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Brokers detect good news for home buyers, citing gains in listings and moderating prices

Latest Press Release - April Statistical Data

KIRKLAND, Washington (May 5, 2021) - Finally, some good news for home buyers! Sizeable increases in new listings compared to a year ago and reports of moderating prices "might mean we are seeing some relief for buyers," suggested John Deely, a board member at Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

In commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest MLS summarizing April activity, Deely said the market remains hot while emphasizing active listing numbers do not always reflect actual overall activity. "With a market like ours, and the velocity of new listings moving to pending status, active listing data tend to get more attention," stated Deely, the vice president of operations at Coldwell Banker Bain.

Northwest MLS figures, which cover 26 counties, illustrate that point. At month end, April's active listings stood at 5,616, yet during the month, member-brokers added 12,043 new listings of homes and condos. There was a jump of more than 57% from the same month a year ago when the pandemic shutdown began. Compared to March, the volume of new listings rose 14%, and even compared to two years ago (April 2019), new listings were up about 3%.

April's month-end inventory of 5,616 listings was a year-over-year (YOY) drop of 45%; a year ago, there were 10,282 active listings in the MLS database.

Pending sales continue to surge, keeping inventory depleted. Brokers reported 10,583 pending sales during April, up nearly 47% from a year ago when they logged 7,207 mutually accepted offers. Last month's pending sales dipped slightly (2.58%) from March.

Two other industry experts, J. Lennox Scott and Matthew Gardner, also commented on the significant gains in new listings.

"At long last, May is here. Historically, we see a nice uptick in new listings every May. This increased availability and selection will be present throughout the summer," suggested Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He tempered his prediction by noting there is a large backlog of prospective home buyers, a situation he says will "keep the market in a state of 'instant response' for each new resale listing."

Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, noted 16 of the 26 counties in the report had at least a 20% increase in active listings at the end of April compared to March, saying "There is finally some good news for buyers!" NWMLS figures show active listings increased by 1,463 properties (up 35.2%). He also pointed out the rise in inventory had a softening effect on the average listing price. He calculated a drop of 5.1% between March and April. "It's too early to suggest this trend will continue, but it's encouraging to see and hopefully the beginning of a shift back towards a more balanced market."

Even with some improvement in listings, the MLS report shows only nine counties have more than one month's supply of inventory. Areawide, there is only 0.64 months of inventory, with even less supply (0.57 months) in the four-county Puget Sound region. Many analysts consider a balanced market to be in the four-to-six-month range.

"The time between coming on the market and going off the market is the shortest I've seen in the last 40 years," stated Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest, Tacoma-Gig Harbor. "The housing bubble more than a dozen years ago didn't look like this. There was inventory. There were choices for buyers. Now they comb the internet daily, hoping they'll get the chance to compete with other battle-weary buyers for the one new listing that appears in their price range near where they really want to live," he remarked, adding he does not expect the situation to get better soon.

With supplies depleted, prices continue to climb. Brokers reported 8,791 closed sales of single family homes and condos during April, nearly 50% higher than the year-ago total of 5,866 completed transactions. Year-over-year prices on closed sales surged 25%, from $452,030 to $565,000. Nearly every county had double-digit gains.

Prices on single family homes rose about 26.5%, while condo prices increased by a more modest 12%.

"As long as housing supply remains constrained and interest rates remain low, we could see these price trends continuing well into the summer," said James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. He expects continued price increases along the I-5 and I-90 corridors and noted peripheral areas are continuing to outperform as people seek value in a low interest rate environment.

Frank Leach, broker/owner at RE/MAX Platinum Services in Silverdale, said Kitsap County and the Olympic Peninsula are experiencing vigorous activity from would-be buyers from the Seattle/King County area who are looking for "safety, community, affordability, and choices." He also cited the area's low unemployment rate and robust economy as market drivers.

Inventory in Kitsap County has not expanded at anticipated rates, according to Leach. "Builders are perplexed with new regulations, increasing costs of construction materials, and increased bureaucratic overlays," he stated.

The volume of new listings (including single family homes and condos) in Kitsap County increased 47.4% from a year ago and nearly 17% from March, but total active inventory was down 47% from a year ago, resulting in about two weeks of supply (0.57 months). Leach estimates 80% of sales in Kitsap County exceeded listed values, with "many buyers making the buying decision from a virtual tour." Year-over-year prices rose 22.7%, with the median price on last month's sales, at $485,000, significantly lower than King County where it was $750,000.

Intense competition is causing buyers and sellers to consider shortening offer review dates, according to Dean Rebhuhn, owner at Village Homes and Properties. "Sellers with offer review dates within five to seven days of the listing date are receiving strong offers on day one or day two of listing," he said, adding, "Some sellers are considering offers with no contingencies and aggressive prices."

Although bidding wars are common, Deely said some brokers are reporting things may be starting to moderate related to pricing. "Brokers tell us some sellers who have been pushing the envelope on their home price are now experiencing longer list times and, in some cases, have had to drop their prices." He emphasized sellers need to price appropriately. "With things starting to return to normal, the off-the-chart activity placing sellers in the driver's seat may be moderating," he remarked.

NWMLS director Mike Larson, managing broker of the Harold Allen Team at COMPASS, agreed in part.   "The real estate market was the cornerstone of the US economy during the darkest days of the pandemic, and things are not changing as we return to normalcy. "It's still very tough for buyers."

Larson said the value used to be what the comparable properties sold for. "Now it's whatever the buyer is willing to pay, which is almost always more than the list price." Although inventory remains a challenge, he believes "there may be hope on the horizon as we head into the prime-time months for sellers."

The latest Northwest MLS report indicates condominiums may be an option for some house-hunters. A check of the MLS database shows 1,127 current condo listings with prices on these offerings ranging from $75,000 for a listing on a golf course in Adams County to $13.5 million for a penthouse on First Hill in Seattle.

Condo supply remains tight at 0.88 months (down 27% from a year ago), with prices up 12% areawide. In King County, where nearly three-fourths of current inventory is situated, year-over-year prices increased about 7%.

"It is interesting to note a continued decline in King County's condominium inventory - down from nearly 1.6 months of supply in January -- perhaps marking a return to the urban markets with increased vaccinations," suggested Young. The MLS report for April shows pending sales of condos for the map areas encompassing Seattle spiked nearly 184% from a year ago, from 135 units to 383.

CoreLogic research shows condos are increasingly popular with millennials with 47% of all condo mortgage applications submitted by millennials in 2019. Research by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates improving perceptions about the availability of homes among some buyers, and especially among millennials, the largest share of home buyers. In its latest Housing Trends Report, NAHB reported the share of millennial buyers who expect housing availability to ease up in the months ahead rose decisively between the first quarters of 2020 and 2021, from 26% to 42%.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service is a not-for-profit, member-owned organization that facilitates cooperation among its member real estate firms. With more than 2,500 member firm offices and 32,000 brokers across Washington state, NWMLS (www.nwmls.com) is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Based in Kirkland, Washington, its service area spans 26 counties, and it operates 21 local service centers.

 

Single Fam. Homes + Condos

LISTINGS

PENDING SALES

CLOSED SALES

MONTHS OF INVENTORY

New Listings

Total Active

# Pending Sales

# Closings

Avg. Price

Median Price

This month

Same mo., year ago

King

4,602

2,212

3,977

3,402

$936,621

$750,000

0.65

1.57

Snohomish

1,898

632

1,630

1,285

$676,104

$630,000

0.49

1.39

Pierce

1,844

696

1,657

1,490

$541,729

$490,000

0.47

1.33

Kitsap

520

224

452

393

$591,422

$485,000

0.57

1.48

Mason

152

83

134

93

$456,581

$361,800

0.89

2.11

Skagit

217

129

209

149

$523,326

$455,000

0.87

2.32

Grays Harbor

155

113

156

113

$297,066

$280,000

1.00

3.09

Lewis

148

95

142

124

$378,958

$335,650

0.77

2.77

Cowlitz

139

65

137

110

$380,846

$373,000

0.59

1.61

Grant

140

89

148

98

$303,092

$272,250

0.91

2.97

Thurston

599

228

528

468

$475,316

$430,000

0.49

1.18

San Juan

45

61

33

32

$1,195,416

$735,056

1.91

14.31

Island

232

83

193

134

$636,939

$527,000

0.62

1.85

Kittitas

111

69

87

66

$620,373

$450,000

1.05

3.94

Jefferson

66

58

57

50

$505,300

$478,000

1.16

2.76

Okanogan

74

75

60

29

$366,745

$379,900

2.59

4.59

Whatcom

428

263

366

305

$555,355

$499,900

0.86

2.84

Clark

115

52

98

86

$537,558

$460,000

0.60

2.02

Pacific

61

40

72

61

$303,203

$278,252

0.66

4.93

Ferry

8

16

12

6

$365,148

$399,500

2.67

8.25

Clallam

114

65

93

66

$421,048

$384,500

0.98

2.12

Chelan

168

99

140

76

$520,645

$440,750

1.30

3.90

Douglas

41

27

44

46

$445,054

$391,250

0.59

3.24

*Adams

8

13

12

13

$227,148

$250,000

1.00

1.78

*Walla Walla

90

49

79

59

$392,185

$359,900

0.83

8.50

*Columbia

6

8

9

5

$188,600

$155,000

1.60

1.00

Others

62

72

58

32

$366,263

$342,500

2.25

3.33

Total

12,043

5,616

10,583

8,791

$699,939

$565,000

0.64

1.75

*Adams, Walla Walla and Columbia counties are added as separate rows this month; previously, statistics for these counties were included in the row for "Others/Out of area."

4-county Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)

(totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)


Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

2003

4746

5290

6889

6837

7148

7202

7673

7135

6698

6552

4904

4454

2004

4521

6284

8073

7910

7888

8186

7583

7464

6984

6761

6228

5195

2005

5426

6833

8801

8420

8610

8896

8207

8784

7561

7157

6188

4837

2006

5275

6032

8174

7651

8411

8094

7121

7692

6216

6403

5292

4346

2007

4869

6239

7192

6974

7311

6876

6371

5580

4153

4447

3896

2975

2008

3291

4167

4520

4624

4526

4765

4580

4584

4445

3346

2841

2432

2009

3250

3407

4262

5372

5498

5963

5551

5764

5825

5702

3829

3440

2010

4381

5211

6821

7368

4058

4239

4306

4520

4350

4376

3938

3474

2011

4272

4767

6049

5732

5963

5868

5657

5944

5299

5384

4814

4197

2012

4921

6069

7386

7015

7295

6733

6489

6341

5871

6453

5188

4181

2013

5548

6095

7400

7462

7743

7374

7264

6916

5951

6222

5083

3957

2014

5406

5587

7099

7325

8055

7546

7169

6959

6661

6469

5220

4410

2015

5791

6541

8648

8671

8620

8608

8248

7792

7179

6977

5703

4475

2016

5420

6703

8130

8332

9153

8869

8545

8628

7729

7487

6115

4727

2017

5710

6024

7592

7621

9188

9042

8514

8637

7441

7740

6094

4460

2018

5484

5725

7373

7565

8742

8052

7612

6893

6235

6367

5328

4037

2019

5472

4910

7588

8090

8597

8231

7773

7345

6896

6797

5788

4183

2020

5352

6078

6477

5066

7297

8335

8817

9179

8606

7934

6122

4851

2021

5216

5600

8002

7716









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