Seattle retained its long-running title of the hottest housing market in the country, according to the Case-Shiller national home price report, but there are signs of hope for would-be buyers frustrated by the slim supply in recent years.
Seattle home prices in April rose 13.1 percent over the same period a year ago. Las Vegas and San Francisco held on to their spots just behind Seattle with annual price growth of 12.7 percent and 10.9 percent respectively.
Seattle has been atop Case Shiller’s index for 20 straight months now, and a combination of a historic population boom and record-low supply of homes for sale has been the primary driver of the city’s skyrocketing prices.
Seattle’s streak is among the longest on record for Case-Shiller’s index. San Francisco had a 20-month run as the fastest growing market between 1999 and 2001, at the heart of the dotcom boom. Portland topped Case-Shiller’s index for 23 straight months from 1990 to 1992.
But another report released earlier this month indicates that supply-starved Seattle is starting to see a rise in the number of home for sale. According to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, brokers added 14,524 new listings in Seattle and the surrounding area in May, the first time that figure topped 14,000 since May 2008. It’s also the first time in close to four years that the market has shown an annual increase in the number of new listings.
Seattle’s median home sale price in May was $830,000, up more than $100,000 from a year ago.
Also on the rise are condo listings, an important trend because condos tend to be less expensive and represent an opportunity for first-time buyers. Condo inventory grew by 21.4 percent over last year, boosted by the addition of 1,803 new listings in May.
While increased supply isn’t a cure-all for bringing prices down, it can slow growth. Take Seattle’s apartment market where thousands of new units opened in recent years, and many are now sitting empty. This has caused landlords to offer incentives to renters like free rent and other perks.