Here’s one more sign that Seattle’s housing market bounced back from the coronavirus pandemic before 2020 was over — at least if you’re a seller.
In December, home prices in the Seattle area continued to rise faster than the national average, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday. The index reports a three-month rolling average of home prices and lags by two months.
Prices for homes in the Seattle area were up 13.6% in December compared to a year earlier. Nationally, prices rose 10.4% year over year.
That national jump in December was the first double-digit increase since early 2014, according to CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp.
Seattle maintained its No. 2 spot behind only Phoenix, where prices shot up 14.4%. (Phoenix topped the list for the 19th consecutive month.) Housing prices grew faster here than in San Diego, San Francisco and more than a dozen other major metro areas where Case-Shiller tracks prices.
The index usually reports on 20 areas but does not have up-to-date data for Detroit because of the pandemic.
After the coronavirus hit last spring and the economy slowed, growth in home prices slowed down in May and June but then began climbing again, according to Case-Shiller.
Consider how the latest growth compares to this same time last year. In the final month of 2019, Seattle prices were up 4.1% year over year, after a streak of deceleration. The gain at that time was roughly in line with the national uptick of 3.8%.
Over the longer term, Seattle-area home prices have risen 55% from December 2015, according to the index.
Recently, growth has been concentrated outside the city, where homes are more affordable.
In the Seattle area, prices for homes under about $490,400 were up about 15%, while prices for houses costing more than about $734,100 rose roughly 12 to 13%, according to Case-Shiller.
Other measures show a similar trend. Prices have risen faster in areas of Pierce County like Parkland, Tacoma and Spanaway than in more expensive cities like Bellevue, Seattle and Mercer Island, according to data provided by Zillow this week. In January, prices were up 19.2% year-over-year in Parkland and 17.5% in Tacoma, compared to 10.9% in Bellevue and 8.7% in Seattle.
Slower growth in Seattle itself comes “as many work-from-home employees are putting less emphasis on the commute and more on interior space when shopping for a home now,” said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow, in a statement.
Brokers and some economists blame the slim number of homes on the market, combined with low mortgage rates, for rising prices and bidding wars.
Either factor could “take a turn this year and relieve some of the price pressure,” Hepp said in a statement. “But, demand from millennials and existing owners, who may have been on the sidelines throughout the pandemic, is likely to persist.”