The housing market is getting better for buyers across the country, but Seattle’s shifting market continues to stand out compared to other regions.
Since the local market peaked last spring, single-family home prices have fallen twice as fast in the Seattle metro area as in any other region in the country, according to the monthly Case-Shiller home-price index, released Tuesday.
The total drop for the full metro area in that seven-month span, from June to January, totals 6 percent. The typical U.S. city actually saw a slight uptick in home values over that period, but prices dropped about 3 percent in the San Francisco and San Diego regions, and about 1 percent each in Portland and Chicago.
There are a lot of ways to slice the data, though they all show the local market falling behind the national one.
On a month-over-month basis, Seattle-area home costs slipped down another 0.3 percent in January, a slightly bigger drop than the national average.
On a year-over-year basis, prices still went up 4.1 percent, but that was slightly less than the national average – the first time that’s happened in seven years.
And even those gains are masked by big differences across the region. As has been the case, prices are growing for low-cost homes typically found in the outer areas of the region like Tacoma, and staying flat in higher-cost places like Seattle.
The index, which covers King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, divides homes into three tiers. For the cheapest group of homes (those priced below $380,000), prices increased 8 percent over the year. But the most expensive ones (homes priced over $605,000), saw prices tick up less than 2 percent, or slightly less than inflation.
In the middle tier, prices grew 4.5 percent.
Overall, the last time the local market was this cool was 2012, back when prices were still bottoming out from the recession.
The cool-down trend is a broad one. The national home-price gain of 4.3 percent over the past year represents the smallest since 2015. Across the 20 metro areas tracked by the index, only Phoenix saw bigger price gains in January than in December. Las Vegas was the only region in the country where price increases topped 7.5 percent.
There are signs that the local market has bottomed out, however. More recently, prices in February grew $45,000 in King County, the most ever for a single month in dollar terms, though that bounceback isn’t yet reflected in the national Case-Shiller data, which lags behind by a month.
The current median cost of a single-family house is $655,000 in King County, $475,000 in Snohomish County and $355,000 in Pierce County. The Pierce County figure is tied for a record high, while King and Snohomish are well below their peaks reached last spring.