A new decade begins with low inventory in housing market | Real Estate Column

A monthly real estate snapshot by John L. Scott Real Estate.

By Erin Flemming

Special to the Reporter

New year, new me? When it comes to unsold housing inventory in Issaquah and Sammamish, not quite. As was the case a month ago, the local real estate market is tight on inventory – particularly in the low and mid-price ranges on the Eastside.

Karen Lindsay, managing broker and branch manager of John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Issaquah office, said December was a bit quiet, adding that the tightened inventory was felt by local buyers.

However, the tides may begin changing in January. Realtor.com recently called January the “new hot month” to start house hunting, noting that “January 2019 was the busiest month for listing views on record for home buyers in the Seattle metropolitan area, which includes the surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller cities.”

Lindsay said many brokers in the John L. Scott Bellevue-Issaquah office have been meeting with sellers who are getting their homes prepared to list in the next couple of months. Once things pick up, Lindsay said she anticipates a “very brisk market” this spring, when buyers will see some relief in the inventory squeeze.

“We have had quite a strong contingent of buyers in our local market but not much unsold inventory to show them,” Lindsay said. “I expect that to change dramatically in the next month or so, and a great deal of transactions will result. I believe we will be back in the midst of a multiple offer situation for at least the first four to five months of the year.”

In the meantime, Lindsay added that from now until the end of February, buyers will face competition for available homes in good condition and desirable locations.

Martin Weiss, sales manager of the John L. Scott Bellevue-Issaquah office, noted that in the $500,000 to $1 million price range on the Eastside, the unsold inventory is at about 0.7 months, which is roughly three weeks. Approximately 75 percent of new listings at that price level are selling in the first 30 days, which makes for a robust and competitive market locally.

“Buyers will be in for fierce competition for new listings in January,” Weiss said. “I expect inventory levels to pick up after the Super Bowl in early February. In the meantime, buyers should work with a trusted broker associate to boost the chances of their offer being accepted.”

One way to fill the need for unsold inventory is new construction of homes. Lindsay said local builders were busy building more homes in the last quarter, anticipating a strong spring market.

“New construction has lagged the last couple of years due to lack of buildable lots and uncertainties about the market,” Lindsay said. “Close to the job centers, home prices have climbed so much that the new construction numbers now work on some pieces of land that didn’t pencil out previously. We need the inventory… However, these homes will not be in the ‘affordable’ category, especially in Bellevue, Sammamish and Issaquah.”

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