Written by Neda Perrina, Broker, RSIR
After seemingly endless months of the same news in Seattle’s real estate market — touting record-breaking price growth, historically low inventory, and a stiffly competitive climate — many local news outlets would have you think that in 2019 our real estate market is near disaster.
The latest headlines proclaim that the Emerald City is now home to a frigid housing market with dramatic declines in home prices. What these articles fail to point out, however, is that to compare price trends in the first few months of the calendar year to those seen in the spring season is like comparing apples to oranges.
Historically, the first quarter of the year in Seattle marks the slowest sales period, as buyers and sellers recover from the busy holidays and work on setting their real estate goals for the coming year. In contrast, spring marks one of the busiest real estate sales seasons, as the weather moderates and winter plans are put into action. Looking at rolling 12-month data in Central Seattle/Madison Park, the months of May, June, July and August saw median sales prices well above the $1 million mark, while the typically slower first quarter garnered a median sales price well below that, at $933,000. With this in mind, let’s dive into how our local market fared in the first month of 2019, and what to expect in the months ahead.
If we isolate median sales prices for January, we see that home values appreciated on a year-over-year basis, growing 6.6 percent, from $919,000 in January 2018 to $980,000 in January 2019. In line with these trends, the average price per square foot also increased, settling at an average of $538 per square foot.
Signs of a slightly more balanced market (in contrast to the frenetic conditions of 2017 and 2018) may be found in the number of homes available for sale and the average cumulative days on market, both of which increased on an annual basis. There were just 48 homes on the market in January 2018, while this year there were 102 homes. More options mean buyers are taking their time in making a purchase, contributing to slightly longer market times of just over a month (compared to 22 in the year prior).
Though we are still decidedly in a seller’s market, 2019 continues to provide more options for buyers than there have been in the recent past. As of this writing, there are three condominiums for sale in Madison Park, priced from $425,000 to $649,950, and seven single-family homes, ranging in price from $1,188,000 to $5,450,000. Madison Park remains one of the most coveted communities in the region; this, paired with strong market fundamentals and sustained growth projections, indicate that we can expect sales activity to spike over the next few months, as we say goodbye to winter and welcome the spring. If you are considering making your move this year, now could be your time.