NWMLS March Press Release: Feb. 2014 Home Sales Shrink, Due to Low Inventory and Seahawks Playoffs

MC900432680The numbers for our local real estate market during February 2014 are lower year-over-year. Western Washington fan enthusiasm over The Seahawks’ Road to the Superbowl appeared to affect new listings. Due to Puget Sound Region’s long-standing struggle with low inventory, which has not yet eased, the shortage of homes to sell is the main culprit behind the smaller number of pending sales. With buyer eagerness to take advantage of low interest rates before they start to climb, if more homes were available for purchase the numbers would definitely reflect positive growth. In sought after neighborhoods, well priced homes are receiving multiple offers. Brokers are reporting local open houses are well attended. Interest rates will be an important factor shaping our housing market in upcoming months. As rates climb, home pricing is projected to soften. Sellers still on the fence about listing their homes may want to speak with a real estate broker about their options.

Below are excerpts of the March press release. To read the whole press release, please click here.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported 507 fewer pending sales during February than the same month in 2013, but members believe the 6.5 percent decline isn’t due to a shortage of buyers. MLS members reported 7,247 mutually accepted offers on single family homes and condominiums last month, which compares to 7,754 pending sales for the same month last year. Twelve of the 21 counties in the Northwest MLS service area reported drops, including King County where sales were off 10.4 percent. Within King County, the sharpest drops occurred in the southeast segment (down more than 23 percent) and on the Eastside (down more than 16 percent). Another industry leader pointed not only to a “severe shortage of homes for sale” in the most sought-after price ranges, but also to the fan frenzy surrounding the Seahawks as a factor in the setback of sales.

MLS brokers added 7,234 new listings to inventory last month, down from February 2013 when 7,497 properties were listed. The additions, which include single family homes and condos, brought February’s number of total active listings system-wide to 19,273 for a 6.4 percent improvement from a year ago. Shortages of listings persist in several areas. In Kitsap County, for example, both selection and the number of pending sales fell by nearly 3 percent from a year ago. The smaller selection is resulting in bidding wars for well-priced homes in some neighborhoods. Multiple offer situations are common in local markets with less than four months of inventory…

Statistics from Northwest MLS show supplies, as measured by months of inventory, improved slightly from a year ago, rising from 4.3 months to almost 4.6 months. The tightest selection is in King County, with less than 2.6 months of supply, and Snohomish County, with 3.2 months.

MLS figures show the volume of closed sales was about the same as a year ago. Members reported 4,196 completed transactions during February, nearly matching the year-ago total of 4,205 closings.

Prices on last month’s closed sales rose about 6.3 percent from a year ago and 3.1 percent from January, but the gains were not system wide. Nine counties reported year-over-year increases. Area-wide the median price was $263,000; a year ago it was $247,500.

For single family homes (excluding condos), the median price was $270,000, for a gain of nearly 5.9 percent from the year-ago price of $255,000. Prices in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties shot up more than 11 percent from a year ago. Homes in King County had a median selling price of $405,400.

Condo prices surged more than 17 percent. The median selling price on 608 sales that closed during February was $215,500. Twelve months ago the median price was $184,000.

February 2014 4 county Puget Sound Region Pending Sales

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.

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