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Puget Sound home buyers ‘finally got some good news’ amid rising prices

Homes in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Seattle Municipal Archives)

The latest data indicates that housing prices in the Puget Sound region are continuing to grow rapidly. Despite that, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner also believes that there’s a bit of good news for buyers as well.

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The median price of a residential home in King County grew by 16% year-over-year as of April, with similar increases in Snohomish (28%) and Pierce (23%) counties. That has options scarce for the time being, with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) estimating that it will likely take between four to six months for the Puget Sound region to shift to “a more balanced market.”

The result is that buyers are now in a situation where homes are flying off the market at record rates.

“The time between coming on the market and going off the market is the shortest I’ve seen in the last 40 years,” RE/Max managing broker Dick Beeson said in the NWMLS’s latest market snapshot. “The housing bubble more than a dozen years ago didn’t look like this. There was inventory. There were choices for buyers. Now they comb the internet daily, hoping they’ll get the chance to compete with other battle-weary buyers for the one new listing that appears in their price range near where they really want to live.”

Where things did improve for first-time buyers, though, can be seen in a rise in total listings in the region, increasing 35.2% between March and April of this year.

“There is finally some good news for buyers,” Gardner said in the NWMLS’s update.

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Gardner dove further into the numbers with KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross, noting that “with more supply, some of the would-be home buyers out there that are suffering from buyer fatigue, they might get some more choices.”

While that hasn’t yet led to a decrease in sale prices, he also points out that list prices are actually trending downward.

“And that tells me one thing,” he described. “If it continues, then we’re going to see sales prices start to soften somewhat, and get away from those 15, 20, 25% increases that we saw year-over-year in April.”

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