New report shows demand for homes in Washington remains high, inventory ‘meager’ in many areas

Written by Desmond

December 16, 2021

A for sale sign outside a house

SEATTLE, WA – OCTOBER 31: A Redfin real estate yard sign is pictured in front of a house, on October 31, 2017, that recently sold, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Redfin)

Condo homes near Seattle, Washington.

Historically wet weather and the onset of the holiday season did not deter Washingtonians from buying homes last month, according to the latest Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) report.

“The so-called seasonal slowdown normally sees serious buyers gain an advantage over casual buyers who take a break during the holidays,” Mike Larson, managing broker at Compass in Tacoma, said in the report. “The difference this year is that there are fewer buyers taking a break and demand remains high.”

NWMLS data showed 8,571 pending sales across 26 counties last month, nearly matching the year-ago total of 8,584. The 8,976 closed sales marked a slight improvement (1.14%) over last year’s figures, when NWMLS members tallied 8,875 completed transactions.

While demand stayed comparable to last year, inventory was down.

There were 4,621 active listings of single family homes and condominiums at the end of last month. That’s 29% fewer active listings than at the end of November last year.

This year’s low end-of-month listings amount to about two weeks’ worth of supply, or about 0.51 months. Out of the 26 counties analyzed in the report, the five counties with the lowest inventory were: Snohomish (0.24 months), Thurston (0.35) King (0.38 months), Clark (0.39) and Pierce (0.44 months).

“The pandemic continues to put pressure on home sales and prices,” Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties, said in the report. “Historic low inventory is still influencing multiple offer situations in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.”

In King County, the number of monthly listings has plummeted. Inventory in King County is down 60% from last year, the report said. 

“To put this into further perspective, King County had only 1,149 active listings at the end of November — the lowest inventory I can remember — and a 90% decrease since November 2010 when there were 11,867 active listings,” NWMLS Board Member John Deely said in the report. “This is hampering existing sellers from moving up. Baby boomers find themselves in large homes and not needing the space, but they are hesitant to sell without a place to go should they want to stay in the region.”

Home prices have decreased in some areas compared to last year, but prices have shot up in others. In Skagit and Whatcom counties, prices were up 21.2% and 26.5%, respectively. Areas in Eastern Washington have seen prices increase as much as 26% since last year. 

Looking ahead to 2022, NWMLS officials expect housing markets around the state to cool somewhat, specifically in the appreciation of home prices.

“I predict single family prices will increase by around 8% in King and Snohomish counties, and by almost 11% in Pierce County,” Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, said in the report. “Although still well above the long-term averages, affordability issues and modestly rising interest rates will take some of the steam out of the market in 2022.”

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