Northwest MLS brokers say transition to fall creating opportunities for buyers

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (October 7, 2019)

Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers reported year-
over-year gains in pending sales, closed sales and prices, but its report summarizing September activity
also showed an 18% drop in inventory compared to a year ago.


“The transition into the fall housing market creates opportunities for homebuyers,” suggested J. Lennox
Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “Although there are fewer listings than what
buyers find during peak summer months, there is also less competition” for the available inventory, he
added.


While the intensity of sales activity is typically lower for new listings in the fall and winter, Scott noted
“It appears we are headed toward a more intense winter market than last year.” He said he expects the
number of unsold listings will continue to decrease once the winter “clean-up” of inventory begins.


At the end of September, MLS brokers reported 15,982 total active listings, down more than 18% from
the same month a year ago when the selection totaled 19,526 listings. Only three of the 23 counties served
by Northwest MLS – Clark, San Juan and Whatcom – had year-over-year gains in inventory, while 18
counties had double-digit drops. Thurston County reported the sharpest shrinkage, at nearly 35%.


“September’s housing market was a bit of a roller coaster, up in certain areas and down in others,”
commented OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.. Within the four-county Puget Sound
region, Pierce County prices rose more than 10% thanks to high demand and low inventory, he noted.
“Buyers continue to be drawn to the area thanks to more affordable housing costs, but this influx is also
driving up prices,” he remarked.


MLS data show the median price for last month’s home sales in Pierce County ($379,950) was $213,800
less than the median price in King County ($593,750). A comparison of single family prices (excluding
condos) reveals a $275,500 difference between the two counties.


“In King County, prices were down nearly 2.7% while pending sales rose nearly 10%. This tells us there
is no shortage of buyers in the Greater Seattle area,” stated Jacobi. He also said home prices normally
start to taper off this time of year, “so this isn’t a major cause for concern.” Within King County, prices
rose in four of the six sub-markets; only Seattle (down 3.2%) and Vashon (down almost 28%) reported
drops.


The median price for single family homes and condos that sold last month in King County was $593,750,
down from the year-ago figure of $610,000 and the first time it dipped below $600,000 since January.
Three other counties, Okanogan, Pacific, and Clallam, also reported year-over-year price drops. Joining
Pierce County with double-digit price increases from a year ago were eight other counties.


System-wide, prices were up 5%, rising from $400,000 a year ago to $420,000. The volume of closed
sales increased about 4.4% from a year ago (7,962 versus 7,630).

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