Market turnaround? King County home prices take biggest one-month jump ever

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King County home prices had dropped $116,000 since last spring, falling to a two-year low in January.

But in February, home prices bounced back as the median sale rose by $45,000 from the month prior, according to new data released Wednesday. It was the first time in eight months that prices actually went up, on a month-over-month basis.

And it was no small increase, either: In dollar terms, it’s the biggest one-month jump since records have been kept.

One month of data does not necessarily guarantee a new trend. But there’s evidence the market could be picking up speed as buyers start slowly coming out of the woodwork: Sales increased 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, a small amount but nevertheless the first increase since April 2018, back when Seattle was still the hottest market in the country. Brokers and buyers are reporting more traffic in open houses and the slow return of bidding wars.

And while prices usually grow in February coming out of the winter doldrums, this year’s bump was triple the average increase from the previous five years. It’s an ominous sign for buyers, given that prices almost always rise the most in spring, which is just around the corner.

King County’s median single-family house sold for $655,000 in February, up 7.4 percent from a month prior but still comfortably below record highs reached last spring, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“Everything has picked back up,” said Grant Burton, a Seattle-based Redfin agent. He’s working on two buyer offers right now, and has four pending sales — all featuring bidding wars, which had all-but disappeared in the second half of last year.

“When we noticed the cool-down last spring, buyers were fatigued, they were burnt out on the crazy market and not having enough time to do their due diligence,” Burton said. But then things went in the opposite direction — homes sitting unsold longer, prices being negotiated down — for long enough that buyers have started to feel comfortable enough to come back.

“It helps that there’s more inventory, and having more time (to decide on a house) has been a little bit easier for buyers to digest. And I think maybe people were trying to take advantage of not as many buyers to compete with,” he said.

The market isn’t back to red-hot by any means. On a year-over-year basis, prices rose a bit less than 1 percent. And the number of homes sitting unsold still doubled in that span. Brokers say instead of bidding wars with 10 buyers driving up prices way above the list price — which was common for years — now there might be two or three bidders on sought-after homes, willing to go slightly above list price.

 

 

In Seattle, the median home price hit $730,000, up from $711,000 the previous month but still down from a year ago.

The biggest gains came in Southeast King County, where prices grew from $450,000 to $473,000 in the last month – led by gains of $100,000 in Renton.

But the turnaround hasn’t started on the Eastside. There, prices fell to $900,000 — down from a month ago and a year prior.

Also helping nudge buyers back into the market: mortgage interest rates, which had grown last fall, have fallen back down in the last few months.

Despite a shift in single-family home values, condo prices continue to fall — down 8.4 percent from a year ago across King County, the biggest decline in seven years. The median condo across the county sold for $380,000, down from a record high of $466,000 last spring. The number of condos sitting unsold more than tripled in the past year while sales continued to decline.

The cool-down also continues in Snohomish County, where the cost of the median single-family house fell 2.1 percent from a year prior — the county’s first annual drop since 2012. The median Snohomish house sold for $475,000, down from last spring’s peak of $511,000.

Pierce and Kitsap counties, which have been mostly immune from the recent slowdown as buyers seek out cheaper alternatives, continue to see prices grow.

In Pierce, the median house sold for $355,000 — up 9.2 percent in the past year, and matching the record highs reached last spring. In Kitsap, prices grew 3.7 percent, to $341,000.

~Mike Rosenberg, The Seattle Times

Bellevue 2nd most livable city in US; Kirkland #25

BellevueWhere is the most livable city in the U.S.? Is it by sun-soaked beaches, near majestic mountains, or smack-dab in the middle of the country where temperatures fall into single digits in winter and snow piles up by the foot? 

2. BELLEVUE, WA

Boasting some of the best schools in the country along with Bellevue College and City University of Seattle, the city offers a small-town environment but many entertainment options and events, such as the annual Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair. It often hosts technology companies which has helped develop its downtown.

Population: 128,209

Median Household Income: $90,333

Median Home Price: $525,000


25. KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON 

On the coast of Lake Washington, Kirkland offers a host of enviable features from a charming downtown to an abundance of trails and a dynamic economy. Residents enjoy pools, community centers, nearby wineries and fine restaurants.

Population: 75,835
Median Household Income: $87,480

Median Home Price: $415,300

If you guessed beaches or mountains, a recent ranking of the most livable small cities in the U.S. may surprise you.

An annual study from Livability, a marketing company that helps cities attract residents and businesses, finds that Rochester, Minnesota, is the most livable small city in the U.S. The top 25 cities are located in just 13 states, with California having the most at five, followed by Colorado (4) and Washington (3). Only two cities are located on the East Coast — one each in Maryland and Virginia — while 14 are along the West Coast.

Of the top 25, only nine had populations over 100,000, while three came in under 50,000. The average population among the 25 cities is 91,574. The median household income among them is $65,149, with only one city recording median income over $100,000. The median price of a home for all 25 is $373,756.

Other characteristics found among the 25 top cities include strong local economies with big employers, the existence of major universities or other research institutions, and dynamic downtowns that provide residents with an array of dining, shopping and cultural experiences. Beautiful outdoors and recreational activities also popped up frequently.

Livability ranked 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000 to come up with its top 100 places to live in its third annual ranking. It considered more than 40 data points in eight categories: amenities, demographics, economy, education, health care, housing, social and civil capital and transportation and infrastructure.

         ~Janna Herron, Fiscal Times

February Local Market Update