SEATTLE — After a year as the second-hottest housing market in the country, Seattle has dropped to No. 3. But that doesn’t mean the market suddenly feels more affordable for homebuyers.
Single-family home prices across the Seattle area were up 15.4 percent in February compared to a year earlier, the third-highest rate of growth among major metro areas, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday.
Phoenix once again saw the highest year-over-year climb of 17.4 percent, and San Diego pushed past Seattle with a 17 percent spike.
Seattle had spent 12 months in a row with the second-highest year-over-year price jumps, behind only Phoenix.
Even as Seattle slipped a spot, the region’s 15.4 percent year-over-year growth in February was still higher than the 14.3 percent year-over-year jump in January. At this same time last year, Seattle-area prices were up 6 percent from a year earlier.
The index reports a three-month rolling average of home prices and lags by two months. The data reflects prices across the Seattle metro area, including parts of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
Nationwide, the jump in home prices is the steepest in 15 years.
Home prices nationally were up 12 percent in February compared to a year earlier, the highest recorded increase since February 2006, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. Prices climbed in all 20 major metro areas the index tracks.
Over the last year, a combination of slim supply as sellers stay put and high demand as buyers itch for more space has squeezed the housing market here and elsewhere. That won’t last forever. High prices and recent increases in mortgage interest rates could leave more home shoppers unable to buy and in turn slow price growth slightly, said CoreLogic Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp in a statement.
“Home price appreciation should ease in coming months but remain in high single digits across most of the country,” Hepp said.
A closer look at the Seattle-area market in recent months shows that many of the hottest areas are outside the city, according to separate data released earlier this month by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. In Southeast King County, for example, including areas like Kent and Black Diamond, prices for single-family homes were up about 27 percent in March compared to a year earlier. On the Eastside, prices were up about 30 percent. In Seattle, prices were up about 4 percent.
The median single-family home in King County last month sold for about $825,000, according to the MLS. The median was $640,000 in Snohomish County and $480,000 in Pierce County.