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The Seattle metropolitan area is made up of three counties - King which encompasses the city of Seattle and spreads eastward; Snohomish county to the north and Pierce to the south. Puget Sound forms the western border of the Seattle area and stretches 100 miles north and south and connects to the Pacific Ocean via the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The region was formed by ancient glaciers which carved out the many waterways that are spread throughout the area. To the east of Puget Sound rises the Cascade range of mountains and Mt. Rainier, the tallest and most prominent of the mountain chain. The Seattle area and Puget Sound was first explored by George Vancouver in 1792, who claimed it for Great Britain and named the sound after his Lieutenant - Peter Puget. The first non-native American settlers in the area started a town in present day Tumwater with the Seattle area adding its first in 1852. Seattle was the main travel and trade port with Alaska and the rest of the United States and grew around a shipbuilding industry in its early years. The Tacoma area south of Seattle had a significant smelting industry where copper, gold and silver were processed. In the world war years the Seattle area developed a number of heavy industries with the Boeing company building airplanes and a number of companies building ships around Seattle and Tacoma. The Boeing company maintains a large presence throughout the Seattle area to this day with multiple facilities in and around Seattle. In recent years the Seattle area has expanded its growth around the technology industry with Microsoft and Amazon leading that new era. The Seattle area is the most populous part of Washington state with an estimated population of over 3.7 million.
The Seattle area real estate market as we start 2017 is currently experiencing an amazingly rapid increase in values with home sales continuing to move at a remarkably fast pace due to demand which far exceeds supply. The areas which are experiencing the fastest amount of sales are concentrated around the city of Seattle and its neighborhoods and areas east of Seattle such as Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland. Projected job growth in the Seattle area is estimated at 70,000 new employees with only 8,000 new residential housing units in the same forecast. The expectation is that the demand in Seattle and the closest surrounding cities will remain high and continue to push outward in 2017 to the cities in Pierce and Snohomish county where inventories are now shrinking at an even faster rate than in 2015 and 2016.
80 percent of new listings are still selling within the first 30 days in price ranges where 90 percent of the sales activity is taking place. That contrasts with a more balanced market when only around 30 percent of listings are selling in the first 30 days. Prices area-wide also continued trending upward, rising nearly 9.2 percent from a year ago. The overall median price for single family homes and condominiums that sold during December was $343,950; a year ago it was $315,000. King County prices jumped 12.2 percent, from $450,000 in December 2015 to $505,000 for last month's sales. For single family homes (excluding condominiums) the median price for December's sales was $550,000, unchanged from October and November. Prices peaked this year in King County in June, reaching $573,522
With less 30 days of supply in King and Snohomish County (for single family homes and condos combined), inventory is well below the four-to-six month level many industry analysts use as an indicator of a balanced market. The entire northwest region of the state including 23 counties as a whole have barely more than one month of supply. As to be expected in a market with such an imbalance of supply vs. demand, prices continue to escalate rapidly. A recent report from CoreLogic, a property analytics company, indicated home prices are rising faster in Washington than in any other state in the nation. What makes this current market different from what happened in 2007-08 is that it is being pushed upwards by the lack of supply and not speculation. Buyers purchasing properties are often purchasing with cash or large down payments that were not common during the previous boom, which was built on no down payment financing and loan products that were not nearly as stringent as today's current mortgage requirements.