Property Views: A tale of two markets

Rather than “A Tale of Two Cities,” this is the tale of two markets. In one, it’s the best of times. In the other, it’s not even close to the worst of times, if you look closely — and you can make it the best if you’re strategic.

Last June continued this storyline. The best-of-times Seattle market — homes under $1.5 million — are still fetching multiple offers, without contingencies, and selling in days for above the asking price.

Things are slower in the market of homes above $2 million — at the time of writing this, only four homes listed over $2 million went under contract in June, and none for the asking price.

Across Lake Washington

Meanwhile, we’re seeing much more activity in that higher end of the housing market, just across the lake in the West Bellevue area. Some sellers on the Seattle side express dismay that properties in Bellevue are moving faster and getting better prices. There are a few reasons that the over-$2 million market is different across the water:

   •     International investors — many from China — buy these properties sight-unseen, with no immediate plans for anyone to live there.

   •     There are many well-known tech billionaires on that side of the lake, and that’s where investors and other billionaires want to be — there are simply more multimillion dollar homes in a small space and like attracts like.

   •     The public schools there are almost all top-rated (10 out of 10).

I have a friend who sold a beautiful modern home designed by Eric Cobb in Washington Park. He moved to Hunts Point almost solely for the schools — the family could stop paying for private schools and the kids could get excellent educations in the public school system.

Trying to compare the Seattle side with Bellevue is like comparing apples to oranges. There are simply too many differences in demographics, home prices, and school ratings to make a comparison or draw any real conclusions.

Apples to apples

We can draw conclusions from comparable homes in comparable neighborhoods on this side of the lake. But you can’t expect what happened in June, and what we forecast for July, with the accelerated market we experienced in the spring.

When we get into the summer months, there are fewer buyers. School’s out, people are taking vacations, and simply enjoying the weather. Many buyers who’ve been looking at the homes below $1.5 million are tired — they’ve been beaten down. They may have bid on as many as 10 homes and lost them all. They’ve benched themselves. With a smaller buyer pool, sellers have to be prepared. Homes will sit longer on the market than in previous months.

Sellers above the $2 million mark really have to be aware of their pricing against other active properties. If there’s a similar house priced at $3.95 million, for example, go a bit lower to $3.89 million.

If you’re a buyer, you won’t face the intense competition of the spring market. Homes will be available slightly longer, and you might actually be able to negotiate and keep inspection and financing contingencies in the contract.

While we’ll see slower activity than in the past few months, the market has by no means dried up. And if you’re not actively a seller or a buyer, you are still affected as a homeowner. No matter if it’s a hot or cooler sales market, the good news is your home’s value continues to appreciate. If you’d like to know by how much, contact me or the broker of your choice to get a market evaluation.

Chris Sudore is a Madison Park resident and the managing broker of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury