Opportunities abound for home buyers and sellers, but brokers say “don’t delay”.
Fircrest, Washington August 17, 2020
Brokers added the largest monthly number of new listings during July since May 2019, but pent-up demand from homebuyers meant inventory remained tight, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) representatives who commented on the latest housing activity report.
The Northwest MLS report for July, which covers 23 counties in Washington state, shows brokers added 12,514 new listings during July, up from the year-ago total of 11,193 for a gain of 11.8%. Pending sales jumped nearly 14%, while inventory remained well below year-ago levels (down about 39%). Measured by months of inventory, the system-wide supply slipped to about a month (1.04 months).
MLS member-brokers reported 9,840 closed sales during July, up slightly more than 3% from a year ago and the highest volume since June 2018 when they notched 10,072 completed transactions. Overall prices on those sales, which include single family homes and condominiums, jumped 12.8% from twelve months ago, rising from $429,900 to $484,995. Prices on single family homes (excluding condos) surged 13.6% (to $499,950), while year-over-year (YOY) condo prices rose about 8.6% (to $380,000). “Buyers, and Seller both, if they are willing and able to act quickly, are finding opportunities. Buyers, especially, who are not willing to act quickly or are not properly prepared, are finding increasing frustration and are often losing out in multiple offer situations”, said Charlie Hawkins Floberg Chief Operations Officer for Hawkins Poe Inc, in Fircrest, Washington. She further pointed out that, “Interest rates are at historical lows which means those who are looking to purchase their first or even their second home can get much more for their money,” she explained. She mentioned that she had just recently completed a refinance and obtained a 30-year, fixed-rate Conventional loan “at an incredible rate of 2.50%!”
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Conversely, Jennifer Hawkins Hansen, Promotions and Marketing Director for Hawkins Poe Inc., acknowledged, depleted inventory means “We are seeing multiple offers in just about every market and at every price point.” She estimates there is only about 24 days of inventory in the major population centers in King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. “We’ve seen an uptick in the number of listings in King and Snohomish counties, but in Pierce and Kitsap Inventory remains strained, with less than one month worth of inventory in either County, which is still well below what we need to meet the volume of buyers right now,” emphasized Jennifer.
“Although new listings of single family homes in King County jumped more than 24% from a year ago, the total available inventory dropped to a 10-year low for the month,” she remarked. “Single family listings priced at or below market are receiving multiple offers.”
“I see it as the PERFECT STORM” commented Frank Hawkins, President and Designated Broker of Hawkins Poe Inc., “I see a lot of people who I think would otherwise be content to stay in their homes now rushing to get their homes on the market in order to take advantage of escalated prices, high demand and tight inventory. Likewise, for buyers – particularly first-timers, it’s the fear of missing out,” stated Hawkins.
Pending sales in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap Counties were the best-ever for the month of July. “Sellers benefit from the highest median home prices, while buyers are taking advantage of the lowest interest rates on record. The combination of the huge backlog of home buyers and being virtually sold out of inventory makes it feel like it’s a multiple-offer everything. This is a historic moment in residential real estate. An unprecedented eight counties in the NWMLS report had less than one month’s supply of homes and condominiums for sale at the end of July. They included Clark, Cowlitz, Island, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston.
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Kitsap County continues to be attractive to East Puget Sound buyers as well as stay-at-home professionals,” said Hawkins. Residents are now enjoying the speedy open-access fiber-optic connections that Kitsap PUD started installing years ago, and the new walk on Ferry’s serving Kingston and Bremerton directly to downtown Seattle are adding a lot of Seattle’s workers who do not want to live in the “City” for various reasons. High speed internet access has become a definite selling point for many homes and building sites.
July’s 527 pending sales of single family homes in Kitsap County outgained new listings (508), contributing to a 37% YOY deficit in active listings (382 last month versus 606 a year ago). “As market demand continues, the median value jumped 11.7% from a year ago.” MLS figures show the median price on that county’s single family home sales rose from $383,500 to $428,193. “Buyers are frustrated with the low inventory but elated to see interest rates continuing to drop. We are seeing offers coming in well over the list price, but this may not last long as inventory continues to inch up.
“Suburban lifestyle continues to draw buyers, there seems to be a flight from more urban markets,” Hawkins added, “This also supports my forecast that home prices percentages in Kitsap and Pierce Counties in 2020 will rise at double digits compared to 2019.” ###