Eager home buyers were plentiful in December but their choices were meager

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (January 6, 2020) – “The buyers are out there and are showing up at open
houses and making multiple offers on new listings,” was how one industry leader summarized
December’s housing activity involving members of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in
Poulsbo, also said the severe shortage of inventory – “much lower than in years past” – will lead to
continued buyer frustration and escalating home values. He noted one of his colleagues added a new
listing the day after Christmas and it quickly drew 11 offers.


Newly-released figures from Northwest MLS show inventory at the end of December was down 31%
from the same month a year ago, with only 8,469 active listings compared to the year-ago total of 12,275.
The figures include single family homes and condominiums across the 23 counties in the MLS service
area.


Last month marked the sixth straight month of declining inventory, noted James Young, director of the
Washington Center for Real Estate Research. MLS figures show inventory peaked in June when the
database had 16,680 active listings ̶ about twice as many as December.


Inventory for single family homes and condos (combined) was down by more than 30% in seven
counties: Thurston (-54%), Pierce (-38.9%), King (-38.8%), Snohomish (-35.6%), Mason (-32%), Kitsap
(-30.6%), and Skagit (-30.5%). System-wide there is only about 1.2 months of supply.


The inventory of single family homes (excluding condos) is especially tight in several counties, notably
Thurston (-54%), King (-41.4%), Pierce (-40%), Snohomish (-36.1%), and Kitsap (-34.3%).


Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere Real Estate/East and NWMLS director, noted the sharp
drop in King County marked the first time since March 2018 that the supply of homes dropped below one
month. “Looking all the way back to 2012 when home values first began recovering, King County has
only logged six months with supply levels lower than where we currently stand,” he remarked.


“This market is unlike any market I’ve seen in the South Sound over the past 40 years. Too many buyers
chasing too few properties,” remarked Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in
Gig Harbor.


December’s volume of active listings included 3,777 new listings added during the month, but during the
same timeframe, 5,943 sellers accepted offers on their properties. That number of pending sales was up
about 4.7% from twelve months ago.


Brokers said December is typically a slow month for home sales with holidays and historically cold, wet
weather, but several MLS representatives commented on last month’s surge in activity:

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