NMLS: Low Supply Spurs More Competition Among Western Washington Homebuyers


Statewide, realtors are seeing a markedly low supply in active home listings — 21 percent lower than this time last year and down 10 percent since September, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

“People are moving here, home prices will continue to increase, inventory shortages will occur. That’s our future,” said Dick Beeson, principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor.

In Lewis County, the numbers were mixed — total listings were down from October 2018, but more new listings came in during October 2019 than the same month in 2018. 

Last month, Lewis County got 115 new listings, compared with 102 in October 2018. Total listings last month were at 254, compared to 317 in October 2018. 

The median price for home sales increased in Oct. 2019 to $322,000 from $300,000 the previous October in Lewis County. 

Statewide, active listings of homes and condos totaled 14,379, the lowest level since April.

The year-over-year and month-to-month volume of new listings also declined last month, according to the NWMLS report. 

The data also shows gains in October’s pending sales (up nearly 5.6 percent), closed sales (up 4.1 percent) and prices (up nearly 7.7 percent) compared to a year ago. 

Beeson, a member of the Northwest MLS board of directors, said inventory shortages are what some call the “new normal.” 

The sustained, lower levels of supply “drive some buyers crazy as they keep expecting to gain the upper hand,” Beeson said, adding. “It’s not going to happen any time soon. The market has settled into a circadian rhythm of sorts.”

The NWMLS figures show a 1.73-month supply of inventory in its 23-county coverage area. In a balanced market, there is typically four to six months of supply. 

Northwest MLS records show the last time the supply of homes and condos exceeded three months was February 2015, when there was just over 3.5 months of supply.

Compared to the October 2018, last month’s supply of active listings declined by double-digits in 18 of the 23 counties in the NWMLS report. 

Thurston County had the sharpest decline (down 35.5 percent), followed by Pierce (down 28.7 percent) and Kitsap (down nearly 27 percent).

The volume of pending sales was higher than the number of new listings. 

“The most recent data certainly appears to bolster the idea of a ‘new normal,’ as we see the same trends continuing,” stated Mike Grady, president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain. “Inventory is staying between 1.7 and 2.3 months and median sales prices are stabilizing” in many areas, he noted. “Couple this with continuing positive economic news locally — including a positive forecast for job creation, interest rates at all-time lows, and several new condo projects in the pipeline (instead of apartments) given the legislature’s change this year in the construction defects laws — all these point to a new definition of a ‘balanced market’ of only two months of inventory instead of four to six months.”

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