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Originally published January 22, 2014 at 9:12 PM | Page modified January 23, 2014 at 9:50 AM

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Home prices spiked sharply last year in some neighborhoods

Only one area, however, has climbed past its pre-recession median home price. And condos? Not even close.


Seattle Times business reporter

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The median price of single-family homes sold in King County in 2013 hit $415,000, its highest in five years, as the local housing market’s recovery gained steam.

After tumbling to a seven-year low of $340,000 in 2011, the median rose 7 percent in 2012 and grew 14 percent more last year, according to data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The median price means that half of homes sold for more, half for less.

But some areas in King County saw bigger spikes than others, according to a Seattle Times analysis of MLS data.

The Jovita/West Hill neighborhood in Auburn led all King County areas with a 29 percent increase in the median price, to $273,000.

Close behind, with 24 percent appreciation: Seattle’s Sodo/Beacon Hill area, also with a below-average median price of $320,000, and Bellevue’s neighborhoods west of Interstate 405, with the county’s highest median price: $1.3 million.

The smallest increases, from 3 to 6 percent, were in Central Seattle, Newcastle/Issaquah and North Seattle.

Despite the strong annual gains for homes, the median sales price for 2013 in nearly all areas of King County was still below its peak in 2007, when the housing bubble burst. But some places are close to recovering all the ground they lost.

Overall, the countywide median price of homes sold in 2013 was still 9 percent below its 2007 peak of $455,000.

In South King County, where foreclosures were rampant during the Great Recession, the median prices of homes sold in Skyway, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way and Kent in 2013 were still below their peak by 25 percent or more.

Areas close to downtown Seattle have bounced back more quickly.

In Seattle, for example, West Seattle’s median price in 2013 was 7 percent below its peak; the Queen Anne/Magnolia area, 4 percent off its last peak; the Ballard/Green Lake/Greenwood area, just 3 percent below.

In Eastside tech hubs like Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond, the median price has returned to between 7 and 9 percent below its last peak. But the median price in bedroom communities like Kenmore, Renton Highlands and Vashon Island is still between 12 and 22 percent off the peak.

Central Seattle record

Central Seattle, which includes Capitol Hill, Washington Park and Madrona, is the only area where the 2013 median price — $619,000 — surpassed the level set during the 2007 housing bubble and saw a new high.

“My gut tells me that’s on the strength of infill development,” meaning new housing built in established neighborhoods, said Michael Doyle, a managing broker for Windermere in Seattle.

According to the Multiple Listing Service, the median price of new single-family homes in King County was $455,500; for condos, it was $438,303.

There’s been a flurry of homebuilders redeveloping single-family lots in Central Seattle: They buy an old house for $300,000, demolish it and build three high-end town homes priced at $500,000 apiece.

But there were also more than 100 homes sold in that area last year for $1 million or more, according to Redfin.

The luxury-home market is booming across King County. According to the MLS, there were 1,426 sales of $1 million-and-up homes last year, about 50 percent more than in 2012.

The highest price paid for a single-family home last year was $9.75 million for a property in Medina, while a penthouse condo in downtown Seattle sold for $6.2 million.

Among luxury buyers is Frank Loyko, who bought a downtown Seattle condominium last summer for just over $1.3 million.

In an interview last year, Loyko said he’d lived on the Eastside for more than a decade, but once his children had grown up, he and his wife wanted to leave the suburbs. Downtown Seattle’s food, arts and music scene appealed to him, as well as the idea of a high-rise community.

“It seems as though the baby boomers, the downsizers, had their retirement accounts flush again and were able to make moves they were previously unable to do,” Doyle said.

Condos still hard hit

The condo market overall is lagging the single-family market’s recovery.

While the median price was up 16 percent countywide, it’s still 23 percent below its 2007 peak.

The hardest-hit areas again are in South King County: In Federal Way, the median price was nearly 60 percent below its last peak; in Kent, 48 percent off.

But even in close-in areas like Central Seattle, Belltown and Ballard/Green Lake/Greenwood, the median prices are still between 14 to 18 percent below their last peaks.

In the condo market, not a single King County area has surpassed its previous peak, although there are signs of momentum in some areas.

For example, on the Eastside south of Interstate 90, an area covering parts of Newcastle and Issaquah, the median price last year rose 26 percent after gaining 10 percent in 2012.

Similarly, east of Lake Sammamish, the median price of condos soared 30 percent last year after falling 9 percent in 2012. And in Seattle’s Queen Anne/Magnolia area, the median price climbed 22 percent last year after an 8 percent drop in 2012. Those two submarkets saw the most deals last year among the major condo submarkets in King County.

Belltown and downtown Seattle, one of the biggest submarkets for condos in King County, actually saw the median price fall 2 percent to $415,000 after two consecutive years of price gains.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt



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