Homebuyers Resuming Search Amid Improving Inventory, Attractive Terms

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 7, 2019) – Homebuyers around Washington state are making their
way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and
more approachable sellers, according to officials with Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Northwest MLS statistics for January show year-over-year improvement in the volume of new listings
and total inventory, along with moderating selling prices. Although fewer pending sales (mutually
accepted offers) were reported than a year ago (down about 3.3 percent), January was the smallest year-
over-year decline since May 2018 when the drop was about 2.7 percent.

Commenting on the MLS statistics summarizing last month’s activity, broker Gary O’Leyar said
January’s post-holiday real estate activity doesn’t normally pick up until later in the month, but this year
the uptick began early. “January started as a bit of a surprise. Open house activity was very robust, and we
saw multiple offers in numerous instances again,” reported O’Leyar, the owner of Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices Signature Properties in Seattle.

Brokers tallied 7,564 pending sales during January, a decline from a year-ago when they recorded 7,820
transactions.

Seven counties had increases in pending sales of single family homes and condos compared with 12
months ago, including King (up nearly 7.5 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.8 percent).

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of
Washington, commented on pending sales. The mixed results, including “healthy growth” in King and
Snohomish counties, “corresponds well to upward movement in mortgage applications late in December,
a leading indicator for the month to follow,” he noted, adding, “One should expect to see increased sales
activity in the coming months throughout the region if mortgage applications continue to stabilize or
increase.”

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said buyers “came out of the
woodwork” after the holidays, eager to take advantage of better housing conditions. “Areas close to the
job centers are seeing improved affordability from spring 2018,” he said, attributing it to lower interest
rates, strong job growth, and adjusted pricing.

Scott said buyers are also attracted by expanded inventory resulting from the addition of new listings and
a higher number of unsold inventory, although he noted “inventory levels are still considered a shortage.”
Prospective buyers who sat out the second half of 2018 or were pushed to the sidelines during last year’s
heated market are finding better buying conditions, agreed Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere
Real Estate/East. “Interest rates are near a nine month low and buyers have a stronger platform for
negotiating, which have helped drive a 9 percent increase in pending sales of single family homes in King
County,” Wasser stated.

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