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February 2022

Northwest MLS brokers tally 107,354 sales during 2021 valued at more than $75 billion

February 2022

Northwest Multiple Listing Service member-brokers reported 107,354 closed sales during 2021. That marked the first time the annual sales volume surpassed 100,000 transactions. Last year's completed sales were valued at more than $75 billion, eclipsing 2020's figure by nearly $18.9 billion for a year-over-year (YOY) gain of almost 33.6%.

Sales of residential (single family) homes and condominiums during 2021 outgained 2020 by 11,594 transactions for a 12.1% increase. Of the total completed sales, around 86% (92,713) were single family homes and the remaining 14% (14,641) were condominiums.

The activity in the Northwest MLS report reflects the work of more than 36,000 brokers in 26 counties. Collectively, these counties encompass more than 83% of the state's population.

Last year's robust sales came despite record low inventory. No month had more than a month of supply. In general, industry analysts define a balanced market as having 4-to-6 months of inventory. A check of Northwest MLS records shows the last time there was at least four months of inventory was in February 2014.

Further evidence of a seller's market is indicated by the ratio of listing (or asking) price to sales price. For last year's sales, buyers found themselves in competitive bidding situations, often paying above asking price. Overall, buyers paid an average of 104.7% of the listing price. Buyers of homes in King County paid 106.6%, followed by purchasers in Snohomish County who paid 106%.

The area-wide median price for last year's sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) was $565,000, a (YOY) jump of nearly 19% from 2020's figure of $475,000. All but two counties reported double-digit price gains in 2021 compared to 2020.

Prices for single family homes (excluding condominiums) increased 20.4% system-wide, jumping $100,000, from $490,000 in 2020 to last year's median sales price of $590,000. A comparison of counties shows San Juan County with the highest median price for single family homes at $860,000. That's up 26.8% from the 2020 figure of $678,000. Not far behind was King County where the median sales price was $828,111. Prices there rose 14.2% from 2020.

Ferry County had the lowest median selling price at $230,000, but on a percentage basis prices surged 42.4%, surpassing all other counties.

Condo prices area-wide rose 11.8%, from $380,000 in 2020 to $425,000 for last year's sales. In King County, which accounted for about six of every 10 condo sales (59%), the median price was $459,000, up a modest 6.7% from 2020.

Inventory was sparse throughout the year as brokers scrambled to replenish supply. Brokers logged 121,025 pending sales (mutually accepted offers) during 2021, while adding 117,948 new listings. At the start of 2021 there was 0.75 months of inventory but as the year closed supply dwindled to 0.40 months (about 12 days), keeping sellers in the more favorable position.

A comparison of property types shows depleted selection for both single family homes and condominiums. Based on a monthly average, last year's buyers looking for single family homes (excluding condos) could choose from 4,666 listings. That was 2,389 fewer per month than averages for the previous year, a drop of nearly 34%.

Condo seekers fared even worse. On average, there were just 998 condos offered for sale each month during 2021. The year before, condo shoppers could choose from a monthly average of 1,611, or 613 more units per month.

Tight supply contributed to escalating prices.

MLS members reported 14,614 sales of single family homes priced at $1 million or more during 2021. That was a whopping 75.8% more than 2020's total of 6,301 million-dollar-plus sales.

High-end condo sales were up 51.5% YOY. Last year, brokers reported 5,381 sales of condos priced at $500,000 or higher. In 2020, they sold 1,828 such properties.

Of the luxury home sales, 174 fetched $5 million or more. Topping that list was a gated estate in Seattle with 161 feet of Lake Washington waterfront that sold for $30,750,000. Three other homes - all on the Eastside -- commanded prices of more than $20 million.

Twenty-one condos had sales prices upward of $3 million, including three that sold for more than $6 million. The most expensive among these was a top floor penthouse at Escala in downtown Seattle that sold for $7 million. Another penthouse at the same high-rise building had a selling price of $6,625,000, while a condo on Kirkland's waterfront drew a buyer who paid $6.5 million.

Less than 6% of last year's sales of single family homes system-wide sold for less than $300,000. About half (48.8%) had sales prices between $500,000 and $1 million dollars.

Almost two-thirds of condos (63.1%) sold for a half-million dollars or less.

 

Sales Prices

SFH

Condo

<$299,999

5.92%

20.66%

$300,000 to $499,999

29.41%

42.44%

$500,000 to $749,999

32.96%

22.86%

$750,000 to $999,999

15.81%

8.73%

$1,000,000 to $2,499,999

14.39%

5.03%

$2,500,000 & higher

1.51%

0.27%

TOTALS

100.00%

100.00%

 

Of last year's sales 12,203 units, or about 11.5%, were new construction. Those new homes included 10,857 single family homes that sold for a median price of $659,000, and 1,346 newly built condos that had a median sales price of $701,365.

Among other highlights in its annual compilation of statistics, Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported:

  • Brokers added 117,948 new listings during the year, up 6.6% from the previous year's total of 110,599. June was the busiest month for replenishing inventory; brokers added 13,111 new homes and condos during that month.
  • Pending sales totaled 121,025 for the year for a slight improvement (about 2%) from 2020 when there were 118,607 mutually accepted offers.
  • Ten counties ended 2021 with double- or triple-digit gains in closed sales.
  • The median price for a 3-bedroom home ranged from $239,900 in Ferry County to $836,550 in San Juan County.
  • Prices vary widely when comparing school districts in the MLS service area. In six districts, the median sales price for single family homes was $1 million or higher, led by Mercer Island at $2,222,500. Also in this seven-figure segment were three districts in King County: Bellevue, Issaquah and Lake Washington, along with school districts in Bainbridge Island in Kitsap County and Lopez Island in San Juan County.
  • Average prices for single family homes (excluding condos) in the tri-county areas of King, Pierce and Snohomish have skyrocketed since 1991:

-From 1991 to 2001 prices rose 88.8% in King County, 57% in Snohomish County and 32.3% in Pierce County.

-From 2001 to 2011 prices increased 31.2% in King County, 16.2% in Snohomish County and 23.5% in Pierce County.

- From 2011 to 2021 prices surged 249% in King County, 274% in Snohomish County and 258% in Pierce County.

  • A closer look at 8,580 condo sales within six "sub areas" of King County (where nearly 60% of all condo sales were located) shows Seattle accounted for 3,373 of them (about 39%), followed by the Eastside with 36%. The priciest condos, with a median sales price of $550,000, are on the Eastside, followed by Seattle ($495,000). Head south for more affordably priced condos. In the Southwest part of King County, the median sales price was $280,000, followed by the Southeast segment at $340,000.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service is a not-for-profit, member-owned organization that facilitates cooperation among its member real estate firms. With around 2,600 member firm offices and more than 36,000 brokers across Washington state, NWMLS (www.nwmls.com) is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Based in Kirkland, Washington, its service area now spans 26 and it operates 21 local service centers.

 

Tri-county comparison of average prices since 1990.

Includes single family homes and condominiums

Year

King

Snohomish

Pierce

1991

169,033

144,063

132,540

2001

295,240

222,077

174,536

2011

392,185

253,364

213,466

2021

943,739

697,892

546,318