Tag Archives: existing home sales

Brokers report some good news for home buyers, but still expect Puget Sound’s “frantic market” to continue

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (May 7, 2018) – Home buyers may be cheered by an uptick in inventory, but the
improving supply is unlikely to reverse rising prices, suggest industry leaders from Northwest Multiple
Listing Service.

Commenting on just-released figures for April, which showed the highest level of active listings since
August, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate said, “For the first time in a long time we had
good news for buyers.” Noting supply is still lower than year-ago levels (down 5.6 percent), it jumped 14
percent from March, which Jacobi said “is a pretty significant increase even for this time of year.”

Northwest MLS brokers added 11,271 new listings to inventory during April, a gain of 6.3 percent when
compared to March, and up nearly 5.9 percent versus a year ago. April’s pending sales (mutually accepted
offers) totaled 10,574, improving on the same month a year ago and the previous month.

At month end, the active listings selection included 10,079 single family homes and condos, eclipsing the
total of 8,825 listings at the end of March. The condo segment grew 10.9 percent from March.

Of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS service area, only six of them reported year-over-year gains in
inventory compared to a year ago. King County was the only one in the Puget Sound region to notch a gain,
up 13.6 percent from a year ago.

Commenting on the uptick, Mike Grady, president and COO, Coldwell Banker Bain, remarked “We are
still WAY below a balanced market of five months of inventory, and this is even with interest rates ticking
slightly upward.”

Area-wide there is 1.3 months of supply, with 4-to-6 months used as a gauge of a balanced market. Three
counties – King, Kitsap, and Snohomish — reported less than a month of supply. The condo component
remains very tight with slightly more than three weeks (0.87 months) of supply.

Prices are still climbing at double-digit rates in most counties. Year-over-year prices for single family
homes and condos combined jumped about 15.3 percent overall, from $360,000 to $415,000. Within the
four-county Puget Sound region, King County notched the biggest gain at nearly 18.2 percent. Prices there
rose $100,000 from a year ago, from $550,000 to $650,000.

“There’s little reason to think we’ll be seeing a change in this frantic market anytime soon,” commented
Grady, citing double-digit appreciation in many of the most populous counties, expansion plans by Alaska
Airlines and Amazon, and other positive economic news as reasons for that expectation.

Existing-Home Sales Strengthen

Source: RISMedia

Building on February’s gains—and for the second time this year—existing-home sales have strengthened, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports. March sales increased 1.1 percent to 5.6 million, but they were down 1.2 percent from the prior year. Inventory increased, as well: 5.7 percent to 1.67 million, but 7.2 percent lower than the prior year.

“Robust gains last month in the Northeast and Midwest—a reversal from the weather-impacted declines seen in February—helped overall sales activity rise to its strongest pace since last November at 5.72 million,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “The unwelcoming news is that while the healthy economy is generating sustained interest in buying a home this spring, sales are lagging year-ago levels because supply is woefully low and home prices keep climbing above what some would-be buyers can afford.”

Currently, inventory is at a 3.6-month supply. Existing homes averaged a brisk 30 days on market in March, four days less than the prior year. All told, 50 percent of homes sold were on the market for less than one month.

“REALTORS® throughout the country are seeing the seasonal ramp-up in buyer demand this spring, but without the commensurate increase in new listings coming onto the market,” Yun says. “As a result, competition is swift and homes are going under contract in roughly a month, which is four days faster than last year and a remarkable 17 days faster than March 2016.”

The metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market and most realtor.com® views in March, according to realtor.com’s Market Hotness Index, were San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Midland, Texas; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.

The median existing-home price for all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $250,400, a 5.8 percent increase from the prior year. The median price of an existing single-family home was $252,100, while the median price for an existing condo was $236,100.

Existing-home sales in the single-family space came in at 4.99 million in March, a 0.6 percent increase from 4.96 million in February, but a 1 percent decrease from 5.04 million the prior year. Existing-condo and -co-op sales came in at 610,000, a 5.2 percent increase from February, but a 3.2 percent decrease from the prior year.

Twenty percent of existing-home sales in March were all-cash, with 15 percent by individual investors. Four percent were distressed.

Two of the country’s major regions had higher sales, rising 5.7 percent to 1.29 million in the Midwest, with a8 median price of $192,200, and 6.3 percent to 680,000 in the Northeast, with a median price of $270,600. The South and West had reduced sales, falling 0.4 percent to 2.4 million in the South, with a median price of $222,400, and 3.1 percent to 1.23 million in the West, with a median price of $377,100.

“Although the strong job market and recent tax cuts are boosting the incomes of many households, speedy price growth is squeezing overall affordability in several markets, especially those out West,” says Yun.

First-time homebuyers comprised 30 percent of existing-home sales in March, up from 29 percent February.

“First-time buyers continue to make up an underperforming share of the market because there are simply not enough homes for sale in their price range,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Supply conditions improve in higher-up price brackets, which means those trading up should see considerable interest in their home, as well as more listings to choose from during their own search.”

According to Keller Williams Chief Economist Ruben Gonzalez, existing-home sales are on a familiar track.

“We continue to forecast that existing-home sales in 2018 will be at or slightly below 2017 sales,” says Gonzalez. “If inventory conditions remain restrictive, we also expect to continue to see home price appreciation accelerate. Based on data and anecdotal evidence, the most restrictive inventory conditions currently exist for entry-level housing, and this is also where we anticipate the most acceleration in home price appreciation.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Home buyers, sellers feel “looming pressure” but Western Washington market stays strong

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (March 6, 2018) – Interest rates are creeping up, inventory is still squeezed, and
some feared revised tax laws would have a chilling effect on home sales, but Northwest Multiple Listing
Service leaders say the local market remains competitive.

“It seemed like there would have been a chilling effect on the real estate market at the start of 2018 with the
newly revised tax laws limiting mortgage interest deductions,” suggested Gary O’Leyar, designated broker
and owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties. “Not only did the revisions not have
a chilling effect, if anything, the local market has been even hotter and more competitive than last year at
this time,” he added in commenting on new MLS numbers summarizing February activity.

Northwest MLS figures for last month show a slight year-over-year decrease (about 2.8 percent) in overall
pending sales, a likely consequence of inventory being down nearly 12.9 percent. Other key indicators of
the market – new listings, closed sales, and selling prices – all showed gains in February compared to 12
months ago.

The just-released report from Northwest MLS shows 7,980 pending sales last month, down from the
year-ago volume of 8,209 mutually accepted offers for single family homes and condos. Thirteen of the 23
counties in the report had more pending sales than at this time last year.

Closed sales outgained last year’s volume, 5,548 to 5,358, for an increase of nearly 3.6 percent. Median
prices on those sales surged almost 14.8 percent area-wide, rising from the year ago figure of $335,515 to
last month’s price of $385,000.

Among the four Puget Sound area counties, Snohomish had the largest year-over-year price increase at 18.8
percent. Its countywide median price for February’s sales spiked to $460,000 from $387,250, but that is
$130,000 below the $590,000 median price for transactions that closed in King County last month.
For single family homes (excluding condos), prices rose 13.7 percent overall, from $343,000 to $390,000.
Within King County, the median price was $649,950, with three areas (Mercer Island, Bellevue west of
I-405, and Kirkland-Bridle Trails) reporting median prices of more than $1 million for single family homes.
“As was the case the last two years, home values spiked in February, thanks to a cyclical low point in
supply,” commented Robert Wasser, owner/broker at Prospera Real Estate. Prices are now back around the
peak levels of last summer, and cyclically speaking, are headed for additional increases until summer
arrives,” commented Wasser, a board member at Northwest MLS.

Brokers added 7,284 new listings of single family homes and condos during February, an improvement of
nearly 6.4 percent from a year ago when they added 6,848 new listings. Like many months during 2017, last
month’s pending sales (7,980) outgained new listings (7,284), keeping inventory depleted in many areas.

Home buyers still competing for sparse inventory in Western Washington, driving up prices – especially for sought-after condominiums

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 5, 2018) – “The Seattle area real estate market hasn’t skipped a beat
with pent-up demand from buyers is stronger than ever,” remarked broker John Deely in reacting to the
latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report on January activity shows a slight
year-over-year gain in pending sales, a double-digit increase in prices, and continued shortages of
inventory.

Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle and a board member at Northwest
MLS, noted a shift in the ratio of pending sales to new listings in King County.
Member brokers added 6,805 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to the system-wide
database last month for a gain of about 4.6 percent from a year ago. During the same period, they reported
7,820 pending sales. In King County, the number of new listings outgained pending sales for the first time
since September:

 

“Sellers that have put their properties on the market early this year have less competition and are seeing
multiple offers. Open houses are experiencing heavy traffic with hundreds of potential buyers attending,”
reported Deely.

For the MLS overall, last month’s 7,820 pending sales marked a slight increase compared to January 2017
when members reported 7,724 mutually accepted offers, a gain in of 1.24 percent. Not all areas reported
increases. Of 23 counties served by Northwest MLS, eight counties, including three in the Puget Sound
region (King, Kitsap and Snohomish), reported fewer pending sales than a year ago. In King County, where
acute inventory shortages exist in many neighborhoods, pending sales dropped 7.5 percent and closings
dropped 18.5 percent.

“The decline in sales last month can’t be blamed on the holidays, weather or football. It’s simply due to the
ongoing shortage of housing that continues to plague markets throughout Western Washington,” said OB
Jacobi, the president of Windermere Real Estate.

With January’s additions, the number of total active listings at month end stood at 8,037 homes and condos,
down nearly 17.6 percent from a year ago when the selection totaled 9,750 listings. Measured by months of
supply, there was only about 1.5 months overall, well below the 4-to-6 month level many industry experts
use as a gauge of a balanced market.

Holiday shoppers include homebuyers, but inventory is still a challenge

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (December 6, 2017) – “Normal seasonal slowdowns” are reported by some
real estate leaders with Northwest Multiple Listing Service, but other brokers say this holiday season is
still drawing crowds at open houses along with competitive bidding in some neighborhoods.
Both inventory and pending sales dipped to their lowest levels since April, while prices still increased by
double-digits in most of the 23 counties served by Northwest MLS.

MLS members reported 8,304 pending sales of single family homes and condos, a slight (1.6 percent)
gain over the year-ago figure of 8,173. Last month’s mutually accepted offers surpassed the number of
new listings (6,098) by 2,206 properties to keep supply tight.

“Until we see a balanced rate of 4-to-5 months of supply, instead of hovering around one month, we’re
not likely to see much change,” remarked George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties.
“However,” he added, “since we have seen these low inventory levels since 2013, maybe this is going to
be the new normal.”
Moorhead, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors, also said this time of year is actually one
of the best times to find a home. “There is less competition and sellers who list their homes at this time
are usually motivated to make their move. Some of the best pricing can be attained from December
through early February,” he indicated.

Buyers seem to be undeterred by winter weather, holiday festivities or other seasonal or – for the most
part — political distractions.

Gary O’Leyar, designated broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties, said
December “may well provide an unexpected holiday reprieve for our local, weary real estate shoppers.
Combined with the seasonal pace change and real estate industry pundits’ consternation over the effect of
the federal income tax bill working its way through Congress, buyers could be getting some relief.” He
urged potential sellers to take note as “This could be the signal they’ve been waiting for as a good time to
sell before the pending tax laws that affect real estate ownership take effect.”

For those who are both prepared and patient, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate, said the
holidays can actually be a great time to buy “because there is usually less competition and sellers are
motivated to close out the year with a sale.”

Existing-Home Sales Slightly Stir in September

Source: RISMedia

Existing-home sales slightly stirred in September, posting higher than in August but lower than one year prior, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports.

Existing-home sales totaled 5.39 million, a 0.7 percent increase from August but a 1.5 percent decrease from one year prior. Inventory increased 1.6 percent to 1.90 million, 6.4 percent below one year prior.

“Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “REALTORS® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings—especially at the lower end of the market—and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers.”

Inventory is currently at a 4.2-month supply. Existing homes averaged 34 days on market in September, five days less than one year prior. All told, 48 percent of homes sold in September were on the market for less than one month.

“Existing-home sales picked up momentum slightly in September compared to August, but were lower on a year-over-year basis for the first time since July 2016,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com®. “Inventories also continue to plunge, creating challenges for buyers across the country. On the bright side, we’re starting to see home price growth slow down, with sale prices up only 4.2 percent from a year ago.”

The metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market in September, according to data from realtor.com, were San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. (30 days); San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (32 days); Salt Lake City, Utah (35 days); and Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (both 36 days).

The median existing-home price for all types of houses (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $245,100, a 4.2 percent increase from one year prior. The median price for a single-family existing home was $246,800, while the median price for an existing condo was $231,300.

“A continuation of last month’s alleviating price growth, which was the slowest since last December (4.5 percent), would improve affordability conditions and be good news for the would-be buyers who have been held back by higher prices this year,” Yun says.

Single-family existing-home sales came in at 4.79 million in September, a 1.1 percent increase from 4.74 million in August, but a 1.2 percent decrease from 4.85 million one year prior. Existing-condo and -co-op sales came in at 600,000, a 1.6 percent decrease from August and a 3.2 percent decrease from one year prior.

Twenty percent of existing-home sales in September were all-cash, with 15 percent by individual investors. Four percent were distressed.

The Midwest and West saw positive activity in September, with existing-home sales rising 1.6 percent to 1.30 million in the Midwest, with a median price of $195,800, and 3.3 percent to 1.24 million in the West, with a median price of $362,700. Existing-home sales in the South fell, 0.9 percent to 2.13 million, with a median price of $215,100. Existing-home sales in the Northeast were unmoved at 720,000, with a median price of $274,100.

“Home sales in the South continue to be hampered by post-hurricane weakness, while the Midwest and West regions show pretty strong pick-up in sales from August. It should be noted that the fires in California are not yet reflected in the data, so we’re likely to see more weakness on the horizon,” Hale says.

“Sales activity likely would have been somewhat stronger if not for the fact that parts of Texas and South Florida—hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—saw temporary, but notable declines,” says Yun.

First-time homebuyers comprised 29 percent of existing-home sales in September, a decrease from 31 percent in August.

“Nearly two-thirds of renters currently believe now is a good time to buy a home, but weakening affordability and few choices in their price range have made it really difficult for more aspiring first-time buyers to reach the market,” Yun says.

Adds Hale, “Interestingly, the softening in prices has not yet affected home listing prices. According to realtor.com data, the number of homes for sale are down 9 percent from a year ago, while listing prices – which continue to soar – are up 10 percent.  The discrepancy between list price and sales price increases suggests that some buyers may have reached a limit on the price increases they can afford.”

NAR President Bill Brown is concerned first-time homebuyers, and homeowners in general, will be adversely impacted by proposed tax reform.

“There’s no way around the fact that any proposal that marginalizes the mortgage interest deduction and eliminates state and local tax deductions essentially disincentives homeownership and is a potential tax hike on millions of middle-class homeowners,” says Brown. “Reforming the tax code is a worthy goal, but it should not lead to the middle class, who primarily build wealth through owning a home, footing the bill. Instead, Congress should be looking at ways to ensure more creditworthy prospective buyers are able to achieve homeownership and enjoy its personal and wealth-building benefits.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Existing Home Sales Flounder in August

Source: RISMedia

 

Existing-home sales floundered in August, posting higher than one year prior but lower than in July, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports.

Existing-home sales totaled 5.35 million, a 1.7 percent decrease from July but a 0.2 percent increase from one year prior. Inventory decreased 2.1 percent to 1.88 million, 6.5 percent below one year prior.

“Steady employment gains, slowly rising incomes and lower mortgage rates generated sustained buyer interest all summer long, but unfortunately, not more home sales,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “What’s ailing the housing market, and continues to weigh on overall sales, is the inadequate levels of available inventory and the upward pressure it’s putting on prices in several parts of the country. Sales have been unable to break out because there are simply not enough homes for sale.”

Inventory is currently at a 4.2-month supply. Existing homes averaged 30 days on market in August, six less days than one year prior. All told, 51 percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than one month.

The metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market in August, according to data from realtor.com®, were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (29 days); Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. (30 days); Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (31 days); and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah (both 32 days).

The median existing-home price for all types of houses (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $253,500, a 5.6 percent increase from one year prior. The median price for a single-family existing home was $255,500, while the median price for an existing condo was $237,600.

“Market conditions continue to be stressful and challenging for both prospective first-time buyers and homeowners looking to trade up,” Yun says. “The ongoing rise in home prices is straining the budgets of some of these would-be buyers, and what is available for sale is moving off the market quickly because supply remains minimal in the lower- and mid-price ranges.”

Single-family existing-home sales came in at 4.74 million in August, a 2.1 percent decrease from 4.84 million in July, but a 0.4 percent increase from 4.72 million one year prior. Existing-condo and co-op sales came in at 610,000, a 1.7 percent increase from July, but a 1.6 percent decrease from one year prior.

Twenty percent of existing-home sales in August were all-cash, with 15 percent by individual investors. Four percent were distressed.

The Midwest and Northeast saw positive activity in August, with existing-home sales rising 2.4 percent to 1.28 million in the Midwest, with a median price of $200,500, and 10.8 percent to 720,000 in the Northeast, with a median price of $289,500. Existing-home sales in the South and West fell, 5.7 percent to 2.15 million in the South, with a median price of $220,400, and 4.8 percent to 1.20 million in the West, with a median price of $374,700.

“Some of the South region’s decline in closings can be attributed to the devastation Hurricane Harvey caused to the Greater Houston area,” says Yun. “Sales will be impacted the rest of the year in Houston, as well as in the most severely affected areas in Florida from Hurricane Irma; however, nearly all of the lost activity will likely show up in 2018.”

First-time homebuyers comprised 31 percent of existing-home sales in August, a decrease from 33 percent in July.

Overall, the housing market is on a continuing path to recovery—but its progress is threatened by recently proposed tax reform.

“Consumers are smart and know that any attempt to cap or limit the deductibility of mortgage interest is essentially a tax on homeownership and the middle class,” Brown says. “A studycommissioned by NAR found that under some tax reform proposals, many homeowners with adjusted gross incomes between $50,000 and $200,000 would see an average tax increase of $815, along with home values shrinking by an average of more than 10 percent. An even steeper decline would be seen in areas with higher property and state income taxes. Congress must keep homeowners in mind as it looks towards tax reform this year.”

Typical “Summer Slowdown” May Mean Opportunities For Frustrated House Hunters

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (July 6, 2017) – For frustrated house hunters, there’s hope: the volume of new
listings added to inventory during June (13,658) was the highest total for any single month since May
2008 (14,176 new listings), according to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
“This time of year we see more new listings coming on the market than pending sales, and June didn’t
disappoint,” stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott.

Noting the pace of sales is slowing and the number of multiple offers is moderating, broker Gary O’Leyar
suggested a summer breather is under way (as anticipated), which could yield “the season for a successful
purchase” for weary shoppers. O’Leyar, the designated broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices Signature Properties, said this mid-summer real estate market “seems to be following a
fairly typical seasonal cycle” even though inventory is significantly lower than a year ago.

Northwest MLS director George Moorhead also commented on the “typical summer slowdown,” but said
it is more noticeable in outlying areas. “The hot core areas are still quite active as buyers vie for a new
home.” He also detected a slight increase in the time it is taking to market a home, and reported some
cooling off in the luxury market, saying prices may be reaching a plateau.

For many brokers, rising prices are an ongoing concern, with one industry leader describing the ever-
increasing prices as “startling.”

While the number of new listings was up about 7 percent year-over-year, total inventory lagged. Brokers
reported 14,482 active listings of single family homes and condos at the end of June, which is down 14
percent from twelve months ago when would-be buyers could choose from 16,838 listings. Compared to
the previous month, however, inventory jumped up 16 percent (12,481 vs. 14,482).

System-wide there was just over 1.4 months of inventory, but the supply varied across the 23 counties in
the MLS market area. King County continued to have the tightest inventory, with less than a month of
supply (0.84). Six other counties reported less than two months of supply (Cowlitz, Douglas, Kitsap,
Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston). In general, four-to-six months is considered to be a balanced market.
“Inventory continues to go lower as prices continue to climb in Kitsap County, leaving us with about 1.5
months of supply and home prices that are up more than 12 percent from a year ago,” said MLS director
Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at John L. Scott in Poulsbo.

“Unlike a normal market for buyers, today’s market is not about the current inventory, rather it’s about
inventory that is coming on the market,” Wilson commented. “The real story is the increased number of
homes that will become available next month, and the month after.” He recommends buyers work out a
success strategy with their real estate professional before even looking at their first house.

Home-Buying Confidence Springs Back

Source: RISMedia

Confidence in home-buying is springing back, with more buyers optimistic about their ability to move off the fence and into the market, according to the recently released Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) for April.

The HPSI bounced back 2.2 percentage points to 86.7 last month, up from 84.5 in March. Those surveyed for the Index who reported it being “a good time to buy a house” climbed 5 percentage points to 35 percent—but those who reported it being “a good time to sell” shifted 5 percentage points in the opposite direction, down to 26 percent.

“The Home Purchase Sentiment Index returned to its longer-term tread line after reclaiming ground lost last month,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Historically strong inflation-adjusted house price gains are tempering consumer sentiment, whereas consumer optimism regarding the ease of getting a mortgage reached a survey high.”

Those surveyed who believe home prices will rise inched up one percentage point to 45 percent. More of those surveyed believe mortgage rates will go down in the next 12 months, ticking up three percentage points to -57 percent.

On a wider level, just 13 percent of those surveyed reported that their earnings are “significantly higher” than one year ago. In many housing markets, incomes have yet to catch up to home prices.

Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed, however, are “not concerned about losing their job”—a sense of security that can be a prerequisite for home-buying or -selling.

“On balance, housing continues on a gradual track,” Duncan says.

Source: Fannie Mae

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