Eastside real estate experts share their projections for the coming year.
With low inventory, high demand, and climbing prices, it’s clear the Puget Sound’s housing market is hot. In September, the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index reported Seattle home prices were up 13.5 percent year over year, more than double the national average and the highest increase in the country. On the Eastside, prices also continue to rise. In November, for example, Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported the median home price on the Eastside was $745,000, an increase of 14.62 percent over the previous year.
As job growth continues to draw more people to the area, local experts say they see no signs of the market slowing. In fact, the heightened activity is something J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, is calling a frenzy.
“On the Eastside, there’s high sales activity intensity for new listings,” Scott said. “What that means is, when new listings come on the market they’re getting quick action, and an extremely high percentage of them are selling in that first week or within those first 30 days that they’re on the market.” For buyers, Scott said he expects to see a continuation of our region’s highly competitive, multiple offer market, with the highest activity heading into the spring.
Due to the speed and velocity of the market, Rick Costello, principal managing broker with Coldwell Banker Bain in Redmond, said buyers are willing to do just about anything if it means getting their hands on a home. Costello said it’s common to see buyers do things like waive contingencies or buy as-is if it will make their offer more attractive to the seller. “It’s not just a trend,” Costello said. “It’s a necessity, because of price point.” In Redmond in November, Costello said average home prices hovered around the $850,000 range, and new construction — which always is in high demand — started around $1 million.
With prices on the rise and home values appreciating significantly year over year, brokers anticipate heightened activity for the Eastside’s luxury market in 2018.
“The one thing I am extremely bullish on for 2018 is the continued strength of the upper end luxury segment of the market,” said Thadine Bak, principal managing broker for Coldwell Banker Bain in Bellevue. “So much so that we are going to be opening up a new office in Lincoln Square, and it is going to be part of the strategy of Coldwell Banker Bain to really dominate and focus on the luxury market in the Pacific Northwest.”
In October on the Eastside, Scott said 22 percent of sales activity was above $1 million, compared to 14 percent in Seattle.
“If you look at the stats in that segment of the upper end,” Bak added, “we had a 40 percent increase in (luxury) units over last year, and a 43 percent increase in total sales volume. That’s significant.”
Brokers said those wanting more bang for their buck will have to look further out from the job centers, where housing is slightly more affordable. Bak said popular communities that she anticipates will gain more momentum in 2018 include Snoqualmie Ridge and the Issaquah Highlands, and Costello said he expects cities like Bothell and Renton also to see more buyers in the new year, due not only to affordability, but other factors like new construction and good schools.
With the market positioned to continue favoring sellers in 2018, local real estate brokers said it will be imperative that buyers not only get pre-approval before making an offer, but that they’re fully underwritten as well.
“When you have a buyer who is not just pre-approved but fully underwritten, it just takes it to a whole higher level, that you can then compete with the all-cash offers,” Scott said.
“I think that there’s still going to be great opportunities for buyers if they’re really smart and well prepared,” Bak added. “I’m hoping our sellers will see good reasons to list their homes and help move our marketplace along. It’s going to be interesting.”