Photo: Brew Brooks/Flickr
The median cost for a single-family house in King county was $525,000 in January, reports the Seattle Times. That number may sound high, but it’s the cheapest the median price has been in 11 months.
In Seattle specifically, single-family home prices went up only 2.7 percent compared to a year prior in January. Seattle’s median home price of $635,000 is down about $31,000, according to Multiple Listing Service data. That number is way down from the 24 percent annual growth the market experienced last winter. It’s the slowest home price growth in Seattle in nearly three years.
A price growth slowdown should mean more reasonably priced single-family housing right? Wrong. Few people are selling their homes and when they do, the feeding frenzy of interested buyers makes it nearly impossible to compete. Fewer than 1,600 houses in the county were on the market at the end of the month, breaking a record-low set in December of last year. For quick comparison, at the end of 2010, King county had 7,400 houses on the market — four times more homes than are available today.
Although the city experienced a slight slowdown locally, home prices in the Seattle area are still rising faster than in any other large region in the country, according to the Case-Shiller home price index. Zillow recently predicted that Greater Seattle will have the third-fastest home-price growth in the country in 2017.
On the eastside, the median home price was up nearly 14 percent compared to a year ago, to $793,000. Snohomish County prices were up 8.2 percent year-over-year, while Pierce County was up 11.6 percent and Kitsap County was up 9.4 percent.
Soaring mortgage rates aren’t helping the situation. According to an analysis by the Seattle Times, even if home prices cap at 8 percent next year, as some experts predict, the average buyer’s total costs over a 30-year mortgage would increase 15 percent compared with a year ago because of the recent increase in interest rates.
But Seattle probably has an affordable condo or two to spare, right? Unfortunately, no. Condo prices in Seattle surged 23 percent from a year ago, and the median now stands at $440,000. Most of the new residential construction in the city is for rental apartments, and there were only about 130 condos in the city for sale as of last week.
Seattle is a sellers’ market. Relief for homebuyers anytime in the near future is unlikely.