The Latest Data Reveals a More Balanced Housing Market

In early December, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) press release indicated that home buyers in our region are feeling less pressure and more options amidst lending limit increases and softening home price growth.

Inventory

The NWMLS reports on 23 counties in Western Washington and looking at all areas surveyed, the number of homes for sale in November 2018 grew by a staggering 41 percent compared to this same time last year. King County saw the largest rise, with active inventory up 135 percent year over year. Single-family homes increased by double, from 1,879 in November 2017 to 4,020 in November 2018. Condominiums saw even greater gains, with active listings more than tripling (from 355 to 1,221).

Though supply has increased significantly over the past few months, it is important to note that the NWMLS still reported 2.3 months of inventory (the same in King County) which still falls well below what is considered a “balanced market” (at 4 to 6 months).

Sales

As NWMLS reports, “the surge in supply is not yet reflected in sales during this typically slower holiday season,” as “pending sales for November were down 10.4 percent from a year ago.” The number of homes that went into mutual acceptance fell by 17.5 percent compared to October 2018, yet was less than the October to November falloff in 2017, when mutually accepted offers fell by 21.5 percent.

There were 15.3 percent less closed sales than a year ago and 13 of the 23 surveyed counties registered double-digit drops in sales. Prices, however, were still up 4.2 percent compared to this same time last year, and “ten counties had double-digit appreciation in their median sales price for single family homes and condos (combined).”

Single Family Market

As inventory has grown in King and Snohomish counties, price growth has fallen into single-digit percentages on a year-over-year basis. When we look to markets where inventory is still tight, however, double-digit gains are still being reported. King and Snohomish county saw nearly 2.5 percent growth and 4.4 percent growth respectively compared to last year, while Pierce County home prices have jumped over 10 percent since January 2018.

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Condominium Market

After seemingly endless months of anemic condominium inventory—particularly in Seattle—the number of active condos for sale more than doubled when looking at all 23 areas and grew more than triple-fold in King County. On the whole, median sales prices of condominiums increased 1.5 percent year over year to $335,000. The growth is much more pronounced in King County, however—where 55 percent of all condo sales were located—with prices growing 5.2 percent to just over $400,000.

Mortgages

Many buyers were relieved to discover that The Federal Housing Financing Agency will increase the conforming and jumbo loan limits in 2019. The conforming loan limit, which is currently $453,100, will rise to $484,350, while the jumbo loan limit in costly regions (including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties) will increase to $725,525.

Market experts anticipate the continuation of this more balanced market, higher unsold inventory between now and February 2019, and sustained job growth as we move into the new year. For more information, download the statistical report or contact me a for a complimentary analysis on the implication for homes in your neighborhood.