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May Market Update - Seattle Real Estate

Blog by Kristen Meyer | May 26th, 2014

Even though more houses are being offered for sale in the Puget Sound region, inventory remains ultra-tight in many areas, and King County continues to have a particularly limited supply.

The median price of houses and condos that sold last month rose nearly 10 percent in King County and about 7.5 percent in Snohomish County over April 2013, according to a report Tuesday from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS). Pierce County prices dropped about 1 percent, while prices in Kitsap County were unchanged.

In the four-county region, nearly 11,500 houses and condos were on the market last month. That's an increase of nearly 16 percent over April 2013.

Rising prices in Snohomish and King counties can be attributed to a constrained supply. Realtors measure this using what's known as "months of supply." A market that favors neither buyers nor sellers has four to six months of supply. King County's supply is only about 1.75 months, and Snohomish County's is 2.5 months. Pierce has a 3.5 month supply, and Kitsap's is 4.3 months.

Tight inventory is creating bidding wars in some sought-after neighborhoods. NWMLS officials reported that multiple offers are the norm for new listings, with about two-thirds of the houses near employment centers selling in 30 days.

The situation is exacerbated by anxiety among some would-be sellers. They are torn. While they want to put their residences on the market, they fear they won't be able to find new houses to buy. That's a Catch-22 — because it limits supply at a time when the market craves it.

In King County, some markets saw median sale prices increase 20 percent or more from April 2013 to last month. They were: Enumclaw, the Renton Highlands and Kennydale, Seattle's Madison Park and Capitol Hill, North Seattle and Lake Forest Park/Kenmore.

The largest price gain in Snohomish County was 13.6 percent. That occurred in the southern part of the county around Woodinville.