The fall months brought a cold snap to the Seattle housing market.

Prices in King County are essentially flat. Fewer new homes are being put up for sale and fewer home buyers are taking the plunge. That’s good news for some buyers who are still on the hunt, who occasionally encounter price drops and fewer bidding wars.

But it’s not all so rosy.

The number of new listings in King County fell from September to October, and those listings picked up quickly before the month was out, putting pressure on buyers who are still shopping.

For potential homebuyers, home selection is more limited than it was at this time of year before the pandemic. King County saw 65% fewer active ads at the end of October than at the same time in 2019. And now, two years ago, it would have taken just over a month and a half to sell all available homes, compared to less than two weeks now. Pierce and Snohomish counties saw similar trends.

“I definitely feel the stock that was already low going down even more. And buyer demand doesn’t feel like it’s declining,” said Heather Maddox, a Windermere agent in Renton.

Average single-family home prices are still up double digits compared to the same time in 2020 or 2019. In King County, the average home sold in October for $824,270, a 10.6% increase from October 2020.


In Snohomish County, the average home sold for $695,000, an increase of 19.8%. In Pierce County, the average home sold for $520,000, a 20.9% increase. Kitsap, Thurston and Whatcom counties all saw year-over-year increases of between 16% and 20%.

Prices were about the same from September to October, at less than two-tenths of a percent in King County. In Pierce and Snohomish counties, prices rose about 3% after falling about the same amount the month before.

In Seattle, the average home sold for $850,000, up about 6.2% from a year earlier. On the Eastside, the average home sold for about $1.4 million, up 30% from a year earlier. In Tacoma, the median price of $615,000 in North Tacoma was 24.7% higher than last year and the median price of $440,000 in Central Tacoma was up 23.9%.


This week Maddox wrote an offer to a client on a two-bedroom house in Rainier Beach valued at $615,000. The house attracted five competing offers and went into consideration in eight days. Maddox said her client lost to buyers who were willing to pay more and waive more protection.

Competition, even between two or three buyers, can drive prices up and prompt buyers to forgo protections such as their accidental inspection.

“I’m just telling buyers to step in now. It won’t hurt you to start looking early,” Maddox said. “But getting in in February is like throwing yourself in front of a truck or running with the bulls or something. You might want to warm up.”

Still, some buyers find deals.

Redfin agent Malia Vassar recently worked with a couple who had been looking for a home in the Green Lake area for 11 months. This week, they closed a $996,000 three-bedroom home that they secured at list price without competing with other listings.

“This is the chance to get lucky,” Vassar said.

The Seasonal Cooling of Prices in the Seattle Area fits national trends, but the market still attracts people who want to make a profit.

Nationwide, cash purchases have risen and the proportion of institutional investors buying homes, about 7%, is the highest since early 2014, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Meanwhile, the proportion using Federal Housing Administration loans that offer: low down payments for middle-class buyers, is the lowest since late 2007 at about 8%.

For those who already own a home in Western Washington, potential financial gains have skyrocketed since the years following the Great Recession.

In a measure of profit margins — the difference between the price a home is selling for and the price it was last sold at — Bellingham ranked second in the nation. There, the margin has increased from 69.5% around this time last year to nearly 106% this year, according to ATTOM.


The Bellingham area has seen an influx of buyers from Seattle as the pandemic allowed white-collar workers to give up their commute and work from home.

Even owners who can make big profits by selling their home may worry about finding another home to buy, causing them to delay the sale.

“Nobody wants to become a copper now,” Vassar said.

In the apartment market, prices have roughly stagnated, rising 1.8% in King County from September to October. Fewer condos were put on the market in October than in September and fewer new sales were made in King County.

The average Seattle apartment sold for $525,000 last month, up 5.6% from last October. On the Eastside, the average apartment sold for $550,500, down 11.2%.

Apartment sales have decreased compared to last year, but increased compared to the same time in 2018 and 2019, probably due in part to: new construction in recent years. In Seattle, 11 new apartment complexes have sold about 59% of their units, according to an analysis by Dean Jones, owner of a local Realalogics Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate. Two projects under construction will open in 2023 and 2024.


The condo market collapsed earlier in the pandemic as buyers sought more space and were less concerned about proximity to their offices. At the beginning of this year, the market stabilized. While some condo buyers are looking for luxury towers, others are looking for a more affordable door to home ownership.

With the constant rise in single-family home prices, “it makes sense that affordable buying opportunities are increasingly limited to condominiums,” Jones said in an email. “Urban and single-family homes in particular are asset classes that are simply out of reach for many.”

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