Puget Sound real estate experts see the start of fall slowdown


KIRKLAND, WA – A seasonal slowdown is starting to emerge in the hot Puget Sound real estate market, with brokers already seeing typical declines in prices and activity as fall approaches. Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s August report, which tracks trends in 26 counties, found monthly declines in listings, inventory, pending and closed sales, and median prices, although asking prices remain well north from what they were a year ago.

“August showed a more traditional seasonal pattern with less activity as families took a late summer vacation and got ready to go back to school,” said Frank Wilson, broker at John L. Scott Real Estate. “We have seen a decline in open house traffic overall, although some new listings have been overwhelmed with traffic, depending on price. We are seeing homes staying on the market a little longer and more and more. of sellers overvalue their properties. “

The report found that new listings for single-family homes and condos were down 11.5% from July, with inventories down 6.6% month-over-month.

With 10,571 sales closed in August, brokers saw the overall median price start to moderate, falling to $ 579,000, down about $ 10,000 from July. NWMLS said asking prices fell in about half of the counties analyzed.

“In King County, median list prices have fallen from $ 740,000 in July to $ 729,000 in August,” said Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. “That would explain why the median selling price also fell slightly month over month. I think it’s because we are reaching a price cap and the frantic pace of home price appreciation will continue to rise. slow down over the rest of the year. ”

Condominium sales remain much stronger than last year – up 10% overall and nearly 20% in King County – which experts say is both a sign of more buyers returning to urban centers and also finding homes too expensive. Others are moving away from the city, as many employers keep remote work and hybrid models in place.

“Work from home opportunities, as well as the thought / expectation that some employers will allow flexible working hours after COVID are key factors,” said John Deely, executive vice president of Coldwell Banker Bain. “Other factors are lower taxes and overall costs in suburban areas. People buy as many houses as possible and take into account the varying cost of a commute to work. “

A similar trend has resulted in an increase in luxury home sales, with around 15% of sales for the year for homes priced at $ 1 million or more. Brokers said those sales were particularly strong in Snohomish and Pierce counties.

“This tells me that there is a migration of buyers who choose to move away from King County and to adjacent areas where their money goes further,” Gardner said.

The Kitsap County market has also warmed, with property values ​​up nearly 15% from a year ago, rents rising and developers struggling to keep up with demand.

“While there are affordable housing options being planned for the future, those are several years away,” Wilson said. “Affordable housing has been hit hard over the past six or seven years, with the average price far exceeding what Kitsap’s average income can afford. “

While the seasonal lull appears to be underway for most of the region, real estate experts expect things to heat up again around the new year.

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