Today’s a busy real estate day. Since the restrictions on real estate activity loosened in June, every day has been like this. All of the bottled up business with no traditional spring market surged and shifted to June, July and August. We mentioned this was probable earlier in the year.
As I write this piece, I’m fielding offers on a $1.5 million listing. We’ve received eight competing offers with escalation clauses driving the price up substantially. This segment of the market — $1.5 million and below, in good condition, in our target neighborhoods — is hot. There’s a lot of bridge-hopping going on this summer; as people seek more space inside and out, the areas across the lake (the Eastside) are popping too. But as soon as someone lists a house in our neighborhood (assuming it’s dialed-in and priced right), it sells.
The new normal
COVID-19 blew up the traditionally strong spring market. At the beginning of 2020, analysts predicted this spring’s real estate market would surpass the last boom year of 2017. As you know, that didn’t happen. But as people adjusted to the stress levels, and the restrictions on life and business eased, June sales took off. They continued through July and August, usually quieter times due to vacations and a general embrace of summer activities.
With the future unpredictable, the main drivers of people wanting to move are the desire for larger lots, more room in the home itself to accommodate remote work and schooling, as well as a realization that distance work and school will continue for some time.
The protests and political unrest have taken a toll on the Capital Hill district, with many people looking to get out to more stable areas with more room to live. We’re seeing those that were renting, apartment dwellers and condo owners responding to being cooped up and pulling the trigger on home purchases in more residential areas.
The new market
Without the worry of commuting time and getting kids to school, living farther away from the downtown area is more appealing. That could mean a more spacious property for their primary home or branching out and buying a second or third home. My team has spread out all over, crossing over to Bellevue and deep into areas throughout the Eastside, as well as showing and selling homes on Bainbridge, Vashon and throughout the San Juan chain.
As a Seattle native, I’m in the minority. Transplants far outnumber those of us who grew up here and stayed. That gives me a real advantage and is a valuable resource for those looking to buy or sell throughout the area. My local knowledge comes in handy — I just met with listing clients who want to move farther out from the city but don’t know where to go. With a few questions about what they want from a new location, I named three neighborhoods that will suit them perfectly. I also know what that local market is like, so we can get searching right away.
What to know now
If you’re looking to sell your home, act now. Barring anything unforeseen, we’ll likely see an active market through October. The coming of cooler, rainy weather will chill the real estate market as well. Sellers and buyers will hunker down again as the holiday season approaches. While that happens in a typical year, the threat of flu or COVID outbreaks will reinforce it this year.
If you’re looking to buy, be prepared to move fast and for bidding wars, price escalations and waived contingencies. There are buyers out in the market who sold their homes in January, February and early March who need to move and have ready cash to put on the table. So if you’re financing, get all the documentation and be prepared to be scrappy.
If you’re looking for a second or third home to go to wait things out in more isolation or with more room, I can help — even if it’s another state. I’m currently working with a longtime client on a purchase in Idaho. Although I’m not licensed there, I have a vast network of top-producing brokers across the country. I’ve vetted licensed brokers in those areas to partner with for the negotiations to get my (now our) client exactly the right property. I’ll be doing something similar for another client who’s selling a spread in Rancho Santa Fe, California, vetting and interviewing local brokers.
In the time I’ve written this, I’ve received three more offers on that $1.5 million property, one all-cash, no contingencies and for a significant amount (11 percent) over the asking price. Things are hot, and if a sale or purchase is in your future, now’s the time to act.
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. Stay safe, stay healthy, and let’s stay together and work through this.