After a long, cold winter, with record breaking snowfall, Spring has finally arrived in Seattle. But Spring has not only arrived on the calendar, or in the gorgeous northwest gardens beginning to erupt in glorious colors, it is also evident in the blossoming real estate market.

As many of you will recall, last Fall the real estate market quieted significantly and there was talk of a downturn in the market. Analysts speculated about a potential correction this Spring and homeowners began to fret a bit about whether they had missed their opportunity to sell, or at least to see the value of their real estate investment in their home increase.

But instead, the start of 2019 has offered a welcome surprise, as the market has continued at a strong pace of activity versus what some had anticipated. In reviewing the statistics year to date 2019, for the city of Seattle, the numbers are looking good. As of early April 2019, there are currently 860 pending and pending inspection single family sales in Seattle and 1,559 single family closed sales year-to-date. This is very close to 2018’s 1,580 closed sales for the same period. Though the 2019 numbers are similar to 2018’s figures, this actually exceeds the expectations that existed in the Fall and offer an impressive indicator given February’s multiple snow storms that brought the real estate market to a virtual halt for several weeks.

In contrast to the similarity of recent market activity first quarter 2018 to first quarter 2019, days on market saw a pretty significant increase from last year for this period. In 2018, average days on market for single family homes city-wide for the first quarter was 20 days, while year-to-date 2019 average days on market is now 38 days. This is not an alarming statistic but indicative of more typical market time. This increase of days on market is partially due to added inventory in the marketplace. March experienced the start of the annual Spring increase in listing inventory and this year’s active listings are ahead of where we were at this time last year. The increased days on market is also indicative of buyers moving away from the desire to “compete” for properties by participating on an offer review date scenario. That said, some highly desirable homes, that are competitively priced, are still seeing multiple offers and limited or no contingencies.

So, what does all of this mean for Seattle’s Spring market? I would say that it means that we are off to a healthy start of our 2019 Spring market. To take it one step further, while we are still in a “seller’s market”, as evidenced by only about two months of available inventory, but the market is not as frenzied as it was last year. A normal market is typically defined as a market with 4-6 months of available inventory. Over that amount begins to lean towards a buyer’s market. While sales are still brisk and there are some multiple offer situations still occurring, many homes are selling with only one offer and in a more “normal time frame”. So, while prices remain strong, buyers are afforded the opportunity to actually get into contract before doing their inspection and not having to waive all contingencies to get a home. Though this is still happening for some sought after properties, it is certainly not the norm. In addition, sellers need to understand when they list, that their market time may be longer than it was last year.

Given these statistics, you may be wondering what you should be doing if you are considering selling your home this Spring. The most important things that you can do to prepare your home for sale are fairly simple; clean, de-clutter, tidy up your garden and think about first impressions. You do not or should not have to spend a lot of money, that you likely will not make back, remodeling your home to sell it. If you do feel that you home needs a face lift something as simple as paint can change the whole look and feel of a space. Also, furnishings can make a huge difference too. This does not mean that you need to start over and buy all new furniture for your home. Updating linens and towels or adding a few light throw pillows can often do the trick. Or, when preparing to sell, consider using a stager to bring in a few key pieces without having to purchase them. The main thing to keep in mind is that first impressions are so important. When a buyer drives up to your home is your front yard tidy? Is the front clear of shoes, packages or garden tools and does it instead have some flower pots filled with fresh Spring annuals? First impressions matter!

But it is also important that you not only make a great first impression with your home, your Realtor needs to as well. Your agent should be working with a high caliber photographer, not trying to cut corners with a lesser skilled resource or worse yet taking their own photos. Brochures, ads and marketing materials should be professional, beautiful and showcase your home in the best light possible. Remember, you only get one chance to make a great first impression and you and your real estate professional should be a team with this goal in mind. Both seller and broker being well prepared can go a long way to achieving a well-presented listing and successful sale in today’s market.