The residential real estate market has softened, but is still a Seller’s market. Historically, the market has slowed beginning mid-May and increases after July 4th because of holidays, graduations and good weather. However, this year’s seasonal decrease in Buyer activity was coupled with the “Head Tax” announcement on May 10th (repealed on June 12th) that shook investment confidence, higher interest rates and Buyers simply feeling most properties are overpriced. The result has been an exponential inventory increase that has provided more options for Buyers and, in effect, decreased the rate of appreciation (i.e. sales price escalation) for Sellers. Therefore, the strategy of setting offer deadlines for new listings garner multiple offers has become less effective. Now, Sellers must price properties more conservatively to get ahead of the market.
The headlines over the past few months in the greater Seattle region have often felt like “stale news,” with housing prices continuing to increase as inventory dwindled and demand rose. Yet homebuyers received some welcome good tidings last week, as the latest Northwest Multiple Listing Service press release revealed that the number of homes available for sale actually increased in May. Puget Sound Business Journal reported on the news, writing that “the four-county metro area had nearly 10,500 new listings in May, 1,000 more than the same month in 2017.”
Inventory gains were constrained only to King County, which the Journal says is an indication that home prices have finally reached a point at which owners feel compelled to sell. Though inventory increases are typical of our local market this time of year, the 14,524 listings that were added represented “the first time in 10 years that volume topped 14,000.” And while more inventory certainly provides hope for buyers, it was not “enough to quell years of shortages” or curb price climbs with seemingly no end in sight.
Overall, home prices in May 2018 were up between 11.1 percent (Snohomish County) and 16.1 percent (Kitsap County) with King County hovering at about 14 percent.
Median Home Price Stats at a Glance:
· King County: $726,275
· Snohomish County: $500,000
· Kitsap County: $360,000
· Pierce County: $355,000
Condo prices also continue to rise, as Snohomish saw a 33.6 percent year-over-year increase in price at $367,475, while King County averaged $427,000, a 14.2 percent increase compared to May 2017.
As market experts predict, “the inventory surge is welcome relief for buyers,” but it’s not a market changer,” as strong demand and job growth continue to bring more and more buyers into the Puget Sound real estate market.