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Seattle homeowners just ‘flat out’ don’t want to sell

In King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties, homes were at least 10 percent more expensive in 2016 than 2015. (KIRO 7)

We shouldn’t be so quick to blame tech workers, transplants, and developers for the soaring home prices in Seattle, according to new home data. Homeowners, on the other hand, might be the problem.

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New data published in The Seattle Times shows the number of homes for sale is low — 1 out of 263 low.

Kevin Lisota, the CEO and managing broker of Seattle-based Findwell.com, an online real estate company, agrees.

Lisota says supply, or a lack thereof, is a primary driver of area home prices.

“The housing market has been tight in Seattle for a number of years now,” he said. “And most people just flat out don’t want to sell their home. They could sell it in a couple of days but finding a replacement is just too difficult.”

The people who are the typical hot-market sellers — those who bought low years ago — don’t want to put their houses on the market for this reason: Their incomes have not risen in conjunction with the housing market, Lisota says.

“You’ve got a whole category of people that have more modest jobs that live in a house that’s probably worth quite a bit, but they don’t have the income to support selling that house and upgrading.”

The Times reports that the city’s inventory dropped by more than 13 percent in 2016.

For those people that do sell their homes, they are being sold at an average of 15 days, according to the Times, citing Redfin.

The effects of the low inventory are expected to continue through the year, although with slightly less impact. Real estate experts predicted at the end of 2016 that home price growth will be around 9 percent. Homes were 10 percent more expensive in 2016 than they were a year ago. The Times reports that just this week, the were about 260 houses for sale in Seattle with a price tag of less than $1 million.

Things could start to slow down in the next few years. But if we are in a 10-year cycle like the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate says we are, it’s not going to happen quickly.

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