Rising interest rates, rising prices and rising consumer confidence are creating a “positive cyclone of home sales activity,” according to members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. A robust job market around the Greater Seattle area is also spurring sales.
Member-brokers reported 9,565 pending sales during July for an increase of more than 13.6 percent from a year ago – the highest year-over-year gain since January. Last month’s mutually accepted offers across 21 counties also marked a slight improvement on June’s total of 9,484 pending sales.
The number of closed sales and the prices on those transactions both rose by double digits compared to a year ago. Members recorded 7,772 completed transactions area-wide to outgain the year-ago volume by 27.5 percent. The median price of those closed sales, which included single family homes and condominiums, was $282,363. That’s up 10.8 percent from the year-ago figure of $254,900.
MLS members added 10,860 new listings to inventory during July to boost the system-wide selection to 25,272 active listings. That is only about 5.5 percent fewer listings than a year ago when inventory stood at 26,747 active listings.
Despite improving inventory overall, supplies remained low, particularly around job centers. Area-wide there is about 2.6 months of supply, which indicates a seller’s market. (In a normal market, a healthy supply level favoring neither buyers nor sellers is around 6 months, according to industry analysts.)
Three counties have less than three months of supply. At the current pace of sales in King County, it would take just 1.5 months to sell the current supply. In Snohomish there is only 1.6 months of supply and in Thurston County the existing supply would be exhausted in about 2.9 months.
The average fixed rate on a 30-year mortgage was 4.37 percent last week, up from January’s rate of 3.41, according to Freddie Mac.
Buyers searching for single family homes may have an easier time than those seeking condominiums.
Northwest MLS figures show the inventory for single family homes is down 4.6 percent from a year ago, while the selection of condo listings has declined about 13.2 percent. Prices on single family homes that closed during July were up about 9.9 percent from a year ago. Condo prices jumped more than 16.8 percent.
Prices for single family homes (excluding condominiums) in King County continue to climb, with last month’s completed transactions commanding a median sales price of $434,000. That figure reflects an increase of 15.7 percent from a year ago when the median price was $375,250.
Since January, the median sales price for a single family home in King County has risen by $84,000, but the escalation hasn’t seemed to crimp activity. Through July, closed sales of single family homes sold with the county have outgained year-ago totals by nearly 17.9 percent….
Although some economists expect weaker U.S. economic growth for the remaining months of 2013 and moderating home price increases, brokers say investors are active participants in the local housing market.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 21,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.