Puget Sound housing inventory on the rebound

by Patrick Regan

Housing inventory is improving across the Northwest MLS footprint, and active listings in May were the highest in 18 months.

The Northwest MLS May activity report showed evidence of a return to the pre-COVID real estate market, before the housing frenzy resulted in soaring prices and minuscule inventory.

“The significant increase in the number of homes for sale has some speculating that the market is about to implode, but that is very unlikely,” Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate, said in a news release. “What’s more likely to occur is that the additional supply will lead us toward a more balanced market, which after years of such lopsided conditions, is much needed.”

At the end of May, there were 8,798 active listings in the Northwest MLS, 59% more than a year ago and the most since September 2020. Snohomish County more than doubled its active listings with 1,182, compared to just 500 a year ago. 

Despite those improvements, inventory remains historically tight, with each of the four counties in the Puget Sound region at an estimated 0.85 months of inventory or less. A balanced market typically has about four to six months of inventory. 

“Unsold inventory is ticking upward locally as more new listings hit the market. This gives buyers an increased selection of desirable properties to choose from as they hunt for their new home,” said J. Lennox Scott, the chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate.

“Though there is still a steady backlog of buyers in the market, the increase in inventory means each home will receive fewer offers and may not go pending the first weekend.” 

NWMLS figures show last month’s sales fetched 105.7% of the asking price, down from April when it was 107.7% and March when it was 108.2%.

Luxury property sales remain strong, the report showed. There were 95 sales of properties priced at $2 million or more in January. That number rose to 136 in February, 325 in March, 389 in April and 353 in May.

Frank Wilson, Kitsap County regional manager at John L. Scott Real Estate, is detecting “light breezes of change” in that county, where inventory is up nearly 39% year over year. 

“Homes are staying on the market a few days longer. We are still receiving multiple offers but not as many,” Wilson said.

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