Seattle’s median home sale price climbed to $819,500 in March, gaining nearly $43,000 in value over last month’s record numbers.
In its latest monthly update, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service calls Seattle’s housing market a “pressure cooker situation,” heading into the busy spring buying period. Should this pace continue, the median sale price could creep up close to $1 million toward the end of the year.
“What used to be a quick action market for buyers is now, once again, an instant response market, and this has been the case since the first of the year,” J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate said in a statement. “This is especially true in the more affordable and mid-price ranges in all markets, and also pertains to luxury properties close to the job centers.”
Median costs have risen 17 percent in the last year in Seattle, eclipsing other parts of King County. Overall, prices countywide have risen 15 percent in the last 12 months, and NWMLS reports that prices across the region have risen 13.2 percent.
One big reason for the price jump is a surge in luxury home sales. Sales of homes priced at $1 million or more rose 29 percent over this time last year, according to NWMLS.
Seattle’s housing market has been the hottest in the country for 17 months. The growth of hometown tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, as well as an invasion of more than 100 out-of-town companies setting up offices in the region brings thousands of well-paid techies to the area every year, upping the competition in the housing market.
While jumps in rent have cooled somewhat thanks to thousands of new units, very few houses are being built to take the pressure off the white hot for sale market.
The volume of new listings rose 45 percent over last month, but the housing inventory is still way below a normal amount of supply. A balanced market has about six months of housing supply — the time it would take to run out of homes for sale if no new ones came on the market. In King County, and the three nearest counties, there is less than a month of housing supply.
Many buyers, frustrated with losing out on bidding wars for homes in prime locations, are turning to suburban locations but not finding any relief there. Pierce and Snohomish counties, King County’s neighbors to the south and north, saw median price gains of 18 and 14.3 percent respectively over the last year.
“I think this last quarter especially, many buyers are feeling like they brought a knife to a gunfight, there’s been so much competition to buy a home,” said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.
Buyers looking for a cheaper option can still turn to condos. The median sale price for a condo in March was $527,450 in Seattle and $466,500 in King County. However, condo prices are actually rising faster than home prices, with Seattle sales up 21.5 percent over last year and countywide prices up 35 percent.