The 2019 real estate market in Seattle ended up looking a lot like the 2018 market, and it’s a good predictor of what we’ll see in the year ahead. We closed out last year with a bang — a ferocious fall filled with busy buyers after a lazy summer. In fact, the summer, which had data trends as a natural to buyer’s market, trended back to a seller’s market in September and October.
All indications are we’re heading into a similarly hot spring market this year. Just like last year and the year before.
Lessons from 2019
Last year, the spring season was delayed by a major snowstorm that dampened buyer activity. Once the flakes melted away, however, the market got really hot. We saw properties receive multiple offers, buyers started waiving contingencies again, and final sales settled above the asking prices, all done in days.
Then we went from that strong market in the spring to an almost dead stop as soon as school let out in June. From June to September, I counseled my sellers to be patient. Not much was happening for anyone. As we’d seen in 2018, while the summer was quiet, sales picked up in the fall. I knew the trend was coming. I saw what happened the year prior and continued to advise my seller’s that there was light at the end of the tunnel as soon as summer activities wrapped up. And right on time, as soon as people were back from vacations and got back into their routines, all of those listings sold quickly.
The 2019 fall/winter season was my busiest fourth quarter — ever.
What to expect this year
Barring a similar late-winter weather event, we’re looking for an early start to another busy season. Interest rates are still low for mortgages, consumer spending is strong and steady, and there are no signs of a recession in the near term.
If you’re selling this year, and you want to sell quickly, get your home on the market early in the year. If the past two years are telling us anything, it’s that sales will lag during the summer months. When you put your home on the market, you’ll increase your chances for your best outcome by working with an experienced, data-driven broker that can advise you on pricing and timing for your particular situation. Price your house for the now, not last year or two years ago.
On the other side of the coin, buyers should be ready to move quickly. Have your financing set up in advance, and find an experienced broker who can succeed in this market. You want someone who understands what contingencies to drop or add on your particular offer, and who can negotiate with the seller’s broker to get your best prices and terms.
There’s been some discussion that the new tiered excise tax that took effect on Jan. 1 will cool sales in homes selling for $1.5 million and above. While it’s certainly been a discussion point for those sellers, I personally haven’t seen it be a real factor. My team has several multi-million-dollar homes preparing for the spring market. Those buyers and sellers have the same needs as anyone who wants to move — they want a larger home, to move to a neighborhood with better schools, or to have a shorter commute to work.
That saying that real estate is about location, location, location is true. My home, my office and my team is focused here in Madison Park. If you’d like to set a time to talk through any matters involving buying or selling your home, my door is always open.
We wish you and your family a prosperous new year in 2020.
Chris Sudore is a Madison Park resident and managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain|Global Luxury. He can be reached at Chris(at)KingCountyEstates(dotted)com.