Buyers getting “some relief” as key indicators point to strong summer for housing market

KIRKLAND, Washington (July 8, 2019) – Inventory, pending sales and prices all increased during June compared to a year ago, according to the latest report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The same report, which covers 23 counties in Washington state, shows year-over-year drops area-wide in both the volume of new listings and closed sales.

“Clearly we now see that the market is moderating – that is we’re definitely moving from a ‘hyper-market’ to one where a correction is underway compared to last year,” remarked Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “While it’s the best time to buy that we’ve seen in some time, and buyers are getting some relief, it is still a seller’s market,” he added, noting some buyers are experiencing multiple offer situations, or considering inspection waivers, or are even forced to consider markets outside King County for affordability.

Three Northwest MLS directors from Pierce and Kitsap counties suggest their counties are attracting some of the frustrated buyers from King County.

“The darling of the Puget Sound real estate market is Tacoma/Pierce County,” stated Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Realtors in Gig Harbor, pointing to low inventory and appreciating values. “The secret is out about Pierce County,” agreed Mike Larson, the president at ALLEN Realtors in Lakewood. “You can buy twice the house for about half the price. You just have to be willing to deal with the traffic if you work north or south of here,” he proclaimed.

“The Kitsap market continues to be robust and is maintaining its velocity in sales,” added Frank C. Leach, broker/owner at RE/MAX Platinum Services in Silverdale. He believes Kitsap County will continue to be strong given its economic foundation together with its affordability factor and quick access to Seattle, but noted it is constrained by available inventory (currently at 1.4 months of supply).

MLS figures show the median price for single family homes and condos that sold last month in King County was $637,675. In Pierce County it was $372,500, about 58 percent of the King County price, and in Kitsap County it was $387,000, about 60 percent of the sales price in King County.

System-wide prices increased more than 3.5 percent from a year ago, from $425,000 to $440,000, although four counties registered declines, including Douglas, Ferry, Jefferson, and King. June’s median price was unchanged from May.

At midyear, the overall median price was $424,517, which compares to $405,000 for the first six months of 2018, an increase of 4.82 percent.

“As long as interest rates stay low and people seek value outside of King and Snohomish counties, house prices should continue their upward momentum,” stated James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research (WCRER) at the University of Washington.

House hunters had a broader selection to consider as inventory at month end totaled 16,800 active listings, about 9.5 percent larger than at the same time a year ago. Brokers added 11,977 new listings during the month, a drop from both a year ago when they added, 13,153 new listings, and from May, when they added 14,689 new listings.

About half the counties reported gains in inventory, led by King County where the selection grew nearly 32 percent from a year ago.

“June listing inventory in King County exceeded the levels posted for this month over the past six years,” said John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “Currently, we are approaching 2012 listing inventory levels,” he noted.

Northwest MLS figures for King County show there were 5,931 active listings at the end June, the highest for that month since 2012 when the selection totaled 6,500 listings.

“Every summer, we see the highest level of new listings and homes going under contract. After the surge of new listings in May, areas close to the job centers saw listings return to the normal seasonal pattern in June,” commented J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

The Northwest MLS report indicates there is 1.76 months of inventory area-wide (matching May), with eight counties having less than two months of supply.

OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, commented on a “considerable rise” in the number of listings priced above $1.5 million in King County. “This could be because of the changes to the Washington State Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) that take effect in 2020, which will significantly impact the tax burden of sellers whose homes sell for more than $1.5 million. I suspect we’ll see even more owners of higher priced homes trying to sell in the coming months in order to avoid the hike in taxes they’ll have to pay starting next January,” he stated.

The new tax measure changes the REET rate from a flat 1.28 percent of the selling price to a graduated rate for real property sales, with exceptions for timberland and agricultural land.

Commenting on the latest report from Northwest MLS, WCRER’s Young said “The perfect storm of low interest rates and falling inventory continues along the I-5 corridor, with double-digit house price increases also continuing.”

Beeson says the “new normal” inventory levels of 2-to-3 months of supply, rather than the traditional 4-to-6 months, makes Puget Sound different than most of the rest of the nation. In Puget Sound, homes sell twice as quickly as a traditional ‘normal’ market,” he stated, but acknowledged, “It feels kinda like things have slowed down. Folks are taking deeper breaths.”

Several brokers commented that buyers are becoming more deliberate in their searches and offers.

“Market savvy buyers are taking advantage of premium location and value pricing due to increased inventory. Price reductions are more commonplace as sellers align their expectations with today’s market,” according to Deely. He said demand remains strong, but “buyers are methodical in their search, and taking more time to jump into an offer.” Also, he noted there have been fewer multiple offers and fewer all-cash buyers in the mix when a listing has several buyers lined up to compete.

Buyers are more “tuned-in” than ever before, Beeson remarked, adding, “Buyers today have educated themselves on the vagaries of the home buying process and are better prepared to meet sellers on firmer ground. They are attentive, vigilant, and discerning toward the marketplace, knowing what they want in a home – and they are willing to wait longer to get it.”

Leach concurred. “Buyers are being very careful about what they buy and at what price,” he stated.

Commenting on King County’s numbers for new listings and new pending sales, Dean Rebhuhn said multiple offers are still occurring in the median price range, noting the 1.9 percent dip in year-over-year prices. “Buyers are seeing higher home availability while taking advantage of low interest rates.” Rebhuhn, the owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville, believes those factors, coupled with summer weather and job creation will “continue to create a very active market for buyers and sellers.”

Scott also expects a “quick-action market” for many buyers when new listings come on the market, especially with interest rates in the upper threes. Looking to the months ahead, Scott anticipates strong sales activity close to job centers, while the surrounding area will experience intense, “frenzy-level sales activity” in the more affordable to mid-price ranges.

Larson believes “the big three” – interest rates, the economy, and consumer confidence – all point to a strong summer for the housing market, while contrasting King and Pierce counties. “For years, King County has been a bit like a top fuel dragster – high performing, thrilling, but maybe a bit temperamental. It got the headlines and values skyrocketed, but now it’s experiencing a bit of a hangover. Pierce County’s market is more like a diesel truck – steady, consistent, and less prone to dramatic market changes.”

Larson also offered advice for passive and first-time house hunters. “Every buyer, particularly at the entry level, needs to understand they can’t simply dip their toe in the water when competing for a home. They need to do a belly flop. They need to put their best foot forward right out of the gate.” He also urged buyers to work with a Realtor who understands the market and who can guide them through the process.

Several representatives from Northwest MLS also suggested sellers need to learn the “new normal” as Beeson calls it. “If you overprice your home or fail to get it in good condition for selling, it will cost you time and money in the end, he stated, adding, “Seller’s can’t afford to be tuned out to what the market is saying.”

For sellers in Kitsap County, broker Frank Wilson says pricing is becoming more important. “Our county is starting to feel some of the changes King County has experienced. List price has to more accurately reflect what the home will sell for in today’s market,” explained Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. Although Wilson reported multiple offer situations and good traffic at open houses, he emphasized sellers “can no longer chance shooting for the moon, pricewise, or they risk getting stuck on the launch pad.”

Condo activity was mixed during June with year-over-year declines in the number of new listings added to inventory, as well as in the volume of pending and closed sales. Total inventory grew more than 41 percent, although at month-end there was only about 1.9 months of supply. Prices overall were nearly unchanged from a year ago. The median price for June’s sales was $367,000, up about a percentage point from a year ago when the median price was $363,500.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,300 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on July 9, 2019 at 5:23 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Home buyers are “better off,” but market is heating up

KIRKLAND, Washington (June 6, 2019) – The housing market in western Washington may not be as hot as it was last spring, but it is heating up, suggested one industry leader in commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Matt Deasy, president of Windermere Real Estate/East, Inc. said his analysis of single family home sales in King County reveals 7 out of 10 properties that sold during May had 15 or fewer days on the market. He also noted more than half the listings (55 percent) in the county sold for at or above list price, the highest ratio since July 2018.

Northwest MLS figures show last month’s 12,006 pending sales across its 23 county service area nearly matched the year-ago total of 12,168 mutually accepted offers. Nine counties notched increases.

Two other indicators of activity – the volume of new listings, and the number of closed sales – both showed slight gains from a year ago. MLS member brokers added 14,689 new listings to inventory during May, up 165 units from twelve months ago. Year-over-year (YOY) closed sales rose about 1.6 percent (from 9,011 in May 2018 to last month’s total of 9,153).

Several representatives of Northwest Multiple Listing Service commented on increasing activity:

  • “The housing market definitely got busier in May with brokers reporting an uptick in showings, open house traffic, and offers.”- OB Jacobi, Windermere Real Estate Co.
  • “We are swinging into our summer market at a little faster clip than last year, and have a few more houses for buyers to choose from.”- Frank Wilson, John L. Scott, Inc.
  • “The spring real estate market remains very good for both buyers and sellers.”- Dean Rebhuhn, Village Homes and Properties.
  • “Buyers rejoiced at lower interest rates in May.”- J. Lennox Scott, John L. Scott, Inc.

In addition to favorable financing, Scott said, “Increased inventory and continued job growth built on April’s momentum, translating to strong results in May.” While inventory has increased in many areas, Scott noted there are still severe shortages of listings in some price ranges.

Inventory improved 24.5 percent from a year ago, with brokers adding 14,689 new listings to outpace the 12,006 pending sales. The MLS report for May shows 16,133 active listings at month end, up from the year-ago total of 12,956. King County recorded the largest gain in total inventory, at more than 62 percent, but supply remained below 2 months in that and several other counties.

System-wide there was 1.76 months of supply at the end of May, well below the 4-to-6 months that experts say indicate a balanced market. “While our inventory has grown a little, we’re still well within the definition of a seller’s market,” said Frank Wilson, a broker in Kitsap County where there is only 1.46 months of supply.

An analysis of NWMLS inventory at the end of May underscores Scott’s point. It shows only 13.8 percent of the listings of single family homes in King County have asking prices under $600,000. That compares to 25.6 percent in Snohomish County, 31.2 percent in Pierce County and 35.3 percent in Kitsap County.

Comparing May’s prices by housing types and geographic areas shows wide variation. Prices for single family homes (up 5.2 percent) outperformed condos (up nearly 1.4 percent). System-wide, sales of single family homes and condos that closed during May increased nearly 4.8 percent YOY, and rose more than 3.5 percent from April. A county-by-county comparison shows price changes ranged from a year-over-year drop of more than 20 percent (in Okanogan County) to a jump of more than 52 percent (in Pacific County).

Single family homes:

Home prices for single family homes (excluding condominiums) are up 5.2 percent system-wide, rising from the year ago figure of $429,500 to last month’s figure of $451,800.

King County prices for single family homes show a 3.6 percent decline from a year ago, but are at the highest level since June when the median price was $715,000. Snohomish nearly matched last June’s figure of $510,000, the highest for the year. A review of figures for the past five years shows both Kitsap and Pierce counties reached new highs (at $385,000 and $370,000, respectively) for last month’s median prices for sales of single family homes.

Three other counties (in addition to King) reported year-over-year drops in median prices on single family homes, led by Okanogan County where selling prices plunged more than 20 percent. Also reporting declines were San Juan County (-0.51 percent) and Snohomish County (-0.01 percent).

Condos:

Condo prices also rose, but at a smaller rate, as inventory continued to build (up nearly 65 percent).  Area-wide prices increased about 1.4 percent from a year ago. Pierce County prices surged 18 percent, while condo prices in King County were mostly flat (up 0.7 percent). Only six counties reported year-over-year price declines.

Prices overall (single family homes and condominiums):

Prices overall, including single family homes and condos are up $20,000 (nearly 4.8 percent) from a year ago, increasing from $420,000 to $440,000. In King County, the median sales price was $645,000, down less than a percent (-0.77) from a year ago. Snohomish County also reported a fractional drop, declining from $478,615 to $476,025 (down 0.54 percent).

“Home prices in the Seattle metro area are still lower than they were a year ago, but only marginally,” remarked Jacobi, but added, “Thanks to the pretty significant drop in interest rates last month, we can expect to see home prices trending higher through the end of the year, but at a far more moderate pace than the last several years.”

Rebhuhn agreed, crediting lower interest rates, lower median prices, and new jobs as driving factors in South King County, Pierce County and Tacoma. “We look for a very active summer market,” he remarked.

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, also attributed strong activity along the I-5 corridor and outer urban centers to low interest rates. Also noteworthy, he suggested, was Douglas County where YOY prices surged more than 24 percent.  “Cowlitz, Thurston, and Lewis counties continue to outperform,” he added.

Young said interest rates could drop further as 10-year yields continue to fall. “Given the search for value among those sellers trading down along with first-time buyers in all urban areas across the state, prices should continue to rise throughout the peak season,” he stated.

“The data for May extends the same phenomenon we’ve been part of for nearly five years,” said Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “Recall that just one year ago the headlines were asking, ‘Has the hot market ended?’ as inventory increased from 3-to-5 days to 1.8 months between May and August. Now, one year later, while we see many more listings are available, accepted offers are keeping pace and inventory remains relatively stable at 1.7-to-2 months.”

“A balanced market should have about a 6-month supply,” explained WCRER’s Young, noting the national month’s supply figure is at about 4 months. “Except for a few small counties, every county in the NWMLS area has a month’s supply of 4 or less. Except for Skagit County, with 2.2 months of supply, every county along the I-5 corridor has less than 2 months.”

Wilson, the Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo, emphasized “the numbers are all relative, relative to a ‘normal’ market which we are not in.” Noting the current inventory of 644 homes and condos is higher than last year when there were 519 active listings at this time, “it is half of what might be considered a balanced market here in Kitsap County.”

What people read about the Puget Sound market “is not reflective of our micro market” Wilson continued, noting one “huge difference” is the amount of vacant land that is available. “We have seen a bump in vacant land listings,” he reported, adding, “For those looking to build a home, there are a lot of opportunities in this area, though be prepared for a lengthy process to get a home plan approved and built here in Kitsap.”

“We’re in the midst of the four best months in the year for buyer activity,” Scott emphasized. “I recommend sellers ensure their home’s appearance, marketing strategy and broker associate relationship are all in tip-top shape,” he added.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on June 10, 2019 at 9:09 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Northwest MLS housing report for April signals good news for home buyers

KIRKLAND, Washington (May 6, 2019) – Housing activity during April signaled good news for buyers in Western Washington as inventory continued to grow, the rate of price increases was slowing in many areas (and even decreasing in a few counties), and mortgage rates remained low.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service statistics for last month show a 28.5 percent overall increase in active listings compared to the same month a year ago, a 5.8 percent gain in pending sales, and a 2.4 percent rise in median prices for sales of single family homes and condos that closed during April. The volume of closings dipped slightly (down 1.9 percent).

“Listings were popping up like April flowers and the bloom has produced a vibrant and healthy market,” exclaimed MLS director John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “With an increased supply of listing inventory, low interest rates, and a positive economic climate, buyers are confident that this is a good time to buy,” he reported, while noting a larger number of buyers are opting out of competing with other buyers.

“This year’s buyers and sellers are approaching the market with more caution and a focus on an analytical, versus emotional approach that has ruled the last several years,” Deely said.

Northwest MLS members added 11,697 new listings to inventory during April for a year-over-year gain of nearly 3.8 percent. During the same period, brokers reported 11,188 pending sales (509 fewer than the number of new listings), resulting in net gains in the number of active listings in many counties, but changes in inventory were wide ranging across the 23 counties the MLS serves.

Seven counties had double-digit growth in inventory from a year ago, led by King County (up 78.5 percent) and Snohomish County (up nearly 57 percent). The number of active listings declined in 10 counties, with Jefferson County reporting the biggest drop at 24.8 percent. System-wide inventory at the end of April totaled 12,955 active listings, which represents a 7.8 gain from March.

“The spring market has arrived, bringing new listings and sales,” stated Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville. Sellers who have prepared their homes for sale are experiencing brisk activity, and buyers are finding more opportunities to purchase, thanks to low mortgage rates and increased inventory, according to Rebhuhn.

“As we head into the prime buying and selling season, we’re seeing better news for buyers in King County, with statistics showing there’s a bit more time to look and make a decision,” said Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. Pointing to the 78 percent increase in total active listings in King County and the 57 percent jump in inventory in Snohomish County, he described the year-over-year gains as “impressive,” but noted there is still less than two months of inventory in many areas. “Buyers now have three-to-four weeks instead of three-to-four days to make a decision, so it’s still quite a ways from a balanced market,” he emphasized.

Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, echoed Grady. “Despite the increase in inventory over last year at this time in King County, we are seeing a very robust spring market laced with multiple offers in many instances,” he stated.

Eight counties had double-digit increases in pending sales versus a year ago. In the four-county Puget Sound region, only King County had a double-digit gain, with a 15.1 percent jump in mutually accepted offers. Pierce County, with a 6.6 percent decrease, was one of seven counties reporting drops in pending sales. Even with mixed sales activity, supply remains tight.

Northwest MLS figures show both King County and its 23-county system have around 1.7 months of supply. “That is still slim compared to the National Association of Realtors’ data showing a national average of 3.9 months of inventory,” remarked O’Leyar.

“We just experienced a strong spring market and are now heading into the pre-summer phase of the housing cycle where more inventory but also more buyer competition is commonplace,” stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He expects momentum will continue “in line with positive job growth, lower interest rates and a strong U.S. economy,” but believes price appreciation will start to level out heading into summer. “All eyes will be on each new listing this summer, a welcome sight for home buyers encountering multiple-offer situations in the more affordable and mid-price ranges,” Scott added.

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, said low mortgage rates (averaging 4.4% for a 30-year fixed) are enabling buyers in outlying areas along the I-5 corridor to purchase in areas with cheaper prices, notably Skagit, Cowlitz and Whatcom counties.

“There are two key demographic trends driving prices along with mortgage interest rates,” Young said. “Older householders trading down are competing with first-time buyers along this corridor seeking value.” He used the example of an empty-nester Seattle homeowner deciding to trade down. “If I sell in Seattle to trade down, then I will have significant amounts of cash available from selling my existing home to be able to move to Mount Vernon or Cle Elum with cash left over.” First time buyers may look at the same relatively low priced areas as a place to raise a family. “With these two groups competing for value, this is a perfect storm for house price growth, particularly in regional markets,” Young believes.

Areas adjacent to King County had mixed results.

“Listing activity in Snohomish County rose modestly in April but the rate of growth has slowed,” said NWMLS director David Maider. MLS figures show brokers added 30 more new listings than a year ago (1,746 versus 1,716), with total inventory up 56.8 percent. Pending sales rose 6.9 percent and prices were flat (up 0.84 percent).

Maider, the owner/broker at Windermere Real Estate M2 in Everett, described the jump in pending sales as “significant” and an indicator that there is clearly demand in the market. “We expect that mortgage rates will not move significantly as we move toward summer and that well-positioned and well-priced homes will still see significant interest from potential buyers,” he commented.

Another MLS director, Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Realtors in Gig Harbor (in Pierce County), acknowledged the slowing rate of price increases in the Puget Sound region, commenting, “But the direction remains the same: higher prices.” He believes buyer demand and scarce inventory mean buyers need to “be ready to rumble,” since conditions don’t favor “faint-hearted buyers.” For sellers, he advised, “Don’t be stupid, increases can’t go on forever. Get a fair price and move on.”

Home prices for last month’s completed sales of single family homes and condos rose 2.4 percent area-wide compared to a year ago, with eight counties reporting double-digit gains. Mason County had the biggest jump, at 24.9 percent, followed by San Juan (up 23.5 percent), Kittitas (up 20.5 percent) and Skagit (up 18.7 percent). Six counties reported year-over-year decreases: Clallam, Clark, Ferry, Island, Jefferson, and King.

Condo prices dipped 3.2 percent as inventory improved (up 75 percent). Pending sales rose 3 percent.

“Interestingly, condominium prices in King County continue to fall as the number of properties on the market continues to climb rapidly,” remarked Young. MLS figures show prices in King County dropped about 9.6 percent and inventory surged nearly 122 percent compared to twelve months ago.

“Anecdotally, this corresponds with possible regulatory and tax uncertainty signaled for private landlords in Seattle ahead of local government elections. Given this situation and significant supply in the multifamily sector coming online, many smaller landlords may be selling to lock in capital value growth and exit the rental market ahead of the November election,” Young suggested.

Some developers of new condo projects are reporting strong activity. First Light, a 459-unit development to be built at 3rd and Virginia in downtown Seattle, has announced more than half the units in the 48-floor tower have been reserved prior to groundbreaking.

Looking ahead, Grady believes, “We are very slowly trending away from a complete seller’s market,” citing single-digit increases in sales prices, “instead of double-digit increases we saw in 2018,” and the lack of inventory. “We believe these two considerations will now move sellers who have been waiting to sell in order to take advantage of equity gains to finally take action.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on May 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Market Update – click link below

Eastside Q1 Market Report

Posted on April 29, 2019 at 5:39 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Housing Market Rebounds From February Freeze

April 5, 2019

KIRKLAND, Washington (April 5, 2019) – Both pending sales and new listing activity around Western Washington surged during March as buyers, sellers, and brokers emerged from February’s record snowfall.

Brokers added 10,516 new listings of single family homes and condos to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service inventory last month, the highest monthly volume since August 2018. Compared to the same month a year ago, new listings across the 23 counties in the report were down slightly (79 fewer units).

MLS members also reported 10,261 pending sales during the same timeframe, the highest number of mutually accepted offers since July, and nearly matching the year-ago total of 10,311.

“After the housing adjustment in 2018, this year’s spring market is back to frenzied in the more affordable and mid-price ranges,” remarked J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. Noting March is the start of the prime-time selling season, he expects this year “will be no exception.” He also commented on improved affordability from last fall’s price adjustments in the close-in job centers of Seattle and the Eastside. “This improved affordability, along with lower interest rates and very strong job growth, all point us in the right direction for red-hot acceleration again this year,” Scott stated.

ear-over-year prices area-wide were up 3.5 percent, rising from $401,761 to $415,950, with most counties reporting gains. King County was an exception. Prices there were flat (down 0.4 percent), slipping from the year-ago median of $625,000 to last month’s figure of $622,500, but rising from February’s price of $604,000.

Compared to February, prices rose 2.2 percent system-wide. The four-county Puget Sound region had larger month-to-month increases, led by Kitsap County, up 5.9 percent from February. Prices in Snohomish County jumped nearly 5.5 percent, while King County’s median prices rose more than 3 percent when comparing February to March.

Commenting on the uptick in new listings and new sales, broker Dean Rebhuhn pointed to lower mortgage interest rates and a growing selection of properties as drivers of activity. “Well-priced properties are selling. Buyers who are getting fully underwritten loan commitments are winning the prize – the home,” stated Rebhuhn, the owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville.

At month end, there were 12,017 active listings of single family homes and condos in the Northwest MLS database. That represents an increase of more than 36 percent from a year ago when there were only 8,825 active listings. Inventory more than doubled in King County compared to a year ago, rising from 2,060 active listings to 4,263 at the end of March. Nine counties reported less inventory than 12 months ago.

Even with improving inventory, there is less than two months of supply overall and in seven counties, including Pierce (1.2 months), Snohomish (1.3 months), Kitsap (1.4 months) and King (nearly 1.9 months).

“March signaled the beginning of the annual rise in King County residential listing inventory, and this year’s active listings are building on a higher base of listings than previous years,” observed John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle. He also noted pending sales (10,261 during March) kept pace with new listings (10,516) to slow the buildup of inventory.

“Many buyers found the increased inventory meant more choices and less competition in many market areas,” said Deely, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “In core Seattle markets, new listings that are competitively priced are seeing multiple and contingency-stripped offers,” he added.

OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, described March as an “eventful month for real estate,” as the snow finally melted and interest rates dropped, “nudging buyers off the fence and back into the market. The result was a spike in pending sales between February and March (up more than 49 percent), and a pop in price growth in several counties, suggesting we are entering an active spring market.”

Another MLS director, Meredith Hansen, attributed the downturn in last month’s closed sales to inclement weather. Tight inventory makes spring an excellent time for sellers to put their homes on the market, she suggested. “Buyers have more selection, good interest rates, and a less frenzied market to make solid decisions. Overall, I’d say it’s a win-win for both sides,” remarked Hansen, the owner/designated broker at Keller Williams Greater Seattle.

Brokers from Kitsap and South Sound markets are reporting strong activity, with pending sales outgaining new listings, and heavy traffic at open houses.

“In Kitsap County, the buyers have arrived to the market faster than sellers,” reported Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott’s Poulsbo office. “Low interest rates are giving buyers a break in house payments, which allows them to buy a little more house. Buyers have received the message about the spring market, but sellers are still waiting in the wings,” he commented.

Broker Dick Beeson said the South Sound market is somewhat of an anomaly, as prices continue to rise despite growing inventory. “Multiple offers are less frequent in this market, and, unlike 6-to-12 months ago, sellers are now agreeing to do repairs and pay buyer’s closing costs,” according to Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Realtors in Gig Harbor. “Some type of negotiation is once again prevalent in almost every sale,” he added.

Beeson said in certain higher price ranges buyers and sellers have “almost equal footing.” He suggested it could become a buyer’s market in South Sound “when the Seattle/King County market flattens out even more and can provide homes at affordable prices so those who don’t work in high tech can afford them.”

“Areas outside of King County and along the I-5 corridor outperform as people continue to look for value outside the main urban centers,” observed James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. He expects the spring price growth will be “solid” as long as demand remains.

“The market is highly interest rate sensitive, and this is reflected in current price trends in the region,” Young stated. “Given interest rates are now 70 basis points lower than their peak in November last year (and back down near historic lows), house prices could rise by 8.4 percent and people could keep the same mortgage repayments. This means someone who could have purchased a $450,000 house six months ago can now purchase a house costing $487,800 and keep the same monthly repayment, an 8.2 percent increase,” he explained.

Northwest MLS members report 6,750 completed transactions during March, a drop of about 8.3 percent from a year ago, and likely a result of February’s heavy snows that resulted in hazardous roads and kept many people housebound for several days.

“Although closed sales were down in March, we believe February’s snowy weather slowed the closing of pending transactions,” suggested Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “Most notably in determining the strength of our market is the ratio of new listings and pending sales, which were close, resulting in less than two months of inventory in many areas. We expect the market to continue these trends as we head into what is always the busiest time of the year.”

Scott also expects momentum to continue. “Looking ahead, more new listings are on the way, and the more affordable and mid-price ranges will see strong price appreciation this year – just not at last year’s extreme levels,” he commented.

Deely said one change from past markets is the trend of buyers who are unwilling to participate in properties with an offer review date. “This has the notable effect of fewer competing offers and an increase in properties going past their offer review date without a sale.”

Condo activity remains mostly unremarkable, although inventory is improving. Brokers added 1,487 new listings to the selection last month and reported 1,387 pending sales. Inventory at month end stood at 1,610 active listings, up more than 85 percent from a year ago. That still leaves months of supply below two months in many areas, including King (1.95 months of supply), Snohomish (1.1 months), Pierce (0.83 months), and Kitsap (1.67 months).

MLS members reported 932 closed sales of condominiums during March with a median price of $367,150, about the same as the year-ago price of $365,000. In King County, the median sales price for condos was $434,000, a drop of almost 7 percent from twelve months ago.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on April 29, 2019 at 5:35 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Heavy snowfall ices February housing activity around Western Washington

March 6, 2019

KIRKLAND, Washington (March 6, 2019) – Seattle’s snowiest month in 50 years had an obvious chilling effect on February’s housing activity, agreed officials with Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Statistics for last month show pending sales dropped nearly 14 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

“The winter weather brought the market to a halt,” stated John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. He said last month’s series of snowstorms and frigid temperatures had a negative impact on the typical momentum that builds at the beginning of the year.

“Showing activity dropped more than 41 percent the week of the heaviest snow, and weekend keybox activity was down 80 percent,” Deely reported. “The end of the month picked up as cabin fever weary buyers unleashed themselves on the burgeoning inventory,” he added.

Despite the weather disruptions, brokers added 6,247 new listings to inventory during the month, 1,037 fewer than a year ago. At month end, Northwest MLS members reported 11,275 total active listings, a robust 42.3 percent jump from twelve months ago. Thirteen of the 23 counties served by the MLS reported year-over-year increases in inventory.

Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties, described February listings and sales as “very good,” pointing to low interest rates, new jobs, and lifestyle changes as market drivers. “New sales continue to absorb new listings,” he noted.

Northwest MLS figures show about 2.2 months of inventory system-wide, with four counties (Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston having less than two months of supply. King County was slightly above two months (2.09).

“Snowmageddon notwithstanding, we saw nearly as many homes go pending (6,878) as came on the market (6,247) in February,” noted Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker AaBain. “In Snohomish and Pierce counties, the activity was even more impressive for this time of year, with our offices pointing to an uptick in the market.”

It seemed determined buyers were undeterred by nearly inaccessible neighborhoods, based on examples Grady cited.

“A Ballard listing priced at $635,000 went on the market on a Friday and drew a whopping 132 groups previewing it that weekend, yielding 14 offers by Monday. The home sold for 22 percent above listing price,” Grady said. “In Kirkland, we heard about five new listings over $1 million coming on the market during Snowmageddon week two, and all were sold that same week,” prompting him to declare he continues to be bullish on a continued strong market for 2019.

As February temperatures plunged, prices in most counties started heating up, rising from a year ago as well as when compared to January.

Area-wide median prices for the 5,145 sales of single family homes and condos that closed last month were up 5.7 percent from a year ago, rising from $385,000 to $407,000. Compared to January, prices increased 6.6 percent. Single family home prices increased 7.44 percent, while condo prices were nearly flat (up about 1.3 percent).

In King County, brokers reported a price gain of nearly 2.4 percent from a year ago. The median selling price jumped $14,000 from a year ago, from $590,000 to $604,000. The comparison to January shows a price increase of 6.9 percent.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate commented on the return of the multiple-offer market. “While the snow in February created a short distraction, the housing market is back on hot as we head into spring,” he remarked, reporting “Dedicated buyers braved the snow. The market is on track for a strong spring.”

“Between January and February, home prices in the tri-county King/Snohomish/Pierce area rose significantly, ending the month-over-month declines that started last May,” remarked OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. He called the increase “pretty unexpected and likely a result of the drop in interest rates we saw in December.” Jacobi believes it’s too early to know if this is the start of a trend, but added “It might suggest that the slowing in prices that began last summer has come to an end.”

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, said last month’s weather made it difficult to comment on activity, but detected some patterns on prices. “Similar to previous months, prices are moving upwards the most consistently in exurban areas along the I-5 corridor. Look for prices outside the major urban areas to continue rising as the weather improves and the main selling season arrives.”

Areas outside the main Puget Sound urban regions continue to perform well, Young suggested, in part because older households continue to cash out of more expensive markets and move to the outskirts of the cities to areas that still offer good amenities for retirement and lifestyle.

Prices appear to have bottomed out to around year-ago levels, agreed Matt Deasy. Discussions with buyers who are back in the market suggest they believe prices are no longer going down and some feel like interest rates are on sale. House-hunters also seem to be encouraged by the growing selection, he remarked.

Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott’s Poulsbo office, said the market there has slowed considerably compared to last year when the spring market perked up before the more typical March and April timeframe.

“The reality is we still have low inventory, homes are going under contract faster than they are coming on the market, we are still seeing strong traffic at open houses, and we are still seeing multiple offers on correctly priced homes that are new on the market.” Wilson commented. “Waterfront homes are still at a premium on the Kitsap mainland,” he continued. “As we continue into the spring market, I think we’ll see a bump in buyers who are enjoying the continued low interest rates, although some may still be frustrated with the limited choices.”

Low and stable interest rates are particularly important to those closing larger mortgage loans, Young pointed out. “Buyers also appear to be responding to stable interest rates over the past couple of months, particularly in the higher priced areas of the region,” he commented, noting interest rates for jumbo mortgages (balances over $484,350) decreased to 4.40% from December’s rate of 4.59%.

As the pace of activity picks up, Scott emphasized the importance of buyer preparation to ensure they can secure the home of their choice. “We recommend working with a qualified broker, becoming fully underwritten by a lender, and signing up for text notifications for new listings to find success this spring.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on March 14, 2019 at 9:35 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Homebuyers Resuming Search Amid Improving Inventory, Attractive Terms

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 7, 2019) – Homebuyers around Washington state are making their way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and more approachable sellers, according to officials with Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Northwest MLS statistics for January show year-over-year improvement in the volume of new listings and total inventory, along with moderating selling prices. Although fewer pending sales (mutually accepted offers) were reported than a year ago (down about 3.3 percent), January was the smallest year-over-year decline since May 2018 when the drop was about 2.7 percent.

Commenting on the MLS statistics summarizing last month’s activity, broker Gary O’Leyar said January’s post-holiday real estate activity doesn’t normally pick up until later in the month, but this year the uptick began early. “January started as a bit of a surprise. Open house activity was very robust, and we saw multiple offers in numerous instances again,” reported O’Leyar, the owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties in Seattle.

Brokers tallied 7,564 pending sales during January, a decline from a year-ago when they recorded 7,820 transactions.

Seven counties had increases in pending sales of single family homes and condos compared with 12 months ago, including King (up nearly 7.5 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.8 percent).

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, commented on pending sales. The mixed results, including “healthy growth” in King and Snohomish counties, “corresponds well to upward movement in mortgage applications late in December, a leading indicator for the month to follow,” he noted, adding, “One should expect to see increased sales activity in the coming months throughout the region if mortgage applications continue to stabilize or increase.”

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said buyers “came out of the woodwork” after the holidays, eager to take advantage of better housing conditions. “Areas close to the job centers are seeing improved affordability from spring 2018,” he said, attributing it to lower interest rates, strong job growth, and adjusted pricing.

Scott said buyers are also attracted by expanded inventory resulting from the addition of new listings and a higher number of unsold inventory, although he noted “inventory levels are still considered a shortage.”

Prospective buyers who sat out the second half of 2018 or were pushed to the sidelines during last year’s heated market are finding better buying conditions, agreed Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere Real Estate/East. “Interest rates are near a nine month low and buyers have a stronger platform for negotiating, which have helped drive a 9 percent increase in pending sales of single family homes in King County,” Wasser stated.

MLS members added 7,090 new listings of single family homes and condos during January, up from the year-ago figure of 6,805 and nearly doubling December’s total of 3,631. At month end there were 11,687 active listings in the database, up more than 45 percent from the year-ago total of 8,037. Listing inventory more than doubled in both King and Snohomish counties.

Sixteen counties, including all four in the Puget Sound region, reported more inventory than a year ago. Even with sizable gains, supply is still tight at 2.4 months system-wide. (In general, four to six months typically indicates a balanced market.)

“The rise in inventory is largely due to investors who are selling because they believe the market has peaked and they want to unload their properties before interest rates rise too far,” said OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.

“New listing inventory in King County is bringing more homebuyers to the market. We are enjoying increased open house traffic, including during the Super Bowl weekend,” remarked Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville. He also commented on the early arrival of the spring market, crediting jobs and immigration as factors. “Properly priced homes are selling!” he exclaimed.

Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, expects activity to pick up heading into spring, as is customary. “I have absolutely no concerns about 2019 being a strong year, with prices rising 4-to-6 percent and units up 10-to-12 percent. There is no reason for sellers not to move on with their lives and list their homes,” he remarked.

Northwest MLS figures show an area-wide price gain of just over 5 percent on January’s 4,865 closed sales of single family homes and condos. Only six of the 23 counties in the report had year-over-year price drops. Among them was King County where prices slipped about one percentage point, from $571,250 to $565,000.

Prices on single family homes (excluding condos) rose 5.4 percent from the same month a year ago. In the four-county Puget Sound region, prices increased in Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties, but decreased about 2.9 percent in King County, dropping from $628,388 to $610,000. Prices for single family homes in Kitsap County, where there is only about 1.7 months of supply, surged nearly 14.7 percent when compared to a year ago.

“The minor decline in King County home prices in January doesn’t mean the housing market is tanking; it’s primarily because of the significant increase in the number of homes for sale,” suggested Jacobi. “We may see prices take minor dips periodically in the coming year, but for the most part they are expected to continue rising, just at a far more modest rate than in recent years,” he added.

“Median prices on closed sales continue to remain stable in January with continued strong upward growth in outlying counties,” stated Young. “Pierce, Kitsap, and Thurston counties outpaced King and Snohomish counties in price growth, consistent with the past few months. This trend indicates that many first-time buyers and middle-income families are continuing to look to the outer regions of the area for value. Strong price growth in Lewis and Whatcom counties also support this general trend of outward migration along the I-5 corridor,” he added.

Mike Larson, president/designated broker at ALLEN Realtors in Lakewood (Pierce County) concurred, describing the slowdown in activity during the second half of 2018 as a “much-needed correction.” Sellers in King and Snohomish counties “got caught up in the craziness so many buyers turned to Pierce County for their affordability solution,” something he expects will continue this year.

Condo prices rose slightly, about 1.6 percent, as inventory more than doubled from a year ago. The median price for the 645 condos that closed last month area-wide was $325,000. In King County, where more than half the sales occurred, the median price was $383,500, up slightly from the year-ago figure of $380,000.

Several brokers expressed optimism for a busy spring.

“Buyers are signaling a more aggressive spring market with an uptick in search activity and high application rates with mortgage companies,” said George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. He also noted would-be owners are commenting on having more options to consider and “are feeling the real estate market is less volatile.” He also reported sellers are similarly encouraged by having more options, “and not having to race around with the fear of making a housing mistake.”

“We’ve clearly been in a transitioning market, but given the ongoing demand for real estate in the Greater Seattle area, we may have adjusted to a ‘new market reality’ wherein inventory is up and prices have re-aligned, but there is still strong demand for housing. I would expect to see a robust regional real estate market going forward into spring,” stated O’Leyar.

The director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research was more guarded in his expectations. “Increasing inventory and moderate price growth in urban counties (and growth in outer regions of the Puget Sound) point to several problems relating to how potential homebuyers see things moving forward,” said James Young. He referenced figures from the National Association of Homebuilders National Trends Report indicating a shrinking pool of buyers.

“The picture for first-time buyer affordability in the longer term for the region is not bright for potential homeowners unless changes in the housing supply framework throughout the area are addressed soon.”

Larson also expressed concerns around affordability, “particularly for entry-level buyers as well as move-down buyers who also want to sell. The middle rungs on the housing ladder are slowly disappearing,” he remarked. Options like condos could help fill that void, he suggested, but believes they won’t be built “until the state legislature reforms the condo liability laws.”

Affordability is a “crucial issue” for 72 percent of millennial renters, according to a survey by Apartment List.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on February 12, 2019 at 8:50 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

Attentive home buyers can find “good values and receptive sellers”

New data from the MLS show inventory in its 23-county market area dipped below two months of supply for the first time since July. A year-over-year comparison of the number of new listings, pending sales, and closed sales show drops overall, while prices rose from the same month a year ago.

Member-brokers added 3,631 new listings of single family homes and condominiums during December (10.4 percent fewer than a year ago), boosting total active listings to 12,275, up from the year-ago volume of 8,553. Pending sales were down about 8.4 percent from twelve months ago (5,677 versus 6,198), and the volume of closed sales dropped nearly 16.6 percent (6,374 versus 7,642).

For 2018, members of Northwest MLS reported completing 92,555 transactions, which compares with 99,345 closed sales during 2017 for a drop of about 6.8 percent. The median price on last year’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums combined was $402,000, up $32,000 (8.64 percent) from 2017.

Commenting on inventory, declines in closed sales and the drop in month’s supply, MLS director Dick Beeson said, “There’s lots of speculation as to the reasons why. One thing for sure: this situation can make for a deliciously deceptive market for either buyers or sellers.” The veteran Realtor said buyers who are paying attention will find very good values and receptive sellers.

“Timing the interest rate market is beyond the capability of most everyone. Therefore, buyers should act now, act deliberately, act decisively, and act in conjunction with an experienced real estate professional,” advised Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor.

Brokers said many of last month’s buyers took advantage of the shifting market.

“Buyers in December were reaping the benefits of market-weary sellers who were willing to give up part of their bloated home equity to make a deal and move on,” reported John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, noted last month was a very different December from a year ago. “While active listings are up significantly (43.5 percent) from a year ago, interest rates have also gone up by over 80 basis points, meaning the typical mortgage repayment has increased by about 10 percent for those looking to buy. That limits spending power and stops buyers from bidding up for the house they want rather than the house they can afford.”

The 12,275 active listings in the MLS database at year end was down from November when inventory totaled 15,830 properties, and down from 2018’s peak of 19,526 listings at the end of September. Measured another way, there was 1.93 months of supply at the end of December, with four-to-six months typically considered to be a balanced market. A year ago there was only 1.12 months of supply. On a percentage basis, year-over-year inventory has climbed each month since May.

Five counties had less than two months of supply at year end, with Kitsap having the scarcest selection at only 1.48 months of supply. Other counties reporting less than two months of supply were Pierce (1.52), Snohomish (1.53), Thurston (1.58), and King (1.71). Brokers note some of the December shrinkage is seasonal since some sellers take their home off the market during the holidays.

Condo inventory surged, notably in King County which now has more than four times the number of condo listings than 12 months ago.

“We’re continuing to see a balancing of the market, yet it is still seller-leaning, driven by our region’s continued job formation and a lack of inventory,” observed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “For all the talk of doom and gloom in real estate” he said his calculations show home values have increased at four times the rate of inflation since December 2014 when the “hot market” began.

Grady pointed to the gap between December’s closed sales (6,374) and the volume of new listings (3,631) to replenish supply. He expects more growth in inventory this year, “but still not to the level of a truly balanced market of five or so months of supply.” Grady also anticipates prices increases, “although not at the rate they have been. So, still a great time for both buyers and sellers to enter the market.”

Other industry leaders also described the market in terms of a transition or recovery.

Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said a favorable market is returning for home buyers in Seattle and the Eastside. “Improved affordability, with both lower interest rates and adjusted lower housing prices from the spring of 2018 will lead the way,” he stated, adding “Although unsold inventory of homes for sale is still considered a shortage, the larger number of unsold homes, combined with new listings, will moderate the price increases in the year ahead.”

“Last year was a recovery year,” said George Moorhead, who believes 2019 will mirror it in several ways. “Balancing inventory, moderate appreciation of home values, tempered buyer demand with rising interest rates and reduced tax incentives” are among his expectations. “Buyer affordability in 2019 will be based on perception of good value and mortgage interest rates,” suggested Moorhead, the designated broker and owner of Bentley Properties. “The looming feeling of a hard-hitting recession keeps many would-be homeowners on the sidelines, thinking ‘It is better to watch and wait’ even though economic factors point towards a continued healthy, yet moderate market.”

John Deely called 2018 “the transition year for the traditional Pacific Northwest 10-year market cycle.” The swing from a sellers’ market to a more balanced market was evident by the second quarter of 2018 as the absorption of new and standing inventory slowed due to a decrease in pending sales explained Deely, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.

Three factors contributed to the change, according to Deely. He listed accelerated and unsustainable home price growth, rising interest rates, and waning consumer confidence and sentiment as those factors, noting “The market is mimicking the strong recession recovery cycles of 2012 to 2014.”

“The year ended with more of a splutter than a bang as home price growth continued to slow in December,” stated OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “But it’s important to keep things in perspective,” he emphasized, saying 2018 was a very good year for Seattle-area home sales. “The shift we’re experiencing is only bringing us closer to a more balanced market. My crystal ball tells me this trend will continue in the coming year with home prices rising, but at a slower rate of around 5.5 percent.”

Young, from the Center for Real Estate Research, commented on activity moving away from core urban areas to outlying regions where prices are cheaper. Demand is pushing prices higher and shortening market time in several counties, he stated, naming Cowlitz, Lewis and Thurston, which all experienced year-over-year price gains of at least 12.4 percent.

“Regardless of what the news is saying about the Seattle market, at the end of the day, the Kitsap median home price is significantly lower than a home in King County,” said Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. Northwest MLS data show the median price for homes and condos that sold last month in Kitsap County was $343,000, while in King County it was 74 percent higher ($597,000).

“This will be what keeps our inventory low due to the improved mobility between Colman Dock and Kingston, Bremerton, and eventually Port Orchard,” Wilson remarked. He noted the early success of the fast ferry on the Kingston run is leading to talks about adding more boats.

Wilson said Kitsap brokers report good traffic at open houses and multiple offers on correctly priced homes. “We’ve also seen prices of homes in the north end go up, as well as an increase in new construction in the area,” added Wilson, who is also a director at NWMLS.

Beeson also commented on the importance of pricing. “Sellers who recognize a market shift has occurred will price their homes accordingly and sell in a reasonable amount of time, 30 days or less – not one day.”

Young said buyers are very aware of the changing housing finance environment and are still active in the marketplace even if they are not as aggressive as they have been in the past. Mortgage applications are declining due to short-term uncertainty, he said, even though 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rates are continuing to fall.

Moorhead echoed that thought. “Buyers are being much more methodical about their purchase with some taking as long as eight months before making their final decision,” he reported.

Jacobi believes 2019 will bring the continued resurgence of first-time buyers, especially millennials as they form new households, get married, and have children. “Although many of them will face significant obstacles to buying due to student debt, lack of down payments, and Seattle’s high-priced housing, this group is likely to buy more homes in 2019 than any other demographic,” Jacobi predicts.

Wilson characterized the seasonally slower December/early January period as “the calm before the storm,” noting the spring market usually brings a surge of buyers that surpass the increase in listings.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Posted on February 4, 2019 at 5:35 pm
Greg Abbott | Category: Recently Featured

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