While it is 100% true that the market has softened up for buyers, it is still a very strong sellers' market! Not as many homes are seeing the ja
w-dropping bidding wars that we saw earlier this year, but they do still exist. Plus, homes are selling for 24-54.2% higher than in 2019 and homes (especially single-family homes) are selling quickly!
According to the latest NWMLS press release:
"While dangerous to compare 2020 lockdown figures to this year, it is interesting to see that new listings volume is starting to rise above 2019 levels," observed James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. In July, MLS figures show member-brokers have added 1,723 more new listings of single-family homes and condos than during July 2019 (12,916 versus 11,193). Year to date, brokers have added 1,438 more new listings this year compared to 2019.
Notably, 14 of the 26 counties in the Northwest MLS report showed year-over-year (YOY) gains in new listings, with half of them reporting double-digit increases: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Ferry, Grays Harbor, Kitsap, and Thurston. Three of the four counties in the Puget Sound region had YOY improvement, led by Kitsap County with a jump of 29.3%. The volume of new listings in King County dropped about 5.4% from a year ago. System-wide there was a 3.2% gain in new listings versus twelve months ago.
Prices continue to climb by double digits in all but a few counties. Across all areas, prices for closed sales of single-family homes and condominiums (combined) jumped 21.4% during July compared to a year ago, rising from $484,995 to $589,000. Last month's median price overall was unchanged from June.
"My advice to buyers would be to take advantage of this time before Labor Day and the fall market," stated O'Leyar. His advice to sellers would be: "Don't get overly hyped with anecdotal information about the real estate market. Overpricing a listing in this market is still a big mistake."
Young checked statistics from two years ago, noting prices in suburban counties and along much of the I-5 corridor have increased sharply. "Prices in Lewis County are up 54.2% from the July 2019 level, Snohomish County is up 40.6%, and Island County is up 44.3%. Skagit and Whatcom counties underperformed relative to these areas with median price increases of 36.4% and 38.4% respectively." NWMLS figures show four other counties have had price jumps of at least 40% -- Ferry, Grant, Grays Harbor, and Okanogan. Jefferson County had the smallest increase since 2019, with the median price increasing just over 24%, followed by Clark County, at 24.6% and King County at 26.2%.
"The search for value in the suburbs with sharp price increases suggest households are making their housing preferences known. They want to own rather than rent," Young concluded. "Unfortunately," he added,"the lack of new construction for owner-occupiers over the past few years in the suburbs means first-time buyers and marginalized communities are finding it more difficult than ever to get a foot on the housing ownership ladder."
"With a lack of new construction coming on the market in suburban areas after years of underbuilding, increasing demand still has few places to go," suggested Young. "With interest rates staying at historically low levels and less than a one-month supply throughout the region, the perfect storm for rising house prices will continue, but perhaps not as ferociously as before."
Dean Rebhuhn, owner at Village Homes and Properties said would-be purchasers continue to be frustrated by the sparse supply of homes, although he noted low interest rates are providing increased purchasing power. "The demand for homeownership and low interest rates are fueling a very busy real estate market with buyers continuing to seek opportunities that provide more space both inside and out."
"Clearly the lack of inventory of homes for sale remains the primary reasons for price increases and multiple offer situations, giving nightmares to would-be buyers," remarked Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Brokers.
Housing affordability "has left the building," according to Beeson, citing building supply chain slowdowns and a scarcity of skilled workers for homebuilding as culprits.
Beeson, whose office is in Pierce County, estimates about 75% of all sold properties during the past six months in that county as well as in Kitsap and Thurston counties sold in a week or less. "It can't get much faster. All three counties have barely two weeks of inventory," he commented.
Northwest MLS figures show there is 0.73 months of inventory system-wide, with only 12 of the 26 counties in the report having more than one month of supply.
"As more and more millennials enter the market, the crush of demand will grow even stronger. Can somebody please move?" asked Beeson, in hopes of uncovering more listings.
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