Buyers and sellers in the Seattle area are feeling the triumph and pain of a cooling real estate market in Western Washington.
Numbers released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service show the number of homes on the market in the area is up 11 percent to 18,580 active listings, the highest it’s been since 2015. But sales are down; in King County, pending sales are down 23 percent and in Pierce County, they’re down 12 percent.
The new data also shows a $57,000 decrease in the median price of a home in King County in just three months. In August of 2018, the median price of a King County home was around $669,000. In May of 2018, it was more than $726,000.
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The cooldown in the sizzling hot real estate market is being felt by Catherine Sabol and her family, whose home in Renton has been on the market for about a month.
“What were your expectations when [your home] first went on the market?” KIRO 7 reporter Linzi Sheldon asked.
“We were hoping—to be honest, multiple offers would come in within a two-week period and we would be a quick sale and be able to move on to our new home,” Sabol said. “But that just wasn’t the case this time and it has been a tad bit slower.”
“I think sellers need to be a bit more realistic in terms of how they’re pricing their properties and adjust their expectations,” John L. Scott real estate agent Nelya Calev said, “because I’m still seeing a lot of sellers who will say, ‘Oh no, the market's hot and hopping.’ Yes, if you price it right.”
Calev used the example of a Renton Highlands home one of her buyers wanted to purchase.
“Last week, we were competing with seven other buyers and we were the lowest offer on the table,” she said. “I thought, the market’s slowed down. We offered them asking price. We didn’t get it and they laughed at us. They said, ‘You were the lowest one.’ So they priced it right.”
“The big thing I see is that competitors are more reasonable with their offers,” buyer Liat Arama said. “So I don't see those ‘Cash only, no contingencies’ offer competitions as much as I used to see, which is awesome.”
Arama, who buys, flips and eventually sells small apartment complexes and some single family homes, said after the demands of last year’s market, the change is welcome. Buyers can take more time and get all the inspections they need.
“I think the market is becoming normal, reasonable,” Arama said. “It was crazy; (it) was too hot. And it's now the way a real estate market should be.”
Sobol said she and her family are being realistic and believe with summer vacation over, a buyer is just around the corner.
“We understand because the market has been changing and there's a lot going on in our economy right now,” she said. “So we're open. We know we'll get there. It'll just take a little longer.”
Calev said it is still not a buyer’s market; she said the Seattle area has about two months’ worth of inventory and it takes six months’ of inventory, in her view, for it to be considered a true buyer’s market.
Seattle is still the third-most expensive city for home prices in the country, behind only San Francisco and San Jose.
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