The good news for January is that a high number of new listings hit the market. The challenge is that homes are moving at an incredibly fast pace.
New listing volume saw the highest monthly total since October, with brokers adding 6,507 new listings (163 fewer than the same period a year ago), while year-over-year pending sales jumped by about 6.8 percent.
At the end of January there were 9,752 active listings in the 23 counties serviced by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), 2,605 less than a year ago. Only Ferry, Jefferson and Kitsap counties reported improvements in the number of active listings compared to the same month last year.
MLS director George Moorhead echoed the notion that sellers are still firmly in the driver’s seat, pointing to five years ago when buyers could choose from 5,378 listings of single family homes in King County versus last month’s selection of only 1,569. If buyers are hoping for relief in the near future, Moorehead said it was unlikely, due to a combination of new jobs, a shortage of new homes, and a reluctance of sellers to list their homes for fear of not being able to find a new one.
With the challenges in inventory, it’s not surprising that prices continue to rise:
- The median price for single family homes that sold in King County last month was $525,000, up more than 6.9 percent from the year-ago sales price. Several outlying counties reported double-digit gains.
- Price increases in King County combined with an 8.2 percent increase in Snohomish County suggests that buyers are heading north to find more affordable housing.
- The price of a single family home in Pierce County jumped nearly 11.6 percent from a year ago while the year-over-year price in Kitsap County was up 9.4 percent.
- King County condo prices surged by more than 9.8 percent in January compared to a year ago.
Add to this the expectation from Moorhead that the Feds will increase rates two more times between now and April, and buyers are becoming more aggressive in their frenzy to buy a home. The key to winning the battle? Buyers and sellers with the proper guidance from a skilled agent will definitely come out on top.