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Spring real estate market strong, but questions on the horizon

The spring real estate market in Seattle is traditionally the strongest of the year, and we’re in the middle of it right now. Past data tells us that the period from mid-March to June is when we record the highest sales of that given year.

This year is right on that trend. We’re in a seller’s market, and homes in good condition under $1 million are moving quickly. Homes priced above $2 million are sitting longer on market, especially if they’re not truly turnkey.

But there’s still some uncertainty as to what the rest of the year will bring.

We’re in great shape now

This spring, Seattle is averaging about two to three months of home inventory. In some neighborhoods, like Madison Park, it’s approximately two months. Real estate industry analysts define a neutral market as four to six months of inventory. So the data tells us we’re still in a robust seller’s market.

While we’re strong now, let’s not forget what happened last year. After that huge boom in the spring, the real estate market went completely wonky in August. It was as if someone turned off the light switch. Sales dried up, and everyone panicked.

I attribute that sag, in part, to extreme buyer fatigue. Buyers got beaten down by the pace, the prices and too many failed bids. The other factor is that sellers were still pricing for the spring as if the arrow was still pointing up — and it made for a long and frustrating fall and winter. It takes about six months for consumers to realize the new normal.

The good news is the new normal is positive — our local economy and job growth is the biggest reason.

Learning the lessons

It would be foolish not to consider what happened last year and future-proof your own chances, whether you’re buying, selling, or considering selling. Because activity is high, we could again see the market take a toll on buyers, causing them to sit out for a while later in the year.

If you’re considering selling your home, now is the time to list it to get the most traffic, the best price, and the best terms for you.

I can’t stress enough the importance of finding an experienced broker to put you in a position for success, wherever you are in the market. Many new brokers flooded into the market over the past years, because there was so much business out there. But few of them have the skills, seasoning and connections to get you your best price and terms, whether you’re a buyer or a seller. Look for someone with a history of success, in good markets and bad.

A good negotiator can make or break your chances. If you’re a buyer, you want someone who knows what contingencies to add or drop on an offer, and be able to leverage all that with the seller’s broker to get your best prices and terms.

Negotiating is extremely important to the seller too. In today’s market, properties will see days on market. Instead of several offers you may only see one. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make certain you handle that buyer correctly. Most likely, you’ll have to negotiate the price and terms of the offer. Who you have at the helm of the listing will define your net proceeds once the transaction closes. Having an experienced broker capable of helping you price your home right for the market when you enter is paramount. If you try pricing six months ago or last year and not in the now, the outcome will not favor you.

If the home you want to sell is in that over-$2 million segment, the data says you will likely see 60 to 90 days of market time. Get the experienced broker, but also make sure your home is in the best possible condition to realize your best price in the shortest amount of time.

We can’t know what the next six months will bring, but you can take the right steps to make sure you’re in the best position to buy or sell in the now.

My home, office, team — my focus is here in this neighborhood. If you’d like to set a time to talk through any of these matters involving buying or selling your home, my door is always open.

Chris Sudore is managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain | Global Luxury and a Madison Park resident. Reach him at Chris@KingCountyEstates.com.