I'm Thinking About Selling My Seattle Home: Is Now a Good Time?

Real Estate Agent with Realty Executives -BRIO

Recently I was asked by someone who knows I am a Seattle Real Estate Agent, about whether or not is was a good time to sell her home.  She was asking out of simple curiosity because of what she has been hearing in the media.

BRIO For Sale yard signI told her that if she has a reason to sell, then it could be a good time to sell if she is willing to adapt (a motivated seller) to the new Seattle real estate market.  

That means making sure her house is in very good shape (the best house for the price and location) and priced properly... even aggressively... for the market.  

BUT... if she really does not have a real need (not motivated) to sell, then it's not a good time because of the current high inventory levels, and slower sales compared to last year: 

ACTIVE listings (houses & condos) for the month of June, 2008, King County had 15,831 active listings, June 2007 was 12,282, a 28.9% INCREASE, that means a lot more houses competing for buyers this year.  

PENDING listings (houses & condos) for the month of June, 2008, King County had 2,549  pending listings, June 2007 was 3,766, a 32.32% DECREASE, that means a third less buyers making accepted offers on houses this year. 

SOLD listings (houses & condos) for the month of June, 2008, King County had 2,148 sold listings, June 2007 was 3,634, a 40.89% DECREASE, that means more than a third fewer buyers are buying homes.   

The absorption rate for June 2008 is 7.3 months of inventory to sell at the current rate of sales, and for June 2007, it was 3.3 months of inventory.  A big change in the Seattle real estate market.  Those absorption rate numbers are just a snapshot for June 2008 and 2007.  These months on hand numbers do not show trending sales.  

0 to 3 months is a sellers market 

4 to 6 months is a balanced market 

7 plus months are a buyers market  

Of course, different cities, or neighborhoods (location, location, location) of King County will have very different numbers and absorption rates and this is just a general overview.  Absorption rate can also be analyzed by criteria such as price range, or type.  

I did not, of course have these numbers off the top of my head for her, but I described in general terms, that the Seattle real estate market has changed from being a sellers market to a buyers market. 

As we were finishing the conversation, she said that since her only reason to think about selling was mostly for a change, that she would wait.  I said that in that case, she might want to think about making updates to her bathrooms, and kitchen so that with those changes she increases the enjoyment of her home.  Then, when she really has a good reason, or need to sell her home, it will also be in better condition to go on the market. 

So answering the question:  I'm Thinking About Selling My Seattle House, is Now a Good Time?  It depends!

Comments (10)

Brian Solinsky
Keller Williams Realty - Puyallup, WA

Deborah - can you let me know the formula for figuring out the absorption rate? I asked the MLS and NAR, but kept getting passed on to someone else that didn't know. You seem to have a grip on the numbers and I would sure appreciate your insight. bsolinsky@kw.com

Brian Solinsky - Keller Williams Realty

Jul 11, 2008 07:18 PM
Deborah Burns ~ Seattle Real Estate Agent
Realty Executives -BRIO - Seattle, WA

Hi Brian, it's probably because there are a lot of ways to calculate (look at) the absorption rate.  The way I have done here is a simple snapshot for June 2008 to compare to June 2007. 

The simplest way, and the way I am doing it here is:

15,831 (active listings for June 208) divided by 2,148 (sold listings for June 2008) = 7.3 months of inventory to sell.

I don't consider the pending figures because, while they have not sold, they are effectively off the market, and not part of the active inventory either.

Hope this helps!

Jul 11, 2008 07:38 PM
Brian Solinsky
Keller Williams Realty - Puyallup, WA

Thank you, Deborah. That is very helpful and pretty simple. Seems to be a good stat to track for the area.

Jul 11, 2008 07:44 PM
Deborah Burns ~ Seattle Real Estate Agent
Realty Executives -BRIO - Seattle, WA

You're welcome Brian!  If you do your figures every month, you will be able to watch for trending absorption rates too.

Jul 11, 2008 07:56 PM
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Better Properties Seattle - Kirkland, WA

I think the fact that there are way more sellers than buyers is an indication that it is a better time to sell that it is to buy.  Especially if you are going to make a change in the next few years.  Waiting until next year is not likely the best move.

Jul 11, 2008 08:21 PM
Deborah Burns ~ Seattle Real Estate Agent
Realty Executives -BRIO - Seattle, WA

Hi ARDELL, I agree if it's a matter of this year or next, it could very likely be that this year is better than next year.  But two, three or four years from now it could be a different story, it depends on how compelling someones' reasons are for selling.  In this case she was just thinking about making a change for change sake alone.  In my opinion staying where she is at and updating her home would give her the changes she was looking for.

Jul 11, 2008 09:26 PM
Charles McDonald®
Charlottesville Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR®, Principal Broker®, Owner

I always think that if you are selling and then buying a new place that it makes no difference. If the market is UP (you will get more and pay more) if DOWN (you will get less and pay less)...

Your friend in Charlottesville!

Jul 12, 2008 12:21 AM
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Better Properties Seattle - Kirkland, WA


If someone must sell within the next 5 years, the prudent advice is sell now.  Once a market tips down, it often lasts 3-5 years and gets worse before it gets better.  This is more true in our area than in other parts of the Country that started their decent in 2005.

Jul 12, 2008 05:58 AM
James Wexler
wexzilla.com - Scottsdale, AZ

depends is the honest and right answer. even if the public thinks it is just 'realtor-speak'

if you need to sell, price it right. If you dont need to sell. be patient, rent it if vacant and wait.

Jul 26, 2008 07:00 PM
Paul Pival
Coldwell Banker Bain - Tacoma, WA
A Realtor with the soul of a professor.

Right on the money (so to speak), Deborah. Bainbridge Island's situation is much like Seattle's, but I think our absorption rate is great because of the number of high-end homes.

"Realtor-speak" is a problem here as well. How do you counter it?

Oct 12, 2008 06:58 AM