MLS figures for March show a surge in both new listings and pending sales compared to February as the spring market heats up. Prices overall are up about 13.2 percent from a year ago, and even more so in the four-county Puget Sound region. Among these four counties, Kitsap had the largest year-over-year increase at 19 percent, but King County homes are still the priciest. The median price for last month's sales of single family homes and condos combined in King County is $625,000, up 17.9 percent from a year ago. For single family homes, excluding condos, the median price for last month's sales was $689,950.
The market continues to trend hot with no apparent end in sight. Northwest MLS member brokers continue to scramble to replenish supply. They added 10,595 new listings during March, slightly more than a year ago when they added 10,321 properties to the selection. Last month's additions marked a big gain from February when 7,284 new listings were added.
We have returned to an extremely intense market for each new listing due to extremely strong job growth and eager buyers who want to purchase before interest rates go higher. The housing market is back to a pressure cooker situation and we are witnessing high levels of sales activity intensity for each new listing coming on the market.
The tri-county area comprised of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties added essentially the same number of new listings during first quarter 2018 as the same period a year ago, while the actual number of sales dropped slightly. Why? Because there are too few properties for sale and rental rates are through the roof. People are desperate to find a home. Housing inventory remains well below "normal" ranges based on a level of 4-to-6 months of supply used as an indicator of a balanced market. Area-wide, Northwest MLS figures show there is about 1.2 months of supply, with four counties reporting less than a month's supply. Snohomish has the sparsest selection at 0.67 months, followed by King (0.83 months), Kitsap (0.95 months), and Pierce (0.99 months).
Pricing in this market is still extremely important. In March we saw more listings where sellers pushed the price envelope causing the property to go past their offer review date with no offers in hand. It is not uncommon for buyers to consider a property on the market over 10 days as having something wrong with it. Many buyers are returning from taking a break during the winter after having lost out on several attempts to win in the multiple offer competition. Throwing caution to the wind, these seasoned veterans of the multiple offer bidding wars are pulling out all the stops (contingencies) to win.
Instead of competing in today's market, some current owners are opting to remodel. What this means on the larger scale is a continued lack of inventory coming on the market to feed the voracious appetite of the buyers in our marketplace.