When to buy a house in Seattle

“When is a good time to buy a house in Seattle?” is a question most of my buyers have. If you have been considering buying a home in the Seattle area, and have been watching prices climb and climb, you may be asking yourself “has the market peaked?” ” Will the market crash?”  “If I don’t buy now, will it just go higher?” These are questions I hear frequently from my home buyers in our current market.

 

Is it always a good time to buy real estate?

For decades, real estate agents have thrown out in response to the question “when is a good time to buy real estate?” the answer of “NOW! Always NOW!”  This is generally followed by the statement, “they aren’t making any more real estate!”  For the large part that is true, unless you consider condos.

On the whole, real estate does always appreciate, provided you look at a long enough period and start/stop in the right spots.

If you look at this chart of Seattle home prices, even though the market tanked, dropping to a low in 2012, we are still ahead of where we were in 2006.

Long term Seattle home price trend

This being said, most home buyers don’t stay in their homes more than a few years, so knowing where the market is going overall is more important minor fluctuations. Even in the slide from 2007 to 2012, there were small spots were homes appreciated. What you as a home buyer need to be smart about, is buying at the bottom of the small cycles and selling at the top.

Is it too late to buy a home in the Seattle area?

The buyers I talk to now are worried about another major crash like we saw with the bursting of the 2008 real estate bubble.  From my 20 years of experience in the Seattle real estate market, I’m not seeing any indicators that would indicate a major crash.

I’m writing this in October of 2018, and what we have seen this year is a significant pull-back in the market. This may sound catastrophic, but this started in June and while the total number of sales are down, home prices overall are still climbing. Though I expect them to soften slightly soon (more on that in a minute.)

When to buy a house in Seattle?

This becomes a bit of a philosophical question, as life factors are in play as well. A primary concern would be whether you need to move NOW. When to buy a house in Seattle is not really an arguable question if you need it NOW!

An example of this would be if you are moving the family, pets and entire house of furniture to Seattle from Houston.  It may NOT make sense to try and find a rental while you shop for the absolutely best deal and search for the dip in the market.

Conversely, if you are moving slow and in no hurry, the annual trends in real estate can create some buying opportunities.

Seattle annual home price cycleAs you can see, the overall Seattle residential real estate market slows starting in about October and drops, bottoming out quite predictably in February.  This translates to a saving of roughly $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the home, location, and year.

The downside to capitalizing on this annual trend is that there are fewer homes on the market. What you have to decide is whether to shop when prices are slightly lower and the selection smaller, or if you are willing to pay a little more, and have a bigger variety of homes to pick from.

Of course, if the markets maintain this pattern, even buying at the top of the previous year, you will see gains in your home’s value over the following years.

How can I get the best deal on a new home?

Regardless of when you are shopping for a new home in the Seattle area, there are some things you can do to get the best deal possible.

First thing when going home shopping, is to get pre-qualified for a loan. To get the best deals, you have to move fast, and waiting for a lender may cost you a home.  Coming in as strong as possible with your down payment is also a good indicator to sellers that you aren’t a flake and will follow through on the purchase of their property. If you can swing all cash, even better!

Next, to get the best deals, you have to be willing to move fast.  I suggest signing up for alerts on homes that fit your criteria and if one pops up, go see it as soon as possible! If it is a good deal, there are likely to be other people wanting it as well. I generally do searches every morning for my active buyers and when deals hit the market, we have to move fast.

Lastly, to get the best deals, you have to be decisive. I suggest having a criteria list and being very objective about every house you look at. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients lose homes they really liked because they had to “think on it” for a night. While they were thinking, other buyers took action and wrote an offer.

The right agent can make or break your home hunting experience

One thing I can’t stress enough is that if you are home hunting, the real estate broker that you use, is critical. If you wind up working with a part time agent, or one that is not responsive, the lack of communication can not just be infuriating, but lose you homes. If your agent isn’t a strong negotiator, you are likely going to leave money on the table. In addition, and experienced agent can often times see trouble farther down the road and take actions to deal with it early.

Don’t just work with the first agent you run into. Whatever you do, never buy a home from a new home site agent! Pick someone that knows what they are doing and is on top of the market so they can help you get the best deal.

Final thoughts on when to buy a house in Seattle

There are many factors that go into when it is the right time to buy a home. The current market conditions are just one of them. Your current financial situation, long term plans, employment and so on are all factors that need to be addressed.

If buying a home is something you are considering, please give me a call at 425-773-3149 or send me a message with the form below. I routinely sit down with people to go over their financial situation, credit history, and discuss their goals for their home purchase. Some are ready to buy now and others find that they need to do some work to prepare first.

I’d be more than happy to sit down for a no-obligation consultation and see if now is the right time for you to buy a home.


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