Those with a direct stake in the local real estate market (meaning those who own a home here and ever hope to sell it) can be forgiven for grasping at any piece of positive real estate news they may happen to stumble across. For example, earlier this month a report in the Seattle Times noted that “prices have remained relatively stable over the past two years in close-in Seattle neighborhoods such as Queen Anne, Magnolia, Capitol Hill and Madison Park.” That sounds good. But is it really true, or is believing it simply another case of “the wish is the father of the thought”?
Fortunately, there is now some empirical evidence that supports the conclusion that not only has the market in Madison Park stabilized, it may actually be on the mend. At least for single-family residences, the numbers just in for 2011 certainly seem to indicate that a trend to the upside is underway. In nearly every major category (median sales price, average price per square foot, and total sales) things are moving in a positive direction.
There were 78 house sales in Madison Park during 2011, up from 72 sales the previous year, an 8% increase. The median value of houses sold also increased, from $1,225,000 in 2010 to $1,252,575 in 2011, a 2.3% increase. The average price per square foot of sold houses also rose in 2011.
This is all great news, but the year-over-year improvement was not spread evenly throughout Madison Park. Some areas benefited from the upturn to a greater extend than others, and it was the more exclusive parts of the community that showed the greatest gains.
In Broadmoor, sales increased just slightly (from 18 to 19), but the median sales price climbed 8%, from $1,474,323 in 2010 to $1,587,500 in 2011. That’s the first increase since 2007, the height of the market in Broadmoor.
In Washington Park, the story was much the same. Sales increased slightly, from 25 to 27, but the median sales price was up a full 24%, bringing it practically to the level it was at in 2009, the height of the market in Washington Park.
For the rest of Madison Park, however, the news was not precisely positive, though total house sales rose modestly from 29 to 31 for the year. The median price, however, declined for the fourth straight year, from $960,000 to $835,000, a 13% fall.
The situation was also not positive in 2011 for the condo market in Madison Park, with only 23 units changing hands, versus 32 in 2010. The average sold price actually declined from $606,590 in 2010 to $564,725 last year, a 6.9% decline. The average square footage for the condos sold in each year was virtually the same, but the average cost declined from $458.09 per sq. ft in 2010 to $421.17 in 2011.
Statistics, however, can go only so far to illuminate conditions in a real estate market that's as small as Madison Park’s. This is caution we repeat periodically, though clearly the sales data should not be entirely discounted. The glass-half-full types among us may take some comfort in knowing that the median sales price for all homes sold in Madison Park last year (condos and houses combined) actually rose from $975,000 in the previous year to $1,100,000. At that level, properties here were selling at the same median price as at the height of the overall Madison Park market, 2007:
Because of the change year over year in the mix of sales (a higher number of houses sold and a much smaller number of condos) this at-first-blush-positive data can be discounted since condos are on the whole less expensive in Madison Park than single family residences. Simply put, the high proportion of house sales in 2011 skews the numbers when compared to previous periods.
So, the bottom line? Condo owners here may still be waiting for the long-anticipated turnaround, but Madison Park house owners, at least, can take legitimate comfort from the 2011 data. Here's the statistic that underscores the positive trend: the average cost per square foot of houses sold in 2011 was $428.60 versus $418.37 in 2010, a 2.4% increase. That’s the first uptick since the market began to decline and a solid reason for celebration.
[Thanks, as always, to Wendy Skerritt of Windermere Real Estate-Capitol Hill, for providing much of the sales data we manipulated to create this report.]