15 February 2012

Today's Trends in Seattle Real Estate

Over the past 15 months, we have seen signs of improvement in the Seattle real estate market.  You can feel it on the street as a Realtor:  multiple offers abound for well-priced homes in popular neighborhoods; what little new construction pops on the market quickly pops off; homes pending in 10 days or less, an unofficial marker I've created and watch every day, is holding steady at 25-35% of all daily pending listings.  Take it a step further and look carefully at the statistics.  Windermere commissions a consulting firm, Trendgraphix, to give us a deep statistical analysis of what is occurring in the market.  A glance at the graph below gives you snapshot of the conditions we are seeing firsthand in the field.  In a nutshell, inventory has lowered significantly while sales have remained steady.  Thus, supply and demand are equilibrating.  Economists tell us that a 4-6 month supply of inventory marks a balanced market.  For the past 15 months, we have been well within these parameters for single-family (read: homes and town homes) homes (see "Months of Inventory {Closed Sales}" on the chart below).  In fact, since March '11, we have consistently registered 3-4 months of inventory.  Couple lowering inventory with extremely low interest rates and discerning shoppers, and it is no wonder that such high demand exists for the most choice properties.  This rate of sale, by the way, does not change when you isolate distressed short sale and bank-owned properties.  In January '12, months of inventory based on closed sales for single-family homes is as follows:  distressed homes - 4.5 months of inventory; non-distressed homes - 4.1; all homes - 4.2.  Values in January '12 are identical to January '11 at $410K for non-distressed homes, while distressed homes values, which account for roughly 25% of the market, have lowered about 10% from $274K to $240K.  Taken collectively, single-family homes dropped only a bit when comparing January '12 to January '11, from $379K to $367K (see "Median" at bottom of chart).

Condominiums continue to lag behind single-family homes, though this market shows signs of improvement as well.  Months of inventory was in the double digit figures 12-15 months ago.  Over the course of 2011, levels dropped to the 5-7 months range and held steady there since last spring.  Yes, prices are down, but so is inventory.  With all of the pent up demand found in the single-family market, one can imagine a scenario where the condo scene improves further, something that at one time was difficult to visualize. 

Given the challenges of recent years, it pays to be cautious in one's thinking about real estate.  That being said, these indicators are much preferred to the bloodshed of the past.

As always, let me know if you'd like more information!  I've got a lot more statistics and perspectives to share!  As always, it'd be a pleasure to help anyone you know in need of real estate services.