After a long, cold winter, with record-breaking snowfall, spring has finally arrived in Seattle. But spring has not only arrived on the calendar, or in the gorgeous northwest gardens beginning to erupt in glorious colors; it is also evident in the blossoming real estate market.
As many of you will recall, last fall the real estate market quieted significantly and there was talk of a downturn. Analysts speculated about a potential correction this spring and homeowners began to fret a bit about whether they had missed their opportunity to sell, or at least to see the value of their real estate investment in their home increase.
The start of 2019 has instead offered a welcome surprise, as the market has made a definite uptick in activity versus what some had anticipated. In reviewing the statistics as of late March 2019 for Area 390, which includes Madison Park, Washington Park, Capitol Hill, Montlake, Broadmoor, Madrona, Denny Blaine and Leschi, the numbers are looking good and slightly ahead of where we were this time last year. As of late March 2019, there are currently 77 pending single-family listings in Area 390 and 141 closed sales year-to-date. This is a very slight increase over 2018’s 136 closed sales for the same period. Prices are also up slightly, the average single-family sold price for Area 390 in the first quarter 2019 at $1.093 million versus $1.061 million for the same period last year. These 2019 numbers are not a dramatic increase from 2018’s figures, but they are an increase, and this increase occurred despite multiple snowstorms that brought the real estate market to a virtual halt for several weeks.
In contrast to the uptick in recent market activity and average price, days on market saw a pretty significant increase from first quarter 2018, where average days on market was 22, to year-to-date 2019 where average days on market is 49. However, I don’t find this statistic overly concerning as this seems to be due primarily to fourth-quarter inventory languishing on the market and into the new year, ultimately selling in first quarter 2019. This number was also skewed in first quarter 2019 by the sale of several high-end homes that closed after longer periods on the market.
So, what does this all mean to our Madison Park and surrounding area real estate community? I would say that it means that we are off to a healthy start of our 2019 spring market. To take it one step further, while we are still in a “seller’s market,” as evidenced by only about two months of available inventory, the market is not as frenzied as it was last year.
A normal market is typically defined as a market with 4-6 months of available inventory. Over that amount begins to lean toward a buyer’s market. While sales are still brisk and there are some multiple offer situations still occurring, many homes are selling with only one offer and in a more “normal time frame.” So, while prices remain strong, buyers are afforded the opportunity to actually get into contract before doing their inspection and not having to waive all contingencies to get a home. Though this is still happening for some sought-after properties, it is certainly not the norm. In addition, sellers need to understand when they list their market time may be longer than it was last year.
Given these statistics, you may be wondering what you should be doing if you are considering selling your home this spring.
The most important things that you can do to prepare your home for sale are fairly simple; clean, de-clutter, tidy up your garden and think about first impressions. You do not or should not have to spend a lot of money, that you likely will not make back, remodeling your home to sell it. If you do feel that your home needs a facelift, something as simple as paint can change the whole look and feel of a space. Also, furnishings can make a huge difference too. This does not mean that you need to start over and buy all new furniture for your home. Updating linens and towels or adding a few light throw pillows can often do the trick. Or, when preparing to sell, consider using a stager to bring in a few key pieces without having to purchase them. The main thing to keep in mind is that first impressions are so important. When a buyer drives up to your home, is your front yard tidy? Is the front clear of shoes, packages or garden tools, and does it instead have some flower pots filled with fresh spring annuals? First impressions matter!
But it is also important that your Realtor makes a great first impression. Your agent should be working with a high-caliber photographer, not trying to cut corners with a lesser-skilled resource or, worse yet, taking their own photos. Brochures, ads and marketing materials should be professional, beautiful and showcase your home in the best light possible.
Remember, you only get one chance to make a great first impression, and you and your real estate professional should be a team with this goal in mind. Both seller and broker being well prepared can go a long way to achieving a well-presented listing and successful sale in today’s market.
Lisa Turnure is a founding member of Coldwell Banker Bain Madison Park.