The overall strength of the real estate market on the Eastside reflects the underlying strength of the Puget Sound economy where many of the bellwether technology companies continue to thrive even as COVID-19 shows no signs of going away quickly or quietly. With the country now officially in a recession, and with many small businesses suffering in Seattle and on the Eastside, buyers are still showing up in surprisingly large numbers. Another factor in the buying equation is that mortgage interest rates are still at historically low levels, many under 3% depending on the type of loan and the credit worthiness of the buyer.
Many real estate companies are reporting current sales activity at or above what they saw in June of 2019. In spite of limited access to homes including no traditional open houses, rules allowing only 3 people in a home at a time all wearing masks and adhering to social distancing rules, the sales numbers are virtually the same as last year.
Perhaps the most astonishing commentary on the overall Seattle area market came last week with the release of the Case Shiller appreciation report for April. The Case Shiller reports are seen by many as a very accurate measure of appreciation for any given area as they do not rely on median or average sales prices but rather on the more reliable “same house sale“ method which won a Nobel prize for one of the authors. This report showed appreciation for the Seattle area, in April at 7.3% over last year. That is the second highest appreciation number in the United States, with only Phoenix (AZ) outpacing Seattle.
We won’t see June numbers for another two months, but the April numbers, given what was happening regarding COVID and social justice issues are amazing.
In our area, low interest rates, low inventory and a large number of thriving technology firms, all translate into a very strong real estate market that should continue at least through most of the third quarter.