The housing market in the Seattle area offers home buyers new influence and, in some cases, cheaper prices.
More houses are on the market, fewer people are buying homes and house prices in some areas are falling, according to new data released Wednesday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Townhouse developers and elegant apartment towers offer discounts. Some home customers persevere due to rising mortgage rates or refueling of equity portfolios. Others have been priced out.
The trends point to a cooling that is not yet a buyer̵[ads1]7;s market, but which takes some power back from sellers.
For Constance Winstead, the latest announcement of a nearly $ 400 rent increase for her Tacoma apartment was the “final straw.”
“I have to make a choice here,” she thought, and began looking for a home to buy.
Her search began like so many others in the overheated pandemic housing market, with high prices and bidding wars.
But in recent months, things started to go her way.
After planning to buy a home, she withdrew when an inspection revealed that the house needed extensive work. She secured a two-bedroom apartment in Tacoma in June, had it inspected and received $ 2,000 from the seller to improve the rug.
With rising interest rates, Winstead worried about mortgage payments, but “at least I could build up some equity,” she said.
The kind of influence that allows buyers like Winstead to negotiate with sellers – almost unheard of in the market frenzy of the last two years – is the latest sign that the local housing market is cooling.
“Sellers are more realistic and willing to work with buyers,” said Margo Wheeler-Willis, a John L. Scott agent at Tacoma who worked with Winstead.
In the counties of King, Pierce and Kitsap, there were still twice as many homes for sale at the end of June than at the same time last year. In Snohomish, there were more than three times as many homes for sale. Across all 26 counties NWMLS covers, the number of homes and apartments still listed for sale at the end of the month was the highest since October 2019.
The decline is beginning to affect the prices of detached houses. The median house price in King County, which reflects sales that closed in June, is down 6% from May.
Prices usually fall in the summer, but the recent change is particularly pronounced on the east side, where the median sales price has fallen 13% in the last two months, compared to 2% in Seattle. The number of pending sales on the east side is down 45% from the same time last year, compared to 34% in Seattle.
In the Tacoma area, Wheeler-Willis has seen some recent buyers make their purchase conditional on selling their previous home, another protection that has almost disappeared in recent years. “The market has fluctuated somewhat,” she said.
Nevertheless, prices are up from last year.
In King County, the median home price of $ 938,225 is up 9% from June 2021. In Snohomish County, the median $ 799,950 is up 12%. In Pierce County, the median of $ 568,575 is up 10%. And in Kitsap County, the median of $ 600,000 is up 18%.
It would take more than a month to sell through the current inventory across the entire Puget Sound region, according to a measure known as months of inventory. It is still well below the four to six months the listing service considers balanced, but the highest level since shortly after the pandemic hit.
“For buyers, there’s a lot more respite,” said Andrea Keyes, a RE / MAX agent who works with buyers and sellers in Kitsap County. “They don’t feel they have to make a decision to bid on a house in a 15- or 30-minute view. I can show them several homes in one day. And they can think about it overnight.”
The sellers also take hold of the shift. In May, sellers dropped prices on 27% of listings in Seattle, 48% in Tacoma, 54% in Everett and 36% in Bremerton, according to Redfin. (Data for June is not yet available.)
Some homeowners “think they’re still in the market we had as late as February, March and April this year, which it is not,” Keyes said. “There is evidence that sellers are returning to earth.”