The Gardner Report – Fourth Quarter 2018

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Economic Overview

The Washington State economy continues to add jobs at an above-average rate, though the pace of growth is starting to slow as the business cycle matures. Over the past 12 months, the state added 96,600 new jobs, representing an annual growth rate of 2.9% — well above the national rate of 1.7%. Private sector employment gains continue to be quite strong, increasing at an annual rate of 3.6%. Public sector employment was down 0.3%. The strongest growth sectors were Real Estate Brokerage and Leasing (+11.4%), Employment Services (+10.3%), and Residential Construction (+10.2%). During fourth quarter, the state’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, down from 4.7% a year ago.

My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will still be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 83,480 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.4%.

Home Sales Activity

  • There were 17,353 home sales during the fourth quarter of 2018. Year-over-year sales growth started to slow in the third quarter and this trend continued through the end of the year. Sales were down 16% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • The slowdown in home sales was mainly a function of increasing listing activity, which was up 38.8% compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 (continuing a trend that started earlier in the year). Almost all of the increases in listings were in King and Snohomish Counties. There were more modest increases in Pierce, Thurston, Kitsap, Skagit, and Island Counties. Listing activity was down across the balance of the region.
  • Only two counties—Mason and Lewis—saw sales rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2017, with the balance of the region seeing lower levels of sales activity.
  • We saw the traditional drop in listings in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter, but I fully anticipate that we will see another jump in listings when the spring market hits. The big question will be to what degree listings will rise.

Home Prices

  • With greater choice, home price growth in Western Washington continued to slow in fourth quarter, with a year-over-year increase of 5% to $486,667. Notably, prices were down 3.3% compared to the third quarter of 2018.

  • Home prices, although higher than a year ago, continue to slow. As mentioned earlier, we have seen significant increases in inventory and this will slow down price gains. I maintain my belief that this is a good thing, as the pace at which home prices were rising was unsustainable.

  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Skagit County, where home prices were up 13.7%. Three other counties experienced double-digit price increases.

  • Price growth has been moderating for the past two quarters and I believe that we have reached a price ceiling in many markets. I would not be surprised to see further drops in prices across the region in the first half of 2019, but they should start to resume their upward trend in the second half of the year.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped three days compared to the same quarter of 2017.

  • Thurston County joined King County as the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 35 days to sell. There were eight counties that saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in five counties and was unchanged in two.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 51 days to sell a home in the fourth quarter of 2018. This is down from 54 days in the fourth quarter of 2017 but up by 12 days when compared to the third quarter of 2018.

  • I suggested in the third quarter Gardner Report that we should be prepared for days on market to increase, and that has proven to be accurate. I expect this trend will continue, but this is typical of a regional market that is moving back to becoming balanced.


This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am continuing to move the needle toward buyers as price growth moderates and listing inventory continues to rise.

2019 will be the year that we get closer to having a more balanced housing market. Buyer and seller psychology will continue to be significant factors as home sellers remain optimistic about the value of their home, while buyers feel significantly less pressure to buy. Look for the first half of 2019 to be fairly slow as buyers sit on the sidelines waiting for price stability, but then I do expect to see a more buoyant second half of the year.


As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the Unversity of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

This post originally appeared on the Blog.

Posted on January 30, 2019 at 10:09 am
Sarah McGrath | Posted in Gardner Report |

Local Market Update – December 2018

The real estate market continued to improve for buyers in November. Interest rates dropped slightly, price increases slowed and inventory soared. It’s important to note that inventory increases, while significant, are being compared to the record low supply of last year. We’re still far short of the inventory needed for a truly balanced market, however buyers have greater choice and less competition than they’ve had in years. Sellers who price their home according to current market conditions continue to see strong interest. Heading into the holiday season, there’s something for everyone to celebrate.


>>>Click image to view full report.

The Eastside economy continues to be very strong. Heavy investment in commercial construction from companies such as Vulcan boost expectations that the area will continue to thrive. The median price of a single-family home in November hit $885,000 on the Eastside. Although an increase of 4 percent from a year ago, home prices have remained steady since this fall. With continued demand and only 2.4 months of inventory, the market has a long way to go to becoming balanced.

King County

>>>Click image to view full report.

Price increases continued to slow in King County. The median single-family home price was $643,913 in November, an increase of 2 percent over a year ago. South King County, where the most affordable homes in the county are located, saw significantly greater increases compared to a year ago. North King County also posted greater increases than the county overall. Inventory has skyrocketed as the number of homes for sale in King County more than doubled year-over-year. While that’s good news for buyers, there is only 2.1 months of available inventory in the county, slightly down from October and not nearly enough to meet demand.


>>>Click image to view full report.

The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $760,000 in November. This is up 3 percent from a year ago and slightly up from October. Inventory jumped 177 percent year-over-year however, at just two months of supply, the Seattle area has the tightest inventory in King County. With the city’s strong economy and lifestyle appeal, that’s not expected to change any time soon. Forbes recently named Seattle as the best place for business and careers in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Washington among the top ten universities in the world with Money Magazine rating Seattle the #5 Best Big City to Live In.

Snohomish County

>>>Click image to view full report.

Inventory in Snohomish County continued to climb, surging 88 percent in November as compared to a year ago. That said, the area has fewer homes for sale than King County with just 1.8 months of inventory. This is still far short of the four to six months of supply that is considered a balanced market. The median price of a single-family home sold in November was up 6 percent from last year to $470,000, virtually unchanged from October.

This post originally appeared on the blog.

Posted on December 14, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Sarah McGrath | Posted in Local Market Update |

This Saturday – 5th Semi-Annual Electronics Recycle Event



If you are like me you probably have some kind of electronic gear or appliance or barbecue lying around the house that needs to be discarded.  Instead of taking it to the dump and feeling guilty about filling up a landfill here is a win-win environmentally-friendly solution.

On Saturday, July 13th, as a community service, my Windermere Office and I, in conjunction with the non-profit organization 1 Green Planet, will have a truck in my office parking lot for you or your friends or neighbors to discard nuisance items for free.  Everything from computers, to modems, to appliances, to batteries to barbecues and propane tanks can be brought in.  Tell your friends and neighbors and relatives, all are welcome to use this service.

What: Free Electronics Recycling Event

When: Saturday, July 13th, 10:00AM-2:00PM

Where: Windermere/Yarrow Bay at 3933 Lake Washington Blvd NE, Kirkland, WA 98033

I’ve enclosed a flyer for your information.  Contact me at 206-484-1406 if you have any questions.  We look forward to seeing you this Saturday.

Click Here for Recycle Flyer – July 13th


S a r a h  M c G r a t h
Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. – Yarrow Bay
3933 Lake Washington Blvd NE, Suite 100
Kirkland, Wa 98033
Direct: 206-484-1406
Office: 425-822-5100
Fax: 425-827-3400
"Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world." ~Roosevelt



Posted on July 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Sarah McGrath | Posted in Uncategorized |

What’s important to a buyer and the design trends for 2013- according to Seattle Times

I don't completely agree with this list produced by the Seattle Times. Some of the design trends they have mentioned are spot on. I have seen a lot of various countertops that are not granite….tthey are right, his seems to be on the out. Hardwoods are definitely becoming more and more sought after in all rooms except for the family room and bedrooms. It is just easier to clean and preserve the beauty of hardwoods. Carpet is easily stained or soiled by animals, kids, daily living.

Kitchen is ALWAYS number 1. I have to be careful, however, when I say that because I have walked into a house that just completed a 50k kitchen remodel and it's hideous- my clients think the kitchen needs to be gutted. So, updating your kitchen for yourself, incorporating very personal choices should be done for you to enjoy. If you're going to update your kitchen to gain a value to putting it on the market to sell, don't waste your money and hire a designer, or get some professional opinions from a realtor on what you're doing.

What else should you put money into? The master bathroom is 2nd on my list. The mortgage "payer" wants a nice bathroom. When walking through a dated home my clients are almost always calculating the kitchen remodel and the master bath remodel. The rest of the house can be tolerable over time, but those two rooms are more of an urgent matter.

3rd is the yard, or walk ability to a nice park. We live in Washington….it rains….a lot! When it's nice and sunny, or slightly bearable to enjoy the outdoors my clients want a space they can enjoy. 

New year brings new design trends for the home | Design Decor | The Seattle Times 1/18/13 1:48 PM

Winner of Nine Pulitzer Prizes

Design & Décor

Originally published Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM

New year brings new design trends for the home

Simplicity, green are in.

As 2013 begins, let’s look forward, not back. Instead of reviewing what was popular last year, let’s look ahead and see what’s predicted to be hot.

We all have a specific style we prefer — some like traditional, some like contemporary, some like country and others like eclectic. That said, let’s see what the average homeowner likes best.

The countdown:

10. Kitchen: Clean and simple leads the pack, and that means contemporary style. Perhaps the preference indicates a need for a less-fussy life in the kitchen.

9. Countertop: Quartz composite is the top choice, and yes, it is replacing the great granite top. Quartz composite seems to be the best, no-maintenance finish.

8. Hardwood floors: This one has been coming for a while now, moving up as the floor of choice. There is a richness and beauty to a good hardwood floor that is timeless.

7. Glass backsplash: Not the same old, same old mosaic tile, but instead a glass and stone tile mosaic. The interest in this combination makes sense since it gives visual interest as well as texture. A back-painted solid glass backsplash also fits this theme, particularly in contemporary kitchens.

6. Simplicity for the sink: The double sink is out. The deep single sink is in.
5. Kitchen color: Deep gray, as in charcoal, is in. It is taking the place of — or at least competing

with — stainless steel.

4. Stone finish: Calacatta marble is the choice, and it’s one that works in both contemporary and traditional settings. It is especially popular in the bathroom.

3. Texture and sparkle: Accents of gold and/or silver with glossy glass tiles and nickel fixtures burst forth this year.

2. Multigenerational living and living longer on your own: Easy-to-work-in kitchens and safer baths are becoming very popular and are the cutting edge of this trend.

1. Healthy home: Green is in. Homes that are free of toxins and are more energy-efficient have been growing more and more popular, and have become the No. 1 priority for this year.

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Posted on January 18, 2013 at 2:18 pm
Sarah McGrath | Posted in Uncategorized |

Happy New Year…

Happy New Year! It's a little delayed….I know, but life happens (and so does real estate, planned much like life—-not) and as much as I SO wanted to start blogging on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd…..and so on I just haven't had a chance to sit down, or check my mail for that matter! This is good news in the real estate business. It means the market is active. 

I just went through my mail and found something blog worthy, and what a gift to blog about this. smiley

Over the holiday I received one of the greatest testimonials. I love receiving feedback on my business. Most of my clients are friends, or come from referrals of past clients and friends. So providing some kind of insight to my professional abilities to new clients can be difficult in an "invisible" business. I say "invisible" business because it's like I'm selling something invisible (my services, ability, strength, etc.). You can't touch it, take it for a test drive, try it on, take it home see how it looks in your own mirror. When a client chooses to work with me its 100% based on a recommendation from a friend, reading my reviews on my website or other search engine like zillow, and a coffee date/meet and greet. A home buyer has 1000's of agents to pick from, and the average person knows 10 realtors. The competition is tough.

So, long story long, I received this testimonial and I couldn't be any happier with the result of my clients experience.

Here's the survey…in full.

1. How satisfied were you with the service that you received from your Windermere broker? »Completely satisfied

2. Would you use your broker again?»Yes

3. Would you refer your broker to a friend or family member? »Yes

4. How would you describe the service you received from your broker?»Excellent, unsurpassed.

5. Did your broker do anything to exceed your expectations?  Please explain: »Almost everything Sarah did for me was beyond my expectations. I honestly felt as though she was purchasing a home for herself every step of the way. She was completely on top of every step that needed to occur in order for me to purchase my home. From dealing with the lenders / escrow / HOA / Inspection. Absolute full service. There isn't a better broker out there.

6. Is there anything your broker or Windermere could have done better to serve you?  Please explain »As you can tell, I am more than satisfied. Sarah has a friend and client in me and I will champion her services to others whenever I can.

7. How did you find your real estate broker? »Recommended by a family/friend/neighbor/coworker, etc.

8. If you were the buyer in this transaction, how did you find the property that you purchased? »Through my real estate broker

9. May your broker use your responses in their future marketing materials? »Yes

When I walk a buyer through the finding and buying process I talk out loud every thought I have (maybe too much), as if I were buying the home for myslef. I'm a picky person with high expectations and I think this serves my clients well when buying. His comments told me I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. He felt like it was my own purchase. That's awesome. I couldn't ask for anything more.

It's going to be a great year!

Posted on January 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm
Sarah McGrath | Posted in Uncategorized |