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Newest data predicts return to balance for Northwest housing market

Posted by Tom Covello on Sunday, January 27th, 2019 at 8:28pm.

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The latest data and estimates from a handful of Northwest Multiple Listing Service real estate professionals paint a picture of a much friendlier housing market for buyers in 2019.

As 2018 rolled to a close, the housing market in the Northwest saw a noted increase in eager sellers.

“Buyers in December were reaping the benefits of market-weary sellers who were willing to give up part of their bloated home equity to make a deal and move on,” said John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain, in the NMLS report.

That was confirmed by members across the NMLS, including Windermere Real Estate President OB Jacobi.

“The year ended with more of a splutter than a bang as home price growth continued to slow in December,” he noted.

That was rounded by a median closing price for houses of just $639,000 in King County, down from the 2018 high for the county of $726,275 back in May.

Ultimately, according to Jacobi, this is “bringing us closer to a more balanced market,” predicting slowed growth for home prices through 2019 (around 5.5 percent he estimates).

The reasoning for this drop can be found in a variety of factors, including unsustainable home price growth, rising interest rates, and a drop in consumer confidence.

The outlook for the year ahead continues to look positive for home-buyers, who may find that acting quickly might serve them best.

“Buyers should act now, act deliberately, act decisively, and act in conjunction with an experienced real estate professional,” advised Dick Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor.

Among the buyers in the market will be plenty of first-timers, as more millennials get married, have children, and build their respective households.

“Although many of them will face significant obstacles to buying due to student debt, lack of down payments, and Seattle’s high-priced housing, this group is likely to buy more homes in 2019 than any other demographic,” Jacobi predicted.

That being so, pushing out to more remote areas outside of Seattle’s expensive market is starting to drive up prices everywhere. The NMLS’s report noted that demand in those outlying markets has driven up prices in counties like Cowlitz, Lewis, and Thurston 12.4 percent over the last year.

Meanwhile in King County, condo listings have quadrupled in the last 12 months, as buyers look for alternatives to pricier houses.

All this remains consistent with a prediction from Redfin at the end of the 2018, where they expected “demand to cool the most” in 2019 for a handful of major markets across the country, including Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco among others.

~My Northwest Staff

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