Competition remains tight among buyers in the Northwest MLS region

by Emily Marek

Low inventory continues to fuel competition among area buyers, according to the latest market update from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS).

Despite slight year-over-year increases in inventory levels, thanks to a 1.6% uptick in new listings across the region, the market still sat at a 1.6-month housing supply in March — well below the four to six months seen in a balanced market.

“Northwestern markets are finally showing signs of thawing,” Selma Hepp, chief economist for CoreLogic, said in a press release. “With new listings picking up the pace from 2023 lows, potential homebuyers have more options to choose from. Still, there seems to be more buyers in the market than the available inventory. As a result, home prices continue to rise despite elevated mortgage rates and constrained affordability.”

Median home prices increased by 7.4% year over year to $633,717, up from $590,000 in March 2023. The highest median sales prices were seen in King ($850,000), San Juan ($750,000) and Snohomish ($730,000) counties, while the lowest median prices were seen in Pacific ($347,500), Grant ($325,000) and Columbia ($274,000) counties.

“With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate currently at 6.79% as of late March 2024, the purchasing power of prospective buyers remains constrained relative to a few years ago,” said Mason Virant, associate director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. “However, year-over-year inventory levels continue to increase — approximately 1% — relative to the previous year, and low levels of for-sale inventory continue to foster increased competition amongst buyers, producing nearly a 7.5% year-over-year increase in median home prices across the Washington counties covered by NWMLS.”

The number of property showings also increased by 4% month over month, indicating continued consumer interest throughout the rest of the spring season.

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