KIRKLAND — Historically low-interest rates and lifestyle changes are fueling housing activity around Washington state, according to Dean Rebhuhn, president of Village Homes and Properties in Woodinville.
Commenting on just-released June statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service, he and other brokers say multiple offers are common “especially in the median price range.”
Brokers in the 23 counties that are part of Northwest MLS point to a shortage of homes as a key factor in the bidding wars. At the end of June, there were only 1.16 months of supply system-wide, which is the second-lowest level in the past decade. (The lowest mark, at 1.12 months, was in December 2017.)
Not surprisingly, the supply/demand imbalance is causing prices to ratchet up. Median prices for last month’s 8,312 closed sales of single-family homes and condos increased by nearly 5.7% compared to a year ago, rising from $440,000 to $465,000. A comparison to May shows an increase of more than 3.3%.
In the four-county central Puget Sound area, year-over-year prices rose even more. Of these counties, King County had the smallest increase at nearly 5.9% (rising from $637,675 to $675,000). Pierce County prices jumped nearly 8.2%, from $372,500 to $403,000. Prices were up nearly 6.7% in Snohomish County and more than 7.7% in Kitsap County.
“Multiple offers are back with a vengeance as buyers are handicapped by having only about half the inventory of a year ago,” said Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Tacoma-Gig Harbor. "If a buyer finds a home they like, 20 other people will likely be vying for it, and the battle is on."
J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, noticed a major increase in sales activity intensity, which measures the percentage of homes that sell within the first 30 days of going on the market.
“It’s almost as if the cupboards were bare in the more affordable to mid-price ranges where the majority of sales take place,” he said.