Sunday, June 23, 2024
REAL ESTATE

Navigating the new real estate landscape in North Central Washington

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Every spring, the sunny slopes of North Central Washington green up with grasses and sage, accentuated with the bright gold of arrowleaf balsamroot and purple lupine spikes. And every spring, our local real estate market also comes back to life after the snow recedes. This region offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and thriving small-town communities. In recent months, I’ve observed a gradual shift in the real estate landscape that suggests promising opportunities for both buyers and sellers.

  1. Inventory Levels on the Rise

For years, North Central Washington has been a hidden gem, attracting those seeking a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle. More people discovered the region when COVID-19 lifestyle and workstyle changes allowed many people to relocate to where they chose to live, not where they needed to work. However, limited housing inventory often posed a challenge for prospective buyers. The good news? Inventory levels are increasing, with Chelan County’s active home listings up 47% year-over-year for April. Douglas County active home listings have grown even more, with a 59% year-over-year increase. As more homeowners list their properties, buyers have a broader selection to choose from. There are more options for everyone, whether it’s a cabin in Leavenworth or Mazama, new construction in East Wenatchee, a mature home on a spacious lot in Wenatchee, or a vacation rental home overlooking Lake Chelan.

  1. Demand Remains Strong

Despite the pandemic’s initial uncertainties, demand for North Central Washington properties has remained robust. Remote work arrangements have allowed professionals to escape crowded cities and embrace the tranquility of this region. Families, retirees, and outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the area’s hiking trails, wineries, and recreational opportunities. As a result, homes are selling faster than ever, often receiving multiple offers, especially for well-priced properties in the heart of Wenatchee. 

  1. The Appeal of Small-Town Living

North Central Washington’s small towns – such as Cashmere, Chelan, Leavenworth, and Manson – offer a refreshing change of pace. Residents enjoy close-knit communities, locally owned businesses, and breathtaking views. Whether you’re sipping coffee at a riverside café or exploring apple orchards, the charm of small-town living appeals to many seeking refuge from urban chaos. Retirees to North Central Washington are often locals returning home to the communities where they grew up, after living for years in more urban and suburban cities.

Tips for Buyers and Sellers

  1. Buyers: Act Swiftly

With inventory levels improving, buyers should act swiftly. Consult with a local real estate professional who understands the market and will help you succeed. Be prepared to make competitive offers, especially for well-priced properties. And be sure to work with a mortgage professional so you are pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin shopping.

  1. Sellers: Price Strategically

Sellers must take advantage of increased interest, but can’t be too ambitious. Home prices have been slowly increasing in North Central Washington since 2022. Price your home strategically – neither too high nor too low – with the help of a real estate professional. Highlight the unique features of your property, such as proximity to hiking trails, river access, or mountain views. High-quality photos and virtual tours can make a significant difference in successfully marketing your property.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid of Mortgage Rates

Interest rates have deterred many buyers and sellers for the past two years from taking action, but life doesn’t wait for rates to fall.  The best time for you to buy is when you’re ready for a new home.  The best time for you to sell if when you’re ready to leave the home you have. Mortgage rates are now trending below 7%, which is roughly the 50-year historic average mortgage rate. Affordability is a consideration and mortgage payments can be reduced through rate buydowns and other financing solutions.

Conclusion

As the seasons change, so does the real estate market in North Central Washington, and a healthy real estate market is an active real estate market. Real estate inventory levels are increasing and now is an excellent time to explore the possibilities. Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling this year, the market is likely better than you think.  Talk to a trusted real estate professional to explore the options and make a sound decision.

Adam Rynd, a licensed real estate Managing Broker, is the Owner and Designated Broker of Coldwell Banker Cascade Real Estate

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