Seattle marks full year at top of U.S. home-selling market

Posted: November 3, 2017 at 1 a.m.

SEATTLE -- Seattle is now a full year into its reign as the hottest housing market in the country, an unusually long surge that doesn't look likely to end anytime soon.

Single-family home prices across the metro area grew 13.2 percent in August compared to a year prior, easily the most in the nation and twice the U.S. average, according to the monthly Case-Shiller U.S. home-price index, released Tuesday.

Las Vegas replaced Portland as second behind Seattle.

Seattle has had the biggest annual home-price gains of any region in the country for 12 straight months. That's the fifth-longest streak in the country since 2000, and the longest since Phoenix led the nation in home-value increases for 13 months in a row from 2012 to 2013.

Seattle has been a national standout like this only once before. From the summer of 2007 through mid-2008, as the U.S. housing market was heading toward collapse, Seattle also topped the country for a year straight, right before home costs plummeted.

This time, the trends nationwide look different. During the bubble a decade ago, home costs just about everywhere were soaring at eye-popping rates, similar to what Seattle is dealing with today.

Overall, home costs in Seattle are growing at more than double the national rate of 6.1 percent. That's been the case for the last year. And home prices continue to outpace wage growth, which was 3.6 percent nationally in August.

So when will Seattle's run as the hottest market end? Probably not anytime soon, given the gap between Seattle and the rest of the country. The second-hottest market, now Las Vegas, saw prices grow 8.6 percent, nearly 5 percentage points less than Seattle.

"There are early signs that price [growth] may have peaked" in Seattle, said Cheryl Young, a senior economist with Trulia.

But the Case-Shiller data show the mini-slowdown is happening only for luxury homes and in expensive neighborhoods. Prices for cheaper homes, which are generally in outlying suburbs, are rising at their fastest rate in more than three years.

The Puget Sound region continues to stand out for a few reasons: Tons of well-paid tech-job openings have drawn in scores of new residents while fewer and fewer people are selling their homes, leading to intense competition among buyers.

Business on 11/03/2017