Is it wise to buy a house in Seattle now?
It is a complex question that you really should speak to a Seattle real estate broker about, but...the simple answer is yes! Prices peaked across the NWMLS (26 counties in WA State) in the May of 2022 (median price of $660,000). However, as the interest rates continued to increase the real estate market began to fade. Median prices declined each month, but the prices were still higher than the previous year. Finally in December 2022 it was the first time that median prices dipped below the previous year. It was a minor dip (Dec 2022 = $570,000; Dec 2021 = $572,900), but a dip nonetheless.
Then 2023 began and while the median price again dipped in January ($557,250), something began to happen. The median price in Feb ($575,000) not only increased over January 2023 but also over December 2022 and was the same as November 2022. March median prices increased to $590,000 and April was $603,250. April was highest median price since July 2022 ($625,000). Now, the last complete month (May), the median price is $615,000.
Is now a bad time to buy a house in Seattle?
Prices are up this year, so isn't a bad time to buy a Seattle home? No, because last May the median price across the NWMLS was $660,000 and it was an uncertain time. The dust has settled. The indication of rates increasing has subsided and prices are down nearly 7% from a year ago. With prices trending up do you really want to wait?
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Above is a Luxury Capitol Hill home available for $2,600,000
Is Seattle overpriced?
So prices are down from last year, but is Seattle overpriced historically? Seattle has a robust economy, and influx of people, and limited land. Thus, going back to ten full years to January 2013, you can see an upward trend year after year. The median price of the NWMLS has increased every year. In no year has the lowest median price of a given month, not been higher than the lowest median price of the previous year. Similarly, in no year has the highest median price month not beaten the previous year's best month. For example, May 2022 was the highest month that year with a median price of $660,000. In 2021, the highest months were June and July, both had a median price of $589,000. In 2020, October had the highest median price of $500,000. Every year's best month going back 10 years is higher the following year.
In 2023, the lowest month has already beaten the previous year's lowest month. January 2023 ($557,250) was higher than January 2022 ($555,000). Will a month in 2023 beat May 2022? Only time will tell.
The overall point is Seattle and Washington State have shown a resilient real estate market. Of course, the trend may change, but those waiting to time the real estate market have been waiting a long time. With the prices dipping at the end of last year and still not recovering fully it seems like this is finally their time. Yes, it is wise to buy a Seattle home now!
Click the link to learn more about the Seattle real estate market! The monthly reports have more specific numbers regarding both Seattle home and Seattle condo market. For example, this Seattle real estate blog post has more detail on the Seattle home median price ($885,000) and Seattle condo median price ($557,500) and how this compares with the previous year.
Feature Picture: One of the most significant homes on Puget Sound. A Bainbridge Island waterfront home a ferry ride away from Downtown Seattle.