Records keep falling in Sequim’s real estate market.
The seller’s market reached an all-time median price high in 2021’s first quarter at $456,000, according to the quarterly Sequim Real Estate Report by Michael McAleer, managing broker for Team McAleer at RE/MAX Prime.
That was a 7 percent increase from 2020’s fourth quarter median price, he reported.
But people keep buying as inventory continues to be limited and prices remain high.
On Monday, he said the Olympic Listing Service showed that in Sequim School District’s boundaries there were 129 homes/condos on the market with 87 pending and 42 available with a median list price of $499,950.
“Since (April 1), there have been 77 sales with a median sale price of $461,000 and the median days on the market for those sales was four days,” McAleer said.
Ed Sumpter, owner and designated broker for Blue Sky Real Estate, said this is the strongest seller’s market he has seen in 27 years.
“It’s a frustrating market for buyers with multiple offers on most listings,” Sumpter said.
In McAleer’s report, he said Sequim’s 2021 first quarter monthly average of 103 homes on the market was the lowest amount of homes available on a monthly average since 2003.
The average also went down 41 percent from 2020’s first quarter.
“It is amazing given the limited inventory that the sales volume remained high,” he said.
For record-keepers, McAleer said Sequim’s all-time high for listings was 611 homes on the market in June 2009.
Realtor Claire Koenigsaecker with Professional Realty Services said she’s seen a significant difference the last six months with more competitive buyers and multiple offers well over asking price.
“Most people seem to be aware of that and they’re coming from markets in the same position,” she said.
“If they aren’t, then I let them know that depending on the price point, between $300,000-$400,000, be prepared to go up $30,000; $400,000-500,000 to be prepared to go up $50,000 and possibly even more.”
Koenigsaecker said one buyer offered $95,000 over the asking price.
“I’ve been in real estate since 2006 and it hasn’t ever been like this,” she said. “It wasn’t even like this at the beginning of COVID. You hardly could go into a house then.”
She and other real estate agents say buyers are OK with virtual calls seeing homes despite never stepping foot in the home prior to buying
“I had done that before (COVID), but now it’s an average of at least one Zoom call a week to show people a house,” Koenigsaecker said.
With such a competitive market, she tells buyers they’ll likely need an escalation clause that states this is the price they’d be willing to pay, but if there are other offers, they’d be willing to go up a certain amount.
Koenigsaecker said if someone tells her it’s not worth a certain amount of money, this market has shown her right now someone else might think otherwise.
Real estate agents interviewed for this story said they aren’t sure when things will level off.
“Most people thought we’d have a change after the election, and that didn’t happen,” Koenigsaecker said.
“I assume it will at some point, but there are no indicators that will happen before the fall. Interest rates are not going up and buyers haven’t stopped.”
Sumpter said he feels Sequim is reaching the top of its price point.
“More and more people are being priced out of the market,” he said. “I think we’ve leveled off and hopefully the government will make some changes and laws that will make building a little more affordable.”
In his report, McAleer said Sequim’s traditional market is driven by retirees with a predictable 7 percent turnover rate. But as people work more from home during the pandemic, McAleer and other real estate agents find young professionals moving to places like Sequim for the quality of life from cities, which creates a new demographic of buyers.
McAleer said Sequim’s proximity to the water and mountains along with zoning will limit growth, and to younger professional buyers Sequim real estate looks like a great long-term investment.
Sumpter said younger couples are coming to Sequim but the area remains desirable for retirees, particularly for condominiums.
During his research, McAleer was surprised to find rising land prices. In 2021’s first quarter, the median price rose to $172,000, the second highest quarterly median price ever next to 2006’s fourth quarter ($174,000).
He attributed the increase to appreciation along with buyers with more money buying optimum parcels for them.
“Land is moving quickly right now,” Sumpter said. “As prices have gone up for homes, we’re seeing the same in land. There are a lot of people who want to move to Sequim so that could be part of it.
“It also seems to be happening everywhere in the country.”
To start 2021, McAleer reported there were an average 126 parcels of land on the market, Sequim’s lowest in 17 years. However, 54 parcels sold in the first quarter (nine in the City of Sequim and 45 in unincorporated Clallam County), which was up 22 percent from 2020.
How soon these parcels can be built on is unknown, real estate agents report, as lumber prices have dramatically gone up in recent months because of supply and demand issues, and builder availability is less available with growing demand for home building.
Sumpter, whose Blue Sky Realty Real Estate also handles about 25-30 rental properties, said he’s unsure how people are going to find a house as there’s a shortage of rentals as well.
“It’s going to be interesting if and when the government stops stimulating the economy,” he said.
Koenigsaecker agrees saying it’s difficult to find any house under $300,000 to buy.
“If those (who want a house under that amount) need a loan, they typically have little money or no money down while other buyers have cash or some other things they can use,” she said. “So they win the bidding war.”
She said affordable housing remains a big issue and for people seeking rentals: many do not allow pets while many young couples starting out have dogs and children.
Both Koenigsaecker and Sumpter feel finding a realtor is key to those seeking a home to buy.
“It’s not a market you want to get into without an experienced realtor,” Koenigsaecker said.
“There are a lot of things you need to understand before you start the process … even though it’s an easy time to make fast money, it’s a tough time in different ways.”
Sumpter said an agent will help buyers prepare, and he encourages them to be pre-qualified to buy before looking.
“They need to be ready to pounce on a house,” he said.