Windermere Insights: How COVID-19 is really impacting local real estate

 

The challenges presented by COVID-19 have been felt locally by every home buyer, seller and real estate broker. Residential real estate, which was moving at breakneck speed through February, came to a screeching halt for two weeks in March after the initial Stay Home order was implemented.

As soon as Governor Inslee declared real estate an essential business, the engines started to rev again. Despite job losses and a nosedive in general consumer confidence and spending, home buyers started to jump back into the market. Theories abound about why this could happen in the middle of a pandemic:

  • With some exceptions, our local tech sector has generally performed well during COVID-19 and its employees may feel reasonably insulated from the worst of the economic fallout. For some, their stock options may have actually increased in value during the worst of the coronavirus.
  • Many buyers were already feeling the squeeze of low housing inventory and the defeat of losing out in multiple-offer situations. Some likely saw the lower competition during the shutdown as an opportunity to finally gain a foothold.
  • Mortgage rates in the early stages of the shutdown dropped to historic lows, with some 30-year fixed loans carrying percentage rates in the low threes.
  • Renters and homeowners with sustained income security found themselves suddenly doing everything from home – working, schooling, exercising – which may have motivated them to pursue a change in space, moving from dreamers to active buyers.
  • Lots of real estate “window shoppers” suddenly had a lot more time on their hands and spent hours perusing eye-candy listings online and watching more HGTV than ever, accelerating their property lust and their entry into the buyer pool.

Some of these theories have metrics behind them and some remain just theories. Regardless of the motivation, buyers are back “out” in force, touring prospective homes online, via livestream video with a broker or pre-produced 3D tours and videos. Brokers are showing them homes in person too – while following many safety precautions. Because of this strong buyer interest, prospective sellers are hearing from their brokers that now may be a good time to list.

For weeks now, we have seen multiple offers on homes in popular neighborhoods. Brokers, for whom business was put on hold at the end of March, are as busy as at any other point this year. Though the new normal is still not completely normal, the market in many neighborhoods and price points seems to be skipping along as if it were.

To learn how various sectors of our local real estate market are performing during COVID-19, we asked Windermere experts from Seattle and the Eastside what they are seeing.

Real Estate Across Seattle

Laura Smith, co-owner and principal broker of Windermere Real Estate Co., which operates multiple real estate offices in Seattle, has been busy helping brokers ramp up quickly and navigate a hefty transaction load along with new protocols for listing and showing homes. “It’s been a total whirlwind,” she said. “The market went from zero to sixty in a heartbeat.”

Smith explained that out of nine MLS areas in the city of Seattle, seven had less housing stock (measured as months of inventory) than what was available in May 2019, and the other two areas had the same inventory levels as last year. She noted that Seattle’s pending home sales during Week 3 of May already had reached 95% of the transaction count from the same week in 2019.

“Right now buyers want in,” Smith said, “and inventory numbers favor sellers.” Prices, as a result, have “stayed strong,” according to Smith, even in the midst of a health-related shutdown.

Bouncing Back on the Eastside

According to Matt Deasy, President of Windermere Real Estate / East, Inc., the volume of business has bounced back quicker than expected and brokers are busy helping buyers and sellers while following new practices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“After reentering the market, buyers are finding the competition as fierce as it was before COVID-19,” Deasy said. His analysis shows that while Eastside pending sales are still down from a year ago, by Week 2 of May they were at 73% of last year’s figure from the same week. “Each week we are seeing the market steadily catch up to last year,” Deasy observed, “and I think it will soon head north of 2019 weekly transaction yields.”

Deasy pointed out that low Eastside housing supply is a challenge for buyers rushing back in to the market. “There is so little for sale” he said, noting that of the Eastside’s eight MLS areas, all but one had extremely low levels of inventory. “In fact,” Deasy continued, “three Eastside areas have a month or less supply of homes.” As a result, he predicts that “prices in popular neighborhoods will continue to climb” for the foreseeable future.

The Luxury Market

Patrick Chinn, owner of Windermere Real Estate Midtown, regularly works with luxury brokers and their clients. He observed that the luxury market was proceeding at a seasonally appropriate pace prior to the shutdown but has appeared a little slower to come back online as restrictions on real estate lifted. “Luxury sellers are typically not in a rush,” Chinn noted, “and the safety considerations of listing a home during COVID-19 may have delayed” their entry into the market.

Due to their high net worth, luxury buyers on the other hand may have been “less adversely impacted by the very real economic impacts of the shutdown,” Chinn said. But he also observed that fluctuations in the stock market usually make for “a restless luxury market, despite greater potential access to capital.” Chinn expects the pace of new high-end transactions and inventory to remain below what it was pre-shutdown, at least until there’s a clearer economic picture in sight.

Chinn did note that if a singular property is listed during an economic downturn such as the one we now find ourselves in, there can still be great urgency by luxury buyers to purchase. He gave as an example a Medina property listed during the topsy-turvy days just before the shutdown that quickly went under contract at its asking price of $11.75 million. “Iconic homes on iconic streets will still generate lots of enthusiasm, even during a downturn,” Chinn said.

He reported that one of his brokers went full speed ahead to list a one-of-a-kind beachfront property in Magnolia. Even during the lingering impacts of COVID-19, “there’s no time like the present for listing incredible homes,” Chinn explained.

Continuing New Construction

Joe Deasy, co-owner of Windermere Real Estate / East Inc., says that the early phase of the shutdown created significant waves for residential builders. Initially both the building and listing/showing of all residential new construction projects were stopped due to the Stay Home order.

As builders start building again and brokers start showing finished units, “the early pace will naturally be a bit slower,” Deasy said. He explained this as a result of builders needing to rehire furloughed workers and buyers’ agents implementing safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I expect things to accelerate pretty quickly as we move forward,” Deasy predicted. His reason? “There’s so little inventory out there, both new construction and resale,” he explained. “The product that is available looks pretty attractive right now, since it’s brand new and no one’s ever lived in it.”

Deasy remains positive about the region’s new construction market. He pointed out that leading into the Stay Home closure, Windermere’s King County new construction business was through the proverbial roof. “Even factoring in the shutdown, our year-to-date unit sales are up 41% over last year,” he noted, “and our sales volume is already at $700 million.”

Looking ahead, Deasy predicts that demand for new construction homes will remain strong and that supply will have the biggest impact on the sector’s overall market performance. “Low inventory may influence 2020 sales more than the shutdown,” he explained, “which, all things considered, was relatively brief.”

 


This post originally appeared on GettheWReport.com

Posted on May 28, 2020 at 11:37 pm
David Hogan | Category: Economy, Local Market News | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – May 2020

We hope you are weathering the new normal as best as you can. With everyone spending more time than ever at home, real estate has taken on a whole new importance. For those who are interested, here is a brief update on how COVID-19 continues to affect our local market:

  • Business was better than expected under the Stay Home order. COVID-19 did reduce real estate sales in April as compared to a year ago, however the number of sales rose steadily each week of the month. Sales growth continued in early May and we expect sales to increase slowly week by week.
  • The number of new listings dropped, suggesting that would-be sellers are waiting until the shelter-in-place order is over to put their home on the market. With local technology companies continuing to hire, buyers will continue to face competition for limited inventory in the coming months.
  • Home prices remain stable, with the median price of homes sold in April up slightly from a year ago. Sellers appear to be pricing homes realistically and buyers are not finding deep discounts.

The monthly statistics below are based on closed sales. Since closing generally takes 30 days, the statistics for April are mostly reflective of sales in March. Next month’s data will offer a more telling trend of the effect of the virus on the local housing market.

If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. You can get Matthew’s latest update here.

As our current situation evolves, know that the safety of everyone remains our top priority.

EASTSIDE

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on May 13, 2020 at 8:02 pm
David Hogan | Category: Local Market Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – March 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has not yet dampened demand in the housing market. Traffic at open houses remains heavy. Buyers who had waited last year for a drop in prices have now seen several months of home prices increases. With demand far outstripping supply and record low interest rates, the market heading into spring looks hotter than ever.

 

EASTSIDE

Buyers that may have been in wait-and-see mode at the end of 2019 jumped off the fence in February. Pending sales (offers accepted but not yet closed) jumped 27%, snapping up already-tight inventory. 55% of homes on the market sold in 15 days or less. The median home price jumped 9% over a year ago to $985,000, an increase of $58,000 from the prior month. Development on the Eastside continues to surge and includes the recent groundbreaking for a 600-foot tower in Bellevue and a proposed 11-acre mixed-use project.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

The tight housing market here got even tighter. There were 40% fewer homes on the market in King County in February than there were in January. The median home price rose 3% over the prior year to $675,000, up from $630,525 in January. With mortgage rates and the local unemployment rate both hitting record lows, demand isn’t likely to drop any time soon.

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

With just six weeks of available inventory, competition for homes in Seattle remains fierce. Multiple offers were the norm, and 34% of homes purchased in February sold for over the listing price. The median price for a single-family home in February was $730,500, unchanged from a year ago and up from $719,950 in January.

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

The numbers in Snohomish County tell the story. There were 42% fewer listings in February than a year ago, and 42% more pending sales. With inventory at under a month of supply, there just aren’t enough homes to meet demand. That scarcity translated into higher prices, with the median price of a single-family home rising 8% over a year ago to $515,000.

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 1:00 am
David Hogan | Category: Buying a Home, Economy, Local Market Updates, Selling a Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – February 2020

New jobs and low interest rates continue to fuel the housing market boom. While January is traditionally a slower month for activity, the new year saw steady buyer demand. With the number of sales exceeding new listings, all indicators point to a strong spring market.

EASTSIDE

The tech industry on the Eastside continues to grow rapidly. Microsoft and Alibaba both have significant expansions underway. Amazon expects to increase its workforce in Bellevue to 15,000 in the next few years, a sevenfold increase from today. As the economy continues to grow, inventory keeps being squeezed. There were 47% fewer single-family homes on the market in January than the year prior. Home prices have been stabilizing for some time, fluctuating slightly from month to month. In January the median home price slipped 2% over a year ago to $892,000.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

The number of single-family homes on the market in King County was down nearly 44% from a year ago. That lack of inventory has resulted in more multiple offers and the return of review dates, where sellers identify a date to review all offers. Strong competition for a small supply of homes boosted the median home price 3% over the prior year to $630,525.

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

The jobs outlook in Seattle for 2020 remains robust, and demand for homes continues to outstrip supply. Traffic at open houses in January reflected that demand, with one central Seattle homes priced in the $1.2 million range drawing more than 300 visitors. Home prices in the city have been relatively stable for the past 12 months. That remained the case in January where the median price for a single-family home inched up 1% over last year to $719,950.

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

With 35% less inventory than last January, competition among buyers in Snohomish County is fierce and multiple offers have become the norm. The median price of a single-family home soared 12% over a year ago to $509,950. Home prices have been playing catch up, increasing at a much faster pace over the past year than King County. While the prices gap has closed, the median price here is still nearly 20% less than King County.

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on February 17, 2020 at 10:46 pm
David Hogan | Category: Economy, Local Market Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Matthew Gardner – Will There Be A Recession in 2020?

Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, answers the most pressing question on everyone’s minds: Will there be a recession in 2020? Here’s what he expects to see.


This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog

Posted on January 29, 2020 at 8:48 am
David Hogan | Category: Buying a Home, Economy, Selling a Home, The Gardner Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Use Seattle’s New Data Portal to Track Housing Affordability, Stats, & More

The City of Seattle recently unveiled Performance Seattle: a website where residents and government employees can dig into what’s going on in our city and see how well Seattle is performing.

The site currently houses seven dashboards, tracking the city’s performance on everything from basic services to housing affordability to homelessness. It illustrates the city’s progress with data visualizations like graphs, maps and charts as well as written reports.

While all this information was publicly accessible before, the new site brings it all together in one accessible place.

The launch of Performance Seattle follows months of criticism about how the city has handled the housing and transit crises associated with its rapid growth as one of the biggest tech hubs in the country.

Taking inspiration from cities like Boston and Chicago, which both launched similar portals in 2017, this site was created to make sure the city gets things done. According to a press release, Performance Seattle will ensure that the city meets specific goals, like its commitment to repair 80 percent of potholes in 30 days and have the police department respond to 100 percent of its Priority 1 calls. It’s centered around accountability.

This launch is a product of months of work by the Seattle Innovation and Performance team and was developed in collaboration with more than 150 city staff. The city has also been working with Results for America and What Works Cities, which recognized the city for its use of data in city government.

Explore the complete database here.

 


This was originally posted on builtinseattle.com by Ellen Glover.

And on GettheWReport.com

Posted on January 27, 2020 at 8:03 pm
David Hogan | Category: Community News, Economy, Local Market News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – January 2020

2019 ended with too many buyers chasing too few homes. December marked the sixth straight month of declining supply. The severe shortage of homes, historically low interest rates, and strong job growth are predicted to keep the local housing market strong in 2020. In a region starved for inventory, sellers can expect significant interest in new listings.

EASTSIDE

Homes sold briskly on the Eastside in December in all categories, including the luxury market. The number of listings were down nearly 50% from a year ago and the area had under a month of available inventory. That lack of inventory helped bump the median price of a single-family home up 4% from a year ago to $949,000, which is a $49,000 increase from November.  New large scale developments and a strong economic forecast indicate that the housing market will remain healthy.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

King County continues to be a seller’s market. Inventory in December was down nearly 40% compared to a year ago and ended the month with below one month supply. The median price of a single-family home rose 6% over the prior year to $675,000, up slightly from November. More affordable areas saw much higher increases. Southeast King County – which includes Auburn, Kent and Renton – saw home prices jump 16% over the previous year.

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

Numbers tell the story in Seattle. Inventory was down 25%, while the number of closed sales increased 19%. Strong demand here has kept the housing market solid, with prices fluctuating slightly month-to-month for much of 2019. The median price of a single-family home sold in December increased 2% from a year ago to $727,000. That was slightly down from $735,000 in November.

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

While the median home price in Snohomish County is less than that in King County, the gap continues to close. Buyers willing to trade a longer commute for a lower mortgage have kept demand and prices strong. Inventory here was off 36% in December as compared to a year ago. The median price of a single-family home rose 9% over a year ago to $510,000, an increase of $15,000 from November.

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on January 15, 2020 at 7:25 am
David Hogan | Category: Buying a Home, Local Market Updates, Selling a Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – November 2019

A steady influx of buyers continued to strain already tight inventory throughout the area in October. Home sales were up, as were prices in much of the region. With our thriving economy and highly desirable quality of life drawing ever more people here, the supply of homes isn’t close to meeting demand. Homeowners thinking about putting their property on the market can expect strong buyer interest.

EASTSIDE

As the Eastside continues to rack up “best places” awards, it’s no surprise that the area is booming. Development is on the rise, fueled primarily by the tech sector. The appeal of the Eastside has kept home prices here the highest of any segment of King County. The median single-family home price in October was stable as compared to the same time last year, rising 1% to $900,000.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

King County’s 1.74 months of available inventory is far below the national average of four months. Despite the slim selection, demand in October was strong. The number of closed sales was up 5% and the number of pending sales (offers accepted but not yet closed) was up 11%. The median price of a single-family home was down 2% over a year ago to $660,000. However, some areas around the more reasonably-priced south end of the county saw double-digit price increases.

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

Seattle home prices took their largest year-over-year jump in 12 months. The median price of a single-family home sold in October was up 3% from a year ago to $775,000, a $25,000 increase from September of this year.  Seattle was recently named the third fastest-growing city in America.  Real estate investment is surging. A growing population and booming economy continue to keep demand for housing –and home prices—strong.

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

Both the number of home sales and home prices were on the rise in Snohomish County in October. Overall homes sales increased 7%, and the median price of a single-family home rose 5% over a year ago to $495,000.  Supply remains very low, with just six weeks of available inventory.

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on November 18, 2019 at 9:59 pm
David Hogan | Category: Economy, Local Market News, Local Market Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update – Q3 2019

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State employment has softened slightly to an annual growth rate of 2%, which is still a respectable number compared to other West Coast states and the country as a whole. In all, I expect that Washington will continue to add jobs at a reasonable rate though it is clear that businesses are starting to feel the effects of the trade war with China and this is impacting hiring practices. The state unemployment rate was 4.6%, marginally higher than the 4.4% level of a year ago. My most recent economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.2%, with a total of 88,400 new jobs created.

HOME SALES

  • There were 22,685 home sales during the third quarter of 2019, representing a slight increase of 0.8% from the same period in 2018 and essentially at the same level as in the second quarter.
  • Listing activity — which rose substantially from the middle of last year — appears to have settled down. This is likely to slow sales as there is less choice in the market.
  • Compared to the third quarter of 2018, sales rose in five counties, remained static in one, and dropped in nine. The greatest growth was in Skagit and Clallam counties. Jefferson, Kitsap, and Cowlitz counties experienced significant declines.
  • The average number of homes for sale rose 11% between the second and third quarters. However, inventory is 14% lower than in the same quarter of 2018. In fact, no county contained in this report had more homes for sale in the third quarter than a year ago.

HOME PRICES

  • Home price growth in Western Washington notched a little higher in the third quarter, with average prices 4.2% higher than a year ago. The average sales price in Western Washington was $523,016. It is worth noting, though, that prices were down 3.3% compared to the second quarter of this year.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except Island, though the decline there was very small.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County, where home prices were up 22%. San Juan, Jefferson, and Cowlitz counties also saw double-digit price increases.
  • Affordability issues are driving buyers further out which is resulting in above-average price growth in outlying markets. I expect home prices to continue appreciating as we move through 2020, but the pace of growth will continue to slow.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped one day when compared to the third quarter of 2018.
  • Thurston County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 20 days to sell. There were six counties where the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in six counties, while two counties were unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 38 days to sell a home in the third quarter. This was down 3 days compared to the second quarter of this year.
  • Market time remains below the long-term average across the region and this trend is likely to continue until more inventory comes to market, which I do not expect will happen until next spring.

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am leaving the needle in the same position as the first and second quarters, as demand appears to still be strong.

The market continues to benefit from low mortgage rates. The average 30-year fixed rates is currently around 3.6% and is unlikely to rise significantly anytime soon. Even as borrowing costs remain very competitive, it’s clear buyers are not necessarily jumping at any home that comes on the market. Although it’s still a sellers’ market, buyers have become increasingly price-conscious which is reflected in slowing home price growth.

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.

Posted on October 28, 2019 at 7:00 am
David Hogan | Category: Buying a Home, Economy, Selling a Home, The Gardner Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – October 2019

While fall usually brings a decrease in sales activity, the opposite was true in September. The number of listings on the market dropped by double digits and home sales rose. It is still a seller’s market, however prices have stabilized. With interest rates near historic lows and employment levels at historic highs, the housing market is expected to stay strong throughout the fall and winter.

EASTSIDE

Long the most affluent area of King County, the Eastside continues to record the highest home prices in the region. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $928,500 in September, an increase of 4% from a year ago and a decrease of less than 1% from August. The Eastside construction boom continues, indicating that developers remain confident in the strength of the local economy.

VIEW FULL EASTSIDE REPORT

KING COUNTY

The number of homes on the market in King County fell by almost 20% in September when compared to a year ago. However, last fall saw an increase in inventory that was unusual for the time of year. The median price of a single-family home was $660,000, down just 1% from the same time last year. Cities in King County, outside of Seattle, all saw price increases. Sales were up 7% indicating no shortage of buyers.

VIEW FULL KING COUNTY REPORT

SEATTLE

Prices remained relatively stable, with the median price of a single-family home in September dipping 3% over a year ago to $750,000. As tech companies continue to recruit top talent to the area, Seattle’s population keeps booming and demand for housing remains high. While home sales traditionally dip in the fall, the city saw sales increase by 12% in September as compared to last year. Rising rents may push more buyers into the market.

VIEW FULL SEATTLE REPORT

SNOHOMISH COUNTY

Buyers continue to be drawn to Snohomish County thanks to a strong economy and housing costs that are considerably more affordable than King County. That influx of buyers is also driving up prices. The median price of a single-family home in September was $492,500, up from $484,995 the same time last year. At $167,500 less than the median price in King County, it’s a relative bargain.

VIEW FULL SNOHOMISH COUNTY REPORT


This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com

Posted on October 19, 2019 at 12:03 am
David Hogan | Category: Buying a Home, Economy, Local Market News, Local Market Updates, Selling a Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,