This week Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, discusses housing affordability and what we can expect moving forward. On average median housing prices nationwide are have increased by 23.5% above the 2008/2009 recession. While there has been some impact on values due to COVID-19, high demand from buyers in a market with limited inventory will continue to increase prices. What’s the solution? There’s high demand for entry level housing, but there’s no easy answer as to how to create affordability.
This week Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist with Windermere Real Estate, provides updated news about the mortgage forbearance program. The program has provided a safety net for homeowners but isn’t likely to have any long term negative economic impact.
Demand for urban housing remains strong, and with Amazon’s projected growth in downtown Bellevue, along with other corporations’ expansion plans, high demand is expected to continue over the next few years. Before the coronavirus outbreak and Stay Home/Stay Healthy order that went into effect in mid-March, the local condo real estate market was off to a very strong start.
2019 DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE CONDO SALES
1/1/2019 thru 3/31/2019 4/1/2019 thru 4/16/2019
39 sales 16 sales
2020 DOWNTOWN BELLEVUE CONDO SALES
1/1/2020 thru 3/31/2020 4/1/2020 thru 4/16/2020
55 sales 13 sales
First quarter downtown Bellevue condo sales were up significantly compared to the same period last year. Moving into the second quarter, numbers for the first half of April are surprisingly similar year-to-date, despite the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis. It’s possible this April’s sales stats reflect contracts written in early March just prior to (and perhaps to secure a home) before the anticipated shelter in place order.
Though well below normal for this time of year, homes continue to be listed for sale, and buyers are writing offers on some of those homes. Many sellers and buyers, for health and safety reasons, have chosen to put plans on hold until the shelter at home order has been revised or lifted and there is a better sense of what “normal” is going to look like. Like many businesses, it is expected the current strict restrictions on the real estate industry will be lifted gradually. What will the summer market look like? It’s tough to say, but based on activity during the first quarter, the high number of property and virtual tour views on websites over the past several weeks, and conversations with clients and potential buyers and sellers, summer may pick up right where the first quarter left off.
The coronavirus health crisis has redirected everyone’s focus. We’re all searching for our “new normal”, abandoning and creating new daily routines, figuring out how to safely shop for groceries, work from home (maybe cope with the temporary or permanent loss of a job or income), home school and entertain children, balance finances and care for family, friends and neighbors.
Real estate is how I’ve earned my living for three decades. I love what I do, but right now, and for the foreseeable future, it’s anything but a priority or business as usual. I’m also trying to figure out how to navigate working from home, support elderly parents on the east coast, stay in touch with family members near and far and reach out to friends and neighbors. Staying connected with family, friends and clients has led to some creative and interesting get-togethers. Virtual coffee meetings and happy hours, with the occasional photo bomb by a family pet, has generated a much needed laugh or two.
Whatever, and whenever normal resumes, there will be plenty of time to get back to previous work and family routines. My priority is to take care of my health and my family’s health and safety. I’m fortunate to be affiliated with a company that helped set the tone for what the industry landscape should look like while Washington’s Stay Home/Stay Healthy order is in effect. Since the early days of this crisis, Windermere has taken the position “go slow and do no harm” with a goal, within strict guidelines set by the State of Washington prioritizing safety and wellness, to take care of our clients. Brokers and management worked hard to help clients who were already under contract on the purchase or sale of a home, to complete that transaction so that no one was caught between moves, but we will slow-roll new business until the coast is clear. Our priority, and one of Windermere’s core values . . . putting people over transactions . . . is more important than ever.
Take care of yourselves. Be safe and stay healthy.