“Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.”
- Even as more homes come on the market for this popular sales season, they're flying off fast.
- Home prices have now surpassed their last peak, and at the entry level, where demand is highest, sellers are in the driver's seat.
Spring homebuyers are pounding the pavement at a furious pace, but the pickings are getting ever slimmer.
Even as more homes come on the market for this traditionally popular sales season, they're flying off fast, with bidding wars par for the course. Home prices have now surpassed their last peak, and at the entry level, where demand is highest, sellers are firmly in the driver's seat.
Northwest MLS figures for last month show a slight year-over-year decrease (about 2.8 percent) in overall pending sales, a likely consequence of inventory being down nearly 12.9 percent. Other key indicators of the market – new listings, closed sales, and selling prices – all showed gains in February compared to 12 months ago.
The just-released report from Northwest MLS shows 7,980 pending sales last month, down from the year-ago volume of 8,209 mutually accepted offers for single family homes and condos. Thirteen of the 23 counties in the report had more pending sales than at this time last year.
Among the four Puget Sound area counties, Snohomish had the largest year-over-year price increase at 18.8 percent. Its countywide median price for February’s sales spiked to $460,000 from $387,250, but that is $130,000 below the $590,000 median price for transactions that closed in King County last month.
Brokers added 7,284 new listings of single family homes and condos during February, an improvement of nearly 6.4 percent from a year ago when they added 6,848 new listings. Like many months during 2017, last month’s pending sales (7,980) outgained new listings (7,284), keeping inventory depleted in many areas.
There is about 1.4 months of supply area-wide, but both King and Snohomish counties have less than a month’s supply. For condos, there is only 0.88 months of supply – and even less than that in King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties.
The hyper job market in the Pacific Northwest continues to outpace almost every metro area in the nation, and thus our housing market is booming; for now, there is no end in sight. Many buyers and sellers feel looming pressure, and with a mix of doom and elation, both are preparing for a flurry of activity.
Buyers are coming to the harsh reality that high home prices are here to stay, and they need to consider smaller homes or longer than hoped-for drive times.
We looked at the data on thousands of offers agents for The Cascade Team wrote and received in the last two years to see how the strategies we track affected buyers’ odds of winning a bidding war:
For some wage earners in the Seattle area, “Kitsap looks very affordable,” said Northwest MLS board member Frank Wilson. “Kitsap’s real estate market continues at a flurry pace with homes going off the market almost as fast as they come on. Available inventory in our county is down 32 percent compared to a year ago, which continues to put upward pressure on prices and buyer’s nerves,” stated Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo.
As commuters flock to the more affordable side of the sound, “affordability gets further and further in the rearview mirror for many,” Wilson lamented. MLS statistics for February show year-over-year prices in Kitsap County jumped more than 15.7 percent, with single family home prices up 17.5 percent. Compared to January, last month’s prices for homes and condos in that county rose another $25,000 (8.3 percent).
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“Kingston, Bremerton, and Port Orchard markets are surfing in the wake of the new foot ferry service with attention being paid to those from the east side of Puget Sound seeking affordability to the west,” Wilson reported. In fact, he added, “It is becoming more common in Kitsap to see all cash offers, no inspection contingency, and sellers that are reviewing all offers on a future date.”
Similar practices are occurring elsewhere. Commenting on the competitive market in many parts of the Northwest MLS service area, O’Leyar reported instances of “buyers making offers with zero contingencies and having the seller fill in the sales price!”