Low inventory does not reduce demand in Bellevue housing market

By Annie Gustafson

John L. Scott Real Estate

The number of homes available for purchase in December 2017 was exceptionally low in Bellevue, even by “typical” end-of-year standards.

John L. Scott Managing Broker Julia Nordby provided the details: “The number of homes available for purchase in Bellevue in December 2017 was down a whopping 37 percent compared to the prior month, and was down a little more than 15 percent compared to December 2016,” she said.

While the number of homes available for purchase decreased, the median sale price remained almost flat from November to December 2017. Looking at changes between December 2016 and December 2017, however, the median sale price increased by a little more than 16 percent in one year to a 2017 year-end figure of $851,000.

Nordby attributes the year over year median price increase to job growth.

“Job growth is the jet fuel in the Bellevue economic engine,” she said. “Our strong local economy creates confident home purchasers.”

While Nordby has 25 years of real estate industry experience, she recently experienced a first in her office and, it turns out, a first for the Puget Sound region. One of the broker team members in Nordby’s Bellevue office, Nelya Calev, recently represented a buyer client who used cryptocurrency for his down payment. He obtained financing and closed on his Tukwila home in late December.

“Nelya is a natural problem solver and was not flummoxed by the fact that this type of down payment had never happened before,” Nordby said. “She is a model of John L. Scott’s commitment to personal representation: meeting all of a client’s needs, even when its uncharted territory.”

While this is a first for the region, Nordby is confident it will not be the last.

Regarding last month’s federal tax reform, Nordby characterized the impact as minimal and believes the core benefits of home ownership have been preserved, especially in the more affordable and mid price ranges. For specific advice on how it relates to your circumstances and especially if you’re looking to buy or sell in the luxury market, she recommends consulting a tax professional.

For those looking to buy, Nordby recommends getting fully underwritten before making an offer or leveraging your buying power with cash. Another trend Nordby and her brokers are seeing is that many buyers are waiving contingencies such as the home inspection to make their offer stronger. Waiving inspections is indicative of a very competitive market and she does not see an immediate respite in sight for the imbalance in supply and demand in the Bellevue market. She cites both the strong economy and pent-up buyer demand as two reasons why inventory will continue to be limited for months to come.

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