With the cold weather upon us, we are experiencing the usual seasonal slowdown in the Puget Sound’s real estate market to accompany the unexpected record activity that we saw over the hot 2020 market. As we all waited for some sort of housing collapse due to last year’s COVID-19 quarantine and the associated job loss, we were instead greeted with an ensuing property buying frenzy. In turn, the typical winter variation has started out looking a little different from that of previous years. The “slowdown” in our PNW market can be seen month-to-month, but does not seem to be down for any reason other than a lack of homes available for the hordes of buyers with pre-approvals in hand.
Below are graphs that highlight market data from December 2018 through December 2020 an displaying Washington State’s three most prominent counties; Pierce, King and Snohomish. Notice that although sales themselves are down in December, the market closer reflects a PNW spring market instead of a typical winter one.
December 2020 had a 22.3% increase in closed sales compared to that of December 2019.
31.3% increase in pending sales during that same time period.
Available housing inventory is down 36%.
December 2020 had a 22.8% increase in closed sales compared to that of December 2019.
23.3% increase in pending sales during that same time period.
Available housing inventory is down 56%.
December 2020 had a 15.5% increase in closed sales compared to that of December 2019.
18.4% increase in pending sales over the December in 2019.
Available housing inventory is down a whopping 66.2% this December compared to last.
Available housing inventory is at an all-time shortage (see chart below), and with interest rates to match, buyers have continued to be more than willing to escalate the scant housing inventory available to take advantage of the quickly appreciating assets we know as real estate. This is both good and bad news for buyers, but should be nothing to deter a qualified buyer from making an educated move. Interest rates in the twos and threes are resulting in more buying power for serious buyers. Simultaneously, competition is fierce for the homes that are available and often getting bid well above asking price. This is also leading to quick appreciation on homes for those who end up closing on them.
My advice for buyers is to know what you are getting into and work with an agent that can navigate the buying process with confidence and proficiency. Furthermore, this is decidedly a seller’s market, so if you are considering selling a property, there is no better time than right now to do so. Like, RIGHT NOW!
(Graphs represent a 12-year overview of the sales statistics in King County: From 2008 onward, you can see in the months of inventory chart that we are currently at the lowest inventory we have been since then.)
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