Northwest MLS brokers report gains in new listings, closed sales, prices versus year ago

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Northwest MLS brokers report gains in new listings, closed sales, prices versus year ago

NWMLS Press Release – October 6, 2021
Provided by the Elephant

KIRKLAND, Washington (October 6, 2021) – September’s housing market remained “very active” to “frenzied” around Washington state with brokers reporting year-over-year (YOY) gains in new listings, closed sales, and prices. Brokers with Northwest Multiple Listing Service also detected growing stability in the condominium market.

“Historically low interest rates continue to drive the real estate market,” remarked Dean Rebhuhn, owner at Village Homes and Properties. He also cited pent-up buyer demand, job and lifestyle changes, and inventory shortages as factors contributing to a “very active market.”

A new report from Northwest MLS shows brokers added slightly more new listings last month (11,373) than a year ago (11,210). That volume, which includes single-family homes and condominiums, nearly matched the total for August (11,437), and barely outgained the number of pending sales (11,318) for the 26 counties in the report.

Compared to the same month a year ago, pending sales slipped about 6% (11,318 versus 12,053). Despite that drop, J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, noted the number of mutually accepted offers in the Puget Sound region (King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties) made last month the MLS’ second-best September, based on records going back to 2003. Last year’s 4-county total of 8,606 pending sales is the highest volume for that timeframe spanning nearly two decades.

“The housing market intensity for each new listing will continue its upward trajectory as the first of the year approaches,” Scott proclaimed.

Low inventory continues to pose challenges for buyers. At month end, Northwest MLS members reported 7,757 total active listings system-wide. That marked a slight improvement from August when there were 7,425 active listings, but it was a drop of nearly 14.8% from twelve months ago.

As of the end of September, there was about three weeks of supply (0.75 months), slightly better than August (0.70 months), but less than the same month a year ago (0.89 months). There has not been more than one month of supply since July 2020 when it reached 1.04 months.

Figures for single-family homes only (excluding condominiums) were more encouraging. Inventory declined only about 4% from a year ago. Seventeen counties reported YOY gains, with two others unchanged from year-ago levels.

King County, one of the exceptions, had the sharpest decline in inventory for single-family homes. The selection of single-family homes plummeted from the year-ago volume of 2,420 to 1,634 (down 32.5%).

For all counties in the report, the months of supply for the single-family component was the same as the figure for single-family homes and condos combined (0.75, or about three weeks).

“While one could expect months of supply to increase around the end of the summer, shortage of supply still remains a significant issue, indicating demand still exists in many submarkets,” observed James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington.

Young contrasted strong price increases in nearly every “outer suburban” county along I-5 plus Kittitas County with prices in King County. He noted nearly all of the outlying counties posted YOY increases at or above 15%, while King County experienced only a single digit gain of 6.7%. Prices in Kittitas County, where destinations like Suncadia and Ellensburg are within a two-hour drive to Seattle, surged more than 26% from a year ago.

“With decreases in active listings in King and Snohomish counties, price pressure may increase in urban areas of the region as people return to the city for work,” suggested Young.

One option for those wanting to live near urban job centers in anticipation of workplace reopenings may be condos.

“I’m happy to report that the Seattle-area condominium market, which was negatively impacted by COVID-19, has stabilized, reporting consistent increases in both sales and prices,” noted Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate.

Condo inventory, however, is sparse, with the selection at about half the year-ago levels (1,078 active listings at month end versus the year-ago supply of 2,129 listings).

In King County, Northwest MLS figures for September show a 20% jump in the number of condos that closed during September compared to a year ago; within the Seattle map areas, closed sales were up more than 34%. (King County currently accounts for about 70% of condo inventory and 60% of condo closed sales.) Condo prices rose more than 8% countywide, with the Southwest and Southeast and North King areas of the county registering the strongest gains at more than 13.5% in all three sub-areas.

Condo prices in nearby counties outgained the rate in King County, as did prices system-wide, which rose 15.7% from a year ago. Kitsap prices spiked 28.5%, Snohomish prices were up 17.8% and Pierce County condo prices jumped about 16.7%.

In addition to noting improvements in the condo sector, Gardner also stated, “We continue to see a migration of buyers to suburban markets which has resulted in significant year-over-year price growth in areas such as Shoreline, Lake Sammamish, Auburn, Skyway, Woodinville, and Burien. It’s likely that buyers are drawn to these areas because housing is more affordable than in the urban neighborhoods closer to Seattle and Bellevue.”

John Deely, executive vice president of operations for Coldwell Banker Bain, also commented on condo activity, notably the 20% jump in King County sales. “This further reflects the affordability crisis in our region as residential buyers are driven to the condo market.” According to NWMLS data, a single-family home that sold in King County last month had a median selling price of $825,600, while for condos it was $466,501.

“One positive note for buyers is that prices are beginning to level out and the annual trend of the market slowing down as we move into the holidays remains,” Deely commented. “Buyers should consider staying in the market, if they can, as homeowners who are selling in the last quarter of the year tend to be highly motivated. Buyers will find less competition this time of year due to inclement weather and holiday travel.”

Deely has detected rising concern among sellers over legislation affecting capital gains rates. “With legislation in the queue on the national front that could cause an increase in capital gains rates, many sellers who have been on the fence about selling are now concerned they could lose profit in their homes to taxes if they wait,” Deely reported, adding, “Of course, it’s proposed legislation and therefore unpredictable, but our clients are asking about it.”

Rebhuhn noted some buyers are backing away from bidding wars, instead choosing to wait for the right property.

Broker Dick Beeson, in Pierce County, described the market as “brutal and unforgiving for buyers and sellers,” with “dreams being crushed on all sides. Buyers are swallowing hard and paying prices they curse, while sellers are having to move somewhere they hadn’t originally planned – be that good or bad.”

Beeson, the managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Tacoma-Gig Harbor, said that while inventory in some NWMLS counties appears to be improving, there are “still slim pickings,” which portends escalating prices and fierce competition among buyers.

Among Puget Sound area counties Beeson mentioned as having year-over-year gains in inventory were Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston. Even so, he emphasized, these have not yet translated into reduced prices for buyers. Improving inventory should eventually reduce the rate of future price increases, he suggested.

County

Current inventory (SFH+Condos)

YOY change in inventory (active listings)

YOY change in median sales price

Month’s supply

Kitsap

363

7.7%

18.4%

0.69

Pierce

1,112

11.1%

16.6%

0.67

Thurston

352

39.7%

20%

0.56

All 26 counties

7,757

-14.75%

14%

0.75

Beeson contends YOY rates of appreciation at 16% and higher can’t be sustained. “It will bankrupt us.”

Area-wide, the median sales price for last month’s 10,289 closed sales was $570,000. That volume was about the same as a year ago when members notched 10,175 completed transactions. In the past twelve months, the median sales price increased $70,050 (up 14%). A comparison of counties shows wide variation in sales prices, ranging from $209,950 in Ferry County to $846,500 in San Juan County.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service is a not-for-profit, member-owned organization that facilitates cooperation among its member real estate firms. With more than 2,500 member firm offices and 32,000 brokers across Washington state, NWMLS (www.nwmls.com) is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Based in Kirkland, Washington, its service area spans 26 counties, and it operates 21 local service centers.

Single Fam. Homes + Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING SALES

CLOSED SALES

MONTHS OF INVENTORY

New Listings

Total Active

# Pending Sales

# Closings

Avg. Price

Median Price

This month

Same mo., year ago

King

3,995

2,391

3,765

3,500

$961,790

$745,000

0.68

1.12

Snohomish

1,651

800

1,703

1,660

$702,514

$650,000

0.48

0.56

Pierce

1,765

1,112

1,859

1,666

$553,176

$500,000

0.67

0.63

Kitsap

538

363

553

524

$604,368

$494,950

0.69

0.70

Mason

171

122

185

161

$467,262

$385,000

0.76

0.58

Skagit

228

202

221

167

$580,064

$500,000

1.21

0.86

Grays Harbor

190

234

225

164

$345,022

$320,000

1.43

1.04

Lewis

183

211

168

127

$413,769

$382,500

1.66

1.24

Cowlitz

189

132

189

148

$408,362

$370,750

0.89

0.86

Grant

161

167

174

135

$355,121

$331,000

1.24

1.46

Thurston

661

352

670

633

$505,803

$467,000

0.56

0.45

San Juan

34

83

41

28

$1,064,700

$846,500

2.96

2.21

Island

196

126

218

183

$622,827

$494,500

0.69

0.71

Kittitas

118

134

119

100

$585,318

$479,500

1.34

1.04

Jefferson

54

58

63

70

$607,965

$579,500

0.83

1.10

Okanogan

75

147

66

29

$549,626

$327,500

5.07

2.27

Whatcom

431

354

387

386

$584,666

$533,250

0.92

1.02

Clark

110

70

117

100

$555,295

$468,750

0.70

0.97

Pacific

76

111

81

67

$398,293

$345,000

1.66

1.39

Ferry

8

26

11

8

$217,350

$209,950

3.25

5.14

Clallam

98

108

125

114

$505,429

$474,500

0.95

1.12

Chelan

143

167

110

96

$680,742

$510,250

1.74

1.15

Douglas

97

63

77

63

$512,346

$425,000

1.00

0.65

*Adams

23

23

16

22

$257,881

$295,000

1.05

1.89

*Walla Walla

85

89

85

63

$384,284

$355,000

1.41

3.33

*Columbia

13

20

10

2

$314,500

$314,500

10.00

N/A

Others

80

92

80

73

$401,615

$363,000

1.26

3.88

Total

11,373

7,757

11,318

10,289

$706,194

$570,000

0.75

0.89

*Adams, Walla Walla and Columbia counties are added as separate rows this month; previously, statistics for these counties were included in the row for “Others/Out of area.”

4-county Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)

(totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

2003

4746

5290

6889

6837

7148

7202

7673

7135

6698

6552

4904

4454

2004

4521

6284

8073

7910

7888

8186

7583

7464

6984

6761

6228

5195

2005

5426

6833

8801

8420

8610

8896

8207

8784

7561

7157

6188

4837

2006

5275

6032

8174

7651

8411

8094

7121

7692

6216

6403

5292

4346

2007

4869

6239

7192

6974

7311

6876

6371

5580

4153

4447

3896

2975

2008

3291

4167

4520

4624

4526

4765

4580

4584

4445

3346

2841

2432

2009

3250

3407

4262

5372

5498

5963

5551

5764

5825

5702

3829

3440

2010

4381

5211

6821

7368

4058

4239

4306

4520

4350

4376

3938

3474

2011

4272

4767

6049

5732

5963

5868

5657

5944

5299

5384

4814

4197

2012

4921

6069

7386

7015

7295

6733

6489

6341

5871

6453

5188

4181

2013

5548

6095

7400

7462

7743

7374

7264

6916

5951

6222

5083

3957

2014

5406

5587

7099

7325

8055

7546

7169

6959

6661

6469

5220

4410

2015

5791

6541

8648

8671

8620

8608

8248

7792

7179

6977

5703

4475

2016

5420

6703

8130

8332

9153

8869

8545

8628

7729

7487

6115

4727

2017

5710

6024

7592

7621

9188

9042

8514

8637

7441

7740

6094

4460

2018

5484

5725

7373

7565

8742

8052

7612

6893

6235

6367

5328

4037

2019

5472

4910

7588

8090

8597

8231

7773

7345

6896

6797

5788

4183

2020

5352

6078

6477

5066

7297

8335

8817

9179

8606

7934

6122

4851

2021

5216

5600

8002

7716

8674

8824

8049

8586

7880

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D. Sanford