Northwest MLS Notches Another Month of Double-Digit Gains

Thursday, September 15, 2005

New from Northwest Multiple Listing Service

FOR INFORMATION Jack Johnson, NWMLS President & CEO, 425.820.9200

Northwest MLS Reports Another Month of Double-Digit Gains in Home Sales, Prices
KIRKLAND, Wash. (Sept. 12, 2005) – August home sales and prices continued at a torrid pace around Western Washington during September, with the volume of pending sales jumping 19 percent and prices for completed transactions rising more than 17 percent from year-ago totals.

The latest numbers from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show 11,030 pending sales (offers made and accepted, but not yet closed) for the month of August. That compares to a year-ago total 9,265 pending sales in the same areas for a 19 percent gain. NWMLS added two new counties, Okanogan and Whatcom, to its statistical report for August; with those new areas, brokers reported a system-wide total of 11,546 pending sales.

“Open house traffic was exceptionally busy, multiple offer situations are ongoing, and anxious buyers are still willing to up the ante on price to get the home they really want,” remarked NWMLS director Dick Beeson, the manager of Windermere Real Estate/Paragon Co. in Tacoma.

Inventory shortages eased somewhat last month as members added 12,680 news listings to the selection, improving on the year-ago figure of 11,027 for the 15-county area. With the addition of Okanogan and Whatcom counties, the system-wide total number of new listings for the month rose to 13,358. The totals include single family homes and condominiums.

As of the end of August, the total number of active listings in the MLS database was 23,260. A comparison of the same 15 counties that comprised the MLS service area a year ago shows 21,960 active listings at the end of last month. That’s down about 13.3 percent from a year ago when the inventory stood at 25,326 listings. On a percentage basis, that is the smallest drop so far this year.

The inventory picture in Pierce County continues to brighten, according to Beeson. Brokers added 2,273 new listings to inventory during August, boosting the total number of active listings at month-end to 4,069 to nearly match year-ago levels of 4,116 listings.

“Buyers are aware the selection of homes is more abundant now and they were spanning the county in search of bargains,” Beeson remarked. NWMLS figures show the median asking price for active listings in Pierce County is $278,000, which compares to a median listing price of $429,990 for the current selection of homes and condominiums in King County. “There are some good values out there,” Beeson commented, adding, “Agents were able to help buyers and sellers find each other.” He also noted that buyers have become well educated about values and that sellers are “getting more realistic about pricing – not always pushing the envelope beyond reality.”

Brokers reported double-digit gains in pending sales throughout most of the Northwest MLS market area. Only two counties, San Juan and Island, had fewer sales than a year ago. For the four-county Puget Sound region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap), MLS members reported 8,784 pending sales last month to improve on year-ago totals by 1,320 transactions (a 17.7 percent increase).

Prices also climbed while the average number of days a home was on the market dropped compared to a year ago.

Homes and condominiums that closed that month had a median selling price of $285,000. That is almost 17.3 percent higher than the year-ago figure of $243,000. Among the counties in the MLS report, Mason County claimed the sharpest increase at 33 percent, followed by Grays Harbor (up almost 26 percent), Snohomish (up 23.4 percent) and Kitsap (up 23 percent).

For sales of single family homes (excluding condominiums), last month’s median sales price (comparing the same 15 counties served by NWMLS a year ago) was $299,000. A year ago, it was $254,500 (a difference of 17.5 percent).

San Juan County continues to top the price charts. Single family homes that sold there last month fetched a median price of $440,000. Homes in King County had a median sales price of $385,000.

For the first time, the median sales price of single family homes that sold in Snohomish County climbed above $300,000. For last month’s closed sales, homes there had a median selling price of $311,525 – up 23.6 percent from the same month a year ago when the median sales price of a single family home that sold was $252,000.

Homes are still selling at a brisk pace according to MLS reports. For last month’s closed sales of single family homes and condominiums the average time on the market was 43 days. A year ago, the average was 51 days. For completed transactions in King County, the average was 36 days – ten fewer days than a year ago.

Northwest Multiple Listing Service, based in Kirkland and owned by its member brokers, encompasses more than 2,000 companies with approximately 25,000 sales associates. Together, they serve 17 counties, mostly in Western Washington, plus Grant, Kittitas and Okanogan counties in the central part of the state.

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