Housing market shows promise, despite low inventory

by Liz Economou

Overall, September’s housing market statewide remained robust, according to a new report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, but low inventory is still problematic.

With single-family homes and condominiums combined, there were slightly more new listings last month (11,373) than a year ago (11,201) — an increase of less than 1%. Gains were also realized in the number of closed sales and home prices year over year.

In King County, a 20% increase in closed sales from last year breathed new life into the condo market, which took a hit during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I’m happy to report that the Seattle-area condominium market, which was negatively impacted by COVID-19, has stabilized, reporting consistent increases in both sales and prices,” noted Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, in the MLS report.

On average, condominium prices rose more than 8% across King County, but gains there paled in comparison to nearby counties. In Kitsap County, condo prices spiked 28.5%. Snohomish and Pierce counties also outpaced King County gains with prices there jumping 17.8% and 16.7%, respectively.

King County, the state’s largest county, continues to suffer from declining inventory, with the number of single-family homes available for purchase down from 2,420 to 1,634 — a drop of 32.5% year over year.

Across the state, proverbial low inventory is also problematic for buyers. At month end, Northwest MLS members reported 7,757 total active listings, a drop of nearly 15% from a year ago. In fact, there has not been more than a one-month supply since July 2020.

For some perspective on what this means: At the end of September, there was a three-week supply of inventory. In a balanced housing market, there is a five-to-eight-month supply of inventory. A nine-month supply is considered a buyers’ market.

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