Bellevue, WAEastside Real EstateFor BuyersFor SellersKing County, WAReal EstateRedmondSammamish, WASeattle January 31, 2012

My 2009 Predictions for 2012 Seattle Area Real Estate

Predictions for 2012 Seattle-Eastside Real Estate?
I’d just written a post with predictions for this year’s real estate market, when I happened to come across this post from 2 1/2 years ago with positive predictions about the 2012 Bellevue/Eastside real estate market. 
Looking at the reprinted post below, how much looks like it could be true for 2012?

Rebound in Seattle/Eastside real estate? Wait until 2012.
A rebound in Seattle real estate?  Yes, but not just yet, and it will probably be a small rebound, IMHO. Both Yahoo, via the Plugged in Finance blog and Businessweek had articles projecting a faster return to a more positive real estate market for Seattle than for many other parts of the country.  Seattle ended up on the top 10 real estate rebound lists on both Yahoo and Businessweek.
Why a rebound in Seattle? Seattle’s chances are among the best in the country and for the same reasons the Seattle/Eastside area was so strong for most of the last two decades.  It’s our economy and our geography.
First, the geography. (Bear with me for this brief geography lesson. This brings me back to my roots as a social studies teacher who loves geography.) There’s a lot of empty space east of Seattle, Bellevue and other parts of King County.  This is where the foothills of the Cascade Mountain range begins.  It looks like there’s lots of open space out there, and there is, but it gets pretty steep!  It’s certainly not conducive to building a home. Couple this with strict land use regulations, protecting salmon streams as an example, and even less land is available for development.  It’s double-edged sword.  We need to maintain a healthy balance between people and nature, to maintain our wildlife, our trees, and our quality of life. But the natural elements of the Seattle area, Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Cascade Mountains do provide a challenge to our growth. Less land to develop=higher prices, but it  won’t happen for a few years and increases should still be modest.
The economy in the Seattle area is hurting like the rest of the country.  But there’s a strong economic base that will re-emerge as things start to turn around.  The old stand-bys, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Boeing are struggling now, but should bounce back.
Another thing to watch is the number of homes for sale, the housing inventory.  We’re still at higher numbers, but things are starting to balance out. If you look at the maps, you’ll see the Seattle real estate market of 2009 is far more balanced than the Seattle real estate market of 2008. (A balance market is when the number of homes for sale in an area is less than a 6 months supply.  Yellow on the attached maps indicates a balanced market in the area.
Builders are NOT buying land right now. Over the years, builders would have huge amounts of land tied up for future building.  This is no longer the case.  It can take a couple of years to develop a site and to start building homes. With less land available for building and less land owned by builders and ready to be built out, existing homes will be more in demand in the future.
On yesterday’s “Morning Edition” on NPR Station, KPLU, John Maynard interviewed Richard Hagar about another issue, the influx of new people moving to Washington State, the majority of whom are moving to King County. Some of these people rent and some buy condos and homes.  The in-migration of people will only help our real estate and economy over time.
The year 2012 seems like a long way off, but we’re halfway through 2009.  It’s around a really long corner and it’s not going to be an easy “walk” to get there.
Now we’re at the end of the first month of 2012, what’s happening with Seattle-Eastside Real Estate? There are differences from what I wrote in 2009 that actually bode well for the Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, etc areas:
Builders are buying land now. We have a client who was approached by no less than 4 builders last year when his property was not even listed for sale.  Within the same week, he received several builder solicitations.  He’s not the only homeowner with land who has been approached.  Builders are actually looking to beef up their inventory of land so they can build again.
The number of homes on the market has reached the lowest level since February, 2007. In all of King County there are approximately 7500 homes and condos for sale.
The geography hasn’t changed and I believe it will take millions of years before it does and the economy is still performing at a far better pace in the Seattle area than in other parts of the country.  Amazon, Microsoft, and other companies are hiring.
What does your crystal ball say?