News that hits us where we live.


February 2016 | Lack of Inventory Changing the Game in 2016

Depleted inventory is contributing to overwhelming traffic at open houses, shifts in strategies for both buyers and sellers, and escalating prices.

The latest figures show a drop of nearly 28 percent in the number of active listings in the MLS database compared to a year ago. At month end, brokers reported 12,357 active listings, which compares to 17,082 at the end of January 2015. Pending sales dropped to 7,253 last month, compared to 7,658 for the same month a year ago. Despite January's downturn, industry leaders remain upbeat.

Demand is still really strong based on multiple offers and high-volume open house traffic. For many brokers, the number of homes selling within the first 30 days is relatively double what a normal, healthy market would look like. If inventory levels and mortgage rates remain at current levels, prices will continue to appreciate and could outperform our expectations.

A strong fourth quarter in 2015 is reflected in January's closed sales of single-family homes and condos (combined), which rose 11.6 percent from a year ago. Brokers reported 4,985 completed transactions; a year ago, they tallied 4,467 closings. The year-over-year median price on these sales increased 7.5 percent, rising from $279,000 to $300,000.

The median sales price of a single-family home in King County rose to $490,970, up 11.2 percent from a year ago. Condo prices spiked 16.3 percent compared to January 2015, rising from $219,900 to $255,750.

A seller's decision to accept an offer does not come down to sales price alone. Type of loan, lender, closing time, amount of earnest money, and other concessions like closing costs and offer price all play into a seller's decision. On top of that, a seller can choose any offer for any reason, even a lower price offer if other variables are favorable. Escalation clauses, back-up offers and finding funds or a bridge loan are all tools that buyers will need to employ to be successful in today's market.


by Charles Burnett