Home buyers in Western Washington “hit the ground running” in January

Source: NWMLS

“All indicators point to a vigorous spring market,” suggested broker Dean Rebhuhn when reviewing just-released statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report covering 23 counties shows pending sales outgained new listings, record-low inventory that’s down 33% from a year ago, and double-digit price increases.

Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate(the largest regional real estate company in the Western U.S.), noted home buyers did not take very much time off during the holidays. “They hit the ground running as soon as the new year kicked off.”(Windermere has 140offices in the NWMLS market area.)

Rebhuhn, the owner of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville, said new jobs, low interest rates, and lifestyle changes continue to drive the market. “Hot spot markets are experiencing multiple offers,” he reported.

Northwest MLS brokers added 6,517 new listings during January, a year-over-year decline of more than 8%. Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) topped new listing activity by 871 units. Brokers reported 7,388 pending sales last month, a 2.3% decline from the same month a year ago.

“So now we have a three month trend where we’re seeing pending transactions exceeding new listings addedin all major counties in the Puget Sound region,”observed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “Inventory continues to decline slowly to barely more than a month’s on hand.

Our brokers are reporting it ‘feels like 2017,’ with multiple offers returning and review dates (where sellers identify a date to review all offers) being added to the mix because of the number of offers they are receiving,” he added.

At the end of January, the MLS database totaled only 7,791 active listings of single family homes and condos, well-below the year-ago figure of 11,687 (down 33.3%).

A check of records dating to 2005 shows the selection is at a new low level, shrinking below the previous low of 7,921 reported for February 2018.In fact, for the 15 year span from 2005-2019 (180 months), inventory has dipped below 10,000 listings during only eightof those months.

Measured by months of supply(the ratio of active listings to closed sales), there was 1.54 months of inventory system-wide at the end of January. The selection was even more meager around Puget Sound, ranging from 1.1 months in Pierce County to about 1.3 months in King County.

“The fever in the real estate market is over the lack of inventory and competition from high buyer demand, not the flu,”said NWMLS board member John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

Looking at the report for single family homes in King County(excluding condos), he noted the number of active listings is down nearly 44% from a year ago, while closed sales rose more than 7.1%.

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