Entry-level homes are selling well, and there has been a resurgence in the luxury real estate market, say real estate professionals who shared their market insights with Inman News.

This Seattle-area real estate market report features a Q-and-A with John Deely, who manages the Seattle office for Coldwell Banker Bain, and Marlow Harris, a real estate broker who owns SeattleDreamHomes.com. Deely works in the King County market area and Harris works throughout the Seattle metro area.

Deely has been a real estate licensee in Washington state since 1978 and a licensed real estate broker since 1983. Harris is a third-generation Seattle resident who received her real estate license in 1985.

On Wednesday, March 28, Inman News is offering Agent Reboot, a one-day tech tune-up event for Seattle-area real estate agents. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Wash. (more details).

Q: Which types of properties are selling fastest in your market area?

DEELY: Entry-level and investor properties.

HARRIS: We’ve seen increased sales across the board, with the most desirable homes being entry-level homes in close-in neighborhoods such as Greenlake, Fremont, Ravenna, Ballard, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.

Q: Which types of properties are selling slowest in your market area?

DEELY: Properties in the $1 million-plus price range.

HARRIS: Homes in disrepair, some condos in the suburbs, and homes located a long commute from the city core.

Q: Are there any changes in the demographics of buyers and sellers in your market area?

DEELY: (There is more activity among) first-time buyers, relocation buyers that came to the area in the past several years and have been renting, and investors.

HARRIS: Lots of folks were waiting for the market to bottom out before making a move and buying. We’re seeing buyers from all price points entering the market now.

Q: What is the level of activity among first-time buyers in your market area?

DEELY: Very high!

HARRIS: We’re seeing multiple offers on homes in the "first-time buyer" category under $500,000.

What is the level of activity in the luxury real estate market in your area?

DEELY: There is a resurgence that we have not witnessed in years. We are even seeing luxury properties obtain multiple offers and bid-ups.

HARRIS: The luxury market is better than it has been since 2007. The uber-luxury market still has buyers, as those well-heeled folks aren’t as impacted from the vagaries and changes in the market.

Real Estate Market Stats: Seattle (King County)

# closed home sales (2011): 22,723
# closed home sales (2010): 20,761
% change closed sales (2010-11): 9.45
# closed home sales (latest month): 3,003
# closed home sales (for recent month): 2,503
% change closed sales (recent month in 2012 vs. same month in 2011): +31%
Median sales price (most recently month available in 2012) $275,000
% change sales price (recent month in 2012 vs. same month in 2011) -14%
% share of distressed properties (most recent month available): 40%

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Q: What are recent trends with home prices, sales and inventory?

DEELY: There is a resurgence that we have not witnessed in years. We are seeing a leveling in price declines or flat appreciation, with a few areas posting gains in the median price year-to-date, and in February 30 percent of the areas posted gains in median price.

Inventories of distressed properties are being reduced in this very active market. In February 2012, over 45 percent of the active inventory went into pending status.

This was the highest velocity of sales activity since 2006. It eclipsed 77 out of the last 86 months for the percent of active inventory sold to a pending status.

HARRIS: A lack of inventory, and prices going up.

Q: What is the current state of the distressed property market in the area?

DEELY: There are lower existing inventories in the distressed market, with fewer coming to market.

HARRIS: We don’t see a lot of distressed homes right in the city, as those are still very desirable and tend to sell before hitting foreclosure. There are some, but the market is not glutted.

What worries you most about the current state of the market?

DEELY: There are not enough listings to handle the influx of buyers

HARRIS: Rising interest rates.

Q: What represents a sign of optimism and opportunity for the real estate market?

DEELY: There are multiple offers, great pricing and low interest rates. Construction is gaining momentum with the most high-rise construction cranes since 2008.

HARRIS: Amazon is hiring and building three new buildings in downtown Seattle.

Q: What is the overall economic health in your market area?

DEELY: Employment is good in the high-tech and manufacturing areas. The unemployment rate is dropping.

HARRIS: High-tech is keeping Seattle’s market healthy.

John Deely serves as principal managing broker for Coldwell Banker Bain, and manages the company’s Seattle office. Marlow Harris is a real estate broker, writer, curator, art maven, busy body, and owner of SeattleDreamHomes.com.

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