NWReporter logo
Serving More Than 25,000 Real Estate Professionals in the

February 2014

Stage Set for Another Good Year in Real Estate

Year-end Gains in Inventory, Sales, Prices

By NWMLS

Published January 6, 2014

Brokers with Northwest Multiple Listing Service ended 2013 with the best year-over-year improvement in inventory (up 8.4 percent) and a similar gain in closed sales to buoy confidence heading into the new year. December's pending sales slipped slightly (down about 1.7 percent) compared to the same month a year ago.

"Positive job growth and the continuation of favorable low interest rates are setting the stage for another good year in real estate," said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

Friday's narrow approval of Boeing's contract proposal for Machinists union members bodes well for members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service and the real estate industry.

Reacting to the vote, MLS board member John Deely said, "The robust and diverse economy of the Pacific Northwest is solidified by Boeing's continued presence in the Seattle area." Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle, said the vote helps secure the region's position as "the aerospace epicenter of the world with top-notch manufacturing jobs that support the industry."

Boeing workers and others hoping to buy a home have a bigger selection of homes to consider than house-hunters who were looking twelve months ago - especially in Snohomish County, where the number of active listings is up 43.6 percent.

Northwest MLS members added 4,333 new listings during December, improving on the same period a year ago by 476 listings for a gain of 12.3 percent. 

At month end, there were 19,214 active listings in the MLS database, improving on the year-ago supply by 1,496 listings for a gain of 8.4 percent. In Snohomish County, which had the largest jump in supply (43.6 percent), the selection of condos nearly doubled from a year ago, increasing from 172 to 342 listings.

Pending sales activity during December was mixed around the 21 counties in the MLS service area, with 11 counties showing increases in mutually accepted offers and the other 10 having fewer pending sales than the same month a year ago.

An imbalance between supply and demand could be crimping sales in some areas.

"As we head into 2014, we will be starting the year with a shortage or low inventory in the price ranges where approximately 90 percent of sales activity is taking place," stated Scott.

Four counties in the Puget Sound region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap) all had year-over-year drops in pending sales. In three of those counties - King, Snohomish and Pierce - there is less than four months of supply, which is below the threshold of 4-to-6 months that many analysts say indicates a balanced market. King County only has about two months of supply.

Brokers notched 5,710 closed sales last month, improving on the previous year by 443 transactions for a gain of 8.4 percent. During 2013, Northwest MLS members tallied 75,517 closed sales system-wide. That total outgains the previous year's volume of 64,624 closings for an increase of nearly 16.9 percent.

The median price on last month's sales of single family homes and condominiums was $275,000, up more than 7.8 percent from a year ago when the median price was $255,000. In King County, prices jumped 9.9 percent, rising from $342,000 to $375,900. Prices in Snohomish County climbed 13.7 percent.

Of last month's closed sales, about 86 percent were single family homes. Those homes had a median selling price of $285,000, about 7.6 percent higher than the year-ago figure of $265,000. In King County, the median sales price was $419,825, up nearly 10.5 percent from a year ago when the median selling price was $380,046.

Condo prices surged 18.6 percent from twelve months ago. Area-wide, condos commanded a selling price of $209,900, up from the year-ago figure of $177,000. In King County, where nearly two-thirds of last month's condo sales were located, the price soared 21.4 percent, rising from $206,000 to $250,000.

Commenting on the housing recovery, Deely said improvements in the luxury segment (defined as properties priced at $1 million or more) were noteworthy. A comparison of 2012 and 2013 shows brokers reported nearly 500 more high-end sales last year to outperform the previous year by nearly 40 percent. 

"The luxury market will continue to see an increase in sales activity and home values in 2014," Deely proclaimed. "This market will be driven by pent up demand and by the owners of trophy properties who are confident that values have returned to acceptable levels," he added.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership includes more than 21,000 real estate brokers. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 21 counties in Washington state.

Statistical Summary by Counties: Market Activity Summary - December 2013

Single
Family
Homes
+ Condos
LISTINGS PENDING
SALES
CLOSED SALES MONTHS
SUPPLY
New
Listings
Total
Active
# Pending
Sales
#
Closings
Avg.
Price
Median
Price
 
King
1,438
4,050
1,965
2,305
$459,091
$375,900
2.06
Snohomish
660
2,172
835
871
$312,501
$290,000
2.60
Pierce
774
3,052
901
901
$230,377
$205,000
3.39
Kitsap
221
1,187
256
251
$292,619
$244,000
4.64
Mason
70
571
59
68
$173,486
$147,750
9.68
Skagit
105
627
132
154
$251,689
$230,500
4.75
Grays Hbr
82
661
72
67
$129,885
$129,900
9.18
Lewis
79
603
73
64
$126,736
$112,500
8.26
Cowlitz
56
379
70
76
$156,895
$145,000
5.41
Grant
53
418
55
54
$166,555
$158,500
7.60
Thurston
240
1,062
271
279
$234,184
$224,950
3.92
San Juan
14
303
19
18
$582,833
$439,500
15.95
Island
75
564
90
112
$303,056
$248,000
6.27
Kittitas
40
324
45
52
$269,232
$240,000
7.20
Jefferson
24
328
31
38
$276,766
$292,000
10.58
Okanogan
26
376
24
34
$194,519
$150,000
15.67
Whatcom
165
1,108
162
201
$270,573
$255,000
6.84
Clark
24
175
35
30
$280,969
$239,000
5.00
Pacific
29
321
31
28
$132,196
$104,000
10.35
Ferry
5
65
1
0
0
$0
65.00
Clallam
66
309
36
39
$200,033
$165,000
8.58
Others
87
559
61
68
$219,862
$222,250
9.16
MLS TOTAL
4,333
19,214
5,224
5,710
$322,252
$275,000
3.68

4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (SFH + Condo combined)
(Totals include King, Snohomish, Pierce & Kitsap counties)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2007 4869 6239 7192 6974 7311 6876 6371 5580 4153 4447 3896 2975
2008 3291 4167 4520 4624 4526 4765 4580 4584 4445 3346 2841 2432
2009 3250 3407 4262 5372 5498 5963 5551 5764 5825 5702 3829 3440
2010 4381 5211 6821 7368 4058 4239 4306 4520 4350 4376 3938 3474
2011 4272 4767 6049 5732 5963 5868 5657 5944 5299 5384 4814 4197
2012 4921 6069 7386 7015 7295 6733 6489 6341 5871 6453 5188 4181
2013 5548 6095 7400 7462 7743 7374 7264 6916 5951 6222 5083 3957