August 2021 Housing Update for the Puget Sound

The Goelzer Home Team
Published on August 18, 2021

Summary

Inventory low but improving: Newly listed home nearly matched pending sales in July, providing some relief for buyers.

Prices continue increasing: Prices continue to climb by double digits in all but a few counties. Across all areas, prices for closed sales of single-family homes and condominiums (combined) jumped 21.4% during July compared to a year ago.

It’s still a good time to buy: With increased inventory and historically low interest rates, if you’re looking to move this year, now may be the time. Right now, with other buyers on vacation, you will have more choices and less competition.

Some sellers are getting greedy: With prices escalating over the past few years, be wary of setting your price too high. Buyers are being more patient when they see overpriced homes, with sellers ultimately lowering prices. Sellers, get maximum value for your home by pricing it correctly, the first time.

Details

Competition for homes eased slightly in July across much of Washington state, but brokers from Northwest Multiple Listing Service expect the respite to be short-lived, with inventory still tight and prices still climbing.

Northwest MLS brokers added 12,916 new listings to the database during July. They reported 11,567 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) areawide, which covers 26 counties. At month-end, there were 7,948 total listings offered for sale, down 22.5% from the year-ago total of 10,259. That was the highest level since October when inventory totaled 8,623 properties, including single-family homes and condominiums.

NWMLS statistics show there were fewer pending sales last month (11,567), than during both June (12,328) and May (11,969). July’s volume was down about 8.8% from the year-ago total of 12,682 pending sales.

“While dangerous to compare 2020 lockdown figures to this year, it is interesting to see that new listings volume is starting to rise above 2019 levels,” observed James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. In July, MLS figures show member-brokers have added 1,723 more new listings of single-family homes and condos than during July 2019 (12,916 versus 11,193). Year to date, brokers have added 1,438 more new listings this year compared to 2019.

Notably, 14 of the 26 counties in the Northwest MLS report showed year-over-year (YOY) gains in new listings, with half of them reporting double-digit increases: Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Ferry, Grays Harbor, Kitsap, and Thurston. Three of the four counties in the Puget Sound region had YOY improvement, led by Kitsap County with a jump of 29.3%. 

The volume of new listings in King County dropped about 5.4% from a year ago. System-wide there was a 3.2% gain in new listings versus twelve months ago.

Prices continue to climb by double digits in all but a few counties. Across all areas, prices for closed sales of single-family homes and condominiums (combined) jumped 21.4% during July compared to a year ago, rising from $484,995 to $589,000. Last month’s median price overall was unchanged from June.

Young checked statistics from two years ago, noting prices in suburban counties and along much of the I-5 corridor have increased sharply. “Prices in Lewis County are up 54.2% from the July 2019 level, Snohomish County is up 40.6%, and Island County is up 44.3%. Skagit and Whatcom counties underperformed relative to these areas with median price increases of 36.4% and 38.4% respectively.” NWMLS figures show four other counties have had price jumps of at least 40% — Ferry, Grant, Grays Harbor, and Okanogan. Jefferson County had the smallest increase since 2019, with the median price increasing just over 24%, followed by Clark County, at 24.6% and King County at 26.2%.

“The search for value in the suburbs with sharp price increases suggest households are making their housing preferences known. They want to own rather than rent,” Young concluded. “Unfortunately,” he added, “the lack of new construction for owner-occupiers over the past few years in the suburbs means first-time buyers and marginalized communities are finding it more difficult than ever to get a foot on the housing ownership ladder.”

“With a lack of new construction coming on the market in suburban areas after years of under-building, increasing demand still has few places to go,” suggested Young. “With interest rates staying at historically low levels and less than a one-month supply throughout the region, the perfect storm for rising house prices will continue, but perhaps not as ferociously as before.”

Northwest MLS figures show there is 0.73 months of inventory system-wide, with only 12 of the 26 counties in the report having more than one month of supply.

Regarding Condos – The MLS figures show the volume of new listings (1,702) outgained pending sales (1,549), although total active listings remained below year-ago levels (down 35% areawide). Condo prices rose more modestly, at 12.6%, than the rate for single-family homes (22%). In King County, which accounted for nearly six of every 10 condo sales during July, the year-over-year increase was just under 7%. The median-priced condo in King County sold for $460,000, while overall the median sale price was $428,000.

Whether buying or selling, as competitive as the current housing market is, be sure to leverage the expertise of a trusted real estate team, The Goelzer Home Team.

Let us know how we can help you achieve your real estate Wants, Needs, and Dreams.

Data

*Information and statistics compiled and reported by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

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