Slower Market Means Homebuyers Have “Newfound ability to negotiate”

SOURCE: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (November 6, 2018) – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory
reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers added the fewest new
listings since February, according to a new report. MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and
transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving
conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to
choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,”
said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.
“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales
system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real
Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it
encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of
8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7
percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Real estate veteran Mike Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, commented on the
current “win-win” conditions. “We’re entering that time of year when historically the market slows a bit
as we head into the holidays. Buyers continue to see an improving market compared to last year with the
inventory increasingly to 2.4 months of supply in King County, compared to the year-ago figure of less
than a month (0.98),” he stated.

Area-wide there is nearly 2.3 months of inventory, slipping from more than 2.5 months in September, and
improving on the year-ago figure of about 1.5 months of supply.

The year-over-year gains in supply, while notable, are still “way off from a balanced market that provides
five to six months of inventory,” Grady remarked, adding, “Contrary to recent media reports, the sky is
not falling,” he emphasized, pointing to rising prices and strong jobs reports as factors for a positive
outlook. (The State Employment Security Department reported Washington gained 4,500 jobs in
September.)

“Home prices in King County are up nearly 8.6 percent year over year, so we’re still experiencing
significant appreciation,” Grady stated. Given continued reports of hiring by companies in the Puget
Sound region and recent increases in inventory, he expects homebuyers will continue entering the market,
adding, “And sellers can still expect to get good prices — all this without the frenzy. A win-win,” he
proclaimed.

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