Real Estate January 18, 2024

10 Housing predictions for 2024

Matthew Gardner’s Top 10 Predictions for 2024
1. Still no housing bubble
This was number one on my list last year and, so far, my forecast was spot on. The reason why I’m calling it out again is because the market performed better in 2023 than I expected. Continued price growth, combined with significantly higher mortgage rates, might suggest to some that the market will implode in 2024, but I find this implausible.

2. Mortgage rates will drop, but not quickly
The U.S. economy has been remarkably resilient, which has led the Federal Reserve to indicate that they will keep mortgage rates higher for longer to tame inflation. But data shows inflation and the broader economy are starting to slow, which should allow mortgage rates to ease in 2024. That said, I think rates will only fall to around 6% by the end of the year.

3. Listing activity will rise modestly
Although I expect a modest increase in listing activity in 2024, many homeowners will be hesitant to sell and lose their current mortgage rate. The latest data shows 80% of mortgaged homeowners in the U.S. have rates at or below 5%. Although they may not be inclined to sell right now, when rates fall to within 1.5% of their current rate, some will be motivated to move.

4.Home prices will rise, but not much
While many forecasters said home prices would fall in 2023, that was not the case, as the lack of inventory propped up home values. Given that it’s unlikely that there will be a significant increase in the number of homes for sale, I don’t expect prices to drop in 2024. However, growth will be a very modest 1%, which is the lowest pace seen for many years, but growth all the same.

5. Home values in markets that crashed will recover
During the pandemic there were a number of more affordable markets across the country that experienced significant price increases, followed by price declines post-pandemic. I expected home prices in those areas to take longer to recover than the rest of the nation, but I’m surprised by how quickly they have started to grow, with most markets having either matched their historic highs or getting close to it – even in the face of very high borrowing costs. In 2024, I expect prices to match or exceed their 2022 highs in the vast majority of metro areas across the country.

6. New construction will gain market share
Although new construction remains tepid, builders are benefiting from the lack of supply in the resale market and are taking a greater share of listings. While this might sound like a positive for builders, it’s coming at a cost through lower list prices and increased incentives such as mortgage rate buy downs. Although material costs have softened, it will remain very hard for builders to deliver enough housing to meet the demand.

7. Housing affordability will get worse
With home prices continuing to rise and the pace of borrowing costs far exceeding income growth, affordability will likely erode further in 2024. For affordability to improve, it would require either a significant drop in home values, a significant drop in mortgage rates, a significant increase in household incomes, or some combination of the three. But I’m afraid this is very unlikely. First-time home buyers will be the hardest hit by this continued lack of affordable housing.

8. Government needs to continue taking housing seriously
The government has started to take housing and affordability more seriously, with several states already having adopted new land use policies aimed at releasing developable land. In 2024, I hope cities and counties will continue to ease their restrictive land use policies. I also hope they’ll continue to streamline the permitting process and reduce the fees that are charged to builders, as these costs are passed directly onto the home buyer, which further impacts affordability.

9. Foreclosure activity won’t impact the market
Many expected that the end of forbearance would bring a veritable tsunami of homes to market, but that didn’t happen. At its peak, almost 1-in-10 homes in America were in the program, but that has fallen to below 1%. That said, foreclosure starts have picked up, but still remain well below pre-pandemic levels. Look for delinquency levels to continue rising in 2024, but they will only be returning to the long-term average and are not a cause for concern.

10. Sales will rise but remain the lowest in 15 years
2023 will likely be remembered as the year when home sales were the lowest since the housing bubble burst in 2008. I expect the number of homes for sale to improve modestly in 2024 which, combined with mortgage rates trending lower, should result in about 4.4 million home sales. Ultimately though, demand exceeding supply will mean that sellers will still have the upper hand.

LivingReal Estate October 4, 2023

Prepare Your Home for Winter

As the days shorten, you can mitigate many mid-winter headaches with some preemptive prep. Proper weatherizing can help protect your home from preventable damage, save money on energy costs, and, most importantly, keep you and your loved ones safe and warm throughout the winter season. Here is a useful checklist to manage your weatherization project. Setting aside some time on a couple of weekend days should be more than enough to knock this out:

 

Cracks & Leaks

Examine your entire house for any cracks and leaks, from your roof to your baseboards, to your basement and foundation. With unpredictable winter weather, these cracks and leaks are how the outside gets in, causing cold drafts and water damage.

Luckily, most cracks don’t require a professional to handle it. Depending on your house type and age, it’s likely you’ll be able to do it yourself with supplies from your local hardware store.

 

Windows & Doors:

Gaps and breaks in windows and doors is another way to let the winter in your home, and they can let heat escape, raising your heat bill throughout the season.

Make sure seals are tight and no leaks exist. If you have storm windows, make sure you put them on before the cold season begins. Additionally, add weather-strips and or a door sweep to prevent drafts and keep the heat in.

 

Rain Gutters: 

Clean your rain gutters of any debris. In colder climates, the buildup will cause gutters to freeze with ice, crack and then leak.

Once you have removed the residue from the drains, test them by running hose water to make sure cracks and leaks have not already formed. Even in warmer locales, the buildup can put undue stress on your roof and home.

 

Pipes: 

Protecting your pipes from freezing should be your number one priority this winter. A burst pipe can quickly become a disaster in any home.

Remember to turn off your exterior water source and take in your hose. Internally, wrapping your pipes is a recommended precaution to take.

 

Heating System:

Annual checks are vital in avoiding dangers such as house fires. Replace filters if you use a furnace and clear out any vents and ducts that carry heat through them. If you have baseboard heat, wipe them of dust and remove any debris that might catch fire.

 

Fireplace & Wood Burning Stoves:

Make sure to have chimneys and air vents cleaned early in the season if you are planning on warming your home with a wood-burning source. When your fireplace is not in use make sure to close the damper, some resources estimate an open damper can increase energy consumption by as much as 30%, increasing your bill about $200.

 

Outside: 

Bring your patio furniture inside or cover it for the winter. Don’t forget other, smaller items such as your tools, including the hose and planting pots. Clear out any piles around the side of your house, checking for cracks and holes in your home and foundation as you go so to avoid providing shelter for unwelcome guests over the cold season.

If your property has large trees check for loose branches and call someone to trim back any limbs that may fall in your yard, on your roof or even damage a window.

 

Emergency Kit: 

Lastly, make sure your emergency kit is up to date with provisions, batteries, fresh water, food for animals, entertainment for kids – especially if you live in an area prone to power outages.

For a more complete emergency preparedness guide, visit https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Real Estate September 7, 2023

Just Sold in Magnolia, Seattle

Livingremodel September 6, 2023

A Guide to Permits and Regulations for ADUs, Sheds, & More

Do I need a permit to build an ADU?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and other additional property structures have emerged as viable options for homeowners looking to maximize their property’s potential. These structures offer additional living space while creating opportunities to generate extra income or accommodate multigenerational family members. But before you break ground on your building project, here are some of the things you should keep in mind.

  • Permits and Regulations: No matter where you live, it is necessary to obtain the appropriate permit before you begin the construction process. Permits ensure that your project complies with local building codes and regulations. Though some guidelines are universal, keep in mind that every local area has its own specific building requirements for residential properties.
  • Code Compliance: Building codes aren’t just red tape for the sake of red tape; they exist to make sure that all buildings are safe. Whether you’re building the structures on your property DIY or hiring a professional to do the job, you are the one kickstarting the project, not your local municipality. But by having these codes in place, they can ensure that you’re adhering to the required standards of safety. Before you even start on your project, familiarize yourself with your local codes and regulations. Contact your local zoning department or building authority to learn more.
  • Applying for a Permit: The permit application process varies by location. Typically, you’re required to submit detailed plans for your project with documents that outline its scope, size, etc. Whether you submit architectural drawings, engineering plans, or some other form of detailed blueprint, be prepared for a thorough review on behalf of your local authority to make sure your project complies with the rules.

Whatever project you have in mind—ADU, garden shed, pool house—it’s important to become well-versed in the permits and regulations that will allow you to get it built hassle-free. Consult with local authorities to get the full picture of what’s required from you. Once you’ve checked all the boxes, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing the value of your property. Pair your building project with these design ideas to take your backyard to the next level:

5 Design Ideas to Improve Your Backyard

Real Estate August 5, 2023

Magnolia Listing 3636 36th Ave W, Seattle

House for sale in Magnolia, Seattle

Charm radiates from this beautifully remodeled 1940's Magnolia home on a quiet street one block from Discovery Park. Main floor features a bright kitchen with custom floating shelves and a large island, two bedrooms and a full bathroom. The daylight basement offers a cozy bonus room, bathroom, utility room, and garage with potential for a home gym/office. French doors lead to your own paradise: a huge, fully fenced backyard graced with flowering trees and a generous patio for gatherings or for you to enjoy. As well as a brand-new shed with endless possibilities (camping gear/workshop/hobbies). Minutes from sweeping views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains, Met Market, Discovery Park, Transit, Magnolia Village shops and restaurants.

Livingpets April 19, 2023

Pet-Friendly House Cleaning tips

Pets make a house a home. But as much as you love your furry friends, they do add a few entries to your list of chores. Keeping your home clean requires a bit of extra work, and some methods of upkeep are more pet-friendly than others. The following tips will help you keep your house clean and your pets happy.

5 Pet-Friendly House Cleaning Tips

1. Safely Clean Up Accidents

When pet owners buy a home, they proceed knowing full well that pet accidents and messes are bound to happen. Cleaning up messes quickly is important for keeping your home clean, but it will also remove the scent, so your pets don’t come back to that same area with the same intentions. When shopping around, look for cleaning products that are safe for animals and don’t contain any toxic chemicals.

2. Deep Clean to Reduce Smells

Pets have a knack for leaving a scent behind. Every pet owner knows the feeling of going through their normal cleaning routine to extinguish the pet smell from their home, only for it to linger after they’re done. To really get your home smelling fresh again, you’ll need to target your pets’ favorite areas as well as the commonly missed cleaning spots throughout your home like underneath furniture, along the baseboards, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much dirt and fur you find in these places.

 

An orange cat watches her owner work on his computer as he sits on the living room couch

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Marco VDM

 

3. Clean Pet Toys Regularly

Your pets’ toys are magnets for dirt, fur, drool, and other unwanted substances. It’s a homeowner’s nightmare to imagine spending hours cleaning your home top to bottom, only for a muddy ball your pets have been chewing on to roll across the carpet. Cleaning toys regularly is also healthier for your pets as it helps to reduce the spread of germs. If your pets’ toys are dishwasher safe, pop them in the dishwasher every once in a while to get them squeaky clean.

4. Keep the Air Clean

Even after you’ve exhausted all your cleaning efforts on the surfaces throughout your home, pet fur and dander can still travel through the air. It’s important to clean the air in your home, especially if members of your household have allergies. Consider investing in an air purifier, which will filter air particles to remove dust and odors, giving everyone in your home—pets included—cleaner air to enjoy.

5. The Importance of Well-Groomed Pets

In the context of a clean, pet-friendly home, there’s one surface that’s more important than any—your pets themselves. Every pet owner has their routine; whether that’s regularly maintaining their cat’s litter box, wiping off the dog’s paws in the mudroom before letting them inside, regular baths and brushing, or keeping nails trimmed to avoid furniture and carpet damage, these are the boxes that must be checked to keep your home clean. For all your cleaning efforts, if your pets are still messy, then the spaces in your home will follow suit.

 

Real Estateremodel April 10, 2023

Smart House Projects

This blog post contains excerpts of the “Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report” (costvsvalue.com).1


As you prepare to sell your home, one of the major considerations you may face is whether to remodel, and if so, how to allocate your remodeling budget. Remodeling can help differentiate your home from competing listings in your area, but this competitive advantage comes at a price.

The following information provides insight on which remodeling projects deliver high ROI. To maximize the value of your remodel, talk to your agent about what buyers in your area are looking for and align your efforts accordingly.

High ROI Remodeling Projects to Increase Home Value

It’s no secret that buyers want to see a home with curb appeal and attractive interior spaces. But as a seller, you’ll only have so much budget to work with and you want to get the most return on your investment. As laid out below, here are the five highest ROI remodeling projects nationwide as found in the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com).1


 

Remodeling Project Cost of Remodeling Project (2022) Resale Value of Remodeling Project (2022) ROI
Garage Door Replacement $4,041 $3,769 93.3%
Manufactured Stone Veneer $11,066 $10,109 91.4%
Minor Kitchen Remodel (Midrange) $28,279 $20,125 71.2%
Siding Replacement (Fiber – Cement) $22,093 $15,090 68.3%
Window Replacement (Vinyl) $20,482 $13,822 67.5%

 


This data shows that for a given remodeling project a higher expenditure doesn’t necessarily equate to higher ROI. It’s interesting to note that only one indoor project—the minor kitchen remodel—placed in the Cost vs. Value Report’s top five.

Four of the Cost vs. Value Report’s bottom six entries are upscale remodeling projects, all with roughly a 50% average return on investment. The conclusion to be drawn here is that remodels of this magnitude are expensive and should be considered carefully before you greenlight them. The upside to these projects, though, is that they have a much higher resale value than a simple fresh coat of paint or a change in décor. If you and your agent identify a logical upscale remodel with serious resale potential whose costs you can handle, it can help you get the best price for your home.

So, does this mean you should replace your garage door before selling your home bar none? Not necessarily. Again, your remodeling priority list should target the areas of your home that need attention while aligning with local buyer interest. Your agent can provide guidance on what competing listings in your area are offering and refer you to trusted remodeling contractors in your area.

 

Remodeled contemporary kitchen with white cabinets and hardwood floors

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: YinYang

 

Budget-Friendly ROI Home Projects

Though smaller scale home makeovers don’t have the value-adding power of larger remodeling projects, they can still make a difference when selling your home.

Instead of an upscale kitchen remodel, you can focus more on making minor improvements in several areas. For example, repainting or refinishing your cabinets, swapping out your drawer pulls and hardware, and installing new appliances can make your kitchen feel brand new with a smaller budget. When remodeling your bathroom, tasks like refinishing your tub, installing new lighting, and a new backsplash can make a strong impression on buyers.

 

  1. © 2022 Zonda Media, a Delaware Corporation. Complete data from the Remodeling 2022 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at costvsvalue.com.
Real Estate February 24, 2023

How to Improve Your Curb Appeal

When it comes time to sell your home, first impressions are crucial. Improving your curb appeal helps to make the most of a buyer’s first glance and sets the stage for their interest in purchasing your home. The following projects are simple and inexpensive ways to enhance both your home’s first impression and its value.

 

Landscaping

 

  • Lawn: A healthy, well-tended lawn goes a long way towards improving your curb appeal. Clean up all weeds, leaves and debris, and consistently water your lawn to give it that fresh green look. If you live in an arid climate, consider grass alternatives like artificial turf for the best lawn aesthetic.
  • Plant colorfully: Adding color variety to your front yard will grab buyers’ attention. Align smaller plants, like groundcover and flowers, neatly within your flower beds, aiming for symmetry when possible. Use larger plants and trees to frame in your entryway or walkup. If your front yard doesn’t have flower beds, try adding hanging planters or window boxes.
  • Lighting: Landscaping lighting boosts your curb appeal during nighttime, accentuates your shrubbery, and adds a welcoming touch for visitors as potential buyers, lighting the way to your door.

 

Image Source: Canva

 

Porch

Front porches set the stage for all your home has to offer. Improvements here will play a significant role in how comfortable potential buyers feel about the property and how inspired they are to explore the inside of the house.

 

  • Door: Your front door is an opportunity to make a tasteful statement. Look at bold color choices that are within or slightly stretch your home’s exterior color palette. Take time to prepare the surface for a fresh coat of paint to make the color pop as much as possible. Try stylish doorknob options that accentuate the aesthetic to give your door some added flair.
  • House numbers: New and stylish house numbers are an easy, eye-catching touch to the look of your porch. Look for styles that match with your exterior color palette and any exterior lighting fixtures.
  • Go for comfort: Incorporating classic front porch elements like a porch swing, sitting bench, and other outdoor furniture gives a welcoming aura to the front of your home and creates a sense of comfort for prospective buyers.
  • Shutters: Windows are the gateway to the inside of your home. Shutters of delicate fabric will bring elegance to your front porch, while wooden shutters deliver a solid, cozy vibe.

 

Other

These miscellaneous projects will add the finishing touches to your home’s curb appeal and get it in prime selling condition.

 

  • Quick maintenance: Small chores and minor fixes like cleaning gutters, repairing chipped paint, and cleaning windows are important for buyers with a detailed eye.
  • Staining: Instead of replacing fences or garage doors, look into applying a fresh stain. This brings a refreshed look and is much cheaper than a full renovation or replacement.
  • Power wash: Power washing your walkways and driveways makes a significant difference in curb appeal. If buying a power washer is outside your budget, explore rental options from the big-name hardware stores.
Real Estate February 9, 2023

5 Green Updates to Increase Your Home Value

Selling a home begins with understanding how much it’s worth. After an initial assessment, you may want to make some updates to increase the value of your property. There are several ways to do that, including boosting your curb appeal or making renovations with significant ROI potential. As you research potential projects, keep in mind that making your home more sustainable can boost its value to potential buyers. Talk with your agent to identify which of these five upgrades makes sense for your home before it hits the market.

Five Green Upgrades that Increase Your Home Value

1. Energy-Efficient Appliances

It’s no secret that appliances use a significant amount of energy, which means there is plenty of opportunity to cut back on their output. Installing energy-efficient appliances can do wonders for creating a more eco-friendly home, while appealing to buyers who value sustainability. When shopping around, look for appliances with high-efficiency or Energy Star certifications. They may cost more to purchase, but their ability to generate long-term savings is a concrete selling point.

2. Tankless Water Heater

As the shift toward eco-friendly appliances has picked up steamed, so too has the preference for tankless water heaters. Whereas standard storage tank water heaters keep a reservoir of hot water at the ready, tankless water heaters heat your home’s water supply on-demand. It’s similar to a new car that shuts off its engine when sitting idle, as opposed to an older car whose engine is running all the time. Tankless water heaters don’t come without their share of costs. An upfront investment will be required for purchase and installation, but it will deliver immediate savings on energy bills.

3. Solar Panels

There are many benefits to going solar, but for sellers, the positive effect solar energy has on home values is chief among them. A solar-capable home is a surefire way to drum up buyer interest. By taking care of the upfront installation costs, you allow the buyer to focus on the benefits of solar energy, i.e. the long-term energy savings, the reduced utility bills, and the reduction in the property’s carbon footprint. Work closely with your real estate agent to understand how solar energy has affected home prices in your area to get an idea of the project’s ROI potential.

 

A man installs solar panels on the roof of a house.

Image Source: Getty Images

 

4. Water Filtration

Installing a home water filtration system is one of the best ways to cut down on your home’s waste while increasing its value. These filtration systems appeal to buyers for a variety of reasons. Of course, there are an array of health benefits to having filtered water running through the entire house. Buyers can be assured that the water is safe to drink, they will be bathing and showering in clean water, and there is a reduced risk of plumbing issues due to contaminated water. Beyond the personal health benefits, it can also cut down on bottled water costs and the amount of landfill waste produced within the home.

5. Energy-Efficient Windows

Alternatives to traditional windows have become more popular in recent years. Energy-efficient windows are better insulated, which helps to regulate temperatures inside the home and protects against harmful ultraviolet rays. Their ability to help regulate your home’s heating and cooling leads to energy savings and reduced carbon emissions. Energy-saving windows can be highly valuable to potential buyers, especially if you live in a climate with extreme temperatures.

Real EstateStats January 30, 2023

Real Estate Stats for Western Washington Q4.

The following analysis of select counties of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Although the job market in Western Washington continues to grow, the pace has started to slow. The region added over 91,000 new jobs during the past year, but the 12-month growth rate is now below 100,000, a level we have not seen since the start of the post-COVID job recovery. That said, all but three counties have recovered completely from their pandemic job losses and total regional employment is up more than 52,000 jobs. The regional unemployment rate in November was 3.8%, which was marginally above the 3.7% level of a year ago. Many business owners across the country are pondering whether we are likely to enter a recession this year. As a result, it’s very possible that they will start to slow their expansion in anticipation of an economic contraction.

Western Washington Home Sales

❱ In the final quarter of 2022, 12,711 homes sold, representing a drop of 42% from the same period in 2021. Sales were 34.7% lower than in the third quarter of 2022.

❱ Listing activity rose in every market year over year but fell more than 26% compared to the third quarter, which is expected given the time of year.

❱ Home sales fell across the board relative to the fourth quarter of 2021 and the third quarter of 2022.

❱ Pending sales (demand) outpaced listings (supply) by a factor of 1:2. This was down from 1:6 in the third quarter. That ratio has been trending lower for the past year, which suggests that buyers are being more cautious and may be waiting for mortgage rates to drop.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sales for various counties in Western Washington from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022. All counties have a negative percentage year-over-year change. Here are the totals: Jefferson at -19.9%, Skagit at -27.7%, Mason -30.7%, Lewis -30.9%, Clallam -34.3%, Whatcom -36.3%, Kitsap -38.5%, Snohomish -40.3%, Island -42%, Grays Harbor -42.3%, King -43.1%, Thurston -45.8%, San Juan -46.8%, Pierce -46.9%.

Western Washington Home Prices

❱ Sale prices fell an average of 2% compared to the same period the year prior and were 6.1% lower than in the third quarter of 2022. The average sale price was $702,653.

❱ The median listing price in the fourth quarter of 2022 was 5% lower than in the third quarter. Only Skagit County experienced higher asking prices. Clearly, sellers are starting to be more realistic about the shift in the market.

❱ Even though the region saw aggregate prices fall, prices rose in six counties year over year.

❱ Much will be said about the drop in prices, but I am not overly concerned. Like most of the country, the Western Washington market went through a period of artificially low borrowing costs, which caused home values to soar. But now prices are trending back to more normalized levels, which I believe is a good thing.

A map showing the real estate home prices percentage changes for various counties in Western Washington. Different colors correspond to different tiers of percentage change. Grays Harbor and Whatcom Counties have a percentage change in the -6.5% to -3.6%+ range, Clallam, Jefferson, King, and Skagit counties are in the -3.5% to -0.6% change range, Snohomish and Pierce are in the -0.5% to 2.4% change range, Mason, Thurston, Island, and Lewis counties are in the 2.5% to 5.4% change range, and San Juan County is in the 5.5%+ change range.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Western Washington from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022. San Juan County tops the list at 6.9%, followed by Lewis at 4.8%, Thurston at 3.8%, Island at 3.7%, Mason at 3.5%, Snohomish at 0.8%, Pierce at -0.2%, Clallam at -1%, Skagit at -2.1%, Jefferson at -2.5%, King at -3.1%, Whatcom at -4.1%, Kitsap at -5.3%, and finally Grays Harbor at -6.5%.

Mortgage Rates

Rates rose dramatically in 2022, but I believe that they have now peaked. Mortgage rates are primarily based on the prices and yields of bonds, and while bonds take cues from several places, they are always impacted by inflation and the economy at large. If inflation continues to fall, as I expect it will, rates will continue to drop.

My current forecast is that mortgage rates will trend lower as we move through the year. While this may be good news for home buyers, rates will still be higher than they have become accustomed to. Even as the cost of borrowing falls, home prices in expensive markets such as Western Washington will probably fall a bit more to compensate for rates that will likely hold above 6% until early summer.

A bar graph showing the mortgage rates from Q4 2020 to the present, as well as Matthew Gardner's forecasted mortgage rates through Q4 2023. After the 6.79% figure in Q4 2022, he forecasts mortgage rates dipping to 6.27% in Q1 2023, 6.09% in Q2 2023, 5.76% in Q3 2023, and 5.42% in Q4 2023.

Western Washington Days on Market

❱ It took an average of 41 days for homes to sell in the fourth quarter of 2022. This was 17 more days than in the same quarter of 2021, and 16 days more than in the third quarter of 2022.

❱ King County was again the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 31 days to find a buyer.

❱ All counties contained in this report saw the average time on market rise from the same period a year ago.

❱ Year over year, the greatest increase in market time was Snohomish County, where it took an average of 23 more days to find a buyer. Compared to the third quarter of 2022, San Juan County saw average market time rise the most (from 34 to 74 days).

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Western Washington for Q4 2022. King County has the lowest DOM at 31, followed by Kitsap at 45, Island and Snohomish at 35, Whatcom, Thurston, and Skagit at 36, Pierce at 37, Clallam at 38, Jefferson at 40, Mason at 43, Grays Harbor at 46, Lewis at 49, and San Juan at 74.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

The regional economy is still growing, but it is showing signs of slowing. Although this is not an immediate concern, if employees start to worry about job security, they may decide to wait before making the decision to buy or sell a home. As we move through the spring I believe the market will be fairly soft, but I would caution buyers who think conditions are completely shifting in their direction. Due to the large number of homeowners who have a mortgage at 3% or lower, I simply don’t believe the market will become oversupplied with inventory, which will keep home values from dropping too significantly.

A speedometer graph indicating a balanced market, barely leaning toward a seller's market in Western Washington in Q4 2022.

Ultimately, however, the market will benefit buyers more than sellers, at least for the time being. As such, I have moved the needle as close to the balance line as we have seen in a very long time.