June 2020 Housing Update for Western Washington

The Goelzer Home Team
The Goelzer Home Team
Published on June 25, 2020

The Summary

  • Housing activity in Western Washington shows resiliency as buyers, sellers and brokers adjust to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Low interest rates continue with some additional underwriting restrictions. Check with your lender/mortgage broker for details. Let us know if you need a lender, we have many great referrals.
  • With housing inventory still at a low (1.2 months in Pierce County / 1.74% months in King County), it’s a great time to get your home on the market and sold.
  • The median price on last month’s closed sales was $449,950 across the NWMLS coverage area. That compares to the year-ago figure of $440,000 an increase of about 2.3%.
  • In King County, prices declined 2.8% from a year ago, which looks to be a temporary decline due to reduced luxury sales in King County.
  • To ensure safety throughout the listing and/or buying process, we are following strict showing guidelines in accordance with state-wide government orders as we enter Phase 2 in many counties; limiting physical showings to three people at one time, following CDC social distancing guidelines, holding virtual Open Houses, and offering alternative virtual options for private showings.

The Details

Brokers and homebuyers alike seem to be adjusting to restrictions imposed on the real estate industry because of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, virtual tours, additional photos, video, drone, and 3-D tours helped sellers continue to list their homes for sale and helped buyers find new homes. This is likely the new normal.

Despite the economic downturn and disruptions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, Northwest MLS member-brokers reported impressive improvement from April to May on some key indicators. The volume of new listings, including single-family homes and condominiums, rose 29.2% and pending sales jumped more than 44% systemwide. Not surprisingly, year-over-year comparisons showed sharp declines. The number of new listings fell nearly 33%, total active listings plummeted nearly 36%, pending sales declined 13.5%, and closed sales dropped about 35%. Prices remained in positive territory, rising about 2.3% from a year ago.

Available homes for sale continue to be challenging. Brokers added 9,871 new listings to the MLS database during May, which compares to 14,689 for the same period a year ago. At month-end, the selection included 10,357 active listings; that volume was 5,766 fewer than the year-ago total of 16,133. At the end of May, there was 1.74 months of supply across the 23 counties served by Northwest MLS. Inventory levels ranged from 1.1 months of supply in Thurston County to more than 8 months in San Juan County. Within the four-county Puget Sound region, supply ranged from 1.2 months in Pierce County to 1.74 months in King County. With, inventory levels still low in most parts of the Puget Sound region, we continue to see multiple offers submitted on homes in median price ranges. It’s all about location, price, and condition of the home.

Interest rates have continued to stay low with some fluctuations due to the economic recovery in progress. Note that some underwriting requirements have tightened due to the uncertainty around job loss and future economic impacts from the virus. It’s best to contact your lender/mortgage professional for the most current rates and to better understand any impact to your personal lending situation these changes may have.

The NWMLS report shows 10,389 pending sales during May, improving on April’s total of 7,207 (up 44%), but down about 13.5% from the year-ago total of 12,006. NWMLS members completed 5,957 transactions during May, a slight improvement from April’s total of 5,866. When compared to a year ago, however, the number of closed sales, at 9,153, marked a decline of about 35%.

The median price on last month’s closed sales was $449,950 across the NWMLS coverage area. That compares to the year-ago figure of $440,000 an increase of about 2.3%. Five of the 23 counties in the report had year-over-year price drops: Ferry (-30%), King (-2.8%), Kittitas (-2.95%), Pacific (-12.8%), and San Juan (-17.8%). The biggest increases were in Okanogan County (30.3%) and Grays Harbor County (15.7%). Northwest MLS statistics for King County show a correlation of declining sales in the luxury market and the impact of COVID-19. With the luxury market slowed or reduced, the slight price drop year-over-year in King County is expected.

As the state begins to unwind health and safety precautions placed on the real estate business due to COVID-19, brokers must continue to adhere to the “phase” protocols for the county where the property is located, regardless of the location of the broker’s office or home. As a reminder, all in-person activities must be by appointment only and real estate brokers and industry partners must wear cloth face coverings and should encourage clients and customers to do the same. The good news is that we can now have a total of three people during showings (includes the broker).

And that’s our housing update for last month! Please let us know if you have any questions.

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

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