Key Indicators for Western Washington Housing Still Rising, But Brokers Detect Slowdown & Uncertainty

Source: NWMLS

Nov. 6, 2017

KIRKLAND, Washington (November 6, 2017) – Early seasonal snow and questions swirling around the
tax plan unveiled last week by House Republicans could make the usual seasonal slowdown more
pronounced, say industry leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. For October, however, key
indicators trended upwards.

Pending sales rose nearly 8 percent from a year ago, closed sales were up 5.2 percent, and prices jumped
about 8.2 percent, with 14 counties reporting double-digit gains. Even the number of new listings
improved on the year-ago total.

Northwest MLS figures for the 23 counties it serves show members added 8,466 new listings to inventory
during October, outgaining the year-ago total of 7,575 by 11.8 percent. Buyers outnumbered new listings,
with 10,586 of them having their offers accepted. That number of pending sales was up nearly 8 percent
from the same month a year ago.

“The challenge for buyers actually isn’t lack of choice, it is the rapid pace of sales,” suggested Ken
Anderson, president/owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty.

“The market in Thurston County has never been better for sellers, and they’re getting the message,”
Anderson remarked. His analysis revealed a 10-year high for sellers coming to market during October.
“These savvy sellers are not waiting until spring to sell. They are taking advantage of today’s great
market and making their move now,” he reported.

Buyers may find themselves in a quandary as the year winds down as they contemplate limited supply,
possible upticks in interest rates and tax reform. Last week’s announcement of a provision in a GOP tax
proposal to cap the mortgage interest deduction is concerning to buyers, brokers and builders.

“Imagine if the proposed plan to cap the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 is approved in a market
that is starved for homes and where the median price [for a single family home in King County] is now
$630,000,” said O B Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “Homeowners may be less likely to
sell because they would be giving up their grandfathered tax credit on their current home. That’s fewer
homes for sale in a market where we really need them,” he stated, adding, “There could also be a flood of
new buyers trying to purchase before the plan is passed, adding to the already hyper-competitive market

The president of the National Association of REALTORS® also weighed in, saying details are currently
under review, but stated, “Eliminating or nullifying the tax incentives for homeownership puts home
values and middle class homeowners at risk, and from a cursory examination this legislation appears to do
just that.”

Northwest MLS data show 66 percent of single family homes sold so far this year (Jan. – Oct.) in King
County had selling prices of $500,000 or higher.

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