Market Updates February 3, 2023

National Market Summary

Across the nation, we saw a real estate market correction in 2022 as interest rates doubled. Interest rates started the year at just over 3%, peaked in November at just over 7%, and ended at just under 6.5%. Since the first of the year, we are closer to 6% and anticipate rates to continue to improve towards 5% throughout 2023. The Feds utilized rising interest rates to combat inflation in an effort to create a short recession to slow the cost of all products and services after record-breaking increases during the pandemic. This has reduced spending due to money becoming more expensive to borrow and corrected prices across many industries, including housing.
The trends across the nation are consistent, but as your local expert, along with the national forecast I am committed to reporting hyper-local facts, figures, and trends to help you understand what is happening and what will happen right in our own backyard. Our local housing market was not immune to the effects of rising interest rates. Our prices peaked in the spring and as rates climbed over 6%, prices took a tumble from the spring highs inflated by cheap money. However, prices are still higher than they were in 2021 which was a recording-breaking year of price growth.
The worst of this correction seems to be behind us as rates are expected to continue to improve throughout 2023 and consumers are adjusting to a more normalized market. Prices are starting to stabilize and are near, if not at the bottom, and should have modest growth in the second half of 2023. We are already starting to see pending sales pick up. Month-to-date (MTD), pending sales are up 36% in Whatcom County over December (month-over-month, MOM). This increase in pending sales is coupled with available inventory being down 15% MOM in Whatcom County.  In Skagit County pending sales are down MOM, but by only 8% while available inventory is down by 16%. Inventory remains tight with MTD inventory levels shifting from a balanced market to a moderate seller’s market based on pending sales rates in both counties.
It seems that buyer demand is improving and activity is becoming more plentiful. Buyers should take note and be ready to transact if they are poised to make a move. It is a delicate dance between prices and interest rates. Buyers must understand that they can’t change their sale price once they’ve bought, but they can always refinance and change their rate. I have even heard of lenders guaranteeing a future refinance when the rate hits a certain point. Real estate is a long-term hold investment and also where you live. If where you are at doesn’t currently meet your needs, consider a move if you plan to stay there for 5+ years.Affordability has been a challenge in our area, so if a buyer can obtain a good price this year and then adjust their rate later by refinancing, they will have a much more affordable monthly payment down the road. This takes strategizing and planning and the guidance of a trusted lender and real estate broker. Utilizing adjustable-rate mortgages, rate buydowns, and other creative financing options has put savvy buyers in the catbird seat as they navigate this environment and make exciting moves.

Real estate is an investment and a lifestyle decision. I am committed to following experts like Matthew and others. I also study the local market trends daily. Markets change quickly and the changes are often reported far after the actual shift. I have understood these shifts due to my daily connection to the market. I take great pride in helping empower my clients to make well-informed decisions about where they live and the financial impact it has on their lives. I love what I do because it is centered in helping people with one of the biggest decisions they will make in their life. If you or someone you know are curious about how the trends relate to your goals, please reach out. I’d be honored to help educate you and help guide and strategize your next move. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023!