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Home buyers seeking affordability are expanding search outside Greater Seattle job centers

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (September 9, 2019) – Depleted inventory continues to frustrate would-be
buyers in Western Washington. Many of these potential homeowners are expanding their search beyond
the major job centers in King County, according to market watchers who commented on the latest
statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.


The MLS report summarizing August activity shows less than two months of supply system-wide, and
only about 1.6 months of supply in the four-county Puget Sound region. The sparse selection is pushing
up prices. For last month’s sales of single family homes and condos across the 23 counties served by
Northwest MLS, prices rose nearly 6.2% compared to a year ago.


“Areas immediately outside the Puget Sound region and along the I-5 corridor continue to see double-
digit house price growth,” noted James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate
Research (WCRER) at the University of Washington. He attributes the increase to high demand in these
areas “due to first-time homebuyers who struggle to afford housing in King and Snohomish counties as
well as from existing homeowners cashing out of Seattle and King County.”


“While August is always a slower time for listings and sales, what is really surprising this year is the
decrease in new listings taken, while pending sales increased,” observed Mike Grady, president and COO
of Coldwell Banker Bain.


A comparison of year-over-year statistics for August shows the volume of new listings dropped nearly
13% system-wide and 18.5% in King County. Last month’s total number of new listings (10,488)
declined 6.3% from July’s volume (11,193).


Brokers reported 10,602 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) during August for a 4.9% increase from
a year ago. Pending sales rose nearly 6.6% in the Puget Sound region, led by Snohomish County with a
gain of 15.8%. Six counties had double-digit gains while an equal number had declines.


Grady noted June and July were also lackluster this year with regard to listings “when typically they are
both still fairly active coming off spring. The pending sales numbers indicate that buyers are indeed out
there and willing to purchase, but there are simply not enough homes,” he commented, adding,
“Everything that is listed is getting sold and fairly quickly.”


The volume of total active listings is down more than 10% from a year ago, with only four of the 23
counties in the report showing a year-over-year increase (Chelan, Grays Harbor, San Juan and Whatcom).
Fourteen counties had double-digit drops. At month end there were 16,697 active listings in the MLS
database, down from the year-ago total of 18,580.


MLS figures show only seven counties have more than three months of supply, with four-to-six months
generally considered the volume needed for a balanced market.