Seattle-area home market heats up yet again

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Seattle-area home market heats up yet again


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Seattle kicked off 2018 the same way it spent the prior year and a half, as the hottest real estate market in the country, with no slowing down.

The cost of the typical single-family house across the Seattle metro area grew 12.9% in January from a year prior, according to the monthly Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday.

It’s the 17th month in a row that Seattle has led the country in home-price increases. That’s a record for Seattle and the longest streak for any metro area since San Francisco’s 20-month run that ended in 2001.

There is, yet again, no sign that Seattle’s seemingly never-ending market surge is letting up — just the opposite.

Driven by an uptick in cost for starter homes, price growth has started to accelerate slightly again after having stayed steady at 12.7% for the previous few months.

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And compared to just a month ago, home values grew 0.7%. That’s tied for the most in the country, and the biggest month-over-month increase locally since last summer.

Prices don’t usually go up that much here in the winter. Adjusting for the season, the price growth over the last month was triple the U.S. average.

The biggest jump occurred in the cheapest homes in the area — those that are generally in the outlying areas of the region, and smaller, starter homes. Those houses cost 14.1% more than a year ago, the second-biggest increase in four years.

The local market has been getting more and more expensive for six straight years now. Over that span, prices have soared a total of 82%. Since the old bubble high a decade ago, prices are up 22% across the entire metro area, and much more in King County.

It’s a seller’s market in the rest of the country, as well.

Las Vegas and San Francisco rounded out the top three, as they did the month before. The 11.1% annual increase in Las Vegas was the same as the month before, after having surged up for the last several months. San Francisco’s growth of 10.2% is the highest in years for the city.

Nationally, prices were up 6.2%, down slightly from a multiyear high reached the previous month.

The current median price of a single-family house in Seattle is at an all-time high of $777,000, while on the Eastside, it’s a record $950,000. In Snohomish County, the typical house costs a record $485,000, and in Pierce County, homes are going for $325,000, also the most ever.

Prices continue to swell as the local population surges across the metro area while the number of homes for sale has slid to the lowest level in decades, creating feverish competition among homebuyers. Total for-sale inventory across the metro area is down 20% just in the past year, which is double the national decline, according to Zillow.

With the spring home-buying season gearing up, there should be an uptick in new listings in the coming weeks, and with it, more buyers coming out of the woodwork. Prices typically rise in the spring, and brokers are expecting more of the same this year.

The only good news for buyers is that mortgage interest rates have started to level off after trending up in the previous couple of months. The average 30-year fixed rate in Seattle on Tuesday was 4.3%, the same as it was at the beginning of March.

But that’s still up from 3.8% at the start of the year and is the highest interest rate in four years. The higher rates have added $65,000 to the long-term cost of a mortgage loan on the typical Seattle house.

Tribune Content Agency



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