NWMLS October 2014 Press Release: Home Sales Stay Strong But Prices Approaching “Affordability Ceiling” …

MC900432680 The October 2014 Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) press release shared the strength of our local market as it moves forward briskly this fall. September’s numbers for pending sales and new listings were very closely matched, so the inventory supply did not grow. A balanced market contains approximately four-to-six months worth of inventory. King County currently has about 2.3 months of inventory, while Snohomish County is close to 2.8 months and Kitsap County there is about 4.1 months. For the local housing market overall, there is approximately 3.7 months of supply. It was noted that buyers in our housing market are incredibly savvy. Sellers are advised to price their homes to match current market conditions for the best outcome. Overpriced homes, and homes in disrepair or located in less desirable neighborhoods, are languishing as buyers move on to better priced, better maintained houses. The recent Microsoft and Boeing lay-offs, while noteworthy, have not made a huge impact in real estate in the Puget Sound area. The local economy is robust and projected to stay that way for quite some time. Luxury home sales made quite a splash in Greater Seattle in recent days, especially for homes prices $2 Million and above. A couple of contributing factors were mentioned: the number of high-paying, executive level professionals relocating here, plus international buyers, especially from China, have influenced the stiff competition in certain segments of the luxury home market. The outlook for 2015 is looking rosy, but interest rates will be something to watch as we near the New Year.

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

Pending sales of homes around Western Washington surged more than 13 percent in September compared to a year ago, and listing activity picked up slightly, fueling both broker optimism and words of advice for sellers.

Along with increases in the number of mutually accepted offers, the latest report from Northwest Multiple Listing Service shows year-over-year gains in the number of closed sales (up 4.6 percent) and prices (up 2.5 percent). Inventory for its service area, which encompasses 21 counties in Western and Central Washington, declined slightly (just under 1.2 percent).

Northwest MLS members reported 8,875 pending sales during September to outpace the year-ago total of 7,839 pendings. The volume tapered off about 5 percent from the August figure of 9,342 mutually accepted offers. All but one of the 21 counties served by the MLS reported year-over-year increases.

The number of closed sales for September also rose, climbing from 6,711 a year ago to 7,020 for a 4.6 percent increase. Prices on those sales were up 2.5 percent.
The median price on last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums was $285,000, which compares to the year-ago figure of $278,000. Five counties reported double-digit increases (Grant, Jefferson, Kittitas, Lewis, and San Juan). King County prices jumped 9.1 percent from twelve months ago, rising from $384,925 to $420,000.

The median price for September’s single family home sales (excluding condos) rose more than 2.2 percent, increasing from $291,000 a year ago to $297,500. In King County, the surge was 9.5 percent.

OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, noted luxury home sales in the Greater Seattle area have been very strong, with agents reporting stiff competition in certain segments of the market, especially for homes over $2 million. “I attribute this to Seattle’s economic boom, which is attracting an increasing number of high-paying, executive level professionals and international interest,” he remarked. Despite keen interest in high-end homes, overpriced homes will not draw offers [and overpricing may affect market time and any offer the sellers might receive.]

Brokers added 8,878 new listings to inventory (359 more than a year ago), but offers were made on nearly the same number of homes (8,875), so supply remains tight in many areas. At month end, Northwest MLS members reported 25,717 active listings, slightly fewer than twelve months ago when inventory totaled 26,014 listings for a decline of nearly 1.2 percent.

Supply (months of inventory) remained below the four-to-six month level that many industry experts say reflects a balanced market. For the market overall, MLS figures show about 3.7 months of inventory. In King County, there is only about 2.3 months of inventory, and in Snohomish County it’s slightly more than 2.8 months.

Northwest MLS representatives also commented on the impact of international buyers, recent layoffs and new construction on housing activity— [buyers from China] are making “very significant purchases of prime properties,” with particular interest in homes east of Seattle. [It’s expected that] the international connection between the Northwest and Far East will continue to grow… [it’s believed the] widely reported increase in interest from Chinese buyers is partly the result of the Vancouver B.C. market being so expensive. Parents who are purchasing homes for the kids are another segment contributing to the uptick in sales. MLS officials seem unconcerned about recent layoffs announced by Microsoft, Boeing and other local employers. The 4th quarter is expected to end strong, in spite of recent lay-offs. [It was] noted [there are] reports of employers having difficulty filling several high-paying tech industry jobs. (In July, the CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association said about 5,000 computer science positions are currently unfilled in the state.)

[Sales are expected to remain strong as we enter the Fall, and market conditions are shaping up nicely for a brisk opening to 2015.]

NWMLS 4 county chart_10 6 2014

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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