Another month of record highs and lows for Seattle-area real estate included an unprecedented drop, albeit slight, in May listings, according to housing data released by Northwest Multiple Listings Service (NWMLS). Those who did put their homes up for sale were greeted by eager buyers, while the condominium rebound continued.
More downward pressure on inventory
The NWMLS report, which includes data from 26 of Washington state’s 39 counties, showed that there were 121 fewer new listings in May than in April, and the month ended with 83 fewer active listings than when it began.
Among other things, this was the first time in at least 20 years when active listings for single-family homes dropped from April to May. One factor that might have affected listings volume was the fact that May began on a Saturday and ended with a holiday weekend, giving it a fewer-than-normal number of midweek days, noted J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, in an NWMLS press release. He pointed out that Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are the most common days for listings to go on the market.
Meanwhile, strong demand brought already stressed inventory down to near record lows. Across the NWMLS system, March ended with just 0.59 months’ supply of single-family homes and condominiums. The only months with lower supply were March 2021 and December 2020, which both ended with just 0.53 months’ inventory.
Compared to May 2020, when the market was still adjusting to the impacts of the pandemic, May 2021 saw robust increases in new listings across the four-county Puget Sound region. However, compared to this past April, these counties saw a combined 3.6% dip in new listings. This included a 7.4% drop in Snohomish County and a 5% drop in King County. Pierce and Kitsap counties saw new listings rise, respectively, by 1.1% and 5.4%.
Inventory was low just about everywhere NWMLS tracks data. But the Puget Sound region accounted for four of the six counties with the lowest supply at the end of May. This group included Snohomish County (0.34 months); Thurston County (0.47 months); Pierce County (0.52 months); King and Douglas counties (0.55 months each); and Kitsap County (0.62 months).
Sales continue to soar
Washington state seems to set a new home-sales record each month. In May, year-over-year price increases measured by percentages hit a new high, up 30% from the prior year. The 9,374 closed sales in May were a 57.3% year-over-year increase in volume, and the median price came in at $585,000, compared to $449,950 in May 2020.
In the Puget Sound region, Snohomish County saw the greatest price increases, with the $655,000 median price of homes sold during the month representing a 32.9% year-over-year gain. Pierce County’s $500,000 median price was a 27.8% jump from May 2020. The median sales price in King County grew to $775,000, 23.6% above last year, while Kitsap County’s 485,944 median sales price represented a 23.1% year-over-year increase.
NWMLS also reported that single-family homes that closed systemwide in May sold for 107.3% of their asking price. In the four-county Puget Sound region, houses sold for 108.6% of the ask, including 109.5% in King County.
The return of the condos
A year ago, the pandemic had Seattle condo owners selling their units to move away from the downtown area, noted Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s chief economist, in the press release. But by the end of May, condo inventory throughout the NWMLS system was down nearly 36% year over year, with about three weeks’ supply (0.80 months).
“The good news is the Seattle condo market has settled back down with inventory dropping and sales rising,” Gardner said. “Because of this shift in this market there was a price reset, but this appears to be luring buyers who previously thought they could not afford to buy downtown.”