The latest Case-Schiller Index showed that Seattle-area home values were down 1% from December, 4% from last January, pretty much mirroring the nation.
At 130.03, the index shows that values are 30% higher than January 1, 2000. However, the current level is equal to that of May 2004.
Seattle-area real estate has experienced a turn-around over the past couple of months, which we expect to show up in the March and April May C/S-I. Inventory levels around the sound are at extreme lows – some areas have under six weeks’ inventory – which has led to numerous bidding wars.
Twelve offers on a bank-owned property in a Shoreline subdivision near Innis Arden, list price $450,000. A stack of offers on a Wedgwoood house listed at $550,000 that reportedly drove the price into the sixes. Open house counts in the sixties and seventies and more.
629 Seattle house listings went pending in the last 30 days, with 1081 left on the market – less than a two month supply. 245 condos went pending in the same period, leaving 654 on the market, about a ten-week supply.
Why? We don’t know. The market usually heats up at the beginning of the year, carrying into the spring, but this is something we haven’t seen in years.
One pressure on buyers is from the FHA, which will be increasing the amount of up-front mortgage insurance from 1% of the loan to 1.75% on April 1st.
Interest rates are at amazing lows – basically, a good borrower can qualify – at 28% debt-to-income ratio – for a loan that’s almost five times their annual income.
A common measure of a balanced market is when there is about six months’ worth of inventory – the number of active listings is equal to the previous six months’ sales total.
Well, the market is seriously unbalanced today, as a quick check of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) shows that the inventory is under three months’ supply.
Almost thirty percent of homes currently under contract took ten days or less, indicating a frenzy that hasn’t been seen since the summer of 2007. While we cannot determine what percentage of properties received multiple offers, the median market time for the rest is 45 days.
There have been several reports of open house traffic in the 50s and 70s; one agent with a listing near Green Lake arranged to have a colleague assist them on open houses both this Saturday and Sunday because, “with this kind of traffic, if you’re the only agent, you can’t even talk to anybody.”
Agents have been racing to broker’s opens, as well. The Green Lake property drew over thirty agents – without food or other inducements – to last Wednesday’s premiere.
We want to stress that we compiled the data from the NWMLS server, and that they are in no way responsible for its accuracy. We also excluded listings that require third-party approval, such as short sales.