Halloween has passed and we are looking forward to Thanksgiving, holidays, and New Year celebrations. This year has been a busy one for the real estate market in Seattle, if not quite as booming as 2018. We took the time to speak with real estate broker Heidi Ward, who specializes in assisting her clients with buying and selling modern and luxury homes throughout Seattle. During our talk, she shed some light on this past season as well as let us in on her thoughts on how the real estate market will be impacted by the upcoming holiday season.
360Modern: What is the current state of the market and where are we going?
Heidi Ward: Seattle’s current real estate market is—in a word—unpredictable. Buyers remain cautiously engaged and will act quickly and decisively (even competing) if they feel compelled. Yet they are just as likely to take a quick look and move on. Hence this dichotomy of houses either selling quickly or spending time on the market. Expert guidance on pricing is absolutely essential! I have a proven track record of guiding sellers toward success in ANY market. If you’re thinking of listing in the spring, NOW is the time to schedule that first meeting.
360modern: Was there anything that stood out to you about the 2019 Fall housing market? What about the year so far, overall?
HW: The fall market continued with the trend of things feeling skittish and unpredictable. Buyers continued to poke around, but with a price-sensitive cautious edge to their demeanor. And yet, there were many multiple offer situations all over the city at all price points, and they continue still.
360modern: Were there any neighborhoods that grew in popularity throughout 2019? Do you see this continuing?
HW: Neighborhoods which represent a commute of 30 minutes or less to South Lake Union, Fremont, or Downtown remain in demand, with a continued trend of Bainbridge becoming a bona-fide bedroom community to Seattle due to the ease of walking onto the ferry and using rideshare from there.
360modern: We keep hearing about the housing market in Seattle cooling a bit, is this the case or is it dependent on which price range of home you’re looking at? Are you seeing that housing prices are plateauing as some reports are stating?
HW: Actually, the fall 2019 market has been stronger than the fall 2018 market. Buyers started re-engaging this summer, but inventory levels aren’t anywhere close to meeting demand. The critical key here is pricing. Overall this year has been softer than 2018, but in many cases lengthy days on market (which contributes to a sense of the market being “soft”) can be attributed more to inappropriately high pricing more than changed buyer behavior.
In addition, I would argue that the Seattle market needed to “cool” a bit after the craziness of the early spring 2018 market. This market feels more balanced to me. Buyers can take advantage of listings that have been sitting on the market for a bit due to inappropriately high initial pricing; and yet sellers can still leverage buyer demand and FOMO to illicit a bidding war if they play their cards right. In fact, four of my most recent listings sold within a week with multiple offers and for well over list price.
360modern: We’re coming up on the holidays. What do you recommend for people looking to buy or sell at this time of year?
HW: For buyers, this is the time of year when we start looking for opportunities with homes that have spent some time on market, with an eye toward negotiating the price down. There is also the advice to come to terms with the likelihood that new inventory will be trickling down as we get deeper into the holidays.
For sellers I would say two things…First, take note of what I just said to buyers. It may seem counter-intuitive to list your home in November, but buyers are out there and many of them are frustrated. With the proper guidance, you could potentially leverage pent-up demand in your favor, even deep into November.
360modern: If sellers are planning to hold off on listing over the next couple of months, what actions can they take now to prepare their home and their listing for the best possible results in 2020?
HW: If you have an eye toward hitting the market in the spring, the time to meet with a real estate broker is now. There are likely several steps I could advise you to take over the course of the next few months to make sure we are ready to hit the market when things thaw out in the spring.
360modern: What’s the earliest that you recommend listing a home in 2020? Will the weather, Spring Break, or spring vacations impact this?
HW: I like to see how January unfolds, but honestly no one can predict when things catch fire. Weather definitely has an effect, as do broader market conditions. And of course, next year is an election year, which will most certainly have some sort of effect.
To sellers who are trying to time their listing for the “perfect” moment in the spring when things catch fire, I typically say relax a bit. It’s just impossible to predict this far out what January or February or March are going to feel like. Best to pick a target that works best for you for your personal circumstances, then work diligently to get your home as market-ready as you can, and then be open minded about what the market may or may not deliver when you’re ready to go.
We periodically touch base with Heidi to find out her thoughts on the current market, the future market, and what you can do as a buyer or seller to get the most from your home. Sign up for the 360modern newsletter by registering on the 360modern.com site to get real estate news on Seattle and beyond in your inbox. Have a question for Heidi? Send it to [email protected] and we could answer it in the next blog!
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.