Real estate professionals Friday warned home buyers of “dangerously low inventories” of homes for sale as shortages drove prices significantly higher throughout the Puget Sound area in November.
That warning for home buyers was good news for sellers who saw home prices in Pierce and King counties jump some 8 percent in November, according to a monthly report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Median home and condominium prices in Pierce County rose from $227,000 in November 2014 to $245,000 last month. In King County, the home market was similar. The median price of homes and condominiums is now $432,000 in King County. That’s $33,000 higher than at the end of November last year.
Driving those higher prices were shortages of homes and condos for sale, said the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The inventory of homes and condos on the King County market fell by 37 percent in November, while Pierce County’s inventory dropped by 22.16 percent that same month.
Thurston County was an exception to the trend toward dramatically higher home sales prices, with the median price increasing by only .41 percent. Thurston listings, however, did follow the Western Washington listing trends, with total listings down 17.41 percent, according to the NWMLS. Median home and condominium prices in Thurston County rose to $235,975.
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“The rumblings of frustration have evolved to utter exasperation among buyers as inventory levels continue to drop,” reported NWMLS director George Moorhead, the designated broker at Bentley Properties.
Broker Ken Anderson also commented on the tight supply. “Our market is approaching record low absorption rates. We haven’t seen inventory this low in more than a decade,” said Anderson, the president and designated broker at Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty in Olympia.
The low supply of homes is likely to ignite an even hotter market for home sales this spring, brokers said.
A higher percentage of homes is selling within the first 30 days, according to J. Lennox Scott, president of John L. Scott Real Estate. “This is setting the stage for a frenzy market in the spring of 2016. Even if interest rates go up slightly, buyer demand and low inventory will push prices up,” he said.
The holiday house-hunting respite that accompanies the holidays could benefit home buyers, said brokers. Fewer potential buyers looking for homes could mean a better selection of houses and condos for diligent prospective buyers.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663
November median home sales prices were up 8 percent or more in Pierce and King counties
Listings fell by 37 percent in King and 22 percent in Pierce counties
Only nine of the 23 counties covered by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported balanced inventories of homes and condos