Puget sound convergence zone. Olympic rain shadows. Valleys, rivers, lakes, etc. All make for really odd weather in western Washington. Fog all day in the Snoqualmie valley and bright sunny skies in Redmond, just a couple miles away. 3 inches of snow in Tacoma and dry as a bone in Snohomish.
Gardeners know all about the microclimates. On one street the flowers are blooming but on the next, they still think its winter. You can raise palm trees in one neighborhood and they die from the cold in another.
Well, as many microclimates as we have, we have as many micro real estate markets. During a good market, maybe it doesn't matter as much or maybe it is less noticeable... like in the summer when sunny skies make it seem like the weather is the same all over the Sound.
But, the current market really emphasizes the difference in the various neighborhoods and areas. I've been doing BPOs in different neighborhoods and its really shown me the amazing variety of markets we have. For example, I looked at one of the older (1970's) neighborhoods in Marysville. Every comparable property was either a short sale or REO. In a 4 month period, prices dropped almost $100K, almost 30% lower in just a few months.
Compare this to Hollywood Hills in Woodinville. Sales there have been slow. But, there are no comp REOs or shortsales on the market. Current market asking prices are lower, but not 30% lower. Maybe somewhere between 10% and 20%. Market times are long but they seem to always be long in that area, even during a "hot" market.
In Duvall, prices are also lower, but again, not by a huge amount. The market doesn't seem to be short-sale driven and even new construction is still selling.
The commercial markets are all over the place. Some shopping centers and strip malls are half empty. Some are filling up as quickly as they become available.
The point being... no one can make a blanket statement or generalization about the market and be truly accurate. Its fine to say "its down" or "its up" when talking in general conversation. (I still like the standby answer of "Its incredible"... no one has to say 'incredibly bad' or 'incredibly good'). But if someone wants a realy answer, I hope agents take the time to give a real answer.
Do agents have to specialize in micro-markets? I don't think so. I think it does require recognizing they exist. Agents have to take the time to study the local or micro market and find out what is really going on and what is driving sales. Just like the weather, the market varies greatly in just a few miles. So, you or your agent better always carry their mental umbrella! :-)
Thanks for letting me ramble
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Jason Hershey, Designated Broker
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