Seattle metro inventory gains muted by unprecedented demand

by Seattle Agent

Last month’s uptick in new listings is sure to be a welcome sign for Seattle homebuyers — and their battle-weary real estate agents. But April housing statistics released by Northwest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) show that sellers still won’t see their homes remain on the market for very long. As spring sets in, supply continues to lag way behind demand, while the condo market is seeing a pleasant resurgence. And these are just a couple of reasons why this year’s prime selling season promises to be anything but dull.

Inventory posts a monthly gain

Overall, Northwest MLS reported that April’s 12,043 new home and condo listings were a 57% increase over April 2020. It also marked a 14% gain over March and surpassed pre-pandemic April 2019 by 3%. And even though April 2021 ended with a 45% year-over-year drop in inventory, active listings were up 35.3% over the prior month.

In its press release on the housing data, Northwest MLS noted that 16 of the 26 Washington state counties included in the report had an increase of 20% or more in active listings at the end of April, compared to the end of March. The organization also reported that Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, calculated a 5.1% month-over-month drop in the average listing price. “It’s too early to suggest this trend will continue,” Gardner told Northwest MLS. “But it’s encouraging to see and hopefully the beginning of a shift back to a more balanced market.”

Demand and prices continue to soar

Despite the growth in inventory, only nine counties ended April with more than one month’s supply. In the four-county Puget Sound region, inventory was particularly low, just 0.64 months. Analysts commonly point to four- to six-months inventory as a sign of a balanced market. Overall, the 109,585 pending sales reported in April was a 2.58% dip from March, but still 47% higher than April 2020.

“The time between coming on the market and going off the market is the shortest I’ve seen in the last 40 years,” said Dick Benson, managing broker at RE/MAX/Northwest, Tacoma-Gig Harbor, according to the release. “The housing bubble more than a dozen years ago didn’t look like this. There was inventory. There were choices for buyers.”

Meanwhile, the average price on closed sales showed 25% year-over-year gains across Northwest MLS’s service area, with nearly every county posting double-digit increases.

In the four-county Puget Sound region, median sales prices showed the smallest year-over-year growth in King County, a still-solid 15%. King County’s median price ($750,000) comfortably led the pack, followed by Snohomish County ($630,000, up 24% from last year), Pierce County ($490,000, a 23% gain) and Kitsap County ($485,000, up 22%).

Seattle condos show life

The data also showed growing demand for condos, particularly in Seattle, where pending sales posted a 184% jump from a year ago. Year-over-year condo prices were up 7% in King County, home to three-fourths of the current inventory, and 12% across the 26-county region. The trend caught the eye of James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. In the release, Young noted that the drop in King County’s condo inventory to 1.06 months, compared to 1.6 months this past January, might mark a “return to urban markets with increased vaccinations.”

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