KIRKLAND, Washington (June 4, 2015) – Home buyers are in “full sprint” mode while sellers are stalling,
according to brokers from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. As a result, MLS members are juggling
severe inventory shortages and multiple offers in many Seattle neighborhoods and beyond.
MLS figures for May show double-digit drops in inventory compared to a year ago and double-digit gains
in both sales and prices. Commenting on the numbers, Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson said “The
crush between the lack of inventory and desperate buyers may soon generate the next TV reality show! The
stressed market is exhausting everyone in its path, with no relief in sight.”
Last month’s volume of 11,425 pending sales across the 23 counties in the latest report nearly matched the
number of new listings added to the database (11,862). At month end, the total number of active listings
stood at 19,515, a drop of more than 18 percent from a year ago when members reported 23,917 active
listings. Only two counties (Douglas and Ferry) reported year-over-year gains in inventory.
George Moorhead, another director with Northwest MLS, said multiple offers are commonplace for
well-priced homes in desirable areas. “We are definitely feeling the squeeze on inventory levels with sellers
holding off until they can find a home,” commented Moorhead, the designated broker and owner at Bentley
MLS figures for May show supply has dwindled to about 1.2 months in King County and 1.6 months in
Snohomish County. Several neighborhoods near Seattle’s job centers have less than a month of supply.
For the MLS service area overall, there is about 2.4 months of supply – well below the 4-to-6 month figure
used by many industry watchers as an indicator of a balanced market. About half the counties reported less
than four months of supply.
Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma, noted supply in Pierce
County has slipped to record lows, at just over 2 months. For sellers, there may be little solace. When they
decide to sell they’ll need a replacement home “which may or may not be there,” he explained.
Pending sales jumped more than 10 percent in May compared to the same month a year ago, rising from
10,373 mutually accepted offers to 11,425. Last month’s pendings rose slightly from April’s total of
11,384. For the Central Puget Sound region encompassing King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties,
the MLS recorded 8,620 pending sales – the highest total for the month of May in at least 15 years.
J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, Inc. called 2015 “the best start ever for sales activity.”
Citing MLS figures, he noted cumulative pending home sales in the four-county Puget Sound area for the
first five months of the year are outpacing the previous record year of 2005. “This time,” he emphasized,
“the housing market is built on a strong foundation of qualified buyers.”