The Northwest Multiple Listing Service sent out their monthly press release on Jan. 7th 2013. Below are details from the release, including the 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales Table. To read the press release in its entirely, click here.
Home buyers around western Washington made offers on 5,314 residences during December, outnumbering the 3,857 owners who listed their homes for sale. The imbalance helped push up prices and further thin already depleted inventory.
While the expected seasonal slowdown occurred last month, determined buyers were undaunted by sparse inventory and record-breaking rainy days, according to December statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
MLS members reported 5,314 pending sales of single family homes and condominiums last month for a modest year-over-year increase of 1.5 percent. That volume of mutually accepted offers fell from November’s total of 6,522, but far exceeded the number of new listings, 3,857, that members added to the MLS system during December. It also marked an unprecedented fourth straight month when pending sales outnumbered new listings.
MLS members tallied 5,267 closed sales during December, outgaining the same month a year ago by 526 transactions for an increase of about 11.1 percent. The 2012 total of 64,624 closed sales was 14.8 percent higher than the volume reported for 2011.
Brokers expect the housing market rebound to continue, while cautioning sellers to refrain from becoming too greedy and expressing hope for “controlled natural growth” to sustain the recovery. They also believe distressed properties, rising rents and re-engaged investors will have an impact on activity for the foreseeable future.
Even with distressed properties (and the lower prices they usually fetch) being part of the mix of sales, median sales prices are edging up. Last month’s buyers paid more for their home than purchasers of a year ago, and the number of properties that sold for a million dollars or more jumped nearly 56 percent, rising from 68 in December 2011 to 106 last month.
The median price area-wide was $255,000, up 13.3 percent from twelve months ago when the price was $225,000. Prices rose by double digits in ten of the 21 counties in the Northwest MLS service area. Homes and condos that sold in King County commanded the highest prices at $342,000, reflecting a gain of more than 17.5 percent.
For single family homes (excluding condos), the median selling price rose $30,000 system-wide (about 12.8 percent) climbing from $235,000 a year ago to $265,000.
In King County, the median sales price of a single family home jumped nearly 18.8 percent, from $320,000 to $380,046. Within the county, the biggest increases on single family homes that sold were reported in Skyway/Bryn Mawr area (up 89.8 percent), Central Seattle (up 50.2 percent), Vashon (up 35.6 percent), Bellevue west of I-405 (up 28.6 percent) and Burien-Normandy Park (up 26.9 percent).
Prices and the number of multiple offers may be rising in part because of shrinking inventory. At the end of December, there were only 17,718 properties for sale, which compares to 26,639 active listings for the same time a year ago (down 33.5 percent). Months of supply declined to 3.3 months, down from about 5 months of supply for the same period a year ago.
Looking ahead, many brokers expect a strong market in 2013, with some expressing concern about “frenzied bubble growth.”
Another positive indicator brokers noted is improving builder confidence. It recently rose to its highest level in more than six years, according to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo survey released last month. Although newly built homes account for only a small portion of the housing market, they are considered to be a leading revenue and job creator. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to NAHB research.
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.
The NWMLS plans to release its annual summary report for 2012 mid-January. Stay tuned for details.
4-county Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (Single Family Homes + Condo combined)
(totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)