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Good News (FINALLY!) for Homebuyers

Posted by Johnine Larsen on July 11, 2018
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At long last, Seattle’s real estate market has improved for homebuyers. Years of shrinking inventory and rising prices in the Seattle area have hassled homebuyers (at best) or made homebuying a financial impossibility (at worse). Constricted inventory has kept listings from matching buyer demand, which has raised prices and kept people out of homes.

But finally, would-be-buyers get some relief.

Housing inventory increased in May and June of 2018, and prices—well, they didn’t fall, but they increased less than projected. After looking at a bleak home-buying picture for so long, we’ll take what we can get. Here’s the nitty-gritty:

• Inventory
• King County
• Seattle
• Home Prices
• Seattle
• King County
• Tacoma

Inventory

We gained more new listings in King County this May than we’ve seen in a decade. In May of 2018 the real estate market gained 5,552 new King County listings—a 14.3 percent jump over the 4,857 homes listed in June of 2017. That addition of just 700 more listings might not seem like much, but we haven’t seen this many new listings come on the market in a full decade; you have to look all the way back to May 2008, when 5,497 new listings hit the market. We’re now up to a 1.35-month supply of listings in King Country.

In Seattle properNWMLS gained 1,246 active listings in June 2018, which is a 75.5 percent increase from the year before. Seattle ended the month with 1.2 months of inventory, nearly double what we experienced in 2017. “Inventory is up and demand has dropped,” said Robert Wasser, an officer with the board of directors at Northwest Multiple Listing Service. He added, that the combination is “a pretty simple economic recipe for a softening market.”

Don’t get too excited, though. Seattle’s housing market is still far from balanced. We’ve more or less just returned to the inventory level of three years ago (which was still brutal on buyers). This means sellers still have a huge advantage—just less of an advantage than they had last year.

 

Housing Prices

That rise in inventory didn’t decrease housing prices, but prices at least rose less than they did last year. In Seattle, median closing prices rose 8 percent compared to June of last year. That’s steep, but it’s less than half of last year’s increase (in June of 2017, home values had risen 17 percent). So what’s the hard dollar amount? For June of 2018, average closing price was $740,000. Narrowing that to single-family homes yields a $812,500 average closing price.

If you zoom out to a county-wide view, home prices rose 10.2 percent this year. That’s significant, but at least it’s better than the 15.7 percent increase the previous year. According to the Puget Sound Regional Council, home prices in the country are still going up by about $5 every hour.

Everyone who’s not trying to buy in Tacoma can take heart, though—at least they aren’t stuck with Tacoma’s real estate market. Closing prices jumped more than 13 percent in Pierce County, Tacoma’s inventory is down, and rent throughout the city continues to rise more steeply than in Seattle. In central Tacoma, things look downright terrible for buyers, with a staggering 34.6 percent increase in average home price.

 

Want to apply this news to your specific home-buying situation? We’d love to talk with you about what makes the most sense for your unique goals and finances. Just send us an email.