Summer in Seattle is arguably the best time to live in the city. It stops raining, the sun comes out, the mountain comes out, and the people come out. It is warm, sometimes hot, but never humid. The nights are cool and clear. Summers are always beautiful in Seattle, but summer 2018 was record-breaking. In fact, this was the driest summer we’ve had on record since 1948. Not only that, but it also had the most days over 85 degrees (31!), easily topping last year’s record-setting 27 and almost tripling the previous 11-day record.
Weather aside, Seattle has seen significant growth in population and home prices over the last several years. However, in August the increase in home prices slowed slightly, giving up the title of fastest growing home prices to Las Vegas. The difference is still small, Las Vegas is reported to have seen a 13% increase in home prices year-over-year, while Seattle is at 12.8%. And, home inventory in Seattle has been growing, likely contributing to the slowing of home prices as more homes come on the market and give buyers more options. The Seattle Times reports that over the last three months, “The median house last month sold for $760,000, a drop of $45,000 in just one month and $70,000 in three months.”
So, what does all this really mean for buyers and sellers in the Seattle market? Should buyers wait and see if home prices continue to drop? Should sellers sell now to get the most, or does waiting until spring make more sense? We asked Seattle Real Estate Broker Heidi Ward for her thoughts on this past summer and the trends she sees coming in the next several months.
360modern: Overall, what was your most significant takeaway from the summer for buyers and sellers? How does this information inform future listings?
Heidi Ward: This summer felt slower than last summer, but it’s possible that it just “felt” that way because our early spring was SO overheated. Also, 4th of July landed mid-week, which really kills the early summer market because you essentially end up with a 9-day 4th of July holiday.
360modern: As fall begins, are there any changes that people need to make to their selling or buying strategies?
HW: Sellers must wrap their brains around the fact that it is no longer March of 2018! Inventory levels are MUCH higher than they were in the early spring, and although there are still plenty of buyers out there, their behavior is more measured. I’m not seeing the same sense of urgency.
My message to buyers—get out there! There is now some inventory, and prices have stabilized, so what are you waiting for? And don’t let days on market and/or price reductions spook you…if you pay close attention you’ll see that this sort of thing happens when sellers don’t price to the current market. It’s not necessarily an indication that the real estate sky is falling 🙂 Homes that are priced market-appropriately right now are selling in 2 weeks or less, frequently in the same week. Buyers—if you like a house, but not the price, don’t be afraid to write an offer!
360modern: You have said before that staging is key to presenting a home and getting the strongest offer possible. Do strategies for staging change as the seasons change?
HW: Nope. I’m a year-round believer in the power of staging.
360modern: October is a relatively slow month for holidays, how should buyers and sellers take advantage of this time before we hit November and December?
HW: October is often a wild-card. If the weather holds, October can tend to be a solid month in terms of market activity. Note to buyers—get out there now through October, before inventory begins its seasonal waning.
360modern: In the Seattle market, if a buyer or seller isn’t ready to jump in in the next couple months, should they wait until spring or are there options even in the winter months?
HW: For sellers, if they’re not teed up to hit market in the next month or so, it’s probably wise to wait until after the first of the year. That said, there are certainly buyers looking to buy year-round, so sometimes it pays to be counter-intuitive. But generally speaking, if you’re a seller, it’s probably not ideal to list your home in the middle of the holidays. For buyers, know that inventory levels will start their typical seasonal decline by about mid-October, so if you want to be settled in before the holidays make your move now!
Heidi Ward is a nine-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.