Seattle Housing Market Improves in January

Seattle Housing Market Improves in January

The Seattle-area housing market experienced a modest uptick in January following a slower December, yet activity remains subdued amidst high home prices and interest rates posing challenges for buyers. According to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, homebuyers in the Seattle area initiated more transactions in January compared to December, a typical seasonal trend, although sales figures lag behind those of the previous year. Pending sales in King County surged by 38% from December to January but declined by 11% from January 2023.

Sellers also increased their activity, with a notable rise in new listings in King County from December to January, although figures remain relatively unchanged from a year ago. While these indicators suggest a departure from the December slowdown, the true extent of market momentum won’t be fully evident until the spring, traditionally the busiest period in local real estate.

Although mortgage rates stabilized in January, there’s optimism among real estate agents that this development may incentivize more homeowners to list their properties and prompt buyers to resume their search. However, significant drops in rates are unlikely this year, and experts anticipate a limited influx of new inventory for sale, which could restrain market activity. Despite the average 30-year mortgage rate sitting at 6.6% in early February—more affordable than the previous year’s peak of nearly 8%—it remains considerably higher than rates observed over the past decade.

Seattle-area homes continue to spend more time on the market compared to 2021 and 2022. Eastside Redfin agent Hal Bennett anticipated that lower mortgage rates and increased listings would catalyze market activity at the year’s outset, although current demand levels have yet to meet expectations. Median home prices across much of the Puget Sound region remained relatively stagnant from December to January but remain elevated compared to a year ago, with the median single-family home selling for approximately $850,000 in King County, representing a 9% increase from January 2023.

In the condominium market, median prices also saw year-over-year increases, with Seattle experiencing a 10% rise to $537,500 and the Eastside seeing a 5% increase to $570,000. Despite these trends, bidding wars persist due to limited housing supply, with Compass agent Ryan Palardy noting instances of buyers paying above listing prices for desirable properties. While not reaching the frenetic levels of 2021, these bidding wars underscore ongoing demand and the need for increased inventory to alleviate market pressure.

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