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Housing market stays hot despite some "lousy" February weather

Latest Press Release - February Statistical Data

KIRKLAND, Washington (March 4, 2021) - Housing activity during February remained hot around much of Washington state despite significant accumulation of lowland snow over the Valentine's Day weekend, according to latest statistical report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

"It's amazing how close the February numbers are when compared to February 2020, which was, of course, right before our world changed," said Mike Grady, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Bain. "Despite our similarly lousy February weather, the data show that the market continues to be hot, with residential inventory very tight and median prices rising by double digits across most of our counties."

Northwest MLS figures show brokers added a similar number of new listings of single family homes and condos last month (7,418) as a year ago (7,786), for a difference of 368 properties (down 4.7%). For residential units (excluding condos), there was a 6.8% year-over-year (YOY) drop.

Total active listings of single family homes declined nearly 44% from a year ago. The selection of single family homes fell more than 51% while condo inventory rose 7.9%.

"A decline in listing volume this year should not surprise anyone," remarked James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington.

"We are virtually sold out of unsold inventory everywhere in the Central Puget Sound area except the Seattle city core," stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

There are only about three weeks of supply (0.74 months) of inventory in the MLS database, which covers 26 counties. For residential only (excluding condos), the shortage is more pronounced at only 0.67 months' supply.

Condominium shoppers will find somewhat more selection, with inventory up 7.93% from a year ago, and more than a month of supply (1.12 months).

"While pending condominium sales were down slightly in King County (-0.56%), it's worth noting that several urban neighborhoods, including Queen Anne, Downtown Seattle, and Ballard performed better than expected. That suggests to me that there may not be the mass exodus from the core urban areas that many have been predicting," commented Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.

Nearly six of every 10 pending sales of condos took place in King County last month, according to the Northwest MLS report. Pending activity nearly match the year ago totals for that county (716 versus 720). Pending sales (mutually accepted offers) were up sharply in several Seattle neighborhoods, including Queen Anne (48.8%), West Seattle (42.1%), and Ballard/Green Lake (32.5%). Even the Downtown/Belltown area registered an uptick (4.8%).

Gardner said it was particularly interesting to see the jump in pending sales in the Puget Sound region from January and February. For the tri-county area encompassing King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, the MLS report shows there were 4,896 pending sales in January and 5,232 sales in February for a month-to-month gain of 6.9%.

"This tells me that neither the snowstorm that hit the region nor the jump in mortgage rates deterred buyers who were still out in force last month," said Gardner.

Lennox Scott also noted the slight increase in mortgage rates, saying it "created a mini power surge of sales activity intensity."

Freddie Mac reported an average rate of 3.02% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for the week ending March 4. That's up five basis points from the previous week, and the first time since July 2020 that the benchmark mortgage rate climbed above 3%.

Despite rates edging up and inclement weather during much of February, eight counties in the Northwest MLS report showed year-over-year gains in pending sales: Adams, Douglas, Grant, Kitsap, Lewis, Pacific, San Juan, and Walla Walla.

System-wide, there were 7,724 pending sales in February, a YOY drop of 7.5%, but compared to January when brokers reported 7,394 sales, the pending volume increased 4.5%.

Within King County, Gardner noted suburban markets such as Renton, Burien, "and interestingly, West Seattle (given the bridge issue)," continued to see significant sales activity in February, "but so too did more urban markets like Madison Park/Capitol Hill, Ballard/Green Lake, Queen Anne, and Magnolia, all of which reported sizable increases in home sales."

Of the 30 neighborhood areas the MLS tracks within King County, thirteen of them showed year-over-year increases in pending sales.

Northwest MLS director John Deely, executive vice president of operations at Coldwell Banker Bain, said, "Like last year, before we knew what was just around the corner, buyer demand is high. There continues to be opportunities for buyers seeking condos, and median prices are more stable, so that's also good news for buyers."

On the residential side (excluding condos), Deely said he is hearing more and more about multiple offer situations. "Our brokers are working hard to help prepare buyers both emotionally and financially for the realities they face, and to help position them as the winning purchaser. With things opening up, and open house restrictions eased to allow more people at one time, brokers are also spending a good amount of time preparing their sellers to get comfortable with having people in their homes and to safely facilitate viewings, as well as managing and analyzing all the offers."

Northwest MLS member-brokers reported 5,812 closed sales during February for a 10.4% increase over the year-ago total of 5,265 closings. The median price on last month's completed sales jumped more than 15% from a year ago, increasing from $445,000 to $512,000. Twenty of the 26 counties in the report showed double-digit YOY price gains.

"Continuing low interest rates, jobs, and lifestyle changes are driving the real estate market," said Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties, who also noted the uptick in multiple offers. "Prepared, aggressive buyers are winning the competition for homes. Smart buyers are making substantial offers to sellers prior to the offer review date, and sellers are considering them."

Scott noted March historically marks the beginning of an eight-month primetime real estate market. "After an intense winter in the local real estate market, more new resale listings are on the horizon," he remarked, adding, "The intensity we're seeing should come down slightly as more available homes enter the market, but we have to play catch-up with pent-up buyer demand first."

Grady expressed similar views. "The positive, optimistic mood is unmistakable, and we expect that to continue as vaccines roll out, things continue opening, and projects like the Northgate Link Light Rail station are completed, allowing people to move further out as they can more efficiently manage their commutes. We are bullish on the market this spring, and frankly, for the rest of the year. Bring on the Roaring '20s, version 2.0," he exclaimed."

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

2,893

1,828

2,865

2,146

$820,541

$679,075

0.85

1.17

Snohomish

1,045

347

1,117

835

$633,547

$576,050

0.42

0.93

Pierce

1,239

520

1,250

961

$496,160

$455,000

0.54

1.09

Kitsap

313

136

368

251

$499,463

$427,500

0.54

1.32

Mason

88

48

93

79

$338,069

$344,000

0.61

2.17

Skagit

147

89

164

132

$524,739

$455,500

0.67

2.35

Grays Harbor

120

88

135

115

$303,542

$275,000

0.77

3.22

Lewis

95

89

139

77

$346,655

$319,900

1.16

2.64

Cowlitz

105

54

121

89

$350,824

$329,900

0.61

1.31

Grant

76

92

102

72

$280,365

$276,000

1.28

3.07

Thurston

357

144

360

299

$457,533

$420,000

0.48

0.93

San Juan

25

60

29

16

$1,323,709

$726,972

3.75

11.60

Island

107

65

108

96

$486,954

$432,250

0.68

2.09

Kittitas

61

47

58

56

$552,223

$482,500

0.84

3.08

Jefferson

31

46

37

36

$478,389

$425,000

1.28

2.59

Okanogan

24

64

39

27

$354,037

$285,000

2.37

6.65

Whatcom

295

224

298

214

$467,171

$440,000

1.05

2.53

Clark

72

36

75

49

$494,065

$420,000

0.73

1.63

Pacific

51

56

67

36

$226,028

$205,500

1.56

5.40

Ferry

0

16

6

6

$162,583

$186,000

2.67

32.00

Clallam

68

40

82

59

$406,286

$384,000

0.68

2.75

Chelan

62

59

63

47

$519,837

$450,000

1.26

3.23

Douglas

51

34

52

30

$406,310

$362,500

1.13

2.24

*Adams

11

14

12

12

$294,334

$298,812

1.17

3.29

*Walla Walla

39

38

43

34

$364,958

$354,250

1.12

6.50

*Columbia

6

6

5

2

$190,000

$190,000

3.00

N/A

Others

37

58

36

36

$360,202

$306,930

1.61

3.88

Total

7,418

4,298

7,724

5,812

$617,113

$512,000

0.74

1.45

*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












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