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Washington State Real Estate Wrap Up

Posted by Geordie Romer on January 25, 2013

As a real estate market that is influenced by vacation homes and second homes more than the local economy, real estate sales here in Leavenworth are impacted by the health of other Washington state real estate markets. If a home buyer has significant equity in their primary residence at Lake Sammamish or Mercer Island they are more likely to feel confident about buying a second home. If they lose equity or are underwater, they likely won’t be interested in owning more real estate.
For this article I reached out to my friends in various Washington State real estate markets for their thoughts on the state of affairs where they work and live. I asked them to reflect back on 2012 and to make predictions for 2013.
Photo courtesy of Dan Diffendale on Flickr

Toby Barnett is an agent with Barnett Associates and Keller Williams and specializes in real estate in Marysville, Everett and Snohomish County.

2013 is shaking out to be one of the strangest real estate years. Since the real estate debacle of 2007, sellers have been fighting decreasing property values and a strong buyer negotiating position. However, as recovery progressed through 2011, and now into early 2013, real estate inventory in western Washington has been shrinking and with the latest reports stating 1.9 months of standing inventory – a all time low. My prediction through the year will be homes that where once short sales will no longer be short sales and home prices will continue to climb unless stability enters the market – meaning more homes become available.
Cari McGee is an agent with Windermere Real Estate in the Tri-Cities of Richland, Kenniwick and Pasco.

Real estate in 2012 in the Tri-Cities kept plugging along like “The Little Engine That Could”. The market here lends itself to stability and long-term growth. Our average sales price increased to $205,900 which is a 1.67% increase over $202,500 which was 2011’s high. That’s exactly the kind of growth that makes for a healthy long-term investment. I began my real estate career in 2004, when the average sales price was $165,800. If I sold you a house that year, and you needed to sell it today, you’d likely make a profit. That’s what makes the Tri-Cities such a unique community. When other communities see roller-coaster-like ups and downs, real estate in the Tri-Cities slowly, steadily, increases in value.
I see the same thing happening in 2013. This year is already off to a good start with seventy properties sold within the first two weeks of the year. That’s five per business-day, which is a steady amount and indicates a healthy market. Those homes sold within a four-month time span, which indicates neither a buyer’s, nor seller’s market. It’s balanced. And balance is always good!
Kim Colaprete and Chavi Holm are Seattle’s Real Estate Divas.

Here are some highlights from a recent article Kim wrote about the Seattle market.
For 2012: Last year was an amazing come back year for many areas across the nation. Here in Seattle we saw about a 11% percentage increase in housing prices across the city (source NWMLS). The majority of the spike happened in the first two quarters of 2012 with steady rises seen throughout the year. Although those of us on the ground know we are dealing with low inventory, seeing the hard data was a bit of a shock. Since 2010, Seattle’s overall housing inventory dropped by 59%. The low inventory combined with steady increase in demand is definitely pushing prices up.
For 2013:

Sustained price increases. We expect Capitol Hill to go up about another 10%. The southend will probably see about 3-5% and the area around the Columbia City Light Rail station will continue to be feeding frenzies. Ballard – all you hipsters and shop local fiends should expect to bid like a crazy person to get house in this hot neighborhood.
Mortgage Rates and Closing Costs to Increase: The fiscal cliff debacle kept interest rates super low. Our clients who closed in December saw probably saw of the lowest mortgage rates of our generation. But, once the budget issues are resolved, we may start seeing minor rate increases throughout the year.
More Flipped Houses – Its 2006 All Over Again: An investor bought the house behind Chez Diva. It did get us thinking about flippers in general. We realized in a short walk through our neighborhood there several active projects, one flip for sale and at least three that have sold in the last year.
Year of the Move Up Buyers: These are folks who have more than likely, been in their homes a while and have a pressing need to make a change; a new school district, a bigger house or maybe folks like the Divas, who feel the need to downsize. They often have been holding out for a more stable market for a while.

Ben Kakimoto is the Seattle Condo guy and blogs about condos for his Seattle condo blog.

After experiencing a slower recovery compared to single family homes in the Seattle area, the condo market exhibited a turnaround last year.  Constricting inventory as a result of buyer’s confidence in the economy, combined with low interest rates and finite supply (there’s been no new condos built since 2009) helped spur sales activity.  Compared to 2011, the Seattle condo market experienced a 27.4% increase in unit sales in 2012, though the citywide median condo sales price remained unchanged at $250,000.   On the other hand, desirable urban districts such as downtown/Belltown saw prices rise 8.5%.
With the shift towards a seller’s market, listings are selling faster, too.   Last year, 46.4% of Seattle’s condo listings sold within 30 days on market with an average of only 47 days.  In 2011, the average was 83 days on market with only 33.3% selling within 30 days.
The outlook for 2013 is more of the same.  Prices will continue to recover and inventory will get tighter with no new condo inventory expected until the end of 2014.
Dale and Stephanie Chumbley are agents in Vancouver, Washington who are experts in the Clark County and SW Washington real estate market.

 Looking back at 2012
In Southwest Washington, the housing market improved over 2011. We saw a 3.6 percent increase in pending sales in 2012 over 2011, and we saw 8.1 percent more closed sales last year compared with the year prior. Home prices increased in value over 2011, according to the 2012 RMLS data. The median price was $194,500, which is 4.9 percent higher than the year prior.
What do we forecast for 2013?
With the shortage of inventory and home values up, we anticipate a flurry of sellers proclaiming this is their year to sell. We’ve already seen a lot of active buyers looking this year, and we’ve been involved in a handful of multiple offer situations. Buyers are willing to pay more than asking price after learning lessons from having their low offers rejected previously. A few reliable sources have shared with us that several large companies are relocating to Southwest Washington in 2013, which will bring many new home buyers, renters and jobs to our county. We are excited to assist both buyers and sellers as we traverse the ever-changing real estate market!
Sounds like good news from all corners of Washington State and certainly mirrors our experience in Leavenworth in 2012.



    If you’re planning to buy a home in this area, the best place to start is with the Leavenworth Home Buyer’s Guide.

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