By Erin Flemming
Special to the Reporter
Month after month, headlines about the real estate market in Seattle and surrounding areas seemed to sing the same tune – rising prices and high competition for homes, with some homes receiving multiple offers merely days after listing. Typically, around the fall, the housing market tends to cool, and this year, the market has adjusted away from the “premium pricing” that became commonplace in many areas.
Jon Hunter, vice president of Residential Success at John L. Scott, said as the fall continues, we’ll start to see a seasonal slowdown, but he noted that the market is still “very robust.” Additionally, he said as the number of sold homes continue to rise this season, the pended homes are likely to flatten out.
Though the market has slightly shifted, it doesn’t mean the local real estate market is a buyer’s market. The number of houses for sale in Bothell and Kenmore in September 2018 increased by 10.6 percent and 12.5 percent (respectively) over August’s numbers, but the area’s available inventory still isn’t in the “healthy” range. Recent market changes have taken the Eastside from an extreme shortage of unsold inventory back down to just a shortage.
“For those looking to sell their homes right now, it’s crucial to price right and stage right,” Hunter said. “Pricing right means you can’t compare your home to one that sold six months ago. The homes that you want to compare to are ones that sold in the current season.”
However, more affordable areas are still going strong, and no matter the season, Hunter said homes in desirable neighborhoods are always going to be in high demand. In many cases, “location, location, location” can be one of the top factors for buyers. Whether it’s a walkable neighborhood, proximity to work or a home within the boundaries of a top-notch public school, location can prove important for many buyers.
“Buyers are always attracted to great neighborhoods with historically great appreciation,” Hunter said. “Homes in great neighborhoods that are priced right and staged right will see multiple offers.”
For buyers looking to purchase in the current market, Hunter said the approach often depends on the house and area they’re looking at. If buyers are looking for a home in a hot area that is priced right and staged right, they need to be prepared to bring their “A-game” to the table to have a good chance to win against the competition. Some buyers may want to look at homes that have been on the market for two weeks or more for the best chance at negotiation – though they should work with a skilled broker to bring an offer to the table that’s likely to be accepted.
According to J. Lennox Scott: “The Eastside has moved from the spring extreme-frenzy housing market down to strong pending sales activity for new listings. Currently, unsold inventory is over double what it was in Sept. 2017 in the $500,000 to $1 million price point and up 50 percent for homes above $1 million. Seventy-eight percent of pending sales activity takes place above the $500,000 price range, with 26 percent of pending listings being above $1 million. The Eastside has moved from an extreme shortage of unsold inventory back down to a shortage. Sales activity in the $500,000 and upward category is only off five percent from 2017. Job growth remains extremely strong in the region and interest rates are currently in the upper four percent.
“For the luxury housing market, we are seeing a healthy to strong level of sales activity for new listings up to $2 million, with selective buyer activity above $2 million.”