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King County home prices down year-over-year for first time since 2012

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Redfin)

A recent report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service indicates that home prices in King County decreased year-over-year for the first time in seven years to start 2019.

“That really is one of the biggest stories that’s going to come out over the numbers,” Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News.

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In total, average King County home prices were down just over 1 percent, in what’s been an interesting trend to watch.

“Is it normal?” posited Gardner. “No, because historically speaking, housing actually appreciates in value in the long-term.”

It’s not just home prices that were favorable in January — interest rates hovered near a nine-month low. That in turn drove a 9 percent increase in sales for single-family homes in King County.

That came paired with an increase in inventory that saw 7,090 new listings, compared to 6,805 in January of last year, and doubling December’s total of 3,631. In total, sixteen counties — four in the Puget Sound area — reported more inventory than this time last year.

“It very much comes back to simple supply and demand: We increase supply, [and] we have a finite amount of demand,” Gardner noted.

Moving forward, Gardner expects home prices to continue falling through the first half of the year, before rebounding not long after that. That being so, he predicts the increase to not be nearly as dramatic as it’s been in the past.

“I believe the second half of this year we’ll start seeing price growth, but it’s going to be very much more modest than what we’ve seen for the last six or seven years,” he said.

For spring, there’s optimism that these lower prices could very well end up being the new normal.

“We’ve clearly been in a transitioning market, but given the ongoing demand for real estate in the Greater Seattle area, we may have adjusted to a ‘new market reality’ wherein inventory is up and prices have re-aligned,” Gary O’Leyar, owner of Berkshire Hathaway Properties, said in the Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s most recent report.

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