Thurston County home sales did something in January that they struggled to do in 2023


Thurston County home sales rose for the first time in months in January, climbing 8.5% last month from the same period a year ago, according to new data released by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

And that sales increase can be attributed to lower mortgage interest rates, said Van Dorm Realty broker Alley Savin, who has worked in residential real estate for 11 years.

"People are trying to take advantage of the dip we've had the last four months," she said.

The average rate on a 30-year-mortgage hit 8% in October, but since then has fallen to around 6.6%, according to Freddie Mac data.

Savin said her phone starts ringing when rates make even the slightest move lower.

"A half a percent can make all the difference in a payment," she said.

Although sales climbed last month, the rest of the county's housing market looked awfully familiar in January: median price was right around $500,000 and inventory remains stubbornly low, still below two months, the data show.

A market that doesn't favor either the buyer or seller is thought to have between four and six months of inventory. Right now it favors the seller, and if interest rates continue to dip, Savin said the market could heat up and become competitive again for prospective buyers.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but when rates rose, the competition for homes went away, which meant that negotiations between seller and buyer returned, Savin said.

They negotiated the purchase price, closing costs and whether the seller would pay for repairs, she said. If the market heats up again, those incentives typically go away, Savin said.

Does the first-time buyer still exist? Yes, they do, Savin said. In fact, she encouraged them to buy when rates were higher because there wasn't as much buyer competition.

Not only in Thurston County, but 12 other counties tracked by Northwest MLS experienced a January increase in the number of homes sold year-over-year.

"Encouragingly, year-over-year sales transactions saw a 3% improvement over January 2023," said Mason Virant, associate director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at The University of Washington, in a statement.

Thurston County housing data

  • Single-family home sales rose 8.5% to 179 units last month from 165 units in January 2023.
  • Single-family home median price rose 5.3% to $500,000 from $475,000 over the same period.
  • Single-family home pending sales fell 14.7% to 272 units from 319 units over the same period.
  • Condo sales rose to 21 units from six units over the same period.
  • Condo median price rose 24% to $359,950 from $290,000 over the same period.
  • Condo pending sales rose to 17 units from 11 units over the same period.