The South Sound housing market didn’t sell as many single-family residences in January as in December, but still had no problem beating the numbers set a year ago, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Thursday.
That is because sales soared from the year-ago period, rising 18 percent in Pierce and Thurston counties. Median prices weren’t as gaudy, at least not in Thurston County, where there was little change in the price from January 2015. Pierce County, on the other hand, saw prices rise 10 percent from a year ago, the data show.
Low levels of inventory, which was the theme of last year’s South Sound housing market, continued last month. Months of inventory — an estimate of how long it would take for the entire inventory of active listings to sell at the current pace of sales — was 2.28 months in Pierce County for January and three months in Thurston County for the same period.
It was 1.47 months in King County last month. Single-family residence sales actually fell nearly 2 percent in January — perhaps because there isn’t enough inventory to choose from — but median prices still rose 11.2 percent, the data show. Median price was $490,970.
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“The lack of inventory in almost every county is, without question, a 2016 game-changer,” said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker of Re/Max Professionals in Tacoma, in a statement.
A healthy market that doesn’t favor sellers or buyers is thought to have inventory levels in the range of four to six months. For the moment, the market continues to favor sellers. More supply means sellers have to work harder to attract a buyer, which could mean a drop in price or other incentives.
And for the first time since March, Pierce County did not sell 1,000 or more units in one month. Total sales of single-family residences fell to 840 units last month, the data show.
A closer look at the single-family residence data for January:
▪ Pierce County: Sales rose 18.5 percent to 840 units from 709 units in January 2015. Median price rose 10 percent to $242,000 from $220,000 over the same period.
▪ Thurston County: Sales rose 18.1 percent to 261 units from 221 units in January 2015. Median price was nearly unchanged, rising to $239,950 from $239,500 over the same period.
Pierce County condo data for January 2016/2015:
▪ Sales rose 36 percent to 64 units from 47 units.
▪ Median price rose 16 percent to $213,500 from $184,000.
▪ Pending sales rose 4.4 percent to 96 units from 92 units.
▪ Total number of condo listings fell 36 percent to 127 units from 198 units.
▪ New condo listings in January fell to 71 units from 72 units.
Thurston County condo data for January 2016/2015:
▪ Sales fell to four units from six units.
▪ Median price rose 5 percent to $122,500 from $116,500.
▪ Pending sales fell to 13 units from 17 units.
▪ Total number of condo listings fell to 20 units from 36 units.
▪ New condo listings in January rose to 14 units from 10 units.
Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service