Like many other metropolitan areas across the country, Seattle has experienced a price surge in the housing market in recent months. That's mostly because of the low inventory of homes for sale, and the high demand for upscale homes near urban centers. According to statistics released last week by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NMLS), the median sale prices for the city of Seattle and King County in November showed increases in both the month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons.
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But will those huge price increases continue in 2013? The answer is in the numbers. In Seattle, the median sale price for houses in November was a whopping $425,000. That's up 18.1% from the same month in 2011, and is also a 1.2% increase from October of this year. The median sale price in King County was slightly lower than in Seattle, but still above last year's numbers. For November, the countywide median sale price was $385,000, up 19.7% from a year ago. That's also a 4% increase from October. Although those figures are still significantly lower than they were at the housing market's highest peak in 2007, they are proof that home values in the area are on the rise.
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All of the numbers are good news for anyone who is looking to sell in the area, since the number of homes currently listed continues to drop. In fact, the NMLS says the inventory in Seattle sunk to 1.7 months’ worth of homes at the current sales pace in November, and sits at 2.1 months’ worth across King County. With fewer homes for sale, and a high buyer demand, many sellers are receiving offers from multiple buyers, and the bidding wars to purchase a home are driving prices higher. The rising value of homes in Seattle, and King County, is not only beneficial to sellers, but also to homeowners who are underwater in their loans, meaning the owe more on the home than it's worth. As home values continue to rise in the area, the percentage of underwater borrowers statewide has dropped from 23% in the first quarter of the year to only 19% in the second. But houses aren't the only properties were sale prices continue to rise. Condos have also seen a recent spike!
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The median condominium price in Seattle in November was $244,500. Countywide , the median sale price for a condo was $204,500 last month. Both of those figures are up when compared to November 2011. Seattle saw a 1.9% increase, and King County is up 6.9% from a year ago. The NMLS reports the combined number of houses and condos that sold in Seattle in November is up 33.9% from a year earlier. And countywide, combined home sales increased 17.1 in November 2012 when compared to the same month in 2011. What does all of this mean? Right now, real estate in Seattle – and across King County – is a hot commodity! It's definitely a seller's market, since most upscale homes that are reasonably priced have more than one interested buyer. Many homes are selling for a higher price now than a similar sized home would have sold for one year ago, and that trend should continue in the months to come.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that once the spring rolls around, more sellers will likely list their home for sale, since the winter is usually a slower time for home sales. With more homes available, the bidding wars are likely to drop off, meaning the sales prices may also. That's bad news for sellers, and good news for buyers, so if you're looking to sell in Seattle and the surrounding area, now is the time to put your home on the market. And if you're a buyer, go ahead and check out what's available now, but if you can't find the perfect home, perhaps consider waiting until more inventory hits the market in the spring.
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