Spring market marked by Lower Mortgage Interest Rates and New Listings coming to the market
It’s 2019 and the market is hopping. Around March it stalled, started sliding badly in May, and was all but dead by November. There was virtually no sign of life in February when it was snowing and then BAM! Spring sprung and so did the market.
Residential market in the four-county Puget Sound region
Prices Year-over-year, median prices for SFHs, area wide, were up this March except for King County. Compared to February, all counties had gains.
King County median prices for Single Family Homes reached $667,725 in March, down 3.2% from a year ago but rising from February’s price of $655,000.
In the same period, Pierce County rose 3.8% to $363,804, the highest median price ever for that county according to the available data.
Listings King County, followed by Snohomish County, considerably increased inventories during the first three months of 2019. In March, inventory more than doubled in King County compared to a year ago, rising from 1,687 to 3,277 active listings.
Snohomish rose 78% to 1209 listings, year-over-year. Even with that, we continued with less than two months of supply in the most popular counties last month.
Zoom-In King County
Comparing median prices of Single Family Homes sold in different areas of King County during the first quarter, buyers have moved outside the main urban centers, mainly to the South, in search of more affordable homes in mid-price ranges.
Seattle rose 3.1% to $752,500 in March compared to the prior month, but declined 8.2% from a year ago. The Eastside, reached $950,000, which is 5.6% more than February and a 2.6% increase compared to last March.
With Amazon’s move to Bellevue by 2023 and Expedia relocating to its Seattle waterfront campus in 2020, it is expected prices will remain high in both markets.
According to Fannie Mae, the mortgage interest rate on the 25th of April was 4.20% which is much more favorable for home buyers than the highs of 4.94% last November.
Despite booming construction, inventory is still low
During the first quarter of this year, the Active Condo listings in King and Snohomish Counties have more than doubled. Meanwhile, Closed Sales were down about 15% in both counties. Surprisingly, Pierce County’s Closed sales were up 25% year-over-year in March.
Despite an increase in active listings, supply remained under two months in March in the four-county Puget Sound region.
An article in The Seattle Times last January, described the Seattle condo building boom and mentioned the Seattle rental market was dropping at the fourth-fastest rate in the country.
Probably that boom is the reason in March, Seattle rents increased only 0.5% from the same period last year, according to Apartment List. Average rents in Seattle are currently $1,332 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,658 for a two-bedroom.**
In all of Washington State rents were up 1.4% from March a year ago. The following cities had the biggest increases in that period: Mukilteo (7.2%), Puyallup (4.4%), Lakewood (4.2%), with the least expensive rent in the area at $1,170 for a one-bedroom.
(*) Sources: Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS), Seattle Times, Apartment List, Fannie Mae.
(**) Numbers updated on April 30th.