Avoiding Bidding Wars on the Eastside: Buy A Home With Less Stress
The real estate market in the Seattle area has been hot for some time. Inventory is constricted. The Eastside has seen an influx of residents from all over the world who've come to work for our technology companies.
Real estate in Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah, Woodinville, and surrounding areas is in demand.
Home buyers are attracted to the top-notch school districts on the Eastside. From the Bellevue school district to Mercer Island, Lake Washington, and Issaquah, some of the country's top schools are right in our back yard. Buyers are competing for the best homes in the best neighborhoods. That often turns into bidding wars.
Most home buyers don't want a bidding war. They just want to get into a home and move forward with their lives. We developed a guide of the areas on the Eastside where you're more likely to find inventory of homes available for sale, and you're less likely to get stuck in a bidding war.
You can see from the image above where the available inventory is in Bellevue and across the Eastside. Inventory issues are the root cause of most of our competitive buying situations. The larger circles are areas where inventory levels get up to 3 or 4 months' worth of available homes.
The bluer the circle gets, the less competitive pricing is. Sellers are getting slightly less than the price they're asking for in the bluest circles, a sign that there are fewer bidding wars. In the reddest of circles, sellers are averaging over 102% of their list prices when their sales close.
The Top 10 Places to Buy a Home on the Eastside Without Bidding Wars
1. Medina - 4.26 mo inventory, 95.22% Sale-to-List (98039)
Medina in the #1 position creates is a good place to talk about how price affects availability. With a $2.22 million median home price, clearly this is a top-end location and not affordable to much of the buying public. Home sellers are getting 95 percent of the list price, or asking price. There's plenty of inventory available because luxury properties often sit longer on the market. Buyers have more leverage to negotiate and take their time.
2. West Bellevue - 2.89 mo inventory, 99.05% Sale-to-List (98004)
West Bellevue is adjacent to Medina, and its market has a similar feel. At $1.05 million for its median price, this location is still dominated by luxury homes. Interestingly, though, its sellers are getting almost full price for their listings. There's ample inventory available to those who can afford the location, but significant competition for the right listings.
3. Cottage Lake - 2.09 mo inventory, 98.93% Sale-to-List (98077)
Cottage Lake is east of Woodinville in a much more rural location than most of the Eastside. Its median price is still above average at $688,000 but more in line with much of the area. With inventory at 2 months, we'd usually be calling this a very tight market. Under current conditions, though, this area still has much more availability than most. That's apparent in pricing, as buyers are getting into homes for slightly less than the asking prices.
4. Mercer Island - 2.06 mo inventory, 99.40% Sale-to-List (98040)
Mercer Island rounds out the luxury portion of our locales. The median price here is at $1.02 million. Waterfront and other luxury homes are a significant part of the market in Mercer Island, though less so than in Medina. Sellers are getting almost full price on their sales, and the inventory levels are significant. Home buyers looking for a relatively approachable market in terms of inventory would be wise to give Mercer Island a look.
5. Woodinville - 1.37 mo inventory, 98.35% Sale-to-List (98072)
As we reach Woodinville at spot #5, we begin to see inventory ratcheting down alongside price. The bulk of the buying market on the Eastside doesn't have $1 million to spend, so they're competing more heavily in places like Woodinville where the median home price is $527,000. Woodinville's inventory is tight, but its location being slightly out of the core Eastside markets may contribute to its sale-to-list ratio. Buyers are still getting small discounts on the list price, on average.
6. Kirkland - 1.49 mo inventory, 100.02% Sale-to-List (98033)
Kirkland is our first city with sold prices outpacing list prices. To be noted as a location where buyers can avoid bidding wars may seem odd based on that stat. With 1.5 months of inventory available, though, Kirkland is a relatively positive opportunity on the Eastside right now. The median home price is $778,000 here, but the city has a wide range of prices and neighborhoods.
7. South Issaquah - 1.78 mo inventory, 100.22% Sale-to-List (98027)
South from Issaquah's downtown core, properties are often more spread out and many have a rural feel. There seems to be more inventory in these kinds of areas on the Eastside. The median price here is $538,000, and the commutes into Bellevue and Seattle are slightly longer, but still reasonable. Homes are still selling for full price in Issaquah, but there are enough homes for sale that home buyers have more choices than in many other locations.
This area's inventory is better than average, and its sales are coming in right at list price. Benefitting in some of its locations from access to some of the Eastside's better school districts, Kennydale and North Renton Highlands are in demand for their easy commute locations as well. At $421,000, the median home prices in this area are the lowest of all locations we surveyed.
The areas East of downtown Redmond offer a wide variety of suburban, rural, and new construction homes. There's a bit more inventory available here as land is more easily accessible and builders have taken advantage of it. Growth of housing stock has increased significantly in Redmond Ridge and beyond. Home buyers are still purchasing homes near the list price as well. The median home price here is $648,000.
10. Kenmore - 1.67 mo inventory, 100.50% Sale-to-List (98028)
Kenmore sits in a solid spot for house hunters. Its inventory is reasonable, home sales are not bid up significantly, and the median price is $532,000. On the north end of the Eastside, Kenmore provides multiple routes into Seattle and a moderate commute to Bellevue and Redmond.
Avoiding Bidding Wars: How We Got The Data
Rankings for the Eastside were done based on statistics from the NWMLS. We ran 6-month rolling averages to take some seasonality out of the calculations. Locations were rated on their competitiveness, based on a sale price to list price ratio. The more often homes sell over the list price in a certain market, the more likely they were in bidding wars.
We also used the available months of inventory as a measure of accessibility. A market with four to five months' inventory is considered balanced. We haven't seen that in our greater market for quite a few years. Inventory simply measures how many months it would take for the current buyer demand to purchase every available. home.
The Hottest Markets, The Most Bidding Wars on the Eastside
While our intent is to give home buyers a look at where they can buy a home more easily, we're always asked the opposite as well: Which markets are the hottest? Since we've already compiled the data, here it is:
1. Redmond (98052) - 0.75 mo inventory, 101.60% Sale-to-List
2. North Issaquah (98029) - 0.90 mo inventory, 100.95% Sale-to-List
3. East Bellevue (98008: West Lake Sammamish, Tam o' Shanter, Lochmoor) - 0.97 mo inventory, 101.92% Sale-to-List
4. South Bellevue (98006: Somerset, Lakemont) - 0.91 mo inventory, 100.75% Sale-to-List
5. West Central Bellevue (98005: Bridle Trails, Wilburton, Woodridge) - 1.11 mo inventory, 102.37% Sale-to-List
6. Juanita (98034)- 0.92 mo inventory, 100.62% Sale-to-List
7. East Central Bellevue (98007: Microsoft, Crossroads, Lake Hills, Robinswood) - 0.89 mo inventory, 99.25% Sale-to-List
8. South Sammamish (98075) - 1.08 mo inventory, 100.18% Sale-to-List
9. Newcastle (98059) - 1.28 mo inventory, 100.23% Sale-to-List
10. North Sammamish (98074) - 1.03 mo inventory, 99.80% Sale-to-List
Call us if you'd like help finding the right home on the Eastside for you, or putting together a plan to sell your Eastside home for top dollar.
Sam DeBord - Managing Broker, Seattle Homes Group | Coldwell Banker Danforth
President-Elect, Seattle King County Realtors | State Director, WA Realtors
206.552.8820 - sam [at] seattlehome.com
Statistical source if not otherwise noted is NWMLS. The Northwest Multiple Listing Service did not compile or publish this information.