Entering the winter real estate market

Over the last five months, we’ve seen more inventory than we have in years

By Erin Flemming

Special to the Reporter

As we enter the winter residential real estate market, historically the number of resale listings by month dips downward. Over the last five months, we’ve seen more inventory than we have in years previously, which can be favorable for buyers who previously could not afford a home or secure a home in a multiple-offer situation.

Now, Karen Lindsay, managing broker and branch manager of John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Issaquah office, says today’s market in Issaquah and Sammamish is more balanced, which is a good thing for both buyers and sellers.

“The frenzy of the spring 2018 market took its toll on all the parties involved, whether buying or selling,” Lindsay said. “Our market now is much more like the typical real estate market. Many people, brokers included, got used to the frenzy market because it went on for three to four years, which made it feel more normal, instead of the anomaly that it was.”

The spring market gave some buyers fatigue, after making many unsuccessful offers, causing them to eventually pull back. Lindsay said she thinks it’s taken the last few months for the market changes to settle in everyone’s minds — now she’s seen an uptick in transactional activity in the past few weeks.

“Sellers who really want to sell have gotten realistic about it and adjusted their prices to market value; those that do, sell their home,” Lindsay said.

She added that buyers who want a home are finding they have choices, can buy contingent on the sale of their current home (as long as they are realistic about pricing it), can have an inspection done and can still get a great interest rate on their mortgage.

One mistake Lindsay says she’s noticed in the fall and winter market is buyers who believe it’s a buyer’s market and are submitting low offers. She said most are not successful, as sellers and their listing brokers know the value of their home and aren’t going to sell it for less.

Looking toward the future, it’s difficult to say exactly what will happen with home prices in the years to come. Many sources, including Zelman & Associates, the Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the National Association of Realtors, indicate that home prices are continuing to appreciate, but at a lower rate than we saw in previous years. The National Association of Realtors prediction of prices going forward in 2019 is an increase 3.5 percent, while it was an increase of 4.8 percent in 2018.

When looking to sell a home, the “best” timing can really depend on personal needs or preferences. Lindsay said sellers should list their homes when the timing is right for them, noting that homes do sell through the winter.

“A buyer in December is usually a serious buyer,” Lindsay said. “By next March or April, when most sellers get their homes on the market, there will be significantly more competition from other homes for sale. “

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