In recent years Seattle was a standout among major U.S. cities for its soaring home prices.
Now, it’s an exception for home prices that stood still.
The metro area’s median home price in April was unchanged from 12 months earlier — the only one of 20 markets where prices did not rise over that period, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data.
While the cooling of torrid home-price increases is a nationwide phenomenon, the shift in Seattle is different.
“Year-over-year price gains remain positive in most cities, though at diminishing rates of change. Seattle is a notable exception, where the year-over-year change has decreased from 13.1% in April 2018 to 0.0% in April 2019,” said Philip Murphy, managing director at S & P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement.
In between April 2018 and this April, prices fell and then began to climb again. The one-month changes during March and April 2019 were both above 1% in Seattle, but that only brought the median price back to where it had been a year earlier.
The Seattle area held the crown for the nation’s fastest-rising home prices for two years, as the annual pace of increases peaked at 13.6% in May 2018, according to S&P. But the increases have decelerated — here and elsewhere — during the past year.
Of course, local home prices have not been frozen entirely. Depending on the city or neighborhood, they may be up or down from a year ago, and usually the spring and summer bring a resurgence from winter lows.
For example, King County’s median home price rebounded from a January low near $600,000 to $700,000 in May, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. (The Case-Shiller survey lags by one month, and looks at home sales across King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.)
While that King County median was down from $726,275 in May 2018, in both Pierce and Kitsap counties the typical sale price exceeded the year-earlier figure. For Pierce, it was $370,000 this May vs. $360,000 the previous year, and for Kitsap, $380,000 vs. $370,000, according to the MLS.
Nationally, home-price gains slowed for the 13th straight month in April, evidence that weaker demand is keeping prices in check even as mortgage rates fall.
The 20-city Case-Shiller home price index rose 2.5% in April from a year earlier, down slightly from an annual gain of 2.6% in March. That’s the smallest increase in nearly seven years.
Sales of existing homes fell last year as mortgage rates climbed to 5%, but sales appear to have leveled off this year. Borrowing costs have fallen back below 4%, which has enabled more would-be buyers to afford homes. Prices are increasing more slowly than wages, which also lifts affordability.
The hottest home markets remain in the Sun Belt.
Las Vegas experienced a 7.1% year-over-year price increase, followed by Phoenix with a 6% increase, and Tampa with a 5.6% increase, according to S&P.
Nine of the 20 cities reported greater price increases in the year ending April 2019 than in the year ending March 2019.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.