It’s still a seller’s market, despite virus

It continues to be a seller’s market for real estate in Washington state.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a housing shortage, rural areas like Island County continue to experience an active housing market.

“It’s not a bad time to be in real estate on Whidbey Island,” said Jerry McKenna, president of the Whidbey Island Association of Realtors.

In a Northwest Multiple Listing Service press release, Washington Center for Real Estate Research Director James Young noted the housing shortage is resulting in higher prices and rising demand in places that are more rural and popular with older people trading down.

He also noted that the pre-pandemic migration to rural areas appears to have accelerated now that lockdowns have eased.

Many real estate transactions on Whidbey Island have had multiple bids and are being sold closer to their original listing prices, McKenna said.

According to data provided by McKenna, in May there were about half as many homes for sale on Whidbey this year when compared to the same time last year.

This year, however, almost all of the houses were placed under contracts and were in the process of being sold. Last year about half of the homes listed were pending under contracts. Furthermore, this year saw an 11 percent increase in average sale prices.

“We’re not quite sure what’s causing that,” he said.

The NWMLS and McKenna said the historically low interest rates are part of the cause and he added that there is speculation among realtors that more people are investing their money in real estate.

“If you’re a buyer right now it’s really difficult because there’s multiple offers coming in on everything,” McKenna said, adding that it may become more difficult for buyers to get loans in the future with the high unemployment rate.

When compared to the same time last year, Island County has seen a 20 percent decrease in the number of new residential listings. The median sales prices however have jumped upward by about 10 percent.

In June 2019, the median sales price was $405,875. This year the median sale was $445,000.

Listings have stayed on the market for eight days longer, when compared to last year.

Condos experienced similar bumps on the market. Last year there were 10 condos listed for sale.

This year there are only nine for the month of June. Median sales prices for condos increased by 6 percent from $219,500 to $233,400.

Last year, condos stayed on the market for 75 days. This year they are spending 41 days on the market.