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At the end of a year in which so much was unprecedented — in business, society and politics — the real estate market was no different. Whether you were buying, selling or considering diving in, Seattle’s real estate climate was hotter and moved faster than ever.

Following the total shutdown in the first half of 2020, home prices and sales soared as inventory dwindled. Competition for the few homes for sale is fierce. The numbers in this hypermarket could not, and were not, predicted. Every metric — listings, sales, prices — beat last year’s numbers.

There’s nothing on the horizon — short of a natural disaster or other catastrophic events — that will slow this down in the next 12 to 24 months. The economic news continues to be positive. Interest rates are still low, and job growth and relocations to the area remain high.

However, the houses that are coming on the market are moving fast. In Madison Park and our surrounding neighborhoods, there’s only three weeks’ worth of inventory available. If you remember that analysts consider four to six months of inventory a neutral market, it’s clear we’re in an uber seller’s market.

The lack of inventory is creating ferocious demand, and brokers have to get creative to get a deal made.

The new normal

To get a sense of what that means, here’s just one example. In October 2020, I listed a house for $2.75 million. It stayed on the market for 60 days, and then the sellers pulled it off the market. They then received an off-market full-price offer, all cash, and turned it down due to a timing conflict. In October 2021, we put it back on the market at $2.795 million. Same house, no changes.

It quickly got multiple offers, with no contingencies, that drove the price up to $2.85 million. That same house, with no improvements, got an offer for $100,000 more in one year. But the sellers were worried about where they’d move to. So, in the interest of selling this house this time, I suggested to the buyer’s brokers to allow the sellers to stay in the house until the end of the year, rent-free, so they can find a place to land. One of the buyers went for it, and that was the deal maker.

Buyers, sellers and brokers who are willing to get creative, be flexible and adapt to a market situation we’ve never experienced will be rewarded — even with the low inventory. Because we’ve gotten scrappy and gone way outside the box to bring buyers and sellers together, my team currently has close to $30 million in sales volume in escrow. But half of that is represented by properties that weren’t even on the multiple listing service.

Adapt to succeed

The old ways of doing business aren’t cutting it now. I’m not even talking about 10 or 15 years ago — more like 10 or 15 months ago. There is a significant group of active, qualified buyers who are making offers on properties and falling flat because their brokers are doing the same old thing. In 2022, be prepared to see more and different terms than we’ve ever seen becoming more common.

If you’re a buyer, you can’t rely on some guy who plays golf with your brother or your neighbor’s cousin simply because they have a real estate license. You have to be aggressive and interview several brokers to find one that will help you realize your goals. Ask them how they’ll get you a house in this market, not last year’s. My team has picked up so many new buyers because they weren’t getting results from other brokers.

On the seller’s side, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to be comfortable — nothing is off the table. If you look at the equity you’ve built, getting into this market presents opportunities. You’ll have little competition, and a buyer will almost certainly be there. Over the holiday months, we’re not seeing the bidding wars between eight to 10 buyers, but there are still buyers willing to meet or exceed listing prices. It’s across the spectrum of pricing, too. The sweet-spot homes — those priced in the upper six figures to just above $1 million — have been snapped up quickly for the last few years. In the past few months, the properties well above $1 million are also selling quickly, often with terms that are advantageous to the sellers. We just saw the highest sale ever recorded in the Seattle Northwest Multiple Listing Service — a $30 million waterfront house in Denny Blaine sold in nine days. Nine days. Mind you, this was a mega-mansion on over 160 feet of low-bank waterfront, but still crazy nonetheless.

I’ve also seen more flexibility in where people want to live. My team has worked with out-of-state brokers for clients who are leaving Washington. We’re seeing more folks moving south of Seattle, and we’ve expanded to serve them better. My team, King County Estates, has recently expanded into Pierce County (the new Pierce County Estates) to make the transition easier for Seattle residents. We have morphed into a “do-it-all” real estate team. If you need anything real estate-related, anywhere, we can do it.

Finally, from all of us at King County Estates, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season. Please continue to stay safe and stay healthy. Let’s not let our guard down now so that we can make 2022 a year filled with family and friends, larger gatherings again and a return to a more normal life. As a reminder, my home, my office and my team are focused here in Madison Park. If you’d like to set a time to talk through any matters involving buying or selling your home, my door is always open.

 

Chris Sudore

Madison Park Resident

KingCountyEstates.com

Chris@KingCountyEstates.com

Managing Broker Coldwell Banker Bain | Global Luxury