Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty Proclaims “Unprecedented Buyers’ Opportunity” and Arrays Progressive Open House Event to Launch Spring Sales Season with ‘Paint the Town Blue’ on March 25
Buyers and brokers across the Puget Sound Region are currently enjoying sharper listing prices and greater negotiation amid decreased competition but experts say mortgage rate hikes will reverse course prompting more buyers ahead
Leading brokerage firm Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty (RSIR) has announced their campaign to “Paint the Town Blue” with open house signs Saturday, March 25, as global real estate advisors across Western Washington will hold open houses featuring Sotheby’s signature blue on their signs. All open houses will be promoted online by the brokerage, with the goal of aligning qualified buyers with their dream homes to kick off the spring sales season.
As 2022 came to a close, housing inventory dwindled, along with buyer demand setting up for what’s been considered the chilliest winter season housing market since the Great Recession. The local housing market was coming off one of the hottest and most competitive periods in recent memory in a pandemic-era sales surge, but by mid-2022 buyers faced rising interest rate hikes, and other economic turbulence, causing their noted absence from the market, until now.
In January, a combination of more inventory, along with listing prices that better reflected current market conditions, prompted more activity. So begins the traditional “spring selling season” in real estate. Many sellers and their real estate advisors have been preparing homes to list during this optimal time of year, and they are pricing their homes to move, with the goal of not letting their listing linger on the market. In an alternative strategy, less motivated sellers have opted to rent their properties, awaiting perceived higher prices ahead.
“Home prices and stocks have likely bottomed,” says RSIR President and CEO Dean Jones. “Investors and economists have already factored in the uncertainties, rising mortgage rates, high inflation, and political turmoil. There are signs of a strong rebound in our historically, ‘first-in-first-out’ Puget Sound economy. This is the window of opportunity for buyers to make a move—the housing market is rebounding faster than the headlines can keep up with.”
The brokerage released Why This Could Be the Best Homebuyer Season in a Decade, to emphasize these findings. The observation comes just a day after the Fed raised the bank rate by another quarter point on March 22, 2023, the ninth and perhaps last one or two such rate hike in this cycle, according to RSIR pundits, adding “It’s just another signal that perhaps the worst is now behind us, and buyers will regenerate the market,” said Jones.
Jones timed his comments with his attendance of a UBS Wealth Management roundtable event hosted in Bellevue on March 22, 2023. Keynote presentations by UBS’ Jonathan Woloshin CIO Equity Strategist, U.S. Real Estate & Lodging published a report on “How might commercial real estate be impacted by recent banking challenge in the U.S.?”, with comments also by AJ Agarwal from Blackstone, the world’s largest private owner of real estate. Among the most pivotal findings were that residential real estate is going to thrive, because of the credit crunch imposed by tightening underwriting with banks, and inflation faced by developers means even less new supply in a market already suffering from anemic inventory. The challenge stems from the growing differential between demand growth and supply growth ahead, as market pundits predict the Consumer Price Index will be around 3% and mortgage interest rates will be around 5% by December 2023. In a direct question to Agarwal about what’s the best bet for investment in the Seattle/Bellevue metro area across all asset classes and he responded immediately, “buy single-family homes in preferred school districts”, citing the expanding demographics and approaching baby boom of young, affluent families on the rise, and the inherent challenge of delivering new product in these closely held municipalities. Currently, more than half of Seattle’s population is renting, but as capital gains in real estate are rising and mortgage rates are falling, a great migration to ownership is likely.
In the above graph displaying February 2019 through February of 2023, King County single-family and condominium active, pending, and sold homes display the anomaly of the “Stay-Home” decree on March 23, and delayed the normal “Spring Sales Surge”, instead creating a “Summer Sales Surge” in that year. Mortgage rates doubling in the first half of 2022 had a far greater and more sustained impact on housing than the pandemic did. Now it appears that listings are getting priced for the market now, as well as the return of buyers. Jones anticipates a similar trend in 2023 as that of 2020, where the spring and summer sales surge will combine for an extended sales season, leading to more buyer opportunities for those that act in the short term, but more competition and higher prices for those that wait.
RSIR also recently released their 2023 Forecast Report, which among other observations, confirmed that the Puget Sound Region is already 50,000 housing units shy of meeting demand and will need another million homes to meet the updated budget estimates outlined by Inslee and demand anticipated the Puget Sound Regional Council by 2050.
In Seattle, the cherry blossoms are about to burst into their seasonal debut on the University of Washington quad, as well as across the city, lining city streets with bursts of pink and white and welcoming a new season of opportunity. Likewise, buyers are about to burst on the scene to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to avoid the fear of missing out once the media confirms the bottom had already passed.