Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, answers the most pressing question on everyone’s minds: Will there be a recession in 2020? Here’s what he expects to see.
I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season and were able to take a break from work for a few days to relax and re-group! Now, let’s jump right in and look at a summary of the homes sold on Queen Anne for 2019. This data comes from the NWMLS and does not include condominiums or multi-family dwellings and contains only single family homes on the Hill that sold in 2019.
In looking at the data above, the first thing you will notice is that statistically there was no average appreciation during 2019 from 2018. I am flabbergasted at that number because I know many homes did appreciate last year. I know my raw data from the NWMLS is correct and complete. One factor in this lower average appreciation number is there were 65 homes that sold for less than $1M which is 28% of the total annual sales; a number larger than most previous years. This larger percentage has worked to counteract any increase in the average sold price of all homes sold. It is related to the significant number of price reductions homes have had this year before going into escrow. Another indicator is to look at the median sold prices between the two years. The median, as you probably know, is the price that an equal number of homes on the Hill sold for above and below that $1.265M median. This number does indicate a small gain of about 1% in price over last year. Please see attachment for all of the 234 homes that sold on the Hill last year with the details of each. (The computations have been made by the MLS computer so no chance of mathematical error on my part if you happen to be wondering that!)
At present, we have only 5 active homes listed for sale on the Hill. This number will be increasing over the next three months as we approach spring and prices begin to rise once again with increasing demand. BTW, the grand prize for the home that sold for most over list price in 2019 goes to 2120 2nd Avenue West, a fixer on a large lot in a wonderful location listed at $1M and sold for $1.250M. Last year, 45 homes sold for more than list price although many of them sold for just slightly more. With a strong local and national economy, I am confident we will see more appreciation in prices this year. Also, the state excise tax on the sale of a home has actually gone down for homes at $1.5M or less. Over $1.5M it has doubled. “A man’s money is never safe when the legislature is in session”-Mark Twain.
And that’s the way Steve sees it… Don’t forget to have a little fun every day.
Each year Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, forecasts into the next. Here’s what he expects for Mortgage Rates in 2020.
First off, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family!
Now let’s leap into what has happened on the Hill since my last report:
Sales during the Holidays and into January usually slow, but this year, at least in November, sales in King County are up 7% over this time last year according to the NWMLS. This is surprising news and confirms what my colleagues and I have been observing in our local market. In Ballard, Wallingford, Fremont, Crown Hill and most of the other near north end neighborhoods with average prices under $1Million, the competition among buyers is fierce. A very nice Craftsman bungalow in Wallingford that I looked at for a buyer last month had 8 offers on it listed at $985,000! Another home in Magnolia priced at $1.05M has had 8 pre-inspections before they are looking at offers. Much of what is causing this is traditional low inventory this time of year and amazingly low interest rates both which I expect to continue into the spring market. In looking at the data, it seems that homes listed over $1.2M are not experiencing this sales rapidity but are selling with an average on market of around 54 days. Currently, we have 16 active listings for sale on the Hill and the average sold price has been consistently right around $1.2M for a 2500 square foot home. Average price/square foot for the last 30 days has risen slightly to $525.00 November 2019 QA Pendings and solds for more details. Also, below is the 2020 real estate projection from Windermere’s economist Matthew Gardener. I encourage you to view his 4 minute video.
Finally, the home on the Hill that sold for most over list price was 3017 10thAvenue West, listed for $875,000 and sold for $913,700. Certainly not the overage we were used to seeing in the recent fast markets, but it was a major fixer in a Queen Anne Park and had been in very rough shape for years, so I am sure the neighbors are thrilled!
And that’s the way Steve sees it…
Have a magical Holiday season!
Are you being besieged by offers to purchase your home? I must get 4-6 postcards and letters a month to do just that. It makes me wonder if a national seminar rolled through the NW teaching people how-to low-ball owners on the value of their homes and then try to re-sell them for a profit. Speaking of that, I was on the Zillow site yesterday looking at a Zestimate of a home and noticed that Zillow is now buying homes and re-selling them! Though not in Washington yet, they are in 26 US markets. As a test, I called them on a rental home I have in Palm Springs to get an offer to purchase. That is in progress and I will let you know how that turns out in my next newsletter. I suspect their model is to purchase homes below market, add a fee due from the seller and then attempt to re-sell them in a very short time frame. One of the appeals, of course, is that there are no realtor commissions and no bank loans. The huge downside in all of this for the owner is that the home is not presented to the market at large and therefore, the owner runs the risk of selling it for less, or far less, than its real market value. I think we all agree that “Zestimates” are not exactly reliable estimates of your home’s value so why should rely on Zillow to give you a reasonable offer? I have always maintained that an experienced real estate agent is well worth the commissions paid in getting you the highest, feasible price on your home through the extensive exposure the agent can garner. Time after time, I have seen that even after commissions are paid, the seller still has a higher net than selling without testing the market place.
As far as the Queen Anne market goes now, 80% of the homes listed since my last report have gone into escrow or have closed. That is very respectable number. 36% of those sold homes had to reduce their original list price to get into escrow, so list prices generally have been declining. BTW, the home that sold for most over list price was 506 Galer, listed for $989,000 and sold for $1,030,000, not much of a difference and reflects the fact that on the Hill, prices are not being run up over list like they once were. Of course, one reason for that is that most of the homes on the Hill are listed for over $1M. Homes priced for less in other neighborhoods are still seeing more activity. Please see the attachment for the data for the last 30 days on the Hill.
Finally, for the last 20 years, I have spent the winter months from November until March in Palm Springs where I have a home. I have had a California real estate license for over 12 years, but have not affiliated with a brokerage until now. I am happy to tell you that I will be selling homes there this winter and if you, or someone you know, would like to purchase a home there and get out of the grey, wet winter weather, please let me know. Prices are much lower than Seattle BTW. Same phone number and email address as always. In March, I will return to Seattle to once again be listing and selling homes on the Hill. I am always available during the winter months to assist you and have a realtor partner in Seattle, so don’t hesitate to call. And that’s the way Steve sees it.
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please contact me!
Washington State employment jumped back up to an annual growth rate of 2.4% following a disappointing slowdown earlier in the spring. As stated in the first quarter Gardner Report, the dismal numbers earlier this year were a function of the state re-benchmarking its data (which they do annually).
The state unemployment rate was 4.7%, marginally up from 4.5% a year ago. My current economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.6%, with a total of 87,500 new jobs created.
- There were 22,281 home sales during the second quarter of 2019, representing a drop of 4.8% from the same period in 2018. On a more positive note, sales jumped 67.6% compared to the first quarter of this year.
- Since the middle of last year, there has been a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale, which is likely the reason sales have slowed. More choice means buyers can be more selective and take their time when choosing a home to buy.
- Compared to the second quarter of 2018, there were fewer sales in all counties except Whatcom and Lewis. The greatest declines were in Clallam, San Juan, and Jefferson counties.
- Listings rose 19% compared to the second quarter of 2018, but there are still a number of very tight markets where inventory levels are lower than a year ago. Generally, these are the smaller — and more affordable — markets, which suggests that affordability remains an issue.
- Year-over-year price growth in Western Washington continues to taper. The average home price during second quarter was $540,781, which is 2.8% higher than a year ago. When compared to first quarter of this year, prices were up 12%.
- Home prices were higher in every county except King, which is unsurprising given the cost of homes in that area. Even though King County is home to the majority of jobs in the region, housing is out of reach for many and I anticipate that this will continue to act as a drag on price growth.
- When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Lewis County, where home prices were up 15.9%. Double-digit price increases were also seen in Mason, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, and Skagit counties.
- The region’s economy remains robust, which should be a positive influence on price growth. That said, affordability issues are pervasive and will act as a headwind through the balance of the year, especially in those markets that are close to job centers. This will likely force some buyers to look further afield when searching for a new home.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home matched the second quarter of 2018.
- Snohomish County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 21 days to sell. There were five counties where the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in eight counties and two were unchanged.
- Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of 2019. This was the same as a year ago but is down 20 days compared to the first quarter of 2019.
- As stated above, days-on-market dropped as we moved through the spring, but all markets are not equal. I suggest that this is not too much of an issue and that well-priced homes will continue to attract attention and sell fairly rapidly.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am leaving the needle in the same position as the first quarter as demand appears to still be strong.
The market has benefitted from a fairly significant drop in mortgage rates. With average 30-year fixed rates still below 4%, I expect buyers who have been sitting on the fence will become more active, especially given that they have more homes to choose from.
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.