Thurston County Housing Market Shows Signs of Shift Toward Buyers


Despite a 15 percent increase in the median price of a Thurston County home from last year, there were still plenty of signs that the market is beginning to find a better balance between sellers and buyers.

That's according to new May data released Monday by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. It shows home sales were flat in the year-over-year period, while inventory was much higher, both new listings for the month and total active inventory, which rose 74 percent from May 2021, the data show.

And that higher inventory is great for buyers because it gives them more options, said Van Dorm Realty broker Bea Scott, who held an open house on Sunday for a Littlerock Road listing in Tumwater.

A slower pace to sales has likely increased inventory, but Scott also said that the county typically sees more homes come to market as the seasons shift from spring to summer and new construction begins to gear up.

Higher inventory has given prospective buyers a little more breathing room, said Van Dorm broker Juliann Matson, who also was at the Sunday open house.

She welcomes that change because she heard of so many buyers who dropped out of buying a house because the market was too hot.

"They give up, they lose out and lose hope, and I don't want them to lose hope," Matson said. "Regaining that lost hope would be a wonderful thing."

Although the market is shifting towards buyers, it has hasn't completely flipped the script just yet. The median price of a Thurston County home rose to a new high of $520,000 in May, up 15 percent from a year ago, and up from $510,000 in April, the Northwest MLS data show.

Months of inventory, too, remains below one month, although it's getting closer to one month at 0.77 months, according to the May data. A market that doesn't favor either buyer or seller has inventory in the range of 4-6 months.

And the county continues to be a destination for inbound migration. Van Dorm broker Scott said she has seen a lot of people come to the area from Seattle and Texas, including those who work in the medical field or those who want to be closer to family.

And if you're coming from King County to buy a house here, you probably can pay cash because the median price of a Seattle area home was just under $1 million at $998,888 in May, the data show.

Scott's Tumwater listing is a 2,300-square-foot, single-level home that was built in 2016. It has four bedrooms and sits on nearly 5 acres. It also has an 1,800-square-foot shop that is heated and insulated. It's listed for $859,000, she said.

The Miller family stopped by to see the listing on Sunday. Robert Miller was curious because he is a real estate investor, while his son, Reid, owns a nearby home.

Reid, 30, said he was feeling very fortunate to have bought his first home in 2020 when he paid $350,000. Now, that same house is worth $570,000, he said.

His father noted the recent change in mortgage interest rates. A recent mortgage survey released by Freddie Mac shows average 30-year rates remain at about 5 percent, up from an average of 3 percent a year ago.

Van Dorm broker Matson reminded buyers to keep that in perspective. Although rates are higher, they are still historically low.

"That's still pretty cheap money for a longterm investment that you build your life around," she said.

A closer look at the data

— Single-family home sales rose 1.31 percent to 463 units in May 2022 from 457 in May 2021.

— Single-family median price rose 15 percent to $520,000 from $452,000 over the same period.

— Single-family pending sales fell 7.3 percent to 585 units from 631 units over the same period.

— Condo sales fell to 12 units from 19 units over the same period.

— Condo median price rose to $327,500 from $270,000 over the same period.

— Condo pending sales fell to 15 units from 18 units over the same period.

Source: Northwest MLS