NWMLS Press Release (4/4/13): Prices “spiking” as home buyers compete for scarce inventory

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service sent out their monthly press release on April 4th 2013. Below are details from the release, including a 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales Table for March 2013. To read the press release in its entirety, click here.

MC900432680Brokers added 9,332 new listings to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service database during March, but pending sales topped that number to further crimp inventory and trigger competitive bidding among buyers who are flocking to open houses.

Northwest MLS figures show year-over-year prices jumped 14.9 percent for the 21 counties in its service area. The median price for last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $258,500, rising from $225,000 for the same month a year ago. Twelve counties reported double-digit gains, led by Ferry (up 70.9 percent), San Juan (up 47.3 percent), and Island (up 36.1 percent).

Prices for single family homes increased 14.3 percent, while the median sales price for condos, which accounted for about 12 percent of sales, surged 19.6 percent. Two-thirds of last month’s condo sales were in King County; prices there leaped 28.6 percent, increasing from $175,000 to $225,000. The price of a single family home that sold in King County jumped from $330,000 to $392,000 (up 18.8 percent).

Brokers reported 5,745 closed sales last month for a 13.9 percent increase from the previous year when they tallied 5,044 completed transactions.

“The market continues to be incredibly competitive with at least one in four buyers paying cash,” noted MLS director OB Jacobi. “For those not paying cash, the average down payment is between 20 percent and 50 percent,” he added.

Jacobi, the president of Windermere Real Estate Company in Seattle also reported the vast majority of home sales right now have multiple offers, and “it’s no longer restricted to the urban markets — the outlying areas are now experiencing the same thing.”

Brokers say even distressed sellers are receiving multiple offers for their homes.

“As one of my brokers told me, when you have 12 offers on a short sale, it pushes the price of the home up to market value. This is clearly reflected in the appreciation we continue to see in prices across the board,” Jacobi stated.

Inventory is depleted area-wide, with only 18,500 active listings in the MLS system at month end. That total is down by almost 6,400 listings year-over-year for a 25.7 percent drop. Counties with the largest declines include Clark (down 46 percent), Snohomish (down 43.8 percent) and King (down 42.4 percent).

System-wide, there is less than a two-month supply of homes, with the tightest selection in Snohomish (0.93 months), King (1.03 months), Clark (1.81 months) and Pierce (1.68 months) counties. In general, analysts consider four-to-six months of supply to be normal.

Pending sales are mirroring the shifts in market conditions. Volume area-wide was up only 3.9 percent from a year ago, rising from 9,126 mutually accepted offers to 9,482.

Five counties – Ferry, Grays Harbor, Island, King, and Snohomish — reported fewer pending sales than a year ago, likely a consequence of the limited selection.

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.

March 2013 Puget Sound egion Pending Sales

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