While the real estate industry continues to struggle both locally and nationally, Sam Konswa, the principal owner of Queen Anne Real Estate couldn't be busier.
Konswa, who specializes in high-end housing on Queen Anne, said business is up 250 percent from last year. And even last year wasn't down too much.
"We don't have enough inventory," Konswa said. "The market is really pretty tight for us. We don't have enough product for all of our buyers."
After months of nothing but bad news about the real estate industry, it can be a little strange to actually hear a realtor talk in such a positive tone. But, traditionally, Queen Anne and Magnolia tend to be stronger real estate markets than most of Seattle.
For Queen Anne, the reasons are obvious: Its location to the downtown business district, nice neighborhoods and limited housing stock make the area a high-demand market, even in hard times.
Currently, the area is also benefitting from the influx of new businesses that are generating jobs. Employees at the Gates Foundation, which will open its flagship headquarters near Seattle Center this coming May, have been buying homes around Queen Anne. Konswa says people who work at Amazon.com, which is moving much of its operation to the South Lake Union area, have been his strongest clients.
"My experience tells me we are going to have a very healthy fall," Konswa said.
Like all of the Puget Sound area, the Queen Anne and Magnolia real estate markets have taken their lumps. According to data gathered by Zillow.com, Magnolia's housing prices have fallen about 26.6 percent since the market's peak in 2007. Zillow doesn't have a percentage drop for all of Queen Anne, but the website found that East Queen Anne home prices have fallen by nearly 26 percent since the July, 2007 peak. North Queen Anne and West Queen Anne both fell by about 22 percent. Lower Queen Anne fell the least with prices dropping about 18 percent. The average price drop for all of Seattle was 20.7 percent.
Zillow.com data shows that those prices are still falling, but not as rapidly. From May to June of this year, housing prices in North Queen Anne fell by .9 percent. West Queen Anne prices fell by .7 percent and East Queen Anne saw housing prices fall .5 percent. Magnolia, as a whole, saw prices fall .3 percent.
"The good news is that it appears that home values aren't falling as fast as they were in the previous year," Zillow.com spokesperson Katie Curnutte said. "There are signs that the trajectory of falling prices is flattening out."
The area's big winner appears to be Lower Queen Anne, which actually saw prices rise .3 percent between May to June. According to Curnutte, June's jump market the fifth consecutive month of increasing home prices for Lower Queen Anne.
"The area is one of the better performing neighborhoods in the city," Curnutte said.
But bad news continues to rock the real estate industry with the expiration of the first-time home buyer's credit in June, which is being blamed for the abrupt drop in home sales. In King County, July sales suffered a 15 percent drop from July 2009.
However, experts say the tax credit expiration should have little impact on higher-priced markets such as Magnolia and Queen Anne because fewer first-time buyers can afford to live in the areas.
In fact, Konswa said the market is "surprisingly strong" on Queen Anne for homes priced between $700,000 and $1.9 million. And he expects that strength to continue.
"Queen Anne is more stable than just about any other market in Seattle," Konswa said.