Different month, same story: South Sound housing market continues to chug along in February

The factors that have driven the South Sound housing market the past year — low inventory, higher prices and steady sales — continued to be felt in February, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Monday.

Sales of single-family residences rose nearly 9 percent in Pierce County and nearly 12 percent in Thurston County, while median prices jumped 10.4 percent in Thurston and 7.3 percent in Pierce, data show.

And the pace of sales, if somewhat muted last month (sales rose 18 percent in both counties in January), is only expected to heat up.

“We’ll start to see an explosion in the amount of sales activity for the next eight months,” said J. Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive of John L. Scott, in a statement. “That’s the good news. The bad news? Market conditions still require buyers to make an instant response because there are so many other hungry buyers out there.”

One reason buyers may need to make an “instant response” to a prospective purchase is that the inventory of single-family residences in Pierce and Thurston counties remains low.

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 slightly above two months in Pierce County and just under three months in Thurston County.

A year ago in both counties, months of inventory was closer to four months, the MLS data show. A healthy market that doesn’t favor sellers or buyers is in the range of four to six months.

Meanwhile, the King County experience also rolled on last month. Months of inventory stood at 1.45 months, and the median price jumped 20 percent from the same month a year ago, increasing the median price of a single-family residence to about $515,000. Yet sales last month fell nearly 4 percent from the same period last year, likely a sign that there is just not enough inventory to choose from.

A closer look at the South Sound single-family residence data for February:

▪ Pierce County: Sales rose 8.6 percent to 814 units from 749 units in the same month last year; median price rose 7.3 percent to $250,000 from $233,000; pending sales rose 13.6 percent to 1,587 units from 1,396 units.

▪ Thurston County: Sales rose 11.8 percent to 254 units from 227 units in the same month last year; median price rose 10.4 percent to $248,500 from $225,000; pending sales rose 26.4 percent to 507 units from 401 units.

Condo data

Pierce County: February 2016/2015

▪ Median price fell 3.9 percent to $207,000 from $215,500.

▪ Sales rose to 52 units from 40 units.

▪ Pending sales rose 51.9 percent to 120 units from 79 units.

▪ Number of condos for sale fell 43.9 percent to 115 units from 205 units.

▪ New condo listings in February rose to 86 units from 68 units.

Thurston County: February 2016/2015:

▪ Median price rose 19 percent to $120,000 from $100,750.

▪ Sales fell to nine units from 16 units.

▪ Pending sales rose to 14 units from eight units.

▪ Number of condos for sale fell to 17 units from 36 units.

▪ New condo listings in February rose to 10 units from seven units.

Source: Northwest Multiple Listing Service