Fall housing market shifts, but still seller’s market

Residential real estate snapshot from John L. Scott

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.

Julia Nordby, office leader of John L. Scott’s Bellevue-Main office, said today’s housing market is a “welcome relief to battered home buyers,” yet sellers can still rest assured that the average amount of time for homes on the market is still at approximately 14 days. 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 16.4 percent in Bellevue over August.

“It is important for buyers to keep good solid principles in mind when searching for a home,” Nordby said. “It is still a seller’s market with the average list price to sold price ratio at 100 percent for Bellevue. This means many homes are still selling for over the asking price with multiple offers, while others are languishing on the market.”

While there’s never a one-size-fits-all strategy to buying or selling a home, Nordby said a strong pricing strategy tends to translate well to success. Working with a broker who is conducting thorough research on current sales activity ensures clients aren’t losing opportunities through incorrect pricing or offers that are too far off the mark.

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. Nordby said with the recent market changes, she’s happy to see that home inspections have found their way back into many offers and even home-sale contingencies are present in some cases.

“Homes that are priced correctly on day one have a much higher chance of still selling at or above the asking price,” Nordby said. “A good pricing strategy is equal parts art and science. It is imperative that you are taking up-to-the-minute market conditions into account in conjunction with the needs of your individual client.”

Nordby noted that in the current market, brokers have had to brush up on handling difficult pricing conversations with sellers, particularly those who want to market the home at a higher price than is warranted by current sales activity. She said skilled brokers take many factors into account when pricing a home.

“Recent sales activity takes into account more than just the final sales price,” Nordby said. “It also considers how many buyers were interested in the home. How many offers were there? What was the open house activity? What was the pricing activity? Did the seller start out higher and then go through a round of price reductions?”

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