Usually as we approach the holidays, the real estate market in the Northwest, like the weather, tends to cool off. This year, that doesn’t seem to be the case. As inventory levels remain low and buyers closely watch the threat of increasing interest rates, the market remains robust.
Agents of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) added 8,094 new listings to inventory last month; about the same as a year ago when members added 8,102. Total inventory at month’s end stood at 18,068; well below the total in October of last year (23,501); logging in a decrease of 23.1 percent. Sales outpaced new listings in 19 of the 23 counties served by the NWMLS.
Pending sales were up 7.8 percent compared to a year ago; rising from 8,643 transactions to 9,317. About half the counties serviced reported double-digit increases and the Puget Sound region (King, Snohomish, Kitsap and Pierce counties) made up 6,977 of those units; the highest total in a decade.
Members reported 7,769 closed sales last month; an increase of 7 percent from October of last year when 7,257 was the number to beat. This was the first time since April that the total dropped below 8,000; members blame the shortage of inventory as a cause. There is a 2.33 months supply of listings compared to February when that number stood at 3.56.
The median price for the sale of single family homes and condominiums last month was up almost 9.7 percent from a year ago (from $290,000 to $318,000). For single family homes alone, that number was up 8.4 percent (from $299,950 to $325,000), and in King County, median prices rose 7.3 percent from a year ago (from $447,250 to $480,000) but decreased over 2 percent from September ($490,250). The condo market fared even better with area-wide median prices rising 16.2 percent from October of last year (from $228,500 to $265,500) and closed sales up 13.2 percent (from 990 to 1,121 units).
A few things to watch in the coming months: inventory, prices and interest rates…a sudden movement in any of these could change things; and not always for the better. At The Expert Real Estate, we’d like to help you best time your move so you take full advantage of the right time to buy or sell; let us know how we can help!
We ended the year on an aggressive note with home buyers making offers on 5,314 properties in December which exceeded the 3,857 listings added to the market by members. This continues to erode inventory while pushing prices higher!
There were 5,267 closed sales last month which outpaced the same month a year ago by 526 transactions; an increase of about 11.1 percent. The total closed inventory for 2012 was 64,624 units which was an increase of 14.8 percent from 2011.
The median price single family homes and condos in all 21 Counties served by the MLS was $255,000; also an increase of 13.3 percent from a year ago when the number came in at $225,000. Single family homes alone rose from $235,000 a year ago to $265,000 (12.8 percent); and in King County, the median price rose from $320,000 to $380,046 (18.8 percent).
The rise in prices and multiple offers can be attributed to the declining inventory as at the end of December, there were only 17,718 properties for sale area-wide compared to 26,639 for sale at this same time a year ago (decrease of 33.5 percent). In Snohomish County, inventory was down 53% while in King County, inventory is down about 51 percent (3,801 last month versus 7,472 a year ago).
Signs look good for continued strength in the real estate market in 2013 with low interest rates, lower inventory and reduced unemployment. If you’re looking to make a move, now is as good a time as any to benefit from the current real estate environment!