While supply problems hamstrung most of the market during the end of summer — what's normally known as the peak real estate season — September was a different beast entirely, more like a "roller coaster" where prices were up in certain areas and down in others.
But as the summer season gives way to fall, that can open up avenues for those trying to break in to the market.
"The transition into the fall housing market creates opportunities for homebuyers," J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said in the latest Northwest Multiple Listing Service report. "Although there are fewer listings than what buyers find during peak summer months, there is also less competition."
By the end of last month, NWMLS brokers reported 15,982 total active listings, more than 18% less than from the same time a year ago (in 2018 that number was 19,526). Only three of the 23 counties served by NWMLS — Clark, San Juan and Whatcom — reported year-over-year gains in inventory; 19 counties had double digit drops.
With that drop in both number of listings and competition comes a predicted drop in price as well; this is the time of year that home prices typically start to taper off a bit, given the drop in demand.
In King County, the median price for single family homes and condos sold in September was $593,750 — down from the September 2018 figure of $610,000 and the first time the median price dipped below $600,000 since January.
Unfortunately for hopeful homebuyers, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, says that' doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be easy pickings in King County.
"In King County, prices were down nearly 2.7% while pending sales rose nearly 10%. This tells us there is no shortage of buyers in the Greater Seattle area," Jacobi said in NWMLS report. "Buyers continue to be drawn to the area thanks to more affordable housing costs, but this influx is also driving up prices."
Still, there's opportunity to be had; as the market begins to hunker down for the winter, Jacobi and Scott both expect the number of unsold listings to continue to decrease once the "winter clean-up" of inventory begins. For some lucky homebuyers, this could be the perfect set of circumstances.
~Zosha Millman, Seattle PI