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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Early Spring Brings Bumper Crop of Homebuyers Who Face Inventory Drought

Favorable weather and restored confidence are propelling home buying activity around Western Washington to the highest level in nearly a decade, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service sources. The pent-up demand being unleashed has rocketed pending sales back to the levels of our record year in 2006. At the same time, homes for sale are near a 10-year low.

Northwest MLS figures show pending sales system-wide surged 18.7 percent in February compared to the same month a year ago, rising from 7,247 mutually accepted offers to 8,599. Twenty of the 23 counties in the service area reported double-digit increases in pending sales.

Those numbers might be even higher given the ample supply of buyers, but inventory is far from ample.

Listings are flying off the shelf faster than allergy medicine in this early spring market.  They will probably make several offers before one is accepted and they just need to expect to be competing with others.

Northwest MLS broker-members added more news listings to the database during February than 12 months ago (7,852 last month versus 7,234), but the higher sales volume kept inventory levels well below year-ago totals. The MLS reported 16,946 total active listings at month end. That compares to a total of 19,273 for the same month a year ago for a drop of about 12 percent.

The early spring weather has brought a bumper crop of buyers to a market experiencing a drought of listings.  In Seattle, *NOT THE THURSTON COUNTY MARKET*, it is not uncommon for weekend open houses to draw upwards of 100 group visits and bidding competitions.  Multiple offers rule the day, with many bids at 20 percent over well-priced properties around Greater Seattle.

For the 4,761 sales of single family homes and condominiums that closed during February, the median price was $280,000. That reflects a gain of about 6.5 percent from the year-ago sales price of $263,000. The volume of closed sales jumped about 13.5 percent from a year ago. Brokers reported 4,761 closed sales last month, which compares to 4,196 for the same month a year ago.

For single family homes, which accounted for 86 percent of all sales, the median price system-wide jumped about 7.4 percent, rising from $270,000 to $289,925.

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