September tested the housing market’s resilience around Western Washington with fluctuating mortgage rates, record-setting rains, and persistent inventory shortages in some areas. By month’s end, however, both pending and closed sales outgained the same period a year ago, according to the latest figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Prices also increased compared to 12 months ago, but fell slightly from the previous month. Year-to-date figures through nine months show prices for homes and condominiums that have sold in the 21 counties served by the MLS are up 12 percent from a year ago.
Traffic at open houses and at builder sites, although challenged by the wettest September in recent memory, has remained steady. In neighborhoods close to job centers, brokers are reporting brisk activity. One NWMLS director said the Seattle market shows no signs of slowing down and house-hunters seem undaunted by soggy weather. “Buyers continue to flood open houses and multiple offers rain down on competitively priced properties,” he commented. One newly listed home had 25 potential buyers show up at a midweek brokers’ open house to get a first glimpse at it. “Multiple offers are still prevalent,” he said, citing an example of one appropriately priced listing receiving 11 offers, and ultimately drew a bid of more than 20 percent above list price. “Buyers with all cash have decreased and financed offers now outpace cash offers,” he stated.
“We are currently experiencing a mini power surge of sales activity, the third such event this year,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He attributes the bursts to interest rates. “With interest rates suddenly coming off their peak for the year, we’re having another surge of activity, which is keeping the inventory at the shortage level in both King and Snohomish counties.”
MLS figures show King County has less than two months of supply (1.95 months). Snohomish County is slightly better at 2.32 months. System-wide, there is 3.32 months of supply, well below the level of 4-to-6-months that is generally accepted as an indication of a balanced market.
“We continue to see buyers who are negotiating against several other buyers on a house they like,” said a board director. Well priced homes are drawing offers in the first few weeks of being listed, while listings that are getting no showings most likely mean they’re at least 5 percent high on pricing. “Homes that are priced correctly will receive showings and offers,” he emphasized.
With interest rates expected to rise to the 5% level by summer of 2014, buyers who want to capitalize on the current lower interest rates should delay no longer. Contact me and I will be happy to discuss a buying or selling strategy that makes the most sense for you in this ever-changing market.
Info courtesy of NWMLS, Oct. 2013