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Seattle marks a full year as America's hottest housing market, with no end in sight

Mike Rosenberg, The Seattle Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

SEATTLE -- Seattle is now a full year into its reign as the hottest housing market in the country, an unusually long surge that doesn't look likely to end anytime soon.

Single-family home prices across the metro area grew 13.2 percent in August compared to a year prior, easily the most in the nation and twice the U.S. average, according to the monthly Case-Shiller home-price index, released Tuesday.

Las Vegas replaced Portland as second behind Seattle after the two Pacific Northwest cities had been the top two markets since last year.

Seattle has had the biggest annual home-price gains of any region in the country for 12 straight months. That's the fifth-longest streak in the country since 2000, and the longest since Phoenix led the nation in home-value increases for 13 months in a row from 2012 to 2013.

Seattle has been a national standout like this only once before. From the summer of 2007 through mid-2008, as the U.S. housing market was heading toward collapse, Seattle also topped the country for a year straight, right before home costs plummeted.

This time, the trends nationwide look different. During the bubble a decade ago, home costs just about everywhere were soaring at eye-popping rates, similar to what Seattle is dealing with today.

Now, Seattle is an outlier--everywhere else is experiencing growth that's slightly or moderately above average for that region, while prices here are increasing nearly three times as fast as the historical average.

Overall, home costs here are growing at more than double the national rate of 6.1 percent. That's been the case for the last year. And home prices continue to outpace wage growth, which was 3.6 percent nationally in August.

So when will Seattle's run as the hottest market end? Probably not anytime soon, given the gap between Seattle and the rest of the country. The second-hottest market, now Las Vegas, saw prices grow 8.6 percent, nearly 5 percentage points less than Seattle.

Still, there are signs of at least some slight cooling locally.

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