After climbing for months, Seattle-area home prices barely budged from August to September, offering one more sign of a seasonal slowdown in the local housing market.
That followed month-to-month jumps of 3% to 5% earlier this year, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday.
The slowdown mirrors national trends, but the long-term picture is still dominated by dramatic price jumps: Seattle-area prices are up 23.3% from the same time last year.
The Case-Shiller index monitors a three-month rolling average of home prices in parts of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. Because the measure lags by two months, the latest data reflects sales in September.
Seattle price growth ranked seventh in the country behind Phoenix, Tampa, Miami, San Diego, Dallas and Las Vegas, a slip from fifth place the previous month. Phoenix topped the list for the 28th consecutive month. Compared with last year, Seattle prices rose faster than Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
The rapid rise in home prices across the nation that began soon after the pandemic hit has begun to level off. Home prices are up 19.5% from a year ago. However, the size of that increase was down slightly from 19.8% in August — the first time since May 2020 that price growth has ticked down.
“While activity continues to outperform pre-pandemic levels, there are encouraging signs of a slow albeit welcomed return to more sustainable balance between buyers and sellers,” said CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp in a statement.
All 20 major cities the index tracks reported all-time high home price growth compared with a year ago. But price growth slowed in two dozen of those cities.
“If I had to choose only one word to describe September 2021’s housing price data, the word would be ‘deceleration,’” said S & P Managing Director Craig Lazzara in a statement.
Housing markets all over the country heated up early in the pandemic as homebuyers sought out more space or new locations and tried to capitalize on low mortgage interest rates.
Frenzied growth in prices has pushed many would-be home buyers out of the market, but well-off buyers are still shopping. Nationally, mortgage applications and pending home sales were up last month compared with September.
The Puget Sound region saw a different trend: Pending sales were down in October, according to separate data released earlier this month by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
The limited number of homes for sale is still squeezing buyers: According to an MLS measure known as months of inventory, it would take less than two weeks to sell all the homes listed in King County at current levels of demand.
“These slower fall months can hand buyers a less competitive market,” said Zillow Economist Nicole Bachaud in a statement, “but with annual appreciation still near 30% for many Seattle-area cities, the scales are far from balanced.”