Santa hand holding house ornament with key

An especially pricey present this year.

Usually, Brad Davis observes, the weeks between Thanksgiving and the holidays are the slowest of the year in the Seattle real estate business. “That’s not true this year,” the Keller Williams Greater Seattle agent says.

While recent home shopping activity isn’t quite as fervent as balmier pandemic times, the latest Northwest Multiple Listing Service stats are still jarring. In November, closed sales in Seattle were up 22 percent year-over-year. Countywide, that number was over 23 percent. Pending sales also top totals from a year ago, guaranteeing that it will be a December filled with deals—and despair.

Competition remains fierce across the county, with low inventory and prices that border on exorbitant. In Seattle, the median single-family home or condo went for $760,000; a year earlier, the price tag was $675,000. Windermere chief economist Matthew Gardner believes price growth will “soften” in 2021 because he can’t foresee the record-low interest rates dropping much more. But he thinks listing options will remain slim. “I expect that the market will remain tight next year,” Gardner wrote in an email.

Inventory has climbed a bit in Seattle thanks to a struggling condo market, which posted 61 percent more active listings in November than a year prior. “If someone is looking for a deal on a condo, they’re probably going to be able to have their pick of the litter, and they’re likely going to be able to get concessions from the sellers,” says Davis. Even though it may be counterintuitive to forgo space during a state of quarantine, single-family home owners may want to consider fetching top-dollar for their houses and investing in smaller pads for the long term. “The opportunity to downsize right now is incredible,” the broker notes.

Single-family home prices aren’t about to plummet, mind you. Due to a national housing shortage, it could be months or even years before some buyer-seller balance returns to this area or others across the country, Davis notes, adding the qualifier, “barring anything catastrophic.”

Can never rule that out, now, can we?

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