As we look toward the end of a year in which everything, even our most cherished holiday traditions, has been turned on its head, there are reasons to be hopeful. This year has taught us some great lessons about being resilient and able to adapt to big changes.
That’s also true when we’re talking about real estate, especially in our Seattle neighborhoods like Madison Park, Madison Valley, Washington Park, Denny Blaine, Broadmoor, Leschi and Madrona. Though we were shut down totally during the traditional spring market this year, buyers, sellers and brokers adapted to the new normal quickly.
Though we’re in a lockdown again, it’s not as restrictive as what we went through last spring. We’re still doing business. Despite the uncertainty with the virus, buyers and sellers are still willing to conduct business if the terms are right.
What we’ve learned
This year had been predicted to set records for real estate activity. Then the pandemic caused lockdowns throughout the spring. In 2020, the traditional market cycle shifted. All the shut-down activity in the early part of the year exploded as we all learned to navigate the new normal.
As we were able to return to real estate activities with restrictions in June, the traditionally slower months of July and August bustled with showings, offers, negotiations and closings. We recorded a record number of transactions last summer. Fall continued the trend, making for a busy September, October and November. In fact, I put a $4 million home into escrow three days after the November restrictions were announced.
Though many sellers are sitting out this holiday season, that’s not unusual. Every year, activity slows down as people want to relax, celebrate and concentrate on friends and family. The presidential election also spurred sellers to take their homes off the market or delay selling until next spring.
Though it’s difficult to predict anything with complete accuracy, next year will be better. I expect things to remain quiet through January. Then, after the inauguration, as COVID-19 vaccines get a timetable for distribution, and the dust settles on a difficult year, it’s reasonable to assume we’ll see a return to a more typically strong spring selling season.
From my own perspective, my team and I continue to be busy. I made more appointments for November and December to meet with sellers than I ever have before. Other experienced brokers say the same. Taken all together, there are a significant number of new listings in the pipeline.
Buyers and sellers adapted to the last shutdown. And, unlike last spring, we are still able to conduct business. There are limits — on how many people can see a property and by having to make appointments to show houses, and open houses are prohibited. But the industry has adapted, and there’s activity even now.
What to do now
For the real estate market, this month is a time to reboot and reset. To prepare for 2021. If you’re going to list your home for sale, this is the time for painting (weather permitted), repairing and getting your place in turnkey condition. Interview brokers, and work with your choice to get a plan together to come to market in a strong position.
If you’re buying, get your financing in place if you need it. Interest rates for mortgages are crazy low, so get yourself approved with proper documentation available. If you’re looking at a cash purchase, make sure your funds are fully available by the time January rolls around. Get yourself in a mindset of being tough, nimble and able to move quickly. Find a broker with experience in the kind of fast-paced market we anticipate. Depending upon your price point, you’ll need a strong partner to negotiate through multiple offers, escalation clauses and how to navigate contingencies.
As for everything not related to real estate, take care of yourself and your family and friends. It’s been a hard and stressful year, with political unrest, uncertainty and a resurgent pandemic. It would be easy to be overwhelmed.
I’m trying to look on the bright side, and I encourage you to as well. Try to see this disjointed holiday season in terms of what we can have, rather than what we can’t. Being cozy at home rather than cooped up. Hunkering down to celebrate the season in a smaller, but no less significant way.
As always, 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. From all of us at King County Estates, we want to thank our devoted clients, families and community for the tremendous support during this time. I wish you and yours a happy holiday season. Stay smart, stay safe and stay healthy. Next year will bring new hope and a return to a more normal life, and we’ll enjoy it together.