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Homebuyers Encouraged, “But Still On Edge,” While Sellers Face Reality Check

KIRKLAND Washington (August, 2018) – “Home sellers throughout the Seattle region are experiencing a reality check and the days of multiple offers are days of the past,” was how one director with Northwest Multiple Listing Service summarized the market upon reviewing the statistical report for July.

New figures from Northwest MLS show year-over-year improvement in inventory (up 6.5 percent), but modest drops on both pending sales (down slightly more than 7 percent) and closed sales (down 3.4 percent). Despite those drops, prices rose 8.64 percent across the MLS service area that spans 23 counties. Several industry leaders commented on the steadily improving supply. The number of active listings system-wide totaled 16,773 at the end of July, the highest level since September 2016.

“In Seattle and King County supply is at the highest level since first quarter 2015, which has me thinking about the longevity of seller luxuries like offer review dates, pre-inspections, and escalation clauses,” remarked Robert Wasser, owner of Prospera Real Estate and an officer of the Northwest MLS board of directors. “People are taking notice of the evolving real estate landscape. Even my mom tells me she’s noticing more for sale signs!”

“There continues to be better news for buyers,” agreed Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. He noted the inventory in King County has doubled since March from 0.8 months to 1.5 months of supply, but added “While this is significant, we are still well below a balanced market of 4-to-5 months of inventory.”

King County’s number of active listings surged nearly 48 percent from a year ago, rising from 3,465 active listings to 5,116. Snohomish County also had double-digit increases, up nearly 15.8 percent, but 15 counties reported less inventory than twelve months ago.

“It has been a long time coming, but we finally have some solidly good news for buyers in the Puget Sound area,” commented OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. He noted the number of single family homes (excluding condos) for sale in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in July was up 10.4 percent compared to June and up 20.5 percent year-over-year. “The increase in listings is clearly having a calming effect on prices while also giving buyers in the region somewhat of a reprieve from the frantic market of months past,” added Jacobi.

In his comments about sellers experiencing a reality check, broker Keith Bruce suggested Seattle is experiencing a self-corrective shift in the market. “Many sellers are reaching for their dictionaries to understand the words ‘price reduction’ and ‘increased market time.'”

“Sellers need to put away their dictionaries, take a collective deep breath and enjoy the ride. Listing brokers need to be as honest as possible with sellers and not promise multiple offers or huge price escalations,” suggested Bruce, adding “We are still a seller’s market. Much more inventory is needed to meet the overall demand for quality homes in Seattle.”

“Seller gridlock has loosened close to the job centers,” stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “While we are experiencing record sales activity for the higher end and luxury markets in year 2018, a record number of new listings is coming on the market in these price ranges. This has resulted in more opportunities for home buyers and lower premium pricing from the spring market.”

Northwest MLS data shows a 32.5 percent increase in the number of homes that sold for $2 million or more so far this year compared to the first seven months of 2017 (up from 477 to 632 closings of homes and condos in this price segment).

George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties, is noticing an increase in the number of price reductions for actively listed homes as inventory increases, “even in the hotspots in Seattle and the Eastside. We are seeing a continued shift from move-up and luxury home buyers to more first-time buyers, which is consistent with the flattening trends we are seeing in today’s market.”

MLS director John Deely said the change in the market “is more accentuated this year by the historically low inventory that we have been experiencing over the past several years. What now seems like a meteoric increase in inventory is in part caused by the many potential sellers who have been on the sidelines that are now coming to the market,” added Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain’s Lake Union office.

MLS statistics show pending sales declined from 11,800 a year ago to last month’s total of 10,965 for a drop of about 7.1 percent. New listings eclipsed pending sales by a margin of 1,233 units, easing some of the pressure on inventory.

“Even with an improving buyers’ market, our agents are telling us that buyers seem to have taken a bit of a break: instead of 20 buyers looking at new homes on day one, there were only 10 is the comment we’re hearing,” noted Grady. “While we may be lifting the pedal from the metal, we remain very much in the left lane, exceeding the posted speed limit by a significant amount,” he remarked.

Scott agreed, saying “For homes priced below a million dollars, the sales intensity for new listings has come off the extreme frenzy in the spring to just frenzy.”

Closed sales slipped about 3.4 percent from a year ago, declining from 9,707 completed transactions to 9,379. Nevertheless, the median selling price increased $33,000 (about 8.6 percent) from a year ago, although three counties experienced declines. The median price on last month’s completed sales of single family homes and condominiums was $415,000. Compared to June, the median price dropped $10,000.

Prices for single family homes only (excluding condos) rose about 8.4 percent, with a dozen counties reporting double-digit gains. Condo prices increased about 10.2 percent. In King County where more than half the condo sales occurred, price jumped about 12 percent from a year ago.

“It’s not such a crazy, go-go market, but it’s still a great time to be a seller,” stated Northwest MLS director Mike Larson, president of Allen Realtors in Lakewood. “The expectation of multiple offers and the ability of sellers to simply dismiss inspection repair requests is behind us,” he believes. “Sellers need to understand that and find a listing broker who also understands that,” he emphasized, adding, “The days of doing a market analysis and then pushing the envelope on the list price an extra 5 percent are gone. Ultimately, I think that’s healthy for the market,” Larson commented.

Considerable variation exists among the counties, whether measured by listings, sales or prices.

“The real estate market has cooled a bit in Kitsap County with pending sales off 10 percent in July compared to a year ago,” reported Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker for John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo.

“Yes, the Kitsap market has slowed a bit but it’s still hot due to the persistent shortage of inventory, which is down nearly 21 percent from last year. When 575 new listings come on the market and 596 listings go pending, you know inventory is not building,” explained Larson, a board member at Northwest MLS.

Wilson also reported strong open house traffic as “pent-up buyer demand rallies the pool of buyers for each new listing.” When a broker arrived for the open house he had scheduled for a new listing, six cars were waiting. “By the time the open house concluded, more than 30 people had toured it. Eight offers were made and it sold for more than list price,” he commented.

In Pierce County, inventory dropped around 3.4 percent, and brokers reported more pending sales (2,012) than new listings (1,990). Year-over-year prices in that county were up nearly 14 percent.

“Pierce County has, for a handful of years, been the affordability solution for buyers who would otherwise buy in King County. I think the craziness of the King County market has magnified that fact even more. Buyers are willing to spend two or three hours in their cars each day if it means buying twice as much house,” reported Larson.

Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor echoed Larson. “The market in South Sound is bolstered by the reality that our houses are cheaper. That fact alone keeps our inventory, our number of pending sales, and our number of closings similar to last year even though we’ve faced higher interest rates.”

Beeson said multiple offers continue to follow homes that are well priced at or below our median price level. “If a property stays on the market more than 14 days, you know you’ve got a price problem. It’s that simple.”

Buyers are still on edge according to Beeson. “They know they will be competing with other buyers at some level – whether on price, shorter inspection times, larger earnest money deposits or fewer repairs being done by sellers. For buyers, it’s better than before, but before was just insanity. Buyers are still insecure about prices, financing and competition.”

Moorhead described the market as still “quite strong,” but projects a continued flattening of activity, due in part to looming concern that mortgage rates will rise again this quarter. “Some buyers have thrown in the towel and have chosen to lease for the next year to save for a larger down payment.”

Most brokers believe activity will remain strong.

The volume of pending sales “at or above post-recession highs is an indicator of a healthy volume of sales still moving through the market. We are seeing investors, speculators and builders reacting to the market change by bringing excess inventory to market,” said Deely.

“Getting back to a balanced market creates a healthier and more sustainable market,” Moorhead stated. He believes there has not been a better time in the last three years for a buyer to enter this market with more options and less competition.

Scott agreed, stating “for home buyers the next three months will be the best time for selection and availability of new listings until March 2019.”

Grady and Moorhead were more cautious.

“An 8.64 percent increase in median sales price compared to last year is still much greater than inflation,” Grady noted. “In the long term this is only sustainable in a growing employment market like we have in this region. Consider that through May more than 30,000 net new jobs have been created in just the Seattle-Bellevue area.”

Moorhead detected new construction starts have “slowed proportionately with sales,” saying builders are now offering large incentives to attract buyers.

Larson noted a shift in investors in rentals. “Our firm’s inventory of rentals has decreased about 15 percent over the past few years, from around 350 to under 300. Many of those owners bought rentals in the last boom market, and then weathered the storm when the market crashed. They finally have equity again and want to get out, which isn’t surprising.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of around 2,200 member offices includes more than 29,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state

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Brokers seeing “simple economic recipe for a softening housing market”

KIRKLAND, Washington (July 5, 2018) – Home buyers around many parts of Washington state had more choices and less competition during June, prompting some industry leaders to comment on “a feeling of change in the market.” “Inventory is up and demand has dropped,” reported Robert Wasser, an officer with the board of directors at Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That combination is “a pretty simple economic recipe for a softening market,” he added in commenting on the latest MLS statistics. Figures for June show a 5.2 percent improvement in the number of active listings system-wide, coupled with drops in the volume of pending sales (down 8.4 percent) and closed sales (down .07 percent) compared with a year ago. Despite the shift of some indicators favoring buyers, prices area-wide continued to rise, increasing more than 10 percent from twelve months ago. “There was a feeling of change in the market this June and the numbers supported that feeling,” remarked John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. He noted many brokers also reported an increase in properties going past their offer review date, more price reductions, and an increase in reverse prospecting (a tool that allows the listing broker to view a list of brokers with potential buyers for that listing). “We’re also experiencing a decrease in multiple offers and the number of buyers participating in multiple offers,” added Deely. Northwest MLS brokers added 13,153 new listings to inventory during June, a drop from both a year ago when they added 13,658, and from May when 14,524 new listings were added.

With new listings outgaining sales, total inventory as measured by active listings and months of supply improved. At month end, Northwest MLS reported 15,234 active listings and 1.5 months of supply. Inventory of single family homes and condos reached its highest level since October. The supply of active listings in King County surged 47 percent from a year ago, boosting the months of supply to just under 1.3 months –the highest level since September 2016 when there was 1.37 months of supply. “Although still a quick response market, with more new listings coming on the market during the summer months, we experienced dispersed buyer energy due to the greater availability and selection,” stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He estimates sales activity is off 15-to-20 percent for each new listing’s first 30 days on the market. “Now through October will be the best time of year for homebuyers,” he remarked.  “Sellers are becoming more active in the market as they sense buyers pulling back,” suggested George Moorhead, designated broker and owner at Bentley Properties. Improving supply, a marked increase in expired or cancelled listings, and market times almost doubling are factors he mentioned when describing the market as “more than just lackluster” with summer showing no sign of improvement.

Windermere president OB Jacobi also saw the second straight month with a “pretty significant rise in the number of homes for sale across the Western Washington region” as encouraging. “This is great news for home buyers because not only does it mean more selection, but also less competition.” Commenting on the steady improvement of supply with more choices for buyers, Mike Grady emphasized “We still remain far below a balanced market of 3-to-5 months of inventory.” The imbalance is reflected by rising prices, up more than 10 percent in King County and nearly 15.5 percent in Snohomish County, he noted. “As long as we are creating 100,000-plus net new jobs annually in the Pacific Northwest and building fewer than 30,000 new single family homes, these trends will continue,” suggested Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. Frank Wilson, Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo said the market there has slowed “but not to the degree that Seattle has. There are fewer listings coming on the market, to a large degree because potential sellers cannot find a home to buy.” MLS figures show inventory in Kitsap County is down more than 20 percent from a year ago and pending sales declined 5 percent. Wilson said some potential sellers are opting to stay in their current house and remodel citing rising prices and limited selection as reasons for their decision. “This market is reaching westward to Jefferson and Clallam counties,” Wilson reported, noting Port Ludlow, Port Townsend and Port Angeles are all feeling a bump in value and shrinking inventory.

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Improving inventory creating long-awaited opportunities for buyers.

KIRKLAND, Washington (June 5, 2018) – Member-brokers of Northwest Multiple Listing Service added 14,524 new listings during May, the first time that volume topped 14,000 since May 2008.
“With eyes peeled for potential shifts in a market that’s felt like ‘more of the same,’ the recent uptick in new listings hitting the market catches my eye — the most new listings in more than a decade,” commented Robert Wasser, owner/broker at Prospera Real Estate in Seattle and an officer with Northwest MLS.

Total active listings snapped a streak of 44 months of negative numbers during May when the year-over-year comparison showed an increase of 3.8 percent. That uptick marked the first time members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported a gain for that statistic since August 2014. King County has more than a month’s supply for the first time since September 2017, and only the third time since October 2016. For the MLS area overall, there is 1.44 months of supply. Only four counties of the 23 counties served by Northwest MLS reported having more than four months of supply, the minimum level most industry experts use as a gauge of a balanced market.

Brokers welcomed the figures showing healthy gains in inventory, but some say they are keeping a watchful eye on rising prices and interest rates, as well as on buyer profiles, including retiring boomers.
New figures from the MLS show slight drops in both pending and closed sales, a likely consequence of persistent inventory shortages. Brokers also cite the market imbalance as a factor in rising prices: compared to a year ago, the median sales price for transactions of single family homes and condos that closed area-wide during May was $420,000, a jump of nearly 11 percent from the year ago price of $378,475. “What we are experiencing is actually a good thing as inventory leans toward a more balanced market,” remarked George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. He also reported a shift from move-up and luxury home buyers to more first-time buyers with “a more level playing field between buyers and sellers.”Moorhead said there “never was a spring market this year” like what was experienced in the past four years. He points to rising interest rates, lack of inventory, increased home prices, frustration with presenting multiple offers without success, requirements for larger down payments, and an increase in the cost of living as reasons. Unlike recent past years, “buyers will definitely be able to capitalize on a softer summer market this year,” according to Moorhead, who noted expired listings are on the rise.
Last month’s number of new listings was a significant gain from April when members added 11,271 new listings, a gain of nearly 29 percent.

“It’s the best time of the year for potential home buyers,” proclaimed J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “At this time of year we always see the highest number of new listings come on the market on a monthly basis,” he explained, adding, “More new listings creates more opportunity for home buyers.” Even with the improving inventory, today’s market “still takes instant response as sales activity remains at a frenzy level for these new listings,” Scott emphasized. “The good news for home buyers in King County is that compared to last month, there were almost 1,000 more homes for sale,” noted OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. “Hopefully,” he added, “this is the beginning of a trend in which we will continue to see inventory levels improve. On the flip side, home prices in the county are up 16 percent year-over-year, which, when combined with rising interest rates, is forcing some buyers to expand their search to Pierce and Snohomish counties so they can find something they can afford to buy.” Sellers in the 23 counties served by Northwest MLS accepted offers from 12,168 buyers during May, slightly below the number from twelve months ago when pending sales totaled 12,511 (a decline of 2.7 percent). Thirteen counties reported decreases in mutually accepted offers compared to the same month a year ago, with four of them (Cowlitz, Kittitas, Okanogan, and Skagit) tallying double-digit drops.

Closed sales fell slightly, from 9,106 a year ago to 9,011, a drop of just over one percent. Ten counties reported fewer closed sales during May when compared to a year ago. A comparison to April’s completed transactions shows an increase of 1,285 transactions for a gain of 16.6 percent. Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, said the significant increase in inventory means a slightly easier time for buyers to locate and purchase homes “for the time being.” He said the broader selection enables more buyers to purchase homes regardless of escalating prices, slightly higher interest rates, and fewer cash sales involving Chinese nationals. Grady attributes the dip in Chinese activity to that country’s policies making it more difficult for people to take their cash out of China. “While there is slightly more inventory available, the market time for most listings is less than a month, and multiple-offer situations occur daily even though there may only be five offers instead of 10 or more,” stated Grady. Brokers say the continuing bidding wars are helping push prices up. Fifteen counties had double-digit price hikes for single family homes and condos (combined) from a year ago. In the four-county Puget Sound region, Snohomish County has the smallest year-over-year price gain at just under 14 percent, while Kitsap County claimed the largest jump in the region at nearly 17.2 percent.

In King County, the median sales price on all homes rose just over 16 percent, from $560,000 to $650,000. The median price for a single family home rose 14.64 percent, from $633,500 to $726,275. The condo market showed signs of improvement with inventory growing by nearly 21.4 percent, boosted by the addition of 1,803 new listings during May (up 11.3 percent from a year ago). Even so, there is less than a month’s supply system-wide. Brokers reported slightly fewer pending sales and closed sales of condos. Year-over-year prices for condos system-wide rose nearly17.5 percent, from $315,000 to $370,000. In King County, which accounted for 55 percent of last month’s condo sales, the median price of a condo that sold was $427,000, a $53,000 increase from a year ago.

For the luxury market close to job centers, Scott noted sales continue to be extremely strong, especially up to the $5 million price point, which he attributes in part to the year-over-year increase in luxury listings. Northwest MLS figures show sales of homes and condos priced at $1 million-plus are up nearly 27 percent from a year ago, rising from 557 sales in May 2017 to last month’s total of 706. As an aside, Grady suggested the recently enacted head tax in Seattle and retiring boomers will be worth watching. If jobs move from Seattle to the Eastside, workers may relocate as well, he speculates. Commenting on the inclination of more homeowners who are willing to list and sell at this time, he is hearing of more boomers and friends planning to move to states where housing costs less. “One good friend decided Seattle was too expensive to live in his retirement, so they’re selling their 1,400 sq. ft. $600,000 home in Lynnwood and retiring in North Carolina where they purchased a 3,000 sq. ft. home for $300,000,” he said adding, “It may be something to watch as our boomer population retires.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 28,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

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KIRKLAND, Washington (May 7, 2018) – Home buyers may be cheered by an uptick in inventory, but the improving supply is unlikely to reverse rising prices, suggest industry leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Commenting on just-released figures for April, which showed the highest level of active listings since August, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate said, “For the first time in a long time we had good news for buyers.” Noting supply is still lower than year-ago levels (down 5.6 percent), it jumped 14 percent from March, which Jacobi said “is a pretty significant increase even for this time of year.”
Northwest MLS brokers added 11,271 new listings to inventory during April, a gain of 6.3 percent when compared to March, and up nearly 5.9 percent versus a year ago. April’s pending sales (mutually accepted offers) totaled 10,574, improving on the same month a year ago and the previous month. At month end, the active listings selection included 10,079 single family homes and condos, eclipsing the total of 8,825 listings at the end of March. The condo segment grew 10.9 percent from March. Of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS service area, only six of them reported year-over-year gains in inventory compared to a year ago. King County was the only one in the Puget Sound region to notch a gain, up 13.6 percent from a year ago.

Commenting on the uptick, Mike Grady, president and COO, Coldwell Banker Bain, remarked “We are still WAY below a balanced market of five months of inventory, and this is even with interest rates ticking slightly upward.” Area-wide there is 1.3 months of supply, with 4-to-6 months used as a gauge of a balanced market. Three counties – King, Kitsap, and Snohomish — reported less than a month of supply. The condo component remains very tight with slightly more than three weeks (0.87 months) of supply. Prices are still climbing at double-digit rates in most counties. Year-over-year prices for single family homes and condos combined jumped about 15.3 percent overall, from $360,000 to $415,000. Within the four-county Puget Sound region, King County notched the biggest gain at nearly 18.2 percent. Prices there rose $100,000 from a year ago, from $550,000 to $650,000. “There’s little reason to think we’ll be seeing a change in this frantic market anytime soon,” commented Grady, citing double-digit appreciation in many of the most populous counties, expansion plans by Alaska Airlines and Amazon, and other positive economic news as reasons for that expectation.

“Huge jumps in home prices to the north of us are pushing a lot of people to our county, which is among the most affordable on the Puget Sound,” commented Thurston County broker Ken Anderson.
MLS figures show a median price of $300,000 for homes and condos that sold in Thurston County last month, slightly less than Pierce County ($337,950), and significantly lower than both Snohomish County ($475,000) and King County ($650,000). Despite the cost differential favoring Thurston County, Anderson, the president and owner of Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Tumwater, said sellers are seeing price gains “they didn’t think possible just a couple of years ago.” Prices in that county are up more than 7.5 percent from twelve months ago. He also reported new construction is not keeping up with the population growth. “That alone will ensure prices will continue to rise in the near to intermediate term,” he commented, adding, “Buyers are seeing the trends and jumping into the market before prices and interest rates climb even higher.” George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties, said while prices are still increasing, both inventory and the number of expired listings are also rising. He noted the steady climb in King County’s inventory of single family homes, with April rising more than 25 percent from March. Expired listings surged 86 percent from March, which Moorhead said is another example of some flattening in the market.

Moorhead also believes rising interest rates are having a “moderate impact” with buyers, forcing some to look at homes in lower price points. Buyers still want a good home in a good area, he reported, but some are reconsidering just how much they want to pay, saying they don’t want to be “house payment poor.” Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson is also detecting some shifts in behavior by both buyers and sellers as the market changes. “As King County buyers spill into Kitsap, they realize they have to be more strategic in their offers, and sellers are paying more attention to the details of an offer, and not always taking the first offer presented,” stated Wilson, the Kitsap regional manager and branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. Wilson said multiple offers (often higher than the list price) are becoming more common on new listings in Kitsap County. When that occurs, he said buyers are being asked to make up the difference should the appraisal not match the increased offer price.

Meanwhile, sellers are beginning to realize the amount offered over list price may not be bankable unless buyers are willing to make up the difference. Consequently, Wilson said they are being more discretionary with the offers they consider. Local, proactive lenders, increased earnest money, preferring verifiable cash offers or conventional over VA or FHA, higher down payments, shorter closing times, and setting some future date when they will review all offers are examples he cited. Wilson noted Kitsap was one of a half-dozen counties in the MLS report where last month’s pending sales surpassed the number of new listings. “This means the listing deficit is deepening,” he remarked. J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott, joined the chorus of brokers who believe better times are ahead for home buyers. “Eventually, higher interest rates will moderate the rapid home price appreciation,” he stated, but added, “We have not yet arrived at that tipping point.” He expects the Seattle metro area to probably tie and maybe break the 20-month home price appreciation record for the Case-Shiller index. (The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, released late last month for February, shows Seattle’s 12.7 percent increase led the list of 20 cities it compares.) Commenting on April’s report showing more new listings than pending sales area-wide, Scott said that pattern is consistent with the annual housing cycle. “New listings will continue to spike, providing slight relief for the backlog of home buyers.”
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Scott also expects the market for homes in the more affordable and mid-price ranges to remain at a frenzied pace into the summer of 2019. “For luxury listings in the $1-to-$2 million range and close to job centers, the market remains extremely competitive,” he predicts. The competitive market is exposing several misconceptions held by buyers and sellers, according to Wilson, who has worked in the industry since 1990. He listed several including:

1) “It’s all about the price.” Wilson says it’s more about the possibility of a successful closing, using the example of an all-cash offer that is 30 percent above list price that doesn’t close, versus a solid, verifiable conventional offer at 5 percent above list price that actually closes;
2) “Seller has to take the highest offer” is another myth Wilson listed, explaining a seller can accept any of the offers that are presented.
Similarly, “if multiple offers are made, the seller has to take or work with the first one first,” is also untrue. A seller can address any of the offers in any order.
3) “Cash is always king.” Wilson emphasized if the cash is not verifiable to the seller’s satisfaction, a conventional offer may actually have a better chance of success.
4) “Pre-approval with a lender is the same as pre-underwritten,” is another misbelief. The farther down the path a loan application can go, the more likely it is to be approved

Buying or selling a home can involve nearly two dozen people, Wilson noted, while encouraging buyers and sellers to work with a broker who is well-versed in the process and able to coordinate all the participants to assure a successful closing.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 28,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

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Housing Market Back to “Pressure Cooker Situation” But Brokers Remind Sellers “Pricing Is Still Important”

Market Snapshot Infographic

KIRKLAND, Washington (April 5, 2018) – Job growth and a recent run-up in mortgage rates has created an “extremely intense market for each new listing,” stated J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate in commenting on the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

MLS figures for March show a surge in both new listings and pending sales compared to February as the spring market heats up. Compared to a month ago, pending sales climbed more than 29 percent (from 7,980 in February to 10,311 in March), while the volume of new listings jumped more than 45 percent from February to March.

“What used to be a quick action market for buyers is now, once again, an instant response market, and this has been the case since the first of the year,” remarked Scott, adding “This is especially true in the more affordable and mid-price ranges in all markets, and also pertains to luxury properties close to the job centers.”

Whether defined as $1 million or more or $2 million-plus, Northwest MLS figures confirm sales of luxury homes are surging. A comparison of first quarters show the year-over-year volume of sales of homes priced at $2 million or more is up 30 percent. Members reported 136 such sales during first quarter 2017; this year, the number is 177. For homes priced at $1 million or more, sales rose from 941 during first quarter last year to 1,204 this year, a gain of nearly 28 percent.

Prices overall are up about 13.2 percent from a year ago, and even more so in the four-county Puget Sound region. Among these four counties, Kitsap had the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, but King County homes are still the priciest. The median price for last month’s sales of single family homes and condos combined in King County is $625,000, up 17.9 percent from a year ago. For single family homes, excluding condos, the median price for last month’s sales was $689,950.

Year-over-year prices are up more than 18 percent in Pierce County and about 14.3 percent in Snohomish County.

Commenting on rising prices, veteran broker Mike Grady said “The market continues to trend hot” with no apparent end in sight. The slight rise in mortgage interest rates since January 1 could mean “some minor impact on non-cash first-time homebuyers,” he suggested, adding, “Only time will tell.” Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, said his company’s tracking and analysis based on average prices (instead of median prices) shows that “along the I-5 corridor, our average sales price is tracking slightly higher than what the NWMLS median sales prices show.”

Northwest MLS member brokers continue to scramble to replenish supply. They added 10,595 new listings during March, slightly more than a year ago when they added 10,321 properties to the selection. Last month’s additions marked a big gain from February when 7,284 new listings were added.

As has been the pattern, pending sales nearly equaled the number of new listings. Brokers reported 10,311 pending sales last month, a slight drop from the year-ago figure of 10,415. Tight inventory may be to blame as the number of total active listings stood at 8,825 at month end, down nearly 9.7 percent from the year-ago total of 9,772. Fourteen of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS market area reported drops in pending sales.

“We have returned to an extremely intense market for each new listing due to extremely strong job growth and eager buyers who want to purchase before interest rates go higher,” Scott reported. “The housing market is back to a pressure cooker situation and we are witnessing high levels of sales activity intensity for each new listing coming on the market,” he commented.

Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma, commented on the frustration many would-be homebuyers are experiencing. “I think this last quarter especially, many buyers are feeling like they brought a knife to a gunfight, there’s been so much competition to buy a home.”

The tri-county area comprised of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties added essentially the same number of new listings during first quarter 2018 as the same period a year ago, Beeson noted, while the actual number of sales dropped slightly. “Why? Because there are too few properties for sale and rental rates are through the roof. People are desperate to find a home,” he stated. He likened the situation to Nordstrom not being able to keep their clothing racks filled because customers storm the store each day buying everything that’s available.

Housing inventory remains well below “normal” ranges based on a level of 4-to-6 months of supply used as an indicator of a balanced market. Area-wide, Northwest MLS figures show there is about 1.2 months of supply, with four counties reporting less than a month’s supply. Snohomish has the sparsest selection at 0.67 months, followed by King (0.83 months), Kitsap (0.95 months), and Pierce (0.99 months).

“Despite the low inventory and sellers’ market, proper pricing is still important,” emphasized John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle.

“In March we saw more listings where sellers pushed the price envelope causing the property to go past their offer review date with no offers in hand,” Deely reported. “It is not uncommon for buyers to consider a property on the market over 10 days as having something wrong with it,” he added.

Nevertheless, Deely said many buyers are returning from taking a break during the winter after having lost out on several attempts to win in the multiple offer competition. “Throwing caution to the wind, these seasoned veterans of the multiple offer bidding wars are pulling out all the stops (contingencies) to win.”

Rising interest rates and keen competition are motivating some buyers to make compromises, according to George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties.

“I was asked recently why some communities are seeing a higher sales volume then last year,” Moorhead stated. “I explained this was simple logic with buyers in that instead of competing at their maximum price point in closer in communities and losing out on the perfect home, they compete in a lesser priced area where they can be more aggressive on the better homes in those areas. They may compromise on schools, public services, and commute times, but the opportunity of ownership increases significantly. The second key reason is that 30-year mortgage interest rates have increased .5% since the beginning of the year which erodes home affordability and pushes some buyers out of market places.”

Commenting on the uptick in interest rates, the president of a mortgage firm who trains brokers around the country recently noted, “While $100 a month might not sound like too much, it might adjust a client’s debt-to-loan ratio, which could push the size of a house they can afford down by $40,000 or $50,000.”

Moorhead dismissed “chatter about a looming real estate bubble” based on prices and what used to be the norm. “The key is to understand the normal cyclical pattern of our real estate market. A healthy market has corrections and booms with a mix of flattening cycles,” he stated, noting “Markets without these healthy cycles have catastrophic events much like we experienced in 2007 to 2011.”

Instead of competing in today’s market, some current owners are opting to remodel. “We are getting more and more requests for quality contractors for current homeowners looking to make updates to their home, instead of trying to move up to a better home or community,” Moorhead said. “Just in the last 30 days we know of 12 homeowners starting home improvements in the $100,000 and up range, more out of sheer frustration that they cannot find or secure a move-up home to purchase. What this means on the larger scale is a continued lack of inventory coming on the market to feed the voracious appetite of the buyers in our marketplace.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 28,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Courtesy of NWMLS

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Home buyers, sellers feel “looming pressure” but Western Washington market stays strong

KIRKLAND, Washington (March 6, 2018) – Interest rates are creeping up, inventory is still squeezed, and some feared revised tax laws would have a chilling effect on home sales, but Northwest Multiple Listing Service leaders say the local market remains competitive. “It seemed like there would have been a chilling effect on the real estate market at the start of 2018 with the newly revised tax laws limiting mortgage interest deductions,” suggested Gary O’Leyar, designated broker and owner at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Signature Properties. “Not only did the revisions not have a chilling effect, if anything, the local market has been even hotter and more competitive than last year at this time,” he added in commenting on new MLS numbers summarizing February activity.

Northwest MLS figures for last month show a slight year-over-year decrease (about 2.8 percent) in overall pending sales, a likely consequence of inventory being down nearly 12.9 percent. Other key indicators of the market – new listings, closed sales, and selling prices – all showed gains in February compared to 12 months ago.

The just-released report from Northwest MLS shows 7,980 pending sales last month, down from the year-ago volume of 8,209 mutually accepted offers for single family homes and condos. Thirteen of the 23 counties in the report had more pending sales than at this time last year. Closed sales outgained last year’s volume, 5,548 to 5,358, for an increase of nearly 3.6 percent. Median prices on those sales surged almost 14.8 percent area-wide, rising from the year ago figure of $335,515 to last month’s price of $385,000. Among the four Puget Sound area counties, Snohomish had the largest year-over-year price increase at 18.8 percent. Its countywide median price for February’s sales spiked to $460,000 from $387,250, but that is $130,000 below the $590,000 median price for transactions that closed in King County last month.

For single family homes (excluding condos), prices rose 13.7 percent overall, from $343,000 to $390,000. Within King County, the median price was $649,950, with three areas (Mercer Island, Bellevue west of I-405, and Kirkland-Bridle Trails) reporting median prices of more than $1 million for single family homes. “As was the case the last two years, home values spiked in February, thanks to a cyclical low point in supply,” commented Robert Wasser, owner/broker at Prospera Real Estate. Prices are now back around the peak levels of last summer, and cyclically speaking, are headed for additional increases until summer arrives,” commented Wasser, a board member at Northwest MLS.

Brokers added 7,284 new listings of single family homes and condos during February, an improvement of nearly 6.4 percent from a year ago when they added 6,848 new listings. Like many months during 2017, last month’s pending sales (7,980) outgained new listings (7,284), keeping inventory depleted in many areas.

There is about 1.4 months of supply area-wide, but both King and Snohomish counties have less than a month’s supply. For condos, there is only 0.88 months of supply – and even less than that in King, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties. Many brokers expect inventory levels to improve. “The arrival of daylight savings triggers a burst in new listings,” proclaimed J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “More listings lead
to more sales. In real estate, it’s all about the new listing,” he stated. Scott expects the boost in home price appreciation during the winter market when inventory is reduced will moderate. “Over the second half of the year, as more listings come on the market, home price appreciation tends to flatten out,” he explained while noting small upticks in mortgage interest rates. Such increases have led to slightly higher mortgage payments, Scott said, “but they have not put a damper on the market.” New construction could also help ease some of the pressure, suggests Mike Grady, president and COO at Coldwell Banker Bain.

“Even though Commerce Department data show purchases of newly built single-family homes nationwide fell 7.8 percent in January after dropping 7.6 percent in December, and purchases have declined for four of the past six months, we are not seeing that trend in the Northwest.”Inventory is improving in some areas, Grady noted, adding, “The hyper job market in the Pacific Northwest continues to outpace almost every metro area in the nation, and thus our housing market is booming; for now, there is no end in sight.

”Ken Anderson, president/owner and designated broker at Coldwell Banker Evergreen in Olympia, noted some buyers are frustrated with what appears to be lack of choice. “The reality is, we have an 8-year high in the number of homes coming to market in Thurston County,” he stated. His analysis of MLS data show thetotal number of new listings added in that county in the first two months of this year is at the highest level since 2010.

“The challenge is that the number of buyers is near record highs, too,” said Anderson. Given this competition, he believes “The right plan, including help from a skilled broker, can help buyers find success in this fast-paced market.” “Many buyers and sellers feel looming pressure, and with a mix of doom and elation, both are preparing for a flurry of activity,” reported George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. “We have not seen the typical aggressive spring market yet,” he added, noting “Buyers are coming to the harsh reality that high home prices are here to stay” and they need to consider smaller homes or longer than hoped-for drive times. Moorhead also noted 30-year mortgage rates climbed slightly for the seventh consecutive weekly increase, but he said these small increases “are not yet creating too much of a stir.” Conversations with buyers are “more around the cost of commuting and time away from home versus floor plan and home size.” For some wage earners in the Seattle area, “Kitsap looks very affordable,” said Northwest MLS board member Frank Wilson.

“Kitsap’s real estate market continues at a flurry pace with homes going off the market almost as fast as they come on. Available inventory in our county is down 32 percent compared to a year ago, which continues to put upward pressure on prices and buyer’s nerves,” stated Wilson, the branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. As commuters flock to the more affordable side of the sound, “affordability gets further and further in the rear view mirror for many,” Wilson lamented. MLS statistics for February show year-over-year prices in Kitsap County jumped more than 15.7 percent, with single family home prices up 17.5 percent. Compared to January, last month’s prices for homes and condos in that county rose another $25,000 (8.3 percent).

“Kingston, Bremerton, and Port Orchard markets are surfing in the wake of the new foot ferry service with attention being paid to those from the east side of Puget Sound seeking affordability to the west,” Wilson reported. In fact, he added, “It is becoming more common in Kitsap to see all cash offers, no inspection contingency, and sellers that are reviewing all offers on a future date.” Similar practices are occurring elsewhere. Commenting on the competitive market in many parts of the Northwest MLS service area, O’Leyar reported instances of “buyers making offers with zero contingencies and having the seller fill in the sales price!”

“History tells us that the real estate market is cyclical,” acknowledged O’Leyar, who also mentioned the Federal Reserve chairman hinting at further rate increases and possible impacts on the pace of appreciation and the availability of listings. “Hopefully,” he suggested, “Any changes in interest rates will have a moderating effect, easing the extremely difficult times some buyers are having in purchasing real estate in the Greater Seattle/Puget Sound market.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 28,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

NW REporter

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Home buyers still competing for sparse inventory in Western Washington, driving up prices – especially for sought-after condominiums

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 5, 2018) – “The Seattle area real estate market hasn’t skipped a beat with pent-up demand from buyers is stronger than ever,” remarked broker John Deely in reacting to the latest statistics from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report on January activity shows a slight year-over-year gain in pending sales, a double-digit increase in prices, and continued shortages of inventory.

Deely, the principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle and a board member at Northwest MLS, noted a shift in the ratio of pending sales to new listings in King County.

Member brokers added 6,805 new listings of single family homes and condominiums to the system-wide database last month for a gain of about 4.6 percent from a year ago. During the same period, they reported 7,820 pending sales. In King County, the number of new listings outgained pending sales for the first time since September:

King County (SFH+Condos) Jan-18 Dec-17 Nov-17 Oct-17 Sep-17
New Listings 2326 1165 2102 3088 3856
Pending Sales 2282 1850 2831 3533 3514
Difference 45 -685 -729 -445 342

“Sellers that have put their properties on the market early this year have less competition and are seeing multiple offers. Open houses are experiencing heavy traffic with hundreds of potential buyers attending,” reported Deely.

For the MLS overall, last month’s 7,820 pending sales marked a slight increase compared to January 2017 when members reported 7,724 mutually accepted offers, a gain in of 1.24 percent. Not all areas reported increases. Of 23 counties served by Northwest MLS, eight counties, including three in the Puget Sound region (King, Kitsap and Snohomish), reported fewer pending sales than a year ago. In King County, where acute inventory shortages exist in many neighborhoods, pending sales dropped 7.5 percent and closings dropped 18.5 percent.

“The decline in sales last month can’t be blamed on the holidays, weather or football. It’s simply due to the ongoing shortage of housing that continues to plague markets throughout Western Washington,” said OB Jacobi, the president of Windermere Real Estate.

With January’s additions, the number of total active listings at month end stood at 8,037 homes and condos, down nearly 17.6 percent from a year ago when the selection totaled 9,750 listings. Measured by months of supply, there was only about 1.5 months overall, well below the 4-to-6 month level many industry experts use as a gauge of a balanced market.

Condo inventory is especially tight in Snohomish County (0.8 months of supply) and King County (0.92 months). System-wide there is under a month’s supply (0.93 months). For the four-county Puget Sound region, there were only 427 active condo listings at month end, down almost 31 percent from a year ago.

Despite the sparse selection, brokers expect inventory to improve.

“I actually believe 2018 will bring us moderately more listings, which should help offset the growing demand that continues to result from the area’s strong economy,” remarked Jacobi.

“The month of March can’t come soon enough for home buyers,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. “In March, the number of new listings will bump up substantially from the low number of new listings typical for winter months. Better selection will start in March as we enter the spring housing season,” Scott predicts.

In the meantime, Scott reported “a multiple-offer everything, virtually sold out market” in all price ranges close to job centers and in the more affordable and mid-price ranges in surrounding counties. “Sellers are receiving premium pricing and home buyers are pouncing on each new listing,” he added.

George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties, agreed. “January still saw aggressive buyers as they jockeyed for homes in some of the hottest areas in Seattle and the Eastside,” he commented.

Prices continue to rise in all but a few counties, even as the volume of closed sales fell about 9.3 percent. For January’s 5,325 closed sales, the median price was $363,500, a jump of about 11 percent from the year-ago figure of $327,500. Twelve counties reported double-digit spikes.

Within the four-county Puget Sound region, King County had the largest year-over-year gain. Prices for homes and condos combined shot up 20.3 percent in that county, rising from $475,000 to $571,250. Pierce County reported a jump of 15 percent, followed by Snohomish County at about 12.2 percent and Kitsap County at nearly 3.5 percent.

The depleted supply of condos meant premium prices. Area-wide the median price for last month’s completed transactions rose nearly 18.6 percent, from $269,900 to $320,000. Snohomish County’s condo prices surged nearly 25.5 percent, followed by King County at nearly 22.6 percent.

Some brokers expect the hefty price gains to ease.

“As interest rates rise, the rate of price increases will slow down,” predicts Northwest MLS director Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Gig Harbor. Despite this expectation, he believes sparse supply and the area’s appeal both nationally and internationally will mean ongoing competition and multiple offer situations.

“What it costs to rent small spaces astounds me,” he remarked citing recent reports that put Tacoma and Olympia on lists of top cities for increased rents during 2017. “Investors, because rents are high, compete daily with home buyers, and they often win the deal in the lower priced homes. Because they are buying all cash, they consistently beat out buyers who have to get loans.”

Builders are trying to respond to the pent-up demand, according to Moorhead. Seattle and the Eastside are seeing a growing number of infill homes in the core areas, some on lots as small as 3,000 square feet, he said. Builders are doing smaller releases and setting offer review dates, and then determine price ranges for the next phase.

“What used to be an affordable way to build homes has now become more mainstream for both smaller and larger builders,” Moorhead stated, adding, “Historically, infill homes did not get the same return as homes built in large community plats, but now they’re realizing similar price points.”

The luxury market is also off to a quick start in 2018. “Close to job centers, the luxury market is gaining positive momentum due to the wealth effect of the stock market, the strength of the U.S. economy, and homebuyers from the Pacific Rim, especially China,” noted Lennox Scott.

Northwest MLS figures show sales of homes selling for $2 million or more are far outpacing year-ago activity. Last month, member-brokers reported selling 55 residences at this price threshold. That’s up 66 percent from the same month a year ago when brokers sold 33 such homes.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 28,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Courtesy of NWMLS

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KIRKLAND, Washington (January 5, 2018) – The year 2017 may be in the books and for many members of Northwest Multiple Listing Service it was a memorable one with December’s activity being no exception. Brokers reported historic lows for inventory and year-over-year price gains in most areas.

“I’ve never seen inventory this low in Kitsap County in 27 years,” remarked Northwest MLS director Frank Wilson, branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Poulsbo. That county’s number of active listings last month plunged nearly 40 percent from year-ago levels.

At month end, there were only 397 active listings in Kitsap County (down from the year-ago total of 659), a level Wilson described as “exceptionally low,” even accounting for seasonal factors. “A normal inventory in Kitsap County used to be 1,500 to 1,700, but we have not seen this number of active listings in several years,” he lamented (Northwest MLS data show the last time inventory topped 1,500 in that county was in July 2014 when there were 1,503 listings at month end).

For the MLS area overall, inventory shrunk 19 percent, from 10,569 active listings at the end of 2016 to last month’s figure of 8,553. That’s the smallest selection for any month in the past decade. For the fourth time this year, monthly inventory dipped below the 10,000 mark, a level not reached at any other time during the 10-year comparison.

Despite the paltry supply, last month’s sales remained remarkably strong, with closings up slightly (0.88 percent) from a year ago. Northwest MLS members reported 7,642 closed sales, about the same volume as a year ago when completed transactions totaled 7,575.

Year-over-year pending sales of single family homes and condos (combined) fell about 3 percent, from 6,390 to 6,198, but far outgained the number of new listings added to inventory (4,053).

“December, which has historically been a slower month, picked up momentum and never let up,” reported George Moorhead, designated broker at Bentley Properties. Unlike October through November, which he described as slower than what had been seen the past three years, “December drew aggressive buyers, some motivated by expectations of a flattening market, with others trying to beat anticipated interest rate hikes.” Purchasers were from all buying demographics, noted Moorhead, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors.

Several MLS leaders commented on the consequences of depleted inventory, including OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate.

“While pending sales are down double digits in King County, it’s not because there are fewer people buying, it’s because there is far less to buy,” according to Jacobi. “That’s why home prices tell the true story of this market and the huge discrepancy between supply and demand. As long as this imbalance remains, prices will continue to see steep increases, just as they did in December and throughout 2017.”

Northwest MLS statistics show prices rose 11.4 percent system-wide for the 7,642 completed sales of homes and condos. Thirteen of the 23 counties in the report had double-digit price hikes from a year ago. Two counties reported price drops: Chelan (-11.2 percent) and Douglas (-6.5 percent).

Within the Puget Sound region, King County registered the sharpest escalations at nearly 16 percent. Year-over-year prices jumped from $505,000 to $585,000. For single family homes in King County, the hike was similar (about 15.5 percent), rising from $550,000 to $635,000 at year end.

Condo prices surged 28 percent in King County over the past twelve months, from $315,000 to $402,000. During the same year-over-year period, active listings fell from 346 units to 206 (down more than 40 percent), leaving only about 10 days of supply (0.35 months of inventory).

System-wide, there is a little more than a month’s supply (1.12 months) of homes and condos, with the shortages most pronounced in the four-county Puget Sound region. Three of those counties – King, Kitsap and Snohomish – have less than a months supply; Pierce County is somewhat better off with 1.1 months.

“While all year we’ve been bemoaning lack of inventory and escalating prices, the statistics show 2017 was a banner year in many respects for real estate in the Puget Sound region and throughout the Northwest,” stated Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. He cited year-over-year gains in both prices and values, commenting “As a result of this strong market, homeowners are experiencing bountiful gains in property values.”

Brokers expect momentum to continue despite uncertainty about interest rates and taxes.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate believes the Central Puget Sound housing market will remain one of the strongest in the nation. “It will be another happy new year for real estate activity.” As the new year unfolds, he expects buyers “will emerge from winter holiday hibernation in big numbers” in part thanks to the Seahawks. “Without the Seahawks in the football playoffs, the 2018 housing market will be more intense earlier in January rather than heating up after the Super Bowl,” Scott remarked.

Scott also anticipates a “frenzied, multiple-offer market” in the more affordable and mid-price ranges, as well as “good-to-strong” sales activity in the luxury market close to the job centers. Positive job growth and attractive interest rates will propel activity, he suggests, adding “In the more affordable and mid-price ranges, the impact of the new federal tax policy is minimal.”

Wilson also believes the new tax code will not have an immediate impact on home sales in Kitsap County. “The majority of our purchasers are buying for lifestyle reasons such as a new job, transfer of job or duty station, or household size expanding or contracting.”  He suggests 2018 “will look a lot like 2017” but everything will be amplified due to the extreme shortage of active listings.

Grady concurred. “As we look forward to 2018 we continue to believe this is a great time to buy real estate. We see only positive returns for homeowners and real estate investors this year and likely for several years to come.”

Moorhead anticipates aggressive buyer activity through May, but expects some short-term flattening thereafter with single-digit appreciation in the range of 5-to-7 percent. Builders still have memories of 2008, but with moderate activity and price increases likely to be sustained, “they are cautiously optimistic.”

Luxury buyers seem to be undeterred by the change in the mortgage interest deduction, Moorhead noted (the bill lowered the cap from $1 million to $750,000 for primary residences). He said they polled their top 30 luxury home buyers regarding the change. The most common responses were “disappointment at losing a great tax planning deduction,” Moorhead reported, but added, “Those surveyed said it would not change the style of home or price point for the homes they are looking to purchase.”

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, owned by its member real estate firms, is the largest full-service MLS in the Northwest. Its membership of more than 2,200 member offices includes more than 26,000 real estate professionals. The organization, based in Kirkland, Wash., currently serves 23 counties in the state.

Statistical Summary By Counties
Market Activity Summary and 4-County Puget Sound Region Pending Sales (PDF)

Courtesy of NWMLS