Realtor reflections on 2022 and expectations for 2023

by Rachel Mehmedagic (Adler)

With 2022 almost in the books, King County REALTORS® can look back on a year of both significant challenges and accomplishments while also anticipating a more balanced market in 2023.

Brokers in King County adjusted to a slower pace of activity during 2022 as measured by the volume of new listings, pending sales, and closed sales.

Through 10 months (January-October), brokers added 36,167 new listings of single family homes and condominiums, about 2,600 fewer than the same period a year ago for a decline of 6.7%. The pace of sales also slowed which help boost supply to 2.2 months – the highest level since January 2019.

Buyers and brokers welcomed the modest improvement in selection, but it coincided with a spike in mortgage rates as the Federal Reserve undertook measures to address spiraling inflation. Many industry-watchers, including Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, expect rates to remain above 6% during much of 2023. He notes this is higher than what we’ve become used to, but it’s still more than 2% lower than the historic average.

Hopeful homeowners who expect prices to drop may be disappointed. Escalating prices did slow during 2022, and some expect flat or slight price drops in in some areas during 2023.

In King County the year-to-date median price for single-family homes at the end of October was $915,000. Compared to the year-ago figure of $830,000, prices rose more than 10.2%. Condo prices increased nearly 11% year-over-year, from $459,000 to $509,000.

The less-frenzied pace of activity means both sellers and buyers can expect more stability in pricing. They will also have more time to make well-informed decisions. Members of Seattle King County REALTORS® are poised to help them as many members took advantage of lulls in activity to invest in education and training.

Realtor members took advantage of myriad opportunities and resources to help them succeed in 2022’s ever-changing industry.

More than 2,600 members availed themselves of continuing education and training this year through 90-plus classes covering more than three dozen topics, ranging from “survival skills in a changing market” to the Code of Ethics and Fair Housing. As the only real estate professionals held to a code of ethics, Realtors commit to high standards of conduct and ethical, expert service.

Professional conduct is at the centerpiece of one “win-win” offering by SKCR: the annual “Battle of the Barristers” program. It features five industry attorneys who banter and debate various legal dilemmas, based on actual litigation or situations. This year’s event drew nearly 700 attendees and raised a record-breaking $37,000 for the scholarship program of the Seattle King County First Citizen Foundation. Since 1999, a total of 315 students have received $543,000 in scholarships.

To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must display a commitment to community service. Their impressive contributions to countless causes enrich our communities, often in life-changing ways – similar to the civic service exemplified by recipients of the prestigious Seattle King County First Citizen Award.

This year marked the 84th anniversary of the First Citizen Award to honor volunteerism, community leadership, and philanthropy that enhances the region’s quality of life. Since inception, the annual First Citizen program reflects behind-the-scenes work of dedicated Realtor volunteers who devote countless hours to planning a memorable civic celebration.

Community service is a year-round endeavor for SKCR members, whether donating “time, talent or treasure.”

Also active throughout the year is our Young Professionals Network (YPN). More than 200 members attended its informative (and fun) monthly brunches during 2022.

This year was not without some challenges (apart from the economy), with two of the most pressing concerns focused on under-represented communities and housing supply.

During 2022, work continued with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and mentorship program. These initiatives, launched the previous year, strive to involve individuals from multi-cultural and minority backgrounds in the real estate industry, whether as a career option or by helping them develop generational wealth through property ownership.

Sadly, property ownership continues to be out of reach for growing numbers of buyers, in part because of a failure to increase supply and accommodate growth.

In King County, 83% of households cannot afford to purchase a median priced home under current market conditions, according to an analysis by the Building Industry Association of Washington. The same group estimates restrictive and inflexible zoning adds $71,000, on average, to the cost of a newly constructed home statewide – and even higher amounts in central Puget Sound.

SKCR’s Governmental and Public Affairs Committee (GAC) is laser-focused on increasing the supply of housing. A special Residential Zoning Task Force conducted a series of meetings throughout 2022. From these sessions, members identified actions for zoning; permitting & processes; design; incentives; and possible tools that could increase market-rate affordability and reduce barriers for creating some housing types that could alleviate some of the shortfall. The task force is now exploring opportunities to partner with other entities to advance its priorities.

Our 7,500 members (including more than 1,100 who joined this year) also rely on GAC and the REALTOR® Party for their work around elections. This year committee volunteers conducted interviews with candidates for state and local positions. SKCR endorsed 28 legislative candidates, plus one local candidate and one school district bond measure. Candidate endorsements appeared in the association’s General Election voting guide mailed to 15,000 recipients. Approximately 85% won their races. The school bond measure also earned voter approval.

Looking back on 2022, there is much to celebrate, starting with those who are enjoying their first year as a homeowner.

With December upon us, some Realtors may step back from day-to-day routines to enjoy in holiday observances, and perhaps do some planning for 2023.

Followers of the Chinese lunar calendar know 2023 is The Year of the Rabbit. For those who may not be familiar with Chinese zodiac animals, the rabbit’s characteristics describe many of my successful colleagues.

Among qualities associated with the rabbit are kindness, confidence, strength, and a tendency to steadily move toward goals. These furry creatures also known for good reasoning skills and attention to detail. While usually conservative and careful in their actions, a routine life is not their style – they’re socializers and need surprises to spice things up!

Expect 2023 to be filled with some challenges and uncertainty, but also with excitement, positivity, prosperity, and surprises. I can’t wait to hop to it!

Rachel Mehmedagic (Adler) is the 2022 president of Seattle King County REALTORS® and an owner at Windermere Mercer Island. Among her professional credentials are CNE (Certified Negotiations Expert), CSP (Certified New Home Sales Professional) and certification as a First Time Home Buyer Instructor.

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