March NWMLS Press Release: Early Spring Brings Bumper Crop of Homebuyers Who Face Inventory Drought

NWMLS press release photo February not only presented incredibly balmy temperatures throughout Western Washington, it ushered in even more real estate activity in our region. Pending sales headed sky-ward while our housing inventory hovered at an extremely low supply. Buyers want to take advantage of the current fixed mortgage rates and today’s home prices, but sellers are still leery of listing because they are not sure where they will move to. 20 of the 23 counties within the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) area experienced double-digit increases in pending sales, in spite of our inventory dipping near a 10 year low-point. Pending sales may have been even higher if more homes had been listed during the month. Open house activity was robust throughout February. And unfortunately, multiple offers have been an obstacle numerous buyers faced (multiple times, in some cases). As we delve into the spring months, will more sellers decide to list their well-priced, show ready homes? Western Washington buyers are hoping they will, and are ready to make their goal of home ownership a reality.

Below are excerpts of the NWMLS’ press release for March. Click here to read it in its entirety.

Favorable weather and restored confidence are propelling home buying activity around Western Washington to the highest level in nearly a decade, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service sources.

[Pending sales have sky-rocketed as] Buyers have come off the sidelines, [yet the Western Washington housing market is stymied by low inventory.]

Northwest MLS figures show pending sales system-wide surged 18.7 percent in February compared to the same month a year ago, rising from 7,247 mutually accepted offers to 8,599. Twenty of the 23 counties in the service area reported double-digit increases in pending sales.

Those numbers might be even higher given the ample supply of buyers, but inventory is far from ample… brisk activity is posing challenges for buyers.

Northwest MLS broker-members added more new listings to the database during February than 12 months ago (7,852 last month versus 7,234), but the higher sales volume kept inventory levels well below year-ago totals. The MLS reported 16,946 total active listings at month end. That compares to a total of 19,273 for the same month a year ago for a drop of about 12 percent.

…activity in Seattle continues to move [at an incredibly fast pace.] It is not uncommon for weekend open houses to draw upwards of 100 group visits and bidding competitions…

For the 4,761 sales of single family homes and condominiums that closed during February, the median price was $280,000. That reflects a gain of about 6.5 percent from the year-ago sales price of $263,000. The volume of closed sales jumped about 13.5 percent from a year ago. Brokers reported 4,761 closed sales last month, which compares to 4,196 for the same month a year ago.

For single family homes, which accounted for 86 percent of all sales, the median price system-wide jumped about 7.4 percent, rising from $270,000 to $289,925.

A comparison of the four-county Puget Sound region shows single family homes in King County had the highest median price at $429,900 (up 6 percent from a year ago), followed by Snohomish County where February’s completed transactions commanded a median price of $330,00 for a year-over-year gain of nearly 4.8 percent. Kitsap’s median price was $238,903; in Pierce it was $233,000.

Condo prices increased 6.7 percent year-over-year, from $215,500 to $230,000. The total number of sales increased 6.7 percent.

Northwest MLS figures show 68 homes sold for $900,000-plus in its Eastside segment during the first two months of 2015, outgaining the same period a year ago when brokers sold 36 such homes…The market for waterfront homes also appears to be gaining momentum, [especially in Kitsap County]

[The unseasonably warm weather has only helped our local housing market.] Characterizing the market as [exceptionally active, it’s] noted garden shops, home improvement stores, furniture stores and other retailers that sell home-related items are also experiencing high levels of activity.

… the market is adjusting to scarce inventory and the abundance in the buyer population in the form of multiple offers and frustrated buyers and sellers. [Buyers are anxious to take advantage of today’s interest rates and home prices. Sellers may be leary of listing because they are unsure of what they will be able to purchase, due to low inventory in our housing market. It’s hoped that the low inventory cycle will be broken as we delve deeper into spring.]

4 county pending sales_February

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 23,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.

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