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Housing Supply Improves, But Prices Still Rising

King, Snohomish Counties See Continued Home-Price Escalation in September as Supply Dwindles

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The Northwest Multiple Listing Service's May report showed a significant increase in active listings compared to a year ago, a slowdown in sales, and prices still rising, according to a recent news release analyzing the 26-county NWMLS region.

King County’s median sales price for single-family homes and condominiums combined was $880,000 in May, up 13.6 percent. For single-family homes only, the median was a whisker shy of $1 million at $998,888, up 14.8 percent.

In Snohomish County, the median sales price for single-family homes and condominiums combined was $782,800 in May, up 19.5 percent. For single-family homes only, the median was $815,000, up 16.9 percent.

Mike Larson, managing broker at Compass in Tacoma and a NWMLS board member, said the days of “multiple offers and waived inspections, at least in Pierce County, are behind us.”

In the release, he described the market as “more balanced and not so crazy, and that’s a good thing. Buyers are getting a little relief — not much, but a little as we’re slowly easing back into the kind of market we had pre-COVID.”

NWMLS members added 13,075 new listings to inventory during May, up 9.7 percent from a year earlier and the highest monthly number since June 2021, the release said.

At the end of May, buyers could choose from 8,798 active listings systemwide, up 59 percent from a year ago when there were only 5,533 properties in the database. That is the largest selection since September 2020, when there were 9,099 single-family homes and condominiums offered for sale across the 26 counties.

Snohomish County was among two counties that more than doubled their number of active listings from a year ago. Snohomish County jumped from 500 to 1,182 listings, up 136.4 percent. Total active listing rose 35.7 percent in King County, but they were up 116.6 percent on the county’s Eastside.

“The significant increase in the number of homes for sale has some speculating that the market is about to implode, but that is very unlikely,” Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, said in the release. “What’s more likely to occur is that the additional supply will lead us toward a more balanced market, which after years of such lopsided conditions, is much needed."

NWMLS figures show there were 95 sales of properties priced at $2 million or more in January systemwide. That number rose to 353 in May.

“The only constant is change,” said Gary O’Leyar, another broker with decades of experience. “Although we have been through a long run-up in the market, history tells us that the real estate market never remains static. There is a definite shift in buyers’ patterns."

O’Leyar, who is the designated broker/owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties in Seattle, also noted there are many “micro markets” within each county.

Within King County, for example, Northwest MLS tracks data for 30 map areas. Last month’s median sales prices ranged from $565,400 in the area encompassing Dash Point and Federal Way to nearly $2.6 million on Mercer Island.

Also notable micro market is area 720, where Shoreline and Lake Forest Park are located. That area had a year-over-year price bump of 52.4 percent, with the median price surpassing $1 million for the first time, according to MLS records. In nine of the 30 map areas in King County, median prices exceeded $1 million last month, the release said.

O’Leyar acknowledged “outside influences beyond our local control” are factors contributing to market changes. He cited interest rates and the price of gasoline among them.

There are local dynamics that also impact activity, O’Leyar emphasized in the release.

“Employment is a significant barometer,” he suggested. “King County enjoys an extremely low unemployment rate, recently at about 2 percent, which is notably below the state and national rates around 4.1 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. When clients ask for market forecast opinions, my consistent ‘go-to’ reply has been, “Watch the employment numbers along with population numbers of people entering or exiting the market. It’s basic supply and demand.”