Buyer anxiety is rising as the pace of home sales is faster than brokers are able to replenish inventory, according to members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Figures just released for March show 11,408 pending sales during the month while only 10,505 sellers listed their homes for sale during the same period.
The market imbalance is played out with rising prices, an acute shortage of listings -- particularly in areas close to job centers -- and bidding wars.
The volume of new listings (10,505) added during the month increased 9.4 percent compared to a year ago, but fell short of satisfying demand in many areas. At month end, inventory in the MLS service area that encompasses 23 counties was down almost 14 percent, dropping from 19,736 listings to 17,007. Twelve counties reported double-digit declines from this time a year ago.
Measured by months of supply, there is about 2.5 months of inventory area-wide. In King County there is slightly more than 1.3 months of supply and in Snohomish County supply stands at just under 1.7 months.
Stiff competition is reflected in part by rising prices – but MLS officials emphasized sellers still need to be realistic.
Northwest MLS figures show prices on last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condos jumped more than 6.7 percent compared to the same month a year ago. The median price on last month’s closed sales area-wide was $292,500 which compares to the year ago figure of $274,000.
Home prices were considerably higher in San Juan and King counties. For the 26 completed sales in San Juan County during March, (one more than a year ago), the price jumped 25.5 percent, rising from $400,000 to $501,900. King County prices rose about 8.8 percent, increasing from $378,000 to $411,200.
Prices on single family homes (excluding condos) rose about 6.8 percent system-wide, increasing from a year-ago figure of $282,000 to $301,143. Within the four county Puget Sound region, Snohomish reported the sharpest hike at nearly 8 percent. The median sales price for a home in that county was $340,000 last month; twelve months ago it was $314,975. Buyers can expect to pay about 30 percent more in King County where a single family home that sold last month fetched a median price of $440,250.
MLS members logged 6,769 completed transactions of single family homes and condos during March to outgain the same period a year ago by 1,016 transactions for a 17.7 percent increase. Of that total, condos accounted for about 14 percent of the volume. The median price on last month’s condo sales was $240,000, which was about 9 percent higher than a year ago. In King County, the median sales price was $269,600.
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 23,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in Washington state.