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2018 Wouldn’t Recognize Today’s Condo Market

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 9, 2019
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Across King County—finally!—the condo market is looking up for sellers. After years of skyrocketing prices, fierce competition, and minimal inventory, we’ve reached the top of the hill. Buyers can finally coast a little (just a little, but more on that later).

The market has almost three times as many condos now as it did a year ago, and those units are staying on the market for an average of six weeks (last year, the average time was just a single, frantic week). Bidding wars for condos aren’t really happening right now. And amazingly, the average King County condo now sells below list price. For reference, last year, condos were selling up to 35% above list price.

Even with this softer market, condo sales have decreased 15% from a year ago, despite the number of condos on the market rising 164%. This means this isn’t just a random dip—the trend has changed.

Why is this happening? Largely, because apartment rents have slowed down. And with less money in building apartments, developers have turned to condos for the first time in more than a decade. (Most large housing projects are still apartments, but any significant push for new condos is a huge deviation from the recent past). With more condos and condo presales, things are happening as you’d expect: lower prices, less competition for buyers, more competition for sellers.

But let’s put this in perspective. Seattle’s condos still aren’t cheap. Take a look:

Housing Increases

Median condo price: up 148% since 2012
Median single-family home price: up 102% since 2012
Median apartment rent: up 59% since 2012

Housing Prices

Median condo price in King County: $434,000
Median condo price in Seattle: $492,000
Median single-family home price in King County: $667,000
Median single-family home price in Seattle: $752,000

Condo buyers, the market is looking pretty good right now for Seattle. And the housing market isn’t too bad, either (see below). Condo sellers, you’ll have to work a little harder to stand out, and you won’t get the same quick, above-asking sales of last year. But if you’ve owned your condo for a while, you’ll still get a hefty return on your investment.

 

A quick note about single-family home prices:

The median single-family house in King County sold for 3.2% less this March than a year ago (this was the biggest drop in seven years). Also, inventory almost doubled across the county. In Seattle, that year-over-year price drop was 8.2%. Looking closer at that drop:

West Seattle: 0% change
Queen Anne/Magnolia: 14.5% decline
Southeast Seattle: 10.6% decline
Ballard/Greenwood: 8.5% decline
The rest of Seattle: slight decrease
North and southwest King County: slight decrease