The frenetic pace of the real estate market continues to frustrate home Buyers while rewarding home Sellers. The data shows 13% appreciation on the eastside from last year but for those of us on the streets and in the negotiations, it's not abnormal to see prices up 20% since the beginning of this year. Bidding on homes seems to have little basis on comparable values or sales data and much more to do with capturing that home, regardless of price. Business practices are challenging and changing constantly; trying to figure out if or when to delay reviewing offers; how to make counter offers; what demands Sellers can make on Buyers and what incentives Buyers can create to have their offer selected by Sellers.The pace and frustrations are dizzying.
Eastside prices are at all time highs, at just under $783,000 up 13% from 2015. Seeking affordability, Buyers have driven up the median price on condos to $345,608; that's 15% above last year at this time.
73% of homes are selling at or above asking price with an average market time of 6 days; a timeline created by Sellers and agents delaying the review of offers to allow more buyers to view the home and generate more offers. While the average and median over asking prices are only 5.13 and 3.75% respectively, anyone actively in the market knows these figures are quite often in the 15-20+% range over asking price.
A staggering statistic is that sales of $3M+ homes is up 94% over 2015; not surprisingly this is drawing more sellers and inventory has jumped 31% for homes for sale in this price range. I'd be cautious if I were a Buyer in this range as there just aren't that many folks with incomes to support future purchases in this price range. This could be a great time to be a Seller for homes in this range, while there is still optimism by Buyers. Beware though, the increased inventory can mean a decline in leverage for home Sellers in this price range relative to lower price range Sellers.
Seattle's statistics are just as bullish for home Sellers with price up 19%, to just about $637,500 and again condo sales and prices are rising for those seeking close in affordability. Median condo prices are just over $400K, up 21% from 2015. Sales in the high end markets, $1-3M are up 25-36%, while inventories are declining 17-33%. The high end has lower overall price points than the Eastside but shows a very strong market in both areas, especially for homes under $2M.
What's driving this strength of market and how long will it last are constant questions I receive. Job and population growth as well as near record low interest rates are the main reasons for the why; as well as younger buyers entering the market and people who lost their homes to foreclosure or bankruptcy in the market turn down returning to buy. Rising rental rates are also forcing many to seek stability of their housing costs. Average house payments are a lower percentage of incomes for most buyers than rental rates. So why not own if you can find a home you like and pay less to own it that rent it.
How long this lasts? This is always the $64M question. Some economists predict our region could see this strength continue to 2021; not to the degree of the last year but still 4-5% per year as our local economy continues to thrive and our population grows. Until we see more folks retiring and leaving their homes and/or the area, something that was postponed by many with the economic downturn, This should increase home inventories and likely lessen local demand but we need a lot of inventory to make that happen and I don't see that happening too soon. New construction is increasing but much more so in the suburbs and further out ex-urbs; still in-fill lots and small subdivisions are increasing. Any inventory increase is welcome.
So, if you're a home Seller, it may be time to capitalize on near peak values. While the market may continue upward, the bulk of gains may be had and uncertain economic conditions could reverse this quickly. If you're home Buyer, stay vigilant and diligent. Hopefully the typical July to August slow down in sales will come back for this year, along with modest gains in selection and help you find your new home.