The Seattle area real estate market hasn't skipped a beat with pent-up demand from buyers stronger than ever. The report on January activity shows a slight year-over-year gain in pending sales, a double-digit increase in prices, and continued shortages of inventory. Sellers that have put their properties on the market early this year have less competition and are seeing multiple offers. Open houses are experiencing heavy traffic.
For the MLS overall, last month's 7,820 pending sales marked a slight increase compared to January 2017 when members reported 7,724 mutually accepted offers, a gain of 1.24 percent. The number of total active listings at month end stood at 8,037 homes and condos, down nearly 17.6 percent from a year ago when the selection totaled 9,750 listings. Measured by months of supply, there was only about 1.5 months overall, well below the 4-to-6 month level many industry experts use as a gauge of a balanced market.
Condo inventory is especially tight in Snohomish County (0.8 months of supply) and King County (0.92 months). System-wide there is under a month's supply (0.93 months). For the four-county Puget Sound region, there were only 427 active condo listings at month end, down almost 31 percent from a year ago.
March can't come soon enough for home buyers. In March, the number of new listings usually bumps up substantially from the low number of new listings typical for winter months.
Within the four-county Puget Sound region, King County had the largest year-over-year gain. Prices for homes and condos combined shot up 20.3 percent in that county, rising from $475,000 to $571,250. Pierce County reported a jump of 15 percent, followed by Snohomish County at about 12.2 percent and Kitsap County at nearly 3.5 percent.
Builders are trying to respond to the pent-up demand. Seattle and the Eastside are seeing a growing number of infill homes in the core areas, some on lots as small as 3,000 square feet. Builders are doing smaller releases and setting offer review dates, and then determine price ranges for the next phase.
The luxury market is also off to a quick start in 2018. The luxury market is gaining positive momentum due to the wealth effect of the stock market, the strength of the U.S. economy, and homebuyers from the Pacific Rim, especially China. Northwest MLS figures show sales of homes selling for $2 million or more are far outpacing year-ago activity. Last month, member-brokers reported selling 55 residences at this price threshold. That's up 66 percent from the same month a year ago when brokers sold 33 such homes.