By Erin Flemming
Special to the Reporter
Month after month, headlines about the real estate market in Seattle and surrounding areas seemed to sing the same tune – rising prices and high competition for homes, with some homes receiving multiple offers merely days after listing. Typically, around the fall, the housing market tends to cool, and this year, the market has adjusted away from the “premium pricing” that became commonplace in many areas.
Karen Lindsay, managing broker and branch manager of John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Issaquah office, said today’s housing market is more “typical and balanced” than spring’s frenzy market. This means that while listings in Issaquah are at similar levels to last year, it’s taking a bit longer to sell inventory, which makes the number of unsold listings go up. However, that doesn’t mean the local real estate market is a buyer’s market. The number of houses for sale in September increased by 8.6 percent in Issaquah over August.
“With more to choose from, buyers are looking longer and not as willing to pay over market value as they were when listings were extremely scarce,” Lindsay said. “Some buyers are being poorly advised by their brokers that they can somehow buy a home far under market now, and their offers are being rejected by sellers content to wait the three or four weeks it now takes to find a solid buyer.”
However, more affordable areas are still going strong. Nowadays, Lindsay said homes that sell for $1.3 million are typically suburban tract homes, not what would be considered a home for only the wealthy. That pushes budget-conscious buyers to older neighborhoods or to areas that are longer commutes to the job centers.
The change in the market has given a breather of sorts to buyers, sellers and brokers. The days of multiple offers aren’t gone, but now it can take a bit more time to get to a sale. Lindsay said her office recently had a listing that was on the market for three and a half weeks with only a few showings.
“Just as the sellers were thinking of repricing the home, two different buyers saw the home, both made offers and, with the competition between the buyers, the home sold over asking price by quite a margin,” she said.
She added that homes in desirable areas that are well-priced and show beautifully will sell in three to seven days. For buyers looking to purchase in the current market, Lindsay said mistaking the current market for a buyer’s market can lead to making unrealistically low offers, which will lead to disappointment when the offer is rejected.
“Buyers need to have realistic expectations and work with a professional broker who knows the local neighborhoods and values,” Lindsay said. “Sellers know their home’s market value and that’s what they will sell for, even if it takes a little more time to get there. A buyer who recognizes market value, offers to pay market value and is well-qualified and able to close will have no trouble finding a good home at a good value.”