New figures from Northwest Multiple Listing Service show inventory increased in May compared to a year ago, but brokers say competition is keen. “Multiple offers and escalation clauses occur on a regular basis for properties that are extremely well priced and in great condition,” reports Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Professionals in Tacoma.
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Mike Gain, a former chairman of the Northwest MLS board of directors, also commented on the bidding wars. “We are experiencing more multiple offers than I have experienced in my 35 years of practicing real estate in this marketplace,” stated Gain, the president and CEO of Berkshire. “This is a very difficult market for purchasers, our agents and brokers. If we had inventory to handle the demand our pending and sold numbers would be greatly increased,” he believes, adding, “We desperately need good quality inventory.”
Last month’s pending sales topped the 10,000 mark for the first time in twelve months. The number of mutually accepted offers totaled 10,373, outgaining a year ago by 328 transactions for an increase of almost 3.3 percent. Last month’s total was the highest volume of pending sales since June 2006 when brokers tallied 10,448 transactions.
With demand outpacing supply in many parts of the region, brokers are noticing more creativity among competing parties. “Offer review deadlines have become pretty commonplace in this market, as have pre-inspections and some agents and buyers are getting even more aggressive by submitting their offer prior to the deadline.”
There’s also an increase in the number of cash buyers, and buyers willing to waive their financing contingency, “making it even more difficult for the vast majority who don’t have this option.” With ongoing competition likely to continue, we expect agents and buyers to be “increasingly creative until the market becomes more balanced, which probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.”
MLS figures show months of inventory slipped to 3.33 from April’s figure of 3.46. In King County, supply stayed about even with April (1.78 months of inventory in May versus l.74 months in April). Snohomish slipped from 2.47 months to 2.37. Four to six months is considered to be a balanced market.
Fewer sales closed last month compared to a year ago (down 2.2 percent), but prices increased. Compared to April, the number of completed sales in May jumped by 997 transactions for a gain of 16.1 percent. Brokers reported 7,187 closed sales of single family homes and condominiums last month with a median selling price of $285,000. That sales price reflects a 3.6 percent increase from the year-ago figure of $275,000.