by Dorothy Driver
The headlines and local news broadcasts can’t stop talking about the hot Seattle real estate market. A recent Seattle Times article reported 41 offers for an uninhabitable property in West Seattle over the 4th of July holiday, making it the topic of every coffee-shop-and-water-cooler-conversation in the City when we went back to work. With June statistics now available, I thought it would be interesting to see what is happening in our Southeast Seattle neighborhoods.
The accurate picture of any real estate market is seen by comparing the number of “Active Listings” of homes available for sale, compared to “Pending Listings” which have accepted offers and are waiting to close. Every neighborhood in Southeast Seattle has more homes under contract than there are for sale, tipping market conditions heavily to the advantage of sellers across the board. The area most in demand appears to be NWMLS Area 380: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Hillman City, Seward Park, and Upper Rainier Beach communities. Here there are twice as many homes under contract here as there are homes available for sale. Area 360 just outside of the city-limit line is the most buyer-friendly market area in terms of both price and competition.
Fast market times are another key component to our local housing feeding frenzy. Homes currently on the market have way longer market times than those that are pending. Most of the available inventory is pretty picked-over, leaving buyers waiting and watching for fresh new inventory. It is like watching a basketball game: The new listing comes to market and everyone rushes to that part of the court. This difference in marketing time between active properties and pending properties is also a caution for sellers. It is still possible in this extreme seller’s market to overshoot your price and be passed over by even desperate buyers.
Looking at how long properties stay on the market before selling can tell us which areas are easier – or more difficult – to buy in right now. Area 385, Beacon Hill, is leading the way in both fast market times and above-list price offers. 77% of listings here sell in 15 days or less, and sellers who sold within those first 15 days received 10% above their asking price. Area 360 is putting on some real speed. Last year the properties that sold within their first 15 days received 3% above their asking price, this year the quick sales are getting 8% above their asking prices, closing in on trends in Beacon Hill and Columbia City markets.
The take-aways are that the real estate market is still rapidly appreciating, inventory supply isn’t growing at any meaningful rate, and demand is not tapering off. Even properties in the suburbs are receiving multiple offers now. It may be 2-3 offers instead of 7-12 offers per house, but competition is fierce everywhere. I think we will see some seasonal relief this summer. From now until Labor Day Weekend buyers might find the field a little softer to play in. And as always, if you can go just slightly away from the hot spots you will be more successful. Walking distance to Link Light Rail Stations – even one mile distances – are the big attraction in our neighborhoods. If that is part of your must-have criteria, be prepared to eat your Wheaties and pay $100,000+ above asking price with every conceivable contingency waived if you are going to be the winner.