2012 Year in Review for Seattle Real Estate

2012 Seattle Year in Review

Seattle median and average sales prices are up for 2012 following a challenging 2011 year in spite of an increase in distressed home sales. The median price of residential homes increased to $399,950 from $371,000 in 2011. The average sales price was also up, to $467,275 from $454,783. The volume of sales increased to 6864 homes sold from 5714 in 2011.

Still a major influence on price, bank-owned property sales increased yet again after more than doubling in 2011. Combined, bank-owned (531 sales) and short sale transactions (637 sales) made up 17% of all homes closed.

A welcome reprise for homes sellers longing to see prices on the mend, with record low interest rates, the current market has been a boon to buyers as well. The Annual Monthly Cost Index shows that the monthly interest expense of owning a home—what matters most to the bottom line—is on par with pre-2000 levels (the earliest year we have records for). A median priced $265,000 home in 2000 at 8.05% interest costs far more per month than a median priced $399,950 home today at 3.66% interest. Remarkable when you consider that wages have risen considerably since 2000.

Record low inventory dominates the market with Seattle homes for sale at the lowest level in the past 15 years (as far back as we have been keeping record). The success of the 2013 real estate market will pivot on the available inventory of homes for sale to meet the demand of serious buyers in the market.

Activity in the Seattle condo market was brisk in 2012 with condo sales up 26% over 2011 to 2278 condos sold from 1806 the year prior. The median price increased slightly to $249,900 from $245,000 the year before—a good sign of recovery in the non-distressed buildings considering overall distressed condo sales made up 29% of the Seattle condo market in 2012.

With less than 2 months inventory of homes currently for sale (4-5 months is a balanced market), Seattle will see a strong seller’s market at many price points and in the most desirable neighborhoods—with shorter commute times, local flavor and coveted community amenities.