Nothing about 2020 is normal, and that includes real estate trends. The housing market typically slows significantly during the holiday season, but that is not the case this year. Buyer interest is strong, sales are up, and prices have followed suit.
A recent report ranked our area as the most competitive real estate market in the country, with 71% of homes selling within two weeks. While the number of new listings in November were up compared to a year ago, there just wasn’t enough inventory to meet the current surge in demand.
In King County there were 37% fewer single-family homes on the market – 1,621 homes this November vs. 2,592 a year ago. Inventory in Snohomish County is even more strained. At the end of the month there were just 416 homes for sale as compared to 1,204 a year ago, a 65% drop. Both counties had about a two week supply of homes at the end of November. A four month supply of inventory is considered balanced. Buyers in the market for a condominium in King County had much more options. Condo inventory was up 39% over last year.
The inventory-starved market sent home prices higher. The median single-family home price in King County was up 10% over a year ago to $730,500. Home prices in Snohomish County rose 14% to $566,000. In a survey of homebuyers looking for a home during Covid-19, 82% said they would go over budget to get their ideal home. Record-low interest rates have helped soften the blow of soaring prices a bit. According to Freddie Mac, rates on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to their lowest level, at 2.71%, for the 14th time this year.
With low inventory and high demand, buyers need to be ready to compete. That means being pre-approved or willing to offer cash, and working with an agent on a plan that includes counter-offers, escalation clauses and other strategies to help win the sale. As many consider working remotely long-term, our home has become more important to us than ever.
The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity. If you are interested in more information, every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market.