Seattle-area housing market sees shortage of homes, multiple offers

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SEATTLE – The Seattle area housing market in June saw a combination of a shortage of inventory and high buyer demand, pointing to a “very robust” market in the region, experts said.

Even as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to change some of the ways people buy and sell houses, the housing market in the region appears strong, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service’s June report, which covers 23 counties in Washington.

“Multiple offers are back with a vengeance as buyers are handicapped by having only about half the inventory of a year ago,” said Dick Beeson, managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Tacoma-Gig Harbor, in a news release. “If a buyer finds a home they like, it’s likely 20 other people will be vying for it, and the battle is on.”

In King County in June, there were 3,471 total active listings, a more than 40% decrease from the same time last year and just about the same as the total number last month, according to the report. There was an increase in new listings month over month, but that number was also down when compared to the same time last year.

The number of pending sales was up slightly year over year, about 2%, but the number of closed sales in June was down about 17% compared to the same time last year. Month over month, the number of closed sales was up from 1,988 in May to 2,783 in June.

The median home price in King County also rose when compared to both last month and the same time last year. It jumped to $675,000, about 6% higher than June of 2019.

“What a difference a month makes,” Matthew Gardner, chief economist at Windermere Real Estate said. “What is abundantly clear is that the COVID-19 induced slowing in housing activity that we saw in May was not enough to freeze the Seattle housing market for very long.”

He said the signs point to a “very robust” housing market. But he added that the housing inventory is “perilously low.”

“The month-over-month jump in new listings was encouraging but it did not help overall inventory levels as they all sold too quickly,” he said.

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate said they are seeing “intense buyer demand” as the summer begins.

“It’s almost like the cupboards were bare in the more affordable to mid-price ranges where the majority of sales take place. This led to a major increase in sales activity intensity, which measures the percentage of homes that sell within the first 30 days of going on the market,” he said.

He added, though, that they are also seeing an increase in listings, and said that could be a “welcomed sight for buyers encountering stiff competition and multiple-offer situations.”

“As the economy continues to open up at a steady pace, we anticipate more sellers will choose to list their homes,” he said.

Experts also reported buyers are showing interest in homes in suburban areas, along with neighborhoods in Central and Eastern Washington. That could be partially a result of companies becoming more flexible with work from home options during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The reasons are more space, lower prices, and lower taxes,” said Dean Rebhuhn, owner of Village Homes and Properties, Woodinville. “They have found they can accomplish most of their work and business from home.”

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