A First for Spring

March 13, 2019
For the first time in years, the real estate market's peak spring season is starting with homebuyers in a stronger position than home sellers, and in the nation's hottest markets. 
Photo: Unsplash/Milkovi

For the first time in years, the real estate market's peak spring season is starting with homebuyers in a stronger position than home sellers, and in the nation's hottest markets. 

In Whittier Heights, a neighborhood of Northwest Seattle, real estate agent Ruslan Polyak has seen price cuts in the local market. One for-sale property was originally listed for $810,000 in February 2019, even though a unit of the same size with the same amenities in the building sold for $835,000 in spring 2018. Polyak tells Bloomberg, “My client’s super reasonable," and that negotiations are welcome, as the market has slowed down. The property list price was discounted again to $787,700. 

Nowhere is the shift more pronounced than in once-hot areas such as Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, where bidding wars are vanishing, time-on-market is climbing and prices are flattening, or even falling. These western cities, the center of the recent housing boom, are now leading the slowdown.

The reasons are varied, from last year’s spike in mortgage rates to volatility in technology stocks. But the simplest explanation is that years of soaring values have put housing in many areas out of reach to all but the most affluent buyers. In many parts of the West, home prices have more than doubled from the recession while incomes have climbed far less.

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