Here we are, already almost halfway through the first month of 2019, but that’s not to say, we’ve forgotten 2018. This week, we consider all that happened in 2018 and the world of real estate. We take the time to look at the year in review and at the trends for Seattle real estate. To get an insider look, we touched base with Seattle Real Estate Broker Heidi Ward to discuss the trends of the 2018 market and ask about her 2019 predictions.
360Modern: Was there anything that stood out to you about the 2018 year in terms of buying or selling?
Heidi: 2018 was a wild ride!
The early spring market was just utter insanity, with the vast majority of homes receiving multiple offers, and selling for substantially over asking price. Buyers conducting pre-inspections, so as to waive the inspection contingency (along with every other contingency they could think to waive… anything to make their offer as competitive as possible.) It was so much the norm, that pricing guidance became tricky. Because buyers expected to compete, and for the ultimate price to end up well above the list price, it was critical to position new listings into the marketplace accordingly. This created a lot of anxiety for sellers, as they often were faced with listing their homes for less than what they wanted to sell for, in order to let the market ‘drive’ the price up. Throughout February and March, and into April, this was the norm.
“Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Seattle reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities. In August, Las Vegas led the way with a 13.9% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Francisco with a 10.6% increase and Seattle with a 9.6% increase.” — S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, October 30, 2018
And then the Head Tax conversation hit the news, right around the same time that many buyers had just burned out on the craziness, and started backing away from the market. May onward felt a bit like someone turned the lights out, and sellers and brokers once again struggled with pricing strategy, but for a different reason.
360Modern: Do you see any neighborhoods, in particular, being extra hot for selling or buying in 2019?
Heidi: I noticed last year that neighborhoods such as Green Lake, Wallingford (Tangletown!), Phinney, and Fremont were really hot. Particularly for cute, updated homes in the $900k-$1.6ish price range. Magnolia continues to trend up, with its small-town sensibility yet stellar commute to various tech jobs
“…A superior measure of whether home prices are still rising is to compare them year-over-year by the quarter or the month. For residential and condominium prices combined, August median prices in the Seattle MSA rose by 10.1 percent from 2016 to 2017, and by 6.7 percent from 2017 to 2018. This was the last month factored by the Case Shiller Index. In September, the equivalent prices in the region rose by 12.8 percent from 2016 to 2017, and by 5.4 percent from 2017 to 2018. For the city of Seattle itself, the year-over-year median price increase rose from August to September: from 2017 to 2018, August prices were up by 3.3 percent, while September prices were 12.5 percent higher than those a year ago.” — William Hillis, Research Editor & Publisher, RSIR
360Modern: Do you see there being higher inventory, about the same, or lower inventory in 2019?
Heidi: We have higher inventory levels than we did this time last year, although I did see a fair bit of ‘stale’ inventory getting snatched up over the past month. This is a good sign, as it indicates buyers poking their heads back into the market, in the hope of snatching a ‘deal’ before the spring market takes off.
360Modern: If someone is looking to sell their home in 2019, when do you recommend they start getting it prepared to be listed? When is likely an ideal time to list a home in 2019?
Heidi: I have a few sellers queuing up for spring listings, and we began the conversation last fall! If someone is pondering selling at any point in 2019, they should begin the process as soon as possible. I prefer to consult with sellers as early in the game as possible. I often find there is a disparity between what homeowners think they should do to get their homes’ market ready, and what they really ought to be doing. I have a saying that I’m very stingy with my clients’ money. I try to think very strategically on a home-by-home basis to help guide sellers as to what will make the greatest impact on their NET sales price. Every situation is different. As for the ‘ideal’ time to list… It’s so hard to predict the perfect moment, as markets shift constantly. That said, early spring is a very reliably brisk time to hit the market.
360Modern: If someone is looking to purchase a home in 2019, is there a time of year that will be the best for them to find their home?
Heidi: Right NOW!!! Seriously… we’re starting to see inventory trickling onto the market, and there is still the potential to write an offer on a home that perhaps has been on market for a bit.
360Modern: Anything else you’d like to mention about the 2018 or the 2019 Seattle housing market?
Heidi: First, when we look at how ‘soft’ the second half of our 2018 market was compared to the first, we need to take a moment to really think about what was happening this time last year. It was a perfect storm of record low inventory levels, combined with a buyer frenzy that had been building for the past couple of years, that reached a crescendo in February/March/April. My guess is this spring will feel more like a ‘typical’ spring, in that the market will feel more bullish than it did the last several months. But we can’t compare it to what was going on last spring.
Still, I believe that in the consistently-sought-after neighborhoods, if a home comes on market properly prepared, and priced appropriately (say THAT ten times fast!) it should sell quickly, and potentially with a few competing offers driving the price up a bit. The critical element here is going to be sellers being very strategic in their pricing to ensure that buyers perceive a sense of urgency. Overall, I think things will feel more balanced than last spring, and that’s a good thing. Happy New Year!
Heidi Ward is a ten-year winner of Seattle Magazine’s “Best in Satisfaction” Survey of Real Estate Agents, and an eighteen–year veteran of Pacific Northwest real estate, Heidi Ward’s passion, drive, and empathy—combined with an astute understanding of the constantly changing greater-Seattle real estate market and the process of negotiation—has proven to be a winning combination.
Though she assists with the buying and selling of properties of all types, Heidi’s appreciation for all things modern and luxury is a personal passion that can be traced back to her hip grandmother’s home in Southern Oregon, which was filled with Danish Modern furnishings and modern art. She considers herself “incredibly fortunate” to have realized the opportunity to combine her love for modern architecture and background in sales and marketing into a fulfilling and successful real estate career.
A Seattle resident since 1990, Heidi has been a full-time broker since 2000. Having sold many styles of homes in various Seattle neighborhoods over the years, Heidi understands the uniqueness of these Seattle enclaves, as well as the nuances of buying and selling in Seattle’s current market.