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Multiple offers are “the new normal” for housing market around Puget Sound
KIRKLAND — Northwest Multiple Listing Service members notched their highest volume of new listings since June 2011, but the additions did little to ease inventory shortages. Brokers also reported the highest volume of pending sales since May 2007, along with anecdotes of bidding wars.
In Kitsap County, NWMLS reported 577 new listings in March, for a total of 1,387 with 482 pending sales. Data shows there were 281 closings during March with an average price of $269,651 per home. The median price was $233,310.
For the MLS market system-wide, new listings, pending sales, closed sales and prices rose compared to 12 months ago, but inventory across the 21 counties dwindled.
Members added 10,351 new listings during April, improving on the year-ago figure of 9,166 for a gain of 12.9 percent. At month end, with the additions, the selection of single family homes and condominiums totaled 19,826 listings, down about 21.6 percent from the year-ago figure of 25,291.
Area-wide pending sales of single family homes and condominiums (combined) rose 9.2 percent, from 8,790 mutually accepted offers to 9,600 transactions. That total is the highest since May 2007, when members tallied 9,743 pending sales.
Closed sales for April jumped nearly 20 percent, rising from 5,177 transactions a year ago to 6,209 completed sales. Year-over-year prices on those sales climbed 12.5 percent. A year ago, the median price for single family homes and condos (combined) that sold was $240,000.
“Multiple offers have become the new normal,” remarked MLS Director Diedre Haines, the Snohomish County regional managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “We have literally gone off the charts in absorption,” she stated, adding the dip in pending sales in that county “is all due to lack of inventory.”
Haines also reported low appraisals remain a problem as appraisers struggle to keep up with the fast paced activity and increasing values.
Through four months, closed sales are outperforming year-ago totals for same period by nearly 3,000 transactions. Haines believes the increase is an indicator “that lending restraints are beginning to ease and there are fewer and fewer short sale transactions being processed.”
Prices for last month’s sales of single family homes (excluding condos) rose 12 percent. Area-wide the median sales price for April was $280,000, a $30,000 increase from a year ago.
Among the 21 counties in the MLS report, King County had highest median price for single family homes. Last month’s 2,096 closed sales had a median price of $400,000. That’s about 11.1 percent more than the year-ago median selling price of $360,000.
Multiple offers are more commonplace, including in Kitsap County, brokers noted, even though year-over-year prices fell slightly (2.75 percent). A full price offer with an escalation clause is not uncommon on a newly listed home that is priced right, according to Frank Wilson, Kitsap district manager and branch managing broker for John L. Scott in Poulsbo.
“Buyers have to be ready to buy and have an approval in hand from their lender,” suggested Wilson, who also serves as a board member for Northwest MLS.
Open houses are drawing crowds, he stated, adding, “Just as sellers had to work harder to get their homes sold a few years ago, today’s buyers have to work harder to succeed in this competitive market.”