Seattle housing market sees ‘massive changes’ in post-lockdown landscape

With many people continuing to hunker down in their homes during the ongoing pandemic, home-buying habits have gone through a sizable shift, both in Seattle and across the United States.

Puget Sound housing market ‘remarkably stable’ despite pandemic

“Nationwide, the pandemic caused massive changes in buyer behavior,” a recent study from real estate researchers at Point2 noted. “From square footage and number of bedrooms to access to outdoor amenities like pools and gardens, the post-lockdown home seekers are not willing to compromise on anything – and they are willing to pay the (higher) price to get it.”

In Seattle, that’s manifested in a marked increase in searches for homes under 1,000 square feet, as prospective buyers have scrambled to get out of apartments and into permanent homes.

Prior to the pandemic, roughly half of searches tracked by Point2 were for
homes under 1,000 square feet. In the months since, that number has jumped all the way to 83%. In terms of the specific types of homes people have searched for, there’s been an especial focus on homes with designs that emphasize more isolated living spaces, rather than open floor plans.

“Before the lockdown, many homebuyers preferred open-plan rooms and interior design elements that made for seamless transitions between separate living spaces,” said Point2’s study. “However, just a few short weeks of parents, children and couples stuck together has reestablished the importance of and need for privacy and personal space.”

Why Puget Sound millennials are finally looking to buy homes

While searches for smaller homes have become more frequent in Seattle in recent months, the price range of prospective home buyers has also increased. Whereas just 15% of searches prior to the pandemic were for homes between $500,000 and $750,000, 29% of searches sat in that range after lockdowns began.

Across King County, home prices continue to rise, with the region seeing a 7.2% year-over-year increase in median prices from July 2019 to July 2020. Prices have climbed even higher in both Snohomish and Pierce County, where year-over-year prices were up 13.8% and 13.5%, respectively.

Nick Bowman. MyNorthwest

Key indicators for Western Washington housing still rising, but brokers detect slowdown and uncertainty


Early seasonal snow and questions swirling around the tax plan unveiled last week by House Republicans could make the usual seasonal slowdown more pronounced, say industry leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. For October, however, key indicators trended upwards.

Pending sales rose nearly 8 percent from a year ago, closed sales were up 5.2 percent, and prices jumped about 8.2 percent, with 14 counties reporting double-digit gains. Even the number of new listings improved on the year-ago total.

Northwest MLS figures for the 23 counties it serves show members added 8,466 new listings to inventory during October, outgaining the year-ago total of 7,575 by 11.8 percent. Buyers outnumbered new listings, with 10,586 of them having their offers accepted. That number of pending sales was up nearly 8 percent from the same month a year ago.

“The challenge for buyers actually isn’t lack of choice, it is the rapid pace of sales,” suggested Ken Anderson, president/owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty.

“The market in Thurston County has never been better for sellers, and they’re getting the message,” Anderson remarked. His analysis revealed a 10-year high for sellers coming to market during October. “These savvy sellers are not waiting until spring to sell. They are taking advantage of today’s great market and making their move now,” he reported.

Buyers may find themselves in a quandary as the year winds down as they contemplate limited supply, possible upticks in interest rates and tax reform. Last week’s announcement of a provision in a GOP tax proposal to cap the mortgage interest deduction is concerning to buyers, brokers and builders.

“Imagine if the proposed plan to cap the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 is approved in a market that is starved for homes and where the median price [for a single family home in King County] is now $630,000,” said O B Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “Homeowners may be less likely to sell because they would be giving up their grandfathered tax credit on their current home. That’s fewer homes for sale in a market where we really need them,” he stated, adding, “There could also be a flood of new buyers trying to purchase before the plan is passed, adding to the already hyper-competitive market conditions.”

Northwest MLS data show 66 percent of single family homes sold so far this year (Jan. – Oct.) in King County had selling prices of $500,000 or higher.

Within King County prices are considerably higher. In Seattle, year-over-year prices jumped 17.6 percent, from $625,000 to $735,000. On the Eastside, the median price for a single family home rose 10 percent from a year ago, increasing from $768,000 to $845,000. Nevertheless, high prices did not seem to deter many house-hunters.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, noted October was the “best ever for sales activity in the Puget Sound region. With a large buyer pool for each new listing, we saw a higher percentage of new listings sell within the first 30 days of coming on the market,” Scott reported, while also noting the seasonal change in housing market dynamics. “As we enter the winter market, the number of new listings being added will be in short supply from now through February,” he explained.

Inventory remains low in many counties in the Northwest MLS system. Overall, there is only 1.5 months of supply of single family homes and condos combined. In King County, it’s less than one month. Industry analysts say four to six months typically indicates a balanced (or “normal”) market.

Most brokers agree inventory will not grow over the next few months. “Sellers who bring their homes on the market over the next three months will have a lot of interest because of the pent-up demand of buyers who are going to have fewer houses to consider,” suggested Wilson.

“Homebuyers in our area are at a real disadvantage right now,” commented Wilson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “They have to be pre-underwritten with their lenders, put forward a conventional or better offer, put down substantial earnest money, and hope that multiple offers do not escalate the price out of their affordability zone.” He fears “more and more buyers will be sidelined.”


~Northwest Multiple Listing Service




2015 State of the Real Estate Market


The NW Multiple Listing Service recently sent out their annual summary of the year that was in Western Washington real estate. We probably don’t need to tell you that most of those numbers are up, up, up. Especially if you’ve been trying to buy a house all year long. We perused the report, which was chocked full of numbers, and picked out some of the most shocking, revealing and fascinating numbers within.



2015 saw 88,331 closed sales amongst NWMLS members in 2015, up 14.3 percent from 77,276 in 2014.

The value of every NWMLS member single-family home & condo sale was over $34 billion, up almost 23 percent from 2014.

Both of those numbers are higher than the previous highs of 2007 when the housing market peaked.

Average area-wide supply was 2.4 month, down from the 3.5 months number of 2014. King County was the lowest of all, averaging only 1.3 months of supply. 4-to-6 month supply is considered a balanced housing market.

2,676 single family homes sold at $1 million or more, which was up over 29 percent from 2014. Add 237 condos priced at $1 million and up in as well.

The median price for a 3-BR home was $283,250, about 7.9 percent higher than 2014. Highest median price for 3-BRs came courtesy of San Juan County with $452,500.

Six of every 10 condo sales (61.9 percent) were located in King County.

As well as older sales did, new construction sales did even better. 8,548 newly-built single family homes sold for a median price of $425,000 while 1,018 new condos sold for a median price of $449,950.

The highest-priced single family home sold in 2015 by a NWMLS member? This $13.8 million Mercer Island estate. Topping the chart of high-priced condos was an Escala 3-BR that went for just over $3.1M.

There was a tie atop the list of cities with the most $5M+ home sales. Mercer Island and Bellevue both saw seven, while Clyde Hill (5), Medina (4) and Seattle (4) were close behind.

~ Sean Keeley

Seattle Market Digest for April 2015

The Seattle Times | Seattle Market Digest
April 2015
The Seattle Market Digest gives you a quick glimpse of the latest retail, real estate and business news in the Northwest. Curated from multiple sources, it keeps you updated so you can make more informed marketing and business decisions.

Regional Development: Mayor announces $1.8 million for neighborhood business districts
Labor Market: Washington’s jobless rate holds steady at 6.3%
Retail Market: Uniqlo may be opening in Seattle
Travel Market: Snohomish County OKs passenger terminal
Economy: The rich got richer fastest in Seattle, study finds
Real Estate Market: King County home prices up 6%

Flurry of big deals in downtown Bellevue signals more growth ahead
Investors are doubling down on downtown Bellevue. Said real estate broker Paul Sweeney, “Downtown Bellevue in years past was seen as a suburban setting, but now it is viewed as a prime urban location.”

Plus Investment USA plans large mixed-use Bellevue development
A Chinese company outlined plans for a project that will include two condominium high-rises. The development, tentatively called International Plaza, is located on Northeast Eighth Street in Bellevue.


King County home prices up 6% from a year ago
The median price of King County homes sold in February rose 6 percent over the year to $429,900 amid a sharp drop in active listings. It’s an indication that the seller’s market — now going strong for three years — is even more difficult for first-time buyers.
Affordable housing: Pressure mounts on Mayor Murray
Business people and activists are pushing in opposite directions on several issues, including a proposed fee on developers and local rent control.
Kirkland, Bellevue among nation’s priciest for high-end homes
If you own a home in Kirkland or Bellevue, you live in one of the nation’s top 10 luxury markets, according to a new report by Redfin. Though the Eastside cities rank high, they are nowhere near Miami Beach, where the average luxury home sold for $8.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Interest in Seattle homes at a record high

This is turning out to be the hottest year for residential real estate since 2008, according to Redfin. The online real estate company bases their findings on the number of people who have requested home tours, which could indicate their desire to buy.

~Steve Fuller, Seattle Times

The RE market is starving for homes


MARKET UPDATE: 4th Quarter 2014

OVERVIEW: Increased employment and historically low interest meant higher demand for real estate. Prices were up. However, the number of homes sales are not keeping pace due to a serious lack of inventory. Home values are expected to appreciate in 2015, but we need more homes to come on the market to meet pent up demand.

Laura White – Broker
Mobile: 425-444-8180
Office: 425-392-6600

Puget Sound home prices increased nearly 16 percent

Housing prices climb as inventory drops in Puget Sound area

Housing prices increased nearly 16 percent over same month last year in Puget Sound

People are still hot to buy houses and condos in the Seattle metro area, where pending sales last month reached a nearly eight-year high for November. But for now buyers have fewer options because the number of residences on the market is dropping.

The median price of sold residences climbed throughout the Puget Sound region in November, with prices increasing nearly 16 percent over the same month last year to $245,000 in Kitsap County. Annual jumps were a more modest 6 percent to $313,000 in Snohomish County and in the 3 percent range in both King County, where the media price was $399,000, and Pierce County, where the median price was $227,000, according to data that the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) put out on Thursday.

Compared to October, the overall median price for last month’s sales fell by $1,000, though a county-by-county comparison shows a mix of slight gains and declines.

“During the holidays we usually see a drop in home buyers, but this year they’re remaining engaged later than usual,” OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said in a statement. Recent buyers include people moving to Seattle as well as international buyers “who aren’t showing any signs of slowing.”

Pending sales of houses and condos hit 5,220 last month. That’s been the highest for November since 2006, when the number of mutually accepted offers reached 5,292, according to the NWMLS.

Low interest rates are fueling the market. Interest rates have dropped to the upper 3 percent range. Rates this low “are considered unbelievable,” John L. Scott Real Estate CEO J. Lennox Scott said.

Homeowners put fewer residences up for sale last month compared to November 2013. Last month, 11,575 houses and condos were on the market versus 12,067 the year before. Realtors chalk up the drop to some sellers wanting to focus on the holidays.

~ Marc Stiles, The Seattle Times