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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Observers: Availability, affordability returning to West Coast markets

Although sellers still maintain the upper hand in Seattle with low inventory and high prices, homes sat on the market for about 70 days in January, up from 55 days a year prior. (Tribune News Service)
Although sellers still maintain the upper hand in Seattle with low inventory and high prices, homes sat on the market for about 70 days in January, up from 55 days a year prior. (Tribune News Service)

With West Coast real estate markets improving for buyers as homes remaini for sale longer in cities such as San Jose and Seattle, indications are Spokane’s market could also experience a cool down, local real estate professionals say.

The shift is occurring where home values have risen significantly in the past six years on the West Coast, suggesting those areas have hit an affordability ceiling as price cuts become common and homes more likely to sell below their listing price, according to home-search website Trulia.

It’s a better scenario for homebuyers in Seattle, wheremore properties are on the market this year compared with 2018. Prices are slowly adjusting to healthy levels and there’s a reduction in multiple offer situations, said Will Springer, broker with John L. Scott in Seattle.

“Home price increases have slowed, and I think that suggests prices have gotten slightly ahead of what buyers are willing to pay,” Springer said. “Homes are sitting on the market longer now, giving buyers more time to ponder. Buyers are more in control of their buying destiny compared with a year ago.”

Spokane – also a seller’s market – is experiencing a housing shortage. But, there’s reason to believe the area will see inventory jump in the next year or two as construction ramps up to meet housing demand and the market returns to what is considered a healthy level, said Rob Higgins, executive officer for the Spokane Association of Realtors.

“I have every reason to believe we’ll fall in line with what happened with the Seattle market, Higgins said. “It may be a year off or so. We’ll have to wait and see. Generally, what happens in Seattle happens in Spokane 18 months later in the real estate market. Now, they seem to be building their inventory, but quite frankly, it’s still considered a seller’s market.”

Although sellers still maintain the upper hand in Seattle with low inventory and high prices, homes sat on the market for about 70 days in January, up from 55 days a year prior. The share of listings with price cuts more than doubled over the same time period, from 6.2% to 13.9%, according to Trulia.

March median home price in Spokane rose more than 11 percent from a year earlier to $245,800 and the market contains just less than two of housing inventory, according to the Spokane Association of Realtors.

“We’ve had just fewer listings every year coming on the market,” said Julie Cope, broker with John L. Scott in Spokane. “It’s very hard, especially for the first-time homebuyer section, and they get beat out a lot.”

Homeowners looking to upsize or downsize are waiting for more homes to appear on the market before they list their properties, Cope said.

However, relief could be in sight for buyers because the real estate market is cyclical and trends in Spokane follow those in Seattle and elsewhere, Higgins said.

When Higgins attended a state real estate meeting close to two years ago, real estate agents in Seattle described scenarios of low inventory and multiple offers on homes.

Spokane is now mirroring that market, he said.

“A few years ago, Seattle’s market was just like ours is today,” he said. “We are starting to see a rebound on inventory. I’m hearing it at our national meetings and I think it will happen here.”

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