Seattle-area housing market remains strong for the holidays

The Seattle-area housing market remained strong in November, even as the holiday season kicked off, normally signaling a slower market.

According to the latest report from Northwest Multiple Listings Service, inventory is still down compared to the same time last year, while closed and pending sales are up over last year.

“The holiday rush is on for housing,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO at John L. Scott Real Estate. “Though real estate activity typically chills down in alignment with the dropping temperatures, the housing market is anything but calm this winter given the historically low interest rates.”

Compared to last month, the market has shown some indicators it is slowing. In King County there were 2,867 total active listings, down from 3,806 last month and down about 18% over the same time last year. Compared to 2019, King County saw a nearly 6% increase in pending sales in November. But compared to last month, King County saw a more than 20% decrease in pending sales.

King County had 3,098 closed sales in November of this year, an increase of more than 23% over last year, but a decrease from the 2,857 closed sales the county saw last month.

The median price for closed sales in King County remained the same in November as it was in October, at $685,000, still a nearly 12% increase over the same time last year.
Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner said “activity remains higher than we would normally see at this time of year.”

“This isn’t too surprising given the fact that the spring selling season was essentially cancelled due to COVID-19,” Gardner said.

Buyers starting the search should make sure they are as prepared as they can be to compete on homes receiving multiple offers, experts said. With low inventory, competition remains high, as it has throughout most of the year.

“Offers that have the best chance of acceptance are from buyers who are pre-approved with a local lender or have cash,” said NWMLS director Meredith Hansen, owner/designated broker at Keller Williams Greater Seattle. “Buyers also need to be prepared to have a pre-inspection in order to waive that contingency, and be ready to escalate in price if necessary.”

And even with the new restrictions that went into effect last month in Washington which prohibit open houses, people didn’t appear to be deterred from moving forward with buying homes.
“Even though open houses were curtailed in mid-November, buyers were making in-person appointments to view properties and many desirable listings had solid activity right up to the offer review date,” John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain of Lake Union said.

Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, called November one of “our busiest months for sales and closings in years.”

“Consumer confidence in both real estate and employment have been the benchmarks of our strong real estate market,” he said.

By Becca Savransky, Seattle PI