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Built by Blue Sound Construction, designed by MaKe Design, photos by Alex Hayden

Sure is Hot Out There. So Why’s the Market Cooling Down?

Posted on Aug 7, 2018 in:
  • Industry News

King County home prices hit their lowest point for July since 2012

Is that faint rumbling we hear in the distance carryover from Seafair Weekend and its barrage of air and sea entertainment? Or could it be that ever-elusive housing bubble finally popping and coming back down to normal levels of absurdity?

After all, even the Blue Angels have left town.

Maybe they saw the inevitable spin back down to earth. Or perhaps we’re all just blowing this housing cooldown out of proportion. Whatever stance you take, one thing’s certain: the Seattle-area real estate market has fallen to its lowest point in four years, shedding a crevice of light for homebuyers and inducing a fleeting shock of panic for owners sitting on their plots of gold-laden land.

The number of homes for sale throughout King County rose a staggering 48 percent in July as compared to a year ago, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which means inventory now exceeds 2015 levels. The 48 percent jump is the biggest we’ve seen in a decade and is mostly due to homes that have been waiting patiently for owners on the market. All signs point to a noteworthy dip in demand, as July home sales reached their lowest prince since July of 2012, when the market was at a low point.

How big was the decrease? King County’s July median home price of $699,000 is down $27,000 from the record highs we saw earlier this year. Last year, July was the most expensive month of the year.

In Seattle, home prices were down $25,000, making the median $805,000. Eastside prices also saw a dip, falling $30,000 in just a month to a median price of $947,000. Snohomish County, not one to be left out, also saw an increase in active listings, up almost 16 percent from this time last year.

Have we finally hit the ceiling? If we have, it’s not just regional; the national trend at the moment is one of a long-awaited inventory uptick just as hotspots like Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Austin are finally cooling off—metaphorically, of course (enjoy 90 degrees this week). Seattle is unique in the fact that its home sales saw the second-biggest jump in the country, according to info gathered from realtor.com, right on the heels of our neighbors down south in Silicon Valley.

Why is this happening?

Those in the know point to stabilized rents, high mortgage rates, slightly less frenetic population and job growth, and waning interest from Chinese buyers.

Many are already shouting, “I told you so!” at the top of their lungs but, as always, time will tell if we’ll continue this down-surge or if we’re all just suffering from a curable case of “buyer fatigue.” In the meantime, inventory levels are still an issue; while King County has doubled its March inventory, we’re still significantly below a healthy four-to-five months of inventory, according to Robert Wassa of the Northwest MLS board of directors. And people still need a place to live in some capacity.

We’ll be hearing a lot more about our region’s housing trends, whichever way they end up going, in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned.



Originally reported by Mike Rosenberg in the Seattle Times, “More Seattle-area home sellers lower list prices as market cools way down,” August 6

Data gathered from realtor.com and the Northwest Multiple Listing Service

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Photo courtesy Blue Sound Construction, builder; MaKe Design, architect; and Alex Hayden, photographer