price growth in Western Washington rose by a relatively modest 3.5% compared to a year ago. The average sale price in the second quarter was $559,194.
- Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County, where home prices were up 14.3%. Clallam County also saw a double-digit price increase.
- It was interesting to note that prices were up a significant 6.6% compared to the first quarter. This suggests that any concern regarding negative impacts to home values as a function of COVID-19 may be overblown.
- I will be watching for significant price growth in less urbanized areas going forward. If there is, it may be an indication that COVID-19 is affecting where buyers are choosing to live.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the second quarter of this year matched the second quarter of 2019.
- Across the entire region, it took an average of 40 days to sell a home in the second quarter. I would also note that it took an average of 14 fewer days to sell a home than in the first quarter of this year.
- Thurston, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties were the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 17 days to sell. All but two counties, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz, saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago.
- Market time remains well below the long-term average across the region. This is due to significant increases in demand along with the remarkably low level of inventory available.
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. What a difference a quarter makes! Given that demand has reappeared remarkably quickly and interest rates remain historically low, it certainly remains a seller’s market and I don’t expect this to change in the foreseeable future. The overall housing market has exhibited remarkable resilience and housing demand has rebounded faster than most would have expected. I anticipate demand to remain robust, but this will cause affordability issues to remain as long as the new construction housing market remains muted.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K. In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics. This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
New jobs and low interest rates continue to fuel the housing market boom. While January is traditionally a slower month for activity, the new year saw steady buyer demand. With the number of sales exceeding new listings, all indicators point to a strong spring market.
The tech industry on the Eastside continues to grow rapidly. Microsoft and Alibaba both have significant expansions underway. Amazon expects to increase its workforce in Bellevue to 15,000 in the next few years, a sevenfold increase from today. As the economy continues to grow, inventory keeps being squeezed. There were 47% fewer single-family homes on the market in January than the year prior. Home prices have been stabilizing for some time, fluctuating slightly from month to month. In January the median home price slipped 2% over a year ago to $892,000.
The number of single-family homes on the market in King County was down nearly 44% from a year ago. That lack of inventory has resulted in more multiple offers and the return of review dates, where sellers identify a date to review all offers. Strong competition for a small supply of homes boosted the median home price 3% over the prior year to $630,525.
The jobs outlook in Seattle for 2020 remains robust, and demand for homes continues to outstrip supply. Traffic at open houses in January reflected that demand, with one central Seattle homes priced in the $1.2 million range drawing more than 300 visitors. Home prices in the city have been relatively stable for the past 12 months. That remained the case in January where the median price for a single-family home inched up 1% over last year to $719,950.
With 35% less inventory than last January, competition among buyers in Snohomish County is fierce and multiple offers have become the norm. The median price of a single-family home soared 12% over a year ago to $509,950. Home prices have been playing catch up, increasing at a much faster pace over the past year than King County. While the prices gap has closed, the median price here is still nearly 20% less than King County.
This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com
2019 ended with too many buyers chasing too few homes. December marked the sixth straight month of declining supply. The severe shortage of homes, historically low interest rates, and strong job growth are predicted to keep the local housing market strong in 2020. In a region starved for inventory, sellers can expect significant interest in new listings.
Homes sold briskly on the Eastside in December in all categories, including the luxury market. The number of listings were down nearly 50% from a year ago and the area had under a month of available inventory. That lack of inventory helped bump the median price of a single-family home up 4% from a year ago to $949,000, which is a $49,000 increase from November. New large scale developments and a strong economic forecast indicate that the housing market will remain healthy.
King County continues to be a seller’s market. Inventory in December was down nearly 40% compared to a year ago and ended the month with below one month supply. The median price of a single-family home rose 6% over the prior year to $675,000, up slightly from November. More affordable areas saw much higher increases. Southeast King County – which includes Auburn, Kent and Renton – saw home prices jump 16% over the previous year.
Numbers tell the story in Seattle. Inventory was down 25%, while the number of closed sales increased 19%. Strong demand here has kept the housing market solid, with prices fluctuating slightly month-to-month for much of 2019. The median price of a single-family home sold in December increased 2% from a year ago to $727,000. That was slightly down from $735,000 in November.
While the median home price in Snohomish County is less than that in King County, the gap continues to close. Buyers willing to trade a longer commute for a lower mortgage have kept demand and prices strong. Inventory here was off 36% in December as compared to a year ago. The median price of a single-family home rose 9% over a year ago to $510,000, an increase of $15,000 from November.
This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com