How Did the Seattle Housing Market Do In April 2020?
Seattle’s real estate market update is gathered using info from NWMLS’ InfoSparks in City of Seattle using data for residential and condominiums sold only.
A Wall Street Journal article from April 13th titled “Despite Stay-at-Home Order, Seattle’s Real Estate Market Continues to Show Up” talked of multiple offer scenarios, bidding wars, and all cash offers hours after listings go live. At the beginning of 2020, Seattle’s housing market looked red-hot and promising, with agents reporting busy open houses, multiple offers and homes going pending faster than they did in 2019.
So how did the Seattle real estate market actually fare in April? The data from NWMLS’ InfoSparks show that it did pretty well, all things considered. That was mostly due to historically low inventory and less new listings during the peak spring selling market. Low interest rates have also helped the housing market maintain its overall strength.
The Seattle area was one of the first places hit by Coronavirus in the US. Governor Jay Inslee implemented a stay-at-home order on March 23, which effectively banned real estate open houses and in-person showings. Days later, the restrictions on private showings were lifted to allow for in-person showings with strict social distancing guidelines. This has allowed the housing market to continue to move forward with sales.
The number of unemployment claims is staggering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February, the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma area had a 3% unemployment rate. In March, that rate shot up to 5.4%. April numbers have not yet been reported by the BLS. Many industries here have been able to adjust to working remotely. That is especially true in the tech industry, which is allowing workers to continue working remotely from home until October.
There are still a lot of questions about how fast jobs will return and what the lasting economic damage will be after the stay-at-home order is lifted. Last week, Governor Inslee released a phased-in “Smart Start” approach to reopening the economy. This plan will reopen the Washington state economy in four phases. Phase 1 starts today, May 4th 2020, and will last three weeks. The next phase will be implemented only if the data is trending in a good direction. Real estate activities and new construction are expected to be allowed to resume with social distancing in Phase 2. (New construction activity that was already underway in March was allowed to continue. Brand new construction projects are currently on hold until Phase 2.)
Seattle Area and King County Real Estate Market
In April, the Seattle median sales price jumped to $730,759 in April, almost matching historic highs from May 2018 when the median sales price was at $740,000. In April 2019, the median sales price in Seattle was only at $700,000.
In King county, the median sales price jumped to $651,000 for April, which is just a smidge above April-May-June 2018 highs of $650,000. In April of 2019, the King County median sales price was $629,300.
New listings were down sharply. That’s bad news for a market that was red-hot in January. In April, only 922 single-family homes or condominiums listed in the Seattle area. That’s down 27% from March (1263 new listings) and almost 40% from April 2019 (1522 new listings).
In King County, only 2,633 single-family homes or condominiums listed in April. That’s a 29% decrease from March (3,708 new listings) and a 37% decrease from April 2019 (4,199 new listings). New listings typically tend to increase in January and increase every month until May or June. Then it drops off for the summer a little bit, and starts to go back up again in September and October for the fall selling market.
All in all, sellers seem to be holding tight to wait for businesses to re-open and public open houses to be allowed again. But the lack of inventory is driving home prices up for now. Note: This is only true for single-family homes, as the median sales price for condominiums actually decreased month-over-month in April.
- Pending Sales: 880 ↓↓
- Closed Sales: 654 ↓↓
- Average Days on Market: 16 ↓↓
- Months of Supply: 4 ↑
- Average Price Per Sq Ft: $498 ↓
- Dollar Volume: $534.8 Million ↓↓
↑ = Up Slightly
↑↑ = Up Sharply
↓ = Down Slightly
↓↓ = Down Sharply
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