There have been a lot of questions that I have encountered about the stability of the housing market due to the global health crisis of COVID-19. I have kept close track of the statistics and daily activity in our market in order to help keep my clients well informed. Inventory levels remain very tight and buyer demand has started to return since the Stay Home Orders were put in place.
Interest rates are at the lowest point they have ever been, providing amazing opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Interest rates continue to fuel buyer demand and create an audience for home sellers. Recently, rates were as low as 3.33%, which is historic.
Below is a chart that shows the amount of weekly pending sales in 2020 in relation to the weekly pending sales during the same week in 2019.
In King County, you can see that we started the year off with activity similar to the robust year of 2019. In February 2020, there were more sales, but that was due to “Snowmageddon” in February 2019. March 2020 started off in concurrence with 2019, but once the Stay Home Orders were put in place there was a dramatic and expected drop in pending sales activity.
When the Stay at Home Orders were first put in place, showings were not allowed, causing a legitimate pause in transactions. The following week, the orders were adjusted to allow for showings and since then the amount of pending sales has increased each week. Protocols for showings include only two people in the home at one time, by appointment only, while practicing 6-foot social distancing.
These protocols, along with virtual showings and many different digital tools using video, have helped buyers and sellers safely come together in transactions. Agents are getting creative in order to best serve their buyers and sellers during this unique time. This has helped quell demand brought on by interest rates and the many industries still thriving despite recent unemployment numbers. See this video from Matthew Gardner regarding the latest unemployment report and his forecast.
Snohomish County followed the same initial pattern as King County, but has seen a quicker return to 2019 sales levels. This is due in part to the more affordable price points in Snohomish County compared to King. In fact, the days on market for closed sales in April 2020 were quicker by 34% at 21 days, and the list-to-sale price ratio was up 1% to 101% over April 2019. Additionally, the median price is up 3% complete year-over-year. In King County, the median price was up 1% complete year-over-year and days on market quicker by 41% at 17 days, and a flat list-to-sale price ratio of 101%.
Tight inventory started in January and continued due to sellers holding off coming to market amid COVID-19. Available inventory is currently not meeting the buyer demand in the market, especially in the lower to middle price ranges. The higher price points have been affected by the increased cost to obtain a jumbo loan, but are still seeing movement. We anticipate more homes coming to the market as we enter into the different phases Washington State has planned to reopen the economy and remain as safe as possible.
For some, now is the right time to sell, and for some it will be later down the road. The timing, safety, and comfort all need to be assessed along with the market data. What I’m pleased to report is that our market is not crashing. In fact, it is adapting! We will most likely find a balance as we head into the remainder of Q2 and start Q3. Many jobs are set to return as the phases unfold. Unlike the 2008 Great Recession, this is a health crisis, not a housing crisis; see this video from Matthew Gardner on this topic. The numbers are telling that story and so is the recent activity.
We strive for excellence when it comes to educating my clients, especially during these historic times that have created uncertainty. We are committed to providing accurate data and real-time information. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss this information and how it relates to your investment and lifestyle. It is simply our goal to help keep you informed and empower strong decisions. Be well!