Northwest MLS brokers report robust activity
amid low interest rates, tight inventory, changing lifestyles.
KIRKLAND, Washington (July 6, 2020) – Historically low interest rates and lifestyle changes are fueling housing activity around Washington state, according to Dean Rebhuhn, president of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville. Commenting on just-released June statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service, he and other brokers say multiple offers are common “especially in the median price range.”
Brokers in the 23 counties that are part of Northwest MLS point to a shortage of homes as a key factor in the bidding wars. At the end of June, there was only 1.16 months of supply system-wide, which is the second lowest level in the past decade. (The lowest mark, at 1.12 months, was in December 2017.)
Not surprisingly, the supply/demand imbalance is causing prices to ratchet up. Median prices for last month’s 8,312 closed sales of single family homes and condos increased nearly 5.7% compared to a year ago, rising from $440,000 to $465,000. A comparison to May shows an increase of more than 3.3%.
In the four-county central Puget Sound area, year-over-year prices rose even more. Of these counties, King County had the smallest increase at nearly 5.9% (rising from $637,675 to $675,000). Pierce County prices jumped nearly 8.2%, from $372,500 to $403,000. Prices were up nearly 6.7% in Snohomish County and more than 7.7% in Kitsap County.
“What a difference a month makes,” exclaimed Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate. “What is abundantly clear is that the COVID-19 induced slowing in housing activity that we saw in May was not enough to freeze the Seattle housing market for very long,” he added.
Gardner described the month-over-month gains in pending sales, closed sales, and prices as “very significant” and indicators of a housing market that is “very robust.”
The new report from Northwest MLS shows last month’s volume of pending sales surged 15% from May (increasing from 10,389 to 11,916); closed sales jumped more than 39% (from 5,957 to 8,312), and month-over-month prices rose more than 3.3% (from $449,850 to $465,000).
Year-over-year comparisons show pending sales increased nearly 3%, closed sales dropped about 12.3% and prices increased 5.7%.
James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, noted the shortage of inventory is resulting in higher prices and rising demand “in places that are more rural and popular with older people trading down.” He named Jefferson County (Port Townsend), Kittitas County (Suncadia), and Chelan County (Wenatchee and Chelan) as examples. NWMLS figures show all three areas had some of the steepest price gains coupled with rapidly shrinking supply.
“Extraordinarily low month’s supply indicates that prices may have more room to move in areas popular with people trading down or seeking more space but still close to Seattle,” suggested Young. “Mason County and Thurston County come to mind, but interestingly, several Central Washington counties had strong year-over-year price growth including Kittitas (30%), Chelan (22%) and Grant (9.4%).” Young also noted the pre-pandemic migration patterns to outer suburbs or more rural areas appear to have
accelerated now that lockdowns have eased.
Some MLS representatives who commented on June’s numbers were encouraged by listing activity. NWMLS members added 10,709 new listings last month, lagging a year ago when brokers added 11,977 new listings, but improving on May’s total by 838 listings (up 3.5%).
Gardner called the number of homes for sale “perilously low,” but said, “The month-over-month jump in new listings was encouraging but it did not help overall inventory levels as they all sold too quickly!”
The report covers:
Seattle residential neighborhoods of West Seattle, South Seattle, Central Seattle, Queen Anne-Magnolia, Ballard-Green Lake, North Seattle, Shoreline-Richmond Beach, and Kenmore-Lake Forest Park.
Eastside residential neighborhoods of South Eastside, Mercer Island, West Bellevue, East Bellevue, East Lake Sammamish, Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, and Renton Highlands.
Downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle condominiums.
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© Copyright 2020. Information and statistics derived from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.