Real EstateStats January 28, 2021

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update Q4, 2020

The following analysis 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 me.



After the COVID-19-induced declines, employment levels in Western Washington continue to rebuild. Interestingly, the state re-benchmarked employment numbers, which showed that the region lost fewer jobs than originally reported. That said, regional employment is still 133,000 jobs lower than during the 2020 peak in February. The return of jobs will continue, but much depends on new COVID-19 infection rates and when the Governor can reopen sections of the economy that are still shut down. Unemployment levels also continue to improve. At the end of the quarter, the unemployment rate was a very respectable 5.5%, down from the peak rate of 16.6% in April. The rate varies across Western Washington, with a low of 4.3% in King County and a high of 9.6% in Grays Harbor County. My current forecast calls for employment levels to continue to improve as we move through the spring. More robust growth won’t happen until a vaccine becomes widely distributed, which is unlikely to happen before the summer.


❱ Sales continued to impress, with 23,357 transactions in the quarter. This was an increase of 26.6% from the same period in 2019, but 8.3% lower than in the third quarter of last year, likely due to seasonality.

❱ Listing activity remained very low, even given seasonality. Total available inventory was 37.3% lower than a year ago and 31.2% lower than in the third quarter of 2020.

❱ Sales rose in all counties, with San Juan County seeing the greatest increase. This makes me wonder if buyers are actively looking in more remote markets given ongoing COVID-19 related concerns.

❱ Pending sales—a good gauge of future closings—were 25% higher than a year ago but down 31% compared to the third quarter of 2020. This is unsurprising, given limited inventory and seasonal factors.


❱ Home price growth in Western Washington continued the trend of above-average appreciation. Prices were up 17.4% compared to a year ago, with an average sale price of $617,475.

❱ Year-over year price growth was strongest in Lewis and Grays Harbor counties. Home prices declined in San Juan County which is notoriously volatile because of its small size.

❱ It is interesting to note that home prices were only 1% higher than third quarter of 2020. Even as mortgage rates continued to drop during the quarter, price growth slowed, and we may well be hitting an affordability ceiling in some markets.

❱ Mortgage rates will stay competitive as we move through 2021, but I expect to see price growth moderate as we run into affordability issues, especially in the more expensive counties.


❱ 2020 ended with a flourish as the average number of days it took to sell a home in the final quarter dropped by a very significant 16 days compared to a year ago.

❱ Snohomish County was again the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 15 days to sell. The only county that saw the length of time it took to sell a home rise compared to the same period a year ago was small Jefferson County, but it was only an increase of four days.

❱ Across the region, it took an average of 31 days to sell a home in the quarter. It is also worth noting that, even as we entered the winter months, it took an average of five fewer days to sell a home than in the third quarter of last year.

❱ The takeaway here is that demand clearly remains strong, and competition for the few homes available to buy continues to push days on market lower.


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.

Demand has clearly not been impacted by COVID-19, mortgage rates are still very favorable, and limited supply is causing the region’s housing market to remain incredibly active. Because of these conditions, I am moving the needle even further in favor of sellers.

2021 is likely to lead more homeowners to choose to move if they can work from home, which will continue to drive sales growth and should also lead to more inventory. That said, affordability concerns in markets close to Western Washington’s job centers, in combination with modestly rising mortgage rates, should slow the rapid home price appreciation we have seen for several years. I, for one, think that is a good thing.

Stats January 12, 2021

Real Estate Stats


The end of 2020 marked a most unusual year, and the real estate market was no exception. While homes sales usually take a holiday during December, this year saw the continuation of an exceptionally strong and competitive market. New listings, closed sales and home prices all went up. With supply nowhere close to meeting demand, the strong market is expected to extend into 2021.

Inventory continues to be the biggest challenge for buyers. While King County had a 62% increase in new listings compared to a year ago, homes were snapped up quickly, leaving the county with just over two weeks of available inventory at the end of the month. The supply of single-family homes was down 35% year-over-year. Buyers considering a condo had far more choices. Inventory was up 45%, but at about five weeks of available units the condo market is still significantly short of the four month supply that is considered balanced. Inventory in Snohomish County was even more strained, with the month end showing only a one-week supply of homes. At the end of December there were only 373 homes on the market in all of Snohomish County, a 63% drop from a year ago. With inventory this tight, it’s more important than ever for buyers to work with their agent on a strategic plan for getting the home they want.

Low inventory and high demand continued to push prices upward.  The median single-family home price in King County was up 10% over a year ago to $740,000.  Price increases varied significantly by area. Seattle home prices were up 10%. The traditionally more affordable area of Southwest King County, which includes Federal Way and Burien, saw prices jump 15%. And on the Eastside, the most expensive market in King County, home prices soared 17% — the largest increase of any area in the county.  Home prices in Snohomish County rose 12% to $573,495, just shy of its all-time high of $575,000.

With 2021 ushering in a new record low for interest rates, and inventory at its tightest in recent memory, 2021 is expected to remain a very competitive market.

Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner’s prediction: “As we move into 2021, I expect continued strong demand from buyers, but unfortunately, the likelihood that there will be any significant increase in inventory is slim. As a result, I believe prices will continue to rise, which is good news for sellers, but raises concerns about affordability. This, combined with modestly rising mortgage rates, could end up taking some steam out of the market but overall, I expect housing to continue being a very bright spot in the Puget Sound economy.”

The charts below provide a brief overview of market activity in Seattle.

Living November 10, 2020

How to Archive Low-to-Zero Waste

Image Source: Shutterstock

Making the switch to a more sustainable household won’t happen overnight, but there are simple steps you can take to cut down on your home’s waste.

Start your waste-reducing process by getting to know your local disposal guidelines. What you can recycle varies at both the state and city level. Check your local municipality’s website for recycling rules and more information, like whether you need to separate your recycling and if your community accepts food and yard waste for composting.

Waste-reducing principles 
Instilling some basic principles of waste reduction into your household will create a solid foundation to build upon.
  • Only buy what you will eat. Food waste is a common problem in households everywhere, and the best remedy is to plan ahead before you take your next trip to the grocery store. This method of planning meals will reduce the chances of throwing away unused food items and minimize your food waste overall.
  • Keep your recycling clean. It doesn’t take much time to give your recyclables a quick rinse, but it makes a big difference at the recycling center. Avoid recycling items like plastic bags, greasy take-out food containers, and batteries, which contaminate the rest of your recycling.
  • Use containers for drinks. Bottled water and paper coffee cups are wasteful and, unfortunately, ubiquitous. By purchasing a durable metal or glass water bottle and a thermos for coffee, you will greatly reduce the waste that comes as a byproduct of daily beverages.


In-home waste reduction
Reducing waste in the kitchen, bathroom, and yard will make a significant difference in the amount of overall waste generated at home.
  • Reusable containers: Adding plastic and glass containers to your kitchen repertoire will not only help to reduce food waste, but they will decrease your use of plastic. Mason jars are useful for storing bulk items such as rice, beans, and oatmeal.
  • Single-use alternatives: Single-use items like paper towels, paper plates, and plastic cups can be replaced by reusable alternatives. Use kitchen rags to clean up instead of paper towels and hand wash all plates and cups when possible.
  • Countertop compost: Set up a small compost bin on your countertop to ensure all compost is accounted for during food prep. When the container is full, take it outside to a larger outdoor compost pile or container.


  • Cut down on plastic: For common bathroom items like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, consider buying in bulk and using a personal container for each. This saves money and reduces the amount of plastic on your bathroom shelves. You can also look for similar products in bar form.
  • Continue to recycle: Your home’s recycling practices should go beyond the kitchen. Place a recycling container next to all bathroom garbage bins throughout the house to ensure you dispose of recyclable products properly.
  • Reusable razors: Plastic razors have a short shelf life and pose serious recycling problems. Explore more eco-friendly shaving products next time you buy. Look for companies with razors that last and offer subscriptions for replacing blades.


  • Compost: Composting is one of the best things you can do to help reduce waste. Fruits and vegetables, eggshells, coffee grounds, as well as things like yard trimmings, houseplants, and fireplace ashes are all compostable. If you don’t have the space for an outdoor compost, see what community composting options are available near you.
  • Other: If you live in a rainy climate, explore installing rainwater catchments in your home. Check for local regulations and tips on preventing pollution before proceeding with any rainwater harvesting.
For additional tips on how to reduce waste at work, at home, and in your community, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s guide here: Reduce Waste – EPA.
by Sandy Dodge
Stats November 4, 2020

Real Estate Stats for Q3

The following analysis 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 agent.


Employment numbers in Western Washington continue to improve following the massive decline caused by COVID-19. For perspective, the area shed more than 373,000 jobs between February and April. However, the recovery has been fairly robust: almost 210,000 of those jobs have returned. Unemployment levels remain elevated; the current rate is 8.2%. That said, it is down from 16.6% in April. The rate, of course, varies across Western Washington counties, with a current low of 7.2% in King County and a high of 11.2% in Grays Harbor County. The economy is healing, but the pace of improvement has slowed somewhat, which is to be expected. That said, I anticipate that jobs will continue to return as long as we do not see another spike in new infections.

  • Sales continued to improve following the COVID-19-related drop in the first quarter of the year. There were 25,477 transactions in the quarter, an increase of 11.6% from the same period in 2019, and 45.9% higher than in the second quarter of this year.
  • Listing activity remains woefully inadequate, with total available inventory 41.7% lower than a year ago, but 1.6% higher than in the second quarter of this year.
  • Sales rose in all but two counties, though the declines were minimal. The greatest increase in sales was in San Juan County, which leads one to wonder if buyers are actively looking in more isolated markets given ongoing COVID-19-related concerns.
  • Pending sales—a good gauge of future closings—rose 29% compared to the second quarter of the year, suggesting that fourth quarter closings will be positive.





  • Home-price growth in Western Washington rose a remarkable 17.1% compared to a year ago. The average sale price was $611,793.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Mason, Island, and San Juan counties. Only one county saw prices rise by less than ten percent.
  • It was even more impressive to see the region’s home prices up by a very significant 9.4% compared to the second quarter of 2020. It is clear that low mortgage rates, combined with limited inventory, are pushing prices up.
  • As long as mortgage rates stay low, and there isn’t an excessive spike in supply (which is highly unlikely), prices will continue to rise at above-average rates. That said, if this continues for too long, we will start to face affordability issues in many markets.




  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the third quarter of this year dropped two days compared to a year ago.
  • Snohomish County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 16 days to sell. All but two counties—Lewis and San Juan—saw the length of time it took to sell a home rise compared to the same period a year ago.
  • Across the region, it took an average of 36 days to sell a home in the quarter. It is also worth noting that it took an average of 4 fewer days to sell a home than in the second quarter of this year.
  • The takeaway here is that significant increases in demand, in concert with remarkably low levels of inventory, continue to drive market time lower.



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.

High demand, favorable interest rates, and low supply clearly point to a seller’s market in Western Washington. As such, I am moving the needle even more in favor of sellers.

As I suggested earlier in this report, although the market is remarkably buoyant, I am starting to see affordability issues increase in many areas—not just in the central Puget Sound region—and this is concerning. Perhaps the winter will act to cool the market, but something is telling me we shouldn’t count on it.

Written by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate


As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Real Estate November 4, 2020

Wire Fraud and how to avoid it.

A fast-growing form of cybercrime, wire fraud has led to major losses for homebuyers in recent years. Get to know what it is and what steps you can take to avoid it.

What is wire fraud?
Real estate wire fraud is a scam that targets buyers while making payments during the home buying process. Attackers have taken advantage of the fact that there are several people and entities involved in real estate transactions. Between real estate agents title and escrow companies, mortgage lenders and more, there are many steps, some of which involve sharing financial information and transferring money. This gives ample opportunity for scammers to slip through the cracks somewhere along the line.

The timing of wire fraud is typically during closing using a sophisticated phishing scam. Attackers apply the use of fake emails, phone numbers, or websites, often posing as the buyer’s real estate agent and directing them to allocate funds to a fraudulent account. Because the attacker will have scanned, scrubbed, and lifted your personal information in preparation for the scam, their forms of communication can often look familiar and legitimate.

The mission of the cyberattack is to get your funds into an account the attacker owns. To do this, it is common for them to say that you had previously sent funds incorrectly, that they were never received, that there are new instructions for payment, or that there has been a last-minute change in the closing process. These are all major red flags. It is imperative to take extra caution during the final steps of purchasing a home because transfers, once initiated, are difficult to remedy and can delay your closing process.

How can I avoid wire fraud?
Get to know the closing process: Talk with your Windermere agent ahead of time about what to expect throughout the closing process. Discuss payment options with your lender and ask specifically about instructions for wiring funds. It is safer to share this information over the phone than through email, as scammers could accumulate this information to use against you.

  • Record contact information: Keep a list of the personnel involved in your closing process. Beyond your real estate agent, keep a record of contacts at your mortgage lender, title company, and attorney’s office. In the event that someone new reaches out to you with a request, confirm their identity with one of your contacts.
  • Call to confirm: Call to confirm wiring instructions before sending the transaction through. Talk to a trusted representative and ask them to repeat the information to verify its legitimacy. After sending the funds, make same-day follow-up calls to ensure they were received.
  • Trust your gut: If you receive an iffy email or phone call, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s the perfect time to reach out to your contacts, discuss your hesitancy, and get advice before proceeding.

The threat of wire fraud emphasizes the importance of working closely with everyone involved in the purchase of your home. If you believe you have been scammed, contact your bank or wire transfer company immediately and request that they issue a recall notice for your wire. Contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and report the activity with as much information as you can gather. For more information about how to protect yourself from wire fraud, visit the National Association of Realtors’ Wire Fraud resources page.

Décor October 16, 2020

Modern Trends

Modern design can tie your home together while making a statement. Getting to know the modern farmhouse, mid-century modern, and industrial design trends will help to determine which is best for your home.

Modern Farmhouse

Bringing country living to wherever you call home, modern farmhouse is a style marked by sleek lines, vintage touches, and natural textures that still delivers a comfortable feel. Widespread use of the term “modern farmhouse” did not pick up steam until the mid-2010s, only gaining in popularity since.

In your home:

Color: A defining characteristic of the modern farmhouse is a whitewashed palette, which offers a satisfying contrast to the use of natural wood. Cream is also a popular choice. Floral accents are typically used to add depth to the whitewashed backdrop.

Features: Exposed beams, antique items, and rustic décor form the makeup of a modern farmhouse-inspired dwelling. Barn lighting and gooseneck lamps are the most fitting lighting choices. Round out your modern farmhouse look with shiplap wherever you see fit, board-and-batten siding, and Shaker cabinets for your kitchen.

Mid-Century Modern

A movement begun in—you guessed it—the middle of the twentieth century, mid-century modern (MCM) took shape in a post-war America that saw a migration to urban areas, thus influencing design of the era to be more mindful of smaller living spaces.

In your home:

Philosophy: Mid-century modern is as much an artistic movement as a design trend. MCM designs are simple in form, emphasizing function and organic influences, and are meant for everyone to use. Consider these characteristics when planning your décor.

Color: The color palette most commonly associate with MCM is earthy tones. If you’re looking to add more pop but want to stay true to the earthy palette, experiment with pastels.

Furniture: Typical MCM design features in furniture include juxtaposing larger pieces with skinny legs, peg legs, the use of lighter-colored woods such as teak, and fun geometric shapes. Beloved favorites include credenzas, dressers, and egg chairs.


Inspired by warehouses, factories and unexpected materials such as shipping containers, Industrial design brings home the raw, hardwearing aesthetic typically associated with spaces like reclaimed yards, hangars, and ports. Customization is popular in Industrial design, and like mid-century modern, simplicity is emphasized.

In your home:

Color: The Industrial color palette is predominantly neutral. Texture is a more defining feature than color, which gives you flexibility when it comes to decorating. With neutral colors, it is easier to keep your home’s color palette aligned and complimentary.

Materials: How do you make your home feel like a warehouse? Materials go a long way in accomplishing this. Industrial go-to materials for furniture and beyond include wood, aluminum, copper, steel, stone, and tin. Avoid soft materials like plush that would take away from the hardworking feel inherent in Industrial.

A touch of nature: Due to its emphasis on recycled and reused materials, plant life and nature-centric accents are fitting compliments to Industrial design. Indoor plants, cactus, and flowers are popular items for sprucing up an Industrial space while adding an appropriately placed touch of color.

Although these trends vary in style and application, they all share a statement-making capability. When incorporating them into your home, know that any of these features will definitively shape the look and feel of your home.

Contemporary interior design of dining space with communal table against brick wall and open living room with simple sofa and plant decorations on textured gray wall