It’s time once again for the monthly reporting roundup, where you can read my wry commentary about the news instead of subjecting yourself to boring rehashes of the NWMLS press release (or in addition to, if that’s what floats your boat).
To kick things off, here’s an excerpt from the NWMLS press release:
High demand, low inventory sparking multiple offers, market momentum
“The market is done with needed correction,” declared one broker.
“There continues to be extremely low inventory levels and high buyer demand which is causing multiple offers in many local areas,” reported OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. He also noted a “definite uptick” in the number of cash buyers, “many of which are investors.”
Frank Wilson, another MLS director and the branch managing broker at John L. Scott Real Estate, described the current market as “the best of most worlds: low interest rates, a supply of homes to choose from that are aggressively priced, and lenders who are beginning to engage in ‘make sense’ loans.”
Moorhead noted short sales are up significantly from two years ago “and now outpace bank owned (REO) listings,” prompting outreach to hesitant sellers. “We all have a call out to sellers who are on the fence to remind them this is the first ‘sellers market’ we have seen since 2007. This also means sellers who were on the edge of being in a short sale situation may actually be on the positive side of the ledger,” he added.
It’s always a great time to buy or sell a home! I also love the claim that somehow today’s market is great for buyers because of “a supply of homes to choose from.” Never mind that it’s the smallest supply we’ve seen since they started keeping records.
Read on for my take on this month’s local news reports.
Eric Pryne, Seattle Times: More buyers, few sellers, push up King County home prices
Inventory — or a lack of it — is driving King County’s residential real-estate market, brokers and industry observers say. Statistics released Wednesday by the listing service underscore the impact.
Countywide, just 3,720 houses were on the market as of Nov. 30, 14 percent fewer than at the end of October and 43 percent fewer than a year ago.
Inventory always dips in winter. But it hasn’t been this low since at least 1999.
Closed sales in November, however, were up 19 percent year-over-year. There were 16 percent more closings than new listings last month.
As usual, a straightforward take on the latest data from Eric Pryne. Nothing overly sensational and a clear explanation of the various factors that are driving the market.
Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I: Seattle-area house prices surge
“Incredible,” said Glenn Crellin, associate director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington. “I’m surprised by how much they’ve jumped.”
Median prices can go up if there’s a change in the makeup of houses that sell in a given month. It could be, for instance, that buyers are taking advantage of record low interest rates to buy pricier houses. Indexes that look at repeat sales of the same houses have shown smaller gains.
But the median price “is indicative of how much money people are spending in the marketplace,” Crellin said.
It “certainly” reflects the extremely low inventory of homes for sale, particularly nice homes close to urban centers, he added. “There are bidding wars.”
I still think it’s a stretch to describe what’s going on right now as a “surge” in home prices. Bank-owned sales have fallen through the floor, so when we compare the median sale price in November 2011 to the median sale price in November 2012 we’re looking at two very different sets of homes.
Herald Staff, Everett Herald: Home sales steady in number, higher in price
The number of homes sold last month in Snohomish County was on par with November 2011, but prices were up.
The Northwest Multiple Listing Service indicated in a report Wednesday that a total of 806 single-family homes and condos sold in the county last month.
That’s half of the entire “story” from the Herald this month. Apparently they didn’t have anyone available to write a real piece this month.
Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune: Pierce County home sales, prices continue to rise
Pierce County home sales and median prices rose in November, the second consecutive month in which both categories showed improvement, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service data released Wednesday.
Home sales increased nearly 11 percent to 841 units last month from 758 units from November 2011, the combined single-family residence and condo data show. Median prices rose, too, climbing 5.5 percent to $195,000 last month from $184,848 a year ago, the combined data show.
And that’s about half of the News Tribune’s story, too.
Rolf Boone, The Olympian: Increases in Thurston home sales stop
An eight-month streak of improved home sales in Thurston County came to an end in November as sales fell 11 percent, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service released Wednesday.
Thurston County home sales fell 11.66 percent to 197 units last month from 223 units in November 2011, the combined single-family residence and condo data show.
Several Thurston County real estate brokers could not be reached to comment on November’s data.
Now that is interesting. I did not notice that home sales were down year-over-year in Thurston. I’ll have to look at this a bit more in the next few weeks to see if there’s anything more noteworthy behind this blip in Thurston.
(Eric Pryne, Seattle Times, 12.05.2012)
(Aubrey Cohen, Seattle P-I, 12.05.2012)
(Herald Staff, Everett Herald, 12.05.2012)
(Rolf Boone, Tacoma News Tribune, 12.05.2012)
(Rolf Boone, The Olympian, 12.06.2012)