2012 Washington Housing Market

Statistics don’t capture the reality of people being dislocated and the lives that are massively changed as a result of the real estate crash. But housing market forecasts do Skyline provide a guide-post for people to understand where we are in the cycle. And if you are in Washington state or thinking about relocating there, you are actually in one of the better places in the nation.

In the wild-west world of residential real estate the market has taken a huge tumble in Seattle, which still has one of the better job markets in the U.S. Foreclosures are picking up across the nation, but not in the three counties that make up the greater Seattle metro region, King, Snohomish and Pierce. Initial notices for foreclosures are actually declining, which indicates a strengthening economy.

In the Tri-cities, the region has experienced the smallest decline in new construction in the state. Kennewick, Pasco and Richland are making it through the housing bust better than many other areas with newcomers moving to the region. Home prices are forecast to decline just 2.6% in 2012.

Declining home prices are hurting in Seattle and the surrounding metro area and are expected to for sometime. In Seattle, new construction of homes and commercial buildings has fallen to pre-bubble era lows, and condominium prices are taking the biggest hit as unit owners caught in the financial mess decide whether to hold on or walk away from their condos.

Local Washington Home Sales at a Glance

City Forecast
Seattle -5.1%
Bellingham -6.2%
Vancouver -4.6%
Spokane -5.2%
Tri-Cities -2.6%

The cost of being forced to leave a home to foreclosure or sell at less than what is owed on a mortgage can be over-whelming, but millions of Americans are facing that reality in the foreclosure crisis — Just not that many any more in  Seattle. But foreclosures are projected to rise in the rainy city in 2012 on forecast housing deflation that will average 5.1%.

In Bellingham the large numbers of foreclosures left vacant that have already been left by homeowners trouble the area. Too many new homes were sold at over-priced levels for the community to absorb the difference in the fallout of the financial crisis, despite better employment levels than in other areas of the country.

Near record low mortgage rates should boost existing home and condo sales over the next year, but lower priced properties will develop as a result of foreclosures. Bellingham housing prices are forecast to decline 6.2% in 2012.

Vancouver may see more sales than many other areas of the state during the year as the area attracts a larger influx of retirees and older residents looking for a place outside of major urban settings. The market is forecast to sustain 4.6% deflation for the year.

Spokane isn’t down and out like so many other cities across the U.S. It’s just been battered and bruised, waiting for a recovery of sorts to materialize. The toughest thing about this housing collapse is that the recovery isn’t projected to develop for quite sometime since the U.S. government is choosing to sit it out in any meaningful major way.

Home and condo sales should see further improvements in 2012 as potential home buyers gradually gain confidence in the economy, selecting their time to buy a home, and prices will improve, but just not in 2012. Average home values are forecast to deflate 5.2% in Spokane during the year.