U.S. housing markets are gaining as demand for homes exceeds available supplies in many areas. The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for June increased by eight points over May's reading to achieve a positive reading of 52. This last happened in August-September of 2002, when HMI monthly readings also jumped by eight points.
The real estate market in Seattle’s Eastside is finally cooling down, after a years-long stretch of rapid price growth. Here’s a look ahead at housing market trends and forecasts for Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, and other cities that make up the Eastside.
‘Eastside’ Housing Market Defined
Before we look at the latest real estate trends, we should define some geography. What is Seattle’s “Eastside,” exactly?
This is a common term for cities that fall within the Seattle metro area, but are located to the east of Lake Washington. Primarily, this includes the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah, Newcastle, and Mercer Island.
While housing market conditions can vary from one area to the next, all of these cities shared some things in common as of December 2018:
- On average, home prices in most Eastside markets are higher today than they were a year ago. During 2018, house values rose steadily throughout the Seattle metro area. As a result, home buyers in Bellevue, Kirkland, Sammamish and other cities in the region are seeing higher costs today than last year.
- Prices are expected to rise more slowly in 2019 than they did this year. This mirrors the forecasts being issued for the nation as a whole. The overall consensus appears to be that real estate markets across the country will appreciate more slowly (or even level off) in 2019. That’s the general outlook for these Eastside markets as well.
Bellevue and Sammamish are two of the most expensive real estate markets in the Eastside, and across the broader Seattle metro area. As of December 2019, the median home value in both of these cities was north of $900,000. In comparison, the median price in nearby Seattle was around $733,000 during that same month.
But Mercer Island tops them all, and is something of an anomaly. The median price in that real estate market was well above $1 million as of December.
The median home values in Issaquah and Kirkland were both hovering around $730,000, toward the end of 2018. That makes them comparable with Seattle itself, in terms of pricing.
As far as forecasts go, it’s kind of a mixed bag. Most housing reports and forecasts (at least those that we have read) suggest that the Eastside real estate market will experience a lower level of home-price appreciation in 2019, when compared to the last couple of years.
Buyers Could Have an Easier Time in 2019
There’s currently a shift happening in the Seattle and Eastside real estate markets. This is something we’ve written about before, and new reports provide even more evidence of it. The short version is that home buyers within the Eastside real estate market are starting to gain some much-needed negotiating ability.
Over the past few years, a server shortage of housing inventory combined with strong demand had home buyers struggling to keep up. Competition was fierce. Supply was short. And most properties that came onto the market went under contract within days, often following a spirited bidding war.
But things have changed. Recent reports showed that a higher percentage of sellers in the Seattle area have been reducing their list prices. The region has also experienced a seasonal dip in home prices, which was unheard of a couple of years ago.
According to a November article in The Seattle Times:
“The median house costs $750,000 in Seattle and $890,000 on the Eastside, both down about $80,000 from their record highs set in the spring and summer.”
The bottom line is that it’s a different housing market today than in recent years. In 2019, Eastside home buyers could benefit from having a bit more negotiating leverage, and more properties to choose from.
Have questions? Sammamish Mortgage is a local, family-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington. We serve the entire state, as well as the broader Pacific Northwest region. Please contact us if you have mortgage-related questions.