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Total active listings and pending sales in King and Snohomish counties in January fell from January 2021, but prices continued ascending.

King and Snohomish counties’ total active listings fell 59 percent and 35.2 percent, respectively, and pending sales fell 23.5 percent and 13.8 percent, according to figures released today by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Listings and pending and closed sales were down throughout NWMLS’s 26-county region by totals of 30.2 percent, 14.1 percent, and 13.8 percent.

Frigid early January temperatures, surges in coronavirus cases, and ongoing shortage of homes for sale were among factors brokers from NWMLS cited for last month’s slower than year-ago sales throughout its system, according to a news release.

“When there’s uncertainty, the default position for most sellers is to stay put, do nothing, and hunker down,” Mike Larson, managing broker at Compass Tacoma, said in the NWMLS release. Contributing factors for sellers’ reluctance to put their homes on the market include, “most notably, COVID, inflation, the economy, the holidays, and finding a replacement property,” he said. “Security and certainty are more important than cashing in on record amounts of equity.”

Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, said, “The year started off with more of a whimper than a boom thanks to listing inventory in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties being lower than any January on record.”

Lack of new listings means prices continue to rise.

In King County, the median sales price of single-family homes and condominiums combined was $720,000 in January, up 11.6 percent. For single-family homes only, the median was $775,000, up 6.9 percent; and for condos, the median was $455,000, up 13.8 percent.

Snohomish County’s combined median sales price was $686,792, up 23.8 percent. For single-family homes only, the median was $715,000, up 19.2 percent; and for condos, the median was $499,500, up 35 percent.

“Strong activity along the I-5 and I-90 corridors outside of the Seattle area continues with strong double-digit price increases being recorded,” James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington, said in the release.

He expects strong demand and a search for value outside of Seattle will continue to push up values.

Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest Realtors, called the market “crazy,” noting huge increases in median sales prices and a continued lowering of the number of days homes are on the market.

“The massive reduction in inventory has led to fewer pending sales and super-charged prices,” he said in the release. “Many properties have literally gained 40 percent-to-50 percent appreciation in just the last two years or so — a rate of increase no one can comfortably live with.”