The April stats are in and it appears we’re at an exciting chapter in the Seattle condo market boom. One thing that jumps off of the table below is how much listings grew compared to the same time last year and how closed sales grew compared to last year, but at a fraction of the rate of listing growths.
Many buyers will be happy to see increasing inventory and stablilizing prices. Owner residents can also find comfort knowing the last couple year’s exuberance is now settling back towards more sustainable long-term growth without giving up their recent gains.
(NWMLS statistics. Information deemed accurate but not guaranteed.)
Hard core optimists will argue that the fact that April year over year closed sales didn’t grow as fast as April year over year active listings has more to do with seasonality than market cooling. Perhaps April was a ramping up month where sellers decided to start the season off and an even larger number of buyers decided to wait till May to make their moves. We’ll have to wait and see how this May’s closings increased over last May’s to see if they’re right.
The pessimists will argue that the doubling of listings this year versus the same time last year is clearly a sign that we are turning towards a buyers’ market. If demand in the busy Spring and Summer months doesn’t ramp up fast, they may be right.
It’s very possible both camps are on to something. There will probably be more buyers coming off the sidelines in the next couple months since some were frustrated by the buyer competition in previous years that made home buying frustrating and often fruitless. While these buyers come back to the shopping circuit, there will also be a lot more sellers who wanted to maximize their gains and were waiting for the perfect time to cash in (as well as find a bigger place that they could afford).
My gut says the market will continue to be very active and strong and prices will appreciate a few percent this year — neither crashing nor growing by the double digits. Ultimately, I think we’ll most likely return to a ‘normal’ market benefiting buyers and long-term owners at the expense of some of the more extreme flippers who won’t be burned but won’t be building too many new overnight riches either.