Inventory shortages persist
Brokers notch record-setting sales totaling $40.3 billion during 2016
Members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported 95,500 closed sales during 2016, outgaining the prior year's volume of 88,331 transactions for an increase of more than 8.1 percent. Inventory was at record lows for much of the year.
Measured by dollars, last year's sales of single family homes and condominiums were valued at more than $40.3 billion. Compared to 2015, that dollar volume represents a gain of nearly 18.2 percent.
The sales activity reflects the work of 25,888 brokers across 23 counties in the member-owned Northwest MLS.
Last year's completed sales included 81,872 single family homes (about 86 percent of the total) and 13,628 condominiums. Of these sales, about 11.3 percent were newly built residences.
The area-wide median price for last year's sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $337,500, a gain of 8.9 percent from the year-ago figure of $310,000. A comparison by county shows median sales prices ranged from $102,500 in Ferry County to $489,000 in King County. With one exception (Ferry) all counties had year-over-year price gains.
Year-over-year prices for single family homes (excluding condominiums) increased 8.7 percent system-wide, rising from $320,000 in 2015 to last year's median price of $347,950. Condo prices jumped 12.6 percent from the 2015 figure of $254,900 to last year's median selling price of $287,000.
Only about 7 percent of the sales were for homes priced under $150,000. About one-third of the sales were in the $300,000 - $500,000 range, with the largest share (34 percent) selling for $150,000-$300,000.
Inventory shortages challenged brokers and buyers throughout 2016. Member-brokers logged 121,468 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) during 2016, while adding 113,305 new listings to inventory. Brokers said depleted inventory often led to competitive bidding and multiple offers for homes in the most desirable areas.
During 2016, the average area-wide supply, as measured by months of inventory, averaged only 1.86 months, down from the previous year's figure of 2.4 months. King County had the lowest level, averaging only 1.1 months of supply. In general, industry analysts use a 4-to-6 month range as an indicator of a balanced market, favoring neither buyers nor sellers.
High-end sales also surged during 2016. Northwest MLS members reported 3,251 sales of single family homes priced at $1 million or more, up more than 21 percent from the 2015 total of 2,676 "luxury" sales. Condos priced at $1 million and up accounted for another 339 sales. A total of 1,711 condos sold for $500,000 or more, outgaining 2015's total of 1,459 half-million dollar-plus sales (up 21.4 percent).
The highest-priced single family home that sold during 2016 by a member of Northwest MLS was a property on Mercer Island that commanded more than $9.75 million. Topping the chart of high-priced condominiums was one at Escala in downtown Seattle high-rise that sold for $8 million.
Among other highlights in its annual compilation of statistics, Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported:
- About 45 percent of last year's single family home sales had three bedrooms, while the vast majority of condos (nearly 76 percent) had two bedrooms or fewer.
- The median price for a 3-bedroom home that sold in 2016 was $311,000, about 9.8 percent higher than the previous year's figure of $283,250. A comparison by county shows the median price for a 3-bedroom home ranges from $120,000 in Ferry County to $485,000 in King County.
- Of the condo sales, about six of every 10 (61.7 percent) were located in King County, primarily in Seattle or on the Eastside. That ratio matched the figure for 2015.
- For the new construction component involving Northwest MLS brokers, newly built condos fetched higher prices than single family homes, just like 2015. Last year's sales included 9,416 newly built single family homes that sold for a median price of $455,000 (up 11.8 percent from 2015), and 1,375 condos that sold for a median price of $552,900 (up 22.9 percent from 2015).
- A comparison of 2016 and 2015 median prices of single family homes shows all but one county reported year-over-year gains. Going back to 2007, most counties have rebounded.
- Prices vary widely among school districts. Homes that sold last year in 13 districts reported median prices of more than a half-million dollars, topped by Mercer Island at more than $1.3 million.
|Sales by Price Ranges|
(all areas, SFH+Condos combined)
|$150,000 or less||6,954||7.32%|
|$1 million plus||4,062||4.28%|